Longtime NASCAR broadcaster named first quarter recipient posthumously DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Steve Byrnes, a highly respected television broadcaster who covered motorsports for over 30 years, has been awarded the NMPA Spirit Award for the first quarter of 2015 by the members of the National Motorsports Press Association. The award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Byrnes began his broadcasting career in 1982 and joined Fox Sports in 2001. He served as a pit road reporter for Fox's coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing from 2001-2014 and most recently anchored coverage of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and co-hosted the NASCAR Race Hub program on Fox Sports 1. Byrnes' 32-year career as a member of the motorsports media included coverage of racing for CBS, TNN, WTBS and Fox networks. March's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway was named the " Food City 500 In Support Of Steve Byrnes & Stand Up To Cancer," honoring Steve's battle against head and neck cancer. Byrnes passed away two days after the race and is survived by his wife Karen and son Bryson. Byrnes received votes on more than 92 percent of the ballots cast by the NMPA membership. Others receiving votes were sponsor STP and six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson .
Veteran driver set for pair of road events in No. 42 Chevrolet Justin Marks is giving up his Lamborghini to return to the wheel of a stock car, heading to the road courses of Mid-Ohio and Road America later this year to compete for HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi in the two NASCAR XFINITY Series races. Marks, 34, will be behind the wheel of the team’s No. 42 Chevrolet, the same entry that’s been split between Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson and rookie Brennan Poole this season and is headed up by crew chief Mike Shiplett. While he has at least one official start in all three NASCAR national series, Marks' background is endurance sports cars, "so the road courses were always something that was circled on my calendar," he told NASCAR.com. "I've always felt like they were my best chances at winning." Marks ran the same two events last year for the team when it was branded Turner Scott Motorsports, finishing sixth at Mid-Ohio in the No. 31 Chevrolet and running in the top five late at Road America before running out of fuel. After co-owners Harry Scott and Steve Turner severed their ties at the end of the year, Scott and Sprint Cup Series team owner Chip Ganassi teamed up to continue fielding the XFINITY Series operation. "I tried to put my name in the hat as early as possible … for those road courses," Marks said. "I knew Kyle was going to be doing fewer races this year … and that Brennan was going to be coming on with his program. The gaps in the schedule just worked out perfectly." The Mid-Ohio race is scheduled for Aug. 15, when Larson, who has made four XFINITY Series starts this year, will be at Michigan International Speedway for the Sprint Cup race. The Road America race falls on an off-weekend for the Sprint Cup series. "Last year was the first time I'd been in a stock car on a road course in a little while," said Marks. "It was really the first time racing at that level since I quit racing full-time in NASCAR. So there was a little bit of an unknown going into those races. But we were a top-five car at Road America and I think we were the fastest car once it started raining. "At Mid-Ohio, we were just a solid car, fastest in final practice and in the top five or six all race long. So when I look at how we did, knowing I'm familiar with the team, going back to the exact same tracks and knowing my expectations, now having the added asset of Chip Ganassi Racing , all of their engineering and knowledge and expertise behind it will just make the cars that much better. "I think for both of those races, legitimately, we're going there to win. And I really think we can do it, if I do a good job and we make smart decisions, have a good strategy and nothing crazy happens like running out of fuel or get off (pit) sequence for some reason." As for the Lamborghini, it isn't his grocery getter -- Marks is competing full-time in the Blancpain Super Trofeo Series this season, a 12-race series for Lamborghini GT3 entries that is part of the Tudor United SportsCar program. Stops on the schedule include Laguna Seca (completed), Watkins Glen, Virginia International Raceway, Circuit of the Americas, Road Atlanta and Sebring. He and Scott co-own a five-car K&N Pro Series East organization that fields entries for William Byron, Scott Heckert, Dalton Sargeant, Rico Abreu and J.J. Haley. Ownership of the GoPro Motorsports karting complex in Mooresville, North Carolina, and an import/distribution company that supplies high-performance karting equipment also keep Marks on the go. "The K&N team was something that I sort of started talking to Harry about … if there was ever an opportunity for me to (be involved) that I was interested in it," he said. "Because it's a great series and I love trying to help the young guys, these young up-and-comers, and being involved in their careers." In his only NASCAR efforts thus far this season, Marks attempted to qualify for all three season-opening races at Daytona International Speedway with sponsorship from American Born Moonshine. He made the starting fields for the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series races, but was one of six that failed to earn a starting berth in the Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series race. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
After earlier trouble, Austin Dillon gets caught up again in an incident, this time with the No. 32 of Steve Arpin .
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon send their well wishes to FOX Sports’ Steve Byrnes and Elliott Sadler shares the story of how he became close friends with Byrnes.
Carl Edwards: 'All of us respected ... Steve because he was fair and honest'
Take a look back at the career of Steve Byrnes through clips and pictures.
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
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell breaks down the 2015 Sprint All-Star Race and what lessons might be learned for 2016.
FOX Sports personality discusses battling cancer, positive perspective Photo credit: Jim Fluharty/NASCAR Illustrated RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Steve Byrnes has been a stalwart presence in NASCAR for three decades. Whether it was most recently co-hosting "NASCAR Race Hub" or roaming pit road and the garage for so many years previously, Byrnes operated at the highest level of his profession and built a reputation for fairness along the way. Byrnes, who is on medical leave from FOX Sports battling the reemergence of head and neck cancer, discovered the disease had returned this fall. "It is the same cancer," he said. "Doctors were shocked and stunned. They thought I was completely in the clear." It's been said that no man walks alone, and in Byrnes' case, that has rung true with support coming from all sides of the NASCAR community. From drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Jimmie Johnson to fans who've welcomed Byrnes into their living rooms for years and seemingly everybody in between. "The outpouring has been overwhelming, completely overwhelming to me," he said. Byrnes' biggest support system can be found at home in Fort Mill, South Carolina, with wife Karen and 12-year-old son Bryson. NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: You tweeted "Why Not Me?" and that was some powerful perspective. Where does that strength come from? STEVE BYRNES: I'm not gonna say it didn't buckle my knees for a minute or strike fear in my heart. But I'll tell you when my attitude really changed. The first day I had chemo last year, there were probably 12 chairs there. I was sitting across from a 20-year-old college kid that looked healthy as a horse. He went to The Citadel and he had testicular cancer. Next to me was a woman who was 75 years old and she'd been treated for 10 years, and quite frankly, was tired of it. And everything in between -- age-wise, ethnicity-wise and gender. It just hit me that I'm not special. I'm not different than anybody else. Cancer doesn't play favorites. So why not me? NI: The support from the NASCAR community has to be humbling. But is it a tangible thing that really serves as a source of strength to help you keep fighting? BYRNES: Yeah, and I'll tell you why. I've always thought in this business, I always kind of kept a distance from the competitors. Just because I wanted there to be a healthy respect two ways … as opposed to me bragging about, "Hey, I'm friends with Carl Edwards ." It was never important to me. In fact, it was more important the other way that they respect me rather than like me. NI: What are some of your favorite stories or indelible moments through the years? BYRNES: One of the things that stands out is I went turkey hunting with Dale Earnhardt. And to this day I have no idea where we were in Alabama (laughs). I know we were somewhere near Montgomery. We landed and it was just me, him, his pilot and one of the videographers I worked with. I had started seeing Karen at that time and we'd been dating about four months. We're sitting on this concrete picnic table and we'd had a few cold beers -- or several -- and he said, "Hey, Byrnes, you love that girl?" And I said, "I'm pretty sure that I do." He says, "Marry her." And I started laughing and I said, "Wait a minute, you're gonna give me marriage advice?" (laughs) NI: How has this whole experience changed you? BYRNES: I struggle for words because it sounds so cliché but every day is a gift. I'm trying so hard right now to rather than be scared or worried, to live in the moment. Every time I start to worry about the future, it makes me realize particularly this second go-around that … if you wake up in the morning, that's a good thing and you should be grateful for that. It sounds corny or cliché, but there is no promise for tomorrow. NI: What lessons have you learned that you couldn't have realized otherwise? BYRNES: People talk about a bucket list. My bucket list is that my son and my wife know how much I love them, so that when my time does come there will be no mystery. They're not gonna have to wonder how Dad or Steve felt about them. I don't care what kind of cancer it is; that word can buckle your knees. But I'll be damned if cancer is gonna take my passions away. I love watching football, I love watching racing, I love watching my son play football. I'm not gonna let this disease rob me of the things that I love, the people that I love. NI: What would you say to all of those people who've supported you? BYRNES: The biggest thing is -- and I don't mean this as a eulogy by any means -- but what I really want people to know is I really care. The person they see on television is the person I am in real life, that I'm passionate about the sport and the people in the sport. I just want people to know that I care that much back. I wasn't doing this just as a job. I'm doing it and hope to do it again as something I truly care about. SUBSCRIBE NOW!
Four-time 2014 winner explains chassis setup RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated From Donald Mosely (via Facebook): "Do they still use front-steer and rear-steer cars for different tracks?" Steve Letarte: No, not anymore. Really, the sport in general has changed so much from the days of front-steer and rear-steer. Fifteen, 20, 25 years ago, all of the chassis were manufactured by two or three outside vendors, and all the companies bought their chassis. In today's world, the chassis have become a lot like the engines. There are about four or five manufacturers. Hendrick builds our own. Stewart-Haas also runs a Hendrick chassis. There are other teams that now purchase chassis from race teams. So, the front geometry, especially the steering geometry, to the naked eye, or to the casual race fan, would look identical. Now, the compliances, and how strong it is, and how I want to load it is very different, and I might see the difference between us and Roush, but, no, they're all front-steer cars. The steering arms are all in front of the spindles nowadays and that's kind of how all the cars look. SUBSCRIBE NOW!