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Excuses index: How to bail on work to watch the race
RELATED: Read more Inside Groove Today's race at Bristol (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) happens to fall during a workday. No worries. We've got you covered with a full index of ways to get out of your shift today, courtesy of @nascarcasm and Steve Luvender. Here's how @nascarcasm suggests getting out of work: 1. Tell your supervisor you'll be taking all five of your lunch breaks for the week back-to-back at 1 p.m. ET. 2. Ask Landon Cassill how many retweets it will take for Landon to personally call your boss and inform him or her that you'll be leaving around noon. 3. Claim you have jury duty. If your boss asks "What case?" do not yell "Ol' Junebug vs. the World's Fastest Half Mile! Wooooo!" While tempting, that's a dead giveaway. 4. Just find an empty bathroom stall and hang out in there and follow the race on social media. This common practice is known as "shwittering." 5. Tell your boss you have someone who will fill in for you while you're watching the race. When your replacement shows up, explain to your boss that Alex Bowman is very skilled at Microsoft Excel. 6. Use the Jeff Gordon method. Say you've decided it's time to retire, then just show up back to work the next day like it never happened. And if you're looking for excuses that technically aren't untrue, Steve Luvender has your back. • "I'm sick." Sick of not being able to watch the race while I'm working, that is. • "There's been a family hardship." Your family had to deal with you instead of watching the race yesterday afternoon. That might have been hard for them if they're used to a few hours of peace and quiet. • "I have an appointment." An appointment with the TV at approximately 1 p.m. ET, that is. (But don't tell your boss that part.) • "I'm having car problems." The problem is that you couldn't watch race cars zoom around Bristol's high banks. • "I'm expecting a delivery to my house." While your boss might expect a major appliance being delivered to your house within a five-hour window, maybe you're actually having a pizza or two delivered to your house around the end of Stage 1 or so. Technically not lying. • "I've been arrested." Sometimes you have to get really creative. It's not a good idea to pull out the "I've been arrested" card frequently, lest you arouse suspicion of your co-workers, but it's not lying if you've been arrested by the allure of NASCAR.
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol At a Glance What: Food City 500 Where: Bristol Motor Speedway, a .533-mile oval in Bristol, Tenn. When: Monday, April 24 Green flag: 1:07:30 p.m. ET TV/Radio: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Forecast: Showers likely, rain could be heavy at time. Cloudy, with a high near 67. East wind between 5 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible. National anthem: Todd Smith, Recording Artist and lead singer of Selah Grand Marshal: Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Kerry Earnhardt Honorary Starter: Steve Smith, Food City President/CEO Race distance: 500 laps, 266.5 miles Pit road speed: 30 mph Caution car speed: 35 mph Competition caution: Lap 60 Stage lengths: Stage 1 ends on Lap 125. Stage 2 ends on Lap 250. Final stage is scheduled to end on Lap 500 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Hook, line and sinker
After earlier trouble, Austin Dillon gets caught up again in an incident, this time with the No. 32 of Steve Arpin .
Food City, Bristol celebrate partnership milestone
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol Next weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 24, 1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) marks the 25-year sponsorship anniversary between the grocery chain and the track. Yes, 25 years. The Silver Anniversary is a testament, of course, to a perfect pairing of brands that both receive great value from their partnership. Even now, the Food City sponsorship of Bristol Motor Speedway's spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event is as strong as ever. It is the second-longest race entitlement in NASCAR, trailing only the Coca-Cola sponsorship of the 600-mile May race at Charlotte. Initially, it wasn't a long-term deal between the two, but after the 1992 Food City 500, officials were ready to return as soon as the next season. "We signed the (initial) agreement and we had a great first race," Steve Smith, Food City President and CEO, previously told NASCAR.com. "Alan Kulwicki actually won our first race in 1992; I remember that well. We were off and running." Smith said his company, founded by his father, Jack, became involved at the right time in the sport, when the fan base was on the upswing, TV coverage was gaining traction and sponsorship dollars were flowing. "What happened with Bristol was really indicative of what was happening with NASCAR -- it was just growing and growing," he said. "Five years later, Bruton (Smith, Speedway Motorsports Inc., founder) bought the track and things just really started to escalate here with the amenities and the things that they did for the race fans. ... Folks love coming here, they love the racing environment, and they love, I think, the southern hospitality. "We try, as a sponsor, to do a lot of things to get them in here a little bit early, whether it's Food City Race Night or other events to really make it a full week of fun for the race fan." RELATED: Learn more about the track In addition to the Monster Energy Series sponsorship, the company also sponsors the August NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Bristol. While there have been times that spending money on race entitlement rights might have been questionable, Smith said, "I don't think there's ever been a time when we really thought about dropping the race." The return for Food City, he said, comes in many forms. No. 1 is name recognition. "We're a relatively small regional company," Smith said. "But it's a sense of pride for our associates, our customers who know we sponsor racing. NASCAR fans are very loyal, they're loyal to the brands that are involved whether it's Food City or other consumer products sponsors. We think it helps us sell more products and bring more people in to our stores." In February 2014, Food City and BMS officials announced a five-year extension for the naming rights of the track's spring race. So the relationship will continue through 2019 -- at least. "At the end of the day, it's hard to put a financial statement together that proves that it's a great spend, but we've been doing good ever since we been sponsoring racing so we don't want to stop there," Smith said. -- Kenny Bruce contributed to this article &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Steve Letarte's RacingJobs.com matches talent to race teams
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! CHARLOTTE -- RacingJobs.com, a new innovative website for matching race teams with employees, was launched this week by Steve Letarte, the NBC Sports NASCAR booth analyst who scored 15 victories as a crew chief for Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (including a 2014 Daytona 500 triumph). Using a smart, searchable database that creates anonymous but detailed online profiles for prospective racing employees, race teams can fill needed positions based on desired qualifications such as education, work experience, skill sets and pay scale. "The response from the industry is clear," Letarte said. "Race teams are excited for RacingJobs.com and the service it provides in helping them find the right candidates for the right job." RacingJobs.com won't be limited in its scope. Every job that is necessary in the competition side of auto racing -- from pit crews to road crews to race shops, from engineers to interior mechanics to fabricators -- will be available to be filled by a talent pool that will represent every series, from NASCAR to drag racing to IndyCar. Race teams can search based on potential openings, ensuring that the prospective employees' education, experience and proficiency are commensurate with the job's qualifications. A list of potential candidates is populated off the search, and the race team winnows the list to the best matches. RacingJobs.com then emails prospects on that filtered list to provide contact information and instructions for reaching the race team -- keeping candidates anonymous until they decide to pursue an opportunity. Because individuals are the foundation to any successful company, RacingJobs.com streamlines the hiring model for the racing industry. In keeping the profiles anonymous, all prospective employees are on equal ground, and the barriers to entry in a tough job market are reduced. Instead of a search based solely on "who you know" or word-of-mouth networking, having the desired qualifications and correct skill sets will earn consideration on their own merits. "I created RacingJobs.com to improve the hiring process in motorsports," Letarte said. "This project has been several months in the making, and I'm excited about the site going live and making a positive impact in the industry."
Steve O'Donnell pleased with enhanced race format following Daytona weekend
RELATED: Results " Standings " Fast facts: Enhancements DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The early reviews from NASCAR's first race weekend with a stage-based format laden with performance incentives are in. For the sport's top competition official, those reviews were boffo. Steve O'Donnell -- NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer -- held an informal media scrum after Sunday's Daytona 500 , fielding questions about the race's three-stage process, the five-minute pit repair clock, and the multiple multi-car crashes that affected all three national-series events. "I'd say overall really pleased," O'Donnell said in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage at Daytona International Speedway . "Saw a lot of great, hard racing. Everybody knows that every driver wants to win the Daytona 500 . We saw drivers up on the wheel all day long, racing hard, and that's exactly what we expected from the format." O'Donnell said he was content with the frenzied competition that produced race winners in Kurt Busch for the Daytona 500 , Ryan Reed (XFINITY Series) and Kaz Grala (Camping World Truck Series) in the other national circuits. All three races were marked with attrition in several sizable accidents, but O'Donnell chalked that up to the high stakes of racing for victories at the historic 2.5-mile speedway. "I think people wanted to win," O'Donnell said. "People want to win at Daytona and we wanted drivers racing hard up front and racing hard for wins. So that's we expected. In terms of good, hard racing, I think that's what you saw all three days." O'Donnell noted that despite the wrecks that snared Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick among others, those two drivers had a semblance of consolation prizes with an accumulation of points by virtue of their stage victories. O'Donnell also pointed out that the five-minute time limit for repairs made on pit road worked as anticipated. He said he did not expect officials to expand the time span, noting that no teams had raised an issue with it over the course of the weekend. "I doubt it because this came from the teams," O'Donnell said, "and when we looked at what was the proper amount of time, their suggestion was five minutes because they thought their day was really done if they couldn't fix something within the five-minute clock. Obviously if a lot of folks come to us from a team standpoint and say we need more, but the whole point of that was to make sure the cars were safe and in race-able condition." O'Donnell also said he was content with the number of laps that were completed under caution between stages -- seven after Stage 1 and five after Stage 2 -- but said that the number would be a "work in progress" during the season.
Monster Energy recognized as brand of the year
NASCAR's premier series entitlement sponsor Monster Energy was awarded brand of the year and recognized as a luminary honoree at the sixth annual 2017 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards on Thursday morning in New York City. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Global Sales and Marketing Officer Steve Phelps presented Monster Energy with the Gem Award, which honors the brand of the year. Monster Energy Senior Vice President of Marketing Sam Pontrelli accepted the award on behalf of the company. "It's a great honor," Pontrelli told NASCAR.com. "Monster Energy is 15 years old now and we've come a long way in a very short period of time by doing things a little differently than other people in terms of business community of being kind of a nontraditional brand. So it's really nice to be recognized as brand of the year even though we don't do things like everyone else. It almost acknowledges that fact that, 'OK they are a legitimate player even though they don't play like everyone else.' " Monster Energy was announced with a multi-year deal as the premier series entitlement sponsor in late 2016. The energy drink company, which embodies the notion of being a lifestyle brand with its motto "A lifestyle in a can," now has a large presence at NASCAR races from 300X300 foot activation stations to Monster Energy girls who interact with fans and help winning teams celebrate in Victory Lane. The company also maintains a huge social media presence. For Pontrelli, its nontraditional methods in a very traditional industry like the beverage industry is what sets Monster Energy apart. "So many brands that are in kind of our same (industry) do very traditional things," Pontrelli said. " ... Our roots are very much different than that, so it's nice to see that people have an open mind to something other than just the very traditional and have acknowledged the fact that we can be a legitimate player without doing the same thing that is expected of a company like ours. "…Going into our NASCAR sponsorship, what we really wanted to do was make sure that Monster's personality came through to NASCAR. Rather than becoming kind of another NASCAR brand, we wanted to make sure that we brought our personality to NASCAR." Marrying a popular and traditional brand like NASCAR with Monster Energy's innovative nature has allowed growth for the company. This award validates that, Pontrelli says. "(The award) means that we can continue to evolve as a company and have very positive outcome from it," Pontrelli said. "Originally we started with very, very niche sports; skateboarding, BMX and motocross that were influential in setting the personality for our brand. But there weren't a whole lot of people watching all those sports. And so as we started evolving as a brand and getting into things that got a little more eyeballs, and got a little bit more traditional, we were worried about 'How is this evolution going to affect our brand?' And so by going into NASCAR, it was a really big risk for us because we didn't want to appear like we were evolving too quickly in (becoming) the entitlement sponsor of one of the top four sporting series in the country. "And so to be recognized by Cynopsis in a very positive way kind of legitimizes that we can continue to evolve the brand and do new things and still be recognized as an innovator and a brand that is still very much influential among the sports community in this kind of new way that we're approaching this." NASCAR was nominated in multiple Cynopsis Sports Media Award categories and received top honors in Overall Social Media Excellence, recognizing the best use of social media platforms in sports. From the 2016 Daytona 500 through the playoffs and championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR social media drove record-setting metrics last season as the sport continued to evolve its overall marketing strategy and lead with social media. Last year, NASCAR generated 4.3 billion impressions and 287 million engagements – a 101 percent year-over-year increase – on Facebook and Twitter. NASCAR also doubled its Snapchat Live Stories and brought fans closer to key moments of the season on Facebook Live, including Tony Stewart's final Monster Energy Series race and the announcement of Monster Energy as premier series entitlement partner. The 2016 season also marked the introduction of NASCAR’s Social Media Partner Engagement team, built to provide ongoing strategic counsel and social support for official partners.
All-Star Race format unveiled, Monster Energy hops on board
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol MORE: All-time All-Star Race winners " Recap 'One Hot Night' DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- As the engines fired, the lightbulbs buzzed -- a first for the annual non-points extravaganza. Never before had an All-Star Race been run under the lights. Dubbed "One Hot Night," the 1992 race signaled a new era, one that became tradition for the fan-favorite event. And now, 25 years later, past meets present … as another new era begins with the first All-Star Race under the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series banner. NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway today announced the format for the 2017 Monster Energy All-Star Race, one that rewards winning and incorporates a fascinating strategy component. The race format is as follows: - The race will feature four stages (20 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps, 10 laps), totaling 70 laps, an ode to the 1992 edition of the same distance. - The goal for all competitors: Earn a spot in the final 10-lap, 10-car stage. - The winner of each of the first three stages will lock up a spot in the final stage, as long as they remain on the lead lap after the third stage. - The cars with the best average finish in the first three stages will make up the remaining spots needed to fill the 10-car final stage. - The remaining 10 cars will be lined up by average finish of the first three stages and given the option to pit. Exit off pit road determines starting order for final stage. - The winner will be awarded $1,000,000. Crew chief strategy has been at a premium throughout this season, and that won't change in the All-Star Race thanks to a unique opportunity granted each team: A coveted set of softer tires. Each team will have one set of these tires available to use at their discretion. A softer tire provides the car with more grip and, thus, speed. In other words, it's a game-changer. But there's a catch: Teams that choose to put on their softer tires to start the final stage must start behind those that choose regular tires. MORE: All-Star team for the All-Star Race "The Monster Energy All-Star Race is designed to be fun for fans, showcasing the best drivers and race teams in NASCAR," said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “With the effort that Goodyear has put into this race with multiple tire compounds, I am excited to see how the stages play out, especially the final 10-car, 10-lap sprint to the checkered flag." "The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race is etched in the history of our sport for the most memorable moments, trend-setting innovation and big-money payouts," said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "This new 70-lap format pays tribute to the 25th anniversary of 'One Hot Night' while pushing the drivers to the brink of insanity with the chances they'll take to win $1 million. I'm as ready as our fans for a May 20 Saturday night shootout where only a daredevil behind the wheel truly has a shot at Victory Lane." Qualifying for the main event, which returns to Friday night, will again include the wildly popular 'no speed limit' four-tire pit stop. Each team will have three timed laps, one of which will include a mandatory four-tire pit stop with no pit-road speed limits enforced. The five quickest teams will advance to the final round of qualifying to determine starting positions one through five. The team that completes the fastest stop will earn the Pit Crew Competition Award. The Monster Energy Open will occur Saturday evening prior to the Monster Energy All-Star Race and will include three stages (20 laps, 20 Laps, 10 laps). The winner of each stage will earn a spot in the All-Star race. The Monster Energy Open field will be set by two rounds of traditional knock-out qualifying. Those eligible for the Monster Energy All-Star Race include: Drivers who won a points event in either 2016 or 2017; drivers who won a Monster Energy Series All-Star Race and compete fulltime; and drivers who won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete fulltime. Those who have not already earned a spot via the above criteria can still lock-in by winning a stage in the Monster Energy Open or by winning the Fan Vote. Drivers who have already clinched an All-Star spot: Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. Weekend passes for the Monster Energy All-Star Race start at just $79 and include admission to the May 19 N.C. Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, May 20 Justin Moore All-Star pre-race concert presented by Rayovac and Kwikset and the Monster Energy Open. Individual adult tickets for the May 20 Monster Energy All-Star Race start at just $39 and tickets for children 13 and under are just $10. To obtain tickets, camping or race-day upgrades, fans should call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or shop online at www.CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com . The Monster Energy All-Star Race and Monster Energy Open will air live on FS1 starting at 6 p.m. ET. The races can also be heard on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90. &lt;/p&gt;
JGR taps Benjamin, 19, for four-race XFINITY slate
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Texas Joe Gibbs Racing announced Wednesday that NASCAR Next product Kyle Benjamin will drive in four NASCAR XFINITY Series events for the team this season. The 19-year-old Benjamin is scheduled for his XFINITY debut April 29 at Richmond International Raceway, driving JGR's No. 20 Toyota. He'll also race the No. 20 at Pocono Raceway (June 10) before taking a turn behind the wheel of the team's No. 18 Toyota at Iowa Speedway (July 29) and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 23). "I'm thrilled for the opportunity to drive a Toyota in the XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing," Benjamin said in a release provided by the team. "This is going to be an incredible experience. JGR is a first-class organization, and I'm looking forward to learning about how they operate and prepare for each race." Benjamin finished second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East last season, netting three victories and five pole positions in 14 races. The Easley, South Carolina native is also a two-time winner in ARCA competition who has built upon his success as a prodigy working his way up through go-karts, Bandoleros and Super Late Model ranks. "Kyle has proven to be a quick learner throughout his career," said Steve deSouza, JGR's executive vice president of XFINITY and development. "All you have to do is look at his history and it's rather impressive to see how quickly success came to him at each stage of his development. We're excited to have him make his debut with our XFINITY program."
O'Donnell: More drivers have the opportunity to win
NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell examines the sport's recent parity and why it's good for NASCAR