This week the guys debate their favorite racing movies, recap Kyle Busch's historic run and what it will take to capture glory at Pocono Raceway. Other topics include Jeff Gordon, weight loss and balloons.
Official Technology Partner of NASCAR to sponsor Aug. 2 race BUY: Pocono tickets RELATED: NASCAR, Hendrick team with Microsoft to drive innovation Pocono Raceway and Microsoft, an Official Technology Partner of NASCAR, announced Tuesday that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race scheduled for Aug. 2 will be named the Windows 10 400. The event will be held two days after the launch of Windows 10 when the new operating system will be offered as a free upgrade to customers with qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices. "Today is an exciting day for us," Pocono Raceway President/CEO Brandon Igdalsky said in a track release. "Microsoft has been on the cutting edge of technology and innovation since its founding in 1975. The launch of their Windows 10 platform is something Pocono Raceway is extremely proud to promote during our final NASCAR race weekend of 2015. We look forward to celebrating with everyone from Microsoft, NASCAR and, most importantly, the race fans on Sunday, August 2nd." The sponsorship deal is the second new title-sponsor partnership for Pocono Raceway this year. In January, the track announced a deal with Axalta Coating Systems as title sponsor of its Sprint Cup race in June. Martin Truex Jr . prevailed in the 2.5-mile triangular track's first Sprint Cup event of the year. The Furniture Row Racing driver will be aiming to replicate Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s 2014 season sweep in next month's 400-miler. Earnhardt Jr., the defending winner of the event, will drive the No. 88 Microsoft Chevrolet SS. He debuted a Microsoft paint scheme last month at Sonoma Raceway, finishing seventh at the California road course. BUY: Earnhardt Jr.'s paint scheme "We're thrilled to build on our relationships with NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports by engaging race fans in unique ways," GM of Windows Product Marketing at Microsoft Jeremy Korst said in the track release. "We're upgrading their experiences not only at the Pocono Windows 10 400 race, but also off the track with Windows 10. It's the best Windows ever. In fact, we built it in collaboration with our fans -- over 5.5 million Windows Insiders. And we're excited to offer a free upgrade, so that people all over the world can use Windows 10 to do great things." Pocono's Fan Fair and paddock areas will have displays and interactive experiences for fans and members of the NASCAR industry to relax and enjoy Windows 10 devices while interacting on social media with the hashtag #Windows10_400. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Roush Fenway Racing driver visited Boys & Girls Club on Thursday LOUDON, N.H. -- When Ryan Reed was but a little tyke tagging along while his father, Mark, competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West off and on throughout the early 2000s, the XFINITY Series driver had the privilege of meeting his hero -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . "I was able to meet a few of the drivers (growing up) and I was at the race track a lot and he was racing … so I was at (Auto Club) Speedway and I was a huge Dale Jr. fan and I got his autograph and I was pretty starstruck," Reed said Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway before finishing 13th in the Lakes Region 200 . "That’s probably my biggest 'Oh my God I can’t believe I met him' story. "That was back when he was in the No. 8 Budweiser Chevy so there were tons of red jackets at the race track and I was a proud Dale Jr. fan." Knowing how cool it was to meet and greet a race car driver at such a young age, Reed visited the Boys & Girls Club of Concord, New Hampshire with Comcast XFINITY representatives on Thursday to meet with children interested in the STEM fields (science, technology , engineering and math) and tour the facilities. Reed, still just 21-years-old, may have let his inner child show a little. "It’s my first time ever going to a Boys & Girls Club and I had an amazing time," said the second-year XFINITY driver. "I didn’t realize how amazing the facilities are and the kids were having a blast and I got to go play some games with them and play dodgeball and capture the flag and got to hang out on the monkey bars and all that. It was just a really cool experience and they’re amazing kids and had awesome questions. A lot of them had some really cool racing questions, it surprised me how much they knew about the sport. It was a lot of fun and definitely a cool experience." While they surprised him with racing questions, Reed surprised the kids with a set of race tickets to Saturday's Lakes Region 200 XFINITY Series event, inviting the group to the "Magic Mile" as his special guests. Prior to the race, the Roush Fenway Racing driver answered some more of their questions and showed them the ins and outs of his No. 16 Ford Mustang in the garage. Thursday, he visited their playground. Saturday they got to see his. "We kind of switched roles today and I thought it was really neat they could come out and I could show them around the race track a little bit; show them around the car," Reed said. "It was cool, they seemed to be pretty interested and the look on their faces was pretty fun." Reed also introduced the kids to his lead race engineer in Gilford, New Hampshire native Katelyn Bernasconi. Where STEM was such an integral part of why these particular children were interested in meeting Reed in the first place -- apart from him being a NASCAR driver, of course -- it made sense to meet with Bernasconi, but Reed, too, knows the impact the program has on our nation’s young minds. "I think (STEM) is great. It’s a great program and it’s definitely really important," Reed said. "Racing is a great example of a sport that’s kind of being taken over by technology and is really just a technology -based sport. There’s nothing we do that doesn’t involve a computer anymore. "I think that this is a prime example of how important that program is and getting kids involved and ultimately, hopefully, end up in NASCAR." In 2014, Comcast NBCUniversal entered into a five-year partnership with BGCA to support the launch of My.Future, a new technology initiative designed to teach Club members about our digital world and ignite their passion for technology . The five-year, national partnership is valued at tens of millions of dollars in cash and in-kind support. My.Future is a next-generation technology initiative that personalizes the program for each member through engaging project-based, digital activities. My.Future will provide Club members with the ability to safely build, explore and communicate in their own digital worlds and ignite their passion for technology . It will also give Club members the skills they need to pursue promising careers. Comcast NBCUniversal has supported local Boys & Girls Clubs for more than 15 years. In 2010, Comcast took their support to the national level as a sponsor of BGCA’s digital literacy initiative dedicated to providing youth with computer skills needed for success in the 21st century. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR.com's Kathy Sheldon and George Winkler discuss developments RELATED: Dillon on wreck at Daytona: 'You feel like Superman' A pair of frightening wrecks the past two weekends, one involving Austin Dillon at Daytona and the other shaking up Ben Kennedy at Kentucky, have kept safety at the forefront of NASCAR discussions this season. While safety -- of both fans and drivers -- always is a priority for the sanctioning body, it has been of particular concern this season after Kyle Busch suffered a broken leg and foot in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona. And it has been a subject of much debate among drivers, officials, fans and analysts. RELATED: Safety improvements at Daytona Is the current course working? Kathy Sheldon and George Winkler discuss the issue for NASCAR.com this week. Post your own thoughts in the comments section below. Sheldon: One would naturally think that speed is Job No. 1 for NASCAR, but really safety has been a primary concern for years. The sanctioning body has worked hard with tracks to identify problem areas such as the unprotected area where Kyle Busch wrecked in February. The Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barrier technology has been a huge success. And NASCAR has been quick to respond to all race-day safety issues, not just those affecting drivers. Catch fences have been improved to shield fans, and speedy action was taken after a pit road fire at Richmond to ensure fire retardant gear protects crew members effectively. Let's not forget the HANS device, which was made mandatory following the horrific wreck that took Dale Earnhardt's life in 2001. NASCAR is quick to address problems and is working effectively to ensure the safety of competitors and fans. The current method of assess, study and implement works quite well. Winkler: Kathy, those are great examples of how NASCAR has reacted to situations with safety improvements that have made the sport better. But what tends to happen after these flashpoint moments like the Austin Dillon wreck at Daytona is there will be a segment of the population that perceives NASCAR isn't doing enough to get ahead of the curve. However, as anyone who has ever stepped foot in the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, can attest, the sanctioning body is continuing to look at potential areas of improvement even before incidents happen. Just this year NASCAR added a seventh safety belt to the driver's seat, and now the belts connect to the seat instead of the car, providing a snugger fit. That seventh belt allows more head clearance for the driver if the car were to flip over like it did in the Dillon wreck. So sometimes it's just a matter of getting the word out so people are aware of the improvements. Sorry for the plug, but we have an entire area of our site devoted to such information called Inside Track . Sheldon: George, I agree that often the flashpoints tend to overshadow a lot of the work going on. The fact is, when safety measures are working, it's what you don't see that proves the improvement. Before the latest seat belt changes, we saw composite materials come in for seats. Now it's common for drivers to tweet photos of their seats being "poured" -- they are shaped individually for drivers and made of material much stronger than the old aluminum versions. And those seats are installed meticulously. Austin Dillon 's team member Tommy Wallace talked to NASCAR's partner NBC about safety after Dillon's frightening wreck at Daytona, and his takeaway was everything worked: The only piece of equipment that broke loose in Dillon's tumble down the frontstretch was the radio. It's Wallace's job to ensure Dillon's seat is installed securely, and he explained that more than three dozen bolts inside the cockpit keep the seat leg braces steering column, seat belt mounts and other equipment in place during rough wrecks. Those pieces all worked at Daytona, holding Dillon safely in his belts and inside the roll cage, even after coming to rest upside-down. Winkler: That's amazing, all the work that goes into some of the things we take for granted when we're watching the race. But with all the safety improvements that have evolved over the years, we'd be mistaken if we didn't think more could be done. And NASCAR admits as much. As NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said last week on SiriusXM Radio , in regards to the Dillon crash, you never want to see the car get in the air or into the catch fence. And he followed up by saying NASCAR would be working on it. That's good, that the sanctioning body isn't resting on its laurels and trying to say everything is fine. There's always room for improvement, and as we've seen in other sports, too, nobody is immune to safety issues that crop up from time to time. The leagues that continue to work through these issues, and refuse to bury their heads in the sand, will be the ones that thrive. Sheldon: The roof flap technology that helps keep cars on the ground is now 11 years old, and I agree more needs to be explored on that front. Keeping fans safe always must be a priority. It will be interesting to see how things like new see-through composite materials can be adapted for spectator safety. Some people have suggested Plexiglass at the tracks recently. Any hockey fan can attest, Plexiglass has its own issues. But the fourth generation of Gorilla Glass that soon will protect our smartphones, along with similar products, may spur bigger-scale uses. Part of NASCAR's mission is staying at the forefront of technology . You can bet the sanctioning body will keep working to find better solutions, from design to materials, in every facet of the sport, including car interiors, rules packages, catch fences and barrier technology . Everyone in the industry got some scares this year, but the sky is not falling. Work is always underway to improve safety. Winkler: No, the sky is not falling and thankfully nobody was seriously hurt in either of the crashes we recently witnessed. But it's important that voices continue to be heard, from fans, drivers, teams, tracks, and even from people like us, journalists. There can never be too many voices when it comes to safety. So the next time somebody like Kyle Busch chimes in and gives an opinion that " there's no sense in grass " at any of the tracks, don't look at it as him stirring the pot, but rather as him feeling comfortable enough to speak his mind in a sport that is receptive to change. That's the beauty of times like these, seeing people come together for the greater good. Now, if what you say comes true about the Gorilla Glass, you can bet I'll race you down the steps to be the first to pound on the glass when my favorite driver whizzes past. Kathy, you better bring your running shoes for that. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
R&D Center poring over data that came through in Daytona wreck MORE: Dillon discusses how he is feeling " Exclusive video of wreck, 88 crew reacts On Tuesday, the sports world was still buzzing about Austin Dillon 's spectacular wreck on the last lap of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Meanwhile, NASCAR was busy investigating the incident for potential safety improvements. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" and explained some of the processes that were taking place in reaction to the wreck, which Dillon walked away from after waving to fans to signal that he was OK. O'Donnell said Dillon's car and all the parts were at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, where they were under investigation. "The incident data recorder that we have will give us over 10,000 samples per second of that incident, and that goes for 20 seconds," O'Donnell said. "(The people at R&D) are going to be poring over that data, looking at what improvements we can make from the car. Two things you never want to see, how did it get up in the air and how did it get into the fence. Both of those we need to work on, and we are doing that." O'Donnell said NASCAR also was concerned with the debris that entered the grandstand. Thirteen spectators were seen at the track after the accident. Eight declined treatment, four were treated at the track and one spectator was taken to a nearby hospital, treated and later released. "And the second piece (of the investigation) is what can we do from a technology standpoint to keep any debris from going into the grandstand," O'Donnell said. "We know this is an inherently dangerous sport, but the fans go there to be entertained. So what we can do to lead in this area and come up with some new technology that will benefit the sport and especially the race track." O'Donnell also was asked whether NASCAR planned any penalties for the crew members who rushed onto the track and went to check on Dillon. "Nobody is going to be penalized," O'Donnell said. "We took some hard cards, and the reason for that is we want to have some conversations with those folks. Listen, we all applaud everybody who wants to run to a scene and help out. That's something that I think is really cool about our industry in terms of people caring about their fellow athletes. "We just want to talk about the safety aspect of it. We have got to dispatch our safety equipment; those folks are experts and to be able to get to Austin as quickly as possible, assess the scene. Any second we can't do that because the car might be surrounded is a challenge." O'Donnell addressed a couple of other topics during the radio show. On what went into the decision to run the race Sunday night instead of Monday, O'Donnell said: "I know Brian (France) said it, 10:45-to-11:15 we thought we'd back with green flag racing. We missed that a little bit. Definitely started a little later than we had hoped or wanted, but when you looked in the stands and how many people remained for the race, big night for NBC, folks had been there for a long, long time, we thought it was in our best interest, knowing it was a work day the next day, to try to get that in if there was any way possible." And finally on whether the Coke Zero 400 would ever go back to being a daytime event: "I don't think so, the sport is so big now and there are so many partners that are involved. I think that worked for a time, and that was neat. I've lived in Florida for a long time and the showers are usually one hour and out of here. (The weather) was a bit unusual Sunday night. That's a huge opportunity for us, for the fans who come, for our television partners, it was a big moment for the sport to be able to race on Sunday night. We have to take those opportunities when we can if we want to continue to grow the sport." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Chairman and CEO: 'Definitely an improvement' RELATED: What we learned from Kentucky race, rules package NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said the sanctioning body "saw some things that we liked" during Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a new rules package at Kentucky Speedway. He told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday that he's looking forward to the package being run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this month as the sport seeks tighter racing for talented drivers. A lower downforce package at Kentucky led to a track-best 22 green-flag passes for the lead and more than double the green-flag passes throughout the field from last season, from 1,147 to 2,665. France credited the NASCAR Research and Development Center for taking risks by running a new package in a race as the series reached the halfway point of its season. RELATED: Inside the R&D Center "Our group at the R&D Center did a really good job, and they're taking some risks that are a little bit outside the box of NASCAR," France said. "We typically wouldn't be changing packages in mid-stream like this in the middle of our season. But we want to make sure that we're delivering the absolute best racing that we can. They felt -- and I agree with them -- the only way to sort that out is not to test it in sort of isolated tests but to do it in real racing time." Last week, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell announced a high-drag package would be run at Indianapolis and Michigan International Speedway. France noted that this package will help solve for some of the other aspects of racing that weren't seen at Kentucky. RELATED: New rules package at Indianapolis, Michigan "We're going to try some things coming up here at Indy where we'll go the other way," France said. "I'll tell you what we didn't see (at Kentucky) that we'd like to see more of is more drafting. (We) didn't see as much of that as we would have liked. And more pack racing. You saw that on the restarts but not quite as much as we wanted. So there were a lot of things that we liked. Definitely an improvement on races that have happened at Kentucky." France credited NASCAR Senior Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development Gene Stefanyshyn with leading the charge at the R&D Center as NASCAR combines technology with traditional ways of evaluating racing to provide the best product for fans. "I said a couple of years ago that we were going to use science and stop everybody guessing," France said. "We use our institutional, been-at-this-60-years knowledge for sure. But you've got a group of people now that have filtered it all out. They'll come up with the right package that rewards the drivers that are working the hardest, have the most talent. "(Our fans) want tight racing. They want to see close finishes. They want to see multiple leaders, and they don't want to see a certain package that doesn't provide that. That's what we're striving for. It's hard to do. Hard to get right. But we're working at it every day." A driver who took advantage of the new package but also excelled on the road course at Sonoma Raceway was Kyle Busch , who has won two of the seven races he's run and has climbed to 35th place in the points standings since his return from a compound fracture of his right leg and a fracture of his left foot suffered in the season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Sitting 87 points out of the 30th place, a requirement to be eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Busch has a fan in France. But he'll need to deliver on the track over the next eight races to make NASCAR's postseason. "His determination is quite amazing to already have two wins, especially on the road course where you knew that he had to be a warrior to get through that constant using your feet to break and all that," France said. "He's been impressive, and he'll be a story. "I would be surprised, frankly, if he doesn't get in the Chase. I think he might win some more. There's not many drivers out there that have as much talent as he has. So on the one hand, it's not even surprising, but given the mountain he's had to climb, that's pretty impressive. "I can personally root for all kinds of things to happen. I just can't do anything about it. I'm rooting for him, but at the end of the day, this is where the individual drivers and teams have to do it. But I'm rooting for him." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Chevrolet has a 12-win streak going at Indianapolis
Each week a tech question is answered on GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 RELATED: Mobil 1 Technology Center Each week the host of NASCAR.com's GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 will take an automotive technology question and get it answered by the experts in a NASCAR garage. This week, Clay Rogers explains the technology of the dashboard gauges in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. Be sure to tune in to GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway and see another question answered. Sprint Cup Series GarageCam, presented by Mobil 1: noon ET, Friday, Nov. 14. ( Watch here ) Nationwide Series GarageCam, presented by Mobil 1: 11 a.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 14. ( Watch here ) MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Find out what the NASCAR Research & Development Center is doing to improve safety, innovation and technology in the sport.
Each week a tech question is answered on GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 RELATED: Mobil 1 Technology Center Each week the host of NASCAR.com's GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 will take an automotive technology question and get it answered by the experts in a NASCAR garage. This week, Nate McGuire, a tire specialist for the Tommy Baldwin Racing team discusses valve stems and how they can cause problems during a race. Be sure to tune in next season for GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 to see another question answered, while also getting a tour of the garage area. Thanks for tuning in to GarageCam for the 2014 season and we look forward to bringing you up close in 2015. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView