Darlington announces 2017 throwback theme
RELATED: See the 2016 Darlington retro schemes DARLINGTON, S.C. (Jan. 18, 2017) -- Another historic celebration of the sport is in store for Darlington Raceway in 2017. The track is pleased to announce "Year 3" of its award-winning throwback campaign for the Bojangles' Southern 500 race weekend on Sept. 1-3, 2017. The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR will be celebrating the 1985-89 era of the sport in 2017, which like the 1975-84 period it celebrated in 2016, was a time of exceptional growth and exposure for NASCAR. "The track will be celebrating the 1985-89 time period of the sport during our throwback weekend in 2017," Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said. “As we enter the third year of our throwback campaign, we’ll be focusing on drivers, personalities and moments that were compelling in that timeframe, such as the emergence of Dale Earnhardt Sr., Bill Elliott winning the first Winston Million, and the growth of the NASCAR XFINITY Series (formerly the Busch Grand National Series). It will be an exciting era for the track and industry to celebrate." As the sport moved into the late 1980s, NASCAR champions such as Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace, among others, made a tremendous impact on the sport and will be celebrated during the Labor Day weekend festivities. This year is also the 50 th anniversary of Richard Petty's one and only Southern 500 victory (1967). The honoring of champions from 1985-89 is just one part of the track's overall strategy to celebrate its history. Darlington Raceway 's throwback campaign focuses on specific eras plus the historic moments and drivers that made impacts at "The Track Too Tough to Tame ." For the third straight year, Darlington Raceway is also excited to announce it will once again highlight its rich history with a commemorative ticket design for the Bojangles' Southern 500 linking the past, present and future. "We’ve enjoyed producing the commemorative tickets for our fans every year of the throwback program,” said Tharp. “It’s important that our fans who attend the Darlington Raceway NASCAR weekend walk away with a special keepsake that recognizes our rich history and honors the stars of our sport." The retro design will link 1987 Southern 500 champion Dale Earnhardt, who ranks second all-time with nine NASCAR Cup Series wins at Darlington Raceway , as well as 2016 Bojangles' Southern 500 winner Martin Truex Jr . These special tickets will be used for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 . Tickets are expected to be mailed to customers starting in mid-June. There will also be a retro-style ticket for the NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 that will be unveiled at a later date. Ticket renewals have been mailed so current fans can renew their seats and race day experiences for the 2017 Labor Day weekend. Renewing tickets early guarantees seats at the track's best prices prior to the opening of all remaining seats to the general public on February 22. Renewing customers receive many great benefits for being a loyal customer, including the raceway's best pricing, for Labor Day weekend. Renewal benefits include: -The track’s best prices for the Bojangles' Southern 500 -Convenient five-part payment plan -Special renewal pricing for Darlington Stripe Zone Hospitality ($30 savings) -Special renewal pricing for pre-race pit passes ($10 savings) -Special renewal pricing for all-inclusive driver intros, pre-race concert and pre-race pit road access ($15 savings) -Special renewal pricing for FanVision rentals ($25 savings) -Special renewal pricing for Racing Electronics scanner rental ($15 savings) -Special renewal opportunity to purchase NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 tickets for just $25 each when you renew your Bojangles Southern 500 ticket package ($5-10 savings) Guests may renew their tickets and campsites by calling 866-459-RACE (7223) or visiting www.DarlingtonRaceway.com/renewals. The renewal deadline is Friday, Feb. 10. The Tradition Continues on Labor Day weekend as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 ® is set for Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. The NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 will race on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. You can keep up with all of the latest news from Darlington Raceway at DarlingtonRaceway.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DarlingtonRaceway and on Twitter at Twitter.com/TooToughToTame.
Post-Race Reactions: Too Tough to Tame 200
Hornaday, Bodine, Crafton and Buescher comment on their top-five finishes at Darlington.
The race to 30: Three drivers eye career mark
In December we analyzed three drivers who are closing in on 40 wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . This week, we'll look at those close to a lesser milestone, but a milestone all the same -- 30 career wins. In premier series history 24 drivers have reached the 30-win plateau, from Richard Petty ( 200 wins) to fellow Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett (32). Of those 24 drivers, 18 have been eligible for the NASCAR Hall of Fame … and all 18 have been inducted, or in the case of Mark Martin, will be inducted. Jeff Gordon (93 wins) and Tony Stewart (49 wins) aren't eligible yet, but are widely considered locks to be enshrined as well. The other four drivers above 30 wins in NASCAR history are active and ineligible at this time. Here's a look at the three current drivers (it was four prior to Carl Edwards ' announcement last week) with 30 in their sights, as well as a full list of drivers with 30 or more wins in NASCAR's history.
GarageCam tries to tame Darlington
The GarageCam gang tries to tackle a place that has been called 'The Track Too Tough to Tame .'
Ford expects to come out firing with SHR in mix
RELATED: Stewart at ease in new role at SHR CONCORD, N.C. -- With the start of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series little more than one month away, Stewart-Haas Racing teams continue to work through the switch to a new manufacturer, Ford officials now have "more bullets" in their chamber and Clint Bowyer can't wait to make his first official start for SHR. Those were the key takeaways from Wednesday's gathering of Ford and SHR folks held at the Ford Performance Technical Center here in Concord, North Carolina. After years of fielding Chevrolet entries, SHR announced last February that the four-team organization would make the swap to Ford for '17. That's increased the workload somewhat at the team's Kannapolis, North Carolina, headquarters, but preparing for a new season always keeps teams busy. "Every offseason, we start the year and don't feel like we're ready, don't feel like we're quite where we want to be," said co-owner Tony Stewart . "This winter has been a big challenge obviously, but we were prepared for it. … "The team has done a great job. The great thing is their spirits are high and they're really excited about the switch to Ford. You can tell there's a lot of work to be done and a lot going on but ... I'm really proud of our guys and how dedicated they've been to this process." Dave Pericak, Global Director of Ford Performance, said the quickness with which SHR has progressed off the track has been impressive. "The level of collaboration has been fantastic and the speed at which these guys implement and get things done, these guys are racers and there's no messing around," he said. "When there is something that we all know is the right thing to do, just the speed at which Stewart-Haas gets things done is pretty amazing." Stewart ended his NASCAR driving career in '16 with three championships and 49 victories. Bowyer, following a one-year stint at the former HScott Motorsports , will take over Stewart's familiar No. 14 entry. Kevin Harvick , the 2014 champion, returns as do Danica Patrick and 2004 champ Kurt Busch . Not surprisingly, after a season that saw him finish a career-low 27th in points with just three top-10 results, Bowyer admitted he is "champing at the bit." "Pretty damn hard not to be," Bowyer said when asked if he felt rejuvenated by the opportunity. "The thing about it, they're just racers," Bowyer said of the SHR group. "Everybody's working ... just head down, working hard, trying to get better, trying to get faster. They don't take second as an option. It's not an option. They go and work hard and figure out how to win these races. "It doesn't matter what it takes to do it. You have those resources put in place." For Ford officials, the addition of SHR "will raise the level for all of us," according to Raj Nair. Nair, Executive VP for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer for Ford Motor Company, said "you can't argue with the results out of Stewart-Haas." "So we're all going to learn a lot just by that association." Team Penske , Roush Fenway Racing , Wood Brothers Racing , Richard Petty Motorsports and Front Row Motorsports formed the bulk of the Ford armada in '16. While the Penske teams of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have been title contenders since making the move from Dodge to Ford in 2013, no Ford team has won the championship since Busch won the title in 2004. The company's last manufacturer's title came more than a decade ago as well, in 2002. "It's no secret that (the addition of SHR) brings more bullets to our gun as well," Nair said. "We've got more cars that will be running up front and a bigger chance to win. Sometimes in this sport you're playing the odds a little bit. You can have the fastest car but sometimes stuff happens. So having more faster cars up there is going to increase our chances to make sure the blue oval is in Victory Lane." &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Nationwide to give fans inside look at Dale Earnhardt Jr.
NASCAR fans will get an inside look into Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s return to racing beginning next Tuesday thanks to a six-part series provided by Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide is the official primary sponsor of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Earnhardt in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . "Unfinished Business" documents the offseason preparation and work behind Earnhardt's return to competition following last year's injury-shortened season. NASCAR's most popular driver missed the final 18 races of the year after suffering a concussion. The series is scheduled to go live on the Nationwide 88 Facebook page each Tuesday between Jan. 24 and this year's Feb. 26th running of the Daytona 500 . Two episodes will air the week leading into the season-opening race. A preview (trailer) of the series was posted to the Nationwide 88 Facebook page Thursday. "Based on everything that happened last year, we wanted to really capitalize on Dale getting back in the car and all the excitement and interest, just the fans' general hunger for as much Dale Jr. content as we could provide," Jim McCoy, director of sports marketing for Nationwide, told NASCAR.com. "Going into the offseason as we did our production shoot for 2017 as we normally do, we wanted to add on a new layer ... a behind-the-scenes unique look around Dale. The offseason processes around production shoots, around designing the car, all the things that go into getting ready for Daytona. And having a real personal view from Dale conveying that." Each segment of the six-part series is short, informative and entertaining. For 2016, Nationwide produced a successful paint scheme unveil for Earnhardt's No. 88 entry. But following his injury officials wanted to go a little deeper this year. Portions of the series include Earnhardt's wife, Amy, car owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Greg Ives. "Just the people that are really close to everything ... that fans don't normally get," McCoy said. Earnhardt's prior medical condition didn't hinder the process, but sensitivities surrounding the issue were addressed with the Hendrick organization. McCoy said it is "a very small part of this six-episode series." "This is truly more about getting ready for Daytona; we absolutely touch on the subject of him being out of the car because you have to ," he said. "But I would say the majority of it is around what goes into the offseason preparation, why he is even more excited for this year and all that." Among the information provided to fans will be why there may be a different look to this year's No. 88 Nationwide paint scheme. Earnhardt has always been actively involved in determining the appearance of his race cars and coming up with the look for this year's car was no different. "There was a unique little nugget that came out that we'd not heard on him growing up around his grandfather and his dad racing based on the car coming back from the race track," McCoy said. "The lighter cars you could always tell how the race went based on where the tire marks were, the dirt and everything else. On a white car you always had a better sense of that and we've really transitioned to a lighter paint scheme this year with more white mixed into it. "He pulls in some of those personal stories that we hadn't heard and I think the fans will get a really big kick out of learning a little bit more about why he likes lighter paint schemes." Earnhardt has 26 career wins in NASCAR's top series, and his final three -- at Talladega, Daytona and Phoenix in 2015 -- came with Nationwide on the car in a primary role. The company, which previously was the title sponsor for what is now the XFINITY Series, has been affiliated with Earnhardt and his family for many years. McCoy said the series sponsorship, which ran from 2008-14, was crucial in helping to prepare Nationwide for its relationship with Earnhardt. "We learned a lot and we would not have been ready and in position to be able to take over as majority primary (sponsor) of the No. 1 driver in the sport, for the fans' demands and what they would want out of a sponsor," he said. "I think the Nationwide Series allowed us to really learn and do a lot of great things. "But we've taken the program to new levels and heights in partnership with Dale. He's our best customer and we can authentically connect with him and our products and services because it's real. It's been real since he was 16 years old. As we're trying to expand the message of who Nationwide is and what we do, the many sides of our company." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Gaunt Brothers Racing sets '17 schedule; Kennington to compete at Daytona
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 18, 2017) - Gaunt Brothers Racing, owned by Triad Racing Technologies president Marty Gaunt, will return to NASCAR competition in 2017. Participating in four restrictor plate races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , GBR's select schedule begins with the 59th running of the Daytona 500 , when D.J. Kennington will take the wheel of the team's Toyota Camry. "With the recent unveiling of the 2018 Toyota Camry, we feel that now is the right time to return to the racetrack," said Gaunt, whose Triad engines powered five championship-winning Toyota drivers and contributed to multiple manufacturer championships at the NASCAR national level. "We're going to provide a concentrated effort this season at tracks on which we can immediately adapt and compete." Gaunt Brothers Racing previously competed in what is now the NASCAR Pinty's Series in 2011. Prior to purchasing Triad and forming GBR, Gaunt served in leadership roles with Team Penske , Red Horse Racing and Red Bull Racing. GBR is fielding the Toyota Camry in partnership with longtime Triad client RAB Racing, led by Robby Benton. RAB Racing will partner in supplying cars, shop space and technical support to the GBR effort. "There are a lot of great things happening with the sport right now and we feel fortunate to continue our relationship with Marty, Triad and Toyota, starting with this attempt at the Daytona 500 ," said Benton. "Our aspirations will be no small task, but we know what we need to do to position ourselves to make this a successful effort. We'll transition over to the Daytona 500 after competing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with our sports car program later this month." Kennington, hailing from St. Thomas, Ontario, is a two-time NASCAR Pinty's Series champion and 19-time Pinty's Series race winner. He has made 56 career starts in NASCAR's three national divisions, including his Cup Series debut last fall at Phoenix International Raceway . Kennington's longtime partner, Castrol (Wakefield Canada) and British Columbia-based Lordco Auto Parts will co-sponsor the Toyota Camry in the season-opening Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26. "As the Daytona 500 is called 'The Great American Race,' our team will be considered the 'Great Canadian Invasion,'" joked Kennington. "I'm definitely ready to take this on. I'm excited to be running the first race with Monster Energy as the series sponsor, and I love how the program came together with Castrol, Lordco and the Gaunts." The remaining events for GBR, for which the driver will be announced at a later date, include Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, May 7, Daytona on Saturday, July 1 and Talladega on Sunday, Oct. 15.
Stewart-Haas Racing 'ready' for move to Ford
Team co-owner Tony Stewart talks about why it was important to Stewart-Haas Racing to make the move to Ford, as well as the decision to start making its chassis in 2017.
Mark Martin 'fortunate' to be in the NASCAR HOF
NASCAR legend Mark Martin talks about his rise through the ranks of NASCAR and how he feels fortunate to be going into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Determination, focus drive Martin to Hall of Fame
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 " Martin's top moments Mark Martin is respected and revered for a 31-year NASCAR racing career that includes 40 Cup victories, 49 XFINITY wins and five heralded IROC championships. He is considered one of the most talented, highly focused and broadly successful competitors in NASCAR history. And later this week, Martin will formally acquire a designation that makes him most proud of all: NASCAR Hall of Famer. "When I'm introduced at a function, now people can call me something, I'll have a title," Martin, 58, said this week with a laugh. "Prior to that, you kind of had to search for a title, although I had done a lot of cool and amazing things in my career." His long list of "cool and amazing things" is what earned Martin this highest of honors. He joins Benny Parsons, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks in this year’s Hall of Fame class and will be formally inducted Friday in Charlotte (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN). RELATED: Parks set early standard " Prolonged excellence Childress' hallmark For Martin, it is a story of supreme determination and talent. In addition to his 40 wins and five championship runner-up finishes in NASCAR's highest level, Martin proved to be one of the series’ most diverse competitors -- ever. He won four GT class championships competing in the Rolex 24 during the 1990s. And his five IROC titles -- and four more runner-up IROC championship finishes -- showed Martin’s great ability bettering the best drivers across all forms of racing from NASCAR to IndyCar to sports cars to sprint cars. It is certainly something that separates and elevates him to the highest of standards through four decades of the best competition in multiple genres. So understandably, Martin had to really think about what in his vast career makes him most proud. "I don't know if there's a single thing," Martin said. "One thing, I would have to say the fact that I made it to NASCAR at such a young age (22). At the time it was an amazingly young age, then I fell on my face and had to go home and start my career again. "So I would say perseverance, if you want to sum it up in one word. Having to start my career all over again and building my way back. Having a second chance is probably the biggest thing." "And the second thing is what I did in the IROC Series." Martin has acknowledged that he was as focused and intense as they came. He was the first driver to seriously incorporate fitness training into his race preparation -- something that may have eased his ability to compete at such a high level even into his 50s. That determination to find an edge was apparent in the garage, even from an early age. He was among the rare drivers to frequently be seen looking into the hood of his car and working alongside the crew. It was the way he was raised by his father Julian, who took great care in guiding his son's passion. There are photos of Martin’s earliest racing days clearly showing how Julian Martin had gone so far to alter his son's first race cars out of love and safety -- mounting the steering wheel in the middle of the car instead of having it on the far left. Dad and son travelled from their native Arkansas throughout the Midwest following the racing dream and they were very close -- now the hard work rewarded with Martin’s long list of achievements and this highest of NASCAR's high honors. Heartbreakingly, Julian was killed when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Nevada mountains in August of 1998, also taking the life of Martin’s stepmother and 11-year old stepsister. Martin remembers immersing himself in competition as best he could to deal with the tragedy. Martin won the night race at Bristol two weeks after losing his father. Immediately after climbing out of his car in Victory Lane, he emotionally thanked the race fans for "their sympathy, love and support" saying their "love for our family has meant everything." "I felt it was my obligation and responsibility to go racing and that's what my dad would have wanted," Martin acknowledged last week. "It was tough , but it would have been tough sitting on a couch in a daze, too . " To me, racing was sort of a responsibility that I had. I felt responsibility toward the 50 or 100 people that supported the (then-Roush Racing) 6-car and a responsibility to race. I just didn't feel like missing a race because I was grieving. … To me, at the time, it just didn't seem like the right thing to do. "It did help me cope with the horrendous loss I was experiencing because I did have to pick up and go racing." And for Martin, the success he would later experience in the second half of his career is as impressive and inspiring as anything he accomplished. He came as close as he ever had to winning the Daytona 500 in 2007, losing the race to Kevin Harvick by a mere 0.02-seconds -- a hood-length -- in a photo finish that marked Martin’s best ever showing in the Great American Race. RELATED: Closest finishes in the history of the Great American Race Two years later, at the age of 50, Martin challenged Jimmie Johnson for what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, winning five races and claiming seven pole positions. Martin led the standings after each of the opening three Chase races, only to finish runner-up to Johnson, a seven-time winner on the year. It marked the fifth and final time Martin was a championship runner-up in an amazing 20-year span of his career. It is a remarkable accomplishment and something he says he is at last comfortable enjoying, free of any near-miss regret. "I never scored enough points to win one, and that's that," Martin said, when asked about it last week. "I would have won one if I had scored more points than anyone else. … and I let that take an enormous amount of joy (from me). "It's something I let go of and I refuse to allow that to rob me of joy. I have a lot to be thankful of, be grateful for. I accomplished a lot in my career and I’m not sour about the things I didn't accomplish." The attitude accompanies good reason -- because by all standards Martin accomplished so much and is admired by so many. Later this week, he will be fittingly celebrated in all the glory he deserves for a career that showed everyone what hard work and mental focus could produce. Forever more, Mark Martin shall be known and introduced as a NASCAR Hall of Famer. "It means more than anything I achieved while I was racing because I was so busy racing, anything I achieved I never paid attention to ," Martin said. "I was just storming ahead worried about how I would win the next race. "Now that I've had some time to soak it in, it's the last big deal, the big win, the crown jewel of my career. "Don't forget the people in the Hall of Fame are my heroes, the founders of the sport, the real men that did it with their bare hands. I'm a little bit uncomfortable going in there with them, to be honest with you, because I don't feel like I belong in that kind of company." Perhaps once he stands on stage -- properly celebrated and duly honored -- Martin will accept that he is absolutely a part of that good company. The best. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;