Jimmy John's re-ups with Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick
RELATED: Drivers on the move in 2017 Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday that Jimmy John's has renewed its partnership with its No. 4 Chevrolet team and driver Kevin Harvick in a multiyear agreement. With the extension, Jimmy John's will be the primary sponsor of the No. 4 Chevy in 16 races, including the season-opening Daytona 500 . The Illinois-based sandwich chain will serve as a major associate sponsor in the remaining 22 events. Jimmy John's has been associated with Harvick as a primary sponsor in NASCAR's top division since 2011. Jimmy John's followed Harvick from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas in 2014, expanding its backing of his racing efforts. "We are fortunate to partner with Kevin for many years in a very meaningful way," restaurant founder Jimmy John Liautaud said in a release provided by the team. "On and off the track, Kevin and (wife) DeLana Harvick are winners in all they do, and Stewart-Haas Racing has proven to be an excellent home for them and for Jimmy John's." Said Harvick: "I've known Jimmy since 2009 and I've personally seen how driven he is and how his work ethic is embraced by Jimmy John's franchise owners. He wants to be the best, period. And he'll out-work everyone to be the best. That's the same mindset we have in racing. I'm proud to continue this partnership with Jimmy John's at Stewart-Haas Racing ." Jimmy John's also sponsored Harvick's efforts as an owner/driver from 2009-10 in what is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Johnson: 'I will never be the King or the Intimidator'
Jimmie Johnson recaps a victorious season and acknowledges the great Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as he joins them with seven NSCS Championships.
Drivers rally from pre-qualifying hang-ups
RELATED: Qualifying results " Edwards earns sixth Coors Light Pole of 2016 Multiple drivers, including three Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors, were left sweating it out in the garage when their cars did not pass pre-qualifying inspection by the start of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Qualifying began on time at 4:45 p.m. ET, with a long line of cars still waiting to be cleared. Those that did not initially pass included the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Austin Dillon , the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick and the No. 14 SHR Chevrolet of Tony Stewart , all Chase drivers. Despite the backlog, all 40 cars eventually posted a qualifying time for Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), with Regan Smith the last to clear inspection as he headed to pit road with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left in the opening 20-minute knockout round. "We feel like what is going on is that the stakes are higher now that we're at the Chase," NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said on the NBCSN broadcast. "I think all of our competitors are trying to push the envelope. ... If someone doesn't make it out there, it's not our process, it's them pushing the envelope." In other technical-related news, the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 team for rookie Chase Elliott received its fourth written warning for issues in inspection. Elliott's team will be relegated to the final pick in pit-stall selection ahead of the second race of the 10-race postseason. Dillon and Harvick were eventually cleared with less than 12 minutes to go in the opening 20-minute round of group qualifying, and Harvick got on the track with seven minutes to spare. The final latecomers were granted a slight time cushion when Clint Bowyer spun out in Turn 4 during a qualifying pass, stopping the clock with 11:39 remaining. Harvick eventually posted the seventh-fastest time of the round, with Stewart in 17th and Dillon 29th in his backup car after a crash in opening practice damaged his primary No. 3 Chevrolet. "It's different," Dillon said of the logjam outside of the inspection bay. "I see NASCAR just trying to keep everybody on the same playing field." Harvick will start 19th. His team owner and SHR teammate, Stewart, will start 22nd in what's expected to be his final New Hampshire start. The full list of cars not cleared from inspection when the green flag dropped: the No. 10 of Danica Patrick , the No. 47 of AJ Allmendinger , the No. 7 of Smith, the No. 83 of Matt DiBenedetto , the No. 5 of Kasey Kahne , the No. 16 of Greg Biffle and the No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , in addition to the Nos. 3, 4 and 14. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Despite bumps, Elliott's impressed Gordon, father in rookie season
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend Bill Elliott remembers the conversations with his son. "I said 'If you want to race, then we'll go race. But if you want to go hang out with your buddies on Saturday night, then you can do that. It's your choice,' " Elliott recalled recently. Chase Elliott wanted to race. He wanted to race small cars and big cars, on dirt and on asphalt. So he did. He raced and he won and he lost and he learned. And in 2016, two years removed from winning NASCAR's XFINITY Series title, the youngster was handed the keys to his future -- the seat in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven at the time by four-time series champion Jeff Gordon . Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) signals the end of the '16 season. Elliott will enter the race 10th in points, having qualified for the championship-determining Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup but falling out of title contention after a difficult second round. There have been "a lot of ups and downs this year," he said. "I think the biggest thing I've seen as I've run throughout this year, and Jeff touched on it as we talked in the offseason, he just kept bragging on this group of guys and how good they were and kept saying, 'Man, you're going to a really good group.' I think you have to see some of those things firsthand to really recognize it and appreciate it and as I've gone through this season I really have. I've got some of the best cars you could have to drive. They make me look a lot better than I am. "Those are the kinds of people you want to be surrounded with if you can do that. I really had nothing to do with the group of people that I was assigned, I was just lucky to fall into place where I did at the time I did. That's been one of my biggest takeaways." "I've had some really good cars to drive and I think having that good relationship with this group and to be able to count on the job that Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) does ... he does an incredible job and doesn't get enough credit; he makes my job as easy as you could have it." Elliott has 10 top fives and 17 top-10 finishes this season and won a pair of poles -- at Daytona's season opener and the unpredictable Talladega. He earned career-best second-place finishes at both Michigan races this year and was third twice in the opening round of the Chase. "I think he's very competitive and in the race car to me he's a veteran," Gordon said. "I know he's beat himself up a few times outside the race car but I like that. That means that second or third is not good enough for him. He's got a bright future." The fact that he was able to qualify for the Chase, Gordon said, wasn't a surprise. Not after Elliott won the XFINITY Series title his first time out while driving for JR Motorsports. Paired with teammates Jimmie Johnson , a six-time series champion, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., at HMS, Gordon expected the 20-year-old to excel. "You still never know," Gordon said. "Especially at the Cup level it's very competitive. Not just in the garage level but at Hendrick. To have Jimmie and Kasey and Junior as your teammates, that's going to make you have to step up. But I don't think we would have put him in there if we didn't believe in him. And you know there are going to be some growing pains. I would say there have been far less than I anticipated." Gustafson worked with Kyle Busch , Mark Martin and Gordon at HMS. He said there was never a question of talent when it came to Elliott. But others with talent have come and gone. Younger drivers can go fast but going fast is only part of the equation. Race conditions, passing, altering one's line to adapt to changing track conditions, and the race on an off pit road are additional hurdles to overcome in order to contend. It's what Gustafson refers to as "the art of racing" and said it is something that's "definitely underappreciated" today. "He does that really well," Gustafson said. "Typically in my experience it takes some time to master passing or running in traffic or where you need to move on the track, what you need to do to improve your position. He does a really good job at that. You always can get better -- I think it's something he can learn and change and grow with but I've been pretty impressed with his first year and how he handles all that. "His maturity and mental aptitude and demeanor are pretty far beyond his years. ... Everybody makes mistakes but I think he minimalizes a lot of what you typically see in rookie." LEARNING CURVE Gustafson said Elliott's ability to adapt and digest information quickly when he has struggled in a particular area or at a venue has been impressive. Often, it's the next trip back to that track, or even a year or two, before such improvements bear fruit for a driver. For Elliott, it's sometimes much sooner. Over the course of a weekend in some cases. "It doesn't change through practice but then once he's able to go and digest it, think about it and come back with a game plan ... he attacks it and makes significant improvements," Gustafson said. "It's impressive. I don't know that I've ever worked with a driver that had that ability." The technology available today has been a big help. Elliott will often pour over information gleaned from his teammates while awaiting changes to the car during practice or at day’s end. Where someone brakes in the corner, how fast they pick up the throttle, how much steering they're putting in their car can help when he’s searching for more speed or a better handling ride. And he isn't hesitant to change. The stopwatch doesn't lie, he said. "If the guys have found a way to get you out on the track better for one lap or get you around the race track better for long runs, and that's a proven fact from the stopwatch or tire falloff or whatever data that you can see, then there's no denying that fact," Elliott said. "I think that opens your mind up to try and see what they are doing and how they're going about their job. Amongst our guys or any of the guys in the garage, I just can't see that person X has a car that's that much better than mine. I think you have to recognize that we're in a pretty tight boundary of competition and for you to be way off, well maybe you need to think about how you're driving. Because I know my guys haven't missed it that bad." Gordon, now a FOX NASCAR analyst, says being young or new to the series is a plus; it's easier to absorb the reams of information available without the baggage of preconceived ideas. "You're a sponge," he said, "so you can adapt quickly. "As a team we have to take advantage of that because the longer you go, the harder it is to do that. I think that's one of the things that's made Jimmie so great over all the years is he's been able to do that as well or better than anybody that I know. Someone like Chase, that's as talented and young as he is, I see that in him. That's why I think they've performed consistently very well." Bill Elliott says he tries to look at his son's progression as a driver and not as his son. Either way, he's been impressed with what he's seen. "I think he's done a great job from a driving standpoint," Elliott said. "I really didn't know ... when you come into these deals and you think 'OK, I'm getting in Jeff Gordon 's car and it's already got a pretty good history to it, a damn good history to it, and what are the expectations for a kid that's come in and only run a handful of Cup races prior to this? I've been very impressed." A FAN FAVORITE The elder Elliott won the series' most popular driver award, overseen by the National Motorsports Press Association, a record 16 times. Earnhardt Jr. has won the award the last 13 years. In fact, the award, which has been presented annually since 1953, has gone to someone named Elliott or Earnhardt every year since 1991. Could the younger Elliott be the next in line? He has quickly developed his own following of younger fans while appealing to those who were fans of his father, the 1988 series champion, and to those who were fans of Gordon and the No. 24 team. Voting for this year's MPD award closes Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET. ( www.mostpopulardriver.com ) "The fan base that I acquired the years that I ran was just so phenomenal," Bill Elliott said. "They supported me through thick and thin. I'd fall out of races on some days and there would be fans that would tell me, 'We don't care if you never win another race; we're behind you 100 percent.' To have that kind of following ... I think it just had to do with my background, how I got into the sport, I wasn't part of the established group. I worked hard and tried to do things the right way, which I didn't always do that. But I tried really hard to take care of the race fans because I really respected the fans, whether they were pulling for me or the other drivers. "I think Chase has been very good and very gracious with the fans and he's been able to pick up that group, plus Jeff had a strong fan base. When you've got everything else ... being involved with Dale Jr. on the XFINITY Y side got him exposed to a lot of people. Winning that championship the first year and coming back and finishing second last year, there was a lot going on." Chase Elliott says seeing fans wearing the No. 24 gear carrying his likeness and name wasn't something he was expecting as the year got underway. And while the competition side of the sport is where he's focused, he understands the importance of the fans. "They're what makes it go around," he said. "One thing my dad always touched on was if you're having a bad day or not feeling well, not doing too good, you have to recognize that whether there are two people at an event or 2,000, if you make one person’s day then that goes a long way with that person. Coming from him, I think that's a pretty good word of advice and something to help keep things in perspective." He listens. And he learns. Even if it's sometimes hard to tell. "We were in the shop one day and we were working on the Late Model car," Bill Elliott said. "He asked me how to do something and I told him. Then he argued with me and I told him, 'Well, do it your way.' So there you go. "You know how kids are."
'Baddest man' Chuck Norris welcomes Texas Chase opportunity
(Photo credit: Chuck Norris Facebook ) FORT WORTH, Texas -- Chuck Norris is so beloved, treasured and adored that the actor and martial arts expert has internet memes, Twitter handles and fan clubs dedicated to honoring his very existence. According to the hugely popular and always creative Chuck Norris Facts website: "The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square until Chuck Norris roundhouse kicked one of the corners off.'" Another entry promises, "Chuck Norris can believe it's not butter.'" And of course, "Chuck Norris knows the last digit of pi." There are clever memes picturing Norris. MORE: Chuck Norris and NASCAR -- all the memes you need "When Chuck Norris does push- ups , he doesn't push himself up, he pushes the earth down," says one. "When Google has a question, they Norris it," suggests another. The popularity and fondness bestowed on Norris is much appreciated by the actor, who lives near Houston and will be trackside Sunday to introduce the eight Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers prior to the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway . It will truly be a mutual appreciation between NASCAR’s biggest stars and one of America's most treasured celebrities. "I'm looking forward to introducing the drivers and being with the NASCAR fans, plus I haven't seen (track president) Eddie Gossage and (Speedway Motorsports Chairman) Bruton Smith in years so this will be a great opportunity to get re-acquainted," Norris said. "I used to go out to the track often when I lived in Dallas filming the Walker, Texas Ranger series. The Norrises just love speed. I used to race off-road and then I did the powerboat racing for a few years. We're into all this racing stuff." Gossage thought it was the ultimate "natural" idea to invite Norris to introduce the Chase drivers prior to Sunday's race. "The thinking was, introducing the eight baddest drivers because they're still in the Chase you need the baddest man on the planet," Gossage said. "And with all the internet facts and memes it was obvious that has t o be Chuck Norris. The fact he's a friend and a Texan and been here a number of times, that’s an easy one to put together." For all of his work on television, in movies and as one of the most accomplished American martial arts experts, the 76-year old Norris is still genuinely amazed at the warm reception he receives everywhere he goes. And he has a good sense of humor about the cult-like following that has developed worldwide with the memes and fan clubs. "It’s interesting," Norris allowed with a laugh. "These Chuck Norris facts have reconnected me with the young people again. There’s a young college kid that sent me the first three Chuck Norris facts and I read them. "The first one I ever read was: 'They wanted to put Chuck Norris on Mount Rushmore but the granite wasn't tough enough.' It's been 10 years since I saw that one." "And," he recalled, "I did two tours in Iraq to shake hands with the troops and I did that with over 40,000 soldiers because they were bugging their commanders to shake my hand after hearing these Chuck Norris facts. "Every time one of them came over to shake my hand, he'd tell me a Chuck Norris fact. And then I'd go to the commode and Chuck Norris facts were written on the wall. I thought, 'I can't get away from these things.'" Nor does he really want to. His popularity and decades long work in his first love, martial arts, along with his well-received work in television shows like the long-running Walker, Texas Ranger and movies such as Delta Force and Missing in Action make Norris one of the most recognizable faces in the world. And he is using that support and following to continue his great work with the KickStart Kids Foundation he formed in 1992. The program is truly the heart of his commitment to giving back. He and his wife Gena chair the foundation, which has worked with at-risk children and proudly helped graduate over 85,000 since the organization began. For the next week the Norries are selling "Chuck Yeah" t-shirts at represent.com/chuckyeah to raise money for their KickStart Foundation. "I'm a huge NASCAR fan and my son Eric has been driving in NASCAR for years, so we thought this would be a great opportunity," Norris said. "This race gives me the opportunity to help our fundraiser for the Kick Start program. Most of these kids have gone on to college and been successful in their own right." So for this weekend, Norrises intensity comes with a wide smile and proud heart. "I just love going out there and meeting these drivers," Norris said. "They are just down-to-earth guys and they have great values. Those are the kind of guys I like to be around." And it's definitely a mutual feeling.
Relive the closing NXS laps at Homestead in Spanish
Take a listen to the Spanish call to the end of the Ford EcoBoost 300 that saw Daniel Suarez become the first First Latin American driver to win a NASCAR national series championship, courtesy of FOX Sports Latin America.
H2H: Sizing up the first Chase cutoff at Dover
RELATED: Chase Grid " Bubble Watch Story lines abound, NASCAR.com's Holly Cain and Zack Albert tackle three pressing topics before the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason makes its first elimination at Dover International Speedway . 1. Which driver currently below the Chase cutoff line is most likely to advance to the Round of 12? Cain: I realize this is a long-shot and a sentimental pick, but I'm not counting Tony Stewart out of his final Chase run quite yet. I remember watching him win five of the 10 Chase races -- including the 2011 season finale -- to grab his third title from Carl Edwards ' clutches. Stewart is 11 points from the transfer position heading into the weekend, but he also is a three-time winner at Dover. Albert : Jamie McMurray , primarily based on the performance increase that Chip Ganassi Racing has enjoyed in recent weeks. While his teammate Kyle Larson has more regularly competed for wins, McMurray has been a tick more consistent. In the opening round, staying steady and avoiding the Monster Mile's pitfalls may be enough. 2. Which driver currently above the Chase cutoff line is most likely to be eliminated at Dover? Cain: Kurt Busch has only one top-10 finish in his last nine starts at Dover. Similarly, Carl Edwards has only a single top 10 in his last eight starts at the Monster Mile. They are 16 and 15 points, respectively, above the cutoff line. While that's some cushion to the good, they will need to perform well Sunday as this is a place where crazy things have happened. Ask Jimmie Johnson . Albert : The provisional top 12 is a pretty stout list. While Chase Elliott has righted the ship to a degree from his dreadful July and August stretch, he'll need to conjure up the positive mojo from his third-place finish at Dover in May and avoid the mistakes that he tends to lament so bitterly. 3. Of the two, who is more likely to win the championship: Martin Truex Jr . or Kevin Harvick ? Cain: This is the $10 million question. In the preseason and again before the Chase I picked Jimmie Johnson to hoist the trophy. But clearly Truex and Harvick have proven themselves -- again -- as the drivers to be dealt with. Truex drives a Toyota, which has shown itself the power of the field, and his Furniture Row Racing team is exactly the kind of "all-in," underdog, feel-good story that would make anyone smile. But as Harvick showed this past weekend, he should never, ever be underestimated. He's as motivated, focused and ready as he's ever been for a title and is the only driver in the series that has been in the Championship 4 each year of the new elimination format. Albert : Truex and Harvick have certainly made a case for their championship credentials in the opening two races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason. No weak links, regardless of the venue, for either of these two, save for Truex's early season tendencies to have odd occurrences make victories somehow slip away. Still, it's hard to anoint either one with eight races left in the 10-race playoffs with plenty of opportunity for mess- ups , especially at wild-card tracks Talladega and Martinsville. Forced to pick one of the two, I'll call the coin toss in the air for Harvick.
Sponsor re-ups for Cassill's XFINITY ride
G&K Services returning as a primary sponsor for the No. 01 team Landon Cassill will have a familiar sponsor returning to the fold for the 2015 XFINITY Series season with his JD Motorsports ride. G&K Services will be back on the No. 01 Chevrolet as a primary sponsor for multiple races as well as a full-time associate sponsor ship. "We've had a great partnership with the folks at G&K," said team owner Johnny Davis in a release. "Their participation with our team has been beneficial to both sides, and it really showed this year as we ran well in so many races. We're looking forward to what the future holds." The 25-year-old Cassill ran a full Nationwide Series slate in 2014 as well as 34 of 36 Sprint Cup Series races. In the Nationwide Series, Cassill had three top-10 finishes en route to a 12th-place finish in the final standings. The 2015 season marks the sixth season that JD Motorsports and G&K Services have been partners. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
WIX re-ups with RCR, Grainger joins No. 31
WIX to serve as primary sponsor in two national series; Grainger teams with Newman
Sponsor re-ups with Sauter, ThorSport
Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff extends partnership with No. 98 entry Registration for NASCAR Fantasy Live is now open! Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff and Pouches has extended their partnership with ThorSport Racing and Johnny Sauter for the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the team announced on Tuesday. The partnership is for eight races beginning with the season opener at Daytona International Speedway , the NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Friday, Feb. 20 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). "Smokey Mountain has been a huge supporter of our series, and every year they are able to increase their presence in NASCAR," Sauter said in a team release. "I'm honored they have chosen not only to extend their partnership with myself and ThorSport Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but to have also increased their presence in 2015. This kind of partnership is hard to find these days, so I'm honored to be carrying their colors and representing their brand again this season." In addition to the opener at Daytona, Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff and Pouches will serve as the primary sponsor for both races at Martinsville Speedway (in March and October), the May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway , the August race at Bristol Motor Speedway , the October race at Talladega Superspeedway and the November race at Texas Motor Speedway . Last season, Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff was a primary sponsor for Sauter in six of the series' 22 races. In the 2014 season, Sauter scored a win at Michigan International Speedway and finished fourth in the final standings, driving the No. 98 Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule