Will Kimmel to drive for TriStar Motorsports
Ingersoll Rand will serve as primary sponsor for Kimmel's five NNS starts
H2H: Will Hendrick or JGR win at Talladega?
This weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway will bring new excitement, drama and possibly a surprising race winner. Hendrick Motorsports is typically known as the organization to beat at the 2.66-mile track, but the recent domination of Joe Gibbs Racing 's four-car team may threaten the HMS quartet in the battle to top the leaderboard. In the latest Head-to-Head, NASCAR.com's Taylor Starer and Maggie MacKenzie debate which team is more likely to prevail at Talladega. Read their thoughts and vote in the poll below with your opinion. MACKENZIE: Let's get the Talladega weekend going. There's something about 'Dega that makes it so intriguing, from big wrecks to big wins. Now, if there's one thing certain, it's that Hendrick Motorsports and the superspeedway go together perfectly. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., for example, goes into every 'Dega race as the clear favorite thanks to his six wins there -- his winningest track to date. And let's not forget his 12 top fives and 16 top 10s, either. Junior has led multiple laps during each of the last five Sprint Cup races at the Alabama track, so expect the No. 88 to be up front once again and lead. STARER: Dale Jr. always brings it at Talladega, that's no secret. But the success Joe Gibbs Racing has seen this season is proving to be unmatchable. For starters, the four-car Toyota team just swept the month of April, with Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards dominating races at Martinsville, Texas, Bristol and Richmond. Junior and the rest of the Hendrick Motorsports wheelhouse have a strong history at 'Dega, but JGR has some serious momentum this season. I'd be interested to see if Junior's Talladega knowledge is enough to outsmart everything JGR has learned so far this season. MACKENZIE: There's no doubt that the JGR foursome has been on fire lately and whatever ingredients it has been mixing up make for one sweet concoction. With that being said, don't forget that Hendrick has been having success thus far, too. "Six-Time" added two wins to his resume this year at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway , while Kasey Kahne earned a season-best, fourth-place result at last week's Richmond race. And let's not count out rookie Chase Elliott . Elliott is the best newcomer in the Cup field and his back-to-back top-five finishes at Texas and Bristol proved he can outrace the veterans. It's only a matter of time before the 20-year-old wheels that iconic No. 24 to Victory Lane. STARER: All valid points, Maggie. But let's not forget who won this year's Daytona 500 , the only other restrictor-plate race that the Sprint Cup Series has run this season. That's right, Denny Hamlin . And it wasn't Hamlin's first show of superspeedway success. The No. 11 JGR driver saw Victory Lane at the Talladega spring race in 2014, and his teammate Matt Kenseth won there in 2012. You make a good argument with Elliott, but this will be the rookie's first Sprint Cup Series attempt at Talladega, a track known to eat newbies alive. Let's just hope the No. 24 Chevrolet makes it till the end of the 188-lap event with few scratches. MACKENZIE: You make a good point there about Hamlin and the Daytona 500 , Taylor. My mind, however, keeps going back to this race last year. Hamlin earned a respectable ninth-place finish, but who got the 1-2? That would be Junior and Johnson, who led a combined 117 of the 188 laps run that day. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards finished 25th and 32nd, respectively. Talladega is quite unpredictable, but my money is on a similar finish to 2015. STARER: Ah yes, I was at this race last year and the No. 88's dominance was tough to beat. There's no doubt that Junior's chances of running up front are strong -- I just think JGR's are stronger, especially since Busch is back after missing this race last year. Despite what went down last week at Richmond, the Toyota team seems to be learning as a unit, hence why this team has compiled multiple wins, top-fives and top-10 finishes in 2016. There's not just one superspeedway star at JGR, which improves its odds, and that's what matters most. But, we'll just have to see where the cards fall. After all, it's 'Dega, baby.
Rule reminder: How Stewart will be scored at Talladega
RELATED: Stewart eager for more " See current Chase Grid When he announced his return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing, Stewart-Haas Racing driver and co-owner Tony Stewart said he would qualify his No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway and start Sunday's race, but ultimately give his seat to standby driver Ty Dillon at some point during the GEICO 500 (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). However, Dillon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday that he would qualify the car and that both he and Stewart would practice the car on Friday. Stewart's first race since injuring his back in an offseason all-terrain vehicle accident came last Sunday at Richmond, and Talladega -- a 2.66-mile track where peril exists in every moment -- was enough of a risk for doctors to ask Stewart to step out of the seat at some point Sunday. "Smoke" has been granted a waiver that makes him eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He initially was ineligible due to not meeting the requirement of attempting to start every race. Now, he can attempt to qualify for the postseason -- the most simple road into the Chase is to win one of the remaining regular-season races and climb into the top 30 in the points standings. All of which leads to these questions: Does Tony Stewart earn points at Talladega? What would happen if Ty Dillon won? The answer from NASCAR: If Stewart begins the race, he is the driver of record. The points accrued from whatever place Dillon finishes go into the standings under Stewart's name. If Dillon finishes the race in the No. 14 and winds up in Victory Lane, it will go down as a victory for Stewart and would count toward his Chase eligibility.
Kimmel to drive for ThorSport at Homestead
10-time ARCA champion will make second Truck Series start of 2013
Early release, Chase swap highlight '17 schedule
RELATED: See the full 2017 schedules here NASCAR released its 2017 national series schedules on Thursday -- months prior to the more typical fall arrival -- and among the significant news is a Chase-time swap between two of the tracks on the Cup schedule. Although the order and dates of races in NASCAR's premier series remain mostly intact, a noteworthy change involves swapping the Chase race order at Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway. For 2017, Talladega (Oct. 15) will be the second race in the Round of 12 with Kansas becoming the third -- and elimination -- race (Oct. 22) for the Round of 12. This past weekend, Talladega recorded the second-highest number of green-flag passes for the lead in the track's great history (213), and the series heads to Kansas this week for a Saturday night show with its revamped rules package. NASCAR credited an "unprecedented" collaboration among the industry for being able to complete and announce the upcoming 2017 schedule so early in 2016, specifically noting the importance of the five-year sanctioning agreement between NASCAR and its tracks. "Announcing the 2017 national series schedules this early in the season is another example of the collaborative spirit across the NASCAR industry," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said. "It's an exciting time in NASCAR, with some of the most intriguing racing we've seen in years. With the 2017 schedule solidified, the industry can now concentrate on the remainder of this season while planning for the future much earlier than in previous years." RELATED: Explaining the five-year agreement The other big date news is that Dover International Speedway's spring race will be moved back a month to June 4 -- a week after the Coca-Cola 600 -- versus a date in May this year. And Michigan International Speedway's second race returns to its traditional August timeframe -- Aug. 19. Texas Motor Speedway's spring race will also be held on Sunday afternoon, rather than Saturday night. The Cup schedule begins with the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 26. Its regular-season finale at Richmond is Sept. 9, with the first round of the 10-stop playoff slate scheduled for Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway. The 2017 champion will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19. As for the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedules, they will open the new season at Daytona on Feb. 25 and Feb. 24, respectively. The XFINITY Series will feature four stand-alone events -- at Iowa Speedway (July 29), Mid-Ohio (Aug. 12), Road America (Aug. 26) and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 23). The Kentucky event opens the NASCAR XFINTY Series Chase. The Camping World Truck Series will host five stand-alone events on its 23-race schedule, including the hugely popular race at Eldora Speedway on July 19. It will kick off its postseason at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 23. Iowa Speedway will again host an XFINITY and Camping World Truck series doubleheader on June 23-24. RELATED: Learn more about all 23 Cup tracks
NASCAR announces 2017 national series schedules
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 5, 2016) -- NASCAR today announced the 2017 schedules for its three national series, giving fans and stakeholders a significant head start in planning for next season’s thrilling slate. A credit to unprecedented industry collaboration, specifically the five-year sanctioning agreement between NASCAR and its tracks, the sanctioning body finalized its 2017 schedules months ahead of previous years’ release. The result: Three unique schedules featuring race tracks that have hosted record-setting races already this season, with the majority of the slate still remaining. A notable change in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series schedule includes a date swap between a track that just hosted one of the most competitive races in its history, and one that will showcase the lower downforce competition package this coming weekend. Talladega Superspeedway, which last Sunday had the second-highest total of green flag passes for the lead ever recorded (213), will become the second race in the Round of 12 in 2017 (Oct. 15). Kansas Speedway will now become the third and final race in that round (Oct. 22). "Announcing the 2017 national series schedules this early in the season is another example of the collaborative spirit across the NASCAR industry," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "It is an exciting time in NASCAR, with some of the most intriguing racing we’ve seen in years. With the 2017 schedule solidified, the industry can now concentrate on the remainder of this season, while planning for the future much earlier than in previous years." Texas Motor Speedway's spring Cup race shifts to Sunday (April 9), a move expected to produce great racing action like that seen after Richmond International Raceway switched to a Sunday race for the 2016 season. Other changes in the NASCAR Cup schedule include Dover International Speedway's spring date move to June 4, a week after the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 28). Michigan International Speedway's second race will return to its traditional early August slot, on Aug. 13. The NASCAR Cup Series 2017 schedule opens with The Great American Race, the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26. The season culminates with the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19. The NASCAR XFINITY Series will kick off at Daytona on Feb. 25, and crown its champion at Homestead on Saturday, November 18. Its schedule features four standalone events -- Iowa Speedway (July 29), Mid-Ohio (Aug. 12), Road America (Aug. 26) and Kentucky Speedway, the first event in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase (Sept. 23). For the second consecutive season, Iowa will host a NASCAR XFINITY Series-NASCAR Camping World Truck Series companion weekend on June 23-24. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opens its season at Daytona on Feb. 24, and culminates at Homestead on Nov. 17. Five standalone races are included among the 2017 lineup: Texas Motor Speedway (June 9), Gateway Motorsports Park (June 17), Eldora Speedway (July 19), Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Aug. 27) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept. 30). The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase once again begins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 23). All races will air on either the FOX or NBC family of networks, MRN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. See below for all three NASCAR national series schedules.
American Ethanol, Enogen named sponsors for June Iowa XFINITY race
RELATED: Buy tickets NEWTON, Iowa (May 3, 2016) -- Iowa Speedway today announced American Ethanol will serve as the entitlement sponsor and Enogen as the presenting sponsor for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race during Wide Opening Weekend on June 18-19. The NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen on Sunday, June 19, represents the fifth consecutive year of the American Ethanol partnership and the fourth consecutive year with Enogen at Iowa Speedway . While the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series idles for a week, the green flag will wave at Iowa Speedway for a first-of-its-kind doubleheader weekend in central Iowa. For the first time ever, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series are paired together during Wide Opening Weekend on June 18-19. “American Ethanol and Enogen stepping up to sponsor our NASCAR XFINITY Series race is another great indicator of the important platform Iowa Speedway and NASCAR provide to brands,” said Iowa Speedway President Jimmy Small. “The adoption of biofuels grown and made in the USA, creating much needed green jobs in Iowa and across the Heartland is one of the tenets of NASCAR Green. American Ethanol has proven to be a tremendous partner not only for Iowa Speedway , but for NASCAR’s teams, fans and the industry as a whole.” American Ethanol and Enogen were the former title and presenting sponsors of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway . American Ethanol, along with Enogen, join the Iowa Corn Growers Association in renewing their long standing relationships with the speedway in 2016. “As NASCAR approaches 10 million flawless miles running on Sunoco Green E15, we’re excited for yet another opportunity to showcase the power and the high-quality performance ethanol brings to the race track,” said Jeff Broin, co-chair of Growth Energy. “It’s no secret biofuels create jobs in our country and work great in our engines. American Ethanol is proud to partner with Iowa Speedway and the NASCAR XFINITY series to show that an ethanol-based bio-fuel is the future.” Representing a wide array of ethanol supporters, from farmers to bio-engineering firms, American Ethanol was established by Growth Energy in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association to increase awareness of the value of American-made ethanol. Ethanol represents the most commercially-viable alternative to 100% petroleum-based fuel that America currently holds, and corn ethanol reduces emissions by 59 percent. “Ethanol is helping America reduce its dependence on foreign oil, lowering prices at the pump, improving the environment with lower emissions, and growing the economy with jobs that can’t be outsourced,” said Jack Bernens, head of Enogen at Syngenta. “Ethanol is an important success story and the American Ethanol E15 250 is an excellent opportunity to engage consumers and help increase awareness for the benefits of earth-friendly American ethanol. Syngenta is pleased to once again be working with Iowa Speedway and Growth Energy to support the ethanol industry through our sponsorship of this event to tell ethanol’s story.” In 2011, NASCAR launched its long-term biofuels program to reduce emissions of the fuel used in all its racing series. As part of the partnership, NASCAR’s three national touring series began using Sunoco Green E15; a 15% ethanol blend bio-fuel, made from American-grown corn. By utilizing Sunoco Green E15 race fuel, NASCAR has demonstrated that ethanol-blended fuel performs when held to the highest standards. Iowa Speedway season tickets, which are currently on sale, include eight high-powered races over three weekends. Wide Opening Weekend will feature both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen during Father’s Day Weekend on June 18-19. The second weekend of racing will showcase the ARCA Racing Series 150 presented by Casey’s General Stores, the INDYCAR Series Iowa Corn 300, Indy Lights and Pro Mazda Championship on July 9-10. The 2016 race season will close on July 29-30 with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series Casey’s General Stores 150 and NASCAR XFINITY Series U.S. Cellular 250.
Sprint Fan Vote: Current top 10 revealed
RELATED: Cast your vote now The Sprint Fan Vote is underway, and now, we have updates on (perhaps) your favorite driver. There's still plenty of time left to vote but, so far, the top-10 vote-getters are as follows, in alphabetical order: AJ Allmendinger , Trevor Bayne , Ryan Blaney , Clint Bowyer , Matt DiBenedetto , Chase Elliott , Kyle Larson , Casey Mears , Danica Patrick and Brian Vickers . Patrick, who won the Sprint Fan Vote last year and in 2013, is the first two-time Sprint Fan Vote winner. Elliott and Blaney are the current leaders in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year competition. Fans are able to vote daily by downloading the NASCAR Mobile App or visiting www.nascar.com/SprintFanVote. Votes that are shared on Facebook or Twitter will count for double, so make sure to post on your social media channels. So if you're voting for one of the 10 drivers above, get to it! If your driver isn't on the list, don't worry -- there's still plenty of time to help him or her catch up. Fans have until 5 p.m. ET May 20 to cast their votes. NASCAR will announce the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote in Victory Lane after the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday, May 20 (7 p.m. ET, FS1/MRN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is scheduled for May 21. If any of the Sprint Fan Vote candidates wins in the races leading up to the Sprint All-Star Race, he or she will automatically earn a spot in the race and their name will be removed from the Sprint Fan Vote ballot. To purchase ticket packages for the Sprint All-Star Race weekend -- which includes the Sprint Showdown, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series N.C. Education Lottery 200, Andy Grammer pre-race concert powered by Rayovac and the Sprint All-Star Race and qualifying -- call Charlotte Motor Speedway at 1-800-455-FANS or visit CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com . Fans wishing to engage in the #SprintAllStar Race conversation through the #SprintFanVote window are encouraged to follow @MissSprintCup, @CLTMotorSpdwy and @NASCAR on Twitter.
Coming home: Wile prepares for new role as Daytona president
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Chip Wile has flown into the Daytona Beach, Florida, airport dozens of times during his nearly two decades in NASCAR, working in racing public relations or for Motor Racing Network or more recently as the president of Darlington Raceway . But NASCAR's most famous track -- Daytona International Speedway -- looked different to Wile this past weekend as he landed at the airport next door. It's home now. "The 'aha moment' for me was flying in from Talladega Sunday night and landing right alongside the race track," said Wile, who started his tenure as Daytona International Speedway president on Monday. "I've flown in 50 times over the past 15 years but it felt different this time. You fly in and look over and get excited because you're going to Daytona, but knowing I have a different role now here and this is now my home was the 'aha moment.' "I'm trying to take a deep breath and really appreciate this opportunity. This is a game-changer for me and for my family. I understand how important (Daytona) is and what it means to our sport, and I'm looking forward to the challenge." For sure, the 36-year-old Wile knows a little something about challenges. For the past three years he has led the iconic Darlington Raceway into a modern era, ironically, by celebrating its storied past. Under his leadership, the "throwback" theme he created for Darlington's Southern 500 has been something praised and celebrated by fans, media and drivers alike. One of the most historic weekends of competition has also positioned itself as one of the most popular weekends in NASCAR -- a feat not lost by those International Speedway Corporation executives who tabbed Wile to run the facility as Joie Chitwood III takes a new role as ISC's Chief Operating Officer. Chitwood oversaw the recently completed $400 million Daytona Rising project that has propelled the speedway into one of sport's greatest modern facilities. And now Wile will shepherd the project and expand the opportunities. The Darlington experience is all fantastic background for Wile, who follows Chitwood in a place Chitwood aptly steered into the top level of innovation. "When I got the opportunity to go work at Darlington, I knew how important Darlington was to NASCAR and what it meant to lead that team," Wile said. "The obligation to hold people to a high standard because of its history and nostalgia, and certainly over the past three years, we've been able to do that with the community. Making sure we hold the Bojangles' Southern 500 to a high standard and make it a unique event with the throwback. So, that certainly is something I'm really proud of. "This is an even more prestigious brand. The Daytona 500 , I would argue, is the most prestigious brand in our sport and we have to hold it to a higher standard. And this race track, and what it means to our community and our sport, transcends really anything else that is out there." That race in particular has always held a special place in Wile's heart. He remembers working at Penske Racing, where he was reminded of the iconic Daytona track on a near daily basis. "I remember Roger Penske, who I worked for, he won 16 Indy 500s, but when you walk into his shop, the first trophy you see is that 50th running of the Daytona 500 trophy," Wile recalled. "And he's won just about everything you can win, but I'd argue that was, at the time, the biggest win in his motorsports career." Wile's extensive background working in so many facets of the sport will undoubtedly be useful for him. He spent almost a decade working with teams such as Bill Davis Racing and Penske Racing before joining ISC as director of business development with its radio network, MRN. He served as a liaison between the network and the tracks in that role before moving to Darlington. All of that is why he was the logical choice for the Daytona position and why he is confident and excited in leading the charge. "I think certainly what I bring is relationships," Wile said. "The only jobs I've ever had are in this sport. And I've been fortunate over the years. People have taken a vested interest in me and helped me be successful. I feel like I have relationships in the garage and with people that are true. I value those relationships and those are the reasons I'm getting the opportunity to come here and lead this team in Daytona. "Understanding how NASCAR works and how the race teams operate and certainly on the media side with my short time with MRN, I know what makes them tick, how their business runs and now, obviously, on the race track side. "It does give you a little bit of perspective on how you view things and look at things. I think that has helped me be successful so far. And certainly the relationships, in my opinion, are the most important thing in the sport and I will continue to lean on those."
Allmendinger's Darlington look to honor 1975 Rookie of the Year
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: 'Dinger gear AJ Allmendinger ’s Darlington throwback paint scheme will honor Kansas native Bruce Hill's 1970s-era No. 47 with a Kroger/Kingsford red, white and blue theme, JTG Daugherty Racing announced today. Allmendinger will drive the car in the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Sept. 4 (6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Allmendinger and Hill, the 1975 Cup series Rookie of the Year, will meet for the first time on Friday at Kansas Speedway . "It is an honor, quite honestly," Hill said in a release. "Being remembered for something is always an honor, especially as big as the sport has gotten." Hill made starts in NASCAR's premier series in eight seasons with his best coming in his rookie year, 1975. He earned three top fives and 11 top 10s on his way to finishing 16th in driver points. He continued racing in the then-Winston Cup series through 1981. Hill now lives in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas, where he raises show horses on a ranch. "I'm really looking forward to meeting Bruce on Friday," Allmendinger said in the release. "I think what Darlington Raceway does to recognize former NASCAR drivers and the heritage of the sport is unprecedented. It's a great way to celebrate our sport and the people who made it what it is today. It's pretty neat to see all the sponsors and teams really get into it."