Will Kimmel to drive for TriStar Motorsports
Ingersoll Rand will serve as primary sponsor for Kimmel's five NNS starts
France: Young drivers will have a lot of big moments
Brian France reflects on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s retirement news and said he believes Kyle Larson and other young drivers will carry the sport forward.
Kimmel to drive for ThorSport at Homestead
10-time ARCA champion will make second Truck Series start of 2013
Sammy Johns replaces Slugger Labbe as No. 3 crew chief for Richmond
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond Operations Director Sammy Johns will replace Slugger Labbe as the crew chief on the No. 3 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Chevrolet driven by Austin Dillon this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, Richard Childress Racing announced Friday. Labbe will remain at the Lexington, North Carolina, race shop to work on cars for next weekend's GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Dillon will also have to start from the rear in Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio) for failing pre-race inspection five times at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend. He will also have a hold of 30 minutes for opening practice and the No. 3 team will lose its pit stall selection at Richmond. Dillon has an average finish of 22.3 in six career starts at Richmond, while the fourth-year veteran notched a pair of top-10 finishes at Talladega in 2016. He placed third in last year's May race at NASCAR's biggest track. The team has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, with an average finish of 19.5 and one top-10 finish through eight races.
Young drivers prepare to step up as Dale Jr. readies for goodbye
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond RICHMOND, Va. -- The cyclical churn of talent in the NASCAR garage took another turn this week with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s announcement that 2017 will be his final year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. His impending departure follows those of household names Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards -- all in short order since the end of the 2015 season. In outlining his decision to leave the cockpit, Earnhardt was asked about NASCAR's ability to reload with a new generational thrust in driver star power. He named Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott among the sport's several young aces in waiting, offering assurance that the NASCAR roster remained vibrant and strong. As for those young stars? Asked upon their Friday arrival at Richmond International Raceway about their readiness to assume the mantle, the newest and brightest of those newer drivers might not be waiting much longer. "Although it's sad that we have all our veterans and heroes retiring, I think NASCAR is in a great position with all the young talent that they have in the (Monster Energy) Series currently, and really in every feeder series below them, there's a lot of young guys with great equipment and good backing," said 24-year-old Kyle Larson, the series' current points leader. "So, I think the competition will be good. And, there's a lot of personalities, too, with people getting themselves out there on social media and stuff like that, showing their personalities. So, I feel like we're in a good spot to have some new stars step up." Larson and Elliott -- both 20-somethings -- have already begun to make that push on the track, sitting 1-2 in the series standings. They've been joined by 23-year-old Ryan Blaney, plus rookies Erik Jones, 20, and Daniel Suarez, 25, as just some of the newest faces in the garage. The current transition of the sport's paradigm isn't a new phenomenon. If the genealogy of NASCAR stardom read like the Book of Chronicles, it would include a traditional biblical list of "begats." The career of Lee Petty begat Richard Petty's, Fireball Roberts' and Ned Jarrett's careers begat David Pearson's, which begat Cale Yarborough's, Bobby Allison's and Darrell Waltrip's. Then came Earnhardt and Elliott and Wallace, then Gordon, then Stewart and then Jimmie Johnson -- all with a host of other dynamic personalities in between. Mere mention as a part of that incoming next wave, with the potential to join a list of stars with Hall of Fame clout ranks as heady territory. Being singled out by the series' 14-time Most Popular Driver as one of those candidates is too, something that Blaney -- Earnhardt's neighbor and friend -- accepts with a degree of pride and reverence. "He has a very big impact of what people think, whether it is fans or in the garage area," Blaney said. "Him talking up younger drivers or the sport in general is going to get his fans excited about the future of going forward even though he won't be driving next year. What he says will be very important. I know he has always said great things about the sport and drivers in it and been very positive, which makes him a great person and great ambassador for the sport. It means a lot to hear him say those things. "Like I said, I know he says that about a lot of young drivers and try to set everything up for the future, but it is nice to be a part of that conversation when he speaks." Gracefully making the transition to stardom is a multi-pronged challenge, requiring both on-track performance and a proficiency in engaging with fans new and old. The former requires both raw talent and a full team effort. As for the latter, Suarez said there's no secret code to making that connection. "I think it's very simple -- it's just being yourself," said Suarez, in his first year of replacing Edwards at Joe Gibbs Racing. "I think every single driver out there in the garage has different personalities: Dale has his personality; Kyle has his personality; Jimmie Johnson has his personality; I have my personality; and everyone is different. When every single driver can go out there to be himself, I think that's very cool, and the fans like that. "You know, so far it's what I've been doing and I think it's the right thing to do. But like I said, overall, Dale has been more than a role model for the sport and it's great what he has done." </p>
Kenseth nabs first pole of season at Richmond
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond RELATED: Full results RICHMOND, Va. – Matt Kenseth won't have to come from the middle of nowhere, as he did Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he started 22nd, charged toward the front in the closing laps and finished fourth. Quite the contrary. In Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 (on FOX at 2 p.m. ET) at Richmond International Raceway, Kenseth will lead the field to the green flag in the ninth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season after winning the pole during Friday's knockout qualifying session. Kenseth posted a lap at 121.076 mph (22.300 seconds) to edge Ryan Blaney (120.854 mph) for the top starting spot by .041 seconds. The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota claimed his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his second at Richmond and the 19th of his career. Kenseth was fast enough to make the cut for the first two rounds despite running a single lap in each, and the tire conservation paid off in the money round. "We had enough speed in our Circle K Toyota Camry that we only had to do one lap each of the first two rounds to get us into the third round, and we improved a little bit the second lap (in the final round). It was a good qualifying effort for us. Feels good to be on the pole. Kenseth is 20th in points after bottom-five finishes at Daytona, Phoenix and Fontana, and qualifying rainouts hurt him at Bristol and Martinsville, where he had to start mid-pack on owner points. "This year has not been a good year for us, obviously, so far," Kenseth said. "We finished strong at Bristol, but we didn't get to qualify because of the rain, and that put us in the middle of the pack – there and Martinsville. "We haven't been getting any stage points. We're buried in the points back there and we finally got a decent finish last week, so hopefully this week we can start up front, stay up front and hopefully collect some of the stage points. But most importantly we're in the mix for a win at the end of the day." Martin Truex Jr. (120.681 mph) will start third, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (120.471 mph) and Joey Logano (120.380 mph). It was the third second-place qualifying effort of the season for Blaney, who also put the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford on the front row at Phoenix and Texas. "We weren't great the first round but kept getting steps better each round, which we've done a really good job of this year," Blaney said. "I thought that's where we struggled a lot last year. We didn't improve last year, we would go backwards. This year we're improving round-to-round. "It's just communication and knowing what we need to change in our car. That's something to be proud of. That's a lot of second starts now. I really want to race the Clash at Daytona (the season-opening exhibition race primarily for pole winners). That's my biggest thing right now. It's upsetting me that we can't get a pole. I think our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion is good—we'll find out in race trim." WATCH: Dillon makes ... interesting ... qualifying lap Both Kenseth and Blaney saved their fastest laps for the final round. The same couldn't be said of Logano, who ran the fastest lap of the afternoon (121.468 mph) in the second round but couldn't sustain his speed in the third. "We just lost a little bit there the last run," said Logano who tied Kevin Harvick for the fastest lap in the opening round at 120.870 mph. "We got loose into (Turns) 3 and 4, missed it the first lap and did the same exact thing the second lap. "It's so frustrating when you win the first two rounds and the one that pays the money, you're not there. That's always frustrating. I guess we have decent speed in our car… it is just frustrating. I don't know what else to say. It just sucks." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR enlists 14-year-old to direct new NASCAR Acceleration Nation spot
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In search of a director to oversee filming for its latest NASCAR Acceleration Nation television creative, NASCAR® turned to a 14-year-old rising star in advertising. Amelia Conway of Temecula, Calif., developed the treatment and directed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™ driver Austin Dillon in the new spot promoting the sport’s national youth platform. The 30-second ad, titled "Tutelage," debuted today online and will air beginning this weekend during the Richmond races on FOX and FS1. "As a filmmaker, Amelia is a special talent and we loved her vision for this project," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "She represents the youth audience that is important to our sport, so having that unique perspective guide the creative process for us was invaluable." Born in California and raised in rural Texas, Conway began acting and performing at an early age and in 2014 was signed to Adolescent Content, a youth-focused production agency. She's directed several music videos and short films, and recently shot commercials for Target, Toms Shoes and Beats Music.
Furniture Row's Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones top Richmond practice
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond RELATED: Practice 1 results " Top 10-lap times Furniture Row Racing came to play at Richmond International Raceway, as Martin Truex Jr.'s No. 78 Toyota topped the leaderboard at 124.178 mph in Friday's opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. He was followed by teammate and rookie Erik Jones, whose No. 77 Toyota notched a top speed of 123.035 mph. Wood Brothers Racing's Ryan Blaney was third-fastest, his No. 21 Ford clocking in at 122.772 mph. Roush Fenway Racing's Trevor Bayne (122.084 mph) and Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin (121.726 mph) rounded out the top five, respectively. Hamlin won the most recent race at Richmond (September 2016) in his No. 11 Toyota. Despite notching the second-fastest speed, Jones spun with 74 minutes left in the opening session, his No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota making slight contact with the wall. With rain impacting on-track activity last weekend at Bristol, NASCAR deferred several holds and penalties coming out of Texas Motor Speedway to this weekend. The following teams sat out the first 15 minutes of practice, as they failed race inspection at Texas: No. 11 of Hamlin, No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 37 of Chris Buescher, No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson and No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. There were several holds and penalties out of Bristol as well that were enforced in this session: Ty Dillon's No. 13 team, AJ Allmendinger's No. 47 team and Austin Dillon's No. 3 team also abided by 15 minute-holds for failing LIS race inspection, as well as Aric Almirola's No. 43 group (failing race inspection, templates x 2, T1-T2 and T1). Dillon also will start Sunday's race from the rear. Joey Logano (No. 22 team) and Matt Kenseth (No. 20 team) were held for 30 minutes for swerving at Bristol. The Nos. 6 and 23 XFINITY Series teams of Darrell Wallace Jr. and Spencer Gallagher, respectively, will also have 15 minute holds. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is back on track at 4:45 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying (FS1). &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Kenseth, Keselowski win Stages 1, 2 at Richmond
RELATED: FAQ for race format " Updated stage points STAGE 2: Brad Keselowski nabbed his first stage win of the year on Sunday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway, winning Stage 2 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' Toyota Owners 400. The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford led 37 laps in the caution-free stage. Pole-sitter and Stage 1 victor Matt Kenseth, who led all 100 laps of Stage 1, placed second in Stage 2 in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, leading 63 laps. Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick was third in his No. 4 Ford, while Denny Hamlin's No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was fourth. Kyle Larson and his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet completed Stage 2's top-five finishers. Both Keselowski and Kenseth received race points and the race winner will earn 40 points and five playoff points at the race's conclusion. STAGE 1: Pole-sitter Matt Kenseth led all 100 opening laps of Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, giving his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota the Stage 1 win. This marks Kenseth's first stage win of the season. Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. drag-raced to the start-finish line for the runner-up spot in Stage 1, with Larson's No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet prevailing by .006 seconds. Truex Jr.'s No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota ended up third. Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick and Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five, respectively. The top 10 finishers in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 receive race points. The race winner will receive 40 points and five playoff points at the conclusion of the Final Stage.
Dale Jr. opens up at Richmond after retirement announcement
RELATED: Dale Jr. announces retirement " Reactions " Relive every Dale Jr. win RICHMOND, Va. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he had some concerns about how the bombshell news he dropped on the NASCAR world this week would be received, worried that it would be upsetting, met with a mix of emotions. He seemed relieved by the generally positive feedback and strong outpouring of support after making his decision to retire from full-time driving at season's end. With that part behind him, Earnhardt turns his attention to getting "back to my routine" this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, site of Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM Radio) for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. But his at-track habits might take on a more freewheeling approach, with little to lose in the 28 points-paying races left in his career. "The team, the guys, they all and myself we would love to win some races," Earnhardt said Friday after opening practice at the .75-mile track, where he is a three-time premier-series winner. "I'm going to say 'a race,' but 'some races' would be great going out in your last season to get some victories. We just want to go to Victory Lane one more time, just to get that experience one more time would be awesome for me and I think the guys would love it, for sure. "But, I certainly did feel a lot more relaxed now. I don't know whether it's because I finally got to tell everybody and let everybody know what we are doing, get that over with, but I certainly felt real relaxed today in the garage during practice. I felt like there was less pressure from somewhere and a large amount, a lot different." Earnhardt, 42, announced Tuesday that 2017 would be his final year driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. Sunday's race will mark the unofficial start of his farewell tour, which is sure to come with a heaping helping of tributes and parting gifts. Earnhardt sits 24th in the series standings with just one top-five finish in the eight races so far this year, leaving him in need of a victory or momentous rally in the points to assure a playoff berth. Reaching the postseason by either method might require some risk-taking, something Earnhardt said is a ripe possibility. Earnhardt related the tale of his former crew chief Steve Letarte, now an analyst with NBC Sports' broadcast team. Letarte had announced before the 2014 season that he would mount one final campaign with the No. 88 group before making the transition to the television booth the following year. With his plans in place and a firm sense of direction, Letarte and Earnhardt picked their spots for well-calculated gambles and combined for their most successful year together -- four victories, including the driver's second Daytona 500 win, his first grandfather clock trophy from Martinsville Speedway and a season sweep of both Pocono Raceway events. "He called that whole season completely different," Earnhardt said. "He was more aggressive and I think it was because he had the freedom to be that way. He was like, 'What if it doesn't work?' And a lot of times it ended up working out. We won both of those Pocono races on pit calls that he made. We didn't just outrun everybody. There are things he did in the middle of the race that we might not have done had he not had his mind made up what he was doing and 'Hey, this is my last hurrah, we are going to go for it' kind of attitude. "I noticed that whole year he was a much easier going, approachable. I mean he's pretty damn likable, but he was much more likable and easier to be around. Everything rolled off his back, we didn't get frustrated as easily and I am anticipating that being similar for me." Also in the no-pressure department: The search for Earnhardt's replacement in the No. 88 Chevrolet. Tuesday's announcement included a note that Hendrick Motorsports would reach that decision at a later date. XFINITY Series rookie William Byron, a top Hendrick prospect, demurred earlier Friday when asked about the organization's soon-approaching driver vacancy, saying only that he was eager to get his chance to race in NASCAR's top division. For Earnhardt, he remains an interested party invested in the team's success, now and after his departure. He said he wouldn't demand to be included in the discussions to find his successor, but said he'd value the opportunity to offer his input. "I can't read their minds, but I'm sure they all have a direction that they want to go and they have ideas," Earnhardt said of Hendrick Motorsports' management team. "There are just things about the company that I'm not quite as in touch with that they are that will help them make that decision. They probably have everybody in the world telling them what they ought to do and they don't need me, but if they ask for it I'm certainly wanting to be involved in that. "I want the team to have more success. I want it to be … I said this every offseason: Every offseason is a chance to be better than you were the year before. It's an opportunity to make those personnel changes and those hard decisions. It's a chance to do it, the things you can't do in the middle of the river, in the middle of the season."
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