Auto -Owners Insurance expands sponsorship pact with Furniture Row Racing
RELATED: New looks for 2017 DENVER, Colo. (Jan. 16, 2017) -- Furniture Row Racing announced that Auto -Owners Insurance has agreed to a multiyear primary sponsorship for Martin Truex Jr .'s No. 78 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series. The Fortune 500 company, which joined Furniture Row Racing in 2016 as a primary sponsor for three races, will double that amount in both 2017 and 2018. The six races the Auto -Owners Insurance paint scheme will adorn Truex's No. 78 Camry in 2017 will be at Kansas Speedway (May 13), Michigan International Speedway (June 18), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23), Richmond International Raceway (Sept. 9), Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 7) and Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 12). Auto -Owners Insurance, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016, provides auto , home, life and business coverage for NASCAR fans and customers through local, independent agents in 26 states. The company is based in Lansing, Michigan. "Teaming up with Furniture Row Racing has been an outstanding fit for Auto -Owners, and we are excited to continue our partnership for the 2017 and 2018 seasons," said Mary Pierce, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Auto -Owners. "Martin and the No. 78 team have pioneered their way to excellence at the highest level of NASCAR. We truly admire their hard work and consistency, and look forward to being a part of their continued success." The Auto -Owners Insurance blue hue shared a competitive experience with Furniture Row Racing in 2016. In the three races that Auto -Owners Insurance was the primary sponsor, Truex won the prestigious Southern 500 in Darlington, South Carolina, finished seventh at the fall race in Martinsville, Virginia, and was eighth at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. "There was indeed something special about the success of the blue Auto -Owners Insurance Toyota Camry last year and we are more than thrilled that the company is expanding its partnership with Furniture Row Racing for the next two seasons," said Furniture Row Racing team president Joe Garone. " Auto -Owners Insurance has been a winning company for a century and we are humbled that they have placed their confidence in our race team." Truex was equally excited to hear about the new sponsorship agreement. "Winning the Southern 500 -- a triple crown race -- with the blue Auto -Owners Insurance paint scheme was without a doubt one of the main highlights of my racing career," said Truex. "We want to give Auto -Owners Insurance more success as we look forward to the 2017 season. I was able to visit the Auto -Owners Insurance headquarters in Lansing and came away feeling proud to be associated with a company that has had 100 years of success."
New look for JGR hits the stage at Detroit Auto Show
Watch as the newly redesigned Toyota Camry race car debuts at the Detroit Auto Show. The newly redesigned 2018 Camry will be the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camry.
With long history in sport, Childress ready for Friday's Hall of Fame induction
RELATED: Mark Martin on what drove him to success Richard Childress will go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday night with perhaps a bit more of an appreciation than most, having spent the better part of his life tied snugly to the sport of stock car racing. It's been his livelihood and his lifeblood. From selling snacks as a youngster in the grandstands at a local track to overseeing a racing organization today that boasts more than 500 employees, Childress is one of the few still around that has seen and done it all. Childress, 71, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday along with fellow team owners Rick Hendrick and Raymond Parks and former drivers Mark Martin and Benny Parsons (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Incredible stories shadow each of this year's inductees. The story of Childress' rise from dropout to multi-millionaire is no less so. Today, his Richard Childress Racing organization fields three full-time teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and three in the NASCAR XFINITY Series . His teams have won 12 championships and 214 races across NASCAR's three national series (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, XFINITY and Camping World Truck). Six of his championships came with driver Dale Earnhardt, an inaugural member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and regarded by many as one of the sport's most talented and influential drivers. "I'm sure every one of the inductees are very proud," Childress said last week during a round of media availabilities for this year's Hall of Fame Class. "My feeling is, I started out selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman-Gray Stadium watching my heroes, Billy and Bobby Myers, Curtis Turner and Glen Wood, these guys race and that's all I ever wanted to do was become a race driver." He worked full time to live his dream part-time until the pull of the racing won out and for the longest time it looked like a fool's errand. Money didn't flow and bills piled up but like everyone else chasing a dream, Childress was undeterred. At 24, he got his first big break, competing at Talladega Superspeedway after many of NASCAR's top stars, citing tire concerns, boycotted the race. He returned home to purchase a small parcel of land with the money he earned from that weekend's races, and started his own auto repair business. "I left there with more money than I'd ever seen at one time," he said. Being his own boss also kept his NASCAR dream alive. He jumped in full time in 1976 as an owner/driver at a time when only a handful of teams had the support and the finances to contend for wins on a consistent basis. "I can remember the days when we had to syphon the fuel out of the race car to get home, put it in the tow car," Childress said. "A lot of people don't understand how it was back in the early '70s … what not just me but everyone was going through. You had the Pettys, Junior Johnson, Bud Moore, there were about four big teams … those were the guys you were racing against." His second big break came in the early '80s when he made the decision to focus on ownership and leave the driving to someone else. Earnhardt came and went, driving a handful of races at the end of the '81 season. A two-year stint with Ricky Rudd helped the team turn the corner and build the consistency necessary to compete for wins on a regular basis. By '84, Earnhardt had returned and RCR had improved its product tremendously. "Ricky was a young, up and coming driver and I think we both helped each other a lot," Childress said. "He helped me as a car owner and I think we helped him as a driver, with the past driving experience I had and as an owner being able to work with a driver was totally different. I think it was a learning experience for all of us. "When Dale came back in '84 I was much more comfortable as an owner at that point." It's been three years since a driver for RCR won in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series although all three of its current drivers -- Austin Dillon , Paul Menard and Ryan Newman -- have qualified for the Chase on one or more occasions. Childress, winless as a driver in 285 career starts, remains positive and focused. No different than when he was just starting out with little more than a dream and a desire. "You had to have a passion," he said. "Even when I was driving and wasn't winning … I never started a race that I didn't think this was going to be the day that the big boys had a problem and I was going to be able to come in there and win. "Just the sheer drive of wanting to succeed, that's what kept me going." And it's led him right into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Edwards' decision caught Kenseth by surprise
RELATED: Full timeline of Edwards announcement Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth said he was "as surprised as anyone" when he learned that teammate Carl Edwards was stepping away from auto racing. Kenseth addressed the changing guard at Joe Gibbs Racing on Wednesday following a Goodyear tire test at Las Vegas. "I didn't find out until late Sunday night, and I was probably as shocked as anybody else was," Kenseth said. "I guess the more I think about, probably the less surprised I am knowing some of the conversations we've had in the past. He's a great teammate, and a great competitor. "You hate to see him go, but on the other hand, it's what he wants to do so I applaud him for doing it." RELATED: Three reasons for Edwards' decision Edwards revealed in Wednesday's press conference that Kenseth was his first competitor that he talked to about his decision. The pair have a deep history. The two were teammates at Roush Fenway Racing from 2004-2012, then again at Joe Gibbs Racing from 2015-2016. Kenseth also added that he thought Daniel Suarez would do a fine job filling the seat, but that the two hadn't spoken yet. The veteran will turn 45 in March, and he's coming off a two-win season and a near-trip to the Championship 4. As for his future? He's not planning on leaving any time soon. "I feel great," Kenseth said. "I enjoy what I'm doing, I love the race team I drive for and all the people there. I'm looking forward to the start of the season." Denny Hamlin , a fellow JGR teammate, has tweeted out the following as well: Thank you #carledwards for what you did for our team over the last 2 years, and welcome @Daniel_SuarezG to @JoeGibbsRacing cup team. — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) January 12, 2017 &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;gt;
Tire limits, plate-race tweaks among 2017 rules updates
RELATED: Driver Tracker " Photo gallery: Who's on the move for 2017 NASCAR competition officials issued memos detailing rule book changes for the 2017 season in its three national series, including limits on tire allocation, restrictor-plate and spoiler size, and an allowance for drivers to use biometric devices. The 80 total pages of revisions released Friday afternoon pertain to Sections 20 (Vehicle and Driver Safety specifications) and 21 (Pit Equipment and Crew Safety specifications) across the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series . Among the highlights in the rules updates: • NASCAR set its regulations on tire allocation for all three series in 2017. In the Monster Energy Cup Series, the number of tire sets available to teams per event dropped for 28 of the 36 points-paying races. Tracks with two or three fewer set of tires allowed next season: Homestead (three fewer sets), Daytona (500 only, two fewer sets), Phoenix (two fewer sets for both races), Martinsville (two fewer sets for both races), Bristol (two fewer sets for both races), Kansas (two fewer sets for both races), Auto Club (two fewer sets), Kentucky (two fewer sets) and Chicagoland (two fewer sets). Tracks with one fewer set of tires allowed next season: Michigan (both races), Atlanta, Las Vegas, Texas (both races), Dover (both races), Charlotte (both races), Indianapolis, Pocono (both races) and Richmond (both races). • In 2017, Monster Energy Cup teams will be required to start the race on the tires they used in Coors Light Pole Qualifying. This change does not apply to the XFINITY or Camping World Truck Series. • Drivers in all three series may use biometrics devices in their vehicles in 2017. The wrist-worn health tracking devices may not transmit data, may not connect to the vehicle in any way and must operate on an internal battery. Devices eligible for use are certain models made by Garmin, Misfit, Polar, Samsung, Tom Tom and Jawbone. • The 2017 aerodynamic package for non-restrictor plate tracks in the Monster Energy Cup Series will feature a shortened rear spoiler, measuring 2.35 inches tall. The standard rear-spoiler height for premier series teams last season was 3.5 inches, with a 2.5-inch tall spoiler used at Kentucky and both Michigan races as auditions for this season. • For superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega, the restrictor plate opening will be smaller by 1/64 of an inch -- reduced from 57/64 to 7/8. The change affects only the Monster Energy Cup and XFINITY series for those two tracks. • Additional safety guidelines were issued for restrictor-plate events for Monster Energy Cup and XFINITY teams. Among them, the previously optional roof hatch is now mandatory as an alternate escape route. Competition officials have also required the use of energy-absorbing materials to strengthen the area occupied by the drivers' feet in the cockpit. • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will be required to carry a roof-mounted camera assembly at all times, whether in use by broadcast partner networks or not.
New-look Toyota Camry revealed in Detroit
RELATED: Pictures of the new Toyota Camry " Busch, Hamlin react to new car DETROIT -- Toyota teams competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2017 will have a different look as the auto manufacturer has redesigned the Toyota Camry for the upcoming racing season to reflect the product that will arrive on the showroom floor later this year. The new 2018 race car model, which will be used starting in the 2017 season, was unveiled Monday during the North American International Auto Show held at the Cobo Center in Detroit. The Camry race car was displayed along with the newly designed '18 Camry production car. "(It) is probably the most aggressively styled Camry in the history of (the model)," said Ed Laukes, vice president of integrated marketing operations for Toyota Motor Sales, USA.
Brian France: 'We want everybody to be a NASCAR fan'
LAS VEGAS -- NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France took the stage Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show to discuss how the sanctioning body is using technology to enhance the fan experience and engage with the next generation of fans. France was on the Sports Business Innovation panel with National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman and United States Olympic Committee (USOC) CEO Scott Blackmun. Here are the high points France delivered: On how diversity and globalization are critical to success: "We have a unique challenge because kids don't play our sport in the playground," France said. "We are the only ones in auto racing investing millions of dollars on combines for diversity drivers. These programs take time, but we just saw the benefit. We just had a Mexican driver, Daniel Suarez , win our second largest national series and that would not have happened without our diversity program. We don't do this because it is socially smart, which it is, but because that is where you find the best talent, and we want everybody to be a NASCAR fan." On how the Monster Energy partnership will help NASCAR reach new fans: "In our case aligning with the right sponsor is important. They help us tell our story and we count on their activation to take us to places and channels we would not normally be in. I am very happy about our new entitlement partner Monster Energy, they have incredible reach with Millennial customers and fans, auto racing is in their DNA and they have a smart digital approach." On fans' consumption habits: "The ways in which fans consume their favorite sports has changed in an unprecedented way, and that is the great challenge and opportunity that all leagues face," France said. "We want to be smart about how we attract (the younger generation) and balance that with our core fans and connect with all of them in ways that we have never seen before." On how technology can improve competition, safety and fan engagement: "We want to use technology and innovation to make our core product better," France said. "We all want to make our sport safer, and our games and races better. We are using technology to drive our sport in ways that we could not have even imagined only 10 years ago." On how technology, developed at the 61,000-square-foot NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, has helped: "The combination of innovation and technology can solve almost all problems," France said. "One of the challenges of outdoor sports is rain delays. We developed the Air Titan, which cut the time to dry the track. This was a huge thing for us to be able to retain our TV audience." On the introduction of the digital dash, which uses 16 customizable screens to monitor and record 24 different elements such as RPM, oil temperature and lap times: "This is the new frontier," France said. "We have an enormous amount of telemetry at our races between the drivers, crew chiefs and their strategy, and we are in the early stages of looking to deliver that data to fans in their seat, at home or through streaming."
Parks set the standard during NASCAR's early era
RELATED: Learn more about the Class of 2017 MORE: Photos from Voting Day DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- As one of early stock car racing's most successful car owners, it is appropriate that Raymond Parks captured the first two championships offered by the fledgling National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, an organization Parks helped form in 1947. Parks and his driver, Red Byron, won NASCAR's modified title in 1948. The pair, along with mechanic Red Vogt, became the sanctioning body's 1949 Strictly Stock champions -- the initial season of what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Dawson County, Georgia, native and his racing team were gone from NASCAR after 1955, winning just twice. But Parks, who died in 2010 at the age of 96, was seen as one of the sport's seminal figures and a visionary. "He set the standard. Mr. Parks brought the sport class," said NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty in a speedwaymedia.com interview shortly after Parks' death. "It took people like Mr. Parks to lay the foundation we're living off of. "And without him, we wouldn't have the history we have and we wouldn't be where we are today." Parks' contributions will be celebrated Jan. 20 in Charlotte, North Carolina, when he will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN). His fellow inductees among the Hall's Class of 2017 are Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin and Benny Parsons. Parks was born in the north Georgia mountains in 1914, the eldest of his father's 16 children. By age 14, Parks had run away from home, landing in Atlanta where he worked at a still and later went into business for himself, bringing liquor from Dawsonville to Atlanta restaurants. He later branched out into legitimate enterprises supplying businesses with vending machines and jukeboxes. "He always kept his dignity and his kindness, always behaved more like one of Atlanta's most sophisticated businessmen, always was dapper in his finest hats and tailored suits," wrote Ed Hinton for ESPN.com in June 2010, shortly after Parks' passing. In the 1930s, Parks added stock car racing to his resume, fielding some of the region's fastest cars with a driver's roster that included Byron, Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Bob and Fonty Flock and NASCAR Hall of Famer Curtis Turner. He was instantly visible at the track, always dressed in wool suit, tie and fedora hat. A famous photograph shows Park changing tires on one of his cars during the inaugural Southern 500 at Darlington, South Carolina, still wearing his white shirt and tie. Parks served with the U.S. Army's 99th Infantry Division during World War II, fighting in the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. Returning home, Parks resumed racing, frequently fielding two and three cars. His team won all five Daytona Beach beach-road course races in 1945 and 1946. "He came back with a vengeance, more determined to do and accomplish things he felt like he already should have done," said Ray Fox, a master mechanic, engine builder and NASCAR official. Parks was among some three dozen racing figures who gathered in December 1947 at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to create NASCAR, under direction of fellow driver and race promoter William "Big Bill" France. Like France, Parks believed that a rough and tumble, frequently disorganized activity could become a nationally recognized sport like baseball or football. Parks financially supported the organization during its early years and boosted NASCAR's image apart from jalopy racing. "He kept his cars clean and neat like they do today," said NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood in 2010. "The rest of us just kind of beat them out if they got banged up. He would have still been around today if he had kept on until the factories got into it. "He opened a lot of doors and windows to how to do things and taught a lot of racers how to do it better." Fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Junior Johnson concurred. "Anywhere he showed up, he had the best cars," said Johnson in the ESPN.com obituary. "He's been an asset (to the sport) all his life to it." Parks left NASCAR to become a successful developer and owner of service stations and convenience stores. Parks was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2009. He also was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. &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;gt;
Chevrolet to debut new race car in 2018
Toyota Racing made offseason waves Monday, unveiling the new Camry for this season's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series alongside its road-going counterpart at the North American International Auto Show. Team Chevy will have its own ripple effect in place for the following 2018 season. Chevrolet racing officials confirmed Monday that the automaker will cease production of the Chevrolet SS at the end of the 2017 model run. The news means the manufacturer will have a new race car for NASCAR's top division for the 2018 season. Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's US Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, said in a statement that there was no firm timetable for a 2018 replacement. "It was already known that the Chevrolet SS was going to be discontinued in 2017," Campbell said in a statement provided by Team Chevy. "That information was originally announced last summer. As you know, we don't talk about future projects. We'll make any announcement regarding our next Cup entry at the appropriate time." The SS made its major-league debut in the 2013 season, when NASCAR introduced the Gen-6 stock car to reinforce brand identity among its manufacturers. The SS succeeded the Impala, which Chevrolet used in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series from 2007-2012.
NASCAR Nation reacts to Carl Edwards' surprise move
Carl Edwards shocked the NASCAR world on Wednesday, announcing he'd be stepping away from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition, effective immediately. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver came up just short of a title at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, so it was a surprise to see the 37-year-old walk away in his prime. NASCAR Nation was equally shocked, but wished Edwards well in his future endeavors. Their reaction: Really happy for Carl Edwards . One of the fastest guys you'll ever race. Great to see him doing what he wants after an incredible career. — Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) January 11, 2017 Carl has always been one of the most fair and hard racing drivers. I've learned as much from his character on the track as off. #NASCAR — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) January 11, 2017 Shocked to hear the news on Carl Edwards retirement. Class act and he was always entertaining with his back flips after wins — William Byron (@WilliamByron) January 10, 2017 Wow, blown away by the news of #carledwards retiring from racing and @Daniel_SuarezG to replace him. Congrats to Carl for an amazing career — Blake Koch (@BlakeKochRacing) January 10, 2017 His career and success speaks for itself. I always just admired how bad he wanted it. Congrats on a great career, Carl. — Josh Wise (@Josh_Wise) January 10, 2017 Interesting about Edwards. I can see him being lured back into the right situation. Although drivers retiring "early" doesn't surprise me. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) January 10, 2017 pic.twitter.com/3WIsYweHwr — DeLana Harvick (@DeLanaHarvick) January 10, 2017 Blown away that this is happening... For sure. Jump on in if you'd like, the beer is cold. ☺️ #miller2crew https://t.co/ATNKORcNOn — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) January 10, 2017 Really bummed to see Carl go..always had the best attitude in the garage of anyone I've ever seen. Gonna miss those backflips! — Sergio Peña (@SergPena) January 10, 2017 Sorry to see you leave, Carl! You will be missed. #NASCAR #ToyotaNation https://t.co/BNHjmnLZw0 — Furniture Row Racing (@FR78Racing) January 10, 2017 . @eddiegossage comments on FOXSports report that #CarlEdwards is leaving @JoeGibbsRacing to pursue other interests & won't compete in 2017. pic.twitter.com/sMT9M9BCUz — Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) January 10, 2017 Crazy news with Carl Edwards . Nobody saw this coming. Knowing Edwards, willing to bet he just wants to spend more time at home. Good for him — Marty Snider (@heymartysnider) January 10, 2017 We'll miss you, Carl! And the flips. https://t.co/8uRRWxeeng — MISpeedway (@MISpeedway) January 10, 2017 Are you flipping out about the news that #CarlEdwards is retiring? #NASCAR https://t.co/GUBxFdxsWu pic.twitter.com/jwDc4FJc8M — Auto Club Speedway (@ACSupdates) January 10, 2017 If sources are correct, it’s a sad day in #NASCAR . https://t.co/Nd9pdsPaWC — NH Motor Speedway (@NHMS) January 10, 2017 Carl is a true class act and a great competitor. As a fan he will be missed but as a friend I'm excited to see what's next. #CarlEdwards — Ben Kennedy (@BenKennedy33) January 11, 2017 Just watched Carl Edwards press conference. He is such a great guy and I can truly relate with how he got started in #nascar by persistence — Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) January 11, 2017