Report: Chrysler exec says NASCAR return possible
RELATED: France: New manufacturer in NASCAR a possibility Chrysler is exploring the possibility of making a return to NASCAR, according to a report from the Daytona Beach News-Journal . The report indicates that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne recently spoke with NASCAR Vice Chairman Jim France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy about the prospect of Dodge returning to the sport. Dodge left the Sprint Cup Series in 2012 following Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski 's first premier series title. Penske has employed Ford Fusions in its stable since. Should Dodge return to stock car auto racing's top series, it will mark another comeback for the manufacturer after initially being reintroduced in 2001 by Ray Evernham. "I talked to Jim France about this (Saturday) night," Marchionne told the newspaper. "I was the one who made the decision to pull out of NASCAR. I am the guilty party at the table. In 2009, we came out of bankruptcy and tried to race NASCAR (but) with the big bills and make payroll was a stretch. "We are in a different place now. I think it is possible we can come back to NASCAR. I think we need to find the right way to come back in, but I agreed with both Jim and Lesa we would come back to the issue." The newspaper also reported that Jim France confirmed he spoke to Marchionne. "Yes, we talked," Jim France said. "He is a very intelligent man. We had a good discussion."
Betty Jane France named Myers Brothers Award Recipient
RELATED: Full schedule for Champion's Week DARLINGTON, S.C. (Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016) – Betty Jane France, whose philanthropic endeavors away from the race track rivaled those of the well-known family business of NASCAR, has been chosen as the 2016 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's prestigious Myers Brothers Award. France, who passed away Aug. 29, 2016, is the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy. She was the widow of former NASCAR Chairman and CEO William C. France. While auto racing has been the cornerstone of the family profession, Betty Jane France's reach far exceeded the boundaries of the track. Kind and compassionate, France was the guiding force behind the formation of the NASCAR Foundation, the charitable arm of the sanctioning body that seeks to improve the lives of children most in need. She served as chairwoman of the Foundation upon its inception more than a decade ago and was later named chairwoman emeritus. In 2011, the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, presented by Nationwide, was established in her honor. Each year, the award recognizes outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of NASCAR fans. Active in her Daytona Beach community as well as abroad, France also helped establish the Speediatrics children's care unit at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach as well as Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla. The Myers Brothers Award is named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers. Determined by a vote of the NMPA membership, it recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. It has been presented annually since 1958. Myers Brothers Award Winners 2016, Betty Jane France; 2015, Darlington Raceway ; 2014, Dale Earnhardt Jr .; 2013, Tony Stewart ; 2012, Jeff Gordon ; 2011, Drs. Joseph & Rose Mattioli; 2010, Jim Hunter; 2009, Barney Hall; 2008, T. Taylor Warren; 2007, Bill France Jr.; 2006, Benny Parsons; 2005, Rusty Wallace; 2004, Kyle and Patti Petty; 2003, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 2002, Mike Helton; 2001, Dale Earnhardt; 2000, Kyle Petty; 1999, Junie Donlavey; 1998, T. Wayne Robertson; 1997, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1996, Rick Hendrick; 1995, TNN: The Nashville Network; 1994, Brickyard 400/ Indianapolis Motor Speedway ; 1993, Goody's Manufacturing Co.; 1992, Richard and Lynda Petty; 1991, Harry Gant; 1990. Dick Beaty; 1989, Bill France Jr.; 1988 Richmond International Raceway ; 1987, ESPN; 1986, Hayride 500; 1985, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1984, Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 1983, CBS-TV; 1982, MRN; 1981, Junior Johnson; 1980, STP & Champion Spark Plug Co.; 1979, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.; 1978, Busch Beer; 1977, First National City Travelers Checks; 1976, Junior Johnson; 1975, Bill France Sr.; 1974, H. Clay Earles; 1973, Wood Brothers; 1972, Winston Cigarettes; 1971, Richard Petty; 1970, Richard Howard; 1969, David Pearson; 1968, Wood Brothers; 1967, Richard Petty; 1966, Norris Friel; 1965, Ned Jarrett; 1964, Richard Petty; 1963, Marvin Panch; 1962, Hank Schoolfield; 1961, Ned Jarrett; 1960, Russ Catlin; 1959, Lee Petty; 1958, Bob Colvin. Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon : · NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Betty Jane France · Buddy Shuman Award: Jack Roush · NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Comcast XFINITY · Chevrolet Cross Flags Award: Tony Stewart · American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick · Coors Light Pole Award: Carl Edwards · Duralast Brakes "Brake in the Race" Award: Kyle Busch · Goodyear NASCAR Series Champion Award: Jimmie Johnson · Ingersoll Rand Power Move Award: Dave Rogers, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Crew Chief · MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Scott Vester, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team · Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team · Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kyle Busch · MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Alan Gustafson, crew chief No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team · Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Kyle Busch · Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Jimmie Johnson · Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Chase Elliott · Champion Sponsor Award: Lowe's · Champion Crew Chief Award: Chad Knaus · Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide: Andy Hoffman &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Reactions to Monster Energy being named NASCAR entitlement sponsor
NASCAR announced on Thursday in Las Vegas that Monster Energy would become the new entitlement sponsor of stock car auto racing's premier series. Needless to say, the NASCAR community was thrilled with the news. Happy to see the fusion of @NASCAR , the sport I love & @MonsterEnergy , the brand I love. Future is bright...proud to be part of both. #KB41 pic.twitter.com/CpwnZRrukH — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) December 1, 2016 Wow! @MonsterEnergy https://t.co/asVCzDghNZ — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) December 1, 2016 Cutting edge brand that has the potential to bring a millennial fan base to our sport. https://t.co/tqpAf52B0F — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) December 1, 2016 Big for the sport. https://t.co/avLVnaR6bg — Ryan Blaney (@Blaney) December 1, 2016 Pretty fired up about this. Welcome @MonsterEnergy https://t.co/72QVMLe4S8 — Ryan Truex (@Ryan_Truex) December 1, 2016 Looks like @MonsterEnergy will be the new sponsors for the Cup Series! #Nascar pic.twitter.com/dRvhWz8o9j — Joey Gase Racing (@JoeyGaseRacing) December 1, 2016 Wow that's great! Hopefully this will bring a younger crowd to @NASCAR . Congrats @MonsterEnergy ! https://t.co/04gtBzVRMh — Tanner Berryhill (@tannerberryhill) December 1, 2016 Way to go @NASCAR , big initiative to engage younger audience. This is a huge step in that direction! @MonsterEnergy — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) December 1, 2016 Awesome to see @MonsterEnergy as the new entitlement partner. Great brand with a lot of energy. Can't wait for Daytona #NASCAR — Ben Kennedy (@BenKennedy33) December 1, 2016 Excited for @MonsterEnergy to sponsor the series i think it's a great move for our sport! — Ty Dillon (@tydillon) December 1, 2016 We're excited to hear @MonsterEnergy , "The Official Energy Drink of Pocono Raceway " is now sponsoring @NASCAR 's Premier Series in 2017! pic.twitter.com/LTlx3AodjZ — Pocono Raceway (@poconoraceway) December 1, 2016 Thrilled to have you on board, @MonsterEnergy ! https://t.co/YBRfWos4KE — Richmond Raceway (@RIRInsider) December 1, 2016 Welcome to the @NASCAR family @MonsterEnergy ! We'll see you soon for #Speedweeks and the #DAYTONA500 ! https://t.co/oRIZmXJQoo — Daytona IntlSpeedway (@DISupdates) December 1, 2016 It’s Official, Monster Energy replace Sprint as the new NASCAR Premier Series Sponsor! #NASCAR Welcome to the Family @MonsterEnergy — Martinsville Spdway (@MartinsvilleSwy) December 1, 2016 Welcome to the family @MonsterEnergy @NASCAR pic.twitter.com/eCHuHPEjpJ — Steve O'Donnell (@odsteve) December 1, 2016
@nascarcasm: 2016 Twitter Awards
At the end of every NASCAR season, we like to honor those who went the extra mile on social media. Twitter is a powerful tool -- it allows you to do everything from blaming Jimmie Johnson for things that he has no bearing on, to fart-shaming your dog (Hi Dale.). So without further ado, we give you this year’s winners by category. THE KEVIN HARVICK AWARD FOR INSTIGATION: DALE EARNHARDT JR. Carl Edwards texted me to say thanks for giving him room and he said @joeylogano was a "poop face" #LiesAllLies pic.twitter.com/NeURxwlxG6 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) June 27, 2016 Dale Earnhardt Jr . manages to not only stoke the raging feud between Carl Edwards and Joey Logano , but also manages to give us a glimpse into the blazing hot takes Carl Edwards would bring should he ever join Twitter. I mean, Carl played the “poop face” card. Checkmate, fool. BEST TWEET THAT HAD TO BE DELETED BECAUSE PR PEOPLE HATE FUN: COLE PEARN Furniture Row Racing crew chief Cole Pearn took great exception to Joey Logano ’s driving at Auto Club Speedway this year, and responded with a tweet that you probably took a screenshot of. While we can’t reveal the exact wording of said tweet, we can say that it referenced Logano’s perceived lack of vision. It read like a polite guy from Canada trying to sound mad and intimidating. Cole really brought his “Eh” game! ACHIEVEMENTS IN HILLBILLY ENGINEERING: JIMMIE JOHNSON Yep pic.twitter.com/vtoJpP56D0 — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) May 30, 2016 The day after the Coca-Cola 600 , Jimmie Johnson posted this gem, featuring an innovative amalgam of a Lowe’s beverage dispenser and PVC pipe. It invokes imagery of Junior Johnson in coveralls, working tirelessly on a moonshine still somewhere in the deep woods, trying to work up a fresh batch while avoiding the watchful eye of Johnny Law. Except instead of Junior Johnson, it’s Jimmie Johnson . But instead of coveralls, he’s likely in a form-fitting Gap v-neck, Tommy Bahama bathing suit and Sperry topsiders. Think Water Cooler Dale is fun to talk to? We guarantee Margarita Cooler Jimmie much more talkative. RISING STAR AWARD: DALE EARNHARDT JR. Nephew Wyatt's first day on the go kart. #NextGeneration #HereWeGoAgain pic.twitter.com/9BvRPGs3A2 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) July 29, 2016 Imagine being Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s nephew. It is impossible to have a cooler uncle. You can go by his house to play in a Wild West town, see old wrecked race cars, and hang out in a dope treehouse. You also get to turn laps in a go-kart, as Wyatt did in this tweet. Dale himself took a few laps later. They were as slow as you’d expect from a grown adult on a kart with about four horsepower. But he still outran the Premium Motorsports No. 55 car. BEST INSPIRATIONAL TWEET THAT ALSO MADE FANS AFRAID TO SIT IN THE FIRST FEW ROWS OF THE GRANDSTANDS: KEVIN HARVICK My mood for the next 11 weeks. pic.twitter.com/ewssWFvL7G — Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) September 6, 2016 A good tweet and a good animated GIF. But there was confusion as to whether it was metaphorical (As in Kevin Harvick ’s approach in the Chase would be like that of a raging bull) or literal (Before every race, Kevin Harvick will run up in the stands and rip off your pants and boxer shorts with his horns). Regardless, it earned him the nickname "El Toro," which by our count is nickname No. 56. SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN "......HAY GURL….": RYAN BLANEY Who needs coffeee, when you can just look at this... pic.twitter.com/qayVpRwxLZ — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) April 8, 2016 "‘Hay gurl. 'Sup. My name's Ryan. Find me on Tinder. I turn left. U gonna swipe right." "WELL THEN JUST MAINTAIN A CRUISING ALTITUDE OF 4,999 FEET INSTEAD OF FART-SHAMING YOUR DOG” AWARD: DALE EARNHARDT JR. When he gets above 5000 feet he drops an air bagel every 3 minutes. It's awful. I claim mine. #noShame https://t.co/M00AphWFsn — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) April 24, 2016 Gus has quickly learned there’s a price to fame. Sure, you have acres and acres on which to cavort, relieve yourself and hump a live buffalo’s leg, but you also have to accept your Twitter-happy owner oversharing your digestive shortcomings. Maybe it’s not the altitude --maybe you shouldn’t feed him bananas and mayonnaise. Ever think of that? "WEIRD -- THESE M&M’S TASTE LIKE SMALL-KIBBLE BEEF AND CHICKEN FOR PETITE BREEDS" AWARD: BREXTON BUSCH Turned around for .2 seconds pic.twitter.com/WkA1tDIgVj — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) March 31, 2016 No explanation needed. SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN NOT KNOWING WHERE YOUR GINGER BEARD ENDS AND THE DOG BEGINS: DALE EARNHARDT JR. . @Amy_Reimann driving all us dogs to the groomer. Little one freezin his tail off this cold mornin. We makin due. pic.twitter.com/S9ehO9FF6u — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) April 6, 2016 We realize this is like his 30th Twitter award. Deal with it. When it comes to Twitter, Dale is our own personal Meryl Streep. "WOW -- SO THAT ISN’T ACTUALLY A JOKE" AWARD: CLINT BOWYER Dear @YETICoolers . Good news..these keep a beer crazy cold. BAD news.. I lost my Father's Day present.. Don't float pic.twitter.com/6pL8THO8Fs — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) June 21, 2016 So he DOES actually get distracted by shiny objects. Cray. SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT IN VANDALIZING YOUR OFFSPRING: LANDON CASSILL No one is safe in our house. Poor helpless lil babe @landoncassill pic.twitter.com/50PlhySXpk — kaitlan cassill (@kaitlancassill) April 26, 2016 Landon spares no one when it comes to distributing the most ubiquitous sticker of 2016 (Aside from that "I Voted" one). Even his own son. Imagine the party when this kid turns 38. "THEY SEE ME ROLLIN’ / THEY HATIN’ / PATROLLIN’ BECAUSE THEY KNOW MY DIAPER’S DIRTY" AWARD: BREXTON BUSCH "Yo, what's up my homie?" pic.twitter.com/YIRX9sXZVq — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) April 20, 2016 He probably pulled alongside Kyle and offered to sign his hat. "OH HEY -- HELLO AGAIN, LUNCH. SO GREAT TO SEE YOU" AWARD: KEVIN HARVICK Today's pre draining foot status... #nasty pic.twitter.com/E9RSfOpbtd — Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) June 29, 2016 After Sonoma , Kevin Harvick felt it would be prudent to share this picture. Very few free Bloomin’ Onions were handed out that week, because, well, turns out a grotesque, close-up image of a bulbous water-balloon of a blister squashes appetites like a bug. "DO WE TELL HIM THAT'S ACTUALLY A BAT" AWARD: JOEY LOGANO We got Frankie a new friend...meet Luigi Logano pic.twitter.com/dEIBGBTbxj — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) July 6, 2016 Yes, Luigi is cute. But look at those ears. That’s a bat. A damn bat. WIth four legs. Likely the result of some bizarre genetic-splicing experiment that took place deep in the cavernous underground of the Team Penske race shop. It probably sleeps during the day and awakens at night and hangs from the ceiling. And barks in a deep, gruff tone like Christian Bale. That’s a bat. RECOGNITION FOR FAILING TO CONVINCE US THAT IT’S ACTUALLY CALLED A SATCHEL AND THAT INDIANA JONES HAD ONE: TY DILLON @tydillon I love your man bag pic.twitter.com/UO0shRqikb — Haley Dillon (@HaleyKDillon) July 12, 2016 Imagine Ty Dillon getting into a fight like his grandfather. "HOLD MY FASHIONABLE MAN PURSE." "LEAVIN’ THE 'G' OFF GERUNDS BECAUSE THE LADIES BE LOVIN' THAT" AWARD: DALE EARNHARDT JR. Every time @DaleJr says "weddin" it warms my heart #socute — Amy Reimann (@Amy_Reimann) August 2, 2016 Dale Earnhardt Jr . talks like a Cracker Barrel menu. “WE FINALLY FOUND SOMETHING THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON MAY ACTUALLY NOT BE VERY GOOD AT" AWARD: JIMMIE JOHNSON One of those liquid courage moments. I have no skills, this didn't end well. #TBT #2001 @SteveParkee pic.twitter.com/AsOG4FOrL0 — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 11, 2016 Jimmie (Who sort of looked like Dave Matthews back in the day) finally confessed to not being absolutely perfect at something! Who knew? Apparently he can’t sing or play guitar. But this is probably before Chad Knaus made a few adjustments on the guitar and Jimmie went back out and performed "Fire And Rain" better than James Taylor ever has. THE "KIDS ARE SO CUTE WHEN THEY COMMIT TREASON" AWARD: JIMMIE JOHNSON @mattkenseth pic.twitter.com/NUhGbdePHq — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) August 10, 2016 Jimmie’s daughter declaring her unwavering support for Matt Kenseth is the surprising part of this tweet. The unsurprising part? That Johnsons can even win at those completely unwinnable claw games. THE "HEY PERSON WHO JUST CAUGHT THAT VERY BIG FISH -- PLEASE LET ME HOLD IT AND TAKE A PICTURE WITH IT THAT I PROMISE I WON’T TWEET OUT AND TELL PEOPLE THAT I ACTUALLY CAUGHT IT. EWWWW THESE THINGS ARE SLIMY AND GROSS" AWARD: JAMIE MCMURRAY Here is a pic of my big fish. BC is one of the most beautiful places I have been in the world. pic.twitter.com/8OxZIE62tX — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) August 11, 201 EDITOR’S NOTE: We have no evidence of this. Only hearsay and assump tion. THE " WELL NOW YOU KNOW HOW DANICA FEELS WHENEVER YOU TAKE A TEAM PHOTO" AWARD: KURT BUSCH One man short of a Lithuanian Allstar Basketball team. #waterboy #ballers pic.twitter.com/TSf99KlhvL — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) June 16, 2016 Next time you post a picture like this, please provide caption information, as we didn’t know which one you were, Kurt. THE "WE JUST HOPE HE DIDN’T ASK YOU TO HOLD ONTO THE RING BEFORE HE POPPED THE QUESTION" AWARD: JOEY LOGANO Congrats to Jordan & Megan! #SheSaidYes pic.twitter.com/Tjy67k88MR — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) September 4, 2016 "Megan...you are the love of my life. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you...um...Joey?” (LOGANO CHECKS POCKETS) “MAN I JUST had it, I promise…” THE "OH I SEE SO Y’ALL PEE IN YOUR FIRESUITS EVERY SUNDAY BUT I SOIL THE INFIELD GRASS AND SUDDENLY I’M THE BAD GUY” AWARD: GUS THE DOG Gus fertilized the lawn @CLTMotorSpdwy tonight. pic.twitter.com/hkdfxdhwH1 — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) October 5, 2016 Gus: "Oh wait -- you said 'SIT'? My bad."
Denny Hamlin to start on the Pole in Federated Auto Parts 400
Denny Hamlin takes the Coors Light Pole Award at Richmond International Raceway at his home track for the Federated Auto Parts 400.
Byron tops opening practice at Homestead-Miami
Pos Trk Driver Team Time Speed Lap # # Laps -Fastest -Next 1 9 William Byron Liberty University Toyota 31.411 171.914 2 24 ---.--- ---.--- 2 24 Kyle Larson (i) DC Solar Chevrolet 31.539 171.217 1 1 -0.128 -0.128 3 21 Johnny Sauter (C) Allegiant Travel Chevrolet 31.549 171.162 1 7 -0.138 -0.010 4 00 Cole Custer Haas Automation Chevrolet 31.550 171.157 18 18 -0.139 -0.001 5 88 Matt Crafton (C) Black Label Bacon/Menards Toyota 31.554 171.135 1 4 -0.143 -0.004 6 29 Tyler Reddick Cooper Standard Ford 31.563 171.086 2 9 -0.152 -0.009 7 33 Ben Kennedy Jacob Chevrolet 31.650 170.616 1 13 -0.239 -0.087 8 41 Ben Rhodes Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota 31.741 170.127 2 26 -0.330 -0.091 9 19 Daniel Hemric DrawTite Ford 31.821 169.699 1 4 -0.410 -0.080 10 23 Spencer Gallagher Allegiant Travel Chevrolet 31.845 169.571 1 13 -0.434 -0.024 11 17 Timothy Peters (C) Red Horse Racing Toyota 31.859 169.497 1 7 -0.448 -0.014 12 98 Rico Abreu Safelite Auto Glass/Curb Records Toyota 31.895 169.306 1 6 -0.484 -0.036 13 8 John H Nemechek Fire Alarm Services Inc Chevrolet 32.051 168.481 1 13 -0.640 -0.156 14 4 Christopher Bell (C) JBL Toyota 32.056 168.455 4 14 -0.645 -0.005 15 97 Jesse Little Carolina Nut Co Toyota 32.182 167.796 3 23 -0.771 -0.126 16 11 Matt Tifft Brain Gear/Surface Sunscreen Toyota 32.252 167.431 4 13 -0.841 -0.070 17 81 Ryan Truex Chiba Toyopet Toyota 32.276 167.307 1 21 -0.865 -0.024 18 22 Austin Wayne Self American Victory Toyota 32.409 166.620 3 23 -0.998 -0.133 19 05 Brady Boswell Zaxby's Chevrolet 32.449 166.415 2 19 -1.038 -0.040 20 13 Cameron Hayley Mattei Air Compressors Toyota 32.472 166.297 1 12 -1.061 -0.023 21 02 Scott Lagasse Jr (i) Alert Tonight FL/Florida Lottery Chevrolet 32.473 166.292 5 7 -1.062 -0.001 22 51 Daniel Suarez (i) ARRIS Toyota 32.477 166.272 2 21 -1.066 -0.004 23 18 Noah Gragson SpeedVegas/Alert ID Toyota 32.485 166.231 4 18 -1.074 -0.008 24 20 Austin Hill Lone Survivor Foundation Ford 32.538 165.960 2 33 -1.127 -0.053 25 92 Grant Enfinger # BTS Tire/Goodyear Commercial Tire Ford 32.737 164.951 2 13 -1.326 -0.199 26 16 Stewart Friesen Halmar International Chevrolet 32.745 164.911 23 24 -1.334 -0.008 27 71 Alon Day FLwaterfront.com Chevrolet 32.947 163.900 3 5 -1.536 -0.202 28 49 Reed Sorenson (i) Chevrolet 33.228 162.514 4 19 -1.817 -0.281 29 44 Tommy Joe Martins BootDaddy/Diamond Gusset Jeans Chevrolet 33.236 162.474 2 16 -1.825 -0.008 30 07 Patrick Staropoli Auto Nation Cure Bowl Chevrolet 33.279 162.264 2 21 -1.868 -0.043 31 1 Travis Kvapil CorvetteParts.net Chevrolet 33.325 162.041 2 2 -1.914 -0.046 32 66 Jordan Anderson Columbia SC - Famously Hot Chevrolet 33.665 160.404 2 20 -2.254 -0.340 33 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet 34.196 157.913 2 22 -2.785 -0.531 34 50 Spencer Boyd GruntStyle.com Chevrolet 35.878 150.510 4 4 -4.467 -1.682
Knaus next to tie record -- but he's got another goal first, Johnson says
RELATED: Johnson wins seventh title " Race results " Chase Grid " Standings SHOP: Champion gear Jimmie Johnson 's record-tying seventh Sprint Cup Series title put him in elite company with the legendary Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. It's quite the feat the No. 48 team achieved, but Johnson is already thinking about eight. For crew chief Chad Knaus. Dale Inman holds the record for most championships as a crew chief with eight premier series titles. Having been atop of the pit box for of all seven of Johnson's championships, Knaus would tie that record with an eighth Sprint Cup title. "I mentioned it to him that we need to go get eight for him," Johnson told NASCAR.com on Tuesday morning. " … He's honestly been such a huge part of my success and deserves the title of 'greatest ever.' So one way to really nip that is to go and put him up there with the same stats as Dale Inman." In his storied career, Inman achieved seven titles for Petty and his last one for Hall of Fame driver Terry Labonte in 1984. No one has come close to reaching Inman's record in the modern era -- and not even Inman earned eight titles with a single driver. Knaus has that chance to make history with Johnson, who says he has "another 3-5 years left" in his career. WATCH: Johnson talks future in sport Has it entered Knaus' mind? Probably. But as the world saw with Johnson's seventh title, Knaus' impeccably focused drive doesn't come from tying records or rewriting history books. It comes simply from winning, Johnson says. "I honestly don't think it's going to be in his mind," Johnson said. "It's just not what motivates him -- he would certainly relish the moment if it happened, but he was even more removed from the significance of seven than I expected. "I sat alongside of him and listened to him explain this to the media and to others, but working alongside him and seeing that it wasn't about seven at all -- it was about a championship. I wouldn't imagine it would change as he attempts to go for eight." Johnson's thoughts were echoed in Knaus' post-race remarks Sunday, as he talked about the duo's run for the seventh title. "I don't mean to be weird or disrespectful or anything like that, but that's -- I haven't approached it throughout the course of our career," Knaus said Sunday. "I really just think about the next event. The next event could be qualifying, the next event could be practice, the next event could be the race. It could be whatever it may be, and I feel like for me, that's the safest environment for me to operate, knowing that there's always that next goal that needs to be achieved, that next goal that needs to be accomplished, and keeping our guys in that mindset. "Not that I don't want them to enjoy and bask in the opportunity to go out there and battle for championships, or myself, I do enjoy it. That's why we do it. But looking at the numbers right now isn't really what I'm about. True to form, the Rockford, Illinois, native's next big goal is a more immediate one: To win at his home track of Chicagoland Speedway , one of the three active tracks where Johnson has yet to nab a win. "He reminded me of the promise I made to him to win at Chicago and I haven't been able to do that yet," Johnson said. "So he jokingly laughed and said, 'Let's just focus on Chicago first and then we can worry about the other championship.' "… When we first started, we were setting some goals back in winter ' 01 and we both agreed that the first goal would be to win at our home tracks. And that was where my first win (at his home track, Auto Club Speedway ) came a handful of races later and we've been in contention numerous times at Chicago and I just keep screwing it up. "So I owe him big on that."
Brian France talks Chase success, diversity efforts
RELATED: France talks business, family at conference HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France reaffirmed his endorsement of stock-car racing's postseason format Sunday, saying he "wouldn't change a thing" about the spirited competition created by the elimination system. France's remarks came Sunday in his annual "State of the Sport" question-and-answer session at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that will determine the champion of its premier series. NASCAR adopted the 10-race Chase playoff system for its top division in 2004. After 10 seasons of determining a series champion by cumulative points in the postseason, NASCAR competition officials introduced the current format with three rounds of eliminations and a four-driver championship shootout in the season finale. That format was adopted this year by NASCAR's other two national tours, a move that France said produced worthy champions this weekend in Daniel Suarez ( XFINITY Series) and Johnny Sauter ( Camping World Truck Series). "That's a big deal for auto racing. We're bold enough to do that," France said. "Anywhere in the world, that doesn't always happen. Our drivers have been great because it requires a different mindset to compete at this level. They're up to it. They may have had some reservations early on, but they're up to it, so it's great." France also addressed potential enhancements to the postseason structure, including the notion of greater incentives or rewards for regular-season performance. "I think that's a fair thing for us to consider, to make sure that the regular season is as important as it is," France said. "So I don't know exactly how we'll do that, but we'll look at that." MORE: Suarez makes history " Sauter claims Truck Series title
Auto Club a homecoming for Harvick, Mears, Reed
RELATED: Paint Scheme Preview for Auto Club " Power Rankings post-Phoenix BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- As the colorful and massive NASCAR haulers roll into the California hustle and bustle this week for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway , the small town of Bakersfield -- about a two-and-half hour Interstate drive northwest -- will proudly perk up too. Its own racing contributions will be on full display in the NASCAR garages, its latest crop of high-talent exports ready to roll at the speedway. The 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick , veteran Cup driver Casey Mears and XFINTY driver Ryan Reed -- all Bakersfield bred -- will suit up to compete this weekend. And of course, most of Casey Mears ' famous racing family -- including his dad, Roger, a Baja 1000 and Pikes Peak Hill Climb multi-champion and uncle Rick, a four-time Indy 500 winner -- hail from this humble hamlet, too. NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Ron Hornaday's hometown, Palmdale, is an hour southeast of Bakersfield's oil fields and almond orchards. He raced in the area, too. This is a blue collar, hard-working and weekend-loving region. It's the West Coast's down-home version of "middle America" -- hours from the glitz of Hollywood, the tech heads of San Francisco and the famous beaches of San Diego. And yet it is ironic how the slow pace of Bakersfield daily life is eclipsed by the high-speed distinctions of its many racing natives. They have won a Daytona 500 , a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, Indy 500 rings, IndyCar championships, a Rolex 24 watch, Pikes Peak Hill Climb titles and various USAC crowns. There may not be a higher concentration of this wide-range of racing success in another single hometown in the country. "For years, Bakersfield was kind of the butt of the jokes in L.A. on television with the late night shows," Rick Mears said. "It was a running joke, so that always made it a little sweeter when you put it (Bakersfield) on the map a little bit and could kind of rub it in and say, 'Hey, what are you talking about? Bakersfield's not so bad.' "There is a sense of pride to be able to accomplish those kinds of things and being from there. And now Kevin Harvick doing a similar deal in NASCAR, it's really cool." While surfing -- the water or the Web -- may characterize other parts of the Golden State, racing is the definitive brand here. Go-kart tracks, short tracks, Kern County Raceway Park, Bakersfield Speedway. They are typically packed with spectators, and as history has proven, perhaps the "next great thing" behind a wheel. The former -- and famous -- Mesa Marin Speedway track here has only recently been leveled and used as foundation for a modern sports complex of softball fields. For decades, the birthplace of NASCAR's truck series was a West Coast hub and showcase for the region's racing talent. "I wouldn't say the racing community is huge in Bakersfield, but for some reason it's definitely developed quite a few racers that have gone on to be successful," said Casey Mears , driver of the No. 13 Geico Chevrolet in the Cup Series. "I think everybody in Bakersfield is aware of motorsports and aware of what my family has done, and with Harvick winning the championship [in 2014], I'm sure that was huge. "There's definitely a following but I wouldn't say the racing community itself is large. It's just those that are involved are passionate about it." The first family of Bakersfield Bakersfield residents certainly know Casey Mears grandparents, Bill and Mae Mears, as "beloved regulars." The two ride their scooters around the downtown riverfront on their way to a nice lunch at one of their favorite haunts. The actual food is truly the least of their pursuits. This is social exercise. The Mears are easy to spot because of their wide smiles, friendly handshakes and all the people eager to greet them -- either to share some stories or listen to better ones. The couple is bona fide Bakersfield celebrity -- their offspring some of racing's greatest talents. So it is oh-so perfect that these two -- married 70 years now -- get all around town via scooters. And every so often, Bill says with a laugh, Mae will make a run right by him, speeding along the way just to keep things interesting. Their celebrated racing offspring definitely get their competitive edge and need for speed honestly. The Mears' loved Bakersfield from the moment they came upon it in 1955 -- only a couple years after a major earthquake in the region. "We came out here and saw how nice it was, so we went back home (to Kansas) and sold everything and came back," Bill Mears explained, still today a little amused by the adventure of his own story. "My wife's aunt sent her mom some money to buy gas for us. We brought them out here to see it and just liked it so well, we said, 'We'll go home, give ourselves a couple weeks and we're coming back.' And so we did." They sold most of their belongings in Kansas and motored West to set up home. Racing was not necessarily any grand vision for this couple that ultimately raised some of the country's most celebrated champions in Roger and Rick. "I came out here and I started racing out here and when I quit, the kids started doing it," Bill Mears explained. "We always did everything to be together. We did it for family, never expected to do it for racing. That's why they called it the 'Mears Gang.' We were always together, rode motorcycles together, just grew up in the mountains on the weekends. We had a family deal and it just worked out to be unbelievable," he explained, his voice becoming a little emotional. "It's just been unbelievable. "We would go to L.A. and Rick raced motorcycles, but my wife didn't like him riding. He was winning and everything, but we were afraid he'd get hurt. We went to L.A. and saw a (dune)buggy race, Volkswagens. We watched them race and said to the boys, 'We'll build you one of these if you'll quit racing motorcycles.' So that's how it got started." He remembers his then-teenage sons working hard during the week to raise money for their weekend racing passion -- their fantastic legacies still to be set. "We were all just racers and went out to local tracks on weekends with friends," Bill Mears said. "Harvick's dad came out to our shop and helped us on our first NASCAR pick-up we built. Harvick was just a little kid standing back there watching his dad work on our car. "Just a group that everybody likes racing. We'd just meet at local tracks on weekends and race. I can't believe how many local drivers have made it. And Ryan Reed now. It just shows there's a lot of talent around here." Harvick, Reed welcomed back with open arms A year ago, then-reigning Cup champion Harvick stopped by his hometown to dedicate a YMCA, film a biographical feature for TV, dine with his old friends and supporters, and bask in the love and pride showered upon him by all those fans who remember him when. People stood in front of the brick YMCA building for hours waiting for a handshake or autograph, eager to cheer his entrance. Many wore "vintage" t-shirts from Harvick's late-model days. They remember watching him "when." And yet for many waiting in line, this was yet another chance to see Harvick, who comes back to town several times a year. His mom, father and sister still live in Bakersfield's "Oildale" community, or as Harvick said in accepting one of his early NASCAR trophies, "Not bad for an 08-er," referring to the 93308 zip code for the area. Harvick, Mears and Reed all went to different high schools and are just different enough in age to represent three distinct Bakersfield eras. Reed, 22, who drives the No. 16 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing in the XFINITY Series, considers himself fortunate to have grown up in the town and pursued racing -- and to have the Mears and Harvick to look up to. "For sure this is a racing town," Reed said of Bakersfield. "And it's just a really cool thing. The newspaper, the sports writers, it doesn't matter. In (2014), we finished ninth in the points and they were still doing stories on us. It doesn't matter if you've had a horrible year and they want to know how you'll get better, or you have a great year and they want to brag about it. "They are there to support you, and when I go home I always have people coming up to me and saying, 'Good going.' They're just so proud of me. To hear that is really cool. "And it definitely motivates you." Marion Collins, who used to run Mesa Marin where Reed’s father and later, Harvick raced, is still sentimental about what the track meant to the area and how it contributed to the sport. "We feel really good about all the people that's come through here," Collins said. "Kevin (Harvick), (Ron) Hornaday and just a ton of guys from this part of the country. "At one time, we had the best race track in this part of the country and everyone wanted to come here. Kinda nice to have people come here and then do good things on down the road." Harvick couldn't agree more. And as the Stewart-Haas Racing driver interacts with old friends and former influences in Bakersfield, his pride -- their pride -- couldn't be more apparent. Everyone worked in a large confluence to help racing careers. And it's been an undeniable success. "That's just this town and really the way it's been since I started racing," Harvick said. "You develop the relationships through the years. "That network of people is what made our race teams function well. Getting out there and talking to people, you create friendships and partnerships. You have to put the effort in to make it work. "I come back here all the time and it would be the same type of turnout whether I was winning or losing. These people have supported me through the years, win lose or draw. "That's the type of community it is."
Austin Dillon zips atop first Auto Club practice
RELATED: Practice 1 results Austin Dillon rose to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard in Friday's opening practice at Auto Club Speedway . Dillon drove the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet to a best lap of 188.511 mph on the 2-mile California track. His speed was slightly better than the track qualifying record of 188.425 mph, a benchmark established by Kyle Busch in February 2005. Martin Truex Jr ., piloting the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota, landed the second-fastest lap in early preparation for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM). Home-state favorite Kevin Harvick , last week's winner by inches at Phoenix, pushed the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet to the third-fastest lap at 188.304 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (188.289 mph) and Chris Buescher (187.829) completed the top five in a pair of Fords. Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports teammates, were sixth- and seventh-fastest, respectively. Defending race winner Brad Keselowski registered the 14th-fastest lap in the Team Penske No. 2 Ford. No driver ran more than 10 consecutive laps in the opening 85-minute session. RELATED: See at-track photos from Friday's action Opening practice was slowed once by debris in Turns 1 and 2. Stenhouse's Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford was held 15 minutes at the start of the session as punishment for difficulties passing through the laser inspection station last week at Phoenix. Friday's Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. ET (FS1).