Crown Hamlin as the king of Halloween
RELATED: More Inside Groove blog content It appears that part of Denny Hamlin 's in-race diatribe on Jimmie Johnson ... uh, is sort of true. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver blasted "Six-Time" on the scanner when trying to make a pass Sunday at Martinsville. ( You can listen to all of that here .) Among the choicest lines: "He thinks he's a (expletive) king." Well, Jimmie, who won Sunday's race, was a king on Monday. In fact, his whole family was royalty in a Halloween photo. All of which led to the below jovial jab from Mr. Hamlin. The life of a father with daughters! #HappyHalloween pic.twitter.com/wpFUgVPmud — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) October 31, 2016 Yea I knew you wore a damn crown to bed. https://t.co/Ptz614qidN — Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) November 1, 2016 Well done, Denny. But "Six-Time" was quick to fire back. Yea I knew you wore damn floppy ears to bed @dennyhamlin . pic.twitter.com/0X0Ks26HWY — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) November 1, 2016 Another classic. Call this one a draw?
Truex Jr. celebrates second crown jewel win of 2016
Martin Truex Jr. celebrates in Victory Lane at Darlington Raceway after winning the Bojangles' Southern 500, his second crown jewel victory of 2016.
Nominate a hero in Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' program
Crown Royal hosted a weeklong celebration of heroes, during which individuals across the country were honored as inaugural nominees for the brand's annual "Your Hero's Name Here" program. The program renames the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- scheduled to take place July 24, 2016 -- after a deserving hero. Beginning Nov. 4, celebrities, influencers and partners of Crown Royal selected deserving individuals to be recognized as inaugural nominees for the program, concluding with a special celebration of heroes in Chicago on Veteran's Day. Each individual was given access to a special experience -- receiving tickets to award shows, professional football games and NASCAR races. For the 10th year in a row, Crown Royal will award an adult hero naming rights to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race through the "Your Hero's Name Here" program. The program is designed to honor individuals who go above and beyond, and give back to their communities -- from firefighters and military personnel, to police officers and first responders, by offering them an once-in-a-lifetime experience during the Brickyard 400 weekend. Consumers 21 and older can visit CrownRoyalHeroes.com to nominate their own heroes for a chance to have the Brickyard 400 renamed in their honor. Nominations will be accepted through Feb. 28 and five finalists will be chosen with a chance to win naming rights to the 2016 Brickyard 400. From there, consumers will be able to vote for the hero they think is most deserving of the honor, and one individual will see their name in lights at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . Previous winners are: • Jeff Kyle, 2015. Kyle was deployed multiple times to Iraq and Africa while serving in the military for eight years. During his time with the 3rd Marine Division, Kyle received the Navy Achievement Medal for leading the first Marine detachment to transport a nuclear submarine through hostile waters. After leaving the military, Sergeant Kyle has dedicated his life to helping his fellow servicemen and women through his tireless efforts to bring awareness to veterans' needs. • John Wayne Walding, 2014. Walding, a Green Beret, served a tour in Iraq and lost part of his leg after being shot by a sniper in Afghanistan. Walding mended his own wound and continued to return before the Green Berets were rescued. Walding later became the first amputee to graduate from the Special Forces Sniper School. • Samuel Deeds, 2013. While deployed in Iraq, Deeds came across an improvised explosive device (IED) while setting up a vehicle checkpoint. Upon seeing fellow Marines approaching, he exposed himself to the device, risking his own life to save others. He was severely injured and underwent more than 30 surgeries and procedures following the blast. Three years later, while still recovering, Deeds’ heroic instincts took charge once again when he saved the lives of three individuals caught in a rip tide off the coast of North Carolina. • Curtiss Shaver, 2012. Shaver is a firefighter from Alabama who lost part of his left leg in a farming accident when he was 18 years old. The incident led to Shaver's career choice as a fireman and a certified EMT.
Dirty Air debates NASCAR’s Crown Jewels
The Dirty Air Podcast’s Chuck Bush, Matthew Dillner and Jonathan Merryman debate their crown jewels of NASCAR past and present in a clip from this weeks Dirty Air Podcast.
Meet this year's five Crown Royal finalists
Giving back. It's something the five finalists for Crown Royal's annual "Your Hero's Name Here" program have all done without question or hesitancy, whether it's protecting classmates from gunfire, serving in the armed forces or founding a service-dog centered charity to help wounded veterans. They gave back and served as heroes do. And because they gave back, Crown Royal will put a name in lights. One grand prize winner from among the deserving, heroic five finalists will be etched in history with naming rights to the 23rd annual Brickyard 400, which takes place July 24 at famed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . This race will mark the 10th time Crown Royal has awarded race-naming rights to an adult fan. The program focuses on all of the unsung heroes who make a difference in their communities, from firefighters and police officers to first responders and local volunteers. Every year five heroic finalists are nominated and through fan voting, and one winner is chosen to have their name cemented in sports history. Beginning this week, adult consumers can go to CrownRoyalHeroes.com to vote for the hero they think is most deserving of naming rights to the race. Voting runs through June 9 and the grand prize winner will be announced that month. See below for their names and bios. All five finalists will be flown to Indianapolis to attend the race, and the grand prize winner will be provided with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which will include delivering the trophy bearing his or her moniker to the race winner in Victory Lane. The Brickyard 400 is one of the landmark NASCAR races every season. Since 1994, the group of big-name race winners includes the likes of Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson . Previous Crown Royal grand prize winners who had the race named after them are: Curtiss Shaver (2012), Samuel Deeds (2013), John Wayne Walding (2014) and Jeff Kyle (2015)
Crown Royal Heroes: Jason Redman
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Jason Redman. One of these five finalists will receive naming rights to the 2016 Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard.
Martin calls selection 'the crown jewel' of his career
RELATED: Photos from the induction day Mark Martin told the tale more than once on NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day this week, about his connection to fellow inductee Benny Parsons. Martin was a teenager -- "a nobody," as he termed it -- with racing dreams carved from his earliest days of wheeling cars on dirt. Parsons, in the prime of his driving career in the mid-1970s, took time for the Arkansas youngster and his father, sharing advice over lunch in his hometown of Ellerbe, North Carolina. Talk about a follow-through. Martin, 57, joined Parsons among the five chosen for induction in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017. "It hasn't soaked in yet," Martin said by telephone Wednesday after the Hall's announcement. "I didn't expect it. It is, by far, the crown jewel of my career and I'm so grateful for the people that helped me get there." Martin wasn't in Charlotte to hear his name called; instead, he was on his way to Indianapolis, reasoning that he wouldn't be among the five inductees this year. Martin was named on 57 percent of the voting panel's ballots, third-most among the 20 nominees. Still, he took the unexpected nature of being selected to heart, saying, "If I would've been on the voting panel, I would've probably voted another way." Martin's credentials -- both his success and his longevity across four decades in NASCAR competition -- eventually won out in just his second year on the ballot. Martin won 40 times in NASCAR's top division and combined for 56 more victories in its other two national series. But Martin acknowledged the gaps in his resume, those that he came heart-wrenchingly close to achieving. Among those were his five runner-up finishes in the championship standings and his 0-for-29 career streak in the Daytona 500 , the sport's most prestigious race. After Wednesday's accomplishment, Martin said that Hall of Fame induction fills any potential voids. "Look, I don't have a Daytona 500 trophy and I don't have a championship trophy, and I said many times that when people would complain about my not having one of those, I would ask the question: 'How would my life be different if I had one?' " Martin said. "And I truly believe that my life would not be very different. But my life will be different from now on because I'm in that Hall, because that is my crown jewel. "That speaks of not one year worth of success, not one great achievement, but a body of work, and that's what I'm proud of."
Crown Royal Heroes: Piper Hill
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Piper Hill. One of these five finalists will receive naming rights to the 2016 Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard.
Rolex 24 crown remains high prize for NASCAR stars
RELATED: History of NASCAR drivers in the Rolex 24 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The list of NASCAR greats to hoist a trophy at Daytona's famed Rolex 24 ranges from Hall of Famers such as Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte to stock car greats such as Mark Martin and includes Jamie McMurray , who after seven tries, won a champion's Rolex last year to showcase along with his 2010 Daytona 500 trophy. The late Dale Earnhardt competed just once finishing on the GT podium in his only try driving with his son Dale Earnhardt Jr . in 2001, along with sports car veterans Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins. AJ Allmendinger claimed a much-celebrated Rolex overall win in 2012, the 50th anniversary of the legendary race. The very first full-time NASCAR driver to win overall? Casey Mears in 2006. Through the history of this event full-time NASCAR drivers have been eager to give the Rolex 24 a try. And typically, found it as challenging and confounding as any week in a Sprint Cup Series' competition. McMurray, Allmendinger and third-year Cup driver Kyle Larson -- who co-drove with McMurray to the 2015 Rolex overall win -- will give the great endurance race another shot this weekend at the newly-unveiled, highly-celebrated, ultra-modernized Daytona International Speedway , which is fresh off a $400 million "re-imagining" renovation. RELATED: Learn more about Daytona Rising project The Russia-based prototype team and driver Mikhail Aleshin won the pole in the No. 37 BR01 Nissan and it will lead the 56-car field to green at 2:40 pm ET in the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona -- the first round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. "Looking forward to defending our win," Larson said, smiling. "I think we're a great team and great combo with (Scott) Dixon leading it and me on the tail. I'm hoping we can put together another full 24 hours here and get another watch." Larson is part of Chip Ganassi's defending championship team this weekend co-driving again with McMurray, reigning IndyCar champion and another former Indianapolis 500 champion, Tony Kanaan. The high-wattage, high-achieving lineup is matched by the anticipation of the series' new cars and revised classes fighting it out among the best sports car racers in the world for an entire day. And for much of the great history of this event, the sports car veterans ruled the road. NASCAR champions such as Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart gave it their best but are collectively 0-for-12 in claiming a shiny new watch. Johnson came closest to adding a Rolex to his resume and his wrist after finishing second overall in both 2005 and 2008 -- co-driving, in '08, with sports car royalty Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and IndyCar champion Jimmy Vasser. Stewart's best finish was third in 2005 co-driving with sports car veterans Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers. Danica Patrick and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace have given this race a try too. Patrick finished eighth overall in 2009 with Mears on her team. Wallace's only entry ended before the half-way mark. He was teamed with Patrick in 2006 and their car turned only 273 laps of 734 ultimately run. The race remains a crown sought by NASCAR's best, who compete alongside those sports car talents in one of the most diverse, highly anticipated events on the calendar. "I enjoy it, last year was fun and I think having all the drivers together, it's really the only time of the year we're all together," Larson said, smiling. "Everyone's telling stories. We all have dinner together. And to see everyone's driving talent and share the vehicle is pretty cool."
Pursuing NASCAR's triple crown intrigues Bobby Labonte
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Bobby Labonte quietly bowed out of full-time Sprint Cup Series competition at the tail end of the 2013 season. No retirement tour, no gifts. Certainly no ponies. The 2000 premier series champion has selectively dabbled in the sport since, however, with a handful of unremarkable starts at Indianapolis and the restrictor-plate tracks, knowing the pack racing may be his last remaining shot at picking up his first -- and likely final -- Cup victory in more than a decade. Labonte will run in Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway , his second of a scheduled four-race slate in 2016. While not sure if this same type of deal will continue to be available to him in future years, the brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte hinted at an interestingly hush-hush opportunity that could be coming down the pipeline later on this season. "I do have a couple other possibilities I am excited about that might come to fruition later on in the year that I didn't see coming around the corner but they are opportunities that might lead to something that I have been more excited about than anything I have done in my career," Labonte said Friday at Talladega. "Racing is still a big passion of mine and I know I am not going to go do a lot of things I used to do but there are still some opportunities out there that are still up on my radar that I would like to do." But what does he have left to prove? What racing goals remain? "That is a great question, too. Winning any race. It might be a bicycle race. Racing at the Sprint Cup level has gotten so intense that if you can't do it every weekend … (Talladega) is different as we all know. Last weekend and next weekend is different than here," Labonte said. "It is one of those things that I guess I kind of want to race more in a way but I don't want to race more in some ways. I don't want to do it every weekend but I know there are different series you can do that aren’t quite as strenuous as this. "My brother told me one time after about two years of retirement, 'You know, you will have a lot more friends later that you didn't know you had.' And that is true. I am enjoying that. As far as racing goes I am enjoying it and my opportunity is only four times right now through a little bit of what I want to do and a little bit from other people." One remaining goal is obvious: becoming NASCAR's first Triple Crown winner by notching a championship at each of its three national series levels. Labonte has the two arguably tougher feats down, winning the XFINITY Series (then Busch Grand National) title by 74 points over Kenny Wallace in 1991, then taking his first and only Sprint Cup Series (then Winston Cup) title by a wide, 265-point margin over Dale Earnhardt in 2000. It's a long shot, and Labonte admits that "everything has to line up right," but he's at least considered the prospect of running for a Camping World Truck Series title. He has 10 career starts in the series, with one win (2005 at Martinsville). "It is absolutely something that we have talked about and met with some people about," Labonte said. "I couldn't just make it happen by snapping my fingers and we couldn’t quite get it all lined up. I definitely had it in my mind that it was something I really wanted to do. I would still entertain that but there is also a point where if you can chase the championship that is one thing, and you can do it in a lot of ways. "When I started racing when I was little, the passion was to race and win and that is what you want to do. You want the chance to do that. We did it back then and I think the Truck Series is very appealing to me. I loved it when I did a few of them for a couple of guys and won a race and finished in the top five quite a bit. It is definitely a different level and the garage area is a lot calmer there than it is in the Sprint Cup Series and it kind of, at this point in time, is very appealing."
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