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.
Erik Jones finding his way as Furniture Row newbie
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Erik Jones will embark on a Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaign in the No. 77 Toyota for Furniture Row Racing , starting with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ' biggest race -- the Daytona 500 (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM) at Daytona International Speedway . The transition means getting acclimated to a new crew, new team principals and a new full-time series. It's also meant a learning process merely to find the location of Furniture Row's shop, based in Denver, Colorado. "No, I didn't get it on the first time," Jones said with a smile, admitting that he drove right past the organization's home base on his first trip to the Rockies. "It's funny. You go out there, there's no sign, there's nothing that would say, hey, there's a race team here. So I went by it a few times before I was able to find it. "It's cool. That's definitely an old-school feel. As competitive as they are, there's no other race team like that that has that same thing." If its headquarters harken back to a previous era, Furniture Row Racing 's performance has been anything but dated. A breakout four-win season for Martin Truex Jr ., who led the most laps in the series last year, reinforced the notion that the organization was ripe for expansion to a two-car team. Enter the new-school Jones, who at age 20 has already accomplished plenty in the NASCAR ladder system under the tutelage of Kyle Busch Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing , the Toyota powerhouse that has a technical alliance with Furniture Row. Jones secured the Camping World Truck Series championship in 2015 and came within a fouled-up restart of vying for the XFINITY Series crown in last year's finale. Though Jones' progress has been deeply linked to Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing affiliates, he's meandered through a near-constant shuffle of personnel and teams since his NASCAR national series debut in 2013. That trend continues in 2017. He'll be getting better acquainted with a new teammate in Truex, who -- JGR alliance aside -- has flown solo with Furniture Row the last three seasons. "I think that relationship will grow here as we get closer to the season and we all get back into the racing mode," Jones said at the preseason NASCAR media tour in late January, at which point he said his conversations with Truex had been limited. "I'd love to talk to him about transitioning into the Cup Series more, and obviously he went through the same thing coming up from the XFINITY ranks, so yeah, I'd love to hear from him and I think it's going to be a great relationship. "I think Martin will be a great teammate. He's obviously worked as a teammate before, and I think for Furniture Row, it's going to be beneficial just to have two cars at the race track." For now, Jones hopes that navigating his rookie year is less challenging than trusting the GPS in suburban Denver. But that will also mean adapting to a new championship format, his third in the last three seasons. It may also mean adopting a new approach to his first full year in NASCAR's big leagues. "I think last year, really all throughout my career, I've been a little bit of an all-or-nothing, checkers-or-wreckers kind of driver," Jones says, "and really the format last year I thought played into my hand, and it did until the time the Chase actually started and I realized you had to be consistent for three races -- which we did, and we made it all the way to Homestead and I think it's definitely different this year. You have to position yourself to get the best possible finish you can in every segment and rack up those bonus points to get to the Chase. "At the end of the day, the more bonus points you have, the better position you're in to make it to Homestead." &lt;/p&gt;
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.
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."
Crown Royal Heroes: Michael Gallardo
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Michael Gallardo. 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.
Crown Royal Heroes: Chris Mintz
Check out Crown Royal Heroes nominee Chris Mintz. 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.
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