Jason Redman's Indy experience as Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' Program winner
Jason Redman recaps his experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after being named Crown Royal's 'Your Hero's Name Here' Program winner.
NASCAR gives P3 penalty to No. 4 Sprint Cup team
Rodney Childers, crew chief of Kevin Harvick's No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, has been fined $20,000 and suspended through this weekend's race at Pocono Raceway after the No. 4 team was assessed a P3 penalty following last weekend's race at Indianapolis, NASCAR announced Wednesday. The penalty fell under section 12.1; section 10.11.3.4, lug nuts not properly installed. Other penalties assessed following the Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway included written warnings for twice failing LIS inspection pre-race to: No. 5 team of Kasey Kahne (first warning), No. 27 team of Paul Menard (third warning) and No. 83 team of Matt DiBenedetto (fourth warning). Written warnings also were given to the No. 41 team of Kurt Busch (second warning) and the No. 43 team of Aric Almirola (second warning) for failing template inspection twice, pre-qualifying. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the No. 22 team of Austin Wayne Self received a writing warning (third warning) on opening day inspection at the Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby for truck trailing arms not meeting specifications.
Almirola reflects on career, heritage as he makes 200th start
Aric Almirola insists he was absolutely prepared to climb into his No. 43 Smithfield Ford this Sunday for the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway completely focused on nothing other than scoring a victory and working toward earning a position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But his public relations team brought up an important milestone that even he conceded was definitely worth noting, if not celebrating. This Sunday's race marks the 32-year old Almirola's 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start -- a significant measure of his staying power and a testament to how far he's come. Literally. He is the son of a Cuban immigrant on his dad's side of the family and the grandson of one of Florida's most celebrated and accomplished racers -- Sam Rodriguez -- on his mom's side. That has created a unique background dynamic that gives Almirola motivation and pride. And makes this weekend a heartfelt measure of success. "I think here I am and my dad came over from Cuba and 50 years later I'm making my 200th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Richard Petty," Almirola said. "It's so crazy to me, what living in this country affords you and allows you to be able to do, and my grandparents made that decision to come over here and take this chance." The sheer number of starts represents a mark of opportunity for Almirola. Making it into NASCAR's big league was always the harder path, the road less travelled. But he has made it. And that's only the beginning. "I don't think anybody dreams about running two hundred races, they dream about 'a' race," Almirola said. "So as a kid I dreamed about driving 'a' Cup car, running 'a' race. So, now the fact I've had the opportunity to do it two hundred times, when you realize that, and the marketing department brings to your attention that, 'Hey, Pocono is going to be your 200th start,' it really makes you kind of reflect on everything that's led up to this. "From being a kid racing go-karts all the way up to all the opportunities I've had. I realize by reflecting on all that stuff how fortunate and blessed I am." The thing is, Almirola could have just as easily been a star baseball player as a winning NASCAR driver. His native city of Tampa, Florida is a ballplayer's town. It produced Wade Boggs and Lou Piniella. Both Dwight Gooden and Gary Sheffield graduated from Almirola's Hillsborough High School. A calendar year in this part of the country has traditionally been delineated by baseball and football seasons. That just makes Almirola's success climbing the NASCAR ranks even more impressive. "I was in somewhat of a hot bed there for athletes," Almirola said smiling. "But I had a really strong passion for racing and I know that made me somewhat of an outsider at school growing up. When friends would ask, 'Hey what are you doing this weekend?' I'd say, I was going racing. "That kind of separated me from a lot of kids at school -- not in a bad way, I wasn't an outcast in a negative way, but I didn't have as close a relationship with kids at school because I didn't go parties at their house Friday night after football games. I was always working on my race cars or go-karts and racing on the weekends. "I wasn't looking for something to do on the weekend. I already had it." "I was always going to be a NASCAR guy. My grandfather raced sprint cars, so obviously the open wheel path was there, too. He'd race at East Bay every Saturday night and occasionally travel around the country going to races. But every Sunday it was normal, to get up, eat breakfast, hang around the house and then watch the Cup race. That was routine around my parents and my grandparents. We love NASCAR." The result for Almirola has been a starring role driving his sport's most iconic car -- the No. 43 -- for the sport's biggest legend, Petty. NASCAR's crown jewel, Daytona International Speedway, is also Almirola's "home track" and fittingly the venue he won his first Sprint Cup Series race in 2014, the Coke Zero 400 -- exactly 30 years after his boss Petty scored his historic 200th victory at the track. Consider this: Petty's win total would be equivalent to Almirola winning every start he's made. RELATED: Almirola's Darlington scheme honors Petty " Darlington schemes Though that remains the only Cup victory so far for Almirola, it was enough to propel him into the 2014 Chase and make him only more eager to return. His team's best finish this year is a 12th-place in the season-opening Daytona 500. He's had four top-15 showings -- three in the season's opening four races. He ranks 25th in points entering Pocono, hopeful to score a win in one of the remaining six races to set the 16-driver Chase field. "I think the reality is we have struggled this season and you can tell by watching the race and looking at our results," Almirola said. "This year has been a struggle and we can't really put our finger on what's wrong. People often ask what's wrong and it sounds like a smart-aleck answer, but if I knew, we'd fix it. "There are a couple places looking ahead that have been strong for us. Bristol comes to top of mind. We had a chance to win there a couple years ago battling with Carl Edwards. And then there's (regular season finale) Richmond. Last year we went there kinda do or die to make the Chase and finished fourth, but had a really strong car and a legitimate chance to win that race, too. Those are kind of top of mind to me where we might go in and get a win." Listening to Almirola reflect on his first 200 races, there is both a fond memory of what it took to get to this point and a distinct urgency in his voice to succeed in a way worthy of the hard work already put in. "Making my 200th start really forces me to reflect and when I do that and think about doing it for Richard Petty, who is very much an American icon. And I can't help but reflect on my family, which has done so much and sacrificed so much to get me where I'm at," Almirola said. "It really is amazing."
Best in-car audio from the Crown Royal 400
From Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart's last ride around the Brickyard to Kyle Busch's dominating performance, check out all the best radio chatter from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Brickyard Breakdown: Gordon, Stewart looking for one final crown
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and Chris Rice talk about Jeff Gordon's return to the track and Tony Stewart's final race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
From the Vault: Stewart claims first Brickyard crown
Relive Tony Stewart's 2005 win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he claims his first ever Brickyard 400 victory.
Filled with Indy memories, Patrick looks to better season at the Brickyard
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Danica Patrick is always the first to remind you that her success competing in the Indianapolis 500 does not necessarily translate directly in her quest to win her first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the historic track. But she remains optimistic about the good juju the speedway tends to send. And after a frequently frustrating season in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, Patrick welcomes any change in success – at Indy or otherwise. The vibe here is tangible. "I totally feel it," Patrick said. "I think that it's probably undeniable on some level; even just driving back into the track and seeing the Pagoda all lit up which is what I love seeing when I come in through the Turn 2 tunnel. Seeing that and just having spent so much time here. "I feel it. And having great memories. That always helps." Indianapolis is undoubtedly the venue that propelled Patrick into worldwide vernacular. She finished fourth as a rookie in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and backed it up with a career-best third place in 2009 -- the best-ever finish for a woman in the race. The talent, fame and promise she showed in IndyCar -- created and punctuated by her showings at the great Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- provided her opportunity to shift career paths and give stock cars a go. But her results racing at Indy in NASCAR haven't been up to Patrick par. She hasn't finished better than 27th in three Sprint Cup Series tries at the track. She scored that career-best last year after finishes of 30th and 42nd in her first two stock car starts. "I don't think they all have been really bad, but I think it's tough for me," Patrick acknowledged Friday before Coors Light Pole qualifying for Sunday's Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN). "Do I miss running in the top five? Of course I do. Especially for casual fans, it's very easy to understand. But a top five for me now is a top 15 right now. And it's just different. In stock car racing there's so many more cars and there's so much that goes into it and there's so many of these guys who have just been at it for so long. "Especially with my lack of stock car experience before I jumped into it, I didn't start off racing dirt. I didn't start off in Late Models and things like that and work my way up. The car itself is challenging. It's a work in progress and I think that at any point in time, when everything is right, it can be a breakthrough and a great result. By great, it's a top 10; maybe a top five." Rolling off the grid 24th in Sunday's 400-miler, Patrick comes to Indianapolis ranked 24th in the point standings and is still looking for her first top-10 finish of the year. A 14th-place run at New Hampshire last week is her best showing since posting a season-high 13th-place finish at Dover in May. Patrick said she and new crew chief Billy Scott are still getting familiar with one another. It's her third crew chief in four seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing as the team looks for the best combination. Certainly as the schedule starts to revisit tracks for a second time, she is more hopeful -- make that expectant -- of signs of progress. Half of her six career top-10 finishes have come at tracks still to come on the schedule -- Kansas, Martinsville and Bristol. "There's constant car revisions that get done and updates to cars that get done throughout the season," Patrick said. "Every single week that work is done in the wind tunnel. So, things are very evolving from the car perspective. But, there are a lot of things that go into a race other than just the car. And so, having a set-up when you first start the weekend that's closer than when you went there the first time is a great thing. "We don't really get that many shots at making the car that much better when we get there. It's more about optimizing what you have. So, hopefully that will be a good second-half of the season for us to have that foundation established between rules, crew chief, me; and I know that none of us are happy running 20th. I'm not. It's miserable. So, we want to do better."
Meet Sunday's hero, grand marshal for Brickyard 400
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Retired U.S. Navy Seal Jason Redman freely admits he's new to big-time NASCAR racing and says he cannot wait to see the sights and feel the atmosphere at one of the Sprint Cup Series' biggest events here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway come Sunday. The excitement and honor, however, is greatly reciprocated. Redman, 40, who sacrificed for our country serving multiple tours in Iraq, will serve as grand marshal and has gifted the name of Sunday's race, "The Crown Royal presents …." from using his name to celebrating his charity, Combat Wounded Coalition. The Virginia native Redman has had nearly 40 surgeries to repair massive injuries to his face and arm suffered while fighting in Iraq. And he and his wife founded the Combat Wounded Coalition to serve military members needing specialized services because of their injuries. "I think the whole experience I'm looking forward to, no doubt,'' Redman said, adding with a laugh. "Now I've ruined it forever because I'll never be able to come back to a race because it will never be this good again. "Everything I've ever heard about NASCAR is just incredible from the racing, to the sounds of the engine and the track. People are so friendly and have a good time. The whole experience and then take that up another notch with everything I get to do like waving the green flag, leading the field in the pace car. That will be amazing." Redman said he was looking forward to meeting drivers and was especially grateful to spend time with Danica Patrick on Friday. The two talked about their different workouts and their shared love of dogs. "She was phenomenal and we had a great conversation,'' Redman said. He is looking forward to a full day of NASCAR access on Sunday. He will attend the drivers' meeting, drive the pace car, present the trophy to the winner and kiss the bricks. "This is definitely up there,'' Redman said. "It's a two part thing how incredible it is. On the one side, the experience of being here and how cool it is. And the flip side is for Crown Royal to allow us to name this race after my non-profit and to use it as an opportunity to highlight the sacrifices of so many of our veterans. … that was amazing. "Both of those opportunities are just beyond. I can't think of any better place than here at a NASCAR race. If there's any group of Americans that doesn't take their freedom for granted it is NASCAR fans." If you are interested finding out more information about the charity Combat Wounded Coalition, visit the organization at combatwoundedcoalition.org .
Who's in the No. 48? Flub gives 'Six-Time' extra drive
Jimmy Jimmie Johnson found some extra motivation for the Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio) Sunday morning. The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion saw something amiss during a morning check of his pit stall. Morning motivation @rpatton22 pic.twitter.com/4TDoLM1bRf — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) July 24, 2016 Oops. A little credit, though. The fact that Indianapolis puts driver names on the pit road wall and above the garage stalls is immeasurably cool. And it looks like everything is fast at Indy, including the speed of folks in charge of the signage. Boo pic.twitter.com/yuOWY07Wzq — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) July 24, 2016
'Smoke' called to front of line for Indy tribute
SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Tony Stewart 's final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway got off to an emotional start here Sunday as NASCAR and IMS officials, along with fans of the three-time premier series champion, paid tribute to Stewart during pre-race activities. Stewart, twice a winner at the legendary 2.5-mile facility, is retiring from Sprint Cup competition at season's end. Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard marked his 18th career start at the track. Stewart, 45, led the field on the opening pace lap well ahead of even the pace car prior to the start of the race before falling back in line to his official starting position of third on the 40-car grid. Earlier, additional room on the pre-race grid was provided to the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team to accommodate up to 100 guests on hand to see Stewart make his final scheduled Brickyard start. Stewart has 49 career victories, including Brickyard 400 wins in 2005 and '07. His 9.6 average finishing position at Indy is his best at any track in the series. Stewart grew up in Columbus, Indiana, located approximately 50 miles south of the speedway, and he maintains his primary residence there. He has spoken often of what the track has meant to him through the years. "You know, it means a lot," he said recently. "Some of the greatest race car drivers in the world, whether it was IndyCar, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, they've run and won at the Brickyard, so that in itself makes it special. "I grew up ... in Indiana. I didn't move to Indiana. I didn't move away from Indiana. I'm the only NASCAR driver in the (Sprint) Cup Series that's from Indiana that still lives in Indiana, and I'm proud of where I was born. I'm proud to be back. "I still live in the town I was raised in. I take a lot of pride in that. I think the state of Indiana takes a lot of pride in that, and that's what makes it a big weekend. I'm representing a lot of people around me, and I'm proud to do that." Stewart made his first start at Indy in 1996, winning the pole and finishing 24th for team owner John Menard in the Indianapolis 500. He finished fifth the following year. Stewart remains the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles of the Indy/Charlotte double held in May. He finished sixth in the Indy 500 in 2001, then flew to Charlotte Motor Speedway where he drove to a third-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 .