Friday, Jun 09
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Continuing its long history of supporting the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, exclusive tire supplier of NASCAR's three major national series, is waving the green flag on the fourth annual "Goodyear Gives Back" charitable program benefitting the Support Our Troops® organization.

To launch this year's program, Goodyear will again transform its race tires by replacing the "Eagle" sidewall design with desert camouflage lettering that reads "Support Our Troops" on all NASCAR tires used during Memorial Day Weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The commemorative tires are one of a number of initiatives planned as part of this year's program, which includes a charity auction featuring autographed NASCAR memorabilia and VIP experiences, along with at-track activities and multiple opportunities for racing fans to participate. All proceeds from the program benefit Support Our Troops®, a nonprofit nationwide organization that works to bolster the morale and well-being of America's troops and their families.

"Memorial Day Weekend is a time for all of us to reflect on the incredible sacrifices soldiers and their families make every day to protect our freedom," said Gary Melliere, Goodyear's general manager of sponsorships. "Goodyear is proud to continue its longtime support of the military with this program, and we hope all NASCAR fans will join us in helping to raise funds for this great cause."

Fans can get involved in this year's "Goodyear Gives Back" program by visiting to bid on authentic Goodyear NASCAR tires autographed by the drivers who used them, as well as other unique items including VIP motorsports experiences and memorabilia, and rides on the iconic Goodyear Blimp. All auction proceeds go directly to Support Our Troops®, and Goodyear will match the funds raised through the charity auction up to $50,000.*

During the program, which runs through July 8, 2013, consumers can also make direct donations to Support Our Troops®, send messages to troops through the Goodyear website and purchase Goodyear Gives Back merchandise through the auction link (while supplies last).

"The Goodyear Gives Back program has played a very important role over the years in helping to raise awareness and funds to better the lives of U.S. Armed Forces and their families," said Martin C. Boire, executive director of Support Our Troops. "We want to thank Goodyear and NASCAR for continuing to give racing fans a fun opportunity to support our service men and women through this program."

To date, the Goodyear Gives Back program has provided more than $700,000 in cash and product donations that have gone directly to supporting the troops and their families. This year's program launch is part of a strong effort made by the racing community to show its support of the military this Memorial Day race weekend, including the launch of "NASCAR: An American Salute," which highlights the sport's ongoing support of the U.S. Armed Forces and veterans. This year, the NASCAR program is galvanizing the industry, partners and fans around an effort to touch the lives of one million military service men and women and their families. Goodyear is also supporting Charlotte Motor Speedway's Patriot Partners bus sponsorship program, which is bringing thousands of troops to the 54th running of the Coca-Cola 600 from Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. and Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C.

"Goodyear continues to be a great NASCAR supporter as we unite to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military," said NASCAR President Mike Helton. "We hope that the Goodyear Gives Back program, in conjunction with the 'NASCAR: An American Salute' initiative, will continue to encourage NASCAR fans to express how thankful we are for those who serve our country and their families, while also raising money to help support them."

To continue its show of support for the military, representatives from Goodyear, NASCAR and a group of volunteers teamed up at Charlotte Motor Speedway to fill care packages for the troops with personalized "thank you" cards and other essential items donated by Goodyear and NASCAR sponsors and partners. For the second year in a row, UPS Trackside Services will provide shipping and manage the delivery of the care packages from Charlotte to active duty troops in Kuwait and Afghanistan. UPS is the Official Logistics Provider of NASCAR and has committed to hire more than 25,000 veterans over the next five years.

Goodyear, the largest producer of military tires in the U.S.,has a longstanding history with the U.S. Armed Forces, with more than 100 years of commitment to building innovative and reliable tires and equipment to support and protect our troops. Goodyear's commitment extends beyond products and charitable donations; priding itself on hosting events at U.S. military bases throughout the year, bringing service men and women and their families a chance to interact with drivers and take rides on the Goodyear Blimp.

Goodyear PR

Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson selected the final two charities to be featured on the 2013 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope from a pool of media nominations. 

The Humane Society of Charlotte and Encompass Early Education and Care Inc. were chosen to appear on the helmet that Johnson will wear during race weekend activities at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Aug. 18, 2013. Each organization also will receive a grant of $10,000 and a special Blue Bunny ice cream party.

The Humane Society of Charlotte is a community resource committed to improving the lives of companion animals through adoption, spay/neuter, and education.

The Humane Society of Charlotte was nominated by Larry Sprinkle of NBC Charlotte.  According to Mr. Sprinkle, “the Humane Society of Charlotte saved the lives of over 3,400 dogs and cats last year.  This organization works tirelessly to make sure that every one of their shelter animals finds a special home.”

Sprinkle praised the HSC, saying, "In my 40 years in Charlotte broadcasting and involvement with shelters, I've never seen a group work so intently on their mission."  

Encompass Early Education and Care is a not-for-profit organization providing the highest quality education and care for children and support for families with a commitment to compassion, quality, and advocacy.

NASCAR Illustrated’s Jay Pfeifer, who nominated Encompass Early Education and Care, said, "Encompass provides early education to families throughout my hometown of Green Bay, Wis.  Thanks to sliding-scale tuition, Encompass makes this invaluable service available to everyone - not just to the families who can afford it."

The Humane Society of Charlotte, located in Charlotte, N.C., and Encompass Early Education and Care Inc., located in Green Bay, Wis., join International FOP Association, Ruth’s Reusable Resources, Denver Kids, Inc., Miracle League of Pensacola, Chelsea's Hope, Me Fine Foundation, Against Abuse, Inc., Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Make-A-Wish Iowa as charities that will be featured on the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope.

Jimmie Johnson Foundation PR

Four of the five inductees who comprise the 2014 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame – Dale Jarrett, Maurice Petty, Tim Flock and Jack Ingram – have ties to Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track or the fine state of Alabama.

The quartet, who will also be joined by the legendary Fireball Roberts, was announced during a ceremony Wednesday evening in Charlotte, NC, after all votes were cast by the 54-member NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel.

Dale Jarrett

Jarrett, the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, was stellar at Talladega’s 2.66-mile layout during his career, capturing two checkered flags – the 1998 and 2005 Camping World RV Sales 500 (formerly Winston 500) – and claiming 11 top-five finishes in NASCAR’s premier division. He also competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and IROC on Talladega’s high banks.

“We certainly count Talladega as a place that we could win every time out,” remarked Jarrett after his 1998 TSS triumph in which he claimed a million dollar bonus. “Winning here is as much about getting into position and, obviously, staying out of trouble. The key is getting ourselves in the right position to make a move late in the race. We were able to do that and it paid off with a win. It was important for us to run well at Talladega, and to get a Talladega victory is huge.”

Jarrett is the son of Ned Jarrett, who is a member of both the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (1991 inductee), located just outside of turn four at Talladega, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame (2011 inductee).

Maurice Petty

While serving as the chief engine builder at Petty Enterprises, where his machines helped his older brother Richard Petty to seven Sprint Cup Series titles and the majority of his 200 NASCAR victories, Maurice Petty supplied the horsepower for Richard’s Talladega triumphs in 1974 (Camping World RV Sales 500) and 1983 (Aaron’s 499). He also served as crew chief for Pete Hamilton’s Plymouth Superbird, which swept both Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway in 1970.

Maurice becomes the fourth member of the Petty Enterprises dynasty to go into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, joining brother Richard (2010 inductee), father Lee (2011 inductee) and his cousin Dale Inman (2012 inductee). All three individuals are also in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame – Lee (1990 inductee), Richard (1998 inductee), and Inman (2013 inductee).

Tim Flock

While he never competed at Talladega, Tim Flock’s roots began in Alabama. He was born in Ft. Payne, AL, just 70 miles from Talladega, and lived there until he moved to the Atlanta, GA, area when he was in the second grade.

He won two NASCAR premiere series championships and 40 races during his career from 1949-1961, long before the creation of Talladega Superspeedway. Flock is in both the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (1991 inductee) as well as Alabama Sports Hall of Fame (2006 inductee).

Jack Ingram

Arguably the best driver in the history of the NASCAR Nationwide Series (formerly Late Model Sportsman Division and Busch Series), Jack “The Ironman” Ingram won five championships and 31 races during his career.  While he never got the opportunity to compete in a Nationwide Series race at TSS, he drove in two Sprint Cup Series races (1979 and 1981), when he ran the in series on a limited basis.

Fireball Roberts

Roberts, known as NASCAR’s first superstar after winning 33 races, never competed at Talladega. His career was cut short in 1965 after an accident at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“Talladega Superspeedway and the state of Alabama are proud to be represented in such a fine class of NASCAR’s Hall of Fame inductees,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch.  “For over 40 years we have strived to provide fans with the absolute best racing on the NASCAR circuit, and some of the 2014 class has helped us achieve that.

“The races with Pete Hamilton winning in the Superbirds will never be forgotten. What many may not remember is that Maurice Petty not only supplied the power plant, but he called the shots in the pits for Pete. And, what can you say about Dale Jarrett. Every race he drove for Robert Yates here the car was a threat to win and provided the fans with some great thrills, including his last career win which came here in 2005. Congratulations to all the new inductees and their families.”

There were a total of 25 nominees. Some of the others who missed the 2014 class also had Talladega ties, including: NASCAR’s first champion Red Byron (lived in Anniston as a youngster); Richard Childress (TSS all-time winning car owner); Anne B. France (wife of TSS creator Bill France, Sr.); Ralph Seagraves (who helped initiate Winston’s 30-year, TSS race entitlement sponsorship); Rick Hendrick (2nd on all-time TSS winning car owner list); Bobby Isaac (five-time pole winner at TSS); Benny Parsons (2-time Sprint Cup Series runner up at TSS); Fred Lorenzen (two fourth place finishes at TSS); Wendell Scott (competed in 5 Cup races at TSS); and T. Wayne Robertson (who helped guide Winston’s Talladega race entitlement for many years).


As Memorial Day approaches, many look to find a way to honor those who have served to keep our country safe. Empire Racing is pleased to announce that its marketing partner, Warriors In The Workplace, has found another way to do so. Warriors In The Workplace, a non-profit organization that provides a connection between veteran friendly employers and those veterans looking for jobs, recently decided to extend their services to include military spouses. Spouses will now be eligible to create an account, search the database of available positions, and post their resume online, free of charge, at the company’s website,

“As we looked to see how we could best serve the members of our military, our Board of Directors realized that the spouses of active military and veterans are also struggling to find employment in the current economy. Anything we can do to ease the burdens felt by those who have served our country and their families is one way of honoring their service” explained John Birmingham, Executive Director of Warriors In The Workplace.

“It has been an honor to work with a group that is so dedicated to giving back to our military veterans. And we are very pleased that Warriors In The Workplace is expanding to offer help to the spouses of veterans. I think that offering their employment services to spouses will help ease some of the burden our returning veterans are feeling as they try to provide for their family” added John Bellesfield, Team Manager of Empire Racing.

Empire Racing PR


Turner Scott Motorsports drivers Miguel Paludo, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Larson and Nelson Piquet Jr. will visit Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Children's Hospital to meet with patients and staff on Friday, May 24. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) drivers will be on site from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EDT and will be available for media one-on-ones and photos in addition to patient visits.

Paludo's No. 32 Levine Children's Hospital Chevrolet Silverado will also be on site for Friday's visit. Paludo drove the Levine Children's Hospital-branded machine to a seventh-place finish last Friday night in the NCWTS event at Charlotte Motor Speedway after leading 33 laps. The truck will be on display in the circle in front of the Carolinas Medical Center facility.


NNS drivers Allgaier, Larson and Piquet Jr. will hit the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the History 300 on Saturday afternoon. The event will air live on ABC at 2:30 p.m. EDT.




NHRA CHAMP BROWN TO TEST NASCAR: Rev Racing will partner with Toyota Racing to have 2012 NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Champion Antron Brown test a NASCAR K&N Series Toyota Camry Tuesday at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.

Brown, the first African-American to win a major auto racing championship, will test alongside NASCAR Drive for Diversity drivers Bryan Ortiz, Daniel Suarez, Mackena Bell and Ryan Gifford.

Brown said he has been interested in stock car racing for many years but had never been offered the opportunity to test a quality car.

“I know I can go straight,” said Brown. “Now I gotta see if I can throw a left-hand turn in there. You know, I drive for four seconds at a time right now. So this is a lot different. I know there is a big learning curve. We are just trying to take that step to see if I can do it.”

Brown would not admit to a desire to run NASCAR full-time, or much of anything else beyond Tuesday’s test session. But he acknowledged that he wouldn’t be doing the test if it weren’t with a top team that he felt had the ability to take him to the next level.

“Rev Racing helps train drivers, not just go out there in great race cars,” Brown said. “They involve them in all aspects. That’s what really intrigued me. That if I want to get the chance to go oval-track racing, I was going to have a good shot at going out there and learning from this experience. I have positioned myself with a great team.”

Rev Racing CEO Max Siegel was excited to have Brown on board with his team, which is well known for its diversity efforts.

“We have the opportunity to work with one of the great talents in motorsports,” said Siegel. “We have worked for three years now with Antron, and now is the right time for this. We have been part of NASCAR for the last five years with the Drive for Diversity program. We are very proud of what we have built. We have a pretty robust driver development program. We have the opportunity to work with a great ambassador to motorsports, and we have the opportunity to help him with his pursuit of NASCAR.”


(Where do you want to go with this?) “I have never been one of those people who just want to jump tothis right here. I just want to get through the test session and take it one step at a time and just be really focused on it and get everything I can get out of it. It would be great to actually race in a race one time. We are going to take it one step at a time and we can actually grow for the next time we test.”

(Do you want to race in NASCAR?) “We are going to test a K&N [Series] car and then eventually do some late model stuff down the road. My deal is that I am very competitive in whatever I do. That’s why you compete. When I go out there, I am going to learn the right way and position myself with the right organization as in drag racing. That’s why I take steps to learn everything and develop my driving ability. I just want to focus on what I have on hand. To race in NASCAR, you have skipped over 50,000 steps. You can’t just jump into NASCAR and race and compete. You have to take the appropriate steps. My focus right now is to go testing and do it to the best of my ability.”

(What is your biggest challenge?) “I think the hardest part is trying to get in shape to drive – conditioning shape – to drive a car. I have to learn that craft. That takes time behind the wheel to get that proper training at the top level. You know, I drive for four seconds at a time right now. So this is a lot different. I know there is a big learning curve. We are just trying to take that step to see if I can do it.”

PAR-TY! PIZZA PARTY!: Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway is always a stirring patriotic tribute to the many men and women protecting our country’s freedom. This year will be no exception, with a variety of very special events planned for military members and their families in attendance for the Coca-Cola 600 weekend.

Sunday will kick off with an enormous luncheon hosted by Papa John founder John Schnatter, who will provide more than 3,000 pizzas to feed and honor some 10,000 active military and family members.

This special event will be emceed by HLN host Robin Meade, who will also sing the national anthem for the Coca-Cola 600, and will include an appearance by Lt. Col. Oliver North (ret), NASCAR driver Kurt Busch and Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, among others.

The event will be held at zMAX Dragway from 11a.m. until 2 p.m. The event will also feature live music and a drag racing exhibition with Smith and “Papa” John Schnatter.

Hundreds of troops will then be loaded onto buses to take part in a parade lap around the speedway as part of the “Welcome Home Our Troops” pre-race show. Fans will be able to salute the troops as they exit the buses and march up through the grandstands.

The pre-race program will also feature 10 vintage warbirds, the flight of an American bald eagle, a rendition of “Amazing Grace” by the Charlotte Fire Department Pipe Band, Taps by a bugler from Fort Bragg and a 21-gun salute by the Fort Bragg firing squad.

Fans can still help honor this country’s military heroes by purchasing a $25 ticket to send an active duty member of the military to Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 through the “Let The Troops Race” program.


Legendary actor, singer and entertainer Jim Nabors will sing "(Back Home Again In) Indiana" in person during pre-race ceremonies for the 97th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Nabors was unable to attend the race last year due to illness, but a rendition of the song he performed at his home in Hawaii was played on the video screens at IMS during pre-race.

"I'm looking forward to coming home," Nabors said.

Nabors' rendition of the song has become a beloved tradition of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" since he first performed it in 1972. He has performed the popular song - with thousands of race fans singing along in the grandstands - 33 times in person at IMS since 1972.

Indiana native Jon McLaughlin will sing "God Bless America" during pre-race ceremonies. Actress and entertainer Florence Henderson is unable to attend the race this year to perform the song due to illness.

Pop-rock singer-songwriter McLaughlin, a native of Anderson, Ind., has recorded four full-length albums since his self-titled debut in 2004. His latest album is "Promising Promises," was released in 2012 by Razor & Tie/Sony Records.

McLaughlin's song "So Close" was featured in the Disney film "Enchanted" and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007 in the Best Original Song category. McLaughlin performed the song live at the 80th Academy Awards in February 2008.

"This is such an incredible honor for me to be a part of the '500' this year," McLaughlin said. "I'm excited to carry on such a great tradition and just hope I can do the moment justice!"


COCA-COLA FAMILY TRACK WALK FRIDAY: Many race fans will never have a chance to walk on the hallowed 1.5-mile quad-oval of Charlotte Motor Speedway, or to see firsthand the steep 24-degree banking, or to do all this while walking alongside their favorite driver. But race fans in town for the Coca-Cola 600 weekend will have just that chance, as they are invited to the Coca-Cola Family Track Walk Friday at the speedway.

A Coca-Cola 600 race ticket is all fans need to join the track walk, which will begin at 2:45 p.m. NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Darrell Wallace Jr. are scheduled to participate.

Fans can enter starting at 2 p.m. at Gate 1, which is the turn four infield tunnel; or through gates 3, 4, 5A, 7 and 8 (follow the Coca-Cola Family Track Walk signs).

Following the track walk, fans can head to the iHeartRadio Coca-Cola “Open for Summer” Kickoff Concert series featuring award-winning country music artist Trace Adkins and opening act Josh Thompson. The concert, which will take place in the quad-oval infield grass near turn one, is set to begin at 3:45 p.m.

PATRIOTIC COLORS: In honor of this weekend’s patriotic theme, many NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series teams will race special patriotic colors and paint schemes.

NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Travis Pastrana, Johanna Long and Landon Cassill will all race special red, white and blue colors.

Among the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers racing patriotic colors are Cassill, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman. Jeff Gordon will race a metallic red-and-blue with stars paint scheme, while Roush/Fenway Racing drivers Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Carl Edwards will pilot patriotic blue and white machines. Brad Keselowski is racing a special blue-and-white with stars Ford, while Aric Almirola’s United States Air Force-sponsored car will be all blue. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s National Gurad car will carry and camouflage scheme.

PARTY LIKE A LEGEND: Fresh off Wednesday’s announcement of the newest class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, all living inductees – Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett and Maurice Petty – will be featured guests of Sunday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame Pit Party on pit road at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Also joining them will be NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, along with racing legends Bobby and Donnie Allison.

This unique event will begin at 12:30 and include nearly four hours of live music, concessions, racing displays, military vehicles and driver appearances. Admission to this fan-friendly event is included with the purchase of a pit pass or driver introduction pass.

TRACKSIDE TRAM TOURS: Charlotte Motor Speedway is offering a limited number of fans a unique perspective of race-week preparations with its Trackside Tram Tours, which offer a bit of speedway history while cruising around the high banks of the 1.5-mile quad-oval speedway. The tours give fans unique race-day access to see behind-the-scenes action before drivers take the green flag. Tour tickets for the Coca-Cola 600 weekend are limited and available by calling 1-800-455-FANS.


NATIONWIDE PRACTICE RECAP: Joey Logano topped the NASCAR Nationwide Series speed charts Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, posting a fast lap of 30.295 seconds (178.247 mph). Rookie Alex Bowman, who grabbed the pole last month at Texas, was second with a lap of 30.325 seconds (178.071 mph). Kyle Busch was third at 30.360 seconds (177.866 mph).

LEGENDS RACE NOTABLES: Racing’s up-and-coming stars will take center stage tonight, as the country’s best Legend Car drivers will hit the track immediately after LiftMaster Pole Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the first Legends All-Star event.

The Legend Car racers started their week with practice and qualifying on the frontstrech quarter-mile oval Tuesday, with Tyler Green taking the top spot. Green, the son of NASCAR driver Mark Green and nephew of Nationwide Series champions David and Jeff Green, turned a lap around the short track in 17.097 seconds. He was followed by Doug Stevens, a five-time Pro Series champion at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thursday Thunder Series, who had a lap of 17.138 seconds. Kaz Grala, a 14-year-old driver from Boston, was third with 17.153 seconds.

The top 20 qualifiers from Tuesday are locked in, while the remaining 25 drivers will compete in a hooligan race for the chance to race in the night’s big event. The top 10 finishers will transfer to the main event, a 40-lap finale featuring a $10,000 purse, with $2,500 to the winner. The winner will also be introduced on stage during Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 pre-race events.

CARDINALE WINS SPIRIT AWARD: The National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) announced that the late Sonoma Raceway Vice President of Media Relations, John Cardinale, had been named the first quarter recipient for its Spirit Award.

Cardinale passed away March 21 after a two-year battle with gastric cancer. But he never lost his enthusiasm, dedication or optimism, all trademarks of a man well respected and greatly missed in the NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. family.

The NMPA Spirit Award, presented annually since 1992, recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, as well as sportsmanship ad contributions to motorsports. At the end of the year, an overall recipient from the four quarterly winners is selected by the NMPA membership.



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