Monster Energy Cup Series News (16338)
Award-winning motor sports journalist Bob Pockrass joins FOX Sports in 2019 as a FOX NASCAR insider.
Pockrass, the NASCAR industry’s beloved encyclopedia of racing knowledge, contributes breaking news, analysis and inside information across FOX Sports’ linear and digital platforms, beginning with the season-opening Daytona Speedweeks.
“I love reporting on the sport for the fans, and I cherish the opportunity FOX Sports has given me to play a role in its NASCAR coverage,” Pockrass said. “I look forward to working with everyone at FOX Sports to provide insight on what is happening both on and off the track.”
Prior to joining FOX Sports, Pockrass, who has covered NASCAR since 1991, wrote for ESPN.com’s NASCAR and motor sports sections from 2015-2018. He also penned NASCAR stories for “The Sporting News” from 2012-2014 following his role as associate editor for “NASCAR Scene” and SceneDaily.com from 2003-2012.
Pockrass was twice honored as Writer of the Year by the National Motorsports Press Association (2009 and 2013) and has earned multiple writing awards. Also on two occasions, he was named to SI.com’s “Twitter 100” list of 100 “must-follow” sports personalities in 2011 and 2012. Pockrass has been called upon dozens of times as a NASCAR expert for television and radio interviews.
He cut his journalistic teeth in Daytona Beach, Fla., at the “News-Journal,” where he covered college football, high school sports and racing from 1991-2003. Pockrass graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Journalism and currently resides in Charlotte.
The full 2019 FOX NASCAR on-air lineup, including additional new hires, is forthcoming. For more information, visit FOX Sports Press Pass.
FOX Sports PR
With the start of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season less than a month away, officials from Rick Ware Racing (RWR) announced today that West Palm Beach, Fla.-based JACOB Companies will return to the team this year in a variety of roles beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500 on Sun., Feb. 17.
JACOB Companies is a multifaceted nationwide construction firm with a focus on construction, development, management, design-build and technology services.
Jacob Companies provides clients with a wide range of services in general contracting, construction management, design build, architectural and structural precast erection and a broad spectrum of technology, installation and information transport systems including structured cabling, low voltage, network service delivery and wireless solutions.
JACOB Companies specializes in High Rise Structures, Universities, Hotels, Automotive Dealerships, Athletic Facilities both Professional and Collegiate and Parking Structures.
JACOB Companies is dedicated to serving and supporting its clients and the communities in which it operates by providing superior customer service, innovative solutions and a collaborative approach while generously supporting local and national organizations through sponsorships, donations and in-kind commitments.
“We are thrilled to welcome Don Perry, his family and JACOB Companies back to our sponsorship portfolio this year,” said Rick Ware Racing team principal Rick Ware. “JACOB Companies came aboard last August and since then we’ve grown our partnership swiftly and effectively. We have big plans for 2019 and we’re excited to have JACOB Companies apart of it.”
Ware insisted the team’s business-to-business model has helped propel their relationship with JACOB Companies to increase at the sport’s pinnacle level.
“Our goal in 2018 was to work hard to bring new business to business opportunities to JACOB Companies and we were able to accomplish that. The Perry family work ethic aligns with ours and collectively we have ideas on how to enhance for a full Cup season.
“We have made several internal changes within our team during the off-season that have us cautiously optimistic about our performance this year. We have grown our fleet to include newer cars and have hired talented personnel to add to the hard-working members of our team to prepare for a busy season. We hope this will be our best year with the knowledge and resources that JACOB Companies and our other partners will provide to our Motorsports program.”
Perry is equally excited to continue their relationship with the RWR family.
“JACOB Companies is excited to have the opportunity to partner with Rick Ware Racing again in 2019,” offered Don Perry, president of JACOB Companies. “Rick Ware and his organization exemplify the foundation of our business which was built on respect, hard work, perseverance and dedication. Last year was a great first year and we are excited to build on what we accomplished last season.
The success that we had with the business to business part of our partnership last season was one of the reasons we decided to extend our relationship with RWR. Their excitement and enthusiasm for the sport compliments the way we feel, not only about NASCAR, but about our construction projects as well.”
The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 is set for Sunday, Feb. 17 with coverage on FOX, the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio Channel 90. Event coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. (ET).
RFID Solutions, Inc. has signed with Cody Ware as an associate partner for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, starting at The DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Ware will be piloting the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet for the season opener.
RFID Solutions, Inc., a Florida based company, specializes in providing high-quality, easy to use, enterprise ready, RAIN RFID systems to the global RFID market. RFID Solutions, Inc. believes that its success is built upon the success of its customers and works directly with them to produce cost effective RFID solutions that are on time and under budget.
"I am excited to be partnering with RFID Solutions, Inc. for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season," commented Cody Ware. "James and his team have been great to work with, and I look forward to expanding our partnership in 2019 and beyond."
"NASCAR has proven to be a successful marketing tool for RFID Solutions, Inc. over the years," said James Snyder, President, RFID Solutions, Inc. "We are happy to be part of the next generation of NASCAR drivers with Cody Ware, and believe RWR is the perfect partner to promote our company."
Cody Ware PR
Jimmie Johnson could win an eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship this season.
So could Johnson’s long-time crew chief Chad Knaus.
But one thing is certain: they won’t be doing it together.
After 17 years, seven titles and 81 of Johnson’s 83 race victories together at NASCAR’s highest level, Johnson and Knaus will start the 2019 season with different partners. Kevin Meendering will get his shot as Johnson’s crew chief. Knaus will call the shots from the pit box of sophomore Cup driver William Byron.
“It definitely is a new challenge, and I welcome it,” Johnson said during a Tuesday question-and-answer session with reporters at Hendrick Motorsports. “One thing that I did know was the way things were going, where Chad and I ended up, that needed to change.
“That wasn’t bringing the best out of either one of us. We weren’t delivering like we needed to. I knew that much last year, for sure, and I’m just excited to get this fresh start and see where it takes us.”
In 2018, Johnson and Knaus suffered through what was unquestionably their worst year together. For the first time in his career, Johnson drove for a full season without winning a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. His two top five finishes and 40 laps led were both career lows.
Hence, the breakup of the longest-running driver/crew chief pairing in the NASCAR garage.
“I’ve never been in this position,” Johnson said. “There is a lot of ‘new’ to it. There’s no way around that. But I do have the history of knowing everybody here at the shop, so it doesn’t feel totally new—but largely new, for sure.”
Johnson’s situation isn’t the only thing that’s new. The performance effects of NASCAR’s new higher-downforce/lower-horsepower competition package are largely unknown at this point. On the other hand, Hendrick has had a full season to acclimate to Chevrolet’s new Camaro and the restructuring of the organization that brought all four of its teams under one roof.
So, despite the frustrations of 2018, Johnson has cause for optimism this year as he pursues a record championship that would break a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt.
It just won’t be with Knaus.
“I guess I’ve switched into my new reality of trying to win my eighth with Kevin,” Johnson said when asked if he would have mixed feelings about winning a title with his long-time crew chief. “We accomplished so much together I can do nothing but smile and warm up inside, thinking about the success we’ve had as a group—all of that with Chad.
“I don’t know. I hope to have to live through that and tell you what it really means.”
Knaus acknowledged that seeing Johnson win an eighth title without him would be a bittersweet experience.
“Yeah, of course,” Knaus said. “Obviously, I would have loved to have done that with Jimmie. That’s going to be painful in one respect, but I’ll be proud as heck of the guy. That’s a huge accomplishment. I really hope he does get it—I really do.
“Now, I say that saying that I hope he gets it if we don’t. Right? My goal is for us to be battling in the final four at Homestead this year and racing tooth-and-nail for it, coming across the start/finish line on fire, upside-down, all that stuff like you want to see. That’s the goal.”
Knaus would need an eighth championship to tie NASCAR Hall of famer Dale Inman for most by a crew chief.
Johnson simply wants to add Meendering to the list of crew chiefs who have won a title, and he started the get-acquainted process during the offseason.
“Cold beers help,” quipped the seven-time champion.
His name is spoken in automotive rarefied air. And as a NASCAR team owner, an engineer, an innovator and all-around highly respected member of the sport, Jack Roush will be formally inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on February 1.
For so many, Roush’s official new title as “NASCAR Hall of Famer” was inevitable and necessary. Not only did the former Ford Motor Company engineer field championship cars at every level of NASCAR competition, he is considered one of the sport’s most important innovators.
From helping to create the “roof flaps” installed to keep cars from easily launching off the ground to running championship race teams across all of NASCAR’s primary series, the 76-year old Roush has been a staple of the sport and now he will be ceremoniously celebrated as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019. He joins team owner Roger Penske, the late Cup champion Alan Kulwicki, the late Davey Allison and four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon in this year’s highly-regarded Hall of Fame class.
“It’s awesome and on the back of giants,’’ Roush said after his name was announced.
“Who would have thought it,’’ he added. “Thirty-one years ago when we first got started, I was just hoping to stay in the sport a little while.
“I cannot imagine my name is with the 45 people already inducted and all the things they accomplished. And of course with Mark [Martin] being in there, Roger Penske being in there and my Wood Brothers friends being in there. It’s rarefied air and I have to take a while to think about it and all it means to me. But it’s certainly taking my breath.”
Roush’s former and longtime Cup series driver Mark Martin – a 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee himself – wasn’t surprised about his longtime friend and team owner earning the sport’s greatest honor. A Hall of Fame voter, Martin was among the very first to congratulate Roush and remind everyone of the important contributions his friend has made to NASCAR and racing in general.
“It means everything in the world to me,’’ Martin said. “I’m so happy with this class and so happy for Jack.
“Jack Roush did so much for so many people, not just for me, in giving me my second chance when no one else would but so many other great race car drivers and all the other people in the shops he mentored, encouraged and gave the all the tools that were it not for Jack Roush wouldn’t have had the opportunity to succeed. … Just the kind of person Jack is and has been and what he’s meant to all those people we celebrate today because of him.”
Roush joked that he was just hoping “to stay in the sport awhile” when he initially became involved in NASCAR 31 years ago after a celebrated career at Ford Motor Company – an association still so important to Roush today that he has only ever fielded Fords in competition.
His first fulltime Cup season was 1988 when he fielded a Ford for Mark Martin. The team’s first victory came the following year at Rockingham, N.C. And Martin answered that maiden win with three more the following season and finishing runner-up to the late Dale Earnhardt by 26 points in the Cup championship.
Including that first victory at Rockingham, Roush has 137 total wins at the Cup level – second only to fellow Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick. He led his team to back-to-back Cup titles – for Matt Kenseth in 2003 and then Kurt Busch in 2004. And in addition to the big trophies, he finished championship runner-up another eight times - including four seasons with Martin.
Roush teams earned 137 wins in the Xfinity Series and five championship trophies, including current Roush Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s back-to-back titles in 2011-12. His last came with driver Chris Buescher in 2015.
His teams have 50 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series wins and the 2000 series championship with driver Greg Biffle. Twice more Roush truck teams finished runner-up with Biffle in 1999 and Kurt Busch in 2001.
In all, Roush has an amazing 324 NASCAR premier series victories – most all-time. Fellow Hall of Famer Rick Hendrick has 301.
And yet if you were to ask Roush what he considers the most important victory of all, he undoubtedly will say his very first.
“I’m most proud of winning that first race with Mark in 1989 in Rockingham, because what it meant to me was I could find a sponsor to keep going. And what it meant to Mark, the team would be solid and keep putting cars under him,’’ Roush explained. “There was some doubt in both our minds if we were going to be able to turn the corner and both stay.”
That staying power has been crucial and well-praised. Even at the age of 76 he is a staple in the garage and on the pit box. This season he will field Fords in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Newman. The expectations remain the same through all these decades. Succeed and lead. It’s a theme Roush has stayed true to.
“I can’t believe I’ve been the recipient of so much great schooling and great support to accomplish all the things I dreamed of and some of the things I never dreamed of,’’ Roush said.
NASCAR fans old and new will tell you that Alan Kulwicki represented the best of “old school” tradition while embracing the concept of progress and hard work. His NASCAR Cup championship career was simultaneously heralded by those watching his work and especially appreciated by the people competing against him in the garage.
It was an unusual dichotomy of respect and awe.
And while tragedy claimed his life in an April, 1993, plane accident the weekend of the Bristol, Tenn. spring race – a mere five months after the 38-year old won the sport’s grandest title – Kulwicki continues to inspire now just as he did then. In memory as in life.
His renowned work ethic, his much-celebrated independent nuance and the fantastic story of one of the greatest championship runs in the sport makes him an enduring and important part in NASCAR history. All of that will be celebrated on Feb. 1 when Kulwicki is formally inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame alongside team owners Roger Penske and Jack Roush, the late Davey Allison and four-time Cup champion, Jeff Gordon.
Kulwicki, a hard-nosed late model racer from Wisconsin, was a man who bridged eras and expectations. As with many competitors who preceded him, Kulwicki worked on his own cars, pulling into the garage after driving laps on track and then jumping out of the drivers seat and going under the hood.
He also realized the growing importance of succeeding on the buttoned-up corporate side of things, how to attract sponsorship and just as crucially, how to optimize and retain it.
And all of this was tied together by the fact he was an incredibly talented competitor, whose intelligence and drive took him to the highest level of his sport on track. The Hall of Fame recognition rightly places his legacy alongside the most celebrated people in the sport.
“From the very get-go when he was nominated [for NASCAR Hall of Fame consideration] in 2015, I said, it’s gotta be his year sooner or later and I’ve been saying that ever since,’’ said Tom Roberts, a longtime Kulwicki publicist and friend.
“I think it took time to really educate the voters as to how special and how incredible what Alan was able to achieve was. So many times I’d been in discussions just relative to his overall statistics. When you look at it from that perspective, it may not be the very best. But when you consider not what he did, but how he did it, is what accentuates how incredible it was.’’
In some ways, Kulwicki ultimately won that 1992 premier series championship in the same sort of dramatic circumstance that produced his very presence at the sport’s highest level.
Six drivers showed up for the 1992 Atlanta Cup Series season finale eligible to hoist the big trophy, including five-race winner Davey Allison – who won that year’s Daytona 500 - and NASCAR Hall of Famer (Class of 2015) Bill Elliott, who had won four straight races (at Rockingham, N.C., Richmond, Va., Atlanta and Darlington, S.C.) earlier in the sesaon. Kulwicki was a bona fide contender too, but definitely not the odds-on favorite.
It was already an important day in NASCAR as that season finale marked the end of seven-time Cup champion Richard Petty’s career and very start of Jeff Gordon’s.
The championship contest – on a cold, overcast November day - didn’t disappoint. Kulwicki’s NASCAR Hall of Fame classmate Allison led the points standings entering the last race, but was involved in an accident 43 laps from the checkered flag that eliminated him from title contention.
The championship fittingly came down to the very end, the utmost of detail. Elliott won the race and led 102 laps. Kulwicki finished runner-up and led 103 laps. And the five-point bonus Kulwicki received for leading the most laps was the difference in earning him the season trophy.
Kulwicki, the independent, the “underdog” as he was affectionately referred to, had pulled off one of the greatest championship runs in NASCAR history – defeating the season-long favorites who drove for the sport’s biggest names. It made him a classic NASCAR hero – so many diehard fans appreciative of the work it took for a true grassroots competitor - a driver and team owner – to claim the title over the sport’s traditional marquee names.
With only seven years of fulltime Cup competition, Kulwicki had earned the sport’s highest acclaim. And he did it his way. That was crucial.
Kulwicki’s legacy carries on in other important ways even today – nearly three decades since his championship trophy hoist.
He is having a very real impact on the future because of his unique past. Equipped with a college degree in engineering, Kulwicki used a different path to his racing success. At various times and junctures in his career Kulwicki was the lone driver on the grid, even a rare mechanic in the garage, who had formally studied engineering and received a college degree.
Today, Kulwicki’s work and vision is remembered at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where one of the buildings in the engineering department is named for him and where a scholarship bearing his name has paid the way for others inspired to work in the racing industry. The school has one of only two engineering programs in the country specifically designed for mechanical engineers interested in a racing career. And there are approximately 100 students currently on the motorsports engineering tract.
“The laboratory facilities are fantastic and without that gift from the family we wouldn’t have the space we have,’’ said Dr. Robert Johnson, dean of the UNCC College of Engineering. “It is absolutely crucial to having a program so we are exceedingly grateful for that gift.
For those that knew Kulwicki, this legacy would be the ultimate way of honoring his illustrious, inspiring career. His NASCAR championship run remains legendary. As does Kulwicki, who proved what determination can produce even for a beloved “underdog.”
“He had this long desire to do it on his own and once he figured out he could do this, it meant so much to him to excel and achieve on his own,’’ Roberts said.
“And he did.’’
For a quarter of a century, JTG Daugherty Racing has been admired as a NASCAR team that is progressive in their sponsorship program development. The team today announced a revolutionary new NASCAR sponsorship strategy that focuses on shopper themes and will help participating brands communicate more effectively with consumers. The goal: to significantly increase sales for the sponsor brands and for The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR).
Kroger Pickup, Delivery, Ship
The No. 47 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry, driven this year by Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Preece, will highlight and promote the new Kroger shopping and delivery options. Kroger’s expanded services allow shoppers to order groceries online for curbside pickup, delivery from a nearby Kroger store to homes, and a ship to home service accessible from anywhere in the country.
“I can’t think of a better team to start my Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career with,” Preece said. “Kroger’s new services make it easy to access Kroger groceries anywhere we travel and is available to race fans across the country. I’m excited to get the season started with JTG Daugherty Racing, and I am proud to showcase the Kroger Pickup, Delivery and Ship services on our No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 this season.”
Seven Themes of Sponsorship
The No. 37 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry returns with Chris Buescher at the wheel. In previous seasons, the team had numerous brands that rotated on the hood from race to race, making it difficult for any particular brand to consistently communicate with the race fans. In 2019, the team will highlight shopper themes throughout the season that allow groups of brands to communicate with fans when they are most likely to be focused on specific buying occasions. The unique approach will feature seven themes that will be showcased on the hood for consecutive weeks at a time:
- Flavor Fill Up: the month of March focuses on when sporting events such as the NCAA Basketball tournament encourages a snacking occasion, and when Kroger is highlighting National Frozen Foods Month. Corporate partners include Unilever, Kraft-Heinz, Conagra, General Mills, and Kellogg’s.
- Speedup Your Cleanup: the month of April will highlight the spring-cleaning season where shoppers are focused on buying from corporate partners such as such as Clorox, Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
- Personal Pit Stop: personal healthcare brands take center stage on the hood in May with corporate partners Procter & Gamble and Unilever.
- Thrill of the Grill: June and July highlights everyone’s love for summer grilling with relevant brands from Clorox, Unilever, Kraft-Heinz, General Mills, BUSH’S Beans, and Southeastern Mills.
- Fast Start: theme will occur during back-to-school timing when families are stocking up on partner product for their change of schedule and the new school year.
- Fast Lane to Flavor: focuses on healthy meal solutions for families on the go with brands from General Mills, BUSH’S Beans, Clorox and Conagra.
- Simmer Like a Winner: as the weather turns cooler, fans will enjoy shopping for their crock pot recipes with brands from BUSH’S Beans, Kraft, Conagra and General Mills.
“I’m really excited to showcase our brands in a really unique marketing approach this season on the No. 37 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1,” Buescher said. “JTG Daugherty Racing has always had a one-of-a-kind sponsorship strategy, and this just amplifies it as we head into a new year with our brands. I’m looking forward to winning races and selling cases in 2019.”
To bring the entire program to life and to simplify the communication between NASCAR fans and Kroger.com, the team is also introducing a game-changing mobile technology. All JTG Daugherty Racing advertising during each month throughout the season will encourage shoppers to text a key word that directs the fans to fun tips, sweepstakes, and Kroger savings for the brands highlighted by the shopper themes.
“We are fortunate to work every day with innovators in the retail industry,” Tad Geschickter, JTG Daugherty Racing team owner, said. “I’m excited about the new marketing plan we have developed together. I know that this new approach will deliver great engagement with our NASCAR fans and will create positive sales results for Kroger and our brand partners. I can’t wait to see the whole thing come to life on the racetrack. It’s time to win races and sell cases in 2019.”
JTG Daugherty Racing will hit the track in the No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the No. 37 Kleenex Wet Wipes Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Daytona International Speedway for the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, February 17 at 2:30pmET, broadcast on FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
AdventHealth announced today that former Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray will run the No. 40 AdventHealth Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, in the 2019 Clash at Daytona. The entry, in conjunction with Spire Motorsports, is the season-opening event of 2019 at Daytona Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth.
In addition, AdventHealth and Chip Ganassi Racing also introduce the Human Innovation and Development Lab (HIDL) to focus on unique training to prepare their athletes both mentally and physically. The HIDL will be located at the Chip Ganassi Racing shop in Concord, NC. The HIDL is a human performance enhancement project that features tools and technology that the team uses to develop and improve the human performance of drivers and pit crew members.
NOTES OF INTEREST:
- Health Coverage: AdventHealth will have a tremendous presence at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) throughout all of 2019 Speedweeks as the presenting sponsor of Daytona Speedweeks presented by AdventHealth, The program covers all of the NASCAR season-opening racing action from Feb. 8, through the 61st running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.
- Daytona Success: McMurray has a long history of racing and winning at DIS, beginning with competition in go-karts. He has since experienced winning in nearly every type of event that he has competed in at the “World Center of Racing” including go-karts, Sports Cars and Stock cars. McMurray is one of only four drivers to have ever won the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona, joining a list of racing legends that includes Mario Andretti, AJ Foyt, and Jeff Gordon.
- Familiar Friends: McMurray has enjoyed a partnership with AdventHealth (formerly known as Florida Hospital) for three years. AdventHealth’s recent name change unites the entire network of nearly 50 hospitals, in nearly a dozen states with a focus on whole-person care. Sharing one vision, one purpose, and one future.
- David Banks, Chief Strategy Officer, AdventHealth: “Jamie McMurray has proven to be very successful at Daytona International Speedway, having won the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero Sugar 400. As a person, Jamie McMurray aligns very well with the AdventHealth brand. He is a family man, into an active healthy lifestyle, wholesome, and an all-around good guy.”
- Jamie McMurray, Driver No. 40 AdventHealth Chevrolet Camaro ZL1: “I am looking forward to getting back in the car at Daytona and to have AdventHealth onboard with us for this race. We have had a great relationship with everyone at AdventHealth over the last several years. It means a lot to have them partner with us on this special event. With everything that they have going on at Daytona International Speedway throughout Speedweeks, both as presenting sponsor and with their Fan Injector, I am very happy to be a part of it all”.
Spire Motorsports announced today that Quin Houff will handle the driving chores for the team’s No. 77 entry in select Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) races beginning with the TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., March 10.
For a youngster who grew up working in the shop of the family trucking business, Houff had big dreams. The Virginia native fell in love with racing as a youngster and made it his goal to race his way into the top level of the sport.
"I'm so excited to be able to make my Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at ISM Raceway in March," Houff said. "I cannot thank Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr from Spire Motorsports enough for the opportunity to make my dream a reality. There are thousands of drivers who make racing on Sundays their goal. To be one of the few drivers who get to realize that goal is a true blessing. It's humbling for me to compete at the pinnacle of the sport, but it's also a testament to all those who stood behind me to this point and those who will continue to do so in the future."
Houff first landed on the radar of industry insiders through his success in the CARS Response Energy Tour where he piloted a super late model to multiple wins before moving to the ARCA Racing Series in 2017. Houff has 10 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts to his credit with a career best 12th-place finish coming at Iowa Speedway that same year.
"We're eager to get to Phoenix and have Quin in the car for the first of his races with us this season," said Dickerson. "Quin was very good at finishing races and keeping his equipment intact. That's one of the most important things to do in order to learn and grow."
All of this happened while he continued to work at his family's trucking business as a mechanic, servicing the rigs that carried clients' freight back and forth across the country.
Houff knows the learning curve will be steep. Plans for 2019 call for Houff to be in the seat of Spire’s No. 77 machine for roughly half of the MENCS schedule with specific races following his debut to be announced at a later date.
"As a rookie, I'm hoping to learn as much as I can about the cars and how they handle and react," Houff continued. "I'm looking forward to learning some new tracks as well as revisiting some others. I'm also anxious to see how these long, 400- and 500-mile races play out. I just want to go out there and put the car where it needs to be because this is the top of the sport and I have to learn how these guys race in order to become a better driver myself."
Spire Sports PR
There’s something to be said about an 18-year veteran in this day and age of NASCAR. Especially one with a Daytona 500 win, Brickyard 400 win, and Rookie of the Year title under his belt. But with anything new comes a learning curve, one Ryan Newman is excited to embrace heading into his first season in the No. 6 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing.
New faces, new leadership, a new shop and a new ride. For Newman, everything is new heading into the 2019 season. The 2008 Daytona 500 Champion recently caught up with SiriusXM’s Claire B. Lang on ‘Jack’s Garage’ to talk through the transition.
“It’s just like a toolbox,” Newman said. “The shop has to have everything tool wise that it needs to be successful. And that’s not just people, that’s the parts, the way it’s organized, the assembly area, all the things that create flow that make it easier for people to work. That’s what you ultimately want is to have good people that can do an easier job and make that end result better.”
Historically, Newman’s end result has been fairly consistent, finishing in the top-10 in the Cup series points standings on seven occasions. The South Bend, Indiana, native has eight NASCAR Cup playoff berths since its inception in 2004, and finished runner-up in 2014. With 18 career wins, Newman is poised for 2019 and what it has to hold for the No. 6 team.
“I feel like I’m as good if not better than I’ve ever been as far as my abilities behind the wheel,” Newman said. “My experience is more than most – and I’ve got a lot of good experiences and a lot of bad experiences – but all those things together make you a better race car driver. I look forward to being able to use those experiences to take this aero package – and lack of horsepower compared to our past – to be successful.”
Like Newman, crew chief Scott Graves is new to the No. 6 team in 2019, despite spending a large portion of his career with Roush Fenway from 2006-15. Graves most recently won an Xfinity Championship with Daniel Suárez in 2016, and prior to that led Chris Buescher to the 2015 title. Combined, the duo has 34 wins across NASCAR’s three major touring series.
“For me it’s about the opportunity to move to a new team and make myself better,” Newman added. “I started off my career with lots of poles and lots of wins, and I want to finish it with lots of poles and lots of wins. It’s a great opportunity to team back up with Ford where I started. We obviously saw how strong they were last year with (Joey) Logano winning the Championship, so they’ve created a big racing family and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Newman’s journey under 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Jack Roush begins next month at the World Center of Racing, Daytona International Speedway. While it will be a different look and different feel, it’s one Newman is looking forward to and having fun with.
“There’s going to be some learning curves for myself and other guys on the team,” Newman said. “It’s all about being new, but at the same time, I look forward to that and that’s something that’s fun for me. It should be a lot of fun to get started and hopefully those last 10 races are the most fun I’ve had in a long time.”