Monster Energy Cup Series News (14755)
When Glen Wood looks back on his time racing at Riverside International Raceway with the great Dan Gurney, who died Jan. 14 at the age of 86, it’s not so much about the four wins in five starts or the 540 laps led.
Instead Wood recalls a tall, handsome man who was as friendly as he was talented.
“He was one of the most likeable people you’d ever meet,” Wood said. “He was jolly all the time. You never saw him when he wasn’t laughing or grinning.”
Wood remembers one instance in which a clowning Gurney pulled all the lining from his helmet, and then put on the helmet to the amusement of those around him.
“It came down over most of his face,” Wood said.
The Woods first met Gurney in 1963 when he beat them in Gurney’s and the Woods’ first Cup race at Riverside. In that 500-miler, Gurney wheeled a Holman-Moody Ford to victory over A.J. Foyt, Troy Ruttman and Fireball Roberts.
The next year, the Woods got a chance to field a car for Gurney and jumped at it, even though brothers Glen and Leonard were told Gurney could be difficult to work with on matters like getting the seat fitted to the driver.
“We both wanted Dan,” Glen Wood said. “And we didn’t have a problem at all getting the car ready for him.”
The race itself wasn’t much of a problem either, despite the strong competition.
“Once we got him going, it was pretty much a sure thing we could win the race if nothing happened to the car,” Wood said.
In the 500-miler at Riverside in January of 1964, Gurney, in the No. 121 Ford, started fourth and took the lead for good after just 54 of 185 laps as his teammate Marvin Panch, in the No. 21, finished a lap behind in second place.
The next year, Gurney started 11th but wound up leading 126 laps including the final 55 to beat the Ford of pole-sitter Junior Johnson by 27 seconds. Panch, in the No. 21, finished third.
The 1966 Motor Trend 500 at Riverside saw Gurney capitalize on the quick work of the Wood Brothers crew, which included brothers Glen, Leonard, Clay and Delano, to lead 148 laps including the final 57 to beat the second-finishing No. 6 Cotton Owens Dodge of David Pearson to the finish line by more than a minute.
Greg Fielden’s Forty Years of Stock Car Racing reported that the Woods completed six pit stops in just two minutes while Pearson’s crew made one additional stop and spent a total of three minutes and 51 seconds servicing his car.
Paul Goldsmith finished third, while Curtis Turner, driving the No. 41 Ford for the Woods, finished fourth despite several off-track excursions during the five-hour marathon.
Gurney drove a Mercury for Bill Stroppe in the 1967 Motor Trend 500, but returned to the No. 121 Ford for the Woods in 1968.
Despite a blown tire mid-race that required the Woods to spend valuable seconds unraveling a shredded tire from the rear axle, Gurney led 124 laps including the final 27 to get the victory over David Pearson, Parnelli Jones, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough in the No. 21 Ford.
Glen Wood said the Riverside wins were much more difficult than they might seem in hindsight.
“Those races were 500 miles and lasted more than five hours,” he said. “Road races today are nowhere near that long.”
Throughout his career, which saw him, among other accomplishments, become the first driver to win at least one race in Formula One, NASCAR, Indy Car and sports cars. He won Formula One races in his own cars, teamed with A.J. Foyt to take Ford to victory at Le Mans, and was an Indy 500 winner as a car owner and builder.
Through the decades, Gurney maintained contact with the Woods.
The Woods were on hand in 2014 when the Henry Ford museum presented Gurney with the rarely-given Edison-Ford Medal for Innovation.
And last year, on his way to the NASCAR races at Fontana, Calif., Len Wood, now a co-owner of the team, visited Gurney at his Santa Ana shop. The Gurney’s family business, Dan Gurney’s All American Racers, now builds, among other things, the carbon fiber landing legs used by the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
“We visited Dan in the motorcycle shop, which is in a building at the rear of the complex,” Wood said. “He spoke in a deep, loud voice and was fully aware of what was going on.”
Len Wood said he saw Gurney race just once, in his final start at Riverside in 1980 at the age of 49.
Age hadn’t slowed Gurney, Wood said. “By mid-race he was up to third place when his transmission tore up,” he said.
Gurney and his wife Evi exchanged Christmas cards with Glen and Bernece Wood every year since they raced together.
This year’s card was on the Woods’ refrigerator door when word came that Gurney had died.
“On that card, Dan and Evi were both smiling,” Wood said. “I was shocked when we heard he had died.”
DC Solar Set to Partner with Chip Ganassi Racing, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray In Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series16 Jan 2018 Written by Steven B. Wilson
After partnering with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) for three seasons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS), DC Solar is moving to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) for the 2018 season as a primary partner with both Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray. Wasting no time getting on track with Larson, the No. 42 Camaro will feature DC Solar as the primary partner for ‘The Clash at Daytona’, the season opening non-points race.
In addition to partnering with CGR in the MENCS, DC Solar will continue to be seen in the Xfinity Series for several races on the No. 42 Chevrolet with both Larson and McMurray behind the wheel. The partnership with CGR will also extend to INDYCAR in 2018, where DC Solar will serve as an associate sponsor on both the No. 9 and 10 cars, driven by Scott Dixon and Ed Jones respectively.
While DC Solar has been a recognizable name on track for several seasons in NASCAR, including on the car and as a race sponsor, the clean energy company has been recognized by fans outside the race tracks as well. DC Solar provides mobile solar lighting solutions, EV chargers, and power stations to numerous tracks, including Charlotte Motor Speedway, ISM Raceway (Phoenix) and Darlington Raceway. DC Solar is also in partnership with ISM Raceway for its $178 million modernization project, where the company is powering and lighting nighttime construction for what is sure to be one of the most exciting new venues for motorsports in the U.S.
NOTES OF INTEREST:
- Renewable Energy: DC Solar and Larson previously joined forces in 2016 when Larson drove a DC Solar sponsored truck to victory lane in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Eldora Speedway. He also picked up a fourth-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway later that same year with DC Solar onboard. DC Solar also served as a co-primary partner with Larson and the No. 42 MENCS team in last season’s finale at Homestead, which resulted in a third-place finish.
- 25 Going on 30: Behind a growing fan base and greater success on the track in 2017, including his second straight trip to the playoffs, Kyle Larson was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Sports list. Larson was the only motorsports athlete on the list, which also included Jose Altuve, Julio Jones, and Kawhi Leonard to name a few.
- Continued Growth: With four victories in 2017, Larson greatly added to his career win total in the MENCS, and with a series leading eight runner-up finishes (including the All-Star Race) he also bested his previous high in that category (three), which he achieved in 2014 and 2016. Larson rounded out the year with 15 top-five finishes, with only three of those finishes not being a first or second-place result. Larson’s strong season netted him a career-best eighth-place finish in the final point standings.
- Welcome Back: McMurray will compete in the Xfinity Series for the first time since 2013. He has not run multiple races in one season in the series since 2011 when he competed in six races. McMurray is an eight-time winner in the Xfinity Series, with his most recent win coming at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2010 driving for JR Motorsports.
- Three to Grow On: McMurray enters the 2018 season on the heels of three consecutive trips to the Playoffs, the most recent of which saw the veteran driver advance to the second round. McMurray’s average finish of 15.1 over the past three seasons helped to propel him to the postseason in consecutive years, and last year’s 17 top-10 finishes, the most for him since 2004, had him solidly in playoff contention throughout the regular season.
- Jeff Carpoff, Co-Founder and CEO, DC Solar: “We’re excited about expanding our relationship with CGR, and we’re especially proud to have Kyle and Jamie representing the DC Solar brand as we move to the sport’s highest level. We see an immense amount of value in the sport, with the unique opportunity each weekend to build relationships and interact with multiple partners, and we have every confidence that 2018 is going to be a successful year for everyone involved.”
- Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing: “We have enjoyed our partnership with DC Solar and are very excited to welcome Jeff and Paulette to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It has been a fun three years growing our partnership and we look forward to an exciting and successful first year with them on the cars with Kyle and Jamie.”
- Kyle Larson, Driver No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro: “I’m really looking forward to representing DC Solar this season in the Cup series. You can tell Jeff and Paulette are passionate about being here and about racing, so I’m excited to be a part of their first season in NASCAR’s premier series. I’ve won with them once in the truck series, so I’m hoping to repeat that a few times this year in Cup.”
- Jamie McMurray, Driver No. 1 DC Solar Chevrolet Camaro: “I’m looking forward to racing with DC Solar in Cup this year and a few times with them in the Xfinity Series. Our team has really done a nice job in that series having won with several different drivers the last couple of seasons. I’m also excited to drive a few times in the Cup series with DC Solar on-board and be a part of their first full season in that series. Their enthusiasm for our team and sport is evident and I’m glad that I get to be a part of this growth with them.”
Wood Brothers Racing Enters Partnership with Archie St. Hilaire, Secures Charter for 2018 and Beyond15 Jan 2018 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Wood Brothers Racing today announced a long-term partnership with Archie St. Hilaire, owner of Go FAS Racing. The agreement grants full operating control of one of the 36 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Charters to the Wood Brothers and its iconic No. 21 Ford.
The Charter guarantees a starting position in every Monster Energy Series race, providing further competitive stability for a team that returned to full-time competition for each of the past two seasons and earned a berth in the Monster Energy Series Playoffs in 2017.
“This Charter is a game-changing step for Wood Brothers Racing. It’s the critical piece needed to thrive as a top owner in our sport,” said Len Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing. “We have been fortunate enough to have extremely fast cars and are blessed with the best sponsors in NASCAR. Pair that with our support from Ford and nearly every piece is in place. Last year we leased a Charter from Archie [St. Hilaire]. We’ve really come to appreciate working with him and his son Mason and I think everyone has benefited tremendously from this relationship. For 2018 and beyond, we’ve taken it a step further and entered into a partnership and we think it will be a rewarding endeavor for everyone involved.”
Last season, with driver Ryan Blaney, the Wood Brothers enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in decades, capturing the organization’s 99th premier series win and finishing in the top 10 in points for the first time since 1994. Blaney advanced to the Round of 8 in the Monster Energy Series Playoffs and went on to finish 9th in the points standings.
In 2018, the team looks to build on last season’s playoff run, with Paul Menard taking the reins of the iconic No. 21 Ford. When asked about his thoughts on Paul and the upcoming season, co-owner Eddie Wood has an optimistic outlook on the upcoming season. “Paul has the skill and playoff experience to take the Wood Brothers on yet another championship run,” Wood said. “The security that the Charter brings through this partnership will allow us to place of our focus on winning races, making the playoffs and fighting for a championship. We’re looking forward to getting back to racing and competing against the best teams and drivers in the world.”
The Monster Energy Series returns with the 60th running of the Daytona 500, a race the Wood Brothers have won five times with five different drivers. NASCAR Hall of Famer and Wood Brothers team founder Glen Wood competed in the first Daytona 500 in 1959.
Motorsports has been littered with men and women who possessed the talent to drive any kind of vehicle, but there are very few who have been able to do it consistently and win.
Dan Gurney was one of those who did.
It didn’t matter if he was driving the wheels off a bulky stock car at Riverside for the Wood Brothers of NASCAR fame or a sleek Ford GT40 Mark IV sports car developed by Carroll Shelby at Le Mans, Gurney knew what it took to go fast and end up in Victory Lane.
Trying to properly explain the impact Gurney, who passed away yesterday at the age of 86, had on motorsports is difficult because his accomplishments across all forms is so great.
He played an instrumental role in creating one of the most iconic moments in Ford Motor Company’s racing history and in the wake of that started a tradition which continues to this day when he and A.J. Foyt became part of the first, and to this day the only, all-American team to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967.
The visual of Gurney hopping on the hood after Foyt crossed the finish line to give Ford its second straight victory in the iconic endurance race was only surpassed by the precedent of becoming the first person to spray champagne on the winner’s podium.
All of that came about as Gurney, who became the first driver to win at least one race in Formula One, NASCAR, Indy Car and Sports Cars, was hop-scotching around the globe competing in various forms of racing.
He gained his first Formula One victory in the Grand Prix of France in 1962 and the following year began a streak of four straight wins in the yearly NASCAR road course race at Riverside, driving for Holman-Moody (1963) and the Wood Brothers (1964-66). In 1967, he captured his first IndyCar event at the Riverside, Calif., road course before winning his fifth and final NASCAR event at the same place in 1968.
“Dan was one of the best road racers I’ve ever seen,” said Leonard Wood, a NASCAR Hall of Famer who worked with Gurney during those winning years. “If I was sitting up in the stands by the esses at Riverside and you put 10 different drivers in the car, I could tell you which one was Dan. He would always take the right approach to the turn, and I can’t say enough about how good he was. We had so much fun with him. If you got the car equal to anybody else, you were just home free.
“Everybody told him he looked like he was on a Sunday evening drive out there,” continued Wood. “But he said, ‘You don’t know how hard it is to make it look like that. You’ve got to discipline yourself to back off at the right places.’”
Through the years he became associated with Ford through many different high-profile programs.
He served as the first test driver of the Mustang I concept car and made the initial laps with the prototype at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International in 1962.
Shortly thereafter, he became the last person to drive 999, which was the second race car built by Ford Motor Company Founder Henry Ford in 1902. Gurney took the car, which was raced competitively by Barney Oldfield in the early 1900s, around the Ford Dearborn test track in 1963 for a few laps before it was retired for good.
And Gurney was also responsible for bringing Colin Chapman and Jim Clark to Ford to help produce the first rear engine IndyCar that led to the manufacturer’s first Indianapolis 500 victory in 1965.
But Gurney’s expertise in racing didn’t just pertain to the driver’s seat, he was an innovator who designed and built cars as well. He is the only American to win a Formula One race in a car he built by himself (1967 Belgian Grand Prix) and was instrumental in designing the closed-faced helmet. In addition, he invented what became known as the Gurney flap, which is a small piece of metal that is attached to the rear wing of a car, increasing downforce.
In recognition of those achievements and others, Gurney was presented with the prestigious Edison-Ford Medal for Innovation by The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Mich., on Oct. 29, 2014.
That is just one of the many honors Gurney received during his lifetime. He is a member of just about every motorsports hall of fame in the world, and was presented the Spirit of Ford Award in 1999, which is the highest racing honor the company can bestow.
"Dan Gurney epitomized the best of American auto racing,” said Edsel B. Ford II, a member of Ford Motor Company’s board of directors and a close friend of Gurney. “All of us involved in the Ford racing program mourn the loss of this great legend. Dan was a renowned driver and team owner. He was also a celebrated innovator who received the Thomas Edison-Henry Ford Medal for Innovation from the Trustees of The Henry Ford.
“We will always remember his 1967 Le Mans win in the Ford Mark IV, his early testing of the Mustang I prototype, the Ford NASCAR wins with teams like the Wood Brothers and his vision for a Ford Indy car program that brought Colin Chapman and Jim Clark together.
"Dan represented himself and his country with class and dignity in racing events around the world. More importantly, we'll remember that infectious smile, that twinkle in his eye when he told a great story and the love he had for Evi and his sons, Justin, Alex, Dan Jr., Jimmy and Danny. We didn't just lose a motorsport icon, we lost a friend. There may never be another one like him."
Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company, echoed that sentiment. “We are deeply saddened about the passing of Dan Gurney,” he said. “His legacy as a racer and innovator may be unmatched in the history of the sport. We are honored that so much of that legacy, including the All American Le Mans victory in 1967, came with Ford. He was a great friend to Ford and respected around the world. We offer our condolences to his wife, Evi, and his family.”
Ford Performance PR
Robert Yates showed up at the NASCAR Hall of Fame that late afternoon last May genuinely not knowing if this would be the year - if that would be the day - he heard his name called as part of the official unveiling of the five-person 2017 Hall of Fame induction class.
Already months into his valiant fight against liver cancer, Yates walked into the Grand Hall and was immediately surrounded by longtime friends and greeted fondly by supporters and race fans, all who had gathered for the historical announcement.
Three times previously the NASCAR champion engine builder and team owner had been nominated for induction. So when his name was announced as part of the 2017 group of honorees, the room erupted in joy and tears.
"I believe that was the fourth year he was on the ballot so we weren’t sure how it would go, just praying he would get voted in to the Hall of Fame,’’ Yates son Doug recalled. "He was so happy. He gave up his life for this sport. That was his choice but that was what it takes to be great at something and he did that. And he wouldn’t tell you that, but I will.
"It was the most gratifying moment of his whole career."
And that is saying a lot.
The man who had built so many strong engines, may have been weaker of body but the same spirit and contagious positive energy he brought to the race track permeated through the crowd that day – it was easy to see the special extra something that makes Yates a stock car legend.
Sadly, Yates died five months later on Oct. 2 at the age of 74. His family will take part in next Friday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony in honor of this very honorable man.
Yates contributions to NASCAR are diverse and significant. And lasting.
He started his career as an engine builder in the late 1960s under the tutelage of Waddell Wilson and ultimately fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson.
He was the chief engine builder for Hall of Famer Bobby Allison’s 1983 Cup championship team and built the engines that Hall of Famer Richard Petty drove to his final two victories – record 199th and 200th wins.
Following his time under the hood, Yates moved into a team ownership role and fielded the iconic No. 28 Texaco/Havoline car driven by the late Davey Allison and also the No. 88 Ford that Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett drove to the 1999 Cup championship. Allison produced Yates’ first win as an owner in 1989 at Talladega Superspeedway and Jarrett secured the beloved owner his last Cup trophy in 2005, also at Talladega.
Ernie Irvan, Hall of Famer Ricky Rudd and Elliott Sadler also won premier series races driving for Yates, who collected 57 Cup trophies as an owner including three Daytona 500 wins earned by Davey Allison (1992) and Jarrett (1996 and 2000).
His inclusion in the Hall of Fame seems a proper and fitting way to wrap up and recognize decades of hard work and high expectation. What a career Robert Yates made.
"I’d say my dad felt very blessed to be involved in the sport of NASCAR and the time he was involved really left itself to opportunities,’’ Doug Yates reflected. "When he started at Holman-Moody in the late 1960s that was the best school for an engine builder -- to be there working alongside Waddell Wilson and all the other greats, building engines for the Wood Brothers and Junior Johnson and the famed Ford drivers of the time.
"Then to go and work for Junior Johnson who was one of his heroes."
Doug Yates, 50, who carried on the family’s engine business with high regard – he was named NASCAR’s 2011 Engine Builder of the Year -- recalled those early days recognizing his dad’s work ethic was comprised of equal parts high expectation and devotion.
"Back then you just worked 24-7, you didn’t have a lot of resources,’’ Doug said. "During the day, my dad would do the machine work on the engines to get them ready to assemble at night, and he said one night he was in there working, and he was about out of energy, and Junior [Johnson] came through there, patted him on the back and gave him a pep talk and said, ‘We’re going to win this race this weekend.’
"And dad said it just felt like it gave him so much motivation to keep going. One of the great influences in his life was how Junior Johnson was a leader and a hero. That was a great experience for him."
And Yates soon would be regarded a leader and hero to others -- as it turned out not only for his work on race cars but for his strength away from the garage fighting cancer.
Those who worked closely with Yates recognized and fully appreciated his mechanical talent and that led to more opportunity for the Charlotte native.
"I’m a great believer that things happen for a reason and he was as well,’’ Doug Yates said. "That ultimately lent itself to the owners Harry [Rainier] and J.T. [Lundy] saying, ‘Robert, we’re done racing. We’d like for you to buy the race team and the No. 28 Davey Allison Ford.’
"My dad was really hesitant. He never got into the sport to be a car owner, he just really focused on doing his best job every day whatever the task was. That was how he operated.
"So he told Davey [Allison] about this opportunity and Davey said, ‘Robert, it you’ll do this I will never leave you. You’ve got my word.’ They shook on it and Davey instilled the confidence in my dad to buy Robert Yates Racing."
The Robert Yates Racing team began officially in 1989, quickly establishing itself of championship caliber with Allison winning 15 times in the next five years and finishing third in the Cup championship twice (1991 and ’92).
But Allison died in a helicopter accident two weeks after winning at Richmond, Va. in 1993 and understandably, the tragedy had a profound effect on Yates.
"That was probably the hardest thing for him. … It was really a moment of do we carry on or not?’’ Doug Yates said. "I think he carried on for Davey and also the people that it put so much into getting him there. You don’t want to let them down. "Then what happened to Ernie [suffered life-threatening injuries in an accident during a race at Michigan International Speedway in 1994] and ultimately winning the championship with Dale Jarrett.
"It was not an easy road by any means but it was his platform."
"NASCAR gets the credit, the France family, for giving us this platform to do that. Dad was such a humble person. Being a car owner was not his dream. Doing a great job at whatever he did was what he did.
"And just timing and the way things evolved and being good at what he did and being at the right place at the right time gave him a platform.’’
And Yates used that platform to its full historical potential – enjoying decades of hard-earned success in a life well-lived and much respected. He was one of those rare, rare people who could rest well, knowing he made a positive difference and that not a soul had a disparaging word or thought.
That he was adored by so many was never more evident than last spring at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
A big smile never left Yates’ face as received the congratulatory hugs and handshakes.
"I don’t even know if I’ll sleep tonight," Yates said in the moments after finding out he was a new inductee.
"I’m so honored and I love this sport, and I want this sport to do the same thing it did for me, again and again and again."
Holly Cain/NASCAR PR
Beard Motorsports is proud to announce that driver Brendan Gaughan will return in 2018. The Beard Oil Distributing and TTS Logistics sponsored Chevrolet Camaro ZL1will be joined by new partners South Point Hotel & Casino and City Lights Shine for both Daytona and Talladega restrictor plate races.
Along with new sponsors, the team will now be running a number that fans familiar with Gaughan will recognize, his iconic No. 62.
“We would like to build off the success we achieved last season at both Daytona races, we made the Daytona 500 on our time and did not have the stress of racing our way in through the Can-Am duels and finished 11th in the race,” explained team owner Mark Beard.
“Then, we then came back in July and finished seventh. Even though the team didn’t get the finishes they wanted at Talladega, then ran very well during each race, even leading the fall race twice for six laps.
“To have a driver with Brendan’s experience behind the wheel is great and the fact that South Point wanted to get involved makes it even better.”
Don’t use the word “retirement” when discussing Brendan Gaughan and his future in racing.
The 42-year old Las Vegas, Nev. resident will only step away from full-time NASCAR competition in 2018.
He first competed full time in the K&N Pro Series West series back 1999, a series that he won back-to-back championships in 2000 & 2001.
From there, he moved up to the Camping World Truck Series where he pick up eight wins and just missed out on the 2003 series title.
He has continued his presence in the sport in the XFINITY Series where he captured two more victories.
“I have had more fun racing with Mr. Beard for the four races last year than I had in my prior 50 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts,” said Gaughan. “I’m also very excited about the car that RCR has built for us, Richard Childress has been an amazing friend and I appreciate how much support he is giving to the Beard Motorsports Chevrolet in our part time efforts.
“I would personally like to thank the entire Beard family for continuing this opportunity and for allowing us to run the number that has been so special to me my entire career.”
Darren Shaw will again lead the team as crew chief out of the team’s Mooresville, N.C.-based shop.
“I feel lucky to work with such a great owner like Mark Beard, he gives me the parts and pieces we need to go fast and having a driver like Brendan Gaughan, I can’t ask for anyone better than him for a part time effort,” said Shaw.
“We have a great crew of guys, some full-time racers and some weekend warriors, you would never know that if you were around the car in the garage area.”
The team has purchased a new chassis from RCR and had the chassis from last year updated and both are being fitted with the new 2018 Camaro ZL1 body style. The team will also utilize ECR engines again this season.
Beard Oil PR
An exciting weekend is in store for NASCAR fans beginning on Friday, Jan. 19 in Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring the stars of today and the legends of yesteryear.
The weekend will be filled with activities starting on Friday evening with the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Induction Ceremony. The star-studded event will be followed by NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and will include a one-of-a-kind experience for fans.
On Friday, Jan. 19 (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and MRN), NASCAR icons Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ron Hornaday Jr., Ken Squier and Robert Yates will be honored and inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame as the Class of 2018. As part of the Induction Ceremony, Jim France will receive the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR and Norma Brandel will receive the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.
As in previous years, NASCAR legends and current drivers will be in attendance as the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 is inducted. Scheduled to make an appearance are reigning 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Ben Kennedy and Brad Keselowski. For tickets to the Induction Ceremony, visit nascarhall.com.
As part of NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day on Saturday, Jan. 20, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will offer free admission to the venue. NASCAR drivers past and present will participate in Q&A and autograph sessions throughout the day. Admission to the Hall of Fame and to the Q&A sessions will be free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis during NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day. Admission to driver autograph sessions is free but will require a ticket for participation. Doors will open at 8 a.m. and the Hall of Fame will close at 5 p.m.
Tickets to the autograph sessions below, featuring stars from all three NASCAR national series, must be secured in advance. Tickets will be available free of charge on nascarhall.com starting at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 13. Each fan can secure up to two tickets for only one of the seven autograph sessions (one ticket for an individual or two tickets for an individual and their guest). NASCAR Next driver autograph sessions do not require tickets. For more information on Fan Appreciation Day please visit nascarhall.com.
Q&A / Autograph Session
Session 1 (9 a.m. Q&A / 9:30-10:30 a.m. Autograph Session)
Paul Menard, Cole Custer and Justin Haley
Session 2 (10 a.m. Q&A / 10:30-11:30 a.m. Autograph Session)
Kyle Larson, Matt Tifft and Noah Gragson
Session 3 (11 a.m. Q&A / 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Autograph Session)
William Byron, Elliott Sadler and Michael Annett
Session 4 (12 p.m. Q&A / 12:30-1:30 p.m. Autograph Session)
Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Spencer Gallagher and Cody Coughlin
Session 5 (1:30 p.m. Q&A / 2-3 p.m. Autograph Session)
Ryan Blaney, Ryan Reed and John Hunter Nemechek
Session 6 (2:30 p.m. Q&A / 3-4 p.m. Autograph Session)
Alex Bowman and Dalton Sargeant
Session 7 (3:30 p.m. Q&A / 4-5 p.m. Autograph Session)
Tyler Reddick and Joey Gase
Q&A / Autograph Session
(High Octane Theater/Great Hall)
NASCAR Next Drivers
Session 1 (10:20 a.m. Q&A / 11-11:40 a.m. Autograph Session)
NASCAR Next drivers Harrison Burton, Hailie Deegan, Chase Purdy and Zane Smith
Session 2 (11:20 a.m. Q&A / 11:50 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Autograph Session)
NASCAR Next drivers Chase Cabre, Todd Gilliland, Riley Herbst, Cayden Lapcevich and Ty Majeski
Q&A / Autograph Session
(High Octane Theater/ Pre-Function Space Outside Crown Ballroom)
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 Inductees
10:40 a.m. Q&A / 9-10 a.m. Autograph Session*
Ray Evernham, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Ken Squier
*Note: The Class of 2018 autograph session will be open to NASCAR Hall of Fame members only.
Times for Q&A sessions with all of the above drivers are noted and will begin prior to their autograph session. Q&A sessions are open to all guests and media. Please note that the schedule is subject to change.
Driver Q&A sessions will take place at the High Octane Theater in the Hall of Fame (access from Level 1 & 2) and will each last approximately 20 minutes. Autograph Sessions will take place in the pre-function space outside of the Crown Ballroom in the Charlotte Convention Center (connected to the Hall of Fame and accessible from Level 3). Note the NASCAR Next driver autograph sessions will take place in the Great Hall of the Hall of Fame.
Also, NASCAR tracks and official partners will be in attendance and will have various displays set up at the Hall of Fame for fans to visit, participate in and win prizes. As part of the festivities, Mack Trucks, the “Official Hauler of NASCAR,” will debut its new Mack Anthem, which includes several design features inspired by race cars. Following a ceremonial moment turning the Mack Anthem keys over to NASCAR, fans will have a chance to take a spin in the truck, which will haul NASCAR’s equipment and technology essential for facilitating the best racing in the world.
Motorsports industry veteran Robby Benton will join Team Penske in 2018, serving as NASCAR Team Manager, the organization announced today. Benton, who has spent time as a driver and owner in a number of different series from NASCAR to IMSA, will report to Competition Director Travis Geisler.
Benton will help handle various administrative and competition-related duties for both the team’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) as well as the team’s NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS). Team Penske will field four full-time NASCAR programs in 2018 with the addition of the No. 12 Ford Fusion and driver Ryan Blaney to its Cup program.
“I’m very happy to join an operation like Team Penske,” said Benton. “Anyone that is involved in this sport has a tremendous amount of respect for Roger Penske. He has a world class operation and expects nothing but the best from his people, and that shows on and off the track. I’ve emulated many of Team Penske’s values through my own programs, so it’s especially meaningful to now be a part of this team. I’m honored to receive this opportunity and I hope I can help the organization continue moving forward as they continue to expand their NASCAR operations.”
Following his time as a driver, Benton transitioned to become a team owner in many different racing series. Most recently, Benton was an owner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Over the years, Benton’s teams scored victories in NXS and IMSA.
“Robby has been racing most of his life and we are really fortunate to be in a position to add someone with his experience to our organization,” said Team Penske President Tim Cindric. “As we continue to expand our NASCAR programs, he will bring a wealth of knowledge to add more depth to our management team.”
The 2018 MENCS regular season begins with the 60th anniversary running of the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, on Sunday, February 18.
Team Penske PR
Daniel Suarez, the 2016 Xfinity Series champion will have Peak Antifreeze as his sponsor in the July race at Chicagoland Speedway as part of an one-race deal.
Entering his second full-time season in the Monster Energy Series, Suarez has quickly got our attention with a series best finish of third coming at Watkins Glen International Speedway in August of 2017.
Daniel Suarez 2017 Statistics:
Top 5's - 1 (Watkins Glen)
Top 10's - 12
Avg. Start - 6.8
Avg. Finish - 10.8
Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that long-time racing executive Doug Duchardt has been named Chief Operating Officer of the corporation. Duchardt begins the role effective immediately in preparation for the upcoming 2018 seasons while Max Jones is promoted to Managing Director of the team’s NASCAR Operation joining Mike Hull, Managing Director of the team’s INDYCAR and IMSA Operations.
Additionally, a newly formed Corporate Office will include Team Owner and CEO Chip Ganassi, President Steve Lauletta, COO Duchardt, CFO Chuck Gottschalk and Vice President of Human Resources Rob Wilder. The Corporate Office will oversee all of CGR’s racing and commercial activities globally.
Duchardt will work closely with Managing Directors Max Jones and Mike Hull and team President Steve Lauletta to increase collaboration, performance and growth across all of CGR’s worldwide racing activities.
“We are all so pleased to get someone with both Doug’s racing credentials and his business acumen,” said Ganassi. “He has a lot of racing championships under his belt and a strong track record for running successful businesses and has the respect of the racing industry. Doug will be a great addition to help lead what I think is already a very good group of people.”
Duchardt brings a championship pedigree with him as he was most recently executive vice president and general manager at Hendrick Motorsports (HMS). He spent over 12 years at HMS where he directed all racing operations for a NASCAR team that fields four cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS). Under his watch, the team won seven MENCS Championships including a run of six consecutive from 2006-11.
“I am excited to become a part of Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Duchardt. “I, along with the rest of the industry have always admired Chip and what he does across so many forms of racing. What has been especially impressive of late has been the turnaround they have made in their NASCAR operation. I am also looking forward to competing in INDYCAR and IMSA once again. Along with Felix Sabates and Rob Kauffman, Chip has assembled a group of championship caliber people on each of his teams that I am looking forward to working with and helping them achieve even more success both on and off the track.”
Prior to HMS, the Morton, IL native spent over 20 years with General Motors where he most recently managed their entire North American motor sports initiatives with relationships in NASCAR, INDYCAR, NHRA, IMSA and SCCA.
He is a graduate of Missouri University of Science and Technology with a mechanical engineering degree. He earned a master’s degree in engineering from Purdue University. Most recently he completed his Advanced Certificate for Executives at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.
Duchardt resides in Charlotte, NC with his wife Pam and has three children, Jackson, Hannah and Matthew.
Danica Patrick will appear on ABC'S Good Morning America Tuesday, January 2nd to discuss her new book "Pretty Intense", which went on sale December 26th of 2017. The book will detail Patrick's workout and eating regiments. Over her career, Patrick has shared with the public on social media her workout routines and has became an advocate of eating well and staying in shape. The book will give readers a 90-day program which is detailed to "sculpt your body", "calm your mind", and "achieve your greatest goals."
Patrick will hang up her driving helmet after the 2018 Daytona 500 & 2018 Indianapolis 500.
No word yet on who she will drive for in either race as that is still undetermined.