Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16167)

Five-time defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson will visit the Valley of the Sun on Jan. 12 to celebrate the start of the 2011 NASCAR season with local fans from Phoenix International Raceway. Johnson – driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet – will participate in a one-of-a-kind fan event at Casino Arizona’s Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale and will help PIR unveil a 48-hour ticket special for the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ at PIR on Feb. 27.

The ‘48-hour Special’ will offer fans a unique discounted opportunity to take in NASCAR Sprint Cup action at PIR this February. Beginning at noon on January 12 and ending at noon on January 14, race fans can purchase a regularly-priced $90 ticket to the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ for just $48. This ticket, located in the Upper AJ Foyt Grandstand, offers a full view of PIR’s one-mile oval and pit road. ‘48-hour Special’ tickets will be available at at noon on January 12.

Fans that follow Phoenix International Raceway at and will also have the opportunity to participate in a happy hour event with the only driver in NASCAR history to win five straight Sprint Cups. Johnson will be appearing in an exclusive event at Casino Arizona’s Talking Stick Resort for fans that participate in PIR’s “GO” promotion.

For a chance to attend this very special reception with Johnson, fans may send an email to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. explaining why they should GO to this event. A limited number of PIR fans with the most interesting GO stories will be chosen to attend. One lucky winner and a guest will win a private meet-and-greet with Johnson. Details for this promotion can be found at, and Let the GO begin. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (PST) on Monday, January 10, 2011. Winners will be announced/contacted the morning of Jan. 11.

New at Phoenix International Raceway in 2011 are GO Value packages starting at $40. GO 2 Days to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ and NASCAR Nationwide Series races and pay only $40. GO 3 Days, adding the Lucas Oil 150 Camping World Truck Series, and pay only $47.

Tickets to the February 24-27 SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500™ event weekend are available now, with prices starting at just $25. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit or call 866-408-RACE (7223).

Credit: PIR Press Release

Best Buy Co., (NYSE:BBY), a leading retailer of consumer electronics, and Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) today announced their continued partnership for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The agreement extends Best Buy’s status as primary sponsor of the No. 43 driven by AJ Allmendinger.

“Best Buy is proud to renew our relationship with Richard Petty Motorsports and driver AJ Allmendinger for the 2011 season,” said Drew Panayiotou, senior vice president, Marketing, Best Buy. “Richard Petty is a motorsports icon and is well respected within the sport of NASCAR. Being a part of a team with his leadership is a privilege. We will be doing some innovative work with Richard Petty Motorsports surrounding our sponsorship, creating new and fun ways to engage the fans. We look forward to continuing our support of AJ and the No. 43 team as they strive to make their way to Victory Lane.”

Best Buy will be the primary sponsor for 24 Sprint Cup Series events in 2011and will be featured as the primary sponsor for two non-points events, The Duels and the Sprint All-Star race. In addition, Best Buy will serve as an associate sponsor for the No. 9, driven by Marcos Ambrose. The deal marks the company’s second year with driver AJ Allmendinger and its seventh year in the sport of NASCAR.

“It’s great to have Best Buy back onboard our No. 43 Ford,” said Allmendinger. “They have been a great partner and I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with an organization that is as passionate about its racing program as I am. I think this is going to be a great year for this Richard Petty Motorsports team and I can’t wait to get the Best Buy Ford into Victory Lane.”

AJ Allmendinger displayed a solid performance during the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with two top-5 and eight top-10 finishes. In addition, he scored his first-career pole at Phoenix International Raceway. Allmendinger closed the season 19th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, a career-best.



Credit: Best Buy Public Relations

The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates organization's Christmas card sent out last month was a keeper.

Lining up for a group photo were drivers Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Juan Montoya, Jamie McMurray -- and team owner Chip Ganassi.

Grand-Am Road Racing got one of those cards.

On Tuesday, Grand-Am - and its fans -- got a belated Christmas gift from Ganassi's group, in the form of a star-studded lineup for the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona (Jan. 29-30), one encompassing two cars, eight drivers, three racing disciplines and a return appearance by McMurray, the reigning Daytona 500 champion.

Pruett and Rojas, the reigning Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions, will be joined in the No. 01 Target/Telmex BMW/Riley prototype by Grand-Am veteran Joey Hand and Graham Rahal, the latter recently announced as a new Ganassi driver in the IndyCar Series.

In the No. 02 Telmex/Target BMW/Riley, last year's Daytona team returns intact: McMurray, two-time Rolex 24 champion Montoya and two IndyCar vets -- two-time series titlist Dixon and the series' reigning champ, Franchitti.

Collectively, those two teams have won 12 series championships, eight Rolex 24s, one Daytona 500 and four Indianapolis 500s.

Happy Holidays indeed, belated or not.

Ganassi clearly is pulling out all the stops to get a fast start on the 2011 season -- and a fast follow-up to a memorable 2010. Last season arguably was the greatest by any race car owner in any series: Pruett and Rojas dominated the Grand-Am Rolex Series season en route to winning the DP championship for a second time; McMurray won the marquee event in the Sprint Cup Series, plus the Brickyard 400; and Franchitti won the Indy 500 for a second time and the IndyCar series title for a third time.

"The Rolex 24 at Daytona is always exciting for our team, especially because it involves so many of our drivers from all different series," Ganassi said. "There are so many elements out of the drivers' hands that need to come together, in order to have a shot at winning this event. That's what I love about it. You have to not only be good, but you also have to have a little bit of luck on your side to succeed in a race that lasts 24 hours."

Ganassi's No. 02 DP team dominated the race's first eight hours last year before mechanical problems forced an early retirement of the car. Pruett and Rojas went on to finish second, teamed with two other drivers.

McMurray was involved in a recent test session at Daytona International Speedway; both NASCAR stock cars and Grand-Am sports cars turned laps on the new DIS pavement for the first time.

"They did a really nice job with the paving project, so I expect the racing to be really good for the 24-hour race," McMurray said. "I'm certain that we'll bring good cars for the race, as Chip and his Grand-Am guys do each and every year. It's great to have the opportunity to once again drive for Chip in one of the most prestigious motorsports events out there."

Testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona -- the Roar Before the Rolex 24 -- is Friday-Sunday at Daytona. The 49th running of the endurance classic is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 29.


Credit: Chip Ganassi Racing

Ray Evernham Enterprises (REE) has been retained to consult for the Hendrick Companies, a management company formed in 2005 to oversee strategic initiatives for chairman Rick Hendrick.

Founded in 2008 by successful auto racing crew chief, team owner and broadcaster Ray Evernham, REE will consult on special projects related to Hendrick’s core businesses. In that role, REE’s initial focus will be development of the Hendrick Performance retail brand of high-performance parts, vehicles, products and related services.

“Hendrick Performance parts and cars will have a racing pedigree, and Ray is someone who will help ensure that on behalf of our customers and dealers,” Hendrick said. “He’s assembled a terrific group of people at REE, and I see a lot of opportunities for them to be a valuable resource for our organization on projects like this. I know the kind of high standards Ray sets.”

With Hendrick as car owner, Evernham won three NASCAR Cup championships in the 1990s as crew chief for driver Jeff Gordon. He left the Hendrick organization in 1999 to found his own team, Evernham Motorsports, and most recently was a television analyst for ESPN.

“Rick and I have had many conversations over the years about our passion projects, and there’s so much crossover with what we enjoy working on,” said Evernham, 53, CEO of Ray Evernham Enterprises. “We both sense an opportunity to do some unique things, whether it’s with performance parts and cars, his dealership business (Hendrick Automotive Group) or other ways to build the Hendrick brand.”

Ray Evernham Enterprises is based in Mooresville, N.C. For more information, visit

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Credit: Hendrick Motorsports Press Release

Junior Johnson has launched a race team that he hopes will propel his son, 17-year-old Robert, eventually to the Sprint Cup Series.

The elder Johnson, who was enshrined in NASCAR's Hall of Fame as a member of its inaugural 2010 class of inductees, will run Junior Johnson Racing from shops on his 278-acre estate in Hamptonville, N.C.

Keith Barnwell, JJR's executive vice president and general manager, said Monday he was standing amid 800 head of cattle outside one of the two buildings the elder Johnson -- who scored 50 victories as a driver, 132 as an owner and six Cup championships in his legendary career -- had converted into his son's race shop.

Barnwell, a noted NASCAR spotter who worked every lap of Jamie McMurray's breakout 2010 season and will move to the spotter's stand to work with Martin Truex Jr. in 2011, said the younger Johnson -- who finished fourth in the 2010 UARA late model series championship and won the UARA Rookie of the Year Award -- would contest about a "28- to 30-race schedule in 2011."

"We're going to run the full K&N Pro Series East and maybe the West Series' finale at Phoenix," Barnwell said. "On some of our off weekends, we'll be running some UARA and Whelen All-American Series late model races.




Daytona 500 champions Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among the drivers that will appear at NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at historic Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, Jan. 20 and Friday, Jan. 21. 

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take to the new asphalt at Daytona International Speedway in a three-day test session, known as NASCAR Preseason Thunder, Thursday, Jan. 20 through Saturday, Jan. 22.

Tickets for NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest are $20 and available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or online at  2011 Daytona 500 ticketholders and children 12 and under will receive free admission.  Advanced reservations are available (limited to 250 people) for special autograph sessions to be held with participating 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and Daytona 500 champions.  Additional driver autograph sessions will be held on both days with wristbands available the day of the event.

To request access to the special autograph sessions, race fans can call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit the Daytona International Speedway ticket office beginning on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. 

In addition to viewing the on-track activity from the Sprint FANZONE, fans can watch each day’s testing at no cost from a section of the Oldfield Grandstands near Turn 4.

Drivers currently scheduled to make appearances on Thursday, Jan. 20 beginning at 6 p.m. are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr. and Regan Smith.

Scheduled to appear on Friday, Jan. 21, during the 5-7 p.m. session are Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, David Reutimann, Casey Mears, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kevin Conway, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman.  In the 7-9 p.m. session, drivers scheduled to appear are AJ Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose and Matt Kenseth. Lastly, race fans will be able to camp in the infield of Daytona International Speedway for free with their admission ticket during the three-day test inside Turns 3 and 4.  Sites will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.  Gates to the infield will open Thursday, Jan. 20 at 8:00 a.m.

Among the activities planned for both days include:
• Interactive driver question and answer sessions on the main stage
• Show cars, displays, music
• Photo opportunity with the Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy
• Blood drive outside the Turn 4 tunnel

The Roar Before The Rolex 24, the tune-up session for the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series teams in advance of the 49th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, is set for Jan. 7-9. Tickets are $15 daily for the Roar Before The Rolex 24, with driver fan forums, tech talks and pit stop demonstrations slated for Saturday.  2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona ticketholders and children 12 and under will receive free admission. 

Tickets for both the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fests and the Roar Before The Rolex 24 are available online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.


Credit: Daytona International Speedway Press Release

Penske Racing announced today the appointment of Travis Geisler to the position of Competition Director for the storied organization. Geisler, the former crew chief of the No. 77 Dodge driven by Sam Hornish Jr. in the NASCAR Cup Series, will be responsible for coordinating all facets of Penske Racing's NASCAR racing programs between the organization's crew chiefs and its engineering department.

"I am very excited about this new challenge," said Geisler. "With all of the resources and experience at Penske Racing, we have the opportunity to build on the high level of competition that we have established in NASCAR and continue to develop our programs for the future."

In his new position, Geisler will report directly to Penske Racing Vice President of Operations, Michael Nelson.

"We are fortunate to have someone as talented as Travis inside the walls of Penske Racing," said Nelson. "His experience as a crew chief, along with his engineering background, will be a valuable resource as a liaison between our current crew chiefs and our engineering department. This is a move that will provide us with depth and improved efficiency as we move into the 2011 season."

A former go kart racer who earned his degree in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University, Geisler drove in both the ARCA Series and the Nationwide Series. He joined Robert Yates Racing as a race engineer in 2006 before coming on board at Penske Racing. Geisler quickly advanced from team engineer on the No. 12 Cup Series team to crew chief for Hornish and the No. 77 Dodge, beginning in 2008.


Credit: Penske Racing Press Release

The 25-year-old driver of the No.18 M&M's Camry exchanged vows with his beautiful fiancee, 24-year old Samantha Sarcinella, on Friday Dec. 31 in Chicago. The service was attended by 300 of their close family and friends, including many in the NASCAR community.

The wedding reception followed at the Chicago Cultural Center, as the newly named Mr. and Mrs. Busch and guests celebrated their marriage while also using the opportunity to ring in the New Year together.

The couple will take a two-week honeymoon before returning home to North Carolina. They have requested fans follow them both on their respective Twitter accounts for special news about the wedding. and

Busch kicks off the 2011 Season with testing at the newly paved Daytona (Fla) International Speedway on January 22 -23rd. Followed by the traditional Speedweeks Feb. 10-20.

The 53rd Daytona 500, the first point-paying race of the season, is scheduled for Feb. 20 and will be broadcast live on FOX.



DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 9, 2010) – Daytona International Speedway’s three-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test, known as NASCAR Preseason Thunder, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20 through Saturday, Jan. 22. Sunday, Jan. 23 is the rain date.

The 2011 edition of NASCAR Preseason Thunder will help teams acclimate to the new pavement, plus speed their preparation for the 53rd Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 – the series’ traditional season-opener.
The repaving project – only the second in track history and first since 1978 – began immediately after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on July 3.
"This allows everyone an equal opportunity to work on their setups and get everything in order leading up to Speedweeks and the running of the Daytona 500," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition.  "Additionally, it gives the teams the chance to get accustomed to the new pit road and the added run-off areas on the backstretch. We’re excited about the new surface and believe it will only enhance the racing experience at Daytona."
All NASCAR Preseason Thunder sessions begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., weather permitting. Each includes a lunch break from noon until 1 p.m.
Attending media will have daily interview opportunities in the media center.
Fans seeking to rev up their new year can do so at the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona – the companion event to the January test. Along with watching NASCAR Preseason Thunder track activity from Daytona’s Sprint FANZONE, fans can enjoy two Fan Fest sessions – from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 21 and from 5-7 p.m., on Saturday, Jan. 22.
Driver question-and-answer and autograph sessions are planned. Tickets for the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest are $20. Fans also can watch each day’s testing at no cost from a section of the Oldfield Grandstands.
"We’re looking forward to welcoming the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to our new racing surface in January," said Joie Chitwood, Daytona International Speedway president. "NASCAR Preseason Thunder will be an important test session for all teams as they acquire data from their first laps on the new asphalt at Daytona.
"The test is also going to serve as a great opportunity for fans to interact with their favorite drivers in advance of Speedweeks 2011 and the 53rd annual Daytona 500."
Teams from the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series are expected to receive extra practice time during Speedweeks to get acclimated to the track’s new surface.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 16, 2010) – As sunshine warmed Daytona International Speedway’s new racing surface on Thursday, so did the expectations and excitement levels for the 53rd Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.

Thursday marked the second day of a two-day Goodyear tire test in preparation both for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ traditional season-opening event and the track’s new asphalt.
The repaving project – only the second in track history and first since 1978 – began immediately after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on July 3 and ended last week. With this week’s test open to all series teams, a number took advantage, filling the frontstretch side of the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage with their haulers.
“I think it has gone really well,” said Jeff Burton (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet). “Everybody is happy with the surface. The tire combination seems to be really good.”
It's just a new attitude,” said Kurt Busch (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge). “This is what 2011 will bring to start off our Sprint Cup season. Big, exciting time. I'm proud to be able to say I got a chance to race on the surface when it was redone.”
Busch and Burton, along with reigning Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and Bobby Labonte (No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota) all visited the infield media center during Thursday’s lunch break. NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton, Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III and Goodyear Director of Racing Greg Stucker also participated in the midday press conference.
“Good communication all along between the folks here at Daytona, Joie, Goodyear, the race teams, the series directors, everybody that had input,” Pemberton said. “It's nice to know you can show up at one of these things, have so many different things that we faced and challenges over the last year to get ready for this. Looks like the plan came together nicely.”
Burton was heartened that Daytona’s repave – while cutting-edge – respected the venue. He cited the 2007 repave at another historic NASCAR venue, Darlington Raceway, as a positive example.
It's much smoother, has a tremendous amount more grip, but it's still Daytona,” Burton said. “They didn't try to change the banking from the bottom to the top, do all that stuff. They just kept Daytona and put pavement on it. I'm glad that's what they did.”
Although the focus remains on the racing surface, McMurray noted details like a wider pit road.
They did a really good job, not only on the racetrack, but widening pit road,” he said. “It's really nice to get that little bit of extra room on pit road. Pit road speeds are really fast when you come to [restrictor] plate tracks. Typically we have the smallest brakes on the car that we run all year long, so pit road is also trouble. So the fact they widened that 10 or 12 feet is really nice.”
Media and fan interest also is accelerated. A portion of Daytona’s grandstands was open for public viewing both Wednesday and Thursday and television cameras weren’t the only ones being wielded.
It's real important,” Labonte said of public and media fanfare. “They have a section open for the fans. They can come down here and see us drafting. I'm sure they've got their cameras out showing video to their buddies now on who-knows-where it's all at. It's the first time we've been to the new facility. That's exciting.”
It’s worth noting that this week’s test was confirmation, not a search process. Stucker said a tight calendar meant Goodyear officials did the bulk of their compound research testing at Daytona’s sister track, Talladega Superspeedway, also the only other restrictor-plate track on NASCAR’s three national series’ calendars.
Drivers, teams and track and NASCAR officials all draw natural comparisons off Talladega, which was repaved prior to its fall 2006 event. The completion of a test asphalt strip at Daytona allowed Goodyear officials to gather additional data, which Stucker said was compared to August’s test results at Talladega.
We're well into production for the 500,” Stucker said. “In fact, we're just about done. We've come down here and really confirmed that all those decisions we made were the right ones. Very glad to hear that all the guys are comfortable with our setup and really everything we've seen so far has been very good from our perspective, very consistent, a lot of good comments from the drivers.”
Chitwood said the repaving project only enhances the allure of the Daytona 500.
I think when we market Daytona, we market the fact that this is the biggest event we have on the calendar,” he said. “This is how you make NASCAR stars – you win the Daytona 500. It's going to be a great surface out there for all of them to put on a great show.”
NOTE: The next on-track activity for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be January’s three-day test at Daytona. The session, known as NASCAR Preseason Thunder, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20 through Saturday, Jan. 22. Sunday, Jan. 23 is the rain date.
The 2011 edition of NASCAR Preseason Thunder will help teams further acclimate to the new pavement, plus speed their preparation for the 53rd Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.
All NASCAR Preseason Thunder sessions begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m., weather permitting. Each includes a lunch break from noon until 1 p.m.
Attending media will have daily interview opportunities in the media center.
Fans seeking to rev up their new year can do so at the NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona – the companion event to the January test. Along with watching NASCAR Preseason Thunder track activity, fans can enjoy three Fan Fest sessions in Dayton’s Sprint FANZONE – from 5-7 p.m., and 7-9 p.m., on Friday, Jan. 21 and from 5-7 p.m., on Saturday, Jan. 22.
Driver question-and-answer and autograph sessions are planned. Fans also can watch each day’s testing at no cost, beginning at 9 a.m.

He's not often thought of a "hometown" driver at Martinsville, but NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick calls the speedway his "home track," and he made a special gift this week.

The speedway says Harvick donated more than 200 toys and $500 worth of gift cards, for children in need in Martinsville and Henry County.

The donations came from a toy drive that Harvick's foundation held with a radio station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina last week. Country music superstar Sarah Evans performed at the event.

"We are happy to donate some of the toys to our friends in need in the Martinsville area," said Harvick, in a news release. "We are extremely lucky to have received such amazing support through the toy-drive concert. The holidays can be hard and we hope all of these kids will know there are many people that care about them."

Harvick and his wife live about 35 miles south of Martinsville Speedway.

Martinsville Speedway President W. Clay Campbell said, "Kevin is a fierce competitor on the track, but away from the track he's a kid at heart, and he and DeLana love to give back. Living so close to Martinsville, they understand the problems we have in this area, that we've got almost 20% unemployment, and Christmas is an especially tough time."