Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (16679)

The Charlotte Chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) announced today that 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Bobby Labonte will partner with Harris Teeter to host the 2011 Harris Teeter Celebrity Golf Classic on June 7 at TPC Piper Glen Golf Course at 11 a.m. eastern.

For more than ten years, Harris Teeter has been the proud sponsor of the golf classic which has raised more than $800,000 for diabetes research. Laura Maciag, Executive Director of the Charlotte Chapter of JDRF says she hopes this year's partnership with the Bobby Labonte Foundation will help raise more money and awareness for the organization.

"We are grateful to Bobby Labonte for his partnership with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  Bobby's participation in the 2011 Harris Teeter Celebrity Golf Classic will add a new and exciting element to the tournament which will help increase awareness about type 1 diabetes."

Each foursome will be paired with a celebrity. This year's list of celebrities that have already committed range from NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, Bobby Labonte, and Martin Truex, Jr., to NBA player Brevin Knight and Carolina Panther's quarterback Matt Moore. The day of golf begins with registration at 11 a.m. and a shot gun start of 1 p.m. Each player will receive lunch, beverages and a tournament gift. The day ends with a cocktail reception followed by dinner and a live auction.

"It's been great to partner with JDRF this season," said Bobby Labonte. "The foundation golf tournament has always been an annual event for us, but this year there seems to be some added excitement.  I know that's because of the great folks at JDRF and everyone who is putting the support behind it.  That's good because this is another great cause.  Hopefully we can just continue on the momentum of this year and build it even bigger in the years to come."

Breaking Limits/Bobby Labonte PR

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., will fill in for Trevor Bayne in the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford in this Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The race will mark the Sprint Cup debut for the 2010 Nationwide Series rookie of the year, who won his first Nationwide Series race last weekend at Iowa Speedway.

“Obviously its not the circumstances that you want to make your first Sprint Cup start,” said Stenhouse. “But you grow up dreaming about this moment and I am excited and grateful for the opportunity; to not only make my first start, but to be able to drive the No. 21 Ford of the Wood Brothers in one of the biggest races of the season.

“Trevor is a very good friend of mine and he’s going to be around this weekend and I know that his help with the transition will be instrumental. Hopefully we can give him an effort that will make him proud before we turn the car back over to him for the rest of the season.”

“We can’t wait to have Trevor back with us, but we can’t think of a better driver to fill in than Ricky,” said Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood. “Ricky has been doing an outstanding job in the Nationwide Series. Like Trevor, he is definitely one of the up and coming drivers in our sport and we are happy that he accepted the offer to step in before Trevor comes back for our next race.”

Wood Brothers Racing PR

Matt Kenseth will drive Roush Fenway’s No. 16 Fastenal Ford in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Charlotte. It will be the 20th NNS start for Kenseth at Charlotte, where he has won twice in the Nationwide Series.

“Charlotte has always been a good track for both me and Roush Fenway in the Nationwide Series,” said Kenseth. “I’m excited to be a part of the three-car Fastenal fleet that we’ll have out there on Saturday and hopefully one of us will end up back in victory lane.”

Bayne will make his return to NASCAR next weekend in the Nationwide Series at Chicagoland. He will make his next Sprint Cup start in the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford two weeks later at Michigan.

Some memories for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver are unforgettable, such as, their first career victory. For Bobby Labonte, his first trip to victory lane was during the Coca-Cola 600 on May 28, 1995 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He’s looking to return with his No. 47 Kingsford Charcoal Toyota Camry this Memorial Day weekend.

“The Coca-Cola 600 was my very first win and my brother (Terry) finished second - - it was a great time for both of us,” said Labonte, who also has 115 top-five and 200 top-10 finishes and 26 pole awards in addition to his 21 victories. “I had been second a few times before and we had won some poles and came close to winning. A first win is something you cannot go back and repeat. You’ll never forget that. It was a very special time in my life.”

Over the years, Labonte amassed a grand total of 21 wins and he remembers his first one like it was yesterday.

“It was an exciting day and like I said before, we had some close calls to wins before that race,” Labonte said. “We came into the event with high expectations and a lot of great confidence in our race team. We had completed about 560 miles or so and we were running up front. We eventually took the lead from someone that had a problem. At that point, I couldn’t believe we might win the thing. It was one of the biggest races of the year and to win the Coca-Cola 600 was awesome.”

Labonte’s sponsor for the longest race of the year is Kingsford, which is providing all the charcoal for the Quarter-Mile Cookout during the Coca-Cola Family Track Walk on Friday, May 27 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kingsford is a longstanding partner of JTG Daugherty Racing.

“I’m in the Coca-Cola Racing Family and Kingsford is a big supporter of JTG Daugherty Racing and it’s great to see two of my favorite brands come together for grilling season for the Quarter-Mile Cookout at Charlotte,” Labonte said. “Once the race is over on Sunday, my family and I will be grilling out ourselves on Memorial Day at the house. It’s such a special day. It gives each of us time to reflect, remember and pay tribute to our troops.”

In addition to Kingsford’s primary presence at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there will be a Barium Springs Home for Children logo displayed on the rocker panel. Labonte, JTG Daugherty Racing and K&N Pro Series East driver Coleman Pressley are helping bring special recognition to Barium Springs Home for Children as they make a visit to the Statesville, N.C. location on Thursday, June 9th.

“Our staff and children are extremely excited about our upcoming visit from JTG Daugherty Racing,” says John Koppelmeyer, president and CEO of Barium Springs Home for Children. “The race team plans to share many positive messages with our children about teamwork, a positive attitude and the importance of hard work. We are very grateful that the team would take time out of their busy race schedules to visit with our children and staff. And, we believe it will make a large impact on these kids’ lives.”

Founded in 1891, Barium Springs Home for Children is committed to a safe and nurturing family life for every child in North Carolina. Barium Springs provides early childhood development for low income families, and a safe place to live for abused or neglected children through group homes, foster care and adoption. The agency also offers therapeutic education as well as intervention services for children still living in the community. Headquartered near Statesville, Barium Springs currently employs almost 300 professionals—serving almost 2,000 NC children and families last year.

“We’re looking forward to spending the day with the children and we’ve got a full fun day of activities prepared for them,” Labonte said. “We’re taking our entire team up there to perform live pit stops and we are making it a career day too. This visit is for the children to have fun and at the same time tell people in our community how they can donate or volunteer. For more information, visit www.bariumsprings.org.”

Live coverage of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday begins at 6 p.m. ET on FOX. MRN Radio will also carry the event.

Appearances for fans this week by Bobby Labonte:

Bobby Labonte is signing autographs at JTG Daugherty Racing/MWR, 20310 Chartwell Center Drive, Cornelius, NC for Fan day on Wednesday, May 25th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM ET.

Also, he is signing autographs this week at Wal-Mart, 150 Concord Commons, Concord, NC on Friday, May 27th from 4 to 5 p.m. ET.

JTG Daugherty Racing PR

Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway marks the one year anniversary when Pete Rondeau took over the crew chief role for driver Regan Smith and Furniture Row Racing.

Without bias or argument, the Rondeau/Smith duo in one year, along with the entire Furniture Row team, have made a big leap in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The exclamation mark for the Denver, Colo.-based team came three weeks ago when Smith won at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, his first career win, and also the first win for the Furniture Row Racing franchise.

"We've made some gains, but we have more to make," said Rondeau. "You don't look back at what you accomplished, you need to look forward. We have good chemistry, good communication, a talented staff and a committed management. You can't ask for more. I feel we're going to continually get better as the season progresses."

Smith, whose strong season finish in 2010 with three top-13 results in the last seven races, was an indicator of what was to come in 2011.

The 27-year-old Cato, N.Y. native started the season strong, nearly winning the Daytona 500. He led with five laps to go, but a few laps later he was shoved into the wall. But he hung on to finish seventh, his first career top-10.

After the first 11 races of the current season, Smith has made his mark as a top qualifier. He continues to lead the Sprint Cup Series with an 8.9 starting average.

"No question, we have come a long way, but there's still a long way to go," explained Smith. "We have definitely made progress. Now that we won a race, I am not sure if you can really be happy if you don't take the big trophy home. But as Pete (Rondeau) keeps on saying, we need to stay patient, calm and not get ahead of ourselves. He's been a good leader and has helped me a lot as a driver."

Smith added, "We've seen the highs and the lows in the past three weeks, and the highs are what we need to get back to. After the big win in Darlington (May 7), we had a mechanical issue in Dover and last week at the Sprint All-Star Race a fuel problem kept us from making a charge at the end."

The Coca-Cola 600 will be Smith's fifth start at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and he is looking to pick up where he left off. At last year's fall race at CMS, he posted a 13th-place finish.

"I love this track, and deep down, I know we can do well here," said Smith. "The good news is that our Furniture Row Chevrolets the past two races have been solid when they were healthy. I am looking for the same in the Coca-Cola 600 -- a strong race car, capable of running up front.  We just need to avoid the gremlins and not make mistakes."

Furniture Row Racing PR

Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is not just another Sprint Cup race for U.S. Army driver Ryan Newman.

The event is more than just being the longest of the season -- 400 laps, 600 miles. It is the annual race, contested on a patriotic weekend when the nation remembers its fallen heroes.

The traditional Memorial Day weekend classic at Charlotte's 1.5-mile oval has been a constant of NASCAR's rich heritage in the hub of stock car country.

"The Coca-Cola 600 always carries more meaning for our No. 39 U.S. Army race team," said Newman. "Though it's a big weekend for motorsports, we must remember that it is also Memorial Day weekend, which is a time to pause and pay tribute to all the men and women of the military, past, present and future. Their bravery and strength as fighters for freedom have allowed us to do what we love to do."

A South Bend, Ind. native and Purdue University engineering graduate, Newman will be busting with Army pride this weekend as he attempts to improve on his already successful season.

After 11 of 36 races, Newman ranks seventh in the driver point standings with four top fives and five top 10s. But what is missing thus far from his 2011 portfolio is a victory. He knows that elusive win couldn't come at a better time for his Army team than on Memorial Day weekend.

"Our U.S. Army Chevrolet is definitely capable of winning this race," stated Newman, a 14-time tour winner. "How cool would it be to drive the Soldiers' car to Victory Lane on Memorial Day weekend -- I know that would put a lot of smiles on the faces of our brave Army Strong Soldiers. No question, it would be a dream win."

The Coca-Cola 600 is not only the longest race of the season, but also one of the most challenging for tuning the car since the race starts in daylight and ends under the lights.

"With the day and night time conditions, it's never the easiest race to tune for," explained Newman. "Regarding the length of the race -- it all depends how the car is handling and how hot it is outside. That additional 100 miles when you’re leading the race, and the car is pretty good-- it probably lasts forever. But it’s just another 100 miles. If the car is really misbalanced, fighting loose entry and struggling up by the fence, it can be miserable. Again, it all depends on how your car is handling.”

What Newman has enjoyed most at the Charlotte track is winning nine poles in 20 starts for an incredible 45% success rate. His first of the nine poles at Charlotte came in only his third career start in May 2001. His last two poles came in the previous two Coca Cola 600 races.

"The qualifying success has been great, but we need to have the same performance in the race," noted Newman, who has finished second twice at Charlotte -- in October 2003 and May 2009.

U.S. Army/Ryan Newman PR

Kevin Harvick probably won’t receive probation for his most recent stunt in Michigan on Tuesday.

This time the driver of the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet served as a Budweiser bartender at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor, Mich., during a special “Happy Hour” in support of MIS’ June 19 Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400.

“I had a great time today,” Harvick said. “I always enjoy coming to Michigan – to drive and for appearances like this. There are great race fans in Michigan, and they always enjoy a good time and good race.”

Harvick met with members of the media and then participated in a question and answer session with fans, before serving up Budweiser products as a guest bartender.

The driver is on NASCAR probation for a clash with fellow driver Kyle Busch during a NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Darlington Raceway. That probation ends June 15, just in time for the Father’s Day race at Michigan.

And many fans are excited for it.

“I can’t wait until the race at MIS,” Jenni King of Clinton, Mich., said. “Kevin Harvick is such a great driver and he gives his all in everything he does. He’s so passionate about racing and it shows. Harvick will be off probation, so it should be an exciting race!”

About 150 fans attended the event – many of them MIS ticket holders; all of them Harvick fans. Everyone received a commemorative T-shirt counting down the probation period. The shirt had a graphic of Harvick and Busch with their arms around each other – with “Grab Some Buds” emblazoned on the front and ‘Have at it, boys,’ on the back of the T-shirt..

MI Speedway PR

The Bobby Labonte Foundation is taking steps to help the tornado victims of eastern North Carolina and Bobby Labonte will be on hand at specified dates and times to take donations. The Foundation will be at the Food Lion in Archdale, N.C., on Wednesday June 1 through Friday, June 3, 2011 to collect items for those affected by the storm of April 16. Joining in the efforts will be the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and the Salvation Army of Raleigh. The donations will be transported by Old Dominion Freight Line, which has donated its services to the cause. Labonte will be on site from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1 to assist with the donation collecting.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is requesting high-protein canned meals with pop-top cans, paper goods and products, diapers, hygine products, other single serving meals that do not require refrideration or cooking, single serving snacks, peanut butter, cleaning supplies and disinfectant wipes. The Salvation Army has a huge need for pots, pans, dishes, lamps, silverware, furniture and other household furnishings for those whose homes were destroyed by the tornados. No clothes will be needed due to the outpouring they have already received.

“The tornado victims of eastern North Carolina really need our help,” Labonte said. “We need food, cleaning supplies and household items. They are in short supply and would be a huge help. No donation is too small. I want to thank Old Dominion Freight Line, Food Lion, the Salvation Army of Raleigh and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina for all of their support. We couldn’t do this without them. The tornado victims have had a really rough time, but hopefully we can ease their situation.”

Multiple long track tornados developed over eastern North Carolina on Saturday, April 16. Twelve tornados were sighted in the area, several of which caused extreme damage. Hundreds of homes, schools and business were damaged or completely destroyed across the region. Thousands of residents were either temporarily or permanently displaced from their homes due to the devastation. At least 24 died and 133 were seriously injured in what became North Carolina's worst tornado outbreak in 25 years.

Breaking Limits/Bobby Labonte PR

SPRINT CUP SERIES CREWMAN SUSPENDED FOR SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Gary Frost, a crew member for the No. 31 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.

On May 23, Frost was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy) of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rule book.

CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES PENALTIES

Two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams received penalties today as a result of rule violations last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The No. 33 truck was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules) and 20B-10.6-B (unapproved final drive (rear end) gear ratio) of the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rule Book.

Crew chief Jeff Hensley has been fined $10,000, while team owner DeLana Harvick and driver Ron Hornaday Jr. have been penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner and 25 championship driver points, respectively. The infraction occurred during post-race inspection May 20.

The No. 3 truck was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1, 12-4-J and 20B-10.4-K (shifter lever was not metal). Crew chief Gary Stockman has been fined $1,000. The infraction occurred during opening day inspection on May 19.

NASCAR PR

David Gilliland and the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford team had a good run in the sprint.  Now it's time for the marathon.


The team is using its notes from last weekend's 40-lap Sprint Showdown to prepare for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 - the longest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.  Gilliland finished the Showdown seventh in a fast Taco Bell Ford, and will bring the same chassis back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for this weekend's 600-mile event.


Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 will be Gilliland's 10th start at the 1.5-mile oval in Concord, N.C.  His best finish is 25th.


"The two biggest things about the 600 that make it challenging are the fact that it starts in the day and ends in the night, and just that it's so long.  Six-hundred miles is our longest race.  It's usually hot around this time of year and it's just a very physically demanding race - and mentally demanding, just because it's so long.


"We learned a lot in the Showdown last week that's really going to help us in the 600.  We had a fast car, but it was a little too tight and that kept us from pushing ahead any farther, and we ended up seventh, which wasn't bad.  But we've got a lot of good stuff in our notebook to carry over, and my teammate Travis (Kvapil) and his team tried some other things, too, so I think we're in good shape as an organization.  We've got a good place to start when we roll off the truck and I think we can have a good run.


"The biggest thing is building adjustability into the car, because when it goes from day to night the track temperature changes.  It's the race where the track goes through the most significant temperature change of any race we race.  So, it always presents a challenge to adjust as you go over the course of the 600 miles.  You might want to have some spring rubbers ready, or even start with them, and you'll be better off.


"We had some issues with tires in our mile-and-a-half program previously this year, but I feel like we're past that.  So, where before we had a fast car with some bad luck with tires, now we can just run our race with a fast car.  I'm looking forward to what we can do now at some of these mile-and-a-half tracks."

 

Breaking Limits/Front Row Motorsports PR

Travis Kvapil and the No. 38 Long John Silver's team did some experimenting in last weekend's Showdown at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and now they're ready to apply lessons learned in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at the 1.5-mile oval.


The 600-mile race is the longest of the year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and the team knows they have to successfully adapt to the day-to-night conditions to be there at the end of the marathon event.  The race is in stark contrast to last week's Showdown, a 40-lap, non-points event in which Kvapil finished 16th.  But the team can apply knowledge learned throughout the Showdown weekend to their race approach this Sunday.


Kvapil has eight previous career starts at Charlotte, with a high finish of 17th.


"For a driver in the 600, you just have to focus on getting to the finish.  When you have that long of a race, you don't want to be wrecked in the first couple hundred miles.  The points and the money don't pay anything until the end, so you've got to be there at the end.  But it gives you a lot of opportunity to work on your car all night and get it better.  And you have to do that throughout a 600-mile race.  When we start, it's kind of the end of the evening and it's still sunny out.  And then the sun sets and you go to full night-time.  So, the grip level in the track changes a lot throughout the four or four-and-a-half hours of the race, and the temperature changes quite a bit.  So, you're always tuning your racecar on every pit stop, making adjustments just to compensate for track conditions - let alone if you're dealing with a pushing car or a tight car.


"The 600 is obviously the longest race of the year, so there are some aspects the team has to think about mechanically, like in the engine shop.  You also have to make sure you have brakes for 600 miles and plenty of cooling to the rear-end gear.  The reliability is always great from Doug Yates and those guys, but when you're factoring in another 100 or 200 miles to a race, you're probably not going to run the same engine All-Star weekend and in the 600.


"It's a long race, and a long time to be sitting in that car, so you really have to stay focused.  There's no halftime or time-outs or anything like that - maybe some long yellows - so you've got to stay on your game.


"We used last weekend (the Showdown) to do some experimenting, more so in practice than in the race.  We tried a couple different set-ups Friday, just to touch on some things and get a feel for them.  And we also tried a couple different things during the Showdown itself that we probably wouldn't have tried in a points-paying race.  Whereas, David (Gilliland) and the No. 34 team went with our usual set-up for this kind of track, so we had a really good comparison.  So, either way, we felt like we'd be in good shape going into the 600."

 

Breaking Limits/Front Row Motorsports PR

If Jeff Gordon is to collect his fourth win in the 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger crew chief Alan Gustafson may be forced to “connect the dots.”

Sunday night’s event is scheduled to start just past 6 p.m. EDT, and track temperatures will likely cool through to when the checkered flag falls later that night. However, each of the practices this week will occur during daylight hours, and Gustafson believes the best source of information may have been the team’s strong run in last Saturday night’s All-Star event. How will he marry information learned then versus what is learned during the day practices this week?

“You mean like connect the dots?” asked Gustafson. “The All-Star race was frustrating because I think we had a legitimate shot to win the race until that last trip down pit road (Gordon lost nine positions during the stop when a No. 24 team member – who was uninjured – was clipped by another car). At the end of the day, though, the key thing for us is winning the 600, getting the most points possible from this event and contending for the championship.

“That wasn’t going to happen last Saturday night since no points were on the line. But it did offer us a chance to learn as much as we could for the 600.

“We’re bringing the same car back, and we know the tendencies of this car since we practiced it during the day last week and raced it at night.”

Going from a day practice to a night race is one factor that makes the longest race of the season so challenging according to the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.

If Jeff Gordon is to collect his fourth win in the 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger crew chief Alan Gustafson may be forced to “connect the dots.”

Sunday night’s event is scheduled to start just past 6 p.m. EDT, and track temperatures will likely cool through to when the checkered flag falls later that night. However, each of the practices this week will occur during daylight hours, and Gustafson believes the best source of information may have been the team’s strong run in last Saturday night’s All-Star event.

How will he marry information learned then versus what is learned during the day practices this week?

“You mean like connect the dots?” asked Gustafson. “The All-Star race was frustrating because I think we had a legitimate shot to win the race until that last trip down pit road (Gordon lost nine positions during the stop when a No. 24 team member – who was uninjured – was clipped by another car). At the end of the day, though, the key thing for us is winning the 600, getting the most points possible from this event and contending for the championship.

“That wasn’t going to happen last Saturday night since no points were on the line. But it did offer us a chance to learn as much as we could for the 600.

“We’re bringing the same car back, and we know the tendencies of this car since we practiced it during the day last week and raced it at night.”

Going from a day practice to a night race is one factor that makes the longest race of the season so challenging according to the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.

Performance Plus/Jeff Gordon PR

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