Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Richard Petty Motorsports and its partner Smithfield Foods announced today that the Petty Blue tradition and heritage will return for the majority of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season in 2013. Smithfield Foods, and its family of brands including Eckrich, Farmland, Gwaltney and Smithfield, will showcase the historic color on the No.43 Ford driven by Aric Almirola in 24 races this season. It will be the first time in over 40 years that the Petty Blue color will be primarily featured on the No. 43 for nearly the entire race schedule.
The color, introduced by the Petty family and then made famous by "The King" Richard Petty, has come to define the winning tradition and heritage of the Petty family and the famed No. 43. The legions of Petty race fans have long waited for the return of the famous Petty Blue paint scheme. Smithfield Foods is proud to return the tradition and winning heritage back to the track.
"We want to connect the tradition and history of Richard Petty and Richard Petty Motorsports fans to our Smithfield Foods family of brands," explained Larry Pope, chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods. "There is no better way to do that than to bring back the Petty Blue color scheme that all race fans recognize and relate to on the No. 43 Ford. We will now make sure that each time we race this season, our fans will be able to easily recognize Aric (Almirola) on the track and the strong heritage that the Petty and Smithfield Foods brands represent."
The first Petty Blue scheme will adorn the No. 43 this weekend when Almirola will race the Famland Ford at the Phoenix International Raceway. This car, along with the Eckrich and Smithfield (Gwaltney) Ford were unveiled today by team owner Richard Petty and Smithfield Director of Public Affairs, Dennis Pittman.
"I'm really humbled by everyone at Smithfield and all their companies to decide to make this change," said team owner Richard Petty. "They have been great partners for us as a company and this really proves that. Our fans will now be able to easily recognize the No. 43 Ford and Aric on the track throughout the season. It will also bring back a lot of good memories for me each time I see it."
In an effort to help its area school children participate in reading, Darlington Raceway is partnering with the Darlington County School District to kick off a reading program for “March is Reading Month.”
Starting on March 1, over 5,400 elementary school kids in the district will participate in the program and each classroom will have reading goals to achieve throughout the month. Each student will receive a Darlington Raceway bookmark and reading reminder bracelet courtesy of the track.
“We want our children to excel in school and grow up to make a positive impact in the world we live in,” Darlington President Chris Browning said. “We are more than happy to utilize our resources at the track to encourage a child to read more and improve their education.”
When the program concludes on March 29, the classrooms with the most books read will receive a visit in April from select NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers yet to be determined. Elementary schools in Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar and Society Hill will be participating.
All participants in the program will also receive a free kid’s admission ticket for the Nationwide Series 200 on Friday, May 10.
The Reading Program is just one of many that the track has created over the years as part of its youth initiatives. It also offers one of the best kids ticket offers in the industry with 12 and under half-price for any seat to the Bojangles’ Southern 500.
“We appreciate Darlington Raceway putting this reading program together for us. The impact it will make on our students and the encouragement it will provide them to read is invaluable for us,” Audrey Childers, communications officer for the Darlington County School District said. “Having a track like Darlington in our community is great because they enjoy doing these types of programs for our kids and want them to be successful in the classroom.”
Darlington Raceway PR
After surviving Daytona with an 8th-place finish, what are your expectations heading into Phoenix?
“I’m still on cloud nine from last weekend’s finish at Daytona, so I am really looking forward to getting back in the car at Phoenix. I ran decent here last fall and I feel like we have made a lot of improvement on our mile programs so I believe we will have a good weekend in our Camry. I’m looking forward to continuing the momentum and having a good run this weekend in Phoenix.”
Hefty®/Reynolds® Racing NOTES
2013 Points Take Effect after Vegas: In previous years, the current season’s points didn’t take effect until after the first five events of the season. However, in 2013, the number of races has decreased to three. With this being said, the top-30 owners in the 2012 season will only be guaranteed a starting position through the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Following the event, the 2013 points will take effect and only those in the top 30 in owners’ standings will be guaranteed a starting position for the remainder of the season.
McClure in Phoenix: This weekend’s Dollar General 200 marks Eric McClure’s 201st Nationwide Series start and his 12th at the one-mile speedway. In 11 starts, the 34-year-old driver has completed 93% of the total laps attempted and has an average finish of 27.1. One year ago, McClure posted a 28th-place finish.
Chassis No. 5: McClure will be piloting chassis No. 5 out of the TriStar Motorsports stable for this weekend’s running of the Dollar General 200. This car was last used by McClure during the November event at the speedway. McClure posted a 20th-place finish.
Driver Appearance: As part of the Race Time with Wal Mart program, McClure will be making a special appearance on Thursday, February 28th from 10am-11am at Wal-Mart 3465. The store is located at 5010 N 95th Ave, Glendale, AZ. We look forward to seeing you there.
Daytona Recap: McClure started his 200th-career Nationwide Series event in the 28th position and barely avoided multiple wrecks to post his first top-10 finish of his career. The 8th-place finish at Daytona puts the 34-year-old driver 6th in NASCAR Nationwide Series driver standings, five points out of the lead.
Johanna Long and the ML Motorsports team will head to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) for this Saturday’s Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. For coverage of the 200-lap event, watch and listen live on ESPN2, SiriusXM Channel 90 and MRN Radio starting at at 4:30 p.m. ET.
- Phoenix International Raceway – This will be Long's second start at the one-mile track of Phoenix International Raceway. Her first trip to Phoenix took place in 2010 in the Camping World Truck Series for her then, family-owned team, Panhandle Motorsports. Long started from the 25th postion and finished in the top 20.
- Last Race Recap – Long and the ML Motorsports team last saw racing action on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway. The 20-year-old driver raced competitively in the top 15 for the bulk of the 120-lap event and was in 12th position before being collected in an eight-car pile-up with only four laps remaining, forcing the team to a 27-place finish.
- This Weekend’s No. 70 Chevrolet - The No. 70 team will run chassis No. 61 from the RCR stable. The team last utilized chassis No. 61 at Richmond International Raceway in the fall of 2012, where Long picked up her NNS career-best starting postion (8th). She was on the verge of a strong run after passing Denny Hamily for fourth at the beginning of the race, but her day ended early after her right-front tire blew aroung half-way point.
- MLM Social Media – For information on MLM visit their website at www.mlracing.com as well as their Facebook fan page. For updates on MLM driver Johanna Long, you can visit her website at www.johannalong or Twitter (@JOHANNALONG).
Jeremy Clements Racing and Hellyeah team up through FanPyre for NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Richmond
Jeremy Clements will be racing the No. 51 Hellyeah Chevrolet for Jeremy Clements Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on April 26 at Richmond International Speedway. JCR has partnered with the rock band Hellyeah, through FanPyre, to promote the band and their album “Band of Brothers” and engage fans in the experience.
Fans have the opportunity to put their name on the No. 51 Hellyeah Chevrolet for the Richmond race. By participating in the promotion, fans will be eligible to win exclusive rewards, including a digital copy of the band’s latest single, a digital poster of the race-ready Hellyeah car, a digital ‘Band of Brothers’ poster, a discount to a Hellyeah show in their area or VIP cash and prize giveaways.
“I am really excited about this partnership and the great way to bring the fans on board”, said Jeremy Clements. A fan of Hellyeah himself, Jeremy is looking forward to having the band members at the race with him in Richmond.
Drummer Vinnie Paul says in a video promoting the partnership, “Like a lot of you we’re down with NASCAR. Help us with our FanPyre campaign and you could become a fan sponsor of the Hellyeah Nascar Nationwide Series Ride piloted by NASCAR driver Jeremy Clements.” (http://www.hellyeah.fanpyre.com/hellyeah.html)
FanPyre, a company who is pioneering the convergence of music and motorsports, has established a website dedicated to this partnership at http://www.hellyeah.fanpyre.com/index.html.
SR² Motorsports announced today that NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and Canadian Tire Series driver Derek White has joined the Buford, Ga.-based Nationwide Series team as a minority owner.
White's stake in the team has already paid dividends. He landed a multi-race sponsorship with HEADRUSH Apparel, which will adorn Jason White's No. 00 Toyota Camry this week at Phoenix International Raceway. HEADRUSH Apparel will run at select races throughout the 2013 season.
White, a North American Indian from Kahnawake, Quebec brings a strong combination of racing passion and experience to SR² Motorsports. He began driving in racing's top levels in 2009, making five starts as an owner/driver in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and two starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He followed the season up by winning the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Rookie of the Year honors in 2010. In 2012, he broke into the Nationwide Series, competing with SR² Motorsports in four events, finishing a season-best 18th-place at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. White is excited to return to the three-car team as a partner in 2013.
"I'm very excited to continue my relationship with SR² Motorsports," said White. "I enjoyed working with them last year and was very impressed with what they achieved in their first season. They've made several improvements in the off season and I'm glad that I can continue to be a part of the organization as it goes forward."
SR² Motorsports began as a two-car team in the Nationwide Series last season. They acquired McDonald Motorsports to become a three-car team for 2013. Sciavicco is pleased to have White remain with the team as it progresses.
"We're very excited to have Derek White join our team in a larger role," said Sciavicco. "His experience will be very valuable to our organization. He's already made a tremendous contribution by bringing HEADRUSH Apparel on board as an SR² Motorsports partner. We're poised to have a terrific 2013 season and know that Derek will play a big part in that."
SR² Motorsports PR
Aric Almirola will make his return to NASCAR Nationwide Series competition for the first time since competing full-time in 2011 when he finished fourth in the point standings. Almirola will substitute for Michael Annett, who was injured in a crash at Daytona International Speedway, in the No. 43 Flying J Ford at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.
The Dollar General 200 will mark Almirola's sixth Nationwide start at the one-mile track. The Tampa, Fla., native previously earned a pole award (2011) and a sixth-place finish (2010) at the Phoenix, Ariz., track.
Comments from Flying J Ford Fusion Driver Aric Almirola:
"This is never a situation that you want to have. The most important thing is for Michael to get better and get back in the No. 43 Flying J Ford. I'm happy to step in for him this weekend as he recovers. This will make a busy weekend for me, but I am excited for the added track time. I really like Phoenix and have found some success in both Cup and Nationwide there.
"This will be the first race for Flying J to have primary placement on the car, so I hope we can bring home a top-five finish for them and for Michael. The 43 team is still competing for the Owner's Championship, so I'd love to help make them and Michael proud."
Comments from Crew Chief Philippe Lopez on Phoenix:
"It's an unfortunate situation to have Michael hurt, especially with the high hopes we had for this season. But, this is just a bump in the road. We will focus on the Owners Championship this season and getting Michael back in the car.
"We finished in the top-10 both races last season and have a brand new car we are running this weekend. I think our car will be competitive, and Aric will do a good job wheeling it. Our short track program was really good last year; we didn't finish outside the top-15, so that should continue this season."
"Junior Nation" just hit the "Dale Double" at Texas Motor Speedway.
Beginning at 9 a.m. CT Thursday, Texas Motor Speedway is offering the "Dale Jr. $88 Special" to give fans a double dose of NASCAR's most popular driver when the Texas 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend arrives April 11-13 at "The Great American Speedway!"
For $88, fans will receive a frontstretch ticket to watch him compete in the Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 on Friday, April 12, and again in the Sprint Cup Series Texas 500 on Saturday, April 13.
The promotion salutes Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet Sprint Cup Series and No. 88 Hellmann's Chevrolet Nationwide Series entries during the Texas 500 weekend.
It is not often that Earnhardt Jr. pulls double duty at Texas Motor Speedway as this will mark just the fourth time in his 15-year career he will attempt it. His most recent attempt did come during this same April weekend last year, where he finished 10th in the Samsung Mobile 500 and 14th in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Earnhardt Jr. owns victories in both series at Texas Motor Speedway, winning the Nationwide Series race in April 1998 and Sprint Cup Series race in April 2000. Those were both milestones as they marked his first victory in the respective series.
Jeremy Clements, a driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s Code of Conduct.
On Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway, Clements was found to have violated Sections 7-5 (NASCAR’s Code of Conduct) and 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing).
“During the course of an interview, Jeremy Clements made an intolerable and insensitive remark,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “NASCAR has a Code of Conduct that’s explicitly spelled out in the 2013 NASCAR Rule Book. We fully expect our entire industry to adhere to that Code.”
The following statement has been issued by Jeremy Clements regarding his NASCAR suspension:
“I apologize and regret what I said to the NASCAR writer and to NASCAR, my sponsors, my fans, and my team. NASCAR has a Code of Conduct that everyone must follow and I unintentionally violated that code. I will not get into specifics of what I said but my comment to the writer was in no way meant to be disrespectful or insensitive to anyone or to be detrimental to NASCAR or the NASCAR Nationwide Series. I will do what I need to do in order to atone for my error in judgment. “