Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Popularity, responsibility go hand-in-hand for Junior
Notes: Junior again MPD; Hamlin preps for surgery
Here's a few pics of Dale Jr accepting his award from last night, thanks to Motorsport.com for them...
WAY TO GO JUNEBUG!!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
There were rule changes and a few things that NASCAR changed that the fans wanted changed. The biggest change that really stired things up was the double file restarts, which began at Pocono in August. The last minute no-drafting rule and rule to make the restricter plates at Talladega this fall made for, what most thought would be a pretty uneventful race. It wasn't uneventful, as it actually made little to no difference because #1 the smaller plate really didn't help slow down the cars and #2 the no bump drafting rule didn't stop the "big one" from happening.
Other than all of that, it was a good season of racing and I can't wait untill the 2010 season starts so we can do it all again. I'll keep the blog updated as to anything Dale Jr related, and can't wait to start posting results and other things once the new season begins.
Congrats to Dale's teammate Jimmie Johnson on his 4th straight Sprint Cup Championship. For those who are tired of seeing the same person win the championship, I say this: You saw history be made last Sunday night, and that is very rare in a persons life to see that being done. Stop complaining about it, Jimmie and Chad aren't cheating, if they were NASCAR would have caught it by now. They are simply that good as a driver/crew chief.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"We're all over it, and we've been all over it," Hendrick said Tuesday in a conference call. "It's my primary focus here, starting Monday."
Johnson gave Hendrick Motorsports its NASCAR record 12th championship in Sunday's season finale, and Hendrick drivers swept the top three spots in the standings. Mark Martin finished second and won five races this season, while Jeff Gordon finished third and had one victory.
Earnhardt, meanwhile, went winless and was a distant 25th in the final standings in his second season driving for Hendrick.
Hendrick changed Earnhardt's crew chief midway through the season, and assigned additional engineering support to the No. 88 team. Although his performance began to improve toward the end of the season, bad luck and mechanical problems left Earnhardt with very little to show for his efforts. Earnhardt had just five top-10 finishes all year, and admittedly struggled with his confidence.
"I've seen this happen with Jeff Gordon ... you just go through these [slumps]," Hendrick said. "We know we can make the team better and it's frustrating. The driver begins to think that no matter what he does, something is going to happen.
"We've had failures, we've had wrecks. If it could happen, it happened to that team. It's just been really frustrating."
• Hendrick, meanwhile, said his 29-year-old niece is doing well after undergoing an emergency liver transplant Sunday in North Carolina.
He missed the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway after flying home Friday night to be with niece Alesha Gainey, who was healthy and headed to a Carolina Panthers game on Thursday night when she suddenly fell ill.
Hendrick said doctors aren't sure what caused Gainey's organs to fail, and although the liver transplant was successful, she's in critical condition because her kidneys aren't yet functioning.
Gainey is the daughter of Rick Hendrick's brother, John, who was one of the 10 people killed in a 2004 plane crash. Also killed in the accident was Gainey's younger twin sisters.
"It was never a doubt in my mind where I needed to be, and where I wanted to be," Hendrick said of missing the race. "I would have loved to have celebrated with them, but I wasn't in the frame of mind to celebrate. The good news is, the liver is working, she's stable and we're going to have a very good Thanksgiving."
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Brad Keselowski will replace David Stremme in the No. 12 Dodge for the final three races of the Sprint Cup season, moving up the schedule on a driver change the team announced earlier this year.
Penske announced Sept. 1 that Keselowski will drive the No. 12 Dodge full time in the Sprint Cup Series next year, and the team has opted to get an early start on the transition.
"Penske Racing wants to give Brad an opportunity to work with the team and get to know the racecar as we prepare for the 2010 season," owner Roger Penske said Monday. "These three races will provide a good base for both Brad and the team as we head into next year."
Keselowski, 25, has been driving part time in the Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports and James Finch's Phoenix Racing while competing full time in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports. Keselowski is third in the Nationwide standings with four victories, the most recent coming Oct. 24 at Memphis Motorsports Park.
"I am very excited to begin working with the Penske Racing team, and I look forward to competing in the No. 12 Penske Dodge in the final three Cup Series races of the year," Keselowski said. "We all have high expectations for next season and beyond and being able to race with the team this year will only help us as we look toward 2010."
Keselowski finished eighth at Talladega Superspeedway in his last ride in Finch's No. 09 Chevrolet. Keselowski has four top-10s in 12 Cup starts in 2009 and scored his only win in the series at Talladega in April driving for Finch.
Stremme, 32, is winless in 108 Cup starts and does not have a top-10 finish in 33 starts this season. He is 31st in the points standings. This was his first year in the Cup Series with Penske Racing after breaking in with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
August 12th, 2009
(By Greg Engle, NDN Editor, NASCAR Examiner)
There will be no Dale Earnhardt Jr. Speedway in the foreseeable future, at least not in Mobile Alabama.
Earnhardt Jr. has removed himself from the list of investors of the proposed motorsports facility under construction. Also gone are Earnhardt Jr.’s sister Kelly Earnhardt Elledge, and brother Kerry.
“Dale is focusing on racing, and his sponsor demands have gone up incredibly,” Bill Futterer of the North Carolina marketing firm PSE-3 and Futterer Partners told several Alabama news outlets Tuesday night.
“We have agreed not to extend his personal services agreement,” Futterer added. “We’re not upset, and they are not angry.”
When it was first announced the facility was to be named ‘Alabama Motorsports Park, A Dale Earnhardt Jr. Speedway’.
Originally the park was planned to open in fall 2009 and be fully operational in 2010.
Friday, October 30, 2009
HMS: McGrew to return as crew chief for No. 88 in '10
CONCORD, N.C. -- Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick has named Lance McGrew the full-time crew chief of the No. 88 Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. McGrew, 41, assumed the role May 28 on an interim basis.
"I have total faith in Lance and what he's capable of accomplishing with Dale Jr.," Hendrick said.
"There was a lot of pressure with how he came into this deal, and the way he's handled it has been extremely impressive. Lance is confident in himself and in his decisions, and all the outside distractions aren't going to faze him. He's a strong-willed guy who will keep his eye on the ball and not settle."
McGrew will complete the final four races of the 2009 schedule, beginning with this weekend's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega, Ala., and return in 2010, which will mark the 11th full-time Sprint Cup season for Earnhardt.
"Lance has been part of the solution, not the problem," said Earnhardt, an 18-time winner in the Cup Series. "He's tough, which is what I need, and we've really clicked in a short period of time. The communication has gotten better every practice and every race, and I know that's going to keep improving. Having this decision behind us is really important, and now we can focus on the future instead of the past."
As a crew chief, McGrew earned the 2003 Nationwide Series championship with driver Brian Vickers and has posted victories in all three of NASCAR's national touring series. In addition to Vickers, he has won races with drivers Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Ricky Hendrick, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart.
"The communication between Dale Jr. and I continues to improve every single week," said McGrew, a native of Baton Rouge, La. "Both of us are 110-percent committed to the success of this team, and we're going to do everything necessary to get the job done for Hendrick Motorsports, our sponsors and Dale's fans."
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
I've heard the name, but don't really know who he is and how good of a driver he is, so this is a learning experience for not only you, but for me as well. This bio comes from http://www.shopkellybires.com/
Birthdate: August 25, 1984
Hometown: Mauston, Wi
Marital Status: Single
Like most hot-shoe drivers, this Wisconsin native got the racing bug early by nailing down two Regional Karting Titles by the age of 12 and two National Titles by 14. He entered the Allison Legacy Car Series at 15 and in two years, he won the two most prestigious awards. In 2000, he was Rookie of the Year. In 2001, he was the Series Champion. Clearly, Bires has a pretty short learning curve when it comes to going fast and turning left.
After moving up to the late model ranks in Wisconsin in 2002-2004, Bires ran competitively for two years locally before moving to Charlotte to pursue a career in NASCAR. It was to the detriment of his competitors when he showed up in the ASA Late Model Series in 2006. His stunning performance speaks for itself seven wins, four poles, 15 top-five finishes and no finishes out of the top-10 in seventeen starts. Without question, he was the runaway winner of the series championship and Rookie of the Year honors.
JTG Representatives took notice of his dominant year and signed Bires to drive one of their two NASCAR Truck Series entries in 2007. In a major plus for Bires, he received tutelage from veteran Mark Martin, who teamed with him earlier in the year in the truck series. A mid-season opportunity allowed Bires to finish out the year behind the wheel of the No. 47 Clorox car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The rookie sensation made his debut at the Meijer 300 race at Kentucky Speedway, where he wowed competitors by finishing seventh after starting 26th. It became clear that Bires and the No. 47 team were a perfect pair. Bires finished his promising rookie season earning two top-10 finishes.
The following year in 2008, Bires continued to run for JTG, competing in the full season and earning one top-five and six top-10 finishes. In 2009, Bires was again tapped for a part-time schedule, driving select races for Kevin Harvick, Inc., as well as Braun Racing, and CJM Racing. In five competitive starts, Bires earned two top-five and three top-10 finishes. Additionally, Bires made one ARCA start at Talladega in 2009 where he led 35 laps before finishing ninth.
In 2010, Bires is slated to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
First is the grade I feel that Lance McGrew should recieve for being interim Crew Chief for Dale Jr. I feel he gets an "A" because of the fact that Dale's cars have been much faster and Dale is providing much needed communication during the race. Lance checks in with Dale about every 5-10 laps to see how the car is handling, and is willing to work with Dale if he offers a suggestion when a pit stop is coming up. I know their finishes have usually ended in DNF's or when they have run the entire race, they've gotten back in traffic and not able to get back up to the top, but Lance and Dale Jr have, like I said, seemed to work very well together.
Secondly, how I feel this years chase is shaping up. I'm excited to see some different contenders in the chase this year. Guys like Juan Pablo Montoya have made the chase more exciting this year and I'm looking forward to see if Jimmie Johnson holds on and claims his 4th Championship, or if someone comes up and ends the streak.
I am so happy that Dale Sr was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame yesterday. I posted the article yesterday that was full of comments from the Earnhardt family. I whole heartedly agree with what Dale Jr said - "For what my dad achieved in this sport—both on and off the track—he certainly earned his place in history and deserves to be distinguished in this inaugural class of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees," said his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. "It means a lot to the Earnhardt family, and it means a lot to my dad's fans, which I am one. He was the man, plain and simple." -- Dale's right, it does means a lot to Dale Sr's fan, but also being a Dale Jr fan, it should (and I hope does) mean a lot to JR Nation.
I'm looking forward to Brad's move to the Cup Series and Kelly Bire's move to JR Motorsports. I'm sure that Brad will run very well for Penske Racing and be a great teammate to Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. I'm also excited to see Kelly Bires develop into a great driver and hope that he will learn a lot from Dale jr in the same way that Dale Jr has done.
That's all I got for right now, we'll see how the rest of the season shakes out for Dale Jr. and I'll soon have a post to give somewhat of a background on Kelly Bires.
Tony Stewart will drive in his third Nationwide Series race of the season Friday, stepping into JR Motorsports' No. 5 Chevrolet for the Dollar General 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
JR Motorsports has three wins with regular Brad Keselowski in the No. 88 this season, but none in 20 races with five previous drivers in the No. 5. This will be Stewart's first start for the JRM team, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick, and he should be a strong contender to take it to victory.
Stewart has won six of his last 11 starts over two seasons in the Nationwide Series including at Daytona in February in the No. 80 Hendrick Motorsports entry. Stewart, driving for Kevin Harvick Inc., finished second to Kyle Busch at Texas in April.
"It's going to be a lot of fun driving for Dale Jr. and Mr. Hendrick this weekend," Stewart said. "I raced at Daytona earlier this year with HMS and was lucky enough to get a victory. This will be my first race under the JRM banner, and it's exciting. JRM consistently puts strong cars on the track, and we're hoping to capitalize on that with the Delphi team."
Earnhardt has made seven starts in the No. 5 this season and has the top finish, third at Atlanta in September. Others in the car have been Scott Wimmer (six races), Ryan Newman (four), Ron Fellows (two) and Mark Martin (one).
Stewart drove in all nine of his Nationwide races last season for Joe Gibbs Racing, but his move from Gibbs to Stewart-Haas Racing left him without a in-house Nationwide team and a reduction in his schedule. Stewart still enjoys racing as much as he can.
"You have to live life, and if you want to drive racecars, then that's what you should do," Stewart said. "If that's what's going to make you happy, then as a driver, that's what you need to do."
Stewart is fourth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup going into Saturday night's race at Lowe's. He doesn't see the Nationwide race as any sort of distraction. It could even benefit him a little, giving him an idea how the track changes in the fall nighttime conditions.
"It doesn't take away from your focus unless you go out there and get hurt or something like that," Stewart said. "If you didn't run the Nationwide Series or a (Camping World) Truck Series race that day and you went out and went fishing that afternoon, you could just as easily trip over a log and break your arm and maybe hurt yourself more than you would if you were in a racecar."
Brian Campe, the No. 5 crew chief, is excited about having Stewart in the car.
"Tony can drive the wheels off a racecar," Campe said. "Anytime he climbs behind the wheel, you have a shot at victory."
Announced by NASCAR CEO Brian France earlier today, Earnhardt, one of NASCAR's favorite drivers and fiercest competitors, was selected to the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame based on the achievements of his 26-year career and his many contributions to the sport both on and off the track. He joins Bill France, Sr., Bill France, Jr., Richard Petty and Junior Johnson in the inaugural group to be recognized at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on May 23, 2010. Earnhardt's selection was voted on by NASCAR track owners, team owners, series officials, drivers and media members.
"It is truly an honor to see Dale Earnhardt recognized as one of the five most influential members of the NASCAR family and inducted in the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame," said Teresa Earnhardt, President and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. "Of the many legendary accomplishments and accolades of his career - from the seven championships to the win in the Daytona 500 to the founding of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. -- this is another defining moment. It is the achievement of a lifetime and is celebrated by the millions of Dale Earnhardt fans around the world.
"From now on, Dale Earnhardt's spirit will live on at Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and part of him will live at the NASCAR Hall of Fame," she added. "Not only would he be proud of this day, he'd be proud to see the legacy of his race team competing for a championship with Juan Pablo Montoya."
Kerry Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt's oldest son, said the selection of his father to the NASCAR Hall of Fame is a humbling experience.
"The legends that were nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame were my racing heroes growing up - and my Dad was first among them," said Kerry Earnhardt. "Congratulations to all of the legends who were selected for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and thank you to the members of the voting panel for recognizing my Dad's accomplishments in the sport. To see my Dad voted to the very first class to be inducted in the NASCAR Hall of Fame is amazing and humbling. He was a legend to the millions of fans who cheered him every week, and definitely a hero to me."
For Taylor Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt's youngest daughter, seeing her father recognized as one of five most influential people in NASCAR is inspiring.
"I'm so proud to see my Dad selected to the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame," said Taylor Earnhardt. "Everything he did, he did with passion, a competitive spirit and a drive to win. That legacy is inspiring to me, and I hope it is inspiring to all of his fans celebrating this exciting event."
Dale Earnhardt's oldest daughter, Kelley Earnhardt, said the selection of her father is an incredible moment for all of his fans.
"We are extremely honored to see my father chosen as part of the esteemed first class of NASCAR Hall of Fame members, and we want to congratulate the fellow inductees and their families," said Kelley Earnhardt. "To be part of the inaugural class is the ultimate honor -- one that is cemented in time and achieved by no other outside of the five members. My father impacted many lives, and I know I speak on behalf of Dale Earnhardt fans everywhere in showing our appreciation that his memory will live forever inside the walls of the NASCAR Hall of Fame."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., thanked the voting panel for recognizing his father's accomplishments.
"For what my Dad achieved in this sport - both on and off the track - he certainly earned his place in history and deserves to be distinguished in this inaugural class of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees," said Dale Earnhardt, Jr. "I want to thank the voting panel and nomination committee for recognizing that and honoring him this way. It means a lot to the Earnhardt family, and it means a lot to my Dad's fans, which I am one. He was the man, plain and simple."
Fans Can Join the Celebration of Dale Earnhardt's Selection
For the legions of Dale Earnhardt fans who faithfully support their hero, the selection of Dale Earnhardt to the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame is cause for celebration. To honor the event, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will be open for a fan celebration at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. headquarters in Mooresville, NC, throughout the weekend of October 16 and 17, 2009 and will debut a new exhibit featuring his memorabilia. In addition, fans can post a congratulatory message at www.DaleEarnhardt.com.
In addition, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has created a special commemorative icon for Dale Earnhardt's selection to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It will be featured throughout the year of celebration of his induction, and will be available for fans on select apparel and commemorative items on www.DaleEarnhardtInc.com.
About Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and the Dale Earnhardt Foundation
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. has a nearly 30-year history as a racing organization, founded by one of the most storied individuals in the sport. It is committed to keeping this legacy alive and to building Dale Earnhardt, Inc. as a leader in the motorsports industry, an innovator in the automotive and transportation business and champion in philanthropic outreach.
The Dale Earnhardt Foundation's mission is to "Continue the Legend" through charitable programs and grants that sustain Earnhardt's lifelong commitment to Children, Education and Wildlife Preservation. Through the legacy of Dale Earnhardt, the Foundation has been able to help thousands of people in need, give college students and future leaders a chance to pursue their dreams and improve the environment through conservation efforts.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Kelly Bires hated it, but he knew he had no other choice. With no steady ride and no sponsor behind him, he did the only thing he could to make sure people saw him at the race track as much as possible. He drove a start-and-park car.
He did it a few times, actually, filling the gaps between events with regular Nationwide Series teams like Braun Racing, Kevin Harvick Inc., and the JTG Daugherty team he drove for during all of 2008. For a driver who had finished inside the top 10 six times last year, it was clearly a galling experience. But the sponsorship market was tough. Full-time rides were difficult to come by. So he swallowed his pride and made a few starts in cars that were clearly going nowhere but right back to the garage area.
"I can tell you there's nothing fun about starting and parking from a racer's standpoint," said Bires, a 25-year-old from Mauston, Wis. "There were some I had to do. There were some where I felt like if I could get in the car and qualify really well, extremely well, then maybe that would turn a couple of heads and show some people what I could do. They weren't fun at all. It was just part of the deal this year that I had to do. I'm glad I don't have to do that anymore."
Not for the foreseeable future, at least. Last month Bires signed a two-year deal with JR Motorsports to succeed Brad Keselowski, who is moving to the Sprint Cup tour with Penske Racing next season. For Bires, it's a welcome relief from the purgatory of career limbo, which began last year when sponsorship woes beset his program at JTG. Completing the 2008 season with a patchwork of sponsors, he still managed to finish 13th in points in his first full campaign on NASCAR's No. 2 circuit.
But he was nervous about 2009, and with good reason. Bires, a former go-kart and late model standout who moved to the Charlotte area in 2004 to further his NASCAR career, couldn't have timed it worse -- his climb up the career ladder coincided with an economic recession and consequent sponsorship shortage that hit the Nationwide Series particularly hard. So far in 2009 he's made 12 starts with five different teams, some of them powerhouses like KHI, and others shoestring outfits in it for a check.
Bires has managed a pair of top-five finishes, one more than he had in all of last season, but has been running at the finish only three times. He hasn't raced since Atlanta on Labor Day weekend. As of Wednesday, he wasn't listed on the entry list for Saturday's event at Kansas Speedway.
"It's probably one of the toughest years of racing that I've had to go through," Bires said. "Just going to the race track, [finishing] only three or four times so far this year, but doing what I had to do to stay alive and stay strong. Just the opportunity that came aboard here with JR Motorsports, I can't explain how excited I am about it with the emotional roller coaster I've been on. But to know I have something in place for the next two years, that's a tremendous relief."
Bires' best result this year was a fourth-place finish at Nashville in a KHI car. He's made two starts this season for Harvick, and has another slated for Oct. 24 at Memphis. But the timing just wasn't right to try and put together a full-time deal for 2010.
"Kevin came to me and helped me out, believed in my ability and was really cool about it and gave me an opportunity to get in a top-notch car," Bires said. "They just didn't have anything full-schedule for next year for the time being. And JR Motorsports came to me ready to go, locked and loaded. It's a no-brainer. Both organizations are extremely well-put-together. Nothing against KHI. But this opportunity for me at JR Motorsports, it was a no-brainer for me at the time."
Now, he's on the brink of quite the career turnaround. Only a few months ago, Bires was a driver desperate for a ride, and willing to slide behind the wheel of almost any car he could find. Beginning in February, he'll be at the controls of a vehicle capable of winning the Nationwide championship, and see his profile rise because of his association with NASCAR's most popular driver. Is he ready for the scrutiny that will follow?
He believes so. For Bires, the most difficult part has been just getting into the car.
"The hardest thing for me in this sport has just been to get in a race car," he said. "The performance on the track to me is the easiest part. The part of driving the car is the easiest part for me. It's just been, the time when I got into the sport here, it's been difficult to get into race cars without proper funding or proper sponsorship. It was just bad timing. But to be able to drive for Dale Jr., a great guy, I've known him for pretty much all the years I've been in NASCAR, and relate to him in a lot of different things. He definitely believes in my ability."
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
McGrew on Kansas City's barbecue scene: "I like Kansas City barbecue because it's more of a saucy barbecue. It's not like a dry rub barbecue, and I like barbecue sauce. So, yeah, Kansas City-type barbecue is my favorite."
DOVER, Del. -- Denny Hamlin's day appeared over. His No. 20 Toyota was in the garage after Brad Keselowski spun him into the wall late in the Nationwide Series race.
Not so fast.
An angry Hamlin returned to pit road at the end of the Nationwide Series race and welcomed Keselowski with a forceful shove and a heated exchange. Keselowski's public relations rep shoved Hamlin, and crews for both drivers quickly got involved in the brief skirmish.
Everyone wanted to know after the race what went down between Hamlin and Keselowski.
The brief, but heated, confrontation was sparked with 11 laps left in the 200-lap race when Hamlin was tapped from behind by Keselowski's No. 88 and spun sideways into the wall. Keselowski, who finished third, was trying to pass Hamlin on the inside.
"I was just there. I was underneath him," Keselowski said. "Earlier in the day when he got underneath me in the same scenario I gave him room. I paid him a favor and I expected the same favor to be returned. He didn't. I held my ground."
Hamlin, a Chase driver in the Cup series, didn't see it that way.
"I wanted to talk to him," Hamlin said. "He obviously needs some sort of guidance on what he needs to do to make it. He's got a ton of talent, I am not going to take that away from him, he's a good driver. If he can harness it, he'll win a lot more races."
Tony Eury Jr., the son of Keselowski's crew chief, ended it after he intervened and had a brief chat with Hamlin.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Bires replaces Brad Keselowski, who will join Penske Racing in 2010 to drive the No. 12 Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series.
A native of Mauston, Wis., Bires has competed in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series since 2006. In 66 career Nationwide Series starts, Bires has three top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He posted a career-best finish of fourth at Nashville on April 11 for Kevin Harvick Inc.
"Kelly is a talented young driver, and we want to give him the opportunity to showcase that talent," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., owner of JR Motorsports. "Our whole premise at JR Motorsports from the beginning has been to take up-and-coming drivers, give them the chance to drive good equipment, and help them reach the next level.
"Kelly has a lot of promise. I noticed his potential earlier this year, and we are glad to have him at JR Motorsports."
JR Motorsports fields the Nos. 88 and 5 teams in the Nationwide Series. It has not been determined which car Bires will drive in 2010; the team is still in the process of securing sponsorship for next season.
"I can't thank Dale Jr. and Kelley enough for this opportunity," Bires said. "JR Motorsports is a quality organization. They win races, and they contend for championships. As a driver, that's all you can ever ask for.
"They have a tremendous infrastructure of support with Rick Hendrick and Tony Eury Sr. These are people who know how to win races, know how to win championships, and know what it takes to be successful."
Bires got his NASCAR start in 2006 in a Truck Series entry for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing (now JTG Daugherty Racing). He was scheduled to drive a partial schedule in 2007 but was promoted to the team's Nationwide Series entry after seven races. In 2008 -- his first full-time Nationwide Series attempt -- Bires finished 13th in the point standings with six top-10s.
Monday, September 14, 2009
At Richmond, Brad qualified very well in 9th but finished 38th due to engine trouble. Dale, who started 15th, battled a tight car all night and finished 21st. JR Nation knows that Dale will not be in the chase this year, but he has said that for the remainder of the season, he will do whatever he can to suppet his teammates. I feel that as a member of JR Nation, I should do the same. I hope you will too.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Penske Racing on Tuesday announced that Brad Keselowski will compete for the team full-time, beginning with the 2010 season.
Keselowski, 25, will drive the No. 12 Penske Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series -- replacing David Stremme -- and also will run a full-season schedule in the Nationwide Series.
"We are very excited to welcome Brad to the Penske Racing family," team owner Roger Penske said. "Brad has shown terrific success on track the past several years and has quickly established himself as one of the top young stars in racing. He comes from an impressive family background in motorsports. He is a proven winner and a welcome addition to our team."
A third-generation driver, Keselowski has won at every level in which he has competed. He is third in the Nationwide Series standings, with three wins including a dramatic victory in August at his home track at Michigan. Keselowski also scored his first Cup Series win earlier this year at Talladega and he has three top-10 finishes in eight Cup Series starts this season.
"Penske Racing is one of the top teams in all of motorsports and I am honored to join Roger Penske's organization and compete for wins with his Cup and Nationwide Series teams," Keselowski said. "This is a great opportunity for me to continue competing in the Nationwide Series and to run my first full season in the Cup Series with a strong and experienced team."
Growing up working for his family's team, K Automotive Motorsports, Keselowski followed in the footsteps of his father Bob, a 23-year veteran driver who won more than 50 races and the 1989 ARCA Series championship. The younger Keselowski joined NASCAR in 2004, racing for his family's team in the Truck Series. Expanding to Nationwide Series competition in 2006, Keselowski's career began to blossom.
He finished third in the 2008 Nationwide Series championship, the highest standing for a regular series racer, earning two wins while also being named the Most Popular Driver in the Nationwide Series.
Brad Keselowski will admit, it was the hardest decision he's ever had to make. But having the blessing of Dale Earnhardt Jr. made it a little easier.
Keselowski, the sought-after NASCAR phenom who won a Sprint Cup race at Talladega earlier this season in a part-time car, has signed a multi-year contract to compete for Penske Racing, beginning in 2010.
The deal puts Keselowski in Roger Penske's No. 12 Sprint Cup car, where he will replace current driver David Stremme, as well as in a new, full-time Nationwide Series ride where he will compete as a teammate to Justin Allgaier.
"I want to be the guy that comes to Penske Racing and gets them their first NASCAR championship. I want to be that guy," Keselowski said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. "For everything that's been accomplished here, that's the one thing that's missing, and I want to be the guy that gets it done."
And yet, the decision to take the Penske offer was far from a simple one for Keselowski, who's been tied to Earnhardt's JR Motorsports Nationwide team -- and, by extension, Rick Hendrick's juggernaut Cup Series operation -- for most of his career at NASCAR's national levels. Keselowski talked with Hendrick about potentially finding a place at Hendrick Motorsports, something that would allow him to continue to compete for JR Motorsports, but eventually became impossible given the four-car limit NASCAR has placed on organizations in its premier division.
Penske's courtship of Keselowski, a fellow Michigander, was no secret. But after Keselowski's stock rose following his victory at Talladega in April, Hendrick asked for a few months to try to find a place for him. Given his existing relationship with the Hendrick camp, Keselowski obliged, and said Penske fully understood. Within the last month, though, it became clear that Hendrick wouldn't have room, and Keselowski accepted the Penske offer.
"He worked as hard as he could," Keselowski said of Hendrick. "He told me something that I thought was pretty interesting, that he worked much harder on my deal than he ever had to work on Jimmie [Johnson's] or Jeff [Gordon's] or any of them trying to find a way to keep me in the camp. It became obvious that it just wasn't in the cards. Too many things were going against us with the team limit and so forth, and this opportunity [with Penske] was sitting there."
Keselowski will replace Stremme, who hasn't finished better than 13th this season. Keselowski, a third-generation driver, has three Nationwide victories this year in addition to his Cup Series triumph. He is also currently third in Nationwide points driving for JR Motorsports, the Earnhardt-owned organization that gave him his big break when it hired Keselowski for what began as a three-race tryout in 2007. They've won five races together since.
"Without a doubt, the hardest part was leaving JR Motorsports," Keselowski said. "But what made it easier for me was to have Dale's blessing to do it. Without it, it would have been much harder to do. And Dale, make no mistake, was the catalyst for my career, the one who called me up and said he believed in me even though other people within his company didn't. He's the one who took the risk, financially and with his reputation, to put me in that car, and I'm eternally grateful to him for that."
In the end, it was Earnhardt who encouraged Keselowski to take the Penske opportunity. The two drivers recently had a conversation in which Earnhardt advised Keselowski to go where he had the opportunity to grow.
"He was actually one of the people who pushed me fairly hard to take this deal," Keselowski said. "As surprising as that might be to some of the people or the fans or the media, he brought up one of the good points that stuck with me when I made this decision, which was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life. And that was, when you have the opportunity to grow, and take on new challenge, and you're capable of conquering those challenges, you need to take it. You need to grow when you have the opportunity to grow, not only in your career but as a person. This is a great opportunity for me to grow."
And now, that the decision has finally been made?
"I feel like a lot of weight has been lifted off my shoulders," he said. "It's been a lot to carry around for the last couple of months. ... I feel a huge relief. I'm ready to dig my hands in deep in the dirt and get it going."
Monday, August 24, 2009
As for Brad and the rumor that he is going to run for Penske next year, I'll keep you updated as to whether the rumor is true or not. All I can tell you right now is that Mr. Penske asked for and received permission to speak with Brad about the posibility of him running for Penske full time next year. Brad would take the place of David Stremme and would be teammates with Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. Brad hasn't said whether he will definately go to Penske or not yet. If he would go, this would remove him from the 88 Nationwide car, and I personally don't want to see that happen. I personally have a feeling that Brad would not want to run in anything but a Chevy, and would hope that Tony Stewart would extend an invite for Brad to join he and Ryan at Stewart-Haas Racing. Like I said, I will keep you updated as to what happens with Brad and his future.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- For a guy who only two days earlier had been lambasting NASCAR for allegedly putting a poor product on the tracks much of this season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. sure looked like he was having a whole lot of fun Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.
And for a while, it looked like he might even win a race, too.
In the end, Earnhardt had to settle for third in the Carfax 400 -- but he was coming hard over the final laps and knew he had the fuel to make it. Eventual winner Brian Vickers and second-place finisher Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, weren't nearly as sure that they could make it to the checkered flag without running out of gas.
But while Earnhardt had fresher tires and more gas than the pair running in front of him, he didn't have the time to catch them.
"The way our luck has been, I wasn't sitting there thinking I was in the catbird's seat. I was thinking maybe I'll get on the podium [with a top-three finish]," Earnhardt said.
"I know every one of those guys is real good at saving fuel. We've all gotten smarter, I think, in the last year and a half on some of the tricks you can pull to do that, some of the things we can accomplish under caution to help ourselves."
Earnhardt should know. His last Sprint Cup victory came 43 races ago at the same MIS venue, when he gambled on fuel mileage at the end and barely made it to Victory Lane.
This time, others had to sweat out the fuel-mileage game. Some lost, too. Losers in that gambling affair included two of Earnhardt's other Hendrick teammates -- three-time defending points champion Jimmie Johnson, who ran out of gas with three laps to go; and Mark Martin, who won the Michigan race in June when Johnson and Greg Biffle both ran out of gas in front of him in the final lap and a half.
Johnson attempted to make it 51 laps between fuel stops this time, when in the June race he failed to make it more than 47. It turned out to be a bad gamble and he ended up with a 33rd-place finish to show for it.
As good as Johnson and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, have proven to be overall during the past several seasons, playing the fuel-mileage gamble game obviously is not their forte.
"I'm certainly frustrated," Johnson said. "We've won one race on fuel mileage, ever. It's just not what we are good at. I think it is a little too risky for us to even try it.
"We got lucky once in Phoenix. Outside of that, we always come up short."
Knaus added: "We had the fastest car by a bunch and I hate it for Jimmie and I hate it for all my guys."
Martin was running just outside the top 10 when he ran out of fuel Sunday, relegating him to a 31st-place finish.
Meanwhile, Earnhardt had no such concerns because he pitted earlier while the rest of the top cars stayed out on the track, hoping for a late caution that never came. Earnhardt said afterward that he had to talk crew chief Lance McGrew in letting him come to pit road to take on gas and four tires at the time, figuring it would pay dividends later.
"I knew we had to come in for fuel. Initially, he did not want to," Earnhardt said. "But I was like, 'You know what? Eventually we're going to have to pit and that's going to put us in the back, so why don't we go back there now -- instead of waiting until later when we'll only have a handful of laps to make it back up?' We made the right move."
The third-place finish was Earnhardt's best since grabbing second at Talladega in April. In the 13 races between that one and Sunday's, Earnhardt had finished no higher than 12th and came home in 26th or worse nine times.
He said he is hopeful Sunday's strong run is a harbinger of better times ahead for him and his No. 88 Chevrolet team. They began the season projected as a championship contender, but struggled so badly that team owner Rick Hendrick eventually replaced Tony Eury Jr. with McGrew as crew chief -- a move that hadn't paid many tangible dividends until Sunday.
"We just haven't had nothin' to smile about," Earnhardt said. "So I'm just real happy for Lance and real happy for my guys, my team. Hopefully, this will take a little of the load off of Rick and our sponsors. Hopefully, this will lift them up a little bit and help us build some momentum in the right direction.
"It was a good run [Sunday]. We've seen some other hints where we've been getting better at some other tracks over the last two months. But we finally put a race together where we can appreciate the finish, instead of just having a good car here and there."
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Most of the images of Dale that I find and post here come via daylife.com - I went there tonight just to look around and saw this headline from the site. I think every NASCAR fan, whether JR Nation Crew Member, Shrub fan, or even Hurricane Hamlin fan got teary eyed on Monday when Denny won. I know he wanted this one badly, no so much to end his winless streak, but more so to honor his grandmother. I read in the newspaper today that she was truely his biggest fan. She wore her #11 socks, held her #11 teddybear and watched every race. Even if she had to squint to see the TV, she watched Denny race on TV every week. Denny felt she knew how tough the competition is in NASCAR and knew how much she meant to him. Having said that, here is the picture from daylife.com
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Dale Jr ran great at both races, however problems on the track prevented him from having two great finishes that JR Nation has so been wanting him to have. At Indy, Dale qualified very well (in 3rd) despite having a bad flu bug Friday and Saturday. By Sunday he felt much, much better and ran the entire race. Brad was on standby (by order of Rick Hendrick) in case Dale relapsed and couldn't finish the race under his own power. Dale ran very well until right before halfway, he over-reved the engine while leaving his pit stall. He got to the back-stretch and the engine blew up. Dale had his 3rd DNF of this season and when interviewed said he knew what he did and knew it was his fault. Dale was very happy with his car and said the team planned to take the car to Pocono.
At Pocono qualifying was cancelled and per the NASCAR rule book, the drivers started by points. Dale was in the mid-20's for the majority of the race, but towards the end started to make his way forward. Running in 10th with 10 laps to go, Dale got a little nudge by Ryan Newman and slide his back left quarter-panel into the wall. This slowed him down quite a bit, and he finished 28th. Next week the big boys head to Watkin's Glen International for their second and final road course race of the season. This weeks finish has moved Dale down one spot in the standings.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Completed : 1909
Distance : 2.5 miles
Shape : Oval
Banking : 9° turns
Frontstretch : 3,330 feet
Backstretch : 3,330 feet
Seating : 250,000+
Built in 1909 as an automobile proving ground, the speedway was built as a 2.5-mile rectangle by its four founders because that was the largest track that could be constructed on the land available.
The first event was a hot-air balloon race, followed by three days of racing in August 1909. However, the crushed stone and tar track was so dangerous that work began immediately on repaving the entire surface with more than three million bricks.
The track hosted three separate race weekends in 1910, but poor attendance forced management to re-think its plans for 1911, choosing to run one large event instead.
The first 500-Mile International Sweepstakes was held on May 30, 1911, and with the exception of two world wars, remains a Memorial Day fixture.
Ray Harroun took nearly seven hours to complete the 500-mile distance in 1911, while Arie Luyendyk won the 1990 edition in a record two hours and 41 minutes.
The track and grounds deteriorated badly during World War II -- and plans were made to replace it with residential housing. But Terre Haute businessman Tony Hulman stepped in and purchased the speedway and began a series of improvements to the facility that continue to this day.
Several NASCAR teams were invited to a one-day test session at the speedway by track president Tony George in 1993, and the inaugural Brickyard 400 was held one year later.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Distance: 1.5 miles
Shape: D-shaped oval
Banking: 18° turns
Frontstretch: 2,400 feet
Backstretch: 1,700 feet
The plan to build a superspeedway in the third-largest market in the nation had been rumored for years. Auto racing executives and major-league sanctioning bodies had long maintained that the untapped market of Chicago was perhaps the most lucrative in the country.
The race to build a major speedway in the Windy City took its first step toward becoming a reality during an informal meeting between Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Tony George and Bill France in late 1995.
The Motorsports Alliance, consisting of George, France and home-remodeling magnate John Menard, was formed in the spring of 1996 and immediately began considering sites that summer.
The first effort to begin the project was to focus on a 500-acre plot of land less than 30 miles from downtown Chicago, near the Dupage County Airport. Faced with constructing a facility that would be able to host NASCAR and the Indy Racing League on a small parcel of land, the trio decided that the extremely high price of real estate would not fit properly into the budget.
The Alliance was contacted by several communities that were interested in building the facility and even looked at sites as far west as Rochelle, before turning their attention to the small farm community of Plano, about 70 miles west of Chicago, in the fall of 1997.
Unfortunately, Illinois annexation laws at the time prevented Plano from incorporating the land. The project was abruptly stalled.
Menard then withdrew from the Motorsports Alliance, citing an increased demand to attend to his business affairs. However, as auto racing's visibility continued to skyrocket, the desire to begin racing in Chicago grew. Then came a call from Dale Coyne, who was raised in nearby Plainfield. He had successfully negotiated with Joliet to build the ultra-modern Route 66 Raceway there in 1997.
When it opened in 1998, Route 66 Raceway was the best state-of-the-art facility built for drag racing. The facility was an instant success, not only with race fans and participants, but in Joliet as well.
Aware of the trials and tribulations Motorsports Alliance were having in building a superspeedway, Coyne suggested Joliet officials meet with the ownership group to discuss the possibility of building a 1.5-mile state-of-the-art speedway adjacent to Route 66 Raceway property.
In May 1999, Raceway Associates was unveiled. Coyne relinquished his position of chief operating officer of Route 66 Raceway, and was appointed president of Raceway Associates, joining George and France as partners in building a premier, multi-purpose motorsports complex in Joliet.
With all of the pieces finally in place, development of the 930-acre dream began in August 1999.
The news that all of Chicago was waiting for was finally revealed on May 8, 2000, during a press conference at scenic Navy Pier. The onlookers learned the name of the track: Chicagoland Speedway.
What some of these reporters are forgetting is the mid-season crew chief change that took place going into the Dover race. Dale and Lance are still building a driver/crew chief relationship and it going to take quite a while before the results of this time period are truely seen in race results. I have heard from several people, Mike Davis (Dale Jr's publicist) included, say that Dale has seemed happier and even had fun racing at Infineon. (I about fell outta my chair when I read that!!) So while the reporters (continue to) tell us that Dale won't make the chase this year, I will continue to support Dale no matter what, and JR Nation will prove Kyle Busch wrong. Dale Jr will once again be voted the sports most Popular Driver!!
Friday, July 3, 2009
Earnhardt concedes Chase spot; no foreign brands soon
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- With his Nationwide Series driver, Brad Keselowski, saying he wants to be in the Sprint Cup Series next season, JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Friday he still loves the Nationwide Series but he's open to all options.
Earnhardt was the 1998 and '99 champion of what was then known as the Busch Series, driving for his family's Dale Earnhardt Inc. team. After partnering his team with Rick Hendrick this season, he's been considering moving his operation to Cup in 2010.
"Going into the Cup Series is going to be quite a challenge for anybody to find the kind of financial support that you need," Earnhardt said. "The Nationwide Series is still as exciting to me as it was when we first got into it. Although the parity and the makeup of the series changes it seems year to year, it's still an interesting series with a lot of great personalities and it's still fun for me. We've been able to bring Brad in and progress him through the series and he's got a great opportunity to move on and he'll hopefully be a fixture in this sport, as a whole, over the next several years -- and that's really what we wanted to achieve. Hopefully, we'll have that opportunity again with someone else once Brad has completed his cycle, if you will.
"I enjoy that. I enjoy kind of bringing people in and having a part in getting them there. So that's what's exiting about the series for me as an owner. It's easier to secure financial support for that series when you're talking about the entire sum of money that it takes to compete. It's a little bit of a challenge to convince corporate America why that series versus any other series. But nothing comes easy."
And that's certainly the case as NASCAR continues to consider bringing a version of the new Sprint Cup chassis to the Nationwide Series in some form, perhaps as early as next season.
"I don't know what the Nationwide cars will look like next year," Earnhardt said. "I haven't had any conversations with anyone in the sport about the car. I haven't had any diagrams or ideas or drafts in front of me to look at. So I'm just waiting in the wings like everybody else, I assume.
"I'm sure that we as a company sort of didn't turn our nose up at it but we really didn't involve ourselves any in the equation of developing the car. We have our budget worked out to where we can run this year with what we have but we don't have the money to develop this car. You'd be lucky to be able to do it just under $150,000 in just an early or pre-season development. So before you even run a race, you've spent a couple hundred thousand dollars and we do not have that as a company. So we can't involve ourselves in the development of it so we are sort of like everyone else, waiting on whoever that team is -- whether it will be RCR or Roush or whoever that is that will be a part of developing that car with NASCAR and building this car and seeing what kind of car they produce. Without a doubt I'm sure it'll be a safer race car [but] the car we have now in the Nationwide Series, in my opinion, is the ultimate race car."
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
That's right! I didn't notice it until today at work, but thanks to all my visitors (check the counter at the bottom of the page), this blog has been going for (a little over) a year now. Without you all, this blog might not still be up and running. I can't say this enough times, but.....
If they only had time to sand it and recoat it, he said. Just one more time. Then it would really shine.
Although, he admitted with a laugh, then his group in the Nos. 5/88 team shop paint bay would be urging Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 team to race the wrapped backup car instead of the hand-painted primary one.
Sipka, Donnie Floyd, Scott Nicholls and Glen Bobo spent two days and used 14 coats of DuPont paint to prepare the No. 88 Chevy for Saturday's 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Race coverage begins on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
Click here for more shots of the ACU (Army Combat Uniform) special paint scheme.
During the process, the crew sandwiched two stencils between three colors – desert tan, olive green and light green – before applying a coat of black paint to the top half of the Chevrolet. Finally, they pulled the stencils off when the last coat of paint had dried. Each piece of stencil the group removed revealed another color and gave the Chevrolet its camouflage look.
Earnhardt will unveil the paint scheme on Wednesday to National Guard soldiers and fans during the 2009 Battle of the Bands at the Bandshell in Daytona Beach, Fla. The event, which is open to the public, starts at 5 p.m. ET.
Earnhardt said he is honored to run the ACU camouflage paint scheme, which pays tribute to the National Guard soldiers who dedicate a portion of their time serving their nation, state and local communities.
"Working with the military means a lot because they are a big part of our sport overall, and to carry them on my car every weekend makes you pretty proud."
LOUDON, N.H. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. had one of the most satisfying 13th-place finishes in his NASCAR career Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Gas strategies and a rain-shortened race probably cost the crowd favorite a better finish, but Earnhardt ran well throughout the day, spending most of the 273 laps in the top 10 and running quite a bit in the top five.
"We ran good today," said Earnhardt, in only his sixth race with crew chief Lance McGrew. "I want to thank Lance and the team. ... They did a good, man, giving me a good car. I had fun today. I hope we can keep this up.
"Being around fifth and looking at the top five, that was great," he added. "Seeing the leaders most of the day in your windshield is better than where we have been."
Earnhardt moved up one spot in the standings to 19th with nine races remaining until the start of the Chase for the championship, which will include only the top 12 drivers.
"We are inching so slowly up back in to where we need to run," he said. "It is taking a while but, hopefully, we keep moving forward."
Friday, June 26, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
SONOMA, Calif. -- Rick Hendrick will meet with Brad Keselowski this coming week to discuss their 2010 options. Under consideration is placing the young driver with a team affiliated with Hendrick Motorsports.
Among the possibilities: a third entry at Stewart-Haas Racing, a full-time ride with James Finch's team, or staying put at JR Motorsports but moving that team to the Sprint Cup Series. Keselowski currently drives the No. 88 in the Nationwide Series for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who could move the team up to NASCAR's premier series.
"That's something that Dale and Kelley [Earnhardt, vice president and general manager of JR Motorsports] are looking at," Hendrick said before Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway. "That's a possibility."
After Keselowski drove Finch's car to his first Cup Series victory with a surprise April win at Talladega, he agreed to a period of exclusive negotiations with Hendrick about a long-term contract. Keselowski wants to run in the Cup Series next year, but NASCAR's four-car limit means Hendrick doesn't have an open seat for 2010.
"We're looking at different options with some of our external situations with other teams, and I told Brad that I want him to have the best opportunity," Hendrick said. "If we can't give it to him, then I want him to have the best. He wants to do something that is somehow associated with our company and we're working on it and hopefully in the next few weeks we'll have something sorted out.
"He'll be running Cup. Whether he'll be running them all or whether he'll be running 75 percent of them or what, I don't know."
Keselowski is running a limited schedule this season for both Hendrick and Finch, and could do it again next year. Hendrick believes NASCAR would allow him to field a fifth car next year for Keselowski in seven races.
Business is good
Hendrick Motorsports wasn't spared from General Motors' funding cuts earlier this week, but the team owner said he was prepared for the reductions.
GM cut all funding to its Nationwide and Truck Series teams, and it reduced its support of Sprint Cup Series teams as the manufacturer restructures under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Both Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing have acknowledged funding was reduced to its programs in meetings with GM earlier this week.
Hendrick had the same meeting, but had already made changes to his four-car organization in preparation for the cuts.
"I've been kind of, for a year or better, thinking that this could happen," Hendrick said. "We've been trying to address things and do things a little bit differently. We've been trying to cover our bases for about a year. Everybody is having to make adjustments, but it's not going to change the way we race or how we show up on the race track.
"I've been telling our guys the only way I could see GM surviving long-term was to go into bankruptcy. I've been saying that for over a year, so we've been kind of expecting it."
Hendrick also is in a unique position of potentially replacing the money through his leasing programs with other race teams. SHR buys cars and leases engines from Hendrick, and Stewart has said he's considering adding a third team next season -- which would give Hendrick even more business.
Another potential partner is Red Bull Racing, which is considering leaving Toyota for Chevrolet next season. If the team does switch, it would likely lease motors from Hendrick. Red Bull general manager Jay Frye had a similar arrangement when he ran now-defunct Ginn Racing.
"I'm going to stop racing and build cars and sell motors," joked Hendrick. "You don't turn down any business these days. Probably what I'll see, we'll convert some of the other programs if it comes to pass.
"We've worked with Jay Frye for so many years, and Tony and them, that's a seamless deal for us."
Sunday, June 21, 2009
When asked about the guitar smashing Busch said the following --
"I don't know, why are you asking the question again? Because it's Kyle Busch that broke the trophy and not Dale Earnhardt Jr."
(So of course he just couldn't let it at that, he had to keep going on and on, jealousy gets you no where Shrub.)
(Here's where the award bashing came into play...)
"It should be 'The Most Loved Driver Award' because he'll get the votes for being the most loved driver but it seems to me I've been the most popular driver here this year."
(Really? I haven't found that to be true.)
"'Most loved' (means) everybody likes you. The most popular is whether you're doing good, bad or whatever. They write about you and talk about you. You've got more people calling in to radio shows talking about me than you do Junior. You got more writers and everyone in the media talking about me than talking about Junior."
(Jealous, jealous, jealous)
"Seems to me there's a pretty big difference."
(Yeah, the only difference is that they are two different words.)
No comment yet from Dale, but I'll be sure to add them if I find any.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Opened in 1968, then-Sears Point Raceway was constructed on 720 acres of property that was a working dairy farm in the early 1900s. The facility hosted its first official event, an SCCA Enduro, on Dec. 1 of that year.
Since then, the facility has grown and expanded into one of the premier motor sports venues in the country, hosting 340 days of racing activity each year, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NHRA POWERade Drag Racing and the IndyCar® Series.
Monday, June 15, 2009
And Lance McGrew, Earnhardt's new crew chief, laughed loud and long at that.
It started when Busch was asked about the public controversy over his smashing a trophy guitar in Victory Lane after winning a Nationwide race at Nashville last week.
"It was fun and a lot of people enjoyed it and thought it was different -- the sport's not so vanilla," Busch said.
And then, as has happened every couple of weeks lately, Busch just couldn't help himself.
"A lot of people hated it and I guess those are the ones with '88' [Earnhardt's current car number] tattooed on their arms," Busch continued, his little smile growing ever more mischievous. "Or maybe still '8' [Earnhardt's old car number]."
His cannon thus primed and loaded, Busch fired: "I've got no issues with Junior -- it's his fans that are crazy, but that's all right."
Then Busch poured it on. With all the hoopla over the guitar smashing, "Sounds to me like the most popular driver award goes to Kyle Busch this year, right?" he said.
The obvious reference was to Earnhardt's perennial recognition -- by fan balloting, cheers in the stands and merchandise sales -- as far and away NASCAR's most popular driver.
At the very idea Busch would call out Earnhardt's legions, McGrew could manage only "That's pure Kyle" between spells of laughter.
McGrew, who replaced Tony Eury Jr. as Earnhardt's crew chief 15 days ago, once worked with Busch in the Nationwide Series when Busch was at Hendrick Motorsports.
"He's amazingly talented -- unbelievably," McGrew said of Busch. "But, boy, when he says something -- what comes up comes out. There's no doubt about it."
McGrew found the good laugh useful. He and Earnhardt had a lot more on their plates Friday than just the jab du jour from Busch.
Earnhardt is defending champion of Sunday's Lifelock 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Or, put another way in light of Earnhardt's dismal slump -- which led to his separation from Eury -- this weekend marks a full year since Earnhardt has won a Sprint Cup race.
Further, Earnhardt had to deal with the removal of cash support from Chevrolet from his own JR Motorsports, which fields Nationwide cars, due to Chevrolet's bankruptcy.
Earnhardt had so much on his mind Friday that he didn't understand my question -- or maybe I wasn't clear enough -- about Busch's latest shots.
I termed them "the latest Kyle-ism" to Earnhardt, and other journalists standing near us told me, after he'd returned to his hauler, that he must have thought I said "columnist" before I told him the latest.
But leave it to my ESPN colleague Marty Smith to point out that at least part of Earnhardt's answer was entirely applicable.
"My fans handle themselves well and they're good people," Earnhardt said. "So I think anyone who would be calling them out and stirring them up is causing problems not only for himself but everyone else in this sport."
Perhaps the driver who best understood how much Busch had bitten off this time was Jimmie Johnson, Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate.
"Kyle, I'm sure, at points, regrets stirring up the pot," Johnson said. "But at other times I think he thrives on it …
"He's already got the fans on him, but now I think he's getting them upset in a whole new wave," Johnson continued. "Who knows? He's probably loving it."
Clearly, Busch is. His latest volley came on top of his remark two weeks ago at Dover, Del., about Earnhardt's crew chief change, that "It's never Junior; it's always the crew chief."
That on top of "I'm proud of the fact that I'm outperforming a guy [Earnhardt] that replaced me at Hendrick," which Busch said at Martinsville in March.
And that on top of "There's probably too much pressure on one guy's shoulders who doesn't seem to win very often," which Busch said at Bristol, also in March.
Since Earnhardt replaced Busch at Hendrick Motorsports and Busch moved to Joe Gibbs Racing at the beginning of 2008, Busch has won 11 Cup races to Earnhardt's one.
But Earnhardt on Friday expressed hope that he could actually break his year-old slump here Sunday.
Isn't it too soon in the rebuilding process to think about an outright win?
"Oh, no," Earnhardt said. "You show up every week thinking you can win and hoping you can win. So it's not too soon to think about that."
As for Chevrolet's cutting of funding to his Nationwide team, Earnhardt characterized the manufacturer's cash percentage of his budget as "small, very small. The sponsorships obviously are the biggest part of our budget. Our relationship with Chevrolet was more just about brand loyalty."
Earnhardt and McGrew were at first deeply disappointed in their 27th-place finish at Pocono last Sunday, their second outing together. But they were relieved to find the reason -- a broken suspension part -- when they returned to the Hendrick compound.
"When you get a call from Mr. H [team owner Rick Hendrick], obviously that's going to concern you," McGrew said. "He was curious about what happened last weekend, and so were we."
So they did a sort of autopsy of their car. "We found a little mechanical issue," McGrew said. "We feel like we nailed that down, and we understand what happened, and did some stuff to keep it from happening again."
Even the mechanical failure was a boost to Earnhardt's confidence in his midrace diagnostics.
"In the middle part of the race I'd commented to the engineer that I thought that part had failed," Earnhardt said. "It's pretty good to be able to point at something and say, 'Here's the problem.'"
As for Earnhardt's general state of mind, "I think he's fine," McGrew said, and broke into baseball pitcher rehab lingo. "We're working on getting his slider back, a little confidence back, and trying to stay on the same page. So far, so good."
Earnhardt had become notorious for grumbling to Eury on the radio during bad outings, but at Pocono, "He really didn't," McGrew said.
"He's definitely trying. There is no doubt about it," McGrew continued. "I can definitely tell. He wants to be more involved in the whole program. He's asking better questions. He's giving better feedback. He's definitely engaged."
So Busch has backed off Junior. And taken on his legions.
And just think: There are still 21 more Fridays left in the season for Busch to meet with the media.