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."