Bill Elliott To Drive Walmart Chevrolet In Coke Zero 400 At Daytona
Walmart will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012 and as part of its golden anniversary celebration the multinational retailer will field the No. 50 Walmart Chevrolet Impala during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7. Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner, will drive the car. Turner Motorsports will oversee the operation, which will be powered by a Hendrick Motorsports engine. “You just don’t know how excited I am to be a part of this,” said Elliott, a winner of 44 NASCAR Sprint Cup events during his long career. “This deal started coming together in the last couple days. It is just incredible to be part of Walmart coming into this sport.” For years, there has been talk of Walmart entering the sport as a sponsor, so this announcement finally opens a door that many expected to be kicked open for some time. “I’m at a loss for words, and that’s normally not like me,” Elliott admitted after being introduced as the driver of the No. 50 Chevrolet.
NASCAR Will End Practice Of Undisclosed Fines
NASCAR said Wednesday it will stop issuing undisclosed fines going forward, a practice that made fans distrust the sanctioning body. "While there are always sensitivities related to sponsor relationships and other leagues may continue issuing disclosed and undisclosed fines, NASCAR has decided that all fines moving forward will be made public after the competitor or organization that has been penalized has been informed," NASCAR said in a statement. It's not clear how many times NASCAR failed to disclose a penalty against a driver or a team, but the practice first came to light midway through the 2010 season when it was learned that Denny Hamlin had been secretly fined for posts he made on Twitter. In the fallout from the Hamlin fine, it was revealed that Ryan Newman had been previously penalized for disparaging comments he made about the style of racing at Talladega. Then, word of another Newman fine spread last season after the driver was involved in some sort of physical altercation with Juan Pablo Montoya during a meeting with NASCAR officials. Fans grew increasingly angry with the practice of not publicizing all fines, but NASCAR wouldn't comment one way or the other on the issue. (newsobserver.com)
Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Pocono Raceway Founder, Passes
Dr. Joseph Mattioli, Pocono Raceway Founder and Chairman of the Board, passed away today at the Lehigh Valley Hospital Center, surrounded by his loving family, following a lengthy illness. He was 86. “Doc” as he was known to friends and associates, was one of the most respected and admired men in automobile racing. He founded Pocono Raceway in the early 1960’s and has been at the helm of Pocono ever since. Under his leadership, the track grew in stature and has hosted 68 very successful NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Events. His passion and drive helped Pocono Raceway succeed when other tracks fell by the wayside. Pocono Raceway is the only remaining family owned and run track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. He was always concerned that race fans and race car drivers and their families were treated with the upmost respect and constantly upgraded procedures and Raceway facilities to meet that goal. He kept his fingers on the pulse of stock car racing and read everything printed concerning the sport. He was in the office daily, until last fall, and oversaw all aspects of the Pocono Raceway operations. At age 83, Dr. Mattioli spearheaded an ambitious solar energy project. He built a three megawatt photovoltaic solar energy system on 25 acres at Pocono Raceway. It is the world’s largest solar-powered sports facility, making Pocono Raceway a leader in the renewable energy and environmental fields.
Dr. Mattioli was also well respected in the community. In 2009, he received the Philanthropic Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for his generous and continuous contributions to local civic organizations, hospitals, schools and charities. He served on the board of directors of numerous organizations and was dedicated to improving the quality of life in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He served in the Pacific during World War Two as a Navy medic. Using the G.I. bill, he enrolled in the dentistry program at Temple University (where he met his soon to be wife, Rose.) Upon graduation, he developed his dental practice into a very lucrative business by working 12 to 14 hour days, six and sometimes seven days a week. He then began investing in and developing properties in Philadelphia and Northeastern Pennsylvania where he became involved in the start up of Pocono Raceway. Dr. Mattioli is survived by his wife of 63 years, Dr. Rose, daughters Louie and Michele and son Joseph Mattioli III, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His passing leaves a void in the NASCAR community and especially to his family and extended “Pocono Raceway” family. Service Arrangements for Dr. Joseph Mattioli are incomplete at this time.
Richard Childress Racing Will Feild Car For Elliott Sadler In Daytona 500
Elliott Sadler will be in the Daytona 500 for Richard Childress Racing. Sadler has not raced in the Sprint Cup Series since 2010. He ran the Nationwide Series last season, and is scheduled to do so again this year for RCR. -- RCR has sponsorship from General Mills and The Kroger Co. for Sadler to run the Daytona 500 in the No. 33 Chevrolet.
The car will also run four more Cup races with driver Brendan Gaughan and sponsorship from South Point Hotel & Casino. Gaughan previously announced an 18-race Nationwide and Truck Series schedule with RCR. Gil Martin will be the crew chief for the No. 33 with both Sadler and Gaughan. The car has points carried over from Clint Bowyer's season last year and is guaranteed a spot. (newsobserver.com)
Kevin Harvick Says Wife DeLana Is 14 Weeks Pregnant
NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick said Wednesday night his wife is 14 weeks pregnant. Harvick announced DeLana Harvick's pregnancy during a media event at Richard Childress Racing. The couple closed their race team at the end of last season and said they were excited to use all the free time they were about to acquire. But they also weathered persistent rumors they were closing Kevin Harvick Inc. because they were splitting up and selling off the assets to prepare for a divorce. Both repeatedly dismissed the comments. The Harvicks join a growing baby boom in the NASCAR garage. Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Elliott Sadler, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray are among the drivers with young children.
Ford Racing Reveals 2013 Ford Fusion Sprint Cup Entry
Ford became the first of the four NASCAR manufacturers to reveal its 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry to the public Tuesday, with Roush Fenway Racing drivers Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. taking a pair of new 2013 Ford Fusion racers for a quick spin around Charlotte Motor Speedway. The car features more brand identity than manufacturers have been allowed to incorporate in years past, a theme which is expected to continue when Dodge, Chevrolet and Toyota reveal their new looks in the coming months. “Really the project at Ford started when we introduced Mustang into (the NASCAR) Nationwide (Series),” said Jamie Allison, director of Ford North America Motorsports. “That was a tipping point for this sport. The reaction we got from Mustang was tremendous. “But we always said that was a great first step. We, along with NASCAR and the (other) manufacturers, wanted to go further in the Sprint Cup Series,” Allison said.
Ford staffers spent the last year designing the new Fusion before bringing it to Charlotte Motor Speedway for Tuesday’s reveal. Flanked by drivers Biffle, Stenhouse, Trevor Bayne, Marcos Ambrose, Aric Almirola, David Ragan and David Gilliland, the car garnered its fair share of praise from the crowd. Once the formal portion of the unveil was over, Biffle and Stenhouse took a pair of the new entries to the track. It was the first time the new car had seen track time.
Robbie Loomis Out At Richard Petty Motorsports
Robbie Loomis, who has spent the last six years spearheading the on-track program for team owner Richard Petty, is no longer with Richard Petty Motorsports, a team spokesman confirmed Sunday. Loomis most recently held the position of Chief Operating Officer for the organization. He has not been replaced, and Sammy Johns, director of team operations, has assumed some of Loomis’ duties. Winner of the 2001 Sprint Cup championship as a crew chief with driver Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports, Loomis won 23 races in five years with Gordon. Before joining Hendrick Motorsports, Loomis worked at Petty Enterprises from 1988-1999, which included two years as crew chief for Richard Petty and seven more on top of the pit box for other drivers. He returned to Petty Enterprises following the 2005 season. (scenedaily.com)
Bobby Hamilton Jr. Files For Bankruptcy
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. has filed for bankruptcy to reorganize his debts, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tennessee. Hamilton Jr. filed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy papers last week. Hamilton Jr. and his wife are listed as debtors, as is his company, Hamilton Entertainment. According to his filing, Hamilton Jr. lists assets of $551,825 and liabilities of $1,293,543. More than $929,000 of the liabilities are property mortgages or loans, while he also lists owing the Internal Revenue Service $198,000 for 2005 taxes. Hamilton Jr., the son of the late Sprint Cup star, competed in 64 Cup races from 2000-2005. He drove the full Cup schedule in 2005 for Cal Wells and his PPI Racing team. He also has 253 career starts in the Nationwide Series, winning five races, including four in 2003 when he drove for Team Rensi Motorsports, and finishing in the top 10 in points three times. He also was a co-owner of Rensi-Hamilton Racing in 2009.(scenedaily.com)
Travis Pastrana Plans Richmond Debut In April
Travis Pastrana has had no desire to get back on a motorcycle in the last couple of months as he tries to rehab his shattered right ankle. The action sports star competed in the Race of Champions in December, tested a car for the Rolex 24 At Daytona a couple of weeks ago and is scheduled to test a Nationwide Series car next week. Pastrana had been scheduled to make his much-anticipated Nationwide debut last July but was sidelined for several months after suffering an injury to his right ankle and foot during an X Games competition two days before the Nationwide race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. So Pastrana, who was going to run seven Nationwide races in 2011 with plans for 20 in 2012, now will do seven Nationwide races in 2012 with sponsorship from Samsung and Boost Mobile plus a full NASCAR K&N East Series season.
The 28-year-old Pastrana plans to make his Nationwide debut in April at Richmond, a place where he has run in the East Series and also close to his home state of Maryland. “We’ll start out with seven Nationwide races and that’s kind of a let’s see how we do, let’s see what we need more work on,” Pastrana, who doesn’t need a brace on his foot to compete, said. “If we’re running OK or if I can get sponsorship to keep running wherever we’re running, we’re going to keep trying to get seat time.” Mike Greci will serve as his crew chief for both cars, which will come out of Michael Waltrip Racing. (scenedaily.com)
Kerry Tharp, NASCAR senior director of competition communications, won the Ken Patterson Helping Others Award on Sunday night during the 2012 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Convention at the Embassy Suites in Concord, N.C. The prestigious award, named after the former director of public relations for Talladega Superspeedway, recognizes a public relations representative in the motorsports industry who has “exhibited the kind, generous qualities that Patterson always demonstrated.” Sports has forever fueled Tharp’s passion – and career. For 26 years, Tharp worked in collegiate athletics, starting in the sports information department at his alma mater, Western Kentucky University before moving to graduate school at the University of Tennessee. Following UT, Tharp worked for the University of Oklahoma for four years before moving to South Carolina. Tharp joined NASCAR as director for the sanctioning body’s licensing office in Charlotte in April of 2005. In February of 2006, he moved to his current role as head of competition communications, based out of NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. Tharp was promoted to his current title of senior director in October of 2010.
NASCAR Media Tour Underway
More than 230 motorsports journalists from around the world descend on the Charlotte area this week for the start of the 30th annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. More than 20 stops will keep the participating media busy over the nearly four-day tour including visits to Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Defending Cup champions Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing are among the many teams that will also be making announcements. (newsobserver.com)
Thousands Enjoy Return Of Offseason Fan Event In Charlotte
For one day at least, Sam Alverson of Jacksonville, Fla., could lay claim to being NASCAR’s No. 1 fan. It wasn’t just because of his devotion to the sport; it’s because he was first in line. After a marathon 26-hour campout session, Alverson was the first of thousands of fans through the doors Saturday for the inaugural NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented by Sprint at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center. The fan-friendly event, part of NASCAR’s Acceleration Weekend, followed an overflow crowd for Friday evening’s NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony of Richie Evans, Dale Inman, Darrell Waltrip, Glen Wood and Cale Yarborough. Many fans were in line the day before the event, forming a human chain that went halfway around the convention center and weathered cool, drizzly conditions. For Alverson, the reward of a 5 1/2-hour drive and extensive wait in the elements was a chance to greet his favorite driver, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon.
When Gordon jokingly questioned his motives for spending more than a day in line to meet him, Alverson shot back, “It’s because you are the champ!” -- “We have the most amazing fans,” Gordon said. “It blows you away any time you hear something like that. … All the fans that came out, some of them traveled long distances, get up early in the morning or stayed up late at night on the sidewalk. That’s pretty amazing, and that’s what makes events like this so successful.” Gordon also entertained fans during a question and answer session with Richard Petty, unveiling a new paint scheme commemorating 20 years in the sport with longtime sponsor DuPont. More than 60 drivers were on hand to sign autographs and greet fans, with several participating in fan Q&As. Additionally, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees new and old led fans on personal guided tours of the Hall’s exhibits. “We're thrilled with the turnout and the passion our fans continue to express," said Steve Sweeney, NASCAR's director of consumer marketing. "The NASCAR Preview 2012 Presented By Sprint offered a perfect lead-in for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26 [on FOX, MRN Radio], and will only grow in the upcoming years."
Winston Kelley, executive director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, said the NASCAR Preview event was a direct result of listening to fans – including Alverson – clamoring for more of the sport during the offseason and a revival of the preview held in Winston-Salem, N.C., years ago. “It’s met or exceeded all the expectations we had, and we think this is the foundation we can just grow on,” Kelley said. “This is just the start to us, and I think we can make it even bigger and better.” Two pieces of news came out of today’s event, as Sprint unveiled its Miss Sprint Cup lineup for 2012, and American Ethanol announced sponsorship for two highly visible race teams. Kristen Beat, a former on-air talent for Fuel TV, joins returning Miss Sprint Cup members Kim Coon and Jaclyn Roney for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Additionally, American Ethanol announced that it will continue relationships with Richard Childress Racing and RAB racing for the 2012 season. Austin Dillon, the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, will drive the No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet for six races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, as well as one race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2012. Dillon's No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet paint scheme was unveiled at the event. American Ethanol will also partner with Kenny Wallace and RAB Racing for the Daytona 500 on FOX, as well as five races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. NASCAR Acceleration Weekend culminates Sunday morning with more events at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This year’s class of inductees will see their exhibits and spires in the Hall of Fame for the first time and will unveil their engraved granite markers in the Walk of Fame Garden outside the Hall’s doors.
Five Inducted Into NASCAR's Hall of Fame
"A legend for everyone" describes the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s third class of inductees enshrined tonight, Friday, Jan. 20. Here’s the versatile list. Dale Inman – an eight-time champion, he’s the first to be inducted based on his primary role as a crew chief. Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough – a pair of three-time NASCAR premier series champions, who won a combined 167 races. Glen Wood – the legendary car owner whose team has raced in seven decades, compiling 98 wins. And the late Richie Evans – a nine-time NASCAR Modified champion, the first to be inducted from outside NASCAR’s premier division. Their induction ceremony – held in the Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center – increased the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s membership to 15.
Inman, Richard Petty’s cousin, is generally credited with inventing the modern role of crew chief. He won seven championships with Petty Enterprises and an eighth with Billy Hagan and driver Terry Labonte in 1984. Randleman County, N.C.’s Inman, 75, who retired from the sport in 1998, won 193 times. The list of current NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chiefs learning at Inman’s side is a lengthy one. "I'm kind of familiar with this ring," said Inman, referring to his NASCAR Hall of Fame ring. "For the last two or three years Richard has put it in my face a bunch of times." -- As host Mike Joy said, "Tonight, Dale Inman and Richard are together again, as NASCAR Hall of Fame members."
Like Ned Jarrett, a member of the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Waltrip is both champion driver and distinguished television broadcaster. Waltrip won championships in 1981-82 and 1985 driving for NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson. The Owensboro, Ky., native won 84 times in 809 starts ranking fourth on the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup victory list with Bobby Allison, also a member of the Hall’s second class. Waltrip, 64, has been the lead NASCAR on FOX analyst since 2001. "I was telling [wife] Stevie earlier this week that I hoped I wouldn’t get emotional tonight, but she reminded me ‘Honey, you always get emotional about the things you are passionate about,’" Waltrip said. "This night, these men, and the people in this room, they're what inspire me."
Wood, a four-time NASCAR premier series winner, left the driver’s seat to own the fabled No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford team. With his four brothers, who include NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee and crew chief Leonard Wood, the organization counts 98 victories, including its fifth Daytona 500 win in 2011 with 20-year-old Trevor Bayne. Those who drove for the 86-year-old Wood’s Stuart, Va.-based team included fellow inductee Yarborough, NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson, A.J. Foyt and road racer Dan Gurney. "This is not just about me being inducted in the Hall of Fame," said Wood. "It's also about the Wood Brothers. And it's about NASCAR. And I'm proud to have been a NASCAR driver and car owner for the past 60 years, and I'm proud of this great honor."
Yarborough, a native of Sardis, S.C., made NASCAR premier series history in 1978 when he won his third consecutive championship, a record that stood until Jimmie Johnson claimed his fourth straight title in 2009. Yarborough, now 72, won 83 times – sixth all-time – including four Daytona 500s. The majority of his wins came in cars fielded by Junior Johnson. "Racing is like a big, tall ladder," Yarborough said. "When you begin, you’re at the bottom. And it’s a long, hard climb. And tonight, I feel like I’m standing on the top step."
Evans, nicknamed the "Rapid Roman" by virtue of racing out of Rome, N.Y., won nine championships over a 13-year span – including eight in a row – driving modified stock cars, primarily a race car fashioned from pre-World War II coupes and sedans powered by high horsepower engines. His bright orange No. 61 cars became legendary throughout the northeastern U.S. Evans won an estimated 475 times frequently racing seven nights a week. He lost his life at the age of 44 in 1985 practicing for a race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, having clinched his ninth championship a week prior. "I know you’re here in spirit as the number 61 [Evans’ racing number] appears often in my life, even as I checked into the hotel the number 61 came up," said Lynn Evans, who accepted on her departed husband’s behalf. "I'd especially like to thank the Hall of Fame voting panel for stepping outside the box and making Rich the first driver inductee not to have raced in NASCAR's top series full time. You have now given hope to thousands of NASCAR competitors throughout the country to maybe someday reach their dream."
The inductors for the five inductees: crew chief Billy Nacewicz for Evans; Richard Petty for Dale Inman; Jeff Hammond for Darrell Waltrip; Leonard Wood for Glen Wood; and Ken Squier for Cale Yarborough. Special congratulatory videos opened each inductee’s segment, with a NASCAR legend starring in each. Those involved: Jerry Cook for Evans; Leonard Wood for Inman; Bobby Allison for Waltrip; Junior Johnson for Wood; and Donnie Allison for Yarborough. The five inductee exhibits officially open Sunday, Jan. 22 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.