Posted on: February 10, 2012 6:15 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 6:16 pm

Team suspends John Wes Townley after DUI

By Pete Pistone

John Wes Townley was charged with DUI on Tuesday.
(John Wes Townley was charged with DUI on Tuesday - Oconee County Sheriff's Office Photo)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver John Wes Townley was suspended by RAB Racing in the aftermath of the driver's DUI arrest earlier this week.

Team owner Robby Benton released a statement on Friday regarding the decision to replace Wes Townley as driver for its No. 09 entry immediately.

"Obviously, this is an unfortunate situation," said team Benton.  "However, we have to react to the severity of the incident accordingly.  His actions do not reflect those of RAB Racing, nor the sponsors associated with the team.

"John Wes has accepted full responsibility and will take the necessary personal steps in order to correct his actions, among other internal sanctions. We stand by John Wes and will welcome him back to the team at the appropriate time."

Wes Townley had been out of NASCAR for more than a year after an unsuccessful Nationwide Series effort.

Townley was charged with DUI after crashing his 2012 BMW into a telephone pole in his native Georgia Tuesday; his second alcohol-related incident in the last two years. According to a report in The Athens Banner-Herald a 911 caller early Tuesday morning reported "a suspicious man knocking on the back door of a home.” Officials discovered Townley "swaying from side to side and bleeding from his bare feet" and disoriented, and he was arrested and charged with DUI. Sherriff’s deputies reportedly found blood on the seat and deployed airbags of Townley’s BMW.

NASCAR has been in close communication with the team and will continue to monitor the situation until it is decided whether Townley returns as driver.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 10, 2012 6:01 pm

Kasey Kahne undergoes successful knee surgery

By Pete Pistone

Kasey Kahne is expcted to make a full recovery from Friday morning knee surgery in time for the start of Speedweeks in Daytona next week.

Kahne had an MRI Thursday after experiencing swelling in his left knee. The MRI revealed a torn meniscus, which was treated this morning with a partial medial meniscus removal. Following the common arthroscopic procedure, he was released from an outpatient facility in Charlotte, N.C.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver is expected to practice, qualify and race throughout NASCAR’s season-opening Speedweeks in Daytona. Hendrick has no plans to have a backup driver on standby for the No. 5 Chevrolet.

In April 2011, Kahne had a procedure on his right meniscus and earned a third-place finish the following race at Richmond.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:58 pm

Actor Gary Sinise to play Martinsville concert

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise is going to make sure Cpl. J.B. Kerns’ dream of a log cabin on the Ararat River becomes a reality.

Sinise announced today that the Gary Sinise Foundation and The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation (named after the NY firefighter who perished on 9/11), are partnering as part of their Building For America’s Bravest program to build a “smart home” for Kerns that will allow him to live independently. 

Kerns lost both legs and his right arm last April as a result of a blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) while on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. The heroic Marine, who’s had to undergo dozens of surgeries, is from Ararat—a small, rural town in Patrick County, about 30 miles from Martinsville Speedway.

The fundraising centerpiece for the project will be a concert performed by Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band at Martinsville High School on Saturday, March 31, at 7 p.m, and 100% of the ticket sales will go toward funding the specially-equipped smart home for Kerns. The next day, at the running of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Sinise and Kerns will play a special role in the Speedway’s pre-race program.

General admission to the Martinsville concert will be $25. There will also be a limited number of VIP passes available, which include a ticket to the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 and a Sunday morning meet-and-greet with Sinise at Martinsville Speedway.

Tickets will be sold by the Piedmont Arts Association in Martinsville and will go on sale Friday, Feb. 10. They may be purchased online at www.piedmontarts.org or by calling (276) 632-3221. To make donations to Building For America’s Bravest Program, you can go to http://www.garysinisefoundation.org
  or  https://tunneltotowersfoundation.or

Sinise, nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Lt. Dan—the character who lost both legs in battle in “Forrest Gump”—and the star of CBS’ popular “CSI: New York,” is also an accomplished musician.   He formed the Lt. Dan Band in 2004 primarily for USO Tours, and now performs 30 to 40 concerts a year to entertain troops and families, to raise funds for charitable efforts to help wounded warriors and families of the fallen, and to support charities devoted to the same.

Said Kerns, "I am overwhelmed at the support my community has given me. I have loved auto racing and NASCAR my whole life, and the fact that Martinsville Speedway, a star like Gary Sinise, and a foundation named after a 9/11 hero fireman, have come together so that I can have a home that is going to give me a good life, is awesome."

“It is my honor to partner with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation to raise the necessary funds to support the building of a home for JB Kerns,” said Sinise.  “JB has given so much in service to his country, and it is a privilege to do what I can to give something back to him. I hope that the entire community will join me and my band to help show our support and our gratitude to a great American hero, JB Kerns, the night of March 31.  As our 30th president Calvin Coolidge said, ‘The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.’ Let's come together to honor this brave American, and show him that we will not forget what he has sacrificed in defense of our freedom.”

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 6:45 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 8:15 pm

New Cup team hires Landon Cassill

By Pete Pistone

Landon Cassill will step into a brand new ride for the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season with an organization that purchased the assets of the former Red Bull Racing team.

"We’re going to announce a sponsor in the near future,” said Cassill on Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio Thursday afternoon. “At this point, I can tell you that Doug Richert will be the crew chief, with (former Roush Fenway Racing executive) Harry McMullin serving as General Manager."

McMullin is part of an investor group involved with the new operation that was affiliated with TRG Motorsports last season.

Cassill, who spent last year with Phoenix Racing, will run the No. 83 this season, one of the two numbers employed by Red Bull last season. The new organization has acquired the owner points from Red Bull and Cassill will be guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races of the season including the Daytona 500, his first start in NASCAR's signature event.

A second car, which will utilize the No. 4 points from Red Bull's 2011 effort, will also be fielded by the new team with Brian Vickers and Travis Kvapil rumored to be a candidates for the entry.

“They’re going to be announcing the team name and our sponsorship information very soon," Cassill said. "All I can say at this point is that they are investors. It’ll be a company owned team from the sponsorship side of things."
The team will operate out of the former Randy Moss Motorsports building in Statesville, NC, and will run with horsepower supplied by Triad Racing Technology.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 9, 2012 2:59 pm

Lenny Kravitz tabbed for Daytona pre-race show

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Rock superstar Lenny Kravitz will perform the Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show, the pre-race extravaganza leading up to the start of “The Great American Race” at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 26 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET, pre-race show begins at noon ET).

Kravitz, who has sold more than 35 million albums and is the only musician in history to win the Grammy for best male vocals in rock music four times consecutively, will perform three songs prior to the start of the 54th annual Daytona 500 – the season-opening event to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the biggest stock car race in the world.

All race fans that purchase a Pre-Race/Sprint FANZONE access pass for the Daytona 500 will be able to view Kravitz’s Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show, as well as driver introductions, from the grass tri-oval area.

“Lenny Kravitz is an iconic performer and multi-talented musician - he will deliver a rousing performance prior to the start of the 54<sup>th</sup> Daytona 500,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “Race fans will experience a first-class, heart-pounding pre-race show that will serve as the perfect prelude to what will be an historic and thrilling afternoon of NASCAR racing on the high banks of Daytona.”

Kravitz’s ninth album, Black and White America, was released in 2011 and features a mixture of funk and hard rock hits like “Stand,” “Rock Star City Life” and his anthemic new single “Push.” Fresh off a massive European tour, Lenny Kravitz recently kicked off his first American outing in five years in January. The 20-city tour will wrap up in Miami on February 25th.  In addition to his live shows, Kravitz is also set to appear as Cinna in the highly anticipated motion picture The Hunger Games, which will hit theaters March 23<sup>rd</sup>. 

Kravitz joins a long list of star-studded names that have performed in the Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show including Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Bon Jovi, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey and Brad Paisley.


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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 9, 2012 11:21 am
Edited on: February 9, 2012 11:22 am

Former truck champ Ron Hornaday finds sponsor

By Pete Pistone

Four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday has landed Anderson's Maple Syrup as a primary sponsor for the season-opening race at Daytona.

The Wisconsin-based company will serve as primary sponsor of the No. 9 Chevrolet Silverado for five races.

The 2012 campaign with Anderson's includes the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, as well as events at Dover, Chicagoland, Bristol and Talladega. Anderson's will also share associate sponsorship of the No. 24 Joe Dennette Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado driven by Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Max Gresham.
"I had the privilege of working with Anderson's in 2011, I'm thrilled to have them back on board this year," said Hornaday. "They are a small family-owned and operated company with big dreams and a great product. I look forward to our continued success in 2012 and can't wait for the sweet taste of victory."

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:48 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 5:58 pm

Kurt Busch makes most disliked athletes list

By Pete Pistone

He probably won't display the award in his trophy case but Kurt Busch landed on an exclusive list of athletes named in a FORBES magazine poll.

Busch was included as one of the "most disliked" athletes in sports.

Surveys conducted by Nielsen and partner E-Poll Market Research, measured public attitudes toward pro athletes. Athletes named on the list were those that scored the most responses from people describing them as athletes they “dislike”;”dislike somewhat” or “dislike a lot.” Candidates are limited to those scoring at least 10% awareness with the public.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick led the hit parade this year with a 42 percent awareness number. “His awareness is up there with Peyton Manning but a lot of it is people knowing him for the wrong reasons,” says Stephen Master, VP of Sports for Nielsen.

Vick actually tied with Tiger Woods for the dubious honor. 

While the likes of Mark McGwire, Randy Moss and Manny Ramirez dropped out this year NFL wide receiver Plaxico Burress, fresh off a prison term for gun possession, Kris Humphries, the embattled New Jersey Nets player who no doubt has his failed marriage to Kim Kardashian to thank for his inclusion on the list, and Busch took their spots this year.

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 8, 2012 2:11 pm

Pat Tryson named crew chief for David Gilliland

By Pete Pistone

Pat Tryson will join Front Row Motorsports as the crew chief for David Gilliland's No. 38 Ford.   

The veteran comes to Front Row Motorsports with deep experience working with a number of drivers over the years including Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler and Mark Martin.  He most recently worked for Michael Waltrip Racing, where he served in crew-chief and consultant roles.    

"We made some pretty big changes this off-season to really take this team to the next level, and adding Pat is just one more critical piece that we've put in place for our 2012 season," said team general manager Jerry Freeze.  "With Jay Guy on the No. 34 car and Derrick returning full-time to the competition director role, the depth and experience of our leadership team is better than it's ever been before."

Tryson is hoping to help guide Gilliland up the ranks of the Sprint Cup standings.

"I like what this team has done in the last few years, doing the right things and making the right changes to get better every season," said Tryson.  "Gilliland's a competitive driver - he's got the fire in his belly - and I'm really looking forward to working with him."

Gilliland began his year with a third place finish in the Daytona 500 and is hoping for another solid start to 2012. 

"He's a great 'get' for this team," said Gilliland.  "There's just so much that he brings to the table with all his experience.  I can't wait to get started."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com