Posted on: January 29, 2011 5:42 pm

Baker-Curb suspends operations

Posted By Pete Pistone

Nationwide Series team Baker-Curb Racing is shutting down operations until funding can be found. Sources indicate the long-time Nationwide organization is in an immediate holding pattern until additional funding and sponsorship can be found.

Gary Baker and music industry mogul Mike Curb own the team which was enjoying a solid first half of 2010 campaign with Sprint Cup regular Greg Biffle driving the majority of the schedule. But when sponsor Red Man was forced to exit the sport and end its sponsorship due to the federal tobacco advertising restrictions the team entered into financial difficulty.

The Nashville-based team could return to active competition in short order should a new sponsor be found but at this point prospects are dim.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 28, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 3:26 pm

Lottery winner starts truck team

Posted By Pete Pistone

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran driver Jason White has hit the jackpot - literally.

Sirius NASCAR Radio's "Sirius Speedway" reports White will team up for the upcoming NCWTS season with the brand new Joe Denette Motorsports team. Denette is a lifelong race fan who won the $75.6 million Virginia State Lottery in May of 2009. Denette took the $47.8 million lump sum payment and has decided to invest a portion of it into a NASCAR race team.

White will bring long-time sponsor gunbroker.com along with him to the start-up team and after finishing tenth in the standings a year ago has high hopes for 2011.

The team will run its operation from the Tri-Star Motorsports Nationwide Series operation in Mooresville, North Carolina and there are plans to possibly field a second entry in selected races.

Posted on: January 28, 2011 12:13 pm

Kvapil joins Moss truck series team

Posted By Pete Pistone

Former Camping World Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil has signed on to pilot the Randy Moss Motorsports Toyota entry for the 2011 season.

Kvapil replaces veteran Mike Skinner who parted ways with the team at the end of last season.

The Janesville, Wisconsin native will drive the team's No. 5 Toyota Tundra and have veteran Ricky Viers as crew chief.

"I'm excited to be competing with Randy Moss Motorsports and International Truck/Monaco RVs for the 2011 season," said Kvapil. "The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a great series with a lot of tough competition and I'm excited to be there full-time."

Kvapil won the 2003 series title and has scored nine wins in his NCWTS career.

Viers was part of Roush Fenway Racing's Nationwide Series crew chief rotation in 2010 and is a 28-year veteran of NASCAR racing.

The team will debut its new drivers as well as a new paint scheme at the series' season opener on February 18th at Daytona.
Posted on: January 27, 2011 4:25 pm

Kyle Busch sets schedule

Posted By Pete Pistone

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. - Kyle Busch has his 2011 NASCAR racing plans in place and will once again take part in a busy schedule across all three of NASCAR's top divisions.

During Thursday's NASCAR Sprint Media Tour visit to Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch outlined his schedule for the coming year which will include another assault on the Sprint Cup Series championship behind the wheel of the JGR No. 18 Toyota.

Busch will also run fifteen races in his Kyle Busch Motorsports NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry. He plans on trying to run another truck in selected events with a driver to be determined if sponsorship can be found.

The former Nationwide Series champion will run a JGR Toyota in 20-22 events in NASCAR's number two series teaming up with Cup teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, who will split driving duties in the No. 20 JGR Camry. The team will also field a full-time Nationwide effort for former truck series driver Brian Scott.

The visit to the Gibbs headquarters included a celebration of the team's 20th anniversary in NASCAR. Former JGR Sprint Cup champions Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte were on hand to commemorate the occasion which also included a video presentation from Dale Jarrett, who gave Gibbs a victory in the Daytona 500.

The JGR stop was the final event of the 2011 Media Tour.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 27, 2011 2:17 pm

NASCAR start times move to avoid NFL

Posted By Pete Pistone

CONCORD, N.C. - NASCAR will stray from last year's standardized start times this season in an effort to boost sagging television ratings.

Specifically NASCAR races in the last third of the season will slide back to a later green flag to avoid going head-to-head with NFL kickoffs.

While the majority of the races televised in the first half of the year as part of the FOX television package will remain in the 1 p.m. ET start range, green flags will slide back later in the year.

A 2 p.m. ET beginning is the plan for most of the races in September through November with west coast venues including Texas and Phoenix near the tail end of the schedule, going to a 3 p.m. ET start.

The Homestead-Miami season-ending Ford 400 will also begin at 3 p.m. ET.

The decision is a major departure from the highly-touted standard start time plan which was introduced last year and attributed to fan request.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 27, 2011 1:50 pm

Edwards may not run full Nationwide series

Posted By Pete Pistone

CONCORD, N.C. - Carl Edwards may not compete in the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011.

Last week's announcement that NASCAR would mandate drivers be eligible for only one championship in 2011 took Edwards from title contention this season. However he told reporters at last week's Preseason Thunder test session in Daytona he still planned on running the whole series despite the policy change.

During Thursday's NASCAR Sprint Media Tour stop at Roush Fenway Racing, Edwards and team owner Jack Roush both stressed that unless the No. 60 entry can find sponsorship for the whole year only a partial schedule may be run.

"All of our Sprint Cup teams are fully funded for the entire year," Roush said of the Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and David Ragan fleet in NASCAR's top series. "We're planning on running Carl in the Nationwide Series along with Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. But that plan may have to be adjusted for Carl depending on our sponsorship situation."

Edwards and defending series champion Brad Keselowski had intended to take part in the full 35-race Nationwide calendar even with the championship limitation. Thursday's news could leave only Keselowski as the lone Cup regular planning to compete full-time in the series in 2011."

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 26, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 9:44 pm

New NASCAR rules miss the mark

Posted By Pete Pistone

CONCORD, N.C. - The winds of change blew through NASCAR as expected on Wednesday night during CEO Brian France's annual "State of the Sport" address. Now we'll have to see if it's nothing but a lot of hot air.

As expected, France laid out huge changes to the NASCAR championship system that are intended to impact both the regular season and the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But at the end of the day fans may be even more confused on how NASCAR tabulates points and crowns its champion.

Brian France (Getty Images) The championship system that had been in place for more than three decades has been ditched in favor of a "simpler" format that awards points on a 43-1 scale through the finishing field. As with the previous plan, bonus points will be distributed for winning the race, leading a lap or leading the most laps.

However although the numerals in the post-race results rundown may look different the end result will be nearly the same.  The emphasis on winning that NASCAR has preached in recents months and years wasn't addressed at all. Consistency will be paramount in winning a championship as it has been for more than sixty years.

Winning does play a role in at least making the Chase with the top ten in points after the 26th race of the regular season joined by the next two drivers (who reside within the top twenty in the standings) with the most victories. If such a policy were in play last season, Jamie McMurray - despite missing the Chase cut sitting outside the first twelve in the point standings - would have made the playoffs on the strength of his three victories.

But let's not get mired in too many of the specifics of numbers and distribution and making the twelve driver Chase field. For all intents and purposes not much has changed except a few digits.

Rather let's look at a bigger picture and simply ask - why?

Why did NASCAR feel compelled to scrap a point system that had served the sport since 1975. Why did the sanctioning body make changes to its controversial Chase championship format for the fourth time since its inception in 2004? And what was the reason to ignore what France himself said two years ago that the best course of action for the NASCAR was to stay the course and not make any huge modifications to the sport?

Only those inside the halls in Daytona Beach know those answers for sure. But the perception from many - including the most important faction of all the fan base - is that there is no clear direction in major league stock car racing.

All sports make changes to their formats for a variety of reasons. Whether it's a designated hitter in baseball, wild cards in the NFL, a shootout in hockey or the three point shot in the NBA. Sports need to evolve from time to time and play to the tastes of their audience. NASCAR is no different but since graduating to the level of big time mainstream sport about ten years ago, the sanctioning body has reached the tipping point in the change category.

The very credibility of NASCAR has taken a hit in recent years, not so much for what has changed but rather for the frequency of those changes.

How can a championship format be validated when the parameters change on nearly a yearly basis? Traditions are built in sports over time but NASCAR seems to change its mind as much as a teenage girl shopping for a prom dress.

After two of its biggest stars in Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon missed the Chase early in its existence, the field was raised from ten to twelve drivers in what appeared to be a response to ensure its names were part of the playoffs.

When fans complained that winning wasn't as big a deal as it should be, the Chase seedings were suddenly based on victories in the regular season.

Now after McMurray won three of the sport's biggest events of the season last year including the Daytona 500 yet wasn't eligible for the championship, the new Chase policy reflects a correction for that scenario.

With sagging attendance and declining television ratings, perhaps the panic button is within reach more than it should be. While those numbers are down, NASCAR still ranks behind the NFL on TV and regularly draws 100,000 or more fans on a consistent basis. Still nothing to sneeze at.

The on track product was the shining star a year ago and the "Boys Have at It" era did exactly what NASCAR had hoped for when that mantra was rolled out in January of 2010.  Yet there was not an even a mention of that at this year's "State of the Sport" address.

That tells fans there is no consistency within the sport, that whatever might have seemed important earlier gets shuffled to the back burner in short order if another flavor of the day issue needs to be addressed. And that more than anything is hurting the sport. It's not Jimmie Johnson's dominance, crummy television broadcasts or people butchering the National Anthem.

Let the racers race. Keep putting on what I still believe is the best form of racing in this country and maybe around the world. Build the personalities of the sport into household names and let the fans feel they have a vested interest in a sport that became huge for those very reasons.

Mixing up points, changing championship systems, making knee jerk reactions and swapping one set of numbers for another won't do anything to engage fans in NASCAR.

By the way, under the new point system if a driver wins the race, leads a lap and leads the most laps his total points for the effort will be.......48.

For those of you keeping score at home that's Jimmie Johnson's number.

Unless NASCAR decides to change it.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 24, 2011 9:50 pm
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