Posted on: January 25, 2011 3:49 pm

Childress predicts Sprint Cup title

Posted By Pete Pistone

WELCOME, N.C. - Team owner Richard Childress told reporters on Tuesday's second day of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour he expects his team to win the 2011 Sprint Cup Series championship.

After Kevin Harvick came close to winning the 2010 title, Childress said he believes one of the four drivers in the RCR stable will rise up and end Jimmie Johnson's championship-winning streak at five.

"Nothing lasts forever in life," Childress said. "His time is going to run out and when it does, RCR wants to be there."

Asked about his prediction his organization would win last year's title, Childress said "I didn't guarantee it, I just said we was going to do it."

Harvick will be joined again this year by Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer in the RCR stable along with newcomer Paul Menard, who comes over from Richard Petty Motorsports with veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe. Childress believes the addition of Menard will make his team even stronger.

"He proved he's a deserving driver in the Cup Series," Childress said. "Made me proud to get him over here."

Harvick, who will have Jimmy John's as a sponsor of his No. 29 Chevrolet for six races this year with Budweiser his major sponsor for 20 events, feels he's ready to rise to the challenge in 2011 and take home the coveted Cup crown.

"We want to be as good as we were last year and we want that trophy," Harvick said.

Childress accentuated his positive outlook by assuring the crowd that not only was his team healthy but that despite some negative press of late, NASCAR remains strong in his opinion.

"Rome isn't burning," Childress said. "This is still a great sport."

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 25, 2011 11:07 am

NASCAR considers new qualifying procedure

Posted By Pete Pistone

CONCORD, N.C. - The myriad of potential changes for the coming NASCAR season may include a modification of qualifying procedure in the Sprint Cup Series.

NASCAR is reportedly considering implementation of the policy used in the Camping World Truck Series last year which saw final practice speeds set the order for qualifying. In the past a blind draw was used to determine the order of cars to take laps in time trials.

There are reports that changes could also include final practice speeds setting the race line-up should qualifying be rained out. The previous policy was to use owners' points as the guideline to determine a race line-up if weather knocked out qualifying.

These new rules are expected to be announced during NASCAR CEO Brian France's "State of the Sport" address Wednesday night at which time the sanctioning body's decision on a new championship points format as well as changes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup are also speculated to be addressed.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 24, 2011 9:50 pm
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Posted on: January 24, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 9:53 pm

Hornish to run Nationwide in 2011

Posted By Pete Pistone
MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Former Indy 500 winner and IZOD IndyCar champion Sam Hornish Jr. will compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2011 in hopes of getting his stock car career back on track.

Hornish announced he would pilot a Dodge Challenger out of the Penske Racing stable in at least ten races this coming season. The announcement came as part of the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.

Alliance Truck Parts will sponsor the entry for eight races.

"I look at this as a step back," said Hornish. "I need to take some baby steps to get back to where we want to be and that's back in the Sprint Cup Series with Penske Racing."

Hornish lost his Cup ride with Penske after the 2010 season when sponsor Mobil 1 left to join Stewart-Haas Racing and back Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet. With no replacement sponsor, team owner Roger Penske was forced to put together a Nationwide package in hopes of getting his former open wheel star back to the top level of stock car racing.

"Sam is a talented driver and has proven he can be a success winning the biggest races in the world like the 500 and Indy Car titles," said Penske. "I'm confident that we can have success this year at the Nationwide level and have every intention of doing what we can to get him back to Sprint Cup with Penske Racing."

Defending Nationwide champion Brad Keselowski will run the entire series again for Penske in 2011 despite not being eligible for the title in the wake of NASCAR's new one series championship policy.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 24, 2011 3:46 pm

Stewart done with Australia talk

Posted By Pete Pistone

CONCORD, N.C. - Despite more information coming out in recent days about his altercation with Sydney Speedway track owner Brett Morris while racing sprint cars in Australia, Tony Stewart is done talking about the incident for now.

Asked about reports that Morris suffered a broken eye socket when hit by Stewart's helmet in the melee during Monday's stop at Stewart-Haas Racing on the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour, Stewart declined any further comment.

When asked about it during his media session Stewart the inquiring reporter he had talked about what happened in his Daytona press conference last week during Preseason Thunder testing and to "check the transcript."

Other than that somewhat awkward exchange the visit to SHR gave media an opportunity to see the Stewart-Ryan Newman stable of cars for the coming season with Stewart's No. 14 sporting Mobil 1 colors for the bulk of the year.

A slimmed down Stewart met the media contingent, the result of a better eating and exercise plan although Stewart told the assembled group he is not getting carried away in his physical fitness and nutrition.

"I still like my Burger King," he said, expertly plugging one of his team's sponsors.

The first day of the media tour will end with a trip to Penske Racing and a dinner press availability with team owner Roger Penske and the Sprint Cup duo of Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski.
Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 24, 2011 3:45 pm
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Posted on: January 23, 2011 2:44 pm

Charlotte media tour notes - day one

Posted By Pete Pistone

CONCORD, N.C. - The annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour doesn't officially begin until Monday but media members have gathered for the yearly National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) meetings. Saturday night saw former Charlotte Observer reporter Tom Higgins, legendary engine builder Waddell Wilson and Sprint Cup champion and current television analyst Dale Jarrett elected into the NMPA's Hall of Fame.

On Sunday Jimmie Johnson was officially named the NMPA "Driver of the Year." Although Johnson left the Daytona Preseason Thunder testing a day early, his schedule did not allow him to accept his award here in Charlotte on Sunday afternoon.

About the only other NASCAR news to report on this Sunday is that Daytona International Speedway is likely to get striped before NASCAR returns for "Speedweeks" in a few weeks. Officials have asked the track to paint white lane stripes on Daytona's new asphalt surface to help drivers better negotiation their way around the speedway. A similar function was done when sister track Talladega was repaved a few years ago.

Tonight's annual NMPA Awards Dinner will bestow honors upon the best NASCAR journalism in 2010. But an eye on the NFL conference championship games is the order of the rest of the afternoon and early evening.

For the record I have the Bears (of course) and Jets advancing to the Super Bowl. Hopefully those predictions will work out better than most of my NASCAR race picks during the season.

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: January 22, 2011 5:32 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 6:18 pm

Stewart's Australia troubles continue

Posted By Pete Pistone

Tony Stewart told the media earlier this week he was "ashamed" of what happened during an altercation with a track operator while competing in a series of Sprint Car races earlier this month and had hoped "to put things behind" and move on.

However it doesn't appear as if things will be that easy.

The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting Stewart's tirade with Brett Morris ended with the track-co-owner's broken eye socket courtesy of a helmet thrown at his face. The injury will necessitate minor surgery and according to the newspaper Stewart could potentially face charges.

The paper also reported Stewart was detained by local authorities after the altercation and held for a couple of hours to "reflect on the benefits of controlling his temper."

Stewart said during Thursday's media availability he would be willing to return to Australia to answer any question regarding the matter.

This week's annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour is schedule to make a stop at Stewart-Haas Racing on Monday morning at which time the two-time series champion will no doubt be peppered with more questions regarding the incident.
Category: Auto Racing
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