Posted on: February 2, 2012 4:39 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 4:43 pm
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:29 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:26 pm

Manufacturer change for Inception Motorsports

Posted by Pete Pistone

David Stremme has a full-time Sprint Cup Series ride with a brand new manufacturer.

Inception Motorsports announced their partnership with Toyota with engine support from Triad Racing Technologies for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series .
“It is a great boost for our team to have the support of Toyota and Triad engines heading into Daytona this season,” said Stremme, who drove for the team last year in a limited schedule. “Our team is excited to have their support, especially with their success in the sport.”
Triad currently supplies horsepower for teams in ARCA and NASCAR’s Camping World Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series, with over 50 race wins since 2009.

“Our team has grown over the off-season,” said Stremme. “We have a great group of talented people in our race family who have been working hard to get us to where we need to be for this season. We are looking for the final pieces to the puzzle and hopefully our track presence will help find that sponsorship piece.”

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:34 pm

Record purse and halfway bonus for Daytona 500

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The fifty fourth annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET) – NASCAR’s biggest and most prestigious race – will carry a record purse of more than $19 million as well as a new contingency award that will payout $200,000 to the driver leading at the completion of Lap 100.

The posted awards for “The Great American Race” are $19,142,601 with the winner collecting a minimum of $1,431,325. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers in the Daytona 500 will receive a minimum of $1,050,075, $759,600, $609,900 and $486,550.

The Daytona 500 Mid-Race Leader Award will reward the driver leading the midway point of the historic 200-lap, 500-mile race with a $200,000 bonus. If the race is under caution at Lap 100, the leader of the race at the completion of the fifth consecutive green flag lap following the caution will receive the award.

“There is plenty of incentive for drivers to run up front the entire race but even more so at the halfway point and the last lap of the Daytona 500,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “This year’s ‘Great American Race’ stands to be one of the most exciting and thrilling ever seen, and will serve as a great kick-off to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.”


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Posted on: February 1, 2012 4:25 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 4:28 pm

Toyota team members share Super Bowl predictions

Posted by Pete Pistone

Who will win this Sunday's Big Game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants in Indianapolis?

Here’s what Toyota NASCAR drivers and crew chiefs have to say:

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
"The Patriots -- you can't go against them.  They're good.  I think we had the same conversation probably in 2007 when they were playing each other and I probably picked the Patriots then, too  -- and got surprised that the Giants came through.  (Tom) Brady had an off day (in the AFC Championship game, Feb. 22) and still looked pretty good and won the game.  That's a team that's hard to beat.  They do a lot of things right."

DAVE ROGERS, crew chief, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
"New England Patriots.  The obvious answer is because I'm from New England (Marshfield, Vt.), but the truth is Tom Brady.  To see what that man has accomplished in his life -- he's such a fierce competitor.  Just look at his eyes -- he's so determined and I admire him for that.  That's one guy that I would like to meet one day.  Tom Brady -- if you listen to his interviews, he was determined that when he got in the game for the first time that they would never pull him.  That's preparation.  He was prepared and he was willing to do whatever it took to prepare himself.  I just respect that and respect that determination.  I think that on that side of things, it makes Tom Brady a good role model for athletes and crew chiefs and drivers."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
"If I had to guess -- the New York Giants -- defense, offense, everything.  You have to go with the team that has the momentum and no doubt that the Giants have the momentum right now.  Think the score will be 23-21 -- Giants.  I think I'm going to go to Las Vegas for the game.  I've been to the game the last couple of years in person, but I kind of want to see what the Las Vegas atmosphere is like.  I've been there once or twice at the Bellagio, and it's just as exciting as going to the game."

DARIAN GRUBB, crew chief, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
"I'm a huge football fan -- college football.  NFL -- I was a Cowboys fan forever, which is tough now working for Joe Gibbs. I really don't have a favorite team.  I really don't want New England to win it -- more so I can pick on some of the guys on my race team.  The Giants have a really good shot at it this year.  I guess I will pull for the NFC rather than anything else. Joey (Logano) is definitely a Patriots fan and there are a few other guys mixed in there, too."

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot/Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
"New England because they're awesome.  New England is my hometown team being from Connecticut (Middletown).  I was fortunate enough to go up there and tour the stadium last September and got to see the whole stadium, go in the back and see the locker rooms.  Got to meet some of the players -- the kicker (Stephen Gostkowski) tried to teach me how to kick a field goal.  I will not be in the game this year, if you're wondering.  It was really neat and I'm really hoping they go out there and win.  I think they will because they have Tom Brady."

JASON RATCLIFF, crew chief, No. 20 Home Depot/Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
"My prediction is that Tom Brady cannot be beat if you can't get to him, but I would really like to see the Giants win.  I like the Manning brothers -- I like the Manning family.  I don't think they can beat him -- it's going to be tough.  I really wanted to see the Harbaugh brothers go at it -- I'm a Bears fan.  That would have been neat, but maybe next year.  I love football. When I was a kid, like any other 12-year-old boy, you thought you were going to play pro football -- until I realized that I wasn't even close enough to being big enough to play pro football.  They would just crush me -- even in college for that matter.  I'll watch the game somewhere, but I won't be as into it because I'm not really a Patriots fan or a Giants fan.  You have to watch it for the commercials -- the commercials are great.  I'll probably be sitting on my couch because I don't have the opportunity to do that enough -- sitting with my two boys and my wife.  I'm sure we'll invite some friends over and have a good time."

BRIAN SCOTT, No. 11 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
"I'm a Patriots fan so I think the Patriots are going to win.  I was highly disappointed three years ago when the Giants beat them.  I actually got in a fight with my brother over the whole game.  Hopefully, we'll have a better outcome this time. Probably watch it either at my house or a friend's house -- probably won't go out anywhere or do anything like that. Sit on the couch and eat snacks.  If I had to put a final score on the game -- I'm going to say it's going to be 20-17 -- Patriots.  The best part about being from Idaho is that I'm not married to any team -- I can like whoever I want."

MICHAEL WALTRIP, team owner - driver, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
"The Patriots.  I just like Tom Brady.  I like Bill Belichick (Patriots coach) -- I don't know why.  We had this same game in '07 and the Giants won.  I'm for Tom over Eli (Manning).  But, if you ask me much more about that -- like who else plays - that's about all I know."

RODNEY CHILDERS, crew chief, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
"Number one -- I am a football guy.  I didn't used to be a football guy.  Once I became a Cup crew chief, I needed something to take my mind off of all this other stuff, so when football is going around in the off-season I learned to really like it.  It's hard for me to say because I'm not a hardcore, one team guy.  Every year I kind of pick and choose and see people that have been really good team players and I feel like deserve a shot at it.  It's hard to argue that the Patriots don't deserve a shot at it. I felt like the Giants have played pretty good, but I think there's some things they could have done better. All in all, both those guys deserve to be in it.  I really haven't picked who I'm going to be pulling for yet.  If I was a betting man I would put my money on the Patriots and Tom Brady.  That is who I would put my money on."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
"New York -- just because I don't know anything about football.  I'm going to take 10 dollars off of (Martin) Truex (Jr.)."

BRIAN PATTIE, crew chief, No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
"Patriots because I like Tom Brady.  He doesn't trash talk --he just gets it done."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
"Patriots -- because they are a better team.  I don't like the Giants.  I hate the Giants, but I like Eli (Manning).  I think Eli is an awesome quarterback.  How can you not like Tom Brady?  The stadium has a roof, so there will be good weather at the game, it's going to be warm, a high scoring game -- 38-24 Patriots.  I will probably watch the game from home -- I like to be home."

CHAD JOHNSTON, crew chief, No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
"Hopefully the Giants because I'm a Colts fan and we were terrible this year.  All of our hopes are with Eli Manning -- hoping at least one Manning gets it done and not Tom Brady."

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Kroger Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing
"I think the Patriots are going to do it -- they are just primed right now.  I would like to see Eli (Manning) win it, but I think it's going to be tough for him." 

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Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:39 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 3:36 pm

Points manipulation a blow to NASCAR credibility

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Patrick is already locked into the 2012 Daytona 500 thanks to a deal between SHR and TBR)

You most likely already know Danica Patrick is making her full-time move to NASCAR in 2012. 

But without yet even turning one competitive lap in a Sprint Cup car, Patrick has already locked herself into a starting spot for the season-opening Daytona 500. 

How is this possible you ask? 

Just chalk it up to NASCAR math. 

The annual ritual of swapping points, creating alliances and trumping up partnerships to manipulate the rule allowing teams finishing in the Top 35 of the point standings last season a guaranteed start in the first five races of the new campaign has once again reared its ugly head. 

Only this time it’s not just a simple transaction between owners swapping points accrued by one to allow another to field a car in the biggest race of the season.  The latest maneuvering is a shell game of epic proportions that somehow puts Patrick in car technically owned by Tommy Baldwin Racing while still employed by Stewart-Haas Racing. 

A room full of Philadelphia lawyers would take days to figure out the legal machinations that created this “collaborative partnership” between SHR and TBR. But at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter how things ended up but rather the path that allows this ridiculous practice to happen in the first place. 

When NASCAR first instituted the Top 35 rule a few years ago the intent was to provide a guarantee for teams and sponsors that support the entire series. Basically if a team stays inside the first thirty five of the standings they are locked into the next race and don’t have to worry about qualifying to make the field. 

While NASCAR contends the rule “protects” teams and sponsors as well as fans, who are ensured the “stars” of the sport will compete in every event, it has done so at the expense of competition and credibility. 

By trying to serve the business side of the sport, all NASCAR has done is compromised the competitive element and its own integrity. 

Qualifying has been reduced to a simple placement of cars into the starting line-up with none of the drama remaining that used to draw sizeable crowds to some tracks in anticipation of the racing weekend. 

The popular Gatorade Duel qualifying races at Daytona, once one of the most exciting days of the season and certainly of Speedweeks, is now only a shell of its former self. The inclusion of the Top 35 policy into the equation of who already has made the race and what drivers have their Daytona 500 lives on the line with a bad finish – all part of what made the Thursday before the 500 so special – is now a convoluted mess that requires a slide rule and a calculator to help decipher. 

The easy solution is to allow the fastest 36 cars in qualifying into every race and then seed the remaining seven spots with provisionals based on the point standings. That system worked for decades before the dollar signs from potential upset sponsors blurred NASCAR’s vision. 

The world would also continue to rotate on its axis if Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson or Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed a race. Other sports have proven they can survive should a star not be up to the necessary level of performance on a particular weekend. 

Should Tiger Woods fail to make the cut on a Friday (a scenario that has lately happened plenty of times by the way), oh well the PGA Tour goes on. The legendary John Force has missed qualifying for NHRA events before and drag racing has somehow found a way to survive. 

Then to make matters even worse there is the blatant bending of the rules to shift around owner points every January. 

To be fair to Stewart and Baldwin, they have not done anything “wrong” or that several other owners haven't executed in the last few years. Richard Petty, Richard Childress and Roger Penske are just a few of the names that massaged the rules to their advantage in order to lock in new entries in their stables. 

Just last season both Steven Wallace and even Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne were beneficiaries of their owners working out deals to get them into the biggest race of the year. 

However having the lightning rod Patrick involved this time around has certainly taken the practice to a much greater level of awareness. 

Quite frankly it doesn’t do much for Patrick in terms of trying to prove herself as a stock car driver when she literally gets handed a coveted spot at Daytona. In many eyes, she’s done nothing to earn the position except to work for a team owner who obviously has a creative business mind. 

Last week NASCAR took a major step forward by announcing it was outlawing “secret fines” and making all penalties toward drivers who made derogatory comments about the sport public. It was the right move and one that brings more transparency to a sport that sometimes desperately needs to show skeptical fans all is on the up and up. 

Now NASCAR needs to eradicate the Top 35 rule or at the very least enforce teams follow a "use ‘em or lose ‘em" policy the following season. No buying, selling, swapping or other game of smoke and mirrors allowed.

If not just save your money. Perhaps with a large enough checkbook even you can buy your way into starting the 2013 Daytona 500.

As is the case with Patrick, no experience is necessary.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed    

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 4:52 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 5:15 pm

Official: Danica in 500 on points acquisition

Posted by Pete Pistone

Danica Patrick will begin her Sprint Cup career with a guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500.

Thanks to a "collaborative partnership" between Stewart-Haas Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing, Patrick gets a starting berth in next month's Daytona 500.

The No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet will now technically be fielded out of the TBR stable. TBR’s No. 36 car, which finished the 2011 season thirty-third in points, becomes the No. 10 for 2012.

For the 26 races where Patrick is not scheduled to drive, David Reutimann will pilot the No. 10 car. 

“Tommy Baldwin Racing has proven to be a very strong organization and it’s a good fit with Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Matt Borland, vice president of competition, SHR. “It’s a Chevrolet team led by a racer who knows every inch of a racecar. That kind of technical expertise, along with a company mindset that is similar to ours, provides the ideal environment for Danica to learn and succeed.”

TBR will field two cars in 2012 with Dave Blaney joining the No. 10 entry this coming season.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve established at Tommy Baldwin Racing, and the opportunity to partner with Stewart-Haas Racing and aid in the development of Danica Patrick is a testament to all the hard work we’ve put in over the years,” Baldwin said. “Danica will have a great teammate in Dave Blaney, who has been instrumental in getting our race team to where it is today. And with David Reutimann driving the No. 10 car in the races where Danica is not, the team will remain in a strong and competitive position throughout the year.”

Greg Zipadelli, who came to SHR this season to serve as the team's Director of Competition, will serve as Patrick's crew chief in her ten race schedule.

“Working with Tommy will be like old times,” Zipadelli said. “We both grew up together and competed against each other in Modifieds and we did the same thing when we got to Sprint Cup. To finally be able to work with each other and help Danica Patrick make a successful transition from Indy cars to stock cars is a challenge we’re both looking forward to.

“Partnering with Tommy and his team provides Danica with the foundation she needs to succeed. With a guaranteed starting spot, we can go into each weekend and simply learn. It’s all about getting her comfortable in the car, and with the variety of tracks she’s running, seat time will be incredibly valuable. A guaranteed spot in the race ensures that she’ll have the opportunity to make as many laps as possible.”

Patrick, who will also run a full Nationwide Series program for JR Motorsports in 2012, will run nine more Cup races in addition to Daytona this season.

“Our goal with Danica’s schedule is to try and maximize her 10 races so that she’s as prepared as she can possibly be for a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR. “There are short tracks, intermediate 1.5-mile ovals, and some unique tracks like Darlington and Phoenix. The point is to expose her to as many challenges as possible so that she’ll know what to expect in 2013.”

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 3:55 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 4:07 pm

Fire breaks out at Joe Gibbs Racing

By Pete Pistone

A fire was reported at Joe Gibbs Racing Tuesday afternoon with several employees receiving treatment for smoke inhalation.

Ten employees of JGR were treated after a fire at the team’s race shop in Huntersville, NC.

Early reports indicate a piece of machinery at the shop caught fire at around 3 pm ET.

JGR released a statement late Tuesday afternoon:

"A piece of equipment in the machine shop caught fire today at our Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters in Huntersville, NC. The fire department was called and the fire was quickly contained and extinguished. A few of our employees received treatment on site for issues related to smoke inhalation. All employees were able to return to work within the hour to continue preparations for the 2012 NASCAR season"

It is the second fire at the complex in less than a year following a February of 2011 incident that caused significant damage to the team's engine shop.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 12:30 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:37 pm

Nationwide Series start times released

By Pete Pistone

2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series Start Times

Feb. 25 .... Daytona, 1:15 p.m.
March 3 ... Phoenix, 4:30 p.m.
March 10 . Las Vegas, 5 p.m.
March 17 . Bristol, 2 p.m.
March 24 . Auto Club Speedway), 5:30 p.m.
March 31 . OFF WEEKEND
April 7 ..... OFF WEEKEND
April 13 ... Texas, 8:30 p.m.
April 20 ... OFF WEEKEND
April 27 ... Richmond, 7:30 p.m.
May 5 ...... Talladega, 3:15 p.m.
May 11 .... Darlington, 7:15 p.m.
May 20 .... Iowa, 2 p.m.
May 26 .... Charlotte, 2:45 p.m.
June 2 ...... Dover, 2 p.m.
June 9 ...... OFF WEEKEND
June 16 .... Michigan, 3:45 p.m.
June 23 .... Road America, 3:30 p.m.
June 29 .... Kentucky, 7:30 p.m.
July 6 ....... Daytona, 7:30 p.m.
July 14 ..... New Hampshire, 3:30 p.m.
July 22 ..... Chicago, 3 p.m.
July 28 ..... Indianapolis, 4:30 p.m.
Aug. 4 ..... Iowa, 8 p.m.
Aug. 11 ... Watkins Glen, 2:15 p.m.
Aug. 18 ... Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal), 2:30 p.m.
Aug. 24 ... Bristol, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 1 .... Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 .... Richmond, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 15 .. Chicago, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 .. Kentucky, 4 p.m.
Sept. 29 .. Dover, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 6 ..... OFF WEEKEND
Oct. 12 ... Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 ... Kansas, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 27 ... OFF WEEKEND
Nov. 3 .... Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 10 .. Phoenix, 4 p.m.
Nov. 17 .. Homestead, 4:30 p.m.

All times Eastern

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