Posted on: August 15, 2010 5:37 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2010 5:17 pm

Budweiser to sponsor Harvick in 2011

Budweiser will join Richard Childress Racing as the primary sponsor for Kevin Harvick's No. 29 car starting in 2011.

Shell/Pennzoil had been Harvick's primary sponsor since 2007, but earlier this year announced it was leaving the current points leader for Kurt Busch next season.

After several years with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Budweiser hooked up with Kasey Kahne in 2008 when Earnhardt left Dale Earnhardt Inc. and joined Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne is now also headed to Hendrick Motorsports, but not before a pit stop with Red Bull next season. Bud opted not to follow Kahne, nor did it want to stick with a Richard Petty Motorsports program that still has much work to do to become an elite organization again.

Listen to Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress (13 minutes, 51 seconds)

Press release follows:

ST. LOUIS (August 17, 2010) - Budweiser has a rich NASCAR tradition, sponsoring some of the sport's most celebrated drivers, including Bobby Labonte, Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.  Today, Budweiser announced Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick will become the next star to take the wheel of the iconic Budweiser car when the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season begins in February.
"Budweiser's involvement in NASCAR dates back more than three decades, and we're excited to have as successful a driver as Kevin Harvick to usher in a new era for Budweiser," said Mark Wright, vice president of media, sports & entertainment marketing, Anheuser-Busch.  "Kevin also benefits from having the support of a highly respected owner in Richard Childress and the great people of Richard Childress Racing, who will help put the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet in a position to challenge for Sprint Cup championships."
Under the terms of the deal, Budweiser will serve as primary sponsor of the No. 29 Chevrolet for 20 points races, two non-points races during Speedweeks and co-primary sponsor of the Sprint All-Star Race.  Budweiser will remain an associate sponsor for the remaining races on the schedule.
"Budweiser is one of the most respected sponsors in our sport," said Harvick.  "They do a lot to market their teams and the sport in television broadcasts and away from the track.  I'm looking forward to driving the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, taking it to Victory Lane and winning championships."
The 2011 season will mark Harvick's tenth full year in NASCAR's top series.  In 2001, he earned two victories en route to a ninth-place finish and Rookie of the Year honors.  Harvick has 14 Sprint Cup Series wins, 72 top-five and 145 top-10 finishes, with major points victories coming in the 2003 Brickyard 400 and 2007 Daytona 500.  Since the introduction of the season-ending "Chase for the Sprint Cup" format in 2004, Harvick has made the Chase three times and on two occasions finished a career-high fourth in the final point standings.  He is also the two-time and defending champion of the Budweiser Shootout (2009-2010).
Harvick currently sits atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with three wins, 11 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, and became the first driver to clinch a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup - his fourth appearance in five years - following his win at the Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
"Throughout his career, Kevin has shown he can win at any level in NASCAR," said Richard Childress, owner of Richard Childress Racing.  "Combining his talent with Budweiser's NASCAR lineage and proven track record of innovative sponsorship activations makes this an exciting pairing for fans everywhere.  RCR prides itself on its heritage and authenticity, so working with a brand like Budweiser, which has built their reputation on those same values, is a very special opportunity."
Harvick has also made a name for himself in both the Nationwide (formerly Busch) Series and Camping World (formerly Craftsman) Truck Series.  Since his breakout Busch Series season in 2000, when he earned three wins and Rookie of the Year honors, Harvick has won two overall titles (2001, 2006) and, in 2003, the owner's-only championship with co-driver Johnny Sauter.  During that same period in the Truck Series, he has nine victories, 35 top-five and 48 top-10 finishes in just 105 races.
The King of Beers first sponsored a team on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit in 1983 and its legacy in racing has been solidified by popular drivers like Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip, Geoff Bodine, Bill Elliott, Kenny Schrader, Ricky Craven, Wally Dallenbach, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.
Richard Childress Racing ( has earned more than 180 victories and 12 NASCAR championships, including six in the Sprint Cup Series with the legendary Dale Earnhardt. RCR was the first organization to win championships in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series.  Its 2010 Sprint Cup Series lineup includes Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet), Jeff Burton (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) and Clint Bowyer (No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet).  Bowyer drives the No. 21 Zaxby's Chevrolet in the 2010 Nationwide Series, Austin Dillon drives the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet in the 2010 Camping World Truck Series and Tim George Jr. drives the No. 31 RCR Development Chevrolet in the 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards.  Ty Dillon and Ryan Gifford are RCR developmental drivers in both asphalt and dirt track racing.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Posted on: August 13, 2010 4:13 pm

Martinsville race dates get tweaked

Martinsville will not be losing any of its race dates in 2011, though both races will wind up a week later on the schedule than they were this year.

In 2011, Martinsville's races will be held on April 3 and Oct. 30. Talladega holds the Halloween weekend date on this year's schedule. It's not yet confirmed whether the Talladega is merely flipping weekends with Martinsville or if it is moving elsewhere on the calendar.
Posted on: August 13, 2010 1:14 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2010 2:28 pm

Front Row Motorsports replaces rookie Conway

Earlier this week there were rumors that rookie Kevin Conway , driver of the No. 34 car for Front Row Motorsports, was in danger of losing his ride which prompted this response from his sponsor ExtenZe:

"Contrary to some Internet reports out there that recently surfaced after the NASCAR race weekend concluded at Watkins Glen, ExtenZe and Alteril are 100% committed to Kevin Conway and the sport of NASCAR,” said Robert Wilhovsky, Director of Motorsports Marketing.

"While we are currently evaluating our options for 2011, Kevin Conway has been and will continue to be the foundation of our NASCAR program in the years ahead.

"We knew this was going to be a big learning year for him and it has been incredible what he has been able to accomplish with very limited resources and older equipment finishing right there with his much more experienced and veteran teammates each and every week while competing on many of the tracks for the first time in any type of race car.

"It has been exciting to watch Kevin develop this year as a driver and we are very excited to be a part of his quest to become the 2010 Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  Kevin has a big future with us and in NASCAR and we look forward to what lies ahead," added Wilhovsky.

While his sponsor may be committed to Conway, Front Row is not. The organizaton, which bent over backwards for Conway, juggling seats on a couple occassions in an effort to keep him in the top 35, has decided to make a change, Front Row has indeed made a change, replacing Conway with Tony Raines .

ExtenZe, however, will not sponsor the car. The company is suspending its program with Front Row while it evaluates its options with Conway.

Conway, who leads the rookie standings by virtue of being the only rookie to run the full season up to this point, has an average finish of 31.6 in 21 starts and his ride is 35th in owner points. His best finish is 14th (Daytona in July) -- the best finish in Front Row history according to the latest release from his sponsor that you can read below. He has finished better than 30th in just four races.

“First, I want to thank Front Row Motorsports with Yates Racing and Ford for giving me an opportunity to drive for them this year,” said Conway. “It has been a really big learning year for me and I certainly couldn’t have made it this far without Front Row, support from Ford, and the veteran leadership of my crew chief Peter Sospenzo and my teammates David (Gilliland) and Travis (Kvapil).

“It was exciting for me to be able to give Front Row their best finish in the team’s history and it’s unfortunate that we can’t work it out to remain in the car for the immediate future. From here, I am looking forward to what lies ahead for myself and ExtenZe Racing for the remainder of 2010 and beyond,” added Conway.

“As was released earlier this week, ExtenZe and Alteril are 100% committed to Kevin Conway and the sport of NASCAR,” said Robert Wilhovsky, Director of Motorsports Marketing. “While we are currently evaluating our options for the rest of 2010 and next year, Conway has been and will continue to be the foundation of our NASCAR program in the years ahead."

As soon as Front Row signed him, I figured it wouldn't end well. It seems fairly clear that the only reason he landed a Cup ride was because he had a sponsor in his back pocket, because other than that, the signing made absolutely no sense.

He had never completed a full season in any of NASCAR's lower tier series. In 25 starts over five years in the Nationwide Series, he never had a top 10.

There's still a chance Conway could return to the seat, but aside from Michigan, Raines is also scheduled to drive the car next week at Bristol.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Posted on: August 13, 2010 10:07 am

Riggs lands Cup ride for Michigan

Since losing his ride at Haas CNC following the 2008 season, Scott Riggs hasn't had much luck finding a full-time ride.

Sunday at Michigan he'll attempt to qualify the No. 66 car for PRISM Motorsports.

"Scott clearly has an impressive racing resume and we are excited to bring a driver with his experience to PRISM Motorsports,” said Phil Parsons, who serves as a co-owner of the team, along with Randy Humphrey. “Dave Blaney has been instrumental in getting our team started and to this point in the 2010 race season, so we are thankful to him and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

If he qualifies, he'll make just his second Cup start this season. Riggs drove for Keyed-Up Motorsports at Phoenix back in April, finishing 28th. He has just nine Cup starts the past two seasons.

In 176 career Cup starts, Riggs has four top fives and 16 top 10s. His best season was 2006 when he had eight top 10s and finished 20th in the final standings.
Posted on: August 12, 2010 10:44 am

Terry Labonte interested in full-time return

A couple of weeks ago came word that Terry Labonte was planning a three-race stint in a car co-owned by Bill Stavola.

Now USA Today is reporting that Labonte, 54, is hoping to run a full season next year if he and Stavola can securce sponsorship. (READ THE FULL STORY )

In the near term, the two-time Cup Series champion will attempt to qualify races at Richmond (Sept. 11), Charlotte (Oct. 16) and Texas (Nov. 7). The team is getting its cars through Richard Childress Racing.

Labonte's last full season was 2004, when he finished 26th in the final standings with six top 10s for Hendrick Motorsports. He has participated in at least three races in every season since with a high of 17 in 2006. He last raced for John Carter in the 2009 season finale at Homestead where he finished 42nd.
Posted on: August 11, 2010 5:40 pm

New Hampshire will maintain two Cup races in 2011

Though it will no longer open the Chase, New Hampshire Motor Speedway will continue to host two Sprint Cup races in 2011.

Both races were shifted around a bit on the schedule. This season's events were scheduled for June 27 and Sept.19. In 2011, the track will host Cup races on July 17 and Sept. 25, the latter being the second race of the Chase.

The track may still be in danger of losing a race in 2012 and beyond, though I hope not. At 1.058 miles, it has a unique layout that's akin to a short track, though its not classified as such.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Posted on: August 11, 2010 11:36 am

Is Menard more than a sponsorship cash cow?

As noted in a previous blog post , Paul Menard will join Richard Childress Racing next season.

Based on his career record in the Cup Series -- two top fives and five top 10s in 133 career starts -- it might seem odd to the average fan that Menard could land a job with one of the top tier teams in NASCAR. Of course, your informed fan is well aware that Menard has one very huge advantage in his back pocket -- sponsorship. Menard's father John owns Menards, the third-largest home improvement chain in the United States, and has funded Paul's racing dreams throughout his career.

For better or worse, sponsorship is a driving force in NASCAR. If you got it, you're pretty much a golden child.

So is it fair to say Menard landed his RCR gig simply because of the sponsorship he brings with him? Yes and no.

I say yes because I believe without that sponsorship, RCR wouldn't have had any interest in signing him.

However -- and here's where the no comes in -- I don't believe the sponsorship alone was the reason RCR sign him. I think RCR sees potential in Menard to become more than just a bit player. I just don't know that Childress would have been willing to take that chance on Menard without that sponsorship in place.

I'm on the fence on Menard as far as how good a driver he can become. I don't know that he has been given a fair shake in top-notch equipment just yet. His DEI years came at a time when that organization was in a state of turmoil, Yates Racing was a shell of its former self during his stint there and Richard Petty Motorsports isn't exactly a major player anymore either.

Menard has actually been -- for lack of a better word -- "decent" in recent weeks, turning in five consecutive top 20s. Maybe, just maybe, he's ready to turn the corner. A good point on Menard is that he takes care of his equipment. He may not have the speed, but he generally doesn't wreck out of races with 11 DNFs in 133 starts.

I don't see a Cup championship is in his future, but I think he's skilled enough to at least make a run at the Chase in RCR equpiment and, with a little luck, perhaps pull out a win or two.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Posted on: August 11, 2010 10:29 am
Edited on: August 11, 2010 11:40 am

RCR signs Menard to a multi-year contract

Richard Childress Racing is expanding back to a four-car operation, signing Paul Menard to a multi-year contract.

De Los Santos: Is Menard more than a sponsorship cash cow?

Menard is in the midst of his fourth full-time season in the Cup Series. He started his career with Dale Earnhardt Inc. He spent 2009 with Yates Racing before joining Richard Petty Racing this season. In 133 career starts he has two top fives (one this year) and three top 10s (three this year).

Press release follows:

WELCOME, N.C. (Aug. 11, 2010) -- Richard Childress Racing and Menards, the third-largest home improvement company in the United States, have signed a multi-year partnership agreement for the Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based company to become the primary sponsor of RCR's fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team beginning in 2011 with driver Paul Menard.
"Paul has developed into a very good race car driver, and we see his move to RCR next year as an opportunity for him to continue that progress," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "At the same time, we feel Paul will contribute to the continued progress and success of RCR. Paul will fit in perfectly with our team of drivers at RCR, and they are all looking forward to working with him. We're also very proud to be aligned with Menards, one of the great family business success stories in American history."
Menard is in his fourth full season of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition and is currently 23rd in the point standings after 22 of 36 points races. The Eau Claire, Wis., native made his series debut in 2003, running just one race while also competing in six Nationwide Series races. He raced fulltime in the Nationwide Series from 2004 through 2006 while picking up Cup Series experience in eight other races during that time. In 2007, Menard became a fulltime driver in the Cup Series and part-time Nationwide Series driver, though he is scheduled to compete in every event of both series in 2010. He is currently sixth in the Nationwide Series point standings after 22 of 35 races.
"Richard Childress Racing has shown this year that they're headed on the right track," said Menard. "Having three cars competing for the Chase and, ultimately, the championship is no small feat and they're on top of their game. With that in mind and having known Richard for the past 10 years or so, when this opportunity to join RCR came about it was a no-brainer. I have always had the utmost respect for Richard and what his organization has accomplished in the past and what they're capable of achieving in the future."
Menards has a long, successful history as a racing sponsor dating back to the 1970's.  A family-owned and operated business with headquarters in Eau Claire, WI, Menards has 255 retail store locations throughout the Midwest. Menards carries the materials, tools and supplies for all your home improvement needs and is widely recognized as the place to "Save Big Money!"  The Menards family has always been dedicated to service and quality, treating guests like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.
Further announcements about the program will be forthcoming.

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