Category:Auto Racing
Posted on: August 17, 2010 9:52 pm

Cup night race, IRL doubleheader coming to Texas

With Texas Motor Speedway touting a huge announcement, I was curious as to just what they had in store.

The NASCAR news isn't exactly earth shattering. Texas will continue to host two races in its usual slots on its schedule, but the April race will be held under the lights for the first time.

Where it gets really interesting is what the track has planned for the Indy Racing League on June 11 -- a twin bill. What was the Firestone 550k will become the Firestone Twin 275s.

Though it's not the first doubleheader in open-wheel history, it is the first for the IndyCar Series. In the history of major U.S. open-wheel racing, 17 twin races have been run with the first being a USAC-sanctioned event at Canada’s Mosport road circuit in 1967. The final twin race was a CART-sanctioned event at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1981, the last of nine twin races run on ovals.

Both races will feature the full IndyCar Series field competing in two separate 275-kilometer races with two points-paying winners crowned. Each race will award one-half the finishing points of a standard IndyCar event, with the combined points adding up to one full race point total. Additional details of the format will be announced at a later date.

"Randy (Bernard) and I discussed hosting twin races in January when he first took the job heading the Indy Racing League,” said Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage. “The concept has Indy-car history to it, but at the same time provides a new dynamic event to our fans as well as the drivers themselves. Texas Motor Speedway traditionally has hosted some of the series’ most exciting races and the Firestone Twin 275s’ format should provide plenty more in the future. Drivers have two shots at winning and fans get an opportunity to see not one but two great races in one evening. It should be a tremendous show.” 

-- Brian De Los Santos

Posted on: August 17, 2010 2:01 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2010 5:16 pm

Ambrose to replace Kahne at RPM

The Silly Season pieces are falling into place over at Richard Petty Motorsports as Marcos Ambrose has been signed to drive the No. 9 car, which will be vacated by Kasey Kahne at season's end. Stanley Tools Black and Decker will replace Budweiser as the primary sponsor on the car. It was announced earlier Tuesday that Budweiser would sponsor Richard Childress Racing's No. 29 car in 2011.

A couple of weeks ago RPM announced it had signed AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 43 car to a contract extension. The only question that remains now is what becomes of Elliott Sadler and the No. 19 car. Sadler said he doesn't expect to be back.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Listen to Marcos Ambrose teleconference (28 minutes, 48 seconds)

Press release follows:

Concord, N.C. (August 17, 2010) - In preparation for the 2011 season, Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that driver Marcos Ambrose has signed a multiyear agreement with the organization to drive the No. 9 Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Long-time RPM sponsor Stanley Black & Decker will be the primary sponsor of the No. 9 team.

"I'm very excited to join Richard Petty Motorsports," said Ambrose. "It's an incredible honor to be able to race for a legend like The King and be a part of this organization. I'm also happy to be back with Ford Racing. The No. 9 team has been a very successful team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. With the support of Ford and everyone at RPM, I believe we can continue that tradition of success. I'm also excited to join forces with Stanley."

"We are very happy to have Marcos Ambrose join our team," said NASCAR Hall of Famer and team owner Richard Petty. "He's a very talented and passionate driver and will be a great addition to our team."

"We knew once Marcos became available that we wanted him to be a part of the RPM family," said Foster Gillett, managing partner and team owner. "He's a fan favorite and he's proven to be a tough competitor on track. We're thrilled to have Stanley continue their partnership with our team and believe that Marcos is a great fit for the Stanley Racing program."

"Stanley is pleased to partner with Marcos," said Scott Bannell, Vice President Brand Management and Licensing, Stanley Black & Decker. "We look forward to carrying the winning tradition of the No. 9 car into the 2011 season."

The Tasmanian-born driver cut his racing teeth in V8 Supercar competition before making the shift to NASCAR in 2006. Through a partnership with Ford Racing, Ambrose made his American racing debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. In 2007, the driver made the jump to the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he competed for two seasons before his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2009.

"All of us at Ford are very happy to have Marcos back home," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford North America Motorsport. "We helped Marcos come to America and become a NASCAR driver because we believed in his talent, and loved the way he connected with Ford fans here and in Australia. Already a Ford champion in Supercars, we believe his move to RPM will give him the car and equipment to win races and contend for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup going forward."

Ambrose, 33, is in his second season in NASCAR's premier racing series. He collected a third straight win at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in July.

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

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