Posted on: July 9, 2010 12:22 pm

Labonte to drive for Phoenix Racing at Indy

Bobby Labonte will be driving for Phoenix Racing at Indianapolis. Labonte had previously mentioned a second car for Robby Gordon Motorsports as a possibility for the Brickyard, but that won't be the case.

Press release follows:

Spartanburg, S.C. (July 9, 2010) - Phoenix Racing and team owner James Finch announced today that 2000 Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte will be back behind the wheel of the No. 09 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet for the Brickyard 400 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25.  Labonte is the 2000 winner of the event and one of only nine drivers to have won this prestigious race.

Labonte will also be making his 600th consecutive start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  That mark currently lists him seventh in overall consecutive starts.  Ricky Rudd is the all-time consecutive starts leader at 788.

"I've got to thank James Finch and Phoenix Racing for allowing me to get my 600th consecutive race with them at Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Labonte.  "We had some discussion about future races at Daytona, and we were able to put a deal together for the Brickyard 400.  I like working with the guys and appreciate this opportunity.

"The Brickyard is such a memorable race.  To be able to have this race as my 600th consecutive start is really cool. I didn't sit down at the beginning of my career and plan any milestones, so this is pretty cool."

It will be Labonte's third start for Phoenix Racing after racing for the team at both Daytona and Chicagoland.

Posted on: July 8, 2010 11:37 am

Martin denies, but Red Bull rumors heating up

Kasey Kahne and Rick Hendrick still haven't announced concrete plans for the two to join forces but the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 ride now appears to be a solid potential destination with Mark Martin moving out of the car for 2011.

Despite Martin's stern reaffirmation that he would return to the 5 car next year, several sources have pointed to the veteran joining Team Red Bull next season either as a replacement for Brian Vickers or Scott Speed or perhaps in a third entry.

Martin has roots within the team including relationships with TRB General manager Jay Frye and crew chief Ryan Pemberton, who worked with the veteran in 2007 and 2008 when the trio was with Ginn Racing/DEI.

While TRB has been in the Toyota camp since its inception, there was some talk last year about a switch of manufacturers to Chevrolet. Speculation is TRB could possibly create an alliance with Hendrick - similar to the Stewart-Haas Racing arrangement - and become a Chevy team keeping Martin in the manufacturer's fold and remaining in top notch equipment.

Currently all parties have vehemently denied this scenario -- which is a sure sign something is brewing.

-- Pete Pistone
Posted on: July 7, 2010 11:03 am
Edited on: July 7, 2010 11:04 am

RPM hires Parrott as crew chief for Sadler

Todd Parrott didn't start the season as a crew chief for any team, but now he's with his second team as Richard Petty Motorsports has plucked him away from Roush Fenway Racing and paired him with Elliott Sadler .

Parrott took over as Matt Kenseth's crew chief following the Daytona 500. The pair started strong but then performance began to lag and after just 15 races together, Roush decided to make a change, replacing Parrott with Jimmy Fennig and moving Parrott to research and development.

Parrott replaces Wally Rogers, who will remain with the organization.

Press release follows:

Richard Petty Motorsports has named Todd Parrot as crew chief for driver Elliott Sadler and the No. 19 Stanley Ford team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Parrott joins RPM from his position as R&D Manager at Roush Fenway Racing. The change reunites Parrott with Sadler who worked with each other at Yates Racing in 2004.

"We are happy to welcome Todd to our team and reunite him with Elliott," said Robbie Loomis, Vice President of Competition for RPM. "We appreciate all of Wally Rogers' hard work with this team for the first half of the season. He will continue to be a valuable member of RPM."

A native of Charlotte, N.C., Parrott brings with him over 15 years of experience as crew chief in NASCAR. He has 29 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR's highest level of racing. Two of those wins came with Sadler during the 2004 season. The 46-year-old was crew chief for driver Dale Jarrett when the No. 88 Yates Racing team claimed the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. 

Posted on: July 5, 2010 9:58 am

Significant schedule changes likely in 2011

It appears more likely than ever the 2011 Sprint Cup slate will have a much different look than it has in recent seasons.

NASCAR acknowledged both SMI and ISC have requested realignment date changes for next year, and there are reports Kentucky and a second date for Las Vegas will be part of the SMI plan, at the expense of races in New Hampshire and Atlanta, and Kansas will gain a second NASCAR weekend when Auto Club Speedway gets stripped of its February date.

-- Pete Pistone

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: July 2, 2010 6:37 pm

New race team courting fans as "partners"

So what do you think? Would you like to be "partner" in a NASCAR team for $300?

With America's Racing Team -- a new organization set to make its debut in next year's Daytona 500 -- you'll get that chance.

And note that I didn't say "own" part of a NASCAR team.

According to the Partner Disclaimer on the web site:

Team Partners are not participants in the business enterprise that owns and/or sponsors America’s Racing Team. Team Partners acquire no ownership interest or similar rights of any kind in connection with America’s Racing Team or ART Motorsport Inc. or any other business entity. Team Partners therefore will not be provided, and are not entitled to, shares of capital stock, partnership interests or membership interests in those entities, or any of the rights or privileges typically associated with such ownership interests. In no event will Team Partner status entitle a Team Partner to (i) any distributions of profits or income, or (ii) management or voting rights of any kind from ART Motorsport Inc. or the Team. Team Partners are recognized supporters of the Team, and ART Motorsport Inc. values the support and advice provided by Team Partners. ART Motorsport Inc. offers several exciting benefits to Team Partners, which are described on 

Among the benefits of those who buy in will be the opportunity to help "influence" decisions on drivers and paint schemes.

While I think it's an interesting idea, I'm skeptical as to whether it can be a winning idea. I'm curious as to what their expectations are for the number of people who will buy in. From the looks of it, they're at least hoping for 10s of thousands. A note on their Partnership Benefits page reads: Be one of the first 10,000 people to join America's Raing Team  and become a Founding Team Partner! We will be choosing our driver soon and this will be a decision that you can influence as one of the first 10,000 or by signing up before August 31st, 2010, whichever comes first.

If they actually get that many, how can any "partner" truly have a say in running the team. Will key decisions just be based on popular vote?

If they don't get the number of investors they expect are they prepared to carry on out of the own pockets?

When it comes right down to it, sponsorship is the name of the game. Without a significant sponsor, the venture is doomed to fail.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Press release follows:

Daytona Beach, Florida (July 2, 2010) - NASCAR fans all across the country will now have one team to pull for: their team, America's Racing Team.  After multiple large-scale quantitative and qualitative studies, the creation of America's Racing Team (ART), a NASCAR Sprint Cup team formed primarily from "Team Partners," was announced today live on from "The World Center of Racing," the Daytona International Speedway.  America's Racing Team will be the first team in the history of NASCAR to be largely bankrolled by the fans. 
The announcement was made by Michael Wright, serving as America's Racing Team's Chief Marketing Officer, and by Daniel Webber, part of the ownership group that has helped form ART.  Also present were special guests including service men and women from the Daytona Beach area.
Wright, a 20-year veteran of global sports marketing agency IMG and former agent for four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon, announced that America's Racing Team will enter the No. 76 during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season beginning next February at the "Great American Race," the Daytona 500. The team will rely on "Team Partners" to help fuel the team in 2011.
In true NASCAR fashion, this concept was the brainchild of a family of experienced business veterans from the world of sports and live entertainment, the Webbers. A resident of New York City, son Daniel Webber's business ventures include SuperVision Media, which provides groundbreaking 3-D coverage of events and has worked with The 2010 FIFA World Cup, Formula One Racing and ESPN.  His father, John Webber, spent over two decades at IMG, working with international sports and entertainment figures including racing legends Sir Jackie Stewart and Ayrton Senna.  Daniel's mother, Diane, is a noted sports lawyer whose clients have included many leading drivers and teams on Formula One and IndyCar circuits. 
"Sometimes the best concepts in business are the most obvious ones, the ones that are so obvious that no one takes the first step to bring them to reality," said Daniel Webber. "America's Racing Team is not only a concept for the fans, but one by the fans, one they asked for and helped craft via our extensive research and concept testing. Creating a team that they can literally help build and manage, from the ground up to the winner's circle, will be the ultimate experience not only for the fans but also my family, which has been involved in racing around the world for many years."
The announcement of the team today allows time for fans of all ages to begin their immediate Team Partnership into the America's Racing Team No. 76 entry.  Annual memberships begin at $44.95 for children, $49.95 for teens and $299.95 for adults.  Small businesses may also join the team's "76 Pit Club" for a membership fee of $1,999.95.  Family memberships, two adults and two kids, are available for $499.95.  Fans can begin their membership at the website and sign-up for annual, three-year or five-year memberships.
"This is not an individual's team, not a team wholly focused on a star driver or branded by one large corporate brand; this is a team financed and fueled by and for the fans," said Wright.  "This isn't a current team, but rather one that the fans will help build from its infancy and watch win races in what hopefully will be a very short time.  Today is the beginning of their partnership into something very special."
The team also announced Elton Sawyer is assisting as a competition advisor to America's Racing Team.  Sawyer works with the team after coming from Evernham Motorsports and most recently Red Bull Racing where he helped build that organization into a winning team.  Ownership is currently working to establish a team headquarters in the greater Charlotte area.   The team is currently securing a technical partnership with an existing Sprint Cup organization to bring together the best operational personnel, including a crew chief, crew members and a driver. 
"This is the opportunity for fans to be with a team from its first chassis purchased to the last lug nut tightened before rolling onto the track," said Sawyer.  "They can be a part of a true launch, the most exciting experience in NASCAR."
Team Partners will be allowed unique benefits of the sport, including input of driver selection to paint schemes.  They will also receive unique team gear and merchandise as well as enjoying discounts on NASCAR tickets and accommodations.  The team is proud to announce its first commercial partnership for team partners, the Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure. 
"All of us at Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure look forward to welcoming partners of the new America's Racing Team to our thrilling racing experience," stated Tim Shannon, President of Dale Jarrett Racing.  "We're proud to be a promotional partner of the No. 76 team as it prepares to race in the 2011 Daytona 500." 
Fans will be seeing a lot more from America's Racing Team in the coming weeks and months ahead.  The team will debut TV commercial spots on ESPN and SPEED as well as national radio ads.  The team already has a significant online presence including a website and Facebook and Twitter accounts for fans to learn more information about the team and how to get involved.  All fans are encouraged to visit to become a partner of the team today. 

Posted on: June 30, 2010 5:47 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2010 11:20 am

Reutimann agrees to contract extension

While Fox Sports reported that David Reutimann had signed a three-year contract extension to remain in the the 00 car for Michael Waltrip Racing, he says a deal is not yet signed, though he does have a handshake agreement with the team reports Scene Daily .

Last season, Reutimann picked up the organization's first Sprint Cup victory while compiling five top fives and 10 tops 10s. He challenged for a spot in the Chase before ultimately finishing 16th in points.

This season he hasn't been quite as strong, though he's not out of the Chase hunt just yet. Through 17 races he has just three top 10s -- all fifth-place finishes -- but he has been knocking on the door with 10 finishes in the top 15. He's currently 19th in the standings, 150 points out of 12th.

-- Brian De Los Santos

Posted on: June 25, 2010 6:17 pm

Labonte may drive for RGM at Indianapolis

Speaking at a press conference prior to quaifying at New Hampshire, Bobby Labonte said he is in preliminary talks to drive a second car for Robby Gordon Motorsports when the series visits Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400.

Earlier this week, Labonte cut ties with TRG Motorsports. RGM quickly signed him to drive at New Hampshire, while Phoenix Racing picked him up for the following two races at Daytona and Chicagoland. Long range, however, Labonte doesn't have anything secured.

Listen to Bobby Labonte's news conference (10 minutes, 19 seconds)

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: June 25, 2010 6:09 pm

Fennig, Roush, Kenseth discuss changes

Jimmy Fennig was named crew chief of the No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion on Tuesday by owner Jack Roush.  Fennig, along with Roush and driver Matt Kenseth, spoke about the change today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Read the transcript below or listen to the audio.

Jack Roush and Matt Kenseth press conference (6 minutes, 12 seconds)

JIMMY FENNIG, Crew Chief – No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion –

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING BACK WITH MATT?  “Jack made the decision on Tuesday that he wanted to pair me up with Matt and, of course, Matt and I worked together on a Nationwide car a few years ago.  I think we’ve got a good relationship, so we’ll see what happens but I’m looking forward to being with him again.” 

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU’VE SEEN OR IDENTIFIED FROM YOUR R&D POSITION AS AN AREA YOU CAN IMPROVE AS CREW CHIEF?  “I don’t know.  The team is solid.  I thought Todd Parrott and Cully Barraclough and everybody did a good job, but maybe the direction I was heading in R&D will help turn things around.  We might try some of that stuff with Matt and see how it goes, but everybody is working hard and now we’ve just got to do all we can to make sure we get in the chase and then contend for a championship.”

WERE YOU SURPRISED WITH THIS MOVE?  “Yeah, I was surprised because I was enjoying R&D (laughing).”

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion –

HOW WAS PRACTICE?  “We came with a couple of different things.  We tried to organize for kinematics on the front suspension and hoped that we would find a solution to the worst problem we’ve had all year, which is getting the cars to turn in the middle of the corner. I haven’t been debriefed by each driver or crew chief, but, by all appearances, we’ve still got some of the same problem.  There has not been an immediate solution.  The balance that you always have on Friday is how much time do you spend on qualifying and how much time do you spend on race practice?  I’m not absolutely sure what the strategies were for each crew chief and each driver, but we’ll have good mileage and we’ll have our cars that will handle better than they handled today when we get through with practice tomorrow.  Loudon has been very good to us over a period of time.  We’ve had some great success here and always enjoy coming here to the northeast and being in this community.” 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CREW CHIEF CHANGE THIS WEEK?  “We’re blessed at Roush Fenway with a lot of very able and talented people with years and years and decades and decades of experience.  We’re continually working for and looking for the best chemistry between driver and crew chief, and the best relationship between a crew chief and his team – the same as a crew chief needs to reach and get all the energy that’s in the driver and give the driver everything that he recognizes that he needs and sometimes the things he doesn’t recognize he needs.

That’s a crew chief’s job to be perceptive on that and to reconcile it.  If you had said, ‘What was the reason we made the crew chief change on the 17 this week,’ I guess there were two reasons for it.

We weren’t getting the number of changes in a practice session that we thought we needed.  We were a little slow in the garage area. I don’t fault the guys for that, but the direction and the plan may not have been as well-defined or understood.  We had difficulty getting through tech at Sears Point, from the number of times we had to go around for things that were found not to be the way NASCAR wanted them.  Some thought we might not be able to qualify.  As it turned out, Matt had a flat tire and ran over something on the race track.  That caused one of his rear tires to lose a substantial part of their air, and that’s the reason we didn’t qualify well.  But what preceded that was the difficulty we had getting through the tech line and, as it turned out – except for Matt stepping in and begging forgiveness – we may not have been able to have gotten our car in the qualifying line in time to make the five-minute clock deadline.  So the combination of the plan not working as well as it needed to with the team, and the strategies not working as well as they had in the first few races with Todd resulted in our making the decision that the team wasn’t where it needed to be.

Jimmy Fennig, coming off a real productive test program for the race tracks we can go to, which are naturally not NASCAR tracks, but Jimmy was current on a lot of the cutting-edge thinking that we’ve had.  Jimmy is a great leader and we thought we’d pass the baton to Jimmy’s hand and let him see what he could do to help Matt.”

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford Fusion –

HOW WAS PRACTICE?  “We didn’t run real great today.  Last year, this was probably one of our weakest tracks.  We struggled at these tracks, but this year has been a little better.  Phoenix, I think, was better for us and Richmond was a little better for us.  We were just trying some things today.  We went through a lot of stuff in race practice trying to hopefully get a direction for tomorrow.  We seem to be off on speed quite a bit in qualifying trim, so we’re getting ready to try and make some changes and, hopefully, get it a little better for this afternoon.” 

Robbie had a chance to come back and do it, but the problem is Robbie wants to do everything, so he didn’t want to leave his post at the front office.  There’s a lot more going on and a lot more important things in Roush Fenway Racing than just one team.  It’s about the whole organization as well, so there’s no way you can do both.  I think he probably would have came and filled in for the rest of the year if he could try to do both, but there just are not enough hours in a day.  No, that’s not really true.  It does seem like I’m pretty hard on crew chiefs lately, that’s for sure, but we’ve just had some opportunities within the organization.  Jack has a lot of quality people working in R&D and the speedway department and other places – championship-winning crew chiefs like Todd and Jimmy – and we just had some opportunities to mix things up a little bit and see if we can get the team heading in the direction we think it needs to be headed in.”

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