Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (17340)

“The Road to Richmond” will traverse the Tricky Triangle Sunday with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ second stop of the season at Pocono Raceway. The 500-miler at Pocono will mark the halfway point of the “Race to The Chase,” which culminates on Saturday night, September 10 at Richmond International Raceway with the Wonderful Pistachios 400 “One Last Race to Make The Chase.”

Known as the Tricky Triangle because of its unusual triangle shape featuring three turns of different radius and three different lengths of straight-aways, Pocono Raceway is a demanding track, testing a driver’s endurance and skill and the car’s horsepower. Chesterfield, Virginia native Denny Hamlin is always a favorite at Pocono with four career wins.

Hamlin, who currently sits 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings and would be the first driver to take a Wild Card position with one win, is looking to add to his win column this weekend.  He has seven top-five finishes, eight top 10s and two pole awards to go along with his four victories at Pocono. With a series-best Driver Rating of 118.6 and an average finishing position of 9.2, Hamlin has a great shot to take the checkered flag on Sunday.

A couple drivers will battle Hamlin for Pocono supremacy, including five-time winner Jeff Gordon and two-time winner Kurt Busch. Both drivers are comfortably inside the top 12 and looking to gain the valuable bonus points that would come along with a victory. Gordon has five career wins at Pocono, with his most recent win coming in the June event.  He returns to Pocono with 17 top fives, 26 top 10s and the fourth-best Driver Rating (101.3). Busch scored perfect Driver Ratings (150.0) in both of his victories at Pocono and has the third overall Driver Rating of 104.1 at the track.

For Gordon and Busch, the focus will be tackling the Tricky Triangle and getting to Victory Lane, but for Hamlin and several other drivers, the focus will remain on the Wild Card positions, without losing sight of the challenges on the track at Pocono.

Fresh off his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Indianapolis, Paul Menard currently holds the final Wild Card spot, while sitting 14th in the points standings.  David Ragan, currently 16th and Brad Keselowski, currently 21st, could rush in and take a Wild Card spot with a win this weekend.

Here is a look at drivers fighting for a Wild Card position and their stats at Pocono:

Paul Menard: While he does hold the finial Wild Card spot right now, Menard ranks 33rd in the Driver Ratings (55.5), with an average finish of 24.3.  He did finish 14th in the June event, so there’s a chance he could break into the top-10 at the checkered flag.

David Ragan: He wasn’t the “favorite” for Daytona in July and he’s not the favorite this weekend either with a 61.7 Driver Rating that’s 27th overall.  His average finish is 21.4, but he did bring home a top-20 finish in June.

Brad Keselowski: Probably the guy who has the most on the line, sitting 21st in points and needing to reach the top-20, with an additional win to even have a chance at a Wild Card spot. He’s 24th overall in the Driver Ratings (66.5) and has an average finish of 21.3. He finished 23rd at Pocono in June and will need to do better than that to break into the top-20 in points.

 

RIR PR

“50 years went by damn fast. And today this is sort of special to us. My wife and I felt that it’s about time that I got the hell out of here. In either case, as of today, I’m resigning all my positions here at Pocono Raceway. We’re going to take it a little easy and as I say get the hell out of here. We’re very fortunate that we have some great grandchildren and as of today my oldest grandson, Brandon (Igdalsky), who’s already president, is going to become president and CEO of Pocono Raceway. And his younger brother Nicholas is going to be COO and Executive Vice President. And their sister Ashley will become the Secretary/Treasurer of the corporation. I’ve had a hell of a good time doing all the things I wanted to do. And I felt that going on 87 (years old) nobody lives forever and I better get the hell out of here while the getting’s good. Brandon is well trained, he knows this track as they say the proverbial back of your hand. And I think that he’s well prepared to do all the things that have to be done. These are the three guys that are going to take care of Pocono Raceway and let my wife and I sort of have it easy a little bit. I want to thank you all for all the nice things you’ve said, and even the bad things you’ve said. And there have been both. So we’ve had a nice time working here and I’m quite sure that Brandon, Nick and Ashley are well trained to do what they have to do. And if there are any questions, I’m prepared to answer any.”

Can you talk about what you’ve accomplished here over the years and what a big thing you’re turning over today? “Well, all we started with here was $48 and the last time we did a mint value was around $600 million so I think that it’s been quite a jump. Bruton (Smith) kept after us, they wanted to buy it, wanted to buy it for many years. We always felt that this was something special. We put it in trust so they couldn’t sell it if they wanted to sell it. We put it in trust, so that the first step is to do what we’re doing right now, leaving it to our grandchildren. And then they can’t do a damn thing until Rose and I die and until all of our three children have died. Until then, then it would be turned over into a trust made up of our seven grandchildren who are all here today pretty much. They are ready to do what they have to do at that time.”

What I’d like to know is who’s going to carry the .45 that you used to carry? “I never thought of that. I don’t know if you remember but Clay Earles down in Martinsville, he used to say that he was either dressed or undressed. If he was carrying a piece then he was dressed. If he was undressed he wasn’t carrying a piece. I was threatened up here many, many years ago. I know you guys have no idea what it was like up here but it was really desolate. I used to live in my trailer in the back of the old office and I had a always had a German Shepherd with me and I always carried, I had a permit to carry a side arm. I just got in the habit. And ever since then I always carried a side arm. It’s just a habit you get into. But you always had to be armed when you were here. This was a very desolate country 50 years ago and I always carried a side arm and still do. And now I’ve gotten too fat I can’t even put it in my belt. Yes that will continue.”

How long have you thought about this decision? “Oh gosh, I don’t really know. It was something that just evolved and evolved and evolved. When I realized that my three grandchildren are capable then I start thinking heavily about it. They’re really three super kids right here, and we have a lot of confidence in them. As you can understand turning something over after it’s been in the family with Rose and I, it’s quite a compliment to them is the way you’d put it. They’re really good kids and smart kids. Even gave me three great-granddaughters. Two are twins, Madison and McKenzie, and now we’ve got pretty Peyton, she’s our little baby and she is a doll. She’s going to grow up thinking her name is Pretty Pretty Peyton because that’s all I ever call her. It’s been a nice trip. And I feel very happy and lucky to have these three kids. We’ll continue on from here and I’m quite sure that they’ll take care of you guys as I did and hope to do in the proper way.”

With all your free time, what’s your next project? “Well I have built already right across the street from the entrance we’ve built a completely fully complimented resort, the Village at Pocono. And you’ll be surprised to know that this little girl right here (Ashley), she built it. I mean literally built it. I taught her how to do construction and she took it under control and now she’s in charge of the whole project over there. We have seven villas and each of the villas has four two-bedroom apartments, furnished. She built it, she runs it. If you’ve never been over there you should go take a look. We have a big clubhouse and a big sprung building. You might see something like a tent over there and that’s called a sprung building. It’s a very unusual building. Whenever you build a building with a swimming pool in it they deteriorate the wood if you use wood, or brick. So we had this one building we found that was 10 inch I-beam, and the I-beam is covered with a fabric manufactured in Germany when we built it. It has 10 inches of insulation and then it has another fabric on the inside. So the water from the swimming pool can’t do any damage at all. It’s quite a building. And next to that we have the clubhouse. And in the back of that we have a playground for the children. And Ashley now runs that whole operation but she actually built it herself. She’s in charge of the running of it. So right now we don’t have any other new projects. We just keep going the way we’re going. If we see something that interests, I’m only 87 so what the hell I might as well give it a try and if I screw it up? I don’t care, let them worry about it. But as you can tell just by the way I’m talking right now we’ve had a good time. Rose and I come from very poor families. And all of our parents are dead. We even kept a secret for many years. We ran away and got married and they never knew about it. After we felt that the marriage was going to last we had a real Italian wedding and got married again. And they died and never knew that we had been married. And I was going to divorce her a couple of times but I figured I’d have to get divorced twice so I said the hell with that, I’m not going to go through that so I just put up with her.”

“Our three children they are in charge of, with their mother. We have a “crooked” accountant and the four of them are on the executive committee. Dale Capone is our “crooked” accountant. They are very capable and they run the executive committee which really and truly does run Pocono Raceway. And now I say with the three grandchildren we’ve had a pretty good time.”

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – “Words can’t describe how happy all of Roush Fenway is to be sitting here with Carl in this circumstance and having him agree for 2012 and beyond to extend his association with us. I consider it as a positive indication for the analysis that Carl did, a positive indication for all of the personnel and the process that we have at Roush Fenway to build our cars, to build our engines and to organize ourselves and train our pit crew and do the rest of it. Carl’s evaluation and his questions were most exhaustive and certainly the most in-depth of any that I’ve had in my 24 years and I’m glad we made it through that and he came to this determination. I appreciate the patience that my sponsors have had for the 99 car as they weren’t sure what was going to happen and they continued to wait on us, to have their discussions about what would happen. Since this is a watershed year when most of the sponsorships are up for renewal they’ve given us the time to let Carl have the time to reach his conclusion. I can’t say how much I look forward to working with Carl in the foreseeable future and our Fords to make him a champion in the Cup Series and multiple championships hopefully and to win a lot of races. Thanks, Carl.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion – “Thank you, Jack. I’m really excited. We’re excited to go out here and try to win this championship. I appreciate Jack and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing for giving me the time that I needed to make my decisions and to look at everything. I can’t say how much I respect Jack and everyone at Roush Fenway and the process, contrary to what a lot of you guys thought, the process went pretty well. We got along real well throughout it and there’s a lot of respect. I’m just excited to move forward. This team is in a position that we’ve never been in before. We feel that we’re fast for the right reasons and we have the opportunity to go out here and win this championship, so I’m glad it’s behind us. I’m glad to be here racing and going for the championship.”

WHAT DID IT COME DOWN TO IN THE END AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO STAY? “First of all, I wish I would have never confirmed that our term was up because it would have been a lot quieter. I looked at a lot of things, but, at the end of the day, our negotiations and our deals and the things that I look at competitively are private matters and I appreciate you guys respecting that.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – WHERE ARE YOU WITH SPONSORS NOW AND DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE ABLE TO KEEP FOUR CARS NEXT YEAR? “As far as the 99 car, we just opened negotiations in the last 48 hours with the existing sponsors to see what’s there. There are a couple of new sponsors, potentially, in the wings that we can attract and embrace and have them get involved. It’s a reality today that we see that given the economic circumstance and the complexity of the racing and how many people it takes behind a team, I passed out the mid-season prize money portion to all the team on Tuesday. I think we had 416 folks in Roush Fenway that were involved and I worked for about 55 minutes giving checks out and celebrating and thanking and I finally got myself down to 14 that were left and I said, ‘You know, my highwater mark in my first year with Mark was 14 people,’ so this thing is extraordinarily expensive, it’s extraordinarily complex and in today’s economic environment I think it’s beyond the means and the interest of most sponsors that would be involved to take the whole car, so we’re sorting out through the sponsors to find out who the anchor will be for the 99 and then we’ll fill in around that with the other sponsors that have got an interest. We don’t expect to have a shortage of sponsors for Carl. As we finish the 99’s program, we’ll continue with discussions to people who are committed to our programs for the cars that are left, but everything is pretty much in a state of flux. Since the negotiations are private and they are ongoing, I choose not to speculate on who would be in and who would be out and who the new players would be, but suffice it to say that there’s a list that I believe to be sufficient in terms of interest and the money that they represent that I think we’re gonna be fine with four cars.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – HOW CLOSE DID YOU COME TO DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT? “At the end of the day we went through the process, worked really hard and this is the outcome that happened and I’m proud to be here. I’d really rather not discuss the actual process. I can say, just like I said earlier, that I learned a ton, I learned a lot through this process. I learned a lot about Roush Fenway Racing. It was amazing the things I learned. I learned a lot about Jack as a person. I learned a lot about myself and what’s important to me. I learned a lot about my competitors, about you guys in the media, and I’m really appreciative for all those folks who were patient with me and took the time, and a lot of folks, a lot of folks in here included, I talked to them about this decision and the support that I received was huge, so I really, really appreciate that from the competitors as well. At the end of the day, we were in a position right now where our cars are fast, we have chances to win almost every week, and the opportunity to go out and win this championship, to continue my partnership with Jack, to continue it with Ford, with the sponsors that we have, it’s an honor to be in this position, so I’m really happy with the way this turned out.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED -- HOW MANY SLEEPLESS NIGHTS DID YOU HAVE OVER THIS? “There were some sleepless nights. I think Carl and I both got a better night’s sleep on Friday than we probably had for awhile, but I want to say that if Carl had made the decision not to come back I was gonna feel really stupid for having shown him all the things – we lined up every manager and every brilliant person we’ve got among the 416 there are a lot of them that are just really superior at what they do. He had a chance to consider the breadth and the length of every person and every thought that we had on what would be good going forward and I would feel horribly exposed if he had not come back, but the thing about the cars that Carl spoke to, there has been a time in my 24 years several times when we’ve had a front suspension kinematics that was working better or we had an advantage on our engine, or we had an advantage with aero or Ford had given us a car that was smaller or had better downforce than our contemporaries, but we don’t have that right now. NASCAR’s rules and the number of inspectors that they’ve got and the number of templates that you’ve got that you have to conform with having everybody now on the same engine page, we don’t have a single thing that we’d say that is a definitive reason why we’re as competitive as we are, but the fact is we don’t have a weakness and that’s the thing that makes me feel really good about our prospects going forward is the fact that we don’t have a weakness. We don’t have anything glaring that is deficient. Every once in a while you get a piece of good news like at Daytona and the restricted races this year our cooling system with the new FR9 has proven to be better than suspected, but it’s not something that’s outside the bounds of what everybody else has got. It’s not something that I’m gonna lose when somebody else catches up. The thing that’s the biggest secret for me and the thing that gives me the most satisfaction is the fact that our thing is so strong and so deep and is so solid.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – WAS IT ODD TO SEE YOURSELF AS THE CENTER OF ATTENTION? “What I did from the beginning of this is I said, ‘What would I do if money weren’t a factor and what would I do if I didn’t care what one person thought about my decision?’ A decision that’s this important to me and my family for all the hard work that I’ve put in for the path that I’ve taken, for me personally, I act as my own agent, I make my own decisions, I understand my own deals and the decision was made under those thoughts. So that’s what made this more simple for me and that’s how I came to the conclusion I came to. Whenever I’d start feeling that pressure start creeping in from the outside I’d think, ‘OK, let’s get back to the basics here. Where can I win the most championships? And what would I do if other people’s opinions weren’t a factor?’ So that helped me a ton and I think my family and Jack’s patience and Jack’s support, all of those things helped me do that. When I talked to Jack on the phone and he said, ‘Look, Carl, you do whatever you think is best for you.’ He said those words to me and that meant the world. It meant that I didn’t have that pressure to do something for any reason other than what I thought was best. That was huge.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – YESTERDAY YOU SAID SOMETHING ABOUT FORD COMING IN WITH AN UNPRECEDENTED INCENTIVE AND STOCK PROGRAM FOR CARL. HOW BIG OF AN IMPACT DO YOU FEEL THAT MADE? “I really misspoke yesterday. The arrangement between Ford and Carl is one that involves his personal services agreements and the other things. I presumed from something that I was told that Kevin Kennedy had said that Ford had made a release and I spoke to some things that I didn’t have firsthand knowledge of that I believed to be true that may not be true, and it certainly wasn’t my responsibility or my prerogative to put it out there, so I don’t have anything further to say on that.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – “Let me clarify that. There was no last-minute money. The idea that some people have run with is, first of all the money numbers that I read are not correct. That’s all I’ll say about that. And if anybody who wants to publish anymore of those numbers would like to come ask me if they’re correct in person, I’ll tell you they’re not correct. And then second, the deal with Ford there was no difference in the deal at the last minute or anything. My deal with Ford is that I believe in the company. I believe in the products that they make and just like everyone else at Ford and Roush Fenway Racing, if Ford benefits, I have the potential to benefit from that success too. But there was no last-minute influx of money or anything like that. That’s a false assumption.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “I’d like to make one follow-up comment on that on the money thing. The one thing that Carl and I did not have a discussion about at any point in the negotiation or consideration was money. Money was not a factor from my side, from the Roush Fenway side, and from what I could see it was not a factor from Carl’s side. That did not weigh into the decision Carl made.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – THE CROWD AT INDY WAS PROBABLY LESS THAN HALF OF WHAT IT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO. ANY THOUGHTS ON HOW TO GET THE BRICKYARD BACK TO WHAT IT WAS? “What were fuel prices four or five years ago? I know that the people that I live around in Columbia, Missouri, they love racing. They’re more excited about NASCAR than they’ve ever been, but every fuel station I drive by gas prices are $3.55 a gallon – in Columbia, Missouri. It supposedly went up another 10 cents the other day, so when I look at Indy I look at it as you’ve got to say, ‘Is the glass half-full or half-empty?’ It looks half-full to me. The fact that we had 160,000 people or something like that – 130,000 or 135,000 – that’s a huge number of people to come out and enjoy that race. And I feel a lot of the people who didn’t come out there to the race are probably doing exactly what all of us are doing thinking, ‘Hey, what’s the best thing I can do for my family? Maybe we’ll go to another race this year.’ There’s a race down in Kentucky that had people line up for 20 miles. That’s not too far away. There’s a race there at Chicago and other races that are close, so I feel that we should be proud of the fact that 130,000-something people came to that race track. That’s how I feel about it.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “My comments on that as it relates to Indy is I think it’s a low-water mark. Indy has gone through the initial bubble like Kentucky has gone through of having it be something that’s new and fresh and has its novel attraction. Indy has been there. The brickyard has been there long enough now that the novel attraction is over and I think as our economy turns and as people get more comfortable with their job situation and have more money that they’re willing to spend on entertainment, I think that will return to a higher figure. Whether it gets to be 400,000-500,000 paid admissions I’m not sure it’ll ever achieve that, but certainly I think 130,000 is a low-water mark.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – CAN YOU SHED ANY LIGHT ON THIS LAST WEEK THAT CONVINCED YOU IT WAS THE RIGHT TIME AND RIGHT DECISION FOR YOU? “Not really. I think for the reasons that we talked about overall. I just decided this is the right place for me and if I would have made that decision three months ago, I might have had more second thoughts, I might have felt not as sure about it, so, to me, the fact that I had the time that I had and I had the opportunities, and Jack being as open as he was and showing me things that were going on. Ford, with the way they treated me through the process and showed me things that were gonna happen in the future, all of that was a risk on their part because they didn’t have to show me those things, but it took time for me to come to that conclusion. There wasn’t one thing at the end that changed my mind or made my decision different.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PEOPLE FROM FORD WHO DID REACH OUT TO YOU? THEY’VE SHOWN LOYALTY TO THE WOOD BROTHERS AND JACK. HOW MUCH DID LOYALTY WEIGH INTO YOUR DECISION? “That’s part of what I said earlier about the way I made the decision. I made the decision taking money out of the equation and what people would think out of the equation. Now, the fact that Ford has such a presence and they have for so many years, that’s huge. But, to me, this was really about where could I be the most successful? Where could I perform the best? That’s what this was about.” WHAT ABOUT FORD’S REPUTATION AS A COMPANY? “The way that Ford has run their business and the things that they’ve done the last five years, I think everyone worldwide can look at that and say, ‘That’s amazing.’ I mean, they sacrificed when it was time to sacrifice. They made the hard decisions when they had to and they’re reaping the benefits now. They’re doing very well. I believe everybody in the company that I’ve spoken with firmly believes in doing things the right way and that’s something that is very important to me. I’m very proud to represent them, so I’m very glad that I’ll be driving a Ford next year.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “The thing about Ford as it relates to a team owner like myself is to have the confidence that you’ve got a partner that is going to be with you. The Ford Motor Company was founded and the support from the banks and the financial institutions that backed Henry Ford followed the success that he had in a race at St. Clair Shores, Michigan in 1901. So that success and the fact that they’ve continued to market their products down through the decades with racing – back in the thirties my dad drove a Model T in the fairgrounds and drove through a guardrail fence. He told me that I should not think about driving one of these cars because I might get a splinter in my posterior, but Ford has been there for the people that have had a motorsports interest and they’ve used it to market their cars and to advance their technologies for 100 years, and they’re gonna be there for Carl and I for as long as we want to race.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – DID YOU NOTICE ANY ISSUES AT THE SHOP WITH THE GUYS ON YOUR CREW AS FAR AS THEIR EMOTION? “I think everybody is really excited, I think all of us are. I know I am and Jack is and I spent a little bit of time with the guys talking with them about it today and everybody feels the same way as best as I can tell that , ‘Hey, man, that was getting kind of stressful. I’m really glad we’re moving beyond that.’ I think everybody kind of has that same feeling, so that’s good.”

JACK ROUSH CONTINUED – “And I don’t often agree with Jeff Gordon on very much, but the fact (Carl starts laughing) – well on some things, on the important things I agree with Jeff, but we don’t see our manufacturer affiliations the same, but, at any rate, when Jeff commented and I think he comments were directed that if Carl did make his decision to leave that it would almost certainly be a distraction to his championship efforts this year, I don’t think that anybody that’s involved in this business would not see that as not a likelihood and we’re able to put that behind us now and there was no damage done to the negotiations because he’s still leading the points and we’ve got six opportunities to win races between now and the Chase.”

CARL EDWARDS CONTINUED – “I’m really proud of the fact that we went through all of this and we’re leading the points, we haven’t missed a beat and we’re able to keep digging. I’m proud of that.” Ford Racing

 

When police captain Louis Renault sent his subordinates to “round up the usual suspects” after a shooting in the film “Casablanca,” they didn’t hesitate. They knew exactly who to look for.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been a little like that. With few exceptions, the drivers we have seen vying for the title since the Chase was implemented in 2004 have been the same ones we expect to see in Victory Lane each week, including Carl Edwards, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and of course, Jimmie Johnson.
In seasons past, the Chase field has been determined strictly by points. If you weren’t in the Top 12 following the August race at Richmond, you were out. This occasionally created a situation where winless drivers during the regular season were contending for the championship, while race winners could hope for no better than a 13th-place finish for the year.
Prior to the start of the 2011 season, NASCAR announced the addition of a new “wild card” rule. It seemed a little complicated at the time, but it’s actually pretty simple. This year, the top 10 in the driver standings after the Richmond event are locked in, but the remaining two positions will be filled by guys ranked in spots 11 through 20 who have won races in 2011. So hypothetically, if you’re ranked 18th and have a victory or two to your credit, you could leap-frog right over the 11th-place guy, who is winless, and make the Chase.
The announcement generated a flurry of discussion and debate, pretty evenly divided between the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “Wins should be rewarded” camps. Some discounted the wild card component, as experience has taught us that NASCAR’s cream invariably rises to the top – or to the Top 12, as the case may be.
So we settled in to see how it would all play out.
The result has surely been greater than even NASCAR might have expected. From day one, the 2011 Cup season has resembled a James Patterson novel, full of plot twists and turns, last-minute rescues and unlikely heroes with -- also like a James Patterson novel – a brand-new edition every week.
For months, the Top 12 has been a revolving door of drivers. The ladder’s lower rungs are no longer relatively secure, as fortunes can change with nothing more than a single well-played hand.
We have seen several drivers this year become potential championship contenders with their first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins. Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne is competing for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship and is therefore ineligible for the Chase. Regan Smith and David Ragan, however, who won at Darlington and Daytona respectively, still have a shot at it, reminding us that with wild cards in the deck, any hand can win the jackpot.
But it took Paul Menard for me to truly grasp what a momentous change the wild card component has turned out to be. Menard hails from a family reportedly worth billions of dollars, and in the manner of supportive parents throughout history, his father, John Menard, has supported his son’s struggle to succeed in his chosen field.
This particular brand of parental support has entailed a bit more than allowing his son to crash in the basement while trying to get on his financial feet. The elder Menard, an ardent supporter of racing, has worked long and hard to get to Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was fielding Indy cars before Paul was born, and determinedly backed his son all the way to one of NASCAR’s top teams, despite snarky observations about Menard buying rather than earning his way into a coveted seat at Richard Childress Racing.
Paul proved willing and able to prove his father’s investment strategy a sound one, narrowly beating perennial favorite Jeff Gordon to win one of NASCAR’s most prestigious events, the Brickyard 400 on July 31. Appropriately, the emotional father and son knelt together for a time-honored tradition after the race. "I've been waiting to kiss these bricks for such a long time,” John said. The win propelled Paul to the 12th position in the Chase field standings headed into the Pocono race weekend August 5-7.
NASCAR pundits are going to have a beast of a time attempting to determine this year’s biggest headline. Was it Bayne taking the Wood Brothers back to Victory Lane? Perhaps Jimmie Johnson will win his sixth title, or Dale Earnhardt Jr., currently fighting to remain in the Top 10, will win his first. Ragan’s success this season certainly hasn’t hurt his relationship with Roush Fenway Racing, and the Menard family’s triumph at Indy after more than 30 years of trying was wonderful to watch.
I am beginning to suspect that NASCAR’s 2011 Cinderella story just might turn out to be the revised Chase itself. The number of races remaining before the ball can now be counted on one hand, and we still aren’t completely sure who’s invited, much less who will be wearing the glass slipper at evening’s end.

In an environment where literally anything can happen, it does. To say that this year’s dance is literally going to be a wild one is gambling’s rarest phenomenon – a completely safe bet.

On August 3, 2011, the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard and considered the appeal of the #23 R3 Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide Series team.

The penalties concerns Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing.”; Section 12-4-J: “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR Rules”; and Section 20A-5.9F: “Unapproved intake manifold.”

This stemmed from opening day inspection for a NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Kentucky Speedway on July 7, 2011.

The penalties assessed were:

- $5,000 fine;

- Placed on NASCAR probation until August 17, 2011 for crew chief Walter T. Giles.

The Appellant acknowledged while the intake manifold was legal in the 2010 rulebook it was not per the 2011 rulebook. The Appellant contested the severity of the fine for the penalties for the error.

Upon hearing the testimony and carefully reviewing the facts, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR.

The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer.

Dale Pinilis

Russell Hackett

Kevin Whitaker

Ed Bennett - Appellate Administrator and non-voting member

On August 3, 2011, the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard and considered the appeal of the #02 Corrie Stott Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series team.

The penalties concerns Section 12-1 of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing.”; Section 12-4-J: “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the Race Equipment used in the Event does not conform to NASCAR Rules”; and Section 20A-2.3A: “Improperly attached weight.”

This stemmed from a practice session for a NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Kentucky Speedway on July 7, 2011.

The penalties assessed were:

- $10,000 fine;

- Placed on NASCAR probation until August 17, 2011 for crew chief Corrie E. Stott.

The Appellant acknowledged the weight was not properly attached to the car. The Appellant contested the severity of the fine for the penalties.

Based on the facts and circumstances in this appeal, the Panel deemed the fine amount should be reduced from $10,000 to $5,000.

Therefore, the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel was to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR while amending the fine of the original penalty.

The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer.

Dale Pinilis

Russell Hackett

Kevin Whitaker

Ed Bennett - Appellate Administrator and non-voting member

 

NASCAR PR

In a continuing effort to support the American family farmer and rancher, Furniture Row Racing announced that its No. 78 Sprint Cup Chevrolet, driven by Regan Smith, will display the Farm American initiative as a major associate sponsor at three upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup races -- Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 21), Atlanta Motor Speedway (Sept. 4) and Kansas Speedway (Oct. 9).

Furniture Row Companies and its Farm American financial partner - Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers - are teaming to promote the importance of having a stable and robust agriculture industry along with bridging the awareness gap between urban and rural America.

"The national reach that NASCAR delivers is a perfect stage to have a conversation with race fans about the many contributions the American farmer and rancher make on a daily basis," said Joe Garone, general manager of Furniture Row Racing.

"We are excited to work with Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers as we continue to seek additional financial partners for the Farm American program. We are encouraged with the feedback from the agriculture industry, which employs directly and indirectly more than 22 million people in the American workforce."

Based in St. Johns, Mich., Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers is a manufacturer and marketer of premium crop nutrition. An industry leader since 1983, Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers joined Furniture Row Racing's Farm American program earlier in the year as a financial and communications partner.

Members of the Furniture Row Racing team will take part in Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers public open house -- Wednesday, Aug. 24 in Ashley, Mich. -- to celebrate the company's new manufacturing facility. The No. 78 Farm American Chevrolet will also appear at the event.

What They're Saying About The Farm American Program

Barney Visser

Team owner Furniture Row Racing,

Chief Executive Officer Furniture Row Companies

“The number of job losses in the American furniture industry due to unfair competitive practices by international governments has been devastating. To see the same trends occurring in our food supply, leaving us subjected to possible interruptions and unequal standards is something we see as worth fighting for.

“I don’t want America to fall asleep on this issue – this is where America needs to come together. I believe in the free market system, but we’re not free when we ask our farmers and ranchers to compete against foreign governments and potentially harmful standards that put us and our families at risk.”

Albert Bancroft

Communications and Marketing Manager

Agro-Culutre Liquid Fertilizers

"Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers believes in and stands behind the efforts Farm American is making to educate consumers about food production in a fun and entertaining way. As a company that provides a full line of premium products from coast-to-coast, we are enthusiastic about partnering with Furniture Row Companies for a greater cause. We look forward to kicking off the three-race Farm American program in our home state of Michigan."

Celeste Settrini

President

California Women for Agriculture

California Women for Agriculture is thrilled to be partnered with the Farm American initiative. By being supportive of this project we can be part of a bigger Ag picture, supporting those who support us. Farmers and Ranchers across America are eager to reach out and build relationships with our consumers. Through the Farm American project we can do that by the millions, starting and carrying conversations about American Agriculture. Now its time for others to step up and invest with those who have carried this program  to date. Thank you Furniture Row and Agro Liquid Fertilizers for Farm American! We are excited to be in the drivers seat with you!

Furniture Row Racing PR

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) veteran, Jason White, will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) debut in Sunday’s Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono Raceway. The Richmond, Virginia native will pilot the No. 32 GunBroker.com Ford Fusion for FAS Lane Racing.

White, a full-time driver for Joe Denette Motorsports in the NCWTS, has one start at the 2.5-mile tri-oval; starting 16th and finishing 10th in the 2010 Inaugural NCWTS event at Pocono Raceway.

“After having many quality, veteran drivers this year we are really excited about giving some young guys an opportunity these next couple of weeks,” said owner Frank Stoddard.  “Jason has consistently run well in the truck series and he is a great spokesperson for his sponsors.  I look forward to trying to run Jason in some more races this season.”

“I’m really looking forward to making my first Cup start at Pocono this weekend,” said White. “Racing in the Sprint Cup Series has always been a goal of mine and this weekend marks a major mile stone in my career. I would really like to thank Frank (Stoddard) for giving me this opportunity and GunBroker.com for their support.”

FAS Lane Racing PR

Pepsi Max will join Golden Corral for seven races on the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet this season. Pepsi Max will have associate placement on the Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) machine starting at Pocono Raceway this weekend and return to the Chevrolet at Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Dover International Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Pepsi has been a part of racing for nearly 15 years on the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Golden Corral has served Pepsi's robust portfolio of carbonated and non-carbonated beverages in each of its 485 locations since 2007.

Golden Corral joined TBR for the Daytona 500 this season and returned for 21 primary events and nine associate events. Golden Corral is currently running a season-long promotion “Racing for America’s Families.” If the No. 36 Golden Corral Chevrolet finishes in the top-10 in any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event this season, kids get a free buffet the following Monday with a paying adult.

“We are excited to expand our presence in the sport by partnering with Tommy Baldwin Racing for this unique Pepsi MAX promotion with Golden Corral,” said Rand Eyberg, Vice President National Restaurants, PepsiCo Foodservice.

“Adding Zero Calorie Pepsi Max to our already large assortment of beverage options increases our commitment to providing incredible value and variety to our guests,” said Ed Gleich, Vice President of Marketing for Golden Corral.

“We’re excited to have Pepsi Max on the car for seven races,” explained TBR owner Tommy Baldwin. “We are pleased we can support our partner, Golden Corral, in promoting the availability of Pepsi Max in their restaurants. That’s our job as a race team, and I’m glad we can help their brand as they help us every week.”

Tommy Baldwin Racing PR

TRG Motorsports heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend for the running of the Good Sam RV Insurance 500. The team is coming off of a 26th place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; a run that propelled the no.71 team to a spot in the top-35 in the series’ owner’s point standings. The team’s position in the top-35 guarantees it a starting position in the forty-three car field that will take the green flag this Sunday.

The race will mark the 26th career start for driver Andy Lally and will also be his 2nd career start at the Tricky Triangle.

"I’m really proud of my guys for working so hard these past few months. It paid off last week as we got back into the top 35 and can now head to Pocono with race set up in mind. We have not been able to do this for so long and it’s hard to express to someone watching from the outside just how different these cars are in qualifying trim and race trim. When we have to spend the entire time focusing on getting fast for qualifying it leaves us very little time if any to work on race set up, especially when we have Saturday qualifying. These next few races will be at tracks I have been to before so I’m looking forward to building on what we have learned in the first half of the year."

Crew chief Doug Richert has five career top-5 finishes at Pocono.

“Setting a car up for Pocono is always a challenge. It requires you to strike a balance that will allow the car to perform well through three very distinct corners. To be fast in one corner, you most likely have to give up speed in another. That can make for a very interesting race. The teams that perform the best at Pocono are the ones that find that balance. Ford is at the top of their game right now. Everyone has seen the performance of the FR9 engine package over the past few weeks. I’m glad to have Roush Yates horsepower under the hood of our #71 car this weekend.”

Team owner Kevin Buckler is glad to see his organization back in the top-35 and looking forward to the upcoming weekend.

“Our team has really started to come together over the past few weeks. We have a great group partners that have helped to support this team in its quest to get back in the top-35. Our goal now is not only to stay there, but to continue to improve on our current position. We have the right group of guys in place to accomplish something special. Pocono, Michigan and Watkins Glen all have the potential to help us build on this momentum we have right now. Our team is making strides towards being more and more competitive and Andy is making huge strides as a driver. If we can keep building at the current rate, this little team is going to surprise a lot of people.”

TRG Motorsports PR

 

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