Entry List for the GEICO 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway is posted, 45 teams/drivers [for 43 spots] are listed, including: #21-Blaney, #32-Bobby Labonte, #33-Brian Scott, #34-Chris Buescher, #55-Waltrip, #95-McDowell.
Drivers who need to be in the top-36 in speed and have no provisional available to them (lowest in owners points): #62-Gaughan (46th in points), #21-Blaney (45th)
Drivers who would miss the race if qualifying is canceled (least race attempts): #95-McDowell (5 attempts), #21-Blaney (3).
See the full entry list on Jayski.com's Talladega Entry List
Kurt Busch wins at Richmond: #41-Kurt Busch won the rain-delayed Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway for his 1st win of the season, 2nd win at Richmond and his 26th career win. The race was originally scheduled to be run on Saturday evening, but persistent race forced the postponement until Sunday afternoon.
#4-Harvick finished second, the rest of the top 10: #48-Johnson, #1-McMurray, #22-Logano, #5-Kahne, #20-Kenseth, #24-Gordon, #15-Bowyer, and #78-Truex, Jr.
#25-Chase Elliott, making his second Sprint Cup start, finished 16th.
Harvick continues to hold the Chase points lead. He and Johnson each have 2 wins on the season but Harvick has 357 points to Johnson's 299.
There were 12 lead changes among 5 drivers. There were 8 cautions for 53 yellow flag laps.
The average speed was 97.157mph.
See unofficial race results, awards, money won, laps led, cautions and more on the Unofficial Race Results page (pdf) and check out the Penalty Report (pdf) and Lap Summary Report (pdf).
Race Fast Facts - Richmond International Raceway:
Kurt Busch won the 61st Annual Toyota Owners 400, his 26th victory in 513 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in 2015.
This is his second victory and 11th top-10 finish in 29 races at Richmond International Raceway.
Kevin Harvick (second) posted his 18th top-10 finish in 29 races at Richmond International Raceway. It is his eighth top-10 finish in 2015.
Jimmie Johnson (third) posted his 10th top-10 finish in 27 races at Richmond International Raceway.
Brett Moffitt (29th) was the highest finishing rookie.
Kevin Harvick leads the point standings by 33 points over Joey Logano.
(NASCAR Integrated Sports Marketing)(4-26-2015)
2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Standings:
[after Richmond, race 9 of 36]
(by wins, then by points)
1) #4-Kevin Harvick [2 wins], 357
2) #48-Jimmie Johnson [2 wins], 299, -58
3) #22-Joey Logano [1 win], 324, -33
4) #2-Brad Keselowski [1 win], 283, -74
5) #20-Matt Kenseth [1 win], 273, -84
6) #11-Denny Hamlin [1 win], 245, -112
7) #41-Kurt Busch [1 win], 222, -135
8) #78-Martin Truex Jr., 315, -42
9) #5-Kasey Kahne, 275, -82
10) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 271, -86
11) #1-Jamie McMurray, 264, -93
12) #24-Jeff Gordon, 263, -94
13) #43-Aric Almirola, 250, -107
14) #27-Paul Menard, 239, -118
15) #15-Clint Bowyer, 234, -122
16) #31-Ryan Newman, 234, -123
(ties are broken by wins, 2nds, 3rds, etc)
See the Unofficial Drivers Points Standings page (pdf) and Unofficial Owners Points Standings page (pdf).(4-26-2015)
BK Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing considering merger? Chatter in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage this weekend has a potential merger between BK Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing being considered, CATCHFENCE.com has learned. Both teams have struggled thus far at NASCAR's top level this season, but the merger would combine resources, assets and personnel with hopes of lifting the on-track performance of their drivers. Another possible scenario is BK Racing simply acquiring Tommy Baldwin Racing, sources say. Currently, Tommy Baldwin Racing fields the #7 Chevy for Alex Bowman, while BK Racing fields three cars for rookie candidate Jeb Burton, Matt DiBenedetto and veteran JJ Yeley. Bowman drove for BK Racing in 2014, but left the team to join TBR. Sources tell CATCHFENCE.com if the merger happened, it's likely that Baldwin's team would switch to Toyota and Baldwin taking a director of competition role. A spokesperson for RAB Racing, which currently does not field a full-time team, confirmed that they were involved in an initial discussion with BK Racing, but wouldn't elaborate.(Catchfence)(4-26-2015)
Some teams get inspection penalties at Richmond: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director Richard Buck sent a memo to teams this week about receiving warnings and penalties if they did not get through inspections in a timely fashion. Tommy Baldwin Racing's #7-team with driver Alex Bowman will be penalized 15 minutes of practice time next week at Talladega Superspeedway for failing to pass pre-qualifying inspection three times. Two Sprint Cup teams received warnings for failing to get through qualifying inspection twice. Those teams were the #98 car of Phil Parsons Racing (driver Josh Wise) and the #32 car of Go Green Racing (Joey Gase). NASCAR also stated that seven Xfinity teams will be penalized 15 minutes of practice next week at Talladega for being late to pre-qualfying inspection. Those cars are the #03 car of Mike Affarano Motorsports (Johanna Long), the #1 car of Roush Fenway Racing (Elliott Sadler), the #4 car of JD Motorsports (Ross Chastain), the #22 car of Team Penske (Joey Logano), the #54 car of Joe Gibbs Racing (Erik Jones), the #62 car of Richard Childress Racing (Brendan Gaughan) and the #97 car of Obaika Racing (Peyton Sellers).(NBC Sports)(4-26-2015)
The Biggest Meatball in racing meets the Biggest Track in NASCAR: Talladega Superspeedway, known for its extraordinary one-of-a-kind racing, is now delivering a new menu item that is just as anticipated as the action on the track - "The Big One" Meatball. Fans coming to enjoy the GEICO 500 and Winn-Dixie 300 on May 1-3, will want to sink their teeth into this "softball-sized" meatball that's being sold at concession stands in the Gadsden and O.V. Hill South Grandstands along the frontstretch. "The Big One" Meatball has a center of blended Mozzarella and Pepper Jack Cheeses mixed with smoked BBQ Pulled Pork and a little house BBQ sauce for an extra kick. It is then covered by a layer of Ground Beef, rolled in a panko bread crumb and parmesan mix before being deep fried to a golden brown. It's topped off with a dollop of BBQ sauce and a spaghetti garnish. This mammoth meatball, like Talladega Superspeedway, is the biggest of its kind and weighs in at over 1 pound.(TSS)(4-26-2015)
Michael Waltrip in the #55 at Talladega; then Ragan UPDATES: Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will drive the #55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3. Waltrip, founder and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, replaces 22-year-old Brett Moffitt who has driven MWR's #55 since the March 22nd race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. "Talladega is a place where I know we will be very competitive," said Waltrip who owns four restrictor plate victories including a Talladega win in the fall of 2003. "This will be my 58th Sprint Cup start at Talladega so believe me when I tell you Talladega is some of the best racing in the world and I'm glad I'll get to be part of it again in the Aaron's Dream Machine." The May 3 and Oct. 25 Talladega races are the only remaining races Waltrip is scheduled to drive this season.(Michael Waltrip Racing)(4-23-2015)
UPDATE: The team is believed to be trying to sign David Ragan to drive the #55 beginning next month at Kansas. Ragan is currently the replacement driver for Kyle Busch at Joe Gibbs Racing, but JGR is leaning toward putting 18-year-old development driver Erik Jones in the car until Busch returns. That would free Ragan, who has subbed for Busch since the second week of the season. Waltrip wasn't prepared Thursday to discuss anything beyond next week at Talladega. "We're making plans now and we wanted a more long-term solution for the situation by this point, but we just haven't been able to put all the pieces together yet," he said. He also said it's unclear when - or if - Vickers will be back. "I can't answer that," Waltrip said of Vickers, who is in a contract year with the team. "He certainly wants to be back, but he's on thinners. Until he comes up with a long-term solution to that, that challenges us in answering if he'll be back."(Associated Press)(4-24-2015)
UPDATE 2: David Ragan, who entered the season planning to run with Front Row Motorsports, is expected to move to Michael Waltrip Racing's #55 Toyota beginning with the May 9 race at Kansas Speedway, multiple sources confirmed to the Observer on Friday. He would replace rookie Brett Moffitt in the #55, who has been filling in most of the team's races since the team's regular driver, Brian Vickers, was sidelined once again with blood clots. Ragan would remain with the team for the rest of the 2015 season, sources said. Saturday's race is expected to be the last for Moffitt with MWR in the Cup series, but the organization remains committed to obtaining sponsorship in order to run him in a third team and he remains under contract with MWR. An official announcement is expected sometime next week, sources said. Ragan's move will require another fill-in driver for JGR in the #18 as Busch is not yet set to return to competition. Sources said JGR will move Xfinity and Truck series driver Erik Jones into the #18 beginning with the Kansas race. An official with Joe Gibbs Racing said "nothing has been confirmed" thus far about any changes to their driver lineup. With Ragan moving to the #55 for the remainder of the season, Front Row Motorsports will need to find a more permanent replacement for Ragan in its #34 Ford. Roush Fenway Racing has been loaning Xfinity driver Chris Buescher to the team when the schedule doesn't disrupt his run for Xfinity Series championship. That arrangement could well continue, with other drivers used when Buscher's schedule doesn't allow double-duty, sources said. A FRM spokesman said at this time, the organization was still expecting Ragan to return to the team whenever his tenure at JGR is completed.(Charlotte Observer)(4-24-2015)
UPDATE 3: If the deal is finalized, Vickers, who announced in March that he would have to miss at least three months while he takes blood thinners to treat blood clots that had developed in his lungs, would be left to find another ride if he is able to return this season, [a] source said. That could include the possibility of MWR fielding a third car, pending sponsorship, after Vickers is ready to return.(ESPN.com)
AND Asked about reports that he would be moving to MWR: "I know I'm going to be in the 18 car for a little while," Ragan said. "This week and Talladega are obviously two very important weeks we're looking forward to. I'm focused on that and I just don't really have any comment.")USA Today)(4-25-2015)
Thirteen teams to test at Indianapolis: Thirteen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams are scheduled to participate in an open test April 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Slated to take part in the one-day event are #24-Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports), #4-Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), #15-Clint Bowyer (Michael Waltrip Racing), #19-Carl Edwards (Joe Gibbs Racing), #9-Sam Hornish Jr. (Richard Petty Motorsports), #2-Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), #42-Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), #13-Casey Mears (Germain Racing), #27-Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing), #17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing), #78-Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing), #21-Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing) and #23-J.J. Yeley (BK Racing). Gordon, Truex Jr., Hornish Jr. and Yeley are on tap to take part in a two-day Goodyear tire test at IMS Monday and Tuesday preceding the open test. According to IMS track officials, the Turn 2 viewing mounds (infield) and South Terrace grandstands will be open to fans. The Pit Stop Café next to the IMS Hall of Fame Museum will also be open during the test session.(NASCAR.com)(4-25-2015)
NASCAR was willing to approve Jones at Bristol based on experience: Erik Jones had never turned a lap in the Sprint Cup Series when he became a last-minute replacement driver for Denny Hamlin at Bristol last weekend. Jones was flown in from North Carolina during a lengthy rain delay in Sunday's race when because Hamlin had neck spasms. The 18-year-old arrived 5 minutes before the race resumed, and jumped into Hamlin's car for the remainder of the event. NASCAR had to approve Jones as the replacement driver, something that isn't done until the competitor has at least turned some laps. But in the case of Jones, NASCAR was satisfied he was capable of driving. Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck said Friday that Jones was approved "based upon his recent experience at the track, and we had just gotten a fresh look at him the day before at Bristol."(Associated Press)(4-25-2015)
Salute to the Troops Coca-Cola 600 Pre-Race Show returns to Charlotte: For decades, Charlotte Motor Speedway has paid tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces each Memorial Day Weekend with a captivating pre-race show before the drop of the green flag for the Coca-Cola 600. On May 24, the 56th running of the ultimate test of man and machine will host one of the biggest military appreciation pre-race spectaculars in the track's history. The action-packed show will include ground exercises with troops from Fort Bragg featuring Humvees, Howitzers, a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and more. Rope teams from Fort Campbell will descend from Black Hawk helicopters. Other elements include a 21-gun salute from the Fort Bragg Firing Squad, a vintage war bird air parade and sky-diving members of Team Fastrax descending to the infield with Old Glory flying behind. Fans will be able to salute the troops when 600 soldiers from Fort Bragg walk through the grandstands to the infield and during a pace lap with buses carrying hundreds of troops from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Patriot Partners program. Medal of Honor recipients Bob Patterson (Vietnam), James Taylor (Vietnam) and Walter Joseph Marm (Vietnam) will also be recognized on the pre-race stage. Several musical performances will highlight the Coca-Cola 600 pre-race show including a 45-minute concert with Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famers ZZ Top, "God Bless the USA" performed by Lee Greenwood, a rendition of "Amazing Grace" by the Charlotte Fire Department Pipe Band and "Taps" played by a Fort Bragg bugler. There will also be an Armed Forces Medley featuring the 100-member Central Church of God Chorus Group. Closing out the pre-race festivities is the 82nd Airborne Chorus singing the "The Star Spangled Banner." During that time, soldiers from Fort Bragg will hold a football field-sized American Flag and four F-18s will fly over the legendary 1.5-mile superspeedway.(CMS)(4-25-2015)
Kentucky Speedway announces Ford F-150 as official pace vehicle: Kentucky Speedway announces the 2015 Ford F-150 truck will lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field to green Saturday, July 11 at 7:30pm, for the fifth running of the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts. The truck will also pace the July 10 NASCAR XFINITY Series and July 9 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fields becoming the "Official Pace Vehicle of Kentucky Speedway" of the 2015 season. Ford has been providing cars and trucks to the Speedway since 1998. During speedway events, Super Duty trucks tow free fan trams and are utilized by the speedway's operations department as well as the Fire and Safety team.(Kentucky Speedway)(4-25-2015)
Mike Wallace has heart surgery; brother Kenny to sub in Talladega XFINITY race: JGL Racing officials announced that NASCAR veteran driver and TV personality Kenny Wallace would pilot the team's #26 Toyota next week at Talladega Superspeedway for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Wallace will drive the second year team's third entry joining JGL Racing teammates JJ Yeley (#28 Toyota) and Eric McClure (#24 Toyota) for the running of the Winn Dixie 300 at the famed Superspeedway in Alabama. The JGL Racing team planned on Mike Wallace driving the #26 Toyota next week in Talladega much like he did for the season opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race in Daytona. However, over last weekend Mike underwent triple bypass heart surgery in the Charlotte area. With a replacement needed, Kenny and his strong success at Talladega was a logical choice to fill in for his brother. "Well this isn't what the plan was," added Mike. "I felt a little chest pain last week so I went to the doctor and the next thing I know I am going in for surgery. My dad had heart surgery about 35 years ago so I thought I was being proactive and taking all of the necessary precautions. This just goes to show that you never know and there are a lot of people walking around out there in the same situation. No matter how healthy we think we are - no one can be careful enough when it comes to our health so everyone needs to go get checked out. My plan was to go to Talladega next week and climb behind the wheel of a car strong enough to win. If all goes as planned I will be going there to watch my brother do just that and root him and the JGL Racing team on. I am focused on getting back to full strength and returning to the driver's seat in the near future."(JGL Racing/Integrity Sports Marketing)(4-24-2015)
Still no date set for RCR appeal UPDATE: No date has been set for Richard Childress Racing's final appeal of penalties levied against the #31 team of Ryan Newman, NASCAR spokesman Kurt Culbert told USA TODAY Sports. RCR succeeded in convincing a three-person appeals board to reduce some penalties stemming from a tire-manipulation allegation at Fontana, Calif., but a six-week suspension for crew chief Luke Lambert, engineer Philip Surgen and tire specialist James Bender was upheld. Lambert returned to the pit box at Bristol Motor Speedway this past weekend as allowed by terms of the appeals process. Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss will hear the case.(USA Today)(4-23-2015)
UPDATE: NASCAR announced Friday morning that the final appeal will be heard Wednesday, May 6 at the NASCAR R&D Center.(4-24-2015)
Timothy Peters wins Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown: Josh Berry ran into leader Lee Pulliam on the last corner of the last lap, allowing Timothy Peters to win the 8th annual Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown on Thursday night at South Boston Speedway. The race will air on NBCSN in May. A date is to be announced. NASCAR penalized Berry for aggressive driving and dropped the JR Motorsports driver to 17th, the tail end of the cars running at the end. Pulliam, who hit Barry's car in Turn 2 after the checkered flag, declined to talk to the media but tweeted his displeasure calling Berry the "Biggest joke in racing." Pulliam finished 10th. Peters, meanwhile, celebrated his first victory in the charity Late Model event. Peters started from the pole and led the first 109 laps. He never dropped out of the top five in the 210-lap race, which ended on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered. Denny Hamlin had engine issues and finished 31st in the 36-car field, completing 69 laps. Chase Elliott placed 22nd after engine issues. David Ragan was collected in a late crash and placed 16th. Jeb Burton had engine issues and finished 28th. Proceeds from the event benefit The Denny Hamlin Foundation, which is committed to raising awareness and funds for the needs of children with cystic fibrosis.(NBC Sports)(4-24-2015)
New York State Legislature recognizes Watkins Glen: Members of the Watkins Glen International team and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship driver Colin Braun traveled to the State capital this week to meet with legislators and open a New York State Motorsports Exhibit in the Empire State Plaza. In a related move, both houses of the Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo acted on a joint Legislative Resolution to proclaim April 19-25, 2015 as "Motorsports Appreciation Week" across The Empire State. State Senator Tom O'Mara and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, sponsors of the bill, and co-sponsor Assemblyman Chris Friend, were joined by WGI representatives and Braun to help celebrate the contributions of motorsports to New York's economy and culture. During a legislative session, "The Glen" was highlighted for being home to the state's largest sporting event, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend in August, which attracts fans from all 50 states and 16 different countries.(WGI)(4-24-2015)
France says NASCAR open to Chase spot for Busch: NASCAR chairman Brian France isn't sure if Kyle Busch will be granted a waiver to be part of the championship chase when he returns from injury, but said Thursday the sanctioning body would like to "accommodate" him. He'll miss his ninth race this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, but has indicated he'll return to racing this season. The only way he'd be eligible to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship is if NASCAR grants him a waiver, and he wins a race that would qualify him for the 16-driver field. He'd also have to be inside the top 30 in points. Those are the rules under a Chase system France altered last year. It gives him more flexibility to grant exemptions to drivers who miss races. "Depends on when he comes back of course, but it'll be more likely than not that we're going to try to figure out how to accommodate him, which is the beauty of our playoff system," France said Thursday during a meeting of The Associated Press Sports Editors at the NASCAR offices in Manhattan. "What happened to him was on us," he said. "We'll balance a lot of things at that point when we have to make a decision, but we're inclined to want to figure that out for sure."(Associated Press)(4-23-2015)
NASCAR issues some rules changes: NASCAR issued a bulletin to Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck teams with changes to the rule book Wednesday. Among the changes is a rule the requires a driver, crew chief and spotter to have radio communication, a new single rear-end differential assembly rule and a single transmission rule. Previously, teams could change as many gears as they wanted but they had to be the right ratio. Now, a single rear end differential assembly rule will be enforced at all events except at Martinsville Speedway, road course events, the Daytona 500, the Sprint Showdown and the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race. Martinsville and road courses are hard on gears. Because of the number of events leading up to the Daytona 500, teams can make a change. It's also easy to break a gear in All-Star qualifying. This rule should eliminate qualifying gears. NASCAR formalized that a driver, crew chief and spotter must be able to communicate on the radio during an event. NASCAR stated that effective Jan. 1, 2016 teams will be permitted only one transmission change after qualifying and before the race for events at Pocono Raceway and road course events. Other changes included adding the new qualifying format for super speedways previously announced and other technical updates.(NBC Sports)(4-23-2015)
Kansas Speedway to make safety improvements: Driver safety is always an issue for NASCAR, but it vaulted back into the headlines when Kyle Busch suffered a compound fracture in his right leg and a broken left foot in late February at Daytona International Speedway. Many drivers, including Sprint Cup points leader Kevin Harvick, who crashed into the same wall at Daytona a year earlier, went public with pleas for safer track conditions after Busch's wreck. Apparently, Kansas Speedway - which installed SAFER barriers, or Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barriers, along its track walls in 2004 - was listening, as it announced several safety improvement Wednesday ahead of next month's NASCAR races. After an internal review by Kansas Speedway's owner, the International Speedway Corp., in conjunction with NASCAR, two sand barrels will be installed at the leading edge of the pit-road exit, an additional tire pack will be installed at the pit-road entrance, and interior walls along turns two and three will be extended. More safety enhancements are planned before the season's second race weekend in October. "The safety of our guests and the competitors is, and always has been, our No. 1 priority," Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren said in a statement. "Ongoing facility evaluations will continue and we will provide updates as circumstances warrant."(Kansas City Star)(4-23-2015)
NASCAR issues memo about inspection process: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director Richard Buck was expected to send a memo to teams by Thursday that formalized penalties for failing to pass inspection at the start of the race weekend, before qualifying and before the race. In a draft of the memo acquired by NBC Sports, Buck wrote to teams: "Based on the data that we have collected thus far in 2015, we have identified several trends. One trend in particular highlights the failure rate during inspections. In an effort to ensure all competitors an equal and fair opportunity to participate, we will be implementing the following:"
All cars must pass initial inspection and receive a final sticker to be eligible to practice.
Cars that fail qualifying inspection twice will receive a written warning.
Cars that fail qualifying inspection three times also will be penalized 15 minutes of practice time at the next event.
Cars that fail pre-race inspection twice will receive a written warning.
Cars that fail pre-race inspection three times also will be penalized 15 minutes of practice time at the next event.
Buck wrote in the memo: "Based on the above, there WOULD HAVE BEEN 9 written warnings issued at Bristol and an additional 3 competitors that would have received time penalties." NASCAR's rule book states that multiple warnings to the same member or team can lead to a P1 penalty.(NBC Sports)(4-23-2015)
Darby leaving NASCAR UPDATE: NASCAR confirmed Wednesday that John Darby, who formerly oversaw the Sprint Cup garage, will be leaving the series soon. No reason was given. Darby had been working on special projects most recently for NASCAR. He served as the Sprint Cup Series director from 2002-13 before Richard Buck took over in 2014. NASCAR initially announced that Darby was leaving his position as Cup director in 2010, but it took four years to replace him. Darby replaced Gary Nelson as Cup series director in 2002. Darby was the director of what is now the Xfinity Series from 1999-2001 before moving to Cup.(NBC Sports)(4-22-2015)
UPDATE: John Darby won't spend a lot of time talking about the details of his departure from NASCAR. Yes, he's leaving. But the hows and the whys are not something to be talked about as much as his three decades in the sport. Darby had served as the Sprint Cup Series director for 12 years before being replaced by Richard Buck prior to the 2014 season. A former racer before becoming a track official in Rockford, Illinois, Darby spent more than 25 years working for NASCAR and was the director of what is now the Xfinity Series from 1999-2001 prior to his promotion to run the sport's top series. Calling himself a "blessed individual," Darby is in his final days at NASCAR with no job on the horizon. "I think I'm going to take a month and sit on a beach and figure out what I really want to do next," the 59-year-old said in a phone interview Wednesday. So was he fired? Was it one of those mutual "parting of the ways" or what? NASCAR officials would only confirm that he's leaving. "I'll be honest with you, the importance of that part, to me, is nothing," Darby said when asked whether his leaving was a mutual decision. "What's more important is where I've been, what I've been involved in and what I hope to see grow in the future. At the end of the day, as I do leave the company, I will never leave the sport," Darby said. "It's in my heart and my veins and it will always be there. At the same time, I think that I'm leaving it in a better spot than what it was when I got here. That's all that matters to me. ... Everything is good. I'm still a stronghold and an ally for NASCAR and the sport of NASCAR. That is something that will never go away."(ESPN.com)(4-22-2015)
Bristol TV Ratings: Rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Bristol earned a 1.4 overnight rating on Fox Sports 1 Sunday evening, down 22% from rain-delayed coverage of the same race last year (1.8). This year's coverage aired from 6:30-10:30pm/et, while last year's aired from 7-9:45pm. The race was originally scheduled to air on FOX, which earned a 2.9 overnight for less than 15 minutes of live racing - down 29% from a 4.1 for 45 minutes of racing last year.(Sports Media Watch)(4-22-2015)
Sad News - Marvin Ragan: Marvin V. Ragan, age 72, of Unadilla died Tuesday, April 21 from complications of Acute Myeloid Leukemia after being diagnosed with the disease in November, 2012. Mr. Ragan was born and reared in Henderson and lived in Unadilla the past 41 years. Mr. Ragan served honorably in the US Navy including 3 tours of duty in the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal with 2 bronze stars, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, the Navy Excellence (E) Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and he proudly wore his Navy Flight Wings with over 700 hours of flight time while serving in Vietnam.
He was an avid NASCAR fan and racing participant, having started racing in 1966 and periodically owned and drove race cars for over 30 years, driving his last race in Savannah in 2010.; He owned a NASCAR Winston Cup team for over 10 years in the 1980's and early 1990's and was a partner in the Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele for the past 10 years.
Service info and full obituary at the Brannen-NeSmith Funeral Home website.
His son Brett Ragan currently works for Roush Fenway Racing. His brother Ken Ragan, drove in 50 Sprint Cup Series races, mostly for his brother Marvin. And his nephew, David Ragan, currently drives for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Sprint Cup Series, subbing for Kyle Busch in the #18 Toyota.(4-22-2015)
Sad News - Robert Harrington: Robert Louis (Boobie) Harrington, age 72, passed away on Monday, April 20, 2015 at his home. He was born November 19, 1942 in Union County, NC, son of the late Robert Lee Harrington and Mary Cooper Harrington. In earlier years, Boobie was a body man for the former Beasley-Cross Chevrolet Company and raced the local dirt tracks at that time. Later, he entered NASCAR racing with K & K Insurance, then J.D. Stacy Racing, and had also served as a crew chief for various drivers over the years. In the 1990's he became a car owner and started a wheel service business for many NASCAR teams. Boobie was also a member of Canaan Baptist Church, Salisbury, NC and was active in setting up several local Gospel singings. The funeral service will be held at 2:00pm Thursday, April 23, 2015 at Homestead Baptist Church, Kannapolis, NC officiated by Rev. Bruce Graham and Rev. Johnny (Buck) Canup. Entombment will follow at Carolina Memorial Park Plaza Mausoleum, Kannapolis, NC. The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 8:0pm Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at Whitley's Funeral Home. Survivors include his wife of fifty years, Carolyn Aycock Harrington; one daughter, Crystal H. Barringer of China Grove, NC; two grandchildren, Chase Barringer and Kody Barringer of China Grove, NC; one brother, Charles Harrington & wife, Gail of Kannapolis, NC; and three sisters, Barbara Durham and Nancy Clark, both of Kannapolis, NC; and Dee Bost & husband, Dan of China Grove, NC. Memorials may be made to Canaan Baptist Church, 785 Barringer Street, Salisbury, NC 28146. On-line condolences may be left at www.whitleysfuneralhome.com.(4-22-2015)
Kansas Speedway offering VIP packages: To provide race fans a more behind-the-scenes look at race day for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, Kansas Speedway is selling a limited number of VIP Packages for Saturday, May 9. The day will start with early gate access, a reception in the Kansas Speedway President's Suite, followed by a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage tour, access to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver's meeting, VIP access for the Shooter Jennings pre-race concert, along with backstage access for driver introductions. The day will be hosted by former NASCAR driver and MRN personality Glenn Jarrett. Each VIP package is $500 and includes a reserved parking pass. A grandstand ticket is not included in this package and each fan must have a grandstand ticket to purchase the VIP package. To purchase a VIP package, call 866.460.7223. (Kansas Speedway)(4-22-2015)
Sad News - Steve Byrnes; Memorial and Services information: Mr. Steven Patrick Byrnes, age 56, of Fort Mill, S.C., went to be with the Lord on April 21, 2015.
Surviving are his wife of 22 years, Karen Byrnes; son Bryson, 12, a sixth grader at Charlotte Christian School; parents Jerry and Claire Byrnes of Charlotte; sister Betsy Byrnes of Charlotte; brother Dan Byrnes and wife Tammy of Charlotte; nephews Tyler, 21, and Dylan Byrnes, 17; and niece Samantha Byrnes, 13, of Charlotte.
Steve was born April 14, 1959, in Chicago, and was raised in New Carrollton, Md. He attended Church of Christ at Gold Hill Road, was a 1981 graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Radio, Television and Film, and played football for one year at James Madison University before transferring to the University of Maryland.
Steve enjoyed a successful and highly respected television broadcasting career for 30 years. He joined the FOX Sports family in 2001, hosting and reporting for multiple NASCAR programs and serving as a pit road reporter for NASCAR on FOX's broadcast of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races from 2001-2014. Most recently, he was the play-by-play announcer for FOX Sports 1 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and was co-host of NASCAR Race Hub for the network.
Prior to joining FOX, Steve also hosted Darrell Waltrip's Racers on TNN, worked as a pit road reporter for CBS, WTBS and TNN, and hosted a variety of NASCAR programs for The History Channel and TNN, for which he moved to Charlotte in 1985 and remained in the area ever since. His first on-air job was at WCIV-TV in Charleston, S.C., in 1982, after commencing his television career as weekend sports producer at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., immediately following graduation from college. Steve also called play-by-play for a Carolina Panthers/Minnesota Vikings NFL game on FOX and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for DirecTV Hot Pass.
Despite all his career accolades, Steve's greatest accomplishment was his son, Bryson, who is growing into a more Godly, compassionate and respectable young man every day. Steve's passion was spending every moment possible with Bryson, especially watching him play football and basketball and helping prepare him to play for the Charlotte Christian School football team as a seventh grader in the 2015-'16 school year. The other light of his life was Karen, with whom his relationship extended well beyond that of a spouse. The two were inseparable since meeting in 1988 while she was the public relations representative for Benny Parsons in his last season as a NASCAR driver.
Attending Appalachian State University football games was one of the family's favorite activities, in addition to cheering for the University of Maryland's football and basketball teams; the Washington Redskins; the Carolina Panthers; following NASCAR; and watching nephews Tyler and Dylan play baseball. Steve also delighted in gardening, travel with his family, photographing sports, nature and sunsets.
In addition to being a wonderful, loving and Godly husband, father, son and brother, Steve was an excellent friend, colleague and mentor to all who knew and loved him. His indelible impact extended even to the millions of television viewers who watched him every week over the years, as evidenced by the outpouring of public support he received following his cancer diagnosis in August 2013. Steve became a tangible example of strength, courage and fortitude to all who witnessed his battle with cancer and his personal crusade to spend as many days as possible with Karen and Bryson. He was honored to be designated as the keynote speaker at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life on June 7, 2014, in Charlotte, where he shared the inspiring story of his battle with hundreds of cancer survivors, caregivers and families during the Luminaria Ceremony that evening.
A public figure who always made time for others and made strangers feel like longtime and valued friends, Steve took particular solace in his private life with his family. He was always smiling, supportive, selfless and loving. Upon his original diagnosis, Steve quickly found the positive in the situation and put his entire focus into his treatments, simultaneously vowing not to miss a single moment with his son. His motto and daily inspiration became "Be present" in every moment of his family's lives. Now Steve is present with the Lord, and until we see him again, he is present in our hearts and memories forever.
Steve, we give you back to the Lord with eternal love and great appreciation for His gift of you to us. We love you.
Funeral services are pending.(Fox Sports)
Memorials: In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Steve's honor to any of the following:
Church of Christ at Gold Hill Road, 1055 Gold Hill Road, Fort Mill, SC 29708
Charlotte Christian School, 7301 Sardis Road, Charlotte, NC 28270
NASCAR Foundation, One Daytona Blvd., 6th Floor, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Charlotte Christian School - Byrnes Fund
Attn: Barry Giller
7301 Sardis Road, Charlotte, NC 28270
The family will receive visitors Monday, April 27, from 6-8:30 p.m. at Calvary Church at 5801 Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte, N.C. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28 at Calvary Church with visitation immediately following. Palmetto Funeral Home in Fort Mill is assisting the family..(4-21/22-2015)
NASCAR Statement on Steve Byrnes: "NASCAR extends its condolences to the many friends, FOX Sports colleagues and family of Steve Byrnes. Whether you had the privilege of knowing him or if you watched him on television for the last three decades, Steve's work ethic and authenticity made him a beloved individual inside and outside the garage. His level of professionalism was matched only by the warmth he showed everyone he met. He battled cancer with tenacity, and was a true inspiration to everyone in the NASCAR family. Simply stated, we'll miss Steve dearly. Our thoughts are especially with his wife Karen and son Bryson during this difficult time." - NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France(NASCAR)(4-21-2015)
Harvick to be honored at the White House UPDATE: Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick and his #4 Stewart-Haas Racing team will be honored by President Obama at the White House on Tuesday, April 21. The visit will continue the president's tradition of honoring athletes and sports teams for their efforts to give back to their communities. The event will be held at 2:45pm/et and will be streamed live by the White House website. Harvick most recently visited the White House in 2012 when President Obama welcomed the participants in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.(4-17-2015)
UPDATE: The #4 Chevy took up residence on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday as Kevin Harvick was honored by President Obama for his 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Obama welcomed Harvick, his wife DeLana, crew chief Rodney Childers and co-owner/teammate Tony Stewart for an afternoon ceremony under sunny skies and pleasant conditions in Washington. The only one missing - Harvick's two-year old son Keelan, a fixture at many NASCAR races. "My son stayed home this time," Harvick said. "We didn't figure he was quite ready to terrorize the White House yet, with running around and everything he likes to do. Hopefully somewhere down the line, he gets to come back." Harvick said just being at the White House was an honor but he was most happy for his crew, who got to experience the pomp and ceremony for the first time.(USA Today)(4-21-2015)
Fans select Keselowski's All-Star scheme: In honor of their 25th year together, Miller Lite and Team Penske let fans decide the paint scheme of Brad Keselowski's #2 Miller Lite Ford for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in May. With 43 percent of the vote, the winner was "The Original" Miller Lite Blue Deuce, which made its debut with Team Penske on the #2 entry back in 1997 with driver Rusty Wallace. That season, the Blue Deuce went to Victory Lane at Richmond International Raceway. In second place with 37 percent was the "Gold" car. For the 2007 Daytona Shootout and NASCAR All-Star Race, Miller Lite unveiled this special gold color paint scheme to celebrate Miller Lite's fourth gold award in the American-Style Light lager category at the World Beer Cup. The "Classic Pour" scheme earned the remaining 20 percent. From 2010-2012, there were plenty of trips to Victory Lane to celebrate in different variations of this paint scheme, including a 2010 sweep of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 as well as Miller Lite and Team Penske's first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2012.(Team Penske), see an image of the car on the #2 team paint schemes page.(4-21-2015)
Keloorah features 12 concert acts over two NASCAR weekends at Michigan: NASCAR race fans and music festival fans both will have reasons to celebrate this summer at Michigan International Speedway. Keloorah, a music festival experience, will take place on Friday and Saturday of each NASCAR weekend at MIS this summer. Twelve acts, spanning country and alternative rock, along with several EDM Djs will perform at Keloorah. Keloorah kicks off on Friday, June 12, when country music takes center stage with Montgomery Gentry, Drake White and The Big Fire as well as Tim Dugger. Alternative rock rounds out the June weekend on Saturday, June 13, with American Authors, Bear Hands and IAMDYNAMITE. Then, on Friday, Aug. 14, alternative rock kicks off the festival with Kongos, Big Data and Saints of Valory, followed by country music on Sunday, Aug. 15, with Logan Mize, Dylan Scott, Tim Dugger and a special, headlining act to be announced later. Besides the live shows, there will be deejays, a go-kart experience, a video game arcade, an outdoor sports bar, tailgate games, foam parties and paint parties - all within the NASCAR event weekends and on MIS property. Keloorah is behind Turn 3, central to many of MIS' MISCamping.com campgrounds. A Sunday admission ticket or infield or APEX wristband that allows access to the Sunday Quicken Loans 400 and/or Pure Michigan 400 will gain access to Keloorah on Friday and Saturday of those event weekends.(MIS)(4-21-2015)
Happy Hour Practice:
Friday, May 1, 2015, 4:30 pm/et
TV: FoxSports1 (FS1) 4:30pm/et
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8 Bobby Labonte, Nathan Buttke, Don Hume, Jay Stewart, Judy Childress
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17 Mike Shiplett, Craig Ferguson, Kevin Pennell
18 Mike Motil
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20 Tony Stewart, Dave Despain, Steve Portenga, Mike Stefanik, Eric Norris, AJ Heister, Les Huntley
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