Tuesday, September 30, 2014

And Then There Were 12

Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, but four other drivers got the axe in the first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup elimination race in the history of the sport.

The Chase Challenger round is history. Bring on the Chase Contender round. AJ Allmendinger, 2004 series champion Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola missed the cut for the next round of the Chase, as the field was pared from 16 drivers to 12 following the third and final Challenger Round race.

The points for the Contender Drivers have been reset to 3,000.&nbsp Any Chase driver who wins at Kansas, Charlotte or Talladega will advance automatically to the Eliminator Round. The Chase field will be reduced from 12 to eight drivers at Talladega.

Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway saw the field in the Chase For The Sprint Cup narrowed from 16 to 12 contenders.
Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway saw the field
in the Chase For The Sprint Cup narrowed from 16 to 12 contenders.
(Photo: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Analyzing the Hollywood Casino 400

Below is a look at the 12 Contenders:

1 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 105.0

2014 Rundown

  • Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles
  • Average finish of 12.4
  • Led 23 races for 1,496 laps

2 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.5

2014 Rundown

  • Four wins, 13 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
  • Average finish of 12.2
  • Led 19 races for 794 laps

3 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.8

2014 Rundown

  • Two wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; seven poles
  • Average finish of 14.0
  • Led 21 races for 1,592 laps

4 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 100.8

2014 Rundown

  • Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
  • Average finish of 13.4
  • Led 15 races for 1,035 laps

5 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 110.4

2014 Rundown

  • Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles
  • Average finish of 10.0
  • Led 20 races for 665 laps

6 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.6

2014 Rundown

  • One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles
  • Average finish of 17.1
  • Led 13 races for 411 laps

7 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.2

2014 Rundown

  • Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s
  • Average finish of 11.0
  • Led 12 races for 220 laps

8 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.5

2014 Rundown

  • 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole
  • Average finish of 13.8
  • Led 17 races for 467 laps

9 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.1

2014 Rundown

  • Two top fives, 11 top 10s
  • Average finish of 14.0
  • Led 4 races for 24 laps

10 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.5

2014 Rundown

  • Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s
  • Average finish of 14.8
  • Led 10 races for 134 laps

11 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.8

2014 Rundown

  • One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles
  • Average finish of 15.5
  • Led 12 races for 195 laps

12 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet)

  • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.7

2014 Rundown

  • One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s
  • Average finish of 16.5
  • Led 10 races for 204 laps

Next: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City - the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, October 5. Coverage begins on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET and the race is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. 

Stewart Struggles With On-Track Tragedy #nascar

When Tony Stewart appeared before the cameras yesterday, his deportment was quite subdued.

After driving for Joe Gibbs Racing for 10 years, Stewart became a team owner and driver with Stewart Hass Racing in 2009. #nascar
After driving for Joe Gibbs Racing for 10 years, Stewart became a team owner
and driver with Stewart Hass Racing in 2009. Davis Turner for USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Wayne "Tony" Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup champion, the 1997 Indy Racing League (IndyCar) champion and the 1995 USAC Triple Crown champion and now a NASCAR team owner, stated that he regretted ever racing a sprint car that night.

"I'd have stayed at Watkins Glen that night," Stewart said, referring to the location of that weekend's NASCAR race. "I do this stuff and I go run those cars to have a good time and that's all I wanted to do that night. … I do it to have fun, and it didn't end up being fun that night."

Stewart went on to comment compassionately in regards to Ward's family.

"I want to be available to them," Stewart said. But he added, "I don't need to talk to them for closure. ... I know it was an accident."

The family of Kevin Ward Jr. issued a statement over the weekend suggesting that prosecutors treated Stewart lightly because of his status in the racing world. The Grand Jury determined Ward Jr.’s death was an accident.

"Tell me how a NASCAR star totally forgot what caution means," Wendi Ward wrote. Wendi Ward is Kevin’s Aunt. "Maybe he should get a different headset so he is able to hear on the radio that the car in caution is up high, so go low. Or was he low until he rounded the corner and saw Kevin Jr. standing up for himself?"

Ward's aunt also questioned why a toxicology test was done on her nephew. The test found marijuana in Ward's system.

Stewart declined to address the marijuana finding, stating only "Honestly, for me it doesn't change anything," he said.

“It’s not about picking sides. A young man lost his life. His family is in mourning. My family is in mourning,” Stewart said.

Stewart reported that in the days right after the fatal accident he didn't care if he showered and had to force himself to eat.

"Hopefully, through this I will somehow be a better person," he philosophized hopefully.

Tony Stewart made the decision not to race the three races after the fatal accident. He did not qualify for the coveted NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Waltrip and Slate Score an improved 28 points (#nascar)

Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater danced Waltz on Dancing with the Stars 19 on Monday, September 29, 2014. Music was “Everything I Do I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams. Waltrip’s best dance and the judges loved it.

“I was mesmerized,” said judge Carrie Ann Inaba. “You did a great job.”

 “I saw you point at me — you won me over,” said guest judge Kevin Hart. 

“That was your best dance ever,” said judge Julianne Hough. 

“It really shows that you worked,” said judge Bruno Tonioli. 

The judges gave them a total score of 28.

Dale Jr. Showcases True Sportsmanship

Dale Jr. Showcases True Sportsmanship

Dale Earnhardt Jr. sent encouraging post-race tweets after AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola were eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.


Meet Rookie Justin Allgaier

Meet Rookie Justin Allgaier

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Justin Allgaier dives into his life on and off the track.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ganassi’s #SoundGarage
Social Media Concert A Success

Performance at the #SoundGarage (photo by Pat McCarthy)
Performance at the #SoundGarage (photo by Pat McCarthy)

On 09/08/2014, the normal race equipment inside the Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) shop was moved about and replaced by a medium sized stage, microphones and a sound system. Chip Ganassi Racing invited three hundred social media and millennial* "influencers" to the event, featuring a show by singer Cassadee Pope. Pope won the singing competition, "The Voice" in December of 2012.

This exclusive happening was hosted by CGR's trio of hot young drivers: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson, NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski and INDYCAR driver Sage Karam. FOX Sports 1 personality Kaitlyn Vincie served as emcee.

From @kaitlynvincie Twitter Feed-  On stage w/@dylankracing @SageKaram @KyleLarsonRacin for @CGRTeams #SoundGarage.
“The Ganassi Sound Garage event was one of the most unique events I've ever attended at a race shop. Ms. Vincie stated. “The goal was to create a social media digital-bash that would bring new fans of the millennial generation to racing. I think that young drivers like Dylan Kwasniewski, Kyle Larson, and Sage Karam are a perfect fit to usher in this new age of fans. The young generation can identify with them. Our sport needs to reach that young demographic to help bring in a new wave of life-long fans . . . and I think those three drivers can help make it happen. It was very neat to see all the social media interaction with the guests and drivers along with country recording artist Cassadee Pope, you could tell everyone was having a good time. I am grateful I was able to be a small part of it!"

A distinctive “reverse" red carpet was utilized for the event. This meant, to the delight of the guests, they were greeted by the drivers as the guests entered. The fans were also treated to photo opts, and engaged in a question & answer session.

Chip presenting the Owner of Big Machine Records a gift of remembrance from the Brickyard #42 car  (photo by American Syndicate )
Chip presenting the Owner of Big Machine Records a gift
of remembrance from the Brickyard #42 car (photo by American Syndicate )

When the Monday event was over, the big boss, Chip Ganassi, had succeeded in showing the fans just how important they are to his organization.

NASCAR Race Mom was able to speak to Dylan Kwasniewski while he was waiting for his bags at the LAX baggage claim. The nineteen-year-old was in town for a meeting with his sponsor Rockstar.

“I thought Sound Garage went great; we had Cassadee Pope playing. I watched her when she was on the voice.” Dylan detailed. “It was a fun time and went fantastically, especially for the first time. The biggest deal was that we were trying to get a big social media push, which we did. I think we were ‘trending’ in North Carolina at the time of the concert.”

During the event, Kwasniewski showed off his lip singing talents, line dancing abilities and his humor with the microphone.

@sagekaram @kylelarson42 @dylankracing having a little fun at Ganassi #SoundGarage.
Dylan Kwasniewski’s favorite part of the Sound Garage was interacting with the fans; taking photos with them and just having fun. He appreciated the opportunity to take a closer look at his fan base and being more personal with them. Intermingling with the event attendees gave fans the rare occasion to witness his more private side.

For those who did not attend, the concert was streamed live on NASCAR.com.

 The official event hashtag, #SoundGarage was Trending Topic for eleven hours in Charlotte.

“I had a great time hosting and having fun with the fans that came out to the event. We wanted to get the people that Kyle, Sage and I hung out with outside of racing to get involved with the sport of Indy Car and NASCAR. I hope that we can do it again soon.” added Dylan, who is currently twelfth in the NASCAR Nationwide Point Standings in his rookie year.

A fun Kwasniewski fact: The Luxury Item Dylan indulges in? With a chuckle, he quickly answered that clothes and shoes is what he spends his “race earnings” on. Currently, his favorite brand of shoes are called R&R – they have Nike soles. 

Twitter Handles

*A millennial, also known as Generation Y are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends. However, researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. 

About Chip Ganassi Racing Teams

Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 25 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners the sport has anywhere in the world. Today his teams include four cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, two cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and one Prototype in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Overall his teams have 17 championships and 160 victories, including four Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400, five Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis and Brownsburg, Ind. and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, PA.

*Disclosure: This post has been submitted to a NASCAR sponsored program.