2013 Nascar Season Just Around Corner...
Last week the NASCAR Media Corp gathered together for their annual Media Tour of Race Shops to talk to drivers and team owners for the new season that is coming up in a few weeks. From Monday through Thursday many in the industry used the time to make sponsor announcements and discuss what fans can expect this season. Here is a recap:
Sprint kicked off the media tour with all the details surrounding the Sprint Unlimited race in Daytona coming up on Feb 16th. This race is for previous year's pole sitters and past race winners. It used to be called the Budweiser Shootout, but with Budweiser moving their sponsorship to the Duel qualifying races in Daytona, Sprint took over and rebranded the event. This year will be total fan involvement. If you are a sprint customer you can go on your phone and vote on number of laps, deciding pit stops, and even picking which firesuit the Miss Sprint Cup ladies will wear in Victory Lane with the winning driver. For those who don't have a sprint phone you can head over to Nascar.com and make your picks. I have already voted and excited to see what the fans pick for the drivers and their reactions.
Stewart-Haas Racing Media Notes
Danica Patrick will not be using Tony Stewart's points from last year to make races. After the first 3 races she will have to qualify in on speed.
Patrick has not finalized a deal to run any Nationwide Series races in 2013 but is hoping to do a 10 race deal with Turner Scott Motorsports.
As for Stewart running the 2013 Indy 500 for Penske Racing, he has open invitation for Indy 500 from Roger Penske, but has no plans to do so in 2013.
On the sponsor front for SHR the #14 has nine races open, the #39 of Ryan Newman has 8-9 races open, and ##10 has three races open.
Stewart said the Eldora Speedway Truck Race that will run on the dirt, is close to a sellout, with 16,000 reserved seats sold and about 600 left with 1000 general admission going on sale this week. (This week it was announced the race is a sellout!)
Richard Childress Racing Media Notes
Richard Childress said #29-Kevin Harvick will do well at Stewart Haas Racing in 2014. Harvick didn't deny reports he will move to SHR in 2014 or offer up plans for 2014. Harvick is only talking about 2013 and making it his best season but said it has been a good run (at RCR) and sometimes you need a change of pace. Childress said he knew Harvick wasn't returning in 2014 when story broke in Phoenix but it wasn't supposed to be let out before banquet. Richard Childress said he has no current plans to run the #3 in the Sprint Cup Series, at least for 2013. Childress said fan reaction has left him more open minded to using the #3 in the future.
Richard Childress says he hired his first engineer in 1989 and now has around 30.
Austin Dillon is named the spokesperson for COPD.
The 2nd Day (Tuesday) kicked off with a breakfast hosted by Furniture Row Racing.
Furniture Row Racing Media Notes
Driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevy, Kurt Busch said "We want to be a western-based team that can compete w/ the big dogs."
Busch said. "It was great to have those six weeks to get team communication up and to feel comfortable."
Busch open to idea of more NNS races with Phoenix Racing (3 scheduled). Not set to drive any for his brother but not closing door.
Busch said heading into 2012 was bizarre, this is the moat comfortable I've ever felt (going into a season) and that he travels at least twice a month to the shop in Colorado.
#78 crew chief, Todd Berrier, says Goodyear will open the season with conservative tires.
Berrier says relationship RCRracing gives team a base line, able to work & adapt from there.
Berrier says Busch truly cares about the people he works with and says a team will work very hard for that type of person.
Furniture Row's Director of Competition Mark McArdle says parts from third-party suppliers are tight for all teams. Deck lids among them. Also of note, McArdle is also the Director of Racing Operations at RCR.
Michael Waltrip Racing Media Notes
Team owner Michael Waltrip says, "This is breaking news: We don't have any news. There's really nothing new or different from 2012. Man are we happy about that."
Clint Bowyer on a 2nd-place hangover: "I've had a lot of hangovers, you fight through them." and also said his #15 team is not fully-sponsored, "We're definitely looking for some more sponsors on our car."
Mark Martin said #55 team was able to keep entire team together from 2012 to 2013,
Mark Martin said: "I don't expect to be in it (55 car in 2014) That's not my goal. My goal is to see Rodney & 55 car race for a championship" but on his 2014 plans: "It's too early to get into discussions about future behind the wheel. Some talk about being further involvement w/ 55 team."
MIchael Waltrip announces plans for new fitness facility at MWR and that Martin is helping to update the gym.
Brian Vickers only test in Gen6 car was last fall, but expects to test more before first race at Bristol.
Besides running nine race in the #55 for MWR, Vickers is also running full time in Nationwide with JGR.
Truex Jr. says Toyota Racing Development is playing a key role in development of new car and TRD was a key in 2012 success.
Nascar also held a lunch on Tuesday and Brian France gave his yearly state of the sport address and they made a few procedurial announcements for the upcoming season. The biggest is the announcement of new jet dryers at the track this year that are suppose to decrease the track drying process dramatically. Welcome news for Nascar Fans who fearlessly battle the weather year after year.
The 3rd day on Wednesday opened up with Earnhardt-Ganaasi Racing making announcements at the Concord Regional Airport.
EGR Media Tour Notes
EGR announced a new partnership with Cessna. Cessna wil be the primary sponsor for Jamie McMurray in 10 races in 2013 and will be displayed across all Ganassi's racing platforms. McDonald's and Dr. Pepper also will be on McMurray's #1 Chevy.
Bass Pro Shops, which joins Tony Stewart in 2013, will remain the primary sponsor on McMurray's #1 for two races this season. The #1 has just four races where McMurray is not sponsored.
All seven Ganassi drivers will race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Chip Ganassi says Kyle Larson is testing today. Announcements on Larson are forthcoming / Next week. (We have heard nothing yet about Kyle Larson's plans other then he will be racing in Nationwide Series in 2013)
Hendrick Motorsports Media Tour Notes
All Hendrick cars are fully-funded except Dale Jr.'s #88. But Rick Hendrick says there's interest and he has no sponsorship worries, the #88 is 13 races short.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Daytona testing wreck. "I thought long and hard, and that's probably the most embarrassed I've ever been."
Chase Elliott will run in five ARCA and nine Series races in 2013, his Truck number will be #94, Hendrick Motorsports will field the entries. Elliott's scheduled Truck races: Martinsville (both). Iowa (both), Rockingham, Dover, Bristol. Mosport/Canada and Phoenix.
Jeff Gordon on Gen-6 car :"I'm a big fan, I love it. I like the body style & I think the teams and crew chiefs feel the same thing."
Kasey Kahne says he's an "underdog" compared to those who have Cup titles, but says this is his best shot yet in 2nd season, Kahne is sporting a new hair style.
Penske Racing Media Tour Notes
Shell/Pennzoil extends sponsorship with Penske Racing.
Hertz to be a co-primary sponsor on the #22 in fall Charlotte Cup race.
Greg Erwin will be Sam Hornish Jr.'s crew chief in the Nationwide Series.
Penske executive Walt Czarnecki says the transition to Ford has been seamless.
Joey Logano says move to Penske Racing has been a great experience already.
Roger Penske says he talked with Ryan Newman but enough sponsorship wasn't there for 3rd car, says Newman could return in 2014 but Hornish first option for 3 teams.
Penske says they've eatablished a relationship with Roush Fenway Racing's, says sharing notes will be beneficial.
Penske said if James Finch (#51) is talking to a sponsor for AJ Allmendinger, Penske would meet with sponsor to try to help seal the deal.
Ford kicked off the final day of media tour with Richard Petty Motorsports and Roush-Fenway Racing
Ford Racing Media Tour Notes
Roush on working with Penske: "They have a dramatically different car than our car. The underbody and the suspension doesn't relate."
Robbie Reiser promoted from general manager to vice president of competition at Roush Fenway. Roger Penske says his team's main contact with the RFR is Robbie Reiser.
Jack Roush said he's looking to put Trevor Bayne in a Cup car, full-time for the 2014 season, depending on sponsorship and driver performance.
Roush Fenway Racing had 9 sponsors up for renewal entering 2012 who are back. There is sponsorhip available for Stenhouse.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was asked directly whether he is dating Danica Patrick. He said he preferred not to talk about his personal life. (It was confirmed last Friday the 2 are indeed dating)
Smithfield Foods will expand the number of races it will sponsor the #43 to 25 races. Marcos Ambrose shaved off his bushy beard he sported at testing.
Joe Gibbs Racing Media Tour Notes
JGR officially announces multi-year extension with Kyle Busch.
Busch says he had two serious offers from other Sprint Cup teams to leave JGR (supposedly SHR was one).
Kyle Busch will also drive 25 Nationwide races for JGR in the #54.
Kyle says that Joe Gibbs Racing will supply engines for KBM (Kligerman in Nationwide, Coulter & Kyle in truck)
Denny Hamlin expects that new rear camber rules will make reliability a big topic in 2013.
Joe Gibbs says that all JGR Cup sponsors are signed for long term deals except one (Home Depot/Husky?).
Coach Gibbs says the 49ers will win this year's Super Bowl.
Matt Kenseth says changing teams at the same time as learning the new car has been beneficial.
Elliott Sadler testing a Sprint Cup car today at New Smyrna Speedway but no Cup races set for him in 2013.
JD Gibbs says there will be an announcement on Bubba Wallace soon.
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