Hey everyone! I was supposed to do this on Monday and planned to do so, but I had brain fart and spaced on the Sprint Cup Media tour happening this week. So I decided to scale back to the end of the week and see what happened.

Before we get into the news and notes from NASCAR, I want to offer congratulations to Action Express Racing, Porsche North America, CORE Autosporrt, and Level 5 Motorsports for winning their respective classes in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. That’s always a fun event every year with tons of history!

It was sadly brought to a red flag around 5:30 PM on Saturday by a huge wreck that involved Memo Gidley of GANISCO Racing and the Risi Ferrari of Matteo Malucelli.Thankfully both Gidley and Malucelli came away from the wreck. Both spent multiple days in the hospital following but are expected to make full recovery. Now with that said, onto the news!

Kvapil strikes deal

Travis Kvapil has reached a deal on the domestic assault charge where he will serve two years of probation. He will also have 72 hours of community service to serve while attending anger management classes. He is allowed to travel for work as long a she serves notice to his probationary officer.

Burton’s sponsor defaults at Turner Scott

Jeb Burton’s sponsor for 2014, Arrowhead has defaulted on the payment for the team. Therefore, Jeb has no sponsor for this season and the 4 team has been shut down in the Camping World Truck Series. This has caused the lay off 20 employees and puts Jeb Burton on the market. This is sad due to the fact that Jeb is a helluva talent and should be driving. Here’s hoping he finds a sponsor.

Blaney getting two cup starts

On the flip side of that coin for young drivers, Ryan Blaney will be starting two races this year for Team Penske in Sprint Cup. He is scheduled to drive the 12 SKF Ford in May at Kansas and in October at Talladega. He will also drive fifteen races in the Nationwide series while running a full schedule in the Camping World Truck Series for Brad Keselwoski Racing.

Haas serious about F-1, Vettel still going to win

Do I even need to elaborate on this story? Seriously?

Ganassi and Busch talking Indy

Chip Ganassi and Kurt Busch had very early talks about Kurt running a fifth car for the Indy 500. Chip is unsure if they’d be able to get a group and sponsor to do so but they are interested in it.

McClure in 500

Eric McClure will be bringing his Hefty sponsorship to Daytona and Front Row Motorsports. McClure will drive the Daytona 500 in the 35. McClure is making it known this very well could be his last season in racing. Good for him getting a ride.

Norris reinstated but not spotting

Ty Norris has been reinstated fully and still working on the business side of Michael Waltrip Racing. However, he will not be spotting anymore and will be working just on the business side of the track. His last spotting job will be for the NASCAR ’14 video game. There is reportedly a bug where he keeps telling you to pit for no reason….

Vickers off blood thinners

Brian Vickers will be driving the full schedule next season…hopefully. He has successfully come off blood thinners and will be roaring to roll in Daytona.

Bowyer working on new deal

Sticking to the MWR theme, Clint Bowyer is working on a new contract to get ready for life beyond 2014. He is hoping to stay at Michael Waltrip Racing and working on a deal with the organization.  

Last MWR thing, I swear

The number 66 will be working in conjunction between Michael Waltrip Racing and Jay Robinson Racing. Jay Robinson Racing is a mixture of Joe Nemecheck, Jay Robinson and other investors. Think of the partnership on the 33 that Richard Childress Racing had for a while there. Michael Waltrip will drive it at the Daytona 500, May at Talladega, and Jeff Burton will drive in eight more races. Joe Nemecheck will drive the rest of the races. No word yet on what will happen to the 87 owned by Nemecheck.

Ingersoll Rand with Swan Racing

Ingersoll Rand, a tool company will be associate sponsor on the 26 and 30 for the company. Another step in the right direction for the young organization

Edwards and Biffle at the end of their contracts with RFR

Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are on their last years of their deals with Roush Fenway Racing. They goal is to get everything settled before the Chase before everything is done. If I had to take an honest guess I’m going to say Carl Edwards may be spending his last year at Roush. Greg Biffle is a lifer at RFR I believe. I’d be truly shocked if he left. However, as close as Carl came to leaving in his last contract negotiation, I see him leaving this time. A fourth car at Gibbs or Team Penske is my guess for a landing spot.

Wolfe extends deal

Brad Keselwoski will keep his crew chief for another four years. His deal runs concurrent with Brad’s to keep the 2 Crew together.

K-LOVE joins Leavine Family Racing

K-LOVE, a Christian radio channel has joined with Leavine Family Racing to sponsor Michael McDowell. They will be primary sponsor for three races, including the 500 and associate sponsor through the entire season.

Dale Jr. still looking for sponsor

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is still looking for a sponsor to fill 13 of his races. Rick Hendrick is committed to finding a long term sponsor, who fits within his current group of sponsors. There is a lot of companies out there that have desires to sponsor the driver of the 88, but HMS is waiting for the right one.

RCR and ECR partner with Lucas Oil

Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines have partnered with Lucas Oil to be their oil supplier. I’m a Valvoline guy and have been since I started working on cars when I was 10. Thanks, Dad.

Changes a plenty!

Changes have officially been made to the All Star Race Weekend, the Qualifying process, and to the Chase for the Sprint Cup. I’m going to give you a brief overview of the changes that have happened.

All Star Race Weekend

The Sprint Showdown where the two highest finishes cars will be moved from Saturday Night to Friday Night. The race will precede the Camping World Truck Race on Friday Night. The two cars then along with the Sprint Fan Vote winner will be able to qualify with the rest of the field for the All Star Race on Saturday Afternoon before the race.

Personally I am a huge fan of this move! It makes so much more sense and it will be better for the fans. It was said by Marcus Smith, president of Charlotte Motor Speedway that it was done to give fans more bang for the buck and I believe it does.

Qualifying

Qualifying will be taking a cue from Formula One (which I’ve been accused of being a fan man of) using Knock Out Qualifying.

On tracks 1.25 or longer there will be three qualifying sessions. Round 1 will have all cars on track for 25 minutes to get their fastest run in possible. The fastest twenty four cars will move onto Round 2 where they have 10 minutes to put up their fastest laps. Round 3, the final round will be five minutes in length and have the 12 fastest cars from Round 2. Fastest car in Round 3, wins the pole. Speeds will then be dictated by fastest speeds by round by round.

For tracks less than 1.25 they will have two sessions. A 30 minute sessions to set the speed before moving to Round 2 where the 12 fastest will move on to decide it from there.  

I also like this. It will bring some new changes to qualifying and make the racing more important in my opinion.

Chase for the Sprint Cup

Okay, here we go.

If you get a win in the first 26 races, you get in as long as you are in the top thirty in points and have attempted to qualify for every single race baring rare instances. Any potential ties will be decided by wins first or higher point rankings. Drivers will be given three points for race wins in the regular season but will not receive points in the Chase.

Once the chase starts, 16 drivers will start the field with a reset point of 2000. You will still receive points for most laps led and for leading a lap in the chase, except for the last race. Following three races there will be four drivers eliminated from contention. If a Chase driver wins a race in any of the three he or she will advance to the next round.

Four drivers will enter Homestead where the highest finishing driver will then win the Championship. Opinions on the change have varied amongst fans and drivers. At first I was a fan of this except my opinion that I don’t like the change of 12 to 16 drivers. After looking at everything my opinion is this has a big potential to blow up in NASCAR’s face. It’s beginning to feel too complex.

I am cautiously optimistic though that this could be interesting. One thing that I saw on Twitter that I really liked is changing the tracks we go to for the Chase every year. Maybe next year.

Update on Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher’s doctors have begun the slow process of waking him from his medically induced coma. This process will not be quick necessarily, but that is not the point. The point is that Michael makes a feel recovery. Here’s hoping that happens.

Random Sport/Non Sport Thought:

What a long ass Friday my day was! If you’ll excuse me I’m going to go crash!

Have a question, suggestion or witty comment? Feel free to leave one below! Don’t want to do that? Then the fastest, easiest, and quickest way to interact with me is on Twitter, @tpierc07. I also am on Facebook, but that one you have to work for. Don’t do social media? Then feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]!

So until we meet again next Friday (or Saturday for those keeping track), I’ll be waiting for you in the next turn of a snow embankment on I-196 here in ol’ South-West Michigan!

Tyler Pierce