Friday, October 31, 2014

Part of NASCAR's new testing policy still a work in progress

   NASCAR has already announced a ban on all testing next season for its three national series – Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks. 

   However, some of the testing it did hope to allow – more participation for teams in Goodyear tire tests, for instance – may be running into a roadblock. 

   Goodyear officials maintain their portion of tire tests in 2015 will look much like those this year, which is typically a four-team test unless special circumstances dictate otherwise. 

   Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush, in an interview on SiriusXM Radio’s show “Dialed In” this week, said  there was “substantial resistance” from Goodyear in their ability to provide tires to all the teams NASCAR was looking to allow at tire tests. 

   “I’ll be less surprised if it changes then if it stays the way it is,” Roush said.

   NASCAR says it has not yet formalized the testing plan for next season. 

   "When we announced on Sept. 23 the rules package for the 2015 season, we stated that we were eliminating all teams testing and would be working with Goodyear to build a unified testing plan in which the teams could participate," Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR's vice president of innovation, said.

   "We currently are working through that process and have had on-going discussions with Goodyear to develop a proposal that we will share with the teams in near future."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Krista Voda to join NBC Sports' NASCAR broadcast team

    Longtime NASCAR on Fox broadcaster Krista Voda has signed a multi-year agreement to serve as host of NBC Sports’ pre- and post-race NASCAR coverage beginning with the 2015 season.

   In addition to hosting the pre- and post-race shows for the Sprint Cup and what is now the Nationwide series races, Voda's on-air duties will also include regular appearances as host of "NASCAR America" on NBC Sports Network, as well as other assignments across NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. 

   “This role is a dream opportunity for me and I'm honored to be a part of NBC’s return to NASCAR,” said Voda. “We say it often, but it's true: NASCAR is more than a sport, it’s a community. I’ve been blessed, for many years, to stand alongside colleagues who I also consider dear friends. I’m looking forward to this new chapter and the chance to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for storytelling.”

   Voda has served most recently as host of Fox Sports' pre-race show for the NASCAR Truck Series broadcast and as a pit road reporter for its Cup series broadcasts.

    Last year,  NASCAR and NBC Sports Group signed a 10-year agreement granting rights to broadcast the final 20 Cup series races, final 19 Nationwide series events, select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events and other live content beginning in 2015. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Danica Patrick: 'I didn't need a program' to get into NASCAR

   During a press conference Friday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick was asked about the success of NASCAR's diversity program for minority and female drivers since two teams were honoring NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Wendell Scott with special paint schemes this weekend.

   Patrick seemed to question the need for the program in a back-and-forth exchange with a reporter.

   "I've never benefited from NASCAR's diversity program," she said. "... Well, clearly, then I wouldn't think there needs to be a diversity program if I'm here and I didn't get in. 

   "It wasn't like they asked me to be in it. They didn't give my team or me any money, they didn't say, 'We'd love you,' you know? So I would say that you have to just make it. I'm not saying that being a girl hasn't helped, but I didn't need a program to make it happen."

   Friday night, Jim Cassidy, senior vice president of racing operations, provided the following statement to the Observer in response to Patrick's comments:

   "We're fortunate that there are many different paths of entry into our sport for our participants. We have seen a growing number of talented diverse and female drivers compete in NASCAR thanks to our Drive for Diversity program started in 2004. We’re very proud of the program, which also recruits and trains pit crew members, and remain more committed than ever to it."


SHR: Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch team swaps 'right thing' for long-term growth

   Many fans of NASCAR driver Danica Patrick were caught off guard by Stewart-Haas Racing's decision this week to swap the road crews and crew chiefs on Patrick and Kurt Busch's teams, especially since Patrick seemed to be making some progress this season. 

   Greg Zipadelli, SHR's competitor director,was asked Friday why the organization would want to upset an arrangement that seemed to be making progress. Here is his response:

   "I think long term it’s the right thing. There might be a step backwards while they get to learn each other and they grow, but long term, a full year, two years from now I think their personalities between Daniel (Knost) and Danica will work together much better. I think at the same time the same thing will happen on the No. 41 car. That is a team that we have to get going immediately. There isn’t a lot of time for growth," Zipadelli said.

   "We know Kurt is kind of in the prime of his career. We know that he can go out and win races and every race track we go to. We have got to give him that and we have to give Danica the ability to continue to grow and build a relationship with somebody, because she plans on being here a while. We just look at that and it’s kind of the best of both worlds right now. We have both people in house.  One thing we don’t like to do is bring people in from the outside and try them. We like to try to promote and give the people at Stewart-Haas the opportunity. That is kind of why we elected to do what we did.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares his concussion story

   NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., recounts his personal story of his own battle with a concussion in a video made for the Sports Medicine Concussion Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 

   UPMC on Wednesday launched the website to detail treatments. Featured on the site are Earnhardt and baseball catcher David Ross, who were both treated at UPMC by Dr. Micky Collins, one of the leading experts in athlete concussions.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch to swap teams at Stewart-Haas Racing

   Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch will swap teams and crew chiefs beginning with the Nov. 2 Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, the Observer and have learned.

   An official announcement of the change could come as early as Wednesday, sources said.

   SHR officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

   On Saturday, Tony Gibson, who has served as the only crew chief Patrick has had as a fulltime Cup series driver, signed a contract extension with SHR but the organization would not specify what his role was to be in the future.

   Beginning at Texas, crew chief Daniel Knost and the members of Busch's current No. 41 team will move over to Patrick's No. 10. Gibson, along with the members of Patrick's current No. 10 team, will move to Busch's No. 41 team.

   Patrick failed to qualify for the Chase and is 27th in series points, one spot better than she was one year ago at this time. The former IndyCar Series driver has three top-10 finishes this season and finished a career-best sixth at Atlanta on Aug. 31.

   Busch was one of 16 drivers to qualify for the Chase this season thanks to his victory in the spring at Martinsville, Va. He was among the first four drivers eliminated from title cotention after Round 1 of the Chase. He is currently 15th in the series standings.

Kurt Busch to compete in 2014 Race of Champions in Barbados

   NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch has accepted an invitation to compete in the 2014 Race of Champions, which will be held Dec. 13-14 at the Bushy Park Circuit in Barbados, organizers announced on Tuesday.

   Busch, who drives the No. 41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, was one of 16 drivers to qualify for the Chase for the Cup this season, but was among the first group of four to be eliminated from title contention.

   In May, Busch became only the fourth driver in motorsports history to race both in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 on the same day. His sixth-place finish in his IndyCar Series debut earned him the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award. 

   Busch will represent Team USA in the ROC Nations Cup along with this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. Busch and Hunter-Reay were teammates in this year’s Indianapolis 500, both piloting cars for Andretti Autosport. Team USA last won the ROC Nations Cup title in 2002 with a NASCAR-heavy team of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Colin Edwards.
   This year's ROC lineup features stars from all over the world: nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, Formula 1’s Romain Grosjean (the reigning ROC Champion of Champions) and Susie Wolff (Williams development driver), Australian V8 Supercar legend Jamie Whincup and 2014 FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg are already confirmed. 

   The remainder of the ROC 2014 field will be announced soon.