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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Former NHRA champion and NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle dies

   Raymond Beadle, a former three-time NHRA Funny Car world champion owner and owner of NASCAR veteran Rusty Wallace's 1989 championship team, died Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He was 70.

   Beadle ended the four-year championship reign of Don Prudhomme, winning the Funny Car title in 1979, then added crowns in 1980 and 1981 with his vaunted "Blue Max" entries.

   Beadle owned cars for eight seasons in what is now the Sprint Cup Series. The late Tim Richmond drove for Beadle from 1983 to 1985 and Wallace drove for him from 1986 through 1990.

   In his 1989 championship season, Wallace won six races and won the series championship by 12 points over the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.

   Wallace posted the following message on his Twitter account on Monday: "Really saddened by news about Raymond Beadle. Without him, I would have never gotten to where I am today. He will be greatly missed."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Roger Penske on Brad Keselowski: 'I want him to get mad'

   Team Penske owner Roger Penske was adamant in his defense Sunday of his Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski, who took heat this week from fans and several of his competitors over his actions following last weekend's race at Charlotte.

   Keselowski had post-race run-ins with drivers Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth on the track and in the garage following the race. Keselowski was fined $50,000 by NASCAR and placed on probation for four weeks.

   Following a discussion by Keselowski of how he didn't allow what happened to alter his focus for this week's race, Penske jumped on the chance to defend his driver.

   "Number one, these guys are jealous of the job he's done this year. He's won six races. He's made poles. He's been up front. Nobody likes to see a guy win like that. The fact that he has a little edge on him, he's continually delivering, obviously I think makes a difference," he said.

   "If everybody understood what happened on the race track last week, when you get your rear fender knocked off on a restart, you get your front fender knocked off on a pass‑by, I want him to get mad. I don't want him to take it. 

   "So to me coming back, we talked about it Sunday night, I said, 'Let's just go on, do our test during the week, move on here. Brad, I said, Put it in the rear view mirror.'"