Sprint Cup Series News (12115)
In just the last week, NASCAR has launched “Kids Drive NASCAR”, an initiative to bring in the younger race fan. NASCAR, in collaboration with its speedways, have announced several programs to help families come to the racetrack.
The first announcement was made at the NASCAR Hall of Fame with the first ever all-kids press conference. Before attending to the media, the announcement that kids aged 12 and under starting in 2017 will have the opportunity to attend NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races for free was made via Facebook Live.
"There really is no other experience like attending a NASCAR race in person, and that’s especially true for kids," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "So many children have become lifelong NASCAR fans because their parents brought them to their first race, and this new ticket offering makes it even more affordable for families to create memories that will last a lifetime."
This program unifies all NASCAR sanctioned tracks in their efforts to reach a younger audience.
The second announcement in “Kids Drive NASCAR” week was the launch of an app called “Acceleration Nation”. Acceleration Nation will provide learning materials for use in schools across the country with lessons focusing on aerodynamics and energy. NASCAR partnered with Scholastics to develop the first motorsports based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education program. The app will provide a digital experience featuring racing-related games, activities, and interactive ways to learn about NASCAR. The app is available in the App Store and Google Play.
NASCAR also announced that the chase races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway will be featured on Snapchat’s Live Story. Fans will be able to use Snapchat to show the world their NASCAR raceday experience through video and photos. The Live Story has been featured in 2016 for the Daytona 500 and the May race at Talladega Superspeedway, which set records for social media engagement for NASCAR.
"There’s no experience in sports quite like attending a NASCAR race, especially during the Chase,” said Gregory "Snapchat’s Live Story coverage provides young audiences with a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the real Chase race experience, through the lens of our fans and drivers."
NASCAR announced a continuing partnership with Nickelodeon with the return of “NASCAR Hammer Down” hosted by Karysn and Kennedy Elledge, granddaughters of Dale Earnhardt Sr. There will be eight, 15-minute episodes ranging from driver interviews, goofy antics among drivers, and behind the scenes insight into the technology used in NASCAR. The show will air regularly on Fridays at 9:30pm (ET/PT) during Nicktoons’ NickSports TV block. NASCAR Productions produces the show.
"Kids are a huge part of our sport, and we are excited to deliver a program like NASCAR Hammer Down to a very important audience for NASCAR," said Zane Stoddard, NASCAR vice president of entertainment marketing and content development. "The personalities of Karsyn, Kennedy and our drivers combined with the NickSportsaudience, creates the perfect avenue for us to connect with a new generation of potential NASCAR fans.
Going off of NASCAR, Speedway Motorsports Inc. continues their efforts in working for the fans by providing select children’s tickets to be priced at $10 each to Cup Series events at its speedways beginning in 2017, with the purchase of an adult ticket.
“Coming to the races should be about fun, not finances,” said Speedway Motorsports’ president and CEO Marcus Smith. “Now, a parent can get his or her child through the gates for an entire weekend of NASCAR events – including qualifying night, a Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series race and a Cup Series race – for just $10. This is one of the best, if not THE best, family values in all professional sports.NASCAR fans have passed down their passion for motorsports from generation to generation for decades, and through this new Fans First initiative, we’ll continue that legacy by introducing young fans to the sport and engaging them for years to come.”
International Speedway Corporation will continue to allow the individual tracks to make their own decision on youth ticket prices at Cup events.
The “Kids Drive NASCAR” initiative is just the start of the efforts by NASCAR and its tracks to attract the younger fan.
Austin Dillon Leads a Lap at Michigan International Speedway in Cheerios Chevrolet as he Continues Quest to Make Chase for the Sprint Cup
"We struggled throughout our practice sessions this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, especially compared to last time we were here when we were one of the fastest cars at the track right out of the trailer. Still, all of the guys on the No. 3 Cheerios team worked really hard and I was really encouraged heading into Sunday. During the race, the car just wasn't very good on takeoff but we excelled on long runs. We posted some of the fastest lap times of the race at the end of runs. I wish we had a little bit more today but overall, we're still looking good in the point standings and even stayed out to lead a lap today. Our goal remains the same--to win a race and make it into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Hopefully, we can do that at Darlington Raceway next weekend."
- Austin Dillon
Paul Menard Finishes 18th at Michigan International Speedway in the Sylvania / Menards Chevrolet SS
"We had a good Sylvania / Menards Chevrolet today. Danny (Stockman, crew chief) and the No. 27 team worked hard all weekend and it showed during parts of the race. We struggled early on during a run, but this Chevy got significantly better on the longer green flag stints. On that last restart we were just too tight, and fell back a few positions crossing the line in 18th-place. We definitely deserved a top-10 today. I'm looking forward to Darlington this upcoming weekend, and honoring Al Unser, Jr. with our Valvoline / Menards throwback scheme."
- Paul Menard
Final Restart Results in Top-20 Finish at Michigan International Speedway for Ryan Newman and the Freightliner Team
"Luke Lambert and the Freightliner team definitely improved our Chevy over the course of today's race. They worked hard all race long to adjust to the slick conditions that were out there. We raced in the top-16 for the first half of the race but then made big gains to climb into the top-10 and to be honest, that's really what I was expecting for our finish. On the final restart, we lined up 11th in the low line and it really hurt us. The line stalled and it resulted in a sub-par finishing position. We were a much better car than 17th. I'm looking forward to Darlington Raceway next week. It's my favorite track so I hope it's where we can clinch a Chase spot."
- Ryan Newman
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), fought hard for a fifth-place finish in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. It was Harvick’s 11th top-five finish this season and his 10th top-five in 32 career Sprint Cup starts at Michigan.
Harvick started fourth and raced his way to the lead on lap 26 immediately following the competition caution. He held the top spot until lap 57, when he reported that the No. 4 Chevrolet was struggling with a loose-handling condition.
The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet raced in the top-five for the majority of the event and was running in fourth when the final caution flag of the day flew on lap 188. As the top-three stayed out on older tires, Harvick came to pit road for a two-tire stop, hoping to chase down the leaders for the win. He restarted sixth on lap 161 as the first car on fresh tires, but he was held up on the restart when leader Chase Elliott spun his tires in the outside lane. Harvick was able to gain one position in the closing laps to cross the finish line in fifth.
“We just lost the handle there on the last couple of runs,” said Harvick, who also finished fifth in the June race at Michigan. “For whatever reason we got really loose in, and then after that on the restart we were tight on two tires. Everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Busch Beer Chevrolet did a good job – we just didn’t quite have what we needed to win the race today.”
The Bakersfield, California, native led twice for a total of 33 laps to move his 2016 season total to 997. If he is able to lead three more laps through the next 12 Sprint Cup events he will surpass 1,000 laps led for his third-straight season. Prior to joining SHR his single-season best was 895 laps led in 2006.
Harvick’s fifth-place finish led the four-car SHR contingent at Michigan.
In the backyard of Roush Performance, Jack Roush, and Ford, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned a 27th -place finish at Michigan International Speedway after battling an ill-handling machine for a majority of the Pure Michigan 400.
“We struggled with our straightaway speed in this package,” Stenhouse said. “Our Ford just progressively got looser during each run. The race went green for a while so it was hard to get back on the lead lap. Definitely not the day we were looking for but we will go back to the drawing board and hopefully can make some gains for later in the season.”
From the beginning of the race, the Olive Branch, Miss. native battled a machine that was loose in but tight center. On lap 20, NASCAR held a competition caution for teams due to rain overnight. The timely caution allowed the team to work on the handling of the Zest Ford.
With long green flag runs and differences in pit strategy, the two-time XFINITY champion pitted multiple times before the final caution was displayed on lap 186 to correct the loose handling condition but nothing seemed to affect the Zest Ford.
When the final green flag waved setting up a nine lap shootout, Stenhouse lined up in the 24th position but lost several positions in the closing laps to take the checkered flag in the 27th position.
Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 17 team travel to Darlington next weekend. The Bojangles’ Southern 500 will be broadcast live on NBC with coverage beginning at 6 p.m. EST. The race can also be heard on MRN as well as Sirius channel 90.
Michigan International Speedway is Greg Biffle’s favorite track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. Biffle leads the way at the 2.0-mile track with four wins, but unfortunately wasn’t able to add another to his tally. Biffle started the race 22nd and searched for rear grip over the course of the 200-lap race. In the end Biffle was able to capitalize on pit strategy and a great final restart to earn an 11th-place finish in his No. 16 Roush Performance Ford.
Greg Biffle started the race 22nd after battling handling in qualifying Friday evening. Practice time on Saturday was abbreviated due to rain, but the team was able to make some handling gains in the on-track time they did get.
From the drop of the green flag Biffle’s Roush Performance Ford was loose, but due to the rain on Saturday the field had a competition caution on lap 20. Biffle pitted for two tires and a wedge adjustment in an effort to pick up some track position, setting him up 16th for the restart. The wedge adjustment wasn’t enough and Biffle continued to search for rear grip.
The search for grip continued over the 200-laps for Biffle. Wedge, shim and track bar adjustments helped, but nothing was exactly what the No. 16 Ford needed. The final caution of the day came out on lap 187. With nothing to lose Biffle pitted for four tires and another wedge adjustment. Biffle restarted 16th and was able to work his way forward to cross the finish line 11th with the help of the fresh Goodyear tires.
Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion, recorded a 24th-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) event at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
“We’ll rebound from this,” said Bayne after the race. “We just needed some help through the center of the corner all race long and those long runs really affected us trying to make up track position. I want to thank my guys on this AdvoCare team for their hard work and we will get after it next weekend in Darlington.”
Bayne began the afternoon from the 24th position after advancing to the second round of knockout qualifying on Friday. Bayne charged forward from the drop of the green flag, improving five positions to 19th before a tight-handling condition through the center of the corner shuffled the Roush Fenway Racing driver back to 22nd by the competition caution on Lap 20.
After pitting for four tires and a chassis adjustment Bayne returned to the track for the ensuing restart in 19th. Despite restarting in the top 20, the tight-handling condition returned to the AdvoCare Ford, shuffling Bayne back to 25th before the first round of green flag pit stops began on Lap 64.
The Knoxville, Tenn. native returned to the track in 23rd following the pit stop but ultimately lost a lap to the race leaders as the long green flag run continued. Although off of the lead lap Bayne continued to fight, racing his way into 21st and into contention for the free pass. Bayne maintained his track position throughout much of the remainder of the event until a late-race caution on Lap 186 shuffled up the running order.
In the end, Bayne would hold off Aric Almirola to take the checkered flag in the 24th position.
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) finished 23rd in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
“We were hoping to have a little different outcome today, but it was extremely difficult to gain positions with the long, green runs,” Patrick said. “I have to thank (crew chief) Billy (Scott) and the guys for their hard work today. It sounds like everyone was having similar issues, and they kept telling me to remain consistent and make the moves for position when I could. I felt like I was racing the same guys all day for the same spots. I might have had a better car timewise, but it was just really difficult to get past some of those guys. We’ll keep working at it and see if we can improve next weekend in Darlington.”
Patrick started the 200-mile race in 23rd and bounced between 22nd and 23rd during the opening 10 laps. She was running 23rd on lap 22 when the competition yellow slowed the race for the first time. Scott called for four tires and a full load of fuel and took left-rear wedge out of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Chevrolet SS. Patrick resumed her battle with Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith during the long caution-free run battling for position before ultimately making a green-flag pit stop on lap 64. Scott called for four tires and fuel only during the stop, trying to keep the car from getting tighter on exit. After another long run, Patrick reported that the car was getting looser the longer the run went. When the race reached the halfway mark, she was running 25th.
With the race staying under green for more than 80 consecutive laps, Patrick clicked off consistent laps but was two laps down to the leaders. On lap 108, Scott again called for tires and fuel only when Patrick returned to pit road for another green-flag stop. Ten laps later, the third caution of the race slowed the action and Patrick regained one lap on the leaders.
When the race reached lap 160, Patrick was up to 21st but reported the car was again tight coming off the corners. During a pit stop on lap 168, Scott added a half-round of wedge in the left rear hoping to help the car exit better during the final 30 laps of the race. A late yellow on lap 187 gave the team one final chance to make adjustments, and Scott took a half-round out of left rear, knowing he needed to free up the car with the sticker tires. Patrick had a good final restart and made five consistent laps to finish 23rd.
Patrick’s teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finished fifth to lead the four-car SHR contingent Sunday. It was Harvick’s 11th top-five this season and his 10th top-five in 32 career Sprint Cup starts at Michigan.
No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet driver Tony Stewart finished 21st in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race marked the 34th and final Michigan Sprint Cup start for Stewart, who is retiring from NASCAR competition at the end of the 2016 season.
After finishing seventh at Michigan in June, the three-time champion hoped for a better result. But the team struggled with handling issues the first half of the race and fell off the lead lap at the halfway mark. The No. 14 team tried a different tire strategy in the last half of the race, but the caution flag didn’t fly when needed, so Stewart never returned to the lead lap.
“Everyone fought hard today,” Stewart said after the race.
Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz said the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team needed to focus on the next two races before the start of NASCAR’s 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“We just have to go to work,” Bugarewicz told the crew after the race.
Stewart started Sunday’s race on the 2-mile oval in 15th and held his own until a lap-20 competition caution saw the field visit pit lane for the first time. The team put four new tires on the No. 14 while most of the leaders opted for two tires. Stewart dropped to 18th but quickly regained the lost spots, racing in 15th by the lap-50 mark.
Stewart began reporting handling issues as he dropped to 20th.
“We are getting crushed on entry,” reported Stewart, who started his 606th career race on Sunday.
The No. 14 crew made changes the next green-flag stop to improve the handling. With only one caution and the leaders setting a fast pace, Stewart fell off the lead lap just past the halfway mark at lap 104. Stewart and most of the field pitted under green a few laps later with only a handful of cars remaining on the lead lap.
A caution on lap 118 bunched the field, but Stewart was the second car in line for the free pass and could not return to the lead lap. Stewart stayed on the track and moved into the free-pass position, restarting the race in 20th. When the green flag dropped, Stewart couldn’t hold on to his position and dropped to 23rd.
A green-flag stop on lap 156 dropped Stewart two laps behind the leaders, ending his chances of returning to the lead lap and earning a good finish.
Stewart finishes his Michigan career with a win, 12 top-five finishes, 21 top-10s and 225 laps led in his 34 career Sprint Cup starts.