Speedway Digest Staff
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Ford Performance PR
Kelley Blue Book, a Cox Automotive company and your one-stop resource for researching new and used cars, has extended its sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports and champion driver Chase Elliott with a two-year contract renewal.
In 2023 and 2024, Kelley Blue Book will be featured as a two-race primary sponsor and full-season associate sponsor of Elliott’s No. 9 NASCAR Cup Series team. The company’s association with Hendrick Motorsports began with a one-race primary sponsorship in 2014 and expanded to two races in 2016 when Kelley Blue Book joined Elliott for his rookie year.
This season, the 27-year-old Elliott will drive the No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on March 12 at Phoenix Raceway and in the Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 24.
“We were just getting started when we first teamed up with Chase Elliott back in 2016, and now Kelley Blue Book eagerly anticipates two more thrilling seasons in partnership with Hendrick Motorsports,” said Ken Kraft, chief marketing officer for Cox Automotive. “With Kelley Blue Book’s support, we hope Chase feels just as confident on the track as car shoppers feel off the track when using Kelley Blue Book to research new and used cars. Continuing to connect with fellow race fans this season via the Chase Elliott sponsorship is a natural extension for Kelley Blue Book, the one-stop resource for car shoppers.”
In 2020, Elliott became the third-youngest driver in history to win a Cup Series title. At NASCAR’s top level, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native already has won 18 points-paying races and was voted by fans as the sport’s Most Popular Driver five consecutive times (2018-2022). Last year, he secured a series-best five victories, won the regular season championship and made his seventh playoff appearance in as many full years on the circuit.
“Kelley Blue Book has been such a big part of my Cup Series career dating back to my very first season, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together so far,” Elliott said. “Not only have they been an outstanding partner for our No. 9 program, but for Mr. (Rick) Hendrick’s entire organization. I look forward to continuing to build our relationship and celebrating more victories with Kelley Blue Book in the years to come.”
In addition to individual consumers, Kelley Blue Book’s variety of products and services are available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies, and governmental agencies. Partners include Hendrick Automotive Group, which utilizes Kelley Blue Book in each of its 132 automotive retail franchises across the United States.
“We’re proud to continue our relationship with Kelley Blue Book,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman and CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group. “It’s been a tremendous collaboration across many levels, from winning races and championships on the track to working together to meet business objectives. In 2023, we look forward to celebrating our 10th season of partnership and continuing to raise the bar.”
Hendrick Motorsports PR
The season-opening NASCAR Cup Series exhibition race, the Busch Light Clash, returns to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this weekend. To celebrate, Food 4 Less® has a car entered in the 150-Lap race with the JTG Daugherty Racing team.
Two-time NASCAR Cup Series winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will race the No. 47 Food 4 Less/Velveeta® Camaro, and prior to that, he will be making an appearance at store location 1299 W. Artesia Blvd. in Gardena, CA on Friday, February 3rd from 4-5 PM Pacific to sign autographs for our consumers.
“Food 4 Less is excited to host Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at our Gardena location this week, and we invite the community to join us for a fun opportunity to meet Ricky, as well as connect with other fans from Los Angeles and all around the nation,” said Bryan Kaltenbach, President, Food 4 Less/Foods Co.
“It’s important to us to get into the community and meet our fans, and Food 4 Less is providing that opportunity along with our CPG (consumer packaged goods) partners,” Stenhouse Jr. said.
“Last year, The Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum was totally new for everybody, and no one knew what to expect,” Stenhouse Jr. continued. “Coming through the tunnel was one of the coolest things ever for me. We made the race, and it was nice to be able to do that because not everybody made it. We know it will be more intense this year especially since everyone knows what to expect. It’s a great venue, and the crowd’s electric. We’re excited to be back in market for The Clash.”
On Sunday, February 5th qualifying heat races being at 2 PM Pacific (5 PM ET) on FOX, MRN Radio and SiriusXM Satellite NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90). The 150-Lap Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum begins at 5 PM Pacific (8 PM ET) on the same networks.
JTG Racing PR
INDYCAR, with longtime partner IU Health, is rolling into its new season with a new mobile medical facility.
The INDYCAR Medical Unit will make its debut at the year’s first Open Test, held Thursday-Friday, Feb. 2-3 at The Thermal Club near Palm Springs, California. The transporter with double slide outs will provide an environment for consistent and accessible care during each NTT INDYCAR SERIES and INDY NXT by Firestone event.
Previously, INDYCAR’s medical team utilized a combination of a mobile trailer and the facilities available at the venues that host events. With the substantially upgraded mobile unit, the sanctioning body can better serve its growing paddock.
“INDYCAR medical has always been the industry standard of care and service in motorsports,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said. “The investment into the INDYCAR Medical Unit is an important step in continuing that expectation and assuring that all personnel will receive excellent care.”
Among the features of the INDYCAR Medical Unit:
- Four functional areas, one with two hospital beds
- Equipment needed to care for patients with urgent or emergent needs, including a portable X-ray machine, a resuscitation cart and assorted orthopedic care supplies
- Workspace for the doctors and nurses who travel with the sport
- Meeting areas for patient consultation and emergency updates
- Video feeds to enable the staff to monitor the on-track action
The INDYCAR Medical Unit will be available during the hours the garages are open, and INDYCAR will work with local officials to determine the most strategic location for the unit at each venue.
“The INDYCAR Medical Unit is a product of continued collaboration of INDYCAR and IU Health and is an important addition to our continued effort to enhance care for competitors, others who work in the sport and their families,” INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Julia Vaizer said. “The unit will be available to drivers, allowing us to evaluate them in the most efficient yet effective manner to develop next steps. We also will provide that level of care for all members of the paddock.”
INDYCAR’s season begins March 3-5 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. Coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season debut, Sunday, March 5 will be available beginning at noon ET on NBC with a simulstream available on Peacock.
Peacock also will provide coverage of the INDY NXT season opener that same day beginning at 9:55 a.m. ET. The INDYCAR Radio Network will provide coverage of both races, with audio available on the INDYCAR App powered by NTT DATA.
The Clash at The Coliseum Competition Notes: Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Fr8Auctions.com Mustang Team
SUNNYD, part of Harvest Hill Beverage Company, has partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), the championship-winning NASCAR team.
Known as the most refreshing orange drink in existence, SUNNYD will serve as the primary sponsor for two NASCAR Cup Series races with driver Kevin Harvick and SHR’s No. 4 team. When not the primary sponsor, SUNNYD will have a yearlong associate presence on the No. 4 Ford Mustang with branding on Harvick’s firesuit.
The No. 4 SUNNYD Ford Mustang will debut May 14 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, a track where Harvick has won three of his 60 career Cup Series victories. SUNNYD returns to the No. 4 as a primary sponsor Sept. 10 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, another track where Harvick has three Cup Series wins.
In addition to joining Harvick, SUNNYD will serve as a yearlong associate partner of SHR’s No. 98 team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with driver Riley Herbst. To kick off the partnership, the 23-year-old Herbst will make his Cup Series debut in the season-opening Daytona 500 driving a SUNNYD-sponsored Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing.
“NASCAR has proven to be an excellent platform for the SUNNYD brand and it’s why we’ve joined Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Ilene Bergenfeld, CMO, Harvest Hill Beverage Company. “Being a part of Kevin Harvick’s final season as a NASCAR Cup Series driver holds a tremendous amount of value because of all that he’s accomplished in the sport.
“To have a veteran in Kevin and a next-generation talent in Riley Herbst allows SUNNYD to resonate with fans who have known Harvick since his Cup Series debut 23 years ago, as well as young fans new to the sport who see a little bit of themselves in Riley.”
Earlier this year, Harvick announced that the 2023 season would be his last as a Cup Series driver. The 47-year-old from Bakersfield, California, is currently tied for ninth on the Cup Series’ all-time win list.
“As a Gen-Xer, I’ve grown up with SUNNYD. It’s very fitting that I get to represent them in my last year in NASCAR,” said Harvick, the 2014 Cup Series champion. “Our desire to win and compete for a championship is as strong as ever and I’m happy to have SUNNYD a part of our race team.”
Harvick’s final season kicks off with the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Feb. 5 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the official start of the 2023 campaign with the 65th annual Daytona 500 Feb. 19 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Each event will be broadcast live on FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Cirkul, a modern beverage platform known for its patented flavor cartridges, announces a partnership with Kaulig Racing and NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) driver Justin Haley for the 2023 Daytona 500. Cirkul’s logo will be featured on Haley’s No. 31 Camaro ZL1 for the 65th running of the Daytona 500.
Kaulig Racing and Cirkul announced last week that they will continue to support driver, Daniel Hemric, for multiple races in the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season onboard the No. 11 Chevrolet.
“We are incredibly excited for Cirkul to be a part of this year’s Daytona 500,” said Andy Gay, president and co-founder of Cirkul. “Our product speaks to everyone who drinks water and there’s no better place to reach a wide audience than the Daytona 500. It’s a watershed moment for our company as we deepen our relationship with NASCAR, and we can’t wait to root for Justin Haley’s No. 31 as he takes on the field.”
Haley, who cemented himself in NASCAR history when he won the rain-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona in 2019, has seen success at Daytona in all three of NASCAR’s top-tier series, including two wins in the NXS and a runner-up finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS).
“Cirkul has been a great partner of Kaulig Racing, and it was a no brainer to expand our relationship with them at one of the biggest motorsports events in the world,” said Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing. “Justin (Haley) is our super-speedway ace, so we can’t think of anyone better to be behind the wheel of Cirkul’s very first car in the Daytona 500.”
Continuing his reign as the team’s longest-tenured driver, Haley will kick off his second, full season in the NCS with Kaulig Racing at the World Center of Racing, as he pilots the No. 31 Cirkul Camaro ZL1 beginning with the 2023 Daytona Speedweek.
“I’m excited to welcome Cirkul aboard my No. 31 Chevy hotrod for such a big event,” said Haley. “Being a bit of a health nut, Cirkul is a product that truly makes proper hydration throughout the week leading up to a race weekend very easy. I’m honored to have Cirkul’s support on one of the biggest platforms in motorsports and hope to take home that coveted Harley J. Earl trophy together.”
With its eighth-consecutive grandstand sellout, the 2023 Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday, February 19 at 2:30PM ET on FOX for the start of NASCAR’s 75th-anniversary season.
Kaulig Racing PR
Three weeks ago, veteran sprint car racer Brody Roa did not know if he would be racing at this past weekend’s USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series 24th season-opening weekend at the Cocopah Speedway. In a career-changing move one week later, Roa joined forces with Inland Rigging’s Tommy and Christy Dunkel. That move paid immediate dividends as he not only made the opener, but also scored wins in both main events on the Arizona oval. The victories were his 14th and 15th in USAC/CRA competition which places him fifth on the series all-time win list.
To say the effort to get ready for the races was a thrash is an understatement. The team finished the car on Thursday night and it was so fresh it did not have all the decals in place. Nonetheless, it was fast from the opening lap of hot laps on Friday all the way through the final checkered flag on Saturday. It was faster than anyone expected as it was the first time Roa ever turned laps using a DRC chassis.
When people think of Arizona they think of extreme heat. However, the winters in the “Copper State” can be cold. With a breeze blowing at the track that is located 10 minutes north of the USA/Mexican border, and a temperature dipping into the low 40s each night, fans were more than a little chilly. But Roa and the other cars kept them warmed up with exciting racing each night.
Roa, who turned 32 years old two days prior to the opening race, made his first qualifying effort in his new steed a good one when he timed in third quickest at 16.575 on Friday night. That placed him in the first 10-lap heat race of the season where he started fifth and finished fourth in his initial outing in the white #17R.
For the main event, the Garden Grove, California star began on the outside of row two in fourth. In front of the Speed Sport TV cameras, he picked off the third and second-place drivers and patiently stalked the leader. Perseverance paid off and he snatched the lead away on lap 19. The talented driver methodically pulled away for a comfortable victory in his first time driving for the Dunkel’s.
“First win for the new team,” the happy victor told the crowd after the race. “It is pretty awesome to come out of the gate swinging like that. We just got this new DRC chassis and just finished it up last night. I think that is a good start to it. About six days ago, I thought I was only racing this weekend for sure. I have to thank Inland Rigging, Dunkel Farms, and Tom and Christy Dunkel. They stepped up huge and I just have to give a huge thank you to them.”
“I was calling Joe Devin (the owner of DRC) all night with ideas about what we were doing,” the excited driver continued. “I sent him a text before the feature telling him what I was doing and he said that was all good stuff. When I was behind Tommy (Tommy Malcolm who held Roa at bay until the 19th circuit), he was good. He screwed up once down here before the caution and I thought I had a shot, but he gathered it all back in. He did a great job leading. Good job to that guy and all of those guys over there (Malcolm and his team). They were a contender last year and we will probably see them a lot this year, too.”
“Man I am kind of bummed,” Roa said with a laugh. “This is the first race I have won with my two-year-old daughter Addison here (at the races) and she was sleeping.”
Saturday night did not start off as well as Friday. While his qualifying time of 16.943 was less than a half second slower than his Friday attempt on the clocks, it was only good for the ninth fastest time. However, he outdistanced the field in his preliminary to record his first heat race triumph of 2023.
If there was one thing to be said about the slower qualifying time, it put Roa on the front row for the main event and he took full advantage and flew into the lead at the drop of the green. The friendly driver hung onto the lead until he was passed on the 22nd lap by his sometimes teammate at Jayson May Motorsports, Chase Johnson. It looked as though Roa would have to settle for second, but coming off turn four and heading for the white flag, Johnson, whose right rear tire was shot, threw a slider on a lapped car, jumped the cushion, and tapped the wall. Roa alertly pounced on the opportunity presented and flew into the lead. Eighteen seconds later he drove his bright white car under the checkered flag first for his second win in 24 hours.
“I thought it was over,” Roa told the appreciative crowd. “Once he (Johnson) got out front until that lapper he was clean. He was able to get off the corners a little bit better than I was. Yeah, a heartbreaker for Chase. He ran a good race. I guess we will take them how we can get them.”
“This is an exciting start to the year for sure,” Roa said about taking home both winner’s trophies on the year. “All of our phones were blowing up last night. I talked to Tom (Dunkel) last night and he was pretty stoked. Hopefully, we can continue and win a whole bunch of these this year.”
“We are over the top really,” happy car owner Dunkel said on Sunday. “We were hoping for a decent run with a brand new car, new team, and a whole new package. To go out there and sweep the weekend was a little unexpected. We are just over the top about it.”
Winning the races was very important and satisfying. However, perhaps the most important thing of the two nights for Roa came while he was holding his daughter Addison in the victory circle.
“This is super cool,” Roa gushed while smiling at the happy two-year-old in his arms. “I have won a handful of races since she was born but she hasn’t been there or she has been sleeping for all of them. I hope you are excited, Addie.”
Roa is now off until he begins a busy month on March 3rd and 4th when USAC/CRA heads to the Central Arizona Speedway. One week later he will contest the open comp. show at the Imperial Valley Raceway. On March 18th he will return to action with USAC/CRA at Perris Auto Speedway and will wrap up the month in Central California at the Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford and Tulare’s Thunderbowl Raceway.
The team wants to thank the following sponsors for making the 2023 season possible. Inland Rigging, Dunkel Farms, United Asset Sales, Osborne Speed & Machine, Sander Engineering, “Biker” Bruce Fischer, ALR Virtual Services, Burris Racing, Caltrol, Competition Suspension, K-1 Race Gear, Molecule, Rod End Supply, Driven Racing Oil, Baldwin Filters, and NGK Spark Plugs.