Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (15939)

The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will provide race fans with the flyover during the National Anthem for the 54th annual Daytona 500 – the prestigious season-opening event for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26 at Daytona International Speedway.

It’s the third time the flying team, officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, will perform the flyover for the Daytona 500. The Thunderbirds previously flew over the race in 2008 and 2011.

“It’s an honor to have the USAF Thunderbirds return to the ‘World Center of Racing’ and participate in the 54th annual Daytona 500 pre-race activities,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “The Thunderbirds are known throughout the world as an elite flying squadron and their rousing fly-over at the conclusion of the National Anthem will give goose bumps to the thousands of race fans in attendance and millions more watching on FOX Sports.”

“It’s hard to imagine a better way to start our 2012 demonstration season,” said Lt. Col. Greg Moseley, the Thunderbirds commander and flight leader. “Being part of an event as celebrated as the ‘Great American Race’ is a tremendous opportunity, and we look forward to showcasing the pride, precision and professionalism of the U.S. Air Force to NASCAR fans.”

The Thunderbirds flyover will feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft, soaring over the speedway at the moment the final notes of the Star-Spangled Banner are sung.

The Thunderbirds team is an Air Combat Command unit composed of eight pilots (including six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 100 enlisted people serving in about 30 Air Force job specialties. In 2012, the Thunderbirds will perform precision aerial maneuvers at more than 60 air shows in 32 different locations in North America.

Since the unit's inception in 1953, more than 350 million people in all 50 states and 61 countries have witnessed the distinctive red, white and blue jets in thousands of official aerial demonstrations.


Day One AM Testing Speeds

Day 1 PM Test Speeds

Only those who know just how hard the work is around a sawmill can fully appreciate how much Glen Wood’s early nickname “The Woodchopper” says about him. They know it goes a long way toward explaining how he and the race team he founded went on to win 98 Sprint Cup races and earn the team founder a place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Before Wood was a racer, he was a sawmiller. Sawmilling in the 1940s was physically demanding, required long hours and mechanical ability, and involved both physical and financial risks. In other words, it was a lot like running a NASCAR race team. And Wood was good at it.

His first sawmill experience came as a teenager, when he hired on to a crew and was assigned the job of carrying the slabs away from the mill.

In a typical portable sawmill of Wood’s era, the person running the saw, the sawyer, operated the levers and determined what kinds of boards would be cut from a log. One person stood to his right and helped roll the logs onto the rolling carriage that carried the logs down the track where the spinning blade sliced off a section at a time.

The sawyer and helper rotate the logs as the round bark edges, or slabs, were sawed off, leaving a square beam that would then be sliced into lumber. On the other side of the large circular blade would be one person who would “off bear” or remove the freshly sawn board.

Another would dispose of the slabs, and still another would operate the edger, a separate device consisting of multiple blades that cut the edges off wide boards, many of which still had bark on the sides.

In a modern sawmill, hydraulic lifts move the logs around. In Wood’s day, it was done by hand, with a tool called a “cant hook.” Cant hooks have heavy wooden handles, with a swinging spike at the end. The spike is hooked into the log before turning, but it will easily come loose once the log is turned.

Still, great strength is required to roll over a log weighing several hundred pounds.

“It was a hard job, especially to turn a big log,” Wood recalled. “How I was big enough to do it, I still don’t know. But I got pretty good at it.

“The sawyer, Will Hopkins, would sometimes help me turn it.  Sometimes the logs were big enough that both of us could hardly turn them over.”

Wood went from turning logs to hauling lumber after it was sawn.

“I had an old cab-over-engine truck,” he said. “It was a very awkward truck to drive into the woods to get the lumber.”

He eventually swapped it for a conventional – and more powerful – truck, and continued on with his hauling business until he and his eventual racing partner Chris Williams went into the sawmill business.

“We bought the mill and had different people sawing for us,” he said. “One morning we went out to saw, and the sawyer didn’t show up.

“I decided: ‘I’ll just see if I can do this.’ I’d been turning logs and running the edger, so I knew enough about it, I thought, even though I’d never attempted to do any sawing.

“I was cautious to begin with, but before long I was sawing as good as anybody we’d been hiring.”

On good days, Wood could saw between 8,000 and 10,000 board feet. (A board foot is the equivalent of a 1-by-12 inch board one foot long.) Production depends largely on the size and quality of the log, the skill of the sawyer and the horsepower at his disposal.

Eventually he and Williams sold their mill and Wood went to work sawing for Williams’ brother.

By then he was also driving race cars, which made for many a long day and night. He’d be in the woods by daylight to start sawing, then go straight from the woods to a race track and drive a race car that night.

“Somebody would bring the car by where I was working, and pick me up and go on to the track where we were racing,” Wood said.

Among the many items in the Wood Brothers Museum in Stuart, Va., is an old cant hook, which says as much about Wood and his team’s work ethic as any other piece there.

The Woodchopper himself is there most days too, and even at age 86, he’s still strong enough to turn a good sized log if he needed to.

Wood Brothers Racing PR

TAG Heuer Eyewear announced today that it has entered into a multi-race sponsorship agreement with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch and Phoenix Racing.  

Busch, who will drive the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing in the entire 2012 Sprint Cup season, has a personal services agreement with the eyewear company. 

TAG Heuer Eyewear will be featured as the primary sponsor on the No. 51 Chevrolet for the Feb. 18 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where Busch is the defending winner. Additionally, TAG Heuer Eyewear will serve as an associate sponsor on the No. 51 Chevrolet during the 54th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26 and again on March 11 for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Busch’s hometown track.

 “To enhance its strong motor racing heritage and its passion for performance, TAG Heuer Avant-Garde Eyewear is very proud to be a part of ‘The Great American Race’ and other premier NASCAR events,” said Pascal Brouard, CEO of TAG Heuer Eyewear, Chairman and CEO Groupe Logo. “Kurt joined the TAG Heuer Eyewear team of ambassadors in 2010 and we have enjoyed working with him. The sponsorship program with Kurt and Phoenix Racing will further build our brand with Kurt and is a natural extension of our ongoing relationship.”

 “TAG Heuer Eyewear has been a great partner of mine and this is a big deal for them to step up and sponsor Phoenix Racing and me for a few races this year,” Busch said. “I consider myself very fortunate to be affiliated with such a great brand and to have their strong support. I’m proud to carry the colors of TAG Heuer Eyewear on the No. 51 Chevrolet starting with Budweiser Shootout. As the defending race winner, we’re going to give it all we have to get back to victory lane.”

The Budweiser Shootout, the Daytona 500 and the Kobalt Tools 400 will each air live on FOX


Homestead-Miami Speedway, in conjunction with SPEED and, will stream live coverage of Preseason Thunder testing in its entirety from Daytona International Speedway Jan. 12-14 as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races back into action after a short but lively offseason.

The main focus of the test is for teams to work on their final preparations for 2012 Speedweeks, the 54th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 and the rest of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign. SPEED, and will combine to offer 21 hours of live coverage during the three-day test session.

“As a great partner, SPEED covers the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season from the minute the cars first hit the track until the champion makes his acceptance speech at the banquet each year,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “Based on the way last season concluded here at Homestead-Miami Speedway, this is one test session you won’t want to miss.”

Preseason Thunder testing Jan. 12-14 will be streamed live on the web at: 

SPEED invites fans to submit questions and comments through Twitter @SPEED ( using the #DaytonaTesting and #DAYTONA500 hash tags during the test sessions to be answered on-air.

This year’s NASCAR Championship finale will again return to Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, November 18, 2012.  It will mark the 11th consecutive year that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship race will conclude in Miami.


Belkin today entered the world of motorsports and announced a partnership with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, the team behind Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet.  Belkin’s new logo and brand identity will adorn the No. 1 car and team assets for the duration of the 2012 NASCAR season, but take center stage as the primary sponsor during the race at Martinsville, Virginia on April 1.

Belkin revealed its new brand identity and logo on a specially-designed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in booth #CP40. The new brand reflects Belkin’s commitment to creating people-inspired products that seamlessly connect people to the experiences they love.

“We are excited to join Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and Jamie McMurray as a sponsor for the upcoming 2012 NASCAR season, said Chet Pipkin, CEO and founder of Belkin. “With tens of millions of fans and legions of devotees and viewers, NASCAR is a sport of the people, so it seems like a natural fit for a company that prides itself on taking inspiration from real people and creating products that enhance the role of technology in people’s lives.”

“Earnhardt Ganassi welcomes Belkin as a new partner of our team,  the No. 1 Chevrolet  and Jamie McMurray, and we hope this relationship will help generate awareness and brand loyalty for Belkin among our large number of devoted race fans, said Steve Lauletta, president of Earnhardt Ganassi. “Belkin’s commitment to innovation, design, quality, and performance speaks to racing fans and is natural tie-in with our mission at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.


In a sport where drivers are constantly striving to be leaders of the pack, a few NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars – and one lucky NASCAR fan – are taking a back seat to learn a thing or two about how to control their pets. “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan,” airing on Nat Geo WILD, is going all-NASCAR when they bring the show to Daytona Beach, Fla. this February to shoot an upcoming episode.

This episode, which will be filmed around Daytona 500 events on February 17-18, will feature NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick for two of the first three segments. For the final segment, Millan will work with a NASCAR fan who will be chosen through the process outlined below.
Kevin Harvick and his wife DeLana will be featured with their Chihuahua, Little One (LO), and Greg Biffle will select animals in need through his charity, the Greg Biffle Foundation. His foundation strives to create awareness and serve as an advocate to improve the well-being of animals by engaging the power and passion of the motorsports industry.
“DeLana and I have always been a fan of Cesar’s work,” said Harvick. “We’re fascinated by the way he communicates with dogs and gets such a positive response from them. We knew he was the only one that could work with LO, our 4 1/2 lb. Chihuahua. LO travels with DeLana and I most of the time, and she’s exposed to a lot of different people and situations. Unfortunately she’s not always receptive and her feisty attitude can be a problem.”
"My wife Nicole and I founded the Greg Biffle Foundation to advance the well-being of animals by creating awareness in the NASCAR community,” said Biffle. “Cesar Millan does amazing work to help animals with their fears which can be common with adoptable pets. By working with him and his show ‘Dog Whisperer,’ we hope that we are not only able to find homes for the pets that will be featured but for other animals across the country in need of a home."
Any NASCAR fan with a dog in need of help who lives in the Daytona area, or will be in the Daytona area during the time of shoot, and wants to star in an episode of “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” should visit for information on how to submit an audition video. After collecting auditions, the “Dog Whisperer” staff will determine one lucky winner to appear in the NASCAR episode. All submissions must be postmarked by February 3, 2012. As always, the sooner the submission is received, the greater the chance it has of being selected for the show.
“Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan” is looking for a wide variety of dog problems, including unusual phobias, obsessions, fearful behavior and aggression. They are also interested in dogs that are spoiled rotten, overweight or bored.
Be sure to tune in to the Daytona 500 to watch the start of the 2012 NASCAR season on Sunday, February 26 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX. Great seats still remain for the 54th Daytona 500. For tickets, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit

 Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) and its brands Motorcraft and Quick Lane will continue to support the No. 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford Fusion owned by the legendary Wood Brothers in 2012, with defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne behind the wheel.

"We are proud to continue our relationship with such an outstanding team," said Mary Lou Quesnell, Marketing Director, FCSD. "Thanks to the hard work of the Wood family, the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion continues to be one of the most popular cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - and fans are just drawn to Trevor’s enthusiasm. We look forward to a successful 2012 season, starting off by defending our win at the Daytona 500."
FCSD and Ford Motor Company have had a long, successful history with Wood Brothers Racing.

"It’s really exciting to be back together with Trevor behind the wheel of the No. 21, with Motorcraft and Quick Lane," Eddie Wood said. "We’re looking forward to next week’s testing at Daytona International Speedway and hopefully winning again at Daytona."

Motorcraft, a Ford Motor Company brand of automotive parts ranging from filters and spark plugs to engines and transmissions, will be the primary sponsor on the Wood Brothers No. 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Ford Fusion for 12 races beginning in February at the Daytona 500, a race they won last year.

Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers are operated by Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers, but are equipped to provide services for all makes and models. Quick Lanes offer routine vehicle maintenance services such as oil and filter changes, and light repair services like brake repairs and tire replacements, all done by factory-trained technicians with no appointment necessary for customers. will also be an associate sponsor in 2012.


Ford Racing PR



Martin Truex Jr. and the NAPA Racing team are in Florida for five days of testing at two tracks as planning continues for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Truex and new Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin begin testing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway today and tomorrow. It’s the first time the drivers will work together focusing on MWR’s short-track program. The team then moves to the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway for NASCAR’s Preseason Thunder that includes testing Wednesday through Saturday in preparation for the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.



Martin Truex Jr. Back On Track: “I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. Over the winter we have been working on some new things and now it’s time to test them out and see how it goes. It’s also the first time I get to work with Clint and Mark. My NAPA team hasn’t changed, but we’ve got a lot of new guys at MWR especially on the 15 team so testing down here is a good way to show everyone how we all work together and get communication going in the right direction. The track time is going to be good for all of us here at Michael Waltrip Racing.”


Focus On New Smyrna: “This will be the first time we are running the new generation of MWR chassis at a short track. There are a lot of things Chad (Johnston—crew chief) and I want to run through to see if our car’s handling remains the same or if it wants to do different things. It was a great car for us on the bigger tracks at the end of last season and it will be interesting for us to see how it works on a short track.”


On Daytona Test: “With the rule changes especially with the grill opening, we have a lot of things we want to test and try to get prepared to win the Daytona 500. It’s also important for me and Clint to get time together and draft. I believe we are going to have to switch a lot in the draft with the rule change, so we really need to be on the same page rather quickly and understand how each other thinks. It’s a good time to get a feel for how he does things and the same for him as to how I do things.”


Feelings About EFI: “So far everything has been good. We had an EFI test in Daytona on Nov. 15. We didn’t have any issues with it and every time we have run with it, there does not seem to be whole lot of difference between it and a carburetor. I don’t foresee any crazy issues and I appreciate all the hard work that everyone has put into it to make a smooth transition.”



Autograph Signing: Truex will participate in Thursday’s Preseason Thunder Fan Fest. For details:


Truex will appear at the 2012 NASCAR Preview Presented By Sprint from 2:30 -4:30 p.m. on Jan. 21. The Preview at the Charlotte Convention Center is an all-day, behind-the-scenes pass into the world of NASCAR complete with driver autographs, Q&A sessions, team and sponsor displays and more. Fans can purchase tickets for only $10 in advance. Tickets at the door will cost $15. Doors open at 7 a.m. Click here for ticket information.

2012 NAPA Know How Crew

Crew Chief - Chad Johnston

Car Chief - Tony Lunders

Front Changer - Eric Maycroft

Rear Changer - Lee Cunningham

Front Carrier -  Craig Curione

Rear Carrier - Adam Mosher

Jackman - Brian Chase

Gas man - Wes Evans

Spotter - Keith Barnwell

Engineer - Brandon Pope

2nd Engineer - Tyler Nelson

Tires - Russell Simpson

Shocks - Luke Cunnington

Interior - Sean Boxman

Engine Tuner - Gregg Hulls

Truck Driver - Stump Lewis

2nd Truck Driver - Cindy Lewis

Pit Coach - Greg Miller

JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter stated that this NASCAR Sprint Cup Series off season was one of his best with the No. 47 Toyota Camry team that recently underwent significant changes.

“As a car owner, I’ve had more fun this winter than I have had in a long time,” Geschickter said.

Some of those changes included the hiring of Todd Berrier as crew chief and general manager along with Laerte Zatta as engineering director. The team added personnel and made pit crew member changes too. Also, former crew chief Frank Kerr moved into the role of shop foreman while the team ventured out on its own moving from Michael Waltrip Racing’s shop into their Harrisburg, N.C. shop. More importantly, sponsors were retained and new sponsors have been signed that will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We have had a lot of changes and added some great people, such as, Todd Berrier for example,” Geschickter said. “He’s an excellent leader and he’s assembled a very talented group of people that are having fun together getting ready for the season. We are excited because it seems like the team is gelling quickly and everyone is really pulling together.”

2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte agrees with Geschickter. The two buzz words about this year that come to his mind when asked about JTG Daugherty Racing are synergy and confidence.

“Talking to my team yesterday, there is synergy and confidence with each other as far as chemistry goes,” Labonte said. “We’re ready to get the season started. I know right now it’s a lot of work for the guys. They are starting off without a lot of inventory in the shop. I think that is going to be remedied pretty soon. I have a lot of confidence in Todd, our engineering department and our pit crew. I think we are going to be better than we were last year on all fronts.”

“We have a solid pit crew in place and I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” pit coach Gary Smith added. “We had a good team last year, but we were trying to tweak the team. We were able to pick up a few pit crew members that have been in the sport for a while, who can really help us out. Everyone has blended in really well and is getting along. We’re looking forward to a new season and also working with Todd.”

Berrier, who has eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career wins as a crew chief and spent nearly two decades at Richard Childress Racing, is proving to be a good fit for Labonte and JTG Daugherty Racing.

“Todd is very direct, which is what I love,” Labonte said. “We have a smaller group this year and Todd’s the driving force behind assembling a cohesive unit. I feel like we will perform better.”

“I agree with Bobby,” added Berrier. “I’m looking forward to this season with JTG Daugherty Racing. I was a part of RCR when it was this size and was a part of its growth to where it is now. I know what it takes to get from here to there competition wise.”

Berrier’s résumé includes some major victories including the 2003 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 2007 Daytona 500 with Kevin Harvick. A Daytona 500 victory is something Berrier’s current driver would like to mark off his bucket list. Ironically, the team is not attending testing at Daytona International Speedway this week in efforts to continue preparations for the season at the shop. However, Labonte states his team will not skip a beat.

“As important as the Daytona test is, we have a lot of time there in February and we’ll get more practice there than anywhere else we go,” Labonte said. “I feel like we will be able to miss the test and still be in pretty good shape when we get down there for the race. Time spent in the shop this week will be more valid for us to prepare cars - - not just Daytona, but several weeks after that.”

“I trust Todd and our leadership group,” Geschickter added. “They feel like races are won at the shop. While we would have liked to have been at the Daytona test, we’re really getting started out in our Harrisburg shop and we have quite a bit of work left to do. When Daytona gets here, we’ll be ready to contend for the win again.”

Labonte came close to winning the Daytona 500 last season pushing Trevor Bayne to victory. Labonte admits Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway last season started out a little slow for the team, but in the end he was a contender for one of the most prestigious races on the 36-race schedule.

“We were in the Bud Shootout last year and was kind of like a lost puppy out there and then we found our way,” Labonte said. “In the Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race, we lost the draft near the end. In the Daytona 500, it was a different story. We were able to stay out of trouble and survive the day through a lot of carnage that went on. We kept in contention and when it came down to the end of the race, we were tucked in behind the leader. We came close to winning and ended up with a top-five (fourth-place) finish. If we can be that fortunate this year and put ourselves in position again, anything can happen.”

JTG Daugherty PR

NASCAR is back in full gear as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams hit the pavement at Daytona International Speedway this week for three days of preseason testing.


The main focus of the test is for teams to work on their final preparations for 2012 Speedweeks – in particular, the 54th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26.


“This is an opportunity we are providing to the competitors to implement and test the new Daytona rules package for 2012,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition. “It’s a chance for them to get comfortable with the cooling package, the smaller spoiler and to practice drafting for next month’s Daytona 500.”


The new rules package is a result of information gathered during recent tests at Talladega last October and at Daytona last November.


“While we have had other tests with these set-ups, this is the first opportunity for the entire field to test together and get more comfortable with this package as it relates to their cars,” Pemberton said.


The new rules package includes:

·         Smaller radiators

o    Maximum of 2 gallon capacity

·         Smaller overflow tank

o    Maximum capacity of ½ gallon

·         Radiator inlet is moved up closer into the front center bumper area

·         Rate reduction in the springs – softer springs

·         Smaller rear spoiler

·         Base line restrictor plate of 29/32 inch (1/64 inch larger than plate size for the 2011 Daytona 500)


“This three-day test will allow the engine tuners for these teams to be able to work with their engine packages and see how they relate and react to the new cooling regulations,” Pemberton said.


Next month’s Daytona 500 will be only the third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points event ran on the repaved Daytona International Speedway. This year’s Preseason Thunder will continue to be an opportunity for teams and drivers to test their skills on a relatively fresh surface in addition to the new rules.


Complementing the testing portion of this weekend’s festivities, the track is also offering fans an opportunity to be part of a special two-day Fan Fest event.


Fan Fest sessions are scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 12 and Friday, Jan. 13 and include autograph sessions, driver question and answer sessions, show cars and displays, music and a photo opportunity with the 2012 Harley J. Earl Daytona 500 trophy. In addition, fans can ride the high banks under the lights by purchasing a Richard Petty Driving Experience ride along.


Tickets for Daytona Preseason Thunder Fan Fest are $20 and available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or online at Children 12 and under will receive free admission.


Daytona International Speedway will also host special driver chat sessions on the speedway’s social media channels following the end of testing Thursday and Friday evenings. Fans can submit questions for Twitter chats by using #daytonatesting, with answers, updates and testing information coming from Daytona International Speedway’s Twitter feed @DISUpdates. Fans can also submit questions on Facebook for LiveStream chats with drivers on NASCAR’s official Twitter feed @NASCAR will also provide updates throughout the three-day session.


SPEED will broadcast live coverage of testing on all three days from 1-5 p.m. ET. Additionally, will stream testing live from 9 a.m.-noon ET each day.