Sunday, Oct 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Keith Rodden, well-respected lead engineer for the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Kasey Kahne, has joined Earnhardt Ganassi Racing as crew chief for the No. 1 Chevrolet driven by Jamie McMurray in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, EGR announced Monday.

Rodden replaces Kevin "Bono" Manion who has been with McMurray since the driver moved from Roush Fenway Racing to EGR in 2010.

"I'm excited and appreciative for this opportunity and can't wait to be just a small piece of an excellent team that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is building," Rodden said via a team release announcing his hiring. "(Team owner) Chip (Ganassi) has quality people and is also building great race cars.

"This team has shown that they can win races and compete at the highest level of this sport, and I look forward to working with Jamie and everyone on the team as we work to prepare for the 2014 season."

McMurray won the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and the fall Charlotte race in 2010 but has only one victory since then, in this year's Chase race at Talladega. All told, McMurray has seven career NASCAR Sprint Cup wins.

Bent sheet metal, hurt feelings, last-lap action and ecstatic winners.

That’s what the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach promised. And it delivered.

The event, held on the short track on the Superstretch of Daytona International Speedway, will return to the “World Center of Racing” during Budweiser Speedweeks 2014 on Tuesday, Feb. 18. It will highlight a week full of NASCAR racing at Daytona and neighboring New Smyrna Speedway, a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track.

“Fans around the world look forward to Speedweeks to kick off the NASCAR season, and we are proud to be able to present a week of short-track action leading up to the 56th running of the Daytona 500,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of touring & weekly series. “The anticipation for last year’s first UNOH Battle At The Beach was surpassed only by the number of people talking about the electrifying finishes. From New Smyrna to Daytona, and from the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, this week provides a direct link between our short tracks and biggest stage, and further amplifies the spotlight on the rising talent throughout NASCAR’s touring and weekly series.”

The UNOH Battle At The Beach will return to Daytona as a championship points event for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and special non-points race for the NASCAR Whelen Modified and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour competitors. Both races will be 150 laps under the lights.

“The UNOH Battle At The Beach is a great opportunity for short track racers from around the country to compete on racing’s biggest stage,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We’re looking forward to some intense competition with two exciting main events.”

“We are extremely excited to partner with Daytona and NASCAR on this premier event,” said Steve Farmer, UNOH vice president of institutional development. “A lot of hard work went into organizing and putting this together, and we’re proud to have UNOH involved in bringing short-track stars to the ‘World Center of Racing.’ We look forward to seeing everybody in Daytona.”

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season will kick off Sunday, Feb. 16 with a 150-lap championship points race on the banked half-mile at New Smyrna as part of the track’s 48th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

“As we enter our second year as a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track, it’s been great to work together with Daytona and NASCAR to really put together an exciting schedule for our fans and competitors,” Robert Hart, track owner of New Smyrna. “Not only will New Smyrna host its first NASCAR touring series event, but in addition to get NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and Whelen Modified special event at Daytona, we will have a full slate of super late model and modified racing that has been a staple of New Smyrna’s World Series.”

New Smyrna will run from Feb. 14-22, highlighted by its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model Division. The division will run eight different nights, capping off with the 100-lap 1st Bruce Gowland Memorial on Saturday, Feb. 22. Last year, Ryan Moore edged Kyle Benjamin and Stephen Nasse to win the week-long Super Late Model points title.

New Smyrna will also host modifieds on six nights, culminating with the 100-lap 29th Annual Richie Evans Memorial on Friday, Feb. 21.

Last year at the UNOH Battle At The Beach, rising star Cameron Hayley picked up his first NASCAR win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series portion, while veteran Steve Park scored a popular win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race.

Daytona International Speedway has reached an agreement with a number of area hotels to secure special room rates during the UNOH Battle At The Beach to make it more affordable for racers and fans to attend the UNOH Battle At The Beach. More information can be found at


Phoenix Racing today announced that Steve Addington will serve as competition director for the team and crew chief of the No. 51 Chevrolet for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The move brings experienced leadership to the team that will compete fulltime in 2014 under owner Harry Scott, Jr.
"In my opinion Steve is the perfect guy for the job," said Scott. "He is part of the Chevrolet family, the Hendrick family and I feel fortunate that he is now part of our family."
"I also want to thank Jimmy Elledge for stepping in at a critical time this season and serving as the interim crew chief for the past six races," Scott said. "We look forward to hopefully working with Jimmy again down the road."
"I am thrilled to be part of the Phoenix Racing team and working with Harry," said Addington. "Harry has a vision to make this team a championship contender and I am excited to be part of it."
Addington has served as a crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for ten years and has amassed 20 wins, 66 Top 5s and 105 Top 10s during that time.
He was crew chief for Kyle Busch in 2008 when they won eight races. That year included a stretch where they won seven out of 14 races including at varied tracks such as Talladega, Darlington and Sonoma.
During 2010 – 2011 Addington was crew chief for Kyle's big brother Kurt Busch and won four races and had 17 Top 5s and 33 Top 10s. During the 2010 season the Kurt Busch – Addington tandem pulled off the Charlotte sweep winning the Sprint All-star and the Coca-Cola 600.
Most recently Addington was Tony Stewart's crew chief. The Stewart – Addington combination won at Dover International Speedway this season along with five Top 5s and eight Top 10s before Stewart was injured ending his season. In 2012, the combo racked up three wins, 12 Top 5s and 16 Top 10s on the way to a 9th place finish in the championship points standings.
Scott purchased Phoenix Racing in September of this year from James Finch. Since then a number of drivers have piloted the No. 51 including Justin Allgaier, Michael McDowell and Kyle Larson.
Additional information about the 2014 driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet and its sponsor will be announced at a later date.
Phoenix Racing PR

On Nov. 8, NASCAR received the 2013 Diversity and Inclusion Award (DANDI) for its efforts in fostering diversity throughout the sport at a ceremony at the New York Times Building in New York City. Eight days later, on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, NASCAR’s diversity efforts reached another milestone when 21-year-old NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Kyle Larson became the first Asian-American driver to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in any NASCAR national series, receiving the honor in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

“Early in the last decade NASCAR made a commitment to broadening the appeal of our sport by recruiting and developing dynamic new talent on the race track and throughout our sport. As a result, we are enhancing the fan experience for NASCAR fans everywhere,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development. “We take great pride in being recognized during the 2013 DANDI Awards for our ongoing efforts.”

Founded in 2012, the DANDI Awards recognizes exemplary commitment and focus on diversity and inclusion. The mission of DANDI is to celebrate the contributions of any individual, group or organization that is truly making a difference toward creating a more diverse and inclusive world.

This year’s award ceremony featured an Executive Forum on “Shifting the Paradigm from Chaos to Unanimity” where participants discussed the current state of diversity and tackled effective methods for improving diversity initiatives, programs, organizations and the profession. Notable speakers included Bruce J. Stewart, the deputy director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with the United States Office of Personnel Management, and Wendy Lewis, SVP of Diversity and Strategic Alliances for Major League Baseball (MLB). Ericka Dunlap, who was crowned Miss America in 2004, hosted the ceremony while Grammy-nominated producer Chuck Harmony made a special guest performance.

The MLB as well as the United States Tennis Association (USTA) were nominated for the award’s Sports category. Along with NASCAR, other category winners at the second annual DANDI Awards Ceremony included SiriusXM Radio (Communications), BBC World News (Media), Cornell University (Education), Daymond John of FUBU (Entrepreneur) and Prudential (Financial Services). Additional brands honored were Johnson & Johnson Vision Care (Diversity Commitment), Tara Griggs-Magee (Diversity Impact), Black Leaf Vodka (Diversity in Innovation) and Steve Mariotti of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (Diversity Lifetime Achievement).


Can Lee Pulliam beat Ryan Preece in an SK Modified at Stafford? Which multi-time champion is better around Langley in a stock car: George Brunnhoelzl III or Dylan Kwasniewski? Would Canadian Scott Steckly beat Spaniard Ander Vilarino at England’s Brands Hatch?

And what happens when you let fans and media behind the wheel and into the mix?

Those questions – and bragging rights– will be determined Wednesday, Dec. 11 as the NASCAR touring & weekly series’ Champions Week in Charlotte, N.C., kicks off with the first NASCAR Home Tracks Champions Challenge presented by

The unique event will be held on the iRacing simulator pods at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. is the world’s premier motorsports racing simulation which allows drivers, race fans and gamers alike to hone their skills and enjoy the thrill of the racetrack from the comfort of their home.

The event will kick off at 1:30 p.m. with an autograph session in the Great Hall at the NASCAR Hall of Fame where the championship trophies and cars will be on display with the seven NASCAR touring series champions and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion. Fans and media will be able to sign-up to compete against the champions, including Tyler Hudson, the recently crowned NASCAR Series World champion, in iRacing races from 2-4 p.m.

The final championship race will begin at 4:15 p.m. and will feature all nine champions competing against one another.

Champions at the event will include:

  • Dylan Kwasniewski, Las Vegas (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East)
  • Derek Thorn, Bakersfield, Calif. (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West)
  • Ryan Preece, Berlin, Conn. (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour)
  • George Brunnhoelzl III, West Babylon, N.Y. (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour)
  • Ander Vilarino, San Sebastián, Spain (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series)
  • Scott Steckly, Milverton, Ont., Canada (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1)
  • Rodrigo Peralta, Querétaro, Mexico (NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series)
  • Lee Pulliam, Semora, N.C. (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)
  • Tyler Hudson, Houston, Texas (NASCAR Series)

Conveniently located in Uptown Charlotte, N.C., the 150,000-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive, entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR. The high-tech venue, designed to educate and entertain race fans and non-fans alike, is owned by the City of Charlotte, licensed by NASCAR and operated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards will take place Friday, Dec. 13. Among those honored will be the 2013 national champion, as well as track champions from 55 tracks across the United States and Canada, state and provincial champions and top rookies.

On the following evening, NASCAR’s touring series champions will be recognized at the traditional NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards. Set for Saturday, Dec. 14, honorees will include the champions from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, Mexico’s NASCAR Toyota Series and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.

Both the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards and the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Awards will be streamed live on


Andy Beasley was surprised when he learned he had won Darlington Raceway’s “Victory Lane Celebration” sweepstakes.

“I am so surprised and excited that I won,” the Hartsville, SC resident exclaimed. “I’ve been attending races at the track since the late 1950’s and I can tell you there is no better place to watch a race than Darlington Raceway.”

Beasley, a longtime infield camper at Darlington, won the track’s sweepstakes that gave a lucky renewal customer and guest the chance to visit Gatorade Victory Lane and get their picture taken with the Bojangles’ Southern 500 race winner on April 12, 2014.

Beasley will also take home the famous Johnny Mantz Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the Bojangles’ Southern 500, when he leaves Gatorade Victory Lane that night.

“To have an actual Johnny Mantz Southern 500 trophy sitting in my house is something I can’t even imagine,” Beasley said.

Beasley attended his first Southern 500 in 1957 and has missed only a handful of races in the past five decades, mainly because of his service in the Vietnam War. The Darlington County resident enjoys spending the entire race weekend at the track Too Tough To Tame from his infield camping spot.

Two years ago, Beasley was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Despite his diagnosis, Beasley continues to attend the festivities at Darlington Raceway.

“We have such a great time at Darlington. We camp and bring a lot of people to the race with us every year,” he said. “It is such a fabulous experience. Despite my health, I am not planning on missing a race anytime soon. It truly is the best track on the NASCAR circuit.”

“Mr. Beasley was a very deserving winner of this sweepstakes,” Darlington Raceway President Chip Wile said. “He has tremendous passion for our track and sport. We appreciate all he has done for us and hopefully adding the Johnny Mantz Southern 500 trophy and a visit to Gatorade Victory Lane will be a highlight on his long list of great memories he’s had here since the 1950’s.”

Darlington Raceway PR

Phoenix International Raceway will kick off its 50thAnniversary Celebration today with the launch of the year-long ‘Storied Legends’ fan engagement campaign.

With the aid of a blue ribbon panel comprised of industry insiders, media partners and track historians, PIR identified the 50 most influential people in the track’s history. Beginning today and continuing every Wednesday through the November, 2014 NASCAR event weekend each profile will be posted on or can be seen on PIR’s Facebook page  Fans can also follow the the list on PIR’s Twitter  with the hashtags #PIR50th and #StoriedLegends.

As part of PIR’s golden anniversary celebration ‘Storied Legends’ will take a deep dive into the influencers that helped shape the track into what we know it as today. From broadcast partners, to record setting drivers to owners – over the next 52 weeks fans will be able to learn about the people and the organizations who created PIR’s history one lap at a time.

The entire year-long 50th Anniversary campaign will be a celebration of PIR’s relationships with its fans, community partners and the racing industry.  Many of the greatest drivers to ever turn a lap on PIR’s one-mile oval, along with the brightest personalities in the track’s history, will be invited to return for race weekends and other events throughout the coming year.


JR Motorsports announced today a new addition to its sponsorship palate, as Pinnacle Foods’ Armour® brand will be the primary sponsor on Kevin Harvick’s No. 5 Chevrolet for three NASCAR Nationwide Series races in 2014.  It will also receive associate sponsorship placement on the No. 5 for the entire 33-race season. 

Pinnacle Foods is a leading producer, marketer and distributor of high-quality branded food products, and its brands can be found in more than 85 percent of American households.  Its Armour® brand specializes in canned meats and includes Vienna sausages, chili, luncheon meat, beef stew and more.  Harvick carried Armour® in one Nationwide Series race this year, finishing fifth at Bristol on March 16.

JR Motorsports announced last month the addition of Harvick to its 2014 driver line-up.  Harvick, a two-time Nationwide Series champion and winner of 40 series races, will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet in at least 12 events, with Hunt Brothers® Pizza and Armour® sponsoring seven of the 12.

“The way this has come together is very exciting for us,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports.  “When we announced that Kevin will be driving for us in 2014, the response from the fans was truly awesome.  He carries an immense competitive energy on the track, and as Pinnacle Foods knows he performs in the marketplace as well.  We’re happy to have them on board and look forward to going to work for their Armour® brand.”

Harvick won Nationwide Series championships in 2001 and 2006.  He is ranked third on the all-time Nationwide Series winners list with 40 victories, including one this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Aug. 31).  With his wins, he also boasts 159 top-five and 221 top-10 finishes.  Across NASCAR’s top-three series, Harvick has 77 victories, including the Brickyard 400 (2003), Daytona 500 (2007) and the Coca-Cola 600 (2011, 2013) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

"This is a great opportunity for Pinnacle Foods and our Armour® brand, as we’re very excited to follow Kevin Harvick over to JR Motorsports," said Eric Hintz, vice president of marketing for Pinnacle Foods’ Duncan Hines Grocery Division. "Our consumers love the partnership we have with Kevin, and we have brought it to life in-store as well with strong retail programs with our customers. We look forward to continuing to build on that success with JR Motorsports in 2014.”

JR Motorsports PR

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas for Flex Seal, JD Motorsports with Gary Keller and race fans all over.

In a unique partnership, the JD Motorsports team and sponsor Flex Seal have joined with the Salvation Army and Rock Hill Galleria mall in South Carolina to make Christmas a little brighter for needy children.

The Flex Seal No. 4 Chevrolet, raced this season by Landon Cassill in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, is on display at the Galleria in conjunction with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. The eye-catching race car, driven this season on NASCAR superspeedways, helps to draw attention to the Angel Trees.

The Angel Tree program provides new clothing and/or toys for children at Christmas. Contributors remove one or more angels from the tree and purchase appropriate gifts for the child or children described on the angels. Gifts are to be turned into the mall management office (unwrapped) by Dec. 12. They will then be distributed to the child/children by the Salvation Army.

“We’re pleased that Flex Seal has joined our team in helping out this tremendous cause,” said team owner Johnny Davis. “The Christmas season is the most special time of the year, and there are many people, especially children, who need a little help during the season.”

The Flex Seal car, including Salvation Army emblems, was unveiled during the Angel Tree kickoff ceremony at the Galleria Nov. 21. The Salvation Army’s familiar Christmas kettle program also was featured.

JD Motorsports PR

The bright lights of Las Vegas are calling for four Kansas Speedway season ticketholders who renewed their season tickets by Nov. 12.

Bob Absher from Kansas City, Kansas, Amy Behrend-Smith from St. Joseph, MO, Danette Hansen from Council Bluffs, IA, and Patrick Matson from Valley Center, Kansas, will all be heading to Las Vegas for the Dec. 6 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards ceremony and while they are there, they will also attend the National Motorsports Press Assoc. Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon and NASCAR After the Lap, among other fan activities.

“We didn’t even know…I remember the woman who renewed our tickets with us mentioning a contest, but I thought, ‘Yea right, not in a million years.’ And now here we are. Man, are we excited,” exclaimed Hansen.

Season ticketholders who renew by Dec. 13 are automatically entered for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2014 Daytona 500, which includes hotel, airfare and tickets to the race. Season ticketholders who renew by this deadline can also keep their seats and all their season ticketholder benefits. In addition to the best pricing, Kansas Speedway season ticketholders also receive a TrackPass for each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event that allows up front access to the Kansas National Guard Pre-Race activities, including a pre-race concert and driver introductions. Customized payment plans are available for renewing customers, visit for more information or to renew today.

Kansas Speedway PR


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