Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
WIX Filters®, a member of the Affinia Group family of brands, announced today it will join Richard Childress Racing and serve as the primary sponsor of Ryan Newman for three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and one race with Brendan Gaughan in the NASCAR Nationwide Series during the 2014 season.
Newman will drive the black and yellow No. 31 Chevrolet SS at Pocono Raceway in June, Daytona International Speedway in July and Michigan International Speedway in August, while Gaughan will carry the WIX Filters colors at Auto Club Speedway in March.
WIX Filters will also become a technical partner to both RCR and ECR Engines, providing air and oil filters as well as research and development support. WIX will utilize marketing rights to RCR's drivers, cars and teams in the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series. All RCR race cars will be adorned with the WIX Filters logo under the hood.
"Since 2010, Ryan Newman has been a tremendous advocate of the WIX Filters brand, both on and off the track," said Mike Harvey, brand manager for WIX Filters. "Our customers have valued our relationship with Ryan, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with him in 2014. In addition, our technical partnership with RCR goes back many years, and we are excited to play a role at both RCR and ECR Engines."
"WIX Filters is a first-rate partner to have for any team in racing," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "They are a market leader and the performance and reliability of their products helps us perform on the track. I look forward to also having WIX featured as the primary sponsor for some races next year with both Ryan (Newman) and Brendan (Gaughan)."
A graduate of Purdue University, Newman has amassed 17 wins, 93 top-five finishes, 184 top-10 finishes, 51 pole awards and led 4,617 laps over his 14-year Sprint Cup Series career. His career highlights also include wins in the prestigious Daytona 500 in 2008 and Brickyard 400 earlier this season.
"I am looking forward to continuing the relationship with WIX Filters," said Newman. "We've had a lot of fun together racing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. I look forward to representing them at RCR and getting the WIX Filters Chevrolet into Victory Lane."
Gaughan will compete full time in the Nationwide Series during the 2014 season in RCR's No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro. Driving for RCR during the 2013 season, the Las Vegas native competed full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, along with three Nationwide Series starts.
"WIX Filters has been in the sport for an extremely long time so to have them join RCR is fantastic," said Brendan Gaughan. "I'm thrilled to have them on board and even more excited to have them working with ECR Engines. I'm also looking forward to having such an iconic racing brand associated with my team and I next season."
For more information on WIX Filters and behind-the-scenes content throughout the season, visit www.wixfilters.com, like them on Facebook at facebook.com/wixfilters or follow them on Twitter @WIXFilters.
After qualifying 40th for Sunday’s season finale at Homestead, Mears hustled around the 1.5-mile racetrack and, after picking up 12 positions, he recorded a 28th place finish. When the checkered flag ended the race, it marked the close of Germain Racing’s first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. With the 2013 season behind them, Casey Mears and his GEICO team look to the bright future that lies in wait.
Mears and company experienced considerable improvement in the 2013 season, leaving them hopeful as they head into what will be a busy winter. The key to Germain Racing’s success is that they keep moving forward. Since entering NASCAR’s elite series in 2009, after two championships in five years in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the organization has improved with each passing season and this year is no different. Team owner Bob Germain wraps up the season 26th in the Owner Point standings after being 30th a year ago, while driver Casey Mears finishes up 2013 in the 24th position in Driver Points, a five spot improvement over 2012, which saw him 29th. Mears and the GEICO team also recorded 20 Top 25 finishes in 2013.
Many organizations will take time off after returning from Homestead, but the GEICO team went scurrying back to the race shop where they are anxious to get their hands on the new #13 Chevrolet SS, which will come rolling in any day now. On October 11th, Germain Racing announced a new alliance with Richard Childress Racing, which will see them transitioning to Chevrolet in the off-season. Switching manufacturers is something that will demand all hands on deck as everyone begins celebrating the holidays. With very little employee turnover, the Germain Racing team provides a family atmosphere that serves as a platform for growth and success.
The term ‘off-season’ is a bit of a misnomer, as the hours committed by the team will actually increase at different times in an effort to be prepared for a rapidly approaching 2014 season. While the green flag for the 2014 Daytona 500 is not scheduled to wave until 1:19 PM (ET) on Sunday, February 23rd, the GEICO team will visit the historic Daytona International Speedway for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test on January 9th and 10th. Subsequent testing will also take place in January, leaving very little downtime for crew members to enjoy the comfort of their own bed.
“It’s been a nice year of improvement and growth in our GEICO program and next season should continue to help us to expand and elevate our status in the Sprint Cup Series,” Casey Mears said. “I’m so proud of the guys on this Germain Racing team and thankful for the hard work they put into making sure we have cars ready to go and are prepared each week. They spend a lot of time away from their families, so I hope they can enjoy some time at home over the holidays.” He continued, “We are all very appreciative of the support of our sponsor GEICO and our team owner Bob Germain because it’s their commitment that will allow us to keep building our program.”
Armed with a full-season sponsorship commitment from GEICO and a driver under a multiyear agreement, consistency should favor the Germain Racing team as they quickly begin to eye the upcoming 2014 season. As they leave what’s behind and reach toward what’s ahead, Mears and his team members are focused on growing a program that has already experienced considerable success.
Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team have further etched their names in the motor sports history books by capturing the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship title for the sixth time. With the season coming down to the final race, Johnson crossed the finish line of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship season with the help of Quaker State technology, developed with durability in mind to keep the No. 48’s engine running through to the checkered flag.
“It is an honor to have Quaker State technology coursing through the engine of Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 car as he reached this remarkable milestone,” said Gita Gidwani, Quaker State Brand Manager. “Quaker State congratulates Jimmie Johnson, Rick Hendrick, and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports on their continued success. We are proud to be a part of this great achievement and many others during an exceptionally successful technical relationship over the last 18 years together.”
Quaker State technology has helped Hendrick Motorsports win more NASCAR races than any other team over the past 18 years. Quaker State engineers worked diligently with Hendrick Motorsports throughout the season to analyze and adjust motor oil formulations to help achieve optimal engine performance.
The durable motor oils Quaker State provides Hendrick Motorsports have been a part of an impressive résumé of success on NASCAR’s national stage. With Quaker State technology under the hood, Hendrick Motorsports has captured 169 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) wins; 10 of its 11 NSCS championships; one NASCAR Nationwide Series championship and three NASCAR Truck Series championships. Add the more than seven million on track miles Quaker State and Hendrick Motorsports have together and it is obvious that Quaker State technology has the durability to help professional race teams win races and championships.
“I am at a loss for words, but I am so proud and so thankful for this opportunity at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Johnson. “Thankful that Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick gave me this opportunity back in 2002. Thankful that Lowe's came on board. This sport is about people, and our people at Hendrick Motorsports, especially on this (No.) 48 car, rose up and got the job done. I am so thankful to be able to drive for this race team and so honored and so excited to have a ‘six-pack.’"
Johnson’s victory earned Hendrick Motorsports a record-extending 11th Sprint Cup owner championship.
“It’s hard to win one of these, and I’m really proud of Chad (Knaus, crew chief) and Jimmie for getting six and the whole organization for getting 11,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “I never thought we would get one, let alone 11. Every one of them is special and makes you hungry and continue to want more.”
Curtis Martin Jr., a crew member in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s Substance Abuse Policy.
On Nov. 12, Martin was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the NASCAR Substance Abuse Policy) of the 2013 NASCAR Rule Book.
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has reorganized its competition department as the championship-winning race team expands to field four cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning in 2014. The changes are as follows:
- Greg Zipadelli has been named vice president of competition where he will manage all four Sprint Cup teams, with each crew chief reporting to him.
- Matt Borland has been named vice president of engineering. In this role, Borland will oversee all of the team’s technical initiatives and various research and development projects. He will also transition from being an active crew chief to that of a mentor, specifically in regard to the crew chief position on the No. 41 Haas Automation team of driver Kurt Busch.
- Daniel Knost has been promoted from race engineer on the No. 39 team to crew chief for the No. 41 Haas Automation team with Busch. Knost joined SHR in 2008 when it was Haas-CNC Racing after earning master of science and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Knost graduated from North Carolina State University in Raleigh with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 2001.
In his six-year tenure with SHR, Knost has run the team’s seven-post shaker rig and assisted with at-track simulation support from 2008 through 2011. He became the race engineer for SHR’s No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet and driver Danica Patrick for eight races during its limited schedule in 2012 before moving to the No. 39 team in the same role.
- Chad Johnston has been named crew chief for the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 team of three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart. Johnston comes to SHR from Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) where since June 2011 he was the crew chief for the No. 56 team and driver Martin Truex Jr. Johnston joined MWR in 2010 as a race engineer. Johnston replaces Steve Addington, who has left SHR to pursue other opportunities.
Like Stewart, Johnston is an Indiana native. The two have worked together previously, as Johnston was the race engineer for the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team in 2004-2005 where Stewart competed in three races, scoring two top-three finishes.
Johnston graduated from Indiana State University in 2003 with a mechanical engineering degree.
- Rodney Childers will be the crew chief for the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team of driver Kevin Harvick. Childers joined SHR in late October from MWR, where since 2009 he was a crew chief, first with the No. 00 team of driver David Reutimann (2009-2011) and later with the No. 55 team of drivers Brian Vickers, Mark Martin and Waltrip (2012-2013). Childers has been a crew chief since June 2005 when he was at MB2/MBV Motorsports with driver Scott Riggs.
- Tony Gibson remains as crew chief for the No. 10 GoDaddy team of Patrick
“Our greatest asset at Stewart-Haas Racing is our people,” said Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation. “Obviously, there is a lot of change happening for 2014 as we grow to four teams and bring in Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. But with our new management structure and the crew chiefs we have in place, we’re well positioned to handle whatever challenges come our way. Collectively, we have the experience and wherewithal necessary for each of our teams to perform at the highest level possible.”
“In Haas Automation, we built the largest, most modern machine tool manufacturing operation in the United States. And the company’s philosophy of Bigger, Better, Faster, Lighter is also employed by Stewart-Haas Racing,” Haas said. “Bigger, Better, Faster, Lighter is what we strive for in the machining industry and it’s what we strive for in motorsports. This reorganization seamlessly marries our engineering expertise with our collective racing experience.”
Roush Fenway Reorganizes Crew Chief Lineup; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Mike Kelley to Reunite in Sprint Cup Series
Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) has announced it is reorganizing its crew chief lineup in 2014. Mike Kelley, who has served as the crew chief on the No. 6 NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) team for the past four seasons, will move to the Sprint Cup Series, where he will reunite with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the No. 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.
“It’s really exciting to team back up with Mike,” said Stenhouse, the 2013 Sprint Cup rookie of the year and two-time NASCAR champion. “Obviously we have a great chemistry and we have had a great deal of success in the past. Scott (Graves) did a great job of guiding us through our rookie season this year and we look forward to continuing that growth next season.”
Kelley and Stenhouse partnered to win NNS championships in 2011 and 2012. Kelley has been a staple of the RFR organization for the past decade, serving as the car chief on RFR’s No. 97 Sprint Cup Championship team in 2004. He most recently worked with Trevor Bayne this season, leading the team to a sixth-place finish in the NNS points, including 20 top-10 finishes, a pole and a victory at Iowa.
Veteran crew chief Chad Norris will take the helm of the No. 6 AdvoCare team with Bayne, which will look to be a front-runner for the 2014 NNS title. Norris boasts an extensive resume as a crew chief, having worked with legendary drivers such as Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Darrel Waltrip and Carl Edwards. Norris led Bayne to his first career NNS win at Texas in 2011.
Scott Graves, who helped lead Stenhouse to the 2013 Sprint Cup rookie of the year award as the crew chief of the No. 17 NSCS team, will crew chief former ARCA Champion Chris Buescher in the historic No. 60 car. Seth Barbour, who was impressive in his performance with Buescher and Ryan Reed in 2013, will sit atop the No. 16 NNS Ford full time with Reed in 2014.
On the Cup side, legendary crew chief Jimmy Fennig will again lead the No. 99 Fastenal team with Carl Edwards and Matt Puccia will once again team with Greg Biffle and the No. 16 3M team.
“As with any season we always sit down at the end of the year and evaluate where we are, what we have and what we think are the best options to put our teams in the best position to compete for wins and championships,” said team owner Jack Roush. “In this case, a reorganization that realigns Ricky and Mike, allows Scott (Graves) to work with Chris (Buescher), and reunites Chad with Trevor, made the most sense.
“Scott (Graves) will help provide Chris (Buescher) with the type of guidance that helped Ricky improve throughout this season and close out the rookie award,” added Roush. “Chad (Norris) will bring veteran leadership and a steady hand to the No. 6 team with Trevor (Bayne) that we feel will be beneficial and Seth (Barbour) and Ryan (Reed) have exhibited a strong chemistry that the team is excited to build on in 2014.”
RFR 2014 Driver/Crew Chief Lineup
No. 16 Cup Team with Greg Biffle – Matt Puccia
No. 17 Cup Team with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Mike Kelley
No. 99 Cup Team with Carl Edwards – Jimmy Fennig
No. 6 NNS Team with Trevor Bayne – Chad Norris
No. 16 NNS Team with Ryan Reed – Seth Barbour
No. 60 NNS Team with Chris Buescher – Scott Graves
Two champions, two organizations and two heralded rookies are sharing the South Beach spotlight tonight, at the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards, held at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel’s Americana Ballroom.
Austin Dillon and Matt Crafton headline the evening as both will be presented with championships rings and trophies for their respective NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championships.
Dillon is only the third driver in NASCAR history to win the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck championships, joining Greg Biffle and Johnny Benson. Dillon’s championship campaign comes one year after winning the NNS’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, duplicating his success in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
In his 13th fulltime season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Crafton was a model of consistency, posting 19 top-10 finishes in 22 races, including 16 consecutive to start the season. The veteran won the spring Kansas race and finished on the lead lap in every event.
Penske Racing’s No. 22 Ford Mustang narrowly edged out the No. 54 entry of Joe Gibbs Racing by one point in the NASCAR Nationwide Series owners’ championship battle. The No. 22 visited Victory Lane under the control of four different drivers: Brad Keselowski (six times), Joey Logano (three), AJ Allmendinger (two) and Ryan Blaney (one).
The owners’ championship race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series came down to the last laps of the season with the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota claiming the title based on wins over the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota. Both cars finished the season tied in points, but the Kyle Busch Motorsports entry had six wins to the No. 88’s one.
On Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Larson, 21, became the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate and Asian-American driver to capture Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in any of NASCAR’s three national series. The previous night, 19-year-old Ryan Blaney won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award on the strength of one win and 13 top 10s during the 2013 campaign.
Sam Hornish Jr., Regan Smith, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier were second through fifth in the championship standings and will be honored along with Dillon in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Ty Dillon, James Buescher, Johnny Sauter and Jeb Burton were second through fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final points and joined Crafton on stage.
In addition to the aforementioned honors, each series’ Most Popular Driver was announced after a fan vote on NASCAR.com. Regan Smith and Ty Dillon received the distinction in the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, respectively.
FOX Sports’ Rick Allen and Krista Voda will host the event, which will air at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, on FOX Sports 1. Rock band Parachute will provide entertainment during the show.
Jimmie Johnson steadfastly refuses to bask in his own greatness.
And, make no mistake, his accomplishments are extraordinary.
With a ninth-place finish in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson locked up his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in eight years.
That's more than vaguely reminiscent of the six NBA titles Michael Jordan won with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s.
Though he stands at the pinnacle of his sport, Johnson says he has never considered whether he is a world-class athlete.
"I've never thought of it," Johnson said after Sunday's race. "When you mention Michael's name, he's given me a hard time that I only won five. I can't wait to send him a text and say, 'Hey, buddy, I've caught up.'"
In all honesty, Johnson finds contemplation of his accomplishments counterproductive, even though winning five consecutive titles from 2006-2010 was an achievement every bit as formidable and every bit as difficult as Tiger Woods holding all four major championships at the same time.
Johnson's success derives from a narrow focus on the task at hand, one of the few personality traits he shares with crew chief Chad Knaus, an inseparable and indispensable part of the Johnson equation. The way Johnson sees it, there will be plenty of time to consider his body of work after his driving career is over.
"It's not like me to think in that light," he said. "It's just not me. I guess I need to open my mind to it, because the numbers speak for themselves. I find myself in a touchy situation at times, where my quiet approach can be looked at as arrogant or cocky, and that's the furthest thing from the truth in what I'm trying to portray.
"Honestly, I'm just trying to, I don't know, say the right things and keep my mind in the right space. I haven't let a lot in, and it's led to more success. It's kept my work ethic intact, kept me honest and humble. I like that about myself. I really, really do. I don't know if I want to open my mind and let it in, where I stand in the sports world. It's not time for that in my eyes."
Others are more than happy to voice their opinions about the six-time champion.
"Being out there and racing with him, I can say that I think he's the best that there ever was," said Denny Hamlin, Sunday's race winner. "He's racing against competition that is tougher than this sport's ever seen."
And next year, he'll be racing against history. A seventh championship would tie Johnson with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most all-time and further fuel the debate as to the greatest driver in the history of the sport.
Johnson knows the emphasis on that story is coming, and he's prepared for it.
"That reality I'm fine with, look forward to the opportunity, hope that I can certainly accomplish more," Johnson said. "I feel like this team is capable of a lot of great things. There's still great years out ahead of us, but all of that is in the future … a seventh, an eighth.
"I don't want to focus on that yet. It's not time. I want to unplug, enjoy the sixth, let it soak in. We'll get to Daytona for testing soon enough. I guess by then it's probably appropriate to ask the question."
Even if the question is appropriate, Johnson doesn't feel he's the right person to answer it.
"I'm humbled by the nice things that have been said by competitors and owners, my peers in this industry," he said. "I think their opinion is very important. I don't think my opinion matters. It's not for the athlete, the driver. It's bestowed upon you. It's passed down from others.
"If others are saying it, I'm not going to deny it, chase it away. Sure, I would love to be considered that (NASCAR's greatest driver). If you look at stats, there's still numbers out there that I need to achieve. That's why I say, until I hang my helmet up, it's not necessarily a fair conversation to have.
"[But I'm] honored to be in the conversation, and I know I will have to face it, especially being this close to seven and having a shot to tie those guys."
David Reutimann and the No. 83 VooDoo BBQ & Grill Toyota Camry finished 31st at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With a new sponsor and design on their Toyota Camry, the BK Racing team battled a tight racecar throughout the day to cross the finish line in the 31st position.
Reutimann rolled off 32nd for the 400-mile season finale in south Florida. After battling a loose racecar throughout practice, the team made a few chassis adjustments to tighten the car. Unfortunately the changes proved to be too much as Reutimann battled a tight racecar throughout the opening portion of the race on Sunday afternoon. With eight cautions throughout the 267-lap event, Reutimann visited pit road as often as possible to work on the balance the handling of his VooDoo BBQ & Grill Toyota.
As the sun set and track temperatures cooled, the handling of the No. 83 VooDoo BBQ & Grill Toyota Camry began to dial in. By the time the checkered flag waved, Reutimann was scored in the 31st position.
"I can't thank my BK Racing team enough for all their hard work this year," commented Reutimann. "It was great to have a new sponsor on the car this weekend with VooDoo BBQ & Grill; we had a cool new look to our race car and enjoyed our time with their guests at the track this weekend. We had some ups and downs throughout our season, but I can't wait to get back behind the wheel in 2014. I really appreciate having the opportunity to race the No. 83 car for the BK Racing team this season. Likewise, I appreciate the support of all of our great partners--Burger King, Dr Pepper, Lipman, Toyota, Sherwin-Williams, Lincoln Welders, Horizon and VooDoo BBQ & Grill--it has been a blast driving the car this year."
BK Racing PR
Travis Kvapil and the No. 93 Dr Pepper / Samy Toyota Camry team finished 37th at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the final race of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Competing in south Florida, Kvapil's machine sustained damage to the rear end after two spins early in the 267-lap event.
Kvapil rolled off 33rd for the 400-mile race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After logging 100 laps in practice, the Dr Pepper / Samy team had their car perfectly balanced for the start of the race. Kvapil immediately began climbing the leader board when the green flag waved, to pick up five positions and move solidly inside the top 30 within the opening 10 laps.
On lap 11, while making a pass in the outside groove, Kvapil's No. 93 Toyota Camry got loose and spun in turn one. With damage to the rear end, Kvapil pulled down pit road for his Dr Pepper / Samy team to assess the damage and make repairs. Just 13 laps later, the same thing occurred as the Dr Pepper / Samy machine stepped out on Kvapil while racing through turn three to once again make contact with the outside retaining wall. With heavy damage to the rear of their racecar, Kvapil's BK Racing crew continued to battle a loose racecar the rest of the day while they continued to log laps around the 1.5-mile speedway. At the conclusion of 400 miles, Kvapil was credited with a 37th-place finish.
"I can't thank my Dr Pepper / Samy team enough for sticking by me all season," commented Kvapil. "We didn't get the finish we were looking for today, but I'm happy to say that we had a really strong racecar in those opening laps. I'm proud of the effort of my guys, for never giving up this season, and for continually building competitive racecars. I'd like to thank the owners of BK Racing and all of our partners for their effort and commitment this season--Burger King, Dr Pepper, Lipman, Toyota, Old Dominion Raceway, Samy, Sherwin-Williams, and Lincoln Welders--it's been an honor to work with everyone this year and to represent so many great brands. I'm looking forward to the 2014 race season."
BK Racing PR