Wednesday, Feb 08
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Todd Bodine's got plenty of history at Daytona International Speedway, but the two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion has never come to Speedweeks with as strong an array of teammates as he does in 2013 with ThorSport Racing.


Bodine, who won the 2008 and 2009 NCWTS season openers while driving for Germain Racing -- the same organization with which Bodine won Truck Series championships in 2006 and 2010 -- debuts this weekend in ThorSport's No. 13 Mattei Air Compressors Toyota. And Bodine knows all too well how valuable committed veteran teammates can be.


So Bodine is anxious to see just how effective his two veteran teammates, Matt Crafton in the No. 88 Slim Jim / Menards Toyota and Johnny Sauter in the No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota, can be when aligned with Bodine, who in eight Daytona Truck Series starts has an average start of ninth and an average finish of fifth.


"Having three trucks ups your odds at winning," Bodine said. "And when you have three experienced drivers and three experienced teams and three good Toyota trucks you've got a shot to win the race. That's what we have at ThorSport."


And what ThorSport has, for the first time at Daytona at least, is a three-man crew of proven winners -- even if Bodine is the only win with a trip to Daytona's Victory Lane. Bodine, like Crafton and Sauter, knows the 807 laps he's raced at Daytona in a truck might not make a difference if another driver makes a mistake. But all those laps could be what sets him apart from the rest.


"Just the experience itself that I have, gives me the most optimism for this weekend," Bodine said. "The more drafting that you do, the more you understand it and that's where experience is key. Experience doesn't always pay off, because there's a lot of luck involved, also. But with more experience comes better luck."


There's no question winning a third Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona would put Bodine -- the youngest of three racing brothers from Chemung, N.Y. -- in select all-time company at Daytona. As it is, in the 14 previous editions of the race, Bodine is the only two-time winner.


"That brings me a lot of pride, but I'm honored to be a part of that Daytona legacy," Bodine said. "I've been coming here my whole life -- I had my first seven birthdays (Feb. 27) right here in the infield at the Daytona 500.


"So to me, Daytona is something like the Holy Grail -- it's the Stanley Cup, World Series and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. It's what you do as a driver and what you strive to accomplish. If you can retire with a Daytona win, that's a pretty large statement."


Bodine's already made some knowledgeable statements to the media about ThorSport and Bodine's newest partner, a first time NASCAR team sponsor in Mattei Air Compressors, a global company with 180 distributors in North America that offers the most energy-efficient air and gas compressors on the market.


"When you can bring a new company to the sport it feels like you're giving back to the sport and that you're helping the sport to survive," Bodine said. "When you have a company like Mattei Air Compressors, which has so much enthusiasm about being involved, it makes it that much better."


ThorSport PR

ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton doesn't have much recent history to rave about when it comes to Daytona International Speedway and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, but there's no question the ability of his No. 88 Slim Jim / Menards Toyota crew has the California veteran eagerly looking ahead.


"I absolutely feel like this (2013) is the best chance I've had at winning a championship in the Truck Series," Crafton said. "Working with Carl (Joiner Jr., crew chief) for a second year, the whole 88 group is as strong as it's ever been so this is the most optimistic I've ever been going into a season, without a doubt.


"We ended 2012 and had such fast trucks each and every week, and that's what makes me feel so good going into 2013. Besides, this being our second season running Toyotas is another real plus for our organization."


Crafton's stability and competitiveness is pointed-out by the fact that Daytona will be his 295th consecutive Truck Series start, a string that stretches back to his series debut for ThorSport in the 2000 season finale at his home state's Auto Club Speedway. At Martinsville Speedway in April Crafton's set to tie the series record of 296 consecutive starts that was set by former ThorSport driver Terry Cook.


In addition, Crafton's finished the last six seasons in the top-10 in the standings, including a best of second in 2009. And he's achieved the top-10 in eight of his last nine campaigns as he goes into his 13th consecutive full-time season -- all but one of them, the 2004 season when he raced for fellow Californian and former kart-racing foe Kevin Harvick -- with ThorSport.


But Daytona's the first hurdle. "The World Center of Racing" has allowed Crafton to earn a couple treasures, like his fifth-place finish in 2010 and a second-place start in 2009. But the frustrations are more numerous, like last year, when Crafton was wiped-out of a probable top-10 finish by a wreck coming to one of four white flag attempts in a race that had nine laps of overtime and four cautions in the last 10 laps.


"Daytona has always been a cool place to come to get the season started off," Crafton said. "But when I think of racing at Daytona, you realize it's a complete crap shoot... But that's exciting for the fans and who cares what we think, right (laughing)?


"We've had good runs here in the past. Even though the finishes might not reflect how well we've competed, you just go into it knowing that it's a crap shoot and you accept that. I just look at all the drivers that have won this race -- and I can say it's 100 percent a crap shoot. But you've got to be there at the end."


Crafton hopes his two veteran teammates, Johnny Sauter in the No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota and Todd Bodine in the No. 13 Mattei Air Compressors Toyota, can enable all three of them to challenge for ThorSport's first Daytona victory.


"It's great to have two good teammates like Johnny and Todd to go into this weekend and to be able to work together -- not only on the racetrack when we can, but also on strategy and setups," Crafton said. "It's definitely gonna be big because me and Johnny have been able to work together a little bit in the past but we've never had another veteran in another truck so I'm really looking forward to that."


Bodine has victories in the 2008 and 2009 Daytona truck races and his average start and finish are both in single digits. For his part, Sauter was leading the race when he was spun out from behind to start the wreck that also eliminated Crafton.


ThorSport PR

ThorSport Racing driver Johnny Sauter has some good history at Daytona International Speedway, just not in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. But he's hoping two veteran teammates will help reverse his recent trend at "The World Center of Racing" in Friday's NextEra Energy Resources 250.


Sauter's set to debut ThorSport's No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota Tundra in the 14th annual Daytona season-opener for the NCWTS, but he's hoping his NASCAR Nationwide experience at Daytona comes into play.


"Given my recent history, it's hard not to think about crashing when I think about Daytona," Sauter said with a chuckle. "I've come close in the Nationwide Series, but the Truck Series has just kind of been a tough row to hoe.


"I've raced Daytona enough to know that luck has a huge presence and either you're on the right or wrong side of that when it comes to getting crashed. If you're watching anywhere, pick your bathroom breaks very carefully -- it could be on lap 1 or it could be on the last lap -- I've had it happen both ways in a three-year period."


Qualifying hasn't been a problem for Sauter, who's raced full-time in the Truck Series since 2009, when he won the NCWTS Rookie of the Year Award in his debut season with ThorSport. He started in the top 10 his first three Daytona attempts but was wrecked on the first lap in 2010 and was leading last year when eventual winner John King turned him around coming to the white flag in a race that eventually ran nine extra laps and had four caution periods in the last 10 laps.


"I hate to say this, but 80 percent of what happens at Daytona is out of your control -- so either you're lucky or you're not," Sauter said. "I can give you millions of examples -- just look at last year with John King, or James Buescher going into Turn 4 on the last lap in 11th and winning the Nationwide race. No matter how people try to paint a different picture, it's a big game of luck.


"But no matter how bad the past is, you've just got to block it out. This is a new season, we're starting from scratch -- everybody is -- so obviously everybody's expectations are high. But (crew chief) Joe Shear Jr. and I know we've got what it takes to contend for this championship, and a win at Daytona."


Sauter's Daytona career highlight came in 2004 when he started 22nd in the Nationwide season opener and drove through the field to end up on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s rear bumper. Sauter's Pontiac had nothing for the acknowledged superspeedway master Earnhardt's Chevrolet that day, but a championship-caliber list of drivers followed Sauter across the line, including Robby Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, David Stremme and Ron Hornaday Jr.


Sauter had only one teammate in that race, former NASCAR Busch Series champion David Green, but at Daytona 2013 Sauter will have support from his longtime ThorSport partner Matt Crafton, in the No. 88 Slim Jim / Menards Toyota and new teammate Todd Bodine in the No. 13 Mattei Air Compressors Toyota.


"For all intents and purposes that's good for trying to get a ThorSport truck into Victory Lane," Sauter said of the possibilities presented by the triad of veterans. "Obviously you can't deny Todd's history, with all the wins he's got on the speedway stuff, and Crafton and myself always seem to run well.


"We just always seem to get caught-up in somebody else's mess so, I don't know. Hopefully we can all get hooked-up together and go race and have a good run. Hopefully somebody can pull off the win for ThorSport."


The biggest adjustment for Truck Series fans will be the black-and-red livery of his newly-numbered ride. In 98 of his previous 108 career starts Sauter's driven the No. 13 now piloted by Bodine, but the new scheme is important to Sauter and listed team owner Mike Curb.


"To have The Carolina Nut Co. on our Toyota trucks is obviously a win-win -- it's great exposure for the sponsor and awesome snacks for everybody from our team to all the fans out there," Sauter said. "Changing our number is good for Mike, because his Nationwide car, his Sprint Cup car and a lot of his short-track stuff is all No. 98. So it's really cool for Mike to have, I guess you'd call it that brand awareness that when you see a No. 98 race truck or car it's probably affiliated with Mike Curb.


"I've said it 100 times -- from where I'm sitting I don't even know what number I'm sitting in, I'm just happy to be sitting in something and going racing. But it's something special for Mike and all the fans out there watching."


The NextEra Energy Resources 250 is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET start on Friday. Live television coverage is on SPEED Channel and MRN Radio has the live radio broadcast.


ThorSport PR

The smack talking is already going on but it is not up to the level of the Hatfields and McCoys…yet.  Adam Royle and Dalton Zehr’s shops are not close, but there is a connection to help get these two teams prepared for the inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach on Monday, February 18 at Daytona International Speedway.
Both Royle, from Farmington, MN, and Zehr, from Daytona Beach, FL, have entered the Whelen All-American Series Late Model 150-lap event scheduled on the first night of the two-day event.  Zehr will need to race his way in to the main event while Royle has one of the “protected” starting spots after finishing ninth in the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings.
Rob Fisher, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief for Circle Track magazine was having a conversation with ASA Racing’s Tech Consultant Mike “Lumpy” Lemke about their participation in this event.  One of Fisher’s concerns is the tough competition to make the starting field for the feature event. Especially when competitors need to race their way in, it can be a “dog eat dog” battle to make the show.
How did Royle’s name get into the conversation? It was a simple case of who you know.  One of Lemke’s officials on the Midwest Tour and at some tracks is Jason Cihak.  Cihak happens to be the brother-in-law to Adam Royle.  Lemke suggested to Fisher that Royle could be a benefit to Fisher since he has a guaranteed starting spot.
After some thinking and number crunching, Fisher thought it would be best to support two cars for this event.  Lemke said he would do what he could to help with getting both cars prepared for the show.
One of Zehr’s longtime supporters is Circle Track magazine, which will be the primary sponsor of both cars for the event. 
Zehr has a longtime partnership with Circle Track, the nation’s largest motorsports publication. This partnership started in 2007 when Fisher signed Zehr to drive their 25th Anniversary project car.
That relationship has flourished over the past five years to include the complete fabrication of four different race cars one of which, the 2010 Project GREEN Camaro gained more attention than your normal magazine project car. Built in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Project GREEN Camaro has appeared in SEMA’s Vehicle Technology Center, at the BioMass Trade Conference in Washington DC, PRI, on PowerBlock TV with Courtney Hansen and the car actually raced in the Dick Trickle 99 in 2010 at the famous Oktoberfest Race Weekend at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway.
“Dalton is a racer at heart and 2012 has been one of his best year’s yet,” Fisher said. “He competed at various tracks in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Florida.  Dalton has raced consistently at the helm of different cars, tracks, and owners. In 17 races, Dalton won nine races in five different cars under four different owners.”
Adam Royle also has an impressive resume leading into the Battle at the Beach. 
He is a three-time Minnesota State Champion under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banner in 2009, 2011, and 2012.  In 2011, he had 14 feature wins between Raceway Park in Shakopee, MN (where he is the 2009 & 2010 champion) and Elko Speedway in Elko, MN. This past season he earned seven wins at Elko Speedway alone to finish ninth in the national standings and have a “protected” starting spot in the 150-lap event.
With everything set in place, Lemke and Fisher started having fun. Lemke, one could say, became the honorary captain of the North team with Fisher leading the South.  It didn’t take long for the smack talk emails being sent back and forth among the notables involved with this project.
There have already been unconfirmed reports of spying going on between the two camps. 
For both Fisher and Lemke, they also see long lasting value with this program.  With their resources and partnerships, they have worked out deals with different engine and parts manufacturers to help test their products at this event. 
“We at Circle Track spend a lot of time and money building different styles of project cars for the benefit of our readership. We test new products, engine combinations and chassis setups. We find what works and what doesn’t and then pass that along to the racers through our monthly publication and comprehensive website. What we do not do enough of is race. But that is changing in 2013, as you will be seeing three Circle Track projects consistently on the track this season, the first being the Battle at the Beach,” Fisher said. “So our overriding goal is to take the theories and concepts that we write about each and every month and show that they work by first competing at Daytona and then subsequently throughout the season. Unlike our northern brethren we are not locked into the feature, so the pressure is on. But no one associated with this magazine has ever shied away from a good challenge.”
“It is exciting to work on this project with Circle Track, Adam Royle and Dalton Zehr,” Lemke said.  “It will also be fun to go to an event being part of a race team and not be an official. This is something I haven’t done in a long time and the memories are making this more fun.”
Both Royle and Zehr appreciate the opportunity that they have for this event.
“It's not very often that an opportunity as great as this one comes by,” Royle exclaimed. “I figured I had better make this happen as you never know what the next season will bring and I may never get another chance to race at Daytona. I've put years of work into racing along with my family and it's awesome to see those years of hard work and dedication pay off.”
“The opportunity that NASCAR is giving to the Home Track racers around the country is really cool. I think these races will be great for Speedweeks since it exposes our style of racing to a potentially whole new group of fans,” Zehr said. “My overall goal running both the All American Series race and the K&N race (which Zehr will also run for Ted Marsh) is to go out and win. We’ve got two great cars and I cannot wait for February to get here.”
One car will have a Ford crate engine while the other will have a Chevrolet built engine to help show the difference between the two car and body manufacturers. They will also be testing brakes, cooling systems, down force, ignition systems and types, wheels, tire management in long races, and most of all running the new short track at Daytona International Speedway.
Supporters include:
Circle Track Magazine
Muscle Mustang Fast Ford Magazine (Engine program)
Ford Racing (Royle’s Engine program/parts)
KT Engine Development (Zehr’s Engine)
Coleman Racing Products (Zehr’s car and parts in it)
ASA Racing (Advertising/Insurance/Public Relations)
Interstate Truck Driving School (Royle’s Hauler)
AL-KUL Racing Radiators (Radiator)
ATL Fuel Cells
B&B Racing Engines (Engineer assistance/dyno work)
Roush Yates (Testing, engineering, parts)
Bassett Wheels (Wheels)
AP Brakes (Brakes)
Crane Ignition (Ignition)
Hoosier Tires (Tire testing)
Five Star Race Car Bodies (Body)
AR Bodies (Body)
Race Team Gear (Advertising & Uniforms)
Ultra Cool Brake Fans (Brake fans) (Advertising)
Pathfinder Chassis (Chassis)
Cihak Farms (Transportation)
Dimitri’s on the Beach (Food/beverage)
Independent Black Dirt Inc (Royle’s season sponsor)
Godfrey Custom Signs (Royle’s Designs and car lettering)
Impact Printing Inc. (Royle’s season sponsor)
Simply Suspension (Shocks and suspensions)
Willy’s Carburetors (Fuel Systems)
Cold Fire


Twitter is a wonderful concept to bring people from all over the world together to share real time information, news and ideas. Overtime sports teams and organization embraced it as a way to bring people closer to their product. But NASCAR hadn’t embraced the world of Twitter until the Tweet heard round the world came to media attention during the Daytona 500 when during an extended break for a fire Brad Keselowski posted a photo from inside the car in which netted over 100,000 twitter followers to his account keeping up with him during the break.

With the season over a new day of bringing NASCAR to the world had begun. Benny Fry better known to his over 20,000 followers as @pourme has started #NASCARFollowBack.

“Born & raised in NC in the heart of NASCAR country, my Dad wasn't a fan of any type of ball sports. I never watched an entire game until I was in High School. No Super Bowl on our TV growing up! Dad loved cars and still does. He wasn't a NASCAR Fan, but living in the shadow of the Charlotte Motor Speedway I became a NASCAR fan early on.” Said Benny

Benny who started on twitter in 2009, “my only intention was to eaves drop on the Twitter world, never to Tweet.” More than 46,000 tweets later, Benny has been able to turn eaves dropping, into connecting with over 25,000 followers from the US and several nations around the world.

Benny has taken some time to sit down and explain the #NASCARFollowBack.

You started the #NASCARFollowBack to bring fans of NASCAR and racing together, how did the idea come up?

The idea just popped into my head Sunday morning Dec. 16th as I was making my morning coffee. I went to the web site and as I began explaining it I became very excited! I thought a lot of people will really like this.

With the #NASCARFollowBack what has been the biggest challenge of the effort?

Two things...Some people won't take time to read and understand the plan. I have to coax them to do so. Lots of questions to answer. Some want to take advantage of the plan. Gather up followers but not follow back. Weeding through all the confusion has been a big challenge. Which brings to mind the second challenge the physical demands of the twelve to fourteen hour days I put in the 1st week, wore me out physically and mentally!

What are you looking to accomplish by starting #NASCARFollowBack trend?

This was intended to create an online community of NASCAR fans that until now had no organized way of finding each other in this huge Twitterverse. I don't care what driver they favor or what level of fan they are. We have some long timers like me and some newbies that are hungry for more interaction with other NASCAR fans, people wanting to learn more about the sport. I'm not looking for driver participation, although I think it would be a great Public Relations move for them. Drivers want to be followed but sadly they don't care to follow the fans. They want to "build a following" and I'm not interested in helping them do that. #NASCARFOLLOWBACK is doing precisely what I intended for it to do, quite nicely. I wish you could see what members tell me constantly about how this has enhanced both their NASCAR experience as well as their Twitter experience!

Anything else you would like us to know about the list and what people can do to keep it growing?

I'd like everyone to know I appreciate each and every one that has made this possible. Without the 406 #NASCARFOLLOWBACK Members we now have at this writing, there would be nothing to talk and write about. Thanks to each and every one of you! You make the effort well worthwhile. Also, thank you for the thought guys but I have no desire to be President of the United States.

Maybe one day soon one of my favorite followers. @yuengling_beer will see the value in becoming the official sponsor of #NASCARFOLLOWBACK. We can upgrade our web site with Yuengling logos and begin to have Tweetups at each race, I can host! We could give away tickets to lucky members for each race. And of course turn these NASCAR fans into @yuengling_beer drinkers! Well I can dream.

I would like to announce the creation of a new Facebook page This page is open to the general public. Please go to this page and like it! Post your race related pictures and stories! Our official web page that explains the #NASCARFOLLOWBACK plan is here:

It was already announced in October that Quicken Loans will be the primary sponsor on Ryan Newman's No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in 18 races in 2013. That is up from nine races that Quicken Loans sponsored in 2012. On Wednesday it was announced that four other companies will also return to sponsor Newman's effort as well.

WIX Filters will sponsor Newman in three races, March 24 at Auto Club Speedway, July 14 at New Hampshire, and October 20 at Talladega. Outback Steakhouse will also sponsor Newman in three races, April 27 at Richmond, July 6 at Daytona, and November 3 at Texas.

Aspen Dental will be on the No. 39 car for the All-Star Race on May 18 at Charlotte and Watkins Glen on August 11. Finally, Code 3 Associates will sponsor Newman at both Kansas races on April 21 and October 6.

All of those sponsorship announcements only add up to 28 races. Since one of them is the All-Star event that still leaves nine points paying races that the No. 39 car will need to find sponsorship for. it just goes to show how tough it is to find full sponsorship right now in NASCAR.

Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

Earlier this month (November 4th)) Kyle Larson, a driver for Rev Racing, won the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship. At face value one wouldn’t know the significance of that accomplishment. However, the implications are deep. Kyle Larson, a Japanese American driver, is a graduate of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program (D4D), and Rev Racing, the team for which Larson drives, is owned by Max Siegel, a brilliant sports mind who leads and manages D4D and who happens to be African-American. BSO interviewed Siegel to learn about his background, D4D, and Rev Racing.

Who is Max Siegel?
I have been a sports and entertainment executive for the last 23 years. I started off as a sports lawyer, working for a firm which represented the Seattle Mariners, national governing bodies for Olympic sports, and broadcast companies. I developed a law practice that represented the late Reggie White, Tony Gwynn and Terry Cummings. I was also a record executive with Tommy Boy records and a member of the global management team of Sony BMG. While at Sony, I was in the middle of purchasing a NASCAR team with Reggie White, Ronnie Lott, and Eddie DeBartolo. But two weeks before we were to announce the purchase, Reggie passed away. I stayed at Sony for another 1 ½ years, but left when I was invited by Teresa Earnhardt to become the first African-American President of a NASCAR franchise with Earnhardt Racing. After my tenure there I launched my own race team and started managing NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity (D4D). This will be my 5th year managing this program.

Tell me about your early interest in sports.
I’m a former athlete. I was recruited to play sports in college and was an academic adviser to athletes. A lot of my friends went on to play sports professionally, but I’ve always been interested in the transition from the playing side to the business side.

How did you first get involved with NASCAR?
Growing up as a kid, I used to go to the Indianapolis 500. Reggie White and I were best friends and he was very passionate about racing. After he retired, Reggie White told me that there was a lot of opportunity in NASCAR for people of color.

Was your interest in NASCAR fueled by opportunities for diversification?
What I found out quickly is that NASCAR is a multi-billion dollar industry and that there are many career opportunities there, whether you’re an engineer, a mechanic, a lawyer, a doctor or an electrician.

What is the D4D program?
D4D focuses on recruiting and developing talent and providing the necessary skills for drivers and crew members to succeed. It is also designed to broaden NASCAR’s appeal. Rev Racing is the competition arm of the Drive for Diversity Program (D4D). I currently have 6 teams. Of a couple hundred people who apply for the program, we’ll select six persons. Training is rigorous. Once selected there’s a full-time commitment. Team members are required to workout 3 to 4 days a week, put in 20 hours in the shop, and do simulated driving. We do performance evaluations – everything from nutrition to psychological testing. So what we’re developing here at Rev Racing is probably one of the premier training models. So far, we’ve placed over 20 minority and women candidates on the pit crew side throughout NASCAR.

Where is the D4D located?
The Drive of Diversity Program is run out of my race shop in Concord, N.C.

How many aspiring drivers have gone through the D4D program?
About 20-30 drivers and 40-50 pit crew members.

How successful has NASCAR been in attracting minority hopefuls and helping them advance up the ranks?
I think the program has gotten better every year. It’s been a really important initiative for NASCAR. In my opinion there is more awareness, and now we have a good pipeline of young drivers who can make a big name for themselves on the national level. I think frankly that once someone makes it on the national level you may see the same phenomenon as the Williams sisters or Tiger Woods when it comes to creating interest in the sport. We just won our first championship with Kyle Larson. That was exciting. Just to have someone successful who has been through this training model we’ve created…. As an African-American owner, it is an honor to achieve something like that.

What made you want to own your own race team?
My mother was a strong believer and the one thing we were never allowed to do was complain about how bad things were. You either leave or do something about it. As an owner, although it’s challenging, I do have some control over my destiny. I am able to make a contribution and if I can take the risk and be successful, perhaps I can inspire others.

Where so you see Rev Racing in 5 years?
We want to continue to build on our current success, keep perfecting the model and become the go-to organization to develop talent.

What do you do in your spare time?
I go to a lot of my sons’ little league games and my daughter’s gymnastics. I enjoy spending time with my family. To me that’s why I get up in the morning and do what I do.

Check out other great articles at BlackSportsOnline.

When you think about the year that Carl Edwards had it is almost unthinkable to think that Edwards was the runner-up in the point standings in 2011. Edwards went from having 26 top ten finishes to half of that with 13 in 2012. In 2012 Edwards only had three top five finishes way down from the 19 he had in the 2011 season. One has to wonder why?

Edwards’ 2012 season was one of the worst seasons a runner-up has ever had the next season. He went from leading 903 laps in 2011 to just 254 laps in the 2012 season. Edwards had a horrible season, plain and simple.
In 2009 Edwards had a bad year a year after finishing runner-up. That year, however, was a bad year for Roush-Fenway Racing in general. Ford hadn’t produced their FR9 engines yet and there was an obvious lack of horse power with the team and it affected everyone.
In 2012 that wasn’t the case. Both Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth had good, competitive years in 2012 winning several races and making the Chase with ease. Edwards’ was terrible. Even a crew chief change couldn’t fix the funk the #99 Ford was in. Edwards actually got worse towards the end of the season when the team hired Chad Norris to replace an ill Bob Osborne.
Whether it was the new contract or it was the high expectations of winning a championship or just an off year in general, Carl Edwards had a bad 2012 season. All in all Edwards lost 13 spots in the points standings which is the most anyone lost in 2012 who ran the full schedule. If that isn’t disappointing I don’t know what is.
AJ Allmendinger – By: Mark Eddinger
Yes, Carl Edwards was one of a few preseason championship favorites and had a horrible 2012 season that was by all means disappointing. But it is racing and sometimes things really just don’t go your way. He still has a hefty contract with Roush-Fenway Racing and will have the tools to rebound in 2013.
AJ Allmendinger on the other hand was a driver that was just getting his first real shot with a top notch team in Penske Racing. For the first time in his career it looked like he was going to be in a situation where he could compete up front for wins on a weekly basis. Then the season didn’t get off to the best of starts.
In the first 17 races, from Daytona until Kentucky, Allmendinger only posted three top ten finishes and was sitting 23rd in the points. He had six finishes of 30th or worse in those races as well. Two of the three top 10’s came in the final two races of that stretch with ninth place finishes at Sonoma and Kentucky. Things looked like they might be turning around for the No. 22 team with time to still make a run at the Chase.
That is when Allmendinger was suspended for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy and we all know the story from there. He lost his golden opportunity ride with Penske Racing, the team that won the 2012 Championship with his former teammate Brad Keselowski.
Allmendinger did get the opportunity to drive four races for Phoenix Racing toward the end of the 2012 season after being reinstated by NASCAR but only could post a 24th place finish as his best.
Now Allmendinger is still in search of a ride for the 2013 season as no announcements have been made on that front yet. Time will tell if Allmendinger will ever get another great opportunity in the Sprint Cup Series but one thing is for sure and that is the gigantic disappointment Allmendinger suffered through in 2012.

Check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

For 2012, NASCAR had the smallest audience in five years. There was also a 25 percent drop in the very important 18-34 year old male demographic.

From The Sporting News comes a very serious revelation. NASCAR had an up and down year on the TV ratings over the past few years. This year it was mostly down. For 2012, NASCAR had the smallest audience in five years. There was also a 25 percent drop in the very important 18-34 year old male demographic. Those NASCAR races which aired on Fox, TNT and ESPN averaged a 3.6 Nielsen rating and 5.8 million viewers through 35 of 36 races. The season-ending races at Homestead was down 5 percent and 10 percent respectively from last year. All that gave up all of the gains the sport made last year which was its first annual ratings increase since 2005.

Three races weren’t counted because of rain delays that forced the races to be held on weekday mornings. Ratings among advertisers’ favorite demographic, 18- to 34-year-olds, fell further. NASCAR races earned a 0.9 rating in that demo, down 25 percent from last year’s 1.2.

NASCAR executives attributed the declines to uncontrollable forces, starting with the Daytona 500?s first postponement in 54 years, from Sunday afternoon to Monday evening. NASCAR executives also cited competition from the London Olympics and NCAA basketball conference championship games as reasons for the downturn.

Fox and ESPN executives insist that they are not concerned by this year’s ratings and tout the sport’s overall audience, which still is one of the biggest on TV. Mulvihill said Fox has reconfigured its sales pitches on NASCAR for next season to highlight that audience. However, we take exception to NASCAR’s and their TV partners and feel that they are both in denial.

The network is trying to dispel the notion among ad buyers that NASCAR can’t deliver an audience with buying power. It’s doing so by comparing the average income of NASCAR viewers to the average income in their home market rather than the national average. For example, in the Tampa Bay market, NASCAR viewers have an average income of $52,000, significantly more than the designated market area (DMA) average of $42,000 a year.

Here’s our version of the situation: Fox and NASCAR think that they can keep going with the same old format. With all due respect, we see a trend that’s not good. We feel that all of this should result in NASCAR, Brian France in particular along with his TV partners, should consider giving Sprint Cup races a major makeover, like shortening most all of the races and changing the format. Also they could consider stopping the race at the half-way point and then reversing the order of the positions.

That big change would require all of the top running drivers and cars to come from the back again and racing back to the front. It’s a radical idea but consider what happened to the TV audience in 2012 that took a major drop. The biggest complaint we hear from NASCAR fans is that the races lack competition except for the last 20 laps because every driver is stroking in order to be around at the end of the race. And that’s when many fans tune in to see what’s happening.

That big drop off in this year’s TV audience should sound an alarm to the suits in the NASCAR front office and their TV partners. What happens if the ratings go even lower in 2013? Not to mention the empty seats at all of the NASCAR Cup races this year. NASCAR and their TV partners have major problems. From the Sporting News story, it’s very obvious that they (the principals) don’t recognize it.

The Formula 1 series came to a merciful end in Brazil. When it was all over, Jenson Button won the rain-soaked affair, followed by Sebastian Vettel and Filipe Massa. Vettel ended up winning the F1 Championship just +3 points ahead of Fernando Alonso. The race finished under caution due to heavy downpours. Vettel took his third championship in spite of radio and tire problems compounded by the very wet weather. “It was a tough race. It was good that we did our homework,” he said in the post race interview.

SPEED’s coverage of the inaugural Formula One race from Austin drew more than 500,000 viewers, scoring a Nielsen Household Rating of .42. The ratings mark is up 40% with HHs (0.42 vs. 0.30), 70% among M35-54 (0.46 vs. 0.27) and 75% among M18-49 (0.28 vs. 0.16) versus last year’s equivalent race (Brazil). It was the highest rated Formula One race on SPEED with HHs and M18-49 in well over a year.

German automotive group Daimler has secured full control of Mercedes-Benz’s Formula One operation after Aabar Investments on Monday announced it had agreed to sell its stake in the team. This came from SportsBusinessInternational.

This also came from the same source: Coca-Cola will “break the conventions of traditional Formula One sponsorship” after unveiling a new partnership with the Lotus team that will provide exposure for the Burn energy drink brand, according to the beverage company’s marketing chief Emmanuel Seuge.

The world’s largest drinks company has been linked with an F1 sponsorship over recent weeks and confirmed the deal ahead of the 2012 season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo. Further details will be revealed in 2013 when the partnership officially launches, but Coca-Cola is promising to offer an alternative approach to Formula One sponsorship. The deal will position Burn against rival energy drinks brand Red Bull, which has been the title sponsor of F1’s leading team since 2010. (END)

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NASCAR Camping World Truck Series director Wayne Auton confirmed on Sirius NASCAR Radio that the NASCAR Camping World Series will not have many changes for the 2013 season. Auton did, however, confirm the series will have some major changes coming in the 2014 season.

"In 2014, I think you’re gonna see a new product on the racetrack, with new trucks a new truck look," Auton stated. "What we say in Nationwide defiantly with the identification and what you’re gonna see in Cup in 2013 with the new car and then in '14 we're gonna work on the trucks. Manufacturers came to us and said "here's what we want to do" so we've listened to 'em' and that process has already started."

Auton also confirmed the manufacturers came to him and asked to make some changes to the trucks, just like they did in the Cup series in 2011.

This news is good for the Truck Series, many truck teams do not get manufactures support so the manufacturers showing interest in the series again is a step in the right direction.

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