Ownership group acquires Red Bull Racing owner’s points
Landon Cassill will be locked into the Daytona 500 after an ownership group formerly involved with the now defunct TRG Motorosports team bought the assets and owner's points from Red Bull Racing.
From the Associated Press:
Cassill said he has a deal with the new team to drive all year.
"It's my first time going into a NASCAR season with a signed deal knowing I'm going to be in the car every week," Cassill said. "It's my first time attempting the Daytona 500—wait, I am locked into the Daytona 500. That's a pretty big dream came true."
Team name and sponsorship information is still to come. While owner's points are involved in the deal, this is much different than the points swap -- a tactic unliked by many -- that got Danica Patrick's No. 10 guaranteed into the field for the Daytona 500. (Patrick is in the field via the points from Tommy Baldwin's No. 36 car.)
Cassill will have the points from Brian Vickers' No. 83 last year, while the possibility remains for the team to field a second car at Daytona, as it would be locked in via Kasey Kahne's owner points from the No. 4.
The move, which had been in the works for a few weeks, officially means that all of the guaranteed starting positions from 2011's owner points top 35 are spoken for if the team runs a second car.
In January, Michael Waltrip Racing attempted to buy the owner's points from Red Bull but a deal didn't work out. If the team that just acquired the Red Bull points fields a second car, one of Waltrip's cars will need to qualify for the 500 on speed. Martin Truex Jr.'s No. 56 is locked in, and the team has the owner points from David Reutimann's No. 00, for either new MWR driver Clint Bowyer or the No. 55 that Waltrip is sharing with Mark Martin.
Roush Fenway Racing is running the No. 6 for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Daytona 500 because the team has the points from David Ragan last year, and while Richard Childress Racing has scaled back to three full-time teams, it's running the No. 33 for Elliott Sadler at Daytona and Brendan Gaughan for the next four races.
Racing’s back! The NHRA season kicks off at Pomona
Yeah, the Daytona 500 is still two weeks away, and the Budweiser Shootout is next weekend, but the 2012 American racing season kicks off this weekend with the NHRA season opener at Pomona.
However, Larry Dixon, the 2010 Top Fuel champion and Del Worsham, the 2011 Top Fuel winner, isn't there. Dixon parted ways with Al-Anabi Racing at the end of 2011 and Worsham, who also drove for Al-Anabi Racing, retired from driving. Al-Anabi's two 2012 drivers will be Shawn Langdon and Khalid al Balooshi, who is making his Top Fuel debut.
Other things to watch:
Can Tony Schumacher get back to victory lane? The seven-time champion was winless in 2011. He and teammate Antron Brown will be viewed by many as the title favorites after the departures of Dixon and Worsham.
How will Courtney Force do? John Force's middle daughter jumps into one of his Funny Cars for a full-season run. Will she follow (or surpass) sister Ashley Force Hood and reach a final round in her first Funny Car season? And can dad make another title run?
Will Erica Enders get a tournament win? Enders was oh-so-close in the extremely competitive Pro Stock division in 2011, reaching three final rounds and getting two pole positions. Just how close was the field in Pro Stock? In last year's final event, the field was separated by .077 in qualifying.
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Let's be honest, there's a fair amount of overlap between the demographics of NASCAR and the WWE. So it can't be all that surprising that WWE wrestler John Cena is the honorary starter for the Daytona 500, right?
Cena, who has already appeared in a Gillette commercial back in the days of the Gillette Young Guns, received his official "invitation" to be the starter when friend Carl Edwards appeared on Monday's WWE Raw.
"John Cena is the greatest Superstar in WWE today," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said in a release. "We look forward to seeing him on the flag stand waving the green flag to start 'The Great American Race' and kick off the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season."
It could be argued that Cena, who starred in that unforgettable movie 'The Marine,' is the WWE's version of Kyle Busch. He's marketable, sells a lot of merchandise and hears a lot of boos. Sound familiar? But hey, he's certainly a better fit than Mariah Carey, who served as the race's honorary starter in 2003.
The night race at Darlington Raceway will now start at 7 p.m. ET instead of the Sprint Cup Series' standard night race start time of 7:30 p.m.
Why was the move made? Well, the marathon 500 mile (plus one) race at Darlington has taken nearly four hours to complete the past two years and the 2009 race was even longer, clocking it at a whopping 4:11.
From Scene Daily:
"We were able to move it 30 minutes, which is good," Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning said. "We're pleased about that. I think it will help our fans to get out of here a little bit quicker. That's really good for us.
"We were shooting for sometime around 11 o'clock [finish]. That is something the fans had asked for in our post-event surveys the last couple of years."
Changing the length of the race, Browning said, wasn't something that was considered, due to the tradition of the Southern 500. However, the Southern 500 was traditionally held on Labor Day weekend. That date went to Auto Club Speedway in California, and now Atlanta Motor Speedway hosts the Cup race on that weekend. When Darlington had two Cup Series events, the spring race had been 400 miles.
Pocono Raceway, a track that has been the brunt of many a snoozefest joke, announced in August that its two races would be shortened from 500 to 400 miles for 2012.
Moving up the start time of the Darlington race was the right move, as no race should ever end near midnight on the East Coast unless weather or some other delay is involved. And moving to shorten the race wouldn't have been the best course of action either. While some races could stand to be shorter -- Pocono made the right call -- there still needs to be some 500-mile races on the Sprint Cup circuit. And given Darlington's status and legend, it deserves to keep a 500-mile race.
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Earlier this week, Formula 1 driver Adrian Sutil was given an 18 month suspended sentence and fined for a nightclub altercation with Lotus co-owner Eric Lux.
And given the circumstances surrounding the sentence, it makes the confrontations that have occurred recently in the Cup Series pretty tame. Sutil and Lux were at a nightclub after the Chinese Grand Prix in April and the two got into an argument.
From Reuters via Eurosport:
Sutil had told the court on the first day of proceedings on Monday that he had repeatedly apologised to Lux and denied it was his intention to hurt him but rather to throw a drink in his face.
The prosecution, however, had asked for a 21-month sentence and a 300,000 euro fine, saying that as a professional athlete Sutil should not have acted that way.
The glass hit Lux in the throat, resulting in 24 stitches to close the resulting wound. Sutil has maintained that the incident was an accident.
Fellow Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was also at the nightclub when the incident happened, and didn't testify in the trial, citing previous commitments with his McLaren team.
For that, Sutil called Hamilton a "coward."
In other F1 news, the week has been filled with the reveals of the 2012 cars, with the most (negative or otherwise) reception given to the 2012 Ferrari. For more pictures of 2012 cars, head over to Yahoo! Eurosport.
Get your Twitter handle on Brad Keselowski’s truck
Ever dreamed of having your Twitter handle on a NASCAR truck? Here you go.
Brad Keselowski is racing in the Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytonda on Friday, February 24, and through a promotion with his race sponsors Reese Towpower and Cooper Standard, you can be one of 5,000 people to have your Twitter handle on the decklid of the truck.
There's a catch of course, but hey, you can get your twitter handle on a truck for the price of a few follows and retweets. That's not bad, right?
The details: Retweet this tweet of Keselowski's with your prediction, and follow him, Reese Towpower and Cooper Standard on Twitter. The companies will then draw 5,000 names from the pool of retweets, and those folks will get their Twitter handles on the decklid. And 10 more will get the grand prize, their Twitter names on the side of Keselowski's truck. The 5,000 winners will be drawn February 8th, while the grand prize winners will be drawn February 10th.
So if you want to be NASCAR-famous, get Tweeting. But since we're the ones that told you about this, give us a follow on Twitter at @YahooMarbles, @YahooNASCAR, @JayBusbee and @NickBromberg too. It's only fair, right?
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Michael Shank Racing No. 60 team wins Rolex 24
AJ Allmendinger drove the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian Ford to victory lane in the Rolex 24 at Daytona Sunday afternoon.
Allmendinger, who drove almost three hours on the final stint, shared driving duties with IndyCar's Justin Wilson, Oswaldo Negri and John Pew for Shank's first Rolex 24 win.
It was Allmendinger's first Rolex 24 win as well, and his first win since 2006, when he won five times in CART. Allmendinger moved from Richard Petty Motorsports' No. 43 car to the Penske Racing No. 22 in the Sprint Cup Series in the offseason after Kurt Busch and Penske parted ways.
It was also the longest Rolex 24 ever, with 761 laps completed.
The Starworks Motorsport No. 8 Ford with Ryan Dalziel behind the wheel at the end finished second. Ganassi's No. 01 with Scott Pruett, Joey Hand, Graham Rahal and Memo Rojas, the defending champions of the race, were also in contention for the win until a gear issue put them laps down with approximately two hours left.
Shank's No. 6 Ford that included Michael McDowell finished third and the Ganassi Cup and IndyCar team of Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti finished fourth.
The Magnus Racing No. 44, with Andy Lally behind the wheel at the finish, won the GT division. It was Magnus Racing's first Grand-Am win and Lally's fourth Rolex 24 class win.
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Familiar faces to watch in the Rolex 24
Yes, we still have four weeks until the Daytona 500, but the Rolex 24 endurance race, the first race of Daytona Speedweeks, kicks off Saturday afternoon.
In the Daytona Prototype category, Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya are again splitting driving duties in Chip Ganassi's No. 02 with IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. They finished second last year to Ganassi's No. 01 team of Joey Hand, Scott Pruett, Graham Rahal and Memo Rojas. All four drivers return to the No. 01 this year.
Neither car is on the front row, however. The pole went to Ryan Dalziel driving the No. 8. The No. 10 car that will be driven at times by Ryan Briscoe, starts second. AJ Allmendinger is in the No. 60 and Max Papis is in the No. 9 along with JC France, Brian France's cousin. Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay and E.J. Viso are in the No. 2.
In the GT Series, Michael Waltrip and Travis Pastrana are sharing a AF-Waltrip Racing Ferrari with Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Robb Kauffman and Rui Aguas. Boris Said is in the No. 94 for Turner Motorsports and Andy Lally is in the No. 44. And, yes ladies, Dr. McDreamy is back. Actor Patrick Dempsey is in the No. 40, one of the two cars he owns this weekend in the GT Series.
Coverage of the race begins at 2:30 PM ET on Speed and concludes Sunday afternoon.
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Elliott Sadler to drive for Childress in Daytona 500
Elliott Sadler will be back in the Sprint Cup Series for the Daytona 500.
Sadler, who is driving a full Nationwide Series schedule for Richard Childress Racing, will drive the No. 33 for the team on February 26 with sponsorship from General Mills and Kroger.
"It's great to be back in the Daytona 500," Sadler said in a release. "I've had a lot of success in this race in the past and want to thank General Mills, Kroger and Richard Childress for this opportunity."
Sadler has five top 10s in his last seven Daytona 500s.
The No. 33 is locked into the race because that's the car that Clint Bowyer drove for RCR last year before moving on to Michael Waltrip Racing. With General Mills moving to a reduced role with RCR car Jeff Burton and the No. 31, enough sponsorship couldn't be found to run the car full-time in addition to Burton and Kevin Harvick, who finished third in the points standings.
Gil Martin, Harvick's 2o11 crew chief, will be Sadler's crew chief. Shane Wilson, who was crew chief for Bowyer and the No. 33 last year, is Harvick's new crew chief.
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NASCAR announces that it will disclose all fines
NASCAR announced Wednesday that it will stop the practice of 'secret fines' and publicly announce all monetary punishments.
"NASCAR will no longer issue fines that are undisclosed," a NASCAR statement said. "We looked at this issue from every angle and gathered feedback from the industry. While there are always sensitivities related to sponsor relationships and other leagues may continue issuing disclosed and undisclosed fines, NASCAR has decided that all fines moving forward will be made public after the competitor or organization that has been penalized has been informed."
Over the past two seasons, the sanctioning body has issued fines in secrecy on multiple occasions, though it's unknown how many times fines have been handed out discretely and for how long. Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin were the first known drivers to be secretly fined for comments in 2010, and Newman was secretly fined again after an incident with Juan Pablo Montoya at Richmond that led to an alleged physical altercation. Brad Keselowski was also fined for his comments at a fan forum about electronic fuel injection.
We've written at length at how absurd the concept of secret fines is, so this is a common sense move that NASCAR had to make. Fines pertaining to rules violations were publicly announced, so a dichotomy of some fines being public and some fines remaining private created a feeling of distrust, especially among fans. So props to NASCAR for making the right (and only) decision when it comes to fines and preventing us from writing a third column about the ridiculousness of secret fines.
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