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Xfinity Series Spotlight: Owner Rod Sieg

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If you’re ever trying to spot Rod Sieg in the Xfinity Series garage, just look for the man full of energy and radiating positivity.

Sieg is the owner of Ryan Sieg Racing and the No. 39 car, driven by his son, Ryan. The family-owned business has been successful in NASCAR, moving from the Camping World Truck to Xfinity Series. They are one race away from qualifying for the inaugural Xfinity Series Chase.

Ryan sits 12th on the Chase grid entering Chicago this weekend. As for Rod, whether the team makes the playoffs, one would be hard-pressed to find him not having fun.

“Nobody comes to the racetrack to finish last, do they?” Sieg asks NBC Sports. “Life has been good. I’ve had fun, and everywhere I go I have fun. I don’t want to be in a bad mood. Even after Bristol (where Ryan finished 37th) I didn’t get upset – we just left early, and it was a quiet ride home.”

Sieg’s life in business started in 1982 when he and his father-in-law, Colie Wilson, co-founded S&W Towing. Based out of Tucker, Georgia, where the family originates, Wilson was the one who had an affinity for racing, which rubbed off on Sieg.

“We’d race go-karts and all that stuff, and then we bought some Late Models and got into those then decided to go Truck racing,” Sieg said. “We were going to run Trucks and Xfinity, and heck we ran so good we were like, ‘Why are we going to go Truck racing when we can go over here?’ That’s how it just goes, and it’s been an easy progression.”

Sieg has fielded entries in NASCAR since 2009. And just like the sport, he admits he lives his life at full-throttle.

“That’s the only way to live, isn’t it?”

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: Is the team shop still based in Georgia at the S&W Towing location?

Sieg: It was until this last year. I could walk out back from my office and go to the garage and work right in the garage. But it got too small. We’ve moved to a different location and run a business out of there that is a towing service, but we built a big warehouse up there. It’s pretty nice now.

NBC Sports: How much did your father-in-law influence your decision to get into racing?

Sieg: My wife’s dad raced dirt, and I worked for a guy named Randy Couch when I was like 16, 17, 18 and he was an All-Pro champion. Ever since then we’ve been racing, and he even came over to the shop and helped us work on our Late Model cars when we ran around the Southeast. I actually tried to deter Ryan from racing; I sent him down to a guy named Wayne Anderson in Florida and said go with him. I called Wayne and said ‘I want you to be as brutal as you can on him,’ and Wayne treated him awful. Ryan would say, ‘We worked on Wayne’s cars all day, and we’d push mine out for 30 minutes, and I’d have to race Wayne.’ He’d follow him to the track, and that’s how he really got into it. He actually did good as Wayne told him, just follow me around.

Wayne Anderson raced for a long time and he was in Late Models out of Florida and Ryan would drive back and forth from Florida to our house every week, and did it by himself. I was wanting him to quit because people don’t understand how hard racing is from week to week, and he was determined to do it. I was trying to be mean as I could, I really was.

NBC Sports: Is it difficult to be both the owner of the race team and the father of the driver?

Sieg: I treat him like I would any other driver. I don’t cut him any slack, but I don’t really say much. We’ve been racing so long you don’t get real high or real low. Daytona (when Ryan finished third) I got real high! That was a high point. When you get through Daytona, and you can finish it, it’s always a good day because we’ve had two bad years of bad luck down there. Running good, but just got caught up in a wreck. Boy, when you can finish one, it just tickles you to death.

NBC Sports: Do you just oversee the operation when you come to the track or do you get involved?

Sieg: I’ll do anything they ask me. I’ll jump in and pick up tires and put them on if that’s what I need to do. I want everybody to be in a good mood because you know what, one gets in a bad mood, everybody gets in a bad mood.

NBC Sports: What is your approach or philosophy for business, seeing that you run two different ones?

Sieg: I just treat everybody the way I want to be treated. I mean, we got a guy that does nothing but polish the car, and I treat him the same way I treat the crew chief.

NBC Sports: Is the current business model in the Xfinity Series sustainable to a small team like yours?

Sieg: We’ll have to see. We haven’t got that far yet. I take it a year at a time, a race at a time. We prepare our car a week in advance, and some of these guys have their cars prepared months in advance. We haven’t mapped out anything for the future.

NBC Sports: With as outgoing and energetic as you are, do you have any other hobbies besides racing?

Sieg: We go up to the lake house all the time, I have a lake house in Georgia. We have jet skis and boats and all that and I’m constantly doing things that nearly kill me. (Crew chief Kevin Starland) rented a campsite once and we have two jet skis that are real fast, and I came in about 70 miles-per-hour and wide open. There were rocks there on the coast, and I turned the wheel real hard, and I flipped about five times. I was hiding under the water cause the jet ski flipped and they’re all running out screaming, ‘Rod, Rod, Rod!’ and I jumped out saying, I’m all right!

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Atlanta Motor Speedway accepting lucky charms to help Chase Elliott earn first Cup win

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The president of Atlanta Motor Speedway is hoping history will repeat.

Ed Clark is doing whatever he can to get Georgia-native Chase Elliott to Victory Lane for the first time in the Cup Series.

To do that, he’s using the same marketing scheme he executed in 1983 in the weeks before Bill Elliott’s first Cup victory.

AMS is asking for fans to send lucky charms to the track, which will be presented to Chase Elliott during a special event there Feb. 13.

There’s no restrictions on what can be sent.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver is winless after 77 starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

Bill Elliott in 1983. (Atlanta Motor Speedway).

His father went winless in his first 155 starts from 1976-83.

Clark put together the original lucky charm drive ahead of the October race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he served as public relations director.

“The promotion we came up with for Bill in ’83 created an amazing amount of interest and support from fans all over the country,” said Clark in a press release. “We received package after package full of good-luck charms, and it seemed like everybody was pulling for him to get that first win.”

Three races later, in the season finale at Riverside International Raceway, the 28-year-old Bill Elliott claimed his first of 44 Cup victories.

Fans can send their lucky charms to Elliott by shipping them to AMS at 1500 Highway 19/41, Hampton, GA 30228, with attention to “Good Luck, Chase.” Fans can also participate by using the hashtag #GoodLuckChase across the various social media platforms with pictures and messages to Elliott.

The Cup season begins Feb. 18 with the 60th Daytona 500. The following weekend, the series visits Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Go Fas Racing secures charter by partnering with Circle Sport Racing

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Go Fas Racing has secured a charter for Matt DiBenedetto’s No. 32 Ford by partnering with Circle Sport Racing.

The move comes after Go Fas Racing’s owner Archie St. Hilaire entered into a partnership with the Wood Brothers that allowed the Wood Brothers to retain the charter they leased last year from Go Fas Racing.

That move left Go Fas Racing without a charter. That matter was resolved with the partnership with Circle Sport Racing car owner Joe Falk, who recently split with TMG.

“This deal pretty much fills our plate for the 2018 season,” St. Hilaire said in a statement from the team. “We decided that the best long-term strategy for GFR’s original charter was to strike a deal with our good friends at Wood Brothers Racing, which left us seeking a charter for our own No. 32 car. I think this partnership with Joe Falk is mutually beneficial for both Joe and ourselves going into the future. Joe has been in the business for a long time and will add a wealth of knowledge to our programs in 2018 and beyond.”

Said Falk in a statement: “We have been talking about doing this for over a year and it was a big decision to switch to Ford, but we believe it will pay off. This is a performance business and we have not had the team to get good finishes. We are also working on running the No. 33 car in select events with young drivers such as Joey Gase to help get them prepared for a full Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season going forward.”

CHARTERS THAT HAVE CHANGED TEAMS FOR 2018

— Furniture Row Racing #77 charter sold to JTG Daugherty for No. 37 car

— Roush Fenway Racing #16 charter sold to Team Penske for No. 12 car

— Richard Petty Motorsports #43 charter leased to Rick Ware Racing for No. 51 car

— Wood Brothers Racing forms long-term partnership with Go Fas Racing owner Archie St. Hilaire that grants Wood Brothers full operating control of the No. 32 team’s charter it leased last year.

— Go Fas Racing forms partnership with Circle Sport Racing owner Joe Falk for his charter for the No. 32 team.

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Kasey Kahne looks to run 20-30 races outside NASCAR this year

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Kasey Kahne, who competed in last week’s Chili Bowl Nationals, says he plans to run two dozen or more races outside of NASCAR this season.

Kahne, who is in his first season with Leavine Family Racing, made the comments Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.’’

“I’ve always tried to stay close to the type of racing that I learned how to race in and the type of cars that I learned how to race in and those fans and race tracks that I’ve spent a ton of time at and have really enjoyed over the years,’’ Kahne said of racing sprint and midget cars on dirt. “I’m still a huge fan of that type of racing because that’s where I came from and want to be for a long, long time.

“We have two (World of) Outlaw teams again this year, Daryn Pittman and Brad Sweet, and I feel like I can run 20 to 30 races depending on the schedules and how everything works out. I’m really looking forward to that because that’s something that I wanted to do for a long time and I could do it and then I couldn’t do it.’’

Kahne, who was with Hendrick Motorsports the previous six seasons, was asked if he was prohibited from racing such cars.

“When I signed up, I wasn’t at all and they said I could do whatever I wanted and enjoy it,” Kahne said. “A year later, I was restricted from everything and wasn’t able to do that anymore and then the last year they were pretty cool about it, but it was always kind of feeling like you were making somebody mad. I won’t have that because Leavine … they know that that’s what I love to do and that’s what I want to do. I don’t want it to affect the No. 95 in anyway. That’s the first priority to me. When we’re not doing that, it’s OK, nobody is going to be mad if I go and try to do a little racing. It makes me feel pretty good to be in that situation again.’’

Kahne is just one of a few NASCAR drivers expected to run in other series this year. Kyle Larson, who raced a midget car in New Zealand before competing in Chili Bowl Nationals, has said he’s allowed to run 25 such events a year. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. says he plans to run some midget races this summer.

Kahne also has been busy getting prepared for his new ride. He has a one-year deal with Leavine Family Racing, which is aligned with Richard Childress Racing. Travis Mack, who had been at Hendrick Motorsports, will be Kahne’s crew chief.

Kahne cited performance — he had one win and nine top-five finishes in the past three seasons with Hendrick — and business as a reason for the change.

“I’m perfectly fine with it because I’m glad I’ve moved on and am doing something different at this point and really looking forward to Leavine and my future and the new things that I have going on,’’ said Kahne, who finished 15th in the points last year after making the playoffs with his Indianapolis victory. “I don’t look back on any of it as a bad thing.’’

Asked if he feels reinvigorated with the changes, Kahne told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “I feel just to kind of start over is never a bad thing, especially with our performance. I was never happy the last three years, I haven’t been that happy as far as racing went because we could never really figure it out. Just to have a new group, start over, try to do things together and see how good we can do. To me, that’s exciting and new and fresh and I look forward to that.’’

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Todd Gilliland to drive No. 4 for Kyle Busch Motorsports; father to fill-in at Daytona

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Todd Gilliland will get a helping hand driving Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota this season before he turns 18 on May 15.

The two-time K&N Pro Series West champion will miss four of the first six races to start the year because of NASCAR’s rule that drivers under 18 years old are restricted to tracks 1.25 miles or less in length or road courses.

Gilliland will miss the season-opener at Daytona (Feb. 16), Atlanta (Feb. 24), Las Vegas (March 2) and Kansas (May 11).

After starts at Martinsville (March 24) and Dover (May 4) to begin his Rookie of the Year campaign, his first race on a 1.5-mile track will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18.

Team owner Kyle Busch will drive the No. 4 at Atlanta and Kansas.

In a video released by the team on Twitter, it announced that Gilliland’s dad, David Gilliland, will open the season at Daytona.

The former Cup driver will make his first NASCAR start since 2016 in the NextEra Energy Resources 250.

A veteran of 398 national NASCAR races, David Gilliland’s last Truck Series start was in 2015. He has 10 Truck starts. One of those was at a restrictor-plate track (Daytona, 2015).

That’s not the only race the elder Gilliland will try to be part of that weekend.

He will attempt to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Ricky Benton Racing, which has fielded the No. 92 in the Truck Series since 2010.

Gilliland will attempt to qualify the No. 92 Black’s Tire and Auto Service/Carquest Auto Parts Ford into the “Great American Race.” If he’s successful, it will mark the Cup debut for the team.

Gilliland made seven starts for the team in 2015.

“After talking with our partners, we felt the time was right to make a move into the Cup Series,” team owner Ricky Benton said in a press release. “Getting David back on board was also key. Having a veteran driver with his experience and success on restrictor-plate tracks – with whom (crew chief Mike) Hester has familiarity – gives us a leg up as we try to make the race.”
Gilliland has made 16 starts at Daytona in the Cup Series, including seven in the Daytona 500. His best finish was third in the 2011 Daytona 500.

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