NBC Sports’ NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty will be the featured speaker for next week’s second annual Kulwicki Driver Development Program awards banquet.
The banquet will be held Dec. 14 in the Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Kyle had a very special and unique relationship with Alan (Kulwicki) and it promises to be a fun and memorable night,” said Tom Roberts, executive director of the KDDP. “I can’t think of a more appropriate way of celebrating a fantastic sophomore year for our organization on what would have been Alan’s 62nd birthday.”
Despite different personalities, Kulwicki and Petty became fast friends on the Winston Cup circuit.
“Alan and I couldn’t have been more different if we tried to be personality-wise,” Petty said. “He was quiet and reserved; I was loud and flamboyant.
“I think that’s why we got along so well. He was probably one of the most focused individuals I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Everything he did was focused on racing, his car, winning races and building a competitive team. In the end, that’s exactly what he did.”
Kulwicki was tragically killed in a plane crash less than five months after winning the 1992 Winston Cup championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The banquet will also include presentation of the Kulwicki Cup trophy and a check for nearly $55,000 to 2016 KDDP champion Alex Prunty, a Wisconsin native like Kulwicki.
The event will be streamed live online on www.Speed51.com starting at 7 p.m. ET. Speed51.com’s Bob Dillner will serve as the event’s emcee.
Steven Tyler has performed with Aerosmith in a video for ESPN back when it broadcast NASCAR races. Tyler also has performed before the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Now, he’s played Kurt Busch‘s wedding.
McArdle had been with Roush Fenway Racing. He joined the team in Nov. 2014 to oversee engineering for its Cup and Xfinity programs. He previously had been director of racing operations at Richard Childress Racing, joining that organization in April 2013. He spent four years before that at Furniture Row Racing, overseeing the team’s competition department.
At Ganassi, McArdle will report to Max Jones, team manager.
Last year marked the first time in the team’s history that it had two cars make the Cup playoffs. Both Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, though, failed to advance from the first round. Larson, who had one win, finished ninth in the points. McMurray, who was winless, placed 13th.
“I think everybody in the building feels like we took a good step forward last year,’’ said Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing. “We’re not happy with the step we took. We have more to do. So, being able to bring more of the leadership into the building that can focus on how we get there, the process that we need, we continue to bring on more people.
“I think Max feels like another person can help us make sure that everybody is focused on the right thing and we’re not wasting time and resources. Mark brings a tremendous amount of expertise to continue that growth that we’ve seen.’’
JR Motorsports confirmed Tuesday that crew chief Kevin Meendering will remain with Elliott Sadler this season.
Meendering and Sadler recorded three Xfinity wins last year in their first season together. Meendering also helped Sadler score a career-best 29 top-10 results and finish runner-up for the series title to Daniel Suarez.
The announcement was included in a team release about Hunt Brothers Pizza serving as the primary sponsor for Sadler’s car in two races in each of the next two seasons.
The Wood Brothers begin this season not only with a charter but with a new home.
The team had shared a building with JTG Daugherty in Harrisburg, North Carolina, but moved after last season to a shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. The move puts the Wood Brothers closer to Team Penske. The two organizations are aligned.
The Wood Brothers will again have Ryan Blaney as driver. The team also has a charter, leasing it from Go Fas Racing. That means the Wood Brothers team is guaranteed a starting spot in every Cup race this year, unlike last year when they did not have a charter.