NASCAR unveils latest Driver for Diversity class

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NASCAR has announced the latest class for its Drive for Diversity program, which is made up of six drivers.

The Drive for Diversity program is NASCAR main initiative for developing multicultural and female drivers.

The group of six were selected from a drive combine at New Smyrna Speedway last October and will compete for Rev Racing in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series.

“Now more than ever, we’re seeing the impact of NASCAR’s development program in producing drivers who excel at the highest echelons of our sport,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “There’s a great deal of talent and potential in this year’s class. With the strong foundation that NASCAR Drive for Diversity provides, these drivers will have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to elevate their racing careers.”

Four drivers in the program are returning members and they are joined by newcomers Chase Cabre and 16-year-old Macy Causey. Causey is the granddaughter of Diane Teel, the first woman to compete in the Xfinity Series race in 1982.

Here’s a look at the 2017 class of the Drive for Diversity program.

Collin Cabre (@CollinCabre12): An impressive second year in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program was highlighted by four top-five and six top-10 finishes and a sixth-place finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings. After winning the 2015 season finale at Dover International Speedway, Cabre was named to the 2016-2017 NASCAR Next class. The 23-year-old from Tampa, Florida, will compete in his third season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with Rev Racing.

Chase Cabre (@CabreChase): Cabre, 20, registered 12 race wins in 21 starts in a 600 Mini Sprint Car and is a two-time Fall Brawl Champion at Florida’s Ocala Bullring. In 2016, he averaged a fourth-place finish in races at Hickory Motor Speedway and set two poles during the season. Chase will compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in his rookie season with Rev Racing.

Rubén García Jr. (@RubenGarcia4): At age 20, the Mexico City native became the youngest NASCAR PEAK Mexico driver to win the series championship in 2015. García was also part of the NASCAR Next program in both 2015 and 2016. He returns to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East after finishing 10th in the series last season.

Jay Beasley (@Jbeasleyracing): Beasley, 24, made history in 2013 by becoming the first African-American driver to win a Super Late Model race at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his first season with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in 2014, he earned two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He returns to the series for his third season with Rev Racing.

Macy Causey (@MacyCausey): Causey was honored with the NASCAR Young Racer Award in 2016. The year prior, she won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia Rookie of the Year Award and earned top rookie honors at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, where in 1978 her grandmother became the first woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race at the track. Causey will compete for Rev Racing in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series.

Madeline Crane (@MaddieCrane78): The Georgia native began her career racing Bandoleros at Atlanta Motor Speedway at age 10. Crane, 19, moved into Legend cars, and by the time she was 14 had garnered 59 top-five finishes in 82 starts. Returning for a second season with NASCAR Drive for Diversity, she will compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series following two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 2016.

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Goodyear tire info for Talladega Superspeedway

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Goodyear will use the same tire setups this weekend in the Cup and Xfinity Series at Talladega Superspeedway.

While the left-side tire is unchanged from what’s been in use at the track since October 2014, the right-side tire will have a minor construction update.

“The amount of tire wear at Talladega has increased a good bit since the track was repaved back in 2010, and we especially see that on the inboard of the right-front (tire) where teams run a significant amount of camber” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing in a press release. “That led us to bring a more wear-resistant right-side tread compound starting in 2014. Having said that, we still see a lot of tire strategy come into play at Talladega, with teams still having the ability to take two tires or even fuel only depending on the situation.”

As on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Talladega. Air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.

Here’s the full tire info for the weekend.

Set limits: Cup: Two sets for practice, one set for qualifying and six sets for the race; Xfinity: four sets for the event

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4596; Right-side — D-4752

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,233 mm (87.91 in.); Right-side — 2,247 mm (88.46 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 27 psi; Left Rear – 27 psi; Right Front — 50 psi; Right Rear — 48 psi

Social Roundup: Reaction to Matt Kenseth’s NASCAR return

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He’s back!

Five months after making what was thought to likely be his last Cup start, Matt Kenseth was announced Wednesday as returning in a part-time capacity with Roush Fenway Racing.

Here’s how social media reacted to the news that the 2003 Cup champion will share the No. 6 Ford with Trevor Bayne for the rest of the season.

Check back for more.

Matt Kenseth to drive No. 6 for Roush Fenway Racing

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Matt Kenseth is returning to NASCAR and coming back to his racing home.

Roush Fenway Racing announced Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame that the 46-year-old Kenseth will drive the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing in select races. His first race with the team will be Kansas on May 12.

“It feels like the right deal at the right time,’’ Kenseth said. “I think it’s an interesting challenge for me not just being a driver. I hope I can be much more to the organization. I hope there is a lot of different ways I can help in.’’

Said car owner Jack Roush: “We feel he has come home to us.’’

Kenseth will share the No. 6 ride with Trevor Bayne, who is running this weekend at Talladega.

“Our goal is to have Trevor continue to grow and mature on the track,’’ said Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing. “He will continue to be in the car.’’

Newmark said details are being worked out on what races Bayne and Kenseth will drive. Bayne has close ties to sponsor AdvoCare, which is on the car at Talladega. Kenseth will drive in the All-Star Race, Newmark confirmed.

Newmark said that when he told Bayne of the decision, Bayne said he wanted to remain in the car every week.

He’s a fierce competitor,“ Newmark said of Bayne’s reaction to being taken out of the car for some races. 

Roush said he hopes Kenseth can help the organization improve its performance.

“It’s a chance to look at our cars and see if there is something glaring that Matt sees with his experience,’’ Roush said.

Bayne is 26th in the points. The 2011 Daytona 500 winner has not finished better than 12th (Texas) this season. Every driver ahead of him in the points has had at least one top-10 finish this season. He has not finished in the top 10 in his last 12 starts, dating back to last season.

Kenseth said he had not talked to Bayne but hopes to do so in a few days and work together. Kenseth said he spoke to Stenhouse before the announcement.

Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, has 39 career Cup wins, putting him 20th on the all-time wins list.

Car owner Jack Roush said that Kenseth will be a good mentor for the team’s young drivers, along with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.

He won the 2000 Cup Rookie of the Year award driving for Roush Fenway Racing and remained with the organization through the 2012 season. Kenseth won 24 races — including the 2009 and 2012 Daytona 500 — with the team before leaving to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing from 2013-17.

Roush Fenway Racing also announced that Wyndham Rewards/Wyndham Hotels will sponsor the No. 6 car in select races.

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NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto holds head high after 16th at Richmond

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Matt DiBenedetto joined Kyle Petty and Marty Snider at the Big Oak Table in NASCAR America’s Charlotte studio and relived his 16th-place finish in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

“When we run 16th – with no attrition; we just flat out-raced Hendrick cars … RCR cars and Penske cars, the list goes on and on – we do that, we can hold our head high,” DiBenedetto said.

DiBenedetto was one of 23 drivers who finished on the lead lap last week, which meant he had to beat some big budget teams.

“If we’re going by budget and pure numbers, we stack up 32nd, -3rd, -4th,” DiBenedetto. “But we have really good people. We may not have a lot of people, but we have some really good people.

“We had a nice, smooth weekend and outraced a lot of people that in theory, if you’re going by budget, we definitely shouldn’t. It makes us proud because it makes other people, probably a little mad, as they see the 32 car going by, knowing that we run on a sixth of the budget of the guys we were driving by.”

DiBenedetto’s last three races have ended in finishes of 16th at Texas Motor Speedway, 21st at Bristol Motor Speedway and 16th at Richmond.

For more on DiBenedetto’s strong Richmond finish, watch the above video.