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Helmet Heaven: 2017 helmet designs for Cup Series drivers

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With a new NASCAR season approaching, teams are slowly beginning to unveil everything from paint schemes to fire suits and sponsor deals.

However, last week at the NASCAR Media Tour, most Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers had their 2017 helmets on display.

Here’s a rundown of most of the helmets that will be worn this season, plus one helmet from the Xfinity Series.

We lead off with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who once again has a skeleton-themed design on his helmet. Here’s a look at Earnhardt’s helmets from the last decade.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
 (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Aric Almirola

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: A detail of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Aric Almirola helmet during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
 (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Austin Dillon

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
 (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup driver Chase Elliott poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Clint Bowyer

 

 

 

 

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: A detail of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer's helmet during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Danica Patrick

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: A detail of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Danica Patrick's helmet during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Daniel Suarez

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Daniel Suarez poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

David Ragan

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver David Ragan poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Erik Jones

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jamie McMurray

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Joey Logano

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Joey Logano poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kasey Kahne

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: A detail of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick's helmet during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch

 

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: A detail of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kurt Busch's helmet during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: A detail of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch's helmet during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr.

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Matt Kenseth

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Michael McDowell

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup driver Michael McDowell poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Paul Menard

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Paul Menard poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: A detail of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. helmet during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 25: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
 (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ryan Newman

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: A detail of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Newman's helmet during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
 (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Trevor Bayne

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Trevor Bayne poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ty Dillon

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Dillon poses for a photo during the 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Spencer Gallagher

Gallagher, who drives full-time in the Xfinity Series for GMS Racing, showed off this Las Vegas-themed helmet last week.

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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.