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Team Penske extends deals with Shell, Joey Logano, Todd Gordon

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Joey Logano, crew chief Todd Gordon and sponsor Shell all have extended their contracts with Team Penske for 2022 and beyond, the team announced Friday at Daytona International Speedway.

The announcement marks the second consecutive day that a NASCAR team has announced a driver and sponsor contract extension. Joe Gibbs Racing revealed Thursday that it had signed Denny Hamlin and sponsor FedEx to a multi-year extension.

Logano’s contract was set to expire after the 2018 season, team owner Roger Penske confirmed. The extension is a play on Logano’s car number (22). Team officials declined to say how much beyond 2022 the contracts go. Penske said that Shell would be the primary sponsor for more than 30 races a season on Logano’s car.

Logano, the 2015 Daytona 500 champion, won the Clash on Sunday to begin Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. He has 15 Cup victories since joining Team Penske in 2013 and has never finished worse than eighth in the points during that time. Twice he’s gone to the season finale in Miami with a chance to win the championship, finishing a second last year.

Penske said that the long-term commitments announced Friday are “a priority for me.

“I want long-term commitments and people want them from us,’’ Penske said. “It’s the same thing with the drivers. I think a driver with a solid ride for a long time, it’s all he’s going to worry about rather than ‘Is my deal up?’ and then you get all this commotion around the driver. It’s a real calming effect.’’

MORE: How Penske took chance on Joey Logano

Penske confirmed that Brad Keselowski’s contact is set to expire after this season but that they’re working on an extension.

Penske and Shell executives touted the deal in how it helps Penske’s businesses, including Penske Truck Leasing and the Penske Automotive Group, while also helps Shell extend its footprint.

“It gave us a chance to combine the business side,’’ Penske said.

Said Istvan Kapitany, Executive Vice President, Shell Global Retail, of the deal: “What is so exciting about the Penske relationship with Shell is the strategic nature of it and also the fact that it is a global opportunity for both of us to grow together. In Shell, we do believe in long-term strategic partnerships. Ferrari is a partner with us for more than 60 years. We believe with Penske we found the partner who can be with us at least for 60 years.’’

The partnership also can play a role on the track, noted Colin Abraham, President, Shell Lubricants Americas.

“We can formulate the oil to suit the vehicle and to suit the engines and it’s a wonderful test track for us with formulation development,’’ he said. “We have scientists working literally week by week looking at the performance of the engine and the performance of the oil, even changing the oil during the season to try to get some more horsepower. It’s almost like a live laboratory to test products.’’

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Danica Patrick has a Daytona 500 team: Premium Motorsports

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The first piece of the “Danica Double” has been fully confirmed.

According to the Associated Press, Danica Patrick will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet for Premium Motorsports in next month’s Daytona 500. The AP reported that the car will be locked into the field through a charter and will receive engineering support from Richard Childress Racing.

Patrick entered NASCAR driving the No. 7 for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series from 2010-12. For the Feb. 18 race, she also will be reunited with crew chief Tony Eury Jr., who helped guide Patrick to her career-best NASCAR finish of fourth in a 2011 Xfinity race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The car will be sponsored by GoDaddy, which announced last week that it would sponsor Patrick in both this year’s Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. Patrick has yet to reveal which team she will drive for in the Indy 500, which will conclude her racing career.

She already has made history in both events.

As a rookie in 2005, she became the first woman to lead the Indy 500 before taking fourth (and became the highest-finishing female in the race’s history with a third in 2009).

In the 2013 Daytona 500, she became the first woman to win the pole position and lead a race in NASCAR’s premier series.

New details of road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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CONCORD, North Carolina — The Sept. 30 Cup race on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course will be on a slightly altered 2.28-mile circuit.

The race, which airs on NBC, will serve as the conclusion of the first round of the playoffs. It is the first road course race in the 14-year history of the playoffs.

The alterations shorten the original 2.4-mile, 13-turn layout of the circuit. The track is now 2.28 miles and 17 turns after the removal of two of the last three infield turns. There will be more than 35 feet of elevation changes between Roval Turn 4 – the lowest point in the track – and Roval Turn 9, the highest point.

A chicane has also been added to the backstretch right before the entrance of Turn 3 of the oval. The track is adding 440 temporary rumble strips.

The distance for the race will be announced at a later date.

NASCAR held a test on the road course last October with Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Hemric and Jamie McMurray. Busch suggested the elimination of those turns in order to “speed up the track.”

“There are a lot of slow sections with Turns 5, 6 and 7,” Busch said. “Those are good rhythmic corners. … (But) a 3,500-pound car going 35 mph too many times isn’t too exciting.”

Truex was part of Monday’s presentation and gave his thoughts on the change.

“The lap times were so long that we were going to be looking at a race that was, I don’t even know how many hours,” Truex said. “Way too long. Basically taking out those two turns cut out quite a bit of lap time off the laps. It’s more so like a regular road course like Watkins Glen … we’ll be in kind of that realm.”

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said that the race could be held at night if pushed back for various reasons. The race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET.

“We’re working with the track who we believe will have something in place,” O’Donnell said. “Goodyear will be ready with rain tires if we had to make some adjustments.’’

There will be a Goodyear tire test in March and an open test for Cup teams in July.

O’Donnell said NASCAR is “comfortable” with the current layout of the course and that no changes are expected to be made following the tests.

NASCAR on NBC analysts Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton took a few laps around the new layout and shared their thoughts on Facebook Live.

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ThorSport Racing partners with Ford in Truck Series

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ThorSport Racing has partnered with Ford in a multi-year deal in the Camping World Truck Series, the team announced Monday.

The team’s announcement comes a week after it revealed the mutual decision to part ways with Toyota.

“With 23 years in the NCWTS, we look forward to our new partnership with Ford Performance in NASCAR,” team owner Duke Thorson said in a press release. “Our pursuit of wins and championships remains at the forefront of our objectives.”

ThorSport, based in Sandusky, Ohio, had been paired with the Toyota for six years, winning two titles with Matt Crafton.

“We’re excited that ThorSport Racing has decided to switch to a F-Series truck for the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports in a press release. “ThorSport is a proven championship-level team in the series, and we look forward to providing them the aero and simulation technical support that will ensure they remain at the top level of the Truck Series.”

In 2017, Brad Keselowski Racing fielded the only two full-time Ford entries in the series. That team shut down following the end of the season.

Crafton will be returning to ThorSport for his 17th season – and 14th consecutive – with the team. The rest of the team’s driver lineup will be announced at a later date.

The Truck Series season begins Feb. 16th at Daytona International Speedway.

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D.J. Kennington to attempt to qualify for Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing

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Canadian driver D.J. Kennington will try to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing for the second year in a row, the team announced Monday.

Kennington, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, will drive the No. 96 Toyota sponsored by Lordco Auto Parts and Castrol.

The team, sponsor and driver combination made the 2017 edition of the race, making Kennington the first Canadian driver to compete in the Daytona 500 in 29 years.

Kennington started 28th and finished 36th following a multi-car crash at the start of Stage 2.

“Last year was an awesome experience for my sponsors, Lordco and Castrol, and me,” Kennington said in a press release. “We knew once it was over, we wanted to do it again. (Team owner) Marty (Gaunt) and everybody at GBR is pulling out all the stops for us this year. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry and seeing the difference a year makes.”

The 40-year-old driver has five Cup starts with a best finish of 26th in last November’s race at Phoenix.

Gaunt Brothers Racing does not own a charter, meaning Kennington is not guaranteed a starting spot in the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

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