While there’s no guarantee a Ford will win Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, a Ford will definitely start it.
Track officials announced Monday that Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, will bring the field to the starting green flag as honorary pace car driver, behind the wheel of a Ford Shelby 350GT.
“I was talking with (Ford) in Daytona and he mentioned to me that he had never been to Martinsville, so I figured what better way to welcome him than to invite him to be our honorary pace car driver,” Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell said in a release.
Ford currently serves as a member of the auto manufacturer’s board of directors.
“I’ve known Clay for a couple of years now and the opportunity to come to Martinsville, drive the pace car and potentially greet a Ford in victory lane would be a very special Sunday for me personally,” Ford said in a release.
This will be a milestone weekend for the .526-mile paper-clip shaped racetrack, the oldest active facility on the NASCAR Cup circuit. It will mark the 70th anniversary of the Speedway, which opened in 1947. The track recently installed lights, which will be used in this fall’s race weekend there.
The Camping World Truck Series will race on Saturday with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250, followed on Sunday by the weekend’s main event.
Kyle Busch is the defending winner of both the Cup and Truck spring races last season – the first driver in Martinsville’s history to win both series’ races on the same weekend.
After a one-year absence, AJ Allmendinger will return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona next month.
Allmendinger, who drives for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will once again drive for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, which will be held Jan. 27 – 28.
A winner in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Allmendinger will split time in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 in the GTD class with Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach and Mario Farnbacher.
Allmendinger drove for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race from 2014-16. His best result during that stretch was fifth in the Prototype class in 2015.
“I am pumped to be back racing for Shank in the (Rolex) 24. I missed the race last year and I hated to, so I’m really glad to be back,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “His whole team did an awesome job with the Acura last year and it is awesome to be back with him for the Rolex. After racing for the overall win so many years in Prototypes, it will be a completely different experience to be racing in the GTD class, but I’m looking forward to it. Mike (Shank) always puts an awesome team together and this year is no different so I am counting down to get my first shot in this car.”
Allmendinger is coming off his fourth full year of driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished the season 27th in the standings, his worst during his tenure with the team. He earned one top five and five top 10s.
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s will sponsor Richard Childress Racing in multiple races in the Cup and Xfinity Series next year, the team announced Monday.
Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s merged in September 2017.
The outdoors brands will be on Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet during the 60th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 and in several other races during the season.
They will also be a primary sponsor for Austin and Ty Dillon on the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series for several races.
“Our relationship with Bass Pro Shops dates back to the mid-1990s and we’re thrilled to be able to continue it during the 2018 season,” team owner Richard Childress said in a press release. “Austin, Ty and Ryan are terrific ambassadors for the great outdoors. They are all passionate about our hunting, fishing and conservation heritage which has made this partnership thrive.
“Next season will be exciting as we welcome Cabela’s, the iconic outdoor brand acquired by Bass Pro Shops, to the RCR family.”
In an update Sunday written on CaringBridge.org, Ingram’s daughter, Ingrid Jones, said her father remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Asheville’s Mission Hospital.
According to Jones:
“Daddy continues to hold his own, making healing steps forward and then a step back, which we fully expected-but he’s surprising us each and every day with his strength and courage to overcome this. Overall, he’s doing amazingly well.”
Ingram’s family had hoped he could have moved out of ICU and into the Trauma Unit as the next phase of his recovery, but he remains in intensive care.
“For now, he’ll remain in ICU until he can go a full 24 hours without ventilator assisted breathing. We’re almost there … but may still be a few days.”
Ingram, who turns 81 on Dec. 28, was able to sit in a chair and watched part of Sunday’s NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings with his family. Jones wrote that Ingram also was surprised to learn that the mountain near the family’s Asheville-area home received a total of 16 inches of snow Friday and Saturday.
Jones added, “We continue to be optimistic for his health, and we also continue to appreciate the prayers and encouraging thoughts.”