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Investment group purchases minority ownership share of BK Racing

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The Lynch Racing Co., a division of Sport Venture Group, announced Friday that it has acquired a minority ownership share in NASCAR Cup organization BK Racing from Iowa City Capital Partners.

“We’re constantly trying to improve and I think this is a step in the right direction to do that,” BK Racing majority owner Ron Devine told NBC Sports in a phone interview. “I think it’s a welcoming transaction for us and I’m excited about it. There’s a lot of work to do between now and that green flag at Daytona, but we’re on it.”

Devine said discussions are still taking place with Lynch Racing/SVG to gauge how much involvement there will be, but added, “I’m pleased, let’s just say that.”

“We look forward to working with Ron (Devine) going forward to enhance the value of the charter(s),” Ron Konersmann, Chairman of Sport Venture Group, said in a media release.

Anthony Marlowe, owner of Iowa City Capital Partners, is selling his share of BK Racing to Lynch Racing/SVG to focus on other areas of NASCAR involvement.

“Short term, I plan on moving from owner to sponsor, perhaps even a Series partner,” Marlowe told NBC Sports. “Long term, I am open to reinvesting in the sport if the right opportunity presents itself.

“With the right strategy, I think NASCAR can re-grow its market share. It needs to find a way for teams to build franchise value. … I’ve been a fan myself for many years, proud to have been involved, I proposed to my wife at the track. We love racing.”

An investor and entrepreneur, Marlowe purchased 15 percent of Swan Racing in 2013, then acquired 49 percent of Swan’s assets as it was closing and merged them into BK Racing in April 2014 for a 10 percent share of BK Racing.

BK Racing was founded in 2012 when Devine and Wayne Press acquired Red Bull Racing. It fields two teams in the NASCAR Cup Series and holds a NASCAR charter for the No. 23 Toyota Camry and the No. 83 Toyota Camry. BK Racing holds a NASCAR charter for the No. 23, but does not have a charter for the No. 83, having sold its charter before the 2017 season.

The No. 23 finished 35th in the 2017 Cup season owners standings, while the No. 83 was the highest-finishing “open” (unchartered) car in Cup, finishing 36th in the owners standings with a rotating cast of drivers.

“Without Ron, the majority owner, and managing partner, subsidizing the team, the team wouldn’t exist,” Marlowe said. “The reality is that most teams across all of the motorsports around the world, including stock car racing, at all levels operate because of someone like Ron. Ron at this stage in his life races for a living, and is determined to make it work in NASCAR.”

Marlowe said the addition of a venture group as an investor in BKR could help take the organization to bigger heights.

“The team has been dramatically underfunded vs. other teams since before my involvement, due to limited sponsorship sales, and lack of a competitive engine program,” Marlowe said. “I think it is clear to all incoming, outgoing and existing parties that some significant changes would go a long way to ensure it continues as a viable entity.”

Front Row Motorsports adds Michael McDowell, expands technical alliance with Roush Fenway

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Front Row Motorsports will field entries for David Ragan and Michael McDowell in 2018 while expanding its technical alliance with Roush Fenway Racing, the team announced Thursday.

McDowell joins the Bob Jenkins-owned team after four years of driving the No. 95 Chevrolet for Leavine Family Racing before being replaced by Kasey Kahne.

The native of Phoenix, Arizona, replaces Landon Cassill as Ragan’s teammate.

McDowell, 32, has 249 Cup starts since 2008, but only two full-time seasons under his belt. He made one start for Front Row at Watkins Glen in 2013.

“Since I first drove for Bob at Watkins Glen, we’ve kept in touch and have felt like there might be an opportunity to work together again, and the timing worked out perfectly,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s been a while since I’ve had a teammate, so I’m really looking forward to working with David, whom I’ve become pretty good friends with over the years. As a team now, we go into the season knowing we have five or six races that put us in position to get a win and earn a spot in the playoffs.”

Ragan returns to Front Row for his fifth season with the team. Ragan earned the organization its first Cup victory in 2013 at Talladega. Ragan has two wins, 15 top fives and 39 top-10 finishes in his Cup career.

“Bob Jenkins and I have developed a good relationship over the years, both professionally and personally,” Ragan said in a press release. “I believe in this team and am proud to have been part of its growth and its successes. I’m excited that Bob and Ford have agreed to take the program to the next level, and I’m happy I’ll be here to help the team continue to grow.”

Crew chief assignments have not been finalized. FRM will announce sponsor partners and driver car numbers at a later date.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ‘Last Ride’ diecast is Lionel Racing’s bestselling ever

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. has set a new benchmark for Lionel Racing’s most purchased diecast in its 25-year history.

Lionel Racing, NASCAR’s official diecast producer, has announced that the diecast of Earnhardt’s “Last Ride” No. 88 Chevrolet in the Cup season finale last month is now its bestselling diecast in company history.

The “Last Ride” car is based on the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet that Earnhardt drove in his rookie Cup season in 2000.

The previous bestseller was another Earnhardt diecast, for his 2014 Daytona 500 win.

Lionel Racing says that QVC’s “For Race Fans Only” show that featured Earnhardt and unveiled the car helped contribute to sales. But even without QVC, sales of the “Last Ride” diecast outpaced the 2014 Daytona 500 diecast by more than 10,000 units.

“The demand for this car has been simply astounding,” Lionel Racing President Howard Hitchcock said on the company’s website. “The fan response to this diecast is a true measure of how much Earnhardt has meant to both casual NASCAR fans and serious diecast collectors.”

Lionel Racing has also revealed the top-10 selling diecasts for the year, which you can find below. Earnhardt has six cars on the list. Chase Elliott has two and Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney each have one.

Casey Mears likely to split 2018 between NASCAR, Global Rallycross and Stadium Super Trucks

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Casey Mears still plans to compete part-time in NASCAR in 2018, but he’s also looking to expand his racing horizons.

The veteran NASCAR driver told The Checkered Flag recently that he also expects to race in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series, as well as Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks series.

“Right now I’m talking to a few NASCAR programs to do maybe limited stuff,” Mears told The Checkered Flag. “I don’t have anything that would be a full-time ride in a NASCAR series.

“I’ve been speaking with Robby Gordon in the Stadium Super Truck program. I think that’s a really cool up-and-coming-series and I’d definitely like to be involved with the GRC. It looks like a lot of fun.

“I think there’s enough difference between all those that it could leave room for doing a bit of both so we’ll see how it works out.”

Mears did not race in the Cup Series in 2017, having lost his ride at the end of 2016 to Ty Dillon in the No. 13 Geico Chevy. He has amassed 488 starts and one win (2007 Coca-Cola 600) in his Cup career, along with 13 top fives and 51 top 10s.

However, he did compete on a part-time basis in 2017 in the Xfinity Series, making 14 starts, with season-best finishes of ninth place at both Richmond and Road America. He also has 107 Xfinity starts with one win, 16 top fives and 34 top 10s.

Make donation to Martinsville toy drive to take laps around track

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Have you ever dreamed of making a lap around the oldest track in NASCAR?

Today and tomorrow, Martinsville Speedway is making that dream come true.

With a toy or monetary donation for the Grace Network of Martinsville and Henry County, you can drive your own car around the half-mile track in Martinsville, Virginia.

A $10 donation gets you five laps and $20 gets you 10 laps.

The laps are being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET today and Friday.