Daytona 500

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Danica Patrick has Daytona 500, Indy 500 sponsor; now needs ride

6 Comments

GoDaddy will return to be Danica Patrick‘s sponsor for the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, the company announced Thursday.

Patrick said in November that she would retire from racing after competing in those two events. She has yet to secure a ride for either race but that was slowed by the lack of sponsorship until Thursday’s announcement.

A Chip Ganassi Racing executive said last week that the team was no longer in discussions with Patrick for her to drive for the team in either race. Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the team would stay focused on its current operations instead of adding another car for those races: “We’re going to stay focused on that rather than put another temporary effort together and not doing it up to the standards that we would want to, so I don’t think you’ll see that happening with us in 2018.”

Ed Carpenter, who owns Ed Carpenter Racing, confirmed to the Indianapolis Star last week he’s had discussions with Patrick but that “it has to be a deal that is beneficial to both parties.”

MORE: Danica Patrick confirms she is dating NFL quarterback

GoDaddy signed Patrick in 2006 when she was in IndyCar and followed her to NASCAR, ending its sponsorship after the 2015 season. While together, Patrick was the face of the company, appearing in 13 GoDaddy Super Bowl ads – the most Super Bowl commercial appearances by a celebrity.

“You could say, ‘we’re getting the band back together,” said GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman. “It makes sense in that our goals are so well-aligned – she’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the Internet and turn their ‘side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers. We love it.”

Said Patrick in a statement: “This is definitely the way I want to finish my racing career – at these two iconic races, backed by my iconic, long-time sponsor. GoDaddy was there for me when my career was just really starting so it’s exciting to be getting back in the GoDaddy ‘green’ for my final two races. Our brands have always been powerful together, and I think it’s awesome to have them at my side when I go ‘all in’ with my businesses after racing.”

Patrick has made six starts in the Daytona 500. She won the pole for the 2013 race. She finished eighth that year, her best finish in the season-opening Cup race. She finished fourth in last year’s Advance Auto Parts Clash. She is eligible for that race this year. Patrick has made seven starts in the Indianapolis 500 from 2005-11. She finished a career-best fourth in her first race there, leading 19 laps. She has two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the Indy 500.

 and on Facebook

Todd Gilliland to drive No. 4 for Kyle Busch Motorsports; father to fill-in at Daytona

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Todd Gilliland will get a helping hand driving Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota this season before he turns 18 on May 15.

The two-time K&N Pro Series West champion will miss four of the first six races to start the year because of NASCAR’s rule that drivers under 18 years old are restricted to tracks 1.25 miles or less in length or road courses.

Gilliland will miss the season-opener at Daytona (Feb. 16), Atlanta (Feb. 24), Las Vegas (March 2) and Kansas (May 11).

After starts at Martinsville (March 24) and Dover (May 4) to begin his Rookie of the Year campaign, his first race on a 1.5-mile track will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18.

Team owner Kyle Busch will drive the No. 4 at Atlanta and Kansas.

In a video released by the team on Twitter, it announced that Gilliland’s dad, David Gilliland, will open the season at Daytona.

The former Cup driver will make his first NASCAR start since 2016 in the NextEra Energy Resources 250.

A veteran of 398 national NASCAR races, David Gilliland’s last Truck Series start was in 2015. He has 10 Truck starts. One of those was at a restrictor-plate track (Daytona, 2015).

That’s not the only race the elder Gilliland will try to be part of that weekend.

He will attempt to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Ricky Benton Racing, which has fielded the No. 92 in the Truck Series since 2010.

Gilliland will attempt to qualify the No. 92 Black’s Tire and Auto Service/Carquest Auto Parts Ford into the “Great American Race.” If he’s successful, it will mark the Cup debut for the team.

Gilliland made seven starts for the team in 2015.

“After talking with our partners, we felt the time was right to make a move into the Cup Series,” team owner Ricky Benton said in a press release. “Getting David back on board was also key. Having a veteran driver with his experience and success on restrictor-plate tracks – with whom (crew chief Mike) Hester has familiarity – gives us a leg up as we try to make the race.”
Gilliland has made 16 starts at Daytona in the Cup Series, including seven in the Daytona 500. His best finish was third in the 2011 Daytona 500.
UPDATE: KBM has also announced its crew chief lineup for this season.
Ryan Fugle will be paired with Noah Gragson on the No. 18 truck.
Mike Hillman Jr. will work with Harrison Burton, Busch and other drivers on the No. 51 truck.
Marcus Richmond will be on the No. 4 truck.

 and on Facebook

Chip Ganassi Racing not talking to Danica Patrick about Daytona 500, Indy 500 ride

Getty Images
8 Comments

An executive from Chip Ganassi Racing said Thursday night that the team no longer is in discussions with Danica Patrick to have her drive for the team in either the Daytona 500 or Indianapolis 500.

Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing, made the comments on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio’s “Dialed In’’ show.

“We’re not talking any longer,’’ Lauletta said. “I think it would have made sense, and we did have conversations if she wanted to run in both races, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500, and ultimately we couldn’t come to a solution that worked for both of us.

“We’re going to stay focused on the task at hand … getting (Jamie McMurray) and (Kyle Larson) in Cup and the 42 in Xfinity into Victory Lane as much as we can with the hopes of winning a couple of championships. The same on our IndyCar program. We have got two cars that were testing yesterday in Sebring. We’re going to stay focused on that rather than put another temporary effort together and not doing it up to the standards that we would want to, so I don’t think you’ll see that happening with us in 2018.’’

Patrick announced in November that she planned to finish her driving career by racing in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 this year. Ganassi was viewed as one of Patrick’s best options to compete in both races since it competes in both NASCAR and IndyCar. She said earlier this month on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that finding a ride for both races is “taking longer than I’d like it to take, I’ll be really honest.’’

Asked if he thought Patrick would end up with a ride, Lauletta told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio:

“Ultimately I think she will. She has been fairly successful in some of the races that she’s run at that place. She knows her way around. There are teams that run just the Indianapolis 500 because of the size of the event itself and the history of it. I think that they’ll be able to put something together and certainly wish them luck. I think it would be great for the sport of IndyCar racing to have her come back and run the Indianapolis 500 from an exposure standpoint and people wanting to tune in, and hopefully it will be to see (Ganassi drivers) Scott Dixon or Ed Jones win it while she’s running around behind us.’’

 and on Facebook

Brendan Gaughan back to run four Cup races for Beard Motorsports

Getty Images
2 Comments

Beard Motorsports announced Wednesday that Brendan Gaughan will be entered in the four Cup restrictor-plate races this season.

What’s new is that the car’s number will switch from No. 75 to No. 62 this season.

Gaughan ran both Daytona and Talladega Cup races last year for the team, finishing seventh in the July Daytona race and 11th in the Daytona 500. He was 19th in the fall Talladega race and 26th in the spring event.

Beard Oil Distributing and TTS Logistics are back as sponsors and will be joined by South Point Hotel & Casino and City Lights Shine.

“I have had more fun racing with Mr. Beard for the four races last year than I had in my prior 50 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts,” said Gaughan in a statement from the team. “I’m also very excited about the car that RCR has built for us, Richard Childress has been an amazing friend and I appreciate how much support he is giving to the Beard Motorsports Chevrolet in our part-time efforts. 
“I would personally like to thank the entire Beard family for continuing this opportunity and for allowing us to run the number that has been so special to me my entire career.”
Darren Shaw returns to the be the team’s crew chief. The team also will use ECR engines again this season.

Danica Patrick: Finding rides for Daytona, Indy 500 ‘taking longer than I’d like’

Getty Images
6 Comments

Danica Patrick says the search for rides in the Feb. 18 Daytona 500 and May 28 Indianapolis 500 is “taking longer than I’d like it to take.”

Patrick, the former Stewart-Haas Racing driver, announced in November prior to the Cup Series finale in Miami that she would retire from auto racing after competing in the two races. Patrick spent the last five years driving for SHR in NASCAR.

In an interview Thursday with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” promoting her new book, “Pretty Intense,” Patrick discussed the struggle to find teams to partner with for the two races this year.

“It’s taking longer than I’d like it to take, I’ll be really honest with you,” Patrick said. “I thought it was going to be a quicker process. You can’t rush things. I’m a big believer, more and more all the time of letting things flow and letting things take shape in the way that they would. That’s kind of why I ended where I ended with finishing up (my) full-time career last year and doing the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 for this year.

“I didn’t push anything and I let things flow and it turned out to be just perfect. Honestly, I’m excited and just so grateful.”

Patrick, 35,  has made six starts in the Daytona 500 and won the pole for the 2013 race, the first woman to do so. She competed in IndyCar from 2005-2011. In seven starts in the Indianapolis 500, her best result was third in 2009.

“Everything I do outside of racing is because of racing,” Patrick said. “I’m well aware of that and I’m so fortunate that I get to go into these other ventures and have a platform to do it. But I am excited about them. I’m so glad with the way it all ended up working out.

“Similarly with the teams I’m going to race for, or the team, in NASCAR and in IndyCar. I’m pushing politely but you can’t make things happen before they’re ready to happen. I kind of thought it would get more simple. There’s less people involved, less sponsors, less things. Well, it’s still complicated. It’s just taking a little bit of time. Hopefully we’ll have something to announce soon enough.”

 and on Facebook