Talladega Superspeedway

Guide to NASCAR’s hurricane relief efforts (video)

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The city of Houston and its surrounding areas are still in the early stages of the recovery process from Hurricane Harvey, the Category 4 hurricane that impacted the Texas coast last week.

At the same time, the state of Florida is bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irma this weekend.

Multiple drivers and teams in NASCAR are doing their part to help those in need by establishing relief funds, food drives and other means for helping victims of the hurricane.

Here’s a look at different ways NASCAR is helping.

Richmond Raceway

The track and Team Penske’s Joey Logano have partnered to host a silent auction to support hurricane relief efforts prior to Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 . The silent auction will include original pieces of race memorabilia from Team Penske, Richmond Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Furniture Row Racing and other NASCAR teams with proceeds donated to the American Red Cross. The silent auction will be held from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Commonwealth Mall outside The Classic Amphitheater.

Talladega Superspeedway/Atlanta Motor Speedway/Charlotte Motor Speedway/Bristol Motor Speedway 

Both Atlanta and Talladega have opened their campgrounds free of charge to evacuees from the path of Hurricane Irma.

Charlotte Motor Speedway will open its Rock City Campground beginning at 7 a.m. Friday morning for evacuees heading north or inland from Hurricane Irma.

Accommodations will be available as long as possible prior to potential landfall. Evacuees should access Rock City Campground off Bruton Smith Boulevard through Entrance Z and will have access to bathhouse facilities on speedway property.

Evacuees are asked to check in at the ticket office on the second floor of Smith Tower at the speedway’s main entrance, starting as early as Friday morning. After-hour arrivals will be handled by Charlotte Motor Speedway security.

Bristol Motor Speedway’s campgrounds also opened Friday.

Brennan Poole/Chip Ganassi Racing

Brennan Poole, driver of Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 48 car in the Xfinity Series, once lived in The Woodlands, Texas, which is about 30 miles from downtown Houston.

Poole and his girlfriend, Lindsey Giannini, have started a drive called “Poole for Texas” which collects food and funds for the Houston Food Bank.

Containers for non-perishable foods were collected at CGR’s Concord, North Carolina, shop on Wednesday.

For those wishing to make a cash or check donation, there will be a collection box in the CGR gift shop available until Sept. 13. Checks should be made out to the Houston Food Bank.

Online monetary donations can be made through a youcaring.com page. Just $1 is good for three meals. The highest fund contribution will receive a piece of Brennan’s car.

First Data, which sponsors Kyle Larson and the fall race at Martinsville Speedway, is helping business owners in “FEMA defined coverage areas.”

Hendrick Motorsports

All four of Hendrick’s driver have established a relief fund with a goal of raising $500,00o in the next two weeks.

Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott have contributed a combined $200,000 to establish the fund and are now encouraging the public to join the effort by making a donation before midnight ET on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Tax-deductible contributions can be made by visiting HendrickRelief.org.

Hendrick Automotive has also pledged $100,000 to the fund.

All donations to the campaign will benefit qualified charitable organizations supporting disaster relief efforts, including the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, which is housed at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity.

On Thursday, members of Johnson’s pit crew volunteered at a Lowe’s to help prepare supplies for hurricane victims.

Joey Logano/Shell

Shell, Logano’s primary sponsor, has donated $1 million to the America Red Cross’ Hurricane Harvey disaster relief fund. Logano has donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross and opened a donation portal through the Joey Logano Foundation to collect funds on behalf of the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey disaster relief.

All proceeds donated through JLF this month will go to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey disaster relief fund.

Logano will have a Red Cross-inspired red-and-white paint scheme Saturday at Richmond Raceway that will raise awareness for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Stewart-Haas Racing

Two sponsors for SHR are involved in relief efforts.

Code 3 Associates, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas, is deployed in Southeast Texas and is also preparing to respond to Hurricane Irma.

Anheuser-Busch will deliver five extra truckloads – over 255,000 cans – of emergency drinking water to Houston, Corpus Christi and Austin.

Due to very high levels of demand for emergency drinking water supplies, the Cartersville, Georgia, brewery will pause beer production on Monday to produce more clean, safe emergency drinking water.

Tony Gibson, crew chief for Kurt Busch, and his wife Beth Gibson, donated a pallet of water, diapers and wipes to be delivered to Texas last weekend.

Leavine Family Racing

LFR and driver Michael McDowell have teamed up with Convoy of Hope and donated to Hurricane Harvey relief. Texas is home to the Leavines.

Convoy of Hope will be included on McDowell’s No. 95 Chevrolet this weekend at Richmond.

Via Leavine Family Racing

Elliott Sadler

The JR Motorsports driver donated his winnings from Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Darlington to relief efforts.

David Starr

A native of Houston, Starr has donated “a substantial amount of money” to the American Red Cross and will return to his home city next week to lend a hand.

Furniture Row

The parent company of Furniture Row Racing is donating $1 million in bedding to hurricane victims in Texas and Louisiana to be distributed through their partner World Vision, and in turn their community partners.

The company also had a disaster relief campaign with World Vision so people can donate directly through Furniture Row’s site. Here is a direct link: www.worldvision.org/furniturerow.

Matt Kenseth/Toyota

Kenseth will drive the Hurricane Harvey Relief Toyota this weekend at Richmond.

The Toyota Mothers of Invention (MOI) program recognizes women who actively contribute through innovation, entrepreneurship and invention. Select MOIs with ties to disaster response and relief have sprung into action, finding ways to solve steep challenges resulting from the disaster situation in south Texas and Louisiana.

Toyota is partnering with DayOne Response and Well Aware, an Austin-based MOI organization that will assist with training and water distribution, along with LuminAID to bring water purification bags, portable phone chargers and lanterns to those affected by Harvey:

DayOne Response: Invented a water filtration bag that takes 30 minutes to purify water. One bag will provide clean drinking water for a family of four for two months. There are approximately 10,000 people in Houston in need of access to clean water while infrastructure is restored.
LuminAID: Invented lightweight, long-lasting, solar-charged lanterns and portable phone chargers to aid those without electricity during disaster situations.

Richard Childress Racing

The team began collecting bottled water and individual snack packages for Harvey relief on Wednesday. People can bring their donations to the RCR Museum and put them in a tractor-trailer the team has commissioned. RCR is not asking for clothes or non-perishable food – it will not make it to Texas.

Xfinity Series gets new Dash 4 Cash schedule for next season

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NASCAR announced a new schedule for its Dash 4 Cash program in the Xfinity Series next year and it will include one new track in Talladega Superspeedway.

The new four-race schedule will also play out over the course of four consecutive races for the first time.

Talladega takes the place of Phoenix Raceway, which hosted the first Dash 4 Cash race of this season.

The new schedule has the program taking place at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 14), Richmond Raceway (April 20), Talladega (April 28) and Dover International Speedway (May 5).

Rules and format for the program will be announced at a later date.

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Kyle Larson to have new sponsor for Talladega, Martinsville races

Photo courtesy Chip Ganassi Racing
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced Monday that First Data will sponsor the No. 42 Chevrolet of Kyle Larson for the upcoming fall NASCAR Cup playoff races at Talladega and Martinsville.

First Data is a leader in commerce-enabling technology and already serves as an associate sponsor on the No. 1 CGR Chevy of Larson’s teammate, Jamie McMurray.

Later this year, First Data kicks off a three-year run as entitlement sponsor for Martinsville’s fall NASCAR Cup playoff race. The first race date of that sponsorship will be the First Data 500 on October 29.

Larson is already locked into the playoffs and is third in the NASCAR Cup standings. Thus far in the first 24 races of the 2017 season, Larson has three wins and seven runner-up finishes.

“It’s great to see another new brand join our team,” Larson said in a media release. “It’s also cool to see them get involved with NASCAR by sponsoring the Martinsville race.

“The grandfather clock there (which Martinsville awards to every race winner) is definitely one of the most unique trophies on the circuit, and I’d love to park the First Data Chevy in victory lane and take home a clock.”

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Even in victory, frustration prevailed for some with Joe Gibbs Racing at New Hampshire (VIDEO)

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For as much as Joe Gibbs Racing celebrated Denny Hamlin scoring the organization’s first Cup win of the season and Daniel Suarez tying his career high with a sixth-place finish Sunday at New Hampshire, there was much to lament.

Matt Kenseth saw his chances to win end with a questionable pit call late. Kyle Busch’s hopes of victory faded when he was caught speeding twice in the final 65 laps.

Without the missteps from Busch and Kenseth’s team, Hamlin likely doesn’t win.

That’s the type of season it has been for Busch, who has found numerous ways to lose Cup races, allowing five drivers to score their first win of the season.

Consider Busch’s season of frustration:

  • He pits from the lead during a late caution at Phoenix. Ryan Newman stays out and leads the final six laps — the only laps he leads — to win. Busch finishes third.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. passes Busch on the final lap of overtime to win at Talladega. Busch finishes third.
  • Austin Dillon gambles on fuel to win the Coca-Cola 600. Busch finishes second and follows it with his mic drop in the media center.
  • Ryan Blaney passes Busch with 10 laps to go to win at Pocono. Busch, on older tires, falls back to ninth.
  • Busch starts on the front row for the final restart at Kentucky. He has two fresh left-side tires, while Martin Truex Jr., the leader, did not pit. Truex wins. Busch finishes fifth after starting on the pole
  • Busch leads 95 laps at New Hampshire but two late speeding penalties on pit road end his chances to win. He finishes 12th.

“This is another one I threw away for us,’’ Busch said on the radio to his team after the race Sunday.

Crew chief Adam Stevens replied: “We win as a team and lose as a team.’’

Busch is winless in his last 35 Cup races heading into this weekend’s event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — site of his last Cup win.

There’s no doubt his car is fast enough to win. He’s led at least 95 laps in seven races since his Indy triumph a year ago but has yet to return to victory lane.

While Kenseth hasn’t had as many close calls, he can relate to miscues hurting him. He finished third at Atlanta despite two speeding penalties. He placed fourth at Bristol despite a speeding penalty.

Then came the pit call that cost Kenseth the win at New Hampshire and extended his winless drought to 36 races, a full season. When the caution came out on Lap 263, most of the lead field pitted. Kenseth led. Ratcliff called for a two-tire change. That got Kenseth off pit road first but the rest of the cars behind him took four tires. 

Kenseth restarted alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr., who did not pit. Kenseth took the lead after the restart but could not hold off Hamlin, who quickly passed with his four fresh tires. Kenseth never had a chance at the lead the rest of the 301-lap race and finished fourth.

“I let you down,’’ Ratcliff said on the radio after the race. “We should have won.’’

The Gibbs teams are getting closer to winning. Just as Hamlin forecasted in April at Richmond.

“I think we are slowly getting better, we’re gaining more knowledge trying to figure out what it is that we need to work on,’’ Hamlin said at the time. “I think we’ve identified some areas where we need to work. It’s not going to happen overnight, it’s not going to happen this week, it won’t happen in a month. Some things are going to take a long time for us to get better at, but I’m very confident that when push comes to shove, we’re in September starting the (playoffs), we should be hopefully back where we were, if not better.’’

Hamlin notes that even with his win at New Hampshire, more work remains.

“I think we’re there except for two cars,’’ Hamlin told NBC Sports on Sunday. “(Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson) are the only ones that continually beat us on speed. As far as the rest of the field, I feel we’re there on speed. Our teammate (Busch) has been like the third-fastest car and we’ve been the fourth consistently just about every week. We’re there where we need to be, but I still feel like for speed-wise, we need more to catch those two.’’

As the Gibbs cars contend for more wins, the difference will come down to execution and not making mistakes.

“There’s a lot of things we can do to be better,’’ Hamlin said. “We have a championship-caliber team. We just have to get our cars a little bit faster. I’m running laps out there as good as I feel that I can do. My car is doing everything that I need it to do but (Truex) is just faster.

“He’s running me down, and he’s passing and putting a straightaway on me. I’m thinking (crew chief Mike Wheeler) there’s nothing else I can give you. I don’t want to screw up our car and finish sixth. Just leave it where it is and hope those guys make mistakes.’’

Sunday, it was his teammates who made the mistakes and Hamlin took advantage.

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Brian Scott coming out of retirement to run 2 Xfinity races for RCR

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Brian Scott will come out of retirement to compete in two NASCAR Xfinity races for Richard Childress Racing, the team announced Monday.

Scott, who retired after last season to spend more time with his family in Idaho, will compete in the July 29 Xfinity race at Iowa Speedway and the Sept. 23 Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway.

“I’m looking forward to climbing back into a RCR Chevrolet,” Scott said in a statement from the team. “Iowa and Kentucky were good tracks for our team. I have no doubt that with the advanced engineering and work they’ve put into their programs since then that we will be even stronger. These two races are all about having fun and, I hope, getting the No. 3 team to Victory Lane.”

Scott is winless in 208 career Xfintiy starts. He has 77 career top-10 finishes. He last raced in the series in 2015. Scott ran the full Cup season in 2016. He drove for RCR in the Xfinity Series from 2013-15 and finished as high as fourth in the points.

He made 53 Cup starts with a best finish of second in last fall’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Scott’s car will be sponsored by Daniel Defense.

“Everyone at RCR is pleased to have Brian Scott back in one of our cars, even if it’s only for a couple of races,” said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of RCR, in a statement. “He is a great friend of the company and did well for us in the past. We appreciate that he’s going to come out of retirement to drive our No. 3 Chevrolet. I have no doubt that once Brian is behind the wheel again, he will have the same desire to win that he’s had in the past.”

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