Multi-time champion also served as matchmaker for Brad Keselowski

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All-time series winner, record holder in series championships and most successful series driver are just some of the titles attached to Frank Kimmel.

Add matchmaker as well.

Brad Keselowski credits Kimmel, the 10-time ARCA champion and longtime family friend, with introducing him to girlfriend Paige White.

“Frank has done a lot of tremendous things,’’ Keselowski said this week in a conference call with reporters. “I can remember him from as far back to the first time I met him when I was 8 years old, and we used to call him the big kid because he was a big guy, right, and he would walk around with squirt guns and squirt us as kids. We’d play with him back and forth and we had a grand old time.’’

But it goes beyond that.

In interviews for an NBC SportsWorld story on Keselowski in July, White and Kimmel discussed the role Kimmel played in the early courtship of Keselowski and White.

White said she met Kimmel and his family in 2013. White was standing with Kimmel at Kentucky Speedway when Keselowski approached.

Keselowski later sent a message to Kimmel’s son that he wanted Kimmel to call him. Kimmel did.

“Brad just said, ‘I have a funny question for you,’ ” Kimmel recalled Keselowski telling him.

Keselowski asked Kimmel about White.

“I told him that’s a great little girl,’” Kimmel said.

White and Keselowski met at Martinsville that fall but White admitted “it was super awkward. You could tell he was trying so hard. You know how it is when you meet someone for the first time that you think you might like.’’

He asked her to dinner but she turned him down. White, the daughter of racer, was going to watch her father compete that night.

Their paths crossed again at Texas Motor Speedway. Keselowski won the Xfinity race there and gave White his cowboy hat that the winner received. He asked her to hang out with him that weekend but she turned him down because she was with family.

A couple of weeks later at Homestead-Miami Speedway, she agreed to go to dinner with Keselowski – along with Kimmel and his wife, Donna. White went there that weekend with the Kimmels because he was competing in the Camping World Truck race.

All three were to go to dinner with Keselowski after the Xfinity race. He won. His victory lane duties delayed their dinner plans. Eventually, they went out to dinner.

The next night, they went to dinner again and White had the Kimmels join them again.

“It made it easier that people were with us,’’ White told NBC Sports in May.

The following week she and Keselowski had dinner together in the Charlotte, N.C., area.

Asked in May how White has changed him, Keselowski said: “I feel like I have someone closer to me to talk to which is good.”

He noted last fall’s Sprint Cup race at Texas where he and Jeff Gordon made contact late in the race when Keselowski made a move for the lead. Gordon confronted Keselowski on pit road after the race. After Kevin Harvick pushed Keselowski back toward Gordon, a melee ensued, leading NASCAR to suspend four members of Hendrick Motorsports and penalize two of the organization’s crew chiefs.

Keselowski said White proved comforting after that.

“When everything happened at Texas, I felt pretty confident that I handled it right,’’ Keselowski said. “When it was all said and done, you always question it, you’re going to question yourself, that’s just normal. When I looked at her on the plane home and asked her if she was proud of the way I handled it and she said yes, I felt like mentally I was able to move on immediately.”

White delivered the couple’s first child, Scarlett, in May. Keselowski revealed in a blog last week that Scarlett faced a potentially life-threatening medical issue in June. Keselowski wrote that his daughter has recovered and doing well.

 

 

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

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“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

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A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The team stated Thursday night on social media that Taylor Collier and Devin Fokin had been treated and released. The team stated that Taylor was treated for smoke inhalation and Fokin was treated “for serious burns.”

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

 

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

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Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

MORE: Chase Briscoe signs contract extension with Stewart-Haas

Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

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Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

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Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.