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Sprint Cup return for Regan Smith: Will drive for Tommy Baldwin Racing

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Hours after it was revealed that Alex Bowman would not return to drive for them in 2016, Tommy Baldwin Racing announced Thursday that it has signed Regan Smith to drive its No. 7 Toy State/Nikko RC Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series this season.

The announcement was revealed on Dave Moody’s SiriusXM Speedway show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“I’m excited to get to work for Tommy Baldwin Racing,” Smith told Moody. “I can’t tell you how blessed I am. Man, I’m just ready to get to work. … We’re both racers, so we’re going to work pretty damned hard.”

The deal came together in just two days, Smith told Moody. Baldwin called Smith on Tuesday, a deal was essentially struck Wednesday and was finalized Thursday.

“It’s been a whirlwind last couple of days,” Smith told Moody. “I literally just found out. It’s been a wild few days for me.

“It was one of those situations where you have to catch your breath, pinch yourself and say, ‘Man, is this real? What’s going on here?’ I’ve pinched myself a few times. It is real and I’m pretty pumped about it.”

Smith returns to the Sprint Cup Series after a three-year stint in the Xfinity Series. His last fulltime season in Sprint Cup was 2012 with Furniture Row Racing before he was replaced by Kurt Busch with six races left in the season.

He spent the last three seasons driving for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, and proved to be a big success, finishing third in 2013, second in 2014 and fourth in 2015. Even so, JRM chose not to renew his contract for 2016. Smith earned all six of his Xfinity Series wins with JRM, including a one-off appearance in 2012.

In a sense, Bowman and Smith are trading places in a way. While Smith replaces Bowman at TBR, Bowman will drive at least nine races for JRM in the team’s “all-star” car in the Xfinity Series, sharing the ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott.

Smith will drive the No. 7 for TBR, the same number he drove for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Tommy Baldwin Racing announced just last month a multi-year sponsorship extension with Toy State and Nikko RC, with Bowman slated to be the driver for a second straight season in 2016.

“It just seemed like a good fit,” Smith told Moody of his decision to go with TBR. “Tommy (Baldwin Jr.) is someone I’ve had a lot of respect for and have for a number of years. I’ve watched what he’s built with Tommy Baldwin Racing, it’s a group that works hard and they pour every ounce of everything they have into their race cars — and they’re going to get nothing less than that from me when I sit in the race cars every week.”

Smith, who has one career win in the Sprint Cup Series, ran 4 races in the series in 2015 as a fill-in driver, driving the first three races of the season for Stewart-Haas Racing in place of the suspended Kurt Busch, and one race for Chip Ganassi Racing, filling in after Kyle Larson passed out the day before and was hospitalized for tests and observation.

“My experience is going to be one thing for certain,” Smith said when Moody asked what he brings to TBR. “There’s no racetracks we go to that I feel like I have to go out and re-learn it or see something I haven’t seen before. The experience is going to be a big factor and the ability to communicate with Tommy is something we’re going to lean on heavily.”

Here are more comments from Smith to Moody:

— “I feel like I’m at the prime of my career. I feel I’ve worked hard to learn these race cars and these racetracks. Now that I have that confidence as a driver, I didn’t want to lose that.”

— “It happened quick. I’ve never had anything happen like this. Three weeks before (Daytona), I didn’t think that was possible. I’m still kind of in awe right now.”

— “It’s terrifying when you’re that close to the start of a season and you don’t have something lined up, it’s a very scary situation. Racing is my livelihood. That’s what I do for a living. The reality was starting to set in for me that I might have to pursue other interests and do other things. I wasn’t ready for that to happen to me yet. I’m only 32, so I’m relatively young.”

— “I can learn how to drive a nail with a hammer, maybe. I definitely had to think about that a lot. It’s something that was a question in my head. I told myself and my wife that this is what I like to do, I’m still young enough to do it, and I’m going to figure out whatever I have to do to drive a race car. I really questioned if that was going to be the case, as recently as Monday, having those questions in my head and what was going to take place.”

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NASCAR, Rev Racing announce 2020 Drive for Diversity team

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NASCAR and Rev Racing announced the six-driver lineup for the 2020 Driver for Diversity driver development program.

The lineup includes one new addition, Perry Patino, and five returning drivers: Chase Cabre, Nicholas Sanchez, Gracie Trotter, Rajah Caruth and Isabella Robusto.

The six drivers were selected from a group of invitees that competed in the two-day combine in October at Daytona International Speedway and New Smyrna Speedway.

The combine included fitness assessments and evaluations of each driver’s marketing and media skills. The on-track portion tested the drivers’ abilities behind the wheel and proficiencies in late model stock cars.

Caruth, Patino, Robusto and Trotter will compete in a NASCAR Late Model, while Cabre and Sanchez will compete in the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Showdown Series in 2020.

Competing in a late model stock car will be a first for drivers like Caruth, whose background is in iRacing and Robusto who has experience racing Legends cars. Caruth is the first driver with an iRacing background to be selected for the program

“We are very enthusiastic about the progress we continue to make with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program, and the 2020 class exemplifies the evolution of the program,” Jusan Hamilton, Director of Racing Operations and Event Management at NASCAR, said in a press release. “We were extremely impressed with the confidence, competitive drive and raw talent of the drivers that competed at this year’s combine, which made the selection process challenging for us.

“Our partners at Rev Racing work hard every year to develop the best diverse drivers around the world. To see familiar faces in this class that have grown and advanced through the youth ranks of the program bolsters our belief that we will see some of these same drivers at the top levels of NASCAR in the future.”

More on the 2020 Driver for Diversity class:

  • Chase Cabre: The 22-year-old from Tampa, Fla., will join Rev Racing for his fourth-consecutive racing season and compete in the ARCA Menards Series East. Cabre won twice in 2019 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

 

  • Rajah Caruth: In 42 starts, Caruth, 17, of Washington, D.C., has twice won races in the eNASCAR IGNITE Series, driving the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1/Ford Mustang. Additionally, he earned two heat wins with Rev Racing in the 2019 Bojangles’ Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  

 

  • Perry Patino: The 20-year-old, Montgomery, Ala. native will join Rev Racing for the first time with one Limited Late Model win at Montgomery Speedway and the 2018 Limited Late Model championship under his belt.

 

  • Isabella Robusto: The 15-year-old won the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout in the Semi-Pro class in 2019 and finished second in Semi-Pro points. The Fort Mill, S.C., native was honored with the Young Racer award at the 2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards.

 

  • Nicholas Sanchez: The 18-year-old Miami native returns to Rev Racing for his fourth-consecutive season after winning at Myrtle Beach Speedway and Langley Speedway in a Late Model Stock Car in 2019.

 

  • Gracie Trotter: Denver, N.C. native, Gracie Trotter, 18, returns to Rev Racing as the 2019 Winter Heat Series champion at Charlotte Motor Speedway. She also won Round 5 of the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout in the Semi-Pro Division.

Social Roundup: Reaction to Jimmie Johnson ending full-time career after 2020

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In a one-minute video posted on social media Wednesday Jimmie Johnson revealed he would end his full-time Cup career following the 2020 season.

Very quickly, the NASCAR community and Johnson’s fellow competitors took to social media to note Johnson’s news.

Here’s what they had to say:

 

Check back for more.

Jimmie Johnson announces that 2020 will be his final full-time Cup season

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Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, considered one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, announced Wednesday that the 2020 season will be his final full-time Cup season.

“I know what this team is capable of, and I hope that 2020 is the best yet,” the future NASCAR Hall of Famer said in a video on Twitter.

Johnson’s contract expires after the 2020 season. Sponsor Ally extended its sponsorship of the No. 48 car in October through 2023. That led to questions of if Johnson would continue beyond next season. Johnson’s announcement comes three days after the Cup season ended. 

Johnson is tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most series titles. Some would argue that Johnson is NASCAR’s greatest driver, noting his record five consecutive championships (2006-10) and success in what is viewed as the sport’s most competitive era. Johnson’s titles also came with different types of cars and with various playoff systems.

Johnson has 83 career Cup wins, which is tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time victory list, but has not won since Dover in June 2017. Johnson will enter the 2020 season with a 95-race winless streak. The 2020 season will be his 19th full-time campaign in Cup.

The 2019 season marked Johnson’s first without crew chief Chad Knaus. Kevin Meendering started the year as Johnson’s crew chief but was replaced by engineer Cliff Daniels in July before the race at Watkins Glen as the team struggled to make the playoffs.

Even with the move, Johnson failed to make the playoffs. It marked the first time since NASCAR’s postseason format debuted in 2004 that he was not a part of it. In his 15 races with Daniels this season, Johnson had four top-10 finishes with a best of eighth in the Dover playoff race.

Johnson has two Daytona 500 wins, four Brickyard 400 victories, four Coca-Cola 600 triumphs and two Southern 500 wins.

Johnson will meet with the media Thursday afternoon to explain his decision.

While Johnson will not race a full schedule after 2020, he has said repeatedly that he plans to continue to race. He has expressed an interest in road racing and competing in an IndyCar race on a road course.

The timing of the announcement allows Johnson to celebrate one final season in Cup and gives Hendrick Motorsports time to find his successor with a move that could lead to significant changes in driver lineups for multiple teams for the 2021 season.

Johnson’s announcement sent shock waves through the sport.

Tentative 2020 Daytona Speedweeks schedule released

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The 2019 NASCAR season has been over for just a few days, but already things are starting to shape up for the 2020 season.

NASCAR revealed the tentative 2020 Daytona Speedweeks schedule for NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, Gander RV and Outdoors Trucks and ARCA series. The 2020 Daytona 500 will be Feb. 16.

Here it is (subject to change):

(All times Eastern)

Thursday, February 6

7 a.m. – 6 p.m. – ARCA garage open

Friday, February 7

8 a.m. – 5 p.m. – ARCA garage open

1 – 5 p.m. – Cup garage open

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. – ARCA practice

3 – 4 p.m. – ARCA final practice

Saturday, February 8

7:30 a.m. – ARCA garage opens

8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Cup garage open

11:35 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. – Final Cup practice for cars entered in the Clash

12:30 p.m. – ARCA qualifying (group qualifying)

1:35 – 2:25 p.m. – Cup practice for all cars

2:45 p.m. – ARCA driver/spotter meeting

3 – 3:50 p.m. – Cup practice for all cars

4:20 p.m. – ARCA driver introductions

4:45 p.m. – ARCA race (80 laps, 200 miles)

Sunday, February 9

8 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Cup garage open

10:30 a.m. – Cup driver/crew chief meeting

12:30 p.m. – Cup qualifying impound (single vehicle / one lap all positions)

2:30 p.m. – Cup driver introductions

3 p.m. – Cup Clash race (75 laps, 187.5 miles)

Monday, February 10

No on-track activities scheduled

Tuesday, February 11

No on-track activities scheduled

Wednesday, February 12

No on-track activities scheduled

Thursday, February 13

10 am – 8 p.m. – Truck garage open

3 – 11 p.m. – Cup garage open

4:05 – 4:55 p.m. – Truck practice

5:15 p.m. – Cup driver/crew chief meeting

5:30 – 5:55 p.m. – Truck practice

6:20 p.m. – Cup driver introductions

7 p.m. – Cup first qualifying race (60 laps, 150 miles)

8:45 p.m. – Cup second qualifying race (60 laps, 150 miles)

Friday, February 14

9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

9:30 a.m. – Truck garage opens

11 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Cup garage open

2:05 – 2:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice

3:10 p.m. – Truck qualifying impound (single vehicle / one lap all positions)

4:32 – 4:57 p.m. – Xfinity final practice

5:05 – 5:55 p.m. – Cup practice

6:05 p.m. – Truck driver/crew chief meeting

7 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

7:30 p.m. – Truck race (Stages 20/40/100 laps = 250 miles)

Saturday, February 15

9:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

11 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying impound (single vehicle / one lap all positions)

11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Cup garage open

12:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

12:30 – 1:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice

2 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity race (Stages 30/30/120 laps = 300 miles)

Sunday, February 16

9 a.m. – Cup garage open

12:30 p.m. – Cup driver/crew chief meeting

1:45 p.m. – Cup driver introductions

2:30 p.m. – Daytona 500 (Stages 60/120/200 lap = 500 miles)

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