NASCAR fan truckers’ voices heard in Mack deal

Mack Trucks

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – If you’ve spent more than a few minutes listening to SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s NASCAR channel, it becomes abundantly obvious that many of the station’s callers are multitasking.

Many of them listen for hours on end and patiently wait on hold while a deftly piloting a 25-ton load down a crowded interstate somewhere in North America.

This hasn’t been lost on the latest company to partner with NASCAR in an official sponsorship.

In the deal that made Mack Trucks the new “Official Hauler of NASCAR,” John Walsh, the company’s vice president of marketing, said the ubiquitous (and frequently passionate) voices of truck drivers on SiriusXM NASCAR emerged as a factor in the discussions.

“They are the unsung heroes of the economy who are keeping America moving,” Walsh told NBC Sports. “Our industry is facing a very significant driver shortage. As a result, the opinions of drivers and which trucks they prefer has become a key purchase criteria for our customers. Partnering with NASCAR gives us a powerful means to further illustrate to key audiences that Mack is the best choice.”

In a multiyear agreement announced Tuesday morning, Mack will replace Freightliner as the sport’s official big rig. The Greensboro, North Carolina-based company will supply NASCAR with 11 Pinnacle high-rise sleeper models that are customized to help bring the sanctioning body’s mobile offices to tracks at 36 races around the country.

NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps said the sponsorship makes sense given NASCAR’s reputation as a traveling circus of professional sports.

“There are certain categories that lend themselves that are endemic to the sport,” he said. “Trucks certainly are one of them. The big rigs are in a sweet spot. You look at the number of truck drivers on the road who are NASCAR fans calling into SiriusXM, and it’s a very good marriage between both a brand standpoint and category standpoint with NASCAR.”

Walsh said Mack delivered 27,000 trucks globally last year (roughly 90% sold in North America) and had a market share of 8.1 percent. The company, which is known for its success in construction as a vocational truckmaker famous for large construction projects such as the Hoover Dam and Lincoln Tunnel, is trying to grow its long-haul business, particularly in Class A trucks.

Mack is hoping to use its NASCAR sponsorship to hook both drivers and decision-makers in small to midsize fleets that comprise much of its business. The company focuses heavily on driver comfort and specialization. For trucking companies struggling to attract drivers, being an attractive and popular brand can help with recruitment.

“We want to make sure the drivers understand the value we bring,” he said. “That becomes a key driver for the folks they work for in purchasing decisions. Attracting and retaining drivers is a very significant concern for our customers today.”

Walsh said trackside hospitality is being planned for every Sprint Cup race and expects to entertain a group of about two dozen at the Daytona 500. Mack likes that size because it is “a brand predicated on personal relationships.

“We’re working through the engagement plan; it varies by track,” Walsh said. “We get the opportunity to engage a significant number of customers with pace car rides, a driver meeting, pit areas and hospitality. Package that together, and it’s an exceptional and unforgettable experience. Our dealers are very excited about this.”

Mack already was involved in NASCAR through doing business with teams, which also frequently use Freightliner and Featherlite rigs and trailers.

Though there has been controversy in the past about NASCAR’s official sponsorships siphoning off potential funding for its teams, Walsh said Mack hadn’t been considering any team deals. NASCAR approached Mack several months ago about replacing Freightliner (whom Phelps said left because of “changing business needs”).

“We’re open to relationships with teams,” Walsh said. “One of the things attractive about this is it gives us access to teams for those discussions. But at a higher level, to be involved with the sport this way is in line with our business objectives.”

Mack Trucks

Phelps said much of the rancor from teams about official sponsorships had abated, and NASCAR “doesn’t hear that we’re competitive in the marketplace with them.

“When I came into this sport about 10 years ago, the first thing I heard from team personnel was, ‘Hey, I don’t feel this way, but I know other teams feel NASCAR is trying to steal our sponsors,” Phelps said. “I think that’s really because of the dialogue that has opened up that we rarely hear that anymore.”

Phelps said a new industry services department headed by senior vice president of marketing Jill Gregory has helped breed a better environment in which teams are benefiting from cooperating with NASCAR on landing sponsors.

“That whole group’s entire being is there to help teams with sales and marketing and bring in new sponsorship,” Phelps said. “It’s not done for official sponsorships. It’s done entirely for teams. You look at the research provided by our group for the teams and tracks as well. It’s more of an open book and transparent about what we’re trying to achieve.”

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”