Hendrick Motorsports

William Byron to drive Jeff Gordon’s ‘Rainbow Warriors’ scheme in Southern 500

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CONCORD, N.C. — One of the most famous paint schemes in NASCAR history will ride again in the Sept. 2 Southern 500.

The rainbow paint scheme Jeff Gordon drove for the first eight years of his Cup career will be resurrected for William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet.

The scheme was announced Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a presentation with Gordon, Byron and artist Sam Bass, who designed the scheme that debuted in the 1992 season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race was Gordon’s series debut.

Gordon drove the scheme full-time from 1993-2000 when he was sponsored by Du Pont. He drove it one last time in the 2015 Bristol night race during his final full-time season.

The scheme was used by Dylan Lupton in last year’s Xfinity Series race at Darlington.

Gordon, now an analyst for Fox Sports, never dreamed his paint scheme would be used in a throwback fashion decades later.

“I was just a young kid that was anxious to get out there and show what I could and excited about the opportunity to be at Hendrick Motorsports and hoped that I would be able to do my part and go on and win a race, let alone 93 of them,” Gordon said. “I certainly never looked far enough ahead that I would have ever thought we were creating something that would be part of NASCAR history or a throwback to the history at Darlington with a 20-year-old kid behind the wheel that wasn’t me.”

The four-time champion is a nominee for the 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class. The class will be announced Wednesday.

Byron, 20, is in his rookie season with Hendrick Motorsports and will compete in his first Southern 500.

“Jeff’s got a huge history in the sport and to follow that and be able to carry his legacy and hopefully have success with it is my goal,” Byron said.

Byron is 19th in the point standings through 12 races.

Bass told the story of how he came to get the job of designing Gordon’s car in 1992.

“(Jeff Gordon’s crew chief) Ray Evernham came over to my shop looking for a birthday present for Jeff,” Bass recalled. “He picked up a print, he was getting ready to leave and wanted to pay me for it. I said, ‘No, I don’t want your money. I want you to give me a shot to design the race car for Jeff Gordon.’ I didn’t really think he would do it, but he called me back in a couple of weeks and said, ‘Hey, you got a shot.’ I worked on three designs and had two of them done the day it was due. On the way driving to work, I kept thinking in my mind Du Pont had said they wanted a rainbow of color. They wanted to car to show that they could produce a rainbow of colors.

“I went back to the shop and started working on something, and I knew when I got it done that if they would paint it that way it would definitely be different. I thought the guys in the body shop were gonna kill me when they saw it because they knew how difficult it was going to be to paint. To their credit, they did it and they were so proud of it.”

 

Elliott Sadler announces end of full-time NASCAR career after 2018

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Elliott Sadler announced in a statement on Twitter Wednesday morning he has decided to make 2018 his final full-time season in NASCAR competition.

Sadler, who turned 43 in April, made the announcement with 12 races left in the Xfinity Series.

The news comes after the JR Motorsports driver revealed in June that his primary sponsor, OneMain Financial, wouldn’t return in the same capacity next season.

Sadler has competed in NASCAR since making his Xfinity Series debut in 1995 at South Boston Speedway.

Since then he’s made 841 starts across all three national series.

In 12 full-time seasons in Cup, he earned three wins, 19 top fives and eight poles. He best point result was ninth in 2004.

This year is his 10th full-time Xfinity season. To date he’s earned 13 wins, 102 top fives and 18 poles in 383 starts.

Sadler will attempt to close out his full-time career with his first NASCAR championship. He’s placed second four times, including the previous two seasons spent with JRM.

With 12 races left he is second in the point standings and sixth on the playoff grid.

Read his statement below.

NASCAR America: Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty on criticism of Kyle Larson’s love of dirt racing

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In January, Kyle Larson caused a minor stir when he admitted that winning midget racing’s Chili Bowl would be a bigger deal for him than a victory in the Daytona 500.

The fallout of that statement was on hand last weekend at Michigan International Speedway on the eve of the Knoxville Nationals, one of sprint racing’s biggest events.

Larson claimed he was going to “just keep my mouth shut” about any potential success about the event held the Saturday night before the Cup race at Michigan.

On NASCAR America, Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty and Carolyn Manno had a lengthy discussion about Larson’s comments and whether drivers in a premier auto racing series should compete in other disciplines.

“I was a little offended for him saying the Chili Bowl was bigger than NASCAR’s biggest race,” Burton conceded. “But when I step back, me personally, I think the Southern 500 is the biggest race of the year. That’s no disrespect to the Daytona 500. I never won the Daytona 500. If you ask me which race do I wish I would have won, that’s the one because it’s so prestigious and it means so much. … I think when you are racing and this is your primary racing … and then you say there’s another series you’d rather win a race in, I think some NASCAR fans did get offended by it and to be honest I understand why.”

Burton added, “He’s still here. If he didn’t want to do it, he wouldn’t be doing it.”

Petty believes friction over Larson’s love of dirt racing stems from the collision of generations of fans and fans of different racing disciplines.

“You see guys coming in who dreamed of going to (Indianapolis Motor Speedway), that dreamed of running sprint cars, that dreamed of doing some totally different,” Petty said. “Where I grew up dreaming of the Daytona 500. That’s been in our blood and that’s in the DNA of what this sport is. You expect, as a fan, your driver to come in and say, ‘Tell you what, the Daytona 500, Darlington, the Coca-Cola 600, those are races I want to win.’ So I think we have a bias, or the fans have a bias sometimes, against the guy that didn’t come in and dream about being here all the time and I think that’s wrong. Because at heart, Kyle Larson is a racer. At heart, Tony Stewart, he didn’t dream about coming to Daytona, he dreamed about going down the road and winning at Indianapolis. Jeff Gordon did the same thing.”

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Scan All from Michigan International Speedway

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It was another Cup race and another win for Kevin Harvick Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver scored his series leading seventh win of the season after sweeping each stage.

Relive the race with the latest edition of Scan All from NASCAR America.

Here are some highlights.

Watch the above video for more.

PRN reporter Wendy Venturini to return at Bristol, still recovering from injuries

Wendy Venturini
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Wendy Venturini will return to her duties at the Performance Racing Network this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, almost two months after being struck by a car while running in Novato, California.

Venturini made the announcement in a surprise appearance Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.”

She had been in California to be a pit reporter for PRN’s radio broadcast of the Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.

Among the injuries Venturini suffered in the incident were a skull fracture and a concussion.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Venturini said of the upcoming race weekend. “It’s been a long two months and I’m not 100 percent, but I’m getting closer and closer and this is step back into real life and real world stuff. So I think it will help in my recovery.”

Venturini is still wearing a knee brace.

“I’m still pretty slow these days, but it’s good,” Venturini said. “I will have a brace on at the race track in a controlled circumstance. I can take it off at night, at home. … It’s healing. My LCL is healing, my brain is healing, my skull is healing. Everything’s taking progress.”

Venturini became the first female to serve as a co-anchor for a NASCAR Cup race in September 2014 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. She also has served as a booth analyst for PRN broadcasts this season.

Venturini became the first female broadcaster to call an entire race on a national level during the July 2007 Cup race at Sonoma Raceway for DirecTV. She also has reported on NASCAR for Speed Channel and Fox Sports 1.