Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists revealed

0 Comments

Comcast today announced the finalists for the 2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, an annual award created to recognize the philanthropic efforts of individuals within NASCAR. Whether by creating the first COVID-19 drive-thru mass vaccination clinic in North Carolina, providing additional access to education, or supporting shelter animals in need, the 2021 class of honorees has gone above and beyond in creating positive change throughout the year.

The 2021 finalists are:

  • Curtis Francois, Owner of World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, IL
  • Greg Walter, Executive Vice President/GM at Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • Jamie Little, Pit reporter for NASCAR coverage on FOX

“Curtis, Greg and Jamie are demonstrating how important it is to make a positive impact on their community and we’re proud to honor them with this award that recognizes individuals within the sport who are going above and beyond.” said Matt Lederer, Vice President, Brand Partnerships and Amplification at Comcast. “Community impact is one of Comcast’s core values, and each of these finalists embodies what it means to be a champion in their community.”

Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered NASCAR as entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015 and is now also Premier Partner of the NASCAR Cup Series. Since then, the company has donated $840,000 to more than 20 different NASCAR-affiliated organizations to honor their efforts and to help further the impact of their worthy causes. Fans can visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com to learn more about past and present finalists and their acts of selflessness.

“There are so many inspirational stories of individuals and teams within NASCAR giving back and now more than ever it is important to bring that to life,” Lederer added.

The 2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year will be selected by a panel of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace, who received the award in 2020 for his work with the Live To Be Different Foundation, which supports disadvantaged individuals and those in need of a second chance with educational, social or other types of assistance needed to help make their dreams reality. Through a message of compassion, love and understanding, Live To Be Different’s mission is empowering the next generation to strive and achieve anything they put their mind to.

“The NASCAR community is blessed to have a strong partner in Comcast that has continued to show its commitment to supporting NASCAR communities across the nation,” said Bubba Wallace, 2020 Comcast Community Champion of the Year. “Their donation to the Live to Be Different Foundation helped us continue to make a positive and lasting impact as we work to remove barriers and fulfill dreams for future generations. We are honored to be a past Comcast Community Champion of the Year and look forward to seeing the impact this year’s honorees make on their communities.”

Comcast will award $60,000 to the champion’s affiliated charity, and $30,000 to each of the two remaining finalists’ selected charities. The 2021 Comcast Community Champion will be announced at the end of November.

2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists:

Curtis Francois (Madison, Illinois) –  A lifelong St. Louisan and former professional racecar driver, Curtis Francois is committed to his community and is dedicated to making the metropolitan St. Louis region a premier racing destination. Francois purchased World Wide Technology Raceway in 2011. After years of hard work and a multi-million-dollar investment in the track and its surrounding areas, today, World Wide Technology Raceway hosts hundreds of events throughout the year and is the only venue in the U.S. to host the elite series from each of the three major race sanctioning bodies.

WWTR’s charitable foundation, Raceway Gives, leverages the resources and technology opportunities associated with motorsports to provide programs that enhance education and career opportunities for youth, with a focus on STEM education and diversity. Raceway Gives focuses on gifted, diverse and underserved youth, as well as military families, using three pillars: motorsports career opportunities, community engagement with high schools and youth clubs, and educational experiences. Raceway Gives is actively engaged with Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Center in East St. Louis, Illinois, via a “Racing in the Classroom” program that has and continues to introduce motorsports education to an underserved community for local youth ages 8-18.

Greg Walter (Charlotte, North Carolina) – Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter has navigated uncharted waters with a servant’s heart, steering the speedway’s efforts to support the community in its most challenging time of need. Under Greg’s dedicated leadership, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the country’s first professional sports venue to serve as a remote testing site and hosted North Carolina’s first drive-thru mass vaccination clinic. The speedway also hosted food drives, blood drives and high school graduations.

Greg serves on the board of the Charlotte chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides funding for hundreds of non-profit organizations throughout the nation that meet the direct needs of children. In a year of reduced donations and fundraising events nationwide, Greg and the SCC staff found creative ways to generate charity funds, such as hosting sold-out, summertime drive-in movies. Greg’s efforts played a role in distributing more than $300,000 SCC funds at Christmas to deserving area nonprofits serving children in need.

Jamie Little (Indianapolis, Indiana) – Veteran motorsports reporter Jamie Little joined FOX NASCAR in 2015 to cover pit road for the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series & Camping World Truck Series. She has covered NASCAR since 2007. Little is extremely active in animal rescue work, donating to over 25 animal shelters throughout the country, most of them in communities that host NASCAR races. Prior to moving to Indianapolis in late 2017, Little spent much of her free time volunteering at The Animal Foundation, Nevada’s largest animal rescue shelter, that is where her passion for animal rescue and adoption truly began.

In 2020, Little started working with the Animal Help Alliance, a foster based rescue that specializes in rescuing the underdog, the broken and the hard to adopt animals in our community, a year ago when she came across a post on Instagram with photos of a pitbull who had suffered blunt force trauma to the head, requiring surgery to save her life. As a parent to two pitbull rescues, Little felt compelled to connect with AHA to further help animals impacted by neglect and abuse, while raising awareness about the benefits of rescuing & adopting animals in need.

Comcast has a long track record of community service, aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs & partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. To learn more about these efforts, visit the Comcast Community Impact site.

 

Drivers to watch in Clash at the Coliseum

0 Comments

The 2023 NASCAR season will begin with Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the second race on a purpose-built track inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Although a non-points race, last year’s Clash generated intense interest as NASCAR moved the event from its long-time home at Daytona International Speedway to Los Angeles. The race was rated a success and opened doors for the possibility of future races in stadium environments.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

MORE: Toyota looking to expand NASCAR presence

Year Two will find drivers competing on a familiar landscape but still with a track freshly paved. Last year’s racing surface was removed after the Clash.

Drivers to watch Sunday at Los Angeles:

FRONTRUNNERS

Joey Logano

  • Points position: Finished 2022 as Cup champion
  • Last three races: Won at Phoenix, 6th at Martinsville, 18th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Won in 2022

Logano put bookends on 2022 by winning the first Clash at the Coliseum and the season’s final race at Phoenix to win the Cup championship. He’ll be among the favorites Sunday.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd in 2022
  • Last three races: 3rd at Phoenix, 4th at Martinsville, 2nd at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Did not qualify last year

Chastain was the breakout star of 2022, winning a pair of races and generally putting himself front and center across much of the year. Can he start 2023 on a big note? If so, he will have to do so without replicating his Hail Melon move at Martinsville after NASCAR outlawed the move Tuesday.

Kevin Harvick

  • Points position: 15th in 2022
  • Last three races: 5th at Phoenix, 16th at Martinsville, 8th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 10th in 2022

Sunday will begin the final roundup for Harvick, who has said this season will be his last as a full-time Cup driver. He is likely to come out of the gate with fire in his eyes.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 13th in 2022
  • Last three races: 7th at Phoenix, 29th at Martinsville, 9th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 2nd in 2022

Welcome to Kyle Busch’s Brave New World. After 15 seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing, he begins a new segment of his career with Richard Childress Racing. He led 64 laps at last year’s Clash but couldn’t catch Joey Logano at the end.

Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 14th in 2022
  • Last three races: 23rd at Phoenix, 35th at Martinsville, 35th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 21st in 2022

Reddick ran surprisingly strong in last year’s Clash, leading 51 laps before parking with drivetrain issues. He starts the new year with a new ride — at 23XI Racing.

Ty Gibbs

  • Points position: Won Xfinity Series championship in 2022
  • Last three (Cup) races: 19th at Martinsville, 22nd at Homestead, 22nd at Las Vegas
  • Past at Clash: Did not compete in 2022

After a successful — and controversial — Xfinity season, Gibbs moves up to Cup full-time with his grandfather’s team. Will he be the brash young kid of 2022 or a steadier driver in Season One in Cup?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interstate Batteries extends sponsorship with Joe Gibbs Racing

0 Comments

Interstate Batteries, which has been a Joe Gibbs Racing sponsor since the team’s first race, has expanded its involvement with the team for 2023.

Interstate, based in Dallas, will be a primary JGR sponsor for 13 races, up from six races, the number it typically sponsored each year since 2008.

Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs will run the majority of Interstate’s sponsorship races, but Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. also will carry the sponsor colors.

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with our founding sponsor, Interstate Batteries,” said team owner Joe Gibbs in a statement released by the team. “They have been such an important part of our team for over three decades now, and it’s exciting to have them on board all four of our cars this season. The best part of our partnership is the relationships we’ve built with everyone there over the years.”

Bell will carry Interstate sponsorship in Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the All-Star Race May 21, the Coca-Cola 600 May 28, at Texas Motor Speedway Sept. 24 and at Martinsville Oct. 29.

Gibbs, in his first full season in Cup racing, will be sponsored by Interstate at Daytona Feb. 19, Bristol April 9, Nashville June 25, Chicago July 2, Texas Sept. 24 and Charlotte Oct. 8.

Hamlin will ride with Interstate sponsorship March 26 at Circuit of the Americas, and Truex will be sponsored by Interstate July 23 at Pocono.

Interstate was a key JGR sponsor in the team’s first season in 1992.

NASCAR announces rule changes for 2023 season

0 Comments

CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR announced a series of rule changes for the 2023 season that includes outlawing the move Ross Chastain made at Martinsville and eliminating stage breaks at all six Cup road course events.

NASCAR announced the changes in a session with reporters Tuesday at the NASCAR R&D Center.

Among new things for this season:

  • Updated penalty for a wheel coming off a car.
  • Change to the amount of time teams have to repair cars on pit road via the Damaged Vehicle Policy.
  • Change to playoff eligibility for drivers.
  • Cars could run in wet weather conditions on short ovals.
  • Expansion of the restart zone on a trial basis.
  • Choose rule will be in place for more races.

MORE: Ranking top 10 moments at the Clash

NASCAR updated its policy on a loose wheel. Previously, if a wheel came off a car during an event, it would be a four-race suspension for the crew chief and two pit crew members. That has changed this year.

If a wheel comes off a car while the vehicle is still on pit road, the vehicle restarts at the tail end of the field. If a wheel comes off a vehicle while it is on pit road under green-flag conditions, it is a pass-thru penalty.

The rule changes once a vehicle has left pit road and loses a wheel.

Any vehicle that loses a wheel on the track will be penalized two laps and have two pit crew members suspended for two races. The suspensions will go to those most responsible for the wheel coming off. This change takes away a suspension to the crew chief. The policy is the same for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

With some pit crew members working multiple series, the suspension is only for that series. So, if a pit crew member is suspended two races in the Xfinity Series for a wheel coming off, they can still work the Cup race the following day.

The Damaged Vehicle Policy clock will be 7 minutes this season. It had been six minutes last year and was increased to 10 minutes during the playoffs. After talking with teams, NASCAR has settled on seven minutes for teams to make repairs on pit road or be eliminated. Teams can replace toe links on pit road but not control arms. Teams also are not permitted to have specialized repair tools in the pits.

NASCAR will have a wet weather package for select oval tracks: the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Lucas Oil Raceway Park, Martinsville, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Phoenix and Richmond.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said that teams have been told to show up at these events prepared for wet weather conditions as they would at a road course. That includes having a windshield wiper. Wet weather tires will be available. 

“Our goal here is to get back to racing as soon as possible,” Swayer said. “… If there’s an opportunity for us to get some cars or trucks on the racetrack and speed up that (track-drying) process and we can get back to racing, that’s what our goal is. We don’t want to be racing in full-blown rain (at those tracks) and we’ve got spray like we would on a road course.”

NASCAR stated that it is removing the requirement that a winning driver be in the top 30 in points in Cup or top 20 in Xfinity or Trucks to become eligible for the playoffs. As long as a driver is competing full-time — or has a waiver for the races they missed, a win will make them playoff eligible.

With the consultation of drivers, NASCAR is expanding the restart zone to give the leader more room to take off. NASCAR said it will evaluate if to keep this in place after the Atlanta race in March.

NASCAR stated the choose rule will be in effect for superspeedways and dirt races.

NASCAR eliminates stage breaks for Cup road course events

1 Comment

CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR will do away with stage breaks in all six Cup road course races and select Xfinity and Truck races this season, but teams will continue to score stage points. 

NASCAR announced the change Tuesday in a session with reporters at the NASCAR R&D Center. 

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

NASCAR stated there will be no stage breaks in the Cup road course events at Circuit of the Americas (March 26), Sonoma (June 11), Chicago street course (July 2), Indianapolis road course (Aug. 13), Watkins Glen (Aug. 20) and Charlotte Roval (Oct. 8).

There will be no stage breaks for Xfinity races at Circuit of the Americas (March 25), Sonoma (June 10), Chicago street course (July 1), Indianapolis road course (Aug. 12), Watkins Glen (Aug. 19) and Charlotte Roval (Oct. 7).

There will be no stage breaks for the Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas (March 25).

In those races, stage points will be awarded on a designated lap, but there will be no green-and-checkered flag and the racing will continue.

The only road course events that will have stage breaks will be Xfinity standalone races at Portland (June 3) and Road America (July 29) and the Truck standalone race at Mid-Ohio (July 8). Those events will keep stage breaks because they have non-live pit stops — where the field comes down pit road together and positions cannot be gained or lost provided the stop is completed in the prescribed time by NASCAR.

NASCAR has faced questions from fans and competitors about stage breaks during road course races because those breaks alter strategy in a more defined manner than on most ovals.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said the move away from stage breaks at road courses was made in collaboration with teams and response from fans.

“When we introduced stage racing … we took an element of strategy away from the event,” Sawyer. “Felt this (change) would bring some new storylines (in an event).”

NASCAR instituted stage breaks and stage points for the 2017 season and has kept the system in place since. NASCAR awards a playoff point to the stage winner along with 10 points. The top 10 at the end of a stage score points.

It wasn’t uncommon for many teams to elect to pit before the first stage in a road course race and eschew points to put themselves in better track position for the final two stages. By pitting early, they would be behind those who stayed out to collect the stage points. At the stage break, those who had yet to pit would do so, allowing those who stopped before the break to leapfrog back to the front.