Silly season scorecard: New year, new rides

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In roughly one month, NASCAR Cup Series teams will head west to Los Angeles for the exhibition Clash at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. There, the Next Gen car will make its long-awaited debut in competition.

Then, less than two weeks later, those teams will be joined by their Xfinity and Truck Series brethren at Daytona for the official start of the 2022 season.

As a new year dawns and a new season looms, it’s time to check out our updated NASCAR silly season scorecard.

Here’s how the NASCAR Silly Season scorecard looks:

Announced Cup rides for 2022

No. 1: Ross Chastain joins Trackhouse as it expands to two cars following last year’s purchase of Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operations.

No. 2: Austin Cindric becomes a Cup rookie at Team Penske.

No. 6: Brad Keselowski has joined the rechristened RFK Racing as a driver/owner.

No. 7: Corey LaJoie remains with Spire Motorsports.

No. 16: As Kaulig Racing goes full-time in Cup with two entries, their No. 16 will be shared by AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson.

No. 21: Harrison Burton becomes a Cup rookie with Penske-aligned Wood Brothers Racing.

No. 27: The new Team Hezeberg will run all six road course races, but may also run some short track races. 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion Loris Hezemans will be its driver.

No. 31: Justin Haley will be the sole driver of Kaulig Racing’s other Cup entry. His number, the No. 31, was confirmed in December.

No. 34: Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell is back for a fifth season with Front Row Motorsports.

No. 38: After three full seasons in the Truck Series, Todd Gilliland moves up to Cup in Front Row Motorsports’ second entry.

No. 42: The merger of Richard Petty Motorsports and GMS Racing’s Cup operations brings Ty Dillon into the fold. Before the merger, Dillon was announced to run the full 2022 Cup season for GMS.

No. 43: Erik Jones stays on for the new Petty GMS Motorsports.

No. 45: Kurt Busch drives a new second car for 23XI Racing. The entry will run with a team charter.

No. 62: Beard Motorsports will maintain its superspeedway-only schedule. Noah Gragson will join the team to attempt the Daytona 500.

Cup driver contract extensions

No. 5: Kyle Larson and Hendrick Motorsports announced a one-year extension last July.

No. 11Denny Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing announced a multi-year extension last February.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. and Joe Gibbs Racing announced an extension last February. Length of contract unknown.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and JTG Daugherty Racing confirmed a one-year extension last September.

No. 48: Alex Bowman and Hendrick Motorsports announced a two-year extension last June.

Available Cup rides for 2022

Rick Ware Racing: RWR plans to field two full-time entries in 2022 and is mulling over a third entry. RWR will join Ford and align with both Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Yates Engines.

Cup notables yet to announce 2022 plans

Ryan Newman: Replaced by Brad Keselowski in the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford.

Matt DiBenedetto: Replaced by Harrison Burton in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.

Ryan Preece: Lost his ride at JTG Daugherty Racing as the team scales back to a single car.

Xfinity Series 2022 notable announcements

Alpha Prime Racing: Tommy Joe Martins and Caesar Bacarella have partnered to form a new team. Martins and Bacarella are part of its driver lineup, along with Andy Lally (road courses), Ryan Ellis and Rajah Caruth.

Big Machine Racing: Entering enhanced partnership with Richard Childress RacingJade Buford and Patrick Donahue return as driver and crew chief, respectively.

BJ McLeod Motorsports: Josh Williams (formerly with DGM Racing) and Stefan Parsons will both run full-time in 2022 for BJ McLeod’s operation.

Emerling-Gase Motorsports: After announcing the formation of his own Xfinity Series team in November, Joey Gase has since brought on NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Patrick Emerling as a partner. That’s led to the team’s rechristening as Emerling-Gase Motorsports.

Jordan Anderson Racing: Myatt Snider moves from Richard Childress Racing to JAR in a full-time ride for 2022.

JR Motorsports: Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson are both returning to JRM … 2021 JRM part-timers Josh Berry and Sam Mayer will both move up to full-time status … Michael Annett has retired from full-time racing.

Kaulig Racing: Team veteran AJ Allmendinger is now flanked by newcomers Landon Cassill and Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric.

Our Motorsports: Fielding three-car lineup with Jeb Burton (formerly with Kaulig Racing) and Anthony Alfredo (formerly with Front Row Motorsports in Cup) joining returnee Brett Moffitt.

Richard Childress Racing: Sheldon Creed and Austin Hill will both move up from the Truck Series to Xfinity with RCR.

Jes Ferreira selected as Comcast Community Champion of the Year

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Comcast announced Jes Ferreira as the 2022 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, the eighth to receive the annual award. Among all the turmoil of the pandemic, Ferreira looked for an opportunity to give back. Despite her heavy workload, she decided to take on an even heavier challenge, becoming a foster parent to two young girls. 

“I am overwhelmed, humbled, and blown away to be recognized as the Comcast Community Champion of the Year,” said Jes Ferreira, 2022 Comcast Community Champion, “the amount of support this will provide for the Charlotte foster families ensures the best services for these children. I hope this sheds light on the foster community and encourages everyone to support in many different ways.” 

Ferreira, originally earned a foster license to become a foster parent for one child, but a few months later, the child’s younger sibling needed a new foster home. Although Ferreira, Senior Director of Live Shows for CSM Production, already had a crazy work schedule which included traveling to the race track most weekends on top of fostering one child as a single parent, she knew without a doubt these two siblings deserved to be together while in foster care. Now two young siblings who are going through the most trying time in their lives have been reunited thanks to Ferreira. 

On any given day, there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States. In 2019, over 672,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. On average, children remain in state care for over a year and a half, and five percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years.  

Ferreira’s affiliated charity is Foster Village Charlotte (FVC), an organization that allows foster parents to connect with and support each other. FVC collaborates with 16 private foster parent licensing agencies, local government, child welfare organizations and the community to serve families holistically and represent the foster family voice to Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS). 

To further honor Jes’ incredible dedication, Comcast will donate $60,000 to Foster Village Charlotte (FVC).

“Jes encompasses everything the Comcast Community Champion of the Year stands for. Anyone that is at the track knows how dedicated Jes is to the sport of NASCAR and, we are so glad we expanded the eligibility for this award so we can uncover and honor the compassion, selflessness and generosity Jes provides off the track, and that is what makes this honor so special, ” said Matt Lederer, Comcast’s Vice President, Brand Partnerships and Amplification.  

 Ferreira, was chosen by a panel comprised of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as Curtis Francois, the 2021 Comcast Community Champion, who received the award for his work with the Raceway Gives Foundation 

For the first time, Comcast opened the eligibility for anyone in the NASCAR community with a 2022 annual credential or NASCAR full season license, and with this expansion, Comcast is now able to share these exceptional stories.   

Josh Williams, driver of the #92 DGM Racing car for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Sherry Pollex, founder of Sherry Strong, were selected as finalists and will be awarded $30,000 each towards their respective selected charities – the Ryan Seacrest Foundation and Sherry Strong. 

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

About Comcast Corporation’s Partnership with NASCAR 

Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered NASCAR as entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015 and is now 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. 

Where are they now? Scott Riggs races with son, Layne

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Scott Riggs, who raced for 15 years in NASCAR’s top three national series, now is guiding the racing career of his 20-year-old son, Layne.

And things are going well.

Layne won this year’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model championship, scoring 16 wins in 43 starts and edging former series champion Peyton Sellers by four points for the title.

Riggs thus became the youngest champion in Weekly Series history.

“It all started when Layne was 10 years old, mostly just something to entertain him and to have some fun,” Scott told NBC Sports. “But it’s turned into a full-fledged job. My life and plate have been full.”

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes

The Riggs family’s race shop is located in Bahama, North Carolina, Riggs’ home base during his NASCAR career. Scott describes himself as the “truck driver, spotter, crew chief and in-shop mechanic.”

“I am very tired,” he said.

The team, which depends on volunteers, didn’t plan to race in so many events this season, but when Layne started the year with a string of victories, it made sense to chase the national championship and give him a chance to be the youngest winner ever.

“To chase it that hard and be that close and then to win it, it was very exhausting,” Scott said. “It was a very big relief to finish the year.”

Success on short tracks resulted in Layne racing in three Camping World Truck Series events this year with Halmar Racing. He had a best finish of seventh at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in his series debut.

MORE: Snowball Derby attracts top NASCAR drivers

Scott Riggs ended his NASCAR driving career in 2014 in the Truck Series. He won five Truck races and four Xfinity races and ran 208 Cup races without a win. He made his Truck debut in 1999, moved to Xfinity in 2002 (winning Rookie of the Year) and then to Cup in 2004.

Riggs, now 51, raced in the Cup Series from 2004-13 with stops at MB2 Motorsports and with teams owned by Gene Haas, Tommy Baldwin and Ray Evernham, among others. He had four top-five finishes.

“I think I was very fortunate and the timing was right for me to move up through the ranks and get so many good opportunities,” Riggs said. “I raced late models for a long time, and then all of a sudden I got the opportunity to get in a truck. Won some races and poles and won races and poles in Xfinity.”

MORE: Jody Ridley’s upset for the ages

He ran out of chances in Cup as team models shifted, including some downsizing and mergers.

“I felt like I couldn’t get an opportunity that I had worked for and earned,” Riggs said. “It was hard for me. I was bitter for a year or so. But I look back, and a realization came over me that I was fortunate to have that time with my kids when they were at the right ages. I got to watch them do their things and just be the dad I wanted to be — not being gone four out of every seven days racing.

“I don’t think I’d have the relationship I have today with my kids if I had had a longer time in the sport.”

 

 

NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

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The best quotes from drivers and others involved in NASCAR competition often come in the heat of the moment — after a crash or a close finish or a controversial decision by officials.

NASCAR’s history is filled with memorable quotes from drivers who won races to drivers who watched wins slip away to officials caught in a moment of history.

Here’s a look at 10 that stand out:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. “I didn’t mean to turn him around. I meant to rattle his cage, though.” — Dale Earnhardt, describing how he didn’t mean to wreck Terry Labonte after he wrecked Labonte on the last lap at Bristol Motor Speedway to win the Aug. 28, 1999 race.

2. “They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass. There’s no way to get around that.” — Kevin Harvick, Feb. 21, 2010, offering his opinion on why Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team won so many races after Johnson outran him to win at Auto Club Speedway.

MORE: An upset for the ages: Jody Ridley wins at Dover

3. “It’s a stump-puller.” — Sterling Marlin, emphasizing the strength of his engine after he won the Daytona 500 Feb. 19, 1995.

4. “It’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do.” — Joey Logano, talking about Kevin Harvick after they were involved in a late-race crash at Pocono Raceway June 6, 2010. Harvick’s wife, DeLana, often wore a firesuit similar to those worn by team members during races.

5. “Do you have a brother?” — Ward Burton, responding to a reporter who asked if it was tougher to finish second because the race winner was his brother, Jeff, March 7, 1999 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Memorable images from 2022 NASCAR season

6. “I couldn’t hear him. He’s got that little yap-yap mouth. I couldn’t tell what he was saying.” — Ricky Rudd, commenting on what Kevin Harvick said to him after they wrecked at Richmond Raceway, Sept. 6, 2003.

7. “We can’t race with tears in our eyes.” — team owner Robert Yates, explaining why his team would not participate in the next week’s race after its driver, Davey Allison, was killed in a helicopter crash, July 1993.

8. “He’d have to toast everyone with milk.” — Dale Earnhardt, commenting on the celebratory drink choice Jeff Gordon might make if he ever won the Cup championship. After he won the 1995 Cup title, Gordon followed through, toasting his championship with a glass of milk at the awards banquet.

MORE: 2023 NASCAR, ARCA schedules

9. “You know they say there’s talkers and doers. I’ve done this twice.” — Tony Stewart, winning the pre-race trash-talk contest with Carl Edwards prior to the 2011 race for the championship. Stewart had won the title in 2002 and 2005 and notched another over Edwards in 2011.

10. “This is undoubtedly one of the toughest announcements that I’ve ever personally had to make, but after the accident in Turn 4 of the Daytona 500 we’ve lost Dale Earnhardt.” — NASCAR President Mike Helton, confirming Earnhardt’s death at Daytona International Speedway, Feb. 18, 2001.

Honorable mentions: David Pearson, after being told that Richard Petty had said Pearson was the best driver he ever raced against: “I agree with him.” … CBS broadcaster Ken Squier, calling the famous finish of the 1979 Daytona 500: “And there’s a fight between Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison! The tempers, overflowing. They are angry. They know they have lost. And what a bitter defeat.” … NASCAR founder Bill France, providing a unique ending to a pre-race prayer after temporarily forgetting to use Amen: “Sincerely, Bill France.”

Snowball Derby entry list includes NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, Truck drivers

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Four Cup drivers are among those entered for Sunday’s 55th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

The Cup drivers entered are former series champion Brad Keselowski, playoff competitor William Byron, two-time Southern 500 winner Erik Jones and incoming Cup rookie Noah Gragson, who advanced to the Xfinity title race this year.

Also entered: Josh Berry, who competed in the Xfinity championship race this year, and Ty Majeski, who competed in the Truck championship race this year.

Majeski won the 2020 Snowball Derby. Gragson won the race in 2018. Jones won the event in 2012 and ’13.

Others entered include:

Chandler Smith, who won the 2021 Snowball Derby and will drive for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2023, is listed on the entry list but stated on social media he will not be competing.

The Snowball Derby is among the more prestigious Super Late Model races on the calendar and coming after the NASCAR season makes it easier for more Cup, Xfinity and Truck competitors to take part in the event.

Qualifying takes place Saturday. The Snowball Derby is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET Sunday. Racing America will stream Sunday’s race for $49.99. A three-day viewing pass can be purchased for $74.99.