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Stewart-Haas Racing to make 1,000th Cup start in Texas race

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Stewart-Haas Racing continues to hit historic milestones in its 10th season of Cup competition.

Through just six races it boasts four wins with two of its drivers, including three consecutive for Kevin Harvick (a first in his career).

At Phoenix, the team put all four of its cars in the top 10 for the first time since becoming a four-car operation in 2014.

Entering this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, SHR has four wins, six top-five finishes and 11 top 10s.

When the engines are fired on the Fords of Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, they will give SHR 1,000 Cup starts. That number does not include the 284 starts from 2002-08 when the team was known as Haas-CNC.

“That makes me feel really, really old,” SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said in a press release. “Seriously, a thousand starts is a sign of longevity and that’s an accomplishment. It helps in keeping good people and recruiting good people.”

After Tony Stewart became co-owner of the team founded by Gene Haas, the first start for SHR was the 2009 Daytona 500.

Stewart and Ryan Newman rolled off the grid for the team. Stewart started fifth and finished eighth, while Newman started and finished 36th.

Stewart earned the first of the team’s 43 wins that June at Pocono Raceway. Bowyer claimed the most recent win last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. It was Bowyer’s first win in 190 starts and his first with SHR after joining the team in 2017.

“Make no mistake, all four Stewart-Haas cars have been good all year-long,” Bowyer said in a press release. “Kevin led that charge when he won three races in a row, but we’ve been ‘Steady Eddie’ with our 14 car and the things that I’ve always been accustomed to. Consistency and things like that I’m starting to see, knowing our strengths, knowing our weaknesses from last year, focusing on those weaknesses and then, all of a sudden, it starts to click in and putting things together, and you have those conversations. You feel confidence.”

Since 2009, SHR has also fielded cars for Danica Patrick, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Brian Vickers, Regan Smith, Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon and Max Papis.

In 996 starts, SHR has 199 top fives, 378 top 10s, 35 poles and two championships in 2011 (Stewart) and 2014 (Harvick).

SHR has won on every active Cup track except for Kentucky Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Most starts among active Cup wins

Hendrick Motorsports – 3,867

Roush Fenway Racing – 3,533

Richard Childress Racing – 2,857

Joe Gibbs Racing – 2,188

Team Penske – 1,957

Wood Brothers Racing – 1,516

Chip Ganassi Racing – 1,075 (does not include the five years and 367 starts when the team was known as Earnhardt Ganassi Racing)

Stewart-Haas Racing – 996

 

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Bootie Barker to finish season, but Germain Racing will have new crew chief in 2018

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Germain Racing announced Tuesday that veteran NASCAR Cup crew chief Robert “Bootie” Barker will finish the season with the team in that position, “but will not be with Germain Racing in 2018.”

Barker, 46, has been crew chief at Germain Racing, primarily for the No. 13 car, since 2010. Ty Dillon replaced Casey Mears as driver of the No. 13 Chevrolet this season. Dillon has struggled; his best finish in his first full Cup season has been 11th at Talladega four weeks ago.

The team did not state who would replace Barker.

Barker has served as a crew chief primarily in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series since 2001. Drivers he has worked with include Dave Blaney, Mike Bliss, Ward Burton, Jason Leffler, Jeff Green, Johnny Sauter, Jeremy Mayfield, Scott Wimmer, Blake Feese, Scott Riggs, Patrick Carpentier, Max Papis, Michael Waltrip, Casey Mears and Dillon.

In 479 Cup races as a crew chief, Barker has no wins, three top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. In 94 Xfinity Series races, he has four wins, 20 top fives and 39 top 10s. He also served as a crew chief in the Truck series for three races.

UPDATE: The team announced Wednesday that, like Barker, technical director Chris Andrews and engineer Scott Whitehead will complete the current season but will not return in 2018.

Martin Truex Jr., Sherry Pollex receive National Motorsports Press Association Spirit Award

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Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. and long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex have been voted the third quarter winners of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Pocono Spirit Award.

The Spirit Award recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.

The couple was nominated for their “Drive for Teal & Gold” campaign to raise awareness and funds for ovarian and childhood cancer. They received 45 percent of the vote. Also receiving votes were the NASCAR Foundation, Joey Logano and nominated as a group were Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.

In its second year, Truex and Pollex’s campaign included 29 NASCAR drivers participating by using custom teal and gold steering wheels produced by Max Papis Innovations (MPI) and driving gloves. The autographed steering wheels and gloves were auctioned off at the end of September.

Pollex was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014 and was in remission by early 2016. But she underwent a procedure for a recurrence last July. Pollex was not present for Truex’s win at Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago as she recovered from a chemotherapy session.

Artist Sam Bass and The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America won the Spirit Award earlier this year.

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Germain Racing signs multi-year extension with Ty Dillon, GEICO

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Germain Racing announced Tuesday it has signed multi-year contract extension with rookie driver Ty Dillon and long-time sponsor GEICO insurance.

The announcement comes with 11 races left in Dillon’s rookie campaign in the No. 13 Chevrolet.

GEICO has been a sponsor of Germain Racing since 2008 in the Xfinity Series. The team and sponsor moved up to the Cup level part-time in 2009 and full-time in 2010 with Max Papis and then Casey Mears. Mears drove for Germain Racing until last season.

The team will continue to be part of a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Dillon, a grandson of Childress, drives part-time for RCR in the Xfinity Series.

“Being able to partner with GEICO all these years has been a source of great pride for our race team and for me personally,” said team owner Bob Germain, Jr. in a press release. “They’re an incredible company and they support our sport in so many different ways. We’re very fortunate to be the team that gets to represent GEICO on the race track. I appreciate their support and I look forward to working with them in the years to come. Ty Dillon has given us some very exciting races in his rookie season. We have extended Ty’s contract, and look forward to crew chief Bootie Barker and Ty leading the team to more success. They will be supported by all of the same great team members who have helped build Germain Racing.”

Through 25 races Dillon is 24th in the point standings. Without any top five or top-10 finishes, Dillon’s best result is 13th twice, in May at Talladega and Sunday in the Southern 500. He has an average finish of 20.5 and has led 40 laps, including 27 at Dover in June.

Dillon is third in the rookie standings behind Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez.

“GEICO is an amazing sponsorship partner and a great supporter of NASCAR as a whole,” Dillon said in a press release. “I love having the chance to represent them and be a part of their widespread footprint in the sport, along with their long-standing relationship with Germain Racing. We’ve experienced success together during my rookie season and I’m excited for what the future holds for our No. 13 GEICO team,”

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NASCAR Drivers to support ‘Drive for Teal & Gold’ campaign

Photo: Sherry Pollex
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The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s second annual “Drive for Teal & Gold” campaign to raise awareness of and funds for ovarian cancer (teal ribbon) and childhood cancers (gold ribbon) will begin this weekend at Darlington Raceway.

Truex’s girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, is an ovarian cancer survivor.

Throughout September, the national awareness month for both diseases, 27 drivers in Cup, Xfinity and the Camping World Truck Series will sport teal and gold steering wheels customized by Max Papis Innovations. Ryan Newman will take part by using customized driving gloves. At the end of September, drivers will autograph their customized items for an online auction by the NASCAR Foundation to benefit the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation.

Truex and Pollex created the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation in 2007 to advocate for children and teens affected by cancer. Pollex was diagnosed with stage 3c ovarian cancer in 2014. The Foundation’s mission was rebranded in 2015 to support both childhood and ovarian cancers. In 2016, Pollex launched SherryStrong.org as a health and wellness resource for women fighting any form of cancer. In July 2017, Pollex underwent successful surgery for a recurrence.