Lionel Racing

Kevin Harvick’s Darlington scheme revealed

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Kevin Harvick will race like it’s 1996 with his paint scheme for the Sept. 2 Southern 500.

His No. 4 Ford will be sponsored by Busch Beer and the car’s look will be based on the beer’s can design from 20 years ago.

Harvick, who won the 2014 Southern 500, has been sponsored by Busch and Budweiser in the three throwback themed races at Darlington Raceway so far, with Budweiser on the car in 2015.

Harvick’s paint scheme joins a short list of those that have been announced so far. Those include schemes for Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney.

Here’s each of Harvick’s throwback schemes so far.

2015

2016

2017

 

NASCAR executive: Teams not getting through inspection ‘frustrating’

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Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer for NASCAR, called the pattern of teams not getting cars through inspection “frustrating” for the sanctioning body.

Appearing on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” Monday morning, O’Donnell addressed the issue after a weekend where six teams were unable to make qualifying attempts for the Cup race at Kansas Speedway due to not passing inspection in time.

Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, Kasey Kahne, Timmy Hill and Michael McDowell did not make qualifying attempts and started from the rear of the field.

The teams of Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray had to scramble to get their cars on the track with less than two minutes left in Round 1.

“It’s really a frustrating topic for us,” O’Donnell said. “You’ve heard me come on and say we’ve got the most talented engineers in the world working on the race cars and we believe that. And it’s certainly frustrating because it is on the teams to present their cars for inspection.”

O’Donnell compared the inspection issue to a hypothetical scenario in baseball.

“It’s become really the equivalent of a Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs third baseman) coming to the plate with a bat you can’t use,” O’Donnell said. “The umpire says ‘you can’t use that,’ comes back with a bat you can’t use, the umpire says it again and then the third time says ‘you can’t make your plate appearance.’ Then the batter runs to the media and says, ‘I can’t believe they did this.’ At some point it’s frustrating on our end and at some point we’ve got to get the teams to be able to show up and get through tech inspection. It’s the same every week and it’s one of those things that most teams are able to do it.”

O’Donnell said NASCAR needs to “streamline” the process “somehow” and work with teams to ensure “we’re getting everybody out there, that’s what the fans pay to see and that’s what we collectively should want to do as an industry.”

Two weeks ago at Dover, pole-sitter Kyle Larson was one of three drivers who had to start from the rear for issues in pre-race inspection. The car chiefs for Larson and Alex Bowman were ejected from the event for their cars failing inspection three times.

O’Donnell was asked if NASCAR could increase penalties to further deter teams from going over the line.

“We feel like we’ve done that. It hasn’t seemed to work,” O’Donnell said. “I think we’ll go back and just look at it collectively and continue to focus on the teams that are doing it right and really make that be the narrative and continue to do so. Where we can make an adjustment we certainly will. Last thing we want to do you know is penalize any team. We don’t want that to be the narrative. We want the narrative to be around the race product.”

Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and four others don’t make qualifying runs at Kansas

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Six Cup teams failed to get their cars through qualifying inspection Friday at Kansas Speedway.

As a result, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, Kasey KahneTimmy Hill and Michael McDowell did not make qualifying attempts. They will start from the rear of Saturday’s race.

It’s a rough start to Kenseth’s return to Cup racing with Roush Fenway Racing. He makes his first start of the year tomorrow night.

Bowyer’s problems come after a penalty from last week at Dover resulted in a two-race suspension for his car chief.

“We’re stuck back there in jail,” Bowyer told Fox Sports 1. “Pretty bad taste in my mouth right now. It’s hard not to go off because it’s frustrating. You’re sitting there watching the guys. The body was off, they made some adjustments and went back through and then the chassis is off.”

Friday 5: Matt Kenseth’s return is only the beginning for Roush Fenway Racing

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Matt Kenseth’s return to Cup today at Kansas Speedway is a feel-good story his fans hope will continue throughout the season.

But let’s get one thing clear.

He won’t be any type of savior for Roush Fenway Racing. Kenseth can help make the team stronger but it will be up to every person in the organization to make that happen. This is not a one-person job.

“Probably as much as anything I’m as excited about Matt interacting with us about is what’s most important on the car because there’s 100 things that go on behind the steering wheel — from conditions of how the car is handling to how they react in traffic to all the stuff that goes on on pit road,’’ Tommy Wheeler, operations director at Roush Fenway Racing, said April 25 after the announcement of Kenseth’s return.

“We have enough resources to fix any number of things, but what is very difficult to discern with a young driver lineup like we have is what is most important. What is going to be the most impactful today to make the car faster?’’

Kenseth will be in the car for the next five weeks, including three events in a row at a 1.5-mile track (Kansas, All-Star Race at Charlotte and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte). The team has stated it needs to be better at such tracks. Kenseth’s input will be valuable.

Wheeler knows what Kenseth can provide. Wheeler joined Roush in 2010 as an engineering manager and saw the impact Kenseth had then.

“His feedback of telling us what direction to go with the race cars of ‘Hey if you fix this, I will run faster,’ that direct link and having the credentials and the ability to back that up can’t be overstated,’’ Wheeler said.

Anything that Kenseth can state and the team can adjust could help Ricky Stenhouse Jr. make the playoffs for a second year in a row.

Stenhouse enters this weekend two points behind Chase Elliott for what would be the final playoff spot at this time. With 15 races left until the playoffs begin, there is time to move into a playoff spot but the competition won’t be easy.

Stenhouse trails a Hendrick Motorsports driver for that last playoff spot and is just ahead of a Joe Gibbs Racing driver (Daniel Suarez) and another Hendrick driver (William Byron) in the points. 

2. NASCAR is watching you …

Since teams were informed before Bristol that NASCAR would call uncontrolled tire penalties more closely, such penalties have increased significantly.

NASCAR has called 18 uncontrolled tire penalties in the last four Cup races — more than double the number of those penalties called in the first seven races.

The change happened after NASCAR admitted it should have penalized Kevin Harvick’s team for an uncontrolled tire on a late pit stop at Texas. Instead, Harvick went on to finish second in that race.

Kyle Larson’s pit crew has been penalized for an uncontrolled tire twice in the last four races. So has Matt DiBenedetto’s team and AJ Allmendinger’s team.

NASCAR called six uncontrolled tire penalties at both Bristol and Richmond. There were five last weekend at Dover. 

3. Youth tryout

NASCAR announced this week the formation of a youth esports racing series catered to “attract and identify young talent.’’

This column brought up the topic in February but focused more on what a manufacturer or team could do to gauge the ability of youngsters. Such a program would give those who begin racing at an early age a way to display their talent who wouldn’t be able to otherwise for whatever reason. William Byron didn’t race a car until he was 15 years old. Five years later, he’s with one of the sport’s top teams in Hendrick Motorsports.

Said Jack Irving, director of team and support services for Toyota Racing Development, on finding talented youngsters through sim racing: “That is something that is of interest and something we’ve spent some time on.’’

For more of the story, go here.

4. Working hard

On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman noted that while testing Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Gaunt Brothers Racing — the team he will drive for in the Coca-Cola 600 — he shared the track with manufacturers doing a wheel-force test.

Wheel-force testing can be mundane and time-consuming. But Kligerman noted that the Chevrolet wheel-force car was driven by Jimmie Johnson. Kligerman said that Johnson told him that no one was going to outwork him as he seeks to return to winning races for Hendrick Motorsports. 

5. To the front 

Stewart-Haas Racing has had at least one of its cars finish in the top three in seven of the first 11 races this season. SHR took the top two spots last weekend with Kevin Harvick winning at Dover and Clint Bowyer placing second.

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Zynga Poker to sponsor Matt DiBenedetto in seven more races

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GoFas Racing announced Saturday it has partnered with Zynga Poker as a primary sponsor on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 32 Ford for seven more races this year.

Zynga, a social game developer, first sponsored DiBenedetto in the March race at ISM Raceway after a social media campaign by the driver to attract sponsorship.

Zynga Poker will sponsor DiBenedetto during All-Star Weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 19th, Pocono (June 3), Daytona (July 7), Watkins Glen (Aug. 5), Bristol (Aug. 18), Las Vegas (Sept. 16), and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 18).

“We are inspired by Matt’s fans and excited to join the rally to keep No. 32 in the race,” said Monty Kerr, senior vice president for Zynga Poker in a press release. “Over the past 10 years, Zynga Poker players have shown the same passion and enthusiasm so we’re proud to partner with a team that loves their fans as much as we do.”

In a press conference Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, the team said it has four unsponsored races remaining this season.

“I know we say it a lot, but it really has been a lot of fun working with and getting to know the Zynga Poker team,” team manager Mason St. Hilaire said in the press release. “Being able to put together a partnership just two days prior to the Phoenix race in March and to be able to turn it into what it has become today really speaks volumes for how perfect of a partnership this really is. With Zynga Poker’s global audience, we’re excited to engage a new generation of poker players and introduce them to NASCAR racing.”