Goede Outduels Brother To Defend Titles

Goede Outduels Brother To Defend Titles

Keeps Elko And Minnesota Crowns For Another Year

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jacob Goede edged past his brother Matt Goede to celebrate back-to-back Elko Speedway and Minnesota championships. 

With family patriarch John presiding over the team, the two brothers battled it out every week at the famed .375-mile Minnesota asphalt oval. It was the older brother, Jacob, who came out on top of the amicable sibling rivalry for the second year in a row.

“It feels great to beat him,” the Carver, Minnesota, native said. “He had a few setbacks this year, while my season went unbelievably well. We both had fast cars, but I was able to stay out of trouble.”

The 31-year-old finished the season with 10 wins, 21 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes to sit atop Elko’s Minnesota Corn Growers Super Late Model division with 1126 points, 49 more than his younger brother.

“It’s a lot of fun to compete against him every week,” Goede said. “We push each other hard. We’re not to separate teams, we work together and help when needed. We haven’t caused any big issues between us, yet.”


The back-to-back champion also finished sixth in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national standings with 636 points in 23 starts.

Goede won his first career track and state titles last year to become the third driver to win a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship.

“Winning my first championship last year was a relief,” Goede said. “This year’s was the icing on the cake. We set the tone for the season opening night earning the fastest time and winning the feature. From there we just kept the momentum going.”

Defending his crown was a whole different experience compared to earning his first.

“This season was filled with more confidence and less pressure,” Goede said. “Before I won my first title I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. I had just returned home to Elko after travelling to compete and I wanted it bad. Winning last year was a confidence booster and it caused everything to fall into place.”

Goede was able to put his No. 72 Baby Gowdy/Goetz Trucking/Carver Automotive/MURGIC Racing Engines Ford up front thanks to the dedication of his sponsors, crew and family.

“It’s all because of them,” Goede said. “I couldn’t have done it without all of my sponsors and David Gowdy, my crew which consists of my dad (John) and my two brothers (Matt and Alex) and the unconditional support of my wife and two kids.”

The 2016 season kicks off at Elko Speedway Saturday, June 4 and Goede has one goal in mind.

“I want to finish in the top-three of the national standings,” Goede said. “It’s a tough task since Minnesota only has one track, but I’m motivated.”

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 57 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participated in 2015.

Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

Jacob Goede (No. 72) edges past his brother Matt Goede (No.28) en route to one of his 10 feature wins in 2016. Martin DeFries/Redline Graphics

Ulysse Delsaux To Make K&N Pro Series Debut At New Smyrna

Ulysse Delsaux To Make K&N Pro Series Debut At New Smyrna

18-Year-Old To Get Unique Occasion Thanks To NWES And Nexteer Automotive

The Nexteer Road To Daytona program – the path designed by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and Nexteer Automotive to grant European drivers the best opportunities to race in NASCAR in the US – will bring its youngest exponent to the K&N Pro Series East on February 14, when 18-year-old NWES development driver Ulysse Delsaux will make his debut at the wheel of the #46 Nexteer Chevrolet SS in the season opener at New Smyrna Speedway. 

The car will be fielded by NWES partner Precision Performance Motorsports and the race will be part of the traditional SpeedWeeks, a dense series of events marking the beginning of the NASCAR season in the Daytona area and culminating with the most coveted race of the season: the Daytona 500. 


“It is such an honour for me to enter this race, because it means that all the work we have done since the beginning of my career is paying off and the NASCAR family recognizes me as a good NASCAR driver. I have to thank everybody at NASCAR, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and Nexteer Automotive for this amazing opportunity,” said Delsaux. “This is just the beginning and I hope to demonstrate I deserve more opportunities like this.”

The young Frenchman earned his chance to enter his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series race by posting strong results in the official European NASCAR Series, especially in the oval rounds as he reached his first Elite 2 podium finish at Tour Speedway in 2015. He also showed his potential in a test held at New Smyrna in August, despite rain preventing him from racing in Florida in the Late Model Division. The goal for Delsaux will be to gain experience and exposure, be consistent and make a positive impression.

“I will enjoy every lap and give everything I have to show that I am a good NASCAR driver,” said the Troyes-native, who is also living his passion for racing as a way to overcome a form of autism. “I hope for clean, solid race. The entire racing world looks at Daytona during the Speedweeks and I want to gain my place in the spotlight.”

Nexteer Automotive will be Delsaux’s main sponsor in his K&N Pro Series East debut, as the company, together with the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, continues to provide strong support for European drivers willing to cross the ocean and compete against the best in the sport.

“The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and the Nexteer Road To Daytona program provide a unique chance to drivers like Ulysse to improve in their careers, compete in the US and prove themselves in a an incredibly competitive environment,” said Emmanuel Delsaux, Ulysse’s father. “Nowadays, European racing is really tough and requires huge budgets to race in formulas, GT, prototypes or even touring cars. I really think NASCAR creates unique opportunities for young European drivers to build their career and become professional drivers.”

After Daytona, Delsaux will return to Europe and to his RDV Compétition team to prepare a crucial 2016 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series campaign in which the Troyes-native will move to the ELITE 1 Division, aiming for a place in the top-10.

NASCAR: Doubtful Charter Franchise Will Entice New Owners

In an attempt to entice new owners into NASCAR's premier series, Brian France has moved down the path of franchising. Good idea or not?

In an attempt to entice new owners into NASCAR’s premier series, Brian France has moved down the path of franchising. Good idea or not?

Auto racing is an unforgiving passion: If you don’t perform well on the track, you won’t survive over time. Resources are not limitless. It’s an essential lesson in pay for performance and free enterprise at its finest.

Race teams need to have secure marketing partners to fund their operations, and race purse winnings to stay afloat. If a team shutters its race shop, there is not much left to sell to somebody else, given the tailored fabrication equipment, rule-dependent car templates, and the reliance on human talent that heads for the exit. In racing, the best way to make a small fortune is to start with a large one.

Now, NASCAR wants to reinvent that dynamic by establishing what is being referred to as a franchising “charter system”. For an upfront license fee (projected to be several million dollars per full-time car), entitled teams would be guaranteed a spot in each race. As a result, teams unable to secure a charter would be discouraged from participating, given that only a few spots in the show would be earned purely based on qualifying day performance.

Chartered teams also would have a superior ability to sell sponsorship and secure funding. As a result, many see this as a boon for current owners by ensuring they have equity in their race organizations, thereby providing a “guaranteed residual”, or a pay-to-play fee, for anybody to enter the sport.

This development is perplexing, given that a succession planning void looms over the next generation of trailblazers willing to invest capital in NASCAR’s future. At some point, NASCAR will need to replenish the current super team owners at its top Sprint Cup level (i.e., Roger Penske, Jack Roush, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Chip Ganassi, and Joe Gibbs), given these long-time principals have an average age of 70 years.

Owners, such as Roger Penske and Jack Roush have to have some succession plan in place. Their age is a factor that can't be ignored.

Owners, such as Roger Penske and Jack Roush have to have some succession plan in place. Their age is a factor that can’t be ignored.

Historically, the auto racing business has been about performance. Better performing teams get more attractive sponsors. Sponsors bring money to pay big-time drivers. Big-time drivers win races and bring purse money to the team. And the virtuous cycle continues. Pay for performance, clean and simple. Strong performing teams survive, and weak ones fade to the sideline. No different than other small businesses.

Throughout my career, I’ve designed and reviewed executive employment agreements. Nowadays, shareholders are clamoring for executives to be paid for their performance on the street. That said, golden parachute payout protections still persist, ensuring that an executive can realize lucrative severance benefits regardless of performance.

Somehow, the new charter license fee strikes me as having the same unfavored aspect, providing a floor level of profit, in spite of whether the team’s performance justifies that value.

Purportedly, NASCAR is trying to get this deal done prior to the start of its season at Daytona International Speedway in mid-February. Draft contracts have been circulated among the teams, as NASCAR Chairman Brian France looks to put his stamp on yet another landmark initiative.

“We don’t have it finished and it’s still moving around a little bit,” France said during January’s preseason media tour. “The time line is sooner rather than later. This is a complicated plan and structure that will require some time to phase in.”

However, NASCAR is not just brokering a deal with team owners. Team owners are haggling among themselves, in that the layers of ownership are diverse: Tenure vs. youth, multi-car vs. single car organizations, full-time vs. part-time, and wealthy vs. meager resources. With the agreement expected to span five years, which matches the contractual time period NASCAR just signed with all of the speedways that host races, it is critical to get this right.

“Like most things, the devil’s in the details,” according to Rob Kauffman, chairman of the Race Team Alliance, and former principal of now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing, who is spearheading the discussion on behalf of the owners.

As such, it is not a surprise that NASCAR and the teams are reviewing what is rumored to be a 100 page contract. Teams have different interests. One thing is a certainty, in that attorneys are getting paid handsomely, as hundreds of billable hours are being racked up in trying to put this deal together.

However, the trickiest obstacle is one of valuation. What should a full-time NASCAR charter be worth? Should it vary by race team status? And here is the rub: race teams do not control the sport’s primary assets; NASCAR does. Unlike stick and ball franchises, race teams are not granted an exclusive license to operate a geographic territory. They do not collect the fan ticket sales at the track; they do not own the tracks’ rights fees. And these teams surely do not regulate the competitive schedule nor negotiate the national TV broadcast rights, as that is handled in Daytona headquarters by the sanctioning body.

So, while the LA Dodgers may have been sold for more than $2 billion, the Guggenheim Baseball Partnership lays claim to the ticket sales, concession fees, and, most importantly, the local TV rights sold to Time Warner Cable that will generate $7 billion in incremental revenue over 25 years. Now that is a source of value that justifies an MLB franchise fee.

Breaking this all down, what NASCAR is attempting to sell through the charter license is equivalent to phantom stock sometimes used by entrepreneurs to provide the illusion of ownership for employees in a start-up. However, phantom stock is just that. You get no voting rights, no control, and no expectation of dividends. In the end, the owners may find that the charter is only worth what NASCAR is willing to buy it back for. Only time will tell if new pioneers are willing to step up and buy an outgoing charter to facilitate the coming ownership succession.

By Ron Bottano. Let’s connect on Twitter @rbottano

Unbeatable Run For Yarbrough

Unbeatable Run For Yarbrough

Rolls Off Third Straight Track Title, First SC Crown

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — With three consecutive NASCAR Whelen All-American track championships at Myrtle Beach Speedway in the Late Model division, Sam Yarbrough said they are nearly “unbeatable.”

“We have that track down to a science,” said Yarbrough. “Everything just works, we work well as a team, and when we’re at that track – we’re almost unbeatable.”

Capturing the track championship title behind 13 wins at the .538-mile paved oval, Yarbrough also secured his first state championship for South Carolina.

“It’s very exciting for us,” he said. “Getting back-to-back track champion is nice, but to get recognized on a state level and somewhat nationally as well – that’s really big for us as a team and it bodes well for the speedway.”

Yarbrough said Myrtle Beach Speedway is unique in that the asphalt is abrasive, causing it to be a “tricky track.”

“You have to handle the car really, really well,” he said. “You have to be as consistently quick as you can and have enough speed to not get too far behind. The corners are tighter and you have to find your line as far as the set-up goes. Drivers have to be on their game. You just have to be as smart as you can.”

The 31-year-old started racing at the age of 11, after he begged his father for a go-kart like his cousin had. Yarbrough began his racing career in Late Models at Myrtle Beach in 2003.

Now the native from Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. said their strategy is “all about wins.”

“To be honest, I wanted to have a perfect season,” he said. “But that’s hard to do. And 13 wins out of 18 starts at that track for the year is good.”

Yarbrough finished with 597 points at Myrtle Beach, easily out-distancing runner-up Jeremy McDowell by 202 points. He claimed by South Carolina crown by 104 points over Anderson Speedway champion Trey Gibson and 116 over Greenville Pickens Speedway champion David Roberts.

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an addition two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower. U.S. state and Canadian province titles are determined by the drivers best 18 finishes within the state or province.

Yarbrough said they look to do more traveling next year and expect nothing less than a track championship again in 2016, which would mark four years in a row if completed.

“We just run well there,” he said. “We have the perfect setup.”

Myrtle Beach will kick off its 2016 season with the Icebreaker 200 on Feb. 26-27. The opening weekend will feature the track’s Div. I Late Model Stock Cars in a 150-lap feature, as well as a 50-lap race for the Mini Stock Division.

Yarbrough was be honored for his Myrtle Beach Speedway crown along with other track and state/province champions from across North America as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. Competitors at 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout North America vied for track, state and province, and overall series championships in Divisions I-V throughout the 2015 season.

The series’ title sponsor – Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering – is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

Shiflett Becomes Two-Time Champion

Shiflett Becomes Two-Time Champion

Veteran Wins Second Straight NASCAR Crown at East Carolina

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After accomplishing a career first in 2014 at East Carolina Speedway, the second time feels just as good if not a little better for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competitor Jeff Shiflett.

The 16-year racing veteran Shiflett added a second consecutive track championship trophy to his collection in 2015. 

“We’ve had a great two years racing at East Carolina,” Shiflett said. “We won the track championship last year without a win and came back this year and picked up a pair of wins and a whole bunch of top 10s.”

The speedway, located in Robersonsville, North Carolina, just completed its second year under the NASCAR banner, and the veteran wheelman is two-for-two under the partnership.

Shiflett feels fortunate to be able to race with his fellow competitors each week in a manner that creates a good show for the fans and respect among the drivers.

“A lot of drivers have different driving styles and I’ve never been an overly aggressive driver,” Shiflett said. “I race other drivers how I want to be raced, plus I can’t afford to rebuild my car each week and sometimes when you start retaliating or what not, it can cost you a lot of money and time.”

Shiflett, who also competed in the track’s limited late model division in addition to the premiere late model stocks, finished in the top 10 in all 18 starts at the track last season with 15 top-five finishes, both solid improvements from his 2014 campaign.

“We took our momentum from last year and carried it over to this year, and we had another great season that was even better than our 2014 performance,” Shiflett said. “Of course I couldn’t do it by myself.”

In addition to his volunteer crew, Shiflett made it a family affair with his wife, Sheila, spotting for him each week and daughter, Sarai, always there to lend a hand.

“I can’t thank them enough, along with Gary Hamlin and Joe Ventkovich, for all of their help,” Shiflett said. “We try and work on our car on Tuesdays and Thursdays so we can still have family time during the week, but they are always willing to do whatever it takes to get our car ready to race each week. I really appreciate their dedication.”

Shiflett also has to balance running a business in addition to keeping the car ready and still spending valuable time with his family.

“We spend a lot of time working on the car and making sure everything is ready to go before we get to the race track, and that makes a big difference,” Shiflett said. “When you do that and race smart and don’t tear up your car each week, it gives you an opportunity to have a little balance in your life.”

Shiflett is also fortunate to have solid support for his late model team from longtime sponsors. Beach Radiator has been with him his entire racing career and Curvin Orthopeadic Group has been on his car for eight years. Those two along with Joe’s Maintenance has kept the No. 01 Chevrolet up front.

East Carolina, located about 90 miles east of Raleigh, is a .375-mile high-banked track with two distinctive turns. Shiflett enjoys competing at the challenging track each week even though it’s a two-hour commute each way for him and his team.

“We love racing there and Mr. Perry and his entire family have been good to all the competitors,” Shiflett said. “East Carolina is home for us. I plan on racing there as long as I can and challenging for another title.”

Jeff Shiflett (01) goes for the lead during a Late Model Stock race at East Carolina Motor Speedway. Shiflett picked up a pair of wins and 18 top-10 finishes in 18 starts last season to score his second track title at the Robersonville, North Carolina track. Photo courtesy of Annette Murray/East Carolina Motor Speedway

Whelen Mod Standout Preece Moving On Up

Whelen Mod Standout Preece Moving On Up

Gets His Shot In XFINITY Series With JD Motorsports

GAFFNEY, S.C. – The 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series season will be brand new, and the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team is ready to shine in the new landscape.

NASCAR has changed the system that decides the championship in the Xfinity Series, adding a version of the Chase format that has been successful for several seasons in the Sprint Cup Series.

A victory in the first 26 races of the 33-race Xfinity season will all but guarantee a driver entry into the Xfinity Chase. Twelve drivers will make the Chase.

Drivers will race for the title through three rounds, with four being eligible for the championship in the season’s final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. The Final Four driver who finishes the highest at Homestead will win the title.

“We’re ready to race for it,” said JD Motorsports with Gary Keller owner Johnny Davis. “We have the drivers, the cars and the resources here to make a run for the championship. We can’t wait to get started.”

JDM plans to field three cars again this season in the Xfinity Series.

Ross Chastain, who turned in a superior performance in his rookie Xfinity season last year, returns to the team’s No. 4 Chevrolets with backing from the watermelon industry. Brian Berry will be the team’s crew chief, with Gary Cogswell also on board at JDM as a co-crew chief and key mechanic across all of the team’s operations.

Former NASCAR Whelen Modified champion Ryan Preece takes over JDM’s No. 01 Chevys. Zach McGowan, already familiar with Preece from working with him in both Sprint Cup and Xfinity races, will be the team’s crew chief. Preece, who won the Modified championship in 2013, has raced with support from Mohawk Northeast, Inc., Mizzy Construction and Falmouth Ready Mix.

Eric McClure joins JDM to drive the team’s No. 0 Chevrolet in the season-opener Feb. 20 at Daytona International Speedway. Todd Myers will be crew chief. Reynolds Wrap will be McClure’s sponsor.

JDM plans to field the No. 0 cars throughout the season and is actively pursuing driver/sponsor partnerships going forward.

G&K Services, a long-time JDM sponsor, returns in 2016 as one of the team’s key ingredients.

“Everything is lining up well,” Davis said. “We expect to have three strong teams when we get things started next month in Daytona. We should be astronomically better than last year. We’re better prepared, and we have more resources.”

Chastain, 23, scored four top 10s for JDM last season, including a ninth-place run in the season-opening race at Daytona.

“I feel like we really overachieved last year, especially since I hadn’t been to a lot of the tracks,” Chastain said. “Now we’re back and we’ve regrouped. The right people are in the right places, and the morale of the whole team is better.”

Chastain said he’s shooting for race wins, a finish in the points top 10 and a run into the Chase.

Preece, 25, brings a strong resume to JDM. He finished as runnerup in the tough Whelen Modified Series in 2009 and 2012 before winning the title in 2013. He has 15 career wins in that series.

Preece ran five Sprint Cup races last season.

“It’s a great opportunity to run with Johnny Davis Motorsports,” Preece said. “I’ve been bouncing around between Sprint Cup and Xfinity, and it’s good to have a chance to run Xfinity full-time. It’s a lot of good seat time.

“I love to race, and it’s cool that NASCAR has given us the opportunity to shoot for the Chase and to race for a championship.”

McClure has finished in the top 20 in points in the Xfinity Series in each of the past five seasons. Also a former Sprint Cup driver, he brings a wealth of experience to JDM.

McClure raced for Davis in 2007 in the Xfinity Series.

“Johnny’s organization has come a long way,” McClure said. “It’s fitting that at this stage of my career that I can come back and partner up with a guy who knows how to race and knows how to maximize his opportunities. My career has sort of come full circle.”

Rogers Rolls To Riverhead Crown

Rogers Rolls To Riverhead Crown

Third Career NASCAR Title At Long Island Bullring

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Tom Rogers Jr. had a performance for the ages as he took home the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship at Riverhead Raceway in 2015.

The Patchogue, New York, native rolled to nine wins – one shy of tying the historic Long Island bullring’s all-time single-season record – en route to his third career crown in the competitive NASCAR Modified division.

Despite the significance of his success, Rogers took more satisfaction in his accomplishment for what it meant to his car owner, who he first joined forces with in 2011.

“Any championship is special,” Rogers said. “It was nice to win it for Joe Ambrose because it was his first.”


Rogers’ nine checkered flags and 17 top fives in 19 starts behind the wheel of the No. 0 Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevrolet were good enough for third in the New York state standings, and ranked him 22nd nationally in Whelen All-American Series Division I. He defeated Kyle Soper 398-349 in Riverhead points to add 2015 to his previous track titles earned at the quarter-mile bullring in 2004 and 2010.

As to the significance of winning nearly half of the season’s races, Rogers boiled it down quite simply.

“I’m there to win. That’s what we’re all there to do,” Rogers said. “If we didn’t think we could win then we probably wouldn’t be doing it.”

Rogers counts his win in the Baldwin, Jarzombek, Evans Memorial 77 as the most memorable moment of the season, not only for how he got it, but for the occasion it marked.

“After getting the lead, I got passed by Ryan (Preece), and I was able to get it back again a few laps later,” Rogers said. “To win that race was special because I used to work on Tom Baldwin’s car, the year he passed away.”

Although he had clinched the modified title the week before, Rogers recorded his 40th career feature win in the finale to put an exclamation on the season. That same night he also won the figure eight feature and claimed his third career crown in that division as well.

The dual crowns made him the first driver since 1959 to capture two different division titles in the same season at Riverhead.

“All of my life I’ve raced two divisions, I just haven’t always raced two full-time. This year I was able to do both.” Rogers said. “In both the figure eights and the modifieds, I was able to get the car owners their first championships, so that was more important to me than anything else.”

An employee of the Town of Riverhead Highway Department by day, Rogers went to work for his No. 0 team with crew help from Michael Berner, Helmut Loesching and Sean Corsetti. Jessup Landscaping and Royal Fence provided associate sponsorship support.

While his plans for a title defense in 2016 at Riverhead are currently unsettled, Rogers has noticed the changes that have been taking place at his home track this offseason. Ed and Connie Partridge purchased the grounds last fall, and not only will they keep it operating as a race track, they have embarked on a renovation project that will make an immediate difference in the appearance of the facility.

“I live in town here and I see all of the improvements they are doing there, which is awesome,” Rogers said. “I really wish them the best of luck and I’m really happy they were able to keep it a race track.”

Rogers noted the progress to date, with a tinge of excitement.

“They put up new bathrooms, concession stands and ticket booths,” Rogers said. “They’re really sprucing the place up. I hope that he keeps going. I think he wants it to be a first class facility, and it’s heading in that direction.”

The progress is something that means a lot to Rogers, as it will to many others who’ve had longtime ties to the famed bullring.

“It’s the place I grew up at since I was two weeks old,” Rogers said. “I’ve made a lot of friends there through the years. It’s kind of my home.”

Riverhead will open up the 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season on May 7. For more information, please click HERE.

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 57 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participated in 2015.

Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

Rogers piloted the No. 9 Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevrolet to nine wins in 19 features in 2015. Michael Jaworecki Photography

NASCAR: Caution Clock Ticking for the Camping World Truck Series

One a series with great promise, the NASCAR Truck Series runs the risk of being artificial.

One a series with great promise, the NASCAR Truck Series runs the risk of being artificial.

NASCAR’s Racing Development and Innovation team, led by EVP Steve O’Donnell, got busy during the off season, having just rolled out an assortment of structural changes for all three race series. During this week’s 2016 media tour kick-off in Charlotte, revolutionary creations from NASCAR’s Innovation labs were conveyed as fully baked with a strong business case; the reality is these concepts are likely being tested in race conditions as clinical trials.

In Chairman Brian France’s State of the Sport address this week, the discoveries came at us with the pace of a “Fast and Furious” chase scene.

The wildest, newfangled device is a “Caution Clock” for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck (NCWTS) season for all tracks (except Eldora) that is anticipated to energize this development series, which is generally struggling with low crowd counts and unprofitable financial costs, in spite of a generally solid racing product.

The 20-minute Caution Clock will begin when the race leader takes the green flag at the beginning of the race and each restart. Once that clock runs out, an automatic caution is thrown. Should a normal race caution occur (e.g., due to debris or an accident), the Caution Clock will be reset to another 20 minute window.

So, what are possible rewards of this new Caution Clock?

  • If the field gets strung out on a long green flag run at an aero-dependent speedway, the Caution Clock will bunch up the field and close the gap that the lead trucks have established over the field. Finishes like last May’s Kansas Speedway race, with only six trucks on the lead lap, will hopefully be less common
  • The less experienced, start-up truck teams with limited resources will have more opportunity to take big swings on pit lane adjustments if they missed set-ups at the start of the race
  • Elimination of the fictional caution, so often attributed to notable French driver “Jacques Debris”
  • Addition of an extra layer of pit strategy, by deciding to gamble on track position by staying out
  • If all else fails, the foreseeable caution helps fans to time their concession or bathroom break, as well as an opportunity for the younger set to catch up on social media


The restarts could be very interesting, if not very calculated.

One thing is unquestionable. There will be big drama on restarts. Daniel Hemric, driver of the No. 19 Ford F-150 for Brad Keselowski Racing in 2016, predicts a ramp-up in tension and thrills, noting “As a driver, you look forward to restarts. Over the years, restarts have been the common ground where you have an opportunity to make gains. I think it’s going to be exciting for the fans and definitely add another thing to make the crew chiefs lose sleep at night.”

However, the big danger is that fans will now deem race outcomes as artificial or manipulated; the arbitrary nature of this Caution Clock disrupts the competitive soul of racing. Instead of the best racer with the fastest truck heading to victory lane, he or she may be left spinning on the infield like a roulette wheel game of chance, after getting dumped on a restart by an overly aggressive competitor.

I strained to rack my brain for another sport that does something similar, and it is hard to find an analog. This mandatory Caution Clock reset would be like the MLB Yankees having an 8-0 lead in the 8th inning against the hapless Phillies, but having their lead reset to 1-0 entering the ninth inning. Perhaps tennis is similar, as Serena Williams can win the first set of the Australian Open 6-0 in games, and that only collects her a 1-0 lead in sets (with the best of 3 sets necessary to close out the match).

Steve O’Donnell must be taking a lot of flak in Twitterverse right now, but he seems to wear it well. Whatever NASCAR pays him to lead this effort is probably not enough. Last week, he tweeted out, “Busy day-appreciate all the feedback-if you are not on board with change, that’s “ok” but ask that you give it a chance and let it play out.”  https://twitter.com/odsteve/status/689600660749168641

In that, O’Donnell is spot on. Fans will surely voice their opinion over the course of the season, and NASCAR will be eavesdropping. O’Donnell’s peculiar countdown clock may be novelty, or it may be a trial balloon, that NASCAR eventually migrates up the food chain to the XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series. At least if it flops, fans will overlook it like the halftime stoppage that the CWTS races used briefly during the decade of the 90’s.

By Ron Bottano. Let’s connect on Twitter @rbottano






Modified Legend Cook Enters NASCAR Hall

Modified Legend Cook Enters NASCAR Hall

Induction Ceremony Honors Five Of Sport’s Greatest

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Five of NASCAR’s iconic figures – four drivers and one motorsports entrepreneur – were enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina this afternoon during the Induction Ceremony held in the Crown Ball Room at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Those who added their names to the list of now 35 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees, included: Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner.

The group makes up the Hall’s seventh class in its history.

Jerry Cook made his name in the modified division, winning six NASCAR Modified championships, including four consecutively from 1974-77. He joins his rival from his hometown of Rome, New York, Richie Evans, as only the second Hall of Fame driver whose career wasn’t connected to NASCAR’s premier series. Cook won 342 NASCAR Modified races in 1,474 starts. Upon his retirement, Cook stayed with the sport and helped shape the series known today as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He served as the series’ director and also served as NASCAR’s competition administrator.

“For me, it’s always been NASCAR,” Cook said. “I’ve spent my entire life in the greatest sport in the world and to be honored in this way – tonight – to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame along with the greatest names in the sport – is the pinnacle of my career.”

One of NASCAR’s original speedsters, Bobby Isaac captured 19 poles in 1969 – a mark that still stands as the record for poles in a single season. His 49 career poles are the 10th-most all time. More than just a strong qualifier, Isaac won the 1970 premier series championship by posting 11 victories, 32 top fives and 38 top 10s in 47 starts. His 37 career wins rank 19th on NASCAR’s all-time list.

“He died at the age of 45 doing what he loved to do,” said Isaac’s former spouse, Patsy Isaac. “But he died way too soon. Bobby would’ve loved this honor.”   

Terry Labonte raced his way to two NASCAR premier series championships, the first in 1984, and the second in 1996. The Texan’s 12-year gap between titles is the longest in NASCAR history. A consummate professional, Labonte earned the moniker “Iron Man” thanks to his 655 consecutive starts in NASCAR’s premier series, a record which stood until 2002. Labonte won 22 races, bookended by Southern 500 victories in 1980 and 2003. His 361 top-10 finishes ranks 10th all time.

“Before, I’d be introduced as a two-time champion,” Labonte said. “Now I’ll be introduced as a NASCAR Hall of Famer. And I think that’s a whole lot cooler.”

O. Bruton Smith finished building Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960, the facility that became the foundation of his Speedway Motorsports Inc. empire, which currently owns eight NASCAR tracks hosting 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and additional high-profile motorsports activities. He made SMI the first motorsports company to be traded at the New York Stock Exchange when he took it public in 1995. Smith is the founder of Sonic Automotive group and is active in child-related causes with his philanthropic foundation, Speedway Children’s Charities.

“I appreciate you all coming. I hope you have a great season, a great racing season,” Smith said. “I’m delighted and I’m glad to be a part of the (Hall of Fame) here, this is great.”

Nicknamed the “Babe Ruth of stock car racing” for his big-time personality and talent, NASCAR pioneer Curtis Turner remains the only premier series driver to win two consecutive races from the pole leading every lap. Turner notched 17 wins, 54 top fives and 73 top 10s in 184 starts. He is the only driver to win a NASCAR premier series race in a Nash and tallied 38 victories in 79 NASCAR Convertible Division events. In 1972, NASCAR Founder Bill France said, “Curtis Turner was the greatest race car driver I have ever seen.”

“At day’s end and chats catching up, Daddy would always say, anything is possible,” said Turner’s daughter, Margaret Sue Turner Wright, who accepted on behalf of her father. “And it was, and for us, so it is.”

Each of the five inductees had an inductor who officially welcomed them into the hall. The inductors for the five inductees: Robin Pemberton for Jerry Cook; Randy Isaac (son) for Bobby Isaac; Kristy Labonte Garrett (daughter) for Terry Labonte; Darrell Waltrip for Bruton Smith; and Leonard Wood for Curtis Turner.

Active drivers introduced each inductee during tonight’s program: Tony Stewart for Jerry Cook; Ryan Newman for Bobby Isaac; Kyle Busch for Terry Labonte; Brad Keselowski for Bruton Smith; and Kevin Harvick for Curtis Turner.

In addition to the five inductees enshrined on Saturday afternoon, Harold Brasington was honored as the second recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Brasington, who believed in the potential of Bill France’s fledgling NASCAR business, architected Darlington Raceway in his hometown of Darlington, South Carolina. After completing the project, he expected 10,000 fans to show up at the track, but instead 25,000 spectators showed up for the inaugural Southern 500 – NASCAR’s first 500-mile race. The race turned out to be a mega-event that is still run to this day. After building Darlington, Brasington helped create Charlotte Motor Speedway and North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham.

Prior to today’s Induction Ceremony, long-time NASCAR broadcaster Steve Byrnes was bestowed the fifth Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.
Byrnes’s motorsports broadcasting career spanned more than three decades. He most recently served as the play-by-play announcer for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on FS1 and was the network’s co-host of NASCAR Race Hub. Last April, Byrnes passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Throughout his career, Byrnes provided mentorship for countless young broadcasters and provided race fans with quality insight and entertainment as a pit reporter for CBS, TNN, TBS and FOX.

Jerry Cook’s six-time national champion No. 38 modified now resides on display in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Getty Images for NASCAR

FansChoice.tv To Stream New Smyrna

FansChoice.tv To Stream New Smyrna

Eight Nights of Whelen All-American Racing Airing Live

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Race fans around the world got to watch last year as 14-year-old Harrison Burton became the youngest Division I winner in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series history and rising dirt racing star Christopher Bell scored his first NASCAR win. That was possible thanks to the coverage from New Smyrna Speedway on FansChoice.tv.

This year, fans will once again be able to catch all the action of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing at the 50th World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing (Twitter hashtag: #NewSmyrnaWS) on FansChoice.tv.

The web platform, which features free live streaming of NASCAR, AMA Pro and IMSA racing, as well as assorted motorsports events from across the globe, will provide comprehensive coverage of one of the premier short-track events in NASCAR.

“At a time when the spotlight is on the Daytona area, this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase some of the best short-track racers as the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series gets started in a big way,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of touring and weekly series. “FansChoice.tv will allow fans to check out the coverage in a variety of ways: Supplementing what they’re enjoying from the stands at New Smyrna, as a second screen as they take in all the action at ‘The World Center of Racing,’ Daytona International Speedway, or on their computers, tablets and phones wherever they are in the world.”

Streaming will begin each night at 7:30 p.m. ET.

In addition, NASCARHomeTracks.com will again team up with Speed51.com to provide live updates, results and photos throughout the entire event – including practice and qualifying – through its popular Race Central Live feature.

Racing will get underway Friday, Feb. 12, headlined by the first of seven Super Late Model races. Coverage will continue Saturday, Feb. 13 and resume on Monday, Feb. 15 as the Modifieds take the track for a 50-lap feature.

The Modifieds will run five nights, culminating with the Richie Evans Memorial 100-lap race Friday, Feb. 19. The Super Late Model 100-lap finale will wrap up the week on Saturday, Feb. 20.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will kick off its season on Sunday, Feb. 14, at New Smyrna with the Jet Tools 150. That race will air on a date to be announced on NBCSN as part of the network’s coverage of NASCAR’s top developmental series.

Last year, Bell outran Burton to capture the Bruce Gowland Memorial 100 on the final night of Super Late Model racing. Wisconsin’s Zane Smith, 15, won the World Series for the Super Late Model division, while Burton, the son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton, set the NASCAR mark for youngest winner at 14 years old with his feature win earlier in the week. In addition, 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece won the Evans Memorial to capture his first week-long Modified championship on the half-mile.

In addition to the live coverage, all of the night’s action will be available as on-demand replays on FansChoice.tv.



Christopher Bell won his first NASCAR race last February at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and went on to score the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway. Getty Images via NASCAR

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