NASCAR

Kyle Larson tests at Phoenix International Raceway on Jan. 31. Larson and his competitors will have a whole new set of rules and formats waiting them when they return to race competition in 2017 starting next week at Daytona.

Hello NASCAR fans, and welcome to the new world.

You’re about to enter a season where everything is different – from the title sponsor to a host of new rules. About the only thing not different is we’ll have the same cast of characters battling it out on track.

Most notably, the basic format of the races we watch is changing, with the goal of more competitive racing through the entire duration of the race.

Before I let you know my thoughts on all this, let’s break down what the format changes are:

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The Penske team looks to contend for another Cup title in 2017, with Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski once again behind the wheel.

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion

YOU AND BRAD AND RYAN REALLY GET ALONG TOGETHER. WHEN AND HOW DID THAT CHEMESTRY COME ABOUT? “I think the three of us have a lot in common and we just naturally get along. I think we all really get the big picture and I think that is hard to find a lot of times. When you get teammates that all can see the big picture together and understand what we are there to do. Yes, we all want to win. Each one of us wants to win the race and have the trophies and all that but we also realize if we don’t work together none of us are going to raise the trophy up. I think everyone at Team Penske sees that, drivers included. You might see some of that throughout teams but then drivers don’t see it that way, but I think we have showed it a lot, especially superspeedway racing and the way we are able to work together and get ourselves up front and ultimately win races. It is important that Brad and I have grown into having a great friendship at this point. We talk about a lot of things outside of racing. I think that is valuable. I do the same thing with my crew chief Todd (Gordon) and I think those relationships are very valuable when they become more than a business relationship. It makes it easy to talk things out. I think it is hard to have that but I think it is very important.”

YOU HAVE RECEIVED YOUR FAIR SHARE OF BOO’S DURING DRIVER INTROS. DOES THAT BOTHER YOU? “I secretly love it. Don’t tell anybody. In all honesty, yeah I would rather be loved than hated but I would rather them say something than nothing. In all honesty, Martinsville is the race track that I think they dislike me the most. I can tell usually by the pick-up truck ride and counting the number of birds I get. All I can think of is how cool it would be to win there and do a big burnout. That would be the coolest. That is motivation to me. I do like that people like me and my fans that support me as a person and as a race car driver. I feel like they have gotten to know me, my personality and what I stand for. I also respect that some people don’t and that is okay. I am who I am and I am not going to change anything. Also I appreciate the passion that our fans have. Love it or hate it, love or hate me, they have passion and I think that is very important in sports. You see that in football, you see that in baseball and basketball. You have a team you like and you have a few teams you really dislike. That is part of it. I think that is good. I think that is healthy for our sport. As long as they are making noise.”

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IHRA drag racing returning to ESPN networks after 18 years

After an absence of 18 years, International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) drag racing action will return to ESPN’s networks in 2017.

 

The IHRA and ESPN have reached an agreement for two days of racing from events in the 2017 IHRA Summit Sportsman National Championship to stream live on ESPN3, ESPN's live multi-screen sports network. IHRA racing last appeared on one of ESPN’s networks in 1999.


ESPN3 will stream as much as eight continuous hours from the track on both weekend days for 13 events, much of it live, that will include on-track action, interviews and reports from the pits, features and more. The first event will be on the weekend of Feb. 4-5 from Immokalee (Fla.) Regional Raceway, with streaming on ESPN3 beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

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Erik Jones makes the move to Sprint Cup this season.

It’s the hours and hours a person spends preparing for the opportunity ahead that creates success.


Furniture Row Racing’s No. 77 5-hour ENERGY team spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Phoenix International Raceway becoming familiar with the new Toyota Camry as well as each other as a new team for the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season. Driver Erik Jones and crew chief Chris Gayle have a brief history together in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with Joe Gibbs Racing though both are entering their rookie seasons in NASCAR’s premier class.


The two-day test was the first opportunity for the new Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing team to work together as a unit at a race track since the program was announced last August. The 5-hour ENERGY team was one of more than a dozen other NASCAR Cup Series teams to take advantage of the opportunity to test with the new lower downforce package race cars.

 

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Miranda Lambert will appear at the Faster Horses Festival in 2017.

Faster Horses Festival will ride into its fifth anniversary year with a star-studded lineup in tow as Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and more will descend on Brooklyn, MI for the "Party Of The Summer” on July 21-23

 

From the moment the first year shot out of the gate, a special vibe was created running through the festival and out into the unrivaled, spirited nature of the campsites. Known as a summer calendar staple, with fans continuing to fiercely return in the thousands, passes for the three-day, two-stage camping festival will go on sale on Feb. 27 at 10am ET at fasterhorsesfestival.com.

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NASCAR Announces 2017 Schedule For NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series

The return of the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series will take the green flag in March in Monterrey, and the 2017 champion will be crowned in November at Mexico City, as part of a 12-race calendar announced today.

 

The schedule for the top racing series in Latin America features a challenging mix of six oval and six road-courses events, and includes stops at nine different venues throughout Mexico.

 

The NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series will open the season at Autódromo Monterrey, a 3.4 km (2.1-mile) road course in Apodaca, Nuevo León, on March 26. Daniel Suárez, a Monterrey native and the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, is a two-time winner on the oval layout at his home track. The championship race for the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series will take place on the 1.63 km (1.013-mile) road-course circuit at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City on Nov. 12. The track has been a staple of the series since its inaugural season under the NASCAR banner in 2007.

 

“As we enter a new era in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series, the 2017 schedule is a terrific blend of the top venues throughout the country,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of weekly & touring series. “The fans will be treated with the exciting action that is the trademark of NASCAR racing, whether the drivers are speeding down the straightaways on the ovals or fighting for positions heading into the twists and turns of the road courses.”

 

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Carl Edwards gets emotional during his farewell press conference, after announcing he won't compete full-time in 2017 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Leaving a job while you’re at the top of your game is not easy. That’s why so few people do it.

But that’s exactly what Carl Edwards did this week.

The man who was one late-race caution away from potentially winning a Cup championship in 2016, and who lost the Cup to Tony Stewart on a tie-breaker in 2011, let the world know that he would not be returning to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017, even though he would have been a title contender once again.

He is off to explore other to-be-determined ventures (charity work, family time, political office perhaps) and Xfinity champion Daniel Suarez will assume his ride.

Edwards didn’t say “retirement”, and I imagine he’s got a few turns left behind a steering wheel in the future on a fill-in basis, but he’s done competing full-time in the sport that has been his life since he became an adult.

As per usual, some folks on the Internet can’t seem to accept the truth on this. I’ve seen far too many comments like “There’s more to this story. He must be sick” or similar speculation.


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Martin Truex Jr. was named the 2016 Eastern Motorsport Press Association National Driver of the Year.

Martin Truex Jr. has been named the 2016 Eastern Motorsport Press Association National Driver of the Year. The award was voted on by members of the EMPA.

Driving the No. 78 Toyota Camry for Denver-based Furniture Row Racing, Truex’s stellar 2016 season in NASCAR’s premier division included four wins, five poles and a series’ leading 1,805 laps led, all career season highs for the native of Mayetta, N.J.

His dominating victory at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway set a NASCAR record for miles led (588) and an event record for laps led – 392 out of 400.

“Martin had an impressive season, winning two of the triple crown events – the Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500 (Darlington, S.C.),” said Earl Krause, a veteran motorsports journalist, EMPA board member and lead announcer at Pocono Raceway. “He nearly pulled off NASCAR’s version of the triple crown but came up inches short of winning the Daytona 500. He also had exciting Chase victories at Chicago and Dover. I covered Martin since his early racing days at Wall Stadium in New Jersey, and like his father – Martin Truex Sr. -- he has always been a class act both on and off the track.”

This is the second time Truex will be the recipient of the EMPA Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year trophy. He received the prestigious hardware after winning the 2004 XFINITY Series championship.

“My racing roots are in the Northeast and to be recognized by the EMPA takes on a special meaning for the entire Truex family,” noted Truex. “My family has spent many days and nights racing at Northeastern tracks, and that’s why I always feel like I’m going home when the NASCAR series competes at Dover, Pocono and New Hampshire.”

Truex added, “I want to thank the EMPA members for this humbling honor. The real heroes are my teammates at Furniture Row Racing for bringing fast race cars to the track on a weekly basis. I also want to thank our team owner Barney Visser, team president Joe Garone and our sponsors – Furniture Row, Denver Mattress, Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, TRACKER Boats, Auto-Owners Insurance and Visser Precision.”

Truex joins an elite list of drivers from different racing disciplines who have garnered the EMPA National Driver of the Year award, including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart and Terry Labonte from NASCAR; Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Mark Donohue from IndyCar; and Joe Amato and John Force from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

-- Press release courtesy of Eastern Motorsport Press Association

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