NASCAR

Garage chatter: What everybody's talking about going into Michigan

Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne
Have you heard the latest?
FOX Sports Jorge A. Mondaca, Lee Spencer and Rea White
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August 13 news and notes

Hey Jeff Gordon, what's in a name? - 4:50 p.m. ET

Jeff Gordon says that it’s been a great week enjoying the birth of his son, Leo Benjamin, who was born early Monday morning.

Gordon and his wife, Ingrid Vandebosch, also have a 3-year-old daughter, Ella Sofia.

DADDY TIME

NASCAR is all about family. Check out these Sprint Cup drivers with their kids at the track.

“Oh, it’s so amazing,” Gordon said of his son. “It was a great, great, great week. I can’t say enough. I’m thankful that everything went as planned and everybody is healthy and doing well. Just everyday you just smile bigger and bigger because it’s an amazing experience.”

Gordon said it’s “too early to tell” who his son looks like, but said that the name wasn’t a family one but rather one they picked up. While he didn’t admit to any astrological ties in the naming — Leo is a Leo — Gordon said he did enjoy the actual birthday.

“We love the 8-9-10 birthday,” he said referencing the date. “... My wife talked a lot about names with friends and just people come up to her asking about the pregnancy, asking about names, and Leo was one that came up and we loved it. We started working the Benjamin in there as the middle name.

“You know, Gordon is not the easiest name to put a name with — it’s just not. You need a single syllable really. It’s either a single or triple syllable name to make it work, and then you start running into the initials and you’ve got so many issues that come along with names. You have no idea how much goes into this. LBG — We’re good with that.”

After having a driver in standby for recent races, Gordon admits that it’s nice not to have to worry about anything now. He’s not waiting for a potential birth anymore, but is rather enjoying the addition to his family.

“I mean, that was definitely weighing on me,” he said. “Last week at Watkins Glen I tell you, every time the caution came out I was wondering how things were going with them and how disappointed I would be to miss that. That’s why I said, I’m so thankful that everything went well on Monday.

“We were pretty much scheduled to have it on Monday, but you just never know. There were some tests that were being done over the weekend that I wasn’t there for that could have induced labor and that was the thing that was scaring me. It’s such an amazing experience, there is just nothing like it in the world, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that.”

— Rea White

 


 

Tony Raines replaces Kevin Conway at Front Row — 12:15 p.m. ET

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Tony Raines will drive the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, starting immediately.

Raines, 46, replaces Raybestos rookie candidate Kevin Conway.

A new name adorns the top of the No. 34 entry.

Lee Spencer

“We decided to make a driver change,” said Front Row general manager Jerry Freeze. “ExtenZe (Conway’s sponsor) has asked to take a hiatus. They’re taking a break and could be back later this fall.

“Tony is also on the entry blank for Bristol and then we‘ll reevaluate.”

Conway finished 31st last week at Watkins Glen. His career-best finish of 14th came last month at Daytona. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate is currently 34th in the Sprint Cup point standings. He’s competing in all three cars for Bob Jenkins this season — the Nos. 37, 38 and most recently the No. 34 Extenze Ford. His teammates Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland are currently 32nd and 34th, respectively but have not competed in all 22 races.

Raines last full Cup season was 2007 with Hall of Fame Racing. He posted a career-high 29th-place in the standings that year in the No. 96 Chevrolet. Raines made one start this season with Gunselman Motorsports and parked after 69 laps with a vibration.

In a press release, Conway's sponsor offered its support.

“As was released earlier this week, ExtenZe and Alteril are 100% committed to Kevin Conway and the sport of NASCAR,” said Robert Wilhovsky, Director of Motorsports Marketing. “While we are currently evaluating our options for the rest of 2010 and next year, Conway has been and will continue to be the foundation of our NASCAR program in the years ahead.

“We knew this was going to be a big learning year for him and it has been incredible what he has been able to accomplish with very limited resources finishing right there with his much more experienced and veteran teammates each and every week while competing on many of the tracks for the first time in any type of race car.

 

— Lee Spencer

 


 

Reutimann finds personal impact of Chicago move — 9:30 a.m. ET

David Reutimann is pleased to see Chicagoland Speedway added to NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup schedule for the 2011 season.

However, he’s not that thrilled with another change that move includes. Reutimann is the most recent Cup winner at the 1.5-mile track, taking the victory in the recent Saturday night event for his second career Cup win.

Now, though, with the schedule shift, he jokes that he’s lost his advantage at the track.

“I’m all for it, especially since I won there,” he said of adding to the track to the Chase. “The only problem that I have is that they changed it to a day race, and that’s just going to completely mess my deal up. I finally for one race in my entire life get things figured out and then they change it on me. I think the reason behind the move to a day race was like – ‘Well, Reutimann ran pretty good there, so what can we do to mess up his program?’ I’m sure they had a big meeting on that.”

On a more serious note, though, he sees moving this track into the Chase as the chance to add another exciting event to the 10-race title-determining segment of the season.

“What’s important is that we have good racing on the racetrack and I think this particular racetrack adds to that,” he said. “I think this is a win-win, personally.”

— Rea White

 


 

 

August 12 news and notes

 

Edwards brings fond memories to Michigan — 10:45 a.m. ET

Don’t blame Carl Edwards if he has a lot on his mind this weekend. After all, Michigan International Speedway is a special place for the Roush Fenway Racing driver.

This is the track where Edwards made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut back in August 2004. He started that race 23rd and finished 10th. He also made his 100th career Cup start at the track in June 2007 – and went on to win that race.

Further, Edwards has two shots to earn his 50th career NASCAR victory this weekend. He’s heading to the track located near team owner Jack Roush’s corporate headquarters for Roush Industries. He turns 31 Sunday. And then throw in that Edwards has been rebounding from a tough start to his season of late – he has five consecutive top-10 finishes in a stretch that has moved him to ninth in the standings – and one can understand why the driver might bring a bit of enthusiasm into the weekend.

“Right now we head into Michigan with a lot of momentum on our side,” he said. “It’s because of all the hard work everybody has been putting in. (Teammate) Greg (Biffle) got that win a couple weeks ago, and right now we’ve got three cars in the Chase. Michigan is one of the best tracks we could be going to right now.

“We’ve been working really hard on our intermediate program; the new FR9 engine has been running well, so hopefully we can turn all that into a really good day. We’ve had success there before and we’re going there to try to get that first win of the season. This marks my sixth anniversary of my first Cup race so this race always reminds me of that day and what a great opportunity Jack Roush and Ford has given me.”

It also offers Edwards a unique opportunity to hit that magic number 50 in the win column. Edwards is aiming to become one of just 13 drivers to win 50 races in the modern era (1972 to now) in NASCAR. He could become the third driver to do so competing for Roush, following teammate Biffle and former teammate Mark Martin.

Edwards has 16 Cup wins, 27 Nationwide and six in the Truck series.

This weekend, he is racing in both the Cup and Nationwide races at Michigan, giving him two shots at hitting the mark.

“Ten years ago when I was racing at the small dirt tracks I would not have imagined that (50 wins in NASCAR) to be a possibility,” Edwards said. “I’ve been very fortunate to be part of such a great team at Roush Fenway. It’s an elite group of individuals and they have made me look good and I appreciate that.”

— Rea White

 


 

On this day in history ... — 8 a.m. ET

2001 — Jeff Gordon wins the Global Crossing at The Glen to give Chevrolet its 500th win in the Cup series. Gordon leads the final 13 laps and beats Jeff Burton by .172 seconds. Jeremy Mayfield finishes third.

—Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

 


 

August 11 news and notes

Wrecking could lead Jimmie Johnson to success at Michigan — 9 a.m. ET

Even with four NASCAR Sprint Cup championships and 52 wins under his belt, Jimmie Johnson is looking to accomplish something new this weekend.

Despite earning seven top-10 finishes in 17 Cup starts, Johnson has yet to win at Michigan International Speedway — making it just one of four active tracks where he has a goose egg in the win column (Watkins Glen, Homestead and Chicagoland are the others – Infineon was on the list until earlier this year).

Going into the weekend, he’s optimistic.

"It's fun trying to get one (track where he hasn't won yet) off the list,” Johnson said in a press release. “... It's been a really good track for us. We had a decent finish there in the spring (sixth). Didn't really perform like we wanted to during the day and we were trying some things. We feel like we're going to come back closer than what we were in the past. We had a lot of speed in the car during the race and we'll take it from there. We're optimistic, excited, no idea what to really expect. It could be a fuel-mileage race.”

Although nothing is for certain in NASCAR, there’s one thing Johnson can do this weekend to help his chances for glory – crash before the race.

The No. 48 Lowe’s team plans to take chassis 610 to Michigan this weekend – a chassis which has been raced once before to a dismal 25th-place finish at Chicagoland this past July. On the other hand, the backup chassis (No. 553) has competed four times and made three trips to Victory Lane (the latest one coming at Auto Club Speedway in February).

Considering he’s had a pair of wrecks in recent weeks at Daytona and Watkins Glen, why not take one for the team during practice or qualifying and roll out a reliable chassis for when it counts most?

Just a (hair brained) idea ...

Jorge A. Mondaca

 

 


 

On this day in history ... — 8 a.m. ET

2002 — Tony Stewart wins the Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen for his 15th and final Cup win in a Pontiac. Future Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman finishes second in a Penske Racing Ford, 1.636 seconds back, and Robby Gordon, driving for Richard Childress, finishes third.

—Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

 

 


 

August 10 news and notes

Hornish gets vote of confidence — 10 p.m. ET

Sam Hornish Jr.’s transition from open-wheel racing to NASCAR has been bumpy to say the least.

For all of his success in the IndyCar Series (three series championships, 2006 Indianapolis 500 win), he’s had almost as many failures in the Sprint Cup ranks (14 DNF’s vs. just seven top 10s in 94 career starts).

Add in those poor results with the fact that his primary sponsor, Mobil 1, is set to leave after the season, and you can imagine why the rumors have been flying about his status.

POLL

  • Will Sam Hornish Jr. be in NASCAR in 2011?
    • Yes, driving for Penske Racing
    • Yes, driving for another team
    • No

Forget it, says team owner Roger Penske.

“We’ve said publically that we want to run Sam next year (in NASCAR); he’s not going back to open-wheel racing,” Penske said Tuesday during a media teleconference. “He’s going to be in NASCAR racing. It’s a matter of us getting the sponsorship stuff together.

“As you know, budgets are tight. We’ve got a number of opportunities out there that we’re working on. That’s a decision that we’ll make as we get toward the end of the season and we’ll make it transparent to everyone.”

Will this put an end to the rumor mill? Probably not – especially with Penske’s Nationwide Series driver Justin Allgaier putting up impressive numbers (one win, five top fives and 12 top 10s in 22 starts this season).

But for now, Sam’s the man at Penske.

Jorge A. Mondaca

 


 

Kahne, Red Bull speak up about deal — 3 p.m. ET

After months of speculation, Red Bull Racing made it official today that Kasey Kahne will drive for them in 2011 before heading to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

2010 NASCAR Silly Season update

Wheelin’ and dealin’

Which Cup free agents have signed and who's still looking for 2011? SILLY SEASON UPDATE

Below are some of the interesting moments from the media Q&A session with Kahne and Red Bull team president Jay Frye earlier this afternoon:

Question: Kasey, tell us how this opportunity came about. How much of it did you have a say or did Rick (Hendrick) tell you this is what you are going to do?

Kahne: “I’m actually really looking forward to working with Red Bull, working with all the guys there. From the start, Rick (Hendrick) told me that we were going to work together, and when it came down to it we were going to work together and figure out exactly what team we wanted to go with this year. When he came up with the Red Bull deal, he was working with (Frye) on that, and I actually thought it was a pretty neat opportunity. I think it’s really pretty cool; looking forward to it and yeah, I was definitely involved with Mr. Hendrick and the final decision on where I would actually end up in 2011.”

Question: Can you talk about having Kasey in the car? Did you have to pull any strings considering Hendrick has other deals with beverage companies?

Frye: “Obviously 2011 is independent of what’s going on with the future for Kasey at Hendrick, which will start in 2012, so there were no issues with that at all.”

Question: Will Kenny Francis or other members of Kasey’s team be coming over with him? Will Kenny be part of Kasey’s team next year?

Frye: “Again, that’s part of what we need to sort out over the next month or six weeks. We have good people here that have done good things, so we will know more of that within the next month or so.”

Question: Jay – is the plan still for Red Bull to be two-car operation?

Frye: “We have a lot of options being that we’re only a two-car team. Right now with Brian (Vickers) we continue to monitor his health, he’s doing great, things are looking very, very good with him, but at this point we still don’t know — we’re only halfway through the process of things he’s got to go through. Scott (Speed), we’ve got a couple of years into that program, it needs to get better. We’re working hard to get him better and do what we need to do to get him better. But we have options. ... Is it possible to expand? Sure. We have the ability to do that. Is that what’s going to happen? At this point we’re unclear.”

POLL

  • Who will be Kahne's teammate in 2011?
    • Brian Vickers
    • Scott Speed
    • Speed and Vickers
    • Somebody else

Question: What do you need to see from Scott Speed and that team over the next month or two to make you feel he will be in that car next year?

Frye: “There’s been a lot of progress made. There has been a lot of time invested in Scott. He has been a Red Bull driver and athlete for a long time. We just need to get better. We are going to tracks with him for the third or fourth time and we need to see progress. There are things we are doing as a race team to get better and there are things he can do to get better. It will show over the next month or two of what the future will hold.”

Question: Can you comment on the possibility of having Kenny Francis as a possible crew chief option?

Kahne: “I really like working with Kenny. Whether I am happy or we are having a bad race and I am mad, as soon as the race is over, all I want to do is find Kenny and Keith our engineer and talk about how we can be better and what we need to do there. That’s really it right now. I really like our relationship. I like what we have accomplished together, and feel like there is a lot more we can accomplish together. I don’t know what Kenny is going to do. That is up to him and everyone else. He is definitely one of my main guys — a great guy.”

Question: Can you talk about the rest of the season and the driver situation on the No. 83?

Frye: “Reed (Sorenson) will be in the car this weekend in Michigan. He is doing a really good job for us. When you are in this situation, you take it week by week. We don’t have any reason at this point to change from Reed. It is possible that he is in the car for the rest of the year. Or there could be some other opportunities that pop up where we do different things with different races, like we did last weekend (at Watkins Glen) with Boris (Said). You kind of take it three races at a time when you are in this situation. So that is where we are right now.”

Question: Did you talk to Toyota before signing Kasey and doing this deal? How do they feel about having a driver for a year then being packaged over to Chevrolet?

Frye: “Yes, we did talk to them before and they are in the same mind frame we are — what a great opportunity this is for the 2011 season. They are very excited to have Kasey be a part of the family next season, and they were very supportive of the whole situation.”

—Rea White

 


 

On this day in history ... — 8 a.m. ET

2003 — Paul Menard finishes 29th in the Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen in his first Cup start. Robby Gordon, Scott Pruett and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finish 1-2-3. Despite starting 43rd, Menard finishes ahead of Greg Biffle (30th), Jeff Burton (31st) and Jeff Gordon (33rd).

Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

 


 

August 9 news and notes

From the editors’ desks ... — 9 a.m. ET

It was a weekend of twists and turns this past weekend at Watkins Glen International and Nashville.

Todd Bodine ran away from the pack in the Camping World Truck Series race in Nashville – and he’s doing the same in the standings as well.

Cup stars in a drought

DROUGHT CONDITIONS

These drivers still can't find their way to Victory Lane.

In Nationwide competition, Marcos Ambrose stayed ahead of a 10-car wreck and dominated the competition en-route to his third-straight series win at the road course ( Highlights)

And in Sprint Cup action, Juan Pablo Montoya ended a 113-race win drought by holding off Ambrose | Highlights

But enough about the past, we’ve got a jammed-pack week of action ahead of us.

Expect some big news on the 2011 schedule front to come out this week. Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway have each called special news conferences Tuesday (spoiler alert: Kentucky will get a Sprint Cup race, while Kansas will announce a second race). Each announcement will set off a chain reaction, and FOXSports.com will have you covered with senior NASCAR writer Lee Spencer reporting on-site from Kentucky. Make sure to check back often on Tuesday for the latest.

There are also rumblings that we should find out once and for all what the plans are for Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Hendrick Motorsports.

And as if all that off-track drama wasn’t enough, fireworks should pick up on the track when Cup and Nationwide competitors arrive in Michigan ( Weekend schedule) and the Truck teams show up at Darlington.

Stay logged on to FOXSports.com all week long – we’ve got you covered.

—Jorge A. Mondaca and Rea White

 


 

On this day in history ... — 8 a.m. ET

1953 — Curtis Turner leads all 100 laps of a Cup race at 1-mile Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsborough, N.C. Herb Thomas finishes second, a half-lap back, and Lee Petty is third, one lap down.

—Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

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