NASCAR Media Tour Day 3 updates

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CONCORD, N.C. keeps you up to speed from the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, with the most recent postings added to the top:

Monday notes: Danica, Gibbs, Waltrip all talk on Day 1

Tuesday notes: Earnhardt Ganassi, Roush Fenway face media; Ford introduces 2013 Cup car

Hendrick Motorsports | Rumors and notes | Furniture Row Racing | JTG Daugherty Racing | What’s on tap today?



The 2012 NASCAR Media Tour offered a glimpse into drivers, crew chiefs and owners as they prepare for the season. PHOTOS.

Richard Childress Racing

Twitter time: The best from the social-media world coming out of Media Tour:

While @Elliott_Sadler will run Daytona 500 in the 33 Brendan Gaughan will race the next 4 events with Gil Martin as his crew chief -- Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer)

Brendan Gaughan to drive 4 Cup races at first of year (after Daytona) for RCR. No. 33 car. Elliott Sadler at Daytona. --'s Mike Hembree (@Mikehembree)

Gil Martin will be crew chief for the No. 33 five-race run. --'s Mike Hembree (@Mikehembree)

RCR will field @maxpapis at Road America -- Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer)

Nine full-time and one pt @NASCAR teams for @RCRracing --'s Tom Jensen (@TomJensen100)

In 2012 @KevinHarvick will drive 13 or 14 @NASCAR_NNS races @SPEED --'s Tom Jensen (@TomJensen100)

Jeff Burton: "Last year pissed me off, now I'm ready to make something happen." -- Jorge Mondaca (@JorgeMondacaFOX)

Kevin Harvick let's it slip - @DelanaHarvick is 14 weeks pregnant -- Jorge Mondaca (@JorgeMondacaFOX)

Congratulations to @DeLanaHarvick & @KevinHarvick who have a new project in the works - a baby! -- Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer)

I conquered boredom for sure. Having a pregnant wife at home will conquer boredom - @KevinHarvick --'s Tom Jensen (@TomJensen100)

Hey @DeLanaHarvick, does Simpson make maternity firesuits? -- Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer)

First thing @KevinHarvick said about @DeLanaHarvick being pregnant: "Burton wants to know who the father is." --'s Tom Jensen (@TomJensen100)


Hendrick Motorsports

Tweety birds: The best from the social-media world coming out of Media Tour:

When asked to compare Dale Sr to Tony Stewart, #DaleJr says "I really don't see my dad's swagger in anybody" -- Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer)

When #DaleJr is asked why @DanicaPatrick is so popular his response was simple "she's a woman" -- Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer)

Pack racing is what @SteveLetarte expects at Daytona. He doesn't believe drivers will be able to pick partners. -- Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer)

"I hope we're in victory lane when it's all said and done." — Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Daytona 500. --'s Tom Jensen (@TomJensen100)

Hendrick Motorsports Beard Dept. : Johnson, Dale Jr.--yes. Jeff Gordon--no. #nascar #razors --'s Mike Hembree (@Mikehembree)

Jimmie Johnson: "I'm excited, I'm energized. I'm ready" -- Kristine Curley, Team No. 48 PR representative (@KristineC48)

Will Rick Hendrick ever get on Twitter? "No way" -- Jorge Mondaca (@JorgeMondacaFOX)

Jeff Gordon jokes (?) that he had to call Dale Jr. once to get out of a speeding ticket -- Jorge Mondaca (@JorgeMondacaFOX)

Rick Hendrick jokes he's been carrying (around) 200 win hats for too long #NASCAR -- Lee Spencer (@CandiceSpencer)

Rick Hendrick not being bashful - he will be disappointed if all four of his teams don't make Chase and one doesn't win championship -- Jorge Mondaca (@JorgeMondacaFOX)

Kasey Kahne missing from Hendrick #MediaTour stop - stuck at Jury Duty in Iredell County -- Jorge Mondaca (@JorgeMondacaRFOX)

Rumors and notes

Adding on: Tommy Baldwin Racing expands NASCAR Nationwide Series program with the addition of Ryan Truex and Bobby Santos, who will split driving duties with Ryan Blaney. Truex will compete in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 25. Santos will race in the Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona on July 6. Blaney will run six NNS events with TBR, debuting April 27 at Richmond International Raceway.

On the move? Could Michael Annett be headed to Richard Petty Motorsports?

Sources tell that RPM is looking at the feasibility of expanding its organization to add a Nationwide program with Annett. The 25-year-old Des Moines, Iowa, native finished ninth in the points standings last season behind the wheel of the No. 62 Pilot Travel Centers Toyota for Rusty Wallace Racing last season. Annett was displaced when Wallace shut down his operation earlier this month but still has access to the Pilot/Flying J sponsorship.

Annett has 13 top 10s in 105 NNS starts.

— Lee Spencer

That new-old car smell: RAB Racing has picked up the car that Kenny Wallace hopes to qualify for the Daytona 500.

While this would normally not be newsworthy, the car is the first to be released from Red Bull Racing since the organization shut its doors in December. The Toyota was most recently driven by Brian Vickers at Talladega Superspeedway, where he finished fifth.

Wallace said the car's nose, rear tail and wheel tubs must be rebuilt before the car can be certified at the NASCAR technical center. The current wait for certification right now appears to be about one week.

— Lee Spencer

Furniture Row Racing

Oh, what a feeling: It’s truly amazing the difference a win can make.

For Regan Smith, 28, it has changed not only his attitude toward his competitors but what his Furniture Row Racing team feels it can accomplish.

In 2011, Smith earned his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup win — and it came at Darlington Raceway.

Now, the team is talking about stepping up in performance. Smith has moved to the Denver area to be closer to the team’s shop, and everyone is optimistic that this year bodes well for the team.

The genesis for that thinking derives from Smith’s victory last year.

“I feel pressure from myself, I think more than the team,” Smith said Wednesday. “II certainly feel like this is our year. I think this is the year that the team takes the next step. I felt like last year we could win races, and we accomplished that. I think this year we can win more than one race . . . The pressure comes from within. I want to do good. I want to beat all those guys out there.”

Now that he has a victory, beating the top Cup competitors doesn’t feel like such an overwhelming task to face.

“The one thing for me, as a driver, that’s different is I feel more like I’m supposed to be there,” he said. “After the win, you don’t feel like, OK, when this guy comes up to your back bumper and he’s trying to beat and bang with you, that you have to give him a pass because he’s been around the series for 10 years.

“That’s not the case anymore. I’ve been around for a little bit, I came and I did things right, tried to learn the right way and do the right things. Toward the end of the year, it was more like, 'This is my track space, not yours, so you’re going to have to take it from me instead of the other way around.' ”

Team general manager Joe Garone sees that, as well.

He looks at Smith and sees a driver coming into his own, one who could vault the team to the next level of competition — and do that in 2012.

“I think what you see when you see Regan is an athlete whose career is on an upward swing and he’s trying to find his place, believes he’s got the talent to do it, but also is in awe of the people he’s around, which is understandable,” Garone said. “Winning the race, most certainly after that, for Regan (it) was, ‘OK, I can do this. I’m here.’

“But I think we needed to ramp it up one more step and that was a conversation we had going into this season is, ‘You’re there, you are there, you are one of the guys. Not show it. Don’t be afraid to do that.’ ”

— Rea White

Tweet it up: Tony Stewart's sluggish start followed by a championship run in Chase seems to have altered the mind-set and optimism of many teams. — Rea White

Sponsorship gain: Furniture Row Racing has added CSX Transportation and its "Play it Safe" campaign to the organization this season. Regan Smith won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race for the group last season and hopes to replicate that this year. Along for the ride will be the railroad safety campaign, promoted in part through Smith's "I brake for trains" sticker that will appear on his read bumper all season. 

He said it:

"(The goal for the year is to be in) solid contention for a Chase position," — Joe Garone, team general manager

"Top 20 in points is something we have to hold ourselves accountable to," -- Joe Garone

JTG Daugherty Racing

Staying realistic: Unlike the majority of teams on this week’s Media Tour, JTG Daugherty Racing is fully aware of its limitations and is setting genuine benchmarks for the year.

And for team general manager and crew chief Todd Berrier, that starts and ends with driver Bobby Labonte.

“Bobby has won a lot of races, 20-some races, he’s won a championship, (But) at the end of the day he’s coming off not the best year of his career. That’s a huge advantage at this point,” Berrier said. “ . . . Bobby, being through the highs and lows, can help us manage our expectations and not cause us to fall apart like a $2 watch. If his expectations were honestly to go out there and win every race right now, and he hadn’t come off one of his (worst) seasons of his career, we’d probably . . . be destined to fail.

“At this point, the key to success is him — and him knowing how the car needs to drive, him knowing how to drive the thing, him being on the low side and the high side of this thing and him actually selling himself on seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

Going the extra mile: After Todd Berrier started at JTG Daugherty Racing, he took delivery of a new Toyota Avalon and has logged 11,000 miles on it since the day after Thanksgiving. That's a lot of running around getting ready for 2012 and Speedweeks. — Lee Spencer

Grilling time: JTG Daugherty Racing announced Wednesday that Bubba Burger has signed on as a primary sponsor for the organization's No. 47 Bobby Labonte entry for two Sprint Cup races. The company will be the primary sponsor for the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 10 and the Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 16. The company will also serve as an associate sponsor throughout the season. In addition, Kroger will be the team's primary sponsor for the season-opening Daytona 500. The Kroger car will carry the USO logo on Feb. 26. In 2011, the Kroger family of stores expanded its partnership with the USO through Honoring Our Heroes, a year-long campaign to support members of the armed forces and their families, and generated $1.5 million to assist the USO’s programs to support troops and families. — Rea White

Tweet tweet: The best from the social-media world coming out of Media Tour:

Brad Daugherty says he's looking for a top-20 finish for JTG Daugherty this year, better the next. -- Rea White (@Rea_White)

JTG Daugherty says it is working towards getting sponsors for a second Sprint Cup team in 2013 -- Jorge Mondaca (@JorgeMondacaFOX)

Reese Towpower, Scotts, Clorox, Bush Baked Beans will also be back. More sponsors to be announced later. -- Bobby Labonte (@Bobby_Labonte)

What's on tap today?

Hendrick Motorsports: The team will produce plenty of intrigue in 2011. Kasey Kahne  has the opportunity of a lifetime with Hendrick in the No. 5. With some of the best equipment in NASCAR and a top crew chief, Kenny Francis, expectations are high. No doubt, Kahne will be a Chase contender this season, and some early polls have the 31-year-old ranked in the Top 5. Will this be the year Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally returns to Victory Lane? Certainly, the fans and NASCAR hope so. Can Jimmie Johnson regain his championship form? And will Jeff Gordon get his pre-Chase mojo back?

Richard Childress Racing: Never has Richard Childress Racing had so much potential waiting in the wings. And Austin and Ty Dillon won’t be on the sideline for long. The grandsons of the six-time Cup championship owner already have earned titles of their own and look to add to that hardware in 2012. Speaking of championship contenders, look no farther than Kevin Harvick. With the dissolution of KHI, Harvick can place his full attention on the No. 29 team, and the addition of Shane Wilson will be a tremendous bonus. Paul Menard is coming off a career-best season with a Brickyard win and has the opportunity to keep building with crew chief Slugger Labbe. Veteran Jeff Burton has new blood coming to the No. 31 team with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer.

— Lee Spencer

Tagged: Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip, Kenny Wallace, Regan Smith, Bobby Santos III, Michael Annett

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