Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour: 10 things learned on Day Three
Ten things we learned on Wednesday, the penultimate day of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom:
WITH THIS RING: Joey Logano and the former Brittany Baca were married Dec. 14 of last year at the historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. While the ceremony undoubtedly was nice, on the honeymoon Logano encountered his first "issue" of married life.
It happened when he flipped his kayak. "I’m on my second wedding ring," Logano said during the Team Penske stop on the media tour. "… I lost my first one kayaking in Costa Rica." Fortunately, a replacement was procured. #firstworldproblems.
STILL SHUFFLIN’: NASCAR has mandated a rules change for 2015 to cut the horsepower of Sprint Cup Series engines from roughly 850-900 to 725. Sounds simple enough, right? It isn’t. According to Ford officials, about 70 percent of the parts in its FR9 Sprint Cup engines have to be replaced or modified for the 2015 rules.
"Right now it’s really a race to how fast you can get to the track with the next iteration of the engine, because it’s going to change so quickly on the front end," said Doug Yates, the CEO of Roush Yates Engines, which supplies all the Ford Sprint Cup teams. "So that’s really what our challenge is." Roush estimates the R&D cost of the engine change at "a couple of million dollars."
BLUE OVAL BOYS: Wood Brothers Racing is celebrating its 65th anniversary, making it the oldest team in NASCAR. And all 65 years of the team’s history it has campaigned vehicles made by Ford Motor Co., an enviable record of mutual loyalty.
"Our entire history has been some form of Fords, be it Ford or Mercury," said team co-owner Len Wood. "Actually, Daddy (NASCAR Hall of Fame member Glen Wood) ran his first NASCAR Grand National race in a ’53 Lincoln. So everything has been Ford. We’re honored to be able to say that."
BREAK TIME: With NASCAR banning all testing, drivers and teams are understandably eager to get back on track as soon as possible. But for Roush Fenway Racing, extra time away from the track meant extra time to fix some of its problems that dogged the team last year.
"I will tell you that this offseason and the no testing that has gone on, we have really kind of agonized over things, but I really feel like it has been a turning point for Roush Fenway because it has given us the down time and opportunities to step back and look at potentially where we had made the wrong turn in the road at," said Greg Biffle, now the team’s senior driver. "We have some new people in, and when you are racing every week and trying to do this and testing and over at Nashville and doing all these things, you are looking at the problem down low. It wasn’t until we got up higher and really looked at the landscape (that) we decided we made some wrong decisions back possibly over a year ago on the direction with our cars."
FOR A GOOD CAUSE: The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown will return to South Boston (Virginia) Speedway for a second consecutive year. Scheduled for April 23, the celebrity Late Model charity race will raise money for the Denny Hamlin Foundation.
So far, Hamlin’s Foundation has donated $150,000 to help fund the Denny Hamlin Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-accredited Therapeutics Development Center at VCU.
A UNIQUE HERO: When Elliott Sadler made the move to Roush Fenway Racing for the 2015 season, his 9-year-old second cousin, Carrington, told him her hero was one of his new teammates. Unsure of which teammate she was talking about, Sadler said he was "blown away" when she said Ryan Reed.
Carrington suffers from Type 1 diabetes, and finds inspiration in the fact Reed, 20, has fulfilled his dreams of racing in NASCAR despite also dealing with diabetes.
FEELING GOOD: Throughout his career, Trevor Bayne has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. After winning the 2011 Daytona 500 in his first attempt, Bayne was forced to miss much of the season due to illness. In 2013, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Yet Bayne is feeling good as he prepares for his first full-time Sprint Cup season, thanks to an increased workout regimen and products from sponsor Advocare. "The health stuff is going great," said Bayne. "These races are really long and physically demanding, but I feel ready for it."
AIM HIGH: Richard Petty Motorsports announced Wednesday the U.S. Air Force has renewed its partnership with the team for the seventh consecutive season. The Air Force colors will serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 43 Ford during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the July 4 race at Daytona International Speedway, where Almirola is the defending winner.
"Working with the Air Force for the past three years has been really rewarding," said Almirola. "With my dad serving in the Air Force, I understand the sacrifice the men and women make to keep our country safe. It was great to be able to celebrate my first Sprint Cup win with the Air Force, and I’m so glad they will be back as we defend our win in the Coke Zero 400."
FINANCING THE FUTURE: Being an independent part-time team in NASCAR’s top division is never easy, but Leavine Family Racing had something to smile about Wednesday afternoon.
The team announced Thrivent Financial has extended its partnership with the team to 20 races for the 2015 season. Thrivent will serve as the primary sponsor on Michael McDowell’s No. 95 Ford for 10 races and an associate sponsor for an additional 10 events. K-Love Radio has also renewed with the team for a minimum of five races.
FAMILY TRADITION: There is no doubt NASCAR is a family sport, and Wood Brothers Racing is an integral part of that extensive history. Like the Wood Brothers itself, the team’s new driver, Ryan Blaney, comes from an illustrious racing family, giving them something in common.
"The family lineage of racing, it’s kind of neat how that meshes," said Blaney. "We can really relate to that, with their family of racers and my family, from my grandfather down. It’s just really neat how that kind of twists together and gives us a great relationship."
Jay Pennell contributed to this report.