Bristol Motor Speedway Kulwicki Grandstand (2006 photo by Michael Greiner via wikipedia commons)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, April 19
The Time: 1 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps)
NASCAR XFINITY Series
Next Race: Drive To Stop Diabetes 300
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, April 18
The Time: 1:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX Sports 1, 1 p.m. (ET)
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 159.9 miles (300 laps)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Kansas 250
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: Friday, May 8
The Time: 8:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 167 miles (250.5 laps)
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
Perfect 10: Three Drivers Look To Continue Top-10 Streaks At Bristol
No driver has opened a season with seven consecutive top 10s since Jimmie Johnson in 2005.
Three different drivers – Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. – have each opened the year with seven straight top-10 finishes. Unsurprisingly, they rank 1-3 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points standings.
The wheelmen put their streaks on the line in Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes at Bristol Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET on FOX).
Logano won the last race at BMS in the fall, while Harvick hasn’t had a top-10 showing there since 2011 – seven races ago. Truex has only produced two top-10 finishes in 18 Bristol starts, a runner-up result in fall 2011 and a third-place showing in spring 2012.
A Giant Awakens: Johnson Shows Sprint Cup Series Title Chase Might Be Heavyweight Clash
Move over Mayweather and Pacquiao, a heavyweight bout looks likely to take place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
With all the talk about the dominance of defending NSCS champion Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano’s rise to stardom, six-time NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson has made it clear that anyone who wants a NSCS title will have to go through him. Johnson led a race-high 128 laps and out-dueled Harvick on the closing circuits to capture his second win of the season in Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
It’s still early in the season, but at the moment, all indications point to the last three series champions – Harvick (2014), Johnson (2013) and Keselowski (2012) – being in the mix for this year’s crown.
Johnson will attempt to continue his momentum this Sunday on one of his “average” tracks – Bristol Motor Speedway. The No. 48 Chevrolet driver has one win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s, one pole and a 91.9 driver rating at BMS.
Harvick Begins New Top-Two Run
One race after snapping his nine-event streak of top-two finishes with a “so-so” eighth-place finish at Martinsville, Kevin Harvick started a new one with a second-place showing at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Despite 10 straight top-10 finishes dating back to 2014, track president Eddie Gossage will still get to cajole Harvick about being winless at his venue.
The No. 4 Chevrolet driver has a commanding 26-point lead over Joey Logano in the standings and ranks first or tied for first in numerous categories, including wins (2), top fives (6), top 10s (7), average finish (2.6) and average running position (3.790). Additionally, Harvick’s 766 laps led and 413 fastest laps more than double the next-highest drivers’ outputs (Logano, 324 laps led; Jimmy Johnson 145 fastest laps). Also, his series-high 132.8 driver rating is almost 20 points higher than second-place Logano’s 114.7 driver rating.
Harvick heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend where he has only won in spring of 2005.
Back(flip) To Bristol: Edwards Attempts High-Banked Repeat
Defending Bristol Motor Speedway spring race winner Carl Edwards will go for his fourth victory at the half-mile track in Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes. Fresh off his first top-10 finish of the year (10th) at Texas, it looks like the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing driver is starting to gel with his new team and championship-winning crew chief Darian Grubb. Two races ago at Martinsville, Edwards ran up front the majority of the race, even leading 13 laps before a late spin caused him to finish 17th.
In 21 career starts at Bristol, Edwards claims three wins (14.3%), five top fives (23.8%), nine top 10s (42.9%) and two Coors Light Pole Awards.
Unpredictable Outcome Expected At Bristol
Similar to Texas Motor Speedway last week where there had been nine different winners in the past nine spring races, Bristol Motor Speedway has had six different winners in its last six races.
Expect another party of parity in Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes.
The last driver to log consecutive victories at Bristol was Brad Keselowski (fall 2011, spring 2012).
Since Keselowski’s 2012 victory, Bristol races have been won by Denny Hamlin (fall 2012), Kasey Kahne (spring 2013), Matt Kenseth (fall 2013), Carl Edwards (spring 2014) and Joey Logano (fall 2014).
Thirteen active drivers have won at Bristol: Kurt Busch (5), Kyle Busch (5), Jeff Gordon (5), Edwards (3), Kenseth (3), Keselowski (2), Earnhardt Jr. (1), Denny Hamlin (1), Jimmie Johnson (1), Kevin Harvick (1), Kahne (1), Logano (1), Tony Stewart (1).
Roush Attempts To Turn Back The Clock At Bristol
Roush Fenway Racing has struggled so far this year. In 21 total races, its three-driver stable has recorded just one top 10 – Greg Biffle’s 10th-place finish at the Daytona 500.
Bristol Motor Speedway could provide a much needed shot in the arm for RFR, which ranks tied for the second-most victories in track history (11). None of its current drivers have won at Bristol, but Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has had strong finishes at the half-mile track, including a career-best runner-up showing in last year’s spring race and a sixth-place effort in the fall. RFR veteran Greg Biffle claims the fifth-best active driver rating at BMS (93.5) in addition to the sixth-best average running position (13.0). Trevor Bayne produced a 34th-place finish in his lone Bristol start in 2011 with Wood Brothers Racing.
RFR swept the top-two positions at BMS last spring with former driver Carl Edwards and Stenhouse.
Can Gordon Reclaim Bristol Magic?
A quick glance at the Bristol Motor Speedway record books shows that Jeff Gordon is tied for the wins lead among active drivers with five first-place finishes.
He must be a favorite to win this weekend’s race at Thunder Valley then, right?
A closer look at the numbers shows Gordon has not won at BMS since fall 2002 – almost 13 years ago when he won the Sharpie 500 from the pole. He has had three third-place finishes since.
Currently 13th in the series standings, quietly riding a streak of four consecutive top 10s, Gordon will attempt to further ascend NASCAR’s leaderboard this weekend on the track where he also has 16 top fives (36.4%), 24 top 10s (54.5%) and the series’ third-best driver rating (99.9).
McLovin’ It: Big McMurray off to whopper of a start
No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet driver Jamie McMurray’s start hasn’t been “Superbad” as the kids would say, but Chip Ganassi has to be McLovin’ his driver’s strong performance to open up the season.
McMurray sits 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following his sixth-place showing at Texas this weekend and a finish of 10th at Martinsville. McMurray’s best result this year was a runner-up finish at Phoenix to track-legend Kevin Harvick. Known for his ability to win big races, the 38-year-old is still searching for his first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth.
Furious 7: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season off to action-packed start
The first seven races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season have been so fast and so furious even Vin Diesel would be jealous.
Since NASCAR began tracking green flag passes in 2005, drivers have produced the most green flag passes (29,383) and fourth-most green flag passes for the lead (205) through the first seven races. The season has seen five different race-winners, including Brad Keselowski who led a single lap to take the checkered flag at Auto Club.
History Lesson: Big Day At Bristol
Where were you the day that man first stepped foot on the moon?
If you were Richard Petty, you were helping rival David Pearson drive the No. 17 Ford to victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway (then called Bristol International Speedway.)
The 1969 Volunteer 500 was run on July 20, just hours before “one small step” captivated mankind. It was the first Bristol race on the new, high-banked configuration put in by track owner Larry Carrier, who wanted the fastest half-mile track in the world.
Cale Yarborough started on the pole, shattering the qualifying record by nearly 15 miles per hour. Like most of his competitors though, Yarborough’s race didn’t last long. An early nine-car wreck, coupled with multiple engine issues caused by the mid-summer heat, sidelined two-thirds of the field before they reached the midpoint of the race.
Petty and Yarborough were among the early race spectators, along with fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker. Petty’s time outside the car didn’t last long, however. Pearson was suffering from the flu, and in need of a relief driver.
“I saw Richard was out of the race, so I decided to grab him before someone else did,” said Pearson. “Richard did a fine job for me.”
Petty spent 155 laps in the Holman-Moody Ford and led the field for approximately half of them. Pearson got back in the car on Lap 256, and eventually cruised to a three-lap victory over Bobby Isaac (who himself needed mid-race relief in the form of Bobby Allison.)
In a twist of irony, Petty’s help gave Pearson his 55th career victory, breaking the tie for second on the all-time wins list with Richard’s father, Lee Petty.
NASCAR XFINITY Series
Youth Dominates Tight XFINITY Standings
The NASCAR XFINITY Series’ top five in points has average age of 21.2, but that’s only half the story. Just 22 points separate first to fifth in the championship standings, and the competition levels keep rising.
Heading into the seventh race of the season, Richard Childress Racing’s Ty Dillon leads the standings by two points over Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher in second. Not far behind Dillon in third-place is the 2014 series champ Chase Elliott (-11 points from the lead), fourth-place Darrell Wallace Jr. (-15) and fifth-place Ryan Reed (-22).
All five young stars have kicked 2015 off right, but Dillon has had the strongest start to his season; in six races he has posted two top fives, four top 10s and an average finish 7.7. Buescher also has been a force this season posting three top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 8.0. But as of late 19-year-old Chase Elliott has been proving his rookie success was not a fluke. Following the season opener at Daytona, where Elliott finished 38th due to an accident, he has climbed from 20th in points to third thanks to five consecutive top-10 finishes. Among the championship contenders Elliott, leads in season-to-date driver rating (100.0).
The top three are hot but don’t forget rookie standout Darrell Wallace Jr. has posted two top 10s and an average finish of 10.5 this season. Also his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ryan Reed won the season opener at Daytona and has an average finish 11.8.
Among the top five in points Ty Dillon has the best record at Bristol Motor Speedway. The 23 year old, Dillon has made three starts at Bristol posting three top 10s and an average finish of 5.6 (the best among active drivers). This will be Darrell Wallace Jr.’s series debut at Bristol, but the remaining drivers in the top five in points have posted the following average finishes at BMS – Buescher (11.0), Elliott (6.0), and Reed (23.6).
Bristol’s Victory Lane Just Might See A Fresh Face
With the defending winner of the 2014 fall race (Ryan Blaney) not entered this weekend and Kyle Busch sidelined due to injury (won NXS prior three events at Bristol; spring 2014 and 2013 sweep), the field has four previous Bristol winners entered this weekend.
The most recent active winner at Bristol is Joey Logano, who won the fall race at the 0.533-mile track in 2012. Logano is joined by three other former winners – Kevin Harvick with five Bristol wins (fall of 2000, fall of ’01, spring of ’03, spring of ’05 and spring of ’09), Elliott Sadler with two (spring of 1998 and spring of 2012) and 2000 series champ Jeff Green with one (spring 2002).
Team Penske Sits Atop Owner Points Standings … Of Course
For the third week in a row, Team Penske‘s No. 22 Ford team has been the team to beat in the NASCAR XFINITY Series car owner standings. Following Texas, Team Penske’s lead has extended to nine points over second-place JR Motorsport’s No. 88 team.
Car owner Roger Penske is looking for his third consecutive NASCAR XFINITY Series owner title this season and his formula of multiple drivers has him on course for just that. This weekend, Joey Logano has been tapped to climb behind the wheel of the No. 22 Ford at Bristol, but it has been the collaborative effort of Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney that has cemented the points lead.
Logano has made eight series starts at Bristol posting one win (fall of 2012), four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 7.6.
Big Names Bound For Bristol
This weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in the NASCAR XFINITY Series several popular NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will be pulling double duty: Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Austin Dillon and Denny Hamlin.
Bristol NXS Quick Stats:
Harvick (No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) – has made 26 series starts at Bristol posting two poles, five wins, 15 top fives, 21 top 10s and an average finish of 7.5.
Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) – has made eight series starts at Bristol posting one win (fall of 2012), four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 7.6.
Dillon (No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) – has made four series starts at Bristol posting two top fives and an average finish of 7.5.
Hamlin (No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) – has made six series starts at Bristol posting one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 18.3.
Sunoco Rookie Update: Wallace Still The Man To Beat
Darrell Wallace Jr.’s sixth-place finish at Texas last weekend has opened up his lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by 14 points over second-place Daniel Suarez and 18 points over third-place Ross Chastain.
Wallace is starting to distance himself from the other rookie candidates; in six starts he has posted two top 10s and an average finish of 10.5.
Full Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings heading into Bristol: Wallace (73 rookie points), Suarez (59), Chastain (55), Conley (48), Rhodes (39) and Reaume (16).
Erik Jones Setting Himself Apart At A Young Age
Last weekend’s winner Erik Jones became the first driver in NASCAR national series history to win five national series races before the age of 19. The historic win breaks his tie with Chase Elliott (four wins) for the most national series wins by a driver under the age of 19.
In fact, there have only been 14 races won by drivers under the age of 18 — and Jones now has 35% of those victories.
Jones’ win last weekend at Texas was the fifth of his NASCAR national series career but just the first in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Jones also has posted four wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
In three NXS starts this season he has posted an average finish of 6.0.
Breakdown of Erik Jones NASCAR national series wins:
Series Track Driver’s Age Date of Race
NXS Texas 18 years 10 months 11 days 4/10/2015
NCWTS Phoenix 18 years 5 months 8 days 11/7/2014
NCWTS Las Vegas 18 years 3 months 28 days 9/27/2014
NCWTS Iowa 18 years 1 month 11 days 7/11/2014
NCWTS Phoenix 17 years 5 months 9 days 11/8/2013
NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.:
Milestones Watch: Kevin Harvick (174) will attempt to tie Kyle Busch this weekend for the most all-time NASCAR XFINITY Series top-five finishes at 175. … Brian Scott will attempt to post his 175th consecutive NASCAR XFINITY Series career start this weekend. …
Back In The Booth: After what many are calling a successful first-go at the broadcast side of a NASCAR event, Jeff Gordon will be back in the FOX Sports booth for the NASCAR XFINITY Series race this weekend in Bristol. Following this weekend Gordon is scheduled for one more appearance as a race analyst with FOX at Talladega (May 2).
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
Teenage Prodigy Jones Is Sports’ Latest Rising Star
Young athletes have been the talk of the sports world the last week.
Notably, 21-year-old golf phenom Jordan Spieth won The Masters and 22-year-old NBA All Star Anthony Davis put his New Orleans Pelicans team in contention for a Western Conference Playoff berth. Even 23-year-old baseball player Mike Trout, already a three-time All Star and winner of the 2014 American League MVP award, kicked off his season in the sport in which he is widely recognized as the best player.
And who knows, once Erik Jones hits his early 20s, he might have that kind of stature in his sport.
But for now, the 18-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular and recent NASCAR XFINITY Series winner is enjoying his climb up the NASCAR ladder.
He boasts five national series wins in his brief career. On Friday, he won his first NASCAR XFINITY Series race in just his ninth start, outdueling NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the process. Jones ranks third in the NCWTS standings, six points behind Matt Crafton. He has two top-five and three top-10 finishes in the first three races of the season.
Spieth may have talked about winning The Masters when he was 14 years old, but Jones told his uncle he was born to race at the ripe age of 3.
Crafton Leads ThorSport To Torrid Start
Three races into the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, Matt Crafton finds himself in the same spot he ended 2014 – first place. The only repeat series champion has finished first and second in the last two races respectively and leads Tyler Reddick by two points in the driver standings.
Crafton has set the tone for his Sandusky, Ohio-based ThorSport Racing team that has all three of its drivers in the top 10. Johnny Sauter ranks fourth after top-10 finishes in the first three races, while NASCAR Next alum/Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Cameron Hayley mans the eight spot.
Top 10 Turnover: New Faces Ascend Truck Series Standings
The top 10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings after three races this season looks a little different than it did after three races last year. Only four drivers from that point in time rank in the top 10 on the current NCWTS leaderboard: Matt Crafton (first last year; first this year), Johnny Sauter (fifth; fourth), Ben Kennedy (eighth; 10th) and John Wes Townley (10th; sixth). Townley has made the biggest improvement among the four, driving his No. 05 Zaxby’s Chevrolet to a season-best eighth-place finish at Martinsville.
RACE PREVIEW WRITTEN BY & A COURTESY OF NASCAR COMMUNICATIONS
Liberty Mutual to Serve as Official Insurance Partner for U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams
BOSTON AND NEW YORK (April 15, 2015) – Liberty Mutual Insurance officially announced today a multi-year sponsorship of the U.S. Soccer Federation, the national governing body for the sport of soccer in the United States. The sponsorship, which extends through 2018, designates Liberty Mutual as the Official Insurance Partner of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams, as well as the Youth National Teams and the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
Liberty Mutual will officially kick off its sponsorship of U.S. Soccer at tonight’s anticipated U.S. Men’s National Team match against longtime rival Mexico in San Antonio, Texas. Fans attending the game can expect to see Liberty Mutual’s presence throughout the stadium, including an experiential footprint where fans can share their passion by posing for a personalized vintage poster.
“We are thrilled about this new partnership with U.S. Soccer. As one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S., we see great value in the platform that it gives Liberty Mutual to positively impact communities across the country,” said John Coombe, vice president of Brand Management and Sponsorships for Liberty Mutual Insurance. “This is an exciting year for soccer, and we are eager to grow our relationship with our national teams as they prepare for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World CupTM and host several premier friendly matches.”
Liberty Mutual’s sponsorship of U.S. Soccer builds upon the company’s long-standing partnership with U.S. Youth Soccer, which began in 2007. This new relationship enables the company to deepen its involvement with the sport and support the U.S. from youth levels through the elite levels. Additionally, Liberty Mutual’s Brazilian affiliate, Liberty Seguros, also has a history in the sport with recent sponsorships of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013.
“Liberty Mutual has proven to be a fantastic supporter of sports, especially at the youth level, and we’re excited to partner with them during the coming years,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “We’re confident that soccer will continue to grow in the United States and having the opportunity to work with an industry leader like Liberty Mutual at all levels will allow us to have a positive impact in bringing people closer to the sport.”
As an official sponsor of U.S. Soccer, Liberty Mutual will be the presenting sponsor of one of the National Team’s marquee games during the year and the company will also enjoy a variety of assets including in-stadium and field signage, advertising, marketing and promotional opportunities, social and digital media assets, and on-site event activation. The sponsorship also includes rights to align with U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team players, coaches and legends of the game.
“The popularity of soccer continues to grow in the U.S. each year, so it is really exciting to have a sponsor like Liberty Mutual Insurance that believes in and recognizes the impact this sport has in communities throughout the country,” said Landon Donovan, U.S. Men’s National Team legend. “As an athlete who has played at every level of the sport – from youth soccer through my national team career – I know the importance of sponsors like Liberty Mutual Insurance in helping our teams and individual players flourish both on and off the field.”
The sponsorship of U.S. Soccer complements Liberty Mutual’s status as an official partner of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams. The company also supports the development of youth sports through its Liberty Mutual Play Positive® program and its partnerships with several national governing bodies, including ASA/USA Softball, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, USA Hockey, USA Volleyball, USA Water Polo, USA Wrestling and USRowing.
Soccer United Marketing facilitated the agreement.
About Liberty Mutual Insurance
Liberty Mutual Insurance helps people preserve and protect what they earn, build, own and cherish. Keeping this promise means we are there when our policyholders throughout the world need us most.
In business since 1912 and headquartered in Boston, Mass., today Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified insurer with operations in 30 countries and economies around the world. The company is the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2013 direct premiums written as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty Mutual Insurance also ranks 76th on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2013 revenue.
Liberty employs more than 50,000 people in approximately 900 offices throughout the world, and offers a wide range of insurance products and services, including personal automobile, homeowners, accident & health, commercial automobile, general liability, property, surety, workers compensation, group disability, group life, specialty lines, reinsurance, and individual life and annuity products.
Liberty Mutual Insurance is the official property and casualty and life insurance partner of the U.S. Olympic Committee for the 2016 Olympic Games and 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The company also is the proud sponsor and partner of several national governing bodies, including ASA/USA Softball, USRowing, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, U.S. Soccer Federation, US Youth Soccer, USA Hockey, USA Volleyball, USA Water Polo and USA Wrestling.
About U.S. Soccer Federation
Founded in 1913, U.S. Soccer is the non-for-profit, governing body of soccer in the United States and has helped chart the course for the game for more than 100 years. During this time, the Federation’s mission statement has been clear and simple: to make soccer, in all its forms, a pre-eminent sport in the United States and to continue the development of soccer at all recreational and competitive levels. To that end, the sport’s development and growth in the United States during the past 25 years has been nothing short of remarkable as U.S. Soccer’s National Teams have continually succeeded on the world stage and, with the assistance of its members, the fan support and participation in the game continues to reach new heights. For more information, visit ussoccer.com.
PRESS RELEASE Sean Dennison, SUM, Glenn Greenberg, Liberty Mutual Insurance; COURTESY SOCCER UNITED MARKETING