Monday, Jan. 21, 2013

NOTE: For more photos from Day One of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, click here.

Sprint Outlines Fan Involvement with The Sprint Unlimited at Daytona – During a luncheon on Monday of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR on Fox’s Mike Joy discussed the influence race fans will have over the 75-lap non-points race that kicks off the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway.

High-tech voting through a new mobile phone app or on will let fans attempt to influence the outcome of the race for their favorite driver or just stir the pot to make things more interesting.

Fans can cast their votes to decide the length of each of the race’s three segments, whether drivers take a pit stop (and how many tires teams change) and if zero, two, four or six cars will be eliminated after the second segment. Fans will also cast votes for everything from Miss Sprint Cup’s Victory Lane firesuit to how to set the starting lineup. Additionally, fans will be in the flagstand for the green flag and in the pace car and will give the command to start engines. A fan will present the trophy.

Tim Considine, Sprint’s director of sports marketing, spoke about the sponsor’s motivation for taking the race directly to the fans with new technology.

“The idea of fan loyalty is in some ways a catchphrase in the sport, but it exists. We measure everything. Our customers who are race fans; they stay with us longer. They are significantly more loyal, and that empowers our management to say to our team, ‘Go out there and come up with new ways to engage these fans because they are great for our business.’”

Joy then introduced NASCAR on FOX color commentators Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds to discuss the many effects fan votes will have on drivers and teams during The Sprint Unlimited. Waltrip gave his thoughts on how technology has changed the relationship between fans and drivers.

“What’s fun about this, and we’ve seen it coming, is how social media and particularly Twitter have affected us. It is a constant reminder of what kind of job you’re doing. What the fans want to see is for us to have an event like this. This is a race by the fans for the fans.

“How many times, Mike, have you turned to Larry and me in the booth and said, ‘What would you do?’ This is a great opportunity for us to turn to the fans and ask, ‘OK, what would you do?’”


Stewart-Haas Pleased with Patrick’s Development – Tony Gibson and Tony Stewart spoke highly of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Danica Patrick during the Stewart-Haas Racing press conference on Monday. But when commenting about her expectations for this season, the driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing was a little more reserved than her respective crew chief and team owner/teammate.

“We are going to be ‘intelligently patient,’ ” said Patrick at the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. “With on board, we’ve been able to take it nice and slow and have been able to learn and take our time before jumping into the deep end.”

Patrick will officially make the plunge after a season in the Nationwide Series, which saw her net four top-10s and a pole. It was a tremendous learning experience for Patrick.

“There’s a day where the light switch clicked on and you get that feel you were looking for,” said Stewart, when asked about his confidence level in Patrick. “I think Danica has done a lot in a very short amount of time.”

Not only is it a clean slate for Patrick, but all three Stewart-Haas Racing drivers. Stewart – the 2011 Cup champion – is eyeing a rebound after a sub-par 2012; and Ryan Newman is hoping a reunion with longtime crew chief Matt Borland will be the answer to missing the Chase in two of the last three seasons.

“I’m really looking forward to working with him again,” said Borland, who guided Newman to 12 victories in four seasons (2002-05) with Penske, including a career-high eight wins in 2003.

Eldora Race Offers Fans Plenty to Be Excited About – Eldora Speedway owner Tony Stewart deferred questions about the Camping World Truck Series race at the half-mile dirt track on July 24 to Roger Slack, the track’s general manager and promoter. Despite very sloppy conditions, Slack was satisfied with the ultra-secretive testing that was held there in November.

“That’s about the worst-case scenario we could have and I thought it went really well,” said Slack. “I think it’s going to be a great race.”

Slack expects a deep field from many different series, everywhere from late model to Cup.

“The fans will be excited,” said Slack, who noted that the track could still add one or two supporting races to the weekend docket. “This will be a race that can stand on its own.”

Quote of the Day – “My mom and I had a huge fight because she wanted me to go to college – now she works for me.”  -Tony Stewart, when asked what his mother said to him to inspire him as a kid to become who he is today.