Notes and Quotes #3: NASCAR Sprint Media Tour Hosted By Charlotte Motor Speedway
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013
PIT NOTE #3
To see photos from Day Three of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, click here.
Gen-6 Talk During Chevrolet’s Tuesday Night Dinner – No doubt the hot topic during the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway this week has been the new Gen-6 race car all NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will be running in 2013. On Tuesday night, Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for Chevrolet, put together an informative program that broke down the development of the Chevrolet SS, which will make its debut next month in Daytona.
Chevrolet used the same approach to develop the SS as it does on all its production vehicles, reinforcing the age-old mantra heard all week that says, “What you race on Sunday you can buy on Monday.”
“It’ll be great to be racing a Chevy small-block V-8, rear-wheel-drive car on the race track and selling a Chevy small-block V-8, rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet SS in the showroom,” said Campbell. “The SS has a great history – [the letters] stand for Super Sport – and I can’t wait to see the Chevrolet SS on the opening lap of the Daytona 500 and for the rest of the 2013 season.”
Chevrolet has plans to unveil its Chevy SS production car on Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway at 1 p.m.
Chevrolet has put together an impressive résumé in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series over the years, compiling 702 wins and 36 manufacturers’ titles, including 10 straight that date back to 2003.
“It’s going to be exciting to see the new Chevrolet SS on track, continuing our quest for more product relevance,” said Chevrolet Racing Director Pat Suhy. “[NASCAR race cars have] bio fuels, fuel injection, and now we have a car that is closely tied to its production counterpart. The new car is an example of how the manufacturers working hand-in-hand with NASCAR resulted in a product that we are very proud of. It’s going to be not only product relevant but also very exciting on the track.”
Chip Ganassi Racing Flying High with Cessna Sponsorship – With all seven of its drivers sitting shoulder to shoulder, Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new multi-year deal on Wednesday that will see Cessna Aircraft Co. (a Textron, Inc. company) sponsor cars across all three of the race series in which CGR competes.
Inside a hangar at the Concord Regional Airport, the partnership was officially unveiled to Sprint Media Tour members with a dramatic drop of the curtain – cued by Scott Ernest, president and CEO of Cessna. Revealed behind the curtain were a Cessna X (the fastest commercial plane in the world), a Bad Boy Buggy, a Bell 429 Helicopter and Jamie McMurray’s black No. 1 Chevrolet SS with Cessna logos decorating the Sprint Cup Series Gen-6.
“That’s a pretty cool car right there, isn’t it?” asked McMurray, who will pilot the Cessna-sponsored Chevy SS for multiple races this season. “I’m really excited to get this season started. There’s a lot of positive energy on this team right now, and having Cessna onboard has really been a shot in the arm for this entire organization.”
That sentiment was echoed by Chip Ganassi, who spoke very highly of the new partnership, calling it “an honor” to add Cessna. Ganassi also spoke proudly of all seven of his drivers, a group that claims six IndyCar championships, six Grand-Am championships, four Indianapolis 500s, four Rolex 24 of Daytona races, a Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and 150 other race wins.
“This is a pretty talented group of drivers,” said Ganassi of the Sprint Cup Series’ McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya; Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Charlie Kimball of the IZOD IndyCar Series; and Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas of the Grand-Am series. All seven CGRT drivers will be competing in the 51st annual Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend.
“There’s obviously something missing from that list, and that’s a NASCAR championship,” said Ganassi. “We want to add that to our list of accomplishments.”
Montoya might be just the guy to do it.
“I’m not going to come out and say that I’m confident we’re going to have a great season, but the way testing has gone, it’s hard not to be excited,” said Montoya. “We’re bringing back our whole team. That’s very rare. I think that is going to be an advantage for us.”
Charlotte Motor Speedway Discusses All-Star Theme and Fan Contest Winner – The speedway’s Media Center served as a lunchtime stop Wednesday for the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before being served a chuck wagon meal of hamburgers, hot dogs and cowboy-style baked beans, participants enjoyed a short presentation by the speedway’s President and General Manager Marcus Smith and Vice President of Communications Scott Cooper.
Wearing cowboy hats and toy Colt repeaters in their holsters, Smith and Cooper discussed the media to the Western “Throwdown at Charlotte” theme – and some of the attractions – for the May 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race. The press members were treated to a short clip of raw green-screen video from an upcoming TV spot featuring Clint Bowyer and other drivers. The finished commercial will debut on SPEED during Daytona Speedweeks.
The duo also announced that country music star Billy Currington will headline a pre-race concert free to all fans with a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race ticket.
Smith then touched on a unique form of involvement with the race for two lucky All-Star fans.
“We wanted to give some fans an opportunity to be in our [All-Star] commercial with the drivers,” Smith said. “We have with us today one of those fans, Mary Allen, who has been coming to every event at the speedway since 1997. She’s a Speedway Club member and a season ticket holder.”
This won’t be her first time appearing on camera as a race fan – she was an extra on the set of the movie “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story” starring Barry Pepper as the legendary driver. She automatically became eligible to appear in the upcoming All-Star commercial by purchasing her race ticket before the deadline on Jan. 14. Although she was picked at random from a large pool of possibilities, Allen perfectly fits the description of a hard-core race fan – the vanity plate on her black Chevrolet Camaro RS reads “NVR4GT3” and she once blew out a tire driving her personal car around Charlotte’s 1.5-mile superspeedway.
When asked who she thought had the best chance of taking home the million-dollar purse in May, like many race fans, she has her favorites.
“I’m for anybody with Hendrick Motorsports,” she said. “It’s time for [Dale Earnhardt] Jr. to win, but my heart is with Hendrick Motorsports [as a group].”
Allen later said her devotion to the Hendrick family goes back several years to when she first met them in her professional status as a nurse and got to know patriarch Papa Joe.
Smith and Cooper wrapped up the pre-lunch talk by telling the media members that the 2013 format for the ever-changing All-Star will be announced shortly. The race will be supported by a full roster of entertainment attractions, including a country music concert.
Hendrick Wins Pay Off for North Carolina Communities – Greenville, N.C., mayor Allen Thomas and High Point mayor Bernita Sims joined the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour at Hendrick Motorsports to accept checks from last year’s May Race to Education program. As a part of the program, cities across North Carolina were paired by random drawing to the successes of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers.
Greenville was pair with All-Star Race winner Jimmie Johnson, and High Point selected driver Kasey Kahne, who won the Cola-Cola 600, earning each city $20,000 to use toward educational
programs within the community. Charlotte Motor Speedway President and General Manager Marcus Smith presented their winnings.
Nothing New, Just Win! – With other teams announcing everything from new partnerships to new drivers, it’s par for the course for Hendrick Motorsports, which returns with the same lineup and crews from a 2012 season that saw all four teams make the Chase for the Championship.
“Obviously, with the new car, we’re excited to get things going,” said team owner Rick Hendrick, who was flanked by Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon to his right and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to his left. “There’s a lot of anticipation to get this season started, and I think I can speak for all four drivers when I say they’re ready to get to Daytona.”
Kahne, who missed last year’s Sprint Media Tour because of jury duty, is geared up and ready to pick up where he left off in 2012.
“We had a great season in 2012, but we also left a lot on the table,” said Kahne, who finished with two victories and fourth in points. “I’ve been here a year now, and it’s an unbelievable place, and everyone knows the opportunity Mr. H gives us, so we want to take full advantage of that.”
Gordon will look to pick up right where he left off at the end of last season.
“I know we wanted to race again the next week,” said Gordon, who closed out last season with a victory at Homestead. “I just never got a good feel for [the Car of Tomorrow]. It was better over the last couple years, but it just never fit me well. This new car – now that’s a race car.”
After a string of five straight championships, this will be the second straight season in which Johnson isn’t the defending champion.
“I feel like through those five years there was some pressure on me that I didn’t know existed until the streak ended,” said Johnson, who finished third in points last season. “Starting the 2011 season, I was aware of that and kind of a clean sheet of paper. Time to start a new streak if I can or turn a page to what’s next.”
Earnhardt Jr. admits that it’s been a rough start to a season that’s yet to begin.
“I thought long and hard, and that’s probably the most embarrassed I have been in a long time,” said Earnhardt, who spun out Marcos Ambrose during a drafting practice session that collected 12 cars in its wake. “I feel like I short-handed a lot of people at that test … That was tough, but it was a learning experience. You have to get past it, and that’s what I’m going to try and do.”
“I call it the perfect race for the ADD generation. What’s not to like?” – Marcus Smith, on the 2013 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
“Mine was about five sizes too big.” – Jeff Gordon, when asked if the Car of Tomorrow were a suit, how would it compare to the Gen-6