Anthony Ballantoni

Looking Ahead

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Daytona 500 in 28 days

Friday, January 21, 2011

During the off-season, Anthony Ballantoni and keep you up-to-date on what's happening with NASCAR. Looking Ahead gives a snapshot of driver moves, new teams, new sponsors and other general NASCAR news. With 28 days to go until the 2011 season-opening Daytona 500, here are some recent updates.

Cup team updates:
-Trevor Bayne will drive the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford beginning with the Daytona 500 in February. He is scheduled to run the first five NASCAR Sprint Cup races and up to a total of 17 races in 2011.
-Michael Shank Racing announced the driver lineup for their third entry in the Jan. 29-30 Rolex 24 at Daytona, with the #6 Ford-Dallara being driven Sprint Cup Series drivers AJ Allmendinger and Michael McDowell and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson. The 2011 Rolex 24 At Daytona will mark Allmendinger's sixth attempt in the Rolex 24. McDowell has Grand-Am experience stretching back to 2004, as the Phoenix native broke through for his first Daytona Prototype victory one year later in Mexico City.
-David Starr will compete in six Sprint Cup races for newly-formed Leavine Fenton Racing in 2011. Starr will compete in both Charlotte races, both Texas races, as well as at Kentucky and Chicagoland in the Sprint Cup Series. The organization will run Roush Fenway Racing cars with Roush/Yates Engines. Wally Rogers will be the crew chief.
-Regan Smith's No. 78 over-the-wall pit crew for Furniture Row Racing will be employed and trained by Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) during the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The No. 78 pit crew will be under the supervision of SHR pit crew coach Joe Piette, who also oversees the pit crews for Tony Stewart's No. 14 team and Ryan Newman's No. 39 team.
-Brian Keselowski and his team are working on cars to run Sprint Cup for 2011. He plans to run for Rookie of the Year. The team has recently acquired three Penske Dodges to go along with their current fleet of former Gillette/Evernham cars.
-Tommy Baldwin Racing announced the team will run 16 races with the No. 36 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series with Dave Blaney behind the wheel. Going into the season opener in Daytona, the targeted races include: two races at Daytona, Phoenix, Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond and New Hampshire, as well as events at Darlington, Infineon, Indianapolis and Watkins Glen.
-NASCAR champion Bill Elliott will pilot the No. 09 Phoenix Racing entry for a limited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule beginning with the Daytona 500, team owner James Finch confirmed. "Hopefully, he will run 18 races, maybe more, depending on sponsorship," Finch said. Nick Harris will serve as Elliott's crew chief. The Chevrolets will be powered with Hendrick motors.
-Rusty Wallace Racing announced that Steve Wallace will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the Daytona 500. Wallace will pilot the No. 77 Toyota Camry for RWR at Daytona, with backing from longtime sponsor 5-Hour Energy and new partner Aspen Dental. Larry Carter, will serve as crew chief for the No. 77. The younger Wallace has a guaranteed place among the 43-car starting field, enabled through an agreement between RWR and Penske Racing.
-Prism Motorsports owners Randy Humphrey and Phil Parsons have formed HP Racing, which will have Michael McDowell behind the wheel of the No. 66 car for a part-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2011. The team has relocated to the JTG Racing shop that used to house that organization's Nationwide Series cars. Veteran crew chief Gene Nead will direct McDowell's program. HP Racing will compete at Daytona, Bristol, Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen. More races would depend on sponsorship.
-Jamie McMurray has signed a multi-year contract with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. McMurray won three of the biggest races of the season last year in the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Bank of America 500 at Charlotte. He finished 14th in the final Sprint Cup standings.
-Travis Kvapil and David Gilliland will be back behind the wheels of their Front Row Motorsports Fords for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The veteran drivers will return for the organization's third full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, with Kvapil racing the No. 34 Long John Silver's Ford and David Gilliland in the No. 38 Taco Bell Ford. The team plans to enter its third car, the No. 37 Ford, in select races during the 2011 season.

Nationwide Series updates:
-Turner Motorsports announced that veteran crew chief Jimmy Elledge has joined the team to lead the efforts of the No. 31 Chevrolet driven by Justin Allgaier. Elledge has been a part of several championship-winning organizations and has worked with an impressive mix of veteran and rookie drivers including Turner Motorsports driver, Reed Sorenson, as well as Juan Montoya, Casey Mears, A.J. Allmendinger, Bobby Hamilton and Dale Jarrett.
-TriStar Motorsports announces the appointment of Rick Carpenter as General Manager for their NASCAR Nationwide Series effort. TriStar Motorsports will field three entries this coming season in the NNS with Eric McClure piloting the No. 14 Hefty Chevrolet as well as the team fielding the No. 19 and No. 44 Chevrolets. The team will be making future announcements on drivers and sponsors for the other two entries.
-Faith Motorsports announced that Morgan Shepherd and Brett Rowe will fill the driver's seats in a two-car Faith Motorsports effort in NASCAR's Nationwide Series in 2011. Shepherd's car (No. 89) will bear the Racing With Jesus logo on the hood. Rowe will pilot the No. 55 Chevrolet.
-Team Rensi Motorsports announced that veteran driver Kevin Lepage will pilot the #24 Ford Mustang in full-time, Nationwide Series competition in 2011. Lepage, a native of Shelburne, Vt., has a NASCAR Nationwide Series career that spans three decades with 17 years of competition in the sport's second-tier series. In total, he has earned two wins, 19 top-fives and 51 top-10 finishes along with four pole awards in Nationwide Series competition. Lepage has also found success in both the Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck Series. Longtime Team Rensi crew chief Chris Wright will lead Lepage and the #24 team beginning with the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway in February.
-Turner Motorsports announced the addition of racing legend, Mark Martin, to its 2011 driver line-up. Martin will pilot the No. 32 Dollar General Impala in NASCAR Nationwide Series events at Las Vegas, Auto Club Speedway, Michigan and Kentucky with crew chief, Trent Owens, calling the shots. He will also drive the No. 32 Silverado in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway.
-Elliott Sadler will have no hesitation marking an 'X' for which NASCAR championship he wishes to compete in this season. After 12 years in Sprint Cup, the 35-year-old will commit himself to a full Nationwide season with Kevin Harvick Inc. The choice in some ways made for him. But he likes the end result. And ultimately, an odd fork in his career path and a reported new NASCAR rule could make him a serious contender for an elusive first championship.
-Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Michael McDowell will join their team of drivers for the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season. McDowell is currently slated to drive in both Nationwide Series races in Iowa for Pizza Ranch behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Camry with the potential to add additional races to his schedule for JGR. He also competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series where he has made 52 career starts over the course of the past three seasons.

Camping World Truck Series updates:
-After a solid rookie season in 2010, 24-year-old Justin Lofton will join Germain Racing for his sophomore effort in 2011, racing a Germain entered No. 77 Toyota Tundra full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Lofton earned the 2009 ARCA Racing Series championship after winning six of the 21 races. He moved full time to NASCAR last year, notching four top-five and eight top-10 finishes with a best finish of third, giving him a solid 12th place finish in the driver point standings.
-Tim George Jr. returns to Richard Childress Racing's driver lineup for 2011 as fulltime driver of the No. 31 RCR Chevrolet in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. George is also expected to compete in a limited NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule in 2011.
-Kevin Harvick Inc. announced that NASCAR veteran Chris Carrier will lead the organization's third Truck Series team as crew chief in 2011. The addition to the KHI stable, which will carry the No. 8, will be driven full time by Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet Jr. Carrier, who has more than 30 years of experience in the sport, has wins as a crew chief in each of NASCAR's top-three series.
-TurnOne Racing announced Justin Marks will drive the No. 66 Chevrolet Silverado full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, starting with the season-opener at Daytona. Marks, 29, is coming off of an impressive season in the ARCA Racing Series where he finished sixth in the 2010 driver point standings after scoring one win, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 20 starts. He made his NASCAR debut in the Camping World Truck Series in 2007 and ran a partial schedule in 2008, where he claimed the pole at Texas. In total, he made 22 starts in the series. He has also competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, where he has made seven starts.
-For the first time in his 24-year national series racing career, two-time and defending Camping World Truck Series champion Todd Bodine will compete in all three NASCAR divisions in next month's Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway. Bodine will race his championship-winning No. 30 in the Feb. 18 Truck race; the Nationwide car, which is locked into the field for the Feb. 19 season opener thanks to Michael Annett's 14th-place finish in the 2010 owners' points; and owner Larry Gunselman's No. 64, which has a technical alliance with the Germains, in the qualifying rounds for the 53rd Daytona 500.
-Chris Fontaine and the Glenden Enterprises #84 NCWTS team are preparing their #84 NCWTS Toyota Tundra truck for the race at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2011. This will be the first time Fontaine has raced in a NCWTS race at Daytona and his second race at the track. It will be his 25th career start in NCWTS. In 2004, he drove in the i-Power DASH race at Daytona, starting 17th and finishing 15th. In the last NCWTS race he ran, Chris Fontaine led the October 2010 race at Talladega three times for a total of 15 laps. It was his first career race at the track and he says he learned a lot there that he can take to Daytona.
-Richard Childress Racing has signed Joey Coulter to drive its second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team in 2011. Coulter, 20, finished eighth in the 2010 ARCA Racing Series point standings, his second full season of competition, on the strength of his first series victory and six other top-five finishes. He also earned the Bill France Four Crown Award, which showcases driver talent on four distinct types of race tracks during the month of August. In 2009, his rookie year, the Miami Springs, Fla., native finished fourth in the point standings, earning two pole positions and seven top-five finishes. He will be the NCWTS teammate of Austin Dillon, who finished fourth and earned rookie-of-the-year honors in the series.
-After weeks of conjecture, Mike Skinner confirmed that he will not return to the Randy Moss Motorsports Camping World Truck Series team this season. "I can't say anything bad about David Dollar or Randy Moss," he said. "They gave me a chance in 2009 when I didn't have anything going. We had Cinderella season; winning three races, finishing third in points, and it was great. When (crewchief) Eric Phillips left, the chemistry just wasn't there anymore. It was no fault of theirs, and no fault of mine. It just didn't work out."
-Jimmy Dick, owner of Viva Motorsports and Corrie Stott, owner of Corrie Stott Racing have joined forces to support 21 year old driver Jamie Dick in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for a limited number of events in 2011. With Viva providing equipment and support, and Stott managing the team's weekly operations and preparation, they jointly look forward to an exciting 2011 season. Viva Motorsports has not set a final 2011 schedule yet, but plans to run 7-10 races in the Truck Series initially.

Previously reported Sprint Cup updates(01-04-11):
-Michael Waltrip plans to drive a Ferrari sports car at several world-wide tracks, enter the Daytona 500, the inaugural Cup race at Kentucky Speedway and possibly other races.
-Denny Hamlin gave a fan who answered his Christmas question (sum of presents in the "12 Days of Christmas"..364) on Twitter an all expense paid trip to the 2011 Brickyard 400.
-J.J. Yeley will drive the No. 46 Chevrolet for Whitney Motorsports full-time in 2011.
-Gillette announced the launch of its expanded Gillette Young Guns program by unveiling the 2011 roster of six rising stars in their respective sports: Matt Ryan and Ray Rice from football, Evan Longoria and Carlos Gonzalez from baseball and Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch from auto racing.
-Chip Ganassi's 2-Car lineup for the Jan. 29-30 Rolex 24 At Daytona: Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, Joey Hand and Graham Rahal in the No. 01 BMW-Prepared Riley Prototype. In the No. 02: Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.

Previously reported Sprint Cup updates(12-17-10):
-AAA will sponsor the No. 22 Dodge driven by 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 6 races.
-Keyed Up Motorsports plans to run the first five races of the 2011 season with driver Scott Riggs in the #90 Chevrolet.
-Robby Gordon settled legal battle with Specialized Bicycle Components by altering the logo for his Speed Energy drink.
-Scott Speed filed a $6.5 million breach-of-contract lawsuit Friday afternoon against Red Bull Racing, the team that released Speed following the 2010 season.
-Kasey Kahne and Red Bull Racing confirmed Tuesday that Kahne's car number in the Sprint Cup Series will be the No. 4.

Previously reported Sprint Cup updates(12-05-10):
-Hendrick Motorsports shuffles driver-crew chief pairings for 2011. No. 5 Mark Martin teams with crew chief Lance Mcgrew; No. 24 Jeff Gordon gets crew chief Alan Gustafson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. teams with Steve Letarte. Earnhardt will move to the same building with Jimmie Johnson (now the 48/88 shop) and Gordon moves in with Martin in the 5/24 shop.
-Todd Parrott will be the crew chief for Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9 Stanley Tools Ford at Richard Petty Motorsports.
-The U.S. Army renews with Ryan Newman on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 39 as primary sponsor for 15 races.
-Paul Wolfe, who led Penske Racing's No. 22 car team to the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series title, has been named crew chief for Keselowski in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team for 2011
-Richard Petty Motorsports signed and closed a sale of its racing assets to an investment group comprised of Richard Petty, Medallion Financial Corp. and DGB Investments. The team will operate the legendary No. 43 car driven by AJ Allmendinger and the No. 9 car driven by Marcos Ambrose.
-Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart won the first edition of the Las Vegas Sprint Car Nationals Presented By K&N Filters at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. - Jimmie Johnson will join GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing at the Rolex 24 for the fourth consecutive year. He will be sharing the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Chevrolet Riley with two-time Daytona Prototype champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty on Jan. 29-30, 2011.
-Red Bull Racing confirmed the team's contract with Scott Speed has been terminated, effectively ending a seven-year association with the brand.
-Dale Earnhardt Jr. collected his eighth consecutive NASCAR® NMPA Most Popular Driver Award.
-Denny Hamlin named Sporting News driver of the year. His crew chief, Mike Ford, voted top crew chief of the year.

This is the tentative Sprint Cup lineup for 2011 so far:

2011 Sprint Cup Lineup - Full-time teams(Tentative)
00David ReutimannAaron'sToyotaMichael Waltrip
09Bill Elliott ?? ChevrPhoenix Racing
1Jamie McMurrayBass Pro ShopsChevrEarnhardt Ganassi
2Brad KeselowskiMiller LiteDodgePenske Racing
4Kasey KahneRed BullToyotaRed Bull
5Mark MartinGoDaddy.comChevrHendrick
6David RaganUPSFordRoush Fenway
9Marcos AmbroseStanley ToolsFordRichard Petty
11Denny HamlinFedExToyotaJoe Gibbs
13Casey MearsGEICOToyotaGermain Racing
14Tony StewartOffice DepotChevrStewart Haas
16Greg Biffle3MFordRoush Fenway
17Matt KensethCrown RoyalFordRoush Fenway
18Kyle BuschM&M'sToyotaJoe Gibbs
20Joey LoganoHome DepotToyotaJoe Gibbs
21Trevor BayneMotorcraftFordWood Brothers
22Kurt BuschShell-Pennzoil/AAADodgePenske Racing
24Jeff GordonAARP/DuPontChevrHendrick
27Paul MenardMenard'sChevrRichard Childress
29Kevin HarvickBudweiserChevrRichard Childress
31Jeff BurtonCaterpillarChevrRichard Childress
33Clint BowyerCheerios/BB&TChevrRichard Childress
34Travis KvapilLong John Silver'sFordFront Row Motorsports
36Dave Blaney ?? ChevrTommy Baldwin Racing
38David GillilandTaco BellFordFront Row Motorsports
39Ryan NewmanU.S. ArmyChevrStewart Haas
42Juan Pablo MontoyaTargetChevrEarnhardt Ganassi
43AJ AllmendingerBest BuyFordRichard Petty
46J.J. YeleyCash America Int'lChevrWhitney Motorsports
47Bobby LabonteLittle DebbiesToyotaJTG Daugherty
48Jimmie JohnsonLowe'sChevrHendrick
56Martin Truex Jr.NAPAToyotaMichael Waltrip
78Regan SmithFurniture RowChevrFurniture Row Racing
83Brian VickersRed Bull Energy DrinkToyotaRed Bull
87Joe Nemechek ??ToyotaNEMCO Motorsports
88Dale Earnhardt Jr.AMP Energy DrinkChevrHendrick
99Carl EdwardsAflacFordRoush Fenway

2011 Sprint Cup Lineup - Part-time Teams(Tentative)
7Robby GordonSpeed Energy DrinkChevrRG Motorsports
21Trevor BayneMotorcraftFordWood Brothers
37 ?? ?? FordFront Row Motorsports
66Michael McDowell ?? ToyotaHP Racing
77Steve Wallace5-Hour EnergyToyotaRusty Wallace Racing
90Scott Riggs ?? ChevrKeyed-Up Msprts
95David Starr ?? FordLeavine Fenton Racing

Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at
Email :Anthony Ballantoni

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