Looking Ahead: 85 to DaytonaFriday, December 02, 2011
During the off-season, Anthony Ballantoni and Rotoworld.com 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 85 days to go until the 2012 season-opening Daytona 500, here are some recent updates followed by a tentative list of 2012 Sprint Cup Driver/Team lineups.
Cup team updates:
- Shane Wilson has been named the crew chief of the No. 29 Budweiser team with driver Kevin Harvick after three seasons in the same position with Richard Childress Racing's No. 33 team. Gil Martin, the No. 29 crew chief since May 2009 and a crew chief at RCR since August 2000, has been named director of team operations. This is not the first time Wilson and Harvick have worked together. They joined forces in 2006 to earn 10 wins, 24 top-five and 31 top-10 finishes on the way to that season's NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. The team's 824-point margin of victory is a series record.
- Chris Heroy has been named crew chief of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet with driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Heroy takes over the role effective immediately in preparation for the 2012 season. Heroy joins Earnhardt Ganassi Racing from Hendrick Motorsports where he began in 2004, most recently as lead engineer on the No. 5 car for six of the previous seven years.
- The Michael Waltrip Racing car driven by Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip next season will carry the No. 55. Waltrip has campaigned with the number in recent years, and it also commemorates the year (1955) sponsor Aaron’s was founded. The car previously was No. 00 with David Reutimann as the driver.
- Drew Blickensderfer is the new crew chief for the No. 31 Caterpillar/Wheaties Racing team with driver Jeff Burton for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Luke Lambert, interim crew chief during the latter part of the 2011 season for the No. 31 team, will assume a yet-to-be announced new position at RCR. Blickensderfer begins his RCR career after nearly a decade with Roush Fenway Racing.
- The No. 30 Inception Motorsports team and driver David Stremme, plans to run all the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races but the two road course races [Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International. Sponsorship info will be released at a later date.
- Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. voted the Sprint Cup Series driver the NASCAR® National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers Most Popular Driver for the ninth straight year. He earned the award after receiving the most online fan votes among all eligible drivers throughout the 2011 racing season. Fans cast nearly 1.5 million total votes throughout the 2011 campaign.
- Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe have agreed to multi-year contract extensions on the No. 2 team. In their first season of working together in 2010, Keselowski and Wolfe teamed up to produce six wins and five poles on their way to winning the Nationwide Series championship for Penske Racing. Over the course of the last two seasons, Keselowski and Wolfe have worked together to produce nine wins, six poles, 36 top-five finishes and one NASCAR crown combined across Nationwide and Cup Series competition.
Camping World Truck Series updates:
- Turner Motorsports announces the addition of Miguel Paludo to their stable of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) drivers for the 2012 season. Paludo is fresh off of his first full year in the NCWTS where he scored a career-high three top-five and seven top-10 finishes, closing out the season 17th in the series point standings. He joins a stable of drivers including James Buescher and Nelson Piquet, Jr.
- ThorSport Racing announced a partnership with Toyota Racing Development, switching from Chevrolet Silverado's to Toyota Tundra's in 2012. ThorSport Racing currently operates three NCWTS teams - the No. 13 of Johnny Sauter; the No. 88 of Matt Crafton; and the No. 98 of Dakoda Armstrong. The organization will also field the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota Camry during the 2012 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season.