Friday, January 13, 2017

Drivers, crew chiefs pleased with first day of Goodyear tire test at LVMS

Drivers, crew chiefs pleased with first day of Goodyear tire test at LVMS

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LAS VEGAS – A quartet of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers and their crews took their first steps toward preparing for the 2017 season at a Goodyear tire test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Tuesday.

Drivers Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray spent the better part of a cool, crisp and sunny day testing tires at the 1.5-mile superspeedway. McMurray, who will drive the No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS for Chip Ganassi Racing again this year, was happy to be back behind the wheel after the short offseason break.

"We’ve had a little bit of a break, so it took a little bit to get used to being back in the car," said McMurray, who is embarking on his 15th year as a pro. "The tire tests are interesting, because you spend more time doing stuff for (Goodyear), and a lot of what we put on, we don’t ever see again. It’s nice to come and do a mile-and-a-half test and test all of the aero stuff, because those tracks are so important to our series."

The day was not without a surprise or two.

"Today was a little odd, because the track actually got slower the cooler it got, which is way different than normal," McMurray said. "The pace was a little bit slower than what we ran last year, and I expect it’s going to be quite a bit slower when we get back here. With less down force, you don’t get as much grip and the car slides around a little bit more, but the mid-corner speeds the last two years have been so high that it’s made it almost impossible to pass.

"So, the fact that you’re having to slow down now will make for better racing."

Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Elliott’s No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy SS for Hendrick Motorsports, felt his team made progress on Day 1.

"It was nice to get back on the track and run here with the new rules package," said Gustafson, who has 20 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories as a crew chief. "We learned some characteristics of the car and what we need to improve on. Goodyear brought a lot of options, and there was a large swing (of types), much more than a typical tire test. The tires were radically different, and it was fun and interesting.

"All in all, we got a lot of work done today, for sure. Getting (Goodyear) its information is Priority 1, and we did a good job doing that and learned a few things ourselves."

The two-day tire test, which is closed to the public, continues at LVMS on Wednesday.

The track’s racing weekend is slated for Friday, March 10, with Stratosphere Pole Day, the Boyd Gaming 300 Xfinity Series race on Saturday, March 11, and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Kobalt 400 on Sunday, March 12.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Daniel Suárez: Promoted earlier than expected – but not too soon

Daniel Suárez: Promoted earlier than expected – but not too soon

Jan. 11, 2017

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

Don’t worry about Daniel Suárez.

And don’t buy into the assumption that, in promoting Suárez to fill the seat of departing Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing is making the same mistake it made in 2009 when the organization threw then-18-year-old Joey Logano into the deep end of the pool.

Laboring under the weight of replacing Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Toyota, Logano never blossomed at JGR. It took four years of seasoning and a move to Team Penske for Logano to realize his enormous potential in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car.

Suárez, on the other hand, is already 25, and possesses a ferocious work ethic matched only by his desire to learn – and learn quickly.

The Mexican driver has paid his dues, lots of them. Starting in go-karts, Suárez excelled in both the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series before advancing to the national touring level in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series.

He comes to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with championship credentials, having triumphed in the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase last year.

Early in the 2016 campaign, however, Suárez didn’t look like a potential champion. Yes, he had plenty of speed, but his lack of experience at and knowledge of the tracks that made up the brunt of the XFINITY schedule showed – sometimes glaringly.

But Suárez is a sponge, eager to seek out and absorb new information. One of Suárez’s foremost resources has been a driver who has won championships in both the XFINITY and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and also owned the Camping World Truck Series Toyotas Suárez drove on that circuit.

In fact, Suárez’s weekly routine included a phone call to JGR teammate and KBM team owner Kyle Busch, who was more than willing to share the knowledge that has made him the all-time victory leader in the XFINITY Series.

With Busch’s help, as well as advice from Edwards, Suárez learned the language of the asphalt as adroitly as he picked up English by watching sitcoms and sports on television. When he needed help with his restarts, he went to the undisputed master, Ron Hornaday Jr.

By the second half of the season, he was a contender. Suárez won for the first time last year in the 13th race, at Michigan. He won again on a return trip to Dover and clinched the championship with a victory in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Don’t think for a minute, though, that Suárez’s hunger has been sated by an XFINITY title. It wasn’t to win in “the series where names are made” that Suárez drove a 1994 Volkswagen bug from Mexico to North Carolina to pursue his dream.

Though a jump from XFINITY to Cup is a difficult proposition for any driver, Suárez is ready to make the move, albeit earlier than planned given Edwards startling announcement that he is stepping away from his full-time ride in the No. 19 Camry.

Suárez has a strong support system that includes business manager Jimmy Morales, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, Chip Ganassi Racing co-owner Felix Sabates, sponsor Arris and automaker Toyota. All are fully invested in Suárez’s prospects for success at NASCAR’s highest level.

“I wasn't expecting to be in this position right now,” Suárez said at the Wednesday press conference announcing his promotion. “It's been an amazing time. This is hard to believe that I'm in this position. We started all this dream 10 years ago with NASCAR, and right now to be in this position, to be in this opportunity, is just something amazing for me and for everyone that has been helping me, of course.

“I know that it won't be easy. We have a lot to work. I have a lot to learn. But I'm sure that it couldn't happen in a better situation with (crew chief) Dave Rogers and the entire 19 group. It's just an amazing team. I feel like it's just a perfect place to be for a rookie like me that is really hungry to learn and to go out there and to perform well…

“It’s been an amazing journey, and I can’t wait for the future.”

To borrow a phrase from the late George Allen, for Suárez, the future is now. And the first measure of success in that future will be how long it takes Suárez to get his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup win.

The second will be how long it takes Kyle Busch to stop returning his phone calls.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Coincides with 2018 Production Model Reveal


DETROIT (January 9, 2017) – In an unprecedented event, Toyota today unveiled its 2018 NASCAR Toyota Camry race car in unison with the debut of the 2018 production Camry at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Following a dramatic redesign to its show room counterpart, the Camry race car will compete on the race track in 2017 as Toyota defends its NASCAR Premier Series manufacturer’s championship.
"The 2018 Toyota Camry NASCAR race car has been years in the making, and to unveil it simultaneously with our new production Camry is a milestone moment for our organization," said Ed Laukes, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A. "The collaboration between Calty Design Group and TRD has produced a NASCAR Camry that showcases aggressive styling that is sure to turn heads on the race track and among our fans in Toyota showrooms across the country. Reimagining both the Camry race car and its production counterpart has been a tremendous undertaking and our goal has been to maintain parallel design characteristics so our fans can enjoy driving a Camry that closely resembles the one their favorite NASCAR driver races each weekend." 
Spearheaded by Camry chief designer Masato Katsumata, the production Camry received a radical redesign for 2018 and engineers from Calty Design Research, Inc., Toyota’s North American design studio, and TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) worked together to ensure the NASCAR Camry showcased the same aggressive attributes as its updated production sibling. TRD and Calty worked together with NASCAR throughout the process. 
Calty previously worked with Toyota and TRD to update the NASCAR Camry when NASCAR introduced its Gen-6 models in 2013, and again when Toyota updated the Camry race car in 2015. The design group also worked with TRD on the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Camry, the 2014 Toyota Tundra for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the current NHRA Funny Car Camry.
Toyota entered NASCAR Premier Series competition with the Camry in 2007 and the manufacturer won its first driver’s championship in 2015, followed by its first manufacturer’s championship in 2016. Camry drivers have won 95 NASCAR Premier Series races over 10 seasons.  
The NASCAR Camry will make its debut on-track in 2017 prior to the 2018 production Camry hitting showroom floors at Toyota dealerships later this year. The NASCAR Camry will first compete at Daytona International Speedway on February 18 in The Clash at Daytona before defending its Daytona 500 title on Sunday, Feb. 26.  
For photos of the 2018 Toyota Camry race car and production car, please click here. For more information on the new 2018 Toyota Camry, please visit 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Chevy SS to end, no replacement planned:

Chevy SS to end, no replacement planned: General Motors Co. will end sales of the Chevrolet SS car for the U.S. market by the end of the year, with no replacement planned, a GM executive confirmed Monday at the Detroit auto show. GM North America President Alan Batey said the sporty car built in Australia, will go away by the end of 2017. The car is what Chevy uses in some NASCAR racing and has been on sale for consumers in the U.S. since 2013. "Using the old adage, 'win on Sunday, buy on Monday,' we decided that in small numbers we'd introduce it the U.S. because we could, frankly, at a pretty low cost," Batey told reporters Monday after introducing a new Chevrolet Traverse SUV. "I would say the vehicle has been really well-received. It's small volumes, but it's been really well-received." In 2016, GM sold 3,013 Chevy SS sedans, up 4.1 percent from 2015. The SS is based off the Holden Commodore. Batey said the decision comes because GM is ending vehicle production in Australia. It will continue to sell vehicles in Australia. GM in late 2013 announced its planned to stop producing vehicles in Australia by 2017, cutting 2,900 jobs and closing an assembly factory and engine plant. GM said the decision stemmed from the sustained growth of the Australian dollar, high cost of manufacturing and the small domestic market (Detroit News)(1-9-2017)