Blogs > Nascar: Beyond the Track

Find out what's really going on in NASCAR. Look here to find out why your driver really lost his ride, or the real reason those two drivers can't stand each other. Learn about the hidden motives and reasons for the things that happen in NASCAR, from the drivers to the team owners.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bobby Labonte will race for Phoenix Racing in the 2014 Daytona 500

Phoenix Racing recently announced that Bobby Labonte will drive a second car for the team in the Daytona 500 on February 23, 2014 at Daytona International Speedway. The move reunites Phoenix Racing chairman emeritus, James Finch, with the 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Bobby Labonte. Labonte drove for Phoenix Racing for 13 races in the No. 09 in 2010 and for one race at Michigan International Speedway in 2013 in the No. 51.
Harry Scott, Jr., who purchased the team from Finch in 2013, said, "James continues to be a valuable part of our team and when he came up with the idea of running Bobby in a second car, I jumped at the opportunity to bring him back into the fold. Bobby is a veteran driver that can also provide valuable insight and leadership for Phoenix Racing."
"I'm thrilled to be headed back to Daytona with Bobby Labonte," said Finch. "I thank Harry Scott for this opportunity. He knew I would have to be weaned off racing, I can't quit cold turkey."
"I am grateful and excited to return to Daytona with Phoenix Racing," said Labonte. "The Daytona 500 is obviously a special event for everyone involved in the sport. I can't wait to get back in the car for my 22nd Daytona 500."
Labonte, who will run a number of races for Phoenix Racing has won 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in his career that started in 1991. During that time Labonte scored 115 Top 5s and 203 Top 10s. In 1990 Labonte was named the NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver. He captured the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship a year later in 1991.
The team will provide additional information in the coming weeks about which car number will be entered, the crew chief for the team and sponsors supporting the car.

Matt Crafton; Chase Elliott and more; NASCAR's top performances from the 2013 Truck Seres

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 17, 2013) – Perseverance finally paid off for Matt Crafton, who captured the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in his 13th full season on the tour.

 The 37-year-old Tulare, Calif., competitor ended a two-year reign by 20-something champions but that hardly obscured the success of a bevy of talented newcomers. Four of the top-six finishers in the final standings are under the age of 23; two of five first-time winners had yet to celebrate their 18th birthdays.

Erik Jones won at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 8 to become the youngest winner in NASCAR national series competition at age 17 years, five months and nine days. Chase Elliott, also 17 when he captured the Sept. 1 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Raceway Park, had been the previous youngest winner.

Two NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates scored first national series victories. Kyle Larson, an Asian-American who’ll race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2014 for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, won at Rockingham, N.C. Darrell Wallace Jr. triumphed at Martinsville Speedway to become the first African-American competitor to win a national series race in nearly 50 years.

Jeb Burton, son of Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, won June’s event at Texas Motor Speedway at age 20. Burton won seven poles to match the series record for an official Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate. Burton, Wallace and 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Ryan Blaney combined to set a record for most official rookie winners in a season.

Thirteen different drivers won races in 2013 led by Kyle Busch, who visited Victory Lane five times. Busch solidified his hold on the No. 2 spot on the all-time win list at 35, 16 victories behind Ron Hornaday Jr. 

Top Drivers

Matt Crafton – Crafton won once in 2013 – at Kansas Speedway – in the season’s fourth of 22 races. The victory gave the driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota a championship lead Crafton held through the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Consistency was Crafton’s ace in the hole. He opened the season with 16 consecutive top-10 finishes and ultimately completed all 3,391 laps to become the first series driver to turn in a perfect laps-completed card. Crafton finished 40 points ahead of Ty Dillon following a 21st-place finish at Homestead. He completed the season with seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. 

Ty Dillon and James Buescher (Honorable Mention) – Dillon and Buescher finished in a near dead heat for the runner-up position in the 2013 standings. Dillon took second with Buescher third, separated by three points. They swapped positions several times over the campaign’s final nine races, but 37 points were as close as either got to Crafton. Each won two races. Buescher came up short in his bid to become the first to win consecutive series crowns.

Comeback Driver of the Year

Johnny Sauter – After top three championship finishes in 2010-11, Sauter slumped to ninth a year ago. Buoyed by back-to-back victories at Daytona International and Martinsville speedways, Sauter raced back to the top of the points table. A mid-season slump blunted the Wisconsin veteran’s bid for a first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title, but Sauter mounted a late charge to finish fourth in the standings with the most wins – three – by a series points-eligible driver.

Top Team

Kyle Busch Motorsports – The 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck owner’s championship team led the points standings just once – after Busch won the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. KBM’s No. 51 Toyota was shared by several drivers during the 2013 season with Busch winning five times and first-year competitor Erik Jones adding another victory. The team’s six wins were sufficient to break a tie in the final standings with ThorSport Racing. KBM-owned trucks won seven times in 2013.

ThorSport Racing (Honorable Mention) – ThorSport Racing has competed in a record 409 races – 391 consecutively – and got within a single finishing position of capturing its first NASCAR Camping World Truck owner’s championship in 2013. Its No. 88 Toyota, driven by series champion Crafton, finished in a dead heat with rival Kyle Busch Motorsports only to lose the title on a most wins tie-breaker. A ThorSport-owned truck led owner points after each of the season’s first 21 races. The Sandusky, Ohio-based organization won four races, second most in the series.  

Top Breakthrough Performance

Darrell Wallace Jr. – Driving the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, rookie of the year contender Wallace set high standards for himself right out of the gate. He qualified second, led 34 laps and finished fifth in the season’s second race at Martinsville Speedway. The Concord, N.C., driver and former NASCAR Next member returned to the .526-mile short track in October to score his first victory and join Wendell Scott as the only African-Americans to win a NASCAR national series event. Wallace finished eighth in overall points and second in the rookie standings with one pole and five top-five and 12 top-10 finishes.

Jeb Burton (Honorable Mention)
– Virginian Burton was among the series’ fastest competitors with a rookie record-matching seven poles and 11 starts among the top three. Burton led 154 laps at Martinsville Speedway in April before finishing third. He won at Texas Motor Speedway in June and added a pair of third-place finishes to claim fifth in the overall championship standings. Burton ranked third among the series’ five rookie of the year contenders.

Top Races

CarCash Mudsummer Classic Presented by CNBC Prime's 'The Profit' at Eldora Speedway (July 24) – A standing-room only crowd packed Tony Stewart’s .5-mile oval to see NASCAR’s first national series dirt track event to be held in more than 40 years. No one came away disappointed from the Wednesday night race which featured a “Saturday night style” format with starting positions determined by heat races and a slam-bang last chance event. Former NASCAR Camping World Truck champion Austin Dillon was the winner over Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman. The race’s overwhelming success was instrumental in Stewart being named winner of this year’s NMPA Myers Brothers Award.

Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (Sept. 1) – Road racing disappeared from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series after the 2000 season. It returned in 2013 – concurrently with the series’ first appearance outside the United States. The Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park outside Toronto proved to be a rousing success on all levels. Attendance reached near record proportions and the action on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile circuit was intense to say the least, culminating in the final-lap dust-up in which Chase Elliott snatched the victory from Ty Dillon.

Win a weekend with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne

Ladies and gentlemen, start your entries to win a weekend with NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. Great Clips will award the winner of The Greatest Weekend Ever Sweepstakes and three friends a two-night stay at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s lake house near Charlotte N.C., a barbecue party with Junior and Kasey Kahne, and VIP passes and tickets to two NASCAR races at the Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The winner will also ride away in style with a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado.

“We’re extremely honored to have Dale Jr. and Kasey Kahne on the Great Clips racing team. They’re elite competitors who make our race team world-class, “says Rhoda Olsen, Great Clips CEO. “We are thrilled to offer this sweepstakes as a thank you to our customers who have helped Great Clips become a champion brand. The contest is an opportunity of a lifetime for the winner to experience The Greatest Weekend Ever with two superstars of one of America’s most popular sports.”   
“This is an exciting opportunity for Great Clips to provide a great, memorable weekend,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr.  “We’ve had a lot of fun with this program, and I appreciate Great Clips pulling it all together. I’m sure I speak for Kasey and the Great Clips race team in saying we look forward to meeting the winner and guests.”

The winner and guests will enjoy a two-night stay at Dale Jr.’s lake house, which sits on the shore of Lake Norman in Mooresville, N.C.  The four lucky people can relax poolside or enjoy water sports before a barbecue party with Dale Jr., Kasey Kahne and members of the Great Clips race team. Winners will enjoy great conversation, photographs and autographs that will surely create lifelong memories.  

The contest runs through Jan. 31, 2014. To enter, visit or text BBQ to 47328. You can also check out a behind the scenes video about the making of The Greatest Weekend Ever TV spot featuring Dale Jr. and Kasey Kahne on the Great Clips YouTube Channel or at #GreatestWeekendEver on Twitter.