Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chase Elliott to Replace Jeff Gordon In 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet For 2016

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway

Surprising the motorsport world by announcing the end of his prosperous NASCAR career after 2015, Jeff Gordon was set to leave one of the top rides in the Sprint Cup series vacant ahead as of 2016. With only a week passing since Gordon's breaking retirement news, Hendrick Motorsports quickly defined the replacement pilot for the #24 Chevrolet by making a similar choice as 23 years ago in a youthful rising star.

In a predictable move following the retirement announcement of Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports named reigning champion of the NASCAR Xfinity Series (last year called the Nationwide Series) Chase Elliott as the future driver of the #24 Chevrolet. At 19 years old, Elliott became the youngest champion of the NASCAR ladder series and accumulated three wins in the process during his freshman year of competition with the cars. Also the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, the Dawsonville, Georgia native drove the #9 NAPA Auto Parts-sponsored Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports. JR Motorsports team is co-owned by Rick Hendrick along with Dale Earnhardt Jr and his sister Kelly Earnhardt Miller. The fact that Elliott has also been a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports since 2011 made the driver's progression to Sprint Cup a natural move.

Describing Chase Elliott as "the total package as a driver", team owner Rick Hendrick spoke highly of the 19-year-old's ability as the heir to the #24 car. "Not only is he a special talent inside the race car, but there’s a natural combination of competitiveness, work ethic and smarts that you rarely see. Chase’s personality and demeanor make him popular with fans, teammates and sponsors. He’s a great fit for our organization on many levels, and we feel he and Alan will be a successful combination. There’s a lot to be excited about.”, said Hendrick.
The son of 1988 NASCAR Cup series champion Bill Elliott, Chase Elliott's career in motorsports has been short but successful. Gaining his first major NASCAR win in 2013, Elliot forced his way to victory in the Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. He ran just nine races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series before his full-season campaign in the Xfinity Series. Chase Elliott has also gained experience in the NASCAR K&N Series, ARCA competition and his won the Snowball Derby as well as the All-American 400 at the Nashville Fairgrounds.

For 2015, Chase Elliott will continue to drive full-time in the #9 Chevrolet as part of the Xfinity Series in defence of his championship last season. Additionally, Elliott is slated to take the wheel of the #25 NASCAR Sprint Cup series machine for five races in the upcoming season sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts. His Sprint Cup debut is planned for Martinsville Speedway on March 29th. Other races in the #25 NAPA Chevrolet SS will see Chase Elliott cutting his teeth in the series at Richmond International Raceway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and finally at Darlington Raceway.

Set to become the first new driver of the #24 car in what will be 24 full-season seasons after 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup tour, Chase Elliott position as a young up-and-coming driver compares closely to Jeff Gordon. Elliott will take the wheel of the #24 Chevrolet roughly a year sooner than Gordon. “I’m also extremely grateful to Mr. Hendrick and my teammates at both Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports for believing in me. NAPA has been a huge supporter, and I’m honored to represent them on and off the track. Of course the fans have been amazing to me, and I’m so appreciative of that. I know how rare this opportunity is and will work as hard as I can to make everyone proud.” said Chase Elliott.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jeff Gordon Declares 2015 NASCAR Season Will Be Last Behind Wheel

Photo Credit: Hendrick Motorsports

Dale Earnhardt coined him 'Wonder Boy'; some called him the 'Rainbow Warrior'; no nickname has really stuck despite his constant appearance in the NASCAR Cup series for the past 22 seasons. Fans of the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet identify him as their favourite athlete; A strong anti-fan base over the years has called him much worse things. For 2015, we will all acknowledge Jeff Gordon for the final time as an active full-time driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition.

On Thursday, an announcement affirmed that 43-year-old Jeff Gordon will be stepping out of the driver's seat of stock car competition after one more season. Winning the NASCAR Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) four times in his career, Gordon took his #24 Chevrolet to victory on 93 occasions so far (most of those races driving a multi-coloured car sponsored by Dupont). Third all-time in race wins since 1949 behind Richard Petty and David Pearson, Jeff Gordon is the winningest drive for what has been called the series' "modern era" that started in 1971. Other career highlights include three Daytona 500 victories, five Brickyard 400 wins and 77 pole position starts. Jeff Gordon was also only one of two drivers who won the Winston Million bonus (awarded 1985 until 1997 to the driver who winning three of four major races). In amassing victories and championships, Gordon also obtained celebrity status in the United States as well as the world coinciding and partially contributing to NASCAR's growth.

304210ISC Archives via Getty Images

Starting his career at age 16 as an open wheel prospect, Jeff Gordon's road to NASCAR was atypical for most at the time. A Californian-born driver who's family moved him to Indiana to find professional channels in auto racing, the young Gordon originally had eyes on racing the Indianapolis 500 making a name for himself in USAC. Capturing the National Midget Series championship in 1990, Jeff Gordon obtained the USAC Silver Crown one year later (a title previously won by A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Mario Andretti). Experiencing difficulty finding a ride running IndyCar, the story of Jeff Gordon took on a tone resembling Tom Cruise's title character in the movie 'Days of Thunder' as he entered stock car competition. Gordon ran his first NASCAR Busch Series (now called the Xfinity Series) event at Rockingham Speedway in 1990 driving a #67 Pontiac sponsored by Outback Steakhouse. Despite finishing only 33 laps, car owner Bill Davis observed potential in the former USAC open wheel driver. Driving a #1 Ford through the 1991 season, Gordon earned Rookie of the Year. The next season, he won three Busch Series races and caught the attention of Rick Hendrick who offered Jeff Gordon a ride that shaped a NASCAR dynasty.

Sending a shockwave through the NASCAR community Thursday morning, the news of the 2015 season being Gordon's final as a competitive driver has swiftly reached the top level of the auto racing business. Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive responded to Jeff Gordon's announcement commenting, "Jeff Gordon transcends NASCAR and will be celebrated as one of the greatest drivers to ever race." France went on to add in his release saying, "Today’s announcement is a bittersweet one. I’ll miss his competitive fire on a weekly basis, but I am also happy for Jeff and his family as they start a new chapter. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Jeff for his years of dedication and genuine love for this sport, and wish him the very best in his final season."

Reluctant to refer to his final season as 'retirement' (defining it as the 'R-word' in the Hendrick Motorsports release), Gordon has expressed he plans to remain a figure around NASCAR beyond 2015. “I don’t foresee a day when I’ll ever step away from racing. I’m a fan of all forms of motor sports, but particularly NASCAR." said Jeff Gordon. Having raced with Hendrick Motorsports under a lifetime contract since 1999, Gordon was also granted equity in the #24 team by Rick Hendrick. Clues towards 2016 indicates the partnership and friendship with the only car owner he has driven for in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career will remain strong. "We have a tremendous product, and I’m passionate about the business and its future success. As an equity owner in Hendrick Motorsports, I’m a partner with Rick (Hendrick) and will remain heavily involved with the company for many years to come. It means so much to have the chance to continue working with the owner who took a chance on me and the incredible team that’s stood behind me every step of the way." The dynamic between Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon after 2015 looks similar to the Rick Mears' continuing role with Roger Penske decades after that four-time Indy 500 winning driver's retirement. His focus beyond 2015 will also continue with the Jeff Gordon Foundation that devotes itself to funding pediatric cancer research.

With one full season remaining in Gordon's career behind the wheel, he is expected to finish strong. Jeff Gordon won four races in 2014 (including his record fifth Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and was in contention for the Sprint Cup before ending with the completion of the Eliminator Round.

Entry List for 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Photo Credit: 304060LAT Photo USA for IMSA


Prototype Class

Car # Drivers Race Organization Sponsor Car Type Engine
0 Memo Rojas / Mexico City, Mexico Claro / TracFone DeltaWing Racing Claro / TracFone DeltaWing DWC13 Elan

Katherine Legge / Guildford, United Kingdom

Gabby Chaves / Bogota, Colombia

Andy Meyrick / Cheshire, England

1 Scott Sharp / West Palm Beach, FL Tequila Patron ESM Tequila Patron Honda HPD ARX Honda

Ryan Dalziel / Orlando, FL

David Heinemeier Hansson / Copenhagen, Denmark

2 Ed Brown / Boca Raton, FL Tequila Patron ESM Tequila Patron Honda HPD ARX Honda

Johannes van Overbeek / Oakland, CA

Jon Fogarty / Bend, OR

5 Joao Barbosa / Porto, Portugal Action Express Racing Mustang Sampling
Corvette DP Chevrolet

Christian Fittipaldi / Sao Paolo, Brazil

Sébastien Bourdais / Le Mans, France

7 Brendon Hartley / Palmerston North, New Zealand Starworks Motorsport Martini Riley DP BMW Power

Rubens Barrichello / São Paulo , Brazil

Ryan Hunter-Reay / Fort Lauderdale, FL

Tor Graves / Thailand

Scott Mayer / Franklin, WI

10 Jordan Taylor / Apopka, FL No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Konica Minolta Corvette DP Chevrolet

Ricky Taylor / Apopka, FL Wayne Taylor Racing

Max Angelelli / Monte Carlo, Monaco

31 Eric Curran / Holyoke, MA Action Express Racing Whelen Engineering / Team Fox Corvette DP Chevrolet

Dane Cameron / Charlotte, NC

Max Papis / Como, Italy

Phil Keen / England

50 Jim Pace / Ridgeland, MS Fifty Plus Racing Endures for a Cure Fifty Plus Racing Endures for a Cure, Inc.
Riley DP BMW Power

Byron DeFoor / Ooltweah, TN

/ Highway to Help Race Team

David Hinton / Clearwater, FL

Dorsey Schroeder / Little Torch Key, FL

57 Tracy Krohn / Houston, TX Krohn Racing Krohn Racing Ligier JS PS2 Judd

Olivier Pla / Toulouse, France

Nic Jonsson / Buford, GA

Alex Brundle / King's Lynn, United Kingdom

60 John Pew / Palm Beach, FL Micheal Shank Racing
Curb Record / Aero Ligier JS PS2 Honda HPD

Oswaldo Negri, Jr. / Aventura, FL With Curb/Agajanian

AJ Allmendinger / Denver, NC

Matt McMurry / Phoenix, AZ

66 Robert Gewirtz / Columbus, OH RG Racing

Riley DP BMW Power

Shane Lewis / Jupiter, FL

Mark Kvamme / Columbus, OH


70 Jonathan Bomarito / Monterey, CA SpeedSource Mazda / Castrol / ModSpace Mazda Mazda

Tristan Nunez / Boca Raton, FL

James Hinchcliffe / Toronto, Canada

Sylvain Tremblay / Parkland, FL

90 Richard Westbrook / London, England Racing Corvette DP Chevrolet

Michael Valiante / Burnaby, Canada

Mike Rockenfeller / Neuwied, Germany

01 Scott Pruett / Auburn, CA Ford EcoBoost /Target Riley Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
Riley DP Ford EcoBoost

Joey Hand / Sacramento, CA

Charlie Kimball / Chertsey, United Kingdom

Sage Karam / Nazareth, PA

02 Scott Dixon / New Zealand Target/Ford EcoBoost Riley Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
Riley DP Ford EcoBoost

Tony Kanaan / Salvador, Brazil

Kyle Larson / Sacramento, CA

Jamie McMurray / Joplin, MO

Joel Miller / Hesperia, CA
Tom Long / Raleigh, NC
Ben Devlin / England
Sylvain Tremblay / Parkland, FL

SpeedSource Mazda / Castrol / ModSpace Mazda Mazda

Photo Credit: 304092 Richard Dole LAT Photo USA for IMSA

Prototype Challenge

Car # Drivers Race Organization Sponsor Car Type Engine
8 Mirco Schultis / Westbaden, Germany Starworks Motorsport Martini ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet

Renger van der Zande / Dodewaard, Netherlands

Alex Popow / Caracas, Venezuela

Mike Hedlund / Woodside, CA

11 Chris Cumming / Vancouver, Canada RSR Racing AutoMaxUSA ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet

Bruno Junqueira / Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Jack Hawksworth / Bradford, England

Gustavo Menezes / Los Angeles, CA

16 Johnny Mowlem / London, United Kingdom BAR1 Motorsports Autosport Designs Inc. / Top 1 Oil ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet

Tom Papadopoulos / East Hills, NY

Tomy Drissi / Hollywood, CA

Brian Alder / Dublin, OH

Martin Plowman / United Kingdom

38 James French / Sheboygan, WI Performance Tech Motorsports

ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet

Jerome Mee / Houston, TX

James Vance / Stouffville, Canada

52 Mike Guasch / Pleasant Hill, CA PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Cuttwood / Spyder Orafol ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet

Andrew Novich / Novato, CA

Andrew Palmer / Claremont, CA

Tom Kimber-Smith / Henley on Thames, England

54 Jon Bennett / Charlotte, NC CORE autosport Composite Resources / Flex Box ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet

Colin Braun / Charlotte, NC

Mark Wilkins / Toronto, Canada

James Gue / Alpharetta, GA

61 Martin Plowman / United Kingdom BAR1 Motorsports Southwest Realty Advisors ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet

Marc Drumwright / Houston, TX




85 Mikhail Goikhberg / Vancouver, Canada JDC/Miller Motorsports La Moderna ORECA FLM09 Chevrolet

Chris Miller / Edina, MN

Stephen Simpson / United Kingdom

Rusty Mitchell / Midland, TX


Photo Credit: 304059 LAT Photo USA for IMSA


GT Le Mans

Car # Drivers Race Organization Sponsor Car Type Engine
3 Jan Magnussen / Roskilde, Denmark Corvette Racing Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Chevrolet

Antonio Garcia / Barcelona, Spain

Ryan Briscoe / Mooresville, NC

4 Oliver Gavin / Yardley Hastings, England Corvette Racing Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Chevrolet

Tommy Milner / Lake Mary, FL

Simon Pagenaud / Poitiers, France

17 Wolf Henzler / Nürtingen, Germany Team Falken Tire Falken Tire Porsche 991 RSR Porsche

Bryan Sellers / Atlanta, GA

Patrick Long / Thousand Oaks, CA

24 John Edwards / Cincinnati, OH BMW Team RLL IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4 GTE BMW

Lucas Luhr / Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Jens Klingmann / Heidelberg, Germany

Graham Rahal / Columbus, OH

25 Bill Auberlen / Redondo Beach, CA BMW Team RLL IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4 GTE BMW

Dirk Werner / Hanover, Germany

Augusto Farfus / Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil

Bruno Spengler / Schiltigheim, France

51 François Perrodo / France AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia Ferrari Michelin

Emmanuel Collard / Arpajon, France

Gianmaria Bruni / Rome, Italy

Toni Vilander / Kankaanpää, Finland

62 Pierre Kaffer / Germany Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia Ferrari Michelin

Davide Rigon / Thiene, Italy

Giancarlo Fisichella / Rome, Italy

Olivier Beretta / Monte Carlo, Monaco

98 Pedro Lamy / Lisbon, Portugal Aston Martin Racing Gulf Aston Martin Vantage V8 Aston Martin

Paul Dalla Lana / Toronto, Canada

Darren Turner / Banbury, United Kingdom

Stefan Mücke / Berlin, Germany

Matthias Lauda / Salzburg, Austria

911 Nick Tandy / Bedford, United Kingdom Porsche North America Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR Porsche

Patrick Pilet / Auch, France

Marc Lieb / Ludwigsburg, Germany

912 Jörg Bergmeister / Leverkusen, Germany Porsche North America Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR Porsche

Earl Bamber / Whanganui, New Zealand

Frédéric Makowiecki / Arras, France

Photo Credit: 304061LAT Photo USA for IMSA

GT Daytona

Car # Drivers Race Organization Sponsor
18 Darryl O'Young / Tin Hau, Hong Kong Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT America

Matteo Beretta / Lecco, Italy

Marc Basseng / Rosenbach, Germany

Connor De Phillippi / San Clemente, CA


19 Jim Michaelian / Seal Beach, CA Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT America

Matteo Beretta / Lecco, Italy

Connor De Phillippi / San Clemente, CA


22 Cooper MacNeil / Hinsdale, IL Alex Job Racing WeatherTech

Leh Keen / Atlanta, GA

Andrew Davis / Athens, GA

Shane van Gisbergen / Auckland, New Zealand

23 Ian James / Phoenix, AZ Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Heart of Racing

Mario Farnbacher / Ansbach, Germany

Alex Riberas / Barcelona, Spain

28 Klaus Bachler / Unzmarkt, Austria Konrad Motorsport Porsche 911 GT America

Christopher Zoechling / Bristol, United Kingdom

Christian Engelhart / Kösching, Germany

Lance Willsey / Chestnut Hill, MA

Rolf Ineichen / Sursee, Switzerland

33 Ben Keating / Port Lavaca, TX Riley Motorsports TI Automotive

Jeroen Bleekemolen / Monte Carlo, Monaco

Al Carter / Greenville, DE

Marc Goossens / Geel, Blegium

Sebastiaan Bleekemolen / Monte Carlo, Monaco

44 John Potter / Salt Lake City, UT Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America

Andy Lally / Dacula, GA

Marco Seefried / Germany

Martin Ragginger / Salzburg, Austria

45 Markus Winkelhock / Germany Flying Lizard Motorsports D Station / OSMO / eSilicon

Robert Thorne / Littleton, CO

Satoshi Hoshino / Japan

Tomonobu Fujii / Japan

48 Christopher Haase / Waging am See, Germany Paul Miller Racing Castrol EDGE

Bryce Miller / Summit, NJ

Dion von Moltke / Coral Gables, FL

René Rast / Frankfurt, Germany

49 Pasin Lathouras / Thailand AF Corse NaRaYa

Michele Rugolo / Italy

Rui Aguas / Portugal

Matt Griffin / Ireland

58 Madison Snow / Lehi, UT Wright Motorsports Brumos Porsche / Beautyrest Black

Jan Heylen / Tampa, FL

Patrick Dempsey / Malibu, CA

Philipp Eng / Salzburg, Austria

63 Bill Sweedler / Wesport, CT Scuderia Corsa Robert Graham / Royal Purple

Townsend Bell / San Luis Obispo, CA

Anthony Lazzaro / Atlanta, GA

Jeff Segal / Philadelphia, PA

64 Francisco Longo / São Paulo , Brazil Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia Ferrari

Daniel Serra / São Paulo , Brazil

Marcos Gomes / São Paulo , Brazil

Andrea Bertolini / Sassuolo , Italy

73 Patrick Lindsey / Santa Barbara, CA Park Place Motorsports Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America Porsche

Spencer Pumpelly / Atlanta, GA

Jim Norman / Tampa, FL

David Ducote / Houston, TX

Kevin Estre / Lothau, Austria

81 Damien Faulkner / Ireland GB Autosport Tully's Coffee Porsche 911 GT America Porsche

Kuba Giermaziak / Poland

Mike Skeen / Charlotte, NC

Rory Butcher / Scotland

Michael Avenatti / Los Angeles, CA

93 Ben Keating / Port Lavaca, TX Riley Motorsports TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT Viper V10

Dominik Farnbacher / Ansbach, Germany

Al Carter / Greenville, DE

Kuno Wittmer / Montreal, Canada

Cameron Lawrence / Windermere, FL

97 Michael Marsal / New York, NY Turner Motorsport Alvarez & Marsal BMW Z4 BMW

Markus Palttala / Belgium

Andy Priaulx / Guernsey, Channel Islands

Boris Said / Escondido, CA
007 Christina Nielsen / Horshholm, Denmark TRG-AMR Orion Energy / Royal Purple Aston Martin V12 Vantage Aston Martin

James Davison / Melbourne, Australia

Christoffer Nygaard / Denmark

Brandon Davis / Huntington Beach, CA
009 Derek DeBoer / Central Point, OR TRG-AMR Orion Energy / Royal Purple Aston Martin V12 Vantage Aston Martin

Max Riddle / Vancouver, Canada