Racin’ News Today: RCR Signs Coulter
Today’s Racin’ News:
Richard Childress Racing has signed Joey Coulter to drive its second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team in 2011.
Coulter, 20, recently 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.
“We’re excited to have Joey Coulter join RCR and to expand our NASCAR Camping World Truck Series program in 2011,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “Joey is a very talented young driver who has had a lot of success in every series he’s competed in so he will be a great addition to our Truck Series program.”
Coulter made his racing debut in 1998 driving go-karts, winning more than 50 races and multiple Florida state championships through 2005. He graduated to the Florida FASTRUCK Series in late 2005 where, in less than two seasons, won four races and finished fifth in the 2006 point standings. He competed in the former USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series and the Whelen All American Late Model Series in 2007 and 2008, earning his first stock car victory in December 2008 at Southern National Raceway Park in Kenly, N.C.
“Driving for Richard Childress Racing is an unbelievable opportunity for me,” said Coulter. “My goal when I was a kid was to make it into NASCAR and to be able to do so with an organization like RCR is a dream come true. Austin and I raced together in the ARCA Series so we’ve had a chance to get to know each other a little. His team has obviously put together a great notebook from last season that we can tap into and, hopefully, we can push each other across the finish line for the win a couple of times.”
Army renews sponsorships: The U.S. Army Accessions Command announced Tuesday that the U.S. Army has renewed its motorsports partnerships with Don Schumacher Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing for 2011. The U.S. Army will again sponsor Tony Schumacher’s Top Fuel Dragster in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, while Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet Impala will sport the U.S. Army colors as the
primary sponsor for 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races next season. The U.S. Army also is set to continue its associate sponsorship with NHRA Full Throttle driver Antron Brown in 2011, as well as its role as the official military partner of the NHRA.
“Ryan Newman, Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown and their race crews continue to demonstrate our Army values and exhibit the mental, emotional and physical strength which are the hallmark of our Army Strong Soldiers,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, Commanding General U.S. Army Accessions Command. “Their passion for the Army and their willingness to serve as strong advocates for the great men and women who serve our country is a tremendous asset. We are extremely pleased to continue our participation in the National Hot Rod Association and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and we will use the opportunities those relationships present to tell our Soldiers’ stories and connect with Americans all across our nation.”
Next season will mark the 11th straight in which Tony Schumacher, Don Schumacher Racing and the U.S. Army will together chase an NHRA Top Fuel world championship. Schumacher has already captured seven titles, including six in a row from 2004-2009, while piloting the 22-foot U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster. During the 2010 campaign, he drove his way to victory lane five times, raised his NHRA record for career wins to 67, and finished the season in second place in the Top Fuel points standings.
The U.S. Army will serve as the primary sponsor on Schumacher’s Top Fuel dragster for all 22 NHRA national events and as an associate sponsor for Schumacher’s DSR teammate, Antron Brown. Brown, who piloted a U.S. Army Pro Stock Motorcycle for more than four seasons (2003-2007), rejoined the Army Racing team in 2010. He wrapped up the 2010 campaign with one win and a fourth place finish in the Top Fuel points standings. As part of the continuing partnership, he will again make personal appearances in key markets to assist the Army in reaching young Americans and their influencers. The Army will again return as the Official Military Partner of the NHRA and presenting sponsor of the NHRA Youth and Education Services Program (Y.E.S.) in 2011.
“It’s clearly been a great ride with the U.S. Army,” said Schumacher. “I’m ecstatic our relationship is going to continue. I’ve often said I would not want to drive for anyone else. There’s nothing more gratifying than to be representing of the Army Strong way of life. I definitely look forward to standing side-by-side with our brave Soldiers once again in 2011.”
The 2011 campaign will be the U.S. Army’s ninth as a primary car sponsor in NASCAR and its third teamed up with Newman and Stewart-Haas Racing. After qualifying for the Chase for the Championship in 2009, the No. 39 team just missed delivering the Soldiers’ car a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs this season. Newman, who owns 14 career Sprint Cup victories including the 2008 Daytona 500, registered his first win in the No. 39 car at Phoenix International Raceway in April, and also racked up a pole, four top-five and 14 top-10 finishes during the 2010 campaign.
“It’s been an awesome responsibility and honor to represent more than one million Army Strong Soldiers,” said Newman. “The Army branding on our Chevrolet and uniforms inspires every individual on the No. 39 team. I can’t think of having better teammates than our brave Soldiers who have dedicated their lives to preserve our freedom. There is nothing we want more than to drive the Soldiers’ car to victory lane.”
In addition to serving as the primary sponsor for 15 races, including the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 Memorial Day weekend event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, the U.S. Army will serve as an associate sponsor on the No. 39 car for the remaining races. The U.S. Army also will serve as an associate sponsor on Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet.
“We’re honored to continue the strong partnership with the U.S. Army,” said Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing along with Oxnard, Calif.-based Haas Automation – the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world. “Together, we have accomplished great things both on and off the track, and shared some very impactful experiences with the Soldiers who defend our country. Those brave men and women are inspiring to all of us at Stewart-Haas Racing, and we’re proud to represent them again in 2011.”
The U.S. Army Motorsports Program began in September 2000 when Congress directed the Secretary of the Army to conduct a five-year motorsports outreach test. In 2003, building upon the success of the NHRA program, NASCAR was added. In addition to sponsorship of Newman and Schumacher, the programs also include an educational outreach to high school, vo-tech and junior college students focusing on career planning, goal setting, and career opportunities in motorsports and the Army. On-site interactive displays also allow prospects and their influencers to experience what it is like to be a Soldier and to interact with Soldiers.
Changes at Andretti Autosport: Andretti Autosport and AFS Racing announced today they have ended their partnership in INDYCAR. Andretti Autosport plans to field multiple entries in Firestone Indy Lights again in 2011, while AFS Racing will continue in Firestone Indy Lights and will explore additional opportunities in the IndyCar Series.
Since joining forces in 2008, AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport captured two Firestone Indy Lights championship titles and 11 race wins. In 2009 and 2010, AFS Racing expanded its role and fielded an entry within the IZOD IndyCar Series in a joint venture with Andretti Autosport – first for driver Franck Montagny and then for Adam Carroll.
In 2011, Andretti Autosport will be the first team to compete with entries in each step of INDYCAR’s ‘Road to Indy’ ladder development program, including the Star Mazda Championship and the USF2000 National Championship.
Andretti Autosport made its entry into Firestone Indy Lights in 2005 with then-18 year-old Marco Andretti, who claimed three wins-from-pole as part of a limited schedule during the team’s debut season. The team made the jump to full-time competition in the series in 2006 and 2007 before combining efforts with AFS Racing in 2008.
AFS Racing is owned by California native Gary Peterson who fielded his first Firestone Indy Lights entry as owner/driver of AFS Racing, Inc., in 2002. AFS Racing earned its two Firestone Indy Lights race victories in 2006 with driver Alex Lloyd and another in 2007 with Wade Cunningham. During his nine seasons as owner of AFS Racing, Peterson has helped develop racing careers for many drivers including Arie Luyendyk Jr., Raphael Matos, J.R. Hildebrand, Sebastian Saavedra, Thiago Medeiros, Tyce Carlson and Phil Giebler.
Economaki Award Finalists: The 11 finalists for the Economaki Champion of Champions award were unveiled Tuesday. The award presented by National Speed Sport News will announce the winner in its year-end issue due December 15.
The eleven finalists are:
John Force — NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, Funny Car
The 61-year-old veteran Funny Car racer made his case for the championship, rallying from 37 points behind entering the season finale at Pomona, Calif., to win the event — his sixth victory of the season — and secure his 15th NHRA Funny Car championship.
Larry Dixon — NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, Top Fuel
After losing the championship by two points in 2009, Dixon and his Al-Anabi Top Fuel team were the dominant force in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Dixon earned his third Top Fuel championship after winning 12 times and dethroning six-time defending champion Tony Schumacher.
Jimmie Johnson — NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Johnson won six races en route to his fifth-consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. But he did it in unusual Johnson fashion, rallying from 33 points behind with two races to go to claim the title. Johnson was the 2006 winner of the Economaki Champion of Champions.
Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas — Grand Am Rolex Series
Fifty-year-old Pruett teamed with Rojas to win nine of the 12 Grand Am Rolex Series races and picked up his third series championship for Chip Ganassi Racing. Pruett/Rojas finished outside the top two only once all season.
Tim Shaffer — O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions
Shaffer charged to his second-straight O’Reilly All Star Circuit of Champions title on the strength of 16 All Star triumphs. Shaffer, however, won 21 overall feature events, including his popular victory in the 50th annual Knoxville Nationals. He also won a World of Outlaws feature.
Jason Meyers — World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series
Meyers swept the final two World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series races of the season during the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte to cap off his first championship in style. Meyers drove his Elite Racing No. 14 to 12 triumphs along the way.
Scott Bloomquist — Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series
The veteran late-model racer earned his second-straight Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship and his eighth overall championship on the strength of nine victories in Lucas competition alone. Bloomquist also posted the 500th victory of his illustrious career.
Dario Franchitti — IZOD IndyCar Series
Franchitti picked up his second-straight and third overall IZOD IndyCar Series championship in the past four seasons. Though he won only three times during the 17-race campaign, one of the victories was his second in the world’s most famous race — the Indianapolis 500.
Levi Jones — USAC Sprint Car, Silver Crown Series
Jones tied Steve Butler with his fourth-career USAC National Sprint Car Series championship, but also added his first Silver Crown title to the mix and narrowly missed winning the USAC National Driver’s Championship. He won eight sprint-car races and two in the Silver Crown division.
Bryan Clauson — USAC Mopar National Midget Series
Clauson earned the USAC Mopar National Midget Series title and claimed the inaugural USAC National Driver’s Championship to earn a ride in the Firestone Indy Lights Series. Clauson won six midget races — including the Turkey Night Grand Prix — three sprint-car events and one in the Silver Crown Series. Clauson also earned the National Midget Driver of the Year award.
Chip Ganassi — IZOD IndyCar, NASCAR, Grand Am
The first team-owner nominated for this award, we did not think Ganassi’s unique season could be overlooked. Ganassi’s cars won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400. As well, he claimed the IZOD IndyCar Series championship with Dario Franchitti and the Grand Am Rolex Series crown with Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.