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WBKR NASCAR Report: Charlotte Media Tour

  Charlotte was filled with motorsports media members from around the country for this week’s NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motorspeedway. Many of NASCAR’s top teams hosted media questions and made announcements in preparation for this year’s NASCAR season.

The tour started with a visit to Stewart-Haas Racing on Monday. Danica Patrick will not be using Tony Stewart’s owner’s points to start the year. Stewart told media, “I worked hard for my points” and believes Danica will be fine. The #10 team finished the 2012 season 33rd in owners points but those points will be used for Tommy Baldwin’s #7 team with Dave Blaney. So, the #10 team begins the season with no owner’s points and Danica Patrick will have to make the races via speed.  Stewart announced that his #14 car has nine races without a primary sponsor, Ryan Newman’s #39 has eight to nine races open and Danica Patrick has three races without a primary sponsor.

While Stewart prepares for his 3 team debut at Daytona, sources say he will have a fourth team in 2014. During the Sprint Cup Media tour, media visited with the drivers and owner of Richard Childress Racing. Richard Childress told media that he believes Kevin Harvick will do well at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. Harvick didn’t deny report of his departure to Stewart-Haas, but only talked about 2013 and making it his best season thus far. Childress said he knew Harvick wasn’t returning in 2014 when the story broke before Harvick’s victory at Phoenix but the news was supposed to be kept under wraps until after last month’s award banquet.

Furniture Row Racing and Kurt Busch opened Day two of the Sprint Media Tour. Kurt Busch advised he is open to more NASCAR Nationwide Series races with Phoenix racing. Busch also told media he is not scheduled to drive for his younger brother Kyle in the Nationwide Series but is leaving the option open. Furniture Row Crew chief, Todd Berrier believes the Colorado’s based team’s relationship with Richard Childress Racing will give their team a solid baseline and be able to work from there.

Owensboro’s Michael Waltrip and his team hosted media on Tuesday afternoon for their portion of the tour. Waltrip says, "This is breaking news: We don't have any news. There's really nothing new or different from 2012. Man are we happy about that." Clint Bowyer told media that his #15 is not fully sponsored and they are actively seeking sponsorship for his team. Mark Martin expects 2013 to be his last season in the #55. Brian Vickers is scheduled to test the new Gen6 car before his season premiere at Bristol. Vickers is also running full-time with Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

When teams arrived at Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing, they weren’t welcomed with the usual warm office setting but rather in the team’s airplane hanger. Cessna will be the primary sponsor for Jamie McMurray’s #1 Chevrolet in ten races during the 2013 season. McDonald’s, Dr. Pepper and Bass Pro Shop will also be sponsors of McMurray’s #1. All 7 of Ganassi’s drivers will compete in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Hendrick Motorsports announced that all Hendrick cars are fully-funded except Dale Earnhardt Jr’s #88 Chevrolet. NASCAR’s most popular driver is 13 races short of a fully sponsored season. Hendrick Motorsports also announced that Chase Elliott will run five ARCA races and nine Craftsman truck series races in 2013. Elliott’s truck number will be #94, the same number his father, Bill Elliott ran for six years in the Cup series. Elliott’s scheduled truck races are both Martinsville races, both Iowa races, Rockingham, Dover and Mosport/Canada.

The first stop of the final day of the tour was at an event hosted by Richard Petty Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing. When asked about working with Penske, Jack Roush told media “"They have a dramatically different car than our car. The underbody and the suspension don’t relate." Robbie Reiser was promoted from general manager to vice president of competition at Roush Fenway. Roger Penske advised his team’s main contact with Jack Roush’s organization is Robbie Reiser. Roush’s  plans are to put Trevor Bayne in a Cup car full-time for the 2014 season depending on sponsorship and driver performance. Like many other team’s, there is still sponsorship available for Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s #17 Ford.

Joe Gibbs Racing was the final stop for media during the tour. At this session, it was announced that Joe Gibbs Racing has signed a multi-year extension with Kyle Busch. Busch, who said he had two offers from other Sprint Cup teams to leave Joe Gibbs Racing will also drive 25 races for Gibbs in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Denny Hamlin also announced he is a new father with the birth of Taylor James Hamlin weighing in at 6lbs 5oz. The mother is Jordan Fish.

Check wbkr.com next week for some exciting news involving the fans for this year’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona as well as revolutionary changes in NASCAR’s track drying procedures. It’s getting close fans … 30 days until the 2013 Daytona 500! Which you will hear on 92.5 WBKR.

Blake Smith

- Blake Smith