Race Weekend Update
Josh Bilicki joins Rick Ware Racing for Sonoma, Watkins Glen
Officials from Rick Ware Racing (RWR) announced that Richfield, Wisc. native Josh Bilicki has joined their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) team for this summer's two road course races. Bilicki, 21, will drive the team's #51 Chevrolet at Sonoma (Calf.) Raceway on June 25 and complete the road course sweep at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International six weeks later on Aug 6.
Before leaping to the NASCAR XFINITY Series last season with Obaika Racing, Bilicki honed his skills on road courses throughout the country successfully building a resume in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), TA2 Series, NASA Pro Racing, among others. In addition to his XFINITY Series efforts last season, the Trans Am Series competitor also continued to race in several road racing sanctions at his home track of Road America (Wisc.) in Elkhart Lake producing several podium finishes.
Danica Patrick comments on retirement
With Danica Patrick's driving days possibly nearing an end in the not-too-distant future, what might have seemed like an off-track hobby is being fast-tracked into something far bigger. She launched the clothing line "Warrior by Danica Patrick" on HSN after participating in the design process. And she developed the workouts and meal plans for the book.
Ask Patrick about how much longer she will race, and her reply doesn't suggest the question is off-target.
"As long as it's fun - and it hasn't been super fun lately," she said before the season started. "But every year I start the year, I always have hope that it's going to be the year that things are going to click. I understand my career hasn't progressed.
"Maybe it's regressed? Why is that? Am I worse driver than I was a couple of years ago? Probably not," she said. "I don't think anybody gets worse. So it's really a matter of all the factors around you."
Patrick turned 35 last month. She has been racing more than half her life, building her brand along the journey and using a marketing strategy that has made her one of the most recognized female athletes in the world despite her limited on-track success. She is ranked 29th through the first seven races of the season.
-- Associated Press --
Monster Energy named 'brand of the year' by Cynopsis
NASCAR's premier series entitlement sponsor Monster Energy was awarded brand of the year and recognized as a luminary honoree at the sixth annual 2017 Cynopsis Sports Media Awards on Thursday morning in New York City.
NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Global Sales and Marketing Officer Steve Phelps presented Monster Energy with the Gem Award, which honors the brand of the year. Monster Energy Senior Vice President of Marketing Sam Pontrelli accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Monster Energy was announced with a multi-year deal as the premier series entitlement sponsor in late 2016. The energy drink company, which embodies the notion of being a lifestyle brand with its motto "A lifestyle in a can," now has a large presence at NASCAR races from 300X300 foot activation stations to Monster Energy girls who interact with fans and help winning teams celebrate in Victory Lane. The company also maintains a huge social media presence.
NEXT RACE: This weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway; TV LIVE on FOX at 11 a.m. PT
John Force to be inducted into California Sports Hall of Fame
Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force to be inducted into California Sports Hall of Fame later this year, becoming the first in motorsports to join the Hall.
Force, who was born in Huntington Park, Calif., and lives in Yorba Linda, holds a number of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series records, including most championships (16), most victories (148) and most No. 1 qualifiers (155). Force, 67, will be inducted into the Hall during a ceremony June 25 at Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif.
Force will be racing at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, that day and will deliver a videotaped message during the ceremony.
"I've worked hard to get to where I am today, and my family is following," Force said. "To be chosen as the first motorsports representative, to take our sport of NHRA drag racing into the Hall, I feel it's an opportunity to represent all the professional racers, from Top Fuel to Funny Car to Pro Stock to Pro Stock Motorcycle to all the grassroots racers - and to kids up-and-coming in a Jr. Dragster, like my granddaughter Autumn [Hight], who someday might be in the California Sports Hall of Fame. I was the first, and this is a true honor."
Force previously was enshrined in the Motor Sports Hall of Fame of America in Novi, Mich., in 2008, and in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., in 2012.
Langdon leaves DSR to join Kalitta Motorsports in Top Fuel
Kalitta Motorsports is pleased to announce an expansion to a third full-time Top Fuel dragster team beginning with the NHRA Mello Yello Series' next event in Houston. The machine will be backed by Global Electronic Technology with 2013 Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon as the driver.
"It's been a tough year so far with me sitting on the sidelines. It has been the first time since my rookie year in 2009 that I haven't been able to attend the NHRA races," Langdon said. "I cannot thank Connie and Jim O enough for the opportunity. Kalitta has top quality cars that contend for wins and championships, so I feel that this partnership will work well. I also want to thank Don (Schumacher) and everybody at Don Schumacher Racing for bringing me in when I didn't have a ride and making me feel like part of the family. We did everything we could to find adequate funding, and I want to thank Don for keeping me on the payroll throughout the process of trying to find sponsorship."
Langdon is renowned for his excellent driving capabilities and his successes in many forms of drag racing. Like new teammate J.R. Todd, Langdon began his career in the Junior Drag Racing program capturing a national title in 1997 and a division title in 1999. Before beginning his nitro career, he continued his career with championship wins in the Super Comp division in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008. Since joining the Top Fuel ranks in 2009, Langdon has captured the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world championship to go along with 14 race wins in 25 final round appearances. The Mira Loma, Calif. native has eight consecutive Countdown to the Championship finishes and claimed the Traxxas Shootout $100,000 bonus in 2013.
NEXT RACE: This weekend at Royal Purple Raceway in Texas; TV Sunday on FS1 at 2:30 p.m. PT
TWO-TIME F1 CHAMPION ALONSO TO COMPETE IN 101ST INDIANAPOLIS 500
The Indianapolis 500 has attracted another world champion to its driver field. McLaren announced that Fernando Alonso, Formula One's two-time champion and three-time runner-up, will compete in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28.
Alonso will drive for Andretti Autosport, which has won four Indianapolis 500s, including last year's race with Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Alexander Rossi at the wheel of the Honda-powered Dallara. Honda also powers Alonso's car on McLaren's grand prix team.
Alonso becomes the ninth driver to enter the 500 with a world championship on his resume. In recent years, Nigel Mansell's participation in 1993 as the reigning F1 champion was the most celebrated, with media interest at a fevered pitch. Mansell finished third.
Alonso's decision to join this year's 500 field adds to the momentum of the race and the Verizon IndyCar Series. Last year's 500 was sold out for the first time in history and broke attendance marks. The Verizon IndyCar Series has seen television ratings increases each of the past three years, a combined 55 percent, and Alonso's participation should provide an even greater spotlight on month of May activities.
NEXT RACE: Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park; TV Sunday on NBCSN at Noon PT
- Wednesday Night Drags and Drift returns this Wednesday
- Top the Cops kicks off its 2017 season
- NASCAR tickets go on sale in local Save Mart and Lucky stores this Wednesday, April 19