NASCAR Sprint Media Tour: Day 2
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on January 28, 2014 | 6:25 P.M. EST
Martin Truex Jr. joined the tour via Skype from a pre-planned vacation in Anguilla. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
On what turned out to be a cold and snowy day in North Carolina, the opening program featured the newly-renamed Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, which brings highly-touted young driver Kyle Larson into the fold to team with veteran Jamie McMurray.
With Larson taking the wheel of the Target No. 42 Chevy and McMurray teaming with new crew chief Keith Rodden, co-owner Sabates is optimistic about the team’s chances to win.
"If I didn't believe that, it would be Chip Ganassi Racing with Chip Ganassi," said Sabates.
Richard Childress Racing took center stage next with its revamped driver line-up of rookie Austin Dillon, former Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman and the returning Paul Menard.
A trip to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a lunch presentation unveiled some new wrinkles for the May Sprint All-Star Race weekend. The Sprint Showdown will move to Friday night May 16 to create a doubleheader with the annual Camping World Truck Series race. The event’s unique qualifying session will then proceed Saturday night’s main event.
Last year’s Cinderella story Furniture Row Racing was next up although new driver Martin Truex Jr. joined the tour via Skype from a pre-planned vacation in Anguilla.
"Look behind me it's not snowing. I'm pretty damn happy," said Truex Jr., as he was served a tropical drink.
The former Michael Waltrip Racing pilot is enthusiastic about the team’s chances after what Kurt Busch accomplished in the No. 78 ride last season.
“It’s a great organization that proved last year it can compete,” said Truex Jr.
“There’s no reason to think we can’t build on what was accomplished last year and have another good performance in 2014.”
Hendrick Motorsports rounded out the day’s formal presentations as team owner Rick Hendrick prepares to embark on his 30th season of NASCAR competition.
“I used to be the youngest guy on pit road,” said Hendrick. “Now I’m the oldest.”
The Hendrick quartet of drivers joined the team owner on stage including defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The drivers reacted to the possible changes to the Chase expected to be announced later this week including Earnhardt, who elicited a huge response from the audience.
"I wasn't really excited about change that much until a lot of change started. Let's change it all,” said Earnhardt.
The day wrapped up with a night gathering hosted by Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Wednesday’s schedule includes Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Wood Brothers Racing and Team Penske presentations. The day will cap with the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony.