NASCAR Sprint Media Tour: Day 3
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on January 29, 2014 | 4:34 P.M. EST
Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose and Richard Petty (left to right) hold court on Day 3 of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The third day of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour rolled on with programs featuring Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, Wood Brothers Racing and Team Penske.
The day kicked off with the Roush Fenway Racing contingent, although team owner Jack Roush was not present due to a family commitment. Team president Steve Newmark addressed the organization’s disappointment over not having a more competitive season in 2013 even after Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards both won a pair of races and made the Chase, while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won Rookie of the Year.
"Those are not the stats by which we measure our performance," Newmark said. "Nine, 13 and 19 are the numbers we measure ourselves by - the positions where we finished in the Cup standings. I can tell you that if you went to Roush Fenway, walked the halls and talked to any employee regardless of where they are on the org chart, they would tell you that result is actually not acceptable. We establish standards for ourselves that are higher than that."
Newmark confirmed that Nationwide will sponsor Stenhouse and the No. 17 ride for seven races this year, but there is still about a dozen races left to be sold.
Richard Petty Motorsports was next up with "The King" Richard Petty leading his two-car team to the stage. Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola return to form the RPM tandem again in 2014, and look to improve from a season ago. The U.S. Air Force will return and continue to sponsor Almirola and the No. 43 Ford.
"I’m an Air Force brat," Almirola said. "My dad was in the Air Force, so it’s really cool to represent them."
Petty is optimistic about his team's potential but as for the speculated change to the post-season Chase format, let’s just say he’s not a fan.
"Just another PR deal," said Petty.
Front Row Motorsports announced during a mid-day program that returning drivers David Ragan and David Gilliland will be joined by Eric McClure for the Daytona 500. The Nationwide Series regular will attempt to put a third FRM entry into "The Great American Race."
"It’s been one of my all-time dreams to run Daytona," McClure said. "The race means so much to me and my family. I’m just so appreciative of the opportunity from Front Row,"
Wood Brothers Racing also was part of the presentation and confirmed Trevor Bayne as the driver of the iconic No. 21 Ford for at least 12 races in 2014. The team could add more events to the schedule pending sponsorship.
Team Penske ended the day led by team owner Roger Penske, and Sprint Cup Series drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Keselowski’s "Blue Deuce" team underwent an off-season pit crew shakeup with only two members of last year's team on the 2014 squad.
The 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion also declined to comment in any detail on the proposed changes to the Chase expected to be announced on Thursday. However, he did offer a reaction to the potential of a one-race conclusion in crowning a champion.
"You just throw your hands up and say, 'If you’re gonna change one thing, might as well change it all,' " said Keselowski.
The organization also announced an expanded schedule for Ryan Blaney, who will now run 15 Nationwide Series races as well as a pair of Sprint Cup Series events.
Wednesday concluded with the 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in which Dale Jarrett, Fireball Roberts, Maurice Petty, Tim Flock and Jack Ingram were enshrined.