Sprint Invites Fans to Design NASCAR Race

by Official Release On Mon, Jan. 21, 2013

Sprint_Unlimited_Flag2Fans to vote on competition aspects of The Sprint Unlimited At Daytona

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C.– Jan. 21, 2013 – Sprint (NYSE: S) confirmed today fans will have a direct impact on several competition elements of the newly titled The Sprint Unlimited At Daytona, the 75-lap non-points race that opens the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season Saturday, Feb. 16 (8 p.m. EST, Fox) at Daytona International Speedway.

Fans are invited to design the race by casting votes on the number of laps in each segment, the type of pit stop a team makes after the first segment, how many cars will be eliminated after the second segment, and which fire suit Miss Sprint Cup will wear in Victory Lane after the final segment. Votes can be cast on NASCAR’s new official mobile app –NASCAR Mobile ’13 –or at NASCAR.Com/SprintUnlimited. All votes made through the NASCAR Mobile ’13 app will count twice.

“Giving fans such a strong voice in the design of the race is a fitting way to launch our 10th season in the sport,” said Steve Gaffney, vice president of corporate marketing for Sprint. “For the first time, we are giving them the ultimate access to the sport, the decision-making power to sculpt the type of race they want to see.

“With today’s technology, fans can make these decisions in real time as the race is happening, and Sprint customers with one of our Unlimited plans have the added comfort of knowing they can vote as often as they want without additional fees.”

The voting window for the race format will close at 11:59 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, Feb. 13. The voting windows for the pit stop, elimination and Miss Sprint Cup’s Victory Lane fire suit will close at various times throughout the race broadcast. Vote results will be relayed to teams during each segment and announced live on the Fox race broadcast.

“We are excited to provide our fan base this first-of-its-kind opportunity to directly be involved in determining the race’s format and in-race decisions,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition for NASCAR. “By allowing our fans this type of interaction, we hope that more fans will be tuned in to the event than ever before.”

The Sprint Unlimited is the second race entitlement in Sprint’s sponsorship portfolio. For the past nine years, Sprint has sponsored the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sprint also is the title sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Sprint’s involvement in NASCAR has always been driven by its technological advances and a mission to bring fans closer to the sport. It began in 2004 with the simple introduction of driver-themed mobile devices and has evolved to NASCAR’s first-ever mobile application and ultimately fans designing their own race.

“Sprint has been a great partner for the sport, and I applaud them for developing new and innovative ways to give the race fans an unprecedented role in The Sprint Unlimited,” said Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway. “We have some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in sports and I’m looking forward to seeing the choices they make and how it will impact this exciting star-studded event.”

Fan voting categories, include:

·         Length of each of the three race segments:
o    Choice A: 40 laps, 20 laps, 15 laps
o    Choice B: 35 laps, 30 laps, 10 laps
o    Choice C: 30 laps, 25 laps, 20 laps
v  Race format voting ends at 11:59 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, Feb. 13.

·         Team pit stop after the first segment:
o    Choice A: No pit stop
o    Choice B: Two (2) tire change
o    Choice C: Four (4) tire change
v  Pit stop voting concludes at the green flag of the first segment.

·         How many cars will be eliminated after the second segment:
o    Choice A: None (0)
o    Choice B: Two (2) cars eliminated
o    Choice C: Four (4) cars eliminated
o    Choice D: Six (6) cars eliminated
v  Elimination voting concludes at the green flag of the second segment.

·         Fire suit to be worn by Miss Sprint Cup in Victory Lane:
o    Fans have a choice of three different fire suit styles
v  Fire suit voting concludes at the green flag of the third segment.

Fans are encouraged to follow @MissSprintCup and @NASCAR on Twitter to engage in the #SprintUnlimited conversation throughout the voting window.

About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 56 million customers at the end of the third quarter of 2012 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint No. 1 among all national carriers in customer satisfaction and most improved, across all 47 industries, during the last four years. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in both its 2011 and 2012 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the
nation’s greenestcompanies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.comorwww.facebook.com/sprintandwww.twitter.com/sprint.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Competitors React to New Format for The Sprint Unlimited At Daytona

Q: Tell me what you think about the new format for The Sprint Unlimited this year?
Carl Edwards: So the name Sprint Unlimited is pretty fitting here because the fans have unlimited access and unlimited input in this event. I’ve heard that the fans will be riding in the pace car, they will be up on the flag stand, they will be all over this event and the part that is most interesting to me is that they will vote on the format and whether or not we get two tires, four tires or no tires. They actually will be able to vote to eliminate some of the guys after the second segment. So all of those things, I think are going to motivate everyone in the garage to really just drive our hearts out and make this a really great event.

Q: Some of these changes will be announced while the race is going on so how do you prepare for a race like this?
Carl Edwards: Well the folks from Sprint were in our hauler, and we were talking about these formats, and then (Crew Chief) Jimmy Fennig walked in and he started kind of asking questions and we’re all trying to I guess figure out what our pit strategy would be, what our race strategy would be and I think that this idea of having the fans have this unlimited access and unlimited input is a really neat idea. To be doing it in real time, voting on how the fans want to see the race go is genius.

Q: What do you think is the most important vote and what would you vote for?
Carl Edwards: First of all the format, that vote is going to be really important. It’s going to determine what our pit strategy and our race strategy is for going into the third segment. The second most important one is the elimination vote because the way these races go if the fans vote to eliminate four or six drivers after that second segment it is going to really change the way the guys are racing in the back half of the field and there’s going to be a lot of really, really broken hearts if they get eliminated. Plus there’s likely to be huge problems trying to get back to that checkered flag and not be one of the guys that’s going to be eliminated. Everybody in the garage will be paying attention to their phones and online trying to keep up with what’s going on with those votes.

Q:This gives the fans more access than they’ve ever had before and actual control over the race, what do you think about that fan involvement?
Carl Edwards:It’s the next level of fan involvement. This is something that we haven’t seen – to have real time involvement in the format of the race. Whether or not guys get eliminated, whether or not we can have pit stops and so I think the one thing you’ll see more autographs being signed because everyone will want the fans on their side.

Q:You just found out about The Sprint Unlimited and the different changes that are going to happen. What’s your first reaction?
Jeff Gordon:It’s exciting. I think this is a race that’s for the fans. It’s always been an entertaining race, but there’s ways to make it even more entertaining and engage the fans more. The fans are what make our sport what it is today and for them to have more access to how the race is going to be run and interacting with the race live while the race is happening, I think that is very, very cool. Makes me wish I was a fan sitting in the grandstand being able to have a role in the outcome and really challenge the teams in a whole new way. I think it’s very, very exciting.

Q:Obviously, some rule changes and decisions will be made while the race is going on, how do you the driver prepare for that?
Jeff Gordon:As a driver, the thing I love about this race is it’s short, it’s intense, you have to push hard every single lap. And in that sense, we are going to have to take that to the next step, the next level because you don’t know what is coming next. You don’t know if you can be eliminated, you don’t know if it might be no tires, four tires or two tires. Those types of things are going to make you as a driver just push as hard as you can every single lap and just keep it out there on the edge, which is what this race is all about.

Q:Fans will choose the format, the pit stops, and who gets eliminated before the third segment. Which one are you most concerned with and which one is the most important to the outcome of the race?
Jeff Gordon:I think the most important thing is making sure that in any of those segments you don’t have an issue where you fall to the back. The drafting that we’ve seen in the past, you can go to the front fast and you can go to the back fast. We’ve seen different strategies where guys waited until the final segment knowing there’s probably going to be cautions, potential crashes, and just kind of staying out of trouble until that final segment. In this case, the fans could vote to eliminate cars toward the back of the field, which might eliminate you. So you really can’t afford to be conservative. In this race you are going to have to push hard the entire time. That’s the one, I think, that will concern me is how many they are going to eliminate after the second segment and where you might be placed.  So you’re going to have to make sure you are up towards the front, which is what you always want to do anyway.

Q:Being the first race of the season, it has always been a big race for NASCAR. Talk about the history of this race and how important it is to you guys to kick off the season in Daytona.
Jeff Gordon:This is a race where we as teams and drivers learn a lot about the Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year, and we all want to win it. We prepare over the off-season and in pre-season testing to put the best race car we can out there and find out what we have to do to win the Daytona 500. This race allows us to get the rust off, go racing, see what kind of rules NASCAR has implemented over the off-season. This year we have a brand new car. How is that car going to drive in the draft, how the draft and these races are going to be won. It’s a great way for you to kick off the season as well as one of the most entertaining races — because of the format, especially this year with the fans being as involved as they are going to be — that we have all year long. It’s going to be exciting and it’s a race I’m always glad that I’m in because it is a very valuable race for us for the Daytona 500.

Q: First of all, you just learned about the new rules for The Sprint Unlimited, what’s your first reaction?
Joey Logano:It’s definitely interesting; I’m not really sure what to think about it yet, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for the fans. I think that’s cool, it keeps the fans interactive throughout all of Speedweeks really leading up to the big race. The Sprint Unlimited we are calling it now, I got to get used to that. I think it’ll be cool. I think it’s definitely going to keep us all guessing about what we are going to do throughout that first segment until we get to hear the news on how the race format’s going to be, and then whether we’re going to do two tires, no tires or four tires. I think it’s going to be mass confusion until we figure out. Then there’s the elimination, which we’ll be racing really hard. Obviously, you don’t want to be those last six cars. You never know, we’ll see what happens. I think it’s going to keep us all fighting to stay up towards the front for sure. Personally, I’m not a big fan
of eliminating cars from a race because I think the more cars the better race, but it does keep us all pushing towards the front to make sure we are not one of those last six.

Q:Are going to download the NASCAR Mobile ’13 app and vote for what you want as well?
Joey Logano:Oh yeah, I’ll vote like crazy. We plan on being in front anyway but you know how Daytona is, you can be shuffled out the last lap or something like that and you can be out of the race. I think keeping everyone in there and keeping it cool and crazy will be pretty fun. I think it’s actually a pretty good format, I think it’s cool it’s not a points race so we are going to go out there and have some fun, and we are going to race hard. It keeps the fans entertained and it keeps them into everything going on within the race. As a competitor out there, we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Q:So how do you as a driver prepare for a race that is going to change midway through while you’re in the car on the track?
Joey Logano: I guess you just go with the flow. Not really sure, but we will know three days before the actual race on how the lap format is going to be so we can prepare on that. As soon as the race starts, I will start communicating with my crew chief on what we are going to do as far as our strategy with the two, four tires or no tires and what we are going to do there. The rest will be up to me to make sure I stay up towards the front.

Q:If you could just talk about the history of the Bud Shootout and the use of the Sprint Unlimited and how important this race is to NASCAR fans and teams.
Joey Logano:It’s huge to be in The Sprint Unlimited. It’s an honor to be in an invitational race; it’s a big deal for any driver, any team. If you can start off the year on a good note that gets a momentum built up for the (Daytona) 500. It’s super important, I think, and especially for me working with the new Shell guys over here and working together and having a race that’s not for points before the 500 and help that communication, I have a new spotter, I have a new crew chief, I have a new team, I have all this stuff so I have to really figure out all that. This race will help that a lot.

Q:Tell me what you think about the new format and how the new Sprint Unlimited is going to work this year?
Steve Letarte: I think it’s unique for sure. We’ve looked at different ways as a sport to always swap up the non-points races. I think this is the first time that it’s really going to be the unknown. It’s going to be interesting to see what the fans decide on. From a Crew Chief’s standpoint, I think it’s pretty unique. It’s going to be good, it’s going to keep your blood flowing.  It’s not going to be the standard old race and so we are really going to have to stay on top it and really understand what options there are. We have to do a little bit more prep work for all three.

Q:As a Crew Chief, how do you prepare for a race that is going to change mid-race?
Steve Letarte: Every race we take part in changes in some way, so this really kind of embodies the whole sport. When you start 500 miles in any race you go to, you have no idea what you are going to encounter. I think this is perfect; this is a great way to start off the year as a Crew Chief. This will be a good test for us all to see how much we studied up over the winter. You’re going to have a lot of plans and the most important thing is how you communicate all these opportunities to your team. Can they all be ready, is the pit crew going to be prepared, are all the mechanics going to be prepared, are the drivers going to understand it, can I do my job trying to explain it to them and what we are going to do next. I think it’s going to be a good test of team and equipment.

Q:Being the first race of the season, it has always been a big race for NASCAR. Talk about the history of this race and how important it is to you guys to kick off the season in Daytona.
Steve Letarte: The key to it is it starts the entire season off. The Sprint Unlimited there might not be points, but you’ve worked all year long, you have Daytona testing, we have brand new cars especially this year of any year this has happened time and time again, but when the rules change you have to get on the racetrack and test your equipment in a real race scenario. I think The Sprint Unlimited is the perfect opportunity for that. It’s a great way to kick off Speedweeks, it gives us a huge head start into Speedweeks. You know the Daytona 500 is kind of the Super Bowl, so if it’s the biggest race of the year there‘s nothing you like more than have a little extra time on that track and The Sprint Unlimited gives you that.

Q:What do you think about this from a fan’s perspective?
Steve Letarte: I think The Sprint Unlimited this year is really just a perfect example of what Sprint has done with our sport for the last 10 years. I think they have brought the fans to the racetrack and let them interact and let them follow along from all the different applications to listening to their drivers. There are so many opportunities they have to be involved more and more with our sport and I think this race is the perfect example of that. You can’t be any more involved than to vote on the format as the race is happening. I think The Sprint Unlimited should be exciting and I hope they all come out and they all vote. I hope it’s a great turnout and a great show.

Q:You just found out about this event and the new rules. What’s your first reaction?
Dave Rogers:  It’s really exciting, you know as a crew chief it’s a challenge because you don’t know all the rules before the race starts. But it’s a really neat way to get the fans involved and I think that’s what we need to do, we need to get our fans excited about our sport. I think we are going to have a great 2013 season and this is a great way to kick it off.

Q: As a Crew Chief, how do you prepare for a race that is going to change mid-race?
Dave Rogers:Obviously, you are going to be listening to the NASCAR scanner and pay attention to what the rules are and have your scenarios before you go into the race. You need to know your what ifs, if this happens, this is what we need to do. You have to be on your feet, it will be an interesting race.

Q:Three of the main votes that affect you are the format, the pit stops and also who is going to advance to the third segment. Which of those is going to affect you the most, which is the most important vote?
Dave Rogers:It’s a toss-up between the first pit stop and who’s getting eliminated. If you’re in the back and they are going to eliminate the last six or four or two or whatever it is, you’re going to have to make some pretty aggressive moves to get up in the pack, which that will create some excitement. And then that first pit stop you know your fuel strategy, pushing 40 laps on fuel down in Daytona is a chore. Those two votes are going to be critical

Q:If you could just talk about the history of the Bud Shootout, now The Sprint Unlimited and how important this race is to NASCAR fans and teams.
Dave Rogers:The Sprint Unlimited race is a great way to kick off the season. There are no points involved. Not everyone is in it. So for the cars that are in, it’s a little bit of an advantage. It’s a great test for the (Daytona) 500 that is coming up the following week. We are going to go down there on track for two weeks but you won’t see the big pack. You won’t see people racing really hard because they don’t want to tear up their 500 car, but in The Sprint Unlimited we want the trophy. So you will see the people pushing it and making some aggressive moves and you will probably see some wrecks. You will see a lot of divers learning throughout The Sprint Unlimited race.

Q:There had to be a lot of thought go into letting the fans have some type of say in how the race actually runs. Why let the fans have this much access to the format of a race?
Robin Pemberton:I think that the fans and their support, I mean that’s why we race. We race for the fans and we enjoy putting on a good show. All the competitors do and we do. And so, it was natural for us to at this time to let the fans be more engaged and vote on all the things they can vote on. It was the next step and we enjoy that. It’s going to be something to see what they pick and how they want the race to be run.

Q:With NASCAR you have more fan involvement and communication with the drivers than ever. It seems like every year there is more fan involvement so is this just the next step for NASCAR as a company?
Robin Pemberton:I think so. I think if you look at our recent history, we are more engaged with the fans now than ever before. The fans enjoy that and we enjoy it. We like to listen to them and field their questions and take their opinions. You look at everything that we do, whether it is a special event like the Sprint Unlimited or any of our other events, including points races, there’s things we’ve done based on the fan engagement and what they think they need or want to watch for them to have a good time when they watch our show.

Q: So how do you prepare for a race that is going to change midway through while you’re in the car on the track?
Robin Pemberton:You’re going to have to leave yourself some adjustability and you’re going to have to have a game plan for whatever the strategies are by the fans and what they want. Whether it ends up being a green-flag pit stop because there is no pit in one segment or two or four tire change or whatever they come up with.  So you’re going to have to have your adjustability built into the car and that’s what they do. The difference is there’s not a whole lot of time to get your business done. You have to be really aggressive when it’s time to make those changes

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

Leave a comment

Free Shipping on Orders Over $25 at Store.NASCAR.com

Copyright © SpeedwayMedia.com. All rights reserved. - Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties.