Sprint Media Tour – Day Three – CMS and Hendrick MotorsportsBy Ron Fleshman
Day Three of the Sprint Media Tour continued with a trip back to Charlotte Motor Speedway and Hendrick Motorsports on Wednesday. The day will end with a trip to Penske Racing, the home of reigning Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski.
Officials, including Marcus Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway CEO and Scott Cooper, CMS Director of Communications promoted the 2013 Sprint All-Star race, which is being advertised as an old west shootout. It was announced that two fans will take parts in the commercials to be aired later this year. Unfinished clips of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Clint Bowyer were shown without the two fans taking part. One fan has already been chose for a part and one more will be picked later.
The format for the race is yet to be determined, but it will be somewhat different than the 2012 event. “We’ve got to keep the fans interested,” Smith said.
Next on the agenda was the short trip to Hendrick Motorsports where media representatives were greeted by what is a stable group of drivers for 2013, including Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Team owner Rick Hendrick took the stage with his four drivers.
After the usual reciting of the past accomplishments of the team, each driver spoke on the outlook for the coming season. Each expressed disappointment that Hendrick Motorsports didn’t win the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship, but were confident that 2013 would be a successful year.
All teams except the no. 88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are fully funded for 2013. Earnhardt’s car is unfunded in 11 races with Pepsico leaving major sponsorship at the end of the 2012 season. Hendrick was not worried about the situation.
“We have enough sponsorship to get us into summer,” Hendrick said. “I’m not worried about it. We’re close to some deals and it’s a long way to summer.”
Earnhardt expressed little concern and said he was really looking forward to the new car and the season. When the Daytona testing session was mentioned, he was honest and forthcoming.
Tonight the Tour continues with a dinner visit to Penske Racing in Mooresville, NC. A full report follows later on tonight.
“I messed up,” Earnhardt said. “I thought a long time about that and it was probably the most embarrassed I’ve ever been about anything on the racetrack. The bumpers don’t exactly match up like they used to.”
“I’m a big fan of this race car,” Gordon said. “I love it. I like the body style and I think the teams and crew chiefs do too. That’s one fine looking race car.”
Kasey Kahne says he is the underdog on the Hendrick Motorsports team. “I have to compare myself to two guys who have won multiple championships (Johnson and Gordon),” Kahne said. “My best shot is in my second year, which is now, but we’ll continue to try to run well and have that as a goal.”
Also present was developmental driver Chase Elliott, son of superstar Bill Elliott. The schedule for Elliott is fairly busy. Elliott will run five ARCA and nine Camping World Truck Series races in 2013 in the No. 94
Chevy. His truck schedule includes both races at Martinsville, both Iowa races, Rockingham, Dover, MoSport in Canada, Bristol, and Phoenix.