Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Charlotte notes

MEADE TO SING: Robin Meade, host of HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade” has been added to a star-studded lineup that will join the largest Memorial Day weekend celebration in the country at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday.

Meade, who is also a New York Times best-selling author and emerging country artist, will kick off the ultimate test of man and machine – NASCAR’s only 600 mile contest – by performing the national anthem. Her lastest album “Count on Me” is set to be released June 12.

The longtime news anchor will also make an appearance earlier in the day at a special celebration luncheon to honor up to 10,000 active military and family members at zMAX Dragway as part of the speedway’s weekend-long “Welcome Home Our Troops” salute to the military.
In 2009, Meade's first book, "Morning Sunshine! How to Radiate Confidence and Feel It Too," was an instant New York Times bestseller. Before joining CNN Headline News in 2001, Meade anchored mornings and weekends at NBC's local affiliate in Chicago, WMAQ, after stops as morning and noon anchor at WSVN in Miami, Fla. and WCMH in Columbus, Ohio. Meade's first job in broadcasting came at WMFD in Mansfield, Ohio. She leaped to Cleveland's WJW the same year she was Miss Ohio.
Other celebrities scheduled to appear during the Coca-Cola 600 weekend include HISTORY’s Rick Dale, of “American Restoration;” decorated veteran and No. 1 best-selling author Lt. Col. Oliver North; and Papa John’s founder, John Schnatter. In addition, country music megastar and NBC’s newest “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” winner, Trace Adkins, will perform a free concert for all Coca-Cola 600 ticket holders on Friday, May 24.
PARTY LIKE A LEGEND: Fresh off Wednesday’s announcement of the newest class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, all living inductees – Jack Ingram, Dale Jarrett and Maurice Petty – will be featured guests of Sunday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame Pit Party on pit road at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Also joining them will be NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, along with racing brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison.
This unique event will begin at 12:30 and include nearly four hours of live music, concessions, racing displays, military vehicles and driver appearances. Admission to this fan-friendly event is included with the purchase of a pit pass or driver introduction pass.
RECORD RUN BOOSTS HAMLIN TO COCA-COLA POLE: Denny Hamlin won the pole for Sunday’s 54th running of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hamlin drew a late qualifying number and proceeded to shatter the existing track record. He ran a lap of 195.624 mph in claiming his second career pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“The crew gave me an awesome car. We knew we had to improve from last week,” said Hamlin. “We’re happy about everything. It’s like a victory for me. It’s a big step for the weekend. It’s a sign for things to come.”
Hamlin took the top starting position from second place qualifier Kurt Busch. Qualifying third was Matt Kenseth followed by Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer in the top five. Rounding out the top 10 were Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman.

NATIONWIDE PRACTICE RECAP: Joey Logano topped the NASCAR Nationwide Series speed charts Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, posting a fast lap of 30.295 seconds (178.247 mph). Rookie Alex Bowman, who grabbed the pole last month at Texas, was second with a lap of 30.325 seconds (178.071 mph). Kyle Busch was third at 30.360 seconds (177.866 mph).
LEGENDS RACE NOTABLES: Racing’s up-and-coming stars will take center stage tonight, as the country’s best Legend Car drivers will hit the track immediately after LiftMaster Pole Night at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the first Legends All-Star event.
The Legend Car racers started their week with practice and qualifying on the frontstrech quarter-mile oval Tuesday, with Tyler Green taking the top spot. Green, the son of NASCAR driver Mark Green and nephew of Nationwide Series champions David and Jeff Green, turned a lap around the short track in 17.097 seconds. He was followed by Doug Stevens, a five-time Pro Series champion at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thursday Thunder Series, who had a lap of 17.138 seconds. Kaz Grala, a 14-year-old driver from Boston, was third with 17.153 seconds.
The top 20 qualifiers from Tuesday are locked in, while the remaining 25 drivers will compete in a hooligan race for the chance to race in the night’s big event. The top 10 finishers will transfer to the main event, a 40-lap finale featuring a $10,000 purse, with $2,500 to the winner. The winner will also be introduced on stage during Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 pre-race events.
CARDINALE WINS SPIRIT AWARD: The National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) announced that the late Sonoma Raceway Vice President of Media Relations, John Cardinale, had been named the first quarter recipient for its Spirit Award.
Cardinale passed away March 21 after a two-year battle with gastric cancer. But he never lost his enthusiasm, dedication or optimism, all trademarks of a man well respected and greatly missed in the NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. family.
The NMPA Spirit Award, presented annually since 1992, recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity, as well as sportsmanship ad contributions to motorsports. At the end of the year, an overall recipient from the four quarterly winners is selected by the NMPA membership.
WALTRIPS AID FEED THE CHILDREN CHARITY: In 2010 brothers Darrell and Michael Waltrip combined their philanthropic efforts and created the Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship. The Waltrips selected Feed The Children as one of the golf tournament’s recipients in 2012.

The Oklahoma City-based organization, whose mission is to provide hope and resources for those without life’s essentials, saw deadly tornados strike at its doorstep this week.

During this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Michael Waltrip Racing will carry Feed The Children decals on the roofs of all three of its NASCAR Sprint Cup Toyotas. The decals will bring greater awareness to an organization forced to turn its focus to its own Oklahoma community.

“The Feed The Children organization has become our friends and when we saw the horrific damage done this week, we immediately called to make sure everyone was OK and to pledge our continued support,” said Michael Waltrip, founder and co-owner of MWR.

“With so many homes destroyed, we know Feed The Children organizational leaders will not only need healing themselves, but will supply the much needed food and resources to the families who have been displaced. The Coca-Cola 600 is a big event for us and this is our way of connecting with millions of race fans to remind them this is a great way to help those who were devastated.”

The cars of drivers Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin will carry the decals in Sunday’s 600-mile race that airs on Fox at 6 p.m.

OLIVER NORTH TO BE HONORED: Lt. Col. Oliver North is a combat decorated U.S. Marine, a No. 1 best-selling author, the founder of a small business, an inventor with three U.S. patents, a syndicated columnist and the host of “War Stories” on Fox News Channel.

For his unwavering support of the military, decades of service to his country and a continued commitment to service, the man whom President Ronald Reagan described as “an American hero” can add Stonewall Jackson Award winner to his long list of accolades.
“Each May, as we gather more than 100,000 strong to pay tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces as part of the Coca-Cola 600, we select one recipient as our Stonewall Jackson honoree,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “This year, we could think of no one more deserving to recognize for his decades of unparalleled service to our country than Lt. Col. Oliver North.”
In addition to being recognized with the Stonewall Jackson Award, North will deliver a moving “State of Freedom” speech during pre-race festivities and sign autographs in The Speedway Club for a limited number of military members. The address and the salute for the military portion of the pre-race show is presented by NRA Life of Duty. North is also scheduled to appear earlier in the day at a special “Welcome Home the Troops” luncheon at zMAX Dragway.


SPECIAL TROPHY FOR NATIONWIDE: When drivers take to the track for the NASCAR Nationwide Series HISTORY 300 on Saturday, May 25, they’ll be racing for more than just the bragging rights that come with winning at NASCAR’s home track. Rick Dale of HISTORY’s American Restoration® has designed a one-of-a-kind trophy that will be awarded to the winner of the 300-mile race.
As last year’s honorary starter for the HISTORY 300, Dale awarded the trophy to the 2012 winner, Brad Keselowski, who mentioned that Dale should have designed the trophy as well. With Charlotte Motor Speedway’s blessing, Dale embraced the challenge and designed 2013’s HISTORY 300 trophy with a reverence for racing and its history.
“If winning isn’t enough motivation, drivers now have even more reason to put on a great show for fans at the HISTORY 300,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “The winner gets a unique trophy that not only pays tribute to the history of our great sport, but will also look great in any driver’s trophy case.”
A 1940 Ford Coupe steering wheel, representing the beginning of stock car racing, forms the centerpiece of the trophy. Two gas pump nozzles from a 1936 North Carolina highway gas station, notoriously frequented by moonshine runners, provide the frame. A Custer Car drive gear completes the design, symbolizing the first go-kart a child builds when dreaming about becoming a race car driver.
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