Ross Chastain, one of the top young drivers in the sport, will return to JD Motorsports for a third straight season.
The team is working with Garrett Smithley, who had a fine rookie season this year in JD Motorsports Chevrolets, to return Smithley to the team lineup next season. “We’re 99 percent sure Garrett will be back with us,” said team owner Johnny Davis. “But we’re still working on funding and sponsorship issues to get everything lined up.”
The team has a vacancy in its third car as Ryan Preece, who ran his Xfinity rookie season with JD Motorsports, has decided to move on to other opportunities.
Chastain finished 16th in Xfinity driver points last year, with 17 top-20 runs and a top finish of 11th – at Daytona International Speedway.
“Ross is a smart kid and an intelligent driver,” Davis said. “We’re lucky to have him back with us next year. He brings a lot to the team, and he works with our guys really well. We’re looking to step up our program with him.”
The Florida Watermelon Association will return as a sponsor of Chastain’s cars next year.
Smithley ran in 32 races for JD Motorsports this year. He missed the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway but still finished 18th in driver points. He scored eight top-20 runs, including a top finish of 12th at Talladega Superspeedway.
“We’re working hard every day on getting things ready for next year,” Davis said. “It’s a complicated process to get everything in line to compete at the highest levels of stock car racing. Hopefully, we’ll be set long before it’s time to head to Daytona Beach in February for the season opener.
“Our goal is to always have our teams and our drivers in a position to show the best marketability for everybody. We take a lot of pride in our cars and our sponsors and how we showcase the drivers and the companies that work with us.”
"I am very excited to return to JGL Racing for the 2017 season," said Dakoda. "We made tremendous gains during the 2016 season and that showed with the speed we had in our No. 28 WinField Toyota at the end of the season. I feel at home at JGL Racing and look to improve on what we built during the first season together. And I want to thank my sponsor WinField for the continued support and we can't wait to get to Daytona and get the 2017 season started."
The 25-year old Armstrong finished 13th in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series final drivers' standings in his first season with the JGL Racing organization. He went on to collect 22 top-20 finishes during the season which was highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the July event at Iowa Speedway and a 12th place finish in the July event at Daytona International Speedway.
Armstrong and his No. 28 WinField Toyota will once again be led by veteran crew chief Steven Lane. The team will continue to utilize Joe Gibbs Racing engines and will be expanding on that relationship as well.
"We are honored to have Dakoda and WinField back with our organization for the 2017 season", stated James Whitener, owner of JGL Racing. "We have grown a lot together during this past season and we look to continue that growth in 2017. Dakoda and the guys really started to gel together in the second half of the season and we will look to continue with that right out of the gate in Daytona. We have a lot of great things happening with our team as we continue to take steps towards growing into one of the top organizations in the XFINITY Series."
The JGL Racing team is busy preparing their stable of Toyota's for the upcoming 2017 season which kicks off on February 25th with the running of the PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway.
Earnhardt, 42, was cleared Wednesday evening by Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh, in consultation with Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Petty attended the test at the 1.366-mile South Carolina racetrack.
“Dale is one of the hardest-working patients I’ve ever encountered,” Collins said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked, and we believe he is ready to compete at a professional level again and can withstand the normal forces of a race car driver. Dale has been very open with us, and we’ve had plenty of time for his treatment, so we feel very good about his long-term prospects and how this has been managed by everyone involved.”
Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, completed 185 laps during a nearly five-hour session at Darlington under the guidance of his crew chief, Greg Ives. In addition to the on-track test, which was observed by NASCAR, the driver has logged more than 15 hours in a racing simulator during his recovery.
“I feel great, and I’m excited to officially be back,” Earnhardt said. “I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened. Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017. Thanks to the staff at Darlington for hosting our team and to NASCAR for giving us the opportunity to put a car on the track. I’ll do more testing in January to help knock the rust off. When it’s time to go to Daytona, I’ll be ready.”
Alex Bowman (10 races) and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon (eight races) handled substitute driving duties for the No. 88 team during Earnhardt’s recovery. He missed the final 18 races of the 2016 NASCAR season beginning with the July 17 event at New Hampshire.
“Dale deserves so much credit,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “I’m proud of him for listening to his body and standing up to take responsibility for his health. He’s worked extremely hard and set a terrific example for others. It’s great news as we go into the off-season, and we can’t wait to see him back on the racetrack at Daytona.”
Bowman will race the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS in the Feb. 18 season-opening, non-points The Clash at Daytona International Speedway, which will feature pole position winners from the previous year. Bowman won the No. 88 team’s lone 2016 pole at Phoenix in November.
“Alex did such a great job in the car this year, and I felt like he deserved another opportunity,” Earnhardt said. “When I spoke with Rick and the team about him driving The Clash, everyone agreed that he more than earned it, and Nationwide was 100-percent on board. I’m really grateful to him and Jeff for what they did for our team, and I’m glad Alex is getting another run with us.”
In celebration of the 2016 championship title, Bosch Giving Track increased its contribution from $1,000 to $5,000. The charity selected by Hendrick Motorsports to receive its 2016 Giving Track contributions is Together We Feed, an organization focused on feeding and caring for children living in poverty.
In 2016, Bosch Giving Track touched many deserving organizations, providing a total of $30,000 in contributions to further their missions to benefit those in need, creating a positive impact in the motorsports community. Through Giving Track, Bosch contributed $1,000 to a team-specified charity each time one of its sponsored drivers secured a 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Seven charities, selected by drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske received contributions from Bosch Giving Track in 2016:
- Together We Feed – Hendrick Motorsports
- Denny Hamlin Foundation – Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
- Kyle Busch Foundation – Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing
- Speedway Children’s Charities – Carl Edwards, Joe Gibbs Racing
- Motor Racing Outreach – Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing
- Checkered Flag Foundation – Brad Keselowski, Team Penske
- Joey Logano Foundation – Joey Logano, Team Penske
In the month of November, Bosch Giving Track contributions were also awarded to Speedway Children's Charities following the victory by Carl Edwards at the AAA Texas 500 on November 6 and to the Joey Logano Foundation following Joey Logano’s win at the Can-Am 500 on November 13.
“2016 treated fans to another exciting year of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing, and we congratulate Jimmie Johnson on his record-tying seventh championship,” said Tony Pauly, director of advertising and brand management for Robert Bosch LLC, Automotive Aftermarket NA. “Bosch is proud to be a contributor to the victories of so many great teams in the motorsport arena, and to their charities.”
Bosch involvement in motorsports dates back to the early 1900’s, and it has been equipping NASCAR teams with parts and technical advice since 1991. In 2012, when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made the move from carbureted engines to more efficient fuel injected engines, Bosch became the sport’s exclusive oxygen sensor supplier. Beginning in 2016, Bosch has expanded its agreement with NASCAR to include fuel injectors and fuel pumps.
In recent years, Kaz has made a name for himself in Late Model racing by breaking records. In his first race at fabled Hickory Motor Speedway, Kaz won the 2013 UARA 150 and became the youngest winner in series history. The following year, he became the youngest NASCAR winner in Caraway Speedway history when he held off the Whelen All-American Series National Champion to win the 171-lap event. In 2015, Kaz won his Pro All Stars Series debut at South Boston Speedway with a dominant performance, leading 131 of 150 laps. Kaz differentiates himself by tearing up road-course events each year. He has won the 12 hours of NJMP, the 13 hours of VIR, and competed in the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the pinnacle of sports-car racing in America.
Kaz made it to the final round in NCWTS qualifying in all but one race in 2016. He scored his first top-10 finish in only his second start in the series at Dover International Speedway. In his first race at Gateway Motorsports Park, Kaz brought home yet another top-10 finish. At the rookie’s home track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he brought home his best finish of 2016, a 7th-place result.
“I am beyond thankful to have an opportunity with GMS Racing to run full time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2017. This organization has been on a steep rise the past couple of years, and it’s been fun being a part of it in 2016,” remarked an excited Grala.
Joining the GMS Racing stable in 2017 is veteran crew chief Jerry Baxter who claims time in the principal team role in all three of NASCAR’s top racing series, dating back to 1986. Baxter has worked with a variety of NASCAR notables and most recently recorded four seasons with Kyle Busch Motorsports and in 2016 with rookie Chase contender Christopher Bell.
“I’m looking forward to next season with GMS and working through this transition with Kaz. I really enjoy helping young drivers get started in this series and developing their talent, and I saw what Kaz accomplished in the few races he ran last season,” said Baxter.
Next season Baxter will tackle year seven in the Camping World Truck Series and looks to add to his series resume of nine wins, 38 top-five finishes, 67 top-10 finishes, six pole-qualifying positions and 1,426 laps led, with the No. 33 team and Grala.
Kaz further described his eagerness for next season, “GMS Racing has really gone out of their way to bring some of the best people in the industry on board, and Jerry Baxter is no exception. I’m extremely excited to get to work with Jerry, who not only is a great match for me personality-wise, but also is very accomplished in the NASCAR world. I am looking forward to returning to the No. 33 Chevy Silverado, which I made a few starts in this year. Hopefully Jerry’s experience on top of the box will complement my Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender status, and bring success to the team next year.”
In three full-time seasons in the NCWTS, GMS Racing has earned seven wins and recently captured the 2016 Driver Championship with longtime competitor Johnny Sauter. The success was a result of the perfect combination of veteran skill and young talent.
When he’s not improving his race skills to become an accomplished NASCAR driver, Kaz is an honor-roll high school senior at Worcester Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts. The 17-year-old who has a birthday on December 29th is currently interviewing with colleges for the fall of 2017.
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On October 15, 2015, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) veteran Johnny Sauter announced he would be joining GMS Racing (GMS) for the 2016 season in an effort to claim his first NCWTS championship. The move was unexpected and some questioned if a young team, like GMS, could outperform the more established teams of NASCAR’s roughest series.
Flash forward one year and two weeks to October 29, 2016 at Martinsville Speedway. After reuniting with former crew chief and longtime friend Joe Shear Jr. in June, Sauter racked up 12 top-10 finishes in 13 starts leading into the first race of the second round of the inaugural Chase for the NCWTS Championship. Sauter led 50 laps to clinch the win and lock the No. 21 team into the position to compete for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He followed that up with a statement win at Texas Motor Speedway the following week and came within one restart of making it three-in-a-row at Phoenix International Raceway.
In his 13th NCWTS season, Sauter raised the championship trophy alongside his family and a team that had just completed its third full-time season in NASCAR. He completed what was statistically one of his best seasons with 3 wins, 12 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. His three wins contributed to an overall total of six victories for GMS, who only had one win in the series heading into the 2016 season.
“A lot of people asked if I really thought the move to GMS [Racing] would result in a championship. After talking with Mike Beam and Maury [Gallagher], I truly believed in their goals for the team and felt like it was the right move if I wanted to win a title,” said Sauter. “The progress this team made throughout the season was incredible. It’s a relief to finally be able to say I’m a champion, but there’s also that feeling that it’s supposed to be that way. The reason we compete every weekend is to be the best so anything less would be a disappointment.”
Sauter has found a home with GMS and will return in 2017 to defend not only his win at Daytona International Speedway, but his NCWTS Championship as well. He will continue to build on the Sauter-Shear legacy, a history that started in the Midwest with their fathers competing against each other.
“I’m excited to do this again, especially with Joe [Shear Jr.]. I don’t think we would have won a championship without him last year. We’re going to start where we left off, make up for those four races I didn’t finish in the top 10, and win that owner’s championship for Maury.”
GMS will release details about plans for the 2017 season, including additional drivers and sponsors, at a later date.
GMS Racing PR
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