News & Media

Notebook: Benson's Truck Series deal falls through for 2012

January 07, 2012, Dave Rodman,

Notebook: Newman lands a fish, Frye lands a job as Gordon seeks to land a win

Johnny Benson announced in September that he would make his long anticipated return to the Camping World Truck Series in 2012, driving the No. 66 Chevrolet Silverado for Turn One Racing with major sponsorship from his home state and Pure Michigan. Although Benson acknowledged that the deal was not quite done and full season sponsorship was lacking, it now appears that the agreement has fallen through.

Benson in '08.

"We were really looking forward to bringing the 2008 Champion back to the sport," said team owner, Stacy Compton. "It's unfortunate that the financing fell through and we're not going to be able to campaign a championship winning effort for him. Everyone was working hard to try and pull this deal together, but it just fell short."

As a result, Compton and his Turn One team now have a vacant seat for the 2012 season. "We are looking at several drivers and sponsorship scenarios for next season," he explained. "We are looking at all of our options and are excited about the opportunities that we have in front of us. We have no doubt that we will be a top contending team again in 2012."

Compton expects to make an announcement regarding the team's 2012 season in the coming weeks.

Frye lands as Hendrick consultant

Former Red Bull Racing Team vice president and general manager Jay Frye will consult with Hendrick Motorsports in 2012 and will focus on business development, the racing operation owned by Rick Hendrick, said in a statement this week.

"Jay is one of the most well-connected people in the sport, and he's going to be a great resource to help develop strong partnerships," Marshall Carlson, Hendrick Motorsports' president, said. "We've known him for a long time, so there's an immense level of trust and respect between us. The opportunity to work with Jay again and have the benefit of his experience is something we're excited about."

Dakar noir

The infamous Dakar Rally is a two-week race -- every day, at more than one-hundred miles of grueling terrain on each leg -- that could be compared to the better part of a full half a NASCAR season in its compressed intensity.

"We are perfectly fine right now...a little behind where we want to be, but the Hummers are driving great."


After only three days of racing, Robby Gordon's California-based Hummer team looked like it had its best chance ever to score an overall victory in the event, as Gordon's teammate, defending race winner Nasser Al-Attiyah, had already won one special stage and was sixth in the overall standings. Early in Wednesday's fourth stage, the Qatari pulled out a wide lead on-time and would have taken the overall lead if he'd been able to finish the last 40 kilometers.

Gordon, for his part, after starting the fourth day in second overall, had a string of problems, including getting lost, a flat tire and changing an alternator; that knocked him back to 16th, 17 minutes behind his teammate. But near the 288-kilometer waypoint, Al-Attiyah's two-wheel-drive Hummer got stuck in the mud. Gordon stopped to help him and then they both continued.

When it all shook out, after four days Gordon had dropped from second to fifth, 16:23 behind race leader and fourth stage winner Stephane Peterhansel, while Al-Attiyah fell from sixth to seventh, 30:44 back. On Thursday, Gordon returned to his consistent ways by finishing second in stage five.

"We are perfectly fine right now...a little behind where we want to be, but the Hummers are driving great," Gordon said Wednesday. "It's really going to be a great race down to the end. I believe without our small issues [Wednesday] we could have beat these guys and picked [up] a substantial amount of time. Nasser was doing great, but I wasn't going to leave him hanging in the mud, so we helped him get back on his way."

View photos of Gordon during the 2012 Dakar Rally below | Click here for daily race updates

Big fish

Ryan and Krissie Newman's seventh annual Ryan Newman Foundation Charity Dinner and sixth annual Charity Fishing Tournament recently raised $333,000 for its animal welfare, education and conservation efforts.

The dinner, presented by the Gene Haas Foundation, was held at the Statesville (N.C.) Civic Center on Dec. 9, followed the next day by the fishing event. The Newmans have been class acts forever in the NASCAR garage and they continue to embellish their charity functions with JHE Productions -- which many race fans are familiar with through their production of NASCAR pre-race shows -- jumping-into this year's planning.

"This year's event was a huge success," Krissie Newman said. "We moved the location to the civic center and it didn't disappoint us. JHE outdid themselves and it's going to be hard to top, next year; but I'm looking forward to it. Funds raised from the event will be used for our spay/neuter grants, which will be awarded in the summer."

Newman hangs with a couple of anglers during the fishing tournament. (Ryan Newman Foundation)

Former Miss Sprint Monica Palumbo emceed the festivities. Country music singer/songwriters Kendell Marvel, Billy and Randy Montana and Heidi Newfield provided entertainment for the sold-out crowd of 500 sponsors, NASCAR drivers, professional anglers, outdoorsmen and fans.

For the second year, Bass Pro Shops and BASS presented the charity fishing tournament, which featured 197 boats that took to the water at Lake Norman in Huntersville, N.C. A record number of professional anglers including Jami Fralick, Britt Myers, Marty Robinson, Todd Auten, Boyd Duckett, Guy Eaker, Davey Hite, David Walker competed, among others, for the grand prize: a Nitro Z9 Bass Boat equipped with a motor, trolling motor, electronics and matching trailer.

"Krissie and I appreciate everyone who participated in the fishing tournament," Ryan Newman said. "The weather isn't the best and the fishing can be tough in December, so to see a record number of entries was pretty awesome. Bass Pro Shops donated a Nitro Z9 again this year, which helps with getting a mix of amateur and professional anglers. There aren't a lot of tournaments giving out over $60,000 in prizes -- especially charity events, so we're lucky to have great partners that believe in our mission and support us throughout the year.

During dinner, guests had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items and participate in a raffle and the Newmans brought back hand-painted dog/cat bowls and treat jars painted by the employees of the Ryan Newman Foundation and Ryan Newman Motorsports. The foundation's namesake even joined in and painted a set of bowls. Money raised from the pottery auction will be used to help vaccinate and sterilize dogs and cats in the surrounding area.

NASCAR gets on Chili

NASCAR will have a strong presence in next week's Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Okla. Five drivers with strong NASCAR ties -- including two of last year's three national series champions -- will kick the event off on Jan. 10 in the Vacuworx International Race of Champions IV for former event winners and notable competitors.

In the 14-man field are defending and three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who's a two-time Chili Bowl winner; defending Nationwide Series winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr.; and Nationwide veteran Jason Leffler. Additional NASCAR connections are held by defending Chili Bowl winner Kevin Swindell, Bryan Clauson and Tracy Hines, who have all had a cup of coffee in the Nationwide or Busch Series.

Once the Chili Bowl qualifiers start, four other NASCAR-linked drivers will join the fray, including Brad Sweet, who regularly drives Kasey Kahne's open-wheel cars and will be Kahne's Nationwide Series teammate this season at Turner Motorsports; Cole Whitt; P.J. Jones; and J.J. Yeley.

Kahne would've liked to compete in the Chili Bowl, but indicated via Twitter that it conflicts with Daytona Preseason Thunder testing. Stewart, somehow, hopes to juggle the two events.

Branching into sports cars

Actually, NASCAR drivers competing in the Grand-Am Rolex Series is nothing new, so this weekend's Roar Before the Rolex three-day test at Daytona is a highly-anticipated warm-up for several drivers.

Juan Montoya and Max Papis are two NASCAR veterans on different ends of the 2012 spectrum -- though both share the distinction of winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Both will drive Daytona Prototypes, Montoya for Ganassi Racing and Papis for Action Express.

Montoya will be joined by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Sprint Cup teammate Jamie McMurray, who won a Christmas holiday kart race at Daytona while A.J. Allmendinger, who raced McMurray in the kart event, will once again test and race a Ford-powered Rolex Series DP car for Michael Shank Racing.

"Going to be a lot of fun the next couple of weekends at Daytona -- pumped racing season has begun," Allmendinger tweeted. "Can't wait to get to Daytona Cup test, excited to finally get in the [Penske Racing] car [but] first up, Rolex test at Daytona with [Michael Shank Racing]."

Also testing in DP cars will be former NASCAR drivers Colin Braun, Christian Fittipaldi and four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti. In the GT category, team co-owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman will be in an AF-Waltrip Ferrari 458 with NASCAR hopeful Travis Pastrana, 2011 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Andy Lally will be in a Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 he'll race for the full season, diverse former Truck Series racer Eliseo Salazar will be in a TRG Motorsports Porsche and Boris Said and Billy Johnson will be in a Turner Motorsports -- the Grand-Am team -- BMW.