Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth in 2012 Contenders Live (NASCAR photo)

NASCAR’s 12 Chasers to answer fan questions in Contenders Live Chicago event

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enters the final three race weekends before the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, starting this weekend at Bristol. As the field is narrowed down to the 12 drivers that will qualify over these three weeks, the drama intensifies.

Fortunately before the Chase starts, NASCAR fans will have a chance to interact with all 12 drivers – plus NASCAR President Mike Helton – in a lighter setting: the second annual NASCAR Contenders Live Sponsored by Toyota and Sprint event to be held September 12. It will be at Navy Pier in Chicago from 1:30 to 3 p.m. CT, just a few days before the 2013 Chase begins at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. Further information is available at www.nascar.com/ContendersLive.

Matt Kenseth is among those who will be participating for a second year running. He’s not officially locked into the 2013 Chase, but with four wins thus far this season, he’ll make it in either via the top 10 or as one of the two Wild Cards in his first season driving the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“The Chase has been going on for nine years now, and now it starts at Chicago, but for me it’s always fun and always great to be in the Midwest,” Kenseth told MotorSportsTalk in a Tuesday interview. “For me, it’s the closest track to where I grew up (Cambridge, Wis.) It’s fun to have the chance to see the fans and interact with them for a little bit, and get going for the weekend.”

Miss Sprint Cup, Kim Coon, will be on hand for a second year in a row in the crowd, relaying fan questions to drivers and Helton.

“You have the drivers here that are so accessible, and you have the president that’s here, answering questions and bantering; it’s very unique,” she said in an interview. “NASCAR fans are so passionate about their sport. I’ll go to a NASCAR race and see people who have traveled from across the country or around the world. My last race was in Watkins Glen, and people had traveled from Australia, Germany and Japan to come to this race. It’s not something you see in any other sport with regularity.”

FURTHER DETAILS:

  • NASCAR Contenders Live sponsored by Toyota and Sprint will be making its return to Chicago at the historic Navy Pier on September 12.
  • This year’s event will feature the top 12 drivers on stage to discuss the most competitive time of the season, The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
  • The event provides drivers with a great opportunity to interact with our passionate fans and answer their questions. Miss Sprint Cup and Mike Helton will also be in attendance.
  • Fans can visit www.NASCAR.COM/ContendersLive to purchase tickets for $10 dollars and enter the Contenders Live sweepstakes for a chance to win an all-new 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Limited and more great prizes.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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