2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies

Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America turning 20, reveals 2014 route

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This year marks the 20th anniversary for one of NASCAR’s bigger charity events – the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. Yesterday, the Ride revealed the 2014 route for the cross-country motorcycle run.

On Sat., May 3, a group of more than 175 riders will begin their 2,800-mile trek from Carlsbad, California. One week later on Sat., May 10, they’ll arrive in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The Ride will raise money and awareness for the Petty family’s Victory Junction Camp, which gives children stricken with chronic and life-threatening illnesses the chance to have fun and enjoy being kids.

Over the last decade, the Camp – which was created in 2004 in honor of Kyle’s late son, Adam – has hosted more than 7,730 children at no cost to their families thanks to the Ride.

“What began as just a few friends having a good time riding track to track has turned into what we have today, which is an incredible event that provides thousands of life changing experiences for children,” Kyle said in a press release.

“This is the first year we’ve traveled straight from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it with friends, while meeting our fans and generous supporters along the way.”

Among the luminaries set to take part in all or part of this year’s 20th Anniversary Ride are:

  • Kyle’s father, seven-time Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty
  • 2003 Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth
  • Former NASCAR driver and Bo-Dyn Olympic bobsled founder Geoff Bodine
  • NASCAR legends Harry Gant and Donnie Allison
  • Former NFL great Herschel Walker
  • Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives Col. Allen West
  • Co-host of History Channel’s Top Gear America and NASCAR personality Rutledge Wood

Here’s the day-by-day route. Fans can follow the riders daily through the Ride’s Facebook page and on Twitter and Instagram at both @KylePetty and @KPCharityRide.

  • Day 1 Saturday, May 3 – Carlsbad, Calif. to Tucson, Ariz.
  • Day 2 Sunday, May 4 – Tucson, Ariz. to Las Cruces, N.M.
  • Day 3 Monday, May 5 – Las Cruces, N.M. to Midland, Texas
  • Day 4 Tuesday, May 6 – Midland, Texas to Austin, Texas
  • Day 5 Wednesday, May 7 – Austin, Texas to Beaumont, Texas
  • Day 6 Thursday, May 8 – Beaumont, Texas to New Orleans
  • Day 7 Friday, May 9 – New Orleans to Tallahassee, Fla.
  • Day 8 Saturday, May 10 – Tallahassee, Fla. to Daytona Beach, Fla.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Simon Pagenaud

Simon Pagenaud
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver, with a look at Simon Pagenaud’s first season at Team Penske.

Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet

  • 2014: 5th Place, 2 Wins, 1 Pole, 3 Podiums, 8 Top-5, 12 Top-10, 59 Laps Led, 8.6 Avg. Start, 8.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 11th Place, Best Finish 3rd, 1 Pole, 2 Podiums, 4 Top-5, 9 Top-10, 132 Laps Led, 5.2 Avg. Start, 10.6 Avg. Finish

The 2015 season was always going to be a weird one for Simon Pagenaud, in his first season with Team Penske, adapting and adjusting to being with what’s widely regarded as one of the best if not the best teams in the sport. From a career standpoint he needed to move on from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, where he overachieved for three seasons. And given what became of the Honda aero kit this year, having a Chevrolet at his disposal was always going to be a benefit.

In actuality, Pagenaud didn’t have a bad year, but it was one where the burden of expectation probably hurt his overall stats more than the reality of the situation.

Let’s face facts – he’d finished in the top five in points each of his first three seasons back in IndyCar the last two years, won four races and been in championship contention before. Take all that, apply it to Team Penske and you’d assume wins and title contention would follow, but it didn’t. Still, it was a new team, a fourth team, and that took time to gel.

His qualifying was dynamic, which went against his career form and was markedly improved. His average leapt from 8.6 to 5.2 this year, which was third best in the field. The problem? It trailed two of his three teammates, Will Power and Helio Castroneves, and was only one spot clear of Juan Pablo Montoya.

And then – and there is no easy way to put this – there were his finishes. In 12 of 16 races this season, Pagenaud finished worse than he started. For a driver renowned for making the most of his circumstances on race day, often times things went south when all the marbles, all the points were on the line. Some you could put down to strategy or particularly in the later part of the year, sampling different setups to aid his title-contending teammates.

There were highlights, in particular his speed at the three 500-mile races. Pagenaud was probably the quickest of the four Penske entries at Indianapolis, scored the pole in Fontana and also starred in Pocono, but he didn’t have results to back it up in any of the three. Contact at Indy halted what was certainly winning potential. He also scored a pair of thirds at Detroit race one and Mid-Ohio, although those were cases where he was lucky rather than good.

It was hard to view Pagenaud’s season positively on the whole because you know his potential and ability hasn’t gone missing. But finishing 11th in points when your three teammates end second, third and fifth is definitely a tough pill to swallow, and an early motivator to make the fast Frenchman a top comeback driver in 2016.

Nicky Hayden announces World Superbikes move

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 25:  Nicky Hayden of USA and Aspar Team MotoGP rounds the bend during the MotoGP of Spain - Free Practice at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 25, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden will leave the series at the end of the season ahead of a move into the World Superbike Championship in 2016, it has been announced.

Hayden has raced in MotoGP since 2003 and is currently the only American rider racing in the series, but has struggled to match the form of his early years, scoring just 13 points in 2015.

It had been rumored that Hayden would be walking away from MotoGP at the end of the season for some time, but this has now been confirmed in a statement from WorldSBK.

Hayden will join Honda’s factory team in the rival series, racing alongside Michael van der Mark. The 34-year-old will bid to become the first rider to win both MotoGP and WorldSBK titles.

“Well, my next stop is Superbike with Honda! I’m very excited, obviously, to stick with Honda; it’s where I’ve had the most success in my career,” Hayden said.

“World Superbikes is a championship that I followed closely as a kid when a lot of American riders were fighting at the front. It just seems like the right time and the right team to go with.

“I know I’ve got a lot to learn and it’s going to be a big challenge, but also I’m very motivated to start and learn what I can.

“I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has supported me through my MotoGP career. We had a good run but now it’s time to move on and try something different.”

Hayden’s departure acts as another blow to MotoGP’s profile in the United States, which has seen a downturn in recent years.

The exit of Ben Spies from Yamaha in 2013 was followed by the loss of the race at Laguna Seca the same year, while last month, it was confirmed that Indianapolis would not be returning to the calendar in 2016, leaving just one US round on the schedule.