Texas Motor Speedway treats its race winners pretty good. In addition to a shiny race trophy, winners receive a pair of six-shooters and a custom-made cowboy hat to make them into true asphalt cowboys.
But with the Robertson family’s “Duck Commander” brand of hunting equipment now sponsoring the spring race at TMS, another prized item is now going to the victor for tomorrow’s Duck Commander 500: A special batch of their best-selling duck calls.
According to a release from the track, two special duck calls will be presented. The winning driver, crew chief, and team owner will receive the Black Wood Duck Call that’s “made from a rare African wood featuring Duck Commander President Phil Robertson’s patented double reed system.”
The rest of the winning team will receive the Classic Commander Duck Call, which was the very first call that Robertson got patented. This call is an all-wood number, featuring a cypress wood barrel and cedar insert.
Said team will also join TMS president/general manager Eddie Gossage and Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson in a celebratory duck call in Victory Lane.
In the buildup to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season opener at St. Petersburg on March 12, a number of drivers are visiting other sporting events of note.
Graham Rahal has been one of the busiest. The driver of the No. 15 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing made a pit stop at the Bridgestone Winter Classic in January and this week has been out to the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Anyway, 28-year-old Rahal is an avid PGA Tour follower and fan and when time allows, brushes off his own set of clubs for the event’s Honda Classic Cares Pro Am presented by Tire Kingdom. He’s also used golf as a fundraiser; he’s raised over $300,000 to benefit children’s charities (with the golf tournament he did around the Indy 500).
Rahal, who won the Pro Am twice in 2011 and 2012 and came second the next year with motorsports fan Rickie Fowler, himself one of the young stars on the PGA Tour, was only able to get in four holes this week owing to poor weather. But with a new putter that’s the same model as the one used by recent world number one player Jason Day, Rahal sank a rather impressive 40-foot putt. Rahal was playing in a group with Smylie Kaufman, and credited him for the advice.
Helio Castroneves’s No. 3 Chevrolet will be adorned in Shell V-Power NiTRO+ colors at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28, with Shell and Pennzoil continuing as associate sponsors on all Team Penske cars in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and IndyCar.
Castroneves’ car has had either Shell or Pennzoil on his car each of the last six Indianapolis 500s dating to 2011, but has not yet won an Indianapolis 500 with Shell or Pennzoil as the primary sponsor. The Rick Mears tribute “Yelio Submarine” ran in both 2014 and 2016, with the 2014 race a particularly tough loss as Castroneves came second by a fraction to Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Castroneves has had Shell V-Power for the Indianapolis 500 in 2011, Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra in 2012 and 2013 and Shell V-Power Nitro+ in 2015.
In those six races, Castroneves has finished 17th, 10th, sixth, second, seventh and 11th.
“It’s an iconic sponsor; a partner actually, to be honest,” Castroneves said during the announcement at Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500.
“Since I was a kid in Brazil, watching Formula 1 and IndyCar, now I’m the one to be wearing that patch in my suit.
“I’m really excited to be back for the Indy 500. We’ll be with Shell NiTRO+ V-Power. They’re always innovating and in the technical part.
“We’re going for our fourth win… we’ve been so close. We know we can make it happen. We have the equipment and teammates to make it happen. It’s an amazing organization, and I’m so thankful to be part of it.”
Castroneves is the longest tenured active member of Team Penske’s driver lineup in all its series as he heads into his 18th season with the team and 20th overall since joining IndyCar in 1998.
Full-season teammates are defending champion Simon Pagenaud, 2014 champion Will Power and new recruit Josef Newgarden, with two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya joining the field in a fifth car for the ‘500.
Commercial partners for Montoya’s car haven’t yet been announced but with Menards (Pagenaud), Verizon (Power) and likely Verizon (Newgarden) for the ‘500, it stands to reason another of Penske’s longterm sponsors will be present for Montoya.
Roger Penske, who turned 80 earlier this week, made a great and key point during the Daytona announcement; he noted that of his 38 sponsors for the race team, he has business relationships with 25 of them.
As expected, but not necessarily official until confirmed directly by Sauber F1 Team, Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi has been confirmed to fill in for Pascal Wehrlein at next week’s first test of the Formula 1 season at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona which runs from February 27-March 2. The second test, also in Barcelona, is March 7-10.
Sauber called Wehrlein’s injuries, reported as either neck or back injuries in other outlets, “back problems” and said further information will follow when available.
“We took the decision that Pascal will not be driving in the first test in Barcelona. We will monitor his medical progress and will then decide on the next steps,” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said in a release.
“It is a pity that I cannot be in the car during the first test days, but I will be in Barcelona in order to get familiar with the team’s procedures and also to follow the Sauber C36-Ferrari on track,” he said.
Construction equipment manufacturer JCB has pegged a deal with Williams Martini Racing, to see the logo on the rear wing endplate of the Williams FW40 chassis, Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll’s helmets, and the full crew uniforms after the British Grand Prix.
Interestingly, the team’s release says this will be the first of “a number” following the signing of Stroll this season.
Company chairman Lord Bamford caught the racing bug in the early 1970s and, according to the team, the JCB Dieselmax car still holds the world diesel land speed record of 350.052mph, more than a decade after it was set on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.
“I am an engineer and a manufacturer and designing and engineering innovative products is at the core of what JCB does,” Bamford said in the release.
“We frequently combine our engineering expertise with some of the best automotive technologies which means our machines are very fuel efficient and intuitive to operate. Our partnership with Williams Martini Racing builds on that innovative and technological link and our company’s long association with motorsport.”