NASCAR: Farmers Insurance extends Hendrick deal through 2017

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A bit of important business news has emerged from the NASCAR garage with Farmers Insurance announcing a three-year extension of its current pact with juggernaut Hendrick Motorsports.

Farmers primarily backs the team’s No. 5 program for Kasey Kahne and as part of this new agreement, it will serve as that car’s primary sponsor for 12 Sprint Cup races (including the Daytona 500) during the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons. In all other races, it will be an associate sponsor.

The insurance company has been involved with sponsoring the No. 5 team since 2011.

“Our partnership with the team at Farmers has been unbelievable,” HMS owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “Everything that’s been accomplished in just three years is extremely impressive, and they continue to seek ways to engage our fans and use the sponsorship to improve the lives of others.

“It’s gratifying to see the impact of our two organizations working together, and we look forward to more successes in the coming years.”

For those curious, nothing is mentioned in the Hendrick/Farmers release about Kahne’s own driving contract with HMS beyond the 2015 season.

Kahne has earned back-to-back Chase berths, but he and the No. 5 team is currently lagging on performance compared to teammates Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jimmie Johnson.

Last week at Pocono, Kahne was pegged as a dark horse to claim his first win of the year and make the Chase. But on Lap 143 of 160, he hit the wall in Turn 2 and was saddled with a 42nd-place finish; in the aftermath, Kahne put the blame on Kyle Busch for starting the accident.

Currently on the outside looking in with regard to the post-season and with his teammates doing well on the track, today’s Farmers announcement could give Kahne an even greater urgency to get better results.

Pirelli reveals new super-hard, hyper-soft F1 tires in Abu Dhabi

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Pirelli has confirmed it will add two new tires to its range for the 2018 Formula 1 season, launching the ‘super-hard’ and ‘hyper-soft’ compounds in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Pirelli currently makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each race weekend, and despite varying selections across the course of the season has struggled to offer much in terms of strategy options, with one-stop races being the norm.

The hope is that the addition of two new tire compounds and a re-alignment of their durability will offer teams more choices in races.

Pirelli confirmed plans to introduce a new softest tire below the current ultra-soft earlier this month, inviting fans to pick a name.

The pink-colored compound will be known as the ‘hyper-soft’ from next year, with the arrival of a new ‘super-hard’ (colored ‘ice blue’) also being confirmed at a launch event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“Compared to this year, when the tires grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola said.

“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft.

“We realized that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tires we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.

“However, the fundamental design concept of the tires hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.

“The new range consists of faster tires that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”

Besides the seven dry compounds made available, there will be the two rain tires – wet and intermediate – taking it to a total of nine for the 2018 season.