NASCAR: Dale Jr. hails ‘Dinger, Almirola after they’re eliminated from Chase

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As you’d figure, neither A.J. Allmendinger or Aric Almirola were happy after being eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup yesterday at Dover International Speedway.

Allmendinger was slightly above the Top 12 cutoff going into the race but lost the final advance position to Kasey Kahne by a mere two points after finishing 13th.

Almirola, on the other hand, entered Dover 10 points behind the cutoff and his 16th-place finish was not enough to save his championship hopes.

Following the race, Allmendinger was blunt, saying that he and his team “sucked” throughout the proceedings. Almirola settled for “sad” and “disappointed.”

Nonetheless, it bears noting that making the post-season was far from a given for them both when this 2014 campaign started.

And yet they made it happen – Almirola through a soggy win in July at Daytona, ‘Dinger through a narrow victory over Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen in August.

They certainly deserve some congratulations for that. Perhaps Dale Earnhardt Jr. recognized that following yesterday’s race.

And so, NASCAR’s most popular driver did his best to cheer up the Chase’s two resident underdogs in a couple of classy tweets:

Earnhardt wasn’t exactly thrilled after Dover, either. He advanced to the Contender Round, but finished a sub-par 17th.

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”