NASCAR: Ryan Blaney visits White House to help launch tire safety initiative

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NASCAR will take part in a new initiative from the U.S. Department of Transportation to increase awareness of tire safety and promote energy efficiency.

Talented young driver Ryan Blaney, along with his No. 22 Team Penske Ford that won the 2014 XFINITY Series’ owner’s championship and Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, were all in attendance for today’s announcement at The White House.

The U.S. DOT will seek to establish a tire fuel efficiency education program by 2017 to help consumers choose the most energy-efficient tires. It is also teaming up with multiple tire manufacturers to kick off Tire Safety Awareness Month (today through Jan. 9, 2015), and NASCAR will help the cause with a “Drive For Safety” program that will roll out next racing season.

More than 11,000 tire-related vehicle crashes occur in the U.S. each year, a figure that the DOT, NASCAR, and the tire manufacturers wish to reduce. Proper tire maintenance can also help consumers save money: Figures from the White House state that if 10 million drivers kept their tires properly inflated, they could save almost $500 million and 1.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Besides his duties at the White House, Blaney also got to tour the U.S. Capitol today with Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican congressman from North Carolina.

Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.