NASCAR Media Tour Content Recap: All posts, one place

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We’ve had a busy week here on MotorSportsTalk with Nate Ryan and Dustin Long in Charlotte and Jerry Bonkowski, Chris Estrada and myself keeping tabs on all team press conferences from the Charlotte Motor Speedway media tour.

The four days produced a bevy of story lines across most of the teams competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 2015, and within the entire NASCAR world as well.

In case you missed any posts in our comprehensive coverage, all are linked below:

FEATURED ORIGINALS:
RYAN: Chase Elliott’s Cup promotion perfectly timed for NASCAR (Nate Ryan)
NASCAR considers unveiling ’16 rules package at All-Star Race (Nate Ryan)
LeBron James’ agent involved in Darrell Wallace Jr.’s search for sponsorship (Nate Ryan)
Why Hendrick won’t retire the No. 24 (Dustin Long)
Larson not disappointed he won’t drive the No. 24 (Dustin Long)
Bowyer on Gordon: It’s still ugly (Dustin Long)
Kyle Busch says Toyota teams are “idiots” for not working together (Dustin Long)
Rick Hendrick: No pressure on Gordon, just go win 14 races and the championship (Jerry Bonkowski)
Jimmie Johnson is going for seven titles, but isn’t the story at media tour (Tony DiZinno)
Logano talks about Penske camaraderie… and his lost wedding ring (Chris Estrada)

HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (Thursday)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ready for new crew chief Greg Ives to take him to the next level
Kasey Kahne, Keith Rodden gear up for better year in 2015
Why Hendrick won’t retire the No. 24
Jimmie Johnson is going for seven titles, but isn’t the story at media tour
Rick Hendrick: No pressure on Gordon, just go win 14 races and the championship
RYAN: Chase Elliott’s Cup promotion perfectly timed for NASCAR
Elliott confirmed to replace Jeff Gordon in No. 24

RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (Thursday)
Ryan Newman – and his brass knuckles – are ready to fight for Sprint Cup crown in 2015
RCR seeks wins, momentum carryover into 2015
RCR names two new development drivers, Kate Dallenbach and Ahnna Parkhurst

CHIP GANASSI RACING WITH FELIX SABATES (Thursday)
Ganassi, Sabates praise McMurray as team’s “big game hunter” into 2015
Larson not disappointed he won’t drive the No. 24
One look at his wrist, and Larson says it’s time to win

FURNITURE ROW RACING (Thursday)
Truex’s girlfriend passes milestone in cancer recovery
Truex sees brighter days ahead, both on and off-track, in 2015

TEAM PENSKE (Wednesday)
Keselowski: Hard to believe it’s my sixth season with Team Penske already
Logano talks about Penske camaraderie… and his lost wedding ring

WOOD BROTHERS RACING (Wednesday)
Wood Brothers plan expanded 18-race schedule for Ryan Blaney (VIDEO)

LEAVINE FAMILY RACING (Wednesday)
No “I” in team, but plenty of family for No. 95 squad

RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS (Wednesday)
RPM seeks sponsorship for Hornish for 26 races
Hornish fitting in nicely at RPM
After 2014 Chase berth, Aric Almirola looks for more in 2015

ROUSH FENWAY RACING (Wednesday)
Roush Fenway Racing still seeking sponsorship for Wallace (see additional LeBron post below)
Roush Fenway looks for big rebound in 2015
Stenhouse Jr. channels Marshawn Lynch: “I’m just here so I won’t get fined”

STEWART-HAAS RACING (Wednesday)
Tony Stewart buys All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series
Outcry over GoDaddy Super Bowl Danica/puppy ad causes company to pull it
Harvick: “I’m as comfortable as I ever have been”
Gene Haas provides update on F1 team progress
Kurt Busch: “What I said was under oath”
Kurt Busch hasn’t yet discussed an Indy 500 return
Danica enters final year of contract, wants to stay at SHR
Danica wants to build on ’14 successes in ’15
Poll: Which SHR driver will improve most in ’15?

MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING (Tuesday)
MWR responds to Kyle Busch’s comments on working together
Bowyer on Gordon: It’s still ugly
Vickers can’t wait to race again
Moffitt to drive No. 55 car at Atlanta (Waltrip in Daytona 500)

JOE GIBBS RACING (Monday)
Kyle Busch says Toyota teams are “idiots” for not working together
Kyle Busch has a message for those that are confusing him with his brother
JGR prepares for new era as a four-car team (VIDEO)
Poll: Which JGR driver will have best season in 2015?

NASCAR (Monday primarily)
NASCAR and RTA are communicating, but not commenting much
NASCAR 2015 Start Times: Sprint Cup, XFINITY, Camping World Trucks
NASCAR considers unveiling ’16 rules package at All-Star Race
Brian France: State of NASCAR is strong and getting better
France: NASCAR not looking to expand four-car team number
No early exit expected for Sprint
Drive for Diversity class announced; Daytona Rising update comes in
NASCAR outlaws practice of flared fender side skirts

NBC
NASCAR on NBC’s Jeff Burton has an impromptu Twitter Q&A (Wednesday night)
NASCAR on NBC: Nick Offerman tells you to get some NASCAR in your life (VIDEO)
Dale Jarrett to join NBC NASCAR team

OTHER
Hall of Famer David Pearson recovering from mild stroke
LeBron James’ agent involved in Darrell Wallace Jr.’s search for sponsorship
Sponsorship woes sideline Jeb Burton again
Ross Chastain moves up to XFINITY Series with JD Motorsports
JJ Yeley to be BK Racing’s primary driver in 2015
Petty says NASCAR’s next big star could be in XFINITY (VIDEO)
HScott announces second car for Michael Annett
ISC shows strong revenue growth
NASCAR Media Tour begins today, but drivers still idle

Alexander Rossi hopes to dodge oncoming traffic in second Baja 1000

Honda Photo
Honda Photo
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One of the great viral videos of last year’s offseason was the sight of Alexander Rossi’s Honda Ridgeline off-road vehicle and its near head-on collision with a passenger SUV coming in the wrong direction of last year’s Baja 1000.

The video of the incident overshadowed an outstanding debut for Rossi in the SCORE OFF Road Desert race.

Rossi (pictured above on the right along with fellow driver Jeff Proctor) told NBCSports.com that driving down the same roads still used by passenger traffic is one of the unique challenges of the Baja 1000.

“The most demanding form of racing is IndyCar racing,” Rossi told NBC Sports.com. “But the big thing for me in the Baja 1000 is mentally being able to understand the terrain that is coming at you at 120 miles an hour in the dust and pedestrians and other cars, people and cattle that come along with this race.”

Rossi is becoming a modern-day Parnelli Jones, A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti. He wants to race anything on wheels and win.

Since the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season concluded with the Sept. 22 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Rossi competed in the Bathurst 1000 in Australia on Oct. 13. Earlier this year, Rossi drove for Acura Team Penske in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

This weekend, the winner of the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016 and a perennial contender for the NTT IndyCar Series championship will compete in the Baja 1000 for the second straight year.

Rossi will be driving for the Honda Ridgeline Racing team and is the sixth Indy 500 winner to compete in the Baja 1000.

Other Indy 500 winners who have raced in the SCORE Baja 1000 include Jones, the 1963 Indianapolis winner and a two-time Baja 1000 race winner (1971 72); fellow Honda IndyCar Series driver and Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, the Indy winner in 2014; Rick Mears, who won the Indianapolis 500 four times, 1985 Indy 500 champion Danny Sullivan and 2004 Indy winner Buddy Rice.

NTT IndyCar season champions who have raced in the Baja 1000 include Mears, Hunter-Reay, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy.

Rossi has a better understanding of what to expect in this year’s Baja 1000 after last year’s rookie experience.

How valuable was last years’ experience?

“It’s hugely valuable,” Rossi said. “The course changes each year. There will be some elements that are the same, but it’s a new route from start to finish this year. That is why we go down a week early. We do pre-running in a similar type of vehicle and take course notes and analyze each individual section of the course, find the danger areas and what you need to do come race day.

“Ultimately, the biggest thing is having the knowledge of how to prepare for the race and what to expect once you roll off the starting line. That is something I will have going for me this year that I didn’t have last year.”

As an off-road rookie, Rossi acclimated to the demands of desert racing as the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team finished second in Class 7. It was the fourth consecutive time the team finished first or second in the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“I don’t know that I can pinpoint any highlights other than just the whole experience,” Rossi said of last years’ experience. “The whole week and a half I had down there in 2018 was phenomenal. The team made me feel part of the family from Day One. I just love driving a desert truck through Baja California. It’s an experience unlike any other.

“The entire event was a highlight more than one specific moment.”

Getty Images

Driving an off-road Honda Ridgeline through the desert of Baja California in Mexico is vastly different than Rossi’s regular ride in the No. 27 NAPA Honda in the NTT IndyCar Series. But Rossi believes there are many similarities, also.

“It’s very different, for obvious reasons, but ultimately, a race car is a race car,” Rossi said. “It has four wheels, and you are trying to get it from Point A to Point B quicker than other people. The general underlying techniques of getting a car through the corner efficiently is all the same; it’s just a different style.

“Everyone here is very talented at what they do and very good so in order to win this race, you have to be at the top of your game.”

The Baja 1000, like most forms of off-road racing, is more against the clock than a wheel-to-wheel competition such as IndyCar. Rossi believes it is a different form of endurance racing, similar to IMSA in many ways.

“You have to compare it like an endurance race,” Rossi said. “It’s a race where the first part of it, you are trying to get through and not take chances and stay in touch with the people you are trying to stay in touch with.

“When you get down to the final 20 to 30 percent, that is when you try to either close the lead of extend the lead of whatever position you are in. That is similar to the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It comes down to the last three or four hours, and we take a mentality closer to that.

“The only difference is if you get it wrong at Daytona, you spin in the grass. Here, it can be more dramatic than that.”

As an off-road rookie in 2018, Rossi acclimated to the demands of desert racing as the Jeff Proctor-led Honda Off-Road Racing Team finished second in Class 7. It was the fourth consecutive time the team finished first or second in the Ridgeline Baja Race Truck at the Baja 1000.

“The Honda off-road guys and my co-driver/navigator Evan Weller make it so easy for me to just jump right in and go to work,” Rossi said. “I can’t wait to share the seat with Jeff [Proctor] and Pat [Dailey] once again, and hopefully, bring home a win.”

The Honda Off-Road Racing Team has had an outstanding 2019 season, including class wins for the Baja Ridgeline Race Truck at the Parker 425, the Mint 400 and the Baja 500; where the team successfully debuted the second-generation “TSCO” chassis; and a second-place Class 7 finish at the Vegas-to-Reno event.

Proctor won his class in the Baja 1000 in both 2015 and 2016 with the Ridgeline, finished second in class in 2017 and 2018; and won the companion SCORE Baja 500 race both in 2016, 2018 and again earlier this year. The Ridgeline competes in Class 7, for unlimited six-cylinder production-appearing trucks and SUVs.

“We are stoked to have Alexander back racing with us in Mexico for his sophomore attempt at this iconic off-road race,” Proctor said. “This year’s 52nd annual Baja 1000 course covers ALL of the toughest terrain and areas in Baja Norte….as always, it will be tough.

“Alex is one of the brightest motorsports minds I’ve worked with, and he is a great asset to our team.”

The Baja 1000 begins Friday and runs through the weekend along the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500