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

NHRA: Antron Brown takes major step toward team ownership

NHRA
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There will come a day that when three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown wants to talk to his boss, he’ll need to look no further than in the mirror.

The New Jersey native announced Tuesday that he has begun to lay the groundwork to own his Top Fuel team, eventually branching out from Don Schumacher Racing.

“It’s definitely exciting, but at the same time, it’s also nerve-wracking because the buck stops here right now,” Brown told NBC Sports. “Now the coolest part is you get to help and drive and motivate and push the team forward, to make decisions and leave a legacy behind for my family.”

Brown will continue racing for DSR this season while beginning the transition to eventual sole ownership of the new AB Motorsports in the future. Even when he officially leaves the DSR camp as a hired driver, Brown and his new team will retain a technical partnership with the Schumacher organization.

Moving toward team ownership is just a natural evolution for Brown, who previously ran his own Pro Stock Motorcycle team from 1998 until joining DSR in 2002. It’s also a move that potentially may lead other current drivers to start thinking about their own futures.

It’s no secret that many of the biggest names in drag racing – both drivers and owners – are getting up in years. John Force will soon turn 72, while Schumacher is 75. They’re among several others in the sport who are making contingency plans for their teams to continue to operate once they’re gone – and Brown wants to do his part to help the sport grow and flourish.

“When you’re able to have ownership, you’re looking at the talent coming up,” Brown said. “You’re able to reach down and see and give other people opportunities that you had. When I came to race for Don Schumacher at DSR, he’s given all these people at his place this opportunity to drive.

“But what happens when the Don Schumachers, the John Forces, the Connie Kalittas go? You lose all the owners of our series, so who’s next in line to take over that lineage or carry that torch? It’s a necessary means for the future for the upcoming people.

Antron Brown’s plans to become a team owner were embraced by his current team owner, Don Schumacher. (Getty Images)

“I’ve been in this sport for over 20 years. This is the next evolution of my chapter, the next page of my book. What am I going to do when I decide to hang the helmet up one day? I want to be there to bring that new crop of drivers and talent up and help mold them to be the best version of themselves to carry the sport forward and to share with them what was shared with me over all my years in the sport, from Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Big Daddy Don Garlits, Mark Oswald and Don “Snake” Prudhomme, all the people I looked up to.”

While Brown will start as a single-car team once he transitions to ownership, he hopes to eventually build AB Motorsports into at least a two-car operation, with his Top Fuel dragster and a Funny Car.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The path to eventual ownership began nearly a year ago when Brown and Schumacher discussed the future.

“Me and Don had a heart-to-heart talk,” Brown said. “When I told him what I wanted to do, Don said, ‘Antron, I know this is what you want to do. I’ll support you in this.’

“That’s a cool experience when you have a gentleman that has done everything in this sport, from over 350 national event wins, 17 world championships – and I’ve done three with him – and is in every motorsports hall of fame there is.

“What is he going to do next? He’s making the sport better by pushing people like myself to do what I’m doing now. No matter how long it takes, I know I have him on my backside, pushing me to get to that point.”

Like father, like son: Antron Brown and son Anson, who is following in his father’s drag racing footsteps. Photo: Antron Brown’s official Facebook page.

His family’s future also figured into Brown’s decision. His oldest son, Anson, soon turns 16 years old and is heavily involved in NHRA’s Jr. Dragster program, as are Brown’s other children. It’s likely his son some day will follow in his father’s footsteps.

But don’t think that the elder Brown, who turns 44 in March, is ready to hang up his firesuit just yet.

“I’ll stop driving when I feel I’m not capable to drive no more and I’m not having fun no more,” he said. “That’s nowhere in the near future. I know I’m going to drive for at least another 15 years.”

Heading into this season, Brown will retain current sponsorship from Mac Tools and Toyota, as well as associate sponsorship from Hangsterfer’s on his 11,000-horsepower dragster. Global Electronic Technology also has signed on as a new associate sponsor in a multiyear deal.

“It’s no secret this has been a goal of Antron’s for a while now, and I’m happy to be able to provide the tools and resources needed for him to be able to successfully branch out on his own,” Schumacher said in a team media release. “It’s important for me to see my team members grow.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Brown burst upon the NHRA scene atop a Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1998, earning 16 wins over the next 10 seasons. He joined DSR in 2002 and made the switch to Top Fuel in 2008.

Since then, Brown – who now resides in suburban Indianapolis – has gone on to become one of the winningest drivers in Top Fuel history with 50 national event victories, as well as three championships between 2012 and 2015.

That performance recently earned him AutoWeek magazine’s Top Fuel Driver of the Decade.

Brown also announced Tuesday he is reuniting with former crew chief Brian Corradi, who returns to the team after spending the last two seasons as co-crew chief for 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force. Corradi will share crew chief duties for Brown with NHRA veteran Mark Oswald.

* * * * * * * * * * *

When he won his first title in 2012, Brown became the first African-American world champion in Top Fuel history. He hopes his move to ownership will continue to grow NHRA’s already significant focus on opportunities for minorities and females in the sport.

“I think it’s important across all spectrums, period,” Brown said. “I think a lot of fans see me, and they can relate to me because I am them. I came from a good, hard-working family in Chesterfield, New Jersey, which is right next door to Trenton.

“Everybody in my family from my great uncles to my grandpop made their own way, had their own businesses, from swimming pool to paving to septic tank businesses.

“One thing my grandpop said to me is the world is wide open. He said, ‘Son, you can have anything you want in this world, as long as you put the effort and put the work towards it.’ If people can resonate with my story from where I came from and where I’m heading, I hope it gives them this energy, this ray of hope that ‘if Antron Brown can do this, so can I.’

“That’s the only way for motorsports to grow. It’s for the young ones to get interested in it and I want them to know the opportunity is there. All they have to do is take it.”

* * * * * * * * * * *

Brown will be among more than 30 Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers who will take part in this weekend’s annual preseason “spring training” test at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, in preparation for the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals Feb. 6-9 in Pomona, California.

Follow @JerryBonkowski