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NASCAR/Racing

Ford expands relationship with Bristol

February 15th, 2012 10:49 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Ford expands relationship with Bristol

Bristol Motor Speedway announced Wednesday that Ford Motor Company is expanding partnership with the track through the sponsorship of the upcoming NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
The Ford EcoBoost 300 takes place March 17, adding to Ford’s involvement at BMS, which also includes sponsorship of Ford Fan Friday qualifying and the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. Ford also is the official vehicle of BMS.
“We couldn’t be happier that Ford has come on board as sponsor of the March Nationwide Series race,” said Jerry Caldwell, BMS general manager and executive vice president. “Obviously, they have been an incredible partner for us and the fact that they continue to expand their involvement speaks volumes about their commitment to BMS.”
Ford Motor Company’s Greg Wood, Cincinnati Region Manager, says adding the EcoBoost name on an event as popular as the Nationwide Series race at BMS was an obvious choice.
“Ford and our local Ford Dealers are excited to be the title sponsor of the Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Nationwide race,” he said. “Bristol Motor Speedway provides a great venue for Ford to showcase the popularity of our EcoBoost engines.”
Practice for the Ford EcoBoost 300 begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday, March 16, with qualifying slated for 10:35 a.m. Saturday, March 17. The race starts at 2 p.m. The K&N East Series 125 is scheduled after the Ford EcoBoost 300 for 6:15 p.m.
n Before the NASCAR action starts on March 16, fans at BMS can participate in the Petty Driving Experience Ride-Along Program.
Riders have to be at least 14 years old and the cost of a ride-along is $159. In case of inclement weather, participants get a credit that may be used at any Richard Petty Driving Experience event for up to one year.
The speedway also announced the Ride of a Lifetime Auction is back, giving fans the opportunity to ride around BMS during pre-race ceremonies for the Food City 500 with a number of NASCAR superstars.
Drivers participating in the Ride of a Lifetime auction are: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Aric Almirola and David Gilliland.
All proceeds will benefit the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities.
Bidders must be 18 years of age. The auction begins Feb. 27 and runs through March 12. The auction takes place online at www.bristol.speedwaycharities.org.
The winning bidder may elect to give up his or her ride to a family member or friend, provided that person is at least 12 years of age.
n Greeneville drag racer Allen Johnson got off to a strong start to the season.
The Dodge Pro Stock driver qualified fourth this past weekend for the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif. and made it to the event quarterfinals.
Fifth in the point standings, he heads this weekend to Phoenix, where he lost to Vincent Nobile in an all-Mopar final last year. He has one win at the Arizona track in 2005, and was the No. 1 qualifier at Firebird Raceway in 2008.
“Everyone is so close this year, and it’s tougher than ever,”
Johnson said. “You have to do a great job every time you go down the track. We have a very strong car in our Dodge Avenger and we learned a lot at Pomona that should help us this week.
“We have a good feel for the track in Phoenix and a good set-up as well. We’ll give it everything we have this weekend as we look for our first win of the year.”
n The NMPA Hall of Fame announced driver Ricky Rudd and car owner Richard Childress will be inducted as the Class of 2012.
Childress was elected on 70 percent of the ballots and Rudd on 66 percent of the ballots.
Rudd earned 23 wins, including the 1997 Brickyard 400. He also earned 29 pole positions and finished in the top 10 of the point standings 19 times.
He is best known, however, for making a record 788 consecutive Cup Series starts.
Childress originially formed Richard Childress Racing as an owner-driver four decades ago. He has won six Cup Series titles, all with driver Dale Earnhardt, and has 100 wins at the Cup level.
He has two Daytona 500, three Brickyard 400 wins, and nine Bristol wins. His teams have won 11 championships overall in NASCAR’s three national series.
Those who received votes from the panel of motorsports writers, broadcasters and photographers, but did not reach the required 65 percent mark included: Donnie Allison, Ray Evernham, Joe Gibbs, Tiny Lund, Bill Elliott and track owner Richard Howard.

Jeff Birchfield is a sports writer for the Johnson City Press. You may contact him at jbirchfield@johnsoncitypress.com.

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