Showing posts with label Fan Appreciation Weekend. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fan Appreciation Weekend. Show all posts
Dennis with a fan at Gridside Live!

The checkered flag has waved on the 2016 NASCAR season. While it might be Jimmie Johnson hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy high, and we congratulate him and the No. 48 team, we feel like the true champions this year.

From hometown hero Denny Hamlin's historic finish at the Daytona 500, to the exciting season finale during Fan Appreciation Weekend, to Johnson's record-tying championship win - it's been an incredible ride that we're thrilled to have shared with you. 

You said our races were some of the very best of the season, but we won't stop there. Our staff is hard at work planning an even bigger 2017, and we can't wait to share our plans with you. As always, our top priority will be making sure our fans have the unparalleled experience they've come to expect from a race weekend at your favorite short track.

So as we wrap up the 2016 NASCAR season, one undoubtedly worthy of our incredible fans, we want to say Thank You one last time. I say it all the time: "We couldn't do what we do without you." This couldn't be clearer after a truly special season propelled by the loyal support of the best fans in sports.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dennis Bickmeier
RIR Track President
Denny Hamlin

 He started from the pole and was competitive all night long. After a couple hiccups mid-season, Denny Hamlin is cruising into his latest Chase appearance by rattling off eight straight Top-10 finishes punctuated by a victory in the regular season finale at his hometown track in Richmond. “That's what's so special about get to do it at home, and there's just all the extra Denny Hamlin shirts and hats and everything, and [it] fires me up every time I get here," said Hamlin. "And man, this is a great car. Hopefully we can use it in the Chase.”

Kyle Larson

If Hamlin is one of the hottest drivers heading into the Chase, Kyle Larson isn't too far behind. Larson was able to recover from an early loose wheel to secure his best finish (2nd) ever at Richmond. The Chip Ganassi driver weaved his way through the field off the final restart, and had a car capable of running down Hamlin with a few more laps. “It felt like a video game on rookie mode, having fresh tires like that,” Larson told NBCSN. “It was a fun last restart and to get all the way to second. I felt I could get to fourth, but I got to second, so that was great.”

Junior on Twitter

Junior Chimes In
Since he couldn't actually be on the track at Richmond, Dale Earnhardt Jr. chose to spend his Saturday night live-tweeting the Federated Auto Parts 400 action. From jealousy pangs to color commentary to driver insights and more - Junior's Twitter game was on point. 
26 races down. 10 to go. 16 drivers in the hunt. After a spectacular regular season finale at Richmond, the field is down to Ready. Set. Chase. beginning this weekend in Chicagoland. We've got the entire Joe Gibbs Racing machine gunning for a repeat title, four newcomers, a couple of future Hall of Famers and several former Champions in the field. Who's your pick to win the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup? Let us know in the comments below!

The Presidents Own, The National United States Marine Band, made their RIR debut with ONE National Anthem performance for the record books.

Military and service member appreciation was everywhere tonight, including the veteran jump team who flew into the RIR Infield with TWO American Flags in tow.

The Air Force was BACK! And their flyover during the National Anthem, combined with the passovers by the Bandit Flight Team during God Bless America and the Command, gave our Pre-Race Show THREE flyovers.


The penultimate moment for Fan Appreciation Weekend happened right before the green flag waved. The entire Sprint Cup field went FOUR-wide for the first time in Series history, saluting the fans for a fantastic 2016 season.
Dear Fans-
Welcome to Richmond International Raceway’s Fan Appreciation Weekend!

RIR has always been one of my very favorite tracks. It produces some of the best, most exciting, door-to-door racing in NASCAR and I was fortunate enough to have a lot of success there, with six wins, 22 top-fives, 30 top-10s and over 3000 laps led.

In fact, Victory Lane at RIR was where my favorite car, Midnight got its name. At Team Penske, we had a tradition in which a car didn’t earn a name until it won a race. Well, in September of 1992 at Richmond, we won a hard fought victory over Mark Martin and Darrell Waltrip in the debut of a brand new car, chassis number PSC-009.

We were in Victory Lane—around the stroke of midnight—when my PR representative, Tom Roberts, suggested that we name the new car “Midnight.” I agreed and from there, a legend was born. Midnight went on to be one of the most famous cars in NASCAR history, with 13 wins, 25 top-fives and almost 4,000 laps led in its 31 races. All of that success began at Richmond International Raceway.

Rusty Wallace took home the 1992 Miller Genuine Draft 400 at RIR
But it’s not just my on-track success at Richmond that makes it one of my favorite venues. I really love the city of Richmond as well; it just has a great vibe. Richmond has so many awesome restaurants and entertainment options that make it a favorite stop for all of the drivers and teams.

Even more than that though, YOU—the Richmond racing fans—are some of the very best fans in all of NASCAR. The support that you show for our sport—as well as the passion and loyalty you show to your favorite drivers and teams—really means a lot to me and to everyone involved in our sport.

From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank all of you for your support of NASCAR and Richmond International Raceway. We’re looking forward to making even more racing history in Richmond this weekend!

Best regards-

Rusty Wallace
Welcome back race fans! Racing returns to the RVA for the exciting regular season final, and we're here to offer you the inside track to everything going on during Fan Appreciation Weekend! From the moment the haulers arrive until the Federated Auto Parts 400's checkered flag - you'll be able to see content here you won't get anywhere else!


Chesterfield native Denny Hamlin started first and finished first in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Racing Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing led 189 laps en route to his third career win at the short-track. The victory is his first Cup win at Richmond since 2010 (continue reading)

Views From the Day:

Now Let's Crown a Champion:

Your 2016 Chase Competitors


Kyle Busch Wins Virginia529 College Savings 250:

For the sixth time in his career, Kyle Busch NASCAR XFINITY series race at Richmond International Raceway. Busch, who a led a race high 197 of 250 laps, dominated Friday night’s Virginia529 College Savings Plan 250... (continue reading)
Views From the Day:

Numbers You Need to Know:
Fastest in NXS Final Practice: Ty Dillon 
Speed: 122.144 Time: 22.105
Fastest in NSCS First Practice: Kyle Busch
Speed: 120.979 Time: 22.318
Fastest in NSCS Final Practice: Casey Mears
Speed: 120.557 Time: 22.396 
NBC12 Pole Sitter: Austin Dillon
Department of Veterans Affairs Pole Sitter: Denny Hamlin 


RIR Goes All in on Fan Appreciation

The driver who finishes first in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 race won’t be the only winner this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. As part of NASCAR’s inaugural Fan Appreciation weekend, more than one lucky fan will have the opportunity... (continue reading)
Drivers Say #ThanksFans

Created with flickr slideshow.

Numbers You Need to Know:
With a win in the Coca-Cola 600 already notched in his belt, Martin Truex Jr. scored a checkered flag in yet another one of NASCAR's crown jewels on Sunday: the Bojangles Southern 500 in Darlington. Driving the throwback No 78 Auto-Owners Camry, Truex was able to hold outrun Harvick to his second win of the season. "We've had a string of terrible bad luck lately," Truex said. "We've had super-fast race cars. ... I knew when the bad luck stopped coming, we would start racking them off. Tonight we weren't the best car, and we won for once. I just couldn't be more excited." He's just the eighth driver to score wins in both the Coca Cola 600 and Bojangles Southern 500 in the same season.

Bubble Drivers at Richmond

If the season ended in Darlington, the Chase field would be set. Chris Buescher, sitting 30th, would be one of two rookies in the Chase - joining Chase Elliott who's sitting 12th in points. Austin Dillon would be making his first-ever Chase appearance and Jamie McMurray would make the NASCAR postseason for the second time. But there's still Richmond - and a pair of NASCAR vets with 12 Chase berths between them are looking to make one final push for the playoffs. Check out the graphic above to see how the Chase bubble looks heading into the regular season finale. If math isn't your strong suit, just remember this: win and get in.

Fan Appreciation is an entire weekend devoted to showing our gratitude to race fans near and far for the enthusiastic support they have given our sport throughout the regular season. As we head into The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, there is no better time to tell our fans THANK YOU for another incredible year. From unprecedented driver access, to car decals, to a literal red carpet, this weekend is going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Check out to see the cool swag you can win now, and follow us on Twitter @RIRinsider to see the cool swag you can win while you’re here. 

We’re adding more appearances to this list daily so you can plan your weekend schedule accordingly. (Pssst… this doesn’t even include the surprises we have up our sleeves!)

Don't forget, NASCAR’s future stars will be signing autographs from 2-2:45 pm on Friday afternoon. Show your Virginia529 College Savings 250 ticket at the Virginia529 midway display starting at 10:00 am to get a wristband for access. (Limited to the first 350 fans.)
20 RIDE will be kicking off the pre-race festivities with a concert on the track on Saturday night. From southern rock, to Caribbean rhythm and sultry bedroom ballads, these good ol' boys from upstate Carolina definitely know how to entertain. Pick up a Driver Intro pass to see ‘em up close!
Follow us on social media to keep up with all of the appearances, surprise giveaways, and behind-the-scenes content throughout the weekend. Plus, #ThanksFans will have all your Fan Appreciation news from around the sport (think: NASCAR, partners, media, and other fans).
Make sure you’ve got those grills and coolers packed! With acres of free parking and an entire day to prepare for the race, tailgating at Richmond is some of the best on the circuit. See more info here and tweet us when you’re cooking up something delicious…we’re probably hungry.

What could make race weekend even better? How about: garage access, fan hospitality, pit passes, or seeing your favorite drivers up close! If you're looking for a mix of everything, check out 3-Wide Hospitality. It includes a Saturday pre-race pit pass, plus access to a climate-controlled fan hospitality area where you can enjoy food, festivities and special Q&A's with Sprint Cup drivers Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch.
The midway, a fan-favorite every race weekend, will be chock full of fun displays. Show your Toyota, Lexus, or Scion key at the Toyota Owners Hub to grab a quick bite and relax before heading back out to see the Monster Jump Team, Miller Lite Party Zone, or riding the Toyota Ferris Wheel. Bookmark the Midway map here and plan your route.
Whether you’re at the track or at home, our goal is to make sure you feel appreciated. Keep your eyes peeled for signage everywhere – although we don’t think you’re going to have any trouble spotting these:
- Fan Appreciation Restart Zone
- Painted apron
- Car decals
- Miss Sprint Cup’s firesuit
- Pit road
Our friends at Sprint couldn’t be more excited to say #ThanksFans for years of support and lifelong memories. Visit the Sprint display in the Midway to see the Sprint Cup trophy up close and appearances by Miss Sprint Cup. They will also be giving away $5 concessions vouchers AND randomly choosing fans to join them in the Sprint Fan Suite for the race! (While supplies last.)
M&M’S is literally rolling out the red carpet on Friday and Saturday. Snag FREE M&M’S, see Kyle’s No. 18 showcar, meet the M&M’S characters, and more! Don’t miss the gate giveaways and more #ThanksFans opportunities all weekend long.
The flagship event of Fan Appreciation Weekend, Gridside Live! will give you unprecedented access to your favorite drivers – FREE for all ticket holders, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm on the frontstretch. (RICHMOND NATION members can get in early at 1:00 pm and get a free gift.) Check out the schedule here to see when your favorites are appearing.
20 Ride

Kick-off your Saturday night NASCAR party on a high-note with 20 RIDE! Making their first appearance at RIR, 20 RIDE will get the show started on the Pre-Race stage prior to the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, September 12th at 5:50 p.m.

From southern rock, to Caribbean rhythm and sultry bedroom ballads, 20 RIDE talents offer something for everyone, and these good ol' boys from upstate Carolina definitely know how to entertain. We can't wait to see these guys hit the stage and get the fans ready before their favorite drivers walk across the Pre-Race stage.

We were glad to have NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne visit Richmond today, helping get the word out about Fan Appreciation Weekend and lending out a helping hand in our community. The No. 5 Hendrick driver spent the early afternoon helping out at a Habitat for Humanity site over in Newtowne, hammering and sawing away at a new shed for the property.

Afterwards Kasey took his handyman talents track side, and with the help of some fans put the finishing touches on the "Fan Appreciation Restart Zone" at RIR. The new-look track wall will be just one of the many things fans can expect to see this September for our inaugural Fan Appreciation Weekend.

Even after a day's worth of hard work, Kahne took the time to answer some fan questions with RIR President Dennis Bickmeier on the track. You can check out the it out here below. 

Ashley Miller won a fly away trip to the Federated Auto Parts 400 thanks to RIR and Sprint

My mom, Susan, and I have been watching NASCAR races for the past 15 years. We've been going to Daytona International Speedway in February and July for the past 11 years. We consider our Daytona weekends our mother/daughter time, and always look forward to spending the weekend with each other no matter what it holds -- rain or shine! We also have been to Homestead-Miami Speedway several times, and sat in the rain to watch Tony Stewart win the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. However, this race season has been a difficult one for us with Tony announcing his retirement. I wanted to go to as many tracks as I could to see him one last time before he puts up his helmet.

I asked my mom last Christmas for tickets to see Tony at another track this year and tried again last month for my birthday. My mom is fighting blood and bone cancer, so she reluctantly told me she couldn't handle it right now because she is much weaker. I understood, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see Smoke in his last race of his career. So, I bought her tickets to Homestead-Miami Speedway for Mother's Day. After all we have been through, between the ups and downs, we have remained Smoke fans to the very end. It just wouldn't be right for us to not be there when he takes his final checkered flag of his NASCAR career.

No matter what occurs at the track, we have always built the most wonderful memories. However, I don't think this past Daytona trip will ever be topped! We started the Coke Zero 400 weekend like we normally do, hanging around the Sprint FanZone watching everything from practice to qualifying on Friday. We were on the FanDeck when Tony walked by the garage just underneath us. I screamed "We Love You, Tony" and he looked up, smiled and waved. My day was made. I told my friends and even said to my mom, "OK, we can go back to the hotel now!" Of course, we stuck around and continued our day shopping and watching the NASCAR XFINITY Series race.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. We arrived early to sign up for one of the garage tours that fill up so quickly, and then we had some time to kill in the Sprint FanZone. Two Richmond International Raceway staff members approached us there and asked if we had ever been to Richmond before, and if we would like to participate in the first-ever Fan Appreciation contest to win an ultimate trip to RIR in the fall. Of course, I said yes.

We had a couple come sit with us and we talked as the rain continued to fall. That's the great thing about NASCAR fans, they are like long-lost friends you haven't met yet! My mom was worried I wasn't going to be back in time from the garage tour and suggested we give the tickets to our new friends. They were ecstatic as they had tried to sign up and it was already full. They wished us luck and told us we hope you win, and off we went to find the RIR staff.

Well, they must have been good luck because we won! We met Dennis Bickmeier, the President of Richmond International Raceway, who told us we were the Grand Prize winners, and it was an "Oh my gosh, are you really serious right now?" moment followed by some tears and hugs. Dennis was headed to the Daytona Media Center to announce Fan Appreciation Weekend at Richmond and invited us to join him on stage.

It was a bit nerve-wracking looking out at a group of people who had no idea who I was, but were about to tell my story. One question that stuck out was when a man asked me, "Why do you like Tony? What is it about him that makes you like him?" My initial response was, "Do you really want the real story?" I explained to him that in my junior or senior year of high school, I had a group of friends who were into NASCAR. They would come over on the weekends and watch the race at our house, and they told me I had to pick a driver to root for. At that time, I had a big crush on a guy named Tony, so when I heard the name Tony Stewart it stuck with me. From that moment on, I have been a Tony Stewart fan.

Kimberly Meesters with Sprint also was on hand, and she asked me if they were keeping us from doing anything. In my head, I thought "Absolutely nothing!" because this was the coolest thing ever; but I told her we actually have an area we go to every Daytona race to see the drivers en route to the Drivers’ Meeting. Kimberly asked if we had ever attended a Drivers’ Meeting, and I told her we hadn’t. To our surprise, she then invited us to attend the Drivers’ Meeting — and with a great big smile I said, “Sure!”

Before I knew it, the meeting was over and Kimberly flew up out of her chair to grab Tony to come over and meet my mom and me. Dennis and Kimberly explained to him I had won the first Fan Appreciation giveaway, and was excited to see him at the track where he had gotten his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. Tony told us Richmond was his favorite track. We also chatted about the Coke Zero 400 race that night, and how he needed to play it smart to get those nine points. He signed my winning case and our hats, and it was the greatest moment for my mom and me to talk to him and have his undivided attention.

After wishing Tony good luck, we went back to the media center and Kimberly had one more surprise for us. On behalf of Sprint, she told us, our tickets were upgraded to the Daytona 500 Club. This is one of those things my mom and I have said we were going to do one day, just to say we did it. We very graciously accepted, and with a great deal of thanks, we headed to the Daytona 500 Club.

As we settled in at the Club, I assume we looked like we didn't have any idea what we were doing, but the staff was very accommodating and made sure we knew all the ins and outs. We finally had a minute of downtime when I could call my husband and my mom could call my dad, and then we sat back and just enjoyed a Coke. My mom's Coke can had the song lyrics, "A moment like this," and it truly was a moment some people wait a lifetime for. A moment that we just had that might never have been, but everything aligned and it was our moment. We went to the top of the Daytona 500 building to listen to the national anthem and watch the flyover and then took our seats on the start/finish line inside the Daytona 500 Club. We watched the cars race by, pit stops so close it felt like we were in the box with the crew, and a beautiful sunset over the track.

The craziest part is I still get to take another amazing trip to a state and racetrack I've never been. I have a countdown clock going on my phone to let me know how far away our trip is. I can't wait to have another amazing experience with my husband, but I'll probably be just as excited to call my mom and tell her all about it! For now, my awesome fan experiences are coming to a pause, but will soon pick back up again when my husband and I get on a plane to Richmond in September. No matter what happens in Richmond or who wins the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, we will be NASCAR fans. We will probably never have a connection to another drive like we do to Tony, and it will take some time to get used to not seeing him on the track. But we will continue to spend our weekends watching races, and making memories as a mother/daughter racing duo for as many years as we can!

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart to all the staff at Richmond International Raceway and Sprint who made the most amazing weekend for my mother and me. You have no idea how much it meant to us!

It took him 15 tries, but Brad Keselowski finally raced his way into Daytona's Gatorade Victory Lane in Saturday's Coke Zero 400. The No. 2 Penske Ford driver managed to avoid "The Big One" on Lap 90, which saw over half the field (22 cars) suffer damage, and scored the 100th win for Team Penske. “We had two great cars here with Team Penske and worked together really well,” Keselowski said. “Joey (Logano) has won here and he’s really a pro, especially on that restart. He gave me that push I need to get to the front and here we are at Daytona in Victory Lane. I don’t care if it’s not the 500. It’s Daytona. This is huge. I love this place and here we are in Victory Lane.” Brad's 19 wins for Team Penske trail only Rusty Wallace's 37 for most in the team's history, and his 2014 win in Richmond's Federated Auto Parts 400 marked the most dominating win in Sprint Cup Series competition for the team.

Keselowski wasn't the only one making headlines in Central Florida. We went to the "World Center of Racing" to announce our Fan Appreciation Weekend program for September. It's an entire weekend devoted to showing our gratitude to race fans near and far for the enthusiastic support they have given our sport throughout the regular season, and the NASCAR industry jumped on board the hype train.

Our friends over at Sprint helped kick off the announcement by sending one lucky fan from Daytona to the Federated Auto Parts 400 in September! Orlando native Ashley Miller, will experience Fan Appreciation Weekend firsthand and in style, with all expenses paid, a view from the TORQUE Club and “the works” of passes and credentials for an unforgettable weekend. "I’ve been attending the Daytona races with my Mom for the last eleven years, and I’ve never been to a short track so I’m very excited to go to Richmond," said Miller. "I’ve been a Tony Stewart fan for close to 15 years, and I’m ecstatic to go to the track where he got his first win.”

Through 17 Sprint Cup races, we've seen 11 different drivers in Victory Lane. If history is any indicator, that number might not grow after this weekend's Quaker State 400. Through five Sprint Cup Series events at Kentucky Speedway, only three drivers have won at the 1.5-mile tri-oval: Keselowski (2), Kyle Busch (2) and Matt Kenseth (1). But the speedway underwent a facelift earlier this year - with a repave and reconfiguration in Turns 1 & 2 (increased banking and narrower track), and this weekend marks NASCAR's first crack at the new-look track. Maybe this weekend is the chance for someone like Chase Elliott or Austin Dillon to earn the first win of their promising young careers.