2016 Season Kicks Off with Sprint Unlimited on Saturday Night

Richmond, it's been three long months since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series put rubber to the pavement. But one international cycling tournament, four federal holidays, a snowstorm and several craft beer festivals later- the wait is finally over. Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway kicks off this weekend with the Sprint Unlimited on Saturday.

As all eyes turn to central Florida for the season's start, questions surrounding the 2016 season begin to surface. Will Rowdy Nation celebrate a Championship for the second year in a row? Is 2016 the year Junior brings home his first Sprint Cup trophy? And how the heck will the 24 look without Gordon behind the wheel? Who'll be breathing easy when they return to Richmond this September, and who'll feel the pressure of potentially missing the Chase cut?

No, Saturday won't answer many questions, but it will provide some damned good racing. With an eclectic field of former Sprint Unlimited champions,  2015 Chase drivers, Daytona 500 pole award winners and more - it's sure to be a wild ride. Here are a few to keep an eye on Saturday night:
  • Kyle Busch: Best driver rating at Daytona among active drivers. Won the race back in 2012. Oh yeah- and he's the defending champ.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Daytona's pied-piper. Junior's one of the best restrictor plate racers out there, and with four points-paying wins at Daytona, four Can-Am Duels wins, and two Sprint Unlimited wins, he's always an odds-on Speedweeks favorite.
  • Joey Logano: Finding recent success on restrictor plate tracks, Logano is one to keep an eye on Saturday night. His one win at Daytona comes in the 2015 Daytona 500, but Logano has proven that he has what it takes to make moves in the draft.
Be on the lookout for these drivers and the rest of the field on Saturday, February 13 during the Sprint Unlimited. Tune into FOX at 8 p.m. to catch all the action!
Join us as we head to Daytona for Speedweeks

We're heading down to the Daytona for the exciting kick-off to the 2016 NASCAR season, and we're giving you an insider's look at everything going on at the World Center of Racing.

We'll cover all the Speedweeks story-lines, give a unique look at the Daytona Rising project, offer up fresh perspectives on the NASCAR season launch, showcase exclusive content from your favorite drivers and much, much more.

So bookmark our blog, follow us here and here, add us on Snapchat (@ririnsider) and check in regularly for content you won't get anywhere else!
We remember Barney Hall, legendary NASCAR broadcaster and spokesman

via MRN.com

CONCORD, N.C. - Hall of Fame broadcaster Barney Hall, a cornerstone of MRN’s NASCAR coverage since the network’s founding in 1970, died Tuesday from complications following a recent medical procedure. He was 83.

At the time of his death, Hall was in the company of long-time companion Karen Carrier – the love of his life.

Hall was born on June 24, 1932, in Elkin, N.C., the town he called home his entire life. After graduating from high school, he joined the Navy and served four years of active duty, during which Hall launched his radio career. He would return to his hometown and work as a disc jockey at radio station WIFM for 13 years.

Hall was widely known for his calm voice and unmatched storytelling. He was part of MRN’s award-winning race coverage since the network’s debut in 1970. Prior to that, Hall served as Bristol Motor Speedway’s first public address announcer, called his first Daytona 500 in 1960 and missed only four broadcasts in the 57-year history of "The Great American Race."

One of those was the "500" won by Matt Kenseth in 2012, when illness sidelined Hall. But as NASCAR returned to Martinsville Speedway one month later, fans once again heard a comforting, familiar voice over the airwaves.

Barney was back in the booth.

Hall remained an integral part of the network's NASCAR coverage throughout the next two years. On July 6, 2014, he worked his final race - calling Aric Almirola's rain-shortened win at Daytona International Speedway, which returned the iconic No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports entry to Victory Lane.

Hall's voice was heard on a number of special broadcasts in the months that followed. The National Motorsports Press Association named Hall its Broadcaster of the Year in 2014. He and MRN producer Darrell Smith teamed up to win another NMPA award in 2015. Barney was inducted into that organization's Hall of Fame in 2007.

In May 2012, NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame jointly announced the creation of a new award to honor the media’s contributions to the success of the sport. It carried the names of two legendary MRN broadcasters: Barney Hall and Ken Squier, who were also the first recipients.
Hall was recently recognized by the Motor Racing Network with an appreciation award for his 45 years of service.

Mr. Hall is survived by Karen Carrier, the love of his life for 35 years, an aunt and several cousins.

As if this week’s news could get any better. Dale Earnhardt Jr. confirmed today that he WILL participate in our NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 on April 23. Announced yesterday, the ToyotaCare 250 will be the second of four Dash 4 Cash races this season. The new format will be made up of qualifying, two heat races, and a final main event of 140 laps.

As a 2015 Challenger in The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Dale will be ineligible to win the cash…but that doesn’t seem to soften his excitement for the new format.

Tickets for the ToyotaCare 250 start at just $35 – and kids 12 & under are FREE.
You really don’t have any excuse to miss this one.
Five things from today's state of the sport address

The 2016 NASCAR season has officially hit the ground running today with the announcement of several big changes set to debut this year. Let’s take a look:


...to the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, that is.


Twelve and eight drivers will qualify for the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series playoff system, respectively. Two three-race elimination rounds will cut the field to four before the final round at Homestead-Miami for all three Series.


A Caution Clock will count down to twenty minutes after the green flag drops in the Camping World Truck Series. A caution will be called when time runs out, unless a caution has already taken place.


The 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash race schedule taps Bristol, Richmond, Dover, and Indy – in that order.


The Dash 4 Cash program is moving to a new format made up of two heat races, followed by a main event.

Dash 4 Cash Announcement
Tickets for the Toyota Owners 400 are on sale now

Families and NASCAR go hand in hand. Traditions with grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, that kooky cousin of yours, and friends are in the sport's DNA. Traditions that can be passed on to future fans, so they too can feel the rush of excitement when their favorite driver take the checkered flag.

We're in the tradition business here at RIR, and as we bring back the tradition of Sunday afternoon racing we're hoping it can rekindle some of your own. Come sit in the grandstands with kids and watch them smile as they see their driver heroes in person for the first time. As they experience something new and awesome, you'll be able to relive the memories created with your parents when you came to RIR back in the day.

Forty years of day racing took place at RIR, yet there's so many who've never witnessed such an event at America's Premier Short Track. That's all about to change. Now you can come see all the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as they take to the track for the first scheduled day race at RIR since 1997.

Experience thrills in every turn drivers fight their way to the front of the pack, feel the hair on the back of your neck stiffen as the cars roar past, smell the rubber burning as they come racing out of the pits.

Come out and create a new tradition this April at RIR. Witness all the excitement and make lifelong memories with your family. You don’t want to miss this!