Wallace and Elliott set for Daytona
21 January 2011
Steve Wallace to debut at Daytona
NASCAR Nationwide driver Steve Wallace is to make his Sprint Cup debut at Daytona in February, driving for his father's team Rusty Wallace Racing.
"Starting my first Daytona 500 is definitely going to be the most exciting day of my career - make that my life - so far," said Steve, who has four lead-lap, top-15 finishes in his Nationwide appearances at Daytona International.
Wallace will be the fourth member of his family to race the Daytona 500 - his father Rusty and uncles Mike and Kenny have all competed in the Great American Race. Previously the family was tied on three family members with the Allison, Bodine, Earnhardt and Petty families.
As well as being Steve's Sprint Cup debut as a driver, it will be his father's as a team owner in the series after RWR purchased two series Chevrolet cars - one apiece from Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing - and converted them to Toyotas. The original plan had been for Steve Wallace to drive one of Penske's #77 cars.
Wallace will be a guaranteed starter after a deal with Roger Penske, who has a top 35 spot in the owner's standings from Sam Hornish Jr.'s 2010 campaign. Penske aren't fielding a car for Hornish at Daytona because of a lack of sponsorship. However, RWR have no firm plans to run in any further races beyond Daytona.
Former champion Elliott returns with Phoenix Racing
Bill Elliott is to drive in at least NASCAR Sprint Cup 18 races with Phoenix Racing in 2011.
Elliott will start the year at the Daytona 500, but as Phoenix Racing ended last year 39th in the owner's standings Elliott will need to qualify for the race on his own speed. Although Phoenix won the 2009 Talladega event with Brad Keselowski, the 2010 season proved difficult with a fluctuating driver line-up.
Elliott, the 1988 Cup champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner in 1985 and 1987, has 821 career starts in the series over 35 years and ranks 15th in the all-time standings with 44 wins. This season will mark his first run in a Chevrolet team.
His last full-time season was in 2003, but he has been driving a part-time schedule with Woods Brothers Racing since 2007. Elliott competed in 12 races with them in 2010, starting 40th and finishing 27th in last year's Daytona 500. His best result during the season was 15th in the final event of the year at Homestead-Miami.
Trevor Bayne to race for Wood Brothers
Elliott's former team Wood Brothers have signed 19-year-old rookie Trevor Bayne to drive their #21 in "select" events in 2011.
"I'm looking forward to my first year in Cup," Bayne said. "I know it's not full time, but it's been my dream since I was 5 years old." Bayne had a successful Sprint Cup debut last year with the team at Texas, qualifying on speed and finishing 17th in an impressive showing.
Bayne will compete in the first five races of the year and then other races to be decided to bring the tally up to 17 in total.
Co-owner Eddie Wood said he was pleased that NASCAR's oldest team will be fielding its youngest Cup driver ever in its 61 year NASCAR history, after a history of sticking with proven veteran drivers: Woods Brothers have won 97 races and 118 poles in the Cup since 1953.
McMurray in multi-year deal with Earnhardt Ganassi
Jamie McMurray's agent has confirmed that the Missouri-born driver has signed a "multi-year" deal with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
McMurray returned to Ganassi last year after a troubled stint with Roush Fenway Racing from 2005 to 2009. In 2010, McMurray took three major race victories at the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Charlotte Bank of America 500, although he missed the Chase and ended 14th in the Sprint Cup standings.
Michael McDowell to race for HP Racing
Michael McDowell has confirmed a deal putting him behind the wheel of the HP Racing's #66 Toyota for selected events in 2011.
HP Racing is the new name for PRISM Motorsports owned by Randy Humphrey and Phil Parsons, which is expanding operations and line-up after moving into bigger facilities in Harrisburg. With PRISM having a reputation as a "start and park" set-up, the team have more ambitious plans for the newly-christened outfit.
"HP Racing is a reinvention of our race team," said Parsons. "We see this as a tremendous opportunity to compete on a more consistent basis in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series."
"We have all the elements in place to succeed, and with sponsorship we'll be able to race competitively on a consistent basis," said Humphrey.
"It is great to reunite with Randy and Phil at HP Racing," said McDowell, who has competed in 52 Cup races since 2008 including qualifying for 17 Cup races for PRISM in 2010, among them the Daytona 500. As well as this year's Daytona, HP Racing are aiming at competing at Bristol Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, and Watkins Glen International, along with others to be named at a later date.