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Michael McDowell - Twitter
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1) Daytona - 2/26, K-LOVE
2) Atlanta - 3/5, WRL General Contractors
3) Las Vegas - 3/12, WRL General Contractors
4) Phoenix - 3/19, WRL General Contractors
5) Auto Club - 3/26, Leavine Family Racing Surfboards
Contract Status: Driver: 2017+; Primary Sponsors: KLOVE, ?;
#95 [was #7] Team / Driver News
Special scheme for McDowell at Auto Club Speedway: Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) are excited to unveil a special paint scheme for the Auto Club 400, as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) finishes out the West Coast swing of the 2017 season. Coming off their third Top-25 finish of the 2017 MENCS season, LFR is thrilled to showcase the #95 Woodie Wagon Surfboards by LFR Chevrolet SS at Auto Club Speedway this weekend. [More](3-22-2017)
McDowell And Leavine Family Racing host Thunderbirds crew chief at Las Vegas: Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) will join the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) as they head west for the first race of the West Coast swing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. LFR is also excited to have United States Air Force (USAF) TSgt. Allan Habel join the crew for the weekend of the Kobalt 400. TSgt. Habel is the crew chief for the USAF Thunderbirds and will have a chance to shadow LFR's crew chief Todd Parrott, as well as the crew, as he gets the opportunity to trade in his USAF Thunderbird Jumpsuit for an LFR crew shirt.[More](3-10-2017)
KRC Power Steering & Leavine Family Racing Form Technical Alliance: KRC Power Steering has partnered with Leavine Family Racing as a product and technology sponsor for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season. LFR will exclusively utilize KRC Pro Series III Power Steering Pumps and High Performance KRC Power Steering Fluid. In turn, KRC will incorporate LFR into their marketing plan for 2017. Technical knowledge developed in conjunction with the alliance will be funneled to Short Track Racers completing the circle of information sharing. KRC Pro Series III Power Steering Pumps are manufactured in Kennesaw, GA and are engineered to perform at the highest levels of motorsports. 9 levels of adjustable feel allows LFR driver, Michael McDowell, to tailor his steering system feel to turn through 500 tough laps at the Bristol half mile to the high speeds found at the 2.5 miles of the Daytona 500.
LFR Team Crew Chief, Todd Parrott, has 31 wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Parrott says, "we are very excited to partner with the team at KRC Power Steering. Cutting edge KRC Pro Series III Power Steering Pumps save us up to 6 Horse Power while giving us adjustability for increased corner speeds - 6 HP can be the determining factor in pulling off a win in the Daytona 500". Jeff Butcher, Marketing Director for KRC Power Steering, states, "the Technical Alliance built by KRC Power Steering and Leaving Family Racing creates a formalized program where shared information connects product enhancements to increases in on track speed. Our Alliance with LFR leverages the NASCAR Team Alliance established between Leavine Family Racing and legendary RCR - the technical prowess developed at RCR results in a long history that defines a competitive program". KRC Power Steering Pro Series III Pumps are manufactured from high strength aluminum alloy and weigh only 2.58 lbs. Coupled with High Performance KRC Power Steering Fluid, the package provides Crew Chief Todd Parrott with new tools to move ahead of the competition. Pairing the most efficient Pump Flow to each track on the series manufactures new speed. A quick change of the KRC Adjustable Flow Valve presents LFR driver, Michael McDowell, with 9 levels of adjustable feel producing the optimal feel for a competitive car all season long. Engineered from the ground up, KRC Power Steering Pumps are manufactured to be the best racing power steering pumps available. KRC Power Steering Pumps have won from all levels of NASCAR to the 24 Hour LeMans events.(KRC Power Steering PR)(2-10-2017)
McDowell and Parrott return to Leavine Family Racing in 2017: Leavine Family Racing (LFR) announced the return of veteran NASCAR driver Michael McDowell for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. McDowell will once again pilot the #95 Chevy and is signed on to be the primary driver for LFR in all 36 races next season, making the team Chase eligible for the first time since its inception in 2011. Additionally, LFR is excited to welcome back championship winning NASCAR crew chief Todd Parrott for the 2017 season. Parrott, who took on the crew chief responsibilities for the team full-time in October of the 2016 season with only seven races remaining, led the #95 to earn six Top-25 finishes. "With both Michael and Todd returning to the team this season we are looking to maintain the consistency we found towards the end of last year and continue to push forward and build off the positive momentum," said Jeremy Lange, Vice President of Leavine Family Racing. "We had great performances on the track last year and we're hoping that continuing in that direction will lead to more sponsorships for the team. We do have some partner renewals that we will be announcing soon and are excited to add more." McDowell, who is entering his 10th year competing in NASCAR, earned his first NASCAR national touring series win last year at Road America in the XFINITY Series and recorded 16 Top-25 finishes with LFR in 2016.
"I'm excited to be returning full time with LFR for the 2017 season," stated McDowell. "I look forward to continuing to work with Todd as well and kicking off our season with a strong start at the DAYTONA 500 in February." Crew Chief Todd Parrott echoed his driver's thoughts about the upcoming season. "I can't wait for the 2017 season to get here and look forward to having a great year with Michael and the team," said Parrott. "I'm appreciative of the opportunity LFR has given me to once again assume the crew chief role for the team and am ready to get started on the upcoming season."(LFR)(1-5-2017)
McDowell will be in the #95 full-time in 2017: Following years of struggle in the Sprint Cup Series, Michael McDowell has finally been able to say the word progress, as he and the #95 Circle Sport Leavine Family Racing team have topped their career-best numbers in the latter half of 2016.
Q: The charter is the big story within your team right now [obtaining a charter from Tommy Baldwin Racing], so what is set in stone for next year?
McDowell: The charters stuff is way out of my pay-grade, I have no idea how that all looks and works. I read the press release like you all did and I know they have been working on it. But, I really have stayed out of that. But I'll be back next year with LFR and we'll continue to grow this program. Hopefully, we can continue to move the pendulum in the right direction. We've made good gains and we want to continue that.
Q: There [were two cars for Leavine at Homestead]. Is that something the team may be interested in for next year? Or just the one car?
McDowell: The plan next year for us is to run full-time in the #95 and I'll be in it in all the races. If a second car came along, it would be only an opportunity here and there. Really, we're just focused on getting the one car funded and sured-up enough that we can keep it at the level that we are at.
Q: You're not the owner, but Ty Dillon has been doing well in the #95, so would someone like him be on board for the second car or does it just depend on availability?
McDowell: I think Ty has his plans all sorted out. I'll let them make their own announcements. He will not be in the #95 next year, I know that for sure. Obviously, with our RCR alliance and our affiliation with them, he'll be in the family. As far as I know, the #95 is spoken for.(Frontstretch)(11-24-2016)
Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing wrapping up best season: Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) is looking forward to finishing up their best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season to date at Homestead-Miami Speedway this Sunday, where they will have two entries in the 2016 season finale race. Just as CSLFR began the season in Daytona, they will end the season with both drivers, Ty Dillon and Michael McDowell piloting the #95 and #59 Chevy's, respectively.
McDowell, who has competed at Homestead six times in the NSCS series, had one of his best races of his career in the 2014 season finale event and is looking forward to finishing this season the same way. McDowell has recorded fifteen Top-25 finishes and fifteen career-best track finishes this season, and looks to add a sixteenth to both lists in the NSCS season finale. He will pilot the #59 Thrivent Financial Chevy during Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400.
"Miami is always an exciting end to the season," said McDowell. "Even though we aren't in the championship, there's still a level of excitement for everyone, and you want to finish out the year strong. Two years ago, we had one of our best runs at Homestead, and it was fun going into the off-season like that. It always feels good to put in one of your best runs at that last race, because it gives everyone back at the shop a lot of motivation and confidence moving into 2017."
Although Dillon has only raced at Homestead once in the NSCS, he competed for CSLFR a handful of times this season and will add another NSCS start to his resume while piloting the #95 Advil Chevy. Out of five starts for CLSFR, Dillon recorded four Top-25 finishes during the 2016 season.
"Last year at Homestead we showed a lot of speed, and I think we progressed in the right direction," said Dillon. "This track can sometimes be pretty difficult to get around, so I hope to just gain some experience and continue to learn about these Cup cars. Homestead is definitely different than any other 1.5-mile race track on the circuit, so the more seat time, the better. I hope that driving the Cup car will help me out in the XFINITY Series, too."(CSLFR)(11-18-2016)
Leavine Family Racing acquires charter from Tommy Baldwin Racing: Team leadership at Leavine Family Racing (#95 Chevy) has announced that the team has secured an ownership charter in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. "Leavine Family Racing is committed to continued growth on and off the race track," said owner Bob Leavine. "The charter is a meaningful step forward for our team and provides us further stability as we look towards success in 2017 and beyond. We are confident that the purchase of the charter and continued improvement on the track will lead to increased revenue opportunities." The charter was purchased from Tommy Baldwin Racing. Bob and Sharon Leavine have been active in NASCAR since 2010 when they became sponsors in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Leavine Family Racing was formed in 2011 and has grown to an organization employing 25 people with a race shop in Concord, N.C.(LFR), the sale of the charter kicks this weekend as #59-Michael McDowell is now guaranteed a spot in the race at Homestead while #7-Regan Smith has to qualify on speed.(11-17-2016)
Tommy Baldwin Racing sells charter: from Tommy Baldwin Racing's Facebook: The season finale at Homestead will be the last race for Tommy Baldwin Racing (#7 Chevy) full-time. We felt that it's time for a new chapter in our lives and we have sold our charter to a great group of people (#95 Leavine Family Racing) who will continue to guide our vision. For the past eight years we've shown up at every race, worked hard to compete at the top level and bring value to our sponsors. I feel confident that we are moving on having accomplished that. There have been many teams like ours that have come and gone. I'm proud that we have been able to sustain ourselves from the very beginning. Over the years we have been fortunate enough to have a great group of people both in the shop and on the road. In this business, you are really defined by the people you employ and I'm grateful for everyone's hard work. Getting sponsors these days is a tough task. Keeping them is even tougher. But we have had so many great supporters of our program. Whether they were a primary, associate or just a one-race sponsor, they were all great to work with and I thank them for believing in us. We've had some really great drivers in our cars over the years. Each of them drove hard every lap - no matter how the car was handling. They always gave 110% and that's all you can really ask from a driver. We're proud of the names that were on the roof of our Chevrolets.
If you're reading this, you already know that NASCAR is the greatest sport in the world. I have been blessed to have a career in motorsports because of how NASCAR has grown over the years. Teams don't always agree with their stance on rule changes or penalties or just the way things are done. But I can tell you that they have gone out of their way to help our team. They've brought us opportunities and have always made themselves available to meet with prospective sponsors if we needed them to. It's been a privilege for me to say that I'm a NASCAR team owner.
Finally, there are you guys. We can't begin to tell you how much your support of our team has meant to us. You're not just fans -- you're friends and family to us. When we have good days, you cheer us on. When we've had rough days, you give us encouragement. You have supported our drivers and our sponsors with so much enthusiasm. I promise you that it never went unnoticed.
So what's next? Well, we're not 100% sure. We are going to work hard to get the best possible results in Miami, take a little family time and then figure out the rest. So, stay tuned - announcements will be forthcoming. Thanks again for everything, TB.(TBR Facebook)(11-17-2016)
Baldwin meets with employees, 'exploring all my opportunities' for team's future UPDATE4: Unsure about his organization's future, #7 team owner Tommy Baldwin met with his employees Monday "so I can give them the options if they needed to go find a job.'' Baldwin said Tuesday that "I'm exploring all my opportunities right now. I'm trying to figure everything out.'' He hopes to have his plans solidified by some point in December. Among the options, there is one thing Baldwin said he won't do. "I would never shut down,'' said Baldwin, whose team debuted in the Cup series in 2009. "Don't use that word. The options are keep going or sell. That's the only two options we have.'' Baldwin admits he's given his employees a similar message "in six out of the eight years" of the team and always made it to the next season. "The technology has just increased,'' Baldwin said. "Everyone has just become smarter. The race teams, with Michael Waltrip Racing shutting down (after the 2015 season) and some other things, it put a lot good people, dispersed a lot of good people to different teams. Everyone had to spend a lot more money to keep up with the Gibbs and Hendrick programs. It's funny to me how everyone thinks our racing is not good. This is the most competitive that NASCAR has ever been.'' Baldwin admits it has been a struggle at times for the team and driver Regan Smith. Baldwin has one of the 36 charters granted to Sprint Cup teams at the beginning of this season. That adds value to his organization, ensuring that his team - or whoever purchases the charter, if that happens - would be in every Cup points race. Baldwin's car is 32nd in the car owner point standings, ahead of five other teams that have charters (another team below Baldwin's leased its charter for this season). Smith is 33rd in the driver standings. He finished a season-best third at Pocono in August. His only other top-10 finish this year has been an eighth-place result in the Daytona 500.(NBC Sports)
UPDATE: hearing that Baldwin has sold the #7 TBR charter to the #95 Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing team. Not sure if that means the team will have two charters and run two teams or if Circle Sport gets one of the charters and runs the #33 team again. Supposedly Casey Mears will be the driver of the #95. Rumors have floated around the Ty Dillon would take over the #13 Germain Racing Chevy ride with increased support from Richard Childress Racing. No word if Baldwin would stay on as a part-owner or crew chief, move on to another team or keep running the #7 TBR team as an open team.
UPDATE2: FS1's NASCAR Racehub show confirmed Wednesday with multiple sources that Tommy Baldwain Racing has signed paperwork to transfer ownership charter to Leavine Family Racing (#95 Chevy). It was also reported that LFR leased their charter for 2016, supposedly from Circle Sport, which ran the #33 Chevy for years under the ownership of Joe Falk. Baldwin could play an advisory role with the team. TBR declined to comment. (10-19-2016)
UPDATE3: Leavine Family Racing is in the process of buying a charter for next season as its relationship with Circle Sport owner Joe Falk (who has a charter) will end after 2016, Leavine VP Jeremy Lange said Wednesday. Lange wouldn't confirm from which team it is buying a charter. The team plans to operate one Cup car (the #95) next year with a Richard Childress Racing alliance. Michael McDowell has been the Leavine primary driver since 2014 and has built a good relationship with the team but does not have a deal signed yet to drive for the team next season.(ESPN)(10-20-2016)
UPDATE 4: #95-Leavine Family Racing is looking for sponsorship for Michael McDowell as Thrivent Financial has informed the team it won't return next season. The team is in the process of obtaining a charter to have a guaranteed spot next year and plans to run McDowell in all races with Todd Parrott to continue to crew chief in 2017. The team is riding momentum - McDowell has top-20 finishes in three of the last five races and has finished top-25 in all five of those events.(ESPN)(11-12-2016)
Todd Parrott named full-time crew chief of the #95 Chevy: Team leadership at Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing has announced that Todd Parrott will assume crew chief duties for the #95 entry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for the remainder of the 2016 season. Dave Winston will move to a race engineer role within the organization. "Todd brings a depth of knowledge to our team and I'm excited to have him on top of the pit box at all of our races for the remainder of 2016," said Jeremy Lange, VP of CSLFR. "Todd has been calling the races while Ty Dillon has been in the car and we're pleased to be able to continue our alliance with Richard Childress Racing and use their resources to help our growing team." Parrott has more than 20 years of experience in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage and won a championship with driver Dale Jarrett in 1999.(Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing)(10-5-2016)
Michael & Jami McDowell adopt son: While NASCAR driver Michael McDowell was at the Richard Childress Racing shop recently, making preparations for an upcoming XFINITY Series start with the organization, McDowell's wife was thousands of miles away. In China. When Jami McDowell returns next week, she will arrive with the newest member of the McDowell household, 3-year-old son Lucas. "I wish I could be there," Michael McDowell said. "I have obligations here and need to make sure I can provide for my family, too." The McDowells already have three children -- Trace, Emma and Rylie -- but were first-time parents when they initially decided to go the adoption route. "That was our plan," McDowell said. "We were going to have one and then we were going to adopt one. We felt like with our lifestyle and travel and everything, two is manageable. But God had other plans, and while we were waiting we had two more, so now we'll be at four. And four is not manageable on the road and all those things. But at the same time, I'm very thankful to be in this sport and have the opportunities that I have." The family's faith started the McDowells down the road to adoption. And while it has taken longer than expected -- six years -- that faith never wavered. Even as their family continued to grow. "Our son Lucas, he's 3 now, but he was left in the street at five days old because he has cleft hand and feet. Something here that would be very small, something that ... you can operate and help them be able to walk and grab and do all the things that your other kids can do. But over there, it's 'Well, he's not perfect. There's something wrong with him.'"(NASCAR.com)(7-13-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Announces Driver Lineup For Daytona: Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that it will field two entries in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The 2016 season is a major one for Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing, as the team recently announced their plans to run all 36 races with a new Richard Childress Racing Alliance and switch in manufacturer to Chevy. Ty Dillon will be behind the wheel of the #95 Cheerios / Kroger Chevy with Todd Parrott serving as crew chief. In addition, NASCAR veteran Michael McDowell will drive the #59 Thrivent Financial / K-LOVE Radio Chevy with Dave Winston as crew chief.
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing partners Joe Falk and Bob Leavine have a strong outlook for Daytona Speedweeks, bringing two Chevrolet race cars to the track with two of the top drivers in motorsports. "I'm looking forward to going to Daytona and finally getting this season under way!" said Joe Falk, partner of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. "It has been a long off-season with lots of changes and it will be great to finally get this season started. I'm excited to have Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon pilot the two CSLFR entries at Daytona."
"We are thrilled with our new alliance with Richard Childress Racing and having the opportunity to run two cars in The Great American Race," said Bob Leavine, partner of Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing. "This is the ultimate stage in motorsports and I'm proud to have two great drivers behind the wheel of CSLFR race cars for Daytona Speedweeks."
Dillon, from Welcome, N.C., competed in his first Daytona 500 last year, starting 31st and finishing 28th. The XFINITY Series driver, who finished third in series points in 2015, is looking to gain valuable experience in the Cup Series at Daytona as he progresses through the NASCAR ranks. "The Daytona 500 is such a prestigious race and it's an incredible honor to be able to compete on this stage," said Dillon. "Last season I learned a lot and experienced a lot. I got to race up front with the leaders, raced in the back, had some damage we had to repair and eventually finished 28th. This season, we're going to go out there like any other team and try to win the race." McDowell will be running the majority of the 36-race schedule in the #95 Chevrolet for CSLFR, with Ty Dillon competing in a handful of races with the team. Dillon is looking forward to working with his new teammate in 2016. "Michael is an extremely talented race car driver and it's going to be a great opportunity for me this season to learn from him; especially on the road courses," said Dillon. "He's had success in the past and I think the two of us together are going to only get better this season."
McDowell, a Glendale, Ariz. native, earned his best career finishes at Daytona International Speedway in the NSCS. He finished ninth in the Daytona 500 in 2013 and seventh in the July race at Daytona in 2014. "I think it's a good track in that it allows any team to have a shot at running well. It's one of the 'opportunity' races for our team to run up front and finish well," said McDowell. "The changes that we made in off season -- switching to Chevrolet and aligning with RCR -- has provided us with, by far, the best equipment, car and motor combination that we've ever brought to a superspeedway. It's pretty exciting because we've had good results at superspeedways in the past. Hands down this is the best car we've ever brought to Daytona." McDowell will pilot the #59 Thrivent Financial / K-LOVE Radio Chevrolet SS at Daytona Speedweeks and will have to race his way into the starting line-up for the Daytona 500. "That's the most nerve-racking park of the weekend. I can't say that you ever get used to doing it. But I've never not had to race my way in so this is nothing new to me. It's standard operating procedure. I've made it in more times that I've missed, but there's no guarantee. You have to race hard and give it all you got and see what happens."(CSLFR95)(2-11-2016)
Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Names Crew Chief and VP of Operations: Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing announced that Dave Winston has joined the team as crew chief of the #95 Chevy which will compete full time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season. In addition, Jeremy Lange who oversaw marketing for the team the past two years has been promoted to Vice President of Operations for the Concord-based race team. Dave Winston is a 15-year veteran in NASCAR having started his career at Roush as an engineer and worked with drivers including Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray. Winston has been part of 18 wins, 7 poles, 51 Top-5's, 118 Top-10's in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to date.
"Dave is a perfect fit for our team having worked at both large and small organizations," said Bob Leavine, Partner in CSLFR. "He understands the budget constraints of a small team but knows what is required to make the team more competitive. I really like his engineering background as that is a key factor in our alliance with RCR. Understanding and being able to incorporate setup changes from simulation data is an important part of the crew chief's responsibility. Dave is very organized and has already gained the respect of our staff in a short period of time. I'm really proud to have him on our team."
Jeremy Lange joined Leavine Family Racing in 2013 bringing more than 15 years of experience in advertising, marketing and sales to the team. He has worked in NASCAR for more than ten years, first joining the sport after securing his MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. "Over the past two and a half years Jeremy had taken on more responsibility than just his marketing role," said Leavine. "On a small team it's all about having a 'whatever it takes attitude' and Jeremy is the first one to volunteer for extra work. A perfect combination of desire, experience and education makes Jeremy a valuable officer of our growing organization."(Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing)(1-28-20146)
McDowell back with Leavine Family Racing, switches to Chevy, merges with Circle Sport UPDATE3: Leavine Family Racing is announcing parts of their 2016 season plans. So far the team has announced that driver Michael McDowell will return to drive, that the TEAM will run the full 2016 Sprint Cup Series season and that the team is now known as Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing (LFR Facebook / Twitter). Joe Falk, owner of the #33 Circle Sport team, has merged / sold the team to Leavine Family Racing, so the #95 team has #33 owners points to be eligible for a charter (when/if NASCAR goes to that ownership system) or be higher in owners points. Also hearing the team will switch manufacturers from Ford to Chevy and Thrivent Financial will return to sponsor the team in an unknown number of races. Another piece is a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing and Ty Dillon driving in some races (1-20-2016)
UPDATE: Richard Childress Racing and Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing have agreed to form a technical alliance in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, beginning with the 2016 season. The partnership includes technology sharing, engineering, research and development provided to Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing as they switch their #95 Sprint Cup Series cars to Chevy beginning with the 2016 season. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing will also benefit from utilizing the highly reliable and powerful engines of ECR Engines. Ty Dillon will run select races, including the Daytona 500, for Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing in 2016. Sprint Cup Series veteran driver Michael McDowell will be the primary driver for the team.
"I admire the hard work, dedication and passion that Joe Falk and Bob and Sharon Leavine have for NASCAR and I know their addition to our RCR alliance teams will be mutually beneficial to both Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and our current roster of technical alliance partners," said Richard Childress, Chief Executive Officer of RCR. "I'm looking forward to success in 2016 and beyond."
With their race shop based in Concord, N.C., Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing has a veteran group of racing personnel and ownership that has been active in the Sprint Cup Series for multiple years. "The resources that Richard Childress and RCR can provide, including ECR engines, the Chevrolet SS and access to shared information and technology will be a tremendous help as we continue to grow as an organization," said Bob Leavine. "RCR has an extremely competitive program with a storied history of winning races and championships and joining that culture of success makes this partnership especially attractive."(Richard Childress Racing)(1-21-2016)
UPDATE2 Leavine Family Racing (LFR) will join forces with Circle Sport Racing to run the full 36-race schedule in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS). In addition, the race team will enter into an alliance with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and will make the switch to run Chevy race cars powered by ECR Engines this race season. Michael McDowell will be the primary driver and compete in at least 26 NSCS races in 2016. RCR driver Ty Dillon will pilot the team's entry for the remaining NSCS races. Specific races for each driver are being determined but both drivers will enter the Daytona 500 (supposedly McDowell in a 2nd car). Leavine Family Racing team owner Bob Leavine has been preparing to take the team from a partial schedule to the full series schedule since the team's inception. The 2016 season proved to be the perfect time to make the leap, thanks in part to the new alliance with Joe Falk's Circle Sport team and technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
"The manufacturer and alliance switch provides our team with the best opportunity to improve on-track performance and to create long-term sustainability," said Leavine. "This was the right time for us to make this change. We have been turning over every stone looking for the right plan for our team and our people in 2016, and we've finally found a great fit that's going to help us continue to grow both on the track and as an organization."
Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing (was #33 Chevy), had been an owner in NASCAR starting in the late 1990's. Circle Sport competed in its first race in 2012 and has been associated with Richard Childress Racing during that time. "I'm happy to be working with Bob (Leavine) and the team to combine our efforts for a successful 2016 and beyond," said Falk. "We've put together a top notch program obtaining all cars and engines from RCR."
"This is a big step for our competition program," said McDowell. "The technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing is a huge asset to our growing team and we'll have access to some of the top equipment in the Cup Series. This type of alliance has worked really well for single-car teams such as JTG Racing and Germain Racing in the past and I'm excited about what we're going to be able to do in 2016."
Primary sponsorship of the #95 Chevy will include Thrivent Financial, K-LOVE Radio and Cheerios Brand. Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing is seeking additional sponsorship to fill out the season.(1-21-2016)
UPDATE3: Thrivent Financial announced its continuing sponsorship of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing and driver Michael McDowell in the 2016 race season. Thrivent, a not-for-profit financial services organization that serves Christians, will be the primary sponsor for fifteen (15) races during the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with McDowell behind the wheel. The organization will also serve as a secondary sponsor on 15 additional races.
Thrivent started its relationship with Leavine Family Racing and McDowell in August of 2014. The mutually beneficial relationship expanded in 2015 for a 20-race sponsorship that included 10 primary races. This year, Leavine Family Racing has partnered with Circle Sport to field the #95 in the full 36-race schedule and entered into a new technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing, making the manufacturer switch to Chevrolet.
"We're thrilled to extend our sponsorship with Michael McDowell and Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing in 2016," said Craig Stacey, Director of Marketing at Thrivent. "We had a tremendous response and reception from NASCAR fans in our first full season as a sponsor. In 2016, we're planning to provide more unique opportunities and content for fans through our social media channels and website. We like to think of our fans as part of our team and it's fun to give them a behind-the-scenes view of Thrivent Racing!"
For Thrivent, the off-the-track integration with McDowell and the race team was just as important as the race weekend competition. In 2015, McDowell and the race team raced go-karts with Wounded Warriors, packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and volunteered alongside Thrivent members to repair homes of those in need through the organization's Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity program. Additionally, by creating a custom, fan-driven online game, Thrivent Financial donated $95,000 to Habitat for Humanity on behalf of NASCAR fans at the end of the 2015 season.
"I love working with Thrivent! Their mission to help Christians be wise with money and live generously is really a good fit with my personal values," said McDowell, who became a member of Thrivent in 2014. "We were able to team up and do some great things last year with race fans and Thrivent volunteers - especially at the Habitat events and speaking with Thrivent members nationwide. This is a perfect partnership and I'm excited to have Thrivent back as a sponsor in 2016."
This season, Thrivent will be featured as the primary sponsor at major NASCAR events and tracks including the Daytona 500, Talladega, Charlotte, Bristol, Indianapolis, Darlington and Homestead. Formed in 2016, Joe Falk, owner of Circle Sport Racing and Bob and Sharon Leavine, owners of Leavine Family Racing teamed up to compete in the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing. The team will field the #95 Chevrolet SS, which will be driven by Michael McDowell as well as Ty Dillon in select races. The team operates out of their Concord, N.C.-based race shop with a veteran group of racing personnel and is driven by several core principals including Value, Integrity, Flexibility, Opportunity, Access and Experience.(Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing), see
images of the schemes on the #95 Team Schemes page (1-21-2016)