RELATED: Playoff standingsDETROIT — If Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final full NASCAR season ends without a playoff-clinching win, team owner Rick Hendrick says it won’t sour what has been an impressive body of work in stock-car racing.Hendrick’s remarks came Thursday at Chevrolet’s unveiling of the Camaro ZL1,which the automaker will field in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Earnhardt, 42, has driven for Hendrick Motorsports since 2008 and has 26 career wins, the most recent coming in November 2015; he announced in April that this season will be his last.Earnhardt sits 23rd in the series standings and in need of a victory in the remaining four regular-season races to secure a playoff berth. Hendrick said he would cherish a storybook send-off with one final trip to Victory Lane, but that Earnhardt’s legacy in the sport is secure regardless.RELATED: Dale Jr. photos through history | Playoff bubble watch“It won’t matter a bit,” Hendrick said. “To me, you’ll look at the championships that he won in XFINITY, you’ll look at his contribution, what he’s done to mentor young drivers, what he’s done to give people an opportunity, the way he’s conducted himself with the fans and the kids. I mean, his contribution … being a genuine, real person. If you’re a champion and you win a lot of races, that’s great, but I think you’ve got to look at what contribution did you make to the sport that wasn’t just for you, it was for a lot of other people.”The backdrop for Hendrick’s statements was Earnhardt taking selfies and chatting with General Motor employees attending Thursday afternoon’s Camaro reveal. It’s part of what has made Earnhardt the series’ most popular driver for 14 years running.“Of course, we’d love to see him win and get in the (playoffs) and how great it would be if he won the championship,” Hendrick said. “I think that would be great, but I think all the good things that he’s done, all the people he’s helped, and he has been a champion and he has won. When you see people like today just gravitating toward him, he’s been an ambassador.“He’s done a lot for a lot of people, me included. He told me he was going to make me popular,” Hendrick said through laughs, “so I appreciate that.”
Green Mountain Power Corp,Green Mountain Power kicked off what is believed to be the first utility-sponsored heat pump rental program in the country today, a pilot effort centered in Rutland and intended to save customers money and demonstrate the comfort air-source heat pumps can provide in a cold-weather climate. The rental program includes installation of air-source heat pumps in homes and businesses with no up-front costs for the customer, and is expected to save participants hundreds of gallons of heating fuel and thousands of dollars each year. ‘We believe air-source heat pumps can dramatically change the way Vermonters heat their homes, and reduce economic costs and environmental impacts of burning foreign oil,’GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. ‘This program will help demonstrate that value, while creating jobs for installers and freeing up customers’cash for other purposes.’ Cold climate heat pumps, also known as mini-split heat pumps, are ductless heating systems that also provide air conditioning during hot weather. Installed in less than a day, a heat pump includes an outdoor unit that works as a heat exchanger, like the compressor in a refrigerator, and is connected with copper tubing to a small interior unit. In cold weather, gas within the copper tubing extracts heat from outdoor air down to temperatures of about 13 below zero, and the warmth is brought inside. In hot weather, the process reverses to cool the building. GMP plans to heat its Energy Innovation Center largely with air-source heat pumps. ‘The pilot is intended to provide support for our expectation of customer and environmental benefits, and help jumpstart this new heating option in Vermont,’said Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation. ‘With our low carbon energy mix, we can slash air emissions from heating, and we expect participating customers will find dramatic improvements in home comfort, both summer and winter.’ Under the pilot program, GMP will pay to install heat pumps in up to 200 customers’homes and small businesses, and rent them to the property owners for $45 to $50 per month. GMP plans to focus on enrollment in Rutland and surrounding towns, though other customers may also participate. Customers interested in enrolling in the pilot, or who would like more information, may call Bruce Bentley at (802) 345-6470, Kirk Shields at (802) 770-4246 or Amanda Beraldi at (802) 353-9241 in the Energy Innovation Center. Through a heat pump summit last fall and a program with Efficiency Vermont and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont to package weatherization with heat pump incentives, GMP has developed relationships with numerous installers in the HVAC, plumbing and home performance industries. Six models are available through two manufacturers, Mitsubishi and Daikin. About Green Mountain PowerGreen Mountain Power (www.greenmountainpower.com(link is external)) generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in the state of Vermont. The company, which serves more than 250,000 customers, has set its vision to be the best small utility in America.
Related Leading tyre manufacturer Hutchinson Tires has launched the latest addition to its MTB range, the Kraken Racing Lab – the French brand’s new XC / Trail tyre.A new addition to the Hutchinson’s XC / Trail range, the Kraken Racing Lab is the result of close collaboration between designers, engineers and XC Hutchinson athletes. The company’s objective has been to develop a fast, agile and reliable tyre… ‘thanks to the addition of high lateral knobs to allow maximum confidence in cornering or upon rough terrain.’The architecture of the Kraken’s knobs has been inspired by the Skeleton, which is billed as ‘the ultimate tyre in terms of performance.’ Developed in 29 x 2.30, the volume of the Kraken allows riders to run lower pressures to bring ‘maximum comfort and calm in the most chaotic moments.’The ultimate goal with the Kraken was also to design a tyre that would not be exclusive, only for XC athletes say, but to expand its use to any mountain bike addict and trail lover.Available in two constructions, ‘ultra-light 127 TPI’ or ‘ultra-versatile 66 TPI’ coupled with Hardskin bead-to-bead reinforcement, the Kraken Racing Lab aims to meet the needs of performance addicts as well as XC marathon competitors or trail enthusiasts.The Kraken complements Hutchinson Racing Lab’s range, inaugurated last year with the Griffus.Prices are: Racing Lab without Hardskin Reinforcement: £39.95; and Racing Lab with Hardskin Reinforcement : £44.95.www.hutchinsontires.com