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PAST NEWS FEB 19-25, 2001

  • Cup driver to retire? UPDATE 2: many readers have emailed saying that Larry Woody from the Tennessean was on the radio(WKDF 103.3 in Nashville) this morning and said said that it is highly speculated that a top Winston Cup driver will be announcing his retirement soon and that the death of Dale Earnhardt was just too much for them, no names were mentioned. I had heard Ken Schrader and checked into that but team sources say that Schrader would not retire or leave the Cup Series(2-23-2001)
    UPDATE: hearing that Nashville TV Channel 4 WSMV reported during their 10:00pm newscast, that the driver retiring would be Rusty Wallace(checked their site and have not seen it there, listened to two video clips but neither mentioned it, about five readers reported seeing it on the news). Have found nothing to back this up and sources have not responded to my email and in a story on That's Racin': `We're racers - It is what we do' by David Poole, Wallace says - "I'd be lying if I said I haven't though about it (retiring)," Wallace said. "I don't need to race any longer, I enjoy racing. Patti (his wife) would probably be just as happy if I didn't race at all right now, but this is what I do for a living. I've been pretty fortunate my whole life and have been real successful on the track and off the track. So I am going to continue on."
    UPDATE 2: been told through Wallace's PR folks that Nashville TV Channel 4 WSMV did not report that Wallace was retiring and comments from Wallace thru Ford Qualifying Notes: WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT NOT DRIVING AGAIN? "No, not really. There are spurts that go through you when you think about it occasionally. I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought about it. Yeah, I have thought about it. I don't need to race any longer. I enjoy racing. Patti would probably be just as happy if I didn't race at all right now, but this is what I do for a living. I've been pretty fortunate my whole life and been real successful on the track and off the track, so I'm gonna continue on. I've probably got three to four years left in me before I don't want to do it. I just hope when I quit that I quit on a high note and that's it. I hope I don't get hurt or mangled or something stupid happens to me."(2-25-2001)
    UPDATE 3: Wallace is now leading the Winston Cup Points standing, I doubt he is going to retire(2-26-2001)

  • Chassis and Traction Control and? Most of the talk centers around HANS devices and safety belts alleged to have been ripped apart. The one-word description of what likely killed Dale Earnhardt seems to have been lost in the shuffle. Rigidity. Specifically, rigidity in the front of the cars, and it has been officially cited as a cause of death in the past. One racing insider, Ken Barlow, was so incensed by Earnhardt’s death that he decided to go public with his suspicions. Barlow, a resident of northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., has owned cars that were entered in Busch Grand National races. According to Barlow, he has built traction-control systems that were illegally used by Winston Cup teams. In fact, the reason he has nothing to lose is that NASCAR officials caught him using traction control at a local short-track race. "They condoned it at the Cup level," Barlow said, "but they didn’t want traction control getting into the short-track level." NASCAR officials will obviously contest Barlow’s credibility because he has been disciplined by the ruling body, but when two different mechanics with Winston Cup teams were queried on Saturday about his allegations, both agreed that what he had said could be true. Neither would say so, however, except on the condition of anonymity. One problem, Barlow said, is the increasingly widespread use of something called chrome moly box tubing. Chrome moly is a treated variety of steel that is considerably harder than normal steel. It will break before it bends. Barlow does not know whether the car that Earnhardt died in used chrome moly box tubing, but he said he believes it was built using something called "cross triangulation." Barlow said the cars in which Earnhardt, Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin were killed all used triangulated motor mounts, another method used to increase rigidity. Barlow said that most manufacturers refuse to build chassis with chrome moly box tubing because they do not consider it safe. That is one reason why, Barlow believes, in recent years many of the leading Winston Cup teams have begun building their cars completely in-house. Some suspicion exists in the garage over NASCAR’s contention that Earnhardt died because a safety belt broke. For one thing, it was only one of five straps holding the driver in place. For another, the original description of Earnhardt’s condition at the time of his death made reference to the driver having "no external injuries," yet when the broken seat-belt explanation was issued Friday, officials commented that Earnhardt, who wore an open-face helmet, had had his head thrown against the steering wheel. On Friday, Dr. Steve Bohannon, one of the attending physicians, referred to Earnhardt as having had an abrasion of the chin, presumably one that was not originally noticed. This is only part of the story, see the full story at the Gaston Gazette AND from the Winston Salem Journal, a comment by Ken Schrader - Schrader is one of the few drivers offering specific safety suggestions this weekend. He said one of NASCAR's top priorities should be rules requiring cars with more "crushability." "I think you're seeing more drivers go in to talk to NASCAR about some of the car construction," Schrader said. "The teams have been making these cars more and more rigid, by adding roll bars, to make the car handle better. But what we've done is take a tremendous amount of crush out of the framework of the car. And the force is being relayed to the first thing that can give.... the driver."(2-25-2001)

  • Rules Change at 'Dega? #99-Jeff Burton said he believes there will be some sort of rules changes by the time the Winston Cup circuit goes to Talladega Superspeedway for the Talladega 500 on April 22. Burton said the crashes in the IROC and Winston Cup races at Daytona --- both of which were run under the aerodynamic rules that have been put in place for races at Daytona and Talladega --- should be enough to convince NASCAR to make a change(AJC)(2-25-2001)

  • Childress to take a lap? UPDATE 2 No: Rumor has it in the garage that Cup team owners (#3 and #'s 29,30,31) Richard Childress could take a lap in the black #3 Chevy at some point this weekend(NASCAR Online Buzz)(2-23-2001)
    UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt's black #3 Chevrolet will make its final lap around the race track before being retired. According to Earnhardt team sponsor and "Realtree Outdoors" owner Bill Jordan, the trademark black car driven by "The Intimidator" will make its final appearance at Rockingham, NC, this weekend. The car will be driven for one final tribute lap around the track prior to Sunday's DuraLube 400. Childress would like to drive the car himself. But if the emotion of driving it becomes too much, he'll have driver Dave Marcis of the Realtree team handle it. Earnhardt's black car color scheme is to be retired after the tribute lap(Charleston Gazette)
    UPDATE 2: it was decided not to run the #3 car on a parade lap around Rockingham as the Earnhardt family didn't feel they were ready to see it on the track so soon(ESPN2's RPM 2Day)(2-25-2001)

  • Rock Fact: Michael Waltrip will try to become only the third driver in history to win the first two races of the season. Jeff Gordon accomplished the feat in 1997 and David Pearson turned the trick in 1976. Only two drivers have ever won the Daytona 500 and went on to win the first race at North Carolina Speedway -- Richard Petty (1974) and Gordon (1997). (WRAL/Sports Network)(2-25-2001)

  • Earnhardt License Plate News: On the morning of Dale Earnhardt's death on the last lap of the Daytona 500, the racing legend's staff and West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles officials were finalizing details for filming a March promotional video, featuring the NASCAR icon and Gov. Bob Wise. The March shooting appearance was to take place at Earnhardt's Charlotte, N.C., racing headquarters. A 30-second television spot was planned to boost sales for the DMV's NASCAR series of custom license plates and collectors' plates, and a similar, minutelong tape was to be played on video monitors in DMV customer services offices. Following Earnhardt's death, DMV officials contacted the racing legend's business partners and family members at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Richard Childress Racing, to determine the most appropriate course to take concerning the sale of the plate. See more at the Charleston Gazette: Earnhardt plates still available (2-25-2001)

  • Drivers Meeting: Winston Cup drivers, reacting to the death of Dale Earnhardt and the deaths of three other NASCAR drivers in the past nine months, have planned a safety meeting this weekend, Todd Bodine said yesterday. Although Bodine offered no details of the meeting - when it would be or where, or what specifically might be discussed - he said that drivers clearly needed to organize a safety committee. Bodine said the safety committee may be being organized here this weekend(Winston Salem Journal)(2-24-2001)

  • Hill Bros to sponsor two cars? UPDATE: Hills Bros full time sponsor of the #90 Ford driven by Hut Stricklin, has plans to sponsor Kenny Wallace's #27 Pontiac as well in a few races. Not at Rockingham but at Las Vegas, where Wallace is a candidate for the No Bull 5. Hills Bros. sponsored Wallace during the Daytona 500 after Stricklin failed to make the race(NOL's Buzz)(2-21-2001)
    UPDATE: Sara Lee Coffee & Tea will sponsor two teams in the Cup race next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The first entry is Hut Stricklin's #90 Hills Bros Coffee Ford, which is fielded by Junie Donlavey. The #90 Ford has carried the brand's logo since 1999. Kenny Wallace will drive the second entry - the #27 Pontiac. Fielded by Eel River Racing, the car will don a paint scheme featuring the 100% Columbian blend of Hills Bros Coffee. Wallace is one of four drivers eligible for the "No Bull 5" bonus, which is awarded to the winner of the race at Las Vegas. Wallace's #27 Pontiac will sport a different paint scheme to promote the Hills Bros Coffee Columbian blend. The front half of the car will be the same Ferrari red as the #90 Hills Bros Coffee Ford, but it will fade to black toward the rear of the car. The "television panel" will display the Hills Bros Coffee 100% Columbian blend logo(Keystone PR)(2-24-2001)

  • Earnhardt Lawsuit: Volusia County has been barred from releasing autopsy photos of Dale Earnhardt, the famous NASCAR driver who perished on the last lap of Sunday's Daytona 500. Circuit Court Judge Joseph G. Will granted the temporary injunction banning release of the photos after Earnhardt's wife, Teresa, filed a lawsuit against the Volusia County Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday. Daytona Beach attorneys representing Teresa Earnhardt filed the complaint seeking a temporary and permanent injunction after the coroner's office released photos to the media that were taken inside her husband's No. 3 Chevy a day after the crash. The court order prevents anyone from obtaining autopsy photos of Earnhardt's body, Judge Will said. (Speed Magazine)(2-24-2001)

  • Fans Show Class(thanks): Fans saw an opportunity to demonstrate their class(today at Rockingham). Rather than resenting Richard Childress Racing for putting the car back on the track and Harvick for driving it, they gave the rookie a standing ovation. Many fans also stood to applaud Sterling Marlin. Marlin received several lowball threats from several lowlife callers this week because his car and Earnhardt's touched before Earnhardt's death. To show Marlin they understood the accident was in no way his fault, many fans removed their caps and waved them as he sped past(in part from That's Racin')(2-24-2001)

  • NASCAR Thunder TNN is closing its 11 NASCAR Thunder Stores in the next 1½ months. TNN has run the stores, mostly in the Southeast, under a NASCAR license since May 1996, selling NASCAR clothing and memorabilia. About 60 people will lose their jobs, TNN spokeswoman Cheryl Daly said Wednesday. (CBS Sportsline/AP)(2-22-2001)

  • Safety in the Pits: Cal Wells (owner of the #32 and #96) has ordered his over-the-wall pit crew to wear new lightweight helmets during pit stops this season. Jack Roush tried that a year ago and learned that crewmen didn't feel that comfortable in the helmets. But Bill Simpson, a veteran safety innovator, has come up with new versions. As frequently as crew men are hit on pit road, NASCAR should order all teams to add that piece of safety equipment(Winston Salem Journal)(2-21-2001)

  • Hall of Fame: Dale Earnhardt must wait five years for consideration by the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, like every other driver. "He’ll be eligible for induction in 2006, and he’ll obviously get in on the first ballot," Hall of Fame executive director Jim Freeman said Tuesday. "But our feeling was that to waive the five-year rule would, in a sense, downgrade all the other people we made wait five years. It’s not something we wanted to do." The Hall of Fame is near Talladega, Ala., and honors drivers from all sides of racing, not just the stock car circuits. More than 80 drivers have been inducted into the Hall, which holds a ceremony each year to add new honorees. Freeman received numerous calls asking that Earnhardt be enshrined immediately, given his stature as one of the top drivers in NASCAR history. The Hall of Fame board met Monday to discuss the issue, and decided not to stray from its original guidelines(Gaston Gazette)(2-21-2001)

  • Wind Tunnel and NASCAR: While NASCAR passed on a post-500 trip to the Lockheed wind tunnel - Dodge teams had asked NASCAR for a second wind-tunnel test because they said something fishy went on in the tunnel last week - NASCAR is expected to be hauling down-force cars to the wind tunnel in the next week or so, either after Sunday's race at Rockingham or the following Sunday stop at Las Vegas(Winston Salem Journal)(2-21-2001)

  • Wind Tunnel - teams: hearing Chip Ganassi Racing was at the Lockheed wind tunnel in Marietta, GA on Tuesday and #92-Melling Racing will be there on Wednesday(2-21-2001)

  • Track Stocks: International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc. shares fell Tuesday in the wake of NASCAR Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt's death. After a rocky day of trading, however, the stocks recovered and closed only moderately lower. Early Tuesday, the shares of International Speedway, the owner of Daytona International Speedway and other Winston Cup tracks, dropped as much as 7.2 percent. Shares of Speedway Motorsports, the other major track owner, fell as much as 10 percent(News and Record/Bloomberg News)(2-21-2001)

  • Earnahrdt Killed UPDATE 2 - AUTOPSY: Seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt, 49, was killed in a last-lap wreck involving Ken Schrader on the backstretch while a car that he owned, driven by Michael Waltrip, won the race. He was pronounced dead at Halaifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. See my Dale Earnhardt Tribute page with the news, some images, and many story/column links
    UPDATE AUTOPSY: An autopsy on race car legend Dale Earnhardt conducted Monday morning revealed he died of blunt force trauma to the head, county officials said. Dave Byron of the Volusia County Communication Division said Earnhardt's death was being treated as a "motor vehicle accident." Byron said toxicology was not expected to be involved.(CNN/SI)(2-19-2001)
    UPDATE 2: more results from the Autopsy - Monday, Earnhardt's body was taken to the medical examiner's office for a routine autopsy after he was pronounced dead at the hospital. His personal belongings - a pair of black socks, a racing suit, black gloves, his helmet, underwear and racing boots - were returned to his wife, Teresa. The report showed that when his race car smashed into a concrete wall at an estimated 180 mph, it broke eight ribs, his left ankle and his breastbone. There were several scrapes on his body. He had blood in his ears and chest and partially collapsed lungs(That's Racin') and Earnhardt had a skull fracture that ran from the front to the back of his head, according to the autopsy. The impact also fractured his sternum, eight ribs on the left side and his left ankle. The report said there was a blow to the back of the head, but did not indicate any broken neck vertebrae. The final autopsy report will not be available for several weeks, pending the completion of routine blood and toxicology tests. Earnhardt's body was released to the family on Monday afternoon after going to a local funeral home(AJC)(2-20-2001)

  • Marlin Speaks: #40-Sterling Marlin believes he did not cause the wreck that killed Dale Earnhardt in the final lap of the Daytona 500 last Sunday and resents those who label him the culprit, Marlin said in an interview with The Tennessean this afternoon. Marlin also said he had been contacted by members of Earnhardt's race team as well as NASCAR officials "and all of them say, 'Man, you didn't do anything wrong. Don't let it bother you," Marlin said. See full story at the Tennessean(2-20-2001)

  • Dale Jr will race at the Rock as will Stewart: Dale Earnhardt Jr., still coping with the death of his father in last Sunday's Daytona 500, will race this weekend at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC, the Dale Earnhardt Inc. team announced Tuesday. Tony Stewart, who suffered a mild concussion and a bruised left shoulder in a 19-car accident earlier in the race, also will race a spokesman for Stewart said.(ESPN)(2-20-2001)

  • Plane Goes Down: Four men returning home from the Daytona 500 auto race were missing after their plane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the Georgia coast, the Coast Guard reported Monday. The Beechcraft Bonanza was flying parallel to the coast when the Federal Aviation Administration lost radar contact at 8:17 p.m. Sunday. The Coast Guard said there was no distress call from the plane before it crashed. Aboard the plane were pilot William Pritchett of Windsor, N.C., his brother John Pritchett, of Chesapeake, Va., and Ray and Ken Chapman of Virginia Beach, Va., said Coast Guard spokesman Dana Warr.(Dallas Morning News/AP)(2-20-2001)

  • Drivers Order the HANS: On the day after Dale Earnhardt's death, several NASCAR teams ordered a safety device designed to protect drivers from head and neck injuries. The Head And Neck Support (HANS) device was designed to lessen the pressure on the most vulnerable part of the body -- the neck and base of the skull -- in the type of crashes that killed Earnhardt and three other NASCAR drivers in the past year. On Monday morning, several NASCAR teams contacted the Hubbard/Downing Inc. in suburban Atlanta to place orders for the brace, said Ken Adams, a plant manager. There was a call from Roger Penske's team, which has Rusty Wallace and Jeremy Mayfield as its drivers, and defending Busch series champion Jeff Green. Adams said the plant was producing only three devices a week just a few months ago. The output has been increased to four or five a day, and the company had 35 orders just hours after Earnhardt's death.(AP/ESPN). What is the HANS Device? See my Safety/HANS page(2-19-2001)

  • Daytona 500 TV Ratings: Fox's coverage of Sunday's Daytona 500 race earned an 8.4 rating and 19 share, the highest overnight rating for the NASCAR race since 1986. The rating was an increase of 11 percent over last year's 7.6 and 18 share when the race was shown on CBS. The previous high ratings for the event were 7.9 in 1992, 1994 and 1999(Washington Post/AP)(2-19-2001)

  • Compton's Best: #92-Stacy Compton's 10th place finish at the Daytona 500 was his best career finish and first top ten(2-19-2001)

  • Stewart OK: Tony Stewart, who was involved in the largest accident during Sunday's Daytona 500, was taken to Halifax Medical Center and received a precautionary CT scan of his head and neck and an X-ray of his left shoulder. All scans showed no serious injury, although Stewart was diagnosed with a mild concussion. He was expected to return to his Charlotte-area home late Sunday.(That's Racin')(2-19-2001)

  • Daytona USA Celebration Postponed: The traditional induction at the Daytona USA attraction of the car driven by the winner of the Daytona 500 has been postponed, in light of the death of Winston Cup driver Dale Earnhardt in Sunday's race. Michael Waltrip, who was driving a car owned by Earnhardt, won Sunday's 500 and was planning to meet members of the media Monday morning, then proceed to Daytona USA, where his #15 Chevrolet would be inducted and held until next year's race. Kevin Triplett, NASCAR's director of operations, said Sunday the ceremony would be rescheduled at a later date(That's Racin')(2-19-2001)

    see the Feb 12-18, 2001 Archived News Page

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