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PAST NEWS MAR 19-25, 2001

  • Earnhardt NOT to replaced in IROC: Dale Earnhardt's entry will not be filled in the remaining three International Race of Champions (IROC) events this season. Earnhardt, a four-time IROC series champion - including the past two seasons - died in the Daytona 500 in February. According to sources, IROC officials will issue a news release this week explaining their decision not to use a replacement driver in Earnhardt's car the remainder of the season. Earnhardt had 11 wins in 58 starts in the IROC series, with his last victory coming in the 2000 season opener at Daytona. He was series champion the past two seasons. In addition, Tony Stewart is expected to continue to fill in for Gil de Ferran, last season's champion of CART. Stewart substituted for de Ferran in the season opener because de Ferran had injured his foot in a CART test session weeks earlier. Since de Ferran has not had any practice or test sessions in the IROC cars, he is not expected to compete this season(That's Racin')(3-25-2001)

  • The 17 Wood Bros Winners: The 17 drivers to win Winston Cup races in Wood Brothers-owned cars are Glen Wood, Speedy Thompson, Marvin Panch, Tiny Lund, Dan Gurney, Curtis Turner, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Parnelli Jones, Donnie Allison, A.J. Foyt, Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker, Kyle Petty, Morgan Shepherd, Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler.(That's Racin'), quite a list. It was the 97th win for the Wood Brotherss and the 90th win in car # 21(3-25-2001)

  • #8 Special Paint? UPDATE 2: hearing Dale Earnhardt Jr will have a special Ducks Unlimited paint scheme at the Winston with an announcement at Talladega in April. Also hear Earnhardt Jr will also run a All-Star Baseball scheme sometime in the summer, possibly at the Pepsi 400 in July(3-8-2001)
    UPDATE: sorry folks, been 'asked' by Action Performance to remove the image and will honor that request, do not email asking for me to send the image, I won't, sorry. The car is white, with red lettering, the All-Star or baseball was blacked out. Will be announced at Texas on March 31st (3-16-2001)
    UPDATE 2: the Ducks Unlimited car will be run at Charlotte in October, the Baseball scheme at The Winston and the Pepsi 400 at Daytona(3-25-2001)

  • Weekend Sponsors for the #27 UPDATE: The #27 Eel River Racing Pontiac and driver Kenny Wallace will have a one race sponsorship from Food City at Bristol(Kenny Wallace Racing), see scheme on my Paint Scheme page(3-23-2001)
    UPDATE: Wallace was understandably grinning broadly Saturday when he announced Food City, a grocery chain that has its name on today's Food City 500, and Rayovac Batteries have stepped in for a one-race sponsorship deal(AJC)(3-25-2001)

  • Best Finishes of 2001: Four drivers scored their best 2001 finishes at Bristol: #21-Salder 1st(previous was 11th); #43-Andretti 2nd(6th); #22-Burton 5th (11th); and #17-Kenseth 14th (17th). Two driver tied their seasons best: #12-Mayfield 3rd and #55-Hamilton 8th. And #4-Kevin Lepage gave Morgan-McClure their best 2001 finish of 15th, 20th was the best Robby Gordon had in his five races with the team(3-25-2001)

  • Head Trauma Project: A research project detailing head trauma in a crash could lead to safer equipment for drivers in all racing series, including NASCAR. Dr. Steve Olvey, director of medical affairs for Championship Auto Racing Teams, is leading a project that essentially will create a crash data recorder for the head. The device will fit in a driver's custom-fitted earpiece. The device that is placed inside the foam earpiece is an accelerometer - which is basically like an airplane's black box for the head. An accelerometer measures the direction the head travels in a crash and the forces applied to it.(Roanoke Times)(3-25-2001)

  • #50 Changes? hearing that Team Manager Charley Pressley and the #50 Midwest Transit Racing team have parted ways effective immediately(3-24-2001)

  • CBS Show: CBS' show "48 Hours" has completed filming for a piece it is doing on Petty Enterprises and Kyle Petty. The segment is scheduled to run in late April (hearing April 19th or 21st) and be part of a show dedicated to comebacks(Roanoke Times)(3-24-2001)

  • New Cup team UPDATE a little history: Eric Smith, of Akron, New York, will again become the First and only Native American in the NASCAR Winston Cup during the modern era(1972-present) and the Arca RE/MAX series this year. Smith plans to compete in an extensive schedule with #92 entry in the Arca RE/MAX with a limited schedule in the #49 entry in the NASCAR Winston Cup series in 2001. Smith is a Native of the Iroquois Indian Nation and the Tonawanda Band of Senecas located in upstate New York. He is currently the only Native American competing in NASCAR Winston Cup and ARCA RE/MAX. With his appearances in the NASCAR Winston Open at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1995 and 1996, Smith became the only Native American Indian ever to compete in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in the modern era. With a broad background in electrical engineering technology, Eric is also a professional fixed wing and helicopter pilot. After serving in the US Marine Corps for a 1 1/2 year tour in Vietnam, Eric began his life long career in stock car racing. Jim Michael, a native of Binghamton, NY, will again serve as crew chief for the NWC#49 and Arca RE/MAX#92 entries if he is free from his current situation(E & E Motorsports PR)(3-22-2001)
    UPDATE - history: after I posted the above, I got a few inquiries about the statement (before it was corrected) that Eric Smith was the first ever Native American driver in NASCAR Winston Cup. Been told that a driver from 1957 thru 1970 Roy Tyler was the first (or one of the first) Natice American drivers in the Cup (then Grand National series). A reader sent me some info from an old copy (1969) of the SCR Magazine: Roy Tyner was born in Lumberton, N.C. "...with half the blood that pulsed through him carrying the heritage of the Lumbee Indians. One suspects that the other half might be found to consist of gasoline, grease, and a trace of Wynn's Friction Proofing. Roy is proud of his Indian blood. The boyish humility and half-embarrassed grin that prevail when he is talking about himself, fade and are replaced by an air of authority when he speaks of his ancestry. The Lumbees were composed of bands of Indians who broke away from their own tribes. There were Cherokee, Comanches...." "The names of his children, India Dawn and Forrest Truitt, reflect his heritage...."(thanks Phil) and from the Forty Years of Stock Car book - Vol 2 - Tyler's best finish was a 2nd at Greenville Pickens, SC in 1959. And ironically Stooges Racing site even has a story with some images of Tyler and his cars, see it at Ask The Stooge: Roy Tyner(3-24-2001)

  • Engine News UPDATE and tires?: NASCAR is considering a cost-cutting one-engine rule for Winston Cup weekends at tracks with races 300 miles or shorter, such as Martinsville, Richmond, Loudon and perhaps Sears Point and Watkins Glen. At those tracks, teams would have to run the same motor all weekend, barring some emergency. The thinking is that a team could use one motor as long as the driver doesn't have to put more than 500 total miles on it over the weekend, including qualifying and practice. Some teams are generally against the one-engine rule for longer races or for big tracks(Winston Salem Journal)(3-18-2001)
    UPDATE: NASCAR officials, who have been under criticism for not doing more to curb the cost of racing, are moving to cut costs for Winston Cup team owners on two fronts: by limiting the number of tires each team can use during a race weekend, and by limiting teams to one engine per weekend at many tracks. The rules could go into effect by Richmond in early May(Winston Salem Journal)(3-24-2001)

  • 3rd RCR Driver? ESPN2's RPM 2Night reports that the scheduled press conference to announce the Richard Childress Racing 3rd driver for the #30 AOL Chevy has been postponed until next week at Texas. Jeff Green is rumored to be the driver for it's limited 5-7 race schedule. And what about 2002? (see below for one story and...) AutoRacing1 is reporting: According to our sources, Austin Cameron was seen wearing an AOL shirt and cap at a store. When our sources asked him "what's the deal with you wearing AOL stuff" Austin replied "It's something in the works between me AOL and a big named Cup Owner." When asked if is is with RCR he said "Possibly.... we're working on a deal right now." When asked if you do come too an agreement will you go straight to Cup, Austin said "Probably not.......will probably run a double weekend." Then from the NASCAR press conference yesterday... What are your plans for a third team? Richard Childress: "We took a step back because that's where we originally had Kevin lined up to do those races, and Atlanta was actually going to be his first race with the America Online car. So now, what we've done is we're going to make the announcement of the driver this weekend. We're going to run seven races and we'll give that schedule out at Bristol as well. We're excited about it. It's a great company and great people to be with. I feel you need the third team. That's one thing that Dale and I had talked about in depth this past winter, about what we needed to do at RCR to keep these teams stronger."(3-24-2001)

  • What's Up with: Geoffrey Bodine, see an AP story at the ESPN site: Bodine admits returning too quickly. A few tidbits - Bodine was at Bristol this weekend with his brothers, Brett and Todd, who will race in Sunday's Food City 500. He's been out of ride a this season and is looking to get a program together so he can run again this year(3-24-2001)

  • The Burton Seat: A revolutionary racing seat being developed for Winston Cup drivers has further tests scheduled. Among those involved in the seat project is Jeff Burton, PPI Racing and Dr. John Melvin, a Michigan-based biomechanical engineer and one of the world's leading authorities on racing injuries. The carbon fiber seat, which was constructed in England, is in the United States, Burton said. Crash testing has been scheduled for the seat, although Burton did not say when. Crash tests were performed on an earlier prototype in October. Burton says that the seat has been designed to incorporate the HANS device, for head and neck support.(more at the Roanoke Times)(3-24-2001)

  • Fuel Cell Changes? Mike Skinner's fiery crash at Darlington has NASCAR officials planning safety changes in the fuel-cell area. The top piece of Skinner's fuel cell, a cast aluminum piece with a safety-check valve to prevent spillage, was sheared off when Skinner backed into the wall after being hit by Rusty Wallace. NASCAR is looking at making the safety-check valve piece more "crushable."(Winston Salem Journal)(3-24-2001)

  • #15 and DEI? UPDATE 2: have heard it was reported on Fox Sports Net show on Tuesday night that some crew members have left or were released from the #15 DEI team
    UPDATE: hearing Car Chief Mike Kelly and Front Tire Changer Tim Sheets are two of the three who left(3-21-2001)
    UPDATE 2: Three members of Michael Waltrip's team are no longer a part of the DEI operation. Car chief Mike Kelly, front-tire changer and tire specialist Tim Sheets and shop mechanic Steve Durne have left. Kelly now works with Casey Atwood's #19 team at Evernham Motorsports and Sheets is now with Morgan-McClure Motorsports, which fields the #4 Chevys(That's Racin')(3-24-2001)

  • New Changer for the #10: Two team members who changed the rear tires on Johnny Benson's #10 car last year will be back in that role this weekend. They will replace two crewmen who've moved to the crew of #36 Ken Schrader, Benson's teammate(That's Racin'), AND Two pit crew members for the #10 MBV Motorsports Pontiac have been relieved of their duties at the track. Those two individuals, which were unnamed, still hold positions at the team's shop, but were replaced at the track by two former pit crew members of the #36( Buzz) (3-24-2001)

  • Ingle to the TV Booth/Studio? Bill Ingle, the former Winston Cup crew chief who most recently was the crew chief for driver Dennis Setzer at the #46 Morgan-Dollar Motorsports team, could be heading to a television career. If that is the case, look for chief mechanic Todd Meyers, who built TKO Motorsports into a CTS contender before the team had to suspend operations earlier this season due to a lack of sponsorship, to fill the role for Setzer. Meyers replaced Ingle -- who was absent while attending to personal business --- at the most recent CTS race, at Mesa Marin Raceway, where Setzer was running third late in the race before he hit the wall and ended his chances( Buzz)(3-24-2001)

  • More #4? Gordon Notes UPDATE 6 Gordon gone/Lepage In for now/Mast in the mix? $4 Million? during Fox Sports Net practice coverage, a few things were mentioned. That they heard that Kevin Lepage was fitted for the seat in the #4 car. Robby Gordon's and Morgan-McClures lawyers are talking. Gordon would only say he has a 5-year contract. The chassis being run at Darlington is a Morgan-McClure chassis not a Gordon Chassis as rumored and not a third party chassis such as Laughlin or Hopkins. Lepage seen talking to a Kodak crew member(3-17-2001)
    UPDATE: Robby Gordon has heard all the rumors, that car owner Larry McClure is planning to make a driver change quickly, that Kevin Lepage might be the man in McClure's cars. But Gordon said he's not going gently into the night. He's got a five-year contract with McClure, he plans to live up to his part of the bargain and he doesn't plan to be the fall guy in any sponsor debates. But now again there are more rumors of a pending change. Lepage said he can't say anything. Gordon said he's not giving up without a good fight.(Winston Salem Journal)(see next story for more)(3-18-2001)
    UPDATE 2: Controversy continues to shroud the Larry McClure team. This weekend, Robby Gordon pointed to his five-year contract and said he's staying with the team. Kevin Lepage said on a Grand National prerace show that he'll be in the McClure car in a matter of time. Crew chief David Ifft said he doesn't want to spend a whole year with the team. And McClure, for his part, isn't saying much(Richmond Times Dispatch)(3-19-2001)
    UPDATE 3: Morgan-McClure Motorsports/Kodak and driver Robby Gordon have agreed to terminate their contract. This change is effective immediately. A driver for the No. 4 Chevrolet for the this weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway will be announced on Thursday. Morgan-McClure will name a permanent driver at a later date(Morgan McClure PR), still hearing Kevin Lepage will be the driver at Bristol but may not be the permanent driver(3-21-2001)
  • UPDATE 4: Kevin Lapage has been named to drive the #4 car at Bristol, a permanent driver will be named at a later date. Gordon was on ESPN2's RPM 2Night Thursday and says he has talked to some Cup owners and IRL teams
    see more on my #4 Team News and Links page(3-22-2001)
  • UPDATE 5: ESPN2's RPM 2Night reports that Rick Mast has talked to #4 Owner Larry McClure about driving the Kodak Chevy(3-24-2001)
    UPDATE - $4 million? the price tag for Robby Gordon's release? According to one source of the Winston Salem Journal, it was $4 million, to buy out the rest of his five-year contract with car owner Larry McClure(Winston Salem Journal) AND from an AP Story: Gordon, a former Indy-car driver, said he doesn't want to go back to open-wheel racing. Although he said he'll probably run in the Indianapolis 500 in May, he's looking for sponsorship for the stock car he owns and operated last season in Winston Cup(AP/That's Racin')(3-24-2001)

  • Pardus to run the BGN: Management of The Outdoor Channel, Inc. announced the signing of an eight race agreement with Jim and Judie Motorsports to compete in the BGN. Dan Pardus, who ran The Outdoor Channel Chevy at the ARCA event in Daytona this February, will continue on as driver of the #32 Monte Carlo. His first race will be April 14th in Nashville, TN. The tentative schedule for the remainder of the season includes: Charlotte on May 26th, Chicago on July 14th, Michigan on August 18th, Darlington on September 1st, Charlotte on October 6th, Phoenix on October 27th, and Homestead-Miami on November 10th. All of the events are companion events to NASCAR's Winston Cup Series, with the exception of Nashville(Outdoor Channel PR) AND The team bought three GN-ready Monte Carlos from Bill Amick, father of GN and Truck Series driver Lyndon Amick. The team will abandon the ARCA Series in favor of competing in the BGN(Daytona Beach News Journal), Pardus run in a Winston Cup race at Daytona in 1999 and attempted a few in 2000 but didn't make the field(3-24-2001)

  • Jeff Burton to Childress? um...NO - UPDATE 3: it was reported on the radio show The LTN Hour NASCAR Radio Show(RA) last Sunday(3-18), that while Jeff Green will drive the #30 AOL Chevy fielded by Richard Childress Racing this year in seven races, there will be a big surprise who will drive the #30 car next year and said it will be Jeff, but not Green and will come from a Ford team. That leaves...Jeff Burton, one catch I see a problem with, Jeff Burton has a contract with his current team owner Jack Roush through 2005. Also said that Jeff Green will move up to Winston Cup with his current BGN team, ppc Racing in 2002
    AND from this weeks Winston Cup Scene: Jeff Burton, who's been with Ford his entire Winston Cup career, was also rumored to be in the running for the full-time AOL ride. Despite Burton's terrible start, Burton denied the rumor, as did Childress. "I'm very committed to Roush Racing. I'm very committed to (primary sponsor) Citgo," Burton said. "I have no desire to leave Roush Racing. We are a team that has been in the top five in points the last four years and we've won a lot of races the last four years. The fact we've gotten off to a slow start isn't my team's fault." Asked if Burton was being considered for the AOL ride, Childress said, "Right now, no. I haven't talked directly to Jeff. Nobody (has). I wouldn't even throw his name in the rumor mill." As for ppc Racing, they tried unsuccessfully to put together a limited Winston Cup program for Green this year. Green would like to stay with team owners Greg Pollex, John Bender and Bob Campbell, if possible.(Winston Cup Scene - need subscription to read online)(3-22-2001)
    UPDATE: Green apparently will have to prove himself to stay in the #30 car for 2002. Other drivers whose names have come up in connection with the ride are Stacy Compton and Roush Racing drivers Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle(Dallas Morning News)
    UPDATE 2: from The Morning Buzz radio show on 100.3 WHEB, and Rock 101 in New Hampshire. They had Frank Stoddard, #99 Crew Chief on the show this week (as they do each week) and today they interviewed Jeff Burton. Their first question was about the rumors of his move to Childress. He flatly denied the rumors, and added that the story makes him "furious". He said he has "no idea" where the story came from, and that there is no truth at all to it. He wants everybody to know for a fact that he is NOT leaving Roush Racing - Also an announcement is expected at Bristol on Friday about Jeff Green driving this year(3-22-2001)
    UPDATE 3: Jack Roush uses direct reasoning as he states his case and makes the point that he is always willing to address the fodder that climbs the grapevine. NO, Jeff Burton isn't leaving Roush Racing to drive for Richard Childress Racing. NO, Burton and Martin didn't demand that the organization lease engines from another organization until the reliability and horsepower woes are resolved. And NO, heads aren't rolling in the engine departments at Livonia (Mich.) and Mooresville (NC).(Sporting News)(3-23-2001)

  • ESPN and NASCAR: been getting this question a lot, 'Why is ESPN2's RPM 2Night not showing race footage of the Winston Cup races and only still photos?' - the answer: Mark Quenzel, the senior vice president of programming for ESPN, said he's baffled by NASCAR's intransigence in the RPM2Night affair. It was his network, he said, that carried many of NASCAR's races for nearly 20 years when no other network was interested. Now NASCAR has been barring ABC-ESPN reporters from the Winston Cup garage this season. ESPN are still not allowed to use highlights for the NASCAR events, unfortunately. It is a little awkward having to use still photos of the races. (Brian)France said he wants to be a good business partner with Fox and NBC and help get Fox's new NASCAR shows off and running. He said ESPN should use its 11:00pm SportsCenter to carry Winston Cup coverage, instead of the motor sports specialty show RPM2Night. Is Fox part of the problem? NASCAR executives and Winston Cup team owners and their sponsors are finding Fox to be a little tougher than they expected. "I really don't know," Quenzel said. "Fox is in a difficult position."(Winston Salem Journal)(3-23-2001)

  • Cup teams test at Kentucky UPDATE 3: #32-Ricky Craven and #96-Andy Houston are testing PPI Motorpsorts Fords at Kentucky Speedway, Tuesday March 20th and Wednesday March 21st. #19-Casey Atwood will test his Dodge on Wednesday(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-19-2001)
    UPDATE: Ricky Craven and Andy Houston began a two-day test at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday. The #32 Tide Ford and the #96 McDonald's Ford worked on chassis and aerodynamic set-ups. It was Craven's first trip to the $152 million super speedway, which is situated just outside of Cincinnati, OH, the home base of his primary sponsor Procter and Gamble. "I had heard a lot about the track and how good it was to run on, but I had no idea just how nice it was until I pulled in, " said Craven. "It is definitely a fast track. I would love to have the Winston Cup dates include Kentucky"(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-20-2001)
    UPDATE 2:NASCAR Winston Cup Driver's Ricky Craven and Andy Houston tested for the last two days at Kentucky Speedway™. The #32 Tide Ford and the #96 McDonald's Ford of PPI Motorsports worked on chassis and aerodynamic set-ups for future races. Both cars turned laps on Tuesday and Wednesday. The session, Wednesday though, was delayed until the afternoon because of overnight showers. Evernham Motorsports postponed its scheduled Wednesday test with the #19 Dodge Car, driven by Casey Atwood(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-22-2001)
    UPDATE 3: hearing the #50 Chevy will test at Kentucky with driver Rick Mast next week, March 27th and 28th(3-23-2001)

  • #97 Sponsor update: hearing the announcement will probably be at Texas and not Bristol that Sharpie®/Sanford/Newell Rubbermaid will be Kurt Bucsh's sponsor. Hearing the car will be primarily black with a white hood having "Sharpie" in black letters with a blue Sharpie pen underneath it on the hood. The lower left side of the car is blue ... the lower right side of the car is red (almost like somebody's been scribbling on it with a ... Sharpie) or an all black with a red "Rubbermaid" logo. Sharpie is on the quarter panels and Paper*Mate is on the deck lid(3-22-2001)

  • Talladega Rules Changes Ford/Dodge UPDATE: Ford teams will get a rules break after all, NASCAR decided yesterday. Ford will be allowed a two-inch narrower rear spoiler, giving them the same size rear spoiler as the Chevy at Talladega. Dodge teams will have to add a larger roof spoiler to their Intrepids. The new Dodge spoiler would be the same size as the one Ford teams used last fall at Talladega. Ford will still be allowed to run the smaller roof spoiler at Talladega even though the Ford and Dodge use essentially identical body templates(Winston Salem Journal)(3-22-2001)
    UPDATE: NASCAR officials announced today modifications for the Ford and Dodge teams to be used in the Talladega 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 22, 2001. The width of the Ford's rear spoiler will be decreased from 59 inches to 57-inches wide. The Pontiac's rear spoiler will remain at 59-inches wide, while the Chevrolet's rear spoiler will still be 57-inches wide. The Dodge teams will still use a 1 3/8-inch tall roof mounted air deflector. However, the deflector will now have to form a straight line, which will raise the outer edges' height. Prior to this modification, the deflector had a shape similar to the contour of the roof. Measurements for the Chevrolet and Pontiac models remain unchanged(NASCAR PR)(3-22-2001)

  • Buckshot at Texas: Buckshot Jones' #44 Dodge, one of three Petty Enterprises cars, will carry a special "four generations of Petty's" paint scheme at TMS. The car will be unveiled in a news conference on pole qualifying morning (Friday, March 30). Adam Petty, the fourth-generation driver, made his Winston Cup debut last spring at TMS. He was killed a few weeks later in a crash at New Hampshire.(Dallas Morning News)(3-22-2001)

  • Expert Chosen to Review Photos: A Duke University professor who specializes in neck injury research has been chosen by a mediator to evaluate the fatal injuries of Dale Earnhardt. Barry S. Myers, a physician who also has a degree in mechanical engineering, will study the various reports and photographs related to Earnhardt's injuries. The selection of a medical expert was part of an agreement reached last week between Teresa Earnhardt and the Orlando Sentinel, which has been seeking such an evaluation by an an independent medical expert. At a Thursday afternoon press conference in Daytona Beach, Sentinel attorneys praised the selection of Myers and said there were no changes to the agreement reached last week with Earnhardt's widow, Teresa.(Orlando Sentinel)(3-22-2001)
  • Trickle News: Dick Trickle was in Darlington last weekend. Trickle spoke with Richard Childress about competing in the #2 AC Delco BGN car when they have conflicts in schedule with Kevin Harvick now driving in Cup for Childress. Childress said they haven’t made any decisions yet, since it won’t be a problem until May, but told Trickle that they would be talking(Dick Trickle Fan Club site)(3-22-2001)

  • Simpson Belt Passes Test? UPDATE: hearing it was reported on FSN's Totally NASCAR that Bill Simpson completed his independent test of an identical lap belt to the one Dale Earnhardt was wearing in the Daytona 500. The belt material used in the test was from the same batch as the one used by Earnhardt. The test was conducted by the SFI test facility outside San Diego, CA. A test video showed a lap belt drawn across a jig to represent the size and shape of a human lower torso. The belt was then pulled on until it broke. The test showed that the belt failed at greater than 4500 pounds on either end for a combined weight of greater than 9000 pounds. Simpson said that his seat belts will not fail unless improperly installed(3-22-2001)
    UPDATE: Tests of six lap belts from the same batch used in the car in which Dale Earnhardt was killed show the restraints were able to withstand far more pressure than might be expected in a crash during a race. One of the six belts tested did not fail at all under a maximum load of 5,800 pounds placed on it during the tests at SFI Foundation's facility in Poway, CA.. The remaining five did fail, but none at lower than 4,750 pounds. According to test reports obtained by The Observer, the six 3-inch-wide nylon belts were tested on March 8. Bill Simpson, owner of the Mooresville-based company that supplies safety equipment to most NASCAR teams, took the belts from that same batch made in November 2000 that were used in Dale Earnhardt's car at Daytona. See more at the Charlotte Observer(3-22-2001)

  • Hillenburg BGN and Cup plans: Andy Hillenburg will attempt to qualify for the March 31 BGN race at Texas in a car owned by Wisconsin businessman Tom Mohrhauser. The car will be fielded out of Hillenburg's Fast Track High Performance Driving School shop in Harrisburg, NC. Its sponsor, Quail Unlimited, a non-profit wildlife organization, also backed the driver during last year's Indianapolis 500. Hillenburg's also got a seven-race Winston Cup deal with BAM Racing, set to begin at Talladega next month(Winston Cup Scene - need subscription to read online), sorry folks, no idea who BAM Racing is....yet, know they run ARCA(3-22-2001)

  • #92 Crew Chief Penalized and Suspended UPDATE 2 Knaus back at the track: NASCAR officials announced today they have penalized NASCAR Winston Cup Series crew chief Chad Knaus for rules violations (shoulder harness) discovered in preliminary inspection prior to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. Knaus, crew chief of the #92 NASCAR Winston Cup Series team, was fined $5,000 and suspended from the next two NASCAR Winston Cup Series races (suspension ends April 4, 2001). Knaus was penalized under Section 12-4-Q in the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series rule book: "Any determination by NASCAR Officials that parts and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform... or have not been approved by NASCAR..."(NASCAR PR)
    UPDATE: Melling Racing owner, Mark Melling, issued the following statement in response to the suspension of Knaus: "I stand soundly by the safety record of Melling Racing over the many years that we have been participating in this sport. We are one of the first teams to use a neck restraining device (developed in conjunction with associate sponsor Autoliv, the number one automotive safety company in the world). That device was in place prior to this year's Daytona 500. From owner to driver to crew chief to mechanic safety truly is our utmost concern. We are appealing this penalty immediately. For NASCAR to call us out on a "technicality," two weeks after the discovery of the alleged infraction, is just wrong. We have been a leader in the safety area long before it became the recent "buzz" word in NASCAR. I'm deeply troubled that NASCAR chose to make an example out of us."
    Melling Racing crew chief, Chad Knaus, made the following statement: "NASCAR's concern is that safety belts are up to current standards. The belts in question are brand new belts, and we can prove that. As a matter of safety, we trim off excess shoulder belt material," continued Knaus. "If we did not discard the extra 16 to 24 inches of material, the unused part of the belt would hang free in the cockpit. We don't believe rolling up the excess material provides as safe an alternative as trimming off the excess. When we trimmed off the excess belt material, we also cut off the tag. However, the other belts from this set still had their dated tags, which indicated that this set was new. If NASCAR fined and suspended every crew chief because only one belt was not dated, then every crew chief would be fined and suspended because not every belt is dated. Only three of the five belts that make up a safety restraint system have dated tags, and Simpson even makes a set of belts, harnesses and hardware that come in one box and has only one date tag. So how does NASCAR know the other belts or harnesses are up to spec? They look at the other belts or harnesses that are dated, and they judge the system as a whole. They didn't do that in Atlanta. It's unfortunate, because I personally make sure that our team goes above and beyond the industry standard to ensure the safety of our cars," said Knaus. "Let me add that I'm glad that NASCAR leaves the choice of safety equipment to the teams. I want that responsibility, and I think NASCAR generally does a very good job policing the safety equipment in these cars. In this case, however, I feel like we are being made an example of." During his absence, the #92 Kodiak Racing Team will operate under a "crew chief-by-committee" structure at Bristol and Texas. Race-day-calls will be made by team owner, Mark Melling, car chief, Dean Johnson, and mechanic, Cory Stott(Melling PR)(3-21-2001)
    UPDATE 2: Chad Knaus, crew chief of the #92 Kodiak Dodge driven by Stacy Compton, will work with his Melling Racing team in this weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol after team owner Mark Melling appealed Knaus' $5,000 fine and two-race suspension to NASCAR officials. Matt Chambers, crew chief of the Roush Racing #97 JR's Garage Ford driven by Kurt Busch, received the same penalty as Knaus, but did not appeal it.(

  • TV Ratings: According to Nielsen Media Research, the late NCAA Baskeyball games Sunday pulled a 7.1 overnight rating on CBS. The games that ran opposite the Cup race at Darlington pulled a 5.8, while the race managed a 5.2 (12 share) on Fox(SpeedVision)(3-22-2001)

  • Marcis 2001 Schedule: been asked enough, so here it is, Dave Marcis' 2001 Cup schedule:
    Daytona 500(missed), Talladega(both), Winston Open, Dover(June), Daytona, Chicagoland, Indy, Darlington and Atlanta(fall)(Marcis Racing Site), Marcis also was going to attempt last weeks race at Darlington but got fogged out(3-22-2001)

  • Sad News: Condolences to Mike and Scott Beam, whose sister, Kathey, died of cancer March 15. Mike is the crew chief for PPI Motorsports driver Ricky Craven and Scott is the shop foreman for Jason Keller's ppc Racing organization(Winston Cup Scene - need subscription to read online)(3-22-2001)

  • Martinsville Hotel Fire UPDATE 2: A massive fire gutted a portion of the Dutch Inn hotel in Collinsville, VA (near Martinsville) late Monday. Flames engulfed the portion of the building adjacent to an automotive parts store and the Dutch Inn Plaza shopping center. Thick smoke rose into the sky from flames that shot from the top of the structure. Firefighters were still battling hot spots in the hotel's windmill tower early this morning. A portion of the building's roof caved in about 12:20 a.m. as firefighters extinguished the blaze. A firefighter atop a ladder truck sprayed water onto the fire from high above it(Martinsville Bulletin). So with the Martinsville races coming up in a little over two weeks, folks who were planning on staying there may wish to check out the situation in a few days when things calm down at the hotel(3-20-2001)
    UPDATE: Except for the two suites in the tower, none of the guest rooms was damaged, so the hotel will be able to accommodate almost everyone booked there for the April 8 race at the Martinsville Speedway. Electricity and cable television were restored Tuesday. The hotel should reopen next week(Roanoke Times)
    UPDATE 2: The good news is all of the rooms are inhabitable and will be ready for the Virginia 500 weekend. The bad news is all of the paperwork concerning room reservations for the Virginia 500 were burned. Martinsville Speedway is trying to help the management of the Dutch Inn get in contact with anyone who might have had reservations for that weekend so the paperwook can be recreated. If you have made reservations with the Dutch Inn for the Virginia 500, and have not already spoken with Amanda at the Dutch Inn, please fax her a copy of your contract or any other paper work. Her fax number is (540) 647-4119. The folks at the Dutch Inn have assured Martinsville Speedway they will honor all reservations for race week(Martinsville Speedway PR)(3-21-2001)

  • New #44 Crew Chief: Bryant Frazier has been named crew chief for driver Buckshot Jones and the #44 Georgia-Pacific Dodge team. The announcement was made this morning by Petty Enterprises CEO Kyle Petty. Frazier, 36, is no stranger to winning. The Alabama native began his racing career with driver Steve Grissom in NASCAR.s All-Pro Series and Busch Grand National Series, winning national championships in each division. Since 1996, he has been working - and winning races - with drivers Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart in the BGN. Frazier has already begun his new duties. His first NASCAR Winston Cup race as crew chief will be this weekend.s Food City 500 at Bristol(Williams Company), no word of the status of the former crew chief, Mark Tutor(3-21-2001)

  • #15 and DEI? UPDATE: have heard it was reported on Fox Sports Net show on Tuesday night that some crew members have left or were released from the #15 DEI team
    UPDATE: hearing Car Chief Mike Kelly and Front Tire Changer Tim Sheets are two of the three who left(3-21-2001)

  • Wind Tunnel UPDATE 2: NASCAR took #'s 88, 24, 40 and 18 to the wind tunnel in Marietta, GA., following the race on Sunday at Atlanta(Sporting News)(3-12-2001)
    The information from NASCAR's wind-tunnel last week showed all four brands within 20 pounds of each other in downforce. But Bobby Labonte's Pontiac showed the least drag, according to one GM official, which was a surprise(Winston Salem Journal)(3-18-2001)
    UPDATE 2: some numbers(unofficial):
    Test 1 Tested at inspection height, and with the nose taped off as for qualifying, at 3 degrees of yaw, slightly sideways as in entering a corner:
    #18-1,344lbs of total downforce
    Test 2 Tested with the nose lowered, in more of a real-race situation:
    #88-1521lbs of downforce
    Test 3 Drag Comparison - horsepower needed reach 200-mph in the wind tunnel:
    These are the only numbers I have seen, can't say I totally understand them so don't ask me to explain, see the full story at the Winston Salem Journal(3-21-2001)

  • Skinner and the HANS UPDATE: many folks have emailed me and wondered what Mike Skinner thought about the HANS device and the situation where there was quite a bit of fire. On ESPN2's RPM 2Night Skinner said he may had taken him a little longer to get out with the HANS device, but he was happy with it's performance and he will continue to wear the device. He said the length of time to get out of the car had more to do with him shaking off the effects of the crash and trying to get the steering wheel and unstrapping the belts and the HANS device(3-20-2001)
    UPDATE: Mike Skinner credits the HANS device with helping him avoid serious injuries in a crash late in Sunday's race at Darlington. "I've taken a lot less severe hits than this and hurt a lot worse," Skinner said. "I give a big thumbs-up to the HANS device. It kept me from hurting a lot worse than I did." Car owner Richard Childress said the HANS device did not prevent his driver from exiting quickly. Skinner told Childress that he didn't drop the left net, which is between the driver's head and the window net, at first and that held him up. Skinner said that he slid forward in the seat in the wreck and got his belt stuck against the steering wheel, further slowing him(Roanoke Times)(3-21-2001)

  • Earnahrdt Tribute Hats and Decals UPDATE: been asked a ton on this and had no answers - Officials with Richard Childress Racing say the Dale Earnhardt hats worn by drivers and crew members on race day at Rockingham last month were provided by Action Performance. Fans can contact Action Performance about the hats' availability by visiting their Web site for merchandise sales,, or by calling (800) 342-7612, Monday through Friday, 6:00am to 6:00pm/et. Team spokesman David Hart said there are no plans to reprint the memorial decals that were displayed on the cars during the race at Rockingham(That's Racin')(3-17-2001)
    Sites: been told of many sites offering the hats, see my Collectible Links Page for links to many, many Collectible/Apparel Sites(3-18-2001)
    UPDATE: For the first time since the tragic accident in the closing lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. is addressing the issue of souvenirs and merchandise that bear the likeness of seven-time Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt and the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet. As the winningest active driver in the series, Earnhardt led the sport's merchandising efforts by single-handedly commanding 30% of the collectible market. Unfortunately, as witnessed in the untimely demise of other fallen heroes, tragedy can often trigger immoral behavior in the souvenir industry. Joe Hedrick, Director of Licensing at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) stated, "We would like to think at a time like this, the souvenir business would be the last thing on anyone's mind. Unfortunately, we've been forced to address this issue and bring it to the attention of the many Dale Earnhardt fans across the country who are being exploited by those who are merely trying to profit from this tragic situation. We want to assure the fans of Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress Racing that there will be an adequate supply of Official Licensed souvenirs and collectible in the future. Dale Earnhardt, Inc is looking forward to honoring his life and career and will do it in a very honorable way. That is what Dale would want", stated Hedrick. In the mean time, DEI is urging fans to be very selective in what they purchase and what is being offered for sale. At this point in time, there are no official products "In Memorial" to Dale. Any products that promote or memorialize his passing are not the wishes of the family and have not been authorized. Specific unauthorized products that have been witnessed for sale are: T-shirts, Plaques, Stickers, and other various items that have placed the "1951-2001" script somewhere on the item. DEI would also like to inform fans to be very discriminating on purchasing autographed items. "We have witnessed many forgeries on some of the larger auction sites on the Internet," added Hedrick. "To help fans determine what is officially licensed, they should look for "Officially Licensed" hangtags and taglines. On apparel, Chase Authentics and Competitors View are the only brands endorsed by Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. To help police any unauthorized activity, fans may call 1-877-337-3600 (corrected) to report any manufactures or retailers that might be involved with this appalling behavior. Hedrick went on to conclude, "Dale Earnhardt took all the necessary measures before his death to protect his rights now and for many years to come. DEI is going to keep those rights intact and will continue enforcing those rights in a manner that would make Dale proud".(Champion Sports PR)(3-20-2001)

  • #3 to Return? Buzz for today reports that Richard Childress said Tuesday that he was unsure about the future of the black No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, as driven by the late Dale Earnhardt. The car, arguably the most beloved number and paint scheme in NASCAR history, won't be run the rest of this year, but Childress hasn't ruled out running it in the future(

  • Virginia Lottery to Sponsor who ? UPDATE 2: interesting - the Virginia Lottery will have its own NASCAR Winston Cup racing car that will run at Martinsville and Richmond this spring. The contest is to guess the driver and car number. For more info, see my Racing Contest Page(3-15-2001)
    UPDATE: The Virginia Lottery has scheduled a major NASCAR Winston Cup announcement for Friday, April 6, at 1:20 p.m.. The press conference will take place at the Martinsville Speedway infield media center.(3-16-2001)
    UPDATE 2: Continue to hear rumors that the Virginia Lottery Nascar Winston Cup Program will involve Hermie Sadler. Sadler is testing Martinsville next week. Also hearing the deal involves some type of partnership with Team Amick Motorsports. A press conference has been scheduled at Martinsville Speedway on April 6 by the Virginia Lottery(3-20-2001)

  • Bristol Rememberance: Bristol Motor Speedway, along with thousands of fans, will pay tribute to the late Dale Earnhardt during this weekend’s racing activities. In addition to a special tribute during Food City 500 pre-race ceremonies, the speedway has painted Earnhardt’s familiar #3 on the track apron in each of the four turns. The “Earnhardt Wall of Remembrance’’ is located beneath the Kulwicki Grandstand near the speedway’s main office outside of turn one. The wall provides a place for fans to express their feelings, thoughts and memories of the nine-time BMS winner(Kingsport Times News)(3-20-2001)

  • NASCAR Personnel Moves in the future? UPDATE 2 new Darlington President: a NASCAR shakeup appears in the works, with Darlington's Jim Hunter expected to get a promotion to NASCAR's Daytona Beach headquarters, and with NASCAR's Tom Deery being reassigned, according to NASCAR sources(Winston Salem Journal)
    AND Gary Nelson's duties could pass to subordinates Buster Auton and Brian DeHart as the season goes on. NASCAR is developing a research facility in Dale Jarrett's old Busch shop in Conover/Hickory, N.C., and it appears likely that Nelson is being pointed in that direction. SpeedVision hear conflicting reports on Busch Series director John Darby, a) that he would be offered Nelson's job for 2002 and would take it, and b) that he would be offered Nelson's job and turn it down, preferring his present role(SpeedVision)(3-19-2001)
    UPDATE: Darlington Raceway and International Speedway Corporation are expected to announce later this week that Andrew Gurtis will be the track's new president. Jim Hunter, current president of NASCAR's original superspeedway, will be promoted to a position within NASCAR. He will continue to oversee Darlington Raceway, North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C., and Richmond International Raceway. He will continue to reside in Darlington.(Lap by Lap)
    UPDATE 2: Andrew Gurtis, who has served as vice president of Daytona International Speedway the past four years, is the new president of Darlington Raceway. Gurtis replaces Jim Hunter, who has served as president of the International Speedway Corp.-owned facility since 1992. As president, Gurtis will be responsible for overseeing all strategic and daily operations at Darlington. He assumes his duties later this month. Gurtis will report to Hunter, who will remain with ISC in his current position as vice president and continue his duties as regional director of the company's Atlantic division, overseeing Darlington, North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C., and Richmond International Raceway(That's Racin'/DIS PR)(3-20-2001)

  • Best Finishes: at Darlington, six drivers (unless I missed someone) has their best finsihes of the five race 2001 season:
    #88-Dale Jarrett 1st (and best since win at Rockingham last Oct)
    #12-Jeremy Mayfield 3rd (and best since a 2nd at Phoenix last season)
    #26-Jimmy Spencer 4th (and best finish since a 2nd at Bristol in Aug 1999)
    #43-John Andretti 6th (and best finish since a 3rd at Sears Point in 1999)
    #99-Jeff Burton 18th (hard to believe, best since his 12th at Atlanta in the 2000 season ender)
    #90-Hut Stricklin 28th (ties his best finish of 2001 last week at Atlanta)(3-20-2001)

  • #66 Sponsor: Ralston Purina Company announced that Purina Dog Chow brand dog food will be an associate sponsor on the No. 66 Route 66/Kmart Ford Taurus, driven by Todd Bodine.  Dog Chow along with the Purina flagship red and white checkerboard logo will be displayed on the rear quarter panel of the car(Kmart PR)(3-20-2001)

  • Lawsuit: Five states announced plans Monday to sue R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.. contending the company has violated a promise to stop marketing to youngsters. Lawyers for Arizona, California, Ohio, New York and Washington allege R. J. Reyolds has violated parts of a master settlement agreement signed by the major tobacco companies and the states, including provisions concerning stock car ads. Four states, Arizona, California, New York and Washington, want the company to remove Winston Cup billboards after a NASCAR race has been run instead of leaving them up at tracks on the Winston Cup circuit throughout the racing season. The agreement allowed signs to stay up for 10 days after "the last sponsored event." Reynolds said its signs comply with that rule(AP/Daytona Beach News Journal)(3-20-2001)

  • Gordon/DW on Larry King UPDATE 2 Transcript: Jeff Gordon will appear on Larry King Live on Monday, March 19th. The show airs on CNN from 9:00 - 10:00pm/et. Also hear Darrell Waltrip will appear on the show with Gordon(3-17-2001)
    UPDATE: Joining Larry King will be DW, Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty. The 3 are supposed to be the only guests for the entire hour. King wants to do a "positive" piece on NASCAR since the last time dealt only about Dale's passing(3-18-2001)
    UPDATE 2: Larry King Live - What Is the Future of NASCAR?, a transcript of Monday's show with Gordon, Petty and Waltrip. Also has some highlights at Larry King Live Video(3-20-2001)

  • Special Budweiser Commercial? UPDATE 2: According to Speedway Illustrated, watch for a very special Bud commercial during the race this Sunday at Darlington. Seems Dale Earnardt and Dale Jr. were scheduled to do one together, Budweiser contacted Jr. and asked him what he wanted to do about it and he said he would like to do it as a tribute to his dad. He was supposedly given complete control(Speedway Illustrated)(3-15-2001)
    UPDATE: great commercial, no idea if it will be re-aired during Fox Sports Net's replay of the race at Darlington today at noon or ever again
    UPDATE 2: A special Budweiser commercial featuring Dale Jr. aired for the first time during the race telecast on Fox Sunday. It will air once per race for the next several weeks as a tribute to his father, the late Dale Earnhardt. Much of the script was based upon a column that Dale Jr. had written about his father last winter. .Dale Jr. wanted to do another tribute to his dad and also wanted to provide a positive message urging race fans to continue to support and enjoy NASCAR racing. The commercial was shot on a windy, cold day at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC, while Dale Jr.recorded his narration the following day in a studio near uptown Charlotte(Budweiser/ PR)(3-19-2001)

  • Rethinking Qualifying: Darlington president Jim Hunter said the track and NASCAR will rethink the abbreviated Winston Cup schedule for the track's spring race. Until this year qualifying was held on Friday. But Saturday's qualifying for the Cup race at Darlington was fogged out to get in a morning practice for Winston Cup drivers(That's Racin'/AP)(3-19-2001)

    see the Mar 12-18, 2001 Archived News Page

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