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PAST NEWS APR 16-22, 2001

  • Stewart at the Indy 500? UPDATE 2:CART and Cup team owner Chip Ganassi, apparently uncomfortable with his rookie tandem of Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian, has asked CART veterans Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy to take their place and drive for him in next month's 85th Indy 500. Tracy wanted to go but was told no by his CART sponsor, KOOL, while Vasser is game but must get the blessing of his car owner, Pat Patrick. And Tony Stewart might even figure in this equation. Stewart, whose contract with Joe Gibbs used to have a provision that allowed him to compete in the Indianapolis 500, hasn't driven at Indy since 1999. That May he finished ninth, then flew to Charlotte for his Winston Cup duties. Afterward, he was so physically exhausted he vowed never to attempt that doubleheader again. However, recently he told some IRL officials he wanted to run Indy again if he could find a good team. Ganassi, competing in his rookie year of NASCAR, was in Talladega on Friday and expected to pursue the '97 IRL champion. Stewart didn't return phone calls Thursday or Friday and neither did Ganassi, who has one remaining test day at Indy next week. At this time, there is no confirmation that Ganassi has approached Stewart about driving for him at Indianapolis(ESPN/Robin Miller)(4-21-2001)
    UPDATE: Tony Stewart said he'll run in the Indy 500 if he can get a good ride, either with either Chip Ganassi or Roger Penske. But Stewart said he's made no plans(Winston Salem Journal)
    UPDATE 2: Tony Stewart says there is no truth to reports that he is planning to drive in the Indianapolis 500. "I've always said that I want to go back and run Indy, but there's no way I could do anything now anyway, and I've already told everybody I wasn't going to go to Indy this year," he said, adding. "I do want to go back, I just don't know when it's going to be." While he denied the report, Stewart did enjoy it. "It's good that my name is getting thrown out up there and that people haven't forgotten me," he said(Richmond Times Dispatch)(4-22-2001)

  • NASCAR Invetigation: According to an insider, NASCAR is putting together the structure of its four-month investigation into the crash that killed seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt and what can be done to prevent future fatalities. Much of the scientific research is being done by the three manufacturers that participate in the Winston Cup Series: General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler. One of the manufacturers is concentrating on front-chassis rigidity, another is working on new protective measures in the driver compartment, and the third is concentrating on the field of side impacts.(Gaston Gazette)(4-22-2001)

  • Hamilton wins the Talladega 500: #55-Bobby Hamilton was able to pass #20-Tony Stewart on the last lap to win the Talladega 500. It was Hamiton's 4th career Winston Cup win and his fist in just over three years when he last won at Martinsville on April 20, 1998, 101 races ago. The win was the first ever for Andy Petree Racing(APR) and puts Hamilton into the 2001 The Winston and in position for the 2002 Winners Circle Program. It was the first win for car number 55 since Phil Parsons won using it at Talladega on May 1, 1988 and the #55's 12 overall win in Winston Cup(see my Winners by Car Numbers page)
    #88-Dale Jarrett holds onto the point lead by 148 points over #24-Jeff Gordon. #97-Kurt Busch got his best career finish with a 3rd, #6-Mark Martin got his first top five of 2001 and #33-Joe Nemechek got his first top 10 of 2001. There were 27 different leaders in the race which Fox reported as the most ever in any Winston Cup race and ever at Talladega (the old record was 26 at Talladega on July 27, 1986). The race was run caution free, the first time since Michigan in June 1999.
    See Unofficial Results at along with Unofficial Points Standings and a full story at That's Racin': Hamilton wins a caution-free Talladega 500(4-22-2001)

  • The Yellow Line: Mike Helton, president of NASCAR, during the pre-race drivers meeting, sternly made his point to the 43 competitors and crew chiefs assembled in the room. He let them know where the sanctioning body stood on reckless driving during the 500-mile event. "If we (NASCAR) feel a move below, or move coming from below the yellow line was unnecessary -- you can look for a black flag," he said authoritatively. "Be prepared, and we'll see you at the trailer after the race and let you know how much of your argument we'll listen to." Helton was referring to the yellow line on the low side of the racing surface that separates it from the apron. In prior races on this 2.66-mile high-banked oval, drivers have been known to make aggressive moves in that area to gain positions( Who got black flagged? #19-Casey Atwood, #66-Todd Bodine, #31-Mike Skinner(4-22-2001)

  • NBC/ESPN work out deal? ABC-ESPN executives have been working on an arrangement with NBC that would allow ESPN reporters access to the Winston Cup garage during the second half of the NASCAR season, in exchange for ESPN's promotion of Sunday races on NBC. NASCAR has barred ESPN from the stock-car garage, in order to allow Fox and its affiliates a chance to launch new Winston Cup programs. However, NBC has no such cable outlet, so it would be more amenable to the promotional arrangement that ESPN has offered, an arrangement ESPN also offered Fox.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-22-2001)

  • Mayfield Tried Different Device: Jeremy Mayfield tried out a new restraint system this weekend. The device, manufactured by Simpson, works as a decelerator in a crash. Unlike some restraint systems, the decelerator works to absorb force by moving slightly with the body. "When the car does come to a dead stop pretty fast, if you stop the head immediately, your brain keeps going," Mayfield said. "This slows down and almost tears a little bit before it stops. So as your head is moving, [the device] starts tearing at the rest depending on what the G-forces are." Three quick releases on the system allow the driver to quickly exit the car following a crash(Richmond Times Dispatch)(4-22-2001)

  • Labonte Wins IROC Race: Bobby Labonte, driving the white True Value IROC Pontiac Firebird, won his second True Value IROC Talladega race by .2097 seconds in the second round of the 25th True Value IROC series at Talladega Superspeedway. Veteran open wheel drivers Kenny Brack, of CART and Buddy Lazier of the IRL made the transition from open wheel to stock car racing look easy. Brack, driving the yellow Pontiac Firebird started in eighth position and finished second. In only his second True Value IROC start Lazier, driving the medium blue Firebird started and finished third. Picking up five True Value IROC bonus points for leading the most laps, NASCAR Busch Series driver Jeff Green led the most laps during the second half of the race. With only three laps remaining, however, Green lost the lead after a restart. The only incident occurred on lap 37 and involved Cheever, Jr., Lazier, and Jarrett. Cheever, Jr.'s car picked up a push coming off turn four and made contact with Lazier, collecting Jarrett. With his second win at Talladega, Labonte joined True Value IROC champions Al Unser Jr. and Dale Earnhardt as a multiple winner in the series at Talladega. ESPN: Will televise the Talladega True Value IROC race Saturday, May 26 at 5:00/et. Next Race: True Value IROC XXIV will resume Saturday, June 9, 2001 at Michigan(IROC PR)(4-21-2001)

  • Three RCR Teams in 2002: Richard Childress Racing will run three Winston Cup teams next season, regardless of what has been heard about sponsor Lowe's and driver Mike Skinner. First of all, both have contracts through 2002, Childress representatives said Friday. Second, Lowe's, which threatened to pull out of the game last September after a very odd sequence of events, has demonstrated renewed enthusiasm, posting its lumber products brand in primary positions on the #31 car. The driver situation remains unclear for 2002, despite the contracts, with many "speculating" that Skinner will be given other work in the RCR organzation. That may or may not be. Regardless, Childress will have the #31 next season, it appears now, and Skinner very well could remain as driver(in part from SpeedVision)(4-21-2001)

  • Robinson Sponsor for California and three other races: Aaron's Sales and Lease Ownership and MK Racing have announced their partnership for the # 84 Aaron.s Dream Machine Taurus for four NASCAR Winston Cup races this season with driver Shawna Robinson when she attempts to make the Apr. 29 California 500 at Fontana, CA., when she becomes the first female in nearly 12 years to start a NASCAR Winston Cup race. With the Dream Machine debuting at California, Robinson will run five additional races three (Michigan, Indianapolis and Atlanta) under the Aaron's banner to become the first female to run more than a handful of races in over 20 years. Robinson is not new to the Aaron's Dream Team. She ran the #99 Aaron.s Dream Machine (Michael Waltrip Racing) in the BGN Series in Texas, Nashville and this weekend at Talladega. She also ran the #8 Dream Machine (MK Racing) in the ARCA/REMAX Series race in Nashville where she finished third(Williams Company PR)(4-21-2001)

  • Kentucky Testing: NASCAR Winston Cup Driver Mike Wallace completed a two-day test of his #7 Nation's Rent Ford on April 17th at the1.5-mile tri-oval at Kentucky Speedway. Winston Cup Driver Matt Kenseth completed a one-day test of his Roush Racing #17 DeWalt Tools Ford on April 16. Wallace's Ultra Motorsports team experimented with new shock and spring combinations and raced to an unofficial fastest lap of 172.52 mph. "We're able to try some combinations here that we wouldn't normally try during regular Winston Cup testing," Wallace said. "We'll also gain some knowledge about this track and be able to compare our notes with our Ultra Sports Craftsman Truck Series Team to help it speed its learning curve."(Kentucky Speedway PR)(4-20-2001)

  • Subway to the #51: it was mentioned during the Fox TV coverage of the Talladega BGN race that the Subway sponsorship that was going to be on the #27 Eel River Racing Pontiac with driver Kenny Wallace will now run on the #51 Phoenix Racing Ford and driver Jeff Purvis since Kenny Wallace failed to make the race(4-21-2001)

  • Inspection Tough/Parts Taken: NASCAR officials confiscated several parts at Talladega on Friday . Unapproved fuel cell racks were taken from the cars of Ricky Rudd, Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The entire front windshield had to be removed from Hamilton's car because it "failed to fit the NASCAR template." Magnets were found on the Dodge of Casey Atwood and all 20 lug nuts from Steve Park's Chevrolet were confiscated. The lug nuts had indentations on the sides(That's Racin')(4-21-2001)

  • True Value Man of the Year: Mark Martin's countless hours of preparation, planning meetings and fundraising to fulfill his dream of building a quarter-midget track to give local kids a place to race, received the first quarter nomination for the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year Award. True Value, the Official Hardware Store of NASCAR, is once again sponsoring the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year. The award is designed to honor a driver not only for their accomplishments on the track but for their community service contributions and charitable efforts. The inspiration for this project was Martin's eight-year-old son Matt, who began racing a quarter-midget last year near Orlando, Fla. Martin saw the need to have a track closer to home for many of the local kids. Martin worked on this summer-long project in 2000 and watched as his dream became a reality with the grand opening of the track in February earlier this year. With support from fellow NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mike Skinner, just to name a few, Martin unveiled the New Smyrna (Fla.) Quarter Midget Racetrack. The track, located in the infield of New Smyrna Speedway, is a standard 1/20th-mile oval and operates on Wednesday evenings. It is sanctioned by the Quarter Midget Association and a local club. For the purpose of determining the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year Award winner, the NASCAR Winston Cup Series season has been divided into four quarters in which drivers are nominated for their off-track efforts. An elite group of panelists will select one of the four quarterly finalists to name the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year. This award will be presented at the NASCAR Winston Cup Series banquet in New York City, along with a prize of $100,000. The prize will be divided evenly between the driver and the charity of his choice.(NASCAR PR)(4-20-2001)

  • Jarrett 1st Quarter Driver of the Year: Dale Jarrett, driver of the #88 UPS Ford Taurus, won first-quarter Driver of the Year balloting honors this week, as he was selected by a national panel of motorsports media and viewers of ESPN for the honor. Jarrett easily outdistanced the Indy Racing League's Sam Hornish, Jr., piling up 13 first-place votes and 141 points to the latter's two first-place nods and 85 points. Jarrett won three of the final four Winston Cup races of the first quarter, while Hornish won two IRL events. Both drivers are leading their series. Points are awarded on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 basis in voting for six drivers by the panel and ESPN viewers. Third-place went to Winston Cup driver Kevin Harvick, a popular winner of the Atlanta race as he drove for the late Dale Earnhardt. Harvick had the other two first-place votes and 71 points. The CART/FedEx series Cristiano da Matta finished fourth with 38 points, while Winston Cup's Jeff Gordon and the Craftsman Truck series Ted Musgrave would up tied for fifth and rounded out the top six with 15 points each. Gordon is a three-time Driver of the Year. Meanwhile, NASCAR/Winston Cup's Bobby Labonte, 2000's Driver of the Year, will be formally presented his trophy, diamond ring and a custom Indian Motorcycle Thursday, April 19, during black tie induction ceremonies at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, AL. Twenty three different drivers received support in the Driver of the Year first-quarter voting. Three more quarterly ballots will be taken and then a final secret ballot at the end of the season will determine the 2001 winner.(DOTY PR)(4-20-2001)

  • Alabama NASCAR License Plates UPDATE: On Wednesday, the Alabama Legislature's License Plate Oversight Committee approved a plan to decorate vehicle tags with the names, numbers and racing colors of some of the top stock car drivers. Committee Chairman Gerald Dial, D-Lineville, said the order forms should be available in county tag offices in about a month. Dial said motorists who want the tags will have to pay a $50 fee with the order form. Once the state pre-sells 1,000 tags for all racing drivers combined, the state Department of Corrections will begin production, and the tags will be mailed to the motorists who placed orders. West Virginia and New York already have license plates with racing drivers, and South Carolina and Indiana are considering them. The Alabama tags will feature drivers who have signed licensing agreements with Race Plates Marketing, which got the program started in West Virginia. Bob Brant, president of Race Plates Marketing, said agreements have been reached with Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mike Skinner, Steve Park, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Jerry Nadeua, Terry Labonte, and Michael Waltrip. Discussions are going on with other drivers. Out of the $50 cost of the tax, $3.50 will go to the state and county governments to cover various expenses, and $5 will go to the Penny Trust Fund, which supports children's programs. Of the remaining $41.50, the licensing organization will get 23 percent, the Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega 45 percent, and the state Department of Corrections 32 percent.(Alabama Live/AP)(4-5-2001)
    UPDATE: As part of their Class of 2001 Inductees press conference Thursday, International Motorsports Hall of Fame officials also announced the kickoff of a new line of racing specialty plates Alabama race fans can buy for their cars. The Alabama license plates will be available for the usual $50 up charge fee for vanity plates and the proceeds will split between the Motor Sports Hall of Fame and the Alabama Department of Corrections that makes the plates. Also, there will be a special collector's edition "Alabama Gang" plate produced by an outside company that will be available through the IMSHoF for a $30 fee. The tags go on sale today at 10:30am(Anniston Star) and more info at

  • Hall of Fame UPDATE: Ten men with ties to NASCAR have been nominated to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega: Cotton Owens, Ray Fox, Glen Wood, Maurice Petty, Jack Ingram, the late Red Byron, Tim Richmond, Neil Bonnett, Alan Kulwicki, and Ray Hendrick(Daily Press)(8-9-2000)
    UPDATE: The New Inductees for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame Class of 2001 were announced Wednesday, October 25, 2000 in Birmingham. The choice was very tough: choose from a list of 23 potential candidates, great men who have taken their place in the hearts and minds of motorsports fans around the world. Here are the four men who will form the Class of 2001...Neil Bonnett; Jimmy Bryan; Mike Hailwood; and Fred Offenhauser(Hall of Fame Site)(10-26-2000)
    Hall of Fame UPDATE: The International Motorsports Hall of Fame, located on the grounds of Talladega Superspeedway, will induct four new members tomorrow night with a ceremony that will be televised by Speedvision. Neil Bonnett heads the class. Bonnett made his mark in NASCAR as both a driver and a television color commentator before he was killed in a practice-lap crash in 1994. He will be inducted along with Indy 500 winner Jimmy Bryan, noted Indy Car engine builder Fred Offenhauser and nine-time motorcycle world champion Mike Hailwood. Dale Earnhardt, who spent many of his off-track days hunting and fishing with his close buddy Bonnett, will be posthumously honored with the Governor's Award by Gov. Don Sigelman of Alabama. Defending Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte, the organization's 2000 driver of the year, will also be honored(Philadelphia Inquirer)(4-18-2001)
    UPDATE: Neil Bonnett was one of four people inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on Thursday, joining motorcycle and Formula One racer Mike Hailwood, sprint car champion and Indy 500 winner Jimmy Bryan and engine builder Fred Offenhauser. All four were honored posthumously. Bonnett was a member of the famed Alabama Gang along with Bobby and Donnie Allison and Red Farmer(That's Racin')(4-19-2001)

  • Yates to Dodge? Third Team? unlikely UPDATE 2 - NO: Might car owner Robert Yates be considering a switch from Ford to Dodge next season? That's the buzz in Detroit, although it's unlikely that Ford Motor Company would let Yates, its biggest NASCAR star, get away. And after his third win of the season yesterday, why would Yates even think about leaving Ford, the company he has called home for so many years? "Money," says one man familiar with Detroit's inner secrets. "After all, Robert gave up (Ford's) Quality Care for UPS." Although few key figures in the Winston Cup garage expect Yates to make a move to leave Ford, the Dodge report is another twist on how tense things may be in Detroit, where for the first time in 25 years, all three of the Big Three are playing NASCAR again. Not since the mid-1970s have General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all been in this game, and it's not quite clear how the balance of power might be shifting. And Yates said that Ford officials asked him to start a third Winston Cup team this season, with an unnamed driver, but he declined in order to focus on his current teams, with drivers Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd. And Yates said he has no plans to start a third team next season either, despite reports that Ford executives have approached him again. See full story at the Winston Salem Journal(4-9-2001)
    UPDATE: been told by RYR sources that this is totally untrue and they are NOT considering a switch from Ford to Dodge or any other manufacturer. Yates is signed with Ford thru 2004(4-11-2001)
    UPDATE 2: #28 and #88 Ream Owner Robert Yates dismissed a rumor that had him considering a switch to the Dodge Intrepid R/T camp. "There's nothing to it," said Yates,. "I would think if they came to us, which they haven't, but if they did come to us, that would really say they screwed up, and the teams they did choose would be awfully upset. They didn't come to us." Yates' contract with Ford runs through the 2004 Winston Cup season. "I'm not looking," Yates said. "If you asked anybody in the grandstand what should Robert Yates be running, I think all of them would tell you Ford."(Star Telegram)(4-19-2001)

  • Belt Broke in BGN Race UPDATE Simpson Reacts and : A torn left lap belt was discovered in a car that wrecked in Saturday's BGN race in Nashville, prompting NASCAR officials to advise Winston Cup and Grand National teams of that fact heading into this weekend's races at Talladega. Mike Harmon, a driver from Alabama, broke a shoulder blade in Saturday's crash. He said the belt suffered a three-quarter inch tear but did not come apart. "It did its job," Harmon said. "If it hadn't, I wouldn't be talking to you. It definitely saved my life." Two months ago today, seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt was killed in a wreck on the final lap of the Daytona 500. NASCAR officials announced five days later that the left lap belt in his No. 3 Chevrolet was found "separated" after that crash. Harmon said the belts in his car were manufactured by Simpson Performance Products and dated March 2000 on the label. Earnhardt's car also had belts manufactured by the company owned by Bill Simpson. Earnhardt's belts were dated November 2000. Simpson could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He said last week that he felt exonerated when Dr. Barry Myers, a biomedical expert from Duke University, wrote in a report on his review of Earnhardt's autopsy that the separated belt was not a factor in Earnhardt's death(That's Racin')
    UPDATE: Bill Simpson reacted with anger and frustration Wednesday to reports of a problem with a seat belt manufactured by his company in the BGN race on Saturday at Nashville Speedway. "NASCAR has exaggerated what happened," Simpson said of the left lap belt in a Pontiac driven by Mike Harmon. Simpson said members of Harmon's crew told him the driver's belt had a quarter-inch nick on the underside and some fraying of the fabric on the edges, not a three-quarter inch tear as Harmon told The Observer on Tuesday. "Now, whenever there is a crash, my people are going to have to be there to inspect the belts," Simpson said. "I sent out a memo this morning instructing our representatives at the track to go immediately to a car after a crash and view the belts. We haven't done that, but it looks like we're going to have to."(That's Racin')(4-18-2001)
    UPDATE 2: see a story at the Tennessean: Torn seat belt in Nashville is raising more questions than answers by David Climer(4-19-2001)

  • #12 Special Paint UPDATE image: The #12 Mobil 1 Taurus driven by Jeremy Mayfield, will carry a special Sony paint scheme this week, featuring Sony's WEGA brand logo. The award-winning line of FD Trinitron (R) WEGA televisions have been the leader in flat-screen televisions, offering consumers outstanding picture quality with uncompromising clarity and stability. Sony, which joined Penske Racing LLC as an associate sponsor at the beginning of this season, will be incorporating special promotions at select races this season.(Williams Company)(4-18-2001)
    UPDATE: see an image of the car on my Paint Scheme Gallery pages(4-19-2001)

  • Paint for Rudd: Look for Ricky Rudd’s #28 Texaco/Havoline Ford to have a special “Need for Speed” paint scheme for the May 27 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. That slogan will grace the hood while initial mock-ups emphasize red swirls on the tail of the primarily black Taurus( Buzz)(4-19-2001)

  • Winn Dixie on the #32: Winn-Dixie has joined the PPI Motorsports Tide team as an associate sponsor for the Talladega 500 this weekend. The Winn-Dixie logo will appear on the rear "TV" panel of the #32 Tide Ford driven by Ricky Craven, as well as on Craven's driver's suit and helmet(PPI Motorsports Site)(4-19-2001)

  • Waltrip Endorses the HANS: Darrell Waltrip said yesterday NASCAR should mandate its drivers use a specific safety device known as the HANS. Waltrip joined several hundred Dale Earnhardt fans at a tribute to the fallen driver at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. Earnhardt died Feb. 18 in a crash on the final lap of the Daytona 500. He was the fourth NASCAR driver killed in 12 months. Many, including Waltrip, say the HANS - short for Head and Neck Support - could have prevented those deaths. "That thing gives you a 60 percent better chance of surviving a wreck like that," said Waltrip, now a Fox television analyst. "If [NASCAR] won't make it mandatory, they ought to at least send out a bulletin that says, 'We highly recommend the HANS device.' And they should highly recommend it to the point where if a driver doesn't want to follow the recommendation, maybe his car has a little problem getting through inspection."(AP/Philadelphia Daily News)(4-19-2001)

  • Soft Wall News: Safari Associates Inc. of Amsterdam will conduct a live demonstration of its new "soft wall" technology at the Indianapolis Raceway Park. The wall is constructed of molecuthane, a patented, energy-absorbing material originally developed for the military. It is designed to reduce impact G-force by as much as 70 percent. The crash demonstration is planned for early July (2001) using NASCAR Craftsman-type trucks(Captital Districl Business Review - thanks Catchfence for the heads up)(4-19-2001)

  • Winston Looks Like it's Charlotte: It appears unlikely The Winston all-star race will be moved from Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., to Nashville Superspeedway, or anywhere else, anytime soon. The special event is sponsored by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, and RJR spokesman Denny Darnell yesterday said the company is happy at the Charlotte-area track which has hosted The Winston for 15 of its 16 runnings(Tennessean)(4-19-2001)

  • More Join in Photo hunt: Six news organizations around Florida asked a Broward County judge to include them in two newspapers' challenge of a new state law banning the viewing of autopsy photos without permission. The Tampa Tribune, its TV affiliate, WFLA-TV, The Gainesville Sun, The Ledger of Lakeland, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Ocala Star-Banner want to join a lawsuit filed by the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that questions the constitutionality of the new law, said Gregg D. Thomas, attorney for the new parties. (That's Racin'/AP)(4-19-2001)

  • #31 Car Chief Recovering: Kevin Gabard, front-tire carrier and car chief of the #31 Lowe's Chevy, is recovering after knee surgery Monday to correct an injury sustained during the Virginia 500 at Martinsville. Dr. Gary Poehling of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center replaced the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Gabard's left knee during outpatient surgery Monday morning in Winston-Salem, N.C. Gabard has undergone surgery for a torn meniscus in the same knee seven times since 1991. His most recent surgery took place in November 1999. "We assessed Kevin's injuries and found he had a complete ACL tear," said Dr. John Birkedal, professor and chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Wake Forest University, who assisted Dr. Poehling in the procedure. "We completely replaced the ACL in his left knee but found there was no damage to the meniscus other than what he'd had from past injuries. Everything went very well." Gabard, 35, was injured during a late-race pit stop April 8 at Martinsville Speedway when a loose tire from another team rolled into the Lowe's pit and struck Gabard in the left knee as he stepped off of pit wall. Sean Irvan, a mechanic on the #31 team, will assume Gabard's front-tire carrier duties while he recovers from surgery. Irvan also substituted for Gabard in several races following his Nov. 1999 surgery. Dr. Birkedal said that Gabard will wear a knee brace for two weeks, at which time he will begin physical therapy for light strengthening and range of motion in his knee. Dr. Birkedal anticipates a recovery time of four to six months before Gabard is able to return to full activity(RCR PR)(4-19-2001)

  • Test Drive as a Sponsor: Square D, the primary sponsor for #55-Bobby Hamilton is offering a sponsorship "test drive" to corporate America. The car's two rear quarter panels and TV panel (rear bumper) are now available to potential sponsors. The price is $100,000 for a one-race sponsorship, or $400,000 for a five-race deal. The company participating in the program also will receive hospitality passes, pit/garage VIP credentials, and photo opportunities with Hamilton(Winston Cup Scene - need sub to read online)(4-19-2001)

  • #2 Owner In Hospital: The co-owner of Rusty Wallace’s team, Don Miller, underwent back surgery on April 14 in Charleston, S.C., and remains a patient there. "The good word is that Don came through just fine, and the situation wasn’t as serious as they thought it would be," said Penske Racing South general manager John Erickson, "but, any surgery on the spinal column is serious enough stuff, so Don will be spending at least the next week in Charleston before he can come home."(Gaston Gazette)(4-19-2001)

  • Martin Honor: Mark Martin has been nominated for the Jasper Pro Driver of the Year award to be presented June 9 at the Florida Sports Awards in Jacksonville, Fla. Martin won the award for his category last year. Others nominated in his category this year are Jeff Gordon and the late Dale Earnhardt. A judging committee comprised of members of the Florida Sports Writers and Sportscasters Association ranked athletes in 13 professional categories on a scale of one through three. The three professional athletes with the highest points total in each category comprise the final nominees. The Jaspers honor the top professional athletes, coaches and teams in Florida. Proceeds from the Florida Sports Awards benefit the Otis F. Smith Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides programs and services to underprivileged children throughout North Florida(Winston Cup Scene - need sub to read online)(4-19-2001)

  • NASCAR Themed Enterprise goes under: The Chain of NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedways(there were 12 of them) are going to close on Wed. April 25th. Many regular driver's of the speedways were emailed on Thursday and the announcement is now up on their website: - "We are disappointed to inform that will be permanently closing all of the NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway Racing Centers at the end of business on Wed. April 25th.(4-19-2001)

  • Darby Moving Up? Busch Series Director John Darby may be on the move after the season, but nobody in NASCAR will confirm his new duties. Speculation in recent months has been that Darby would replace Gary Nelson as Winston Cup director, with Nelson moving into a new role, possibly at NASCAR's new research and development center in Hickory, N.C. NASCAR President Mike Helton said, however, that the recent rumors were false, but wouldn't elaborate on Darby's status(Winston Cup Scene - need sub to read online)(4-19-2001)

  • Talladega Chassis Rumors UPDATE: Rumor has it that several teams will come to Talladega with varying alterations that may or may not be consistent with NASCAR’s rules. The team member said those with altered cars “include assurances the owners and sponsors are prepared to fight for their approval in the inspection line should questions be raised by NASCAR.” and according to the same team member, at least three new chassis featuring softer, more crushable front ends will be run at Talladega. The teams that will run them developed the chassis(more at Buzz and Stock Car Reporter)(4-14-2001)
    UPDATE: While some are hemming and hawing about the possibility of some teams bringing a "soft chassis" to Talladega this weekend that may not conform to NASCAR rules and regulations, Michael Waltrip took the issue head-on during today's news conference. "I've heard nothing about that," Waltrip said. "That's something that somebody dreamed up somewhere. There's no validity to any rumor that would have anything at all to do with that."( Buzz) and a followup story at: Stock Car Reporter - Michael, Michael...(4-18-2001)

  • Subway to the #27? UPDATE 2: Word last weekend was that sandwich company Subway was planning to sponsor a Winston Cup car in the upcoming Talladega 500. Kenny Wallace's Eel River Racing team has no sponsor, so it could very well be him. Plus, Subway is the title sponsor of Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race, so it could happen.( Buzz)
    UPDATE: an the Kenny Wallace Racing site is reporting Subway as the teams new sponsor for the weekend(4-17-2001)
    UPDATE 2: Kenny Wallace’s #27 Pontiac will carry sponsorship from Subway in the Talladega 500. Crew chief/team manager Barry Dodson said the deal was for only one race but was hopeful the arrangement could be extended(Gaston Gazette)(4-18-2001)

  • Roush Buys an Airline: Team Owner Jack Roush struck a deal with an Indiana billionaire who was looking to unload his charter service, acquiring his fleet of three 727 jets and retaining three veteran pilots. The sale price is said to be a bargain -- estimated to be in the $5 million to $6 million range --but the operating cost won’t be cheap, unless the boss can find a way to make a buck off Air Roush. Plans call for only one of the jets to transport Roush Racing's four Winston Cup and one Busch team. Another is being offered to charter other Cup race teams. The third might also be made available for charter or even sold. The planes were built as luxury charters for professional sports teams and corporate junkets, thus seat only 50.(CNN/SI)(4-18-2001)

  • Wind Tunnel: The #12 Penske Racing team had two cars in the wind tunnel at N.A.S.A.'s Langley Research Center located in Hampton, VA on Tuesday, a Talladega car and an intermediate car(Lowes/Vegas)(4-18-2001)

  • Stewart in IROC: IROC confirmed that Tony Stewart will compete in the three remaining IROC races, including Saturday's event at Talladega. In the season's first race at Daytona, Stewart substituted for Gil de Ferran, last season's champion of CART. de Ferran had injured his foot in testing and was unable to compete. Since de Ferran has been unable to test or practice with the IROC cars -- he is currently competing in both CART and Indy Racing League events -- he has withdrawn for the remainder of the IROC season. All points and victories Stewart gains this season will be credited to himself and not de Ferran. Stewart finished ninth in the series opener at Daytona and in his first season in the series in 2000, he was third in points(That's Racin')(4-18-2001)

  • Get Well: Judy Bisci, wife of Las Vegas Motor Speedway public relations director John Bisci, went to the doctor a few weeks ago for problems with her throat (had a biopsy performed on a "mass" on her thyroid) and the Doctor said results are "leaning toward cancer," and decided to operate, which is set for Apr. 25th(Speedway Scene Print), get well Judy(4-17-2001)

  • Brooks and Dunn Return: The #40 Coors Light Dodge has gone country for this weekend's race at Talladega. Driven by Sterling Marlin, the Coors Light Dodge will feature a paint scheme touting the country music duo Brooks & Dunn's upcoming Neon Circus & Wild West Show tour. A known country music lover, Marlin hopes to give the duo's tour a little more exposure by parking his Coors Light Dodge in Victory Lane on Sunday afternoon. Marlin is also scheduled to run the special Brooks & Dunn paint scheme at the Winston and Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte and the inaugural race at the Kansas Speedway(Ganassi PR)(4-17-2001)

  • Rain/Wind Derails Michigan Test: After grabbing what little track time was available on Wednesday, April 11, for the first day of a two-day test at Michigan International Speedway, the Ray Evernham Motorsports Dodge team had hoped for an improvement in the rainy weather for the second day. Though the rain subsided, whipping winds greeted the team for Thursday, April 12, and forced them to re-think their testing efforts. Driver Casey Atwood got about two and a half hours of track time on Wednesday when rain ruled the day. His top speeds were clocked at over 202 mph on the straightaways. On Thursday, Atwood was hindered as a vicious wind made stepping on the pedal a bit dangerous. Evernham said his top speed the second day was 196 mph, “but that was with a 45 mile-an-hour cross wind.” Still, the test proved successful in logging miles on the car and getting Atwood more experience on the 2-mile oval where he’s started just two BGN races.(MIS Site)(4-17-2001)

  • Hover Motorsports/Morgan Shepherd News: Stan Hover Motorsports - Team #80 has just completed sponsorships for the (2) upcoming races at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Winston Open and Coca-Cola 600 next month. Hayes Jewelers of Lexington, NC and Aramark Uniform Service will be sponsors on the #80 Ford Taurus. Cup Veteran Morgan Shepherd will be driving. Stan Hover Motorsports are very excited about the sponsorships. The #80 team plans are to compete in (16) Cup Races this year. Stan Hover Motorsports shop is based in Salisbury, North Carolina.(DCM Racing/Stan Hover Motorsports PR)(4-17-2001)

  • More BGN NHIS News: Kenny Wallace has joined fellow Cup drivers Steve Park and Kevin Harvick on the entry list for the CVS/pharmacy 200 Presented by Bayer NASCAR Busch Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway on May 12(off weekend in Cup)(NHIS PR)(4-17-2001)

  • Testing at RIR: hearing that #92-Stacy Compton and BGN drivers: #27-Jamie McMurry, #20-Mike Mclaughin and #7-Randy Lajoie are testing this week through Wednesday(4-17-2001)

  • TV Ratings: FOX had a 5.4 final national rating for its coverage of the Martinsville Winston Cup race was up 46% from 2000. That's huge for a race that never has scored big in the ratings department. However, for the first time this year, the audience came in under six million households – 5.519 million to be exact. Year to date, FOX Sports has averaged a 6.8 national rating and a 17 share for its coverage of Winston Cup. See full story and ratings at SpeedVision: TV – Final National Ratings from April 6-8(4-17-2001)

  • New #01 Crew Chief: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Team Manager Andy Graves announced today that Matt Chambers will replace Kevin Cram as crew chief of the #01 Cingular Wireless Dodge Intrepid R/T. Chambers will assume the crew chief role immediately, and will be at the team's test tomorrow at Richmond. According to Graves, Cram's departure from Chip Ganassi Racing was a mutual decision. He believes Chambers, who previously worked as crew chief for driver Kurt Busch in the NASCAR Winston Cup and Craftsman Truck Series, will be a solid addition to the team. "Chip Ganassi Racing is continuing to build and learn and we believe Matt's broad experience will be an asset to our organization," Graves said. #01 Cingular Wireless Dodge driver Jason Leffler currently sits fifth in Rookie of the Year points standings(Chip Ganassi Racing PR)(4-17-2001)

  • IROC Testing: The True Value IROC team concluded their first day of testing Monday at Talladega Superspeedway in preparation for round two of the 2001, 25th anniversary season. Veteran test drivers Dave Marcis, Dick Trickle, Jim Sauter and Andy Hillenburg were on hand to put the Pontiac Firebirds through initial test runs. Dave Marcis said, "We worked a bit today with the roof pieces, the NASCAR air deflector. What we have on the IROC cars is the equivalent to what we have on the Winston Cup cars and we all agree that the cars are extremely comfortable. They draft really well, so if you fall behind you can draft back up again." Dick Trickle said, "The cars are driving like baby buggies and we'll have to remind the drivers they're still in race cars going 180 MPH. Andy Hillenburg said, "To give you an example of how much fun it is to drive these cars, Jay Signore told us to go out and just run a few laps, well, we ran an entire race and didn't come in until Dave (Marcis) ran out of gas." IROC President, Jay Signore said, "Talladega is one of our favorite tracks. We've had some great races here over the years and always look forward to the next one. For our 25th anniversary we are paying tribute to all of our past champions. We have four dedicated test cars, and at each of the four races we have those four cars lettered with the names of past champions. We have 16 champions total, so it works out perfectly. For Talladega we have the 1975 champion Bobby Unser, 1984 champion Cale Yarborough, 1989 champion Terry Labonte and 1993 champion Davey Allison." He continued, At Daytona, IROC paid tribute to 1974 champion Mark Donohue, 1979 champion Mario Andretti, 1980 champion Bobby Allison and the 2000 reigning champion Dale Earnhardt. In tribute to Dale Earnhardt, IROC will run eleven cars for the remainder of the season. Jay Signore said, "Dale Earnhardt was a great champion and we feel it is a fitting tribute to run one man shy." The True Value IROC Talladega race takes place this Saturday, April 21 at 2:30 p.m., following the NASCAR Busch series race. More info on my 2001 IROC page.(IROC PR)(4-17-2001)

  • Petty's Crew Chiefs to Embark on Year-Long Trek Across America: A recent survey of ASE-certified Master Auto Technicians revealed that a properly maintained and operated vehicle will run more efficiently, will be safer and will last up to 50 percent longer. Findings such as these, along with the concern that people have gotten out of the habit of taking care of their cars, have prompted NASCAR-legend Richard Petty and his crew chiefs to share with people their best practices for engine maintenance: the `All 3 Every 3' program, which recommends Americans practice proper engine maintenance by simply following these easy steps every 3,000 miles: (1) Change Your Oil (2) Clean Your Fuel Injectors (3) Check Your Belts, Hoses and Fluids. Richard Petty has enlisted the help of his Petty Enterprises' crew chiefs - Greg Steadman, Bryant Frazier, Chris Hussey, and Howard Comstock - in order to educate Americans about the importance of automobile maintenance. From March through November, Petty's crew chiefs will travel across America to introduce the `All 3 Every 3' program. Tour stops with the crew chiefs will include a brief talk about the maintenance steps involved with the `All 3 Every 3' program, a car care question and answer session and then actual "under the hood" demonstrations and tips. Launching in Greensboro, N.C., the `All 3 Every 3' tour is scheduled to hold car maintenance events in Bristol, Tenn.; Roanoke, Va.; St. Louis, Mo.; Charlotte, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Nashville, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Atlanta, Ga.(Petty PR)(4-17-2001)

  • Sad News: Des Moines, Iowa race driver Mark Wilson, 30, was killed Saturday night when his sprint car crashed during practice at Knoxville Raceway. Wilson was on the third lap of warm-ups just after the track opened when his car veered suddenly to the right and into the fence in the fourth turn. Wilson was pronounced dead at Knoxville Area Community Hospital of head injuries. Witnesses said it appeared as if something broke on the car, causing it to hit the fence and flip. An investigation by K & K Insurance, which insures the track, will be held to determine the cause of the accident. Track officials are holding Wilson's car until investigators arrive later this week.(Des Moines Register and see a SpeedVision story: Tragedy in Knoxville by Jeff Olson) thoughts out to family and friends(4-17-2001)

  • Alabama Photo Law: Spurred by the Dale Earnhardt autopsy photo controversy in Florida, Alabama legislators have begun the process of making such photos off limits to the public in this state as well. Earlier this month, Rep. Steve Hurst (D-Talladega) introduced House Bill 722 as a measure to make “autopsy records, photographs and video recordings exempt from public record law.” And last week Gerald Dial (D-Lineville) introduced a similar bill in the Senate that would make the unauthorized release of autopsy photos a felony carrying a two- to five-year prison term and up to a $5,000 fine. If passed by the end of this legislative session May 21, the law would allow access to autopsy photos by court order only.(Anniston Star)(4-16-2001)

    see the Apr 9-15, 2001 Archived News Page

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