PAST NEWS MAR 31-APR 6, 2003
THE PAST NEWS! YESTERDAY and BEYOND..
OTHER PAST NEWS PAGES
- Dale Jr wins his 4th straight race at Talladega: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr fought back from an engine change, being involved in the BIG Wreck on lap 4, and a controversal pass below the yellow line towards the end of the race [NASCAR ruled it a clean pass] and won his 4th straight race at Talladega Superspeedway, breaking the record he held with Buddy Baker(3). #29-Kevin Harvick was able to grab 2nd place. It was the 9th straight win at the track by a Chevy. Earnhardt Jr is the 8th different winner in 8 races in 2003. #74-Tony Raines had his bets career finish and was the highest finishing Rookie of the Year candidate. The 27 car 'Big Wreck' on lap 4 was the largest in track history. The 43 lead changes [16 drivers] are the most since the 2001 Daytona 500, which had 49 lead changes. See my Aaron's 499 Race Info page for the top 10, lap leaders, cautions, race run down and notes.
Race Re-air: The race will be re-aired on Speed Channel, Wed, Apr 9th, 8:00pm/et (enhanced) and Thurs, Apr 10th, 1:00am/et and at 3:00pm/et.
Results Links at: Jayski's 2003 Race Results - Talladega/Aaron's 499 Results, Jayski 2003 Winston Cup Race Results page, ThatsRacin.com,
Motorsports One, Jayski - Driver/Owners Points after Talladega.(4-6-2003)
- No Penalty on the #20 team UPDATE: In a surprise announcement, John Darby, NASCAR Competition Director, said on Saturday morning that no penalties will be assessed to Joe Gibb's Racing or crew chief Greg Zipadelli for infractions on the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet, confiscated at Texas last weekend. Also, no penalties will be given on the two cars of David Green and Larry Foyt, disqualified after Winston Cup qualifying on Friday. Darby said missing the race was penalty enough.(Insider Racing News)
AND NASCAR will issue no points penalties or suspensions to defending Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart's team after impounding the team's primary car before qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway a week ago. "Our conclusion is that any further penalty to (crew chief) Greg Zipadelli or the team itself will not happen," Winston Cup series director John Darby said Saturday morning. Darby said that while the violation on Stewart's car was severe, the violation was with the car's body and that, in most cases, NASCAR allows teams to fix problems with cars' bodies. The difference in this case, Darby said, was that the violation was such that it could not be fixed at the track by adding or sanding away body material to conform. He said NASCAR elected to impound the car to take it out of competition for the weekend at Texas, then took it back to its research and development center in Concord, NC, to inspect the car further and learn more about what caused the violation. Darby said the impounded #20 Chevrolet never made it onto the track for competition. While points have been deducted from at least two teams for infractions that never made it on the track, Darby said those penalties were assessed for equipment designed to thwart measuring devices used to enforce special rules for restrictor-plate races or to circumvent rules in place at those tracks to even competition. When asked if he thought the violation on the #20 Chevrolet at Texas was motivated by a desire to confound the rules, Darby said his opinion on the matter would be subjective. "Is it a rock solid, black and white, infraction that was done for purely a competitive gain?" Darby said. "I can't say that. I also can't say it was an accident. So we step aside from that and just say that it is what it is."(ThatsRacin.com). NO mention if the team will get the car back.(4-5-2003)
UPDATE: NASCAR's Jim Hunter was interviewed by FSN's NASCAR This Morning's Winston Kelley and said that NASCAR still reserves the right to penalize Joe Gibbs Racing, but it is unlikely they will be. NASCAR still has not decided if the team will get the car back and that would be quite a large penalty if they do not get it back.(Fox Sports Net NASCAR This Morning)
BUT NASCAR yesterday announced that it will not return the #20 Chevrolet of Tony Stewart, impounded before last week's race at Texas. A NASCAR spokesman said further tests will be conducted on the car, but no ''additional'' penalty will be assessed for Joe Gibbs Racing. The penalty, the spokesman said, will be the loss of the entire race car, valued in excess of $100,000.(Tennessean)(4-6-2003)
- M&M's Announcment UPDATE: M&M's" Racing will make an announcement in the Talladega infield media center at 2:00pm on Friday April 4th.(4-3-2003)
UPDATE: Hundreds of thousands of families live each day with Autism, including some in the NASCAR Winston Cup garage area. Elliott Sadler, driver of the #38 M&M’s Ford, knows full well the affects Autism has on a family. Sadler’s niece and brother Hermie’s daughter, Halie Dru, was diagnosed with the disability in 2001. Halie has inspired her Uncle Elliott to support Autism research, and this year he’s come up with a creative and fun way to raise some much needed funds.
M&M’s Hoops For Hope with Elliott Sadler is a charitable basketball game set for May 15, 2003 at Halton Arena on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The game will pair NASCAR drivers and other local celebrities with members of the motorsports media pool in a one-hour shootout. Sadler, the all-time leading scorer for his high school basketball team in hometown Emporia, VA, will certainly practice his jump shot in preparation.
"M&M's knew my interests when we signed up together. When the idea of a charity basketball game to benefit the Autism Society of America came up I immediately jumped on board,” explained Elliott Sadler. “Autism is something that hits really close to home for me because my niece, Halie is autistic. I've seen her progress from a social and developmental standpoint in the time she's been attending the Faison School for Autism in Richmond. That encourages me and my family to help her and others with this complex developmental disability. This basketball game will give NASCAR stars a chance to help others and April is National Autism Awareness Month so this is a great time to announce our intentions."
All proceeds from M&M’s Hoops for Hope with Elliott Sadler will go the Autism Society of America to fund research and the search for a cure. Artie Kempner, Coordinating Director of NASCAR on FOX, is on the ASA board and will take part in the event.
"This is a tremendous event for the autism community in that it will not only raise money, but more importantly, raise awareness and better educate people about autism,” said Kempner. “As the parent of a son with autism, I see the challenges that this disorder presents on a daily basis. I am so impressed with “M&Ms”, Elliott and the NASCAR family in their commitment to help fund research efforts to find a cause, and eventually a cure for autism." “M&M’s” was happy to support their driver’s charitable initiative and has signed on to underwrite the cost of the event.
”We are happy to take part in such an exciting event for a great cause,” said Scott Hudler of Masterfoods USA. “We knew of Elliott’s charitable interests and wanted to take help him raise money for his cause. The game is going to be very exciting and I think we should get a tremendous response.”
Drivers scheduled to appear in addition to Elliott Sadler include Hermie Sadler, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, Tony Raines, Jamie McMurray and Dale Jarrett. Tickets will go on sale April 7th, 2003 at UNCC Halton Arena box office by calling 1-866-MYTICKET to charge over the phone. Doors will open at 5:30pm with an autograph session with Elliott and Hermie Sadler. The session will be limited to the first 250 people in line who receive wrist bands. The basketball game will start at 7:00pm along with a halftime “Shoot for Loot” show. For more details please go to www.mmsmotorsports.com or www.SadlerFanClub.com, or call 704.595.0118.(4-6-2003)
- To the Back - Little E and Green, plus B Labonte and Skinner: #30-Jeff Green lost an engine during happy hour and will have to go to the rear of the field before the green flag for the Aaron's 499 at Talladega on Sunday. Green was to start 30th.(4-5-2003)
UPDATE: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr's team didn't like some things they saw in the engine after Happy Hour practice and have changed the engine, so Dale jr will have to fall to the rear of the field before the green flag, he was to start 13th.(Fox Sports Net's NASCAR This Morning)
UPDATE 2: add #4-Mike Skinner and #18-Bobby Labonte, who's teams also changed engines and have to fall to the rear of the field.(Fox Pre-Race coverage)(4-6-2003)
- Not Real: NASCAR's venture into the world of reality-based TV has apparently come to a premature end. Cable network FX has been unable to come to terms with Winston Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Rusty Wallace and Jamie McMurray and their teams to ensure their participation in a reality-based show, ThatsRacin.com has learned. All three drivers rejected the initial contract from the show's production company, with Wallace pulling out of the show entirely last week. FX could not secure the participation of another driver and was unable to clear contractual issues with Harvick and McMurray and their teams, sources said. The show was tentatively scheduled to air for at least seven weeks beginning on FX in June on Friday nights. Taping was originally scheduled to start at Texas, but didn't because of the contract problems. FX had hoped to use the programming to maintain a NASCAR presence while rivals NBC and TNT broadcast the second half of the Winston Cup season.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-5-2003)
- Parts Confiscated: NASCAR inspectors confiscated several parts in pre-qualifying inspections Friday and placed them on display in the hauler. Among the items taken: unapproved springs from the cars of Jerry Nadeau and Ken Schrader; a false in-car camera mount from the car of Todd Bodine's; and improperly mounted oil coolers on driver Sterling Marlin's car.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-5-2003)
- Penske Engine in the #19? UPDATE: Hearing that the #19 Dodge that Jeremy Mayfield won the pole with at Talladega had a Penske engine in it, not one from Evernham Motorsports.(4-4-2003)
UPDATE: Give some credit to Penske-Jasper horsepower for Jeremy Mayfield's pole-winning run Friday. Dodge car owners Roger Penske and Ray Evernham have teamed up to improve their efforts at Daytona and Talladega. Evernham gets engine help for Mayfield and Bill Elliott, and Penske gets aerodynamic assistance for Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace. The cooperation worked in qualifying, when Penske's engines helped Mayfield take the pole for Sunday's race while Elliott qualified fifth. Newman was eighth for Penske, but Wallace was 31st. "We both struggled in qualifying at Daytona so we teamed up to work on our restrictor plate program," Evernham said. "We don't have a name for it, just a group of people from both shops who built engines for this race." Like Penske, Evernham builds his own engines. But as a third-year program, his motors lag behind and have been a weakness in the operation - Elliott blew his engine while leading the race at Texas last weekend. "Our motor program is good for a a three-year program," Evernham said. "But we need access to better technology and Roger has access to the experience and technology we need."(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(4-5-2003)
- Jarrett and Sadler to the final four: Robert Yates Racing teammates Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler plan to fly to New Orleans following Winston Cup practice Saturday to attend the semifinal games in the men's NCAA basketball tournament. Texas coach Rick Barnes is the drivers' ticket connection.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-5-2003)
- Inspection Slow at Talladega: The big news of the day, besides Jeremy Mayfield winning the pole for Sunday’s Talladega 500, was the pre-practice inspection process. The NASCAR men laid-out several teams during the seemingly endless process, but the aggressiveness of the sanctioning body might have backfired. The lengthy process of car inspection resulted in several cars missing most of the morning practice session. At the half-hour mark only 30 cars had posted times, 39 at the hour mark with the full compliment of 46 joining by the end of the session. Things were so tense www.teamfordracing.com saw one crew chief waving his finger in the face of NASCAR inspectors. Many of the cars were run at Daytona International Speedway and weren’t touched between the time they arrived back in the shops following that race and when they were loaded for this event. Therefore plenty of bodywork was required. Some of the cars just needed a dab of Bondo here or there, while others needed some pretty serious reconstruction to get through the NASCAR hoops. One car that needed considerable work was Jeff Burton’s. Work was required to the A pillars as well as the C pillars of the #99 Ford. But the majority of the work needed to legalize the car dealt with the rear decklid.(Ford Racing)(4-5-2003)
- Final Texas TV Ratings: Today's Sports Business Daily says that final Nielsen figures for Fox's broadcast of last Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 Winston Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway fell 10 percent from last year. This year's race had a 6.3 rating and 14 share, down from 7.0/10. But all sports events continued to show the impact that the war with Iraq is having. The Daily says CBS's coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament is down 22 percent from last year and noted that NBC's coverage of Sunday's final round of the PGA Players' Championship was down 23 percent. Overall, the Daily says Fox's NASCAR coverage is up 3 percent this year, with an average of 6.3/15, compared to a 6.1/15 in 2002.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-5-2003)
- Visa Offers Cardholders the Ultimate NASCAR Experience: Visa, proud sponsor of NASCAR, announced today the Visa Ultimate NASCAR Experience promotion, which offers cardholders a chance to get an inside look at the non-stop, high-octane action of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing. When cardholders use their Visa card to make a purchase between April 6 and November 30, 2003, they are automatically entered to win a weekend living the Ultimate NASCAR Experience. Each winner (and three of their guests) will receive VIP treatment at one of the most exciting stops along the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, including Sonoma, Chicago, Atlanta, Bristol, Richmond, Dover, Charlotte and Daytona. Comprehensive prize packages include round-trip air travel to a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race, plush trackside accommodations aboard the Visa luxury motor coach, and an official team uniform to wear on race day. Additionally, the winners will receive special access at the race, which includes a behind-the-scenes look at life inside the garage and along pit row, an invitation to attend the official pre-race driver's meeting, and a "hot lap" ride in an official pace car with a NASCAR superstar - Rusty Wallace or Kurt Busch.. Fourteen winners will be selected throughout the promotional period.
Visa is supporting the Ultimate NASCAR Experience promotion with a multi-million dollar integrated marketing campaign, including a national television commercial starring NASCAR veteran Rusty Wallace, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge Intrepid, and the hottest young driver in the Winston Cup Series, Kurt Busch, driver of the #97 Rubbermaid Ford Taurus. Wallace and Busch are also featured in print advertising, scheduled to run in Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine, as well as online and radio ads. The more cardholders use their Visa cards, the more times they are entered to win. Winners will be randomly selected, and no purchase or obligation is necessary to enter or win. For additional information, including consumer sweepstakes official rules, visit www.visa.com/NASCAR.(Visa USA/Golin/Harris International PR)(4-5-2003)
- Little E leads the Vote: More than 230,000 votes have been cast in the 2003 National Motorsports Press Association's Most Popular Driver award and Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds an early lead. Earnhardt Jr., who was edged out by Bill Elliott [who removed his name from this years voting] in last year's voting, holds an advantage over second-place Jeff Gordon and third-place Tony Stewart, the 2002 Winston Cup champion. Online voting began for the award in mid-February at www.mostpopulardriver.com and concludes on Nov. 17. Additional voting guidelines are available on the voting Web site. The rest of the top 10 in voting: Steve Park, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Kyle Petty, Ricky Rudd and Dale Jarrett. The award is administered by the NMPA and sponsored by Grands! Biscuits. It's the only fan-based award in major league motorsports. The award is given to the leading vote getter during the Winston Cup series award festivities in New York in December.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-4-2003)
- NASCAR examining Tony Stewart's car UPDATE Gibbs not getting the car back?: Impounding the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet of Tony Stewart last weekend at TMS was a first for NASCAR, but officials have good reasons for wanting to take a closer look at the car. The slant of the rear window was three-quarters of an inch off allowable measurements, but the car fit all the templates. That put quite a scare into NASCAR inspectors, who couldn't believe the window could be that far out of line and still fit the new templates. It took an X-measurement with a tape measure across the window (a new measurement this season) to prove the violation. NASCAR officials want to determine if another template is needed. They also want to make sure teams haven't found other ways to get around the 32 template measurements. Raymond Fox, crew chief for the No. 38 M&Ms Ford of Elliott Sadler, said NASCAR's action got everyone's attention. "It opens up your eyes," Fox said. "You go back to the shop and say, 'OK, this is what happened last week. Let's not let it happen to us.' "(Dallas Morning News - may need to register to view), for past news see my #20 Team News and Links page, NO NEWS on any actions by NASCAR....yet.(4-3-2003)
UPDATE: Jim Hunter, NASCAR's Vice President of Corporate Communications, said on Friday that the Joe Gibb's #20 car, confiscated at Texas last week, is being measured at the R&D shop by lasers and no determination has been made what will be done with the car or what penalties might be imposed. "I can say that the car probably won't be returned to the team, at least not in it's current configuration," said Hunter, "We'll more than likely take it to the wind tunnel to see if it has an aerodynamic advantage."(Insider Racing News) and on an interview with Claire B. Lang of (XM Satellite- NASCAR Radio (Subscription Required), Hunter said not to expect any penalties/decisions to be handed down before the race at Talladega, especially if it goes to the wind tunnel. It could be weeks before anything is announced.
AND "There really is no timeline on the process on the 20 car." That from NASCAR's Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter who said here at Talladega Tony Stewart's Home Depot Chevrolet which was confiscated at Texas is undergoing computer testing to simulate the exact measurements of the car at NASCAR's Research and Developement Center in Mooresville, North Carolina...and it may be taken to a wind tunnel for further scrutiny. As for any penalties against the team Hunter says "there are all sorts of options", however he doesn't know if a decision will be made within several weeks or a month. NASCAR also must determine when and if the car will be returned to the team. Hunter said one possiblity is that it could be "sectioned" and the legal pieces given back to Joe Gibbs Racing. However, he says there is no rush because the car doesn't have to be anywhere.(PRN's Garage Pass - will be aired later today)(4-4-2003)
- Some DW news UPDATE: The Martinsville race on April 12 will be the first of two Craftsman Truck Series appearances by Fox TV analyst Darrell Waltrip as a driver. Broadcast partner Larry McReynolds will be Waltrip’s spotter, and Jeff Hammond, who turned the wrenches during part of Waltrip’s Cup career, will be the crew chief. … Fox’s frequent assertion that Hammond was Waltrip’s crew chief for three championships is incorrect, by the way. In 1981, Tim Brewer was Waltrip’s crew chief. In 1982, the duties were shared among Brewer, Hammond and Mike Hill. Hammond was the crew chief for Waltrip’s third title in 1985. You can look it up, as they say.(Gaston Gazette)
UPDATE: Tim Brewer was no longer with the team in 1982 and Jeff Hammond was the crew chief. Also on the truck, Hammond is NOT the Crew Chief, Bobby Kennedy is the Crew Chief, Hammond is the "Interperator".(4-4-2003)
- 2003 International Motorsports Hall of Fame class inducted: The International Motorsports Hall of Fame inducted its 2003 class Thursday night a class with a background as varied as racing itself. Mel Kenyon races and builds United States Auto Club midgets. Ray Fox built stock cars and served as a NASCAR inspector. Briggs Cunningham built and drove sports cars that competed with the best in the world. A.J. Watson built cars that won the Indianapolis 500, and Emerson Fittipaldi raced to the top of the Formula One and Indy car worlds. Kenyon told his audience he was especially glad he was being inducted by Winston Cup driver Ryan Newman, who won a United States Auto Club midget series rookie championship while driving for Kenyon in 1995. Fox, who was introduced by Hueytown's Bobby Allison, has rubbed shoulders with many fabled NASCAR names such as Fireball Roberts and Buddy Baker. Asked which driver was the best to work with over the years, he replied: "David Pearson and Junior Johnson were good. Junior could tell what was wrong with a car." Briggs Cunningham III represented his father, who suffers from Alzheimer's. Watson and Fittipaldi were not present at Thursday's induction ceremony. Fittipaldi, in Brazil for the Brazilian Grand Prix, was represented by his daughter, Tatiana. Christian Fittipaldi, Emerson's nephew, inducted his uncle.(Alabama Live)(4-4-2003)
- 16 Gallon Fuel Cells? Word at Texas was that NASCAR is considering moving towards the 16-gallon fuel cells for all events, but the tracks a mile in length [Dover, Lodudon, Rockingham?]. The idea is to get the cars on pit road more often, and to give the crew people who go over the wall more chances to shine each weekend. That move would seem to play into the hands of Matt Kenseth’s #17 crew due to their frequent fast-as-lightning work on the DeWalt Ford when it comes to pit road [the crew is not a parcipating team in the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship].(Ford Racing)(4-4-2003)
- Dale Jr to run Concert car at Talladega in Busch race: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will drive a #8 Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert Chevrolet car in the Busch Series Aaron's 312 at the Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, April 5. The one-time appearance of this specially designed car will highlight the inaugural Dale Earnhardt Tribute Concert, sponsored by longtime partner Kraft and its Nabisco Biscuit Division, to be held June 28th at Daytona International Speedway. In addition to its sponsorship of the concert, Kraft and its Nabisco brands made a $500,000 donation to the Dale Earnhardt Foundation. Dale Jr. and Teresa Earnhardt unveiled the car at the NASCAR media day in February during which the concert's first performing artists were announced. They included Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney and Sheryl Crow. Since then, the Goo Goo Dolls and Hootie and the Blowfish have joined the all-star lineup. Tickets are on sale through www.daleearnhardtinc.com and www.ticketmaster.com, or by calling Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. Proceeds from concert ticket sales will benefit the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, established by Teresa Earnhardt to support the causes Dale championed during his lifetime, including programs for children, education and wildlife preservation.(DEI PR / DIS PR) see an image of the real car and a diecast on my Busch Series Paint Scheme Gallery.(4-4-2003)
- Park Rumors Denied: Rumors about Steve Park's job security in DEI's #1 Pennzoil Chevy were circulating even before the Cup race at Texas. But Ty Norris, vice president of motorsports at DEI isn't ready for talk of change, saying the team needs to do better and that DEI is going to keep trying to do better. Norris said Park has been real dedicated, coming by the shop and talking to the crew. The communication is open and positive. Norris had no comment when it was mentioned that Shane Hmiel's [#48 in the Busch Series] name has been tossed around as a possible replacement for Park.(paraphrased from the Winston Cup Scene - subscription required to read online)(4-4-2003)
- Pepsi and a Billion: Michael Davies' Diplomatic Productions and The WB are near a deal for a two-hour live special in which the grand prize is $1 billion, according to a report in today's Daily Variety. Pepsi will be partnered in the program, for which contestants are selected through the purchase of a few specially marked Pepsi products. Plans call for Pepsi to promote the program throughout the summer and up to the special's September airdate. Details are still being worked out for the contest, in which contestants will face off in a game of nerve and "chicken," the report said. Mr. Davies was responsible for bringing ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" to the United States.(TV Week), looks like one of the promotions will be at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona, see the car Jeff Gordon will drive there on my Paint Scheme Gallery.(4-4-2003)
- All 61: Seven drivers have competed in all 61 restrictor-plate races at Daytona and Talladega: Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Rusty Wallace and Michael Waltrip.(4-3-2003)
- Chartwell Investments invests in RCR: Chartwell Investments II LLC announced today that it has made an equity investment in RCR Enterprises, LLC, the elite NASCAR racing team founded and majority-owned by Richard Childress. "We are pleased to partner with Chartwell Investments," said Richard Childress, President and CEO of RCR. "I've had investors in RCR since the late 1990's and I am confident that Chartwell's people and capital will help us to continue to build one of NASCAR's top organizations. I've made a long-term commitment to Chartwell and there will be no changes in how RCR is run."
"NASCAR is the fastest-growing major sport with over 75 million fans nationwide and we are enthusiastic about partnering with Richard Childress, a legendary figure in the NASCAR racing world," said Todd R. Berman, President and Founder of Chartwell Investments. "We hope our participation will give Richard even more time to focus on winning races and supporting the company's sponsors."(PRN Newswire)(4-3-2003)
- Hank Hill and DW in a commercial: Autolite and Fox Licensing & Merchandising are teaming up to bring the world's most famous propane salesman - Hank - and his zany companions from the hit animated series King of the Hill (Sundays, 8:30-9:00pm/et on FOX - and a Jayski Fave) to the airwaves in a unique advertising campaign promoting Autolite Double Platinum Spark Plugs. Two brand new television ads will creatively focus on the hit Fox television show, one of which will feature a special guest appearance by retired NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip. The ads are part of an all-new multimillion-dollar campaign from the Honeywell Consumer Products Group's Autolite unit. Both 30-second spots - created by ad agency McCann-Erickson Detroit - will utilize the King of the Hill characters Cotton, Bobby, Hank, Luanne and the rest of the gang to showcase Autolite as the Official Spark Plug of NASCAR among its core do-it-yourself audience. Featuring Autolite Double Platinum Spark Plugs and the tagline, "Autolite: It's Time to Change Your Plugs," the ads will appear during two prime-time selling windows throughout the year on select pre- and post- NASCAR programs on Fox as well as on additional lifestyle/outdoor cable networks, including Speed Channel, Fox Sports Net, FX, Sci-Fi, Comedy Central, CMT, TNN and OLN.
The spots are expected to kick off on April 6 on Fox to coincide with the NASCAR race, The Aaron's 499 from Talladega Superspeedway. Retired champion driver Darrell Waltrip appears in a spot tagged "NASCAR," where Cotton, Bobby and Hank are walking in the pit area before a big race, only to discover that the mechanic working on a car they pass by is Waltrip. A three-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion, Waltrip is a fan favorite, winning the Most Popular Driver Award in 1989 and 1990. He has garnered 84 Winston Cup wins; including the 1989 Daytona 500. "This has been a great experience. It's very exciting seeing my alter ego as a cartoon character in Autolite's new campaign," said Waltrip. "I am a firm believer in the brand's products because they are designed for people like me, who appreciate their vehicles and are interested in higher performance." The second spot, tagged "Texan," borrows nicely from reality television, where Bobby wanders around with a video camera in an attempt to make his own show called 'Who Wants to Marry a Texan.' (PR)(4-3-2003)
- Geoffrey Bodine finds a Gig...in TV: Geoffrey Bodine has accepted the "color analyst" position on SPEED Channel for their coverage of the Winston West race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on April 12th. The race will be shown tape delayed on SPEED April 19th. This assignment means that Bodine will not be driving the Thompson Motorsports #36 Ford in the Craftsman Truck race at Martinsville Spedway on April 12th. He is still working out a deal with Al Thompson to drive at Lowe's Motor Speedway Charlotte on May 16th.(Geoffrey Bodine Fan Club)
AND This isn't new territory for Bodine, who has appeared as a television analyst before, most recently for the International Race of Champions events in 2001. "It's something he's willing to pursue," Lisa Cox, his publicist, said Wednesday. "He's trying to do more television." Cox said there's a possibility Speed will use him on more Winston West race telecasts. Bodine, who turns 54 on April 18, isn't willing to hang up his driving gloves just yet. Cox said he's looking for other opportunities to get back behind the wheel of a race car. Bodine was originally scheduled to drive in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race for Thompson Motorsports at Martinsville, Va., on April 12. He agreed to give up the seat to driver James Stevenson, who brought some money to the unsponsored team. Meanwhile, Bodine has a busy schedule of non-racing events coming up. He'll participate in the Dodge Celebrity Invitational golf tournament, presented by former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. The pro-am event at the Miromar Lakes Beach and Golf Club in Estero, Fla., begins today. On May 9 and 10, Bodine hosts his annual fishing tournament in Pompano Beach, Fla., to benefit the U.S. bobsled team. Bodine helped initiate the research and development of the Bo-Dyn Bobsleds the team uses. On May 14, he holds his 12th annual Geoffrey Bodine Celebrity Golf Tournament, benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation, at Birkdale Golf Club in Huntersville, N.C.(Star Gazette - short term link)(4-3-2003)
- Board OKs public funding for Ganassi expansion: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, which fields three NASCAR Winston Cup [#'s 40, 41, 42] teams out of Mooresville, N.C., received an economic incentive grant Tuesday to expand in town at an abandoned factory. Iredell County commissioners awarded the group $47,000 to $122,200 over three years for a $2.5 million investment in the county. The grant would help the race group buy and retrofit the former Matshushita Compressor Corp. of America building. The move would allow Chip Ganassi Racing to add another race team and create 65 to 75 jobs.(Charlotte Observer)(4-3-2003)
- Wallace Paying Tribute To Fallen American Hero: When Rusty Wallace sports his United Association hat during Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 pre-race activities at Talladega Superspeedway, he will be paying a special personal tribute to a fallen hero. He will be wearing the hat to honor Marine Reserve Sgt. Bradley Korthaus, who died on March 24 while participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Korthaus, 28, of Davenport, Iowa, was a UA member out of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Local 25 in Rock Island, Ill. “Brad lost his life in the line of duty and he is an American hero,” said Wallace. “His story is certainly an inspiration. He pursued his lifetime dream of becoming a U.S. Marine and joined the military right out of school."(Tom Roberts PR)(4-3-2003)
- Kulwicki Honored: Ten years after fate took away our reigning Winston Cup champion, Alan Kulwicki, the fans still remember with a passion that is addictive! A full house at the Greenfield Wisconsin Hooter’s Restaurant sure reminds us that as the time goes by the pain of loss might weaken, but thankfully the memories of his greatness grow! Even the folks that just stumbled across the festivities during their regular Hooter’s run got in the spirit! The evening started with one of Dennis Mielcarek’s AK videos, the interview Benny Parson did with Alan after his Championship. The second of Dennis Mielcarek’s memorable videotapes was a tribute to AK done by the local media in Milwaukee. Such great scenes of Alan doing things “His Way.” When Garth Brooks “The Dance” played along with the scenes of AK and his family it was a moving moment. A caravan of cars and trucks left for the cemetery for the candle light vigil. Many of the vehicles had “AK 7” all over them.(Full story at Frontstretch)(4-3-2003)
- #1 Team has a Nickname: Steve Park, driver of the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet, is without a posse no longer. NASCAR fans can now add "One Mo' Posse" to cheer for at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Said Park, "Dale Jr. has his Dirty Mo Posse and Michael [Waltrip] has the Sherill's Ford Posse. Now there is "One Mo'" at DEI."(Steve Park site)(4-3-2003)
- Capps Tests IROC - 'Like Day's of Thunger': NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps made a little oval-racing history this week, testing an IROC Firebird at Talladega Superspeedway, where the second round of the 2003 International Race of Champions Series will be run on Saturday. Capps, who has raced on ovals in sprint cars, worked with IROC test driver and driving school teacher Andy Hillenburg on Tuesday and quickly got up to speed. "I'm in the car and the radios are hooked up together and Hillenburg and I are having a conversation at 180 mph about how he wants me to pull up closer to him," Capps said. "I said, 'Andy, are you sure about this?' I'd only been out there about 10 laps. We were going wide-open and he had me following him all over the place. We ran down around the apron for a few laps and then he said we were going to explore other parts of the race track and, before you know it, he had me running 180, about a foot away from the wall. If that doesn't get your heart pumped, I don't know what will." Capps went out for one more session, but this time in a four-car draft with IRL driver Felipe Giaffone, World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski, and IROC test driver Dick Trickle. Capps was last in line, drafting with Trickle, when suddenly Trickle shot up to the wall between turns one and two and passed Giaffone and Lasoski. "I started to go with him and then remembered, 'I'm not that good yet.' It was exactly like in 'Days of Thunder,' " Capps said. "He did an excellent job," Trickle said. "We had him up front, behind us, three-wide and he had great car control the entire time. Very impressive." Capps, who would love to get a chance to really race in the all-star series, said, "The drag racing community has been going wild since this got out about me testing an IROC car. I've gotten more interview requests about this than I do when I win a race." Currently, IROC includes driving stars from NASCAR, the IRL and the World of Outlaws.(ThatsRacin.com/AP/IROC PR)(4-3-2003)
- Teen Safety 500 to Birmingham: Georgia-Pacific Corp. brings its Teen Safety 500 program to two Birmingham-area high schools on Thursday, April 3.. Mountain Brook High School and Vestavia Hills High School have been selected to participate in this innovative program that extends Georgia-Pacific’s involvement with NASCAR to spread the message of safe driving among teen-agers. NASCAR driver Kyle Petty will be on hand to present the Georgia-Pacific Teen Safety 500 program to students. The program will include Petty, local dignitaries and Georgia-Pacific representatives speaking to students about the importance of safety behind the wheel. After the assembly, students will have the opportunity to view an actual NASCAR car outside the school and receive autographs from Petty. The Georgia-Pacific Teen Safety 500 program is in its third year. To date, students have logged more than 1 million safe miles through the program. Birmingham is the first of six stops the Teen Safety 500 will make during the 2003 NASCAR season. Student drivers at the two schools will sign a safe-driving pledge to remain violation-free with no crashes during a three-week period. Once registered at Georgia-Pacific’s Web site, students will have the opportunity to win prizes for themselves and their school. Both schools will receive a cash contribution from Georgia-Pacific for their participation. The school with the highest ratio of students completing three weeks of safe driving will win an additional contribution. Georgia-Pacific will provide participating students with a variety of prizes for those who log safe miles, including product coupons from Chick-fil-A, racing merchandise and entertainment and dining packages. One student will be chosen from the winning school for the grand prize – a $200 gift card from Best Buy. Petty will be joined by John O’Donnell, president, North American Commercial Business, Georgia-Pacific; Sgt. William Rogers, Birmingham district public information/safety education officer; Dicky Barlow, principal, Mountain Brook High School; and Ann Jones, principal, Vestavia Hills High School. Visit Georgia-Pacific’s racing Web site at www.gp.com/racing for more information about the Teen Safety 500 program.(Williams Company PR)(4-3-2003)
- Some Politics: Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today sent the following letter to William C. France, CEO of NASCAR: Because American troops are currently engaged in combat in Iraq, we ask that NASCAR cease and desist from further support for Jesse Jackson and/or his nonprofit organizations. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, you have stated that NASCAR fans are "the kind of people who go to war and win wars for America." Branches of the Armed Services and the National Guard maintain important NASCAR sponsorships. Race teams have demonstrated their support for the troops in a variety of ways. NASCAR's support for our troops is undercut by your support for Jackson, which includes substantial monetary contributions, at a time when Jackson is leading anti-war protests, even in foreign countries. Disturbingly, Jackson has employed extreme and provocative anti-American rhetoric. NASCAR was a "Platinum" sponsor of the 2002 Rainbow/PUSH and Citizenship Education Fund Annual Conference, reportedly paying $100,000 for the distinction. NASCAR's relationship with Jackson is detailed in a new report I authored and published by the Capital Research Center. See Organizational Trends, April 2003. (http://www.capitalresearch.org/news/news.asp?ID=111) Jackson spoke at the January 18, Washington, DC anti-war rally organized by A.N.S.W.E.R., an alleged Marxist front group. At a March protest in London, Jackson reportedly stated, "Today is not about Saddam Hussein. Today is about Bush and Blair and the massacre they plan for Iraq." On March 18, Jackson told a rally that the United States would be guilty of "war crimes" if it attacked Iraq. After the military operation began, Jackson on March 27 proposed a "truce." Toyota has ended support for Jackson's groups in apparent response to my request that it do so, after a wave of negative media coverage last year. A DaimlerChysler executive touched off a firestorm of criticism in January for remarks critical of Jackson's critics that he made at Jesse Jackson's Wall Street Conference. DaimlerChysler has formally apologized to me. NLPC is a nonpartisan foundation that supports ethics and accountability in public life. In 2001, the group filed a still-pending Complaint with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that Jesse Jackson's largest nonprofit group violated of its tax status.
(Catchefence via a National Legal and Policy Center PR)(4-3-2003)
- Talladega Rules: The aerodynamic rules package that was used for the Daytona 500 remains in place for Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, the season's second restrictor-plate race. Those rules (for 2003 model cars): rear spoilers must by 6¼ inches tall and 57 inches wide; rear spoiler angles must be minimum of 55 degrees and maximum of 65 degrees; restrictor plate openings must be 7/8 inch. There is one slight modification: rear spoilers must have a minimum thickness of 3/16 inch. Also, the approximate 13.5-gallon fuel cell will again be used.(NASCAR PR)(4-2-2003)
- Darrell Waltrip Shares Martinsville Speedway Experience and Wednesday Testing: FOX broadcaster Darrell Waltrip [DW]was back in the infield and behind the wheel at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday. Waltrip, a 11-time Martinsville Speedway winner, made the trip to prep for the Advance Auto Parts 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville, and it wasn't his on-camera work he was honing. For the second straight year Waltrip will be attempting to make the Advance Auto Parts 250, which will be held the day before the Virginia 500 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. Last year Waltrip qualified 17th for the event and wound up 34th after losing an engine. Waltrip wasn't in a Craftsman Truck Series truck Wednesday; there's no testing in that series. Through an odd arrangement, Waltrip was in a Busch Grand National car owned by Winston Cup team owner Andy Petree. Petree also dabbles in the truck
series as a driver. He, too was looking for Martinsville seat time, so he brought a Busch car to Martinsville and on Wednesday shared driving
duties with Waltrip. Waltrip's first run was quickly short-circuited Wednesday. Two laps into it, the engine exploded and he was sidelined for a couple hours while a new power plant was installed. Kyle Petty asked Waltrip to take a laps in his Winston Cup car to get a little extra input. By 1:00pm he was back in Petree's car, logging valuable laps in preparation for the Advance Auto Parts 250. "This is a lot of fun, but
it's also great for my other job. Just walking back into the garage like this helps me know what they are doing, if they are doing the same things they were doing when I was racing. It helps me know if things have changed." And getting behind the wheel is even more valuable to Waltrip and his job with FOX. "How can I talk about the track if I've not been on it. How can I talk about what's been done to the track if I've not been on it," said Waltrip. But as important as these forays into the truck series may be to Waltrip's current fulltime job, he likes to be thought of as a driver first. "The guys told me today it was like a flashback, seeing me in the Tide uniform," said Waltrip, who will be sponsored by Tide, his longtime Winston Cup sponsor, in the Advance Auto Parts 250. "Days like to day give me an opportunity to come back and I want to come back in here as a driver first as long as I can."
There were also eight Winston Cup teams on hand Wednesday closing out the two-day test session. Rookie #41-Casey Mears posted the best time of the day, 92.597mph.
#0-Jack Sprague 92.461
#32-Ricky Craven 92.101
#25-Joe Nemechek 91.967
#74-Tony Raines 91.567
#45-David Hyder 91.258
#16-Greg Biffle 91.346
#1-Steve Park 89.659. All times were provided by teams.(Martinsville Speedway PR)(4-2-2003)
- Rusty Testing by his 'Lonesome'? UPDATE: hearing #2-Rusty Wallace tested at Lonesome Pine Speedway in VA on Tuesday.
UPDATE: Rusty Wallace and the #2 Miller Lite Dodge team took to Lonesome Pine Raceway Tuesday in preparation for the upcoming Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Wallace used the 3/8 mile NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series track as a platform to test and tune the #2 Dodge he will pilot in the April 13th Winston Cup race. The crew tested numerous shocks and different setups to find a winning combination to use at Martinsville. Wallace, who has not won the spring race at Martinsville since 1996, looks to combine yesterdays test session with past notes and tests to find victory lane once again. Overall, the team says the test was very beneficial.(Lonesome Pine Raceway PR) Lonesome Pine Raceway, in Coeburn, VA, kicks off its weekly racing season with the Reno’s Roadhouse 260 on Saturday, April 19th. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Racing will begin at 7 p.m. The evening schedule includes the Morgan-McClure Late Model Stock Cars, Honda of Prestonsburg Limiteds, Grand Stock, Vic’s Decorating Modified 4’s, Community Trust Bank Pure Stock 4’s and Legends. The evening will
conclude with a fireworks show.(4-2-2003)
- DW testing too UPDATE: Three-time Winston Cup champ Darrell Waltrip will be testing at Martinsville Wednesday in an Andy Petree Winston Cup car to prepare for his run in the Truck Series at Martinsville.
UPDATE: Waltrip tested in a Petree Busch Series car and the #45 Petty Enterprises Dodge at Martinsville today.(FSN's Totally NASCAR Show see a picture at Allwaltrip.com)(4-2-2003)
- Robby Gordon's Pit Crew Finishes First in Texas: The crew of Robby Gordon's #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy was the Round 7 winner of the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade during Sunday's (March 30) NASCAR Winston Cup race - Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Gordon's team, owned by Richard Childress Racing, was declared the winner and the recipient of the $20,000 first prize money for spending the least amount of time (202 seconds) on pit road. Coming in second was another Richard Childress Racing entry - the #30 crew of Jeff Green's AOL Chevy. Green's car had a total time of 234 seconds on pit road. The win lifted Gordon's team into third place in the season point standings for the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade. During each 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup points event, the participating team whose car spends the least amount of aggregate time off the race track will be named the weekly winner provided the team's driver takes the green flag at the beginning of the event and the checkered flag at the conclusion of the event. A timing line at the entrance and exit of pit road triggers the car's transponder and records the total time spent off the race track. The team that records the most standing points during the season will receive a $200,000 bonus at the end of the year. The point distribution per race is: 43 points for first place, descending in increments of one. In order to obtain points at each race, a team must take the opening green flag and the closing checkered flag. The McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade is the largest monetary contingency program in NASCAR history and the first to reward pit crews for performance at each race.
Top 10 Pit Crews For Participating Teams At Texas:
1. Robby Gordon, 202 seconds
2. Jeff Green, 234
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.,. 238
4. John Andretti, 251
5. Jamie McMurray, 262
6. Jerry Nadeau, 270
7. Michael Waltrip, 309
8. Todd Bodine, 342
9. Jack Sprague, 372
10. Kurt Busch, 379
(DMF Communications PR)(4-2-2003)
- Sadler to Pull Double Duty: The #02 GoTeamVa.com Winston Cup car normally driven by Hermie Sadler will be practiced and qualified at Martinsville by Dennis Setzer while Sadler competes in the Busch Series race in Nashville, TN on April 12 the team announced today. Sadler, who qualified in the top 10 for last fall's Martinsville Winston Cup race, knows his car is in good hands. "Dennis Setzer is one of the best race car drivers around. I am honored that he can step in and help us out. His record speaks for itself." GoTeamVa.com is the Motorsports Club website for Go Team Virginia, a program that includes The University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. The site hosts a fantasy racing league for its members and also gives them chances to win pit passes, race tickets and other special promotions. For more information, visit www.goteamva.com.(The Patterson Group)(4-2-2002)
- Car Chief tests for Petty: David Hyder has been Kyle Petty's car chief for a couple of years. Tuesday morning, though, Hyder moved from outside the car to inside the car. Petty's team was set to test at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday and Wednesday, but the driver of the Georgia Pacific Dodge is still nursing sore ribs from a hard crash at Bristol International Raceway two weeks ago. When Petty went looking for a sub for testing, he never left his shop. He just asked Hyder to change uniforms for a couple of days to help the team to prepare for the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, April 13. "Kyle asked me Saturday night at Texas if I would do this for him. It makes me feel really good they had the confidence in me and would ask me to do this," said Hyder. It's not like Petty threw a raw rookie into his Dodge, though. Although Hyder isn't a household name to race fans from coast-to-coast, Late Model Stock fans throughout Virginia and the Carolinas are familiar with him. The 35-year-old Hyder won 103 Late Model races in that area during the early and mid 1990s. And Martinsville Speedway was the site of his most important Late Model Stock win, the 1997 Miller 300. He set a track Late Model qualifying
record for that race, a record that still stands, and won the race. He took home a record payout of $27,500 that day, another Martinsville
Late Model mark that still stands. Hyder said his Martinsville experience certainly came into play when Petty was looking for a testing substitute. "I've run a lot of laps here and I think Kyle knew that," said Hyder, who stepped out of fulltime Late Model racing three years ago to pursue a more stable career. "I think he knew I'd run enough laps here that I could give them some good data. I know this isn't a simple race track by no means." Hyder was solid in testing all day Tuesday as the team worked on short runs. He said his best time was 20.70 seconds (91.478mph) around the .526-mile oval. Hyder and the Petty team weren't looking for pole-winning times Tuesday, though. They had a new car at the track, and Hyder spent most of the day shaking it down. "Tomorrow we'll build on what we learned today and we learned a lot of things today," said Hyder. "We only ran a hundred or so laps today and they were all short runs. We just wanted to get laps on the car. It's a brand new car. "We've still got a ways to go. We made some gains late today. I think we'll be right there with everyone else. We'll talk about everything we learned tonight and we'll come back and apply it all tomorrow." Hyder will be back as car chief this week when Petty returns behind the wheel at Talledega, but he admits it would be nice to return to driving full time one of these days. "I've always told Kyle I'd like to drive again. But Kyle has been great to me and it would take a really, really good deal to go back to driving," said Hyder. "I like to drive cars, but I'm perfectly satisfied with what I'm doing with this team." Hyder said right now, his goal is simple. "Nothing would suit me better than for us to take what we learn up here this week and come back and help KP run better here next week. That's our goal and that's what I want us to do," said Hyder. Hyder said he felt comfortable with his return to driving on Tuesday, but there was one point in the day when he did get a bit edgy. "I came out of the hauler after lunch and both of them ... Kyle and Richard (Petty) were standing there. That showed me they had confidence in me, both of them coming up here. "But anytime you walk out of the truck and see the King standing there ...I mean he's won 200 Winston Cup races. I didn't know whether to get in the car or go back up in the truck. Testing will resume at Martinsville at 9 a.m. on Wednesday with the same group of teams. Testing is open to the public at no charge.(Martinsville Speedway PR)(4-2-2003)
- Petty to skip Talladega? denied: The black box data recorder in Kyle Petty's car registered an incredible 80-Gs in his Bristol crash last week. No wonder he has two broken ribs. Petty's car hit on the driver's side, and it was very close to being a flush hit - the most dangerous type. Petty may also sit out this week's Talladega race. Christian Fittipaldi subbed for Petty on Sunday but crashed midway through the race. "The last 10 or 15 laps I was out there I think I was running out of brakes," Fittipaldi said. "When I came out of turn two, Dale Jarrett was right next to me, and I guess I forgot to pump the brake pedal. When I went into three, it was way, way low, like almost on the floor of the car. But considering I hopped in at the last minute, I was having a pretty good time out there."(Winston Salem Journal)
BUT was sent this Tuesday: Please note Kyle Petty should be listed as the driver of the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge for the NASCAR Winston Cup event this weekend at Talladega, Ala., and is planning on.participating in practice, as well as qualifying,.and racing the car.(Williams Company PR)(4-2-2003)
- Team Ganassi Tested: Chip Ganassi Racing's Winston Cup drivers #40-Sterling Marlin, #42-Jamie McMurray and #41-Casey Mears joined IndyCar drivers Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter in getting baseline assessment tests at the Center for Sports Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The drivers had comprehensive physical fitness testing, sports performance training and other specialty consultation by UPMC's sports medicine and sports performance team. The exams included assessment of vision and hearing, pulmonary function, cardiac stress, oxygen consumption and physiologic response to exercise. They also got blood screening and tests for balance and rotator-cuff strength. They were tested for strength, flexibility and agility.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-2-2003)
- Aikman/Staubach sponsors? UPDATE 2: the two rumors I am hearing for the Hall of Fame Racing team with Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach is Pizza Hut [always seems to be a rumored sponsor] and/or Radio Shack will be the primary sponsor of the team, supposedly Pizza Hut has signed and that Acme Brick signed as an associate sponsor.(3-11-2003)
UPDATE: Hall of Fame Racing, the new Winston Cup team being started by Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, is talking with several Dallas-Fort Worth companies about sponsoring the team. One of those companies is Fort Worth-based RadioShack. Staubach is directly involved in the negotiations with several corporations in an attempt to cut through the red tape and go directly to the CEOs and the board of directors. "With the amount of money involved and the high-profile nature of this, we felt it was better for Roger to use his contacts and speak with the top executives," said Hall of Fame Racing spokesman Starke Taylor. "We have a handful of companies that are genuinely interested." Taylor and Staubach have some impressive figures to show corporate executives what their investment in Winston Cup is worth.(Dallas Morning News - need to register to read)(3-13-2003)
UPDATE 2: Roger Staubach says he is again [again??] trying to put together a NASCAR team, with Troy Aikman. The next moves depend on attracting sponsorship. One of the companies the two are talking with is Radio Shack, the electronics firm headquartered in Fort Worth [TX].(Winston Salem Journal)(4-2-2003)
- They'll be back UPDATE 3: hearing that #42-Jamie McMurray in Cup and #99-Michael Waltrip in the Busch Series will run Terminator 3 movies schemes, not sure when.(2-28-2003)
UPDATE: hearing this will be for Daytona in July.(3-1-2003)
IMAGES got images of both cars, see my 2003 Busch and 2003 Cup pages for the images.(3-27-2003)
UPDATE 3: Call it the summer of blockbuster action. For a third time, movie fans can enjoy another round of Terminator mayhem when Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his robotic role for T3: Rise of the Machines, debuting nationwide on July 2, 2003. However, Terminator robots will not be the only mean machines battling this summer. Action Performance, in conjunction with Warner Bros. and C-2 Pictures, will bring T3: Rise of the Machines to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2003. T3: Rise of the Machines will share top billing with NASCAR Winston Cup rookie Jamie McMurray aboard the No. 42 Havoline Dodge for the running of the Pepsi 400. As part of the program, Action Performance will produce a replica die-cast of McMurray’s No. 42 Havoline/T3 Dodge, as well as other related memorabilia featuring the T3-themed racecar design. “I’m extremely excited to have this opportunity to be associated with a movie of this caliber,” McMurray said. “I’ve seen both the first two Terminator movies and can’t wait to see the new one. This is the first time in my racing career that I’ve had an opportunity like this to run a special paint scheme, and I can’t think of a better fit than with this movie. The car design also looks pretty cool,” McMurray added. “Hopefully our Havoline Dodge will be the machine at Daytona that will rise into victory lane.” A press conference will be held April 26 at California Speedway in Fontana, Ca. to unveil the paint scheme and to talk about the promotion.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates site)(4-2-2003)
- And the Race to the Yellow Flag rule UPDATE: Defending Texas champ Matt Kenseth was running in first when the caution flag was waved at the end of 168th lap. Kenseth slowed before the line to allow Roush teammate Kurt Busch to get a lap back. Ricky Rudd, who was two laps down, and second-place driver Jeff Gordon went racing by as well. After NASCAR reviewed the move, Kenseth was restored to the lead, ahead of Gordon, and both Busch and Rudd got their laps back. "There's a gentlemen's agreement not to pass for position, but if he chooses to let the guys have a lap back, the gentlemen's agreement is out the door," said Gordon, who finished third.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)
AND It's not often you see Jeff Gordon get riled up, but the four-time Winston Cup champion has had it with NASCAR's rule of racing back to the start-finish line when a caution comes out. How that rule is enforced came into question Sunday when Gordon passed leader Matt Kenseth as they reached the line to start a caution midway through the race. Gordon, who was running second, moved ahead of Kenseth when Kenseth slowed down to let drivers Kurt Busch and Ricky Rudd by him and get back on the lead lap. But Gordon moved ahead of Kenseth to keep the other two drivers a lap down. NASCAR officials ruled that Kenseth still would be the leader, Gordon would be second and Busch and Rudd would get their lap back. "Someone will have to explain that one to me," Gordon said. "It's frustrating. Just because the leader may want to let them have their lap back, it doesn't mean everybody else behind him has to let them have a lap back. The next guy in line can choose. I did. I was the leader when we crossed the line." NASCAR president Mike Helton said Gordon didn't have the right to determine who got a lap back because Gordon wasn't the leader when the yellow was displayed. Drivers have a gentlemen's agreement not to pass the leader while racing back to the yellow flag. But the leader often slows down enough to let lapped cars go by him to get back on the lead lap. "There is a gentlemen's agreement not to pass for position, but we're talking about keeping cars down a lap," Gordon said. "I don't know of any gentleman's agreement to let cars get a lap back, even if you aren't the leader. I didn't think there was any reason for me to let them have a lap back. We're fighting those guys for a championship. For NASCAR to put those guys back just blows me away. I think the whole getting a lap back thing is crazy." NASCAR is the only major racing body that has it cars race back around to the start-finish line when a caution is displayed.(Dallas Morning News - may need to register to view) AND see my Story/Columns/Article Links page for many more stories and commentary on this.(3-31-2003)
UPDATE: NASCAR president Mike Helton said Tuesday the sanctioning body erred in the way it handled Jeff Gordon's attempt to keep down cars that Matt Kenseth tried to let back on the lead lap during the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. "If we had to do that call over again, we would have done it differently," Helton said. "We made a mistake." Kenseth was leading the race when Elliott Sadler's Ford spun on the backstretch on Lap 168. When the yellow flag came out, Kenseth slowed to allow Ricky Rudd and Kurt Busch to make up a lap. Gordon sped up to try to keep them a lap down, passing Kenseth before the start-finish line. That pass, Helton said, technically made Gordon the race leader. Since he got to the line before Busch and Rudd, they would have still been a lap down. The problem happened when Gordon allowed Kenseth to go back by him before the pace car picked up the leaders. Gordon said he didn't want to violate the "gentlemen's agreement" against racing for position back to the yellow, so he wanted to give the lead back to Kenseth. But Gordon did want to keep Busch and Rudd a lap down. "It was a scenario that we had not seen before," Helton said. "Someone who took the lead in the race then gave it back after the start-finish line." But since Gordon ceded the lead back to Kenseth, Helton said, NASCAR ruled Busch and Rudd did make up a lap. "For a long time we've told the drivers...that when a yellow comes out, slow down and let the leaders be the one to keep the lapped cars down," Helton said. "What happens between the leaders is their prerogative. What we did Sunday was interject NASCAR into that prerogative that we leave to the drivers, and we shouldn't have done that." Helton said that since the race continued there's no way to go back and change anything about Sunday's race now. He also said NASCAR does not plan to change its rules about racing back to the flag, partly because the technology does not yet exist to ensure NASCAR could accurately record the correct positions of all cars at the time a caution comes out to freeze the running order at that point.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-1-2003)
- Martinsville Testing UPDATE 2 Speeds on Tuesday: Nine drivers are scheduled to test at Martinsville Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday [March 31, April 1] in preparation for the April13 Virginia 500. Scheduled to test are #25-Joe Nemechek, #16-Greg Biffle, #1-Steve Park, #32-Ricky Craven, #45-Kyle Petty [may cancle or have Andretti/Fittipaldi test if he is still sore], #41-Casey Mears, #0-Jack Sprague, #4-Mike Skinner and #74-Tony Raines.(Roanoke Times)(3-30-2003)
UPDATE: Cup team testing at Martinsville and some note - testing this morning at Martinsville Speedway are #41-Casey Mears, #1-Steve Park, #15-Michael Waltrip, #32-Ricky Craven, #16-Greg Biffle, #0-Jack Sprague, #74-Tony Raines and #25-Joe Nemechek. In addition to those Winston Cup regulars, Andy Petree is here testing a Busch car. He plans on attempting to qualifying for the Advance Auto
Parts 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and is using the Busch car to get some track time in the absence of truck testing. Darrell
Waltrip will probably get some seat time in Petree's car on Wednesday for the same reason.
Kyle Petty's #45 team is here, but obviously Kyle is still hurting. In a surprise, but explainable move David Hyder is driving the car today
and possibly tomorrow. David who? Hyder is a Late Model driver who has enjoyed great success in this region and especially at Martinsville
Speedway. He's also a member of Petty's crew. He holds the track qualifying record for Late Models at 90.227 mph (1997 Miller 300). He
also won that race. His winnings that day, $27,500, is still at Late Model record here.(Martinsville Speedway PR)
TEST SPEEDS TUESDAY: Testing is over at Martinsville Speedway for the day. Following is a list of drivers and times. Please note that David Hyder was subbing for Kyle Petty. Andy Petree was in a Busch car, getting in seat time for the Advance Auto Parts 250 (Truck Race). Also, earlier today it was noted that #15-Michael Waltrip would be testing, it was a understandable mistake as Mears' team
bought one of Waltrip's car haulers from DEI and have not repainted it. The speeds:
#74-Tony Raines, 93.281mph (20.30 sec)
#25-Joe Nemechek, 92.371 (20.50)
#16-Greg Biffle, 92.371 (20.50)
#1-Steve Park, 92.281 (20.52)
#0-Jack Sprague, 92.191 (20.54)
#32-Ricky Craven, 91.700 (20.65)
#41-Casey Mears, 91.922 (20.60)
#45-David Hyder, 91.478 (20.70)
Andy Petree, 91.170 (20.77)
Winston Cup qualifying record is 95.371mph (19.855 seconds), set by #20-Tony Stewart in the fall of 2000.(Martinsville Speedway PR)(4-1-2003)
- News on the #20 Impounding = NOTHING - NOTE: nothing new on the #20 Home Depot Chevy impounding [see new below], when I hear anything it'll be posted, NASCAR usually announces Cup penalties on Tues/Wed following the race.(3-31-2003)
UPDATE: NASCAR still has not announced any further penalties against Tony Stewart's team at Joe Gibbs Racing after its primary #20 Chevrolet was impounded at Texas for failing its initial inspection because it did not fit the templates. The apparently unprecedented move to seize the car did get the attention of other crew chiefs in the garage. "As soon as I heard what happened to them I called back to the shop and told them that was a prime example of what can happen if you're not right," said Raymond Fox III, crew chief for Elliott Sadler's Ford. "The 20 car is a good team. It opens up your eyes to make you go back to the shop and say, 'OK, this is what happened last week. Let's try not to let it happen to us.'"(ThatsRacin.com), see past news on my #20 Team News and Links page.(4-1-2003)
- Final Bristol TV Ratings: Final Nielsen figures show that small markets boosted the ratings considerably for Fox's airing of the March 23 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, but the numbers were still down 11.3 percent from last year. Today's Sports Business Daily says the final figures show the race earned a 5.5 rating and 13 share. While that was up from the 5.1/11 overnight figures, it was still well short of the 6.2/16 the race drew in 2002, when sports events weren't competing with war news for viewers' attention.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter - free)(4-1-2003)
- The 2003 Driver of the Year Award will be determined by a blue ribbon panel of eighteen motorsports writers, journalists and announcers plus one cumulative fan vote hosted on Speedtv.com. That means that the fans can help decide the winner of the award by casting their vote for the driver they feel most desrves recognition for each quarter of the 2003 season. The award encompasses all racing platforms including NASCAR Champ Car, IRL, NHRA, SCCA, World of Outlaws and Sports Cars. The award vote is based on a 25-point system. Each panelist will select a top-six from the list of nominees and based on those picks points are awarded to the drivers as follows: 9 points for first, 6 for second, 4 for third, 3 for fourth, 2 for fifth and 1 for sixth. The top six vote-getters from the Speedtv.com online voting will also be included on a single final ballot along with the top six overall from the 16 media panel members. The quarterly winner will then be determined based on the results of this final ballot to be voted on by the Expert Media Panel. Finally, at the end of the year the Expert Media Panel will vote on the Quarterly winners to determine the 2003 Driver of the Year. Drivers' achievements are evaluated using the following criteria: Track Performance - Wins, top five finishes, top ten finishes and pole qualifying; Sportsmanship - Conduct and professionalism; Humanitarianism - Participation in and willingness to support philanthropic causes; Fan Recognition - Popularity among motorsports enthusiasts.
First Quarter Nominee's: Paul Tracy, Michael Waltrip, Matt Kenseth, Danny Lasoski, Kurt Busch, Brandon Bernstein and Tony Kanaan. Fan voting will take place online from Saturday, March 29, until Wednesday, April 16 at 12:00noon/et. More at Speed Channel site.(4-1-2003)
- SAFER Test: NASCAR officials have scheduled another test for the SAFER barrier this month and don't expect to have a short-track version of the impact-absorbing wall perfected in time for the May 3 race at Richmond International Raceway.(USA Today)(4-1-2003)
- Hermie back at Talladega UPDATE 2: Hermie Sadler will make his return to the Cup Series on April 6, 2003 when he pilots the #02 Autism Awareness Pontiac sponsored by NWA-TNA: Total Nonstop Action Wrestling in the AARON' S 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. In honor of Autism Awareness Month and the thousands of people affected daily by this disease, the car will feature the Autism "puzzle ribbon" on the hood along with 1-800-3-AUTISM, the phone number for the Autism Society of America. Sadler, whose daughter Halie Dru was diagnosed with Autism in February 2001, carried the ribbon in the Spring Bristol race last year and was amazed at the response. "The number of people we reached through this exposure was unbelievable. It was just the tool we needed-the Autism Society of America received literally thousands of phone calls following the race. This is the perfect way for us to kick off Autism Awareness month for 2003," stated Sadler. NWA-TNA Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett is pleased to participate in this event. "Hermie has been such a huge supporter of NWA-TNA, and it is a pleasure to return the favor. I'm looking forward to the race and helping increase the awareness of Autism." Also participating in the promotion are FOX Sports, FX, www.goteamva.com, and Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated. Fox Sports is providing an in-car camera to help promote awareness for autism and Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated is providing engines and technical support to Sadler's team for this event. "I am honored and grateful to everyone who is involved with this program," Sadler said. "We not only have the chance to run a great race; we have the chance to make a difference for kids and families all over the world affected by autism." NWA-TNA Total Nonstop Action Wrestling is the first-ever weekly Pay-Per-View wrestling series that airs every Wednesday at 8:00pm/et on iN DEMAND and DIRECT-TV. With its unique blend of traditional wrestling and the high-flying cutting edge moves of the X-Division, it is the definitive alternative for the wrestling enthusiast. For more information on NWA-TNA: Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, go to www.nwatna.com.(PR)(3-26-2003)
UPDATE: Look for Hermie Sadler to drive a Dale Earnhardt Inc. car at Talladega. DEI is donating the car to promote autism awareness. Sadler's daughter, Halie Dru, was diagnosed with autism in February 2001.(Sporting News)(3-31-2003)
UPDATE 2: Hermie Sadler suffered a fractured bone in his right foot and bruised ligaments in his ankle from the crash. Sadler still plans to enter both the Busch Series and Winston Cup races this weekend.(Sadler Fanclub Site)(4-1-2003)
- Andretti and Gordon may miss the Indy 500: John Andretti and Robby Gordon announced several weeks ago their intention to compete in this year's Indianapolis 500. But both are being reminded of the significant gap between planning and doing. It takes money to bridge that gap, and neither is having luck finding it. The two Winston Cup regulars said this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway that time is quickly running out on hopes of pulling double duty May 25, racing in both the Indy 500 in the day and the Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, N.C., that night. It is particularly disappointing for Andretti, an Indianapolis native who wanted to return to the 500 in what cousin Michael Andretti has said will be his last race. John Andretti was counting on General Mills, his Winston Cup sponsor, to fund his Indy program, but the company now is telling him that given the economy and world situation, it is inclined to wait a year. He hasn't given up and even has talked to one potential sponsor about a package deal for himself and another open-wheeler turned stock car driver, Petty Enterprises teammate Christian Fittipaldi. One thing he won't do is ask his cousin, in his first year as an Indy Racing League team owner, for help. Michael already has plans to run four cars at Indy. "He's got his hands full," John Andretti said of his cousin. "I don't want to be the guy he comes up to afterward and says, 'I lost because of you,' because he split up one of his pit crews to help me out." Complicating matters for Gordon and Andretti is the IRL has all new cars this season with few extras available. But Gordon said all he has to do is turn on CNN to see the real problem. "It's hard to find money when there's a war going on," Gordon said. "I don't have a deal and I don't see one opening up."(Indianapolis Star)(4-1-2003)
- NASCAR Wheel of Fortune: Wheel of Fortune, America's #1 rated syndicated television series, and NASCAR have teamed up for a second consecutive year for Wheel of Fortune's "NASCAR Week," scheduled to air nationwide April 7-11. NASCAR fans have been selected as contestants to compete on a NASCAR-themed Wheel of Fortune set, featuring 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart's #20 Home Depot car (wonder if it is the car from Texas? just joking). Official NASCAR licensees are providing apparel for the studio audience to wear during the taping. In addition, race fans and Wheel Watchers alike can expect some of NASCAR's top 10 drivers, including Jeff Gordon and Ricky Craven and other fan favorites to appear in taped segments throughout Wheel of Fortune's "NASCAR Week". (NASCAR PR) (4-1-2003)
- Model racing car project stolen: Middleburgh [Albany, NY area] teacher Scott Gray said, "I'm just devastated. It's just all this work is gone, just sad." Gray is devastated that someone would steal the model NASCAR race car his engineering students at Middleburgh Central School had built from scratch. The students not only put the car together, they also raised the money for its parts. Gray said, "I was hoping to use this as a tool in the classroom and now that it's gone, I don't have that tool to use. So whoever was that took it, I'm sure their intentions were to steal it directly from me, they're really not stealing that car from me. They're really stealing the education of the 15 students that I have in my class." Senior Tom Loucks said, "We learned a lot from it, like the mechanical advantages of cars, and stuff that we won't learn anywhere else in life, like design and stuff like that." Senior DareRick Krufchinski said, "I've been working on it since September, a lot of hours, a lot of after school days at least twice a week until 8, 9 at night." The model car was taken out of Sears parking lot in Rotterdam. Scott Gray went there with the model car in the back of his pickup, went inside for about five minutes and when he came out, the model car was gone. Lieutenant Bill Manikas of the Rotterdam Police Department said, "To be perfectly frank, we're working really hard on it, as we do with every crime. We have very few leads to go on, but the detectives are out looking right now." Gray said, "Our biggest thing is that we really hope to get the car back because it's not so much the money that was spent on it, it was the time and we can't make back that time." Gray said he won't press charges if the car is returned, but if the thief is caught, then he will.(Capital News 9)(4-1-2003)
- Cingular Wireless and Robby Gordon race on behalf of Special Olympics athletes at Talladega: Sporting a Special Olympics Team USA paint scheme on his race car, Robby Gordon will drive Richard Childress Racing's (RCR) #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy for a good cause on April 6 at Talladega Superspeedway. To launch Cingular's fourth year of supporting Special Olympics, Cingular will donate $100 to the organization for every lap completed, and an additional $1,000 for each lap that Gordon leads in the Aaron's 499. If Gordon wins the race, Cingular will donate $100,000 to Special Olympics. The promotion will help to support Special Olympics Team USA athletes who will compete at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland, June 21-29. The games will showcase the athletic skills, courage and dignity of 7,500 athletes with mental retardation from more than 150 countries around the world. Five Special Olympics Alabama athletes will be the VIP guests of Cingular Wireless and Gordon at Talladega. Gordon has invited them to pit row to cheer him on from the sidelines in his specially painted No. 31 race car with a Special Olympics Team USA logo splashed across the car. Special Olympics athletes attending are: Elizabeth Bronold, Dothan, Ala.; Michael Crunkelton, Huntsville, Ala.; Brandi Deese, Dothan, Ala.; Joseph Gann, Prattville, Ala. and Dossie King, Montgomery, Ala. Cingular Wireless, an official partner of Special Olympics USA and an official sponsor of Special Olympics Team USA, has raised more than $28.1 million for the organization over the past three years. Cingular's fundraising effort is the largest partnership in Special Olympics history. "This is one of Cingular's many initiatives for Special Olympics. As an athlete, Robby knows all too well how much training, hard work and determination goes into competition," said Marc Lefar, Cingular's chief marketing officer. "Cingular is confident Robby will end up in Victory Lane, allowing us to successfully launch our 2003 Special Olympics fundraising efforts, and to help Special Olympics Team USA athletes train and participate in the 2003 World Games."
"Cingular and I both believe in the mission of Special Olympics," said Gordon. "Realizing that my success at the Talledega Superspeedway next week can have a direct impact on the organization and can benefit Special Olympics athletes gives me more incentive than ever to win." Visit Special Olympics online at www.specialolympics.org.(RCR)(3-31-2003)
- TV Rating Down: Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 from Texas Motor Speedway earned a 5.8 rating and 12 share in overnight Nielsen figures, according to today's Sports Business Daily. The Winston Cup race trailed two NCAA basketball tournament games on CBS and tied with a third one among all weekend sports events on television. This year's race also lagged well behind last year's final figures of 7.0/18.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter - free)(3-31-2003)
- #12 40lbs to light....out of water: Ryan Newman's winning car at Texas was 40 pounds light during post-race inspection, and NASCAR officials couldn't figure out why. Turns out that two radiator hose clamps broke during the race, and the radiator had run dry. Crew chief Matt Borland estimated that Newman could have run five more laps at best. So, after the team put the fluids back into the #12 and filled it with gas, the car was within the accepted weight range.(Sporting News)(3-31-2003)
- Stewart's Primary Car Disallowed and Impounded, has to go to a backup:
NASCAR impounded the primary #20 [Home Depot] Chevy presented for inspection by Tony Stewart's team Friday morning at Texas Motor Speedway, forcing the team to switch to a backup before it started practice. The confiscated car was rolled to a prominent position beside the NASCAR transporter and roped off. NASCAR officials did not allow the team to put a cover over the car, and the orange race car was drawing a lot of attention.
While presented for inspection prior to the first practice for Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR officials found that the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet did not conform to the specified templates mandated by NASCAR.. The issue arose at the rear of the car, specifically the area encompassing the greenhouse and decklid. As a result, NASCAR impounded the car, forcing the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Team to pull the backup car from the transporter and use it for the rest of the race weekend.. The car now being used by the #20 team for the Samsung/RadioShack 500 is Chassis No. 75. It is a brand new chassis.. A car from the Joe Gibbs Racing facility in Huntersville, NC, is currently en route to Texas Motor Speedway to be used in the event another backup is needed.
See my #20 Team News and Links page for all the news and statements by Tony Stewart, Greg Zipadelli and Mike Helton.(3-28/29-2003)
from NASCAR.com: #20 [and #18] team owner Joe Gibbs said on Saturday that his team was embarrassed after NASCAR impounded Tony Stewart's #20 Chevrolet, and vowed to find out what went wrong. See full story at NASCAR.com - Gibbs apologizes, seeks answers in impropriety(3-29-2003)
Car gone the impounded #20 Home Depot Chevy has been loaded up on a NASCAR hauler and is on the way to NASCAR's R&D facitily near Charlotte. NC.(XM Satellite- NASCAR Radio - Subscription Required)(3-29-2003)
Gibbs Comments: "The first thing I want to say is that we believe in equal cars for the teams and let the teams make the difference. That's what NASCAR is trying to do and we support that. We want that. So, for us to be in this situation is something that we don't. First of all, I want to apologize to NASCAR. I want to apologize to Home Depot. This is our fault. We're trying to go back through a process of figuring out how it happened. Obviously, we've got fast race cars. All our other cars fit the templates. This one - there is kind of an unusual set of circumstances in our construction process here and we're trying go back and figure out exactly what happened. This thing is our fault. There is no excuse, so we apologize to everybody and we're going try to figure out a way now to add a process and make sure that it never happens again. That's generally our feeling."
see full story at the Joe Gibbs Racing site.(3-30-2003)
UPDATE: Garage sources overheard a heated discussion early Sunday between NASCAR president Mike Helton and team owner Joe Gibbs, who lost Tony Stewart's primary car during Friday inspection at Texas because it did not fit the "X" measurement from the corners of the rear deck up to the corners of the roof. Maybe Gibbs discovered a NASCAR official's list of options for the impounded car: giving part of it back, giving none of it back or using it as a test car on the SAFER wall barrier in Nebraska. Fellow Chevrolet teams insist the "X" measurement, which was implemented just before the start of the season, was NASCAR's way of minimizing an advantage the No. 20 car apparently gained over others in the offseason through creative body work.(Sporting News)(3-31-2003)
- NASCAR Sponsor Summit Postponed: NASCAR says concerns stemming from the war with Iraq have led it to postpone a sponsor summit that was scheduled to start yesterday and run through Wednesday in Naples, FL, according to today's Sports Business Daily. NASCAR had expected about 175 attendees for the event, which the sanctioning body now hopes to hold in the fall.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter - free)(3-31-2003)
- Driver's Don't Like New Caution Lights: The warning-light system that Texas Motor Speedway imbedded in its asphalt to warn drivers of cautions failed its first test Sunday. Some drivers said the lights are impossible to see in bright sunlight. "With a cloud cover, you can see them, but I didn't even know they were on today," rookie Jamie McMurray said. "For the Indy Racing League guys, especially at night, I hope it works for them. I think at night with those guys doing 230 mph around here, I think I'd want it to look like a runway out there," Jeff Gordon said. "During the day . . . I hope they didn't spend a lot on it. I never even saw them."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-31-2003)
- Kyle takes hardest hit: It's no surprise Kyle Petty needed more time to recover after taking an 80-plus G-force hit that cracked two of his ribs at Bristol. According to some NASCAR officials, it was the hardest hit taken by a driver since data recorders were installed in the cars last year. Petty says he was extremely sore and credits the composite seat developed by owner Cal Wells and his driver, Ricky Craven, for lessening the blow.(Sporting News)(3-31-2003)
- Helton reviews restart policy Following a controversial call that resulted in a late-race black flag for Brian Vickers in Saturday's O'Reilly 300 Busch Series race, NASCAR president Mike Helton reviewed the policy for passing on the restarts at the drivers' meeting before Sunday's Cup race. NASCAR said that even though Vickers hadn't completely passed Chad Blount's car to the left before the start-finish line on a Lap 179 restart in Saturday's race, he was in the act of passing and therefore in violation of the rule. "The act of passing is in NASCAR's judgment when it happened," Helton said. "Yesterday we chose that it was the act of passing taking place, therefore we had the black flag. ...All passing is to the right. And the act of passing is when NASCAR deems that momentum is taking place before the start-finish line." NASCAR officials also answered several questions about the final restart on Lap 191 in Saturday's race, which was a double-file restart. Restarts are single file with less than 10 laps to go in a race, but with 10 complete laps left they're double-file. "There's a line, and it's 10 laps to go," Helton said. "You got the one-to-go (signal) with 11 to go and you completed that lap and got the green. ...It's 10 laps to go."(ThatsRacin.com) AND see my Story/Columns/Article Links page for many more stories and commentary on this.(3-31-2003)
- Hall of Fame Class of '03: The International Motorsports Hall of Fame [at Talladega] Class of 2003 consists of three builders and two racers. A.J. Watson, Ray Fox and Briggs Cunningham earned their inclusion by fabricating top-notch race cars. Fellow inductees Emerson Fittipaldi and Mel Kenyon got their laurels behind the wheel. Jim Freeman, executive director of the Hall of Fame, said the 2003 class represents a wide spectrum of motorsports. "As has been the case in the past few years, we have an excellent cross-section of the world of auto racing within this class of inductees. We have drivers, crew chiefs, car builders, engine builders and designers represented from six major sanctioning bodies." (see full story and bios at Alabama Live)(3-31-2003)
- Rumblings - Texas: Newman's win in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 was the first for a Dodge this season, and was worth $406,500 from the nice $6M+ in posted awards. He becomes our 7th different winner in seven races, and now has a victory that went the distance (his win at Loudon last year was rain-shortened to 207 laps from the 300 scheduled). We got treated to some more of NASCAR making up the rules on the fly this weekend. First, they destroy the chances (and the car) of Brian Vickers in yesterday's Busch race, then today's lead lap fiasco reared it's ugly head. It's pretty obvious the most useless part in NASCAR is the rule book. How can you give two drivers their laps back when all they passed was the second place car? We can't say we didn't know this was coming....this policy of the leader slowing down to let drivers back on the lead lap has gotten laughable. And, this idea of a "gentleman's agreement" is a farce. It appears that NASCAR will decide who's a gentleman and who isn't...and I'll bet the drivers aren't in agreement, either.
Jerry Nadeau (4th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Atlanta in November of 2001.
Jeff Green (7th) had his best finish since he was 5th at Talladega last October.
Todd Bodine (11th) had his best finish since he was 5th at Richmond last September.
STREAKIN....Matt Kenseth has 6 Top-10's in a row. Dale Earnhardt Jr has 4 Top-10's in the last 5 races.
This Week's Elevator....UP: Operator of the Week is Mark Martin (+27), followed by John Andretti (+24), Kurt Busch (+21), Ward Burton (+21), and Michael Waltrip (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Elliott Sadler (-39), followed by Bill Elliott (-37), Bobby Labonte (-36), Joe
Nemechek (-26), and Steve Park (-24). Some pretty wild swings on the down side this week.
#30-Jeff Green led today for the first time since Phoenix last November. #1-Steve Park led today for the first time since Richmond last September. We've now had 28 different leaders this season.(Stock Car Fans)(3-31-2003)
see the Mar 24-30, 2003 Archived News Page
see the Mar 17-23, 2003 Archived News Page
see the Mar 10-16, 2003 Archived News Page