PAST NEWS JUNE 23-29, 2003
THE PAST NEWS! YESTERDAY and BEYOND..
OTHER PAST NEWS PAGES
- Jerry Nadeau news and updates on the #01 Team News and Links page
- Brett Bodine news and updates on the #11 Team News and Links page
- David Starr news and updates on the Truck Series Site
- THE NEXTEL CUP - See past news, links, the official press release, notes from the press conference, who is Nextel? what happens to 'The Winston' All Star race? what happens to the Winston Preview?....all covered on my NASCAR Sponsor page.(6-20-2003)
- Elliott sticks by Friend: For the past four weeks, Bill Elliott has traveled to the federal courthouse in Atlanta to sit in silent support of his long-time and close friend Curtis Colwell, who was convicted Wednesday on four counts that prosecutors say involved falsifying company records to save money on worker's compensation insurance premiums. Elliott said Colwell was there to help when several members of his pit crew were struck and injured at Riverside in 1987, and he was there trying to get help for crewman Michael Rich, who was killed at Atlanta in 1990. "He was with me at Evergreen Speedway in Washington state in the 1980s when I wrecked and the car caught on fire," Elliott said. "I was coming off Turn 4, and a guy hit me in the left front and caught me on fire. I was sitting there in the middle of the track burning, and Curtis came running across the race track and drug me out of the car." Colwell spent countless hours with Elliott's nephew Casey before the youngster died of cancer in 1996, and he was there with Elliott when Elliott broke his foot at Charlotte last month. "I don't know that I've slept a wink this week until last night," Elliott said Friday, adding that the distraction of the trial has hampered his ability to refresh himself between races. It's not just the time I spent at the trial; it's the anxiety, the worry, not just for Curtis, but for what this has done to his parents, Carlton and Odetta," he said. "I just don't think they're bad people." Elliott said that in recent years, the elder Colwells, who were not charged, have treated him like one of their own. The Colwells maintained that they trusted their insurance matters to others, including their agents and consultants Bill Plemons and Russell Smith, who both pleaded guilty in the case and testified against the Colwells. Elliott plans to speak for his friends at their sentencing hearing, even if it means missing qualifying or possibly a race.(see full story at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(6-29-2003)
- Busch at F-1 Race: Kurt Busch, driver of the #97 Sharpie/Rubbermaid Ford, was a fascinated visitor at the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. The 24-year-old from Arizona was on his first trip to Europe, taking advantage of a rare weekend off from NASCAR activities. Busch was impressed by the technology of the Formula 1 cars. "It is just surreal," he said. Busch says that he began watching Formula 1 racing in 1993 when Nigel Mansell went to CART and has kept an eye on the F1 scene ever since. "I always try to catch it on TV ," he said. Busch tested a Team Rahal CART car last winter at Sebring thanks to his Ford connections and he hopes that Jaguar Racing might give him the opportunity to have a run in an F1 car at some point. "I'd love to do a test if it was possible," Busch said. "But I am an oval racer and I am committed to NASCAR until at least 2006."(GrandPrix.com)(6-29-2003)
- New Team? UPDATE 4: AutoRacing1 [who as we are told on their site, reported this first] is reporting Billy Bigley Jr will attempt to run a nearly complete Winston Cup schedule in 2003 driving a Ford for Arnold Motorsports. Bigley Jr will make his first Winston Cup appearance at Las Vegas, and will run a total of 34 point races in 2003 using car #79 [they have #78 as the car number, but been told it will be #79]. The team and its sponsor, who have been kept under wraps until now, will be announced on NBC the day after Christmas. Arnold Motorsports, new to the Winston Cup scene, confirmed today that Bill Bigley Jr would drive their #79 Ford in 2003. This information was shared with AutoRacing1 by the team manager and co-owner of Arnold Motorsports, Keith Coleman, from his Naples, FL location. Arnold Motorsports, co-owned by real estate developer Don Arnold, will have their race shop located in Statesville, NC. The team has procured Hopkins chassis’ for the majority of their race cars, and is looking to run Laughlin chassis’ for their superspeedway program. While Coleman couldn’t confirm who would be supplying Arnold’s engines, it appears that Robert Yates Racing will be supplying power plants for the team. Coleman also stated that the team is planning to field a second race team later in 2003, with its debut at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona. Even though Arnold Motorsports is still seeking a driver for their second Winston Cup entry, it is planning for their second team to run a complete schedule for the remainder of the 2003 season.(AutoRacing1 - need sub to read), NOTE: I had heard a few days ago that Bigley would run some BGN races in Yates equipment (from the defunct #98 Yates BGN team)(12-17-2002)
UPDATE: been asked by some readers on this and got an answer: hearing that the team's sponsorship deal is taking much longer to complete than originally thought and supposedly Bigley will still be driving the #79 Arnold Motorsports car this year, but the team is unsure which track the team will make their debut at.(AutoRacing1 - need sub to read)(3-12-2003)
UPDATE 2 - announcement: Arnold Motorsports has scheduled a press conference on Sunday July 13th [not 6th] at Chicagoland Speedway to unveil their hiring of a new Vice President (a Stock car legend who makes his return to Winston Cup Competition), their driver and race schedule for the NASCAR 2003 Winston Cup and 2004 Nextel Cup Season.(SportsONE, Inc. PR)(6-27-2003)
UPDATE 3 Driver/Consultant/Car named: Arnold Motorsports Is Pleased To Announce The Formation Of Their New Team Which Will Compete In A Partial NASCAR Winston Cup Series Schedule This Year And Go Full Time In 2004. In Addition To Announcing The New Team, Donald L. Arnold, Team Owner, Is Pleased And Privileged To Announce That NASCAR Great Bobby Allison Will Serve As V.P. And Consultant. "I'm Looking Forward To Them Putting This Deal Together," Allison Said. Dodge Has Been Chosen As The Manufacturer Of Choice By Arnold Motorsports. Billy Bigby, Jr. Has Been Named The Driver And The Engine Program Of Choice Is The Arrington "A" Engine Program. "Bobby Will Consult With Us On Testing And Also Be A Spokesperson For Our Team With Sponsors," Arnold Continued.(Bobby Allison Site)(6-27-2003)
UPDATE 4: While Bigley has been reluctant to reveal the new team's activities over the past few months, he recently confirmed that Arnold Motorsports now has four Winston Cup cars in its garage and a test is scheduled for the USA International Speedway near Lakeland in early July. He said two days of testing in Indianapolis also are planned next month. While Arnold could not be reached for comment in North Carolina, he has announced that a partnership with racing legend Bobby Allison has been formed. The pioneer of the famed "Alabama Gang" will serve as the team's vice president and consultant. No official announcement has been made regarding sponsorship on the Arnold Motorsports Dodge.(Naples Daily News)(6-29-2003)
- Thunder Road For Sale: Faced with mounting debt and minimal tourist traffic, Thunder Road USA is about to go on the selling block. The $12 million NASCAR racing attraction and museum celebrated its first anniversary in mid-May. Late last week, the Dawson County/Dawsonville [GA] Joint Development Authority, which oversees the property, voted to accept bids in full or in part on the 40,000-square-foot building and its 36-acre site. Friday, museum executives and area business leaders hoped this would not signal the end of the museum, located about 30 miles west of Gainesville on Ga. 53. The site will continue to operate during the bid process, which is set to begin Wednesday. Sealed bids will be accepted for 90 days. General manager Tom French said bids will be advertised in The Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and two Dawson County newspapers. The authority reserves the right to reject all bids if they do not satisfy Thunder Road's outstanding debt services, said Dick Bergen, head of the four-member group. Thunder Road is behind on a $9.8 million loan owed in part to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The museum opened in May last year amid hopes of luring 150,000 to 250,000 visitors annually, generating hundreds of new jobs and increasing sales tax revenues. None of those expectations, however, have been met. Last year, about 48,000 people visited the complex. Staff has been reduced and operating hours scaled back.(Gainesville Times), see their site at ThunderRoad USA.(6-28-2003)
- 2003 Race Fest at Chicago raises over #50k: For the second year in a row Race Fest at Chicagoland Speedway raised over $50,000 for the Mike Guglielmucci Sr. Racer’s Benevolent Fund. The fund was created eight years ago to honor the memory of Mike Guglielmucci Sr. and to benefit race car drivers who were injured in auto racing-related accidents. The fund has grown over the years to include scholarships to 12 students enrolled in the Automotive Program at Joliet Junior College and monetary donations to local high schools to improve their automotive programs and shops. Race Fest has grown from the basement of the local Moran A.C. to the Joliet Knights of Columbus to the Joliet Armory and now to it's new home at Chicagoland Speedway. The Ninth Annual Race Fest was held Saturday, June 21, 2003 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill where over 700 race fans were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Activities included live and silent auctions, Chicagoland Speedway Pace Car rides, photos in Winner’s Circle with the Tropicana 400 trophy, riding shotgun with the Richard Petty Driving Experience, as well as drinks and dinner in the Chicagoland Speedway garages. For more information about the Mike Guglielmucci Sr. Racers Benevolent Fund or 2003 Race Fest, please call Mike Guglielmucci at (815) 467-2058 or visit www.mikegracefest.org.(Chicagoland Speedway)(6-28-2003)
- Why No Fuel Injection In NASCAR? Steve Peterson, NASCAR's technical director for Winston Cup, said one of the main reasons NASCAR hasn't switched to a fuel-injection engine is the belief that it would be harder to control rules violations. "Fuel injection can be very difficult to police once it gets beyond the basic computer controls and programming," Peterson said. "Computer code must be downloaded, analyzed and verified, and it will always be suspect. Fuel injection is a real opportunity to tune the system and attempt to add in driver aids and devices beyond the technology limits." But other racing series are using fuel-injected engines without any problems. Making the switch would mean many NASCAR inspectors would need to be retrained, as would many of the mechanics who work in the sport. Even if NASCAR stays with the push-rod, carburetor engines indefinitely, the way the engines are produced could undergo changes. Most teams build their own engines from components supplied by the manufacturers. Some smaller teams lease engines from a team that builds motors. Toyota might want to do it the way it has in other racing series – build engines in house and supply them to teams through a sale or lease agreement. That could eliminate a lot of jobs in NASCAR, but it also could reduce the costs of team owners.(Dallas Morning News)(6-28-2003)
- ARCA Driver up for #4 Ride/test: Keith Segars, who races on the ARCA Series, is among the candidates to replace Mike Skinner in the Morgan-McClure Motorsports #4 Kodak Pontiac. Segars was en route to Talladega Superspeedway Tuesday for two days of testing the race set-up Morgan-McClure plans to use for next week's Pepsi 400. According to Segars, he will meet with team owner Larry McClure while at Talladega. The 40-year-old has never started a Busch or a Winston Cup race in his career, but he drives the #4 Monte Carlo on the ARCA RE/MAX circuit for the Morgan-McClure team. He has worked for the team for three years on research and design projects and car testing. The team called Segars about the test session after Skinner was released last week. "[McClure] is tired of going through recycled people," Segars said. "They're looking for someone with new blood. I'm familiar with Morgan-McClure and familiar with the team and the equipment. I've got great relationships with Larry [McClure] and with everyone at Morgan-McClure. I feel like I'm home whenever I'm up there." Segars is one of several drivers who could replace Skinner for at least some races during the rest of the season. (Florida Times Union)(6-27-2003)
- Final Sonoma TV Ratings: Final Nielsen Media Research figures show that Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway wound up as last weekend’s highest-rating sports program. MotorsportsTV.com says the race wound up with a 4.8 rating and 11 share, a 7 percent increase over 2002, to easily top the 3.2/8 that ABC drew for its final-round coverage of the Buick Classic golf tournament. The Web service says the race drew 5.084 million households.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-27-2003)
- Andretti still looking: John Andretti said he has spoken to his cousin, Michael, but not about the opening Michael had on his Indy Racing League team. "He's got a path he's set on, and I'm not looking to change from one (series) to another at this point," Andretti said. "I guess it might have looked like we were in a position to help each other out, but more people thought about that than we did." He also confirmed talks with #4 NASCAR team owner Larry McClure, who has an opening from the firing of Mike Skinner. But just as McClure told The Star last week that he isn't looking for a "recycled driver," Andretti isn't looking to join another struggling team. "Right now, I'm looking more at 2004 than 2003," he said. "I've got to look at this as an opportunity. I don't necessarily have to do something now." That doesn't mean he isn't getting antsy. Andretti said this weekend, the last open date on the Winston Cup schedule ahead of 20 races without a break, is easier to take than the last two.(Indianapolis Star)(6-27-2003)
- College Motorsports Program: Greenville Technical College, hoping to join the motorsports momentum, has started a racing technology program that offers instruction and insights — complete with racing "field trips" — into various aspects of what for some is a business and for many others is a weekend hobby. Ken Williams, the school's motorsports industry liaison, sees Tech's program, which began in May and will accelerate with more classes in the fall session, as attractive both to local short-track racers and crew people who want to learn more about the inner workings of race cars and to individuals interested in going into auto racing in an engineering or mechanical position. The program includes instruction in engine and drive train assembly, welding, suspension, sheet metal fabrication, chassis setup, painting and tires. On weekends, class members travel to race sites — Myrtle Beach Speedway and Road Atlanta, for examples — to learn about scoring, timing, pit work and track operations. Instructors with experience and expertise in various motorsports areas are teaching portions of the program. Local driver Mardy Lindley, for example, will lead a session on chassis setup for oval-track racing.(more at the Greenville News) and more info on many other programs on my Racing Schools/Jobs page.(6-27-2003)
- Bye-Bye NASCAR Cafe in Vegas? UPDATE Nope: The Sahara is moving to evict the NASCAR Cafe from its Strip-front property in Las Vegas, but the roller-coaster operator is fighting back. The 1,750-room hotel notified the roller coaster and restaurant operator, Dyer Ventures, on May 23 that it wants the property at 2535 Las Vegas Blvd. South vacated by Monday. Gordon Gaming Corp., holding company for the 51-year-old Sahara, wrote Dyer on April 22 outlining nonmonetary defaults in the property's 25-year lease. NASCAR Cafe said it offered to correct the alleged defaults in a "conciliatory reply." But its response was a letter saying the lease was being terminated and the cafe was being evicted, said Efrem Rosenfeld, a partner in Rosenfeld & Money, the law firm representing the NASCAR Cafe.(more at the Las Vegas Review Journal)(6-17-2003)
UPDATE: The Sahara Hotel and Casino and Dyer Ventures, Inc., owner of the NASCAR Cafe Las Vegas entertainment complex at the Sahara, today announced an agreement settling recent differences. Details of the agreement will not be disclosed, but both sides emerged from a meeting Wednesday satisfied and optimistic about the future. The NASCAR Cafe at the Sahara opened in March, 2000, with a 300-seat restaurant, 150-seat Carzilla Bar, Las Vegas fastest thrill coaster, SPEED The Ride, and the Las Vegas Cyber Speedway race simulator attraction. Many of the top names in the NASCAR Winston Cup racing series have visited the facility in its three-plus years of operation.(NASCAR PR)(6-27-2003)
- A Friendly Contest: Friendly's Ice Cream is offering children the opportunity to get more from their pre‘burger artistic moments than something for the family refrigerator. A coloring contest unlike any other in NASCAR history began Monday, June 23, and will continue through August 8. The response has already been very strong. Using a special coloring contest entry form at Friendly's restaurants, kids can enter a coloring scheme for Derrike Cope's #37 Friendly's Chevy. The winning entry will be the design used on the car in the Sylvania 300, Sunday, Sept. 14, at the one mile New Hampshire International Speedway near Loudon, NH. "I've heard of 'design a car' contests before but this one is different," said Cope, who said he is eager to see what his Chevrolet will look like in September. "Everybody on our team was so impressed with the idea, we wanted to add a little bit more. The Friendly's folks were more than willing to work with us," he said. Cope and his team will bring the #37 Friendly's Chevrolet to the school of the contest winner, with permission from school officials. The coloring contest is the first by a NASCAR sponsor aimed directly at children, and including the appearance of the driver and team.(Williams Company PR)(6-27-2003)
- Gibbs/Labonte extend contract thru 2008: Even though his current contract did not run out until the end of the 2004 season, Bobby Labonte and Joe Gibbs Racing wasted little time in renegotiating their existing contract to keep Labonte in the #18 Chevrolet Monte Carlo through the end of the 2008 season. With the new contract signed, the goal of course for Labonte and Gibbs is to bring more victories and more championship rings home to Joe Gibbs Racing in the years to come. "I feel great that I know where I am going to be driving for quite a few more years," said a very happy Labonte. "Joe, Pat, J.D. and Coy have all been wonderful to work with and work for and they have made me feel like a part of their family since day one. I am very blessed to have been able to drive for Joe and be a part of such a great
organization. He has taught me a lot over the nine years I have been here, not only about myself, but also more importantly about being a good Christian, a good husband and a good father. The wins we have shared and the championship are really incredible, but I appreciate
those life lessons he has taught me more than anything else. For Gibbs, the feelings are mutual. Having seen the good, the bad and
the ugly in professional sports, Gibbs knows how lucky he is to have Labonte representing him and all of JGR's sponsors. "Bobby is a class act," boasted Gibbs. "He is a guy that every kid in the country can look up to and every parent can feel good about. He has done a superb job for us and I don't think I could ever thank him enough for what he has meant to Joe Gibbs Racing. We are happy to be able to make this announcement about Bobby staying with us for a while and we hope that shows our level of commitment to the fans, our employees and most importantly our sponsors that we will continue to field the most competitive teams in the industry."(Camp & Assoc./Joe Gibbs Racing PR)(6-26-2003)
- Special NASCAR TV Guides: As NASCAR approaches the second half of its 2003 Winston Cup season, TV Guide hits newsstands with its July 5 special Winston Cup mid-season issue (on sale June 30th), featuring two different collector's covers. The sport's two leading pairs-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip; and Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch-will each command a cover. In addition, newsstand issues of the magazine will include two special TV Guide bonuses. The first is a pair of cut-out trading cards, depicting Jeff Gordon's #24 DuPont Chevrolet and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #8 Budweiser Chevrolet on one side, with racing statistics and exclusive quotes from each driver on the reverse. The second bonus feature is a two-sided pullout poster with a photograph of Earnhardt Jr. on one side and Gordon on the other. Both sides of the poster also include the schedule for the remainder of the Winston Cup 2003 season. In addition to giving complete up-to-date stats on the first half of the Winston Cup season, TV Guide auto-racing expert Robert Edelstein examines the effect of stress on NASCAR's top drivers. As he reports, frustration got the better of Earnhardt Jr. last season after a vicious crash during the Winston Cup California race left him with a severe concussion and led to his drop from the top 10 in points. While his physical recovery played a role in his comeback this season, Junior's the first to admit the big reason for his success is all in his mind: "A bad attitude is like a virus, and it all starts with me," he tells TV Guide. "I felt that way at the start of this season; the results made me a believer." This special mid-season TV Guide NASCAR report also examines whether anyone has a shot at beating Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Michael Waltrip at Daytona's July 5 prime-time race. Edelstein, author of NASCAR Generations, looks at this winning team's strongest competition and analyzes the five top contenders: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Ward Burton, Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace.(TV Guide PR)(6-26-2003)
- Brett Bodine Plans: For now, Brett Bodine's Winston Cup cars will sit idle in his Mooreseville, NC, race shop until another sponsor is signed. "The next 10 to 15 days are very critical to our future," said Bodine, who is trying to accelerate a potential sponsor deal that was meant for 2004. Regardless, he is planning to compete in the Brickyard 400 in August with a one-race sponsor. He is scheduled to test there in mid-July. Bodine had been running a scaled-down Winston Cup schedule with his limited Hooters sponsorship this year. He'd been courting this potential sponsor prior to learning of Hooters' decision to pull its money. "I feel real good about it (the potential sponsor), but I just hope the timing works out," Bodine said. "They weren't planning on this season and it might be tough to get them to speed up, that could be the issue. They are trying to make it happen. When you're asking people for a lot of money there are issues. They've got to get their issues taken care of so that this thing can come around and be a good sponsor for us." If the sponsorship comes through, Bodine said it will allow him to compete full time again. More importantly, he said it would be substantially more money than Hooters and his biggest deal ever, one that could take his team up a level. "It would be a long-term, multiyear deal," Bodine said of the sponsor, which would be new to NASCAR and would begin no later than the Brickyard 400. If so, he would also compete in the Sirius at the Glen on Aug. 10, an event that wasn't on his schedule with Hooters.(Elmira Star Gazette)(6-26-2003)
- Bethea Remembered: In 1973, Randy Bethea, a black race driver from Newport, Tenn., rolled into Fairgrounds Speedway for a NASCAR race and bumped hometown hotshot Darrell Waltrip off the pole. Bethea, now 55 and still racing periodically, is one of a few — perhaps only four — black drivers who have competed at the 45-year-old track. Joe Henderson III, an 18-year-old Franklin High senior, was the latest, running a Late Model Stock Car feature earlier this month. A story in The Tennessean about Henderson's race drew widespread response from fans who recalled Bethea's Late Model Sportsman race with the present Late Model Stock Car division. The Late Model Sportsman division in which Bethea competed was a national touring series that eventually evolved into the NASCAR Busch Series. Ralph Earnhardt, father of the late Dale Earnhardt, won a Late Model Sportsman championship. The Henderson story inspired debate about who was the first black driver at the track and drew attention to how few black drivers have raced there over the years.(see full story at the Tennessean)(6-26-2003)
- Sad News: Emanuel T. Zervakis, age 73, died June 25, 2003 following a lengthy illness. He is survived by three sons, Antonious “Butch” Zervakis and his wife, Tracy, Ronald and his wife, Beverly, Michael and his wife, Elva. He is also survived by his wife, Marie Zervakis of LaCrosse, Virginia. Included in the family are three grandsons and two granddaughters. Mr. Zervakis was a Richmond businessman, automobile racer, promoter and fostered the careers of many nationally known racecar drivers. Mr. Zervakis received early fame as a racer, known as “The Golden Greek.” He won his first Winston Cup race in 1961 at Greenville-Pickens Raceway in Greenville, S.C. He established Stock Car Products to build racecars and became a national figure on the racing scene for many years. The family will receive friends from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 27 at the Bliley Funeral Homes’ Chippenham Chapel, 6900 Hull Street Rd. The funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 28, at 11 a.m. in the Joseph W. Bliley Funeral Homes’ Chippenham Chapel, 6900 Hull Street Road. Interment at Dale Memorial Park. Following the funeral, there will be a reception for close friends at Mr. Zervakis’ home.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(6-26-2003)
- Ran Fans for a Cure raises $12k: Race Fans for a Cure raised $12,133.48 in four days at the Ford Centennial Celebration. All proceeds go directly to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. It is one of the largest amounts ever raised by the program at a single event. Race Fans for a Cure - a charitable initiative comprised of Ford Credit, the Komen Foundation, and Dale and Kelley Jarrett - has raised $46,594.17 so far this year, and more than $315,000 since 2000, for the Komen Foundation and the fight against breast cancer. More info on my Racing Charities page, next race is the Busch/Truck weekend at Milwaukee.(6-26-2003)
- a car? or a coffee table? #10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson loved his superspeedway car ##4518. It was the white car he used to lead 38 laps and nearly win the 2000 Daytona 500. It was a car that ran well at most superspeedway races after that. But
it was also the car he was racing in the top 10 at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona last year when he was wrecked on lap 8. Benson suffered three broken ribs on his right side in that wreck and missed the Chicago and New Hampshire races. The team retired the car, but Benson didn't want to let go of his favorite superspeedway car. So what do you do when you are a race car driver who has a car you really likes but it’s too damaged to race again? It’s easy. You make it into a coffee table for your race shop. Last month, Benson took the damaged Valvoline Pontiac up to a salvage yard in Statesville, N.C. and crushed the car into a cube. Now he’s going to make it in a table to put it in his race shop. Benson is putting the finishing touches on the table and expects to be complete in a few months.(MBV PR) See images of the car and the coffee table on my #10 Team News and Links page.(6-26-2003)
- Free Preview NASCAR in car in Demand: iN DEMAND will offer NASCAR fans and viewers a free-preview of the innovative and ground-breaking NASCAR IN CAR on iN DEMAND package “ television's first enhanced multi-channel digital sports package “ on Saturday, July 5, for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The July 5 free preview of NASCAR IN CAR on iN DEMAND marks the start of the second half of the 2003 NASCAR season and the availability of the package to digital cable subscribers for the half-season rate of $89. NASCAR fans were first invited to preview the NASCAR digital package on iN DEMAND at the start of the season during the Daytona 500 on Feb. 16, 2003, at Daytona International Speedway. More information at www.indemand.com.(6-26-2003)
- Free Trackpass for Daytona: This year NASCAR.com is providing fans free access to TrackPass for the weekend of the Pepsi 400 on July 3-6. NASCAR.com users will have full access to all of TrackPass' features, including PitCommandcoverage of the Pepsi 400 on July 5 at 8:00pm/et. Users will be able to view Live Leaderboard timing and scoring coverage of NASCAR Winston Cup Series practice and qualifying events, NASCAR Busch Series qualifying and race, as well as exclusive multimedia features such as live in-car race audio, condensed races, and searchable video clips. To take advantage of the free TrackPass trial, fans only need to log on to NASCAR.com July 3-6. Since its launch in February 2002, TrackPass has attracted over 150,000 signups.(NASCAR PR)(6-26-2003)
- Robby Gordon's Pit Crew Wins For Second Time After Outstanding Performance in Sonoma: Call it a double win for the #31 Cingular Wireless team during Sunday's (June 22) Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Winston Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Team driver Robby Gordon won the race on the twisting 11-turn road course and his pit crew won the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERADE. "It took the entire Cingular Wireless team to win at Sonoma and the pit crew played a huge role in our victory," said Gordon. "Pit strategy and pit stops are huge at Sonoma and the guys came through for me when it counted.. They've been awesome all year long and they were really on top of their game Sunday. They helped pull the Cingular car into Victory Lane." Thanks to fast and accurate work by the Cingular Wireless pit crew, Gordon's car, owned by Richard Childress Racing, spent the least amount of time of pit road during Sunday's 110-lap race on the 1.949-mile road course. The total pit road elapsed time for the No. 31 Chevrolet was 104.101 seconds. Finishing second was the yellow #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet, driven by Ron Fellows, with a time of 107.361. Michael Waltrip's NAPA Chevrolet was third at 108.861. It was the second time this season that Gordon's pit crew collected the $20,000 first-place check for winning the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERADE. The team also won at Texas Motor Speedway (March 30). Gordon's over-the-wall crew consists of: Josh Yost (jackman), Shane Westerberg (front-tire changer), Mike Barry (front-tire carrier), Ron Otto (rear-tire changer), Jason Fowler (rear-tire carrier) Larry Hartle (gasman) and Rich Burgess (catch can). The team's crew chief is Kevin Hamlin. The No. 31 Cingular Wireless team is in third place in the McDonald's/POWERADE season pit crew standings. Michael Waltrip's pit crew continues to lead in the point standings and Dale Earnhardt Jr's team is second.(DMF Communications PR)(6-25-2003)
- Sadler signs up with Speed Parks: #38-Elliott Sadler has signed on as an official spokesman for NASCAR SpeedParks, currently located in Myrtle Beach, SC; Sevierville, TN; and Concord, NC. The 28-year-old driver of the # 38 M&M’S Ford joins Dale Jarrett and Tony Stewart as Official NASCAR SpeedPark spokesmen. Sadler began his racing career at the young age of seven and has accumulated more than 200 wins, racing his way up from Virginia go-kart tracks to NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series. As an official spokesman for NASCAR SpeedPark, Sadler will help promote NASCAR SpeedPark through use of his name and likeness in NASCAR SpeedPark’s marketing material as well as personal appearances. .Elliott Sadler is currently scheduled to do appearances at all three NASCAR SpeedParks on the following dates:
NASCAR SpeedPark........... Concord Mills ........... August 6, 2003 ........... 6-8 p.m.
NASCAR SpeedPark........... Myrtle Beach. ........... September 1, 2003 ........... 6-8 p.m.
NASCAR SpeedPark........... Smoky Mountains........... September 10, 2003 ........... 6-8 p.m.(Elliott Sadler Enterprises PR)(6-25-2003)
- Scholarship Awarded: Shannon Bednarek, an 18-year-old Wisconsin native who is a student at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, NC, has won a $1,000 scholarship from a fund set up by Mark Martin and the family of Christian Martin Lovendahl. The scholarship honors Lovendahl, a Busch Series crew chief who died in an auto accident in 2000, and was set up by his parents, Joe and Glenda White, and his uncle, Martin.(Winston Cup Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-25-2003)
- Another Candidate for the #4? Hearing that road racer David Murry has expressed an interest in driving the #4 Kodak car. Murry, who has ARCA and Winston Cup experience, reportedly had a recent conversation with Larry McClure. Apparently, the Atlanta resident is hoping to land one of the tryouts that McClure has indicated will take place in the coming weeks.(6-25-2003)
- Pemberton Says Nadeau May Be Back Soon: Ryan Pemberton says that injured driver Jerry Nadeau is coming by the shop everyday, calls at every practice and qualifying session and is getting ansy to get back into the #01 U.S. Army Pontiac. Pemberton said he wouldn't be surprised to see Nadeau back at the track very soon.(Totally NASCAR via Insider Racing News)(6-25-2003)
- Compton in the #4 at Daytona as a pirate (puffy shirt?): Eastman Kodak Company and The Walt Disney Company announced a joint promotion of Disney's epic motion picture, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, through Kodak's NASCAR marketing program. A Pirates of the Caribbean 'wrap' will adorn the Kodak #4 car during the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5. The movie theme also will appear on the suit worn by driver Stacy Compton. "NASCAR is the perfect venue to build awareness for a fast-paced, adrenaline-rush-type of motion picture such as Pirates of the Caribbean," said Eric Rodli, president, Entertainment Imaging and senior vice president, Kodak. "This is the first time ever that a Kodak race car has featured a motion-picture film theme - and we wanted to involve our studio partners in this exciting opportunity. Disney is one of our long-standing partners - in fact, Pirates of the Caribbean was shot and printed on Kodak film - so this promotion is just a great fit for both companies." From producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Pirates of the Caribbean stars Johnny Depp as the roguish yet charming Captain Jack Sparrow whose nemesis Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) steals his ship, the Black Pearl. When Barbossa later attacks the town of Port Royal and kidnaps the governor's daughter, her childhood friend (Orlando Bloom) joins forces with Captain Jack in a gallant attempt to rescue her and recapture the Black Pearl. The movie is scheduled for release on July 9. Disney and Kodak also will host a Pirates of the Caribbean show car at the movie's premiere at Disneyland in Los Angeles. During the week of July 7, the show car will be on display at Walt Disney World in Orlando. (Business Wire)(6-25-2003)
- More Fox TV Ratings Info: Despite having three races negatively impacted by America diverting its attention to Operation Iraqi Freedom and having a major race (Coca Cola 600) cut in half due to rain, NASCAR on FOX posted a remarkable 5.8 household rating and 14 share, placing it even with last year and 2001 (5.8). Of all the sports directly impacted by the war in Iraq, NASCAR is the only one that didn’t show a ratings decline for the year. While NASCAR’s regular-season average is flat, the NCAA Tournament dropped -23% on CBS, the NHL regular season was down -21% and the NBA regular season was down -10% on ABC, and PGA golf is down -6% to date. This season’s rating is based on a fast national for Sunday’s race provided by Nielsen Media Research.(see more on MotorsportsTV)(6-25-2003)
- Terry Labonte helps raise $61,750 for benefit: Excited laughter and the noisy sound of motorcycle engines were a good enough mix on Wednesday, June 18th, to get the kids at the Ronald McDonald House smiling. But the smiles got even brighter when famed NASCAR driver Terry Labonte handed over a check for $61,750 to benefit the children and families who call the house their home. Labonte and his wife, Kim, were a part of the second annual Terry Labonte/Ronald McDonald House Roam For A Home benefit to help the house. The group raised $59,050 more than last year. Ninety-two motorcycles and 152 people participated in the 650-mile, mid-April ride from Corpus Christi to Austin, Austin to San Antonio and back to Corpus Christi. The non-profit Ronald McDonald House in Corpus Christi provides a place for families to stay while their children receive medical care at Driscoll Children's Hospital. It is at 3402 Fort Worth St. Donations go to running the house and providing food for the families. Labonte said that he and his wife help a lot of charities but this one was special because it gave them both a chance to help children and a high school friend, Randall Hicks. Hicks is the co-founder and president of the Roam For A Home Foundation.(Corpus Christi Caller-Times)(6-25-2003)
- 'Hollywood Hammond' beats Larry Mac: Radio and television was the theme for round three of the 10th annual Summer Shootout Series Tuesday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway as local radio personality Mr. Bill won the wild-and-wacky School Bus race and FOX commentator Jeff Hammond topped the NASCAR Celebrity Grudge Match. Utilizing skills honed during several seasons of Summer Shootout Legends Car competition, Mr. Bill, the afternoon D.J. on radio station WRFX 99.7 The Fox, lined up third, took the lead early and was never seriously challenged in the eight-lap battle for the behemoth creations. Rozak of radio station WEND 106.5 The End settled for second with Dirty Dan the Fan third in a race that miraculously ran without a caution flag. In their third annual NASCAR Celebrity Grudge Match, Hammond topped fellow FOX commentator Larry McReynolds in a best two-out-of-three showdown. Driving Winston Cup-style convertibles, McReynolds won the first three-lap race with Hammond topping the second. The two former Winston Cup crew chiefs traded paint early in the finale before Hammond pulled away and stopped McReynolds' winning streak at two.(LMS PR)(6-25-2003)
- Hmiel in the #43 at Daytona: Shane Hmiel, the 23-year-old hard-charger whose #48 Innovative Motorsports team has been a major player in the Busch Series, will drive the Daytona race for Petty Enterprises in the #43 Berry Burst Cheerios Dodge in the July 5 400-mile Winston Cup race at Daytona International Speedway. Christian Fittipaldi, who has been driving the #43, will move to the #44 Bugles Dodge for this race. “We are very excited to have a young talent like Shane Hmiel drive the #43 for us at Daytona,” said Kyle Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises. “George deBidart and Innovative Motorsports were very gracious in allowing us to ‘borrow’ Shane for this event. They have a tremendous program there, so I know Shane will be used to what he sees on the Winston Cup side of the fence.” Hmiel will be driving a special paint scheme carrying the Berry Burst Cheerios colors. Normally, the #43 carries the Cheerios and Betty Crocker paint scheme.[see image of the car on my Paint Schemes Gallery] “Daytona and Petty are some pretty special names, and I know Cheerios is especially excited since this is one of their Berry Burst races,” Hmiel said. “I’m really excited at this opportunity, and I am so glad George deBidart and Kyle Petty could work this out.” Hmiel is currently 11th in the NASCAR Busch Series points, notching two top-five finishes and five top-10s in his 16 starts this season.(Williams Company PR)(6-24-2003)
- More on possible #4 Drivers UPDATE Testing at Chicago with Sauter and Talladega with Compton: Morgan-McClure Motorsports team general manager Larry McClure spent part of Monday pondering one of the hottest questions in NASCAR. Who will replace Mike Skinner in the No. 4 Kodak Pontiac? "We're looking at a couple of drivers,'' McClure said. "We're not going to do business like we have in the past where we just offer somebody a contract and do the deal. You are stuck with each other in that type of situation. We're going to wait until we have confidence that we're making the right move and choice.'' At this point, the choices include Busch Series regulars Stacy Compton and Johnny Sauter along with ARCA Series veteran Keith Segars. McClure said that unemployed Winston Cup veteran John Andretti, favored to replace Skinner last week, is out of the picture. "We're going to test at a couple different places this week, including Wednesday and Thursday at Chicago with Sauter,'' McClure said. "Our plan is to put some different people in our car. That's going to be our selection process. We may do it for six races, eight races or the rest of the season. If everything works out, those drivers I mentioned will potentially be the one that we will use.'' A face familiar to veteran NASCAR fans recently returned to the Kodak shop. In fact, veteran crew chief Tim Brewer has been working closely with McClure and longtime crew member Robert Larkins since just before the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in late May.(Bristol Herald Courier), see past news on my #4 Team News and Links page.(6-24-2003)
UPDATE: This will be a very busy week for area driver Stacy Compton. 13 Sports has learned that Compton will head out Tuesday for Talladega, where he will test the #4 Kodak Pontiac for Morgan-McClure Motorsports. That could lead to Compton driving the 4 car in the Winston Cup Pepsi 400 at Daytona a week from Saturday. Johnny Sauter may also test the car next week in Chicago. After testing at Talladega this week, Compton heads out early Friday for this Sunday's Busch Series race in Milwaukee.(ABC 13)
AND Stacy Compton is looking to return to Winston Cup racing. If Morgan-McClure Motorsports wants him, he could accept a deal. Compton is contemplating the possibility of signing a deal with Morgan-McClure sometime in the near future. “It’s a real good possibility you may see me in that four car,” Compton said in a phone interview Monday night. “Kodak’s a great company to work for. If I could get some seat time, it would help both programs. I’ve entertained ideas of running both series, but there’s not really been any serious talk. As we’re going and testing, talks will get more serious.” Compton is already involved in a full-time Busch Series ride, driving the #59 Kingsford/Johnsonville Chevy owned by Tad Geschickter. “I’ve got a really good Busch deal right now. If a Winston Cup ride becomes available and if they asked me to do the Cup ride and not the Busch ride, I would stick with the Busch car. In case of a double duty, I’ve still got time left on my contract with the Busch car,” he added. “Tad’s been awful good to me. I would love to run both series.” A two-day test session in the #4 Cup car is scheduled for Compton on Wednesday and Thursday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Whether Morgan-McClure will approach him about finalizing a deal remains uncertain. (Lynchburg News and Advance)(6-24-2003)
- Testing at Chicago - June 25th: on Wednesday, June 25, Cup Series drivers #29-Kevin Harvick, #16-Greg Biffle and a driver from Bill Davis Racing (to be named later) will be testing at Chicagoland Speedway in preparation for the July 13th Tropicana 400, NASCAR Winston Cup Series event. Also testing will be Busch Series drivers #18-Coy Gibbs and #4-Mike Wallace for the July 12th Tropicana Twister 300, NASCAR Busch Series event. Two Busch Series drivers will also be on hand testing Winston Cup cars. Johnny Sauter will testing the #4 Kodak Pontiac for Morgan-McClure Motorsports and Jason Keller will be testing the #81 Kraft Chevy. This is the third test session of the 2003 season at Chicagoland Speedway and it is not open to the general public.(Chicagoland Speedway PR)(6-24-2003)
- Craven out, Gordon in: with #31-Robby Gordon's win at Sonoma, the #31 RCR team moves into the 2004 Winner's Circle program and it knocks the #32 PPI Motorsports team out. The #31 is 13th in Owners Points while the #32 is 14th, both have one win in 2003. For more in the program, see my Winners Circle page.(6-24-2003)
- Laps/Miles Led - Bonus Points: of the 4738 laps run in 2003, #24-Jeff Gordon has leds the most laps with 716, followed by #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 527. Earnhardt Jr. leads the Bonus Points over Gordon 70 to 55. Gordon also has led the most miles at 691.156, followed by.....you guessed it, Earnhardt Jr. at 668.486 miles. Chevy has led over half the laps run with 2648 [helps having Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart this year]. Pontiac has led the least amount of laps [no Stewart/Labonte] with only 24. When #01-Boris Said led at Sonoma, it was the first time since California Speedway in April that a Pontiac driver has led a lap. But again there are only five full time Pontiac teams [01,4,10,14,32]. See Laps Led by Driver and Manu, Bonus Points standings, Miles led by Driver, Laps led by race on my Lap/Bonus/Miles Leaders Page.(6-24-2003)
- Big Changes for SPEED Channel's Weeknight Lineup: the Sports Business Daily cites a Sports Business Journal article that breaks the news of some big programming changes during weeknights at SPEED Channel. Here's a summary:
-- Less racing and more magazine shows during prime time.
-- Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain will now be live from 9:00 - 10:00 each night.
-- The "Two Wheel Tuesday" and "Dirty Thursday" programming of motorcycle and dirt track racing is "eliminated."
-- A NASCAR programming block will air each weeknight from 6:00 to 8:00.
-- There will be more NASCAR programming during the day on Fridays.
-- There will be no more extended replays of the Winston Cup race on Wednesday nights. Instead, only a highlights package with "the most exciting portions" will be shown.
AND more MotorsportsTV heard from Speed....
-- The motorcycle shows are being re-worked and will air in the 10:00 p.m. slot on Tuesday.
-- "Two Wheel Tuesday" will continue in some form, but the entire day won't be dedicated to motorcycles.
-- There will be racing every night from 10:00 to midnight.
-- No original programming is being removed.(MotorsportsTV)(6-24-2003)
- Nextel and the Ponies: Less than a week after announcing a blockbuster sponsorship deal with Nascar, Nextel Communications has signed a multiyear marketing deal with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Nextel says it will become the title and divisional sponsor of the Nextel Breeders' Cup Distaff, part of the $14 million Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, beginning in 2004. Nextel will get promotional and hospitality benefits, as well as print media and commercial advertising during televised horse races, including scheduled races on NBC, CBS and ESPN. Nextel joins other National Thoroughbred Racing Association sponsors that include John Deere, FedEx and Guinness. Last week, Nextel signed a deal to become the official sponsor of what was previously titled Winston Cup Series. Under that 10-year deal, the Nascar racing circuit will be renamed the Nextel Cup Series, beginning in 2004. It replaces R.J. Reynolds, which had sponsored the races since 1971.(Washington Business Journal)(6-24-2003)
- New from the Sporting News: NASCAR Superstars - Start your engines with our glitzy review of the top personalities in NASCAR Winston Cup racing. Get up close and personal with 15 of the sport's biggest drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and many others, and learn what it's like to be a superstar of NASCAR. From the dirt tracks to the stage of Saturday Night Live, we bring you the inside scoop and photographs that bring you face-to-face with all of your favorites in the sport. Choose from among three different covers. More info at the Sporting News site. For more racing books, videos, magazines, see my Racing Bookstore [proceeds to charity].(6-24-2003)
- Sad News: Sprint car driver Joe Whitcomb died after crashing during a weekend race at Selinsgrove Speedway in Selinsgrove, PA. The 35-year-old driver was injured Saturday night and died Monday at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, racetrack officials said. Whitcomb won two 358 Sprint Car features at Selinsgrove Speedway during the 2002 season. His last victory was June 22, 2002, one year to the day before the crash that took his life. The previous racing-related fatality at Selinsgrove Speedway was in 1976, according to track records.(Charlotte Observer/AP)(6-24-2003)
- Gordon and the F-1 Rumor: #24-Jeff Gordon wants to set the record straight about a proposed Formula One deal offered to him by BAR-Honda. The Toronto Sun reported last week that Craig Pollock, BAR's former team principal, said he had offered Gordon a contract to drive with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve when the team was formed in 1999. Gordon, however, told The Sun it wasn't quite as simple as the way it was described by Pollock. Gordon said that while there were discussions about him going to F-1, the deal Pollock offered was dependent on him driving in the CART Champ Car series for two years as a teammate for Toronto's Paul Tracy at Team Kool Green. "There were discussions about it. I was flattered that they wanted to talk to me about F-1," Gordon said. "But it never got to the stage of 'Okay, you're going to come over here and you are going to test our car and be our driver.' "(Toronto Sun)(6-24-2003)
- Herman to run special scheme at Daytona: #23-Kenny 'Herman' Wallace will run a special Stacker2 scheme at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona promoting the new energy drink, YJ Stinger. YJ Stinger, the newest energy drink from Stacker 2 [NVE Pharmaceuticals], is set to launch this summer and comes in three flavors: Pounding Punch, Sinful Citrus and Enraged Raspberry.(mentioned by Kenny Wallace in Speed Channel's Inside Winston Cup TV progran)(6-24-2003)
- Sonoma TV Overnight Ratings: NASCAR on FOX from Infineon Raceway finished as the highest-rated sports program for the weekend, checking in with overnights of a 4.8 rating and 10 share, according to Nielsen Media Research. This is up almost 7 percent over last year's 4.5 overnight rating. Last year's final rating had no small market bump and finished with a 4.5 rating and 12 share. The closest competitors this week were PGA golf (3.7), Major League Baseball (3.6), and the U.S. Gymnastics Championship (2.3). (This year's ratings provided by Sports Business Daily)(MotorsportsTV)(6-24-2003)
- Said to run the #01 at Pocono and Watkins Glen? Jeff Hammond reports on FoxSports.com that it was heard through the grapevine at Sonoma that there's an outside possibility that Boris Said may run Pocono as well as Watkins Glen for the #01 team so he may get a couple more opportunities not only to sit on another pole but, maybe, to win a race or two.(FoxSports)(6-24-2003)
- Fireproof Hoods: Ryan Newman pulled aside veteran driver Bill Elliott at Infineon Raceway last weekend to ask him about the fireproof hoods, which are common in other series but are used by only a handful of NASCAR drivers, Elliott and Kyle Petty included. Newman, who sustained slight burns in an accident June 8 at Michigan International Speedway, says his unwillingness to try wearing a hood was "just more laziness than anything." Winston Cup series director John Darby says NASCAR is not requiring drivers to wear the hoods and notes that many helmets have fireproof lining that serves the same function. "I think every driver is aware of the fact that they have the option to pick their own protective clothing," he says.(USA Today)(6-24-2003)
- Scanners Obsolete? Um...NO: there were some rumors floating around that once Nextel takes over in 2004 that all the scanners fans own will be obsolete starting in February 2004. That's not the case, seems someone was spreading this rumor on many message boards. A response from Nextel: "No, we understand that fans listening in to the conversations is one of the most exciting aspects of the sport, and we wouldn't want to change that. We haven't begun the planning for how we would approach this from a technology perspective, but we know the most important thing we can do is to put the fans' interests first. That's the priority that will drive all decisions and plans.(6-24-2003)
- The Great Race 2003 UPDATE: A unique automobile race, beginning on Saturday, June 21st – one that emphasizes precision over absolute speed, an arduous 15-day, 15-state, 4000-mile precision speed rally with a purse of $250,000 divided among the top finishers in the field of 110 teams. One of the event’s special features is that it is open only to historic and vintage automobiles, 45 years or older. In fact, three of the cars competing this year, a 1909 Lozier driven by Corky Coker, a 1910 Selden driven by Frank Currie, and a 1911 Marmon Speedster driven by Chic Kleptz, were manufactured within ten years of the historic 1903 speedfest. And another six were built before 1920. Teams are divided into four classes, but despite the wide range in age and performance of the cars, every team is able to compete for the overall Grand Championship because technically the Great Race takes the form of a Time-Speed-Distance rally. Event officials use modern technology, including video cameras and electronic timers at checkpoints, to keep score. Jack Roush, one of NASCAR’s prominent team owners has a direct interest in The Great Race.. Roush, who fields five Winston Cup teams, has two teams entered in The Great Race and is a member of Rally Partners as well. Check out daily reports during the event on the Great Race’s website at www.greatrace.com.(6-21-2003)
UPDATE: Jack Roush not only supports the Great Race; for one day, at least, he plans to be a participant. Roush, along with Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 Grainger Ford fielded by Roush Racing in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, will make the trip from their corporate offices in Concord, NC to Darlington Raceway in high style, driving a maroon 1940 Ford Deluxe 5/W Coupe to the track "Too Tough To Tame" as the Great Race visits Darlington on Wednesday, July 2.(Darlington Raceway PR)(6-24-2003)
- Helton: There's no "gentleman's agreement": The whole issue - this "gentleman's agreement" Winston Cup drivers have about passing during a caution period -- remains as clear as the northern California fog that rolls over the golden hills above Infineon Raceway.
Does the "gentleman's agreement" still exist? It happened again Sunday during the Dodge/Save Mart 350. Race-winner Robby Gordon, in a move called "chicken" by Kevin Harvick and "crap" by Jeff Gordon, passed Richard Childress Racing teammate Harvick on the way back to the start-finish line after a yellow flag was waved on Lap 71. It was the third time this season that drivers used their interpretation of the agreement to further their own interests. At Dover earlier this month, Tony Stewart got bent out of shape when leader Ryan Newman - who had a lap on Stewart - would not let him back on the lead lap during a caution. In March at Texas, second-place Jeff Gordon - of all people - passed leader Matt Kenseth under yellow, although Gordon was trying to keep some lapped traffic lapped. Let's let Winston Cup Series director John Darby explain what's supposed to happen when a yellow flag flies: "Once a caution flag is displayed, the only cars technically under caution are the ones who have driven under the caution flag," Darby said. "If a big group is beyond the start-finish line and the caution flag comes out, they're still officially under green until they get back to that start-finish line. At that point, the drivers have a choice of either easing up, everybody getting in line and coming back; or in many situations racing back." At a drivers meeting Sunday before the Sonoma race, Robby Gordon said he repeatedly asked if it was OK to pass during a caution. NASCAR president Mike Helton responded to Gordon and the rest of the drivers: "There is no gentlemen's agreement, we figured that out a couple of races ago. Guys, this not a new gig, this is the same deal we've done before. I know everybody wants to be up front and you want to get every chance you can get. In the event we feel like you got one unfairly, we will react. In the meantime it's up to you guys to work it out up there. If you're going to be obnoxious about it, we'll get into the middle of it. Nine out of ten times we'll let you guys have it."(much more at ThatsRacin.com)(6-23-2003)
- #9 and #19 get a Mane: hearing #9-Bill Elliott and #19-Jeremy Mayfield will sport Lion King paint schemes at Kansas Speedway in Oct.(6-23-2003)
- Popcorn colors: hearing the #43-Christian Fittipaldi will have the Pop Secret colors [as the #43 normally does for this race] at Rockingham's final November race, in the Pop Secret 400 [which goes to California in 2004](6-23-2003)
- Hands of Victory Charity: hearing #45-Kyle Petty will run a "Hands of Victory" scheme at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Oct. A portion of all sales will be donated to the Hands of Victory Charity - not sure what that is.(6-23-2003)
- ZZ Top out - Sugar Ray in: ZZ Top will NOT be the featured band for #29 Kevin Harvick for the Chevy Rock & Roll Program - Sugar Ray will now be on the car, Ozzy Osbourne was rumored in the past.(6-23-2003)
- Safety Meeting: NASCAR has driver safety update meetings scheduled for July 4th for competitors in the Cup and Busch Series at Daytona. The series has been holding such meetings a couple of times a year or so since Dale Earnhardt 's fatal crash at Daytona in 2001.(Roanoke Times)(6-23-2003)
- Hermie Sadler to skip Daytona for his own team, looking: Despite participating in a test session last week at Daytona, #02-Hermie Sadler will not enter his Pontiac in the Pepsi 400. "We went and tried some things we thought would improve our speedway program, but we.are not where we need to be at this point. We did not want to risk going not prepared," stated Sadler "Hopefully another opportunity will become available for Daytona". Sadler will return to his short track roots July 2nd as he has entered the Liberty 200 ARCA race at South Boston Speedway.(6-23-2003)
- Pruett wins at Sonoma....in Trans-Am: Scott Pruett led from start to finish to capture the 100-mile Trans-Am race that followed the Winston Cup NASCAR race. Boris Said finished second. Said completed running in all three main races of the weekend by finishing in the top 10 of each. He earlier was sixth in the NASCAR Winston Cup race and was second in the NASCAR Southwest Tour race on Saturday. "When I got the Winston Cup pole, my head wasn't really into my (Trans-Am) car," Said said, "and I couldn't do a good enough job setting it up." Pruett said he was thrilled with his ride in the Trans-Am car but disappointed in his Winston Cup race in which he finished 34th in a #09-Target Dodge for the Chip Ganassi team. "We had a great race car, and I think Kurt (Busch) got us confused with Jimmy Spencer's big red target from last year. A tangle with Busch sent Pruett to the pit in the Cup race after he had moved up as high as fourth. Busch had damage and finished 28th.(Oakland Tribune)(6-23-2003)
- Fins Increased: NASCAR recently told teams to increase the rear window fins from 1.5 inches to 2.5 inches for the Pepsi 400 July 5 at Daytona. While officials were researching the possibility of adding a third roof flap to the cars for restrictor-plate races, they discovered that adding an inch to the fins improved the efficiency of the two existing flaps. NASCAR still is working on adding a third flap, but for now the larger fins should make the cars more stable.(Sporting News)(6-23-2003)
- Terry Labonte looking to extend contract thru 2004 UPDATE longer?: Terry Labonte, a two-time champ, is negotiating with Hendrick Motorsports for a one-year extension of his contract to drive the #5 Kellogg's Chevrolet.(Sporting News)(2-20-2003)
UPDATE: Rejunivated Terry Labonte is in contract talks with Hendrick Motorsports. Labonte's current contract runs out at the end of this year. An announcement is expected in the next few weeks for a three or four year deal.(Insider Racing News)(6-23-2003)
- NHIS Testing? #24-Jeff Gordon and #20-Tony Stewart were scheduled to test this week at New Hampshire to prepare for the New England 300 there July 20. Both teams are concerned that their programs on the 1.058-mile oval have become stale and were looking at ways to improve. Many drivers had problems at the track last year because the surface was breaking up, but the corners were repaved and extended 12 feet in April. In theory, the extra asphalt should promote more side-by-side racing.(Sporting News)(6-23-2003)
- Skinner back to the trucks? Mike Skinner will likely be driving for Michael Waltrip's new Truck team, according to team sources.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-23-2003)
- A Sauter in the #4? UPDATE Compton at Daytona in the #4?: hearing that Busch Series driver [#'s 21 and #43] Johnny Sauter will test the #4 Pontiac for Morgan-McClure next week in Chicago.(6-19-2003)
UPDATE: Morgan-McClure Motorsports owner Larry McClure said he is in no hurry to find a permanent replacement for driver Mike Skinner in the team's #4 Kodak Pontiacs. McClure is using Trams-Am series driver Johnny Miller this weekend at Sonoma. "I don't have any pressure from (our sponsor) other than pressure to perform well, but that can't be any more pressure than we already put on ourselves to perform," he said. McClure said he would try out a few drivers, including taking some to test, before settling on a replacement. Busch series driver Johnny Sauter is among those under consideration.(ThatsRacin.com); also hearing Stacy Compton may test with the team too.(6-21-2003)
UPDATE 2: Stacy Compton is expected to be in Larry McClure's #4 Kodak Pontiac at Daytona next week, in what is a one-shot ride for the moment.(Winston Salem Journal)
UPDATE 3: #4-Team owner Larry McClure is in no apparent hurry to find a permanent replacement for recently released driver Mike Skinner and will use the next few races as a tryout. Road-racing specialist Johnny Miller finished 24th in the #4 Kodak Pontiac Sunday. McClure said he hasn't decided who will drive it in the next race in two weeks at Daytona. Busch Series regular Johnny Sauter is a candidate. McClure confirmed conversations with John Andretti, fired recently at Petty Enterprises, but the owner seemed to nix the Indianapolis native as a candidate by saying he doesn't want a "recycled driver." "Whoever we get is going to have to have the ability and desire to drive my car," McClure said. "I don't want to hire anybody who's already got a bank of excuses." Andretti did not attend Sunday's race.(Indianapolis Star)(6-23-2003)
- #8 Jackman Injured: #8-Budweiser jackman Kevin Pennell injured his left hand during a pit stop on lap 62. Pennell fell to the ground when he stepped on loose lug nuts while running around the front of the car. The impact with the ground snapped the handle on the jack. Pennell suffered swelling on his left hand after the incident but refused treatment until after the race. He went over the wall on the team's two final stops.(Budweiser PR)(6-23-2003)
- 60-G's for Bodine: Injured driver Brett Bodine [#11 Ford] says his car's black box data recorder registered a hit measuring 60-Gs when he crashed into the wall between turns one and two during [Last] Saturday's practice at Michigan knocking him out. Bodine is being evaluated by several doctors after suffering a concussion, a broken clavicle and a shoulder injury. His dentist is examining damage done to eight of Brett's teeth. Bodine says the accident won't deter him from getting back into the racecar, in fact he'll look into some sort of mouth guard when he's ready to get back into the racecar, however he won't come back until he's completely healed. And when he does, there's a strong possibility he'll have a new primary sponsor, backing Bodine says will give him the funding to finally be competitive with other teams.(PRN's Garagepass & XM Satellite Radio)(6-23-2003)
- The 'Pass': Race winner, #31-Robby Gordon, was involved in “one of those racing deals” on his way to victory, according to car owner Richard Childress. Gordon got the lead for the final time when he passed teammate #29-Kevin Harvick as the field came back to take a full course caution. Gordon scooted his car under Harvick’s as the field was coming to take the yellow on lap 70 of the event after Christian Fittipaldi made one of his several runs off course. Gordon and Harvick have some history at Infinion Raceway as the two tangled several years ago when Gordon was working towards his first career WC victory. Harvick, who was a lap down in that scenario, ran his future teammate hard enough to allow Tony Stewart to take the victory in that race. The two tangled again today when Harvick tried to force a pass for the lead earlier in the event, and opened the door for Ron Fellows to take the spot. Gordon expressed his displeasure with his hands. Gordon, who was hammering NASCAR during the pre-race drivers meeting about yellow flag procedures for this event, apparently took NASCAR’s description of the gentlemen’s agreement to heart and worked his teammate under caution for the lead and eventual race win. But none of the action mattered to car owner Childress, who placed the Cingular Chevy into victory lane the weekend immediately following the announcement of wireless competitor Nextel as the series sponsor for 2004. "I hate it was our team car. Kevin had a great car today and I hate it for Kevin, but I'm happy as can be for Robby,” said Childress, who later added that he’d sit his drivers down for a chat during the upcoming week.(Ford Racing)(6-23-2003)
- Money Raised: Dale Earnhardt was the big draw as the first "Race-n-Rock" charity auction at Infineon Raceway raised $65,240 for Speedway Children's Charities. A commemorative toolbox, featuring a flip-up lithograph of the seven-time Winston Cup champion, netted $7,000. Two Dale Earnhardt tribute concert guitars - each signed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. - fetched $4,500 each.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(6-23-2003)
- Stock Car Fans Newsletter's Rumblings - Infineon Raceway [in part]: #31-Robby Gordon won today's Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Inineon Raceway....and his teammate [Harvick] and the "other" Gordon didn't seem all to happy about it. [Robby] Gordon dominated the road course event pretty much from start to finish, tho if the cautions had fallen different it may have been #1-Ron Fellows in Victory Lane at the end of the race. We ended up with a Gordon/Gordon finish....and we have seen this before. Robby held off Jeff for his second career win (he won at NHIS in November of 2001) and moved into 88th on the all-time list. This was win #72 for Richard Childress. With the way some of these cars looked by the end of today's race, you'd have thought we were in Bristol or Martinsville. And that triple spin at the bottleneck with Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, and Scott Pruett looked like the swimming pool scene from Caddyshack.
#29-Kevin Harvick (3rd) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Talladega in April.
#01-Boris Said (6th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 8th at Watkins Glen in August of 2001.
#1-Ron Fellows (7th) had his best finish since he was 2nd at Watkins Glen in August of 1999 (only 5 races).
#19-Jeremy Mayfield (10th) had his best finish since he was 8th in the Daytona 500.
#10-Johnny Benson led today for the first time since he led once for one lap at Phoenix last November. #1-Ron Fellows led today for the first time since he led once for three laps at Watkins Glen in 2001. #01-Boris Said led today for the first time since he led once for nine laps at Watkins Glen in August of 1999. We've now hit 40 drivers to lead a lap this season....last year's number was 46.
STREAKIN....Bobby Labonte has 7 Top-10's in the last 8 races. Ryan Newman has 4 Top-5's in the last 5 races. Jeff Gordon has 4 Top-10's in the last 5 races.
This Week's Elevator...UP: Operator of the Week is Jeremy Mayfield (+21), followed by Jimmie Johnson (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Kurt Busch (-23), followed by Jeff Burton (-22). Not a good week for Roush....on the track or at NASCAR headquarters.(Stock Car Fans Cup Newsletter)(6-23-2003)
see the June 16-22, 2003 Archived News Page
see the June 9-15, 2003 Archived News Page
see the June 2-8, 2003 Archived News Page