JAN 12-18, 2004
THE PAST NEWS! YESTERDAY and BEYOND..
OTHER PAST NEWS PAGES
- Jack Roush Named First SKF X-Tracker Award Recipient: SKF has awarded its first X-Tracker Award for Extraordinary Achievement in the North American Automotive Industry to Jack Roush, Chief Executive Officer of Roush Industries and owner of the Roush Racing Team. The international award recognizes an individual who has achieved success in the face of extreme challenges or
adversity. Jack Roush was selected as the first X-Tracker Award recipient due to his legendary success in the automotive and racing industries and his perseverance through his recovery from life-threatening injuries sustained in a 2002 airplane crash. More information
about SKF is available at http://www.skf.com.(PRN Newswire/WPVI.com)(1-18-2004)
- DW Book: Pre-Orders for signed copies of Darrell Waltrip's autobiography, DW - A Lifetime of Going Around in Circles, are available Monday January 19th at www.DWStore.com. The book will be released nationwide on Monday Feb. 9th.(FoxSports) See past info about the book on my Racing Bookstore page.(1-17-2004)
- Pit Crew Trainees/Drive for Diversity story: All they wanted was a chance, an equal opportunity to put their abilities and know-how on display. They got it courtesy of the motorsports scouting combine testing and evaluation branch of the Drive for Diversity program, a NASCAR-backed outlet designed at giving the industry at stock car racing's premier level a more widespread demographic look. The Mooresville [NC] area in general played a direct hand in helping reach that goal, doing so specifically through the use of the local-based Five Off Five On race team performance and pit crew instruction and training facility situated in the Lakeside Park.(See full story at the Mooresville Tribune)(1-17-2004)
- Gordon [Robby] plans to run the Indy 500: Robby Gordon said he has a program in place that will allow him to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on May 30, and he will announce details of that plan during the week of the Feb. 15 Daytona 500. It will be the third straight year he competes in the Indy race before flying to Concord, N.C., to compete in the 600-mile Cup race that night.(Las Vegas Journal Review)(1-17-2004)
- Tracks Adding Sensors for Yellow Flag Rule: This season NASCAR hopes to clear the confusion of the "No racing to the caution" rule by using computerized scoring. According to NASCAR competition director John Darby, each Nextel cup track is currently being equipped with sensors that will quickly enable scorers to identify driver's exact running position at the time of a caution. The system is a modified version of the loop that currently exists at the start-finish line of all tracks. Expanding upon that, tracks will now incorporate multiple sensor loops that will divide each track into trap zones.(ESPN), see past nres/rules on the 'yellow flag rule' on my No racing to the caution page.(1-17-2004)
- Racing Electronics News: Racing Electronics announced the addition of Pat Frossard, formerly of Racing Radios. “Major” Pat brings with him over eight years experience as a Winston Cup Rep and sales & service representative of racing communications. Based in the Racing Electronics - Charlotte store, he will provide field technical services, as well as general sales and customer service. “Pat is a great addition to our staff, with his positive attitude, knowledge and experience in the racing community, we look for him to complement our already highly regarded team of employees,” says Bruce Silver, president.(RE PR)(1-17-2004)
- Sad News: Duane Sweeney, who waved the checkered flag as the chief starter when Al Unser and Rick Mears each won the Indianapolis 500 for a fourth time, died Jan. 15 at his home in New Berlin, Wis. He was 81. Sweeney was starter of the Indianapolis 500 from 1980-96, taking over for Pat Vidan. Sweeney's first checkered flag unfurled over Johnny Rutherford's third victory. Over 16 years, Sweeney's flags waved over some record-breaking, precedent-setting and bizarre races. Included among those finishes were the fourth Indy victories of Unser, in 1987, and Mears, in 1991, Danny Sullivan's famous "spin and win" triumph in 1985, Arie Luyendyk's 185-mph average-speed victory in 1990 and Al Unser Jr.'s half-car edging of Scott Goodyear in 1992. Sweeney also waved the checkered over the controversial finishes between Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti in 1981 and between Jacques Villeneuve and Scott Goodyear in 1995. Sweeney concluded his career as chief starter in 1996, waving the checkered flag over Buddy Lazier. Due to failing health, he turned the duties over to Bryan Howard for the 1997 race. He stood in as assistant starter that year, his last time on the starter's platform. Sweeney retained all of the checkered flags from his Indianapolis 500 tenure and donated a number of them to a children's cancer fund benefit in Milwaukee. Sweeney died one week after his daughter, Joan B. Ramirez, passed away following a vehicle accident. She was 51. Survivors include his wife, Mary; a son, Mark; two daughters, Cathy Gudlin and Jean Niedercorn. Services will be at 7 p.m. (CST) Jan. 20 at Krause Funeral Home, New Berlin, with calling from 3 p.m. The family will distribute memorial contributions among Mr. Sweeney's favorite charities.(ThatsRacin.com and more at the Indianapolis Star)(1-17-2004)
- New Show on Speed Feb 21st: Host Steve Byrnes will take to the stage with NASCAR beat writers Ben Blake, David Poole, Mike Mulhern and Marty Smith as SPEED Channel's new live program -- Pit Bull -- debuts Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. from North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. "SPEED continues to bring the fans fresh ways of looking at our sport, and Pit Bull is yet another example of that continued effort," said Smith, a featured columnist on NASCAR.com. "David, Mike, Ben and I are all rather opinionated people when it comes to the intricacies of NASCAR racing, its personalities and the folks that run the show, and profess those feelings daily in print. So, taking those opinions and putting them in a live television format should make for some serious fireworks. It's going to be a hoot, and I'm really excited about the opportunity. I think the show has great potential, because with each of the four of us, what you see is what you get." The live show, which will air Saturdays at 6:30pm/et on NEXTEL Cup weekends when on-track action permits, will be produced from SPEED Channel's new traveling stage truck from the site of each week's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event. Additional reporters will join Pit Bull throughout the racing season.(Speed Channel)(1-17-2004)
- Robin Miller to Speed: Veteran motor sports journalist Robin Miller joins Speed Channel for the 2004 season as a regular contributor to Speed News and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain. Miller also will write regular columns for SPEEDTV.com and make appearances on Pit Bull. "Robin has long been viewed as one of -- if not the -- leading open-wheel journalist in America," said Rick Miner, SPEED Channel Sr. VP Programming/Production and Executive Producer. "SPEED Channel couldn't be happier with the addition to our outstanding group of reporters."(Speed Channel)(1-17-2004)
- Changes in the Truck TV Lineup? UPDATE 2: Hearing Speed Channel may make some changes to their Truck Series broadcast team for 2004, both in the booth and on pit road.(12-12-2003)
UPDATE: been told that the Speed Channel on-air team for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will be:
Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and either Michael or Darrell Waltrip in the booth.
Ray Dunlap and Wendy Norris in the pits. Norris was formerly a producer for NASCAR Victory Lane and NASCAR This
UPDATE 2: Wendy Norris, formerly a producer for the Fox Sports Net programs NASCAR Victory Lane and NASCAR This Morning will join SPEED Channel as a pit reporter for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Norris is a 2000 graduate of the University of North Carolina with a BA in Communications Studies focus on Media, BA in Psychology and a Minor in Journalism. Norris started her on-air television career with Adelphia Cable in Mooresville, N.C., before joining Wheeler TV behind the scenes as an associate producer on Race Day, later taking on production roles with other NASCAR programming. The 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on-air team will include Rick Allen, Phil Parsons in the booth with Darrell and/or Michael Waltrip. Norris will be joined in the pits by veteran Ray Dunlap.(Speed Channel)(1-17-2004)
- Skinner in the #10 for the Shootout UPDATE: Mike Skinner will race in the upcoming Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, whether a Daytona 500 ride is in his future or not. MB2/MBV Motorsports general manager Jay Frye said Thursday that the team would field a #10 Valvoline Chevrolet for Skinner if some other prospects he is trying to secure don't come through. Mike Skinner qualified for the Shootout by winning the Bud Pole at Richmond in September. Skinner had what he thought was a sure deal to drive not only in the Feb. 7 Shootout, a special event for the 2003 Bud Pole winners, but also in the Daytona 500, along with a handful of other Nextel Cup races.(NASCAR.com)(1-9-2004)
UPDATE: MB2 Motorsports and Valvoline Racing announced today that Mike Skinner will drive the team's #10 Chevrolet in NASCAR's Budweiser Shootout, Feb. 7 at Daytona International Speedway. Skinner's ride will be crewed by the Valvoline team, led by crew chief Doug Randolph, who serves in the same capacity for rookie driver Scott Riggs in the Nextel Cup Series. Skinner earned the right to compete in the Budweiser Shootout, a special race for 2003 pole winners and former champions, as a result of winning the pole position while driving the U.S. Army/MB2 Motorsports entry in the 2003 fall race in Richmond. Skinner will be joined in the Shootout by MB2 teammate Boris Said, who will compete in the #01 U.S. Army Chevrolet. Said qualified for the Shootout by winning the pole in the Army car at last year's race in Sonoma, CA.(MBV PR)(1-16-2004)
- Gordon on the road again: Robby Gordon will take time out from his preparations for next month's Daytona 500 and drive in the Trophy Truck division at the 10th annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge. Gordon will drive the No. 31 Chevy CK1500 Trophy Truck that was built at his Anaheim, Calif., race shop. Gordon, a two-time winner of the SCORE Baja 1000, drove in the Trophy Truck division in Baja last November but experienced shock problems with a little more than 100 miles remaining in the 808-mile race and was forced to park his truck.(Las Vegas Sun)(1-16-2004)
- Nextel TV Campaign to Debut Sunday: Nextel is scheduled to debut its first television ads promoting its sponsorship of NASCAR's Nextel Cup during Sunday's NFL championship games, The New York Times reports. The story says the first spot during the AFC championship on CBS will feature Michael Waltrip "interrupting a football daydream" of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Spending plans for the campaign were not disclosed, but the story says the media portion of Nextel's title sponsorship agreement is estimated at $30 million a year.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(1-16-2004)
- No Hard Liquor Sponsors: NASCAR will not follow the lead of the International Race of Champions series and accept advertising money from hard liquor companies, CEO Brian France said Thursday. IROC officially announced Crown Royal as its new sponsor Thursday. The sponsorship will allow the all-star series to quadruple its championship prize to $1 million. NASCAR has had a longstanding policy of not allowing sponsorship from hard liquor brands. ``We think the negatives outweigh the positives in terms of accepting hard liquor at this time,'' France said. ``We understand other series might feel differently. There's been a lot of loosening up in the last several years. Remember, in the '70s, the networks voluntarily pulled those ads off. Some of them have brought them back on. We'll monitor that, but right now we just think it's best to stay as we are.''(Tampa Tribune)(1-16-2004)
- BAM and Pizza? heard from a source very close to the situation Red Baron Pizza has reached an agreement to sponsor BAM and Ken Schrader in the #49 car starting in 2004. Red Baron Pizza sponsored Schrader in the past and has been involved in NASCAR before.(1-15-2004)
- Toyota Special: Speed Channel will premiere a new one-hour special on Monday night February 2nd at 11:00pm/et. Road to Daytona USA: Toyota Joins the Craftsman Trucks Series tells the story of Toyota's design, construction and testing for its inaugural season of competition in the NASCAR series. The program will run four times before Speed's season premiere Trucks telecast Friday night February 13th. The show will also re-air on: 2/4 at 1:00am/et; 2/8 at 5:30pm/et; and 2/12 at 10:00pm/et.(1-15-2004)
- Stewart Gives: Tony Stewart's foundation made a $15,000 donation Wednesday to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central & Western North Carolina in honor of Hope Stout, the 12-year-old from Weddington, N.C., who made her dying wish to grant the wishes of the other local children with life-threatening illnesses. A fund-raising effort for the Make-A-Wish Foundation has raised more than $800,000 to meet Hope's request, with the goal of $1 million in sight. Hope died Jan. 4 from a rare form of bone cancer. Her story, first reported in The Charlotte Observer, has inspired many in the Charlotte area to contribute toward her wish. "We've been involved with Make-A-Wish in Indiana for a long time now, and it's impressive to see all the work that goes into granting a child's wish," Stewart said. "When we heard of Hope's story and what she was able to do before she passed away - it was amazing. Make-A-Wish is a great organization and she made it even better."(ThatsRacin.com)(1-16-2004)
- Inductees to the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame include Humpy: H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler is one of nine new members to be inducted into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in Raleigh on May 20. Wheeler, a Belmont native and a leader in NASCAR's success, has been president of Lowe's Motor Speedway since 1975 and is recognized as the foremost showman in stock-car racing.(ThatsRacin.com)(1-16-2004)
- Been asked......what's up with IROC? UPDATES OFFICIAL Announcement..Drivers?:
Series winner gets $1 million
New sponsor: Crown Royal
Old Tracks Out...except Dayotna
New Tracks In: Texas, Richmond and Atlanta
Drivers can use their familiar car number
Vickers can't run the series
Looks for at least 5 Cup drivers, but Jeff Gordon will likely bow out
Announcement on Thurs Jan 15th at 1:15pm/et
see column at ThatsRacin.com or the last week or news/rumors about IROC on my 2003 IROC page)(1-13-2004)
UPDATE - New Sponsor: The International Race of Champions [IROC] announced today the signing of a multi-year agreement with Crown Royal to be the official title sponsor of the IROC Series for 2004 and beyond. The 2004 Crown Royal International Race of Champions schedule will include the traditional Speedweeks opener at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 13. New venues are in the works for the remainder of the season including, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday, April 2., and Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., on Thursday, September 9. IROC is also finalizing a fall date for the Crown Royal IROC Championship finale at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Atlanta, Ga. IROC is in negotiations with Fox/Speed Channel to televise all four events [LIVE!]. With the new Crown Royal sponsorship comes a significant increase in the Series' prize money. The purse for the 2004 IROC season will be $1.9 million including $1 million to the Series champion. This is a major increase from the 2003 season in which the champion received $250,000 and represents the highest payout for a Series Champion in IROC history.
Another big change taking place in 2004 will be the appearance of the Crown Royal IROC cars. Instead of the history-long tradition of drivers having different color cars and numbers, representing their position in the point standings, at each of the four races, a color scheme and car number, representing the driver's native series team, will be assigned pre-season and will remain with the driver throughout the four events. The pre-assigned color and utilizing the driver's team number will better enhance tracking and recognizing the individual competitors throughout the season. The traditional process of a blind draw will still take place among the lot of Crown Royal IROC race cars brought to each event. After the draw, color graphics and numbers will be applied to the field of race cars.
Crown Royal, America's leading super premium whisky, has a tradition as long and distinctive as its taste. Specially blended to commemorate a grand tour of Canada made by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 1939, Crown Royal's smooth, elegant style reflects its aristocratic origins and is considered the epitome of Canadian whisky. In addition to its sponsorship of the Crown Royal IROC Series, the brand also sponsors Team Crown Royal, a professional fishing team; The Crown Royal Comedy Soul Fest and a number of other major regional and national events. For more information on Crown Royal, visit www.crownroyal.com.(IROC Racing Site)(1-15-2004)
DRIVERS? Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick will compete from NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series. Helio Castroneves, Scott Sharp and Scott Dixon, the winner of last year's SunTrust Indy Challenge, will represent the IRL. Craftsman Truck champion Travis Kvapil, USAC star J.J. Yeley and World of Outlaws stars Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoski also are expected to participate.(Richmond Times Dispatch/Fort Worth Star Telegram)(see above in this story why Vickers won't be in it.(1-16-2004)
- Benson in the #09 UPDATE 4 schedule; and Benson to the Busch car: Word in the Daytona International Speedway garage area Monday is that Johnny Benson would make an unexpectedly quick return to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. Benson is expected to test James Finch's Phoenix Racing #09 car when the final three-day round of Nextel Cup Preseason Thunder opens Tuesday morning. Benson was released at the end of last season by MBV Motorsports, despite having another year on his contract, and has been seeking another ride. Finch has run a limited schedule of Winston Cup races in past seasons, most recently with Mike Wallace in 2003.(NASCAR.com Buzz)(1-12-2004)
UPDATE: David Stremme's site says Stremme is out of the #1 Phoenix Racing Dodge Busch ride and that he will run for Braun Racing [#19/#30] with support from Chip Ganassi. Rumor has Benson running the full season in the #1 Busch Dodge.(1-13-2004)
UPDATE 1a: The plan is for Benson to drive the #09 Dodge, owned by James Finch at Daytona. He will be part of the field qualifying for a spot in the Daytona 500. Benson will NOT be testing the car at Daytona this week. Joe Ruttman will be handling the testing duties. The plan is for Benson to run eight Cup races in this car in 2004. No word on the Busch team/plans.(1-13-2004)
UPDATE 2: hearing that Dodge is pushing to get John Andretti in the #1 Phoenix Racing entry.(BGNRacing.com)(1-13-2004)
UPDATE 3: Joe Ruttman is a hired gun at Daytona International Speedway this week, testing the #09 Dodge for crew chief James Ince. Johnny Benson is scheduled to drive the car this season.(Daytona Beach News Journal), been told that James Ince is NOT with the team and not at the track.(1-14-2004)
UPDATE 4: Johnny Benson has agreed to drive the #09 Dodge owned by James Finch. Their first race will be in Daytona - Johnny will be part of the field qualifying for a spot in the Daytona 500. Benson will NOT be testing the car at Daytona this week. Joe Ruttman will be handling the testing duties. Benson will be making a trip to Daytona to check things out.
Johnny Benson's Schedule #09 Dodge NEXTEL Cup
Daytona - February 15th
Las Vegas - March 7th
Talladega - April 25th
Richmond - May 15th
Daytona - July 3rd
Richmond - September 11th
Talladega - October 3rd
(Schedule Subject to Change) This is the information we have as of today - more information to be coming. There may be more races added to the schedule based on sponsorship.(JBFC Site)(1-14-2004)
AND MORE: James Finch apparently has an agreement with Johnny Benson to pilot his cars in at least 8 and perhaps as many as 13 Nextel Cup races this season. Phoenix Racing Team Manager Marc Reno says Joe Ruttman is testing their #09 Dodges because Benson's agreement wasn't reached prior to testing at Daytona in time to change seats which were fitted for Ruttman. Meanwhile, Finch's Busch Series team is driver shopping after David Stremme, who is under contract with Ganassi Racing, was moved over to Braun Racing. Reno says Ganassi Racing decided it was not in their budget to further support Finch and the Yellow Transportation Dodge team. Reno said "To be pure and simple about it, if they're not gonna put support behind him (Finch) we're not gonna train their rookie for them...we're gonna put a veteran in, and race." Reno says Benson could run their BGN cars as well and John Andretti is also in the mix. Also, the door could be open for Jimmy Spencer to re-join the team and Reno plans to talk with his former driver. Spencer, who won races in the Yellow Dodge, was forced out when Ganassi decided to back Finch's efforts. Spencer says right now his plans are to "keep going on" with the 7-car and owner Jim Smith and "see how far we can go, I guess."(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(1-14-2004)
UPDATE 5: Pheonix Racing car owner James Finch has signed Johnny Benson to run the Busch Series full-time in the #1 Yellow Transaportation Dodge. Benson will also compete in eight to fifteen next Cup events in the #09 Dodge. Finch said John Andretti was also considered.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(1-15-2004)
- Johnson OK: Jimmie Johnson's #48 Lowe's Chevy was just the second car on the track Thursday morning, spun in Turn 3 and hit the wall, doing extensive damage to the front end of the car. Johnson was unhurt. The car, however, was expected to be Johnson's entry for the Feb. 15 Daytona 500 and had been his fastest during this week's test. "Maybe the track's just wet, especially in the shadows," Johnson said. "We run the top all the way around here the first two laps basically and maybe it was still wet up there. Without a doubt there was something on the track." #41-Casey Mears was the first car on the track, starting just before 9 a.m. Eastern. He also experienced problems in Turn 3. "I went through there the first time and thought there was something on the track, but it could have been possible it was my car," Mears said. "The second time I went through the turn, I took it easy and it was OK. Then, Jimmie went in there and went into the wall." Johnson said losing car will likely mean his team will not chance participating in Thursday afternoon's scheduled drafting practice. They don't want to risk damaging both cars.(ThatsRacin.com)(1-15-2004)
- New NASCAR Magazine AND: American Thunder, a monthly targeting men who love NASCAR racing and other guy pursuits, such as salt-water fishing, will hit newsstands next month. Popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the first cover. The mag, the brainchild of editor in chief Lucas Mast, is being published by American Content Inc., bankrolled by Clarium Capital Management. Clarium, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, was founded last year by Peter Thiel, after the former PayPal CEO sold the online payment service to eBay. Hmm...it even has a column by some guy named.....Jayski.....see more about the magazine at: www.getthunder.com.(1-14-2004)
UPDATE: American Thunder, debuting in February 2004, will bring its readers the drama, excitement, and inside story on America's hottest and fastest growing sport-representing the first publishing endeavor for American Content Inc., a new venture established by Clarium Capital Management LLC of San Francisco.
The March issue hits newsstands on February 1, 2004, and will feature NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on the inaugural cover. Launching with a rate base of 100,000, American Thunder will be published monthly. It will be distributed by Kable News and sold for $4.99 at retailers across the country.
Earnhardt and Gordon, Daytona and Talladega…200-mph fender-to-fender action and excitement is at the heart of American Thunder's editorial coverage. But this magazine isn't just about racing-American Thunder reflects on and rejoices in all the interests of this audience's active, pedal-to-the-metal lifestyle. Features in the debut issue include:
------ An in-depth profile of NASCAR's prodigal son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
------ Best and Worst of NASCAR 2003, and a look at the season ahead
------ The first in a series of monthly diaries by 2003 NASCAR Rookie of the Year Jamie McMurray
------ A strategy kit and online "power rankings" of drivers for participants in fantasy leagues
------ Articles targeting the NASCAR enthusiast's 'lifestyle,' including features on Norton Motorcycles and Final Four "March Madness."
In upcoming issues, American Thunder will also provide "Race of the Month" pullout section, which will offer a pre-race "playbill" to enhance the fans' appreciation of the sport. The pullout section will include: pre-race analysis; diagrams of the track and insights on race strategy; crew chief commentary on how race cars need to setup; pre-race favorites and drivers to watch; maps and ticket information; "Track Trivia"; best and worst moments at that track in history; and best places to stay and eat.
American Thunder has assembled an all-star cast of writers to deliver its NASCAR content; writers for the first two issues include: Ryan McGee, an award-winning motor sports journalist for Foxsports.com; Thomas Pope, motor sports editor of The Fayetteville Observer; David Poole, a columnist for The Charlotte Observer; Jay "Jayski" Adamczyk; and B. Duane Cross, senior producer for SI.com.(see PR on my Racing Bookstore page)(1-15-2004)
- Part Time for the #7? #7 Cup Team Owner Jim Smith [who also owns the #1 and #2 truck teams] says his Ultra Motorsports Nextel Cup team won't compete in any more than three or four races without sponsorship and Rockingham the first event his crew would skip. Smith hopes something will come up, however he says the plan right now is to at least run Daytona, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Texas. Smith thinks he might find some backing, however it may not be a full year deal. "Am I optimistic, no...but I'm not a pessimist either...there's a chance there...we've got a shot at getting something." Sirius Satellite Radio opted not to resign at the end of the 2003 season.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(1-14-2004)
- Holm Leaves Foyt: been told that #14 Crew Chief, Ben Holm, left Foyt Racing to join Penske working on #2 car in the shop. No word on the #14 Team Status, they have not tested in Daytona either this or last week.(1-14-2004)
- Ford Engine News: The new cylinder head that's supposed to help Ford catch up to its NASCAR counterparts in power may not be ready until midsummer. NASCAR approved the new design last summer, but development of the improved engine has come slowly, even with Ford rivals Jack Roush and Robert Yates combining their resources. ``Jack doesn't expect to see the new cylinder head until maybe Indy [Aug. 8] or the second Michigan race [Aug. 22],'' driver Greg Biffle said. ``I thought it was going to be a lot sooner than that. I figured it would be Vegas [March 7] or something like that, so I was a little disappointed.'' Ford does have a new nose and tail for its Taurus, and that should provide a boost for Daytona. But it remains to be seen whether Ford will be able to match Chevrolet and Dodge in horsepower early in the year.(Tampa Tribune), see past news on the Ford engine on my Ford News page.(1-14-2004)
- Kahne - Ford update: Kasey Kahne, taking over for Bill Elliott in the #9 Dodge has neither the time nor the will to engage Ford Racing officials who claim he reneged on their development deal. Kahne insists he fulfilled his contractual obligations before leaving Akins Motorsports to take over the semi-retired Bill Elliott's ride at Evernham Motorsports. "I've done everything for Ford I needed to do for them at the end of last year," Kahne said. "As far as I see it, there is nothing going on but me driving for Dodge."
Jan. 6, however, during the first of two test sessions at Daytona International Speedway, Ford Racing Technology operations manager Greg Specht still insisted differently. "He's still currently under contract with Ford," said Specht, whose company had no Nextel Cup plans for Kahne until at least 2005. Retorted Kahne: "He obviously doesn't know what he's talking about." The question is whether Ford will attempt to make a point with Kahne.(in part from the St Petersburg Times)(1-14-2004)
- Gordon's Hair: only posting this 'cause getting emails from folks wondering if Jeff Gordon is ill [not looking for comments, further email or images]......#24-Jeff Gordon wasn't looking for an aerodynamic advantage for Speed Weeks. He didn't lose a bet or accept a dare. He wasn't the victim of a prank. The reason the four-time NASCAR champion wore a ball cap most of Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway was to hide his self-inflicted haircut. Gordon, known for his pricey, model-like haircuts, arrived at the Speedway with head stubble and a smile. "This is actually a lot compared to what I had a month ago," Gordon said sheepishly at the end of Tuesday's Nextel Cup test session. "The hair thing, well, it was the offseason and I just wanted to do something different." Gordon said he had an expert shave his head the first time soon after the NASCAR awards banquet in New York City. Gordon said his head was never completely bare. "It wasn't bald, but like a 'No. 1,' I think they call it," he said. "It was really short so it's taken a little longer. I was hoping it was going to be a little bit more grown out by now, but it's not." The 32-year-old driver, who wheels the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, said shaving his head was a lark. He fully intends to grow his black mane back out to its normal length. "I plan on growing it out the rest of the year, then next year I'm going to do it again but it's going to be blonde," he said with a laugh. "No, I'm just kidding."(Daytona Beach News Journal), see an AP image at ThatsRacin.com.....if Gordon doesn't want his hair...the bald Jayski will take it.(1-14-2004)
- ISC not interested in buying CART: The Indianapolis Star reported in Monday's editions that International Speedway Corporation, which owns tracks including Daytona International Speedway, had a presence at the Dec. 30 bankruptcy hearing for Championship Auto Racing Teams. ISC spokesman David Talley said that his company is not interested in bidding on the faltering open-wheel series, and that the company's presence at the hearing was a representative of 88 Corp., an ISC subsidiary that owns California Speedway. That track is seeking reimbursement of a $2.5-million sanctioning fee for the cancellation of its CART race this fall. CART claimed the track canceled the race because of wildfires. Open Wheel Racing Series, made up of three CART team owners, has submitted a bid to purchase the circuit. A judge will review all bids on Jan. 28.(St Petersburg Times)(1-14-2004)
- Sales Up for DJ: The Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure announced that Holiday Sales recorded in December of 2003 were 68% above last year's sales. The Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure was created to fill the public's need for adventure, excitement and most importantly SPEED! The founders of DJRT have assembled the finest and most authentic equipment available, the most professional and creative staff and the fastest and most aggressive NASCAR driving school in the world. The Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure allows participants the thrill of getting behind the wheel of an actual race-driven, 600-hp NASCAR Winston Cup stock car. Winston Cup Champions Dale and Ned Jarrett along with Glenn Jarrett and Arca racing series driver Jason Jarrett represent the school. The school is also represented by three times NFL MVP quarterback Brett Favre. For more information on Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure visit www.racingadventure.com.(Yahoo Biz)(1-14-2004)
- TNT to sponsor Burton at Daytona: Turner Network Television (TNT) is planning to sponsor Jeff Burton and the #99 Roush Racing Ford team for the Feb. 15 Daytona 500 and the Gatorade 125-mile qualifying races on Feb. 12. An official announcement is expected Wednesday. During the Daytona 500, the hood of the #99 car will carry images of 2004 NBA All-Stars, the NBA All-Star logo and TNT branding. For the 125-mile qualifying race, the entire car will carry the NBA All-Star on TNT message. Burton's team still lacks a full-time sponsor for this season.(ThatsRacin.com)(1-13-2004)
- Best Driver List AND: Not that a British publication should be considered particularly authoritative where stock-car racing is concerned, but the Autosport magazine’s list of the world’s top 50 drivers did not include NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth. Jeff Gordon didn’t make the list, either. Six NASCAR drivers did make the list, which was headed by Formula One champion Michael Schumacher. Ryan Newman ranked 26th, Jimmie Johnson 29th, Kevin Harvick 34th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 42nd, Kurt Busch 43rd and Tony Stewart 49th.(Gaston Gazette)(1-11-2004)
AND a column from David Poole at ThatsRacin.com: British magazine's list of racing's best a farce.(1-13-2004)
- BACE Still Looking for a sponsor, has a new crew chief: Tony Raines has a new crew chief to replace the departed Larry Carter, and BACE Motorsports looked inside its own team to find him. Buddy Sisco was promoted from car chief, the position he held under Carter last year, and recently began serving as Raines' crew chief. "He's the crew chief as we speak," Raines said Tuesday during NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway. "He's been around. I'm thinking he'll be more than capable of doing a good job. We've just got a lot of work to do, like we did last year. It's never easy." Raines finished the 2003 season 33rd in points as BACE completed the year without a full-time sponsor. The team wants a backer, of course, but it's not easy finding sponsorship these days. "We're looking to finalize something or put something on there," Raines said. "It's a hard road to hoe like that." And they'll try it again this year, Raines said. Car owner Bill Baumgardner has promised to run the full season again, with or without sponsorship.(NASCAR.com) Raines was originally scheduled to begin testing last week, but was granted permission by NASCAR to switch testing weeks to this week.(1-13-2004)
- Torquespeed Carter Working To Put Nextel Program In Place, not testing at Daytona: Torquespeed Carter, the NASCAR Nextel Cup team formed by Torquespeed, the United Kingdom-based motorsports organization and NASCAR owner Travis Carter announced Monday it would not participate in this week’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Preseason Thunder test session at the Daytona. Despite this decision, Torquespeed Carter is aggressively pursuing sponsorship in hopes of competing in the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
“We are diligently pursuing sponsorship and our decision not to test at Daytona does not mean Torquespeed Carter is not going to run in the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup season,” said Travis Carter who oversees the organization’s race operations. “It means we are still diligently pursuing sponsorship. Our discussions with potential sponsors are promising but are still in the early stages. It is our goal to start the season racing in the Daytona 500 but realistically we are not putting a stringent timeline on when we will start racing. Our season will begin when the appropriate funding is in place.”
“Discussions with major global brands are ongoing,” elaborated Paul Musselle, spokesperson for the UK Investors. “We are hoping to have funding in place soon, however, we realize the challenges facing us with a late start to the sponsorship acquisition process as well as the ongoing state of economy. Those factors may cause a delay in launching Torquespeed Carter’s on-track activities. “As we mentioned in Charlotte (N.C.) back in October, our business plan is in place for the next four years. We are up and running and aggressively searching for sponsorship. We are going to race in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. It’s just a matter of time and funding.”
Torquespeed Carter is planning to run the Ford Taurus. The team will operate out of the existing Travis Carter Enterprises complex in Statesville, NC. The alliance between Torquespeed and Travis Carter establishes Torquespeed Carter as the only motorsports organization operating on both sides of the Atlantic.(Cox Marketing PR)(1-13-2004)
- Best Damn Garage to Have an Open House during Speedweeks: Smokey Yunick’s family will host racers and race fans for an open house during Speed Weeks 2004. With the imminent sale of the property, the family wanted to allow the legions of race fans who have never been inside to see what was behind the painted windows and high fences. The event is scheduled for February 14, 2004 and the gates will open at 5pm and close at 9pm. The event is free and open to the public. Race fans will be able to walk through the shop and see where Smokey worked and played, including his office. Further details will be posted on www.SmokeyYunick.com in the coming weeks. This three-acre property still holds a mythical place in the hearts of race fans. The upcoming 2004 Speed Weeks would have been the last time that legions of loyal Smokey fans will be able to come by and have their picture taken with the sign out front - now they will actually be able to go inside and see what has been hidden all these years.(1-13-2004)
- Hermie gets a new crew chief: SCORE Motorsports, a joint venture between NASCAR Busch Series veteran Hermie Sadler and retired NBA Star Bryant Stith, announced the hiring of Ernie Cope as Crew Chief and General Manager. Cope previously served as crew chief for Derrike Cope and car chief for Evernham Motorsports. “Ernie is very talented and his experience will make a tremendous impact on our team,” stated Hermie Sadler. “We are proud to have him and are looking forward to a very successful season. We’re gearing up to run the first eight NASCAR Busch Series races and select NEXTEL Cup races. I’ve been very impressed with Ernie’s knowledge and work ethic and know his hard work will pay off with solid results.” Sadler also announced a partnership with Jenkins, Jenkins and Jenkins. The LaPlata, Maryland based law firm will join SCORE Motorsports as a major associate sponsor for 2004. SCORE Motorsports is seeking additional sponsorship in order to run the entire 2004 schedule and compete for the NASCAR Busch Series Championship. Sadler will run the #02 Chevy's in both series.(Elliott Sadler Enterprises/Score Motorsports PR)(1-13-2004)
- Add Kenny to the Show: Kenny Wallace will be visiting the Motorsports 2004 Presented by Sunoco show on Friday, January 16th and signing autographs for his many fans at the Stacker2 Xtreme Dirt Car Series booth. This will not be the first appearance of Wallace during the 19 year history of the show and he has proven to be very popular with the fans in his previous visits.
Wallace is one of the most visible NASCAR drivers due to his Stacker2 commercials and his TV work. This season Wallace is expected to be "taking some time off" from the NASCAR Nextel Cup series and will put his efforts into running on the NASCAR Busch Series with sponsorship support from Stacker2. Perhaps there will be some Nextel Cup appearances included for Wallace. His only wins in NASCAR racing have come in Busch Series competition. The Stacker2 Xtreme Dirt Car Series display will be a popular attraction during the three day show with several special attractions planned. The Motorsports 2004 Presented by Sunoco show opens at 1 p.m. on Friday, January 16th and closes at 6 p.m. Sunday, January 18th. More than 40,000 people are expected to "travel through" the show that covers close to 300,000 square feet at the Fort Washington, PA Expo Center. More info about the show on my PAGE 2 of the News page, many other drivers appearing.(1-13-2004)
- Sad News: Brewco Motorsports [Busch #27 and #37 teams] lost a huge part of its heart and soul Sunday when long time employee, Barry Priest, died from an ATV crash in Muhlenberg County, KY.(Brewco PR via BGNRacing.com)(1-13-2004)
- Nextel Cup and Franklin Mint? hearing that Bruce Hayes, owner of Hayes Jewelers in Lexington, NC, who had made the Winston Cup trophy for RJR [Winston] for years, will not be doing so this year and that it will be made by the Franklin Mint.(1-12-2004)
- J.J. Yeley Named AARWBA Driver of the Year: USAC Triple Crown titlist J.J. Yeley was named winner of the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy as driver of the year for 2003. The announcement was the climax of festivities Saturday night at the annual Auto Racing All America Team banquet hosted by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA). Yeley, who was not present at the event because he was competing in the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla., is the first Titus winner from a category other than Open Wheel, Stock Car, Drag or Road racing.(Speed Channel)(1-12-2004)
- Speaking of the Chili Bowl: Cory Kruseman battled past Danny Lasoski at the midway point then held off “The Dude” over the final rounds to win Saturday night’s 18th Annual O’Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals 50-lap feature at Tulsa Expo Raceway. With the victory, Kruseman joins Sammy Swindell and Dan Boorse as the only multi-time winners of the nation’s most prestigious Midget racing event. Piloting the second Andy Bondio entry as Kruseman’s teammate, USAC triple crown champion J.J. Yeley put the finishing touches on perhaps the most spectacular performance in Chili Bowl history by snaring the show position after swapping third with Tony Stewart a handful of times over the final rounds. Yeley’s incredible drive included 120 laps of intense action and 69 positions gained after starting the day in the second “F” Main.(more info at the Chili Bowl site) Been told there will be NO TV coverage [taped or otherwise] for the Chili Bowl.(1-12-2004)
- Odds: some Nextel Cup and Daytona 500 Odds have been posted see Las Vegas Insider site for the rundown. For the 2004 Nextel Cup, the favorites are: #12-Newman at 7/2, #48-Johnson at 9/2 and #24-Gordon at 5/1. For the Daytona 500, the faves are: #8-Earnhardt Jr. at 4/1; #15-Waltrip at 4/1; and #48-Johnson at 8/1.(1-12-2004)
- Said gets in some testing at DIS: Boris Said had nothing to do but eat barbecue for the first two days of testing, but a rule relaxation allowed him his first experience on the track Thursday. As pole winner last season at Sonoma, CA, the road-racing specialist has a spot in the Feb.7 Bud Shootout in the MB2/MBV Motorsports #01 U.S. Army Chevy, but his only previous superspeedway experience was an ARCA race last year at Talladega. "Now that was cool," said Said, who had to wedge his 6-foot-3 frame into a car prepared for 5-9 regular driver Joe Nemechek. "I can't believe they go three-wide here. It's a lot different than Talladega; you have to do a lot more driving here." NASCAR originally told the team it would be charged a test if Said split time during the session, but allowed Scott Wimmer and Dave Blaney to share a test [#22 CAT Dodge] (Wimmer left to get married) and Mike McLaughlin to replace #20-Tony Stewart. The two #01 cars were consistently among the fastest all week, an "encouraging" development, Nemechek said, after producing a top-10 finish and good qualifying efforts in four races with his new team to end last season.(St. Petersburg Times)(1-9-2004)
UPDATE: Boris Said, who will drive the #01 Chevy in the Bud Shootout (Feb. 7), joined Joe Nemechek and the U.S. Army team in Thursday's final day of testing at Daytona International Speedway. "The goal was to get out there to feel the bumps, to feel the air and to just get a good handle of the track," commented Said, who earned a spot in the Bud Shootout by qualifying on the pole when he drove the 01 Army Car in last year's road race in Sonoma, CA. "This (superspeedway racing) is all new to me. The seat time I got today was valuable. Now I get to go home and think about it for a few weeks. I can't wait to come back here and jump in the U.S. Army car for the Bud Shootout. That will be a dream come true."(US Army Racing PR)(1-12-2004)