FEB 16-22, 2004
THE PAST NEWS! YESTERDAY and BEYOND..
OTHER PAST NEWS PAGES
- Race Notes: Rockingham:
(NASCAR Stats Services)(2-22-2004)
- Matt Kenseth won the Subway 400 at the North Carolina Speedway, scoring his eighth career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 150th career start. His most recent victory came at Las Vegas last March, 35 races ago.
- Kenseth is the first repeat winner in the last five races at Rockingham. He won this race in 2002.
- Kenseth is one of just three drivers to start the 2004 season with top-10 finishes in each of the first two races of the season. Kenseth finished ninth at Daytona. He is joined by Dale Earnhardt Jr., (fifth) and Jeff Gordon (10th) two top-10 finishes in both of the races this season.
- This is Kenseth's second victory, third straight top-five and sixth straight top-10 finish at Rockingham.
- This race was the first victory for Ford in 2004 and first since Ford won at Bristol last August, 14 races ago.
- Today's 0.010 margin of victory ties Atlanta (Dale Earnhardt over Bobby Labonte - 3-12-00) for the fourth closest finish since electronic scoring was introduced in 1993.
The closest margin of victory was 0.002 second by Ricky Craven over Kurt Busch at Darlington in March 2003.
Dale Earnhardt beat Ernie Irvan by 0.005 second at Talladega in July 1993 for the second closest finish.
Kevin Harvick crossed the line just 0.006 second ahead of Jeff Gordon at Atlanta in March 2001 in the third closest race since
the advent of electronic timing.
- The 2004 Subway 400 marks the first time since the inaugural American 500 in 1965 that only one race will be run at the North Carolina Speedway.
- Rookie Kasey Kahne (second) scored his career-first top-10 finish [and top-5]. It is the second straight race that a rookie has finished in the top three. Scott Wimmer finished third at Daytona.
- Jamie McMurray (third) scored his first top-10 finish in 2004. It marked his second top-five finish in four races at Rockingham.
- Sterling Marlin (fourth) scored his first top-10 finish in 2004. It was his 15th top-10 finish in 37 races at Rockingham.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fifth) is the only driver with two top-five finishes this season. He retained the lead in the NEXTEL Cup point standings by just seven points over second-place Matt Kenseth. This was his best finish in nine races at Rockingham. His previous best here was 13th last fall.
- Jeff Gordon (10th) scored his second top-10 finish in 2004. He has scored 11 top-10 finishes in 23 races at Rockingham.
- Jimmie Johnson ended an eight-race streak of top-10 finishes that dated to Kansas City last October. With his 41st-place finish in the Subway 400, Johnson dropped to 25th in the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. Johnson had ranked in the NASCAR Top 10 for 70 straight races (since Atlanta in March 2002), the longest streak in the top-10 since Dale Earnhardt stayed in the top-10 for 123 races between Daytona (2-14-93) and Atlanta (11-10-96). Johnson ranks ninth in consecutive races ranked among the top 10 under the current point system.
- Terry Labonte (17th) has been running at the finish in the last 44 straight races, a streak that began at Charlotte in October 2002.
- Five of the drivers in the final 2003 point standings are currently ranked among the top-10 in 2004. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (first), 2003 Champion Matt Kenseth (second), Kevin Harvick (third), Jeff Gordon (fifth) and Tony Stewart (sixth).
- The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Leader bonus will be worth $30,000 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- Martin called to the NASCAR trailer: #6-Mark Martin was called to NASCAR's trailer [phone booth? oval office? white elephant?] as NASCAR was concerned that he was blocking for his teammate, #17-Kenseth [Martin is also listed as the owner of the car], Martin was insulted by the accusation.(Speed Channel's Speed News - NASCAR Edition)(2-22-2004)
- Long earns his 'purse'. loses his only Cup car: The most spectacular wreck of the race involved #46-Carl Long, one of the four "field-fillers" in the event, who walked away unhurt after flipping his car almost six times down the backstretch. Long was bumped from behind by #01-Joe Nemechek on lap 263 and the contact sent him into the wall along the backstretch. His car turned on its side as it skidded along the track, then barrel-rolled several times before finally coming to a stop. Long quickly emerged unhurt from the only race car he owns. "We were racing along and someone must have got into me, because next thing I knew, I seen the people up there in the back straightaway in the bleachers up there eating chicken," Long said. "You can't pay $2 at the state fair to ride something like that." There had been concern about the field-fillers, who made the race because of a shortage of full-time competitors. Long, #09-Joe Ruttman, #72-Kirk Shelmerdine and #80-Andy Hillenburg were all well off the pace the entire weekend and clearly not capable of being competitive. NASCAR ordered Ruttman off the track one lap into the race when they saw he had no pit crew set up. Shelmerdine was called off shortly after - he had been lapped eight minutes in - because he wasn't up to the minimum speed requirement. Still, Ruttman earned $54,196 for his last-place finish and Shelmerdine got $54,895 for coming in 42nd. Hillenburg finished in 34th place, 17 laps down, and picked up $55,425. Long, too, had been lapped several times, but was running a clean race before the wreck. He finished 38th and earned $55,135. "We made the highlight reel, but it won't do much for me racing," said Long, who has made spot starts in NASCAR's top series the past several years. "Without any sponsor and without any deal, that's not the way I wanted to finish today. I don't have another car, so I guess it will be some time before I get out there again - unless someone wants me to put their car on the highlight reel like that."(ThatsRacin.com/AP and see a column at NASCAR.com: Long loses car, but not sense of humor)(2-22-2004)
- Roush/Yates Engine Woes Update: Reigning series champion #17-Matt Kenseth said Roush Racing has determined what caused the engine failures in teammates #6-Mark Martin and #99-Jeff Burton last weekend in Daytona and is confident the problem is corrected. Kenseth said each engine had something different wrong with it.(Fayetteville Observer), however, was not specific on what that something was.(2-22-2004)
- Stewart, Andretti talk about Daytona: After Tony Stewart publicly blamed John Andretti for causing two on-track incidents during practice at Daytona last week, he sought out Andretti for some one-on-one conversation at Rockingham. The two sat on the pit wall and talked for several minutes, but Andretti said afterward that he's still upset with the way Stewart acted at Daytona. "He came up and talked to me," Andretti said. "He was talking about what made him mad, and I disagreed with him." Andretti said he was mostly mad that Stewart made derogatory comments in public before having a private discussion. And he thinks any apology should have been as public as the criticism. "I'm still really disappointed in how he handled it," he said. "Everybody can say, 'Well that's Tony,' but when I have a family and kids that are old enough to understand, it's not good enough to come up and talk to me on pit wall."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(2-22-2004)
- Some Ideas to curb costs: On the technical front, these are some ideas being bandied about the garage for France to consider:
Cutting back on the number of body templates and curbing the repeated, costly changes.
Rationing tires, as NASCAR does with the Busch Series.
Putting major limits on engine parts and high RPM technology.
One driver raised an even more dramatic cost-cutting option - that NASCAR issue full-shell molded bodies, registered and numbered the way NASCAR does with car noses and tails.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-22-2004)
- Waltrip Keeping the Hatch: NASCAR's investigation after the Daytona 500 of Michael Waltrip's battered stock car revealed that the roof escape hatch, while bent, held firm. The team said Waltrip, who at 6-foot-5 is the tallest Nextel Cup driver, will continue to use the escape hatch design on his car. Waltrip's #15 NAPA Chevy went into a tight barrel roll, flipping at least three times, on the back straightaway in the first half of the 500 and came to rest on its roof on the infield grass. The roof hatch "bowed" according the Waltrip's crew chief Slugger Labbe, but the structure remained intact. "The flip he took, he landed on the right front corner of the roof and it pushed the halo over to the left and the roll cage shrunk on the top, so to speak, and the roof hatch was the weakest point and it bowed in a little bit," Labbe said. "The pins still released and everything. The pins did their job but the roof hatch was caved in but that was probably one of the worst flips you will ever see." The battered car was shipped directly from Daytona International Speedway to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, NC, for study. Gary Nelson, managing director of the R&D facility, said the car was inspected Tuesday and Wednesday by NASCAR engineers then released to Labbe Thursday morning. "The whole top was crumpled and bent but the integrity of the escape hatch were still there," Nelson said. "The hinges were still connected to all the parts which is what we look at. We haven't found that any of the systems were compromised," Nelson said. "None of the systems had gone bad. None of the systems, such as roll bars, driver restraints, any of the things designed to protect the driver, were compromised." Waltrip was pinned in his car for several minutes but Labbe said his movement was not limited by the bent roof hatch. Waltrip's car won't be heading to the junkyard. Teresa Earnhardt, who owns Dale Earnhardt Inc., said the stock car would be put on display in the Earnhardt Museum, located at the massive DEI race shop near Charlotte, NC.[Mooresville](Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-22-2003)
- Bye-Bye Taurus in 2006-2007? UPDATE 2 NO: Ford Motor Co. plans to phase out its midsize Taurus by 2006 or 2007, and three vehicles under development will replace it, according to people involved in the plans. Two of them will go on sale next year: the Five Hundred, a large, Audi-like sedan, and the Freestyle, a combination sport-utility vehicle and station wagon that shares a similar European styling and will replace the Taurus wagon. This week at the media preview of the New York International Automobile Show, Ford executives will release the first pictures of the Futura, a midsize car aimed at the perennial champions of the car market, the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. The Futura is to be introduced in 2005 and will offer a hybrid version that supplements its gasoline engine with electric power.(Star Tribune). NOTE: 'If' this happens, no idea what Ford would use in NASCAR and not looking to guess, have seen images of the Five Hundred, as posted here.(4-16-2003)
UPDATE: A Taurus badged race car will be utilized in NASCAR competition in the 2004 season, according to Greg Specht, manager, North American Racing Operations Ford Racing Technology. “I can say for the record that we’ll be racing a Taurus in ’04,” said Specht regarding the future of the Taurus. “The Taurus is changing, the production car – the showroom car, is changing in 2004. And our race car is being changed to reflect those differences. According to NASCAR rules, any car a manufacturer wants to use in competition must be submitted for approval to the Daytona Beach, Fla. sanctioning body no later than July 1 the year prior to its desired rollout. That means that if Ford wants to run a redesigned Ford Taurus in 2004, it must be in NASCAR’s hands by July 1, 2003. Asked if the Taurus might be replaced with another make after 2004, Specht replied, “I can say for sure that we’re going to race a Taurus in ’04.” (Ford Racing)(4-17-2003)
UPDATE 2: stumbled upon a Speed Channel show this morning, Autoline Detroit [Sunday's at 10am, re-air on Tuesday at 8:30am], where Ford Marketing Manager Amy Marentic representative was on the show hosted by John McElroy. They were discussing Fords future plans, including the new Ford 500. Marentic was asked if the Ford Taurus would still be made in 2005 and what the future was for the car and if it would have a 'farewell'. Marentic said the Taurus was here to stay and that Ford was not discontinuing the Taurus brand. Currently seen on Detroit Public Television, Autoline Detroit is hosted by industry observer and expert John McElroy. Join John and a panel of reporters each week as they discuss the latest news out of Detroit and interview a top industry insider, more info about the show at Speed Channel or www.autolinedetroit.tv(2-22-2004)
- A Win for Dale....a win for Angels: It has been a remarkable week for Dale Jr. Six years ago Sunday his dad won America's race, the Daytona 500. It took Dale Sr. a long time to enter victory lane at Daytona as the winner of the Big Race. Dale Jr. fans everywhere rose to their feet, cheers went up as the #8 crossed the finish the finish line and took the checkered flag. Some of those fans were angels, and some of those angels were right here on earth. Entering their third year, the Pit Board Charity set their lineup for the 2004 season carefully. For the past two years, the PBC has been helping various racing related charities by providing Dale Jr. fans a way to unite and make a difference in the lives of others. Together, working as a team, they have raised over $60,000. It is simple the way it works, a charity is assigned to each finishing position at the beginning of the year. Each week of the season, a donation is made to the charity that matches Dale Jr.'s finish. For the 2004 lineup, the organization selected for the coveted #1 position in the Pit Board Charity lineup was Jaret's Angels. Jaret Arneson is a Charlotte resident that was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 2000. Jaret's Angels was formed to raise awareness and funds for research in the fight against this terrible disease. Jaret was watching the race with his family on Sunday. In the closing laps, Jaret and family were pulling the #8 car around the track with their cheers. When the checkered flag waved, Jaret jumped up and down, Dale had won. The Arneson household was a scene right out of victory lane. With Dale's win, the Pit Board Charity closed their first fundraiser of the year, and raised $3000.00 for Jaret and all the angels fighting juvenile diabetes. They also raised $500 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp and $500 for the Faison School of Autism. The winning for charity won't stop this week, it will go on throught the year at each race. Whatever the finish, whatever the track, a victory will be won for charity by Dale Jr. and his fans. But what a way to start the year by winning one for the angels, both here and in heaven.(Pit Board Charity PR)(2-22-2004)
- Some Notes: Terry Labonte has a streak of 43 consecutive races without a DNF, the longest current streak in the series. The last time he failed to finish was at Talladega in Oct. 2002. ... Jeff Burton is the only Cup driver who doesn't have a DNF in his past 20 starts at Rockingham. ... Jimmie Johnson has been in the top 10 of the points standings for 70 consecutive weeks, the longest current streak and the ninth longest in NASCAR history. Should Johnson stay in the top 10 all season he would pass Richard Petty for sixth place on the all-time list.(The State)
UPDATE: looks like #48-Johnson's 70 race streak will end today as he was involved in an accident at the Rock. Labonte increased his DNF streak to 44. Burton failed to finish a race at Rockingham in 20 races.(2-22-2004)
- Droppin' out early....ya think? UPDATE: #09-Joe Ruttman, #80-Andy Hillenburg, #46-Carl Long and #72-Kirk Shelmerdine aren't here [Rockignham] to race. They're here to make sure there were 43 cars to line up for the start. If they go out early because of a "vibration," it'll be their pagers vibrating to tell them the checks they're getting from NASCAR to show up have cleared.(ThatsRacin.com), lets start a field-filler tracker on Sunday and see what they each do.(2-22-2004)
AND drivers refute - Although Hillenburg admits the guarantee of a paycheck -- last place here a year ago paid almost $45,000 -- he wants to finish the race and go on to attempt to make at least 20 events this year. "I don't want to look like we're trying to capitalize on anything, but this is our window of opportunity," he said. "We're not here to go two laps and try to get a check. We're here to do the best we can." But Shelmerdine doesn't share the same outlook. Although he's taking the season one race at a time and hopes to be at the Las Vegas event in two weeks, he has no delusional ideas of winning. "If we get lapped twice in the first 100 miles, there's probably not much point to finishing the race," Shelmerdine said. "But we're not going to park on the first lap. We didn't come here to park; we came here to do the best we can."(NASCAR.com/AP)(2-22-2004)
AND II: "With this short spoiler on it, and if other cars get around me and get me out of control, then I'll just pull it in because it's no use of me going out there and wrecking and taking out some people with a lot on the line," Long said. "If I can get tires [from other teams] and the car drives good, I'll race all day long." Hillenburg admits his team is not as prepared as it needs to be. He said the team hadn't planned to make its season debut until Atlanta next month. That changed after questions surfaced whether this race would have a full field. Hillenburg said the team needed to come here to earn series points, which could help it earn provisionals and make future races. "There's a small window of opportunity to get back into this garage for a few teams and that window will probably be closed by Atlanta," he said. "More cars will come."(Roanoke Times), this is in no way a SLAM on these drivers, just some notes I found, nothing wrong with keeping their name in the press. Hope thay all finish and do well.(2-22-2004)
UPDATE: The so called field-fillers? (where they started): and where they finished at the Rock:
#80-Hillenburg (43): 34th, -17 laps
#46-Long (42): 38th and out after a spectacular accident
#72-Shelmerdine (41): 42nd and out after 20 laps
#09-Ruttman (40): 43rd and out after 2 laps.(2-22-2004)
- Cup still on the counter: Three months after Matt Kenseth clinched the final Winston Cup championship at North Carolina Speedway, the trophy is still sitting on a countertop in his home in Terrell, NC. "I'm waiting for that carpenter guy to come over and finish my trophy room," Kenseth said. "I've got a little place I'm going to have built and stick it in the wall. It's kind of a neat little place. It hasn't been done yet, so it's just sitting on the counter. One of these days, though, I'll get it put away."(Charleston Post and Courier)(2-22-2004)
- Congrats to Craig 'Skippy' Smith and wife Kara on the birth of their son. Landon weighed in at 10.5lbs and was 22 1/2 inches. Craig is a painter, formerly with Ultra Motorsports and Buffalo Bills fan, now of Joe Gibbs Racing Busch team.(2-21-2004)
- Daytona Penalties Doled Out: Crew chief Jimmy Fennig was fined $20,000 by NASCAR for weights improperly attached to a bar reinforcing the rear bumper on the #97 Ford entered for driver Kurt Busch for the Daytona 500. The fine against Fennig was the highest announced Saturday by NASCAR officials, who penalized a total of eight crew chiefs and two drivers for infractions at Daytona. NASCAR said it found pellets that were, in its judgment, added for the purpose of increasing the weight of the rear bumper cover on the #97 Sharpie Ford.
Ken Francis, crew chef for the #91 Dodge Bill Elliott drove in the Bud Shootout, was fined $5,000 for a non-approved rear deck lid.
Other penalties assessed were:
$500 for Anthony Gibson, crew chief on the #1 Maxwell House/Post Chevy of John Andretti, for an unapproved air directional device and another $500 for a gap in the rear coil spring that did not meet specifications.
$500 for Mike Hillman, crew chief for Derrike Cope's #50 Dodge, for an air filter housing that had more than two holes drilled in the bottom.
$500 for Greg Zipadelli, #20-Tony Stewart's crew chief, and Ben Leslie, #21-Ricky Rudd's crew chief, for using adjustable fender braces.
$500 for Greg Steadman, crew chief for #45-Kyle Petty, and Gary Putnam, crew chief for #43-Jeff Green, for use of unapproved air directional devices.
$500 for drivers #2-Rusty Wallace and #72-Kirk Shelmerdine for using head-and-neck restraint devices on which manufacturer's dates had expired.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-21-2004)
- Update on James Ince: Veteran crew chief James Ince, considered by many to have one of the brightest minds in motorsports, said Friday that he's ready to end a five-month, self-imposed exile from the sport. Ince left the #10 Nextel Cup team in October and retreated to his home in Missouri, where he refused to return phone calls and avoided contact with the NASCAR community. "I had some personal problems, some health issues and some family business to take care of," he said by telephone Friday. Although he said it was "extremely hard" to walk away from racing, it was something he had to do. "My passion and my life is NASCAR racing," he said. "But there were other things that had to come first." He said he's confident he'll soon hook up with a front-running team. "My timing's really bad because this time of the year people think they have the right combination for their race teams," he said(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), NOTE: Ince is not at Rockingham this weekend and NOT working for the #56 Busch team as reported on TV during Busch Qualifiying coverage.(2-21-2004)
- StockCarFans.Com - Ramblings - Rockingham: It was Ryan Newman's day today....and once again it wasn't in much doubt. #12-Newman was faster than Jamie McMurray in his Alltel Dodge at North Carolina Speedway this afternoon...by a whopping .165 seconds. He sped around this 1 mile oval in 23.398 sec (156.475 mph) to grab his third Bud pole at this old place and 19th of his Nextel Cup career. That's a phenominal pole percentage (a new stat....PPP) of .232! And, that's waaaay above the Mendoza line.
#9-Kasey Kahne (3rd) has his career-best starting spot. He started 27th last week in his debut.
#2-Rusty Wallace (4th....and without any concrete in site) has his best starting spot since he had the outside pole at Dover last June.
#43-Jeff Green (8th) has his best starting spot since he had the pole for the Daytona 500 in February of last year.
#88-Dale Jarrett (9th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 6th at Talladega last October.
#77-Brendan Gaughan (15th) has his career-best starting spot. He started 17th last week in his debut.
#32-Ricky Craven (17th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 13th at Lowe's last October.
#10-Scott Riggs (19th) has his career-best starting spot. He started 36th last week in his debut.
We've got four drivers this weekend making their first starts in quite awhile....
#09-Joe Ruttman (40th) is making his first start since the Daytona 500 in 1995! He started 19th and finished 27th that day.
#72-Kirk Shelmerdine (41st) is making his first field since he started 41st and finished 42nd at Pocono in July of 2002.
#46-Carl Long (42nd) has made his first grid since he started 39th and finished 43rd at Atlanta in October of 2002.
#80-Andy Hillendurg (43rd) makes his first field since he started 43rd and finished 43rd at Martinsville in April of 2002.
STREAKIN....Ryan Newman has 7 Top-10 starts in the last 8 races.
No real Trouble Train this weekend. #59-Andy Belmont and #89-Morgan Shepherd both W/D'ed their cars before qualifying so all 43 cars that took a time made the event.(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(2-21-2004)
- More night races? Triple Points for the Daytona 500? more Fox ideas: More night races and the Daytona 500 counting more than any other race are some of the ideas David Hill, Fox Sports Television Group chairman, says he'd like to see NASCAR enact. Hill, whose network broadcasts the first half of the NASCAR schedule, admits his ideas are not likely to be followed. "I've always believed that NASCAR would make fantastic prime-time entertainment," Hill said in a conference call this week. "The problem is that you've got 200,000 people who have got to get to work the next morning." Even so, he says night racing could work. "I've always believed that the next step forward for this sport is to regularize the races," he said. "If I had my way, I'd mandate that every track had lights so fans knew every Friday night was a Truck race and every Saturday night was a Busch race and Sunday was a Cup race." Hill said he would like to see quadruple points awarded at Daytona and the schedule changed to where the season finale takes place the weekend after Thanksgiving instead of the weekend before. Hill also said that he's "cautiously optimistic" that Fox can make money off the TV contract. Fox, NBC and their partners paid more than $2.4 billion to broadcast NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series events beginning in 2001. NBC's contract ends in 2006. Fox's contract ends in 2006, but it has the option to extend that through 2008.(Roanoke Times)(2-21-2004)
- Brett Bodine/Jimmy Spencer at the Rock: Cup veteran Brett Bodine was among the interested observers in the garage area Friday. Bodine's 480th career start came last June at Michigan International Speedway, where he qualified his Ford, then suffered a broken collarbone during a crash in practice and had to press older brother Geoffrey into service to drive in the race. The team owner-driver said Friday that he is in the process of selling off the cars in his fleet, but retains all the other equipment necessary to operate a team. He sold another one Friday when Andy Hillenburg made the field for Sunday's race. Bodine's purpose for visiting the track? "Whatever. Driving or whatever else a team could use," he said. Also spotted at the track Friday was Jimmy Spencer, who competed in last Sunday's Daytona 500 but is now looking for work. Team owner Jim Smith shut down his Cup team for lack of sponsorship and will concentrate on the Craftsman Truck operations that fields entries for Ted Musgrave and Andy Houston.(Fayetteville Observer)(2-21-2004)
- Raines still looking: Tony Raines, a rookie of the year candidate in the Nextel Cup last season, remains without a ride after his BACE Motorsports decided not to run another season without sponsorship. Raines said he would like to remain at BACE if a sponsor is found. Otherwise, he will look at other options as they become available. BACE fields the #74 Chevy. "I want to get in a good car," Raines said. "I believe I can win races in any of the series in NASCAR. I've won Truck races and I've come really close in Busch. We had a great operations going there, but right now it's not operating. They're not happy about it. I'm not happy about it. (But) you have to keep going. You can't wait on the world, because it doesn't stop."(ThatsRacin.com)(2-21-2004)
- How Ruttman found out he was racing at the Rock: Joe Ruttman, who ranks racing just behind baby-sitting, discovered he would be qualifying for his first Cup race since 1995 while sitting in #09 car owner James Finch's trailer before the Daytona 500 on Sunday. "He walked in and asked for my address," said Ruttman, a 13-time winner in the Craftsman Truck Series who will turn 60 in October. "Then, he started filling out an entry form, and he said, 'You do have a NASCAR license, right?' Then he said, 'Sign here.'"(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-21-2003)
- Offer to attempt? While it couldn't be confirmed through NASCAR, team sources said some drivers were promised last-place money if they would show up and attempt to qualify for the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. That would be about $35,000.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-21-2004)
- Blaney to run more Cup races: #23-Dave Blaney's next race with Bill Davis Racing is scheduled for March 14 at Atlanta, but the team's sponsorship situation could add races to his schedule. "We found some sponsorship for Atlanta and I think Las Vegas is still up in the air, and after that it will be just race-to-race," Blaney said. "I felt like we had a great car at Daytona. It was a shame we got knocked out of the pack we were drafting with because of a couple pit stops that were off. If we could have hung up there in front, we could have helped Scott and we both could have had a great day." Blaney also has a 10-race deal [#31 Whelen] in the Busch Series this season, but would like to return full time to BDR in Cup, if possible. "This is the team I would like to run for if I can. I would like to put something together to run as much as we can," he said.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-20-2004)
- Why Sauter and not Edwards: Why was #30-Johnny Sauter penalized for speeding down pit road during the Daytona 500, and Carl Edwards wasn't penalized for his during the Craftsman Truck Series race. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter explained it this way: Sauter was penalized for reckless driving. As drivers in front of him slowed to enter the pits, he elected to speed through pit road to avoid colliding with anyone. Edwards, on the other hand, got there as a result of contact between his truck and the one driven by Randy LaJoie. So supposedly Sauter was putting himself and others in harm's way, whereas Edwards was getting himself out of it.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(2-20-2004)
- Testing at Texas: Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of two-dozen drivers scheduled to test at Texas Motor Speedway prior to the Samsung/RadioShack 500 race week. In addition to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series teams, the Crown
Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) Series and Toyota, the newest NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series manufacturer, are also slated during the 12 days of testing at the 1.5-mile superspeedway. Following are teams/drivers scheduled as of Feb. 19 - subject to
2/26/27 Crown Royal IROC Series (9a-5p) Dave Marcis, Jay and Jim Sauter 2/28-3/1
Toyota (9a-5p)(Trucks) #42/Mike Skinner, #24/Travis Kvapil, #22/Bill Lester, #21/Hank Parker, Jr., #17/David Reutimann, #12/Robert Huffman, #23/Shelby Howard & Joe Ruttman
2/28-29 Holigan Racing (5-10p) #50/David Starr (Busch)
3/8-9 FitzBradshaw/Richard Childress (9a-5p) #12/Tim Fedewa, #14/Casey Atwood, #82/Randy LaJoie & #21/Clint Bowyer (Busch)
3/16-17 DEI/Evernham/Joe Gibbs (9a-5p) #8/Dale Earnhardt Jr., #91/Bill Elliott (Cup) & #18/J.J. Yeley (Busch)
3/22-23 Roush Racing (9a-5p) #60/Greg Biffle (Busch)
3/23-24 Bill Davis/Penske/Hendrick/Labonte (9a-5p) #22/Scott Wimmer, #2/Rusty Wallace, #5/Terry Labonte (Cup) & #44/Justin Labonte (Busch) All test sessions are closed to the public.(TMS PR)(2-20-2004)
- F1 Team Boss Disses NASCAR: McLaren boss Ron Dennis is no fan of NASCAR, with its lines of growling stock cars rumbling bumper-to-bumper around ovals for hours on end. "You know one single thing that really, really upsets me?," he said last month when the talk turned to Formula One's commercial future. "It's every time that I read about NASCAR. It's just amazing. I mean they are just full up. Every race is full up, they've got more income, more television revenue and it's boring as hell. McLaren chief Ron Dennis doesn't understand why NASCAR is so popular in America. "That machine is working and yet we've got a much better show," he added.(see full ESPN column) better show? a driver wins the pole, he wins the race [9 of 16 won from the pole, worse starting spot to win was 11th], unless he has a mechanical problem or brain fade.(2-20-2004)
- Parts Confiscated: NASCAR inspectors confiscated several items during Thursday's pre-qualifying inspections at Rockingham. Among the items taken were unapproved foam for fuel cell bladders from the #89 Ford of Morgan Shepherd and the #9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne. In addition a lap belt was taken from the #88 Ford of Dale Jarrett because its expiration date had passed.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-20-2004)
- Some Tidbits about the Rock: #88-Dale Jarrett won the 2003 Subway 400 at NCS/The Rock last year....starting 9th, where does Jarrett start on Sunday? 9th. Did ya know the following drivers have never lead a lap at the Rock?
#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., best finish: 13th [11/2003] in 8 races; best start: 7th [first race there 2/2000]; starts 7th
#29-Kevin Harvick, best finish: 14th [2/2001 first Cup start ever] in 6 races; best start: 23rd [11/2001]; starts 32nd
#38-Elliott Sadler, best finish: 9th [2/2003] in 10 races; best start: 11th [2/2003]; starts 25th
#31-Robby Gordon, best finish: 11th [11/2002] in 10 races; best start: 7th [10/1996]; starts 34th.
(NASCAR Stats Services)(2-20-2004)
- Tires at the Rock:
This is the first time this specific combination of Goodyear Eagles will be used in NASCAR competition . . . the previous combination of left- and right-side for Rockingham were in place for the last three seasons . . . this is the first of three times Nextel Cup teams will compete on these tires in 2004 . . . Darlington (both races) is the other NASCAR track where teams will run this same combination this season . . . both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series cars will compete on the same tires this weekend . . . as on all ovals longer than one mile, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Rockingham. For the full Goodyear Notes, see my Subway 400 Race Info Page.(2-19-2004)
- Some Notes on the new rules: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby offered up the following synopsis, for this week’s competitive landscape: “Rockingham will be the first race where competitors will have the shorter spoilers compared to ’03. As far as tires go, Rockingham is typically known for tire wear. But it’s a misconception that all the tires we use at every track this year are softer. There will be places where the [compound] isn’t much different [like at Rockingham]. The tires will be different at tracks where Goodyear determined a compound change was warranted.” Darby said Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 5-7) will be the next track where a decidedly softer tire will be used. … To rehash the new spoiler rules, with the exception of races at Daytona and Talladega, all 2004 cars in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series now have spoilers 5 1/2 inches tall, a reduction of three-quarters of an inch from the start of 2003.(NASCAR PR)(2-19-2004)
- Earnhardt Silent Candlelight Tribute: Jayski was at the Silent Candlelight Tribute for Dale Earnhardt on Feb 18th at DEI, would guess 300-400 people showed up, fans came from many places all over the country. DEI set up some nice heaters for folks and boards were set up for fans to leave their thoughts and messeages. Dale Beaver, minister from Motorsports Outreach, spoke around 8:20pm/et and spoke of his rememberances of Earnhardt and gave quite an inspirational talk. Candles and a nice dated commemorative decal was given out [one per person]. 2004 Tribute Candle [not given out or available at the tribute] are now available, please call 1-877-DEI-ZONE (9663), all Tribute Candle's ordered between 2/18 - 3/3 will be at a special price. For more info, see the Silent Candlelight Tribute Page at the DEI site. Teresa Earnhardt, Taylor Nicole, Dale's brother and sister, Richie Gilmore, John Andretti, Tony Gibson and about a dozen or so other employees were at the Tribute also, but kept a low profile.(2-19-2004)
- Pit Crew for Tony Stewart Grabs Top Honors at Daytona Tony Stewart's #20 Home Depot pit crew captured first-place honors at the Daytona 500, the opening race for the 2004 McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade. The McDonald's/POWERade championship is in its second season of rewarding the pit crews, the unsung heroes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The program will award $20,000 per week to the top participating pit crew. In addition, results will be tabulated throughout the season to determine the program's championship crew, which will take home a $200,000 bonus at the completion of the 36-race schedule. The #20 crew, which is part of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, edged the reigning McDonald's/POWERade champions, the #8 pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Though Stewart finished second to Earnhardt in Sunday's season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, the #20 pit crew performed flawlessly in the pits. The Home Depot Chevy registered the least amount of time on pit road during the 500-mile race , 216.397 seconds. Earnhardt's car was in the pits for a total of 223.435 seconds. Third was Elliott's Sadler's #38 Ford with a time of 227.944. "Our pit stops at Daytona were awesome," said Stewart. "Every one of them was perfect and quick. And that's important at Daytona, because one slow stop there can really mess up your day. Everyone on the Home Depot team has a lot to be proud of." Stewart's over-the-wall crew consists of: Chuck White (jackman), Tom Dean (front tire carrier), Mike Lingerfelt (front tire changer), Jay Barry (rear tire carrier), Todd Foster (rear tire changer), Jeff "Gooch" Patterson (gasman) and Brian Larson (catch can). The team's crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa.(DMF PR), see race results and season standings on my Pit Crew Page [sorry, still no pit crew chart - work in progress](2-19-2004)
- Tony Sr. crew chief of the week:
Not surprisingly, NASCAR fans have selected Tony Eury Sr. as crew chief of the week in the Nextel Cup series. Eury heads the crew on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Daytona 500-winning car, which also won one of the twin 125-mile qualifying races and was third fastest in time trials. Eury also stuck around until Monday to help oversee Earnhardt's victory in the rain-delayed Busch Series race at Daytona. "This was a total team effort," Eury said. "This crew has been working their guts out since last November to get ready for this race. They poured their heart and soul into this weekend." The award, sponsored by Wypall Wipers, is presented after each race to the crew chief getting the most votes by fans logging onto www.wypall.com/crewchiefchallenge. Robby Reiser, crew chief on the car driven by defending series champion Matt Kenseth, was the fans' second choice. "I voted for Tony, too," Reiser said. "He dominated this weekend. Crew chiefs dream of putting together a car as good as his team created. He made all the right decisions, from the car setup to the pit strategy, and that's what it takes to win. He deserves this award."(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(2-19-2004)
- Belmont team adds sponsor for Cup race: Continental Fire Safety Inc. of Trenton, N.J., has announced plans to sponsor owner/driver Andy Belmont's #59 Pontiac [yes, teams can still run a Pontiac, GM just doesn't support them anymore, 2003 models are still legal] in Sunday's Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. Financial terms of the deal were not announced. Belmont, a regular competitor in the ARCA Re/Max Series, also plans to enter the March 7 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-19-2004)
- Spencer's plans: Jimmy Spencer spoke via tape to Dave Despain on Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel [10:00pm/et M-Th] and said that #7 team owner Jim Smith won't fund the team out of his pocket abd won't run until they get a sponsor, Spencer also said he hopes to re-start his Busch Series team and run his son in the USAR Hooters Cup Series.(Weds Wind Tunnel Show)(2-19-2004)
- New Texas Racing Museum: Ground was broken for a new Motorsports Museum that will feature a variety of motor sports memorabilia, including displays of racing cars and motorcycles. The museum will be located at the site of the Bama Pie Company building at the corner of 4th Avenue and Pennsylvania in South Dallas and will open in 2005. The city pledged $29,000 through the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund and $290,000 in community development block grant funding for the project. The South Dallas Development Corporation added $45,000.(Dallas Morning News)(2-19-2004)
- Stewart to run Watkins Glen road race: With The Glen.com 200 Grand American race scheduled for the Sirius at the Glen NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend, Aug. 12-15. The event will get a boost from an appearance by former Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart. "The more attention we can draw toward that event just helps build that series, and having Tony Stewart participate is a bonus," said Julie Giese, director of public relations for Watkins Glen International. Stewart and co-drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Andy Wallace came close to winning the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona International Speedway in the Howard-BOSS Motorsport Chevy Crawford earlier this month. Wallace and Stewart will team up in the same Daytona Prototype at the Glen. Giese said the sports car event, being on the NASCAR weekend, will most likely draw a few more Nextel Cup drivers. Earnhardt is not expected to be among them, but Kyle Petty and Robby Gordon are possibilities. The Grand Am series has used its close connections to NASCAR in the past to help promote the Daytona Prototype class. Chemung native Geoffrey Bodine, voted one of NASCAR's top 50 drivers of all time, was brought in to race in the June Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen last year. The SPEED Channel will sandwich live coverage of the Formula One race between live coverage of the beginning and end of the Glen endurance race, which will start at 11 a.m. Viewers will rejoin the Glen action at 3:30 p.m. for the final hours.(Elmira Star Gazette)(2-19-2004)
- Labonte's streak lives: #5-Terry Labonte extended his series-high streak of consecutive races without a DNF (did not finish) to 43 by running to the finish of the Daytona 500. The last time he failed to complete a race was in the fall of 2002 at Talladega Superspeedway. The modern-era record is 56 in a row, set by Jeff Gordon in 2001-02.(Delaware News Journal)(2-19-2004)
- Waltrip's roll cage did its job: NASCAR's managing director of competition Gary Nelson says after the initial evaluation of the #15 NAPA Chevy, the integrity of the safety components, including the roll cage, was not compromised during Michael Waltrip's wild crash on Sunday in the Daytona 500.(FoxSports)(2-19-2004)
- DW Book back to the presses UPDATE: Putnam Books has had to go back to the presses after only one week in the market place with DW's autobiography. "DW: A Lifetime Going Around In Circles" came out Monday Feb. 9th and according to sources, already the 90,000 copies are gone.(2-18-2004)
UPDATE: Darrell Waltrip's autobiography, "DW: A Lifetime Going Around in Circles," will debut on the New York Times Best Seller List next Sunday, February 29. "DW" will be ranked 15th on the Hardcover Non-Fiction list based upon sales in its first week of release. Waltrip is a three-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion and current analyst for FOX Sports. FOX Sports begins their NASCAR coverage this weekend from Rockingham, NC. (Note the Feb. 29 date of release... The New York Times published list trails sales reports by at least one week.) "An autobiography? That's a book about cars, right?" -- Darrell Waltrip.(fingerprint inc)(2-19-2004)
- Andretti at the Rock UPDATE officially entered, Gunselman withdraws: John Andretti will have a ride for Rockingham and probably the next few races, DEI officials said, and cars are being put together this week for that race, in a rapidly moving venture. That third DEI team had planned to shut down after the Daytona 500 because of lack of sponsorship.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-11-2004)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Inc. has entered its #1 Chevy for driver John Andretti in Sunday's Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. The entry, which was made in time for the team to receive championship points, gives the event 45 entries after Jay Robinson Racing canceled its entry Wednesday for driver Larry Gunselman. "With the short turnaround between Daytona and Rockingham, we didn't want to sacrifice the Subway 400 because we're hoping to run the whole season," DEI spokesman Steve Crisp said. "We've got something we think may come through (sponsor for the season). So some of our valued partners: Snap-On Tools, Nilla Wafers, Nutter Butter and Chevrolet, The American Revolution came on for one race to sponsor the car."(NASCAR.com)(2-18-2004)
- Benny Hungry: Ragu pasta sauce, Shedd’s Spread Country Crock spread and Hellmann’s mayonnaise have named NBC and TNT broadcast analyst and former NASCAR Champion, Benny Parsons, as spokesperson of the multi-brand NASCAR Busch Series Hungry Drivers program. The campaign will feature Parsons in radio commercials during race broadcasts on MRN and PRN, advertisements on the NEXTEL Vision Screens, and PA announcements at each track. The campaign will be aimed at informing consumers of new and different ways to include Ragu pasta sauce, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Shedd’s Spread Country Crock spread into their favorite recipes.(Bulldawg Marketing PR)(2-18-2004)
- Pennzoil back to Cup...on the #99 for Vegas UPDATE: been told that Pennzoil, currently a primary sponsor in Roush Racing's #9 part time Busch Series team and Cup associate on all the teams, will be the primary sponsor for Jeff Burton on the #99 Roush Racing Ford at Las Vegas [Jayski will be there]. See my #99 Team Paint Scheme Page for images of the scheme.(2-17-2004)
UPDATE: Roush Racing announced today that Pennzoil will be the primary sponsor on the #99 Ford of Jeff Burton for the Las Vegas race on Sunday, March 7, 2004. "We're real excited to have Pennzoil on the No. 99 Ford for Las Vegas," said Burton. "Pennzoil is a primary sponsor on the No. 9 Busch car but it's great to have them on the Cup car as well. They are a great partner for Roush Racing and they provide us with a product that is second to none. We look forward to running up front with the No. 99 Pennzoil Ford in a couple weeks." Pennzoil is also a primary sponsor on the #9 Busch car which is shared by Burton, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth. In addition, Pennzoil will be the primary sponsor on Greg Biffle's NEXTEL Cup car for the first Pocono race. The addition of Pennzoil as the primary sponsor for the #99 Roush Racing Ford in Las Vegas is the latest in the continued search for a full-time sponsor on the #99 Ford. This announcement comes at a time when interest in the program is increasing each day. "There is a lot of interest in the program right now," said Burton. "The team needs to stay focused on the racing right now while our marketing department does their job. We have a lot of irons in the fire and I feel confident that we'll have more announcements in the future."(Roush Racing PR)(2-18-2004)
- Nice story about Robby Gordon: Last August, 9-year-old Killian Owen lost his three-and-a-half-year struggle with leukemia. But in the gym of his east Cobb elementary school, a climbing wall on a giant mural of a phoenix - a legendary bird that rises from the ashes to live on - flying triumphantly over a mountain will keep the youngster's memory alive for generations of students to come. Dubbed "Killian's Climb," the wall and the mural were dedicated Tuesday in a ceremony that included heartfelt remarks by Killian's mother, Grainne Owen, who expressed her gratitude for the support her family received throughout her son's illness. Killian Owen was a month shy of his 6th birthday when he was diagnosed in December 1999 with the cancer that eventually took his life. In October 2002, a relapse put Killian back in the hospital and introduced him to a new hero, NASCAR driver Robby Gordon, who drives the #31 Cingular Wireless car. Owen, who lives with his family in the east Cobb subdivision of Johnson's Landing and works for the Atlanta-based Cingular, asked Gordon one day if he would mind dropping by the hospital to say hello to his son. "He came over that day and we couldn't get him to go away. He visited every room on the cancer ward," Owen recalled. Gordon, who was a special guest at Tuesday's dedication ceremony, came back many times to see Killian. "We'd play games, like Dragonstrike, anything to cheer him up and make him smile," Gordon said. "Every time I was in town, I'd go see him for three or four hours." When the child was out of the hospital, Gordon made sure Killian and his family attended races in which Gordon was competing or that they were with him when he made special appearances in the community. "Killian didn't know much about racing before he met Robbie, but he became a huge fan," Mrs. Owen said. For Gordon, Killian's illness and eventual death was a reality check. "I had a friend whose daughter had cancer, but she survived," he said. "I live in such a fantasy world that (losing Killian) really makes my life more real." Gordon is very special to the Owen family, "not because of how famous he is or how exciting his job is, but because he's a kind, generous person who made a great difference in our lives, and Killian loved him," Mrs. Owen said.(see full story and photo at the Marietta Daily Journal)(2-18-2004)
- Pretty Funny: Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and parallel parked a Chevy Malibu rental car, and backed into the car behind him....then he got into a black Chevy Corvette and did some donuts in the NYC street, even had an in-car cam.(2-18-2004)
- Vickers fan club and website unveiled: Representatives of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie contender Brian Vickers, driver of the #25 GMAC Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, have introduced his all-new official website, www.brianvickers.com, and 2004 Brian Vickers Fan Club (BVFC). For info on Vickers fanclub and other drivers fanclubs, see my Fan Club Info page. Cool note: portion of all BVFC proceeds donated to Brian’s designated charities.(2-18-2004)
- Diversity and a Racing Reality TV Show? Thee Dixon has been around racing since 1957, first racing motorcycles and stock cars himself, then owning a race team that competes irregularly [was the #85 team] in NASCAR's top division. If things go according to plan this year, people will see more of Dixon and his Nextel Cup team, one of a handful of black owners to field racecars on any NASCAR circuit in recent years, at the track and potentially on TV. Dixon, whose race career was wrecked because of injuries, has entered an agreement with some local TV producers to have the #85 team followed as part of a planned reality TV show that highlights the expensive and nerve-wracking world of NASCAR. All he and Black Knight Communications need is a sponsor to film a pilot show, with the ultimate goal of producing a one-hour weekly reality TV series based on the Mansion Motorsports team. The show's concept is to follow the Mansion Motorsports Team to the races and cover the action: from the black owner to a black driver (to be named once a sponsor is secured [George Mack?]), to a Hispanic pit crew (made up of painters who work for Dixon during the week), to a white team manager - whatever may come - happiness, heartache, tragedy or comedy. The #85 black Dodge will be the focal point of the planned TV show, which makes its hood a great place to slap a big ad. The going rate for hood space for one race (and one TV show) is $100,000. The trunk is another a great place for an ad for $25,000, while ads on the sides cost about $10,000 each. There are also no guarantees the series will sell. Hundreds of pilots are pitched in Hollywood each year and the odds are long.(in part from a column on ThatsRacin.com, click here ti view the whole column)(2-18-2004)
- Three Years TODAY - Silent Candlelight Tribute set for Wed, Feb. 18: Those wishing to pay tribute and remember Dale Earnhardt on the anniversary date that stunned millions will be able to do so on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at Dale Earnhardt, Inc.[Jayski plans to be there since I live close now]. For the third time in as many years, fans are invited to gather at our corporate headquarters in Mooresville, NC to honor Dale Earnhardt. Fans will come from many miles, states and hours away to gather outside our front doors at dusk. Dale Beaver, minister from Motorsports Outreach, will speak to the gathering at 8:00pm/et. Dale and Dale Earnhardt became friends through the Outreach program and the many Outreach functions that Dale Earnhardt would attend. It was Dale Beaver who spoke at Dale's nationally televised memorial service in 2001. He told the story of how he first met the seven-time NASCAR champion expecting a bear of a man. Instead, he left the hauler knowing he just met a man who was just a concerned father. The relationship has continued between Dale and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. as evident by Dale's return to speak at the Silent Candlelight Tribute.
Fans will honor and pay special tribute to its fallen leader on the grounds that Dale created and enjoyed. Each fan will be provided with a candle to hold during the evening in addition to a commemorative decal. The building itself will be closed, but attendees will be able to see a special display dedicated to Dale's seven championships. Just like years past, Teresa Earnhardt is asking fans who are unable to attend the event to light a candle in their homes, wherever you may be, to remember Dale's remarkable spirit. Special 2004 Commemorative Tribute Candles hand-crafted at Dale Earnhardt Inc. are now available for purchase by fans across the country. These 6.5-inch high, 3.5-inch wide aluminum candles have become a very special collectable that pays tribute to Dale Earnhardt permanently.
For more information on how you can order a 2004 Tribute Candle please call 1-877-DEI-ZONE (9663) For our appreciation for your participation, all Tribute Candle's ordered between 2/18 - 3/3 will be at a special price. For more info, see the Silent Candlelight Tribute Page at the DEI website.(DEI Site)(2-17/18-2004)
- AT&T and Cingular; Nextel Next? Nextel Communications Inc. has in the past had merger talks with WorldCom Inc., AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and other potential partners, but they led nowhere. Now the question is: Will Cingular Wireless LLC's $41 billion bid for AT&T Wireless, a deal that would result in the nation's largest cell phone company, force Nextel into a marriage with another carrier
[and how will that merger, AT&T and Cingular, effect the sponsorhip of #31 Robby Gordon's RCR Chevy, is unknown, but that merger could take months even years - Yahoo Biz].
Susan B. Kalla, an analyst for Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc., says yes. She gives Nextel at most two years before it succumbs to a merger or acquisition. Combinations like Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless will achieve enough cost savings to "put smaller players like Nextel at a competitive disadvantage," Kalla said. "Nextel will be forced to do some consolidation." Viktor Shvets, an analyst for Deutsche Bank, says not necessarily. "When niches come under pressure there are two things you can do," he said. "You can either try to become better and better at what you do, or you can bulk up and become a much larger carrier." Nextel's trademark service has been its walkie-talkie [very cool feature, Jayski loves it], which allows users to reach people by pushing a button to talk instead of dialing phone numbers. The feature first attracted construction workers and truck drivers [like Jayski's Dad and Pop], but eventually became popular among professionals who need to be in constant communication with customers and co-workers. Over 90 percent of Nextel's 12.3 million customers are businesspeople, according to the company. Analysts said Nextel could pursue two strategies. It could become a specialty player, offering businesses increasingly sophisticated wireless services, such as remote access to company databases or live video feeds over its networks. Or it could evolve into a broad wireless company, possibly by merging with Sprint. The company's strategy has nurtured rapid growth. Nextel reported a 22 percent yearly increase in subscribers at the end of September, and its stock more than doubled in 2003. Analysts expect that trend to continue when Nextel reports fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow.(see full story at Washington Post - need to reg to view)(2-18-2004)
- Rusty's son to race Hooters Cup: Plans are being ironed out for Stephen Wallace, Rusty's 16-year-old aspiring racing son, to compete full-time this season in Hooter's Cup competition -- in quest of the series' rookie title.(TRPR)(2-18-2004)
- Strong Ratings for Speed Channel during Speedweeks: The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series kicked off its second exclusive season with SPEED Channel in grand fashion, scoring a Nielsen Rating of 1.61 (980,000 households). SPEED's household delivery was up 70 percent from just a year ago, when the season opener scored a 1.03 with 576,000 households. The Florida Dodge Dealers 250 peaked at a rating of 1.90 from 9:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. ET, putting the race in more than one million households (1,156,000). Capturing a younger audience, the Men 18-49 rating was 1.31, with a peak of 1.69 (629,000 households) -- the highest rated M18-49 and HH telecast on SPEED since the network started receiving daily overnights and up 82 percent from a year ago.
The Truck Series finished off a string of strong SPEED Channel ratings from Daytona, including a 1.36 Nielsen mark for the ARCA race and a .77 (466,000 households) for the inaugural Crown Royal International Race of Champions on SPEED Channel. The replay of the IROC race later in the evening scored a .81 (493,000 households).
A lot went into SPEED Channel's Daytona effort that gave race fans more than 70 hours of programming from NASCAR's season-opening Speed Weeks. With 21 Speed Weeks on SPEED Channel studio segments totaling more than 14 hours and on-track coverage that included 24 blocks of practice, qualifying and racing totaling more than 40 hours, SPEED Channel was LIVE for more than 40 hours. In addition, Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain loaded heavy with NASCAR names like Buddy Baker, Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip and Robert Yates, wrapping up with a Monday interview with Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. The gang from Trackside broke in the new 53-foot traveling stage truck with nightly programs from just outside Daytona USA, capping off Speed Weeks with a live-audience show on Feb. 13 that scored a cumulative rating of .93. In delivering more than 70 hours of Daytona coverage, SPEED Channel used a 29-member production staff, 24 on-air personalities and 64 technicians. SPEED also utilized about 125 NBC personnel to assist with on-track production.(SPEED Channel PR)[Jayski Note: all I can say is: great coverage and thanks!](2-18-2004)
- Earnhardt Inducted into Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame: The late stock car racing legend Dale Earnhardt has been named as one of four inaugural inductees of the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame. Earnhardt dominated NASCAR tracks around the country for more than two decades, winning seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships and more than $40 million during his career. Joining Earnhardt as the first laureates of the new Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame are three of the Charlotte region's greatest athletes, all of whom competed in the Olympic games and distinguished themselves in their respective sports:
Jim Beatty - 1960 U.S. Olympic team and first man to run the indoor mile in less than 4 minutes (3:58:9).
Jeff Mullins - University of North Carolina at Charlotte head basketball coach.
Floyd "Chunk" Simmons - tailback on the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill football team, but distinguished himself internationally in track and field. Won bronze medals at the 1948 London Olympic Games and the 1952 Helsinki, Finland Olympic games.
The inductees will be honored and officially inducted into the Hall at an induction dinner on April 17, 2004, at the Panthers' Den at Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte. O. Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Lowe's Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., and Jerry Richardson, founder/owner of the Carolina Panthers are the honorary co-chairmen of the event. The event will benefit the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Senior Centers, Inc. (CMSC). For more information: www.charlotteseniorcenters.org.(LMS PR - for the full PR, see my Hall of Fame/Museum page)(2-17-2004)
- Daytona 500 TV Ratings Mixed AND: Overnight Nielsen Media Research numbers show mixed results for NBC's coverage of Sunday's Daytona 500. Today's Sports Business Daily says the season-opening Nextel Cup race drew a 10.4 rating and a 21 share in the overnight Nielsen figures. That number is up 13 percent from last year's 9.2/18 overnight figures for Fox's rain-shortened telecast, but it was down 4 percent from NBC's 10.8/23 overnight in 2002. (Final figures for the 2002 broadcast on NBC were 10.9/26). Still the race was by far the biggest sports event on television over the weekend. NBC's "Discover Card Countdown to Green" pre-race show between noon and 1:30 p.m. was the second-highest draw with a 5.7/12, according to the Daily.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-17-2004)
AND The Daytona 500 drew its second-highest TV rating since live broadcasts of the race began in 1979. NBC's broadcast of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s victory Sunday got a 10.6 national rating and was seen by 33.5 million viewers. Only the 2002 Daytona 500 did better, with a 10.9 rating and 35 million viewers. NBC aired that race during the middle Sunday of its Salt Lake City Olympic coverage. Last year's race, which was delayed twice and then shortened by rain, drew a 9.8 rating on Fox. Sunday's rating peaked from 4:30-5 p.m., shortly before Earnhardt finished, with an 11.6 rating. The 1979 race now drops to third among live broadcasts with a 10.5 national rating. The rating is the percentage of U.S. TV homes tuned to a program, and each point represents 1,084,000 homes.(Yahoo/AP)(2-17-2004)
- Tragic News: Police are awaiting autopsy and toxicology results to determine why an 18-year-old student at Mooresville's NASCAR Technical Institute fell to his death from a small bridge early Tuesday morning [Feb 10th]. At 12:24 a.m. Tuesday, Mooresville police received a 911 call asking that an officer check on a person wandering around Willow Creek Apartments off Plaza Drive. The caller said the person was staggering and appeared to be intoxicated. The responding officers drove through the apartment complex but didn't see anything, Marcum said. The officers then located the caller, who pointed out the last place the person was seen wandering around. Police searched the area and found the body of John Ryan MacIntosh, 18, from Maryland face down in a shallow creek running through a steel culvert under a paved road that leads into the apartment complex. MacInstosh apparently sustained a head injury either during the fall, or as a result of it. Police notified MacInstosh's family in Maryland on Tuesday.(Mooresville Tribune - jayski's home newspaper now)(2-17-2004)
- Winning both Cup and Busch race in the same year at Daytona in Feb, two drivers have won both, Darrell Waltrip in 1989 and Bobby Allison in 1988
Make it 3: as Dale Earnhardt Jr. won both the Daytona 500 and the Busch race at Daytona in the same weekend.
AND: Dale Jr. also won a 125 race, joining Bobby Allison as the only drivers ever to win a 125, Busch and Cup race in the same Speedweeks.(2-16-2004)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his third race in four days Monday at Daytona International Speedway, winning the Hershey's Kisses 300 in the NASCAR Busch Series. He won yesterday's Daytona 500 and his 125-mile qualifying race last Thursday, giving him three victories during Daytona's Speedweeks for the second season in a row. (Only Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and his father Dale Earnhardt have won three races in one Speedweeks.)
This is Dale Jr's ninth career victory at Daytona, which moves him into a tie for 10th in all-time wins at the 2.5-mile track, joining Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon. It is his fourth consecutive Busch Series race win at Daytona, one race shy of his father's track record five consecutive Busch wins. No other driver has won a Busch Series race here since February, 2001.
Since the begiining of Speedweeks at Daytona on January 31, Dale Jr. completed 880 laps - more than 2427 miles - and led 464 laps during five races (he led 344 laps during 24-Hours of Daytona, 14 laps during Twin-125, 59 laps during Daytona 500 and 47 laps in the Busch Series 300.) (fingerprint inc./Bud PR)(2-17-2004)
- StockCarFans.com RUMBLINGS -- DAYTONA: They all knew who they had to beat....it just wasn't gonna get done today! Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead for good on lap 181 and led the rest of the way to grab his first ever Daytona 500 victory. Six years to the day from his dad's only victory in the 500, the Earnhardt's become the third father-son team to capture the Great American Race, joining the Pettys (Lee and Richard) and the Allisons (Bobby & Davey). It took Dad 20 tries...the son but 5. Pretty select company....
It was Jr.'s 10th career win (six of 'em plate events), moving him into a tie for 45th on the all-time win list with Sterling Marlin & Donnie Allsion.
DEI has now won 7 of the last 8 plate races (the rest of the field still has a little catching up to do), and Little E becomes the 29th different driver to win the Daytona 500. His bounty from the over $16M in posted awards was a cool $1,495,070. It wouldn't be a plate race without a "big one"....and we had it today on lap 72. This time it was a 12-car job, with Michael Waltrip getting the worst of it. All drivers were okay. As scary as that big wreck was, how's about Johnny Sauter screaming down pit road? What's up with that![Jayski Note: Sauter was penalized]
Not too shabby finishing runner-up here....Tony Stewart's take-home pay this week is over $1M.
#22-Scott Wimmer (3rd) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 9th at Phoenix last November.
#01-Joe Nemechek (6th) had his best finish since he was 3rd at Loudon last September.
#38-Elliott Sadler (7th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Martinsville last April.
#88-Dale Jarrett (10th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Bristol last August.
#1-John Andretti (13th) had his best finish since he was 12th at Loudon last September.
#41-Casey Mears (14th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 15th at Las Vegas last March.
#23-Dave Blaney (15th) had his best finish since he was 14th at Loudon last September.
#45-Kyle Petty (21st) had his best finish since he was 16th at Michigan last August.
#50-Derrike Cope (30th) had his best finish since he was 29th at Las Vegas last March.
STREAKIN....Jimmie Johnson has 8 Top-10's in a row. Tony Stewart has 9 Top-10's in the last 10 races. Jeff Gordon has 9 Top-10's in the last 10 races.
The Rookie Report: Scott Wimmer (3rd) is the top finishing freshman today in a slam dunk. He was followed by Brendan Gaughan (19th), Johnny Sauter (26th), Scott Riggs (34th), Brian Vickers (39th), and Kasey Kahne (41st).
This Week's Elevator....UP: Operator of the Week is Jeff Gordon (+31), followed by Scott Wimmer (+23), Dale Jarrett (+21), and Mike Skinner (+21). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Mark Martin (-35), followed by Sterling Marlin (-33), Jeff Burton (-31), Jamie McMurray (-29), and Michael Waltrip (-29). This is Gordon's first Op since Homestead in November of 2002.(StockCarFans.com (Nextel Cup) Newsletter)(2-17-2004)
- NASCAR apologizes to fans for inconveniences during presidential visit: Some Daytona 500 attendees seated near President Bush's suite Sunday complained they couldn't return to the grandstands after using the bathroom, grabbing a soda or buying a T-shirt. Daytona International Speedway officials responded Monday by placing a formal apology on the track's Web site for any inconveniences fans faced while Bush met NASCAR drivers, posed with military personnel and gave television and radio interviews. "We want to get (fans) in their seats as soon as possible to enjoy the experience," Speedway spokesman David Talley said. "Unfortunately, we were doing exactly what the Secret Service asked, and that was holding people up until the president was done." A group of 75 employees from Bright House Networks were asked to move to another suite Sunday to make room for the president, but a company spokesman said no one minded. "It was kind of honor that our suite was where he wanted to take in the race," said spokesman Brian Craven. A spokesman with the United States Secret Service said Monday he was unaware of the complaints and declined comment.(Daytona Beach New Journal)(2-17-2004)
- Dale Jr. on the tube: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver for the #8 Budweiser team and winner of the 2004 Daytona 500 for the NASCAR NEXTEL Series, began a frantic media tour Monday after his Victory Lane celebration after winning yesterday's rain-delayed Busch Series 300. The 500-winning car was unveiled Monday morning at Daytona USA, where it will be on display with its special "Born-On" dating Budweiser paint scheme for the next 12 months.
Tuesday, Feb 17, 2004:
The Today Show / NBC / 7:30 am
Live with Regis and Kelly / Syndicated / 9:00am/et
CNN / American Morning / Headline News / Exact time TBD
NASCAR Live with Eli Gold / MRN Radio Network / 7:00pm/et
Late Show with David Letterman / CBS / 11:30:00pm/et
(fingerprint inc./Bud PR)(2-17-2004)
- Kerry not a NASCAR fan? and..: not really into Politics myself, but saw this and made me wonder.....from the Charlotte Observer: Democratic front-runner John Kerry continued to ignore [fellow democrat rivals] Howard Dean [who sponsors the #84 Busch Team] and John Edwards [Senator from NC, gov is Mike Easley - oops] as he criticized President Bush, labeling the president missing in action on the economy. He ridiculed the president on Monday for taking a trip to the Daytona 500 auto race in Florida at a time when the economy should have his undivided attention. "We don't need a president who just says, 'Gentlemen, start your engines,'" Kerry said. "We need a president who says, 'America, let's start our economy and put people back to work.'"
AND from a bit of an anti-NASCAR themed New York Times article ...."When the campaign of Dr. Dean, the former Vermont governor, was flush with optimism and money, it sponsored a driver. It may not have done him much good in the South against Mr. Kerry, of Massachusetts, who in his campaign autobiography, "A Call to Service," described himself as a "charter member of one the most selective but fastest-growing sports clubs in the world: the NASCAR fans of Massachusetts." So it seems Kerry does like NASCAR, somehat anyhow.(no more email needed on this subject - not into politics myself and not looking for anymore arguments about it)(2-17-2004)
- Long at the Rock: the Carl Long site is reporting that Long has entered the upcoming Subway 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at North Carolina Speedway. He will be driving the #46 Dodge for Glenn Racing. The team is looking for sponsorship. For those who want to help Carl in this effort, he asks for you to please contact him. Along with running the Nextel Cup race, Carl will still be driving the #83 Ford for Long Brothers Racing in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Rockingham.(2-16-2004)
- Smirnoff and DEI? Several teams were hoping for a strong showing to attract potential sponsors, including the #1 DEI Chevy with John Andretti. DEI is in discussions with Seagram's Smirnoff brand.(Yahoo Sports), however, it was recently announced that Smirnoff Ice re-signed with Matt Kenseth and the #17 Team.(2-16-2004)
- Waltrip not happy with response time: Michael Waltrip was relieved to emerge unscathed after his #15 NAPA Chevy flipped twice in the backstretch grass at Daytona International Speedway yesterday. The two-time Daytona 500 winner wasn't happy about the effort to extricate him from his upside-down car after his wild ride. "This isn't the safest or the sanest thing to do, and you don't look forward to being in those situations," Waltrip said. "But you look forward to people helping you of it, and I didn't appreciate what those safety workers were trying to do to get me out. I was trying to tell them just to turn the car over. All they had to do was flip it back over, and I could get out. They were cutting bars, and the whole car was on top of me. I don't know what bar they thought they had to cut to alleviate the hole I was in. . . . And what did they eventually do? They flipped it over and I got out. I hope that was a lesson learned." The crew needed about 10 minutes to remove the 6-5 Waltrip - the tallest driver in the Nextel Cup Series - from the cockpit of his battered car. His height makes getting in and out of the 18-inch window difficult, and he is one of only three drivers who have a roof hatch as an alternate exit. "I was pinned way bad in a box a 6-5 guy shouldn't be in," he said. NASCAR Senior Vice President of Communications Jim Hunter said the safety crew followed guidelines "to a T." "Our procedure is not to turn a car over until the driver is OK," Hunter said. "They were cutting the bars to help get him out of the car because they couldn't use the roof hatch. I'd rather have Michael upset than Michael being injured."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-16-2004)
- Evernham to build own chassis: Evernham Motorsports has taken the next step in expanding its resources by developing a chassis in-house that Bill Elliott tested last month at Las Vegas. Team owner Ray Evernham says the project has been in the works for the past three years and that building the frame took 120 to 140 man hours, not including the research involved in the design. "If you want to compete at the top level, you're almost forced (to build your own chassis)," Evernham says. "We're a year behind in doing it, but it's finally going." Evernham says the chassis needs more testing, but he hopes to install it in Kasey Kahne's and Jeremy Mayfield's cars in the near future.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(2-16-2004)
- ESPN Back: You might have noticed ESPN is a major presence at Nextel Cup events again now that it's dropped "RPM2Night" and isn't violating some convoluted policy NASCAR had against magazine-type shows not on Fox or NBC/TNT. Mike Massaro is actually trackside now, conducting business as it should be instead of having to run down drivers in parking lots and heliopads. Having Jerry Punch on hand is also a plus.(Richmond Times Dispatch) but where is John Kernan?(2-16-2004)
- Edwards heir apparent to Martin UPDATE to Busch next year: A seemingly harmless post-race question turned into a startling revelation Friday night. During Carl Edwards' winner's interview in the press box at Daytona International Speedway following his victory in Friday night's Florida Dodge Dealers 250, Edwards' team owner, Jack Roush, was asked about Edwards' future. His response was rather matter-of-fact: "Carl Edwards is the heir apparent to Mark Martin in the No. 6 car." Roush continued; "I'd like to see Mark (Martin) drive three more years and then I think (Edwards) will be in the No. 6." Even Edwards, 24, seemed taken aback by the remark. Asked later about Roush's comment, he said: "It's an honor and motivates me to work harder every day to be the best driver I can be so that when we do come up with a marketing partner to run in the Nextel Cup Series in that car, I can ... win championships. The emotional part of me just can't believe it. It gives me chills. Mark Martin has been someone I have looked up to long before I even started racing for his determination and drive."(ThatsRacin.com)(2-14-2004)
UPDATE: Carl Edwards -- the heir apparent to Martin's No. 6 car -- and Craftsman Trucks teammate Jon Wood will be moving to the Busch Series next season.(Yahoo Sports)(2-16-2004)
- Engine Tuner leaves Evernham: Engine tuner Mike Hawkins parted with Evernham Motorsports last week. Considering that Kasey Kahne's engine failed Sunday on lap 43, it was obvious that Hawkins was missed. Hawkins is rumored to be headed for Toyota. Coupled with Jon Dennison's earlier departure at Richard Childress Racing, there now are tuner openings on the Nos. 9 and 29 teams. But the head engine builder's job at DEI -- vacant after Richie Gilmore's move to director of motorsports -- will be the hardest to fill. The company has been very secretive with the construction of its engines. The concern is that an engine specialist could come in, stay a few years and take the information elsewhere. If that's not enough, the pressure of maintaining a record that includes winning 10 of the last 13 restrictor-plate races will be intense.(Yahoo Sports)(2-16-2004)
- Sad News: Carl Edwards' celebration following his win Friday night in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series opener at Daytona took a somber tone when Edwards learned the mother of his car chief, Steve McCain, had died unexpectedly at her home that evening. Within a few hours, team owner Jack Roush had arranged for one of his planes to come from Livonia, Mich., to Daytona Beach to transport McCain to be with his family in Owensboro, Ky. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his entire family. We've gotten to know many members of his family and the loss has affected everyone on this team," Edwards said. "If we can win the championship this year it will certainly be dedicated to her memory."(ThatsRacin.com)(2-16-2004)
- #33 Crew Member Injured: During the first caution period in the Daytona 500 on Sunday, John Wallace, a tire carrier for #33-Mike Skinner, fell from the wall onto pit road, suffering a hairline fracture of his right arm and requiring 8-10 stitches in his forehead, just above his nose, team general manager Bobby Hutchinson said. "A tire from (#32-Ricky Craven) rolled into our pit as John was jumping off the wall, and he landed right on it," Hutchinson said. Hutchinson said another crew member filled in for Wallace on Skinner's next two pit stops, and then after Robby Gordon was caught up in a multi-car crash on Lap 70, a tire man from Gordon's crew filled in on Skinner's team. (Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-16-2004)