Jeff Gordon wins at California: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, in a fuel mileage race. #48-Jimmie Johnson ended up 2nd. #18-Bobby Labonte was running 2nd and ran out of gas with a 1/2 lap to go. #24-Jeff Gordon made it back-to-back Nextel Cup victories Sunday, parlaying fast pit stops and a strong car into a win in the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. #18-Bobby Labonte had moved up to second in the late stages of the race and had closed to within a second of Gordon with two laps to go. On the final lap, however, Labonte ran out of fuel and sputtered home in fifth. Gordon, meanwhile, had just enough gas to complete a victory lap and a celebratory pass through the infield grass. His crew pushed the #24 to victory lane. #48-Jimmie Johnson made it to the end and grabbed second on the final lap. That, combined with a lackluster 19th-place run by #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., moved Johnson to within 25 points of the lead in the Nextel Cup standings. Gordon remains third in the standings. #12-Ryan Newman and #17-Matt Kenseth also passed Labonte on the final lap. #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Jeremy Mayfield and #0-Ward Burton were among the others that ran out in the waning moments of the 500-mile event.(full story at ThatsRacin.com)
For more on some detail of the race, see my Jayski's Race Rundown page.
For Results see Jayski's California Race Results/Awards Standings Page ThatsRacin.com MotorsportsOne NASCAR.com.(5-2-2004)
Cool down lap 'NOT' optional: NASCAR announced a clarification to post-race procedures Sunday, reminding drivers that once the take the checkered flag they must complete the "cool down" lap. Event director David Hoots told the drivers assembled in Sunday's pre-race meeting they were not allowed to turn into the exit of pit road and travel up the wrong direction toward pit road. Last week at Talladega, Ala., after taking the checkered flag, Tony Stewart made a sharp left turn into the exit of pit road, electing not to take the "cool down" lap. Instead, he turned into an approaching Terry Labonte and damaged both cars. He then traveled up pit road the wrong way at a high rate of speed to the entrance of the garage area.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-2-2004)
Best Western to Partner with Victory Junction Gang Camp: Best Western, the Official Hotel of NASCAR, is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a year-round camp for children with chronic and life threatening illnesses located in Randleman, NC. As part of the relationship, Best Western will donate more than $150,000 to the Victory Junction Gang Camp over the next three years to name the staff lodging facility. Best Western will also provide staff and campers with Best Western amenities and recruit volunteers to work onsite with campers. “We’re looking forward to working hand in hand with the Victory Junction Gang Camp, one of NASCAR’s favorite charities,” said Tom Higgins, Best Western president and CEO. “We know this is a great way for us to make an impact in the lives of these children.” Best Western will provide additional funding for camperships for children to attend the Victory Junction Gang Camp. The World’s Largest Hotel Chain will also invite a number of children from all over the nation to attend various NASCAR races as Best Western guests. “We’re very grateful for all of the support we have received from Best Western,” said Richard Petty, founding family member of the Victory Junction Gang Camp. “This is going to be a wonderful partnership. And the Victory Junction staff is looking forward to the inaugural summer in the Best Western Staff Lodge at camp.” Best Western is in the first year of a three-year agreement as NASCAR’s Official Hotel, and is also serving as an associate sponsor of Waltrip and the Dale Earnhardt Inc.-owned #15 NAPA Chevrolet on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The company will serve as primary sponsor for Michael Waltrip’s #99 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Busch Series race on November 6. More information on all Best Western / NASCAR activities, including Speed Rewards, a customized frequent guest program designed specifically for race fans, is available at www.bestwestern.com/racing. For more information about the camp, visit their website at www.victoryjunction.org.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(5-2-2004)
StockCarFans.com - Rumblings - California: #24-Jeff Gordon went back-to-back today....and did it with all of about a gallon of gas to spare. In what turned into a "fuelish" event (don't they so often do both here and at Michigan), Jeff Gordon won today's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway by 12.871 seconds....but it was actually much closer than that. #18-Bobby Labonte got to within a couple seconds late, but ran out of gas on the final lap. For Gordon, this was his 3rd win at Fontana (he won the inaugural event in 1997 and again in 1999) and his second win of 2004. This was win #66 for his career, and the 120th for Hendrick Motorsports (made even sweeter since they ran 1/2). The victory was worth $318,628 for Gordon from the over $5.7M in posted awards. Ah, Rusty!!! In a sport rapidly becoming colorless, it's like a breath of fresh air to hear a driver say what _he_ thinks instead of what he's been told to say. Hot? You think today was hot? How quickly we forget those July races in Talladega....
#77-Brendan Gaughan (6th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was last week at Talladega when he was 13th.
#5-Terry Labonte (7th) had his best finish since he was 6th at Martinsville last October.
Labonte & Gaughan's Top-10 finishes give us 28 drivers to score a Top-10 this season.....last year's number was 42.
#0-Ward Burton (10th) had his best finish since he was 9th at Rockingham in February.
#98-Todd Bodine (34th) had his best finish since he was 11th at Homestead last November (only 5 races).
STREAKIN....Jeff Gordon has 5 Top-10's in a row. Jimmie Johnson has 6 Top-10's in the last 7 races.
The Rookie Report: For the second week in a row Brendan Gaughan (6th) is the top-finishing first year driver. He was followed by: Kasey Kahne (13th), Johnny Sauter (21st), Scott Riggs (25th), Brian Vickers (29th) and Scott Wimmer (30th).
This Week's Elevator....UP: Operator of the week is a tie....and it stays in the family! Bobby Labonte (+22) and brother Terry Labonte (+22) grab the title, followed by Matt Kenseth (+21). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Jeff Green (-34), followed by Joe Nemechek (-26), Rusty Wallace (-26), Brian Vickers (-23), and Scott Riggs (-21).
Brendan Gaughan led once today for one lap....the first time he's led in his Nextel Cup career. Ken Schrader led one lap today....it's the
first time he's led since he led twice for 46 laps at the Daytona 500 of 2002! We've had 38 different leaders this season....last year's
number was 48.
Dale Earnhardt Jr maintains the points lead, but his margin is down to 25 over Jimmie Johnson with Jeff Gordon just another two points back. Brendan Gaughan (27th to 22nd) made the best move forward today, while Scott Wimmer (21st to 25th) fell the most positions.(StockCarFans.Com Nextelcup Newsletter)(5-2-2004)
NOTES and FACTS: Jeff Gordon won the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, scoring his 66th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 375th career start. His last victory came at Talladega just one race ago. Gordon, who won last week at Talladega, posted back-to-back victories for the 19th time in his career. This includes one streak of three races and one of four. The most recent driver to post back-to-back victories was Matt Kenseth who did so earlier this season when he won at Rockingham and Las Vegas.
This is Gordon's sixth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in the state of California.Gordon also has three victories at Infineon Raceway
Eighteen drivers are within 400 points of current point leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. as we continue to monitor the countdown to the Chase for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship. The 15 leaders in the 2004 Auto Club 500 ties the record at California Speedway set in 2000. Kevin Harvick (ninth) extended his streak of running at the finish in 49 straight races, a streak that began at Rockingham in November 2002.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(5-2-2004)
Busy Weekend Coming up for Robby: After driving in Friday [May 14th] night's Busch race at Richmond, Va., Robby Gordon will fly to Indianapolis to qualify on Saturday [and go for the pole], then return to Richmond to drive that night in the American Revolution 500 Nextel Cup race.(Los Angeles Times)(5-2-2004)
Nice Gesture by a sponsor: #38-Elliott Sadler's sponsor, M&M's, flew Sadler's parents to California this weekend to help celebrate Sadler's birthday. He turned 29 Friday. "It was the first time I got to spend my birthday with my parents in probably six or seven years," said Sadler, who starts 14th. "That was a great surprise."(Roanoke Times)(5-2-2004)
Harsh [but correct] words by Kyle: Kyle Petty says NASCAR should boycott Talladega Superspeedway after fans littered the track last weekend with trash and debris because that race finished under caution. "They should not allow a race back at Talladega for throwing beer cans on the race track," Petty said. "When we've got guys riding around [under caution] at 70, 80 mph, throwing beer cans on the race track, it's dangerous. We should not go back to that race track. That's pitiful that those people call themselves fans. That's Kyle Petty's opinion and I'll stand by that forever. I don't care how disgruntled you are, that's crap. I've been to football games and didn't like the endings. Did I pick up crap and throw it down on the field and hit the guys in the back of the head or throw stuff at the coaches. No."(Roanoke Times)(5-2-2004)
Next Time They'll Stop the race: NASCAR president Mike Helton said that if they're unable to finish a race under green and fans litter the track again, series officials will end the race immediately without completing the full distance.(Roanoke Times) AND .....Yet, the deluge of debris symbolizes NASCAR's dilemma: The balance between entertaining fans and creating a safe and competitive race. The line has blurred in recent years as NASCAR changed rules and its way of thinking to appease fans. Series officials altered the points system this season. They've stopped races late to get a green-flag finish for more than five years. They asked Goodyear to construct a tire that wears more to create more passing and reduce the number of ho-hum, fuel-mileage finishes that occurred last year. "There's a lot of influence in our decision-making process by fans and their reaction to things, but there are limitations," NASCAR president Mike Helton said Saturday at California Speedway, site of today's Auto Club 500. "We can't please them completely, but we strive to. The sport doesn't work without them. Period."(in part from the Roanoke Times)(5-2-2004)
Spike 52: Greatest Drivers Ranks The Top 52 Drivers Of All Time:Spike TV will rank the 52 greatest stock-car drivers of all-time over five one-hour episodes premiering Sunday, May 2 (9:00-10:00pm ET/PT). This original series, Spike 52: Greatest Drivers, will profile the legends of stock-car racing - from the sports' earliest pioneers to today's mega-superstars. The series includes new and archived interviews with stock car's biggest names including Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Matt Kenseth. See full PR and info on each episode on my TV Listings Page.(Spike TV PR), the shoow re-airs Tuesday at 11:00pm/et.(5-2-2004)
No New Ford Engine Heads...yet: According to Robert Yates [#38 and #88 Team Owner] the new generation Ford cylinder head will not be used here at the California Speedway. This fact overrides engine designer Doug Yates’ hopes. The new cylinder head is still several weeks awary from being run in competition; and then only in a limited number of cars. But it has been tested several times at Kentucky Speedway for durability; and returned good results.(Ford Racing)(5-1-2004)
Schrader wins West race: Nextel Cup veteran Ken Schrader held off Busch Series rookie Clint Bowyer to win Saturday's King Taco 200 at California Speedway. Schrader, who won by 0.259 seconds following a five-lap shootout, now has three NASCAR Grand National Division, West series, wins and three second-place finishes in seven races at California. Bowyer, who is sharing driving duties with Kevin Harvick in Richard Childress Racing's #21 Chevrolet this season, started from the pole and was making his first series start. Scott Lynch was third, Scott Gaylord and Kevin Conway completed the top five.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-1-2004)
Stewart meets with NASCAR: Nextel Cup director John Darby wouldn't go into specifics regarding his discussion with Tony Stewart on Friday morning, but did say he was confident it was a productive session. "It went real good," Darby said. "As normal, when we're up in the front of the trailer with the door shut, that's where it stays. But we had a real good conversation. We'll be alright." The meeting was spurred by what some folks deemed over-aggressive driving by Stewart last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, including a run-in with Kurt Busch that resulted in the "Big One," and a post-race collision with veteran Terry Labonte. Stewart, following his Busch Series qualifying run in the #29 Chevrolet on Friday, walked to the #5 hauler and apologized to some of the crewmen, then entered the hauler, presumably to speak with Labonte. Darby doesn't see it as any issue any longer.(NASCAR.com)(5-1-2004)
Boris Said gets sponsor for Sonoma race:
Centrix Financial, LLC, the Official Auto Finance Company of NASCAR, today announced an agreement to serve as an associate sponsor for the MB2/MBV Motorsports #01 and #10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup cars, driven by Joe Nemechek and Scott Riggs, respectively. The association will begin at this weekend's Auto Club 500 race at California Speedway in Fontana. Centrix Financial also announced that it will serve as primary sponsor of a third MB2/MBV Chevrolet, to be driven by road-racing specialist Boris Said, June 27 in the Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and at an additional Cup race to be determined. The sponsorship arrangement comes three weeks after CENTRIX Financial announced its official NASCAR sponsorship status.(MB2/MBV Motorsports PR), Said will run the #36, which is still owned by MB2/MBV Motorsports.(5-1-2004)
Five lead Half: Five drivers have led more than half of the 1,750 laps raced at California: Jeff Gordon (329), Mark Martin (194), Rusty Wallace (164), Kurt Busch (129) and Matt Kenseth (124).(NASCAR PR)(5-1-2004)
Tire concerns? Goodyear's decision to use its Las Vegas-Bristol-Nashville tire for the upcoming Richmond race is being criticized as too conservative a choice by some NASCAR crews who want softer, more aggressive tires for the just-repaved track. Others say that Goodyear's original choice turned out to be too soft. Teams say that this season's tires in general aren't nearly as soft as they had originally expected, and they point to this week's Sears Point test as one example: "The last laps were faster than the first laps," one crew chief said. "How can that be a softer tire?"(Winston Salem Journal) HOWEVER: Nextel Cup Director John Darby said the reviews were positive from Goodyear's test of Richmond International Raceway's repaved surface. "It's got a tremendous amount of grip, a lot like we saw at Homestead last year," Darby said. "Typically, it takes a couple of years for the asphalt to get to where we [get what] we want out of it."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-1-2004)
New Shock and Sway Bar Rules: NASCAR's latest tech bulletin, which goes into effect here, covers some left-front spring tricks discovered during post-Texas inspections last month, according to NASCAR sources.(Winston Salem Journal) AND NASCAR issued a technical bulletin in the Cup series this week prohibiting the pre-loading of sway bars beyond the limits of the driver's weight in the driver's seat or on the left door top. Basically, the move will prevent teams from using as heavy a spring on the left-front and left-front will travel closer to the track.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-1-2004)
NASCAR Tech to begin checking students' driving records: NASCAR Technical Institute officials will begin checking the driving records of its students and will implement mandatory training and presentations on safe driving skills. In a written statement issued Thursday afternoon, Director Mike Fritz of the Mooresville automotive school said, "Although we will not use driving records as an admissions standard, we will use these records as a basis for educating our students on the importance of safe driving. Moreover," he added, "in cooperation with appropriate local authorities and other relevant organizations, we will provide mandatory training and safe driving skills presentations to our students." Fritz's announcement came the day after the Tribune detailed the Florida driving record of former NTI student David Scott Shimp, who is awaiting trial on one count of driving while impaired and two counts of murder in the April 4 deaths of two Huntersville teens. Shimp, 21 of Jacksonville, Fla., is charged with killing two 19-year-old Lincoln County cousins when his Chevy Blazer, topping 85 mph, plowed into their car near Huntersville's Birkdale Village the early morning hours of April 4. Shimp graduated from NTI the night before. His driving record, obtained by the Tribune this week from Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, contains six major traffic charges, including three for speeding, two for reckless and careless driving and another for racing.(Mooresville Tribune)(5-1-2004)
10th Anniversary All-Star Kyle Petty Charity Motorcycle Ride Set to Roll This Weekend: NASCAR driver Kyle Petty will celebrate a different kind of milestone this weekend. Following Sunday's race at California Speedway, Petty will hop on his Victory Motorcycle and travel more than 3,000 miles as part of the 2004 Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. This year's ride marks the 10th anniversary of the annual cross-country motorcycle journey featuring more than 200 NASCAR celebrities, sponsors and fans. "It's hard to believe we've reached the ten year mark with the Charity Ride," said Petty. "This event has become bigger than I ever imagined possible. The Charity Ride just started out as a way for friends to get out on our bikes and enjoy the country while helping children's charities. Now, it has become a hugely popular event for race fans and - most importantly - a major fundraiser for the Victory Junction Gang Camp."
The Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride will kick off in Palm Desert, Calif. on May 1 and make overnight stops in Las Vegas, Nev.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Roswell N.M.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Branson, Mo.; Tupelo, Miss.; and Atlanta, Ga. The Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride will conclude on May 8 at a private event in Randleman, N.C. at the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the ride's main benefactor.
In addition to commemorating its tenth anniversary, the Charity Ride celebrates the addition of the Chick-fil-A® restaurant chain as the event's title sponsor. The 2004 Charity Ride marks the first of a multi-year partnership with Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, the nation's second largest quick service chicken restaurant chain. "We're looking forward to being part of this unique experience," said Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer, Dan Cathy, who will be joining Petty on the road for the second year in a row. "The Pettys have put together a very special event that's in line with our corporate values and goals, so this partnership is a great fit. Our hope is that Chick-fil-A's involvement will help further elevate exposure for the ride to benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp."
"In the past we've celebrated the end of the Charity Ride with a big concert, but this year is going to be a little different," said Petty. "The Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride will conclude with a private event at Victory Junction. It's an important way for us to honor Adam's memory. Plus it will give all the riders who have supported the camp over the years a first look at the finished product." Joining Chick-fil-A as corporate partners of the Charity Ride are Georgia-Pacific, Victory Motorcycles, Coca-Cola, Dodge, Pilot Travel Centers, Nextel and Daytona Harley-Davidson. To learn more about the Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America and many other programs the ride supports, contact Kyle Petty Charity Ride, Inc. at 125 Floyd Smith Drive, Charlotte, N.C. 28262, by email at email@example.com or by phone at 704-714-4545 or see chickfilakylepettycharityride.com.(PR), see images of the car on my 2004 Paint Schemes Page..(4-30-2004)
Truckers Blocking California Highways: A group of disgruntled truckers are blocking some California highways to protest high fuel prices. Early Friday morning, truckers parked their rigs on the #10, the #5 and the #15 freeways and walked away from them. The fuel in California is running as high as $2.25 per gallon. Should the truckers decide to block the roads on Saturday or Sunday, it could affect the ability of the fans to get to the California Speedway for the Busch race or the Nextel Cup race. You might want to check your local highway information if you're going to either race.(Insider Racing News)(4-30-2004)
North Carolina Test Facility Planned: The Charlotte Regional Partnership is spearheading plans to seek state money to help build a $50 million motorsports test-track complex near Charlotte, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. The group hopes the facility will cement the area's status as the home of most of NASCAR's top-tier teams in the wake of new and expanded programs in Virginia and South Carolina. Reporter Ken Elkins writes that organizers are looking for up to 150 acres within 30 miles of Lowe's Motor Speedway for a facility that would include super speedway, mid-length oval and road-course tracks. No grandstands would be built. Teams could save money, the story says, by not having to travel to facilities such as Kentucky Speedway to conduct non-sanctioned tests.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-30-2004)
ChevronTexaco Announces $1 Million Birthday Bash Consumer Promotion: ChevronTexaco Global Lubricants today announced plans for The Racing for a $1,000,000 Birthday Bash promotion to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Havoline brand. Three lucky consumers will win a VIP Experience trip to the Checker Auto Parts 500 in Phoenix, November 4-8, 2004, where each can win $1 million. The Checker Auto Parts 500 is one of the most highly coveted West Coast races in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Race Series. From May 1 through July 31, 2004, U. S. consumers of Havoline Motor Oils, as well as Havoline XpressLube and Havoline Installer services,
have a chance to enter to win the VIP Experience. Consumers who purchase quart bottles of Havoline Motor Oil will find a special promotional code under the cap of the product bottle. They will be directed to www.havoline.com where they can enter the contest by inputting the code and their contact information. Consumers who have their oil changed at a Havoline XpressLube or by a Havoline Installer will be given an entry form that can be filled out and submitted at the point of purchase. At the end of the promotion, all online entries will be combined with the in-store and mail-in entries. Winners will be selected at random in August. The lucky grand prize winners of the VIP Experience can go on to win $1 million. Once in Phoenix, each of the grand prize winners will randomly draw a number representing the potential starting position of Jamie McMurray's No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge. Each grand prize winner that selects the starting position number which corresponds to Jamie McMurray's actual starting position as determined by the pre-race time trials will each receive $1 million if McMurray subsequently wins the race. If the correct starting position is not selected and the #42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge still wins the race, each grand prize winner will receive $100,000. AND McMurray will be sporting a special paint scheme this weekend at California Speedway to help launch the "$1 Million Dollar Birthday Bash" consumer promotion by ChevronTexaco. ALSO: ChevronTexaco announced today that if Jamie McMurray wins Sunday's Auto Club 500 from California Speedway the company will donate $10,000 to the Autism Society of America to aid in McMurray's "Drive for a Cure" campaign.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR), see a few images on the #42 Team Paint Scheme page.(4-30-2004)
Talladega TV Ratings: The 2004 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway television rating improved 2% to a 6.3 on Sunday, April 25, up from last year’s 6.2. On average, over 10.1 million viewers watched Jeff Gordon win his 65th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. The 6.3 rating makes Talladega Superspeedway the second highest NEXTEL Cup race telecast on FOX this year, following North Carolina Speedway’s 6.6 rating in February [the track that is supposed to lose a race?]. When the caution flag came out with four laps to go, Jeff Gordon was listed ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and went on to take the checkered flag. FOX’s rating peaked at an 8.0 rating during the final half-hour of the Aarons’s 499 telecast, up 8% from last years numbers.(Talladega Superspeedway PR)(4-30-2004)
New look for the #40:the #40 Coors Light Dodge that Sterling Marlin driver will have an altered paint scheme this weekend at California Speedway. Starting this weekend the car will sport a new paint scheme for the rest of the season [have not seen it...yet]. AND Fans have until the end of the month [April? May?] to vote for one of three different #40 Prilosec OTC paint schemes, to be run later this season, on www.prilosecotc.com.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR), see images of the 'new' scheme on the #40 Team Paint Scheme Page.(4-30-2004)
#30 IMAX Scheme at California: The #30 AOL Chevrolet will again carry the special IMAX paint scheme this weekend for the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway.(RCR PR), see images of the car on the #30 Team Paint Schemes page.(4-30-2004)
Riggs To Take Part in Award Presentation: Scott Riggs, driver of the #10 Valvoline Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, will have the honor of being part of the Eagle One-Shav Glick Award presentation during Sunday's pre-race festivities at California Speedway. The award is a symbol of distinguished achievement in motorsports by a Californian. Presented by Eagle One car-care products, a division of The Valvoline Company, the award is named in honor of Shav Glick, the venerable motorsports writer of the Los Angeles Times. The 2004 recipient of the award is Les Richter, a motorsports executive whose name is synonymous with auto racing in Southern California. Other nominees were: Don Prudhomme (drag racing star), Joe Leonard (motorcycle and open-wheel champion), Chris Pook (motorsports executive and founder of the Long Beach Grand Prix) and Roger Ward (2-time Indianapolis 500 winner). Previous winners of the Eagle One-Shav Glick Award were: Dan Gurney, Wally Parks, Parnelli Jones and Rick Mears.(mb2mbvmotorsports.com)(4-30-2004)
Miller Announces Concert Series: Miller Brewing Company announced this year’s “Rock ‘n’ Racing” concert series will kickoff with a trackside concert featuring popular rock band Live during the NASCAR Auto Club 500, May 1 at California Speedway in Fontana, California. Miller’s Rock ‘n’ Racing program combines two of our country’s greatest pastimes – racing and live music. It will feature a series of trackside concerts at select NASCAR Nextel Cup and the Indianapolis 500, including:
May 1, Fontana, NASCAR Auto Club 500 featuring Live
May 22, Charlotte, NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge featuring Live
May 27, Indianapolis, IRL’s Carb Day featuring Blues Traveler
July 9, Chicago, NASCAR Nextel Cup Tropicana 400 featuring Puddle of Mudd
Sept. 4, Fontana, NASCAR Nextel Cup Pop Secret 500 featuring TBD band
During the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, Rusty Wallace’s No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge will race with a special rock ‘n’ roll paint scheme featuring Puddle of Mudd to promote the July concert.(Tom Roberts PR)(4-30-2004)
Labonte Track close to completion: The North Carolina Quarter-Midget Association Speedway, which #18 driver Bobby Labonte initiated with members of the NCQMA, is nearing completion. A webcam located at www.ncqma.com provides a live look at the construction taking place in Rowan County, NC.(Joe Gibbs Racing PR)(4-30-2004)
Mears is versatile: #41-Casey Mears has driven in four different series in two styles of cars at California Speedway. He has raced in CART, Indy Lights, Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series cars at what he considers his home track in Fontana. His most memorable race at California Speedway came in his CART Series debut when he ran a third car for Team Rahal and finished fourth in 2000.(Mearsgang.com)(4-30-2004)
Dale Jr. is Beautiful: Dale Earnhardt Jr., current Nextel Cup points leader, will appear on newsstands this week as one of People Magazine's [need sub to view] "Most Beautiful People." Earnhardt is pictured leaning against his Budweiser race car and is among the elite "most beautiful" list that includes Jennifer Aniston, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and Andre 3000 of the hip-hop group OutKast.(Delaware News Journal)(4-29-2004)
Gordon 3rd fastest in Indy 500 testing Wed UPDATE: Robby Gordon was third quickest in Wednesday's open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500, solidifying himself as a favorite to win the race May 30. Gordon, who is winless in nine previous 500s, trailed only Indy Racing League standouts Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske on the speed chart. Gordon's lap of 218.921 mph in a Dallara/Chevrolet was just a tick slower than Hornish's pace-setting 219.271. But Gordon said he "light lifted" entering the third turn, which he believed was more than enough to create the difference.(Indianapolis Star)(4-29-2004) UPDATE: Robby Gordon Thursday completed his two days of testing in preparation for the May 30 Indianapolis 500 with a best lap of 216.778 mph (41.517 seconds) in the #70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara-Chevrolet he owns. Gordon concentrated on a race set-up after
immediately finding speed Wednesday with the third fastest lap of the day. On Thursday, he was 10th best in windy conditions, and completed 56 laps of the 2.5-mile oval. "We didn't even make an attempt for outright speed on one lap," said Thomas Knapp, team manager/engineer. "Just boring, race-day stuff. Robby said he's very pleased with what we've done over these two days." Sam Hornish was fastest with a 220.113 mph (40.888 seconds) lap. The Speedway is now closed until the official start of practice on Sunday, May 9. Pole qualifying is Saturday, May 15 [when Cup is in Richmond], and the race is Sunday, May 30. For the third consecutive year, Gordon will be attempting the "Double," by racing in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on the same day.(PR)(4-29-2004)
Movie script concerns Earnhardt family: As thousands of fans go to Mooresville today to celebrate what would have been Dale Earnhardt's 53rd birthday, an ESPN crew will be in Cabarrus County re-creating scenes from the Intimidator's life. Since mid-April, the TV moviemakers have spent time in the neighborhood where Earnhardt grew up. They've filmed at local tracks. They've held open casting calls in Concord to add local flavor. But as close as ESPN producers say they have gotten to Earnhardt's roots, they don't have approval from the people who were closest to him: his family. Out of concern for inaccuracies in the script, Dale Earnhardt Inc. -- the company run by Earnhardt's widow, Teresa -- hasn't endorsed the film. "Our job at Dale Earnhardt Inc. is to perpetuate what Dale was all about," said DEI spokesman Steve Crisp, adding that the company is reviewing a second copy of the script. "To accurately do that, you have to stick with the facts." One of Earnhardt's sisters said she is upset that ESPN didn't contact her side of the family to discuss Earnhardt's childhood. Because they didn't, she said, the movie gets things wrong, including where her father worked and where her family lived. Still, producers of the movie say they're being true to Earnhardt and his legacy. "This isn't a documentary. It instead is a movie that is a dramatic presentation telling the story of Dale Earnhardt," said Will Staeger, executive producer of ESPN Original Entertainment. "We feel we have a pretty good grasp of the essence of the man."(see ful story at ThatsRacin.com)(4-29-2004)
Infineon Testing Day 2: #42-Jamie McMurray posted the fastest lap Wednesday during a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup test session at Infineon Raceway. McMurray recorded the fastest lap ever recorded on the newly repaved 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course for NEXTEL Cup stock cars at 1 minute, 15.0 seconds [95.520mph]. Road-course specialist Boris Said holds the official track record of 1:16.522 [93.620], set in 2003. #39-ScottPruett, who will compete for Chip Ganassi Racing at the Dodge/Save Mart 350 in June (25-27) at Infineon Raceway, was second-fast over the two-day session at 1:15.70 [94.637], with road-course ace #21-Ricky Rudd, a two-time winner at Infineon Raceway, third at 1:15.80 [94.512]. All times were supplied by the race teams. In all, 12 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers tested the twisting circuit over the two days. Other drivers at the test included: #18-Bobby Labonte; #41-Casey Mears; #16-Greg Biffle; #9-Kasey Kahne; #45-Kyle Petty; #22-Scott Wimmer; #49-Ken Schrader; #59-German Klaus Graf; and #01-Boris Said [testing for MB2].(Infineon Raceway PR)(4-29-2004)
Six suggestions for green-flag finishes from DW: here are a few suggestions from Darrell Waltrip rhat could be discussed so that in the future races could finish races under the green flag:
1) Yellow light on dashboard: When NASCAR flips the switch to turn on the caution lights, a light on your dashboard comes on.[done in ARCA and IRL]
2) Caution laps don't count: wouldn't count caution laps during the last five to ten laps of the race.
3) No green-white-checkered: just tears up equipment, don't like stopping races.
4) Race to the flag with five laps to go: Inside the last five laps, you race back to the flag, and you don't count caution laps.
5) Positions based on last green-flag lap
6) Stay the course: the races run their natural course and finish without any outside intervention from anybody. For years and years, we finished the races under caution. If you check the records, you'll see yellow-flag finishes make up a very small percentage [15% in 2003/2004 combine in Cup]. See the full story at FoxSports.(4-29-2004)
Helton - One-lap shootout won't work at Talladega: NASCAR on FOX' Steve Byrnes sat down on Wednesday with NASCAR president Mike Helton to get the latest on NASCAR's decision-making process. Helton said "We simply ran out and didn't feel like and had already predetermined that a one-lap shootout at Talladega is just not going to work because of the amount of time it takes for the cars to spool up and the fact that between the first and second laps, there's almost six, seven tenths a second difference in speed that we would not have a one-lap dash back to the checkers at Talladega and that's exactly what happened to us on Sunday."(FoxSports)(4-29-2004)
Look for new qualifying record at Richmond: The first repaving of Richmond International Raceway since its 1988 reconfiguration passed its initial test with flying colors and falling lap times as four cars christened the fresh asphalt on Wednesday. Ryan Newman's #12-Dodge, Matt Kenseth's #17-Ford and the Chevrolets of #5-Terry Labonte and #29-Kevin Harvick posted record-breaking speeds while barely breaking a sweat. The trio registered several hundred laps as Goodyear conducted a two-day test that wrapped up yesterday on the brand-new blacktop. Aided by cool, cloudy weather Tuesday, Newman was toured the track in 21 seconds flat [128.871mph] even though his car employed a rudimentary race setup that wasn't designed for an optimum qualifying lap. The pole record at RIR is a 21.195-second, 125.792-mph lap posted by Ward Burton on May 3, 2002. Hotter, slicker conditions less conducive to speed for RIR's NASCAR weekend on May 13-15 are expected, but Burton's mark seems certain to be shattered. The final layer of the multimillion-dollar project, which also installed a subsurface underdrain system to correct a chronic water seepage problem, was completed only a few weeks ago after beginning in October. The makeover removed a bumpy patch in Turn 2, a previous trouble spot.(in part from the Richmond Times Dispatch)(4-29-2004)
Proclaimed Dale Earnhardt Day in NC: Gov. Mike Easley proclaimed today as Dale Earnhardt Day in North Carolina to honor the late NASCAR legend. Today would have been Earnhardt’s 53rd birthday. “Dale Earnhardt brought so much joy to fans throughout the world and pride to this great state,” Easley said in a statement issued Wednesday. “He helped elevate NASCAR and the motor sports industry to new heights. As Dale’s legacy continues on, it is appropriate to pay tribute to the life and accomplishments of this outstanding North Carolinian.” Easley signed a state House bill in October 2002 to designate N.C. 136 in Iredell and Cabarrus counties as N.C. 3, the same number as Earnhardt’s racing car. The Dale Earnhardt Highway passes through Mooresville, home of Dale Earnhardt Inc. The highway also passes through and Kannapolis Earnhardt’s hometown. The renamed roadway was dedicated during a March 2003 ceremony. Dale Earnhardt Inc. will host a day long celebration of the racing star’s birthday. Steve Crisp, DEI media spokesman, said he and the rest of the corporation’s staff are honored by Easley’s proclamation. “The impact that Dale Earnhardt had on the state - he’s one of the most recognized sports figures from North Carolina,” Crisp said.(Independent Tribune)(4-29-2004)
#48 News? New Tire Changer: hearing the #48 Lowe's Chevy team is looking for a new tire changer for Jimmie Johnson, not sure if anyone got let go or which tire changer position.(4-27-2004) UPDATE: #48-Jimmie Johnson has a new rear tire changer starting this week, Shane Parsnow.(4-28-2004) UPDATE 2: been told Parsnow is just a temp and the team is looking for a full-time changer.(4-29-2004)
Assoc for BAM? hearing that the #49 BAM Racing team has signed another major associate full season sponsor, AXA Financial.(4-28-2004)
Cogswell to RCR? UPDATE 2 it's official: hearing current #12 Fitz-Bradshaw Busch Series crew chief, Gary Cogswell, is leaving to go to Richard Childress Racing but not sure in what capacity. Tim Fedawa drives the #12 car.(4-21-2004) UPDATE: Gary Cogswell has tendered his resignation as crew chief of the #12 FitzBradshaw team and driver Tim Fedewa and will take a similar position at Richard Childress Racing working with its part-time Busch and Cup teams, ThatsRacin.com has learned.
Cogswell will work this weekend's race at Talladega with Fedewa before he leaves. Fedewa is currently ninth in points. "While we wish Gary the very best of luck, we feel the team can continue to build on the positive momentum it has built so far," said team co-owner Armando Fitz.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-22-2004) UPDATE 2: Richard Childress Racing announced today the hiring of veteran crew chief Gary Cogswell to head up the #33 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Monte Carlo of driver Kerry Earnhardt in the NASCAR Cup Series and the all-star cast of the #29 Employer
Support of Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Chevy in the NASCAR Busch Series. Most recently, Cogswell served as crew chief for the #12
Chevrolet and Busch Series driver Tim Fedewa. Last season, Cogswell called the shots for Todd Bodine in NASCAR's premier division with the #54 Ford.
"It's an honor for me to be able to join RCR," said Cogswell, a 13-year NASCAR veteran. "Most of the racing world, whether it be people who work on race teams, the casual fan or the serious fan, recognize RCR as one of the cornerstones of NASCAR. I was very flattered to be considered for this position and to be honest it really didn't require much thought on my part to accept. This organization has been here so long and is so solidly planted into the sport that I feel like I'll never have to look for another job." Cogswell owns 14 NBS victories as a crew chief, as well as seven poles, 51 top-five and 85 top-10 finishes. A native of Holt, Mich., Cogswell began his professional racing career after moving south in 1991. "Gary has been a winning NASCAR crew chief for 10 years. We're very excited to have him at RCR working on our ESGR and Bass Pro Shops programs," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "We've put together a strong team for those two programs and I know Gary will work very well with Bobby Hutchens (RCR's general manager of competition team manager for the ESGR and Bass Pro Shops programs) and the crew. This move will only make the team stronger."(RCR PR)(4-28-2004)
#31 Pit Crew Notches 2nd Win of Season; #8 Crew Takes Over Points Lead: The pit crew for Robby Gordon's Chevrolet won the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade in Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The $20,000 victory was the second time Gordon's Cingular Wireless pit crew took top honors this season. The other was at the March 4th race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second in Talladega and moved into first place in the McDonald's/POWERade season standings with 344 points, 10 more than the second place crew for Kurt Busch's team. Elliott Sadler's team is third with 329 points. The season champion will receive $200,000.
Gordon's #31 Chevrolet spent the least amount of time on Talladega's pit road -- 255.107 seconds. Earnhardt's Budweiser Chevy was close behind with a time of 264.364.
"I remember saying after their first McDonald's/POWERade win this year the Team Cingular pit crew would be back on top more than once this year," said Chris Andrews, Team Cingular crew chief. "Thank goodness they didn't make a liar out of me. I suspected they were going to win or be real close to first by the end of the day Sunday because they really hit their marks all day long.
"I know there were three times Robby came down pit road outside of first place, but was in the lead by the time the guys sent him back out on the track. I didn't make it easy on those guys either, because there was more than one time Sunday I didn't make the final pit call for four or two tires until Robby was driving down pit road and those guys responded every time, not fumbling once."
Gordon's over-the-wall crew consists of: Ira-Jo Hussey (front-tire changer), Kevin Nervegna (front-tire carrier), Timmy Ladyga (rear-tire changer), Matt Kreuter (rear-tire carrier), Ron Liddell (gasman), Mike Moore (jackman) and Coy Hedrick (catch can).(DMF Communications PR). For the season standings, top 10 at Talladega, see my Pit Crew News page.(4-28-2004)
Hermie Sadler looking for sponsor: #02-Hermie Sadler and SCORE Motorsports are looking for a sponsor for this weekends Nextel Cup Series Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, as well as upcoming races in Richmond, Charlotte, and Dover. Anyone interested in primary and associate sponsorship opportunities should contact SCORE Motorsports at (434) 348-0267.(4-28-2004)
Special Scheme for Rusty at California: #2-Rusty Wallace, driver of the Miller Lite Dodge, will beactive in sponsor Miller’s advertising push to be “President of Beers.” “Our Miller Lite Dodge will be carrying a special color scheme this weekend at California Speedway that reflects their latest advertising campaign,” said Wallace, who won two weeks ago at Martinsville, Va., to snap a victory drought of 105 races that dated back to his California win on April 29, 2001. “It’s a cool looking car and a real eye-catcher. The theme signals how determined Miller is to let consumers know that there’s a choice out there." Miller’s latest ad campaign features television commercials urging beer drinkers to reject a monarchy (King of Beers) and instead consider a democracy in which Miller runs for “President of Beers.” See an image of the car on my #2 Team Paint Scheme Page. AND - the Martinsville Car Name: got asked this question quite a bit this week so.....Martinsville winning car named "The Predator" -- "We've been trying to get Bell to name one of their new models (helicopters) that for some time now," Rusty explained. "The predator is the ultimate hunter and it strikes like nothing else. This was a brand new car that won right out of the box. The car never touched a race track until we got to Martinsville. That's quite impressive." The next race for the car will be Richmond, with the team scheduled to test there on May 5.(TRPR.com)(4-28-2004)
Hendrick Motorsports Fan Festival - May 26-28: As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, Hendrick Motorsports will host a fan festival at its Charlotte-based headquarters May 26-28 prior to the May 30 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Free and open to the public, the festival was designed as a way to thank fans for their support of the team since its 1984 inception. Scheduled to run 8:30am until 6:00pm each day, the event will include interactive games, show cars, sponsor displays, product sampling and autograph sessions from past and present Hendrick Motorsports drivers. Townsend's Gourmet will sell food throughout the festival, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting The Hendrick Marrow Program. The 15,000-square-foot Hendrick Motorsports Museum will offer festival-goers a free-of-charge glimpse into HMS history, including championship trophies; three of Jeff Gordon's #24 Chevrolets; Tim Richmond's #25 Chevy; the very first #5 "All-Star Racing" car; and the "Days of Thunder" Lumina driven by Tom Cruise. The facility has recently been updated with new trophies, cars and other memorabilia. Lowe's Motor Speedway will provide free festival parking, which can be accessed at "Lot Z" off Speedway Boulevard in Concord. Trams will be available to transport fans from the parking area to the festival grounds. For additional information, including directions and schedule updates, fans may visit www.HendrickMotorsports.com or call 877-467-4890 toll free.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(4-28-2004)
Tony Stewart Day: Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and leaders from the state's House of Representatives and Senate will declare April 28 "Tony Stewart Day" in Kansas. The 2002 NASCAR Champion and driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet will speak before both houses of the Kansas Legislature and participate in a press conference with the governor, where she will present him with the official proclamation/resolution for "Tony Stewart Day."(Kansas Speedway PR)(4-28-2004)
#48 News? New Tire Changer: hearing the #48 Lowe's Chevy team is looking for a new tire changer for Jimmie Johnson, not sure if anyone got let go or which tire changer position.(4-27-2004) UPDATE: #48-Jimmie Johnson has a new rear tire changer starting this week, Shane Parsnow.(4-28-2004)
Testing at Infineon Raceway TODAY: hearing a few Nextel Cup teams will test at Infineon Raceway on April 27-28th, so far the drivers who plan to test include: #18-Bobby Labonte, #21-Ricky Rudd, #9-Kasey Kahne, #45-Kyle Petty and #16-Greg Biffle.(4-23-2004) AND add #41-Casey Mears and #42-Jamie McMurray teams testing, supposedly Scott Pruett will also be testing, last year he ran the #39 Dodge. Also scheduled to test are #10-Scott Riggs and Klaus Graf in a 2nd [#69?] BAM Racing Dodge.(4-27-2004) UPDATE - Pruett, McMurray Fastest During Test at Infineon Raceway: Road-course specialist #39-Scott Pruett and #42-Jamie McMurray posted the fastest time on Tuesday during a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup test session at Infineon Raceway. Pruett, who will compete for Chip Ganassi Racing at the Dodge/Save Mart 350 in June at Infineon Raceway, turned the newly repaved 12-turn, 1.99-mile road course in 1 minute, 16.2 seconds, 94.016mph , as did McMurray. Boris Said holds the official track record of 1:16.522 seconds 93.620mph, set in 2003. "The tires are not as big of an issue now with the track repaved," said McMurray, who placed 20th in his first start at Infineon Raceway in 2003. "The track is real smooth and it's going to be a lot faster, at least one second faster. I really enjoy coming to the road courses. It's a nice change."
The rest of the drivers and speeds:
#18-Bobby Labonte, 93.893mph
#41-Casey Mears, 93.647
#16-Greg Biffle, 93.623
#9-Kasey Kahne, 93.039
#45-Kyle Petty, 92.498
#22-Scott Wimmer, 91.787
#21-Ricky Rudd, time unavailable
#59-Klaus Graf, time unavailable
All times were supplied by the race teams.(Infineon Raceway PR)(4-28-2004)
Changes in the Nextel All-Star Challenge: Some significant changes were announced today for the 20th annual NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, set for Saturday evening, May 22, at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. NASCAR’s always-anticipated all-star event – formerly known as The Winston – is primarily for race winners from the previous and current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series seasons. It also includes the winner of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Open, a preliminary event for teams that have not qualified for the showcase event. One of the changes instituted this year involves eligibility of past all-star champions. This year, two other past champions – who are also still active drivers – are eligible; previously, there was a five-year retroactive cut-off for past champions. This change makes 1998 event champion Mark Martin (#6 Viagra Ford) and 1994 champion Geoffrey Bodine eligible.
Another change involves the actual race format. While the 90-lap/135-mile overall distance is again divided into 40-, 30- and 20-lap segments, no longer will each segment result in some drivers being eliminated. This will ensure a full field of cars racing for the winner’s purse of approximately $1 million. “It’s an all-star event and all the stars should participate,” said Lowe’s Motor Speedway President H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler. “That’s what the fans come to see – their favorite drivers.”
Also, after the first segment, there will be a random drawing to determine an inversion of the starting order for the second segment; between six and 12 cars will be inverted. The previous format called for an inversion prior to the final segment. Changing the inversion to the second segment will “encourage great racing and no sandbagging in the first 40-lap segment,” Wheeler said. “Drivers in the back will want to race themselves into that 12-car inversion while the front guys still have to race hard not knowing how many will be inverted.”
Going into the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, a total of 23 drivers and car owners [see my 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge page] have qualified for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. In instances where a driver has qualified by winning a race but has since changed teams, both the driver and the driver’s former team qualify for an entry. For NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge ticket information, contact the Lowe’s Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.(LMS PR)(4-27-2004)
Get rid of your Gray, help out: Just for Men Haircolor, one of Michael Waltrip's sponsors, will be conducting a charitable fund-raiser at California Speedway. For every man who has his gray hair colored (for free) at the Just for Men location on the speedway midway (behind the main grandstand), the company will donate $20 to Give Kids The World, a non-profit program for children with life-threatening illnesses. The hours are 9:00am - 3:00pm on Friday, 8:00am - 1:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am - 12:00noon on Sunday.(4-27-2004)
Fox Sports / NASCAR This Morning / First Response K9 Recovery Auction: Fox Sports / NASCAR This Morning / First Response K9 Recovery has teamed up to offer a fan and a guest a morning visit at the “NASCAR This Morning” studios and a meet and greet with John Roberts, Bill Ingle, Kenny Wallace and Chad Little, the hosts of the show. After the show begins its broadcast the two visitors make their way as guests to the control room were they get to watch the inner workings of the live broadcast while being escorted by Scott Davis of First Response K9 Recovery. In addition to the morning at the studio, the two participants receive a one nights stay at the Hampton Inns and Suites, and chauffeured ground transportation to and from the airport if applicable. More info and to check out the auction, see my Racing Charities page.(4-27-2004)
Sad News: Bob Eugene Pressley, 71, of 763 Brevard Road, Asheville, died Tuesday morning, April 27, 2004, at St. Joseph Hospital. Mr. Pressley is survived by his wife, Doris P. Pressley and children, Robert, Charles, Mike, Kenneth and Patricia. Funeral services will be at 11:00am/et Friday at Bent Creek Baptist Church with burial to follow in the church cemetery. His family will receive friends Thursday evening at the church.(
Groce Funeral Home Site), Pressley's son, Roberty, currently drives the #47 Ford in the Busch Series and Charlie is a past crew chief for NASCAR teams. And see a nice article at the Asheville Citizen-Times(4-27-2004)
Cope sponsor for California: #50-Derrike Cope will have decals for Bennett Lane Winery on the Arnold Motorsports Dodge at California Speedway, see my #50 Paint Scheme page for four images.(4-27-2004)
How the field is 'frozen' and why no red flag at Talladega: The final four laps of the 188-lap race at Talladega Superspeedway ran under a yellow flag. The final caution, brought out by Vickers' spin, came too late for NASCAR to throw a red flag and stop the race, and also too late to get a restart. Had Vickers' incident come on lap 182 instead of 184, the race would have been stopped. "We would have had time to clean up, open the pits and still have at least three laps to get up to speed and race," NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said on Monday. "We missed by two laps." NASCAR informs the teams at its drivers meeting each raceday morning of the last lap when a red flag will be waved with the aim of insuring a green-flag finish. At Talladega, there would be no red flag from lap 183 on. So when the late caution came out, the field was frozen, under another NASCAR edict that forbids racing back to the yellow flag. At precisely that point, #24-Jeff Gordon was ahead of #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. The freeze-frame moment was recorded by what NASCAR calls "scoring loops," a series of marking spots around the track where electronic lines under the surface register the running order from signals transmitted by transponders in the race cars. At Talladega, there are eight markers imbedded under the 2.66-mile track. "We go back to the nearest scoring loop to the accident and then to whatever video is available," Hunter said. In this case, the video showed the caution came while Vickers' wreck was in progress and Gordon was nearly a full car length ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "Gordon was first when the caution came out and also first to cross the loop line," Hunter said. As for managing a restart with just four laps to go, the problem was not so much cleaning up the debris from Vickers' incident but sorting the running order through the full field where cars were racing three wide when the caution fell. With the red-flag option gone, the result would have been, at best, a one-lap shootout. Memories of massive pileups at Talladega and Daytona on two-lap restarts made that call a no-go. "We wouldn't start it with two to go at Daytona or Talladega," Hunter said.(Alabama Live)(4-27-2004)
2nd PPI Team? UPDATE: PPI Motorsports may have a couple cars and a couple crew chiefs in the mix this week when it tests at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY. PPI owner Cal Wells III has long craved a second team to run alongside Ricky Craven's #32 Tide Chevrolet. He said the search is picking up steam. "It's a little premature to be talking about a second team," Wells said. "We've been working on some sponsorship opportunities and they're cooking pretty good. We're not quite zeroed in yet on what we're going to do, we're just talking away on it. We're going to take Rick to Kentucky this week (to test)," Wells said. "We're looking at maybe running two cars, the number 32 and 96, to sort through a couple of issues we've got." Former Cup crew chief Joe Garone, who most recently has been a high-ranking official at NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, N.C., will accompany PPI, Garone said at Martinsville. Garone has left NASCAR and is looking to get back into the Nextel Cup garage as a crew chief. Wells said his sponsorship talks might result in a limited program of races later this season. "Our talks have got us close to, not a full deal, but maybe a few races later in the season, in the second half of the year," Wells said. "We're probably looking at something in the last third of the season."(NASCAR.com)(4-22-2004) UPDATE: Johnny Benson could become a second driver for Cal Wells, as teammate with Ricky Craven, depending on how sponsorship works out. Wells and Craven haven't had great luck this season and Sunday, Craven's engine broke just seven laps into the race.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-27-2004)
Jarrett testing at Kentucky: #88-Dale Jarrett is scheduled to test the #88 UPS Ford at Kentucky Speedway Tues, April 27th and Wednesday, April 28th. Fans can watch from the front of the Turn 3 Fan Center.(Kentucky Speedway Site)(4-27-2004)
Larry Foyt to run the Indy 500: If all goes according to plan, there will be two Foyts competing in the Indianapolis 500-Mile race this year. Larry Foyt, son of A.J. Foyt, will attempt to compete in his first Indianapolis 500 driving for his father. It will be the first
Indy car race for the 27-year-old college graduate who is currently driving for his father on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit. A.J. Foyt IV, grandson of Indy's first four-time winner, finished 18th in his Indy 500 debut last year and is currently driving the #14 Conseco Dallara/Toyota in the IRL IndyCar Series. Larry Foyt tested at the historic 2.5-mile track today during the IRL's Rookie Orientation Program. He ran a total of 59 laps and reached speeds over 210mph. "It's the coolest day of my life," Foyt said after stepping out of the
team's back-up car, the #14T Conseco Dallara/Toyota. "It was everything I thought it would be. This is such a special place. I've been coming here since I was born and when I was growing up I used to wonder, Can I do it? And today I got to do it. We ran 210 and I know I
can go faster. We had a lot of downforce on the car because my dad just wanted me to get comfortable. "I had to get the 'stock car line' out of me," Foyt said. "You run quite a different line in the stock car than you do these cars. The stock car is much heavier and the engine is in the front so you drive it so much different. The Indy car feels really good out there. There were a lot of things that were new to me. I had never run a sequential shift or the pit lane speed limiter. There's a lot of electronics that we don't have in the stock car. Today was ideal because there was no pressure so I could take my time adapting. I know that it'll get harder once we start trimming it out but we're pretty happy with the way things went. I had a blast!"
He will join Foyt IV for the IRL IndyCar Series' Open Test at the Speedway this week. Originally set for Tuesday and Wednesday, the test
has been rescheduled for Wednesday and Thursday to avoid the cold temperatures and strong winds predicted for tomorrow. A.J. Foyt was pleased with his son's performance. "I was happy. He could have gone faster but I didn't want him to push it. The idea of today was to just get acclimated because it is so different from what he's been used to driving. He had tested an Indy car at Colorado and Texas about five years ago and passed his rookie test but then I put him in the stock cars. He never gave up his hope of driving in the Indy 500 though. I never wanted any of my kids to race because it is such a tough sport, but when that's all they want to do, what can you say? Now I have two of them racing, but the way I feel about that is it's their life to live. I'm just glad I can help them out."(Foyt Racing PR)(4-27-2004)
Slowest Cup race ever at Talladega: A track record 11 caution periods over 55 laps caused the average speed to be 129.396mph, the slowest in a NASCAR Winston/Nextel Cup race at Talladega. The record (130.892) was set in 1975 in a race won by Buddy Baker.(St Petersburg Times)(4-27-2004)
Nice Gesture: Stater Bros. Markets is proudly donating a total of 1000 tickets to military personnel for the upcoming NASCAR races at the California Speedway in Fontana, California. This donation includes tickets for the "Stater Bros. 300" NASCAR Race on Saturday, May 1, 2004 as well as the "Auto Club 500" NASCAR Race on Sunday May 2, 2004. Stater Bros. is the "Official Grocery Store" of the California Speedway for 2004. Stater Bros. is also the title sponsor of the NASCAR Busch Series event "The Stater Bros. 300" at the California Speedway on Saturday, May 1, 2004.(PRNewswire)(4-27-2004)
Last 45 races, 7 finished under yellow [15%]: In the last 45 Nextel Cup races [beginning 2003 season] seven races have ended under the yellow flag/or due to rain:
Daytona, Feb 2003, #15-Michael Waltrip wins, called due to rain
Martinsville, March 2003, #24-Jeff Gordon, wreck/yellow
Richmond, May 2003, #25-Joe Nemechek, rain
Lowe's Motor Speedway, May 2003, #48-Jimmie Johnson, rain
Pocono, June 2003, #20-Tony Stewart, wreck
Atlanta, October 2003, #24-Jeff Gordon, wreck
Talladega, April 2004, #24- Jeff Gordon, wreck.(4-27-2004)
Stewart to Meet with Darby at Calif. UPDATE penalty?: Tony Stewart will be required to meet with series director John Darby this weekend at California Speedway regarding his recent actions during and after races, NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Monday. Stewart is not likely to face any official sanctions from his actions in and after Sunday's race at Talladega, Ala., Zizzo said, but Darby wants to discuss some of Stewart's recent actions with him. In Sunday's race, Stewart's crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, was warned on the radio at least twice by NASCAR to calm his driver down. Following the race, Stewart elected not to run the "cool down" lap and turned into the exit of pit road. However, he failed to notice driver Terry Labonte and turned in front of him and the two collided. Stewart then drove up the length of pit road the wrong way at a high rate of speed past a gathering of media, NASCAR and track officials, then stopped to talk with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the entrance to the garage area. Several NASCAR officials, as well as Labonte's crew chief, Jim Long, complained about Stewart's actions. Labonte's team did not receive an apology or any explantion of his actions from Stewart. Monday, a spokesman for Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing team said Stewart phoned and spoke with Busch about Sunday's incident and had attempted to reach Labonte, but was so far unsuccessful. Stewart's explanation for his quick turn to pit road was an attempt to avoid the debris being tossed on the track by race fans, the spokesman said.(more at ThatsRacin.com)(4-26-2004) AND Tony Stewart's actions following Sunday's race at Talladega were being reviewed Monday afternoon by NASCAR officials to determine if further action by the sanctioning body was necessary. "We're reviewing (Stewart's actions)," NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said. "And gathering facts on what occurred to determine what we might do." Stewart caused one accident during the race when he hit Kurt Busch and was on the receiving end of some similar contact later in the race from Jimmie Johnson that sent Stewart spinning. He was being reviewed because, after taking the checkered flag at about 70 mph behind the pace car, he abruptly turned 90 degrees to the left, onto the track's asphalt apron heading into Turn 1. When he did, Stewart's car made contact with the front of Terry Labonte's car, causing it heavy damage, according to a team spokesman. Stewart drove up pit road in the opposite direction from the rest of the field, causing at least one television correspondent to report Sunday evening he and his co-workers had "feared for their safety" upon Stewart's actions. Stewart stopped at NASCAR's checkpoint to get the proper angle of his car's rear spoiler verified, and then drove into the garage area.(more at NASCAR.com)(4-27-2004)
What happened between #5-Terry Labonte and #20-Tony Stewart? Fox showed #20-Stewart making an abrupt left after the checkered flag and right into the the right front of #5-Labonte, but no further explanation was given and I have found none yet in articles or PR's. But have been told Stewart was avoiding some of the fan thrown debris and didn't realize Labonte was there and darted to avoid it, but have seen nothing 'official' about it. AND As NASCAR ruled that Jeff Gordon had edged-out fan favorite Earnhardt for the win because he was ahead of Earnhardt when the caution flag waved, fans littered the track with beer cans and other debris. When Stewart crossed the finish line, he made a hard left onto pit road to avoid the raining garbage. That caught Terry Labonte by surprise, who was just to the inside of Stewart. As Stewart turned, he clipped the nose of Labonte's #5 Chevrolet.(Truespeed PR/Joe Gibbs Racing)(4-26/27-2004)
Overnight Talladega TV Ratings Up: Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Aaron's 499 from Talladega Superspeedway drew a 5.9 rating and 13 share in overnight Nielsen Media Research numbers from the nation's largest television markets, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating is up 3.5 percent from the 5.7 overnight figure from last year's spring race, which drew final figures of 6.2/15. The race was the top-rated sports event of the weekend, edging the 5.813 that ABC drew for the NBA playoff game between the Lakers and the Rockets. Saturday's Aaron's 312 Busch Series race drew a 2.1/5 on Fox.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-26-2004)
Spoiler Change starting at Chicago: Nextel Cup director John Darby says teams will have to cut one-half inch off of the cars' spoilers before the race at Chicago on July 11. Many teams have reserved tests anticipating the change.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(4-26-2004)
Down to 18 for 'the chase': The number of drivers within the 400-point window that would make them eligible for the Nextel Cup Series' "Chase for the Championship" at the end of the season took a hit Sunday. Prior to the race, 23 drivers were within 400 points of the leader - the cut-off to make the 10-race championship battle. After Sunday's race, only 18 remained that close to leader #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. with nine of the 26 races used to compute the total complete.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-26-2004)
NASCAR's comments on the #8 and #24 placement and why no last lap shootout at Talladega: NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said a videotape review clearly showed Gordon ahead when the caution lights came on. "We turned the lights on when the wreck was in progress," Hunter said. "We had a great piece of footage that showed the two cars, so it was really clear-cut that Gordon was in the lead." Hunter said Tony Eury, Earnhardt's crew chief, looked the video and agreed with NASCAR. The other part of the controversy was the fact that NASCAR did not get the green flag back out for a race to the finish, keeping it under caution to the end and igniting the fans anger when they realized Gordon was going to win. "Here and at Daytona we're not going to have a one-lap shootout just because of safety," Hunter said. "We're just not going to do that."(Daytona Beach News Journal/AP)(4-26-2004)
Sad News: Johnny Dodson, father of long time NASCAR Crew Chief/TV Broadcaster, Barry Dodson [currently the General Manager for Rusty Wallace's #66 Busch team] passed away on Sunday. Barry and wife Jan would appreciate that if anyone wishes to donate in Johnny's memory be made to the Victory Junction Gang Camp. You can make a donation on-line with a credit card by clicking here. Or, if you would like to mail your donation, gifts can be mailed to:
Victory Junction Gang Camp
Attn: Jayski Computer Lab Fund
311 Branson Mill Road
Randleman, NC 27317
or call 877-VJG-CAMP.(4-26-2004)
Trash helps end race under yellow: fans showed their dissatisfaction by littering the [Talladega] speedway with beer cans -- and anything else that was handy -- when the lineup showed the #8 car in second place. With trash on the track, NASCAR officials had no choice but to finish the race under yellow.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(4-26-2004)