New Safety Camera for the IRL, NASCAR maybe?: The view out back of the IRL's Chevrolet four-door trucks is obscured by an 80-gallon water tank and a locker crammed with rescue tools. That view will improve during this year's Indy 500-Mile Race, thanks to technology developed by Delphi's Kokomo-based electronics division. Three of the IRL's safety trucks now sport Delphi camera systems that show the view out back on a liquid crystal display monitor, bolted to the dashboard console. It's technology Delphi someday might convert to the consumer market, particularly in trucks and recreational vehicles for which backing up is a hazard because of poor visibility. On the safety trucks, a camera is perched mid-vehicle in a clear dome atop the water tank. One benefit is that the safety truck driver can see whether he has dumped enough oil-dry material onto the track after a crash. More importantly, safety truck drivers can watch for hazards behind them and can move the truck and crew if they see a car careening toward them. The display also lets the truck driver make sure that the two firefighters who ride in jump seats in the truck bed are seated properly before pulling away. Each truck also has a forward-facing camera. This portends an even bigger safety benefit: letting crews more effectively respond to a crash and better conveying the type and severity of a driver's injuries to awaiting medical teams. The trucks can transmit the camera images in real time to the track's medical center. The IRL/Delphi video system may have implications for NASCAR. Herb Branham, communications manager for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, noted that NASCAR and the IRL have worked together previously to improve safety -- such as in developing flexible track walls that minimize driver injury in a crash. "This is the first time that we've really heard about this type of thing. . . . They (IRL) have a lot of good ideas. Rest assured, we'll give it a look."(in part from the Indianapolis Star)(5-9-2004)
Kenseth to FX: No thanks to reality show: Cable TV channel FX debuts its weekly unscripted program "NASCAR Drivers: 360" on Friday. The show will feature drivers and their families during their day-to-day lives. The drivers will include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeremy Mayfield, Jamie McMurray, Ward Burton, Casey Mears, Scott Wimmer, Brian Vickers, Kenny Wallace and Rusty Wallace. Matt Kenseth said he was approached by the network about being one of the subjects, but declined because of the amount of time needed for filming.(Rockford Register Star)(5-9-2004)
Stewart wins Sprint Car Race: Tony Stewart was good enough Friday, but unlike his WOW victory in Sedalia [at Missouri's State Fair Speedway, a half-mile dirt track] on April 16, he had to battle to triumph this time. Columbia's Eric Shrock led through the midpoint of the 360-sprints feature, but at the completion of lap 10, his #86 car struck the wall under the flag stand. Shrock regained control but lost precious speed with Stewart closing in, in the #20 winged car maintained for him by friends Danny Lasoski and George Lasoski. Stewart seized the lead, overcame his own scrape with the wall at the flag stand in lap 11, and held off Shrock to take the checkered flag after 20 laps. Stewart had a layoff from the NASCAR schedule this weekend, for Mother's Day, so he called Lasoski, looking for a sprint race. The two decided Stewart would compete Friday at Sedalia, where he has driven a 360 four times -- easily the racer's most extensive experience in winged cars. "I've probably driven more types of race cars than anybody who races (NASCAR) right now," said Stewart, who turns 33 on May 20. "I just like the challenge of something I haven't done before, and (winged sprint) is probably one of the hardest things I've had to learn to drive right.(see full story at the Sedalia Democrat)(5-9-2004)
Kenseth wins ASA Late Model Race: Matt Kenseth made a one race visit to the American Speed Association Late Model Series, but he made the most of it. By winning both the pole and race for the first-ever ASA Late Model Series event, the Blaine's Farm & Fleet/DeWalt/Carhartt 100, Kenseth etched his name in the history books. The event was held at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wis., before a near-capacity crowd. "I always wanted to go in ASA's history books somewhere," Kenseth claimed. "I've never been able to win an ASA touring series race before, so that's pretty cool. I've ran in a few of them, but never been able to pull one off so it's cool to win one of these Late Model races." A former ASA National Tour competitor, Kenseth has made 16 career starts in ASA competition between 1994 and 1997. The win didn't come easily as Kenseth and second place finisher Ron Breese battled side-by-side for nearly a dozen laps prior to the race being called prematurely due to rain. Breese led for 49 consecutive laps with Kenseth stalking him, patiently waiting for an opening. As the pair circled together, Kenseth could get through the turns better to close the gap, and then Breese would get a slight edge down the straightaways. The action kept the crowd on their feet, and Kenseth finally made the pass stick on lap 67. "You don't get racing like that very often," Breese said after the race. "We came in second, but I tell you what, this was the most fun I've had in a long time. We took second to the Winston Cup champion, but I would have liked to have won." Kenseth echoed the feelings about what it was like in the cockpit. "It was fun. We might have had a little different gear because I could get him off the corner then on the straightaway he pulled me back. It was a great race and we were both getting through the corners good and putting on a good show." Kenseth won the pole earlier in the afternoon with a lap of 18.116-seconds around the 0.50-mile oval. Ultimately, he started the event in seventh position due to the inverted start. Unfortunately, the scheduled 100-lap event was red flagged for weather on lap 75. The sky lit up nearly all evening with lightening, and once the rain started to fall the track quickly went away. In ASA Late Model Series competition, caution flag laps don't count
towards the total, fortunately for the fans as the yellow flag flew a total of 16 times. There were four lead changes among three drivers. Of the 32 cars starting the race, 17 finished on the lead lap. The top 10 finishers in the event were Kenseth, Breese, Kluever, Bobby Wildberg, Bobby Stremme, Dave Lawrence, Adam Shackelford, Brad Osborn, Jeff Watters and Doug Mahlik. Travis Kvapil, the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion, retired early with ignition problems. The ASA Late Model Series is next in action at Baer Field Speedway in Ft. Wayne, Ind., on Sunday, May 16. The American Speed Association is based in Pendleton, Ind., and has offered stock car racing programs since 1968, including the ASA National Tour, ASA Late Model Series, several regional touring series and the ASA Member Track programs.(ASA PR)(5-9-2004)
Robby looking for sponsor to run full Bucsh season: At the start of the 2004 NASCAR season, Robby Gordon and Fruit of the Loom were content to compete together in 24 NASCAR Busch Series races. As a result of a better-than-expected start, the objectives have changed. In its first effort on the track, the Gordon-owned #55 entry qualified fifth and finished third at the season-opening Hershey's
Kisses 300 at Daytona International Speedway. Since then, the team has performed consistently, recording three top-fives and five top-10
finishes in only nine races. Through the Stater Bros. 300 at California Speedway, Gordon sits just 90 points out of the NASCAR Busch Series championship lead. Being close enough to reach out and touch a championship has changed the full-time NASCAR Cup driver's outlook. "We didn't even consider making a run at the full 34-race schedule when the season began," Gordon admitted. "My focus was, and
continues to be, on winning a NASCAR Cup Series championship with my Cingular Wireless team, and on winning as many Busch Series races as possible for Fruit of the Loom. To be honest with you, we didn't necessarily expect to be this close to the points lead after nine
races with a brand new team. Now that we are, and given that we're getting better as a team every time out, we've added winning a Busch
Series championship to the objectives for the year." In order to make those goals a reality, however, Gordon, and his Robby Gordon Motorsports team, is seeking primary sponsorship for the nine races Fruit of the Loom did not plan for at the start of the season. The first open date on the team's NASCAR Busch Series schedule is the Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200 at Nazareth Speedway on May 23, followed the next week by the Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on May 29. Both races fall within the time frame Gordon will undoubtedly garner tremendous media attention as he tackles the high-profile Double Duty effort for the third-consecutive year, which will see him compete in both the IRL's Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day (May 30). A sponsor participating in all nine available NASCAR Busch Series races will also receive a position on the Gordon-owned Indianapolis 500 car. "This season is coming together nicely for us," Gordon said. "We're climbing back into the championship hunt in the Cingular Wireless Cup car, we're right there for the championship in the Busch car, we've got a legitimate shot at winning both the pole and the race in the Meijer Stores Chevrolet Dallara in the Indy 500 and we're going to finish the season by trying to win the Baja 1000 again in the Red Bull Chevy Trophy Truck. If a few things go our way, we can have a great year for ourselves as well as our corporate partners that help make our goals possible."(Robby Gordon Motorsports PR)(5-9-2004)
New #98 Crew Chief: hearing that Mike Steurer has been hired as crew chief for the #98 Ford that Todd Bodine drives in the Cup Series.(5-8-2004)
Gordon to F-1......to WATCH: Jeff Gordon is heading off to Barcelona, Spain, planning to catch Sunday's Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix [Speed Channel 5/9 at 7:30am/et]. Don't think this is an indication Gordon has plans or intentions to climb behind the wheel of the world's greatest open-wheel car. "I'm too old to go Formula One and start all over again," said Gordon. "After driving that car for one day, I realized what kind of dedication it would take to start from scratch to learn all new tracks, all new cars, all new people and take my whole life in the U.S. and move to Europe." Gordon swapped cars with F1 racer Juan Pablo Montoya last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Gordon drove Montoya's Williams-BMW car; Montoya drove Gordon's Dupont #24. "After that test, we started talking about going to the Barcelona race," Gordon said. "Who better to call to get credentials and hospitality passes than Williams and BMW?"(Patriot News)(5-7-2004)
Pit Crew for Robby Gordon Pockets Third Win of Season: For the second straight week and third time of the season, the pit crew for Robby Gordon claimed top honors in the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade. Gordon's crew became the season's first three-time winner of the competition by scoring the best pit road time at last week's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway in Fontana. The other wins for the No. 31 crew were the week before in Talladega and March 14 in Atlanta. The three victories have earned Gordon's crew $60,000. The McDonald's/POWERade weekly competition pays $20,000 for an event victory and a bonus of $200,000 to the season pit crew champion. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s pit crew continues to lead in the standings with 382 points. Kurt Busch's crew is second with 360. Gordon's crew is 10th with 321. Gordon's Cingular Wireless Chevrolet spent 213.700 seconds on pit road in the California race, edging Joe Nemechek's U.S. Army Chevrolet by less than a second (214.423). Ken Schrader's No. 49 Schwan's Home Service Dodge was third with a time of 215.555. "I knew the Cingular Wireless pit crew had to be in strong contention after having another phenomenal performance in California," said Chris Andrews, crew chief of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team. "We made two pit stops within the first 60 laps of the race. After that second stop, we had gained 15 positions from where we had started and I know at least eight of the 15 were obtained on pit road." Gordon was equally complimentary of the No. 31 crew. "There are so many factors that affect how a team is going to finish a race and pit performance is one factor that definitely plays a huge role," said Gordon. "Our finishes are finally starting to show what Team Cingular is capable of and I do attribute a lot of that to my guys on pit road." 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 (gas man), Mike Moore (jackman) and Coy Hedrick (catch can).(DMD Communications PR), for the top 10 at California and the season standings, see my Pit Crew News page.(5-7-2004)
Ford sees improvement in Nextel Cup cars: By the numbers, Ford's fortunes through the first 10 races of the 2004 Nextel Cup season aren't much different from the start of its frustrating 2003 season. That's a bad place to look, said Greg Specht, Ford Racing of North America's operations manager. In this case, Specht said the numbers are fibbing a bit. He said they are not indicative of the way the Tauruses are performing. “Overall,” Specht said, “I'm pleased and I'm optimistic.” A year ago at this time, three Ford drivers were in the top 10 in points — leader Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Elliott Sadler. Between them, they had three victories and four DNFs — races they failed to finish. This year, there are again three Ford drivers in the top 10 — the same three drivers. They have a total of four victories and just two DNFs. Improvement in the Fords is most evident, they say, on bigger tracks such as Daytona International Speedway in Florida and Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Those are the tracks where the aerodynamic shortcomings of the past appear to have been reduced. The 2004 Fords have subtly changed their noses and tails. The most noticeable change is on the grille opening, which has gone from oval to a more rectangular shape. It's a subtle change, but an apparently effective one. Ford picked up a victory at a superspeedway when Elliott Sadler won at Talladega. And there have been Fords on the poles at both superspeedways— Greg Biffle at Daytona and Ricky Rudd at Talladega. In addition, Sadler started alongside Biffle on the front row at Daytona. There is major optimism in the Ford camp when it comes to engine power. Though there have been some mechanical problems, the collaboration of Robert Yates Racing and Roush Racing in building engines has been a success, Specht said. Engines built in the new Yates-Roush engine shop have won four of the first 10 races. More good news is in the pipeline — though that pipeline appears to be longer than had been hoped. NASCAR granted Ford teams use of a new piston [cylinder] head late last year. It was hoped that the head would be attached to the engines a couple of weeks ago, but it is still in the testing stage. Specht says the philosophy has been to not rush the new piston heads into use.(Kansas City Star)(5-7-2004)
Robby Gordon gets a sponsor for Indy 500 and Busch: Char-Broil, the world's leader in gas, charcoal and electric grills, has joined race driver Robby Gordon as a sponsor of his Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Busch Series teams. Char-Broil's portable grill brand Thermos Grill2Go has prominent identification on the #70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara-Chevrolet that Gordon will race in the May 30th Indy 500. In addition, Thermos Grill2Go has placement on the #55 Fruit of the Loom Chevy that Gordon drives in the NASCAR Busch Series. Char-Broil's Grilling Team Tour will be trackside at the Indianapolis 500 over Memorial Day weekend, the NASCAR GFS Marketplace
400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 22nd and the NASCAR UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 16th in Charlotte. The tour consists of a 40-foot mobile marketing trailer that will travel to races, events and retail locations along the east
coast and throughout the midwest for 27 weeks this summer. Fans that visit the trailer on race day may have a chance to meet Gordon, and can enter to win a Thermos Grill2Go Fire & Ice; the portable grill and cooler combination perfect for tailgating. At the trailer fans will participate in interactive games like the washer toss, sample different cuts of pork from tour sponsor Smithfield, and learn about the latest grills, smokers, fireplaces and accessories from Char-Broil.(PR)(5-7-2004)
Truex Jr. debut could come at NHIS: Martin Truex Jr. will likely make his debut appearance in the Nextel Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in September, said his crew chief Kevin Manion. “Possibly (New Hampshire) might be our first Cup race,” said Manion, a native of Boylston who has been working at Dale Earnhardt Inc. since 1997 and has been the Chance 2 Motorsports, a team originally started at DEI by the late seven-time champion in 1997, crew chief since 2002. Even though Truex Jr. won’t test at NHIS for the Busch Series event in July, Manion noted if DEI decides to field an additional car for the September race, testing will be mandatory. “We’ll test up there for sure in a Cup car because it’s a total different series,” said Manion.(Boston Herald)(5-7-2004)
Final California TV Ratings up 15% AND: Fox's broadcast of last Sunday's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway earned a 6.1 rating and a 14 share in final Nielsen Media Research figures, a 15.1 percent increase over last year's 5.3. Fox says that through nine races this season it is averaging a 5.9 rating, up 2 percent from last year's 5.8. Friday's Sports Business Daily also will report that final figures for the May 1 Stater Brothers 300 Busch Series race on Fox earned a 1.9/5, down 5.0 percent from a 2.0/5 in 2003 and down 20.8 percent from a 2.4/6 in 2002.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-6-2004) AND The Auto Club 500, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race held last Sunday at California Speedway, was the second most-watched sporting event of the weekend. The Auto Club 500 also finished as the highest-rated NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event in the speedway's history. An average of 9,817,000 viewers tuned in the Auto Club 500, a 19% increase over the viewers that tuned in to the 2003 event. An average of 6,577,000 households tuned in to the Auto Club 500, a 17% increase over the households that tuned in to the 2003 event. The Auto Club 500, won by four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, ranked second only to the 130th running of the Kentucky Derby. It out-rated the Los Angeles Lakers-San Antonio Spurs NBA playoff game, which it aired directly against. The Auto Club 500 also aired directly against the PGA, AFL, NHL Playoffs, MLB and LPGA. Several key markets have shown year-to-date household viewing increases in 2004. They are Orlando (39%), Miami (31%), Dallas (28%), Los Angeles (19%), New York (10%), Atlanta (15%) and Seattle (19%). The largest growing demographic viewer groups for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series are females ages18-24 (a 27% increase over 2003), females ages18 to 34 (20%) and males ages 18-24 (11%).(Figures compiled by Nielsen Media Research.)(NASCAR PR)(5-7-2004)
Stewart to run Atlanta Busch race with an all-star pit crew: The "McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERADE" competition is growing more intense this year [see last weeks standings on my Pit Crew Page]. McDonald's and Powerade have decided to take the competition to the next level by creating tow "All-Star Pit Crews" comprised of the best over-the-wall guys across the NEXTEL Cup Series. For the Atlanta Busch Series race in October. To win this event, the team whose car spends the least amount of aggregate time off the racetrack will be named the winner and awarded a monetary prize. To commemorate these unsung heroes, Tony Stewart will pilot the #92 Powerade car for the Powerade All Star crew. Both cars will feature the "McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERADE" theme [I assume they will use the standings up to that point as the competition runs thru the end of the series].(5-6-2004)
Spencer to Rumble at Bristol: Michael Buffer, world famous boxing announcer, will serve as the host and emcee of the ever thrilling Bristol night race this Aug. Buffer's famous trademarked phrase "Let's Get Ready to Rumble!" is one of the most widely known and recognized in the world of sports and entertainment, and will serve as the promotional tagline and theme in Bristol's advertising leading up to the race weekend. #4 Morgan-McClure driver, Jimmy Spencer will be commemoration this infamous phrase in a "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" logo and graphics.(5-6-2004)
2004 Pocono Raceway Award Recipient: The Midwest Roadside Safety Facility [
mwrsf.unl.edu], headed by Dr. Dean L. Sicking has been named the 2004 recipient of Pocono Raceway's Bill France Award of Excellence. The Pocono Raceway Bill France Award of Excellence has been presented annually to the person, corporation or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the sport of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Racing. This prestigious award, first presented in 1977, is dedicated to the inspiration of Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR.
The 2004 recipient is unique in that it is not a driver, a team owner or a sponsor. This year's recipient is a university roadside safety research team headed by a Ph.D. in civil engineering. The Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln,
headed by Dr. Sicking, is responsible for the development of the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier system. The SAFER barrier system is designed to absorb some of the energy that is transferred during a crash. NASCAR recently announced that the SAFER barriers system will be installed at all recommended oval tracks by the 2005 racing season. Dr. Sicking is one of the world's leading independent researchers on barrier and crash safety. His research has led to 21 U.S. patents on roadside safety structures. Under his guidance the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility has developed into one of the premier roadside safety research laboratories in the world.
Dr. Sicking and the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility have come to be recognized as a global leader in the development of crashworthy safety structures. Their research has developed numerous safety features that have been adopted nationwide and several that have been adopted internationally. These safety features have saved the lives of countless motorists across the nation over the last decade.
The Pocono Raceway Bill France Award of Excellence, a beautifully sculptured and highly polished piece of anthracite coal mined in
Pennsylvania, will be presented to Dr. Sicking and the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility team at an award ceremony on Saturday, June 12, 2004. This ceremony is part of the festivities leading up to the June 13, 2004 POCONO 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway. Dr. Sicking and his research team join the prestigious list of Pocono Raceway's Bill France Award of Excellence winners listed below:
Pocono Racewat's Bill france Award of Excellence Winners:
1977 Bill France
1980 Union Oil
1981 The Petty Family
1982 G.H. Long
1985 GNRWA ( Now WOW Wives Auxiliary)
1986 MRN (Motor Racing Network)
1987 Grand National Scene (Now NASCAR Scene)
1988 Charlotte Motor Speedway
1989 Ned Jarrett
1990 T. Wayne Robertson
1992 MRO (Motor Racing Outreach)
1993 The Allison Family
1994 Rev. Hal Marchman
1995 The Wood Bros.
1996 Clay Earles/Paul Sawyer
1997 Junie Dunlavey/Bud Moore
1999 Rick Hendrick
2000 Robert Yates
2001 Joe Gibbs
2002 Richard Childress
2003 Jack Roush
Tickets for the June 13th POCONO 500 are available by calling the Pocono Raceway ticket office at 1-800-RACEWAY or visiting
www.poconoraceway.com.(Pocono Raceway PR)(5-6-2004)
Foyt looking to do the Indy/Coca-Cola 600 double too, needs a sponsor: Larry Foyt will be heading to Indianapolis on Sunday, May 9th to spend the month of May preparing the car for his first attempt to run in the Indy 500. Foyt Racing is still in search of a sponsor for the event, and would also be interested in running the "Memorial Day Double" when a sponsor is found. There will be three Foyt's at Indy for the first time ever, AJ (as owner), Anthony (14 Conseco) and Larry. “It’s incredible,” Larry said. “I have always said that Indy was the reason I wanted to drive race cars. Every time I go there I am reminded of that--the place just gives me chills. By far it will be the biggest thing I’ve done in my life. I am thrilled beyond words.” Any one interested in sponsoring Foyt Racing in the Indy 500 or the Memorial Day Double should contact Foyt Racing in Mooresville, NC [704-799-1414](PR)(5-6-2004)
Andretti looking at Indy 500 options and a possible double: John Andretti said during his segment when ask what his plans are to run the Indy 500 and possible the Coca-Cola 600 in May: "I hate not being out there every weekend, and hopefully the plan is to get back on track as soon as possible. The Coca-Cola 600 is such a great race as is the Indy 500. We were the first one to do them both, and I would love to do them again. Who knows what's going to happen? But we're working toward both of them actually at this point, and we'll see. Obviously the Coca-Cola 600 is toward the end (of the month), and right up to the end, we're looking at all of the options, but then we have the Indy 500 and there are so many activities that go on. Even though the track opens, it doesn't mean there's not an opportunity. There are three days of qualifying, and, of course, the last day of qualifying being after the Nextel All-Star Challenge."(FoxSports)(5-6-2004)
2nd Drive for Diversity: A second driver — a woman with both short-track stock car racing and road racing in her background — has been chosen for NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program. Allison Duncan, a native of California who moved to North Carolina to pursue a NASCAR career, has been named to drive a Late Model Stock car in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway. She will have sponsorship from Miller Brewing Co. Duncan joins Tennessee driver Joe Henderson, who recently was named as the first driver in the NASCAR diversity program, whose goal is to train more minority individuals for participation at the top levels of stock car racing. Duncan will drive a Chevrolet owned by Tinsley Hughes. Duncan raced at Hickory last season and finished seventh in the Late Model point standings on the way to becoming the track's first female rookie of the year in her division. She also has raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona and in other sports car events. She is a driving instructor for the BMW Performance Center in Greer.(Greenville News)(5-6-2004)
Richmond Testing Continues: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers are threatening to break the poll record of 21.194 seconds (approximately 127 mph) at Richmond International Raceway. After two full days of testing the new asphalt among more than 20 drivers, all agreed that the record would fall during Wawa pole qualifying for the Chevy American Revolution 400 Friday, May 14. "It's going to be history, I can tell you that right now," said Emporia, Virginia native Elliott Sadler. "I'm running faster than that in race trim."
"The poll record will fall for sure-for sure," echoed Jeff Gordon. "I ran that time on 30-lap tires."
"The thing I have noticed about the racetrack is it's super smooth, but the characteristic of the track is exactly the same," added six-time Richmond winner Rusty Wallace. "I was supposed to test Martinsville, but I said 'you know what that track really hasn't changed, and boy it's really hard to test there because it's so rough.' I'd rather pass that one up and go to Richmond where it's a completely new pavement."
"No doubt there will be a track record set when we come back to qualify Busch and Cup," added Kurt Busch. "It's very fast. It's like a small Texas." NASCAR Busch Series title contender Bobby Hamilton, Jr. was among those testing who said the pavement is new, but the same great racing will remain the same. NASCAR veteran Mark Martin is excited about the changes made to the short track. "We're running a lot faster because of the new asphalt," added Martin. "It's exactly what you'd expect to see. The cars are a lot faster than they were in 1989. (The track was last repaved in late 1988.) Now we have fresh pavement and we're going to be able to go a lot faster than we did back then." Sadler gave the track rave reviews as well. "They did a great job. The track is very, very smooth. It has a lot of grip in it. It's going to be fast, which will make it fun. I hope that the Busch cars will slicken it up a little bit on Friday night so we'll be able to move around a lot on it Saturday night. I can't believe how smooth it is, so whoever did it did a great job so I have to commend everybody here at Richmond for that."
Gordon added, "The grip is there. The surface is fantastic. This track just offers that and I hope we see that our first time here with
the new pavement."
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Tony Stewart, Ricky Craven, Kurt Busch, Johnny Benson, Elliott Sadler, Ward Burton, Jimmy Spencer, Rusty Wallace, Brendan Gaughan and Jamie McMurray tested today. Busch Series drivers Kasey Kahne, Justin Labonte, Mike Bliss, J.J. Yeley, Jay Sauter, Eric McClure, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin and Dave Blaney also tested at Richmond Wednesday. Testing continues Thursday, May 6 when Ricky Rudd, Johnny Sauter and Ward Burton are scheduled to test the new blacktop. Grandstand gates open at 9:00 a.m. for this free event, which is open to the public.
The NEXTEL Cup drivers will have their first official run Friday, May 14 during Wawa Pole Qualifying for Saturday's sold-out Chevy American Revolution 400. Tickets are still available for Friday's NASCAR Busch Series FUNAI 250. Reserved seats are just $40, while general admission seats are $35. Thursday's NBC12 Pole Qualifying Day for the FUNAI 250 are just $5 for general admission seats. Children 12 and under are admitted free to general admission sections with a paying adult on both days. For ticket information, please call 1-866-455-RACE, or visit www.rir.com.(RIR PR)(5-6-2004)
New NASCAR TV Series on Spike:Spike TV hits the ignition Sunday, May 9 (10:00-10:30pm) with the greatest thrills and spills from the history of NASCAR with Stock Car Nation. This original, half-hour series, will delve into the network's rich collection of NASCAR highlights and will feature thrilling moments from the sport's most memorable races. Stock Car Nation will run the gamut of NASCAR history with different themed episodes including a countdown of racing's royal families, a look at the "Bad Boys of Racing," a compilation of Stock Car's most fantastic finishes, and a decade of bumper to bumper battles between Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon.
"This isn't your dad's highlight show - it's a wild, action-packed trip through the hottest moments in NASCAR history," said Kevin Kay,
Executive Vice-President, Programming & Production, Spike TV. "This must-see series for the NASCAR fan serves as a major component of our "Motor Mayhem" month.
The series also includes exclusive interviews with NASCAR's top drivers as they take a look back at many of the sport's most historic and unforgettable moments. Those interviewed include Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Elliott Sadler, Greg Biffle, Buddy Baker, Donnie Allison, and Ned Jarrett.
Legendary artist, Sam Bass, who was NASCAR's first officially licensed artist and who creates the car paint schemes for many of the sport's top drivers, will have his original art displayed on the series. "I'm thrilled to be a part of Spike TV's new program," said Bass.
"Having grown up watching the sport and always wanting to be involved through my artwork, this platform for showcasing my artwork and integrating it with the sport's history is a tremendous opportunity."(Spike TV PR)(5-6-2004)
Foundation Questioned: In the weeks after Dale Earnhardt was killed in a crash at the Daytona 500, mourning fans sought to honor him by sending money to a charitable fund in his name. More than three years later, the bulk of that money - around $3 million - is still sitting in a bank account. A charity watchdog group recently questioned why, and it criticized the way the fund is being administered. But officials with the fund countered that it has taken time to plan where the donations should go. "You don't just sit down and say, 'Let's give away some money today,"' said Doug Swanson, chief operating officer for Dale Earnhardt Inc., headquarters for Earnhardt's race teams. "You have to investigate and explore very thoroughly to make sure it gets in the right hands. It takes time to do it right." Swanson estimated $3 million was raised, with about $1 million coming from 7,000 individuals and the rest donated by companies. The bulk of that money came in 2001, right after the death of the NASCAR star. Swanson said only about $110,000 - all of it this year - has been donated from the fund. Those gifts included $41,000 to Ducks Unlimited - a wetlands conservation group - in March, and gifts of about $20,000 each to the Salvation Army and Feed the Children. There has also been a gift of about $25,000 to American Forests, a reforestation group. "We wanted to take our time and make the very best use of the money we could and do it in an organized way," Swanson said. "We're now well on our way." The fund's relative inactivity drew criticism from the Chicago-based American Institute of Philanthropy in its April newsletter. "People that send money expect that the money be spent within a year or two, not that it be sat on for three years," AIP president Daniel Borochoff said. "There's a lot of people that could've been helped by that money. It's unfortunate that it was just sitting in a bank account." The Earnhardt Family Fund was created by the driver in 1997. When the seven-time Winston Cup champion was killed, the family asked grieving fans to contribute to the fund instead of sending flowers. The fund was set up through the Foundation for the Carolinas, which manages more than 1,500 charitable funds. The foundation does not release financial information on individual funds, only on its funds overall. The Earnhardt family has since started the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, another charity. That foundation, which works in conjunction with the family fund, is focused on Earnhardt's primary charitable concerns of wildlife, children and education, said Bryan Clontz, an Atlanta consultant to the new foundation.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(5-6-2004)
Helton to be roasted: Six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers and one team owner will roast NASCAR President Mike Helton at the 2004 Multiple Sclerosis Dinner of Champions on Wednesday, June 2 in Greensboro, N.C. Barney Hall, the voice of NASCAR on the Motor Racing Network, will emcee the program as panel members tell amusing stories roasting Helton. The Central NC Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society will host the Triad MS Dinner of Champions. Panelists include Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Jeff Burton, Robby Gordon, Jimmy Spencer and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team owner Richard Childress. Currently in its 21st year, the Dinner of Champions is held annually to raise funds and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a potentially devastating neurological disease. In its 21-year history, the event has raised more than $1.2 million to fight Multiple Sclerosis. The purpose of the Dinner of Champions is to raise funds for local programs for people with MS and their families and to support research
into the cause and cure for MS. Sponsored by Nextel Communications, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and 104.1 WTQR, the 2004 Triad MS Dinner of Champions honoring Helton will be held at Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C., on Wednesday, June 2 at 6:00pm. More info on the dinner and tickets, go to my Racing Charities page or go the the MS site: www.ncc.nmss.org.(5-6-2004)
Sad News: Don DeCecco, a race-day member of the #01 U.S. Army/MB2 Motorsports pit crew, passed away Tuesday (May 4) from esophageal cancer at his home in Spartanburg, S.C. He is survived by his wife Linda. A memorial service will be held Friday (May 7), 11 a.m. at Eggers Funeral Home in Spartanburg. For directions, call: 864-578-3838. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials be sent to:
Spartanburg Humane Society
150 Dexter Road
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303
Spartanburg Children's Shelter
P.O. Box 2663
Spartanburg, S.C. 29304
DeCecco, 57, was the Gas Man on the Army/MB2 pit crew. He had been associated with MB2 since the team's first season in 1997. Prior to his MB2 involvement, DeCecco was a crew member for Hendrick Motorsports and David Pearson Racing, including Larry Pearson's 1986 and 1987 Busch Series championship teams. "We lost an outstanding member of our MB2 family," said Jay Frye, general manager of MB2 Motorsports. "Don was a true professional who had a deep passion for motorsports. He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues at MB2. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family." DeCecco was employed at BICO South, a steel manufacturing company in Spartanburg.(5-5-2004)
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)
AND An effort is gearing up to build a state-funded motorsports test-track complex near Charlotte, with organizers saying the $50 million facility would help attract more Nextel Cup teams to the area. The Charlotte Regional Partnership is spearheading the idea, seeking 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. "It could be configured to represent 75% of the types of tracks on the NASCAR circuit," says Michael Almond, chief executive of the regional partnership, a 16-county, public-private economic development agency. The complex, tentatively dubbed the N.C. Motorsports Testing and Research Complex, would include garages, administrative space and about $5 million in testing equipment but no grandstands. No site has been selected. The proposal faces two key challenges: Organizers are seeking state funds to pay for construction, and they want the land to be donated. "We are assuming that the land would be contributed as a way of having skin in the game," Almond says. Such property may already be available. Sources familiar with the test-track proposal say officials in Cabarrus, Iredell and Stanly counties have expressed interest in the project, suggesting sites that would be available at little or no cost. Also, Humpy Wheeler, president of Speedway Motorsports Inc., has offered 100 acres at the Lowe's Motor Speedway for the complex. Presumably, that Cabarrus site would have to be supplemented by 50 acres. Some have suggested using North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham for the testing complex, especially if that track loses its last NASCAR-sanctioned race.(Charlotte Business Journal)(5-5-2004)
#94 Picks Up a sponsor for the month of May: Husqvarna Forest and Garden Co. has agreed to a three-race sponsorship with WW Motorsports [#94 Chevy with driver Stanton Barrett], which is competing in this year's NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The WW Motorsports car will feature Husqvarna logos, and the pit crew will wear branded shirts for the Chevy American Revolution 400, held in Richmond, Va., May 15; the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, held in Charlotte May 22; and the Coca-Cola 600, held in Charlotte May 30. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Charlotte-based Husqvarna, a member of the Electrolux Group, makes forest, lawn and garden equipment.(Charlotte Business Journal)(5-5-2004)
Crew Chiefs Fined: NASCAR today announced fines for three Nextel Cup crew chiefs for rules violations at Talladega. Ted Brown, crew chief of Shepherd Racing's #89 Dodge for Morgan Shepherd, was fined $2,000 because crew member Scott Cianci entered the car servicing area without a helmet during the Aaron's 499. Mike Ford, crew chief of Robert Yates Racing's #88 Ford for Dale Jarrett, and Terry Wooten, crew chief of Michael Waltrip Racing's #00 Chevrolet for Kenny Wallace, were fined $1,000 each for unapproved underpans found on their cars during pre-qualifying inspection.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-5-2004)
NASCAR OK with Stewart: after the incidents this past race at the California Speedway Cup race between Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace, few have asked what would happen to Stewart, saw this........But NASCAR on Monday said, no harm, no foul. Well, at least no foul. "We addressed Tony Stewart's driving before [Friday's] practice started at California and there was nothing that happened on the race track [Sunday] that we would term anything other than a racing incident," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of communications. I don't know if Rusty's had a chance to review film or video of the race, but it was just a racing accident. [Stewart] got loose. That happens. It just happened to be Tony Stewart." Stewart, who underwent anger-management counseling at the direction of his Home Depot sponsor two years ago, has been remarkably proficient at finding controversy on the track recently. He also banged doors with eventual winner Jeff Gordon, and drove behind Ricky Rudd and briefly lifted Rudd's Ford off the pavement with the nose of his Chevrolet. "Tony has a way of picking up the bull's-eye," Hunter said. "When stuff happens with Tony, he becomes an obvious target. He's a hard charger, there's no doubt about that. But so is Rusty and a lot of other drivers, and that's one of the things that makes our sport so great." Hunter also said NASCAR was not going to reprimand Wallace for his on-air comments.(Los Angeles Times)(5-5-2004)
American Thunder: a column in today's New York Times about the new magazine, American Thunder [which Jayski does a column for], a monthly magazine for "the NASCAR lifestyle," check it out at: Where the Reader and the Rubber Meet the Road by David Carr [Note; need to register to read] and see the magazine's website: www.getthunder.com.(5-5-2004)
Special D-Day Scheme for Labonte at Dover UPDATE: hearing that #18-Bobby Labonte wil run a D-Day scheme as this year marks the 60th Anniversary of D-Day, Labonte and Dover race sponsor MBNA will re-paint the Joe Gibbs NEXTEL Cup #18 with a vintage war plane design. The car will carry the decals and the insignias of this war-time in America. June 6 Dover.(3-5-2004) UPDATE: Bobby Labonte came to town to talk a little NASCAR yesterday, but it was his race car that got the most attention. Draped in camouflage netting, the #18 Chevrolet was parked on a pier next to Dave & Buster's. A crowd of on-lookers gathered around, apparently oblivious to the traffic whizzing past on Columbus Boulevard or the dozens of yachts gently bobbing nearby in the Delaware River. Polite applause gave way to cheers when the cover was removed, revealing a special paint-job commemorating the World War II invasion of Normandy. Sporting an olive-green body with red and yellow accents on the nose and gray "rivets" painted on, the Monte Carlo carried a poignant message on its hood: "We will accept nothing less than full victory." Labonte will pilot the car at Dover International Speedway on June 6, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, in a Nextel Cup race that has been renamed the MBNA 400: A Tribute to Heroes. MBNA, which is also sponsoring Labonte's racer, will donate a portion of the sales of die-cast replicas of the car to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and to the Armed Forces Family Scholarship and Assistance Fund, which is administered by the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. "It's a great honor to be a part of this, and I really like the fact that we're doing it at one of my favorite tracks," Labonte said. "We would really like to stick this car in Victory Lane, not just to help us in the points standings, but also because it would make the die-cast a hotter item to sell." With an open date in the Nextel Cup schedule this weekend, Labonte was accompanied yesterday by his wife Donna and their two children, son Tyler, 10, and daughter Madison, 6. Soon after the event ended, the family headed to the Phillies game, where Labonte threw out the first pitch and his car was put on display.[boo...the Phils lost 6-5] AND Ron Hornaday Jr., [South NJ's] Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer have been tabbed to throw out the first pitch at tonight's NASCAR Night at the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia [home of Jaysli's beloved Phillies]. After spending the morning and early afternoon testing at Nazareth Speedway, the trio of Busch Series competitors will head to the sports complex for the Phillies game against the St. Louis Cardinals, which is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm/et. Each driver will take part in events throughout the evening, including an autograph session inside the first-base gate. "I've been a Phillies fan all of my life," said Truex, who was born and raised in Mayetta, N.J. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." For ticket information on the race, visit the track Web site at www.nazarethspeedway.com or call 888-629-7223.(Philadelphia Inquirer), see an image of the #18 D-Day scheme on my #18 Team Paint Schemes page (5-5-2004)
Golf Tips Exchanged at LMS: Professional golfers and NASCAR racers traded driving tips Tuesday morning at Lowe's Motor Speedway. About 20 PGA Tour players arrived by helicopter at the speedway for a crash course in NASCAR. Each player suited up and drove the 600-horsepower stock cars for 18 laps around the track to get a feel for racing. And some golfers said that driving stock cars is not such a stretch for golf professionals who also have to deal with a lot of stress. "This is really a stressful environment being in a car -- heat, stress, a lot of quick decision making," said professional golfer Stuart Appleby. "Golf is much slower. I guess it's more a self-induced stress. Very different, very different, but at the same time they share some similar qualities." In return for driving lessons, the racing pros [one was Jeff Burton] teed up on the speedway's grass infield for some pointers from the PGA players.(News 14 Carolina)(5-5-2004)
Fans Succumb to heat at California: ...Nearly 1,000 people were treated by on-site medical facilities, almost all for heat-related issues. The speedway has eight permanent first-aid buildings and the infield care center. There were 92,000 fans in the grandstands, and about 20,000 in the infield. The reported temperature at the speedway Sunday was 98.6 degrees with a track temperature of 139.7. Speedway spokesman Dennis Bickmeier said the speedway used 18 misting machines, six behind the terrace suites in the garage area, and 12 spread behind the grandstands and midway. The public address system advised fans to hydrate themselves. Bottled water sold for $3, but the track has more than 25 drinking fountains. Concessionaires were still doing inventory on Monday, but Bickmeier said more than 70,000 bottles of soda and lemonade were consumed, and at least 80,000 bottles of water.(Los Angeles Times)(5-5-2004)
SMI Offers Mixed Report: Speedway Motorsports Inc. today reported lower first-quarter revenues and earnings because this year's Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR races fell in the second quarter but said its figures were up for comparable events. The Charlotte-based track operator reported first-quarter revenues of $122.2 million, down 16 percent or $23.9 million; net income of $24.7 million, down 29 percent or $10.1 million; and diluted earnings per share of 57 cents, down 30 percent or 25 cents. But when comparing similar race schedules in 2003 and 2004, which exclude the Texas NASCAR events, using other than generally accepted accounting principles, the company said results reflect increases in revenues of $17.2 million or 16 percent, net income of $5.6 million or 29 percent and diluted earnings per share of 12 cents or 27 percent, over last year. The company said it had record attendance for its spring Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and for its Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, along with sellouts for Cup.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-5-2004)
Update on the car of the future: NASCAR may be stepping up plans for its "car of the future."
"The first iteration of the car is going together right now," said John Darby, NASCAR's competition director. "Once it's completed it will take quite some time to smash it and crash it (testing for crash-worthiness) to see what works and what doesn't. So we're a ways out with it. There is another debate, too, about where to introduce the car. At Daytona and Talladega, for example, aerodynamics is so critical that if we're a little off it shows up a whole bunch. So let's maybe roll it out at Martinsville, so if the aero isn't exactly right, we'll at least be able to get through the weekend." There is talk, however, that the project may be doomed. Darby dismisses such talk: "It's far from dead. Typically what happens is the ideas keep getting better as we go through the process. You get something engineered and apply it to the car, and then 30 days down the road somebody comes up with a better idea. So there's a lot of leap-frogging. The teams have helped a lot; their engineers have given us a ton of input. It is an intricate process. "It could probably be run in late '05 somewhere. But '06 is probably a better date."(Winston Salem Journal)(5-5-2004)
News about Jerry Nadeau: Jerry Nadeau has dedicated himself to racing since he was a toddler, so sitting out a year with a head injury is "probably the worst thing in the world" to him. Still, common sense and recent history tell Nadeau that he shouldn't rush himself back into the car. Nadeau sustained a serious head injury in an accident at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on May 2 of last year. People close to Nadeau notice improvement in his speech and demeanor every week. But he still can't feel the left side of his body and his vision isn't as clear as it was before the crash. "I figure I'm about 75% there," Nadeau says. "I obviously rattled my cage quite a bit, and I'm just waiting for all the marbles to shake out." For the moment, Nadeau is getting his racing fix through a sophisticated computer simulator; he's pretty sure he has raced online against Dale Earnhardt Jr., a noted computer racing fiend who races under an alias. Nadeau also worked as an instructor at a go-kart racing school last weekend. And he's working out with a trainer three days a week. "I don't think there's any doubt he's coming back," says Jay Frye, general manager of MBV Motorsports, the team Nadeau was racing for at the time of the wreck. "The question is when." MBV put Nadeau in a car for a test session in December, with mixed results, and probably will have him test again in the next few months. If that goes well, the next step for Nadeau likely will come not in Cup, but in ARCA or another lower-tier racing series. Fortunately for Nadeau, he doesn't feel financial pressure to return right away. "I guess I was smart," he says. "I had a good insurance plan before I even got into Winston (now Nextel) Cup. When I got hurt, my insurance plan took over, and it allowed me to sit back and heal." Still, Nadeau isn't quite sure what he'll do if racing doesn't work out. "It's not like I have a business or could start a job and know what the hell I was doing," he says. "It's frustrating not to have a (college) degree in something — I've been doing this since age 4, and the only thing I have a degree in is racing."(USA Today), past news on my Jerry Nadeau page.(5-4-2004)
Morgan Shepherd turning heads: All the Nextel Cup "young guns" had better start looking behind them because they're being chased by a wily veteran - 62-year-old #89-Morgan Shepherd. Sunday at California Speedway, Shepherd stayed on the lead lap for almost 60 laps but left the race because of electrical problems after completing 163 laps in the California heat. He finished 36th, and the $65,025 probably didn't cover his expenses. On April 18 at Martinsville, Shepherd, who has recorded five Cup wins and 15 Busch Series victories, completed 492 laps and was running at the end of the grueling short- track race. Despite having only a one-car, one-engine team, he has competed in five Nextel Cup races this season and is 42nd in the standings. "I am a racer," Shepherd said. "I'm here to race."(Rocky Mountain News)(5-4-2004)
Kerry gets shunned by Mikey UPDATE: Kerry Earnhardt was so angry at Michael Waltrip for their run-in at Talladega that he grabbed a radio from the DEI rig during the race and tried to talk to Waltrip, but Waltrip wouldn't reply. Then Earnhardt, according to sources, showed up at DEI's Monday meeting, to talk with Waltrip, but Waltrip skipped the meeting.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-3-2004) UPDATE: Kerry Earnhardt is Montana with Richard Childress fishing (they are shooting a segment for an upcoming show called NASCAR Outdoors - not sure where or when it will air). Earnhardt is not blaming Waltrip for the incident and knows it was not intentional. He told Claire B. Lang on XM Satellite Radio [before Earnhardt left for Montana]: "I'm sure Michael didn't intend on taking me out, he just come down, I think [Jeff] Gordon was there [Gordon tapped Waltrip, who had no place to go]. He got turned sideways and, fortunate for him that I was on the bottom to keep him from going through the infield there. So, it was an unfortunate situation for myself to get taken out in that manner - but it was part of racing - it was speedway racing. I'm sure all those other (Talladega) wrecks didn't happen intentionally either."(XM Satellite - NASCAR Radio 144)(5-4-2004)
Dale Earnhardt Foundation Partners with American Forests: The Dale Earnhardt Foundation and American Forests announced a partnership under which the Foundation will provide American Forests with an initial planning grant in support of its plans to plant 77,000 trees to restore local forests damaged by storm, disease, neglect and development. The joint announcement was made during the celebration of the third annual Dale Earnhardt Day, which coincides with Arbor Day and the late racing legend's birthday. The ceremony featured the planting of seven trees -- symbolizing Earnhardt's seven Winston Cup victories -- in honor of his longstanding commitment to the conservation of natural resources and the start of the American Forests initiative.(PNN Online)(5-4-2004)
Jeff Gordon named 1st Qtr NASCAR USG Person of the year: Through his personal foundation, Jeff Gordon has been able to donate nearly $500,000 to local and national charities this year. In addition to his charitable contributions to Riley Hospital for Children, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, the American Lung Association of North Carolina and The Victory Junction Gang Camp.(NASCAR PR)(5-4-2004)
DR. Boogity? NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip will deliver the commencement address to the 137th graduating class of Kentucky Wesleyan College in his hometown of Owensboro, Ky. on Saturday, May 8 at 10am/ct in KWC's Hocker-Hall Grove. The three-time NASCAR Champion will be presented KWC's highest honor, the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, (LL.D.) following his address to the graduating class. "Not only has Darrell Waltrip reached the pinnacle of the motorsports world, but he had also conceived and founded a ministry to racing families," said KWC President Dr. Wesley H. Poling. His commitment to his sport and to the personal faith of his fellow sportsmen is exemplary, and we are proud to recognize his achievements." Waltrip currently serves as the Lead Analyst for the NASCAR on FOX TV race broadcasts. He retired from NASCAR Cup racing in 2000, and he now competes occasionally in the Craftsman Truck Series. Waltrip is tied for third on NASCAR's all-time victory list with 84. In 2000, Waltrip garnered the ultimate award in his career when he received the Bill France Award of Excellence from NASCAR. He also twice received NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award in 1989 and 1990 and was a three-time American Driver of the Year award recipient in 1977, 1981 and 1982. He was selected as NASCAR's Driver of the Decade 1980s. The state of Tennessee also honored Waltrip with their Professional Athlete of the Year award in 1979. In 1988, he founded Motor Racing Outreach, a ministry for NASCAR families across America who have no worship opportunities at racetracks on Sunday mornings. Waltrip's driving career began at the age of 12 when he raced go-karts and entered his first stock car race four years later. After one dirt track race Waltrip soon found his niche on the pavement. After success as one of the nation's top short-track drivers, Waltrip decided in 1975 to become a full-time NASCAR competitor. And the rest is history. Kentucky Wesleyan College is a four-year, United Methodist Church affiliated, co-educational institution offering a wide range of majors in the liberal arts, as well as specialized programs in communication arts and criminal justice.(PR)(5-4-2004)
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. See the full PR and links to the eBay Auctions on my Racing Charities page. AND First Response K9 Recovery and their Lunch with Larry McReynolds auction was mentioned on Fox Sports Net's Totally NASCAR, more info at the auction go to the eBay Auction.(5-4-2004)
Sad News: A stock car driver who finished third in a race died of an apparent heart attack. Butch Renninger, 62, collapsed while sitting in his car on the front straightaway at the Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway on Saturday night. He had just finished a 30-lap Enduro stock car race and was talking to friends and crew. Rescue workers tried to revive him. He was transported to Lewistown Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Renninger raced for decades at several central Pennsylvania tracks, winning 41 races at the Port Royal track and championships at the Port Royal and Bedford speedways. He is survived by his wife, Carol, children and grandchildren.(nbc10.com)(5-4-2004)
After 10 races what drivers are doing better then in 2003 and which are doing worse? See my chart, only includes drivers who attempted all 10 races in the first 10 races of each season, points position for each season, points after 10 races, and final points position of 2003:
Pos Diff 2004 vs 2003
Final 2003 Pos
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
* failed to qualify for races, but made the attempt
Irvan Gives Talk:Ernie Irvan, owner of Irvan Enterprises in Mooresville, NC, was guest speaker at the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class Graduation on April 22. The former NASCAR driver addressed the 2003-04 adult and junior leadership graduates on the importance of leadership and having a good role model, family support and strong faith in Christ and self. He also told how the late Dale Earnhardt helped him get started in racing and Earnhardt's leadership qualities. Irvan earned 15 NASCAR Winston Cup championships, numerous awards and 22 pole positions. He survived a near-fatal crash at Michigan International Speedway when a right tire deflated, sending his car into the turn two wall at more than 170 mph. He officially retired from driving in 1999 but continues to work and support racing.(Charlotte Observer)(5-3-2004)
Sad News: Doris Roberts, who was married to the late Glenn "Fireball" Roberts, is ill from terminal cancer and is in the final stages of her life, according to her daughter Pam. She was unable to attend the induction ceremonies last week at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega.(IHOF via Insider Racing News)(5-3-2004)
Overnight California TV Ratings up 14%: Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway drew a 5.6 overnight rating and an 11 share from Nielsen Media Research, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating is 14.3 percent higher than the 4.9 overnight figure the race drew in 2003, when it wound up with a final figure of 5.3/13. For the weekend, the race trailed the 8.3/18 that NBC drew for its Kentucky Derby coverage and the 6.0/12 that ABC drew for Sunday's NBA playoff game between the Lakers and the Spurs.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-3-2004)
Bobby Labonte to run Busch race at MIS; Bliss to run 2 Cup races: Bobby Labonte and his long-time sponsor ConAgra Foods, Inc. announced that Labonte will return to the Busch Series for the Cabela's 250 Race on August 21, 2004 at Michigan International Speedway. He will be driving the bright red #19 Banquet Chevrolet featuring the Banquet brand and logo. This car was unveiled at the 2004 Food Market Institute Show (FMI) at McCormick Place in Chicago. This extended partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) highlights ConAgra Foods' growing involvement in the sport of NASCAR. Having recognized the power of NASCAR to reach families nationwide almost a decade ago, the company was an early supporter of Labonte's racing team. Under this new agreement, Labonte will appear in advertising and promotions as well as provide personal appearances and publicity for Banquet and ConAgra Foods. The Cabela's 250 Race marks Bobby's return to the Busch Series [JAYSKI NOTE: Actually Labonte ran the Texas Busch race in the #29 ESGR/Army Nat'l Guard-Reserve RCR Chevy and finished 11th]. "I'm excited to run the #19 Banquet Chevrolet in the Busch series later this summer," said Labonte. "My goal is to take Banquet and ConAgra Foods to the winner's circle at the Cabela's 250." ConAgra Foods will continue to maximize its association with NASCAR in 2004 with a series of sponsorships and promotions. Banquet's title sponsorship of the Banquet 400 Nextel Cup Series race at Kansas Motor Speedway in October continues for the second year, and the partnership with JGR will offer several ConAgra Foods brands in the snack and grocery categories the opportunity to appear on the #80 car driven by Mike Bliss during two Nextel Cup Series races. Bliss will race the #80 Slim Jim Chevrolet at the Tropicana 400 in Chicago this July and he will run the #80 Hunts Chevrolet at the Chevy Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway in September [NOTE: Gibbs would get to use the car #80 over the #80 Hover Motorsports team and driver Andy Hillenburg as that team is listed as #280 in Owners Points]. This summer Banquet will be rolling out a retail promotion called "0 to Dinner with Banquet," which gives fans the opportunity to collect five proofs of purchase from frozen and grocery products and receive a die cast #19 Banquet Chevrolet. For more information, please visit us at www.conagrafoods.com.(Ketchum PR)(5-3-2004)
Idiot Fan Alert: #24-Jeff Gordon said his car was hit by a bottle after the race, a week after fans littered the track at Talladega Superspeedway with cans and containers at the end of that race. "Hopefully the tracks can start taking some action, maybe putting some signs up that saying that maybe legal action will be taken if anything is thrown over that fence," Gordon said. "I think it's a good idea to take some action and be proactive instead of reactive after it happens."(Roanoke Times)(5-3-2004)
Barrett Released from Hospital: #94-Stanton Barrett was examined and released from Loma Linda Hospital following his crash on the 22nd lap of Sunday's Auto Club 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the two-mile California Speedway. Barrett's #94 AmericInn Chevrolet hit the fourth-turn wall, where SAFER barriers had been added earlier this year. "It felt like a tire was going down and that's how things got started," Barrett said. "I didn't have any control after that. I definitely commend NASCAR and California Speedway for the SAFER barriers. I started shooting up the track and, for some reason as I headed toward the wall, I remembered they were there. I thought, 'Hey, maybe this won't hurt as bad,'" he said. "It still hurt . . . but not as bad as concrete. I'm really glad those were in place, and I think every driver in NASCAR should be happy too."(Williams Company PR)(5-3-2004)
NASCAR takes engine: Bill Davis Racing experienced engine woes last weekend. Rookie #22-Scott Wimmer broke engines on Friday and Saturday because of two different problems. The team was forced to go to a third engine for the race. Wimmer started 39th and finished 30th. The second engine was confiscated by NASCAR for further examination.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-3-2004)
NASCAR Still looking at Spoiler Options UPDATE: Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said Friday NASCAR is weighing options on whether to make an additional cut to cars' spoilers this season. "What we're doing is working through the process and trying to decide, is it better to do a half (inch) in July and another half (inch) at the end of the year, or to leave everything alone and do a full inch at the end of the year," he said. Darby said the main concern over making an adjustment during the season is its possible effects on the 10-race "Chase for the Championship. We'll be watching these next couple races and finishing the process of watching how the teams have adapted to the first cut (in the spoiler)," Darby said. "The championship chase will enter into it, I'm sure, that being so new." Darby said teams were probably split about whether to cut the spoiler before the end of the season, but in any case, an additional inch will be cut from the spoilers by the start of the 2005 season.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-1-2004) UPDATE: NASCAR officials are telling crew chiefs they've decided to drop plans for any more aerodynamic rear-spoiler changes this season. Another half-inch cut in the rear spoiler had been planned for July at Chicago; that cut has been postponed until next year.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-3-2004)
California Cup Illegal Parts: #25-Brian Vickers, NASCAR confiscated a 1x2 inch piece of cardboard used to change the height of the fuel cell rack. #45-Kyle Petty, NASCAR confiscated four foot long thin strips used to change the height of the fuel cell rack.(Insider Racing News)(5-3-2004)
4 in top 10 all year: Four teams have remained in the top 10 in points since the season started: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #17-Matt Kenseth, #38-Elliott Sadler and #20-Tony Stewart. Eighteen teams remain within 400 points of the leader (Earnhardt), the cutoff point to make the Chase for the Championship.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-3-2004)
Newman wants fuel pumps changed: Ryan Newman says NASCAR's next safety move should be to eliminate mechanical fuel pumps on engine blocks and allow teams to install safer electrical fuel pumps, which could be installed inside the fuel cell. "You can get them for $20 at any NAPA store," Newman says. Newman is also pushing NASCAR to eliminate mechanical dashboard gauges in a safety-related move. But he says when he raised the issue with NASCAR, he got no response.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-3-2004)
Fuel Line Problems: With the change in fuel providers to Sunoco this year, some teams have had to change fuel line manufacturers. One engine man said that "a couple of brands have been more sensitive to the Sunoco fuel," so several teams changed lines as a precaution. Some teams have noticed the lines are wearing out faster.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-3-2004)
NASCAR Changes? NASCAR's R&D operation could be in for some changes in the coming months, according to NASCAR sources, and Brian DeHart, running the Busch tour, could be moving over to that operation. (Winston Salem Journal)(5-3-2004)
RE buys Race Safe Systems:Racing Electronics has announced the acquisition of Race Safe Systems, Inc., and its main product, the Race Safe Warning Light System. Former owner Rick Martell said, “We are excited that Racing Electronics is taking over and further developing our product. With Racing Electronics’ input over the last 18 months, changes have been made making Race Safe a better and more reliable product than ever imagined.” Experienced professional drivers recognize that a great number of accidents occur under yellow caution conditions. Track position, sun, dust, and other distractions restrict drivers from seeing the yellow caution flag at the same time. The Race Safe Warning Light System uses a radio transmitter and receiver that alerts all drivers of a caution situation simultaneously [using yellow lights]. This system is already in use by dozens of race tracks and sanctioning bodies, with more signing on every month. “Any time you can make a contribution to the safety of the drivers and the driving conditions, it can only be a positive thing. The Race Safe Warning Light System is a great concept, as well as a great product. We look forward to taking Race Safe to new levels, and hope that it will become an industry standard,” says Bruce Silver, president of Racing Electronics.(RE PR)(4-30-2004) AND DW and Jeff Hammond showed and explained the system on Friday's Trackside from California.(5-3-2004)