Ronald McDonald House and Victory Junction: Ronald McDonald House Charities announced its sponsorship of $50,000 to be applied toward the construction of the Victory Junction Gang Camp Kitchen. Food fuels the spirits at Victory Junction, and by serving 3 hot meals a day to over 250 campers and counselors, the Kitchen will serve as the nerve-center for home-cooked goodness. The Kitchen, part of the Rick and Linda Hendrick/Hendrick Motorsports Dining Hall, is more than 3000 square feet and will be configured similar to a large restaurant. The Kitchen will utilize state-of-the-art food service appliances, including storage, preparation, cooking, sanitation and refrigeration systems. One of the most unique features of the Kitchen is the use of the existing terrain during its design and construction. The elevation change allowed for a two-story kitchen with cold and dry storage on both levels. The enormous dry storage, refrigeration and freezer capacity will allow the camp to accommodate the daily food needs, as well as provide excess capacity for storage of donated food products as they become available. The Victory Junction Gang Camp is located in Randleman, North Carolina, on land donated by NASCAR legend Richard Petty and his wife, Lynda. The camp will be free of charge to children and their families and will be the only year-round multi-disease facility of its kind in the Carolinas and Virginia. It is solely supported by contributions and donations from corporations, individuals and foundations. For more information or to make a donation to Victory Junction, visit its site at www.victoryjunction.org or call (336) 498-9055.(5-16-2004)
Green testing at Nashville: Jeff Green, #43 Petty Enterprises NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Car, will test at the Nashville Superspeedway on Monday, May 17.(Nashville Superspeedway PR)(5-16-2004)
Gordon unhappy with Stewart: #20-Tony Stewart found himself defending his on-track actions again Saturday night. This time, his target - #24-Jeff Gordon - is willing to forgive and forget, at least for now. With 40 laps remaining in Saturday night's Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Stewart and Gordon were racing for position when Stewart nudged Gordon's #24 Chevrolet up and out of the main racing groove. Gordon wobbled and lost a position. He was running in the top five and eventually finished sixth. Stewart finished fourth. After the race, Stewart made an unexpected visit to Gordon's hauler and spoke privately with Gordon for several minutes. "From where I was at, it seemed like he just body-slammed me for no reason but he came up to me in the trailer and said he was sorry he got loose," Gordon said. "I questioned it. He was like, "Hey, I'm telling you the truth, I got loose.' I'll have to look. They say he got loose the time before that. Maybe he did. If he did, then I'll accept his apology. If he didn't, then he certainly needs to get his act together." Asked immediately after the race about the incident, Stewart said he knew Gordon was "mad at him." "I just got down into (Turn) 3 and I got loose and we made a change (on the last pit stop) and that's probably what made it loose," Stewart said.
Earlier Saturday, during a visit to the Richmond's infield media center, Joe Gibbs, Stewart's car owner and coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins, said he did not believe Stewart's actions were a pattern of bad behavior. "Generally over the years, Tony may have had some stuff happen on the race track, but rarely with another driver. I think he has a great reputation with the other drivers," Gibbs said. "Rusty (Wallace) said the other night he and Tony had talked. I know Tony talked to Terry (Labonte) after that situation. I just kind of feel like it's just one of those things that happen. It has been a series of things that have happened here that haven't been good to him."(see full story at ThatsRacin.com)(5-16-2004)
Testing at Chicago? UPDATE: hearing that #24-Jeff Gordon and #5-Terry Labonte tested at Chicagoland Speedway sometime this week.(5-13-2004) UPDATE: been told this is untrue and neither team tested at Chicago.(5-16-2004)
Dale Jr. wins at Richmond: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Speedway, leading the most laps, winning his 3rd race of 2004 and 12th of his career. Earnhardt Jr. also maintains the points lead, and since he won the race and leads the points he adds $80,000 winning the Nextel Cup Leader Bonus. #48-Jimmie Johnson was 2nd, the rest of the top five were #18-Labonte, #20-Stewart [so..think Tony is unhappy with DW and the Fox crew?], and #17-Kenseth. #15-Waltrip was 10thm his first ever top 10 at Richmond in 37th races he has run at the track, 12th was his previous best. #25-Brian Vickers, the pole sitter, scored his first ever top 10 by finishing 8th and was the Raybestos Rookie of the race.
For my race rundown/narrative, see the Richmond Race Rundown/Info page.
For race results see: Jayski's Richmond Race Results/Awards ThatsRacin.com MotorsportsOne NASCAR.com.(5-15-2004)
Gordon qualifies for the Indy 500: Robby Gordon accepted a four-lap, 10-mile qualifying speed average of 216.522mph in Saturday rain-delayed qualifying for the 88th Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Driving his self-owned #70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara-Chevrolet, Gordon turned laps of 217.101 mph, 216.969 mph, 216.600 mph and 215.426 mph. "I'm very disappointed," said Gordon, who left immediately after his qualifying run for an approximately 60 minutes flight on a Citation 10 private jet for Saturday night's NASCAR Cup Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond, Va., where he qualified sixth Friday afternoon in the Cingular Wireless Chevy. "I thought we'd run better than that. We didn't. The car got really tight. I just couldn't hold it (throttle) open in turn one. This will probably be our worst Indianapolis 500 starting spot and that's disappointing. The track (conditions) obviously isn't as fast as we thought. If we didn't have to leave (for Richmond), we would have waved it (qualifying attempt) off, for sure. We couldn't do that because of the circumstances. I don't think we lost anything to our competitors by me not being here the last two days (in Richmond), because of the rain here (Indy), the other teams didn't get that much track time. I'm already thinking about what we need to do for race setup. I think we'll have a good car for the race and that's what's important."(Team Gordon PR), as of 7:00pm/et on May 15th, Gordon is 18th on the Indy 500 grid.(5-15-2004)
National Guard Supports Drive for Diversity with Team and Driver: The National Guard will be the primary advertiser for Belnavis Racing's #54 Ford for the 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series races. Morty Buckles from Stone Mountain, Ga., was chosen from Access Marketing & Communications' Drive for Diversity program to drive the National Guard #54 Ford. Belnavis Racing is one of five teams to support the inaugural Drive for Diversity program. Based in Richmond, Va., the team is owned by long-time motorsports executive Sam Belnavis, chief diversity officer of Roush Racing and the former owner of the National Guard's #54 NASCAR Winston Cup car. Belnavis created Belnavis Racing to support the development of drivers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. A driving instructor with the Richard Petty Driving Experience, Morty Buckles drove late models in 2001 at various tracks including Concord Motorsport Park in Concord, N. C. and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. He earned one win, five top five finishes and six top-ten finishes in 17 major events. He also tested ARCA cars during both the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Buckles earned a mechanical engineering technology degree from Southern Polytechnic University. Drive for Diversity is a minority driver and crew member development program created and managed by Access Marketing & Communications, a Charlotte-based multicultural marketing firm founded in fall 2003 by The Radiate Group and Calhoun Enterprises. Driver and crew member recruiting for the 2005 Drive for Diversity program will begin this summer. A testing and evaluation combine event for invited participants is slated for this fall.(PR)(5-15-2004)
New Jersey driver picked for diversity spot: Bruce Driver, an African American competitor from Pennington, N.J., will drive a car sponsored by MBNA in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series at South Boston Speedway in Virginia this year as part of the Drive for Diversity program. Driver's team, Score Motorsports, is co-owned by veteran NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler and Bryant Stith, a former basketball player at Virginia and in the NBA. The Drive for Diversity program is matching five minority drivers with teams to compete at weekly tracks this year in hopes of helping them work their way up the NASCAR ladder toward the Busch and Nextel Cup series. Charlotte-based Access Marketing & Communication is directing the program. Driver has competed in the NASCAR modified series and in American Speed Association events. Also, four students from the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia will be in the Charlotte area to complete one-week internships with NASCAR Truck Series teams leading up to the Infineon 200 race Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Leon Simmons Jr., Ari Summers, Paris Young and Anthony Martin Jr. are all high school seniors. They will work with Morgan-Dollar Motorsports, Innovative Motorsports, Circle Bar Racing and Darrell Waltrip Motorsports. NASCAR has also appointed Tish Sheets to the new position of director of diversity and special projects and Debbie Cox to manager of diversity to oversee programs in those areas.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-15-2004)
Arnold Motorsports to run some ARCA races: #50 Team Owner, Don Arnold, said his operation is preparing to debut in the ARCA series at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., with young driver Justin Hobgood at the wheel of a car that will be sponsored by the Germain Automotive Family. The Quaker State and Lube 100 will take place May 27. "We plan to do four ARCA races for sure and maybe a fifth one, too," Arnold said. "It will be good for testing and it's also a good way to bring along a young driver." The 24-year-old Hobgood last year was one of the stars of the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series, finishing second in the points. The series is now called the IPOWERracing Dash Series.(Naples Daily News)(5-15-2004)
Roush to buy out Yates? DENIED: Garage sources have told Sporting News insider Lee Spencer that Roush Racing has offered to purchase Robert Yates Racing, expanding their engine partnership to team ownership in an effort to pool Ford's Nextel Cup resources. The Yates camp says the rumors are rubbish.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-11-2004) UPDATE: Robert Yates denied a report that Jack Roush is buying part or all of Robert Yates Racing. The two NASCAR Nextel Cup car owners are partnering with Ford on an engine-building company, but Yates said that's as far as it will go.(NASCAR.com), Yates also thinks Jayski supplements his "guy's" income, sure doesn't know what he is talking about.....(5-15-2004)
Dyno Numbers from Talladega: NASCAR tested six cars on the chassis dyno after the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway: #12-Dodge, #42-Dodge, #24-Chevy, #8-Chevy, #21-Ford and #6-Ford. Reports are that the #21 Ford was at 419 measured bhp and the #8-Chevy at 415 bhp at the rear wheels. No word on the rest of the results.(Speedway Scene Magazine - print May 7th issue)(5-15-2004)
New Ford Cylinder Head at Lowe's? NASCAR approved a new cylinder head for Ford this season, but it hasn't been used yet. Team Owner Robert Yates said testing has been fruitful and the new engine package should run in next weekend's Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "The engine ran good at Kentucky," Yates said. "We'd like to have 2,000 miles on it. We've had two or three of the engines that first tested at Vegas that weren't something we wanted to have. There's still some issues. We've finally got it to where, 'I like this.' This is going to give us less of a handicap than what we are to do. It's going to be a must-have in the next two weeks. Our 12-year-old engine is about worn out. Hopefully, we'll see it in The Winston next week with a new, modern take."(NASCAR.com)(5-15-2004)
StockCarFans.com - Rumblings - Richmond: Track position is rapidly becoming "the" catch phrase when it comes to Nextel Cup racing....and tonight's Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway re-inforced that theory to the fullest. Dale Earnhardt Jr stayed out on lap 346 as most of the leaders pitted for fresh tires and pulled away from Jimmie Johnson for the victory. It was the third win of 2003 for Earnhardt, the second for him at Richmond (he won this event in 2000), and the 12th of his Cup career (he's 45th all-time). While he may not yet be a "gazillionaire", this victory was worth $285,053 from the over $4.8M in posted awards.
And now, about the pre-race show.....Hooray for Tony's tirade against the booth. I [note: thought of Von form Stock Car Fans ....NOT Jayski] praised Rusty Wallace a couple weeks ago for speaking his mind, and the same goes for Stewart tonight. While it's nearly impossible to fight battles against people who buy ink by the barrel, the only person Tony has to please is the one looking back at him in the mirror in the morning. And, he is entitled to a self- defense. Tony's talked to Rusty....and it's over. NASCAR looked at the situation and found nothing wrong. Both of those drivers are emotional and driven to win, and I don't think either one took umbrage at the other speaking their mind. But, for you new fans, fans with short memories, and TV commentators, here's what Tony was referring to in his "discussion" with Darrel Waltrip.
Tony Stewart (4th) had his best finish since he was 3rd at Las Vegas in March.
Brian Vickers (8th) had his career-best finish tonight, his previous best was 12th at Texas last month. We've now had 29 drivers score a Top-10 finish this season....last year's number was 42.
Ricky Rudd (11th) had his best finish since he was 10th at Kansas last October.
Todd Bodine (33rd) had his best finish since he was 11th at Homestead last November.
STREAKIN....Jeff Gordon has 6 Top-10's in a row. Jimmie Johnson has 5 Top-10's in a row. Bobby Labonte has 4 Top-10's in a row.
This Week's Elevator....UP: The Operator of the Week is a three-way tie (a first in the long and storied history of "The Shaft") between Bobby Labonte (+24), Tony Stewart (+24), and Matt Kenseth (+24). DOWN: The Big Dropper (for the second race in a row) was Jeff Green (-34), followed by Joe Nemechek (-28), and Casey Mears (-23).
Ricky Rudd led tonight for the first time since he led once for 26 laps when we were here last September. We've had 39 different drivers to
lead a lap this season vs last years number of 48.
Only 11 races into the Chase prelims and we're already down to only 14 drivers within 400 points of the leader. Any time the points leader
wins the race, it's gonna make it tougher for those drivers down around the "Stayin' Alive" line to stay in the hunt.
No change in the Top-4 after tonight's race. Brian Vickers (27th to 23rd) made the best move forward and Joe Nemechek (20th to 25th) fell the most spots.(StockCarFans.Com Nextelcup Newsletter)(5-15-2004)
Richmond Race Facts/Notes: Dale Earnhardt Jr., won the Chevy American Revolution 400, scoring his 12th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 158th career start. His last victory came at Atlanta seven races ago.
This is Earnhardt Jr.'s second victory on a short-track. He also won here at Richmond in May 2000 during his rookie season.
Earnhardt Jr. remained 45th on NASCAR's all-time win list.
This is his seventh top-10 finish in 10 races at Richmond International Raceway
This is Earnhardt Jr's third victory and eighth top-10 finish in 11 races in 2004.
Earnhardt Jr., led five times for 115 laps; the second time in 2004 he led the most laps. He also led the most laps at Talladega.
This is the sixth victory for Chevrolet in 2004. Ford has four and Dodge has one. Notebook Items
Fourteen drivers are within 400 points of current point leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the Chase for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship.
The 12 different leaders in the Chevy American Revolution 400 ties the record on the 3/4-mile configuration set in September 2003.
Earnhardt Jr., has scored seven top-five finishes in 2004 and is tied with Jimmie Johnson for the most of the season.
Jimmie Johnson (second) scored his seventh top-five finish in 11 races in 2004. Johnson has scored five straight top-10 finishes, extending a streak that began Texas. Johnson scored his first top-10 finish in five races at Richmond International Raceway.
Bobby Labonte (third) scored his sixth top-10 finish in 2004. Labonte has scored top-10 finishes in his last four races in 2004. He has scored three straight top-10s at Richmond International Raceway.
Tony Stewart (fourth) scored his fifth top-10 finish in 11 races in 2004. He climbed from eighth to fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. It was his seventh top-10 finish in 11 races at Richmond International Raceway.
Matt Kenseth (fifth) scored his eighth top-10 finish in 2004. It was his fifth straight top-10 finish at Richmond. Kenseth has scored six top-10 finishes in nine races at Richmond International Raceway.
Kenseth has ranked among the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 for 46 straight races.
Brian Vickers (8th) scored his first top-10 finish in 2004. This is his career-best finish in 16 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. It was his first
race at Richmond in NASCAR's premier division.
Vickers was the highest finishing rookie for the second time in 2004. He was also the highest finishing rookie three races ago at Martinsville.
Michael Waltrip (10th) scored his first top-10 finish in 37 races at Richmond International Raceway. Waltrip has scored just two top-10
finishes in 2004.
Ricky Rudd (11th) led for the first time since New Hampshire in September 2003.
Jeremy Mayfield (22nd) led for the first time in his 21 races at Richmond.
Kevin Harvick (25th) extended his streak of running at the finish to 50 straight races (since Rockingham in November 2002).(NASCAR Statistical Services)(5-15-2004)
#0 Crew Members OK: Two members of Ward Burton's crew, Scott Swift and Derick Jennings, avoided injury Thursday night when a team van they were driving collided with a deer. The van sustained considerable damage, but both crew members were at work yesterday.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-15-2004)
Cope's sponsor: the #50 Arnold Motorsports Dodge is sporting a yellow scheme this week and is being sponsored by Chesapeake Mobile Homes.(5-14-2004)
Kahne to be featured in Mag:American Thunder, a new men's magazine aimed at NASCAR fans, has a sort of reverse Sports Illustrated-cover jinx going. The magazine's first issue, which was distributed at the Daytona 500 in February, had Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the cover. Junior won his first Daytona 500 that day. Issue No. 2, published in March, had Rusty Wallace on the cover. Wallace proceeded to break his 105-race winless streak to win at Martinsville. Who's next? The editors say the third issue, available toward the end of May, will have rookie Kasey Kahne on the cover, just in time for the Coca-Cola 600 in North Carolina and the MBNA America 400 in Dover.(Philadelphia Inquirer)(5-14-2004)
Interstate Batteries to Re-up with Gibbs and the #18: Interstate Batteries will announce today a three-year extension with Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 18 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet.(The State)(5-14-2004)
#19 Jackman out for year UPDATE: Ed Watkins, Jack Man for the #19 Dew Crew, will be out for the remainder of the season after suffering injuries to both knees in April. He is replaced by Rick Pennington for this weekend’s race at Richmond. Pennington also subbed as Jack Man for the team at Talladega and California.(ClearBlue/Evernham Motorsports PR) UPDATE: a correction - Rick Pennington will NOT be subbing as the #19 Dew Crew Jack Man this weekend at Richmond. Mark Schmuck, Jack Man with the #38 Dodge Busch Series team will sub this weekend.(5-13-2004)
NASCAR Announced Diveristy Appointments: In an effort to more effectively coordinate its diversity initiatives, NASCAR Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Brian France has appointed Tish Sheets as Director of Diversity and Special Projects and Debbie Cox as Manager of Diversity.(NASCAR PR)(5-13-2004)
Interesting facts about NASCAR [meaning the current Nextel Cup Series] from an article at the Dallas Morning News [no registion required for this article].......NASCAR's roots are in the Southeast, but some would be surprised to learn that the sport has a long history of racing across the nation and even in Canada. And NASCAR also had many seasons of more than one event per week and more than 40 races a year. WHERE THEY RACED
• NASCAR raced in Canada in 1952 and 1958.
• NASCAR started and ended the Winston Cup season in California from 1974 to '81.
• NASCAR held five races in New York state in 1955, along with races in Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Mateo, Calif.
• NASCAR had five races in California in 1956 and '57, along with three races in Portland, Ore.
• In 1958, NASCAR had four races in New York state, three in New Jersey, one in California and one in Toronto.
• In 1970, NASCAR had races in Connecticut, New York, Maryland and New Jersey.
• The NASCAR season finale was held at Texas World Speedway in College Station in 1969, 1971 and 1972.
• From July 1-6, 1952, NASCAR had races in Niagara Falls, Ontario; Oswego, N.Y.; and Monroe. Mich. WHEN THEY RACED
• NASCAR had more than 50 races in eight seasons between 1956 and '69, and more than 40 events a year nine other times.
•NASCAR had 62 races in 1964.
• NASCAR held three races on the same day in California, Pennsylvania and Virginia on Oct. 14, 1951.
• NASCAR had three races in different locations in New York state over three consecutive days in 1955.
• NASCAR held four races in nine days in July 1954.
• From 1960 to 1971, NASCAR had three Daytona races in one week of February that all counted toward the championship.
• Until the start of the Winston Cup era in 1972, NASCAR often had two or three events in the same week.
• From 1955 to 1969, with the exception of one year, the season started in November and continued until late October or early November of the following year.
• Two of NASCAR's races at Texas World Speedway were held in December.
(see full story and more facts at the Dallas Morning News)(5-13-2004)
Labonte going for a rare pole feat at RIR: #5-Terry Labonte is bidding to become the first driver to win consecutive poles for Richmond’s spring race since Jeff Gordon went back-to-back in 1998-99. In fact, only three other drivers have accomplished that feat in 50 years of racing at the .75-mile oval: Bobby Allison (1972-74), Neil Bonnett (1977-78) and Darrell Waltrip (1984-85). Labonte will run the same #5 Chevrolet that he put on the pole at Richmond a year ago.(Hendrick Motorsports Site)(5-13-2004)
$ two drivers in the top 50 $: NASCAR drivers #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. (13th on the list) and #24-Jeff Gordon (21st) are the only motorsports figures represented in Sports Illustrated's inaugural list of the top 50 American athletes by current annual income. As listed in the current issue, Junior's total income is $22,081,807 and Gordon earns $18,622,002.(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(5-13-2004)
Last day of Indy practice for Robby: Wednesday was Robby Gordon's last day of practice before Indianapolis 500 pole qualifying this Saturday, since he will be in Richmond, Va., all-day Thursday and Friday for NASCAR Busch Series and Cup practice and qualifying. Driving his backup Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara-Chevrolet, Gordon went 219.034 mph in the concluding 15 minutes of practice, 13th best on the day. Tony Kanaan was fastest at 222.668 mph."We're back in the game," said Gordon. "I'd say we're back to where we were before the crash (Monday). It feels a lot better to go away (to Richmond) knowing we have a good car." Gordon said his speed was done on a "clean" lap and without a "tow" (draft) from another car. Gordon, currently fifth in Busch Series points in his #55 Fruit of the Loom Chevrolet, races in that event Friday night at Richmond. He then will return to Indianapolis to qualify the Meijer car Saturday, then takes a Citation-10 private jet back to Richmond for Saturday night's Chevy American Revolution 400, to drive the Cingular Wireless Chevy for Richard Childress Racing.(Team Gordon PR)(5-13-2004)
Newman and Gaughan to run a carbon monoxide removing device: #77-Brendan Gaughan tested a Carbon monoxide removal device unit May 5 at Richmond International Raceway during his team's test there. Gaughan and teammate #12-Ryan Newman plan to use the unit in Saturday night's Chevy 400 at the .75-mile Richmond track. Paul Rochotte and a group from Penske Racing and NASA - yes, the rocket science people - have been working on the device for more than a year now. The device weighs less than 3 pounds and looks like a large Thermos bottle. The black carbon-fiber housing contains two filters. The first that uses carbon to take out nasty things like sulfur dioxide from race car emissions. Carbon monoxide goes right through that, however, so the second filter contains a catalyst with a platinum base that was developed by NASA. That catalyst converts carbon monoxide, which is poisonous, into carbon dioxide, which is the natural by-product of breathing. Carbon monoxide poisoning became a major issue last year when driver Rick Mast announced that its effects had forced him to end his driving career. Other competitors have complained about having severe headaches and other symptoms after races. Some drivers still take oxygen immediately after races to help clean the dangerous gas out of their system. NASCAR has worked to develop a filtering system that would improve the quality of air being breathed by competitors. What the folks at Penske Racing have been doing is working on their own system in hopes of making something even better.(paraphrased from a full story at ThatsRacin.com)(5-13-2004)
McMurray to run in all three series in 2005: On Wednesday's Totally NASCAR on Fox Sports Net, Jamie McMurray said he's going to try and run not only all of the companion Busch Series races next year, but also all of the companion Craftsman Truck Series events.(5-13-2004)
Ford Evaluates Four Women Drivers: Last week in Indianapolis, four young women race-car drivers were evaluated over two days as part of Ford Racing's new initiative to identify a young female driver with the potential to develop into a race-winning NASCAR driver. Although a number of qualified candidates were considered, Erin Crocker (Age 23; Buffalo, N.Y.), Alison MacLeod (Age 14; Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), Michelle Theriault (Age 18; Atlanta, Ga.) and Lynsey Tilton (Age 17; San Diego, Calif.), were selected based on their racing accomplishments, background and recommendations from renowned USAC Midget team owner Bob East and female racing legend Lyn St. James, and subjected to a comprehensive program that evaluated their skills both on and off the track. The first part of the evaluation included an on-track session at Anderson Speedway (Anderson, Ind.) in a Ford-powered midget car owned by East, who has discovered and developed several current NASCAR stars. East's son, Bobby, who currently leads the USAC National Midget Car standings, shook the car down before each session to establish a baseline around the quarter-mile circuit, and all four drivers spent time in the car being observed and receiving instructions and advice from East. The second part of the evaluation took place at the National Institute of Fitness and Sport, located on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where the drivers were put through a physical and mental readiness assessment administered by Human Performance International designed to evaluate their physical and mental fitness. After undergoing a battery of physical tests that measured muscular strength and endurance, each candidate underwent a number of mental tests designed to evaluate their concentration, information processing and visual tracking skills. As a third part of the test, the drivers also underwent a media training and evaluation session where they were introduced to some basic concepts and recommendations on how to best interact with the media.(Ford Racing)(5-13-2004)
Rudd Visits Pope Air Force Base: Ricky Rudd, driver of the #21 Motorcraft Racing/U.S. Air Force Ford Taurus observed a cargo drop over the Ft. Bragg North Carolina Army base on his way to participating in a 600 NEXTEL All-Star Race ticket give-away at Pope Air Force Base on Tuesday. “It was a real unusual day for me,” said Ricky. “We got to see how they drop cargo out of the back of one of these big airplanes. You see it on television, but you never experience it. It is a pretty neat deal with a lot of precision how they do it. It was a lot of fun.” Following the C-130 flight from Concord the plane, carrying Rudd and the U.S. Air Force crew, landed at Pope Air Force Base just outside Fayetteville, North Carolina. Pope is surrounded on three sides by Fort Bragg allowing a unique relationship between the two branches of the United States Armed Services. Following a tour of the base, Ricky went to the Pope Club where he was greeted by over 200 Airmen based at Pope. Ricky signed autographs and posed for photos while NEXTEL’s John Dunlap hand out 600 tickets to the NEXTEL All-Star event scheduled for May 22 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “Giving away the NEXTEL All-Star race tickets – that was a neat deal. It was really nice on NEXTEL’s part to donate all those tickets to the Air Force Base. There was a really good response. All of the Airmen really appreciated it. And, it gave me an opportunity to meet a lot of the guys and gals stationed at Pope. The Air Force has been such a great part of our race team, and I always enjoy having a chance to meet these men and women who are working so hard to protect our freedom. Ricky added, “It’ll be nice to have 600 of our associates at the NEXTEL All-Star race at Lowe’s in two weeks.”(Wood Brothers Racing Site)(5-13-2004)
Testing at Chicago? hearing that #24-Jeff Gordon and #5-Terry Labonte tested at Chicagoland Speedway sometime this week.(5-13-2004)
DEI Tests at Kentucky: #8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and #15-Michael Waltrip turned test laps at Kentucky Speedway to fine tune their intermediate track programs for upcoming races that will play a pivotal role in determining eligibility for the season-ending “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.” Earnhardt, Jr., owns superspeedway wins at Daytona and Atlanta and a total of six top-five and seven top-10 finishes, but his team has misfired at lower-banked tracks similar to Kentucky Speedway. His #8 Budweiser Chevrolet finished 35th at Las Vegas and 19th at California Speedway. “We missed something on the one-and-a-half-mile low-banked tracks for a year-and-a- half now,” Earnhardt’s Crew Chief Tony Eury said. “Our fab shop came up here a couple of weeks ago and said the track was real smooth. We decided to come and try some things we didn’t get to try last time we were here to see if we can improve this part of our program. We have Michigan, Chicago and Kansas City coming up and those are places we struggled last year. We’re struggling again. We went to Vegas and California and struggled. We thought we had the problem fixed after Vegas and we got to California and found out we didn’t. Something in this new tire is throwing us a curve on these flat racetracks and we just have to keep working at it until we can figure it out.”
Waltrip, who enters the week 30th in the series standings and 190 points away from eligibility for the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL
Cup,” predicted both DEI teams will benefit from today’s test. “We’ve had a good day,” he said. “We’ve been down some roads that didn’t go so well today with our set up and we’ve discovered some things that have been beneficial. I’ve enjoyed today and I think this test will pay off as we go forward.” Other drivers testing at Kentucky Speedway today included Kentucky Motorsports NASCAR Busch Series driver Stuart Kirby and Paul Menard, who drove with Evernham Motorsports. NEXTEL Cup driver #10-Scott Riggs will join Kirby and #50 Holigan Racing tomorrow and testing continues next Wednesday, April. 19, with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers #77-Brendan Gaughan, #32-Ricky Craven, #25-Brian Vickers, #42-Jamie McMurray and #40-Sterling Marlin.
Kentucky Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Mark F. Cassis, on hand for today’s test, said consistently strong test
activity may help in his track’s pursuit of a future NASCAR NEXTEL Cup date. “There has been a lot of discussion lately concerning facilities, market place and commitment to gain a NEXTEL Cup Series event,” he said. “Simply put, Kentucky Speedway is the largest non-Cup facility in the United States, is located in one of the top-five television marketing areas in the country and hosts, without question, more NEXTEL Cup testing than any other facility. We have proven ourselves through performance with three straight 70,000 plus crowds for
stand-alone NASCAR Busch Series events. I feel stronger than ever we should go to the next level, and deservedly so. If it doesn’t happen
in 2005, our team will keep digging for 2006.”
Racing continues at Kentucky Speedway June 18-19 with the NASCAR Busch Series “Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo” featuring Waltrip, Robby Gordon, Kasey Kahne and other NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stars. Tickets for all 2004 Kentucky Speedway events are on sale now and can be purchased in four easy ways: ·By phone at 888-652-RACE, ·On the World Wide Web at www.kentuckyspeedway.com, In person at either the speedway's Ft. Mitchell ticket office or at the Kentucky Speedway Fan Center off Ky. Hwy. 35 in Sparta, Ky.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(5-12-2004)
Lawmakers rally around protecting NASCAR's favorable tax treatment: Stuffed in a package of proposed corporate tax breaks the Senate passed Tuesday is an order to the Internal Revenue Service: Don't start treating NASCAR as if it's something other than a carnival ride. For three decades, the owners of NASCAR tracks have built new grandstands and added restrooms or concessions using a seven-year depreciation schedule, an arrangement also enjoyed by amusement park owners. But given the actual life of such grandstands, the IRS has begun challenging whether race tracks and amusement parks should be treated the same. Recently, the agency has been telling track owners they should use depreciation periods of 15 years or more, which would reduce their tax deductions by half on an annual basis. They still could recoup their investment, but it would take twice as long. NASCAR leaders are saying they aren't seeking anything special; they than just want the tax treatment they've enjoyed in the past put into law. "We've had this. It's worked, and why mess it up?" said Humpy Wheeler, president of Speedway Motorsports, which operates six race tracks. "Everybody's trying to get an economic advantage today, whether it's taxation or whatever it is. There just simply won't be as much construction if we don't have the favorable depreciation."
There are 60 co-sponsors in the House – some from virtually every Southern state. The local political motivation can be found in nearly every statement lawmakers have released to tout it. "All the request says is treat us like you've always treated us," Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., estimates NASCAR's annual impact on North Carolina at $1.5 billion each year. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., also cites the numerous motorsports facilities in his state. "In the last decade alone more than a billion dollars has been invested around the country to improve the quality and safety of these facilities, large and small, in reliance on this understanding of the tax law," Santorum said. "It is only fair to provide certainty for the future to allow for continued growth." Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense says he isn't surprised the NASCAR provision is encountering little resistance in Congress, though he contends it should. "It's definitely something at face value you really don't want to oppose," Ashdown said. "'They voted against NASCAR' doesn't sound good for anybody running in middle America. It's kind of like opposing subsidies to the Indy speedway and living in Indianapolis. You would be seen as a vile outcast."(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(5-12-2004)
All-Star Panel Says One Hot Night is No. 1 Moment: As the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge prepares for the celebration of its 20th anniversary, the previous 19 editions have evoked everlasting memories of many of the sport's greatest stars providing the fans with brilliant racing, stunning finishes and occasionally a touch of controversy. It is these types of memories that have built the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, formerly known as The Winston, into the most thrilling and unpredictable all-star event found in any sport. And what better time than the eve of the event's 20th anniversary than to have members of an expert panel vote for their favorite moments in the history of the race.
The panel consisted of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte, who have participated in 18 of the 19 all-star races; drivers Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd, who have competed in 17 of the events; Lowe's Motor Speedway President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, who has hosted and promoted 18 of the races; NASCAR President Mike Helton, who hosted and promoted the only all-star race not held at Charlotte (Atlanta, 1986); and former Charlotte Observer motorsports writer Tom Higgins, who has witnessed every one either in
person or on television. By virtue of the panel's order of preference of the top moments on their respective choices, the following earned the highest voting totals. The top-three moments in descending order are:
No. 3 - "The Tide Slide" (1989): Darrell Waltrip, driving his Tide-sponsored Chevrolet, was leading the race as he was approaching the white-flag lap when hard-charging Rusty Wallace nudged Waltrip, sent him spinning and created the "Tide Slide." Wallace went on to capture the victory while a displeased Waltrip wound up seventh.
No. 2 - "Pass In The Grass" (1987): Many dubbed this all-star moment the catchy "Pass in the Grass," but Helton called this "the defining moment for Earnhardt." Whatever you want to call it, it was classic Earnhardt. As the final 10-lap sprint got underway, Earnhardt exhibited his aggressive nature that earned him the nickname "The Intimidator" as he made contact with his fellow leaders at that time, Geoffrey Bodine and Bill Elliott. Elliott retaliated by making contact with Earnhardt and sent him through the grass on the frontstretch. However, Earnhardt continued to mash the gas, regained control of the car and somehow miraculously maintained the lead and captured the dramatic win. Both Bodine and Elliott bumped Earnhardt's car following the checkered flag and tempers flared.
No. 1 - "One Hot Night" (1992): Little did Wheeler know at the time of conceiving a promotional tagline for the 1992 event - "One Hot Night" - that it would deliver more than anyone could imagine on its billing. Before the cars even turned a wheel, this event already had a special place in not only all-star annals but motorsports history overall as Lowe's Motor Speedway became the first superspeedway to run at night under the lights. "We shocked the world by lighting a superspeedway," Wheeler said. Three of the sport's stars - Dale Earnhardt, Davey Allison and Kyle Petty - were involved in the frenzied last-lap finish that crystallized this moment. On the final lap, Petty tangled with race
leader Earnhardt, spun him out of the way and appeared on his way to a victory. However, Allison charged up to Petty for a checkered-finish
duel that was decided by mere inches at the line. To add to the dramatic finish, Allison and Petty made contact and Allison crashed after the checkered fell and did not get an opportunity to celebrate the win in Victory Lane as he was transported to the hospital with a concussion. See the full release/story with quotes on my LMS Track News page or with pictures at the LMS site.(5-12-2004)
Congrats: Steve and Abbey Boyer added a new daughter to their family Tuesday. Kylie Ann was 8 lbs 13 oz and 21-inches long. Steve is the team engineer for the #40 car. Everybody's doing well.(5-12-2004)
FOX NASCAR Revenues Up: Mediaweek's latest issue reports that Fox is "running ahead of its ad revenue projections" on NASCAR races this season, today's Sports Business Daily reports. Fox President of Sales Jon Nesvig did not offer specifics but told the magazine, "We are well ahead of our business plan." Nesvig said ad revenue is up by "low double digits."(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-12-2004)
Sponsors for Shelmerdine at Richmond: Rick Russell, owner of 2nd Chance Race Parts, the primary sponsor for Kirk Shelmerdine’s #72 Nextel Cup Ford Taurus, announced today that the team will also be carrying the logo for RacingUnderdog.com on the its entry in the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night. RacingUnderdog.com, a small-media Internet site that devotes its coverage to Nextel Cup’s underdog and independent drivers, recently chronicled Shelmerdine’s race efforts in California and the team’s week-long trip there. “We’re honored to be included on a car at a Nextel Cup event,” said Dave Laurence, owner of RacingUnderdog.com, adding that “this is simply a joint effort between two Underdogs trying to help each other out.” Kirk Shelmerdine was among the drivers who tested on Thursday, May 6
at Richmond International Raceway. "The track had a tremendous amount of grip, and had the feel of a track with several races on it instead
of a new surface," Shelmerdine said. His car handled well off the trailer, responded well to adjustments, and was only a second slower
than the Childress cars that were testing there that day. Shelmerdine and his 2nd Chance Race Parts Team are looking forward to an improved performance this weekend at Richmond.(PR)(5-12-2004)
Green fastest in testing Tues at Lowe's: Jeff Green led the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series speed parade while NASCAR Busch Series drivers Paul Menard and Tim Sauter tested Lowe's Motor Speedway's new SAFER Barriers Tuesday as testing continued at the 1.5-mile superspeedway. It's been 38 years since a Petty Enterprises #43 has started from the pole for the Coca-Cola 600, but Green showed the team will once again be a contender during CTC Pole Night qualifying on Thursday, May 27. Shortly after sunset, the unofficial stopwatches caught Green with a lap of 29.602 seconds, 182.420 mph, to top the 16 NEXTEL Cup Series drivers making final preparations for the May 30 Coca-Cola 600.
Dave Blaney, who has two Busch Series poles at Lowe's Motor Speedway, was fast for the second straight day, posting an unofficial lap of 182.174 mph in Bill Davis' unsponsored #23 Dodge. Blaney's night nearly turned sour late in the session when he brushed the outside wall in turn four, but the damage was only cosmetic. Ward Burton, who opted to skip the Monday session, was third fastest at 181.616mph in the #0 NetZero Chevrolet with Jimmy Spencer fourth on the speed chart at 180.463 mph in the #4 Morgan-McClure Chevrolet. John Andretti rounded out the "fast five" at 180.120 mph in the #1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet. Interestingly, three of the five fastest NEXTEL Cup Series cars do not have full-time sponsors. 1996 Coca-Cola 600 winner Dale Jarrett slapped the SAFER Barriers in turn four just before the session ended at 10 p.m. and Jeff Fultz backed into the same spot just before 8 p.m. Both men were able to drive their cars back to the garage area.
Testing continues Wednesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway and fans can watch the action from the main grandstand free of charge. IPOWER
DASH Series drivers will be on the track from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with ARCA RE/MAX Series teams testing for the May 27 Quaker Steak & Lube 100 from 5 to 10 p.m.
Tickets for all May events at Lowe's Motor Speedway are still available and can be obtained online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com or
by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS. Unofficial NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing speeds:
Jeff Green, 182.420mph
#23-Dave Blaney, 182.174
#0-Ward Burton, 181.616
#4-Jimmy Spencer, 180.463
#1-John Andretti, 180.120
#20-Tony Stewart, 179.982
#16-Greg Biffle, 179,146
#96-Johnny Benson, 178.897
#29-Kevin Harvick, 178.083
#84-Kyle Busch, 178.042
#88-Dale Jarrett, 177.264
#31-Robby Gordon, 176.442
#33-Kerry Earnhardt, 175.999
#44-Mark Green, 175.012
#30-Johnny Sauter, 174.814
#78-Jeff Fultz, 172.789.(LMS PR)(5-11-2004)
Benson tests the #96 PPI Motorsports Chevy at LMS Thanks to David Griffin for the image
Tony Stewart Comments: #20-Tony Stewart has had several on-track incidents lately leading some to speculate the Home Depot Chevy driver is driving frustrated...however, Stewart told PRN’s Garagepass that’s not the case. "No, I’m not frustrated at all, we’re all working hard. We’re not having a typical season for us by any means you know...yeah there’s an element of frustration there but it’s not making us a road warrior on the racetrack. We’re racing hard just like we do every week but we’re just struggling this year and we've been in a couple of altercations that we didn’t want to be in but we've been in. It’s not a situation where we’ve been looking to go out and get into wrecks with people and try to cause problems by any means. It just happens that we’ve been in a couple of incidents." When asked if he feels any more aggressive behind the wheel this season Stewart said, "I feel like I’m racing just as hard as I normally do, I’m just not as fast as I normally am so normally when I’m that aggressive I get by people and I drive away from people where this year I’m around a little bit more of a crowd than normal.”(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(5-11-2004)
Special Scheme for Martin at RIR: Roush Racing says its #6 Ford for Mark Martin will have a special paint scheme promoting sponsor Viagra's "value card" for Saturday night's Chevy American Revolution 400 Nextel Cup race at Richmond International Raceway. It also says the car will have a “reverse” paint scheme with more white on the car for all eight night races this season.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-11-2004)
Roush to buy out Yates? Garage sources have told Sporting News insider Lee Spencer that Roush Racing has offered to purchase Robert Yates Racing, expanding their engine partnership to team ownership in an effort to pool Ford's Nextel Cup resources. The Yates camp says the rumors are rubbish.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-11-2004)
New engine builder at DEI...from Yates? hearing former Yates engine man, Dennis Schoenfeld has left Robert Yates Racing [#38 and #88] and took the head engine builder job at Dale Earnhardt Inc.[DEI](5-11-2004)
Don't forget Foyt at Indy: Larry Foyt, part time in the Cup Series also practiced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500, #41-Larry Foyt ran at 207.982mph, 40th out of the 41 cars who practiced on Monday.(Indianapolis Star)(5-11-2004)
New Penske Shop? hearing that Penske Racing South [#2, #12, #77] has purchased the Matsushita building in Mooresville, NC. Hoping to move in the 415,000 sq ft /105 acre property in Dec 2004. The building is located at Mazeppa Road and NC, 801.(5-11-2004)
Nadeau to be at Richmond: Though Jerry Nadeau [driver of the #01 Chevy who was injured a year ago at RIR] continues to recover from head injuries sustained in a practice accident at RIR, he doesn't shelter any bad feelings about the Richmond facility. In fact, he is planning to attend the weekend race, his first visit to a Nextel Cup event in 2004. "I only have good things to say about the Richmond track and the community," said Nadeau. "After all, the track emergency workers and the hospital staff at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center saved my life. I'm really looking forward to being with the team. Hopefully I can bring Joe [Nemechek] and the guys some luck. Joe is doing a great job in the Army car despite all of the bad breaks he's had recently.(MB2 Motorsports PR in part)(5-11-2004)
Rookie History: The way to the NASCAR NEXTEL championship is to win Raybestos Rookie of the Year. Since 1979, six Raybestos Rookie of the Year drivers have won the title: Dale Earnhardt (1979), Rusty Wallace (1984), Alan Kulwicki (1986), Jeff Gordon (1993), Tony Stewart (1999), and Matt Kenseth (2000).(Camp and Assoc PR - see the latest Notes on my ROTY Page) That accounts for 15 of 24 titles in that time frame [plus 1959 ROTY, Richard Petty won the 1979 title].(5-11-2004)
No Top Fives/Tens: eight drivers who have ran all 10 Cup races in 2004 have not yet scored a top 10: #30-Sauter, #25-Vickers, #21-Rudd, #45-Petty, #32-Craven, #43-Green, #10-Riggs and #50-Cope. Eighteen drivers have not scored a top five: the eight listed who have not scored a top 5 and: #41-Mears, #88-Jarrett, #01-Nemechek, #5-Labonte, #77-Gaughan, #16-Biffle, #0-Burton, #99-Burton, #15-Waltrip and #49-Schrader.(5-11-2004)
Benson to test the #96 PPI Chevy: Johnny Benson is testing the #96 Chevy for PPI on Monday, May 10th and Tuesday, May 11th. PPI is looking to secure sponsorship towards the last third of the season, and if they receive the sponsorship, then Benson would be the driver. They are using this test to acclimate Benson to PPI and working with the team. The hopes are to run the race in the fall at Lowe's Motor Speedway.(5-11-2004)
Hamilton Jr. listed in the #09 at RIR: NASCAR.com's Chevy American Revolution 400 ar RIR Entry List has Bobby Hamilton Jr. in the #09 Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts Dodge.(5-11-2004)
Blaney in the #7? NASCAR.com's Chevy American Revolution 400 ar RIR Entry List has Dave Blaney listed in the #7 Dodge Ultra Motorsports Dodge.(5-11-2004)
LaJoie in the #80? NASCAR.com's Chevy American Revolution 400 ar RIR Entry List has Randy LaJoie listed in the #80 Hover Motorsports Ford.(5-11-2004)
Robby Gordon OK after Indy 500 practice crash: Robby Gordon was uninjured in a single-car accident with approximately 10 minutes remaining in Monday's Indianapolis 500 practice session. Gordon lost control of the #70 Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara-Chevrolet in turn one and hit the wall. Gordon was checked and immediately released from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield medical center. The car received left-side suspension, underwing, rear wing and bodywork damage and Gordon plans to drive his team's backup Meijer Chevy in Tuesday practice. "I went down into turn one and the car compressed in the corner and the rear got a little bit sideways," Gordon recalled. "I tried to save it and it hooked back the other way and spun around. It is what it is. When you can walk away from one here, it doesn't
matter how fast you were going. We were going to run four straight hot laps on new tires and our warmup lap was over 218 mph. I think we were going to be pretty good. We'll be fine." Gordon finished the session, delayed by rain, 10th fastest at 218.446mph. Helio Castroneves was quick on the day at 220.300mph.(PR)(5-11-2004)
Testing at Kentucky: the Kentucky Speedway website lists #10-Scott Riggs and #15-Michael Waltrip testing there on Wednesday, May 12th. Fans can watch from the front of the Turn 3 Fan Center.(5-11-2004)
Open Testing at Lowe's UPDATE: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series, ARCA RE/MAX Series and IPOWER DASH Series teams will be testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway Monday, May 10, through Wednesday, May 12, in preparation for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on May 22, the May 30 Coca-Cola 600 and the other stock car events scheduled this month at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Monday, May 10th, Busch Series, 9:00am to 3:00pm, NEXTEL Cup Series, 4:00 10:00pm
Tuesday, May 11th, Busch Series 9:00am to 3:00pm, NEXTEL Cup Series, 4:00 10:00pm
Wednesday, May 12th, IPOWER DASH Series, 9:00am to 4:00pm, ARCA 5:00 to 10:00pm
NEXTEL CUP drivers scheduled to test: #96-Johnny Benson, #16-Greg Biffle, #23-Dave Blaney, #84-Kyle Busch, #32-Ricky Craven, #33-Kerry Earnhardt, #31-Robby Gordon, #43-Jeff Green, #29-Kevin Harvick, #88-Dale Jarrett, #6-Mark Martin, #41-Casey Mears, #30-Johnny Sauter, #4-Jimmy Spencer and #20-Tony Stewart.(LMS PR)(5-6-2004) UPDATE: #6-Mark Martin showed the "young guns" he will be a contender during the May 22 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 30 Coca-Cola 600 as open testing began Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Martin, the 2002 Coca-Cola 600 winner, ran numerous laps at just over 180 mph. According to the unofficial stopwatches, the 45-year-old Martin led the search for speed with a best lap of 181.733 mph around the 1.5-mile superspeedway. Dave Blaney, driving Bill Davis' unsponsored #23 Dodge, was second fastest, just a tick of the watch behind Martin at 181.147 mph, while Casey Mears was third on the speed chart at 179.087 in the #41 Target Dodge. With 11 teams on hand, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing session started at 4pm and ended under the lights at 10pm.
The caution flag was never unfurled as both the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series testing sessions were run without incident. Testing continues Tuesday and Wednesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway and fans can watch the action from the main grandstand free of charge.
Tickets for all May events at Lowe's Motor Speedway are still available and can be obtained online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS. Unofficial NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing speeds:
#6-Mark Martin, 181.733mph
#23-Dave Blaney, 181.147
#41-Casey Mears, 179.087
#88-Dale Jarrett, 177.445
#1-John Andretti, 177.282
#43-Jeff Green, 177.270
#96-Johnny Benson, 177.264
#84-Kyle Busch, 177.218
#30-Johnny Sauter, 176.678
#44-Mark Green, 175.063
#33-Kerry Earnhardt, 174.848.(LMS PR)(5-11-2004)
Interesting Stat: Sunday's Mother's Day break was one of only four such weekends from Feb. 12 to Nov. 21 this season. #99-Jeff Burton seems to make the most of the time off. In the 24 races held following weekends off since 1999, he has four victories. #17-Matt Kenseth and #2-Rusty Wallace have three wins each.(Delaware News Journal)(5-10-2004)
Benson leaves the #09 team UPDATE tests for PPI: been told that Johnny Benson and Phoenix Racing have parted ways. Benson drove the #1 Yellow Frieght Dodge in the Busch Series and #09 Miccosukee Indian Gaming for the team. AND it is also posted on the Johnny Benson website. AND IIBGNRacing.com has confirmed that Johnny Benson has been released by Phoenix Racing and Jamie McMurray will drive the #1 Dodge this weekend at Richmond in the Busch Series race. A news release will be sent out Tuesday. Benson was scheduled to driver the #09 Dodge in the Cup race at Richmond, no idea if Joe Ruttman, who also drives the #09 car will drive or if someone else will.(5-10-2004)
Driver to be voted into the All-Star Race: Race fans will take an active role in adding another entry to the May 22 Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Following the Nextel Open - a 30-lap, two segment race held prior to the all-star event for drivers not already eligible - fans will be allowed to vote on the Internet and by phone to add another driver to the all-star field in addition to the winner of The Open, sources said. An official annoucement of the change is expected by the end of the week, sources said. Barring a new race winner this weekend at Richmond, Va., that will give the three segment, 90-lap all-star race that pays $1 million to the winner at least 25 entries. The bulk of the entries (23) come from race winners from the previous and current Cup seasons, as well as former winners of the all-star event, if they are not otherwise eligible. Now, two drivers will advance through The Nextel Open, the winner and the highest vote getter. Nextel officials, reached Monday, said it was premature to comment on any further changes to the all-star race. Officials with NASCAR and Lowe's Motor Speedway, which has hosted the all-star race every year but one since its inception in 1985, all declined to comment on the change. Lowe's is hosting a news conference Tuesday to promote the race and unveil the all-star race's "most memorable moments."(ThatsRacin.com)(5-10-2004)
Ganassi Racing to have a Busch team in 2005: been told that Ganassi Racing will run a full time Busch program next year in house and possibly a second team for 15 - 20 Busch races also. Supposedly the drivers will be some combination of their current three Cup drivers (Marlin, McMurray and Mears) and possibly David Stremme and/or Reed Sorenson. Ganassi Racing also plans to move into their new building by the Concord [NC] Airport in July.(5-10-2004)
Cope Wrecks in practice UPDATES: Derrike Cope was involved in an accident in turn three bringing out the red flag. He was cut out of the car, but is reportedly awake and alert. He was taken to a local hosiptal, via helicopter, for further evaluation. The accident stopped practice for about 30 minutes. UPDATE: Reports from the hospital are positive, but nothing official has been released yet. A replacement driver for tonight has not been named. UPDATE 2: Josh Richeson will be in the #49 tonight. Cope is alert.(BGNRacing.com)
See more details at the St Louis Post Dispatch.(5-8-2004) UPDATE - Sunday: Derrick Cope [#50 Cup, #49 Busch] was injured in a crash Saturday morning at Gateway International Raceway [while practing for the Busch race held Saturday night]. Cope, 45, of Spanaway, Wash., who pilots the #49 Jay Robinson Racing Ford Taurus, slammed into the wall in Turn 3 on the driver's side in the first of two practice sessions on the 1 1/4-mile oval in Madison. Safety workers had to cut the roof off Cope's car to remove the injured driver, who was momentarily knocked unconscious by the accident. Cope was wearing a head and neck restraint (which is required). Busch Series spokesman Rick Houston said Cope "was awake and aware" when he was airlifted to St. Louis University Hospital. When he arrived at the hospital, Cope was "awake and alert and responding appropriately," Houston said. Cope was in stable condition after reportedly suffering a concussion and was kept overnight for observation. NASCAR officials immediately impounded the vehicle, covered it with a trap and were carefully inspecting the engine compartment as well as the cockpit looking for obvious mechanical problems. Cope was practicing for the Charter 250 when his brakes locked up entering Turn 3, causing the car to spin 180 degrees. It went up the track and hit the wall smashing the driver's side of the car from front to back. "It would be speculation to say why, or how or what caused the crash," Houston said. "But we are looking into the accident." Robinson Racing used Josh Richeson, 22, of Davidson, N.C., to drive the team's backup car. Richeson finished 27th.(St Louis Post Dispatch.(5-9-2004) UPDATE - Monday: Derrike Cope shook off a rough weekend and is ready to go in the #49 Advil Ford in Friday night's Funal 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at the .750-mile Richmond International Raceway. Cope was taken to a St. Louis, Mo., hospital following a crash in practice Saturday at Gateway International Raceway. Though his injuries were diagnosed as minor, he was held a few hours for
observation and released Saturday evening, about the time of the start of the race. Josh Richeson substituted for Cope, driving the Jay
Robinson-owned car. "It was 'Praise the Lord and pass the Advil,'" Cope said. "The brakes didn't burn in the way I thought they had. They locked and spun me around, and I hit the wall there pretty hard. I'm grateful everything turned out okay, but I'm ready to get back in the car. You never know how easy you have things. I wanted a good run at Gateway, and didn't get to drive at all. I thought it was going to be
bad enough watching the race on television Saturday night but the hospital didn't have cable. I was on a flight anyway, so missed hearing any of it. Believe me, I'd much rather have been driving," he said.(Williams Company PR)(5-10-2004)
Hermie to dedicate RIR races to uncle: After picking up sponsorship from the Bank of Southside Virginia and the law firm of Jenkins and Jenkins, Hermie Sadler will attempt to qualify for the Busch and Nextel Cup events at Richmond International Raceway this weekend. Sadler is dedicating both races to his uncle, Bud Elliott, who died Saturday after a battle with cancer. Elliott, a former NASCAR Sporstman driver, was instrumental in jump-starting the racing careers of Hermie and Elliott Sadler.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-10-2004)
Petty Testing engines at Lowe's: Petty Enterprises broke two engines at California, and they weren't the first engines to blow this year. The #45 and #44 Petty Enterprises cars will test this week at Charlotte. The #44, a developmental car driven by Christian Fittipaldi [not so far in 2004], will be used strictly for engine work and will be driven by Mark Green, who normally works as the spotter for Kyle Petty and the #45.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-10-2004)
Gordon practices at Indy: Robby Gordon used Sunday's opening day of practice for the May 30 Indianapolis 500 for minimal set-up laps on both his primary and backup Meijer/Coca-Cola Dallara-Chevrolets. In just six laps, late in the afternoon, Gordon went 215.317mph in his primary car. Earlier, he did a 209.733 mph speed in 11 laps in the backup Meijer entry. Scott Dixon was fastest for the day at 219.760 mph in more than 20 laps. "Today's goal was to run both cars and not have any problems," said Gordon. "It was a good function-check day and that was Thomas' (Knapp, team manager/engineer) plan all along. We tried one new setup on the backup car and then went back to what we learned in the test here a week ago."(PR)(5-10-2004)