Former Racetrack Commemorated: While NASCAR's elite series is in Richmond on Sept. 11 preparing for the race that will decide who competes for the Nextel Cup championship, a group of race fans will be in Augusta commemorating one of the city's great old tracks. The site of the old Augusta International Raceway road course is being developed into a public park complete with ballfields, a library and community center, but a group of racing enthusiasts is being allowed to place a monument to the track and its former stars on the property. The track hosted a race for the circuit now known as Nextel Cup on Nov. 17, 1963. At that time the track was a state-of-the-art, three-mile road course, but it only held the one Cup race in '63. That 417-mile event is significant in NASCAR history because it was the last ever won by Fireball Roberts.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), more info about the track at augustainternationalraceway.com, the Dedication will be on Sept 11, 2004, former drivers Rex White and Frank Warren are scheduled to attend.(8-8-2004)
Jeff Gordon wins his 4th Brickyard 402.5 - Shun's Victory Lane: In a wild race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, #24-Jeff Gordon won his 4th Brickyard 400 [402.5], leading the most laps with 124 [including an extra one]. The race was the first in NASCAR Cup hsitory that used the green-white-checker finish after a late caution around lap 155. The race still finished under yellow, but Gordon was way ahead by then. It is Gordon's 5th win of 2004 and his 69th of his career. Gordon then bypassed Victory Lane [and the Powerade controversy], stopping the #24 DuPont Chevy at the start/finish line / yard of bricks and celebrating there with his team [think there will be a fine?]. Points leader, #48-Jimmie Johnson lost an engine and finished 36th and allowed Gordon to close to within 97 points of the Drivers Points. A few new records most cautions with 13, caution laps 47 [if they count the last one], most laps led by Gordon with 124, slowest race speed average at 115.030mph. #24-Gordon and #91-Elliott ties #2-Wallace for the most top-10's in Brickyard 400 history with 9 [in 11 races], the least number of drivers running at the end of the race at 30 [was 39]. The rest of the top-5 were: #88-Dale Jarrett, #38-Elliott Sadler, #9-Kasey Kahne and #20-Tony Stewart. On the very last lap  #21-Rudd cut a tire and hit wall, #8-Earnhardt Jr. and #6-Martin got together and cut down tires. The race ended with a checker-yellow, with a record 13 cautions for 47 laps under yellow [29% of the race].
Good race recap at ThatsRacin.com.
IMS Radio reports that the #24 and the team finally made it to Victory Lane, but without the NBC camera's.
For my race rundown with caution info, some narrative, lucky dogs, lap leaders, etc, see my Indianapolis Race Info/Rundown Page
For results see: ThatsRacin.com Motorsports One NASCAR.com.(8-8-2004)
Race Notes - Indianapolis: #24-Jeff Gordon won the 2004 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, scoring his 69th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 386th career start. His last victory came at Daytona in July, four races ago. This was Gordon's 48th career victory on a superspeedway.
Gordon scored his fourth Brickyard 400 victory (1994, 1998, 2001 and 2004). He joins A.J. Foyt (1961, 1964, 1967 and 1977), Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991) and Al Unser Sr. (1970, 1971, 1978 and 1987) who also won four races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Gordon remained second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. This was his fifth victory in 2004.
Gordon led four times for 124 laps, including the final 35, of the 160  laps raced, the sixth time he has led the most laps in a race this season, more than any other driver. It was the most laps led in any NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Indianapolis.
Gordon has led 433 of the 1,761 laps raced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 11 races here, the most of any driver (24.6 percent).
This was the 13th victory for Chevrolet in 2004. Ford has six and Dodge has two. Notebook Items
With five races remaining, there is still plenty of time in the race to secure a spot in the final top-10 before the race for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup begins in earnest at New Hampshire in September. As much as 156 points can change within one race, based on the difference of a first-place finish leading the most laps (190 points) as opposed to a 43rd-place finish (34 points). All of the top-34 points positions following Indianapolis are separated by less than 156 points, meaning all of those positions conceivably can change hands next week at Watkins Glen.
Ryan Newman is 10th in the point standings but the next five drivers are all within 123 points of the coveted 10th position.
Pos Driver Behind 10th
11th Kasey Kahne 31
12th Jeremy Mayfield 32
13th Dale Jarrett 55B
14th Jamie McMurray 109
15th Mark Martin 123
The top-six drivers are locked into the top-10 for this coming week. Sixth-place Elliott Sadler is 163 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey
Kahne and providing he competes in the next race, cannot drop out of the top 10. Kurt Busch, Bobby Labonte, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman all could conceivably lose their top-10 ranking at Watkins Glen.
Jimmie Johnson (36th) remained first in the point standings for the eighth time in his career. Johnson ranked first in the standings after Kansas City in September 2002 and in the last seven races. He lost 135 points of his point lead today and now has a 97-point lead over second-place Jeff Gordon.
Johnson posted his third DNF in 2004. His last engine failure occurred at Talladega in September 2003.
Gordon's victory marked the ninth win for Hendrick Motorsports in 2004, the most by any owner.
Dale Jarrett (second) scored his seventh top-10 finish in 2004. Jarrett scored his seventh top-10 finish in 11 races at Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. Jarrett climbed from 14th to 13th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings, He is only 55 points from 10th-place Newman.
Elliott Sadler (third) scored his ninth top-10 finish in 2004. This is his first top-10 finish in six races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Matt Kenseth has ranked among the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 in 56 straight races.
The 13 caution periods in the 2004 Brickyard 400 set a record eclipsing the previous record of nine set here in 1998. This was the slowest of the 11 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 16 cars out of race was also a record for the Brickyard 400.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(8-8-2004)
Stock Car Fans - Ramblings - Indy: In what was an unusually rough race for this place, Jeff Gordon was dominant today and won the Brickyard 402.5 handily this afternoon. Gordon led four times for 124 laps en route to his 4th Brickyard victory, and was not seriously challenged the final 35 laps. We even had a green/white/checker finish and the world is still on it's axis.....imagine that!
This was the 6th win [actually 5th] of 2004 for Gordon, and the 69th of his Cup career (he's 7th all-time). It was worth a pretty penny as well.....$518,053.
I guess we'll see a new directive from NASCAR this week. No celebrating allowed on the track. You must go direct to the Gatorade Victory Lane sponsored by PowerAde at once. How else can we justify getting money from the both of 'em!
I've got a solution. Just put those two heavies who guard the car in Victory Lane in PowerAde uniforms. It worked for Mr. Peanut!
A ton of cautions today (13 for 47 laps)....most due to tire troubles. Whether it was low pressure or camber (my choice), it was unusual for a track that hasn't really been known for those types of problems.
Dale Jarrett (2nd) had his best finish since he won at Rockingham in February of 2003.
Elliott Sadler (3rd) had his best finish since he won at Texas in April.
Kevin Harvick (8th) had his best finish since he was 3rd at Talladega in April.
Bill Elliott (9th) had his best finish since he was 8th at Homestead last November (only 4 races). His Top-10 gives us 33 drivers to score that mark this season....last year's number was 42.
Jeff Green (14th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Texas in April of 2003!
Ken Schrader (18th) had his best finish since he was 6th at Bristol in March.
Jimmy Spencer (19th) had his best finish since he was 17th at Dover in June.
STREAKIN....Jeff Gordon has 6 Top-5's in a row.
Tony Stewart has 4 Top-5's in the last 5 races.
This Week's Elevator....UP: Operator of the week is Greg Biffle (+29), followed by Kevin Harvick (+24) and Bobby Labonte (+24). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Ward Burton (-37), followed by Jimmie Johnson (-27), Casey Mears (-25), Brian Vickers (-24), Ryan Newman (-24), Sterling Marlin (-23), and Dale Earnhardt Jr (-22). Ward is now tied with Jeff Gordon with three BD's this year....tops in the "Shaft" standings.
Derrike Cope led today for the first time since he led once for six laps at Talladega in October of 1998! We're closing in on last year's number of 48 as he's the 46th different driver to lead a lap this season.
Jimmie Johnson's troubles cut his margin over Jeff Gordon to 97 markers today (not that that means much). Ryan Newman fell two spots in the final transfer spot....the margin from 10th to 13th is now only 55 points.
Rusty Wallace (20th to 17th) advanced the most spots today, while we had three drivers (Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, and Terry Labonte) fall two spots each in the standings.(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(8-8-2004)
Two more years for Jarrett...at least: #88-Dale Jarrett will continue in the Nextel Cup Series for at least two more seasons. “I think what I’m looking at as far as myself, I know that this isn’t something I’m going to do for 10 more years,” he said. “I can assure you of that. How many, I don’t know, but I know that I have two more years after this that I’m going to do this, and I wanted to lay the groundwork here to get our team back to where we could compete at a high level. That could benefit us for the next two years, and we knew that it was going to take the majority of the season to accomplish that [getting the team back up to speed]. That was basically what I was looking for with our team. Now what will happen after the 2006 season, if I’m still competitive? … I may continue on from there. But we’ll just have to see that as we go, but I looked at this year as one to help us rebuild and solidify ourselves for the next two years coming up.”(Gaston Gazette)(8-8-2004)
Little E Plane Story not True: Published reports this week indicated that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was forced to fly to the July 25 race at Loudon, N.H., on Richard Childress' plane, because his stepmother Teresa would not allow his birth mother to ride on Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s aircraft. Earnhardt Jr. said Saturday the report was false. Earnhardt said he missed the DEI plane because he had an appointment with Charlotte neurologist Dr. Jerry Petty, who examined the driver following his fiery sports-car crash last month. Earnhardt said several prominent figures in Nextel Cup, including Childress, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart, have offered rides around his medical schedule. "Everybody thought it was for different reasons, that Teresa didn't want my real mother flying on the company plane," said Earnhardt, still nursing burns from the crash. "That's not the case at all. Teresa's not like that at all, because she knows I need my mom to help me with my wrappings."(Charleston Post and Courier)(8-8-2004)
Two more years for Terry Labonte...part-time? UPDATE: #5-Terry Labonte, after 25 years on the tour, will likely run another two years, according to team sources, who expect the 47-year-old racer to sign a new contract for a limited schedule of 10 to 15 races with car owner Rick Hendrick.(Winston Salem Journal)(8-7-2004) UPDATE: Two-time series champion Terry Labonte would not confirm Saturday a published report that he will remain with Hendrick Motorsports next season but run a partial schedule. Labonte said last month that he was uncertain of his future. Labonte has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 1994 and has won 12 of his 22 career races with the team. Despite his competitiveness, Labonte said a partial schedule is intriguing. "It'd be nice to have an off weekend," he said. "It might be nice to not go to some of the tracks you particularly care for." If Labonte runs a partial schedule, it could allow Hendrick Motorsports to put 19-year-old Kyle Busch, who is challenging for the Busch series title this season, into a Cup ride for select races next year to gain experience.(Roanoke Times)(8-8-2004)
Another rules change? NASCAR officials are considering a new rule in its top three series next season – Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks – that would limit the number of different gear ratios teams could use each weekend, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Sunday. A formal announcement could come within the next few weeks. Under the new rule, teams would likely be able to choose from only two different gears at each track, sources said. The move would force many engine and transmission providers to re-tool their products. NASCAR officials hope the move would prove a cost-saver in the long run. As is usually the case, reaction was mixed among Nextel Cup participants.(for quotes see ThatsRacin.com)(8-8-2004)
Another 'Herbie' NASCAR Movie update: Matt Dillon has signed on to play the heavy in the Walt Disney Co.'s ''Herbie: Fully Loaded,'' opposite Lindsay Lohan and Michael Keaton. Additionally, sources said Breckin Meyer is in negotiations to join the cast. In ''Herbie: Fully Loaded'' -- which will set the mysteriously strong-willed Volkswagen Beetle in the world of NASCAR -- Dillon takes the role of Trip, the bad boy of the racing circuit. Meyer would play Lohan's brother; Keaton is playing the duo's dad.(Chicago Sun Times), see past news on the Herbie/NASCAR movie on my NASCAR Movie News page.(8-8-2004)
Todd Bodine in the #50, rest of the year UPDATE: no PR on this, but during the Brickyard 400 qualifying coverage on TNT, Allen Bestwick mentioned at Todd Bodine would be driving the #50 Arnold Motorsports Dodge for the rest of 2004, and that the team would run some races in the Truck Series with Bodine also driving. Guess Mike Wallace and P.J. Jones are out.(8-7-2004) UPDATE: In a deal hammered out on Tuesday, the 40-year-old Todd Bodine hooked up with Arnold Motorsports to drive the #50 Dodge today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and for the rest of the 2004 season. Arnold said he also is close to announcing the details of a deal that would put Bodine, the youngest of three racing brothers, in the seat of an Arnold-owned Craftsman Truck Series machine. Arnold also said that if adequate corporate backing materializes, he might have Bodine at the wheel throughout the 2005 Nextel Cup Series season as well. "He's a solid, veteran driver and Todd and our crew chief, Mike Hillman, have a history of working together," Arnold said from Gasoline Alley inside the sprawling Indy facility.(Naples Daily News)(8-8-2004)
Special Goodyear Logo at Indy: Goodyear is showcasing its 50th anniversary of NASCAR racing this weekend at the Brickyard 400 Nextel Cup race with a special one-race, limited edition logo tire in Sunday’s event. On the Eagle tire sidewall, the usual #1 decal designation after the word “Goodyear” will be replaced with a four-color logo designed by popular race artist Sam Bass to commemorate the long-standing, successful relationship between Goodyear and NASCAR. “This is the first time our race tire sidewall has appeared with a commemorative logo in our racng history,” said Stu Grant, general manager of global race tires, “and we felt it was an appropriate way to mark this great milestone.”
It was in 1954 at Darlington Raceway that Goodyear began unofficially testing its Police Special tires for stock car racing. A couple years later, Petty family patriarch Lee Petty took to a quarter-mile asphalt track in West Palm Beach to officially test the company’s first purpose-built Stock Car Special racing tire.
In a 1990 interview, Petty recalled, “They (Goodyear) came to us ‘cause we won most of the races. We stayed down there a couple days, and they must have found out something. They were still learning, don’t you know.” Goodyear did know something. Tim and Fonty Flock posted Grand National wins in the mid 1950s, followed by Jim Reed at Darlington in 1959, averaging 111.836 mph. From there, Goodyear slowly rose to the top of the heap with its Blue Streak Specials besting tire competitors and registering wins. Today, the company’s Eagle tires are closing in on 1,300 victories in the premier Nextel Cup series.
Goodyear’s 50th anniversary is being celebrated with advertising and marketing programs, along with a renewed commitment to the sport where Goodyear has been the official tire since 1997 for NASCAR’s Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series.(Goodyear PR)(8-8-2004)
Nextel at Indy: Nextel Service Coverage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
regarding Nextel service coverage around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this coming weekend - August 6-8. At this time, we anticipate that service coverage will be somewhat limited, primarily on Sunday for the Brickyard 400. Given anticipated attendance and the corresponding volume of calls on Sunday, Nextel anticipate's that there may be some difficulty completing both outbound and inbound calls. This is also likely to be the case for Nextel Direct Connect service.
Nextel brings the equivalent of 15 cellular sites to each NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series track through its four COWs (cell on wheels), which are strategically positioned outside and in the infield of the tracks. Given the large size of the IMS property and the anticipated fan attendance, Nextel is deploying one additional COW along the routes leading to and away from the track and have adjusted their permanent cellular site outside of Turn One to its fullest capacity.
Nextel apologizes in advance for any inconvenience this may cause and assure folks that they are working diligently with IMS and the other NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series tracks to best serve everyone and the entire NASCAR industry.
also, see an article at the Indy Star about Nextel and NASCAR: Nextel tries small steps after writing big check.(8-8-2004)
Pruett to park it? Look for Scott Pruett, driving the #09 Dodge, to park the car early in the race. The #09 team has done this a few times earlier in the year [once without a pit crew at the Rock] to fill the field and collect the $$. For the brickyard, the intention was for Pruett to run the race, but since the primary car was wrecked in Friday's practice, and the backup was slowest by far during the first Saturday practice and got no Happy Hour practice [Pruett flew to the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at the Mid-Ohio]. not really a surprise.(8-8-2004)
13mph faster: #41-Casey Mears' pole speed was more than 13 mph faster than Rick Mast's speed when he won the pole for the inaugural race here in 1994.(Roanoke Times), just wait until next year since the they will be repaving the track after this race, 190mph in 2005?(8-8-2004)
Top 10 drivers the same for 12 races [not the order]: Twelve races have passed since the last time a new driver broke into the top 10. At Talladega, Ala., in April, Bobby Labonte moved up from 12th to 10th, and the same 10 drivers have occupied those positions ever since, though not in the same order.(Gaston Gazette)(8-8-2004)
and Good News for Pruett: Max Papis and an injured Scott Pruett pushed their #01 Lexus-Riley to a near flag-to-flag win in a Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Saturday, finishing 2.7 seconds ahead of Milka Duno and Andy Wallace in a Pontiac-Crawford. It was Pruett and Papis' third win of the season for the Chip Ganassi Racing team and the best showing for Wallace and Duno since their February win at Homestead-Miami. Pruett, who was injured during Nextel Cup practice for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis on Friday, found the going painful in the EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic, but only when he was going slow. "As long as it was green, with the adrenaline pumping, I didn't notice it," Pruett said. "But under the yellow, I could hardly scrub the tires it hurt so bad." Pruett plans to compete in the Brickyard race today.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(8-8-2004)
Safety patrol worker killed in scooter crash at Indy UPDATE: A longtime member of the track safety patrol died Friday of injuries sustained when he lost control of his motor scooter and crashed into a concrete barrier in the infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The name of the deceased was withheld pending notification of relatives. The accident happened at about 7:30 a.m., and the victim was pronounced dead three hours later at Methodist Hospital.(ThatsRacin.com)(8-7-2004) UPDATE: A veteran Indianapolis Motor Speedway Safety Patrol member suffered fatal injuries in an accident Friday on the grounds of the Speedway. Anderson resident Art Morris, 64, was involved in the accident about 7:30 a.m. and was transported to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with head and arm injuries. He was declared dead at 10:30 a.m. Morris was involved in a single-vehicle accident when he lost control of a motor scooter he was driving and struck a concrete barrier in the IMS infield.(The Star Press)(8-8-2004)
Track Worker Killed: Authorities say 46-year-old Michael Bliss, of Montpelier, Vermont died Friday night when he was hit by a car doing practice laps at the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, New Hampshire. Bliss was a safety worker at the track and was struck in the area of turn two. Officials say Bliss died at a hospital due to severe head injuries. Police are investigating the accident, but say criminal charges are not expected.(wcsh6.com)(8-8-2004)
August 7, 2004
Rudd's Indy Trophy Damaged: Ricky Rudd said his Brickyard 400 trophy and other racing mementos were damaged when the basement in his home flooded recently. Rudd won the 1997 race. "I'm sure it can be rebuilt, but it's pretty sorry looking now," he said. "It's kind of crumbled in a few pieces."(Team Ford Racing)(8-7-2004)
Ward on the hot seat? UPDATE: #0-Ward Burton, who drives for Haas CNC Racing, was running third at Pocono before transmission trouble hit. Burton said before the race he knows he's on the hot seat but didn't foresee a change before season's end. Funny thing: Tony Furr, who recently was replaced as Burton's crew chief, never expected to lose that job. Team sources speculate Haas' Busch driver, Jason Leffler, could take over the Cup car.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(8-2-2004) HOWEVER: being told that NetZero will only return as the sponsor of the #0 Chevy IF Ward Burton is the driver.(8-4-2004) UPDATE: For the second consecutive season, Ward Burton seems to be facing a summer of uncertainty about his Nextel Cup future. The South Boston native, who left Bill Davis Racing late last year after eight years with the team, is signed through the end of the season with CNC Haas Racing. "I want to sign again now, but we haven't secured proper funding for down the road," he said. "I'm leaving my options open right now. I want to make it work right here."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(8-7-2004)
Craven gets a RCR engine for Indy UPDATE engine change: PPI Motorsports is using a Richard Childress Racing engine this weekend in driver Ricky Craven's #32 Tide Chevy. PPI typically produces its own engines, except at restrictor-plate tracks, where it also uses RCR power. A team spokesperson said PPI was going to expand its use of RCR engines beyond restrictor-plate tracks, but not on a regular basis.(ThatsRacin.com)(8-6-2004) UPDATE Ricky Craven's crew changed motors before practice after finding a cracked cylinder stud. The team, which has its own engine shop, is using Richard Childress Racing engines as it does occasionally.(Roanoke Times)(8-7-2004)
Special Scheme for the #43 at Indy: Supporting General Mills’ Box Tops for Education, this weekend Jeff Green will be driving the #43 Cheerios/Box Tops for Education Dodge in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.(Williams Company PR), note: any local Mooresville need any? I have some to drop off to you.(8-7-2004)
Mears wins pole for the Brickyard 400: #41-Casey Mears won the Budweiser Pole for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, crushing the track record with a run of 186.923mph [old record was 184.343 set in 2003 by Kevin Harvick], which will hold until next year, the track gets repaved after the Brickyard 400, so it will be much faster in 2005. It is Mears 2nd pole of his career, of 2004 and in a row. The rest of the top five were #0-Ward Burton, #38-Ellott Sadler, #01-JOe Nemechek and #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. #25-Brian Vickers is 6th and along with the top five broke the track record. #18-Labonte lost an engine and has to use a provisional and will have to fall back a few spots to the rear on Sunday.
For qualifying results, pole progression, rookies, provisionals and who missed, see my Jayski's Indy Qualifying/Grid Page.
Other Indy Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup at: ThatsRacin.com MotorSports One NASCAR.com.(8-7-2004)
Action to Sell to ISC? SMI? sources in the know say Action Performance CEO Fred Wagenhals may be looking to sell all or parts of his operation to International Speedway Corporation, Speedway Motorsports Inc., or both. Action, a public company, manufactures and distributes licensed merchandise for a number of the sport's top stars, under contract to the teams and drivers. The contracts, and Action's access to manufacturing and markets, are Wagenhals's significant properties. Action, however, has been in financial trouble for a couple of years. Wagenhals was seen meeting with officials from both track-operations companies Friday, but again, appearances can be deceiving. SMI official Ty Norris was tight-lipped, saying the meeting with Wagenhals was just a matter of "catching up on some things." Wagenhals could not be found for comment, although it isn't likely he would have said much. This could be of significance, or it could mean nothing. Should the track companies acquire some or all of Wagenhals's assets, that could greatly change the direction of cash flow in the lucrative licensing business, which includes apparel and model cars, among other items.(Speed Channel)(8-7-2004)
3 Wrecks in Friday Practice: Three drivers were involved in wrecks, #09-Pruett, #16-Biffle and #02-Sadler. Pruett was sent to a local hospital to be checked out. No word on who has to go to a backup.(FSN's Totally NASCAR) AND After evaluation at the infield care center, Pruett was taken to Methodist Hospital for further evaluation and X-rays, IMS officials said. It is unknown what the X-rays were for. Hermie Sadler and Greg Biffle also crashed in practice. Biffle walked away from his wreck, while Sadler was checked and released from the infield care center and was cleared to drive by IMS director of medical services Dr. Henry Bock. Biffle was also checked, released and cleared to drive.(NASCAR.com) UPDATE: Two accidents took place in short succession in the first hour of practice, and a third occurred 10 minutes before the session ended. At approximately 2:30 p.m. (local time), Scott Pruett did a 180-degree spin midway through Turn 1 and hit the SAFER Barrier with the driver’s side of the #09 Miccosukee Resorts Dodge. The car then slid to the inside of the track and came to rest next to the inside retaining wall in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2.
Pruett was transported by ground to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for further evaluation and X-rays following the accident. He was
released later in the afternoon.
Minutes after the track reopened following Pruett’s accident, the #02 SCORE Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Hermie Sadler suffered heavy right-side damage after Sadler hit the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2. Sadler was unhurt.
At 3:50 p.m., Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 National Guard Ford, spun in Turn 4 and hit the SAFER Barrier with the left-rear corner of
the car, causing heavy damage. Biffle also was unhurt.
Fans were treated to two special events on Friday morning: the Brickyard 400 Golf Challenge presented by Brickyard Crossing Golf
Resort and the Champion’s Chat in the Pagoda Plaza.(IMS PR) AND #91-Bill Elliott brushed the wall in his Dodge.(ThatsRacin.com)(8-7-2004)
August 6, 2004
Ince rebounds, is back and talks [large article]: The whispered rumors about James Ince had reached his home in Springfield [MO], and they were festering-sore ugly. And while Ince, a former Nextel Cup crew chief who walked away from the Cup garages late last racing season, gagged at what he was hearing, he never really responded. He had more important things to do, such as going round after round in a bitter fight for his life. “It was terrifying,” Ince said this week of a medical problem that was draining the life out of him and baffling his doctors. “I view myself as an unbreakable man. This was breaking me.” Those in the NASCAR garages who really know Ince will agree that he seemed unbreakable.......
Ince landed jobs on the crews of some top-shelf teams, such as those of Robert Yates and Jack Roush. He would become the youngest crew chief in the sport in the 1990s. In 2000, he was appointed crew chief for the [#10] MBV Motorsports team, whose driver was Johnny Benson. Underfunded and often unsponsored, the team gained a reputation for overachieving on the racetrack. Ince's name was solidly attached to that reputation. The team nearly pulled off a victory in the Daytona 500 in 2000 — even though it had no primary sponsor and even though Benson was driving a Pontiac. “James, yes, heck of a crew chief,” Benson said recently. “Heck of a crew chief.” Ince suddenly was being described as one of the bright young minds in racing in those days. He was also described as intense, rebellious and tough. Last fall when the Nextel Cup series arrived at Kansas Speedway for the Banquet 400, Ince didn't. Personal problems were the given reason. Not long after that, Ince walked away from the MBV team. There were even less specific reasons after that. Ince moved back to Springfield and dropped out of the NASCAR scene. And the garage rumor mill [not here] cranked up. Ince was going through a messy divorce at the time, and that fueled more rumors — rumors that he had attempted suicide, that he had a drug problem, that he was in a mental institution. Ince shakes his head about the rumors these days. “The garages can be like high school” when it comes to rumors, he says. The truth, Ince said, was that he was suffering from a rare form of diabetes. It set upon him during the 2002 season. And it went undiagnosed. “I had no energy level whatsoever,” Ince said. “It felt like I was walking around under water. To be honest, I thought I was dying.” On the bad days, he would black out. He did that twice. The second time was just before the race at Kansas Speedway. All during this time, Ince was seeing doctors but getting no relief. So he moved home to Springfield. There, he paid no attention to NASCAR and no attention to the rumors. His sole mission was to figure out what was wrong. “I knew if I didn't fix my health, there would be nothing else,” he said. In January, Ince turned to his family doctor in Springfield, who finally diagnosed the problem. The only cure, Ince said, was through diet and exercise. Ince went for it, and the situation was brought under control.
Feeling great, Ince decided he had to get back into Nextel Cup. He said his racing Jones got so bad that he couldn't watch racing and didn't want to hear about it. But while his physical problems were repaired, he found out his reputation had slipped into critical condition. “They hurt my career,” he said of his problems. “I had a whole lot of respect. I used to get many, many calls about jobs. Now, I think I've lost some of that.” Early in the summer, Ince finally got a call. It was from the folks at Ashton Lewis Jr.'s #46 Busch series team. Things were going badly on the track for Lewis, and the team owner — Ashton Lewis Sr. — knew it needed help. “We identified the fact we needed someone with experience,” Lewis Sr. said. “And we knew James was in Missouri.” Ince signed on as a consultant. He would work with the crew and call the races from the top of the pit box.
His first race was June 12 at Nashville. The team was 19th in the standings when it arrived in Tennessee, and Lewis finished ninth, his best finish of the season. The next week, he finished eighth. Ince then began working on the cars at the shop. The team continued to improve. Before the race at Chicago three races ago, Ince hung his first body for the team. Lewis finished fifth. Heading here for this weekend's race at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the team has moved to 11th in points — eight places higher in seven races. The boss credits Ince.
“James,” Lewis Sr. said, “is doing a great job for us. He's outstanding. He motivates, and he's great with the guys. We were very lucky to get James. Very fortunate.” Lewis said the only problem with Ince has been his lack of experience on tracks where the Cup teams do not run. Ince has found happiness and, best of all, his health. He has not, however, found satisfaction. The Lewis team has a crew chief but no sponsor, and that makes his future there iffy. Also, Ince wants badly to get back to Nextel Cup.
“I'm ready to go racing,” he said. “I like this, but I'm a Nextel Cup guy. I'm rested, I'm well, I'm focused, and I'm looking for a place to apply it. I've got a Nextel Cup championship in me. I know that.” Many in the garages, those who truly know Ince, think that's true.(paraphrased - see full large article at the Kansas City Star)(8-6-2004)
Ganassi extends McMurray's contract UPDATE not set in stone? Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today that they have exercised their option to extend Jamie McMurray's driver agreement into the future. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed per company policy. "We are excited about having Jamie (McMurray) as part of the team into the future," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "With the way the #42 Texaco/Havoline team has been running up front, we are in position to start winning races soon."(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(8-4-2004) UPDATE: A statement issued earlier this week by Chip Ganassi Racing - that the organization had exercised an option to extend driver Jamie McMurray's contract - suggested an end to rumors that McMurray was being pursued by or was himself pursuing options with other Nextel Cup teams. Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, just the opposite seemed to be true. The bizarre way the announcement about an extension unfolded has raised a number of questions. And, strangely, McMurray denied to comment when asked about the contract extension on Friday. When a question on the subject was forwarded to owner Chip Ganassi, who was not at the track Friday, this is what the response said: "There is nothing else to say about the statement that was sent out. I do not discuss contracts in public." McMurray, 28, is said to have signed a two-year contract with Ganassi that covered the 2003 and 2004 Cup seasons. However, the contract included one or more additional one-year extensions that could be exercised by Ganassi alone, sources said. Over the past three weeks, rumors have circulated that McMurray was not only seeking a new deal from Ganassi, but also talking with other teams [#11 Gibbs]. The Ganassi organization released a statement late in the day Wednesday that said, in part, the team had exercised its option to extend McMurray's driver agreement into the future. Terms were not disclosed per company policy. The statement was followed by a quote from Ganassi: "Were excited about having Jamie (McMurray) as part of the team into the future. "With the way the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline team has been running up front, we are in position to start winning races soon."
"Where Jamie McMurray wants to go is the same place we want to go. ... He wants to win the Nextel Cup championship," said John Fernandez, director of racing operations for Dodge. The one thing we can do as a manufacturer and to keep him with Chip Ganassi and to keep him in our camp," Fernandez said, "is to show him that we have better capability than the other guys to get him to the promised land. Were trying to show Jamie our goals, his goals are basically the same. We feel we have the best approach to be able to win him a championship."(ThatsRacin.com)(8-6-2004)
No Standby for Dale Jr. at Indy: Richie Gilmore told Claire B. Lang on XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 that there is no plan for a stand by driver for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400. Earnhardt Jr. plans to drive the entire race and Gilmore feels strongly that Earnhardt Jr. will run the entire race. The #8 team had a serious meeting this week and they are committed to racing the entire race with Earnhardt Jr. as the driver and to step up performance as a team. No stand by has been appointed.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144)(8-6-2004)
Fatback and Rudd back together? UPDATE 2: FoxSports Larry McReynolds, in his latest column mentions...."I bet it won't be long until we see him [Michael 'Fatback' McSwain] surface with a pretty good race team. I've even heard some rumblings — not to take anything away from Ben Leslie — but I've heard rumblings that he may reunite with [#21] Ricky Rudd. But that's strictly rumors and rumblings."(FoxSports)(7-25-2004) UPDATE: Crew chief Michael McSwain may not be on the sidelines long. McSwain, who had Ricky Rudd in the national-championship hunt a few years back and who had Bobby Labonte sixth in this year's standings when he was abruptly dropped by car owner Joe Gibbs last week, is getting a long, hard look from Jack Roush and could be joining the Roush camp soon, according to team sources. McSwain and Rudd split acrimoniously [bitter] two years ago, but there are reports the two could be getting back together. Roush yesterday didn't directly comment on the reports about hiring McSwain but indicated "there might be something there."(Winston Salem Journal)(7-26-2004) UPDATE 2: McSwain and Rudd to reunite? Garage insiders say that Michael "Fatback" McSwain may be taking over crew chief duties on the #21 Woods Brothers Ford with driver Ricky Rudd. McSwain and Rudd worked together on the #28 Robert Yates Racing Ford previous to both parties going their separate ways. Speculation is the change could come as early as next week.(Motorsport.com)(8-6-2004)
Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Voting Steams Towards Record Numbers: NASCAR's all-time record for total votes in determining its most popular driver seems destined to fall. More than 2.2 million votes have been cast so far this year for the Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver at the Web site www.mostpopulardriver.com. During the 2003 voting season, 3 million votes were cast. This season's vote totals are well ahead of the mark reached the first week of September last season. These numbers clearly show the fans' enthusiasm for supporting their favorite drivers.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continues to lead the nationwide balloting, maintaining his first-place position since the start of the 2003 season. Earnhardt Jr. leads second-place Jeff Gordon. Rounding out the top 10 are Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Tony Stewart, Dale Jarrett,
Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte. Fans can log onto www.mostpopulardriver.com once each day and vote for their favorite driver. The official Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver of the Year Award trophy will be presented to the winning driver during the year-end NASCAR awards festivities, traditionally held in early December. The Most Popular Driver Award dates back to 1956. Today, it's a prestigious award voted on by racing fans nationwide.(Williams Company PR)(8-6-2004)
Same as a year ago...BUT: Would you believe the Cup points race is in the same exact same spot it was a year ago? The names have changed, but the numbers are identical. Entering one of NASCAR's biggest events – the Brickyard 400 – Jimmie Johnson has a 232-point lead over Jeff Gordon. Matt Kenseth came to Indianapolis last year with a 232-point lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr. Only three drivers were within 400 points of the leader, the same as today. But there's one big difference. No one is yawning. Kenseth was a runaway leader, and only a couple of drivers had any realistic chance of catching him. Johnson has no such luxury. Only six races remain before the 10-race playoff among the top 10 drivers. Some fans still don't like it, but consider where things would be without it. Kevin Harvick, last year's Brickyard 400 winner, is 620 points back in 10th. He still can win the championship. Jeff Burton was 622 points back in 10th one year ago. He was just hoping to win a couple of races. The irony for Johnson is he would have won the championship over Kenseth last year had the new points system been in place. But Johnson was against the Chase from the day it was announced. And the St. Louis Cardinals could finish this season with the best record in baseball but lose in the World Series to the Rangers. Would anyone say the Rangers didn't deserve to be the champions? We don't look at it that way in stick-and-ball sports. You can go 16-0, but it doesn't make you the NFL champion. You have to beat the best of the best at the end.(more at the Dallas Morning News)(8-6-2004)
Interesting Stat: been told that Cale Yarborough is the only Cup driver to ever win a points paying race on his birthday, which is March 27. In 1977 at North Wilksboro Speedway and 1983 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NOTE, since I got email on it, I will cover a few items, since folks are guessing: Richard Petty never won on his birthday (July 2nd) [in Cup] and neither did Jeff Gordon [August 4th]. In fact, the Brickyard 400 has only been held on Gordon's birthday once, in 2002, when Bill Elliott won. Gordon's first Brickyard 400 can on August 6, 1994.(8-6-2004)
France talks to XM Radio: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France joined Claire B. Lang Live on XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 for her "Dialed In" Program Tuesday night. Some clips from the interview: On Jimmie Johnson incident and penalty for putting Lowe's sign on car in Victory Lane:
"Look, this is another one that couldn't be any simpler. We've had a policy for 30 years that balances the event sponsor, and the team
sponsor, and what we really don't want is to look like we're at the county fair where people hop out of their car, and put devices and start throwing things around...it' just doesn't look like where the sport is today, and frankly it doesn't respect the sponsorship from
the vairous companies that help the whole sport. That includes Gatorade, certainly, and Tropicana at Chicago, which had an unfortunate incident. Mike was right. Mike Helton was very clear that if you had a problem with the policy to check with us beforehand, not to pick something up on your way out of the car to drop it on the top of the car. He was very clear. Now we're just going to put some penalties in place and make sure we get it cleaned up and move on." On the fact that fans had noted similar incident(s) like at Chicago (Tropicana bottle incident)
"Let me tell you exactly what happened. It wasn't just Tony Stewart. He was one and there were several others and it became a pattern that was occurring, and Mike tried to talk to people individually, and ask them for their cooperation. Then he made a formal announcement...you (referring to CBL) played that announcement, and he talked about that balance we have to have, and that we were going to get that right. The next week, here we go, they just ignored Mike's request. Obviously, we've got to react when that sort of situation occurs." On rumors of announcement this week of Busch race in Mexico: "Well, we've said that Mexico and Canada both are interesting places for us, not necessarily the Busch Series, although it's a series we could take. But there are other divisions that we could take and we're working on that, although we're not ready to announce anything.
After answering Claire's questions France took calls from race fans coast to coast on topics ranging from the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup Championship to the length of the race at Pocono to the future of Watkins Glen. He chatted with fans for 20 minutes getting their
feedback and answering questions.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144)(8-6-2004)
Knaus takes the vote: Internet voters selected Chad Knaus as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race after his driver, Jimmie Johnson, scored his fourth victory of the year in Hendrick Motorsports' #48 Chevrolet in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. He moves into second place behind Tony Eury Sr., crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s #8 Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the yearlong contest for a $10,000 prize.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(8-6-2004)
August 5, 2004
Biffle's Pit Crew Grabs Pocono Win; Sadler's Crew Takes Over Points Lead: Greg Biffle's pit crew won the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade in Sunday's (Aug. 1) Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. It was the second time this season that Biffle's No. 16 crew claimed the $20,000 first-place prize. In the season standings and the chase for the $200,000 McDonald's/POWERade champion's bonus, Elliott Sadler's crew took over the lead following Pocono with 724 points, three more than Dale Earnhardt's crew. Tony Stewart's crew remains third with 691 points. Sadler's crew earned 40 points in Pocono with a fourth-place finish while Earnhardt's crew picked up 31 points with a 13th-place finish. Biffle's National Guard Ford spent the least amount of time on Pocono's pit road - 339.00 seconds. Casey Mears' Target Dodge came in second with a time of 365.00. Third was Robbie Gordon's Cingular Chevrolet at 375.00. "I feel like these guys have been performing to this quality all year," said Biffle's crew chief Doug Richert. "As a team we were able to capitalize on their performance in Pocono and finish where we've been running all season. It was motivating for the crew because it was the first time they really got to follow through and show the kind of pit stops they've been giving us all year." Biffle said, "That's awesome that they won the pit crew challenge last weekend. We had a good run and that just adds to the momentum going into Indy." Biffle's over-the-wall crew consists of Adam Emmert (front-tire changer), Jeff Silver (front-tire carrier), Mike Hillman (rear-tire changer), TJ Hamilton (rear-tire carrier), Jeff Merkel (jackman), Donnie Ratledge (gasman), John Eicher (catch can).(DMF Communications), for the top 10 and season standings, see my Pit crew page.(8-5-2004)
Morgan-McClure team gets a sponsor for Indy: Morgan-McClure Motorsports announces that Featherlite, Inc. (www.fthr.com), the "Official Trailer" and "Official Luxury Coach" of NASCAR, will be the primary sponsor of the #4 Chevrolet Monte Carlo at the upcoming prestigious Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Featherlite will sponsor the car for one race at this time. Featherlite is a North American leader in manufacturing and marketing high quality aluminum trailers, specialized transporters, custom mobile marketing trailers, and luxury motor coaches. A premium line of NEXTEL Cup licensed Featherlite Car Care products is available at automotive stores and www.featherlitecarcare.com. In addition to Featherlite, Lucas Oil Products, the world leader of heavy duty and high-performance oils, greases and additives, will be an Associate Sponsor for Indy. Based in Corona, Calif., Lucas Oil Products is one of the fastest growing additive lines in the consumer automotive industry. It has established itself as the top selling additive line in the auto part retailers and American truck stop industries. Larry McClure quotes: "Having Featherlite join the #4 car again as a primary sponsor is an excellent opportunity for us. We are also pleased to welcome Lucas Oil to Morgan-McClure. "The team tested at Indy a few weeks ago and had a very positive test session. Coming off of a string of top-25 finishes and a car which was very competitive last week at Pocono adds extra momentum to the team going into the Brickyard 400. We feel confident we can have a good weekend."(Morgan-McClure Motorsports PR)(8-5-2004)
Special Scheme at Indy for Marlin: Salute to the Troops: The Coors Light Dodge will once again sport the Marines paint scheme this weekend for the Brickyard 400. This will be the third of four races for this paint scheme. Also, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee, will be in attendance for Sunday’s festivities. Country group Rascal Flatts will be singing the national anthem kicking off the Brickyard 400. The band, which is also sponsored by Coors Brewing Company, will be featured on the lower rear quarter of the Coors Light Dodge for Sunday’s race.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(8-5-2004)
August 4, 2004
Ward on the hot seat? UPDATE: #0-Ward Burton, who drives for Haas CNC Racing, was running third at Pocono before transmission trouble hit. Burton said before the race he knows he's on the hot seat but didn't foresee a change before season's end. Funny thing: Tony Furr, who recently was replaced as Burton's crew chief, never expected to lose that job. Team sources speculate Haas' Busch driver, Jason Leffler, could take over the Cup car.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(8-2-2004) HOWEVER: being told that NetZero will only return as the sponsor of the #0 Chevy IF Ward Burton is the driver.(8-4-2004)
Harvick's DNF Steak ends at 58 so....: #29-Kevin Harvick ended his DNF streak of running at the finish in 58 straight races, the modern era record, Jeff Gordon previously held the record at 56, and Dale Earnhardt before at 53. The all-time record is 84 races held by Herman Beam from April 30, 1961 thru March 10, 1963.(8-2-2004) AND the new leader of the DNF streak is #38-Elliott Sadler with 25 straight races running at the end, followed by #31-Robby Gordon at 18 and #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 17.(8-4-2004)
Special Paint for Kahne at Darlington: Kasey Kahne's #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge will sport a paint scheme to match Signature Red Hat in the last Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in November. Kahne's #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge will become a replica of the hat that has become a necessity for every Kasey Kahne fan. It will be painted red with white stripes down the length of the car and will have the Dodge logo on the hood. The new paint scheme will debut in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Nov. 14. Kahne's signature pit cap ranked fifth in sales on the NASCAR circuit from January through June, with approximately 6,000 units sold.(Evernham Motorsports PR)(8-4-2004)
Roush to be honored at Boy Scout Dinner: Car owner Jack Roush will be honored at the MIS/NASCAR Boy Scout Benefit dinner / annual benefit to raise money for the Great Sauk Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The annual NASCAR/MIS Boy Scout Benefit dinner and auction will take place Friday, August 20, 2004, at Michigan International Speedway. Past events have combined to raise more than $994,000 for the Great Sauk Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The 2004 event honoring Roush will eclipse the million-dollar mark in money raised. Along with honoring Roush, typically several NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and
NASCAR Busch Series drivers attend the auction, which every year honors a special dignitary. Past honorees include Richard Petty, Bill France Jr., Roger Penske and Darrell Waltrip. Allen Bestwick, announcer for NBC/TNT NASCAR broadcasts, will once again serve as master of ceremonies. The highlight of the evening is an auction of donated items with NASCAR racing legend and NBC/TNT color commentator Benny Parsons as the auctioneer. In addition to benefiting the Great Sauk Trail of the Boy Scouts of America, a portion of the proceeds will benefit Kyle and Pattie Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Woman's Auxiliary of Motorsports.(Michigan International Speedway), see more on my Racing Charities page.(8-4-2004)
Hermie gets an assoc sponsor for Indy and full-time for IRP: East Tennessee Trailers, the value leader in enclosed trailers located in Oneida, Tennessee, announced that it has expanded its NASCAR sponsorship program with SCORE Motorsports and Hermie Sadler to include the Kroger 200 NASCAR Busch Series race in Indianapolis on August 7. ETT will also serve as an associate sponsor on the NEXTEL Cup entry of SCORE Motorsports in the Brickyard 400. In addition to carrying ETT sponsorship in a growing number of races on the track, Sadler recently became a dealer for East Tennessee Trailers in Southern Virginia, a statement for his faith in the product he represents on the track. East Tennessee Trailers plans to announce its future sponsorship plans with SCORE Motorsports in the next couple of weeks. For more information on East Tennessee Trailers, visit www.ettrailers.com.(PR)(8-4-2004)
NASCAR.com up for two Emmy's: NASCAR.COM, the official website of NASCAR, has been nominated for an Emmy Award for its PitCommand Quals and Ride-Along Video by The National Television Academy for Outstanding Achievement for Enhanced Television. This marks the second time that NASCAR.COM has been nominated. The site won an Emmy for its TrackPass with PitCommand application in 2003, the first time the award was given to a sports web site. The awards will be presented as a part of the annual 2004 Primetime Creative Arts Awards on September 12, 2004 at the Shrine Auditorium.(NASCAR.com)(8-4-2004)
August 3, 2004
Ford Racing Stuff: Ford Racing and Ford vehicle fans have the unique opportunity to be among the first to drive some of Ford’s newest and most anticipated vehicles during the Ford Racing Innovation Drive and Ford Innovation Drive events. The all-new 2005 Ford Five Hundred, Ford’s new flagship sedan, and Ford Freestyle, a vehicle that bridges the gap between sedans and SUVs, will be available to drive at both Innovation Drives.
Along with the Ford Five Hundred and Ford Freestyle, the 2005 Ford Mustang will be onsite for driving purposes at the Ford Racing Innovation Drive events and on display at the Ford Innovation Drive events. The 2005 Ford F-Series Super Duty will be available for driving, along with the Ford Five Hundred and Ford Freestyle, at all the Ford Innovation Drive events. The Ford Innovation Drive also offers consumers a look at the vehicles at four stations, where various features and technologies on Ford vehicles are highlighted through interactive displays. In addition, Ford product specialists will be on hand to answer consumer questions.
“Ford wants to show consumers how we are changing the game in every segment of the market, by offering safety features, roominess, versatility, powertrain technology and great designs customers can’t find from any other company,” said Stuart Smith, Ford Division car launch manager. The Ford Racing Innovation Drive kicks off with its first event on Aug. 19 in Detroit at Belle Isle, former home of the Detroit Grand Prix, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (EST). The Ford Racing Innovation Drive features drive courses, product experts, engineering displays and more. NASCAR stars Ricky Rudd, driver of the #21 Motorcraft Taurus, and Jeff Burton, driver of the #99 Roush Racing Taurus, will also be on hand for an autograph session.
Following the Detroit Ford Racing Innovation Drive, the event moves to Irwindale Speedway, near Los Angeles, on Sept. 2, then heads to Kentucky Speedway on Oct. 23, and wraps up during the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 17. The Ford Innovation Drive tour began in July with a successful run in Phoenix. Its next stop is on Aug. 7 in Chicago, followed by a stop in Cleveland on Aug. 14 and concludes on Aug. 28 in Orlando. Ford Racing fans and Ford vehicle enthusiasts can learn more about the events and sign up for the Ford Racing Innovation Drive and Ford Innovation Drive at www.fordinnovationdrive.com.(8-3-2004)
Decision on Andretti at Indy UPDATE will NOT race: DEI director of motorsports Richie Gilmore said Sunday at Pocono Raceway that the team would make a decision Monday on whether or not to field a car next weekend at the Brickyard 400 for John Andretti. Andretti has raced at least once a year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the past 16 years, either in a Cup stock car or an Indy car -- including 1994 when he ran both the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400. DEI has not filed a preliminary entry for its #1 Chevrolet, which Andretti has driven in five previous races this season. "We've got a car ready to go," Gilmore said. "We had a couple sponsors we thought we had lined up that didn't come through, so some of our existing sponsors are talking about doing something for it."
"The only thing we miss out on by not filing the entry sooner is the points," Gilmore said. "And since we're not in a position to have a provisional (starting position) anyway, it's not that big a deal." A month ago, when the Nextel Cup Series was here to race in the Pocono 500, Gilmore said he hoped to have Andretti's full-time program for the balance of this season and into 2005 signed in time to go to Indy. "It's still viable and I think it's real close to something for the 1 right now," Gilmore said. "Right now, everything we've got going involves Martin Truex."
"That would be the most we would do (this year), is two. Next year, we've got seven races scheduled and then the full schedule in 2006." Gilmore said Truex's sponsor also "is not signed yet, but it's real close."(NASCAR.com)(8-2-2004) UPDATE: actually..there is NO update, have heard nothing ...yet.(8-3-2004) UPDATE 2: Despite intense efforts to secure a sponsor for this weekend’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will not enter the #1 Chevrolet with John Andretti in the race. During the previous race weekend at Pocono Raceway, Richie Gilmore, Director of Motorsports for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., indicated a sponsorship pursuit for this weekend’s prestigious race was taking place. However, as of Tuesday, no sponsor could be signed for the 11th annual race on the historic 2.5-mile oval. “We had two sponsorship opportunities we were pursuing,” Gilmore said. “But, we just weren’t able to get anything worked out in time for Indy. It’s really tough because we wanted this for John’s sake more than anything. He’s done a lot for DEI since coming on board last year and we all know how much that track means to John.”(DEI Site)(8-3-2004)
Cope to attempt Indy:Derrike Cope has been added to the Entry List for the Brickyard 400 in the #62 Chevy by SWAT Racing owned by Larry Hollenbeck [of the Busch Series], some past info on the team at swatracing.com.(8-3-2004)
Elliott Sadler Honored: Elliott Sadler, driver of Robert Yates Racing's #38 M&M's Ford in the Nextel Cup Series, has been named the 2004 Second Quarter NASCAR USG Person of the Year. Sadler was cited for raising $86,000 for the Autism Society of America and the Victory Junction Gang Camp. As one of the four quarterly winners, Sadler will be a finalist for the NASCAR USG Person of the Year, which carries a $100,000 prize to be divided between the driver and the charity of his/her choice.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(8-3-2004)
TV Ratings up 2% for Pocono: TNT said today that its airing of Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 Nextel Cup race at Pocono Raceway earned a 4.7 national cable rating/3.8 US rating (4.1 million households). The figures represent a 2 percent increase over last year's 4.6 national cable rating/3.7 US rating (4 million households). The cable station said the NBC/TNT pairing is averaging a 4.5 US rating through three Nextel Cup races, which is up 7 percent from last year's 4.2 US rating through the same three races.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(8-3-2004)
#51 and Lepage plan to run rest of 2004 Cup races: The Competitive Edge Motorsports Nextel Cup team will run the remainder of the season in the blue and white #51 Marathon Oil Chevy. The team is led by veteran crew chief Buddy Sisco and his newly formed staff, formally with Tony Raines last year in Winston Cup.(Competitive Edge Motorsports PR)(8-3-2004)
New Petty Site: Petty Enterprises has unveiled its newly-designed Internet web site at www.pettyracing.com. Animink, Inc., which has created websites, cartoon animation and 3D animation for almost six years, designed and is handling the new web site. The company is now based in Huntersville, N.C., and has designed sites for other NASCAR drivers, the Richard Petty Driving Experience, and the John Boy and Billy nationally-syndicated radio show. "We're really pleased with Animink and the new design of www.pettyracing.com," said Kyle Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises. "They have done a tremendous job, and I know the fans are going to love it." The Petty Racing site was recreated to better connect with race fans, and cater to those who already have a passion for motorsports and the Petty family. There are dialup and broadband versions. Both versions have audio and video clips, galleries and other downloadable features. The broadband version includes full motion-video, as well as music that changes as the user surfs the site. The motion and flow of the site is as unique as it is attractive.(Williams Company PR)(8-3-2004)
Petty's Honored: Kyle and Pattie Petty have been named recipients of the National Motorsports Press Association/Pocono Spirit Award for the second quarter of 2004. On June 20, 2004 the doors officially opened to Victory Junction Gang Camp, welcoming chronically-ill children from all walks of life. Located just outside of Greensboro, N.C., the 75-acre site that looks, Kyle Petty said, "like Daytona USA collided with The Jetsons," is part theme-park, part campground. But fun through and through. Offering a chance for kids, regardless of their medical conditions, to be just that. Kids. The NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Members of the NMPA select four quarterly winners, from which an overall winner is chosen each year. It has been awarded annually since 1992. Others receiving second-quarter votes include NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Elliott Sadler and car owner Ray Evernham and Hermie Sadler.(ThatsRacin.com)(8-3-2004)
'Bottle Gate' continues UPDATE Johnson fined $10k: NASCAR is expected to levy a fine as early as Tuesday, upwards of $15,000 to Nextel Cup driver Jimmie Johnson for placing a sign atop his #48 Lowe's Chevrolet and obscuring the view of a sponsor's product during Sunday's Victory Lane ceremonies at Pocono Raceway, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Following his win in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 in Long Pond, Pa., Johnson exited his car and placed a Lowe's sign - Lowe's is the primary sponsor of Johnson's team - atop his car and in front of a large blue Powerade bottle. Powerade is an official sponsor of NASCAR. During the course of Victory Lane ceremonies, the Lowe's sign actually fell off the car, but was inexplicably picked up and replaced in its original position obscuring the Powerade bottle by NASCAR official Dave Finley, witnesses said. Hendrick Motorsports officials were notified Monday of a likely fine, sources said. Officials with Hendrick and NASCAR were unavailable for comment late Monday.
Two weeks ago during a pre-race drivers meeting at New Hampshire, NASCAR president Mike Helton had told drivers "do not take it upon yourselves to remove products" placed on cars as they come in for victory celebrations. Johnson did not remove or move the Powerade bottle Sunday, witnesses said. Many of the recent issues have mostly been with a the large, blue Powerade bottle placed atop winning cars that some drivers have pushed or even knocked off their cars. The drivers who do so have affiliations with Gatorade or with Pepsi, which owns Gatorade. Powerade is a Coca-Cola product. "You can maneuver away from it or work around it," Helton said at New Hampshire. "If that doesn't begin happening again, we will be forced to deal with it."
The fine for Johnson, the series points leader, would be the first for such issues this season. Johnson was asked about the Victory Lane incident Sunday night during his post-race winner's interview. Asked if he was told to touch or not touch any bottles in Victory Lane, Johnson replied, "No, I wasn't. I was a little more aware of camera angles to try to honor my sponsors and take care of them. I even took the liberty of putting a sign up in front of brand 'X'. It's weird that the driver - in Victory Lane - has to worry about defending and honoring your sponsor because of relationships that exist outside of your control. I hope we get this rectified and when you pull into Gatorade Victory Lane you're drinking Gatorade and that's all there is to it."(ThatsRacin.com)(8-3-2004) UPDATE: Jimmie Johnson was fined $10,000 for a post-race incident that occurred Sunday in Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway, NASCAR officials announced today. Johnson was fined for not following the directive of a NASCAR official as well as actions detrimental to stock car racing. He was in violation of Sections 12-2 and 12-4-A, respectively, of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book. “NASCAR President Mike Helton thoroughly explained the proper protocol for victory lane ceremonies in a drivers’ meeting two weeks ago at New Hampshire,” NASCAR spokesperson Jim Hunter said. “We’re going to address these situations in an orderly fashion, just as we always have. We expect our drivers to follow this protocol.”(NASCAR PR)(8-3-2004)
Benson in the trucks for a few races: Johnny Benson will driver the #23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota at IRP and Nashville Superspeedway. Benson ran the truck at Michigan last week finished 4th.(8-3-2004)
Wireless Helmet Being Tested: A wireless helmet component is being tested by a few NASCAR drivers for Taylor Solutions. The helmet, outfitted with a Bluetooth wireless card, indicator light and power on/off switch, eliminates a quarter-inch-thick, coiled communication cord -- often duct-taped at its connection and bolted to the floorboard of the race car -- that can slow down a driver's escape. "When that fight-or-flight syndrome hits, when you're in a fire, you just forget about unhooking wires," said Robert Taylor, president of Seattle-area Taylor Solutions. He owns five motorcycles and used to be an amateur racer. The helmet could be approved by mid-season next year, said Taylor. He has spoken with officials but has not yet made a formal application for approval. Only four drivers -- Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson -- have tested the helmet. The device faces at least one hurdle in obtaining NASCAR's official stamp. Drivers speculate that it would be seen as a way to sneak traction control into the cars, against the sport's rulebook. Traction control automatically senses when a wheel is losing its grip on the road and supplies more power or applies the brake to help a driver maintain command. Just this season, NASCAR officials requested that all ignition and electrical components be mounted on dashboards to ease inspection of traction control. Without formal approval, use of the helmet is confined to practices and test runs. But even with limited exposure, driver Biffle said it's his preferred helmet. When Biffle first tested the helmet at Kansas Speedway last September, only he and Crew Chief Doug Richert knew about the change. The crew never noticed: Biffle's voice came through as clear as ever. Traditional helmets connect drivers to their crews through wires and two-way radios. The driver pushes a steering-wheel button to talk. His voice is sent through a microphone in the helmet and down the communications cord to the car's radio system, where it is transmitted to his crew on a radio signal. Taylor's helmet communicates with the car's existing radio system through a 2.4 GHz Bluetooth signal -- the strength of an average cordless telephone -- that allows a driver to communicate with his crew up to 90 feet away from the car, Taylor said. Each card comes with a unique frequency, eliminating the chances of drivers' signals becoming mixed during close racing, he added. The cost of installing the wireless component into a user's helmet is about $1,000,(Indianapolis Star and more info at the Taylor Solutions website)(8-3-2004)
Pruett to run the Brickyard 400: on Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain Monday night, the guest was Scott Pruett, where it was announced he would drive the #09 Phoenix Racing Dodge for owner James Finch in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.(8-3-2004)
August 2, 2004
Said fastest at Watkins Glen testing: After the first two-day NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series test session was rained out, nine teams returned to Watkins Glen International today for an abbreviated test this morning, from 7:30am - 1:00pm, in preparation for the SIRIUS at The Glen weekend, August 12-15th. Road course aces led the way in times today, with #36-Boris Said taking the top spot with a speed of 121.874 mph. #1-Ron Fellows closely followed him with a speed of 121.823mph, with the third and final road course ace #39-Scott Pruett and his Chip Ganassi Racing entry coming in third quick with a speed of 121.655mph. The quickest NEXTEL Cup Series regular was #88-Dale Jarrett at 120.838 mph, followed by #9-Kasey Kahne at 120.492. Rookies #25-Brian Vickers and #22-Scott Wimmer clocked in at 119.756mph. Times were unavailable for rookies #10-Scott Riggs and #77-Brendan Gaughan.
Riggs cut a tire mid-morning going up the Esses, ending his day early after he made contact with the guardrail.(Watkins Glen International PR)(8-2-2004)
Kerry Earnhardt race update: Despite a slow leak in his right-rear tire, Kerry Earnhardt held on for a seventh-place finish at Irwindale Speedway, Saturday Night in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series NAPA Auto Parts 150. Earnhardt qualified the Bill McAnally Racing (BMR) #20 NAPA Belts and Hoses/NAPA Auto Care Chevy 12th in the 26-car field and raced among the front-runners for the majority of the night. Earnhardt's teammate Austin Cameron won the event, marking three straight NASCAR West Series' victories for Cameron and BMR. Earnhardt's next NASCAR West Series appearance will come in two weeks at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway for the NAPA Auto Parts 200. The following week, Earnhardt will return to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition driving the #33 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing at Michigan International Speedway.(RCR PR)(8-2-2004)
Update on Herbie and NASCAR: Michael Keaton will join Lindsay Lohan in Disney's Herbie: Fully Loaded, the studio's retooled "Love Bug" franchise, reports Variety. Written by Tom Lennon and Robert Robert Ben Garant, "Herbie" sets the famous Volkswagen in the world of NASCAR racing. Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) is directing. The original 1968 film The Love Bug starred Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett in a comedy about a car with a mind of its own.(Variety.com) AND Aug. 3 [um...2005 of course] is the opening day for Buena Vista/Disney's comedy adventure "Herbie," which reinvents the studio's "Love Bug" franchise that goes back to the 1968 feature starring Dean Jones. Directed by Angela Robinson, the new film stars Lindsay Lohan. Its story has Herbie, the famous white Volkswagen, winding up in the world of NASCAR racing.(Hollywood Reporter)(8-2-2004)
Robby to Gibbs? the Winston Salem Journal is reporting.....Robby Gordon's season with car owner Richard Childress hasn't been that great. It started fine, and he could have won Darlington. But since then things have gone downhill, generally because of bad luck and too many crashes. So there are questions being raised about Gordon's future with Childress. Yesterday Gordon finished seventh, his best run since Talladega in April. Ironically just as those questions are being heard about Gordon and Childress, officials at Joe Gibbs Racing are expressing interest in Gordon as a candidate for next year's third team [#11 Fed-Ex], as a teammate with Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte. Stewart is calling Gordon one of the most talented drivers in the Cup garage. Stewart's crew says that Stewart would like to have Gordon as a teammate and could work with him. Stewart and Gordon are NASCAR's top two Indy-car racers.(Winston Salem Journal)(8-2-2004)
More on the caution lights/warnings - No more changes?: Nextel Cup director John Darby says NASCAR is working on sending caution warnings, possibly by radio, to drivers when there are accidents or debris on the track. Darby isn't a big fan of using dashboard lights for that purpose. He wonders where they'd go and whether drivers would notice them. "You can't guarantee that the driver is going to see it," Darby says. "You have to develop a system that's easy to put into play." Darby added that after evaluating the first half of the season and recent wind tunnel tests, he's fairly confident that no more changes will be made to the cars this season.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(8-2-2004)
Here is a new one, Gaughan's ride in trouble? Gaughan doesn't saeem to think so... the Winston Salem Journal is reporting.....elsewhere in the garage, officials at Roger Penske say that they need to see improvement in the Brendan Gaughan-Shane Wilson team, but they set no time frame. Jamie McMurray's name has been mentioned as a possible candidate. But Gaughan says he's confident. Yesterday he had a good car until getting caught up in Jeff Burton's crash. "I've been saying it the last few weeks that we're getting new race cars, and now we can compared apples to apples," Gaughan said. "Last week we got back on track at Loudon (finishing 22nd), we were on the lead lap and had a very solid Dodge. This week we came back from a pit road penalty, got our lap back twice. We made an error on the 'lucky dog' deal and put ourselves back down a lap but got our lap back twice. We were good enough to run in the top-10. The team is coming, man. I'm starting to get excited."(Winston Salem Journal) - NOTE: been told that McMurray's 2005 option is Ganassi's option.(8-2-2004)
Martin to run some ASA races?Speed51.com is reporting that NASCAR Nextel Cup veteran Mark Martin will return to the ASA when the series runs at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the final two races of the season. Martin is the 1977 ASA Rookie of the Year and went on to win three consecutive championships from 1978-80.(Frontstretch)(8-2-2004)
Pemberton to Ford, update...waiting on replacement: If it were up to NASCAR, Robin Pemberton already would have started his new assignment as competition director. Pemberton is the field manager for Ford, and the holdup right now seems to involve Ford's inability to select a replacement, though its list of candidates is short. NASCAR president Mike Helton is one of many people eagerly awaiting Pemberton's arrival. "He has a lot of experience in the garage from a lot of different areas," Helton says. "He knows the garage area; he knows our people; he knows the operation from both a crew chief and a manufacturer representative's perspective, and he's just a very likable person."(FoxSports/Sporting News)(8-2-2004)
Kahne offers apology to Busch: #9-Kasey Kahne said he thought #97-Kurt Busch had made contact with #20-Tony Stewart's car to begin a crash on Lap 108 that doomed Stewart to a 35th-place finish and also led to damage on Kahne's Dodge when Stewart bounced off the wall in front of the #9 Dodge. Kahne admitted to hitting Busch's car under caution right after that. "A few laps before he (Busch) ran into my door pretty good, and then that happened with Tony," Kahne said. "I thought he ran into Tony and our race was over. I definitely need to apologize to Kurt. There was no need for that. I was just frustrated at the time. I need to control myself."(ThatsRacin.com)(8-2-2004)
Driver Killed: A racecar driver is dead after he crashed into a concrete barrier at the Deer Creek Speedway [Spring Valley, MN]. 58-year-old Jim Dahle, was racing in a dwarf car heat when his car hit a concrete barrier Saturday night at about 8:15pm. Mayo One and a local ambulance were called to the track, but it was too late. Medics were unable to revive him. A small American flag has been put-up near the site of the crash. All racing was cancelled after the accident. The Queensland family owns Deer Creek Speedway, and out of respect to the family they are not ready to comment on the crash just yet.(KAAL-TV site)(8-2-2004)