SEPT 20-26, 2004
September 26, 2004
- Newman dominates at Dover: #12-Ryan Newman won the MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway, dominating the race by leading 325 of 400 laps and winning by over 8 seconds. It is the 2nd win of the season for Newman, 3rd at Dover and 11th of his career in 108 starts. The rest of the top five were #6-Martin, #24-Gordon, #88-Jarrett and #97-Busch. #17-Matt Kenseth, one of the Chase drivers, used his mulligan today, hitting the tire/water barrier while trying to get to pit road early in the race, doing serious damage to the front end, he came back out after repairs and picked up a spot. #24-Gordon takes over the points lead by ONE point over #97-Busch.
For my race rundown, see my Dover Race Info/Rundown Page
For race results, see:
Jayski's Dover Race Results/Awards page
- Runner-up Champs: what drivers have finished 2nd in the Drivers Championship the most times?
Richard Petty: 6 runner-up finshes [7 championships]
Bobby Allison: 5 
Mark Martin: 4 
Dale Earnhardt: 3 
Darrell Waltrip: 3 
Cale Yarborough: 3 
Bill Elliott: 3 
(from my All Time Winners page)(9-26-2004)
- Leffler talking to a few Cup teams: NASCAR Busch Series driver Jason Leffler confirmed Friday he has spoken with officials from Joe Gibbs Racing, among others, about driving next season in the Nextel Cup Series. Leffler declined to name the other teams, but said he could have "an exciting thing going on next year." Leffler, 29, has emerged as the leading candidate for Gibbs' #11 Chevrolet, which will debut next season. The team will be sponsored by FedEx. "Gibbs is one of the teams I've talked to. I hope to make an annoucement here in the next couple of weeks," Leffler said. Leffler said even if he joins the Cup series next season, he may still run a partial schedule in the Busch Series. Leffler started his NASCAR career as a Busch driver with Gibbs before moving to Cup and Chip Ganassi Racing in 2001. He struggled in Cup, but did win a pole and was fourth in the rookie standings in his first full season. Leffler left Ganassi at the end of the year and moved to Craftsman Truck Series and Ultra Motorsports. Since the middle of last season, Leffler has driven in Cup (2003) and Busch (2004) with Haas CNC Racing. "I've learned so much since the last time I did (Cup), so I know what expect," Leffler said. "It's going to be tough, but I'm looking forward to it."(ThatsRacin.com), however, evedrything I hear has Leffler in the #11 Fed-Ex Chevy and Joe Gibbs Racing and supposedly alreadt been fitted for a seat.(9-26-2004)
- Rusty's Son Wins at Bristol: Steve Wallace captured his first career UARA Late Model win on the series' biggest stage
Saturday night under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. Wallace's win came exactly one month to the day after a violent crash in a Hooter's ProCup Series race at Bristol, making his victory all the more sweet. Wallace, driving the #02 Food City Dodge, took the lead on Lap 83 and stayed in front for the remainder of the race. The 17-year-old Wallace's previous best UARA finish was a third-place effort earlier this year at Anderson Motor Speedway in South Carolina. Wallace is the son of NEXTEL Cup Series driver and nine-time Bristol winner Rusty Wallace. Josh Adams, driving the lone Toyota in the field finished second. Jamey Caudill, Keith Stiltner and Jamie Yelton rounded out the top-five. UARA points leader Jason York suffered a setback early on in the race as he and the No. 44 of Mark King got together in Turn 1 to bring out the race's third caution on Lap 36.(BMS PR)(9-26-2004)
- Dover Race Notes:
---- Ryan Newman won the MBNA America 400, scoring his 11th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 108th career start. His last victory came at Michigan June 20, 2004, 13 races ago.
---- Newman scored histhird victory at Dover International Speedway. It was his fifth top-10 finish in six races at Dover. Newman won both races at Dover in 2003.
---- Newman became the eighth driver with multiple victories in 2004.
---- Newman climbed from ninth to eighth in The Chase for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
---- Newman led five times for 325 laps including the final 135, leading the most laps for the second time in 2004 and the most he has led in a single race in his career. His previous most laps led in a single race was 187 at New Hampshire in July 2004.
---- This is the fourth victory for Dodge in 2004. Chevrolet has won 15 and Ford has nine.
Notebook Items - The Race for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup
---- With eight races remaining, 10 drivers continue The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. First to 10th in the standings are separated by 157 points. The biggest margin is between and third-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. and fourth-place Jimmie Johnson, who are separated by 39 points. Fifth-place Mark Martin has the same points as Johnson (5,314). Johnson has four victories to Martin's two and holds the fourth-position based on the tiebreaker.
---- Eight drivers in the top-10 in points changed positions at Dover International Speedway.
---- All 10 drivers competing in the Chase for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup scored at least one victory in the first 26 races of the 2004 season. Busch and Newman posted victories in the first two races of the 10-race Chase to the NEXTEL Cup.
---- Kurt Busch is the only driver that has scored top-five finishes in each of the first two races in The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
---- Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Gordon are the only drivers to score top-10 finishes in each of the first two races in The Chase.
---- Eight of the 10 drivers in The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup posted top-10 finishes in the MBNA America 400.
---- Approximately $1 million will be paid to the driver who finishes 11th in the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, an increase of more than $400,000 over one year ago. That includes a $250,000 bonus, which will be paid to the 11th-place finisher. Additionally, the 11th-place driver will also join the top-10 drivers on the stage at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Awards Banquet in New York in December. Currently, Jamie McMurray holds the 11th-place position by 99 points over 12th-place Kevin Harvick.
---- Mark Martin (second) scored his third top-five finish in his last four races. It was his 13th top-10 finish in 2004 and his 22nd top-10
finish in 37 races at Dover International Speedway. Martin won here in June. ---- Jeff Gordon (third) scored his 20th top-10 finish in 2004, the most of all drivers. Gordon has scored three straight top-10 finishes and 16 top-10 finishes in 24 races at Dover International
---- Dale Jarrett (fourth) scored his 11th top-10 finish of the season. Despite his finish, he remained 15th in the point standings.
---- Kurt Busch (fifth) scored his 14th top-10 finish in 2004. It marked his best finish at Dover and is his second top-10 finish in nine races at Dover International Speedway.
---- Tony Stewart (sixth) scored his 14th top-10 finish in 2004. It is his 11th top-10 finish in 12 races at Dover.
---- Matt Kenseth has ranked in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 for 63 straight races.
---- Matt Kenseth (32nd) dropped from fourth to seventh in The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. It marked his worst finish at Dover since he finished 40th here in June 2002.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(9-26-2004)
- StockCarFans.Com - Rumblings - Dover: Ryan Newman led early (the first 32 laps), led often (five times for a whopping 325 laps), and led late (the final 135!) to capture today's MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway for his second win of
the 2004 season (he won at Michigan in June). This was his third win in the last four races at DIS, and the 11th of Ryan's Cup career (he's now tied with Kurt Busch for 46th on the all-time win list). Win #56 for Penske (if you count the three for Michael Kranefuss) was worth $195,477 from the almost $5M in posted awards. Uh, somebody wanna tell me why you wouldn't want to clean the track before the race? We were shown an awful lot of marbles outside of the groove pre- race.....
Ricky Rudd (12th) had his best finish since he was 8th at Watkins Glen in August.
Bobby Labonte (14th) had his best finish since he was 11th at Watkins Glen last month.
Kyle Petty (17th) had his best finish since he was 12th at Las Vegas in March.
Brendan Gaughan (22nd) had his best finish since he was 22nd at Loudon in July.
Jimmy Spencer (26th) had his best finish since he was 19th at The Brickyard in August.
Tony Raines (28th) had his best finish since he was 13th at Homestead last November (only 4 races).
Kevin Lepage (36th) had his best finish since he was 30th at Bristol in March (only 7 races).
STREAKIN....Jamie McMurray has 6 Top-10's in a row. Dale Earnhardt Jr has 4 Top-10's in the last 5 races.
This Week's Elevator....UP: For the second week in a row we have no Operator....Sterling Marlin (+19) gets honorable mention. DOWN: The Big Dropper was Brian Vickers (-35), followed by Jeff Burton (-24), Kasey Kahne (-22), and Ward Burton (-20).
Something to remember: That #17 crew busted thier butts to get Matt Kenseth back on the track today, all to gain 3 points. Let's see what that's worth in another 8 weeks.
New leader in the "Chase".....Jeff Gordon by a single marker over Kurt Busch.
But in "Classic" points, Gordon holds a 69 point margin. Wonder which format he likes now?
We had four drivers gain two spots in the Top-20, while Kasey Kahne (10th to 14th) had the biggest drop of the weekend. You'll also notice that Jamie McMurray (leading that all important race to the 10th loser by 99 points over Kevin Harvick) would be in 9th (would be the topic of a story or two) and would be only 139 markers out of the Top-5. We were told that almost never happens, remember?(StockCarFans.Com Nextelcup Newsletter)(9-26-2004)
September 25, 2004
- More on Hard Liquior to NASCAR AND 21 the new age? UPDATE: With both NBC and Fox having apparently approved hard-liquor sponsorship of a Nextel Cup car, the ball is in NASCAR's court in the debate over whether to allow Diageo, makers of Crown Royal and other alcoholic beverages, to sponsor a car on the Nextel Cup tour next season, and sources say NASCAR has decided to allow the company to sponsor a Cup car. NASCAR vetoed Jack Roush's [#99] sponsorship plans earlier this season. For much of the year the debate has been in the network offices of Fox and NBC, where executives have been against allowing TV ads for products like Crown Royal, even while allowing their cable subsidiaries to accept such ads. The Fox Speed channel is carrying the Crown Royal-sponsored IROC series. But ABC's decision to allow Jim Beam sponsorship during the Indianapolis 500 apparently broke the long-time network ban, and Fox and NBC are willing to let Nextel Cup teams carry such sponsorships too - once NASCAR executives work out their own details - according to sources.(Winston Salem Journal)
AND rumors are circulating that if NASCAR allows hard liquior as a sponsor in the Cup Series, they may raise the minimum age requirement to 21. If so, would that stop Kyle Busch's possible move to the Cup Series in 2005? Brian Vickers couldn't race in the Crown Royal IROC Series and the Bud Pole stickers on the #25 [and Busch's #84 Cup car] says 'Pole Awards' with an Anheuser-Busch logo, NOT "Budweiser Pole Award".(9-18-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR has considered changing the minimum age to compete in the Nextel Cup Series to 21, but NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said he "doesn't know of any plan to do that." Speculation is that the change could come if NASCAR allows hard liquor companies to sponsor teams.(NASCAR Scene Print Edition)(9-25-2004)
The normal Budweiser Pole sticker
The Pole Award sticker with the Anheuser-Busch logo, from the #25 car
Taken at Las Vegas by Jayski
- Tire Testing Ongoing: In the week that separated the Richmond International Raceway and New Hampshire International Speedway events several NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams tested the 2005 aero recipe at Las Vegas Motor Speedway [see past news on my Testing Page]. These testing chores were handled by Ford driver Greg Biffle and Dodge pilots Casey Mears and Ryan Newman. The cars that were run were trimmed to ‘05 specifications, including a one-inch shorter spoiler. Mears upped the ante, driving one of the new ‘05 Dodge cars during the test [see images of the 2005 Dodge on my 2005 Cup Scheme page]. Goodyear engineers were also on hand with several of their ’05 tire packages, testing to see if the computer simulations used to design tires were as accurate as Goodyear engineers’ predictions. This test, the second of three planned, gave the Vegas track it’s chance to shine. Earlier this month tests were performed at Bristol Motor Speedway. A test was scheduled the week before the Richmond event for Lowe’s Motor Speedway, but rain caused a reschedule for sometime in the immediate future [with Mark Martin testing]. Biffle told www.teamfordracing.com at NHIS that he found the new configuration incredibly different from what's being run this year; and he has concerns that perhaps the cars were tossed into a performance area where none but the most sound drivers will be able to handle the machines.(Team For Racing)(9-25-2004)
- NASCAR's Shawna Robinson gets a new look: The Queen City [Charlotte, NC] continues to be a magnet for TV makeover shows ("What Not to Wear," "Extreme Makeover," "Ambush Makeover"). TLC's "A Makeover Story" recently documented the transformation of NASCAR driver Shawna Robinson. "We really wanted to profile a strong woman in sports, and Shawna was the perfect fit," said Keesha Bullock of TLC. No air date has been set. The following retailers -- all in Dilworth -- were involved: Sloan and Step by Sloan boutiques and Modern Salon & Spa's Mantra salon. Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., a friend of Robinson's, reportedly filmed footage for the show.(Charlotte Observer)(9-25-2004)
- Ward to stay in the #0 in 2005? during an interview with MRN's Danielle Frye, Ward Burton, driver of the #0 NetZero Chevy, said he is talking again with the team about possible staying together in 2005. Some past news/rumors had Burton leaving the team at the end of the 2004 season and can be read on my #0 Team News and Links page.(9-25-2004)
- Daytona USA close due to possible hurricane: Due to the threat of Hurricane Jeanne, DAYTONA USA, the "Official of
Attraction of NASCAR," closed at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24 and will remain closed on Saturday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 26. DAYTONA USA will reaccess operating hours when the storm has passed. For more information on DAYTONA USA, contact (386) 947-6800 or log on to www.DAYTONAUSA.com.(DIS PR)(9-25-2004)
- Gillette Young Guns - Weekly Update: By picking Kurt Busch as the top Gillette Young Gun finisher in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway on September 19th, Deanna R. of Derby, NY was the winner of the weekly Gillette Young Guns $5,000 Challenge. Deanna picked Busch as the highest finishing Young Gun by going to www.gilletteyoungguns.com and entering before the weekly deadline.
As the highest finishing Gillette Young Gun, a $1,000 donation will be made to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC) on behalf of Busch. This is the fourth time this season a donation has been made to the NPCC on behalf of Busch.
The Gillette Young Guns are 14 for 27 in the win column so far in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. have
four victories, followed by Kurt Busch with three victories, Matt Kenseth who has two victories, and Ryan Newman who has one victory.
Through the 27th race of the season, fellow Young Guns Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch are tied for the lead in the NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup point standings. Three other Gillette Young Guns are also in the top-10 and rank as follows - Kenseth (Fourth), Johnson (Fifth) and Newman (Ninth). Kevin Harvick, who is not in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup, is currently in the 13th position in the standings.
For 24 of the 27 races run in 2004, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings have been led by four members of the Gillette Young Guns. Current point leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. has led for 10 weeks, Jimmie Johnson led for nine weeks, Matt Kenseth led for four weeks and Kurt Busch has led for two weeks.
(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(9-25-2004)
- Blaney at Dover: Dave Blaney is scheduled to drive Carl Edwards' #99 car in both practice sessions today as Edwards flies to Las Vegas to compete in tonight's Craftsman Truck race. Edwards is scheduled to return to Dover for Sunday's Cup race. He's making the cross-country trip because he is third in the truck series standings, 39 points behind series leader Bobby Hamilton.(Roanoke Times)(9-25-2004)
- Jeremy's Tshirt says 'Stay Away': Wearing an orange shirt (the same color as Robby Gordon's car) that read "I want you to stay far, far away from me," Jeremy Mayfield qualified first yesterday for the MBNA 400 a Dover International Speedway. He edged Ryan Newman with a 159.405-mph lap his second slowest this year at the 1-mile oval. Mayfield, who set a track record (161.522) in June, became the first driver to complete a season sweep of pole positions at Dover since Cale Yarborough in 1980. Mayfield needs a strong result tomorrow. He dropped 142 points out of first after he got caught in a crash started by Gordon at New Hampshire International Speedway on Sunday. But his #19 Dodge has proved resilient recently, clawing its way into the Chase by winning at Richmond International Raceway after two subpar showings. "We're going to have to do that every week from here on out," he said. "That's what this team seems to be really good at. We get knocked down, chewed up, spit out and booed off the stage, but we come right back. When the going gets tough, we feel like we perform our best." Mayfield hadn't heard yet from Gordon, who said yesterday morning he wanted to apologize to Mayfield and Tony Stewart, the other title contender victimized by his spin. "Obviously he wasn't in too desperate of a search for me," Mayfield joked. "It might have been the shirt. What's cool is that [Gordon's car owner] Richard Childress called. He apologized and said he was very sorry. That's classy of Childress. Richard didn't seem to have any problems getting a hold of anybody."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(9-25-2004)
- Sarah Fisher to make NASCAR debut at Phoenix UPDATE: Open-wheel star Sarah Fisher has been named to drive for Bill McAnally Racing in the Subway 150 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Oct. 3. Fisher - who has raced four seasons in the IRL IndyCar Series - will be making her NASCAR debut, driving the #20 NASCAR Select by NAPA Filters Chevrolet. "We are excited to have Sarah be a part of the team at Phoenix," said BMR President Bill McAnally. "This is a great opportunity for BMR to work with a talented young driver from the open-wheel ranks. She should provide an interesting perspective and some valuable input into our program." Fisher, who progressed through the sprint car and midget car ranks to the Indy Racing League, was voted the IRL's Most Popular Driver the past three seasons. The 23-year-old resident of Indianapolis, Ind., scored a career-best runner-up finish in the IRL IndyCar Series at Homestead-Miami in 2001 and won the pole at Kentucky in 2002. In 2000, she became only the third woman in history to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. "I'm really excited to be making my NASCAR debut," Fisher said. "It's a great opportunity. I've been working hard to prepare for this." Fisher will join BMR at Phoenix as a teammate to Austin Cameron, who is currently second in the championship standings. The event is the 10th in a 13-race schedule for the series this year. McAnally is a veteran car owner in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series with three consecutive series championships (1999, 2000 and 2001) to his credit. The West Series and the Busch North Series comprise the Grand National Division. Graduates of the West Series include 1998 series champion Kevin Harvick and Brendan Gaughan, who won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001. The NASCAR Doubleheader Weekend at PIR features the JC's Glass 100
NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series race and the Subyway 150 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series race. Tickets for the NASCAR DoubleHeader Weekend at PIR on October 2-3, can be purchased by phone 602-252-2227 or 1-866-408-7223. They can also be purchased by logging on the website www.phoenixraceway.com.(PIR PR)(9-23-2004)
AND Fisher is filling the seat temporarily vacated by Kerry Earnhardt, who will be at Talladega Superspeedway next week for a Nextel Cup race. Earnhardt is a son of the late Dale Earnhardt. McAnally initially was going to replace Kerry Earnhardt with Clint Boyer, who drove the car at PIR earlier this season. But Nextel Cup car owner Richard Childress, who helped get Earnhardt the ride with the West Series team, called McAnally last week and asked if he would be interested in putting Fisher in the car. "Richard asked me what I thought about it, and I thought it was OK," McAnally said. "I think she could be real good for our series, and I think our series could be real good for her. I'm looking forward to it."(Arizona Republic)(9-24-2004)
UPDATE: Sarah Fisher, a 23-year-old Indy-car racer, could be headed for a NASCAR Busch [Childress?] ride next season if her tryout in a NASCAR-West race at Phoenix Oct. 3 goes well. Fisher tested at Caraway Speedway in a Kevin Harvick car a few weeks ago and was impressive..(Winston Salem Journal)(9-25-2004)
September 24, 2004
- Mayfield wins pole at the Monster: #19-Jeremy Mayfield won the Budweiser Pole for the MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway with a speed of 159.405mph, his 2nd pole at Dover in 2004 and 3rd at Dover and 9th pole of his career. Mayfield was the first driver to wins both pole positions at Dover since Cale Yarborough in 1980. The rest of the top 5, #12-Newman, #25-Vickers, #38-Sadler and #15-Waltrip. In an odd twist, #30-Jeff Burton and #22-Scott Wimmer were allowed to requalify as the NASCAR Official who was supposed to take the cowl cover off the cars, failed to do so on the #22 and #30, so NASCAR let them requalify. Burton ran 154.759 [would had been good for 36th fastest] the first time and 155.273 in the requalify attempt [33rd]. Wimmer ran 154.063 [would had been good for 39th and provisional land] the first time and 155.682 in the requalify attempt [29th]. For who missed the race and used provisionals, the starting grid and all the speeds on my Jayski's Dover Qualifying/Starting Lineup Page
Other lineup links at:
- Robby Apologizes Again; has talked to Biffle: Robby Gordon repeated his apology Friday for his actions in last Sunday's race at New Hampshire, during which he intentionally wrecked Greg Biffle, but caught up Chase for the Nextel Cup contenders Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart as well. "What happened last weekend obviously I'm sorry for, but I'm more sorry to Tony Stewart and Jeremy Mayfield, putting them behind the eight-ball in this 10-race championship," Gordon said. "I hope they have an opportunity to climb back into the championship. I'm sorry we got into this situation. I didn't intend for it to be this at all." Gordon said he spoke to Biffle Thursday night, but had not yet been able to speak to Mayfield or Stewart, but had tried to reach them. "Between me and Greg there is no issue because he knows what he did and he knows what I did," Gordon said. "I consider Greg not only a fierce competitor but a good friend of mine."
Gordon also denied reports this week by ThatsRacin.com, Speed TV, The Tampa Tribune, The Rocky Mountain News and NASCAR Scene, among others, that he had pushed aside [XM] radio reporter Claire B. Lang after the race while attempting to avoid a gathering of media members. After first saying, "I did not push Claire B. Lang after the race," Gordon responded to a follow-up question later with, "If she got moved a little bit, it was not an intentional shove. If I bumped you, I apologize." For her part, Lang has stated both that she did not recall the incident and that it didn't happen in conversations over the past week. Gordon, who was penalized two laps in the race by NASCAR and also placed on probation by his Richard Childress Racing team, also admitted to using an obscene gesture, but said it was directed to one member of the media, not the group as a whole. Gordon said he also spoke with NASCAR officials Friday morning to "clear the air." NASCAR President Mike Helton "said my punishment I received last weekend for being two laps held should have been embarrassing enough to be what it is."(ThatsRacin.com and the full press conference transcipt at FoxSports)(9-24-2004)
- Congrats! Chris Williams, gasman and mechanic on the #32 Tide Chevy that Bobby Hamilton Jr. drivers, became a first-time father on Monday, September 20th. Mother, Karie, delivered a baby boy named Cameron Bailey at 6:30 p.m. weighing in at 8 lbs., 3 oz.(PPI Motorsports)(9-24-2004)
- Motorcycle Racer Offered NASCAR Contract? UPDATE...AND: Speedfreaks is reporting....it broke on HBO’s ‘Real Sports w/Bryant Gumbel’ a few weeks ago and was made true (to the Freak Nation at least) on Friday night at the AMA Motocross autograph session in SoCal. One certain Cup/Busch team owner would like to sign 125cc Motocross Champion, James “Bubba” Stewart, to a TEN year NASCAR contract. Now, the kid definitely has talent and just may be the best rider to hit the Motocross/Supercross scene EVER… yep, better than McGrath, better than Carmichael (maybe – we’ll see next season though), better than Rick Johnson, Jeff Ward, Marty Smith and the like. He will make the jump to the top class, 250cc, next year and the reality of Bubba’s talent will be seen… can he indeed run with the big boys? Based on test sessions so far, YES! (SpeedFreaks.tv)(9-14-2004)
UPDATE: Stewart said he has talked to several teams recently. Chip Ganassi Racing, which fields cars in both series, has expressed the most interest. A team representative traveled to Haines City, Fla., to meet with Stewart and his family. The two sides have talked several times since. "It's no secret that I have always had an interest for car racing," said Stewart, who loves to take his shifter kart out for a spin whenever he's at home and has some spare time. "Only now, I just might be able to make that happen." Stewart said he "wants to be like Tony Stewart," a NASCAR regular who occasionally drives in the Indy 500. Bubba Stewart said he would like to do both, too. But where he ends up depends upon how his testing goes. He plans to drive stock cars and open-wheel cars before he determines which series is right for him. He probably won't start testing cars for another year. However, when asked if he might try to log some practice laps now that the dirt-bike season is over, he said, "We will just have to wait and see. I am trying to keep all of this stuff behind closed doors." Stewart said he wants to make one thing clear: He is not ready to walk away from the sport that has made him a star. He recently signed a two-year contract extension with the Irvine-based Kawasaki factory team, and he said he probably will ride for five or six more years. But Stewart said there is a chance he could begin racing cars before he decides to park his dirt bike for good, squeezing in a few races in the fall after the Motocross season finale.(Orange County Register)
AND while on Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain, Stewart said he is interested in going to NASCAR in the future and has talked to some 'people' but wouldn't elaborate. Dave said he asked Ganassi who sad he hadn't talked to Stewart.(9-24-2004)
- Protest at Atlanta: A little-known group of minority race fans plans to protest a NASCAR event at the Atlanta Motor Speedway Oct. 31. Hampton Police Chief Bud Smith said representatives from the National Association for Minority Race Fans are seeking a protest permit for that day's race. However, the city ordinance does not address such a request. "We do not have an ordinance that requires them to get a permit," he said. "But we will require them to register at city hall. We will also discuss this issue at the Oct. 5 pre-race meeting." Little is known about the group, which has a Web site at www.namrf.com. The site displays a countdown to when the site will be open to the public, midnight Oct. 1. Until then, only members can log onto the site. Phillip W. Offill Jr., an attorney with Dallas law firm Godwin Gruber, said he represents the group. "This will be a fairly substantial protest," he said. "They are loud and proud and have a problem with what is going on with NASCAR." Specifically, Offill said the group pinpoints racism and the safety of minorities and women at race events but declined to elaborate. "Some more will come out closer to the release of the documentary," he said. "But a lot of folks, because of the color of their skin or gender, don't feel safe at race events."
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Wednesday that he is not familiar with the protest group. He said NASCAR is proud of the strides made within the organization to attract everyone as fans. "NASCAR respects the right of all people to express their opinions and NASCAR is committed to making the sport off and on the track even more like America," he said. "No issue is more important for NASCAR to succeed and grow."
Smith said the group specifically wants to protest the Oct. 31 race n the Bass Pro Ships MBNA 500 n but Offill alluded to Talladega as another possible target but would not elaborate. The EA Sports 500 is slated at Alabama's Talladega Superspeedway Oct. 3. Talladega officials said Wednesday they have not had contact with the group, which they had not heard of. Offill said the Web site is available only to members because they don't want to let "personalities" get out in front of the issues and concerns of the group.
Smith said the group seeks a peaceful demonstration but the request itself is unusual. "They say they are very peaceful and not aggressive," he said, "but I have not known of a race protest and I've been here since 1972. As long as they are peaceful, we'll work with them." The group, accompanied by a film crew, first approached the Henry Superior Court clerk's office for a permit. However, Clerk Judy Lewis sent them to Hampton since the track is inside the city limits. Getting permission to protest and actually having a place in which to do so are two different things. AMS spokeswoman Angela Revell said she is not familiar with the group and has had no contact with any of its representatives. She also expressed surprise that minorities have a beef with NASCAR. "I guess they haven't heard of Magic Johnson's minority initiatives," said Revell. Earlier this year, sports legend Johnson announced plans to boost minority involvement in NASCAR. He told reporters in June his dad, a "big fan," took him to the track when he was a child. The event made a lasting impression. NASCAR is also making other efforts to diversify the fan base including developing a program called "Drive for Diversity," [www.drivefordiversity.com] aimed at generating well-trained minority and female drivers and crew members. Last year, NASCAR clashed with Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition when board member Bill Shack called car racing organizations "the last bastion of white supremacy." NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne responded that his organization is "vigorously" reaching out to minorities, citing mandated sensitivity training for all employees and the formation of a diversity council, intern programs and college tours.(News-Daily), past news on the diverstiy issue on my Racing Schools/Jobs page.(9-23-2004)
AND More at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.(9-24-2004)
- Dover Qualifying Notes:
---- Jeremy Mayfield won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Bud Pole for the MBNA America 400, lapping Dover International Speedway in 22.584 seconds at 159.405 mph. Mayfield holds the track-qualifying record of 22.288 seconds, 161.522 mph, set June 4, 2004.
---- This is Mayfield's ninth career Bud Pole in 337 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. His most recent Bud Pole came here at Dover on June 4, 2004, two races ago. It is Mayfield's third Bud Pole and ninth top-10 start in 21 races at Dover. It is his 14th top-10 start in 2004.
---- The last driver to sweep both Bud Poles in a season at Dover was Cale Yarborough in 1980. David Pearson (1973) is the only other driver to win both Bud Poles in a season since 1971, the first year of twice-a-year racing here.
---- There have been five different Bud Pole winners in the last seven races at Dover. Bud Pole qualifying was canceled due to weather in September 2003. Mayfield is the only repeat Bud Pole winner here since 2001.
---- Mayfield became the sixth multiple Bud Pole winner in 2004. Jeff Gordon (six), Ryan Newman (five), Kasey Kahne (four), Casey
Mears (two) and Brian Vickers (two) are the other drivers with more than one Bud Pole this season. Qualifying was canceled at Watkins Glen, second Michigan and second New Hampshire due to weather.
---- Ryan Newman had the second-fastest time with a qualifying lap of 22.639 seconds at 159.018 mph and will join Mayfield on the front row. It is his fifth top-10 start in his six races at Dover, all top fives. It is his second consecutive runner-up start and his third on
the front row. It is his 19th top-10 start in 2004, more than any other driver.
---- This is 13th Bud Pole for Dodge in 2004. Chevrolet has 10 Bud Poles and Ford has two.
---- Brian Vickers (third) posted his 13th top-10 start in 2004 and his second consecutive third-place start at Dover as the top-three duplicated their qualifying efforts from the June race.
---- Elliott Sadler (fourth) posted his 14th top-10 start in 2004 and his third top-10 start in 12 races at Dover.
---- Michael Waltrip (fifth) posted his seventh top-10 start in 2004 and his sixth top-10 start in 38 races at Dover, including his only
career Bud Pole.
---- Five of the 10 drivers involved in The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup qualified in the top 10: Mayfield, Newman, Sadler, Matt Kenseth (eighth) and Jimmie Johnson (ninth). Fifty-six of the 69 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Dover have been won from a top-10
---- Jeff Fuller, Joe Ruttman, Geoffrey Bodine, Morgan Shepherd and Kirk Shelmerdine used provisionals to complete the 43-car field. Seven drivers failed to qualify for the MBNA America 400: Hermie Sadler, Carl Long, Stanton Barrett, Greg Sacks, Kenny Hendrick, Derrike Cope and Mike Garvey.
A driver has swept both races at Dover in five of the last 10 years: Ryan Newman (2003), Jimmie Johnson (2002), Tony Stewart (2000), Jeff Gordon (1996) and Rusty Wallace (1994).(NASCAR Statistical Services)(9-24-2004)
- StockCarFans.Com - Ramblings - Dover: If today looked like a replay from this past June, it's only because it was..... The Top-3 qualifiers for Sunday's MBNA America 400 today at Dover International Speedway were exactly the same as when we were last here.... only the speeds were different. Jeremy Mayfield (almost 3/10ths slower than a couple months ago) captured his second Bud pole of the season (and 9th of his career) this afternoon with a speed of 159.405 (22.584 sec), besting Ryan Newman and Brian Vickers. An expensive day for Rick Hendrick. First Vickers pulled out a backup after a practice crash (that one wasn't too bad), then Terry Labonte had a hard crash between 1 and 2 that'll be lucky if it only takes a rear clip. They can't get those soft walls into this place quick enough!
Michael Waltrip (5th) has his best starting spot since qualified 4th at Loudon in July.
Bobby Labonte (6th) has his best starting spot since he grabbed the pole at Texas in April.
Rusty Wallace (7th) has his best starting spot since he had the outside pole at Infineon Raceway in June.
Dale Jarrett (11th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 4th at Daytona in July.
Kyle Petty (27th) has his best starting spot since he started 26th at the Brickyard in August.
STREAKIN....Jeremy Mayfield has 6 Top-10 starts in a row.
Ryan Newman has 4 Top-10 starts in the last 5 races.
50 cars on hand...49 took a time (Mike Garvey was a DNS). The other non-qualifiers on the Trouble Train were: Hermie Sadler, Carl Long, Stanton Barrett, Greg Sacks, Kenny Hendrick, and Derrike Cope.
Provisionals were doled out to (and isn't this becoming a familiar lot): Jeff Fuller, Joe Ruttman, Geoffrey Bodine, Morgan Shepherd, and Kirk Shelmerdine.(StockCarFans.Com Nextelcup Newsletter PR)(9-24-2004)
- Andrews son wins Busch North pole at Dover: Tim Andrews, son of long-time Nextel Cup crew chief [Alan Kulwicki, Roush Racing, DEI and others, now Kahne's crew chief in the Busch Series] Paul Andrews, wheeled his Chevrolet around the high-banked, one-mile Dover International Speedway oval in 24.372 seconds for an average speed of 147.710mph to win his first Busch North Series. The closest Tim Andrews had been to Dover International Speedway was sitting on his couch watching the races on television. "I've never even seen this place," Andrews said. "I did talk to my dad about the track a lot and got a lot of information from him, but to come out and get the pole is just incredible." Paul Wolfe will start second, followed by Kelly Moore and Bryon Chew.(Delaware News Journal)(9-24-2004)
- Jeff Gordon Donates His Personal 2004 Z71 Chevy Tahoe to Charity: Jeff Gordon and The Jeff Gordon Foundation will once again host a raffle, this time raffling off Gordon's personal 2004 Z71 Tahoe with all proceeds going to The Jeff Gordon Foundation. Along with the Tahoe, the winner of the raffle will receive a private "meet and greet" with the four-time champion at his No. 24 DuPont Race Shop. The Tahoe features a sunroof, in-dash 6-CD player, Bose speakers, On-Star, front and side air bags, leather bucket seats, tinted windows, and wheels/tires personally selected by Gordon. Raffle tickets are $100 each with a limited number of 2,225 available. Tickets purchased directly benefit The Jeff Gordon Foundation. The Foundation is a non-profit organization established in December 1999 by Jeff Gordon that benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Marrow Foundation and Riley Hospital for Children. The Foundation is dedicated to help support the physical, social and intellectual needs of children and their families throughout the United States. Tickets are available by mailing a check or money order to The Jeff Gordon Foundation, Attn: Tahoe Raffle, P.O. Box 880, Harrisburg, NC 28075. Visa & Master Card are accepted online at www.JeffGordonFoundation.org or by faxing the raffle form to 704-455-0623 to order. The raffle will run September 23, 2004, thru December 23, 2004, with the final drawing to be held at 5 p.m. on December 23, 2004, at JG Motorsports, Inc. Winners need not be present. For more information on the raffle call 704-455-0625 or visit www.JeffGordonFoundation.org.(Jeff Gordon Site)(9-24-2004)
September 23, 2004
- Two Crew Chiefs fined: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief #97-Jimmy Fennig was fined $1,000 for a fuel cell spacer infraction that occurred at last weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at New Hampshire International Speedway and crew chief #17-Robbie Reiser received the identical fine for the same infraction at the Sept. 11 event held at Richmond International Raceway, NASCAR officials announced today.(NASCAR PR)(9-23-2004)
- Sadler gets to feel the new Martinsville Suface: #38-Elliott Sadler drove his way into Martinsville Speedway's "unofficial" record book Wednesday afternoon. Slowly circling the track in the passenger side of track president Clay Campbell's street car, Sadler became the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver to take a lap on Martinsville's recently repaved racing surface. "I got to ride on the race track earlier and it is smooth," Sadler said during a media gathering for the October 24th running of the SUBWAY 500. "In talking to Clay, I know there were a lot of headaches involved in getting the repaving done, but it is unbelievably smooth. It's a big difference from the way the track was. From the concrete to the asphalt, wow, the transition is unbelievable. I'm glad they added another 100 feet of concrete. That will be a lot easier on the motor guys and on the driver. That was always the biggest obstacle here at Martinsville, getting the car hooked up from the concrete to the asphalt." It wasn't the new asphalt and concrete that caught Sadler's eye first, though. "When Clay took me around the track, the first thing I noticed were the SAFER walls. As a driver, we love to see track owners do that," said Sadler. "And not only did he do the corners, he did the inside of the straightaway walls, which is going the extra step." Sadler helped Martinsville Speedway unveil a myriad of changes and additions to the historic facility since the NEXTEL Cup Series last visited in April. The on-track work - the resurfacing and SAFER barriers - were the most evident, but there were more. Stage one of the projects to relocate the railroad tracks which parallel the backstretch is just about finished. Excavation and grading work, which involved the moving of over 100,000 yards of earth, is complete and the new rail bed is ready. Reseeding has begun so campers will have grassy camping spots for the SUBWAY 500 weekend. After the October events, work will begin on laying new tracks on the new rail bed, about 100 yards from the location of the present tracks. The souvenir area outside of the fourth turn has also been enlarged. The old souvenir and display area will be used solely for corporate displays. Souvenir trailers will be located on four tiers built on the slope directly adjacent to the display area. Tickets for both the SUBWAY 500 on Sunday, October 24, and the Kroger 200 NASACAR Craftsman Truck Series race, on Saturday, October 23, are on sale and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. SUBWAY 500 tickets may also be purchased online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.(Martinsville Speedway PR)(9-23-2004)
- Kenny in the #1 at Talladega: Kenny Wallace will no longer be driving the #00 Aaron's Chevy for Michael Waltrip at Talladega in the EA Sports 500. Wallace will instead drive the #1 Aaron's Rent DEI Chevy(Kenny Wallace site), Waltrip didn't have a car ready for the race.(9-23-2004)
- Gaughan Expects to be back in the #77 in 2005: Brendan Gaughan told MRN/Sirius Speedway host Dave Moody Tuesday that he expects to remain in the Penske/Jasper Racing Kodak Dodge. "I'm sitting here in the shop, signing a pile of pictures and posters and diecast cars," said Gaughan. "Everyone is talking to me, we're working on cars for the rest of the year...everything's just like it ever was. If I'm getting fired, they've got a funny way of letting me know." Responding to published reports of unhappiness with the team's performance, Gaughan laughed, "No kidding. There's nobody that wants to run well more than I do. I'm not happy with the way things have gone, either, but we're working hard to improve our performances, and I honestly think you'll see some results before the end of the season. We're getting some new cars to work with, and I think it's going to make a big difference."(MRN/Sirius Speedway Sirius Radio Show)(9-23-2004)
- Marlin's Pit Crew Wins in New Hampshire: The pit crew for Sterling Marlin won the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade in Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. It was the second time this season that Marlin's crew earned the $20,000 weekly prize - the team's other win was at the March race in Bristol, Tenn. In the McDonald's/POWERade point standings, Elliott Sadler's pit crew remains in the lead and the chase for the $200,000 bonus which will go to the season champion. After 27 races, Sadler's crew enjoys a 26-point lead - 977 to 951 -- over the pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kevin Harvick's crew, a non-winner so far in 2004, is third with 937 points. Marlin's No. 40 Coors Light Dodge spent the least amount of time on pit road in New Hampshire - 169.138 seconds. Michael Waltrip's No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet came in second with a time of 172.124. Harvick's No. 29 Goodwrench Chevy was third at 180.261. "The Coors Light crew did a great job getting me in and out of the pits," said Marlin. "The guys work hard week in and week out and I am proud of them for winning the McDonald's/POWERade pit crew competition this past weekend." Marlin's over-the-wall crew consists of Steven Wolfe (front-tire changer), Trent Davis (front-tire carrier), Barry Boeckenstedt (rear-tire changer), Tim Shore (rear-tire carrier), Mark Jacobs (jackman), Randy Hildreth (gasman) and Mike Motil (catch can). The team's crew chief is Lee McCall and the pit crew coach is Phil Horton.(DMF Communications PR), for the tp 10 at Loudon and the season standings, see my Pit Crew page.(9-23-2004)
- Free Video of NASCAR.com's Leliani Munter Racing: TRIMSPA sponsored stock car driver and NASCAR.com correspondent Leilani Munter in the NASCAR Elite Division Southeast Series "Kentucky 150" at Kentucky Motor Speedway this past weekend. NASCAR.COM sent along their cameras and now you can watch a day in the life of NASCAR.COM's Leilani Munter as she races at Texas Motor Speedway and Kentucky Motor Speedway. You will go behind the scenes with her race team as they prepare her car to compete. You will see footage of Leilani at Texas Motor Speedway when she started 4th and finished 7th in her first super late model race in June, sponsored by FHM Magazine. This NASCAR.com Nextel TrackPass video is sponsored by Waste Management and will be free for 7 days.(PR)(9-23-2004)
- Terry Labonte to tie DW: Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event will mark #5-Terry Labonte's 809th career start on the circuit, tying him with Darrell Waltrip for fourth on NASCAR's all-time list. The only drivers with more starts are Richard Petty (1,177), Dave Marcis (882) and Ricky Rudd (830).(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(9-23-2004)
- NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Champ: A veteran race car driving instructor is at the head of the class in NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series competition this year. Greg Pursley, 36, of Santa Clarita, Calif., has returned the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national championship to the Golden State for the first time in nearly two decades. Pursley has won the series' national championship by competing and winning at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. Doug McCoun, of Prunedale, Calif., last took the series' national champion's trophy to California in 1985. In the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, eight regional champions are compared to determine a national champion, and Pursley's honors begin with NASCAR's Sunbelt Region, which includes eight tracks in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. As the regional champion, Pursley will collect $45,000 in post-season prize money. National championship bonuses from NASCAR, Dodge and othe participating sponsors add up to $125,000, for a total payout of $170,000. Pursley will be the guest of honor at the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards banquet, Oct. 30 in Nashville, and he'll enjoy a V.IP. trip to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards banquet in New York City in December [Dec 3rd, TNT, closed to the public](9-23-2004)
- Food for Racing? Celebrity Chef Mario Batali to cook drivers supper at Dover. Rowdy has learned that Mario Batali, star of the Food TV show Molto Mario and owner of 6 New York restaurants, will be preparing an Italian feast for the drivers on Saturday at Dover. Mario, along with being an incredible chef and best-selling author, is a big Michael Waltrip fan. Rowdy has all the details, including an exclusive interview. Also on the show, Ricky Rudd and Ryan Newman on Robby Gordon. Rowdy is daily racing news, driver interviews, and commentary on your cell phone. Call 1-800-95-ROWDY [1-800-957-6939] for a free trial. (Rowdy PR)(9-23-2004)
September 22, 2004
- Congrats: Kenny Francis, Team Director of the #19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge from Evernham Motorsports, is proud to announce the birth of he and wife Rebecca's first baby girl. Emma Michelle Francis was born at 10:26 p.m. last night (Tuesday, Sept. 21). Emma weighed 10 lbs. 3 oz. at time of delivery. Kenny chose the middle name Michelle for her. Mother and child are doing well, and Kenny Francis will be back on the pit box this weekend at Dover.(ClearBlue/Evernham Motorsports PR)(9-22-2004)
- Kahne going for the record: with 9 races left, #9-Kasey Kahne is chasing NASCAR's modern-era record for top-five
finishes by a rookie driver. Kahne is one of only four drivers to have scored 10 or more top-five finishes this season. Kahne has five top fives in his last eight races.
Most top fives by a Cup series rookie (1972-2004)
14 by Ryan Newman in 2002, 36 races [38%]
12 by Tony Stewart in 1999, 34 races [35%]
11 by Dale Earnhardt in 1979, ran 27 of 31 races [41%]
10 by Kasey Kahne in 2004 after 27 races [37%].(Clearblue PR)
9 by Davey Allison in 1987, 22 of 29 races [41%](9-22-2004)
- Sad News: Larry Phillips, a champion stock-car racer from Springfield, MO who raced for four decades, died today after a four-year battle with lung cancer. He was 62. Phillips retired in 2000 after a career during which he won five NASCAR National Short-Track Championships, competing mostly at Lebanon I-44 Speedway and Bolivar Speedway. Phillips began his racing career in 1960 at the Springfield Fairgrounds Speedway and won an estimated 900 feature races on both dirt and paved surfaces during his career. He was inducted in the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.(Springfield News-Leader), Phillips made one Cup start in 1976 at Ontario, CA, starting 24th and finishing 13th.(9-21-2004)
AND a very large story with images and more info at the Springfield News-Leader.
In addition to Judy and son Terry, also an accomplished race car driver, Phillips is survived by daughters Carrie, Yvonne and Shelly and eight grandchildren. A tribute is planned for Friday and Saturday at I-44 Speedway during the season-ending Mid-America Racing Series event there. Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Praise Assembly, 3535 N. Glenstone Ave. A visitation is planned from 3 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Thieme-Shadel-Hicks at White Chapel, 5234 W. State Highway EE.(Springfield News-Leader)(9-22-2004)
- Robby put on probation by RCR: Robby Gordon has been placed on probation by Richard Childress Racing (RCR) for the remainder of the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series season. "Many athletes have made mistakes in their careers and would take back
the negative things they've said or done if they could," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "As a result of his actions last weekend in New Hampshire, I have placed Robby on probation for the rest of the season. I would like to apologize to all of the fans, the media, and the teams. I also would like to publicly apologize to Cingular Wireless for being placed in this situation. If there is one positive, I think this can make Robby understand that there is more to racing than just being aggressive. In this sport today, one action can affect many people's lives on the track and beyond it, as well." Gordon will conduct a press conference at 8:30am/et on Friday, Sept. 24, in the infield media center at Dover International Speedway.(RCR PR)(9-22-2004)
- Happy 70th to Leonard Wood of the famed Wood Brothers Racing, #21 Motorcraft/Air Force Ford that Ricky Rudd drivers, turned 70 today and has been fixture in the garage for over 50 years and still accompanies the #21 car to the track on a weekly basis.(9-22-2004)
- Long leaves Hover: Carl Long announced that he would be leaving the #80 Stan Hover Motorsports team, effective immediately. The move was solely Long's decision to explore other options. Long will be driving the McGlynn Motorsports #00 Buyer's Choice Auto Warranty Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway. Future races to be run with McGlynn Motorsports will be announced at a later date.(www.carl-long.com)(9-22-2004)
- #77 Evaluating...Kvapil in 2005? UPDATE Kvapil denies: Penske-Jasper Racing officials are exploring "all options" with regard to its #77 Kodak Dodges in 2005, including a driver change if necessary, teams sources confirmed Sunday. Rookie Brendan Gaughan has struggled this season in the car, which is owned jointly by Penske Racing South and Jasper Motorsports. Prior to Sunday’s race he was 31st in points with one top-10 finish and has failed to finish eight races. Team officials have made no secret of late of their desire to see performance pick up with the team. Gaughan, who led the Craftsman Truck Series with six wins last season, declined comment Sunday.(ThatsRacin.com)
AND Changes are expected with the #77 Penske-Jasper Dodge. Travis Kvapil, the 2003 truck series champion, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Brendan Gaughan. On Saturday, Kvapil showed total focus, winning despite the turmoil at Bang Racing involving a possible split from Toyota and the loss of teammate Mike Skinner. Certainly Penske-Jasper would be a more stable situation, but Penske South G.M. John Erickson says nothing will happen before the end of the season.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(9-20-2004)
UPDATE: Kvapil also denied rumors published last weekend that he was in line to replace Las Vegan Brendan Gaughan in the #77 Dodge for Penske/Jasper Racing in the Nextel Cup Series. "It's that time of year for rumors," Kvapil said. "No one from Penske has talked to me." Meshkin, a native of Washington, D.C., said he expects to make an official announcement about his NASCAR plans in 45 to 60 days and it could include a second part-time team in the Busch series. He also said Kvapil will compete in some truck races next year to support one of the team's sponsors that makes products geared to pick-up trucks.(Las Vegas Review Journal)(9-22-2004)
- Kenny to give driving tips: Students at Milford High School will get some driving pointers from Busch Series driver Kenny Wallace on Thursday. But they won't be tips on racing. Rather, Wallace will be teaching the importance of safe driving and routine car maintenance. Wallace will speak at Milford High at 1:20 p.m. as part of the "YJ Stinger's Race to Bee Safe" program, which targets young drivers. Wallace is preparing for Saturday's Stacker 200 presented by YJ Stinger Busch Series race at Dover International Speedway. Milford High is the 10th of 16 schools nationwide that the program will visit. In the program, students and parents are asked to sign a safe driving promise. Students participating in the program can also take part in an essay contest that will award up to $20,000 in scholarship money at the end of the year.(Delaware News Journal) and see more at stacker2racing.com(9-22-2004)
- TV Ratings for NHIS down 6%: The NHIS race got a 2.8 Cable rating and was tied for sixth most popular basic cable program behind the Dolphins/Bengal NFL game on ESPN [6.2 rating, 9,302,000], the ESPN NFL pre-game show, Law and Order, Sponge Bob Square Pants and the WWE. Total households watching were 3,024,000 as compared to 3,214,00 last year, a 6% drop.(Nielsenmedia.com)(9-22-2004)
- MBNA Primary Sponsor of #18 at Dover: MBNA is the primary sponsor of the #18 Chevrolet for Dover. The company, which is based in Wilmington, Del., has sponsored races at Dover since 1995 and is a long-time sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing.(Joe Gibbs Racing PR)(9-22-204)
- BAM Racing’s Graf to Run ARCA race at Talladega: Klaus Graf bears testament to the fact that Talladega Superspeedway is revered worldwide. While the 33-year-old native of Germany has a vastly different background than his fellow competitors, his reaction to driving the 2.66-mile tri-oval for the first time Tuesday was not unlike any other driver who had grown up hearing about the famed track. “It’s a place with a lot of history and a great image, even in Europe. Daytona and Talladega, these places are so massively big. Talladega is always known as a different race, different from any other race. That is what makes it so special,” Graf said during the ARCA RE/MAX Series open test in preparation for the Oct. 2 Food World 300. This will be Graf’s second ARCA RE/MAX Series start with BAM Racing, following up a third place finish in his first outing with the team at Nashville Superspeedway in April. Then in June, Graf partnered again with BAM for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Infineon, qualifying 38th and finishing 17th. Graf explained that his finish in that first outing wasn’t too much of a surprise due to his considerable road course experience, but his impressive ARCA RE/MAX finish on the oval track at Nashville was particularly gratifying since his experience on such tracks has been limited. Running the NASCAR’s NEXTEL Cup Series full time is Graf’s ultimate goal, and he hopes to run at least a limited schedule as a second entry in NASCAR’s elite series for BAM Racing next year. BAM Racing owns the #49 NEXTEL Cup team with driver Ken Schrader, who Graf said has been extremely helpful to him. “Having Kenny Schrader as a teammate in the 49 car is very helpful to me. He is the oldest driver in the pedal, and I say that with a lot of respect because that means he also knows pretty much everything about this sport. That is good for me; it is very helpful. I think I am in a very good environment right now. It is very helpful and I am very happy,” Graf said. Graf will compete in the Food World 300 on Oct. 2 not only to be competitive and for experience, but also to gain clearance from NASCAR to compete in superspeedway NEXTEL Cup events, he explained. He will drive the #99 car in the event.(Talladega Superspeedway PR)(9-22-2004)
- Rusty on Trackside: Beginning Friday in Dover, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Rusty Wallace will join SPEED Channel's Trackside panel for six events in 2004. Rusty will work the next four shows in a row, Darlington and one more event TBA. Trackside airs LIVE from the SPEED Channel traveling stage truck from the site of each weekend's NEXTEL Cup Series race. At Dover International Speedway, the SPEED Stage is located outside the track, near Turn 4 in the area called "Tent Village." Fans are invited to the live show at 7:00pm/et.(Speed Channel PR)(9-22-2004)
- Blaney 'expected' to replace Gordon; Craven in at Dover? UPDATE 5 RCR Denial: it's been more than a year since one of his [Richard Childress] teams last won, and that was Robby Gordon at Watkins Glen. Now Gordon is expected to be replaced by Dave Blaney.(Winston Salem Journal)(9-19-2004)
UPDATE: after Gordon's 'incident' with Biffle, Stewart, Mayfield and the media [see below] at New Hampshire, rumors have caught fire. Have heard Ricky Craven or Dave Blaney could be in the #31 as soon as Dover this week.(9-20-2004)
UPDATE 2: the Boston Herald is reporting.....Ricky Craven will replace the embattled Robby Gordon behind the wheel of the #31 Richard Childress Racing machine at Dover (Del.) this Sunday, Bostonherald.com has learned. Gordon’s contract was to expire at the end of the season and RCR is not seeking to re-sign him. Craven, of Newburgh, Maine, could not be reached for comment. Childress is expected to fire Gordon later this week after a poor showing at NHIS. Craven is without a ride after being replaced earlier this month by Bobby Hamilton Jr. He was asked to race the No. 32 Tide car at NHIS for the Sylvania 300, in which he finished 17th.(Boston Herald)(9-20-2004)
UPDATE 3: XM Radio's NASCAR Channel 144 reporter, Claire B. Lang, reports that her contacts at RCR say Robby Gordon is still their driver and will be in the #31 Chevy at Dover. Also, Claire said she was not pushed by Gordon and was in a group of about 10 other reporters at the time.
AND more from the Boston Herald - According to a NASCAR source, Gordon's employer, Richard Childress Racing, has taken immediate action, reportedly asking driver Ricky Craven of Newburgh, Maine, to take over the wheel at Dover, Delaware, this weekend. Craven was behind the wheel of the #32 Tide Chevy for PPI Motorsports in Sunday's Sylvania 300, in what was to be his last race since team owner Cal Wells signed another driver in the beginning of September. Craven could not be reached for comment, and a spokesperson from Hawk Sport Management would not confirm or deny that the agency's client will be driving for Childress this weekend.(Boston Herald) and another column at Union Leader: Craven rides again with Childress.(9-21-2004)
UPDATE 4: from RCR - Robby is definitely in the car this weekend at Dover. The rumors about Craven driving the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet at Dover are completely false and unfounded. RCR placed a call to the reporter from the Boston Herald asking him about his source but that was unreturned as of late Tuesday afternoon.(RCR PR)(9-21-2004)
UPDATE 5: Embattled Nextel Cup driver Robby Gordon will still be driving for owner Richard Childress this weekend at Dover International Speedway. Gordon’s publicist, Angie Copen, confirmed Gordon’s status as the driver of Childress’ #31 Cingular Chevrolet. The Union Leader and Boston Herald reported Monday that Maine-native Ricky Craven was likely to unseat Gordon this Sunday in Dover.(Union Leader)(9-22-2004)
September 21, 2004
- #51 Team gets sponor for Dover....Buddy Lee: Lee Jeans says it will sponsor Competitive Edge Motorsports' #51 Chevrolet in this weekend's MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway. The clothing manufacturer says it will put its "Buddy Lee" icon on the car, which is scheduled to be driven by Tony Raines. Buddy Sisco will be the crew chief. Financial terms were not announced.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(9-21-2004)
- #350 for Ward: Ward Burton will make his 350th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start this weekend at Dover. Burton made his first career start at Richmond in 1994.(NetZero Racing PR)(9-21-2004)
- Testing at Kentucky this week: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Testing at Kentucky Speedway on Wed, Sept 22nd and Thursday, Sept. 23rd. Fans may view testing from the area outside Fan Center in Turn 3 at no charge. Driver scheduled to test:
#19-Jeremy Mayfield (9/23); #9-Kasey Kahne (9/23); #2-Rusty Wallace (9/23-24); #41-Casey Mears (9/24); and Reed Sorenson in a Ganassi R & D Dodge.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(9-21-2004)
- Dale Jr. 'actor' in '3' is a driver: Chad McCumbee is a business major at UNC Charlotte and aspiring Nextel Cup racer. He plays Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the TV movie "3," an ESPN production about the late Dale Earnhardt set to premiere Dec. 11. McCumbee, 19, spoke with Charlotte Observer writer Jennifer Rothacker, see the Q&A at: Racer gets Dale Jr. role in TV movie.(9-21-2004)
- McMurray NOT the Future #2 Driver: According to an interview with Kenny Wallace on last Wednesday’s edition of “The SpeedZone” (every Wed. on 590 The Fan, KFNS, at 6 p.m. CST, live via streaming at KFNS.com), Jamie McMurray has become quite close to the Wallace family and has run some races for Rusty Wallace’s Busch Series team . However, Kenny assured myself [Brandon Mudd, interviewer] and Tony Hubert that McMurray WILL NOT be the future pilot of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge. The youngest Wallace said Rusty has too much respect for Felix Sabates (McMurray’s co-owner with Chip Ganase) to try to steal McMurray from the #42 Dodge. Another reason for this is, according to Kenny, McMurray is a dead lock for the #11 Fed-Ex Chevy being fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing next season. While this is big news, a conversation I [Mudd] had with someone in the know said this is impossible, since McMurray’s contract is iron-clad, and the real driver for that JGR ride next year is likely Jason Leffler…[see rumors below on this](KFNS.com)(9-21-2004)
- Some 'other' Race Stuff: Due to weekend rain, a couple of races were run yesterday at NHIS. Four years after his last win at the track, two-time defending NASCAR Busch North champion Andy Santerre of Cherryfield, Maine, won the Sylvania 125. Ted Christopher of Plainville, Conn., blew away the field to win the NASCAR Modified Sylvania 100.(Boston Herald)
Mike Garvey [on the Dover Cup entry list] won the ASA race at Kentucky Speedway.
former Cup driver, Stanley Smith won the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Southeast Series “Kentucky 150" at Kentucky Speedway.
Jason Jarrett, son of Dale, who ran at Talladega last Oct, won the ARCA race at Salem Speedway and Frank Kimmel locked up his 6th ARCA Championship.(9-21-2004)
- Ward leaving the #0 team? retire? UPDATE 2 David Starr? denied: Ward Burton says he "probably won't be back" with #0 car owner Gene Haas next season. "They've given me an offer, but I probably won't take it," Burton said. "I've got a couple options. But if they don't work out, then I might just give this up and go back to farming. You have to devote too much emotion energy into all this, and give up too much of your family life, and if it's not fun, there's no point in doing it. So I might just ride off into the sunset."(Winston Salem Journal), if so, Jason Leffler could end up in the #0 Cup car as he drive's Hass' #00 Busch car.(9-18-2004)
UPDATE: Ward Burton may be, like many at this point in the season, emotionally drained, but he says he's not really considering retirement. "I still want to drive and still want to win races," Burton said. However, that apparently will not be with Gene Haas, his team owner, who has made a new contract offer that Burton says he probably won't accept.(Winston Salem Journal)
AND Ward Burton, who learned his contract with the #0 NetZero/Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet will not be renewed, is a man of principle, so it's not surprising that he would contemplate retirement rather than suffer the humiliation of finding a ride with a second-rate Cup team. "I still want to drive, and I know I can still win races," Burton says. His sponsor, NetZero HiSpeed, thinks so, too, and will follow him if he signs with another team. But the problem is simple: The seats of the cars capable of winning are filled. Jason Leffler has been rumored to be moving into the #0, and his name also has been mentioned in connection with the new #11 Joe Gibbs Racing ride. If Leffler graduates from the Busch Series to Cup, it's possible that truck series driver David Starr could join Haas CNC Racing.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(9-20-2004)
UPDATE 2: being told that the rumor regarding David Starr as a possible candidate for that either the #0 Cup or #00 Busch ride is absolutely untrue. Starr wants to reiterate that he is very happy in the #75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado and intends to remain in that truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as a member of the Chevrolet Team Silverado effort and run for the championship in the NCTS in 2005 and beyond.(9-21-2004)
- Testing at Talladega, Elliott and Yeley: Bill Elliott and J.J. Yeley joined the ARCA RE/MAX Series teams of Bobby Gerhart, Boston Reid, Mike Harmon, Jim Walker, Ray Cook and Rich Woodland Monday in a high-paced day of testing at Talladega Superspeedway. Elliott and Yeley rescheduled their test due to a rain-out last week, and the ARCA teams wedged in an extra day of testing prior to their series’ open test scheduled for Tuesday, which more than 23 ARCA RE/MAX teams are expected to attend. Elliott and Yeley pulled double-duty Monday, testing two cars each for their multi-car teams owned by Ray Evernham and Joe Gibbs, respectively. Yeley said he will make his second NEXTEL Cup start in the EA SPORTS 500 on Oct. 3, behind the wheel of the #11 Old Spice Chevrolet Monte Carlo. He’s run several Busch Series races this year, but his first NEXTEL Cup start was at California. He will also run the Busch race at Dover this Saturday. During Monday’s test, Elliott switched off between the #9 and #19 Dodges to be driven by teammates Kahne and Mayfield, respectively. Although the semi-retired driver has run select races this year, the Aaron’s 499 here in April was not one of them. There is no word whether he will compete here in the EA SPORTS 500 on Oct. 3, however he will have a particular interest in the ARCA RE/MAX Series Food World 300 on Saturday, since he is involved with one of the teams through the Dodge driver development program. “I have been trying to help out Dodge’s driver development deal, with Ray Cook driving. They’re just trying to get it going. Ray Evernham has loaned me a car, and Ray Cook, I was going to run him in a race or two. Since it is a superspeedway car, I throught I’d bring him over here and see how he does today and tomorrow,” Elliott said, adding he hopes to enter the car in the Food World 300 on Oct. 2.(Talladega Superspeedway PR)(9-21-2004)
- France Launching Publishing Venture: NASCAR Chairman Brian France is launching a separate marketing agency providing custom publishing services for NASCAR and other sports and entertainment properties, Street and Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports in this week's issue. Game Change Marketing is expected to begin operations within the next month, sources told the magazine's Terry Lefton. The business, which will initially focus on custom publishing, has been circulating a "Racewatch" prototype modeled after the Playbill programs given away in theaters. Similar custom publishing deals are planned for the Professional Bull Riders Association, National Hot Rod Association and the Association of Volleyball Professionals. Lefton reports that NASCAR Director of Multimedia Marketing Josh Cohen would move to GCM and said NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne and Vice President of Corporate Marketing Brett Yormark may also have roles.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(9-21-2004)
- Jeff Gordon's patch: just cause I am tired of the email about it, yes, Jeff Gordon's uniform at New Hampshire had a Winston Cup patch instead of a Nextel Cup patch, Why?......I have NO idea...sorry....saw it myself during the pre-race. And, had someone say they lost all respect for me for posting this? No idea why, just explaining to folks, I had no idea why.(9-20-2004)
AND as expected...been told that Gordon has a few uniforms hanging in the transporter and uses the old one for testing and Gordon must had grabbed the old one.(9-21-2004)
September 20, 2004
- Robby NOT Happy, gestures to media UPDATE Apologizes: Following the race [at New Hampshire], a large media contingent gathered outside Gordon's hauler. After parking his #31 Cingular Chevrolet, Gordon got out of the car, pushed aside XM Satellite Radio reporter Claire B. Lang saying, "Get out of here." He then walked to a golf cart without saying a word, and before being driven off, directed an obscene gesture toward the crowd of media."(ThatsRacin.com)....yikes.(9-19-2004)
UPDATE Robby Apologizes: The following is a statement by Robby Gordon, driver of the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet, regarding yesterday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway: "First and foremost, I feel terrible for Jeremy Mayfield, Tony Stewart, their teams, sponsors and car owners Joe Gibbs and Ray Evernham. I allowed my frustration with the 16 car to affect two other teams, both of which have great shots to win a championship, and for that I am sorry. I also want to apologize to Cingular Wireless and everyone at Richard Childress Racing. We had a car capable of winning Sunday, and from my standpoint I was spun intentionally after I made a clean aggressive pass on the 16, and I showed poor judgment in trying to even the score. As for the post-race events, I chose not speak with the media given the fact that I had nothing to say other than I'm sorry. One media member made what I felt was a very inappropriate comment to me because I would not answer his question, and he was the target of my gesture, not the media contingent as a whole. That, too, was poor judgment and, in hindsight, I should have just walked away, so I also apologize to any media members and bystanders I offended. It was a bad day that just seemed to get worse and worse."(RCR PR)(9-20-2004)
- Wells Fargo Re-Ups with Petty and expands sponsorship: Wells Fargo Financial announced today it has renewed and expanded its sponsorship of Petty Enterprises in NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series. For 2005, the sponsorship will increase to include driver Kyle Petty and his #45 Georgia-Pacific Dodge and driver Jeff Green and his #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge. Wells Fargo Financial, the North American consumer finance subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Company, is continuing and growing the sponsorship as a result of its highly successful three-year partnership with Petty Enterprises.
Petty Enterprises is unique in its ability to bring added value to a Nextel Cup sponsorship. "We are very happy with our relationship with Kyle and the entire Petty Enterprises team and excited to now be affiliated with Jeff Green and the celebrated #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge. Wells Fargo Financial is proud to be involved with one of the most celebrated names in all of NASCAR and in the fastest growing spectator sport in America," said Tom Gibbons, Director of Corporate Sponsorships.
"We're very pleased to have Wells Fargo Financial continue its sponsorship of Petty Enterprises," said Kyle Petty. "We believe they
are the premier financial services company in the U.S. and an excellent partner with our other top-quality sponsors, like General Mills, Georgia-Pacific and Coca-Cola."
The sponsorship has provided significant benefit and impact to Wells Fargo Financial's business lines through client/dealer incentives and entertainment, customer promotions, driver appearances, show car appearances and employee incentives. NASCAR's popularity exceeds the NBA, NHL and MLB combined and averages more than 190,000 fans attending each event and more than 7 million viewers per race. Over 80 million Americans call themselves fans of the sport. More info on Wells Fargo at financial.wellsfargo.com.(Williams Company PR)(9-20-2004)
- #72 at NHIS: didn't see the car on TV and driver/owner Kirk Shelmerdine had Bush-Cheney '04 on his #72 Ford at New Hampshire.(Boston Herald)(9-20-2004)
- SPEED Channel signs wind tunnel's Despain to three-year contract: SPEED Channel locked up one of the premier motor sports television journalist in the country, signing popular Wind Tunnel host Dave Despain to a three-year contract this week. Wind Tunnel, a viewer participation program with guests from all over the world of racing, airs Monday through Thursday evenings at 10:00pm/et on SPEED. Said Despain: "I think Wind Tunnel serves a very important purpose, providing fans with the opportunity to voice their opinions on national TV, no matter what form of motor sport they love. It's a privilege to host the show and I look forward to doing that for years to come." With guests from Dan Gurney and Jeff Gordon to Magic Johnson and Paul Newman, Wind Tunnel has rapidly become the place for race fans to hear about everything going on in the motor sports arena. According to Rick Miner, SPEED Channel's Sr. VP Programming/Production and Executive Producer, Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain is a lock to return to the network in 2005. "A journalist of Dave's caliber is forged, like coal, into a diamond over many years," Miner said. "It is great to have him at the
forefront of the SPEED Channel team for another three years."(SPEED Channel)(9-20-2004)
- Problems with Little E and Mikey? #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #15-Michael Waltrip had a close call when their Chevrolets exited the pits side by side after the Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammates made their final stop under green with about 40 laps left. "He drove the car all the way up to the yellow line as if I wasn't even there," said Earnhardt, who took the points lead by finishing third yesterday. "I'd about wreck into the side of him for three or four laps. I was just trying to figure out where he was getting his team orders from because whoever was giving them to him needs a new [pay]check. Whoever they're working for, we need to see where they're getting their kickbacks from. I was [ticked] about it. I'm sure Michael didn't mean anything by it."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(9-20-2004)
- All Teams Get a Check at NHIS: Kudos to Bob Bahre, president of New Hampshire International Speedway, who presented "tow money," a consolation check of $20,000, to the cars that weren't able to try to qualify for Sunday's race because qualifying was rained out. "I remember when we were racing midgets, and my wife and I didn't have enough money to stop at McDonald's on the way home from the track," Bahre says. "Nobody leaves here without a check."(FoxSports/Sporting News)(9-20-2004)
- Nextel Exec's at the Track: Nextel CEO Tim Donahue and Chief Operating Officer Tom Kelly sat at the head of yesterday's drivers meeting at NHIS, and Donahue saluted Cup stars for helping the cellular phone giant in a "wonderful inaugural year" as title sponsor of NASCAR's top series. "The company is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the sport," Donahue said. "It's helped us lift our brand and sell telephones. You're a great group of people to work with. It's the smartest damn thing I've ever done since I've sat in the chair."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(9-20-2004)
- AOL done with NASCAR? UPDATE looks like NO, will return: Garage insiders indicate that America Online may want to scale back their involvement in the sport next season. Currently, they sponsor the #30 Chevy of Jeff Burton.(Motorsports.com)(9-11-2004)
UPDATE: Car owner Richard Childress is expected to sign a sponsorship renewal with AOL, according to sources.(Winston Salem Journal)(9-18-2004)
AND/OR? Richard Childress is negotiating with AOL, sponsor of his #30 car [Jeff Burton], but says he has a backup plan if that sponsorship falls through.(FoxSports/Sporting News)
OR? Motorsport.com is reporting that AOL is leaving the sport of NASCAR next season to become the title sponsor of another stock car racing series. While they will remain in the sport on a lesser basis than the head sponsor of the #30 Richard Childress Racing Chevy, RCR has been shopping for a new sponsor. Word is that they found one this week and are good to go for next season.(9-20-2004)
- Rookie Rules will NOT change: NASCAR has concluded a review of its rookie of the year programs and will not change the eligibility requirements, vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter said Sunday. There has been speculation in recent weeks NASCAR would find a way to get #99-Carl Edwards and #32-Bobby Hamilton Jr. eligible to run for Nextel Cup rookie honors next season, even though Hamilton has, and Edwards will likely, surpass the seven-race maximum to remain eligible for the program. Without them, there are currently no other candidates for rookie of the year for the 2005 season in Cup.(ThatsRacin.com)...unless Kyle Busch moves up to Cup in 2005; Kvapil in the #77?(9-20-2004)
- Mr. Excitement and Casey make up: #4-Jimmy Spencer and #41-Casey Mears, the principals in the multicar crash that knocked Jimmie Johnson out of last week's race at Richmond International Raceway, cordially discussed the incident after yesterday's driver's meeting, ending the conversation with a handshake.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(9-20-2004)
- Leffler in the #11 Fed-Ex car? UPDATE 2: hearing that Jason Leffler, driver of the #00 Chevy in the Busch Series could end up in the #11 Fed-Ex Joe Gibbs Racing Chevy, seems odd as he is a young guy, not a Cup veteran [1 full season and some one-off races]. Leffler drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Busch Series in 1999 and 2000.(9-17-2004)
HOWEVER other sources report that Jamie McMurray is the strongest 'rumor' floating around the garage for the #11 car...a one year deal, then to the #2 Penske Dodge.
BUT Jamie McMurray's name has been scratched from the list, because he is apparently unable to work his way out of a contract with Chip Ganassi. That leaves Dave Blaney, Robby Gordon and J. J. Yeley among the men to consider.(Winston Salem Journal)(9-18-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR Busch Series driver Jason Leffler has emerged as the leading candidate to drive Joe Gibbs Racing's third Nextel Cup entry beginning next season, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Messages left with Leffler on Saturday went unreturned, but multiple sources confirmed the search for Gibbs' new driver for the #11 Fed-Ex Chevrolets was all but over. Leffler was not at New Hampshire this weekend, as the Busch Series was off. J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, would not comment on specific drivers for the organization's new team. "We're meeting with FedEx officials (the sponsor) this week, actually," he said. "I think within two or three weeks we'll have a definite direction where we can come out and say, Hey this is what we're doing.' That's probably all I can say right now." Leffler, ironically, started his NASCAR career as a Busch driver with Gibbs before moving to Cup and Chip Ganassi Racing in 2001. Leffler, 30, struggled in Cup, but did win a pole and was fourth in the rookie standings in his first full season. He left Ganassi at the end of the year and moved to Craftsman Truck Series and Ultra Motorsports. Since the middle of last season, Leffler has driven in #0-Cup (2003) and #00-Busch (2004) with Haas CNC Racing. He is currently third in points with one win and one pole this season. In past interviews, Leffler has expressed his desire to return to the Cup series and said his original move to Cup happened "too fast."(ThatsRacin.com)(9-19-2004)
UPDATE 2: Jason Leffler, a sprint-car and Busch star who made a big splash at Daytona in July, will likely be Joe Gibbs' newest Cup driver next season, a teammate with Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, according to team sources, and the announcement could come in the next few days. Jimmy Makar, the team manager for the Gibbs operation, would not confirm Leffler as the pick but said "he is in the hunt, very seriously in the hunt. But I'm not at liberty at this moment to speculate on who it is going to be, but he is certainly there." Makar said he would be talking Monday with J. D. Gibbs, who runs his father's team, and expected to have an announcement about the new driver within the next few days. Heading Gibbs' new third team will be Dave Rogers, who is currently the chief engineer for Tony Stewart.(Winston Salem Journal)(9-20-2004)