MORE NEWS/RUMORS
NOV 15-21, 2004





    News and Rumors from November 21, 2004

  • Biffle wins the FORD 400; Busch wins the Nextel Cup Championship: #16-Greg Biffle made a bold move to pass #20-Tony Stewart and won the FORD 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his 2nd win of the season and 3rd of his career. #48-Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd but fell 8 points short of winning the 2004 Nextel Cup. #24-Jeff Gordon finished 3rd and 11 points out. Stewart ended up 4th, followed by #97-Kurt Busch, who won the 2004 Nextel Cup Championship. In quite a wild race that featured a record 14 cautions for 79 laps and lots of cut tires, Biffle domintated the first half of the race and worked his way back up to the top 10, then to the top five and on the final restart, powered his way to first to win the FORD 400 under the third ever Green-White-Checkers finish. Other Chasers, #6-Mark Martin finished 11th and #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an ill-handling car all day and was never a factor, finishing 23rd. Busch wins $5,200,000 for the Championship and a fan, Patrick Beall, won $250,000 from Nextel for choosing Kurt Busch to win. The race will re-air on Speed Channel, Wednesday, November 24th at 8:00pm/et and Thursday, November 25th at 12:00am/et.
    For my race rundown/narraticve, see my The FORD 400 Race Info/Rundown Page
    Race Results at:
    JAYSKI's FORD 400 Race Results/Awards page
    ThatsRacin.com
    MotorsportsOne
    NASCAR.com.(11-21-2004)

  • Here are the six closest championship-winning margins in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup history [modern era - 1972-present]:
    1. 2004 – Kurt Busch wins the titke by 8 points over Jimmie Johnson
    2. 1992 – Alan Kulwicki wins the title by 10 points over Bill Elliott
    3. 1979 – Richard Petty wins the title by 11 points over Darrell Waltrip
    4. 1989 – Rusty Wallace wins the title by 12 points over Dale Earnhardt
    5. 1997 – Jeff Gordon wins the title by 14 points over Dale Jarrett
    6. 1980 – Dale Earnhardt wins the title by 19 points over Cale Yarborough.(NASCAR PR)(11-21-2004)

  • Gaughan hinting....not back in the #77? Rookie Brendan Gaughan hinted yesterday he likely would not return to the #77 Kodak Dodge at Penske Racing South next season. Gaughan said he'd like to run a full Nextel Cup season again but would like to remain in a Dodge. He's been linked the #0 Chevrolet of Haas CNC Racing.(Richmond Times Dispatch)
    AND Brendan Gaughan still doesn't know if he is returning to his Penske-Jasper Racing team next season. Team officials have not yet picked up the option on Gaughan's contract. "I have some plans, and no matter what I do, I'm going to be back running some Truck races for my team," Gaughan said. "I could say yes to a lot of things, and I could say no to a lot of things. I think most other drivers are not in that position."(ThatsRacin.com)(11-21-2004)

  • Homestead News and Notes: Greg Biffle won the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, scoring his third career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 78th career start. His last victory came at Michigan August 22, 2004, 13 races ago. It was Biffle's second victory in 2004.
    ---- Biffle moved from 21st to 17th in the final point standings.
    ---- Biffle scored his first victory and first top-10 finish in three races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His previous finishes were 25th in 2002 and 35th in 2003.
    ---- All of Biffle's victories have occurred on superspeedways.
    ---- Biffle led four times for 117 laps including the final two of the 271 laps raced in 2004 Ford 400. He led the most laps for the second time in 2004.
    ---- This was the 10th victory for Ford. Chevrolet had 22 and Dodge had four. Chevrolet leads Ford (556-554) in all-time victories (since 1949).
    ---- Chevrolet won the 2004 Manufacturers' Championship for the 28th time in NASCAR history, clinching the championship at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
    ---- Jimmie Johnson (second) scored his 23rd top-10 finish of the season. It was third top-10 finish in four races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    ---- Jeff Gordon (third) scored his 25th top-10 finish in 2004, the most of all drivers. It was his fifth top-10 finish in six races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    ---- Tony Stewart (fourth) scored his 19th top-10 finish of the season. It was his fourth top-10 finish in six races Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    ---- Kurt Busch (fifth) scored his 21st top-10 finish of the season. It was his second top-10 finish in five races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
    ---- Brendan Gaughan (sixth) scored his fourth top-10 finish in his 36th career start.
    ---- By virtue of his fifth-place finish in the Ford 400, Kurt Busch won the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship. His final point total was 6,506 and he finished just eight points ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson in the closest points finish in NASCAR history. Jeff Gordon finished third, 16 points behind the leader, followed by Mark Martin in fourth, 107 points back. Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished fifth 138 point behind.
    ---- Busch led the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings for the final eight weeks of the 2004 season.
    ---- Busch scored 21 top-10 finishes in 36 races this season.
    ---- Kasey Kahne won the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Award. He was the highest finishing rookie 19 times in 2004, 12 more than Brendan Gaughan. Kahne scored 13 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 2004. He finished second in five races in 2004.
    ---- Just two of the top-10 positions in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings changed in the Ford 400. Mark Martin moved into fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. dropped to fifth in the final standings.
    ---- Three of the top-10 drivers tied or scored their career-best point finishes: Kurt Busch (first), Jimmie Johnson (second for the second straight season), Elliott Sadler (ninth).
    ---- Thirteen of the top-25 drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings changed positions in the final race of the season.
    ---- The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Leader Bonus worth $70,000 was not won at Homestead Miami Speedway and will be divided incrementally among the final top-10 drivers and added to their season winnings.
    Notebook Items
    ---- Only twice in the modern era has the point leader with one race to go been overtaken in the final race. It happened in 1979 when Richard Petty passed Darrell Waltrip and again in 1992 when Alan Kulwicki passed Davey Allison to win the championship.
    ---- Four of the 10 drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup posted top-10 finishes in the 2004 Ford 400.
    ---- 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 and four of the 10 scored at least one victory in the final 10 races led by Jimmie Johnson who scored four victories in the final six races.
    ---- Kurt Busch was the only driver to score a top-10 finish in nine of the 10 races in the Chase. No other driver scored more than seven top-10 finishes.
    ---- Approximately $1 million will be paid to Jamie McMurray who finished 11th in the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, an increase of more than $400,000 from over one year ago. That includes a $250,000 bonus, which will be paid to the 11th-place finisher. Additionally, McMurray will also join the top-10 drivers on the stage at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Awards Ceremony in New York in December. McMurray took the 11th-place position by 320 points over 12th-place Bobby Labonte. McMurray scored top-10 finishes in 12 of the final 14 races in 2004.
    ---- Four drivers have remained in the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings all season: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler and Matt Kenseth. Kenseth (19th) has ranked among the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 71 straight races.. Kenseth moved into sole possession of ninth on NASCAR's Top 10 list for consecutive races in the top-10 under the current point system (since 1975).
    2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion Kurt Busch #97 Sharpie/Irwin Ford
    ---- Kurt Busch became the 27th driver to win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship in the 56 seasons of NASCAR's premier division. He won the championship by eight points over Jimmie Johnson, who finished in the second position for the second straight year.
    ---- Busch is the sixth different champion in the last six seasons.
    ---- Busch is 26 years old and from Las Vegas, NV. He becomes the fourth-youngest champion at 26 years, seven months.
    ---- Busch's title comes in his fourth full year in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and in his 150th race.
    ---- This is the second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship for car owner Jack Roush , both in the last two seasons. Roush is in his 17th season as a full-time owner.
    ---- This is crew chief Jimmy Fennig's first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship. He is in his 18th season as a crew chief, the last three with Busch. He was the crew chief for Mark Martin the prior five seasons.
    ---- Busch is the eighth Ford driver to win the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship.
    ---- Busch is the fifth champion in the last 10 seasons that did not have the most wins. He is the 18th in the Modern Era and the 26th in all 56 seasons.
    ---- Busch was in the top 10 for the last 35 races of 2004. He was 16th after Race No. 1 (Daytona).
    ---- Busch first led the standings following Race No. 7 (Texas). It was the second time he had ever led the championship standings, he also led following Rockingham in February 2003. He led for only one race, and though he tied Dale Earnhardt Jr., in points after his win in the first Chase race at New Hampshire, he did not lead the point standings until after the 25-point deduction from Earnhardt Jr. at Talladega. He held the lead for the final eight races of the season.
    ---- His biggest point lead was 96 points following second Martinsville. His smallest lead was 12 points following second Talladega.
    ---- Busch was in seventh place at the start of the Chase, 293 points behind before the adjustment and 30 behind after the adjustment.
    ---- Busch began his racing career at age 14 in Dwarf Cars. He won titles in Dwarf Cars, Legends Cars, and Hobby Stock Cars.
    ---- Busch was the 1998 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series Rookie-of-the-Year. He won the series championship in 1999.
    ---- In 2000 Busch was runner-up for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship in his rookie season in the series.
    2004 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year:
    ---- Kasey Kahne won the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year Award, becoming the 48th winner of the award since the program began in 1957.
    ---- Kahne, a 24-year-old from Enumclaw, WA, became the youngest Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year since Jeff Gordon (22 years old - 1993).
    ---- Kahne is a pure rookie, starting his career-first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race in the Daytona 500.
    ---- Kahne posted four Bud Poles and started on the front row eight times. He had 14 top-10 starts, including five top-fives in the first seven races.
    ---- Kahne had 13 top-five finishes, 14 top-10 finishes in the 2004 season.
    ---- Kahne tied Ryan Newman (2002) for the rookie record for most second place finishes (five).
    ---- Kahne finished 12th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings.
    ---- Kahne's best point position was fourth following Race No. 4 (Atlanta); his worst points position was 41st following the season opener at Daytona.
    ---- Kahne was in the top-10 for seven races in the 2004 season.
    Selected Streaks that were Extended this Season
    ---- At least one Rookie-of-the-Year contender won a Bud Pole in each of the last nine years. (1996-2004).
    ---- There has been a first-time Bud Pole winner in each of the last 18 years (1987-2004).
    ---- Jeff Gordon has finished in the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings in the last 11 years (1994-2004). Gordon finished the 2004 season ranked third in the final point standings.
    ---- Tony Stewart has finished in the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings in the last six years (1999-2004). Stewart finished sixth in the final 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
    Selected Streaks that Ended this Season
    ---- There had been at least one first-time winner in each of the past 10 seasons (1994-2003). There was no first-time race winner in 2004.
    ---- A Rookie-of-the-Year candidate had won at least one race in each of the last five years (1999-2003). No rookie contender was able to score a victory in 2004.
    ---- Eight drivers who won in 2003, failed to win in 2004: Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip, Ricky Craven, Bill Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Dale Jarrett, Robby Gordon and Terry Labonte.
    ---- Dale Jarrett had the longest continuous winning streak, having won a race in each of the last 11 years (1993-2003). Jarrett failed to find victory lane in 2004.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(11-21-2004)

  • StockCarFans.com Nextel Cup Newsletter - Rumblings - Homestead: Greg Biffle had the dominant car most of the weekend, and proved it today when he led the final two laps to capture the Ford 406.5 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After a green/white/checker finish (which cost Dale Jarrett greatly) Biffle got past Tony Stewart and went on to his second win of the season (he vanquished Michigan in May) and third of his career (he's now in an 8-way tie for 83rd on the all-time win list). Win #74 for Roush Racing was worth $314,850 from the over $5.1M in posted awards. This win also knocked Jeremy Mayfield from the final spot on the Winners Circle contingency program for next season and put Biffle in that elite group of 10.
    It was a pretty good day for Jack Roush (massive understatement). He gets back-to-back Championships and takes the race as well. Kurt Busch edged out Jimmie Johnson by 8 points in the "Chase", and comes on the heels of Matt Kenseth's reign last year.
    Some pretty weird goings-on today: Questionable strategy, botched pit-stops, wheel failures, tire problems....it looked for awhile like this was the Championship no one wanted to claim.
    Tony Stewart (4th) had his best finish since he won at Watkins Glen in August.
    Brendan Gaughan (6th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Talladega in October.
    Scott Wimmer (13th) had his best finish since he was 11th at Pocono in July.
    John Andretti (20th) had his best finish since he was 16th at Chicagoland in July (only 4 races).
    Kenny Wallace (22nd) had his best finish since he was 22nd here last November (only 5 races).
    Martin Truex Jr. had his career-best finish today [32nd]. He was 37th in his only other start at Atlanta last month.
    STREAKIN....Jimmie Johnson has 6 Top-10's in a row.
    Kurt Busch has 9 Top-10's in the last 10 races.
    Jamie McMurray has 6 Top-10's in the last 7 races.
    Jeff Gordon has 5 Top-10's in the last 6 races.
    This Week's Elevator....UP: Operator of the Week is Jimmie Johnson (+37), followed by Sterling Marlin (+22). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Kasey Kahne (-34), followed by Mike Bliss (-28), Shane Hmiel (-28), and Ryan Newman (-27). Matt Kenseth won more Ops this year (5), while Johnson and Jeff Gordon were tied with 4 BD's apiece this season.
    Our "Chase" Champion for 2004 is Kurt Busch, but that sigh of relief you here is from Daytona Beach since Dale Earnhardt Jr was more than 25 points behind. Jimmie Johnson edges out his teammate for the runner-up spot.
    In "Classic" Points, Kurt Busch is _only_ 247 points behind, but that seems to matter not. Jeff Gordon finishes 47 point ahead of Johnson with Little E third. Greg Biffle (21st to 17th) made the best move forward today, while Jeremy Mayfield (13th to 15th) fell two spots [in the classic].(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(11-21-2004)

  • Childress Announcement? in NYC? UPDATE 2 GM Goodwrench reassessing?: hearing that an announcement scheduled at RCR's on Wednesday to announce Dave Blaney/Jack Daniels/Phillipe Lopez deal.(11-17-2004)
    AND? have heard Nothing about an announcement.(11-18-2004)
    UPDATE: had heard that the announcement would be on Saturday morning at Homestead, but now hearing the announcement will now be made in New York City the week of the Nextel Cup banquet [Dec 3rd on TNT].(11-19-2004)
    UPDATE 2: Richard Childress' sponsorship announcements will apparently be postponed until NASCAR's postseason New York City awards banquet. Childress is expected to announce Jack Daniel's as a sponsor, with Dave Blaney as the driver. And Childress is expected to announce renewal of the long-running Goodwrench sponsorship. However, there has been speculation recently that General Motors has been reassessing its Goodwrench sponsorship because Childress' operation hasn't delivered socko returns over the past few years. But GM's Doug Duchardt said his company understands the ups and downs of racing: "This business is cyclical. One thing I see is that there has been some stability since Jeff Burton has come. We've seen them start to run better. How many times have we seen Robby Gordon in the top-five and Kevin Harvick, only to have some issues? "I expect Richard to get back. Kevin was fifth last year in points. So those guys have the potential to do it; they just have to get back on their game."(Winston Salem Journal)(11-21-2004)

  • How far has NASCAR come? This weekend's All Things Considered on National Public Radio ran a four-minute segment on the NASCAR Nextel Cup season finale, the change in the points sytem this season and the close points race. NPR also spent about a minute discussing the change in team sponsorship policy for next season regarding distilled spirits' sponsorship. Outside of the drivers at the top of the points, the only other driver mentioned? Morgan Shepherd of Conover, N.C., the 62-year-old driver of the #89 Racing With Jesus Dodge. Incidentally, that was the only sponsor mentioned too. Obviously, the discussion of Shepherd didn't come up with in the championship chase segment.(Williams Company PR)(11-21-2004)

  • Streak Could End: A Raybestos Rookie has won at least one race in each of the last FIVE seasons dating back to Tony Stewart's win at Richmond International Raceway in September, 1999. Other freshman drivers to win: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Richmond, 2000), Matt Kenseth (Charlotte, 2000), Kevin Harvick (Atlanta, 2001), Ryan Newman (New Hampshire 2002), Jimmie Johnson (California and both 2002 Dover races) and Greg Biffle (Pepsi 400 at Daytona, 2003). All these drivers are still with the team they came into Cup with. The record for most wins by a Raybestos Rookie is three, shared by Johnson (2002) and Stewart (1999).(Camp and Assoc PR). NASCAR's Rookie Points Standings are now WAY off mine, looks like they are counting more then 17 races, have not heard that it changed as I have not seen the ROTY Rules for 2004 and gave up asking for them.(11-18-2004)
    UPDATE: the streak ended.(11-21-2004)

  • some scenarios - for each driver: Heading into Sunday’s season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, here are some scenarios under which drivers can clinch the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title.
    The top five drivers in the current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings are separated by 82 points – the closest margin in NASCAR history with one race remaining. It’s also the second-highest number of drivers eligible to win the title with one race remaining (six drivers were separated by 113 points at this stage in 1992). The closest finish in NASCAR history came in 1992, when the late Alan Kulwicki won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title by 10 points over Bill Elliott.
    The eventual champion likely must win the Ford 400 (worth 180 points), plus earn all 10 bonus points available (five for leading a lap, five for leading the most laps) to assure himself of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. Many championship-winning scenarios are possible depending on how the five contenders finish Sunday at Homestead, but the surest path to the 2004 title is via Victory Lane. The Ford 400 is the 10th race of the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup,” the series’ new method for crowning a champion, and race No. 36 of the 36-event NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season. Below are the drivers eligible to win the 2004 championship:
    1. Kurt Busch
    2. Jimmie Johnson (trails by 18)
    3. Jeff Gordon (trails by 21)
    4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (trails by 72)
    5. Mark Martin (trails by 82)
    Kurt Busch (#97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford - starts 1st) will win the championship if he wins the Ford 400. He can also win the championship if he finishes second and earns five bonus points for leading at least one lap.
    Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet - starts 39th) can win the championship if he wins the Ford 400 and leads the most laps (for the maximum 190 points), and Busch finishes second without leading a lap, or finishes third but doesn’t lead the most laps, or finishes fourth or lower.
    Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevrolet - starts 5th) can win the championship if he wins the Ford 400 and accrues the maximum 10 bonus points. Busch also must finish third or lower and not lead a lap, or finish fourth or lower and lead a lap, or finish fifth or lower and lead the most laps.
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#8 Budweiser Chevrolet - starts 16th) can win the championship if he wins the Ford 400 and accrues the maximum 10 bonus points. He also needs Busch to finish 15th or lower and not lead a lap, Johnson to finish 10th or lower and not lead a lap and Gordon to finish ninth or lower and not lead a lap.
    Mark Martin (#6 Viagra Ford - starts 11th) can win the championship if he wins the Ford 400 and accrues the maximum 10 bonus points. He also needs Busch to finish 19th or lower and not lead a lap, Johnson to finish 13th or lower and not lead a lap and Gordon to finish 12th or lower and not lead a lap. Earnhardt Jr.’s finish wouldn’t matter as long as he doesn’t lead a lap. If Martin wins the race and Earnhardt Jr. finishes second and leads the most laps, the two would be tied and Earnhardt Jr. would win the tiebreaker (number of 2004 wins).(NASCAR PR)(11-21-2004)

  • Popular in Canada: A study of the popularity of NASCAR in Canada may be seen in today's editions of the Toronto Sun. It's Grey Cup week, the Argonauts are in the big game ... and the paper is devoting two full pages to NASCAR's Homestead finale. It's little wonder that NASCAR executives are studying the Canadian market so intently. There has been speculation that Montreal's Formula One road course could be the site of a NASCAR Nextel Cup race eventually.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-21-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 20, 2004

  • Rick Hendrick at the track: mulit-team owner [#5,#24,#25,#48], Rick Hendrick, is at the track and made a statement today in the media center, thanking the racing community and fans for their support in the aftermath of the tragic plane crash. No questions were taken, to see Hendrick's comments in full, see my Hendrick Tragedy Page.(11-20-2004)
  • NYC Blitz: NASCAR sponsor Nextel plans to have numerous signs throughout New York as part of the sanctioning body's Champions Week celebration Nov. 28-Dec. 3, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. The company's black and yellow colors will be on 10 airport shuttles, 25 taxi tops, 25 phone kiosks around the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, 30 street vendor carts and 250,000 coffee cups around the city. Eight team show cars are scheduled for appearances at numerous locations, including Madison Square Garden, the Plaza Hotel and Times Square, starting Nov. 29.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-20-2004)

  • Randy Dorton/Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown: The event began with a moment of silence, but the roar of 600-horsepower engines soon filled the room as Hendrick Motorsports and Hendrick Automotive Group employees gathered this week for the third annual Randy Dorton/Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown. Sponsored by Dana Corp., the two-day contest teamed Hendrick Motorsports engine builders with Hendrick Automotive Group certified master technicians for head-to-head competition. Twelve pairs were clocked until their respective powerplant established a one-minute run after complete assembly, with the shortest elapsed time taking home first-place honors. Monday's qualifying round set the grid for Tuesday's finals, with the team of Jon Young and Mike Maiwald posting a build of 20 minutes, 52 seconds to tie the event record and earn the victory. Young is a Hendrick certified master tech from Gwinnett Place Honda in Atlanta, while Maiwald, of Hendrick Motorsports, is NASCAR's defending Engine Builder of the Year. For his efforts, Young was presented with an all-expenses-paid trip to the February 2005 events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Runner-up Vince Bonfiglio, who teamed with Larry Zentmeyer, was also presented with a Daytona vacation package. Bonfiglio represented Hendrick BMW of Charlotte." This is a wonderful event that recognizes the > '> best of the best> '> in our industry," said Jim Perkins, Hendrick Automotive Group CEO. "It gives us the opportunity to bring the two companies together and acknowledge the contributions of our top-level staff." The brainchild of Rick Hendrick and the late Randy Dorton, the Showdown draws from more than 800 Automotive Group technicians, taking the 12 that are deemed most qualified by a one-of-a-kind Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) exam created specifically for Hendrick employees. Those 12 are then paired with Hendrick Motorsports engine builders. Hendrick is owner of NASCAR operation Hendrick Motorsports, and chairman of the Hendrick Automotive Group, an organization comprised of 64 car dealerships across the United States, from the Carolinas to California. Dorton, recognized as one of the most gifted engine builders in NASCAR history, won nine championships during his two-decade tenure as head of Hendrick Motorsports' engine department before tragically losing his life Oct. 24. The Showdown was officially renamed in his honor shortly afterward. A silent moment of remembrance opened the competition at the Hendrick Motorsports Museum in Charlotte, and many of the participants wore red -- Dorton' s favorite color -- throughout the two-day experience.(HMS PR)(11-20-2004)

  • Robby to Ford? Robby Gordon is ramping up his own NASCAR Cup tour [#7] team for 2005. While Gordon has strong NASCAR ties with Chevrolet, Ford officials have reportedly made him a lavish sponsorship offer to field a Ford next season on the NASCAR tour, and it is unclear if GM executives are willing spend what it would take to keep Gordon in the fold. Gordon, though, said he would prefer to stay with Chevrolet.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2004)

  • Berrier to Ganassi? there is speculation of a shakeup in the #29 Kevin Harvick operation, with crew chief Todd Berrier perhaps moving to the Chip Ganassi camp.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2004)

  • More Slugger Rumors: over at Joe Gibbs' camp, general manager Jimmy Makar said he's still not happy with the shape of the #18 Bobby Labonte team, despite a mid-summer shakeup [Fatback out, Thomas in]. Richard "Slugger" Labbe, crew chief for #15-Michael Waltrip's two Daytona 500 wins, has been under consideration for a job at Gibbs. However, Labbe is also under consideration for a job with Childress.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2004)

  • Zippy Sick..but gutting it out: Greg Zipadelli, #20-Tony Stewart's crew chief, is painfully ill with an excruciating spleen ailment, but Zipadelli is here this weekend working on Stewart's car. Zipadelli is ignoring doctors who want him in bed for four to six weeks of rest.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 19, 2004

  • Shepherd on ESPN.com: there is a video on ESPN.com's RPM site with Morgan Shepherd discussing his season and team, there is now a direct link to the story at ESPN.com: It's A Living.(11-18/19-2004)

  • Noticed...a sign? the NetZeroracing.com site now forwards you to the regular NetZero sight, leaving the sport? NetZero currently is the sponsor of the #0 Haas-CNC Racing team, driver is Mike Bliss [was Ward Burton](11-19-2004)

  • Soooo: if next years rumored qualifying rules go into place, with the top 35 in owners points are assured a spot in the field, #45-Petty would be in the race and if they took the next 8 fastest, #00-Wallace would be out of the race.(11-19-2004)

  • Busch last out, grabs the pole for the Ford 400: Points leader, #97-Kurt Busch, will start the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on the Budweiser pole after running a lap of 179.319mph, knocking his Roush Racing teammate, #16-Greg Biffle, off the pole. It is Busch's first pole of the year, first in two years, last pole was at Homestead in 2002, and his third of his career. It is only the third pole of the season for Ford. Biffle will start 2nd, followed by #12-Ryan Newman, #9-Kasey Kahne and #24-Jeff Gordon. 2nd in points, #48-Jimmie Johnson picked a bad time to have to use a provisional and will start 39th. With the large amount of cars making attempts, we had one full-time driver miss the race, #45-Kyle Petty the other 12 missing the show were part-timers. Some part-timers making the race unclude #06-Travis Kavapil, #23-Shane Hmiel and #36-Boris Said.
  • Other Homestead Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup Links at:
    Jayski's FORD 400 Starting Lineup/Qualifying Page
    ThatsRacin.com
    Motorsports One
    NASCAR.com.(11-19-2004)

  • Robby Racing in Baja AND: haven't found much, but Robby made it to Homestead and qualified the #31 Cingular Chevy. From some reports, Robby's truck broke out on the course.. For updates on the race, see robbygordon.com.(11-19-2004)
    AND: After three trips to Baja for pre-runs and shakedowns of the truck, the race got off to a great start for Robby Thursday morning. He was the 7th Trophy Truck to start the race, and by the 200 mile mark had a fivr minute lead. Robby drove as far as Loreto, Mexico (about 2/3 of the way down) when he had to leave to fly to Florida. At the time of the driver swap, he had a 30 minute lead. When he got to Brownsville, TX to clear customs at 5:00am/et, he found out that the truck had broken a ring & pinion and was out of the race. At the time of the breakage, they still had over a half hour lead. Robby leaves immediately after the Homestead race for Morocco to practice for the Paris-Dakkar rally in a Red Bull sponsored VW Taureg. The race starts in Paris on January 1st.(11-20-2004)

  • Johnson and team disappear after poor qualifying: The car cover was wrapped tightly around the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, its driver and crew long gone for the day. All around the garage, teams worked feverishly on their cars, but Jimmie Johnson was nowhere to be found. The absence of the Hendrick Motorsports team after qualifying Friday raised eyebrows everywhere at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Did they go home in disgust after qualifying 39th for Sunday's season finale -- Johnson's worst starting position of the year? Or were they playing mind games with the competition? No one was really sure. All that was certain was that it was unusual for Johnson to qualify so poorly. His effort was the worst of his career, surpassing two 37th-place starting spots last season. But even stranger was that noted perfectionist Chad Knaus, the crew chief, wasn't tearing the car apart trying to figure out what went wrong. "I heard him on the radio -- it didn't sound like he was disappointed in the lap," Jeff Gordon, Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, said. "It sounded like the speed wasn't there." Johnson heads into Sunday's season finale trailing series leader Kurt Busch by 18 points in the race for the Nextel Cup. Gordon is third in the standings, three points behind Johnson. Robbie Loomis, Gordon's crew chief and Knaus' partner in strategy, said it was way too early to count Johnson out. "They probably are as strong as anybody in this garage when they have their backs stacked up against the wall," Loomis said.(AP/CBS Sportsline)(11-19-2004)

  • Stewart Buys A Race Track after years of rumors........Tony Stewart has purchased Eldora Speedway from legendary owner Earl Baltes. Known as "Auto Racing's Showcase since 1954" thanks in large part to Baltes' vision and hands-on management, Eldora is a half-mile clay oval with an estimated seating capacity of nearly 20,000 that features some of the most prominent racing divisions in the country. "Eldora was a premiere racing facility long before I started racing there in 1991, and it's our goal to build on the tradition Earl and his wife Berneice started back in 1954," said Stewart, whose new role as a track owner augments his team ownership in the World of Outlaws and USAC racing series. "Eldora has been extremely successful for both its competitors and its fans. We have no intention of changing the look and feel of the race track. We want to maintain the Eldora experience fans have grown to love and appreciate over the years."
    Signature events pioneered by Baltes will also continue. The World 100, The Dirt Late Model Dream, the King's Royal, the Mopar Thunder, the Eldora Clash, the USAC Buckeye Nationals and the UMP National Championship will all return in 2005, as will its regular order of weekly racing action. And while not yet official, the 2005 racing schedule will be similar in scope to the 2004 calendar. Ticket information will remain available on www.eldoraspeedway.com or by calling (937) 338-3815.
    With Baltes' retirement, Stewart has named Larry Kemp as promoter and general manager and Larry Boos as director of facility and race day operations. Kemp comes to Eldora after having served as an owner, promoter and general manager of several local race tracks dating back to 1980. The Vinton, Iowa, native has held management positions at many of his home state tracks including 34 Raceway in Burlington, Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids and Benton County Speedway in Vinton. He most recently served as the promoter and general manager of Montgomery (Ala.) Motor Speedway. Throughout his motorsports career he has received such accolades as the "Regional Promoter of the Year" in 1984, 1986, 1997 and 1998 as well as the 1998 "Auto Racing Promoter of the Year" by the RPM (Racing Promotion Monthly) Promoter's Workshop. Outside of track management, Kemp has also promoted and operated the IMCA Florida Series from 1979 to 1986, developed the NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour for dirt late models in 1983, originated the IMCA Late Model Summer Series in 1985 and operated the McLeod Gold Star Series for asphalt late models from 1997 to 1999. "With the experienced staff we've put in place we're extremely confident we can follow in Earl's successful footsteps," said Stewart. "The history of Eldora is alive and well and no one wants to see this race track flourish more than me. Everyone can rest assured that Eldora is in good hands."(True Speed Communication PR)(11-19-2004)

  • Qualifying News and Notes:
    Kurt Busch won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Bud Pole for the Ford 400, lapping Homestead-Miami Speedway in 30.114 seconds at 179.319 mph. Jamie McMurray holds the track-qualifying record of 29.816 seconds, 181.111 mph, set in 2003, the first year on the high-banked configuration.
    This is Busch's third career Bud Pole in 150 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. His most recent Bud Pole came here at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2002, 72 races ago.
    It is Busch's 14th top-10 start in 2004. It is also his second Bud Pole and his fourth top-10 start in five races at Miami.
    Busch became the 12th different Bud Pole winner in 2004.
    Greg Biffle had the second-fastest time with a qualifying lap of 30.116 seconds at 179.307mph and will join Busch on the all-Roush Racing front row. It is his 17th top-10 start 2004 and his second in his three races at Miami.
    This is the third Bud Pole for Ford in 2004. Dodge has 17 Bud Poles and Chevrolet has 12. Qualifying was canceled at Watkins Glen, second Michigan, second New Hampshire and Darlington due to weather.
    Ryan Newman (third) posted his 26th top-10 start in 2004, more than any other driver. Newman, who had won the previous four Bud Poles, fell just short of tying the modern-era record for consecutive Bud Poles, though his would not have been in consecutive races. Qualifying was canceled at Darlington last week. Bobby Allison (1972) and Cale Yarborough (1980) have the record of five consecutive Bud Poles while Bill Elliott (1985) also had five straight with one session rained-out during the streak.
    Kasey Kahne (fourth) posted his 15th top-10 start in 2004 in his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Miami. Kahne posted his career-first NASCAR Busch Series victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2003.
    Jeff Gordon (fifth) posted his 22nd top-10 start in 2004 and his third in six races at Miami.
    Four of the 10 drivers involved in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup qualified in the top-10 for the season finale: Busch, Newman, Gordon and Tony Stewart (eighth).(NASCAR Statistical Services)(11-19-2004)

  • StockCarFans.com (Nextel Cup) Newsletter - Ramblings - Homestead:
    They saved the best for the end today as Kurt Busch went out last and grabbed the Bud Pole for Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch's time of 30.114 seconds (179.319) was 2/1000th's of a second quicker than teammate Greg Biffle and gives him his first pole since he had the top-spot here in November of 2000! This is career pole #3 for Kurt.
    Busch becomes the 12th different driver to capture a Bud Pole this year, and qualifies for next February's Budweiser Shootout (hey, it's less than 3 months away!).
    We've got the Big 5 sprinkled thoughout the field. Busch at the front, Jeff Gordon in 5th, Mark Martin in 11th, Dale Earnhardt Jr in 16th, and Jimmie Johnson will step off from 39th!
    Greg Biffle (2nd) has his best starting spot since he had the pole at Daytona for the 500.
    Ricky Rudd (7th) has his best starting spot since he had the outside pole at Talladega in October.
    Shane Hmiel (13th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 29th at Fontana in September.
    Scott Wimmer (21st) has his best starting spot since he lined up 21st at Richmond in September.
    Mike Wallace (28th) has his best starting spot since he started 23rd at Phoenix in November of 2003 (only 10 races).
    Greg Sacks (34th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 28th at Texas in April of 1998 (only 3 races).
    STREAKIN....Ryan Newman has 7 Top-10 starts in a row.
    Jeff Gordon has 4 Top-10 starts in a row.
    A big-time car count of 56 this weekend....55 took a time (Geoffrey Bodine did not make an attempt). The Trouble Train included: Kyle Petty (he was a DNQ here last year as well), Johnny Sauter, Mike Garvey, Tony Raines, Kevin Lepage, Todd Bodine, Larry Foyt, J. J. Yeley, Randy LaJoie, Morgan Shepherd, Kirk Shelmerdine, Carl Long, and Geoffrey Bodine. Provisionals were taken by: Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, Casey Mears, Terry Labonte, and Ken Schrader. For Johnson & Mears, they made it till the last race before using a freebie (and in Mears' case, he crashed coming to the green).(read more at Stock Car Fans)(11-19-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 18, 2004

  • A five way tie? #6-Mark Martin wins the race but doesn't lead the most laps. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes second and gets bonus points for leading a lap. #24-Jeff Gordon finishes 13th. #48-Jimmie Johnson finishes 14th, and #97-Kurt Busch finishes 20th. The result is that all five end the season with 6,449 points. Johnson get the championship on the tiebreaker with a season-high eight victories.(Alabama Live)(11-18-2004)

  • #14 Racing to bridge the hunger gap: As this year's Nextel Cup Series concludes with the November 21 race at Homestead Raceway in Miami, ppc Racing and team driver John Andretti will be aligning themselves with a national nonprofit hunger-relief organization. ppc Racing, a well established result-oriented NASCAR Truck, Busch and Nextel Cup operation, has generously offered the Society of St. Andrew a desirable location on Car #14 for their "Endhunger.org" logo. The Society of St. Andrew, a non-denominational hunger-relief organization, has been bridging the hunger gap in this country for 25 years. They have engaged nearly 260,000 volunteers to save 465 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food that would have gone to waste and used it instead to feed hungry Americans. All that food, which was left behind after harvests and would have been plowed under, was donated and provided 1.4 Billion servings to the hungry. Almost anywhere you find NASCAR fans the Society of St. Andrew has helped feed the hungry. With national headquarters in Virginia and gleaning operations in 21 states coast to coast, the society delivers food to the 48 contiguous states. "I feel honored to help in any effort to feed the hungry or those in need," said Greg Pollex. "We all must remember our fellow man this holiday season and every day of the year. During our busy schedules, we so often forget those in need. It is our duty as Christians to help others. We encourage NASCAR fans to donate to this worthy cause." For more information about the Society of St. Andrew and it's hunger-relief programs call toll free 800-333-4597 and online www.endhunger.org.(11-18-2004)

  • USG to the #17: nothing official, but looks like USG will leave the #01 MB2 Motorsports team and go to #17-Matt Kenseth, running the USG scheme at the races at Californinia in February, The Brickyard 400 and Atlanta in the fall. See an image of the car on my 2005 #17 Paint Schemes page.(11-18-2004)

  • 5 Millions Bucks - Weekly Update: A NASCAR fan who experiences a "sixth sense" towards the end of the season may find his/herself $5 million richer. That's because with the Chase for the Championship coming to a close, the inaugural NEXTEL Cup Championship isn't the only prize on the line. Should the six Gillette Young Guns - Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick - finish the Ford 400 at Miami-Homestead Speedway race in the top six spots, and a consumer correctly picks their order of finish at www.gilletteyoungguns.com, they will be entered into a random drawing to collect a grand prize of $5 million dollars. And if there is a consumer winner, Gillette will also donate $5 million to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC) as well.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(11-17-2004)
    Gillette Young Guns - Weekly Update: If the Gillette Young Guns sweep the top six positions at the Ford 400 on November 21, 2004 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a fan correctly predicts the order in which they finish by registering at www.gilletteyoungguns.com,they will be entered into a random drawing for $5 million. Plus, if a fan wins $5 million, Gillette will make a matching $5 million charitable contribution to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC). By picking Jimmie Johnson as the top Gillette Young Gun finisher in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Nov. 14th, Cheryl P. of Aurora, IL was the winner of the weekly Gillette Young Guns $5,000 Challenge. Cheryl picked Johnson 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 Johnson. This is the 12th time this season a donation has been made to the NPCC on behalf of Johnson.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(11-18-2004)

  • Crew Chief Changes at Hendrick? hearing Hendrick Motorsports will make some changes with the #5 Kelloggs team [2005 driver Kyle Busch] and #25-Brian Vickers, supposedly starting with the crew chiefs.(11-18-2004)

  • NASCAR Family Feud - This Week UPDATE Game 1: NASCAR and Family Feud have teamed up to create a week of special NASCAR-themed game play. NASCAR drivers - representing NASCAR’s top three competition series – will lead their NASCAR families – made up of crew chiefs, pit crew members, family members, and more – in the ‘Survey Says!’ game show format to benefit their favorite charities. Family Feud ‘NASCAR Week’ is scheduled to air the week of November 15-19 [was Nov 8-12].
    Family Feud ‘NASCAR Week’ participating drivers and the charities they will be playing for are:
    Ward Burton [former driver of #0 NetZero car] for The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation;
    #29-Kevin Harvick for Victory Junction Gang Camp;
    Truck Series Driver, #22-Bill Lester for Urban Youth Racing School;
    #40-Sterling Marlin for Boys and Girls Club of Nashville;
    #19-Jeremy Mayfield for Victory Junction Gang Camp;
    #41-Casey Mears for Target House;
    #38-Elliott Sadler for Autism Society of America;
    Busch Series Driver of the #23 Stacker 2 Chevy Kenny Wallace for Autism Society of America.
    The matchups:
    Jeremy Mayfield 497 vs Kevin Harvick 276, Mayfield's team won the $20,000
    Kenny Wallace 365 vs Ward Burton 283, Wallace's team lost the final, gets $2,500
    Casey Mears 413 vs Scott Wimmer 24, Mears team won the $20,000
    Sterling Marlin vs Elliott Sadler
    Bill Lester vs David Green
    more info at the Family Feud Site.
    (Charlotte/Mooresville Channel 46-UPN 2:00pm/et)(11-3/18-2004)

  • BAM Racing gearing up - three car team in 2005: BAM Racing has two entries in Sunday's Ford 400. Veteran Ken Schrader, who has made the field for every race this season, once again will drive the #49, and Larry Foyt will try to qualify a second Dodge, the #70. Joining Schrader for testing recently at Homestead were Foyt, son of the legendary A.J. Foyt, and Klaus Graf, a road-racing German with little experience on ovals. Graf spun out and crashed, "so we made the determination not to even try to qualify with him," Tony Morgenthau said. The mishap didn't change the Morgenthaus' plans for 2005 — they hope to campaign Schrader and Foyt full time and Graf for a partial season. "The reason for (three cars) is not an egomania thing," Tony Morgenthau said. "The real reason is the testing. NASCAR is very strict on the number of tests you can run on their tracks. It's seven per car. So if you have two cars, you can test at 14 tracks." Sponsorship is in place for Schrader, with Schwan's Home Service, the home-delivery service of the Schwan Food Company, signed on for two more years. As for the Foyt and Graf cars, Tony Morgenthau said the team is negotiating with "about four multibillion-dollar companies that have never been in NASCAR," and a possible international sponsor for Graf. "There's a lot of interest in Europe about his driving ability that he can go from the Porsche Supercup cars to a NASCAR car," Tony Morgenthau said.(Palm Beach Post)(11-18-2004)

  • McMurray’s Crew Takes Darlington Win - 1 point separates #20 and #8: Just like the Chase for the Nextel Cup, the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade is also going down to the final race of the season. Entering this weekend’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a mere one point in the McDonald’s/POWERade standings separates the top two crews of Tony Stewart (1227) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1226). Elliott Sadler’s crew is third (1211) and Kurt Busch’s crew is fourth (1210). The McDonald’s/POWERade season champion pit crew will be awarded a $200,000 bonus. In Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Jamie McMurray’s pit crew won the McDonald’s/POWERade competition and picked up the weekly purse of $20,000. It was the second win of the season for the No. 42 crew. McMurray’s Texaco/Havoline Dodge spent the least amount of time on Darlington’s pit road with a time of 387.121 seconds. Jeff Burton’s AOL Chevrolet was second at 425.823 and Carl Edwards’ World Financial Group Ford was third at 428.261. “This is cool for the guys on the Texaco/Havoline team," said McMurray. "They've worked really hard this year, and have shown that we're a championship caliber team. It's cool that they are being recognized for their hard work."
    The No. 42 over-the-wall crew consists of: Bobby Burrell (front tire changer), Darren Jolly (front tire carrier), David Collins (rear tire changer), Scott Myers (rear tire carrier), Mark Cass (jackman), Mike Bodick (gas man) and Heath Silver (catch can). Donnie Wingo is the crew chief and Mike Brill is the car chief.(DMF Commincations PR), for the top-10 at Darlington and season standings for all the teams, see my Pit Crew News page.(11-18-2004)

  • National Guard returns to the #16 in 2005: The National Guard and Roush Racing announced an extension of their NASCAR Nextel Cup partnership into the 2005 season. The National Guard will maintain its primary role with Roush Racing’s #16 NASCAR Nextel Cup entry and driver Greg Biffle. “We couldn’t be happier with the program at Roush Racing,” said LTG Roger Schultz, Director of the Army National Guard. “Greg, Doug (Richert, crew chief) and the team there have done an excellent job representing the Guard and we want to continue the relationship we’ve built over the last 10 months." The National Guard began their involvement in NASCAR in 2002 and joined Roush Racing last December. In a partnership with Subway, Travelodge and Jackson Hewitt, the National Guard took on a primary role with the #16 team and debuted their signature red, white and blue Ford shortly before the Daytona 500. For more information, visit the National Guard website at www.1-800-GO-GUARD.com.(Roush Racing PR)(11-18-2004)

  • Delaware Student Honored: Jed Bell of Houston, DE, a sophomore at Milford High, received a $1,000 scholarship as part of the YJ Stinger's "Race to Bee Safe" program. He is automatically eligible to win an additional $20,000 scholarship in a nationwide contest. Bell was among 250 students who participated in the safe-driving program when it visited Milford with Busch Series driver Kenny Wallace on Sept. 23. His 500-word essay on the importance of safe driving was deemed the winner.(Delaware News Journal)(11-18-2004)

  • Petty switches Engines? UPDATE 3 to Evernham: hearing that Petty Enterprises [PE], with drivers #45-Kyle Petty and #43-Jeff Green, will run Arrington Engines the rest of 2004 after Talladega and will supposedly have Evernham engines in 2005. Currently PE uses Mike Ege engines.(10-1-2004)
    UPDATE: Petty Enterprises will have a new engine supplier for 2005, Kyle Petty confirmed Saturday, but it is unclear who will build engines for Petty and Jeff Green next season. Mike Ege Racing Engines, which has built engines for the Pettys since 2002, will not return next year. "We're at that time in the season where we need to be making a change," Petty said. "We've talked about it for the last three or four months with Mike Ege Racing Engines, and it's come to a point where it's time to make a move. Next year, we'll do something different." The Dodges of Petty and Green will use Ege engines in this weekend's EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, and Ege has the option of staying with Petty Enterprises the rest of this year. "We've left that option up to him, if he chose to continue it or if he chose not to," Petty said. "We'll go from there. We have his stuff in down here." But who will be in the #43 and #45 in 2005? Petty said rumors about a switch to Evernham Engines or Arrington Engines are simply rumors. "There are rumors about everything, man," Petty said. "There are rumors I'm going to retire. What are you gonna do? That's why they're called rumors." The team won't return to building its own engines, as it did from 1949-2001. "We talked about it three or four months ago, whether we wanted to open our stuff back up," Petty said. "We made a decision at this point in time not to go down that road. If we were two or three years further down the road, then, yeah, we'd probably look at it. But right now, no."(NASCAR.com)(10-3-2004)
    UPDATE 2a: been told Petty Enterprises #43-Jeff Green and #45-Kyle Petty will NOT run Mike Ege Racing Engines at Kansas, but have not heard what engines will be run.
    UPDATE 2b: Ray Evernham says he hasn't signed any agreements with Petty Enterprises, but he is talking with them and some other teams about providing engines in 2005.(NASCAR Scene print)(10-8-2004)
    UPDATE 3: Petty Enterprises will begin using Evernham Motorsports engines beginning with testing for the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. The organization fields the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge of driver Jeff Green and the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge of driver Kyle Petty. Petty Enterprises is the winningest organization in major league motorsports.
    "We are constantly looking for ways to improve our performance and to run better as a team," said Petty, who is also CEO of Petty Enterprises, "We at Petty Enterprises worked very closely with Evernham Motorsports to develop the Dodge program. Ray has been very gracious in his comments about the role of Petty Enterprises in that effort. We have continued to work closely with Evernham and with Dodge on many aspects of our program since then, and we see this alliance in the engine program as a natural evolution of our relationship.
    "Evernham Motorsports has really moved into the forefront in regards to Dodge engine development and we're excited to be part of that," Petty continued. "We've made some big strides with our chassis and bodies, so this was obviously the next step."
    In its fourth year of operation, Evernham Motorsports has moved to the elite among NASCAR teams. The organization, which has one driver in the Chase For The Championship and a second 12th in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings while leading Rookie of the Year, has 13 poles, five race wins, 45 top fives and 81 top 10s.
    "We have been working with Kyle and Petty Enterprises on behalf of Dodge the past four years, and they have a solid organization. The chassis are pretty much where they want them to be," Evernham said. "We feel we can help them on the horsepower side as well, and help them continue to build their program. We're all very excited at working even more closely with Petty Enterprises in 2005."(Williams Company PR)(11-18-2004)

  • #99 Sponsorship Still Uncertain for 2005: According to Roush Racing president, Geoff Smith, the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford Taurus will likely once again carry a mosaic of sponsors during the 2005 season. Smith says that there could be up to four different sponsors on the Carl Edwards entry. Edwards was asked at Darlington what if he knew his 2005 plans, a question he answered with one word—drive.” “I don’t know if it’ll be Trucks, Busch or Cup,” Edwards added, “but whatever they want me to drive I’m going to drive it as hard as I can; and get the best result I can.” Smith agreed. “We’re going to run him hard,” said Smith with a grin. Smith is very pleased with the results Edwards is showing so far, and that was before he popped of his seventh place finish at Darlington this week. “He’s just so smooth and knows when to let and all hang out. He never fails to impress when he’s behind the wheel.” Smith did tell TFR that in 2006 he’d have a full sponsorship package for the #99.(Team Ford Racing)(11-18-2004)

  • Enterprise to sponsor Truex Jr. at Homestead. After the NASCAR time trials were cancelled in New Hampshire, Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) assured Enterprise that it would honor its promise to enter Martin Truex Jr. and DEI's #1 Enterprise Rent-A-Car Chevrolet in a NEXTEL race this season. The race has been selected and Enterprise will finally have its NASCAR debut at Homestead Miami Speedway.(PR)(11-18-2004)

  • #51 gets sponsor, Consort for Homestead: Former Miami Dolphin Half Back, MVP Joe Auer is bringing his NASCAR Nextel Cup team #51 to the Ford 400 this weekend in Homestead to attempt to qualify. His driver, Tony Raines, and team, Competitive Edge Motorsports (CEM) is getting together with Consort Hair Care for the last race of the season at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Because his team is only running a partial schedule this year, they are 47th in owner points and they have to qualify in the top 38. “Provisionals are not really an option. Sometimes, it is very nerve racking,” Auer said. “It is great to be back in the neighborhood I grew up in. Seeing some old friends and relatives is always nice.” CEM and Tony Raines have their work cut out for them this weekend with 56 entrants for 38 spots. They do have a couple of angles though. Tony Raines qualified 19th here last year and placed 13th in the same car in his rookie year. For more information about Consort, visit www.savetheregularguy.com.(Competitive Edge Motorsports PR)(11-18-2004)

  • Evernham Motorsports wins the championship: Evernham Motorsports won the Inaugural Totally Racin' Flag Football League Championship, beating Roush Racing 40-35. Totally Racin' Softball and Flag Football League founder/coordinator Bob Hubner is now looking to start a Totally Racin' Basketball League in January 2005 for NASCAR Teams in the Mooresville/Charlotte, NC area. More info at racecityresumes.com.(11-18-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 17, 2004

  • Toyota Cup Plans on hold? Toyota. It seems the powers that be at Toyota aren't in a hurry to jump on to the top rung of the NASCAR competition ladder. In this week's Automotive News, Mark Rechtin gleaned from an interview with Jim Aust, president of Toyota Racing Development, that Toyota has put its plans on hold for NEXTEL Cup because NASCAR is considering announcing major changes to its chassis and engine specifications either after this year or after the 2005 season. Toyota had originally planned on being at Daytona in February, 2007, but those plans seem uncertain, at best. Maybe a breath of fresh air will blow through TRD, and they'll put their NASCAR NEXTEL Cup plans on ice - permanently. After all, one of these manufacturers is bound to get smart when it comes to NASCAR, and it might as well be Toyota, since Detroit seems incapable of any rational thought when it comes to the subject of the France family's little ol' marketing franchise. Toyota just might come to realize that they don't need NASCAR's "spec car" formula to be successful in their marketing efforts. They certainly have done just fine without NASCAR up until this point, haven't they?(autoextremist.com)(11-17-2004)

  • Lots of Cash on the line: Nextel and NASCAR unveiled a record Nextel Cup Series points fund of more than $24 million to be distributed among the top 25 drivers at the end of the 2004 season. The payout guarantees each of the top 11 drivers at least $1 million for the first time in the sport's history. "The Nextel Cup Series is America's most widely attended spectator sport, and the structure of this year's points fund reflects NASCAR's popularity and Nextel's commitment to this sport," said Tim Donahue, Nextel's president and chief executive officer. "NASCAR Nextel Cup Series teams compete on the highest level for 10 months out of the year, and we are proud to honor the drivers and teams for their hard work and achievement." The previous record points fund payout was $21,031,000 in 2003. This year's record payout significantly ups the ante for drivers. The 10 drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup are competing for the lion's share of the purse - $5.2 million - as well as the title of Nextel Cup Series champion. The points fund provides incentive for teams not contending for the Nextel Cup trophy, as the 11th place driver will win a minimum of $1 million. R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand began the points fund in 1971 to award end-of-season bonus money to teams. The 1971 purse totaled $100,000, including a $40,000 bonus for the series champion Richard Petty. This year's $5.2 million champion's prize sets a new benchmark. The winner's share reached $1 million for the first time in 1989 when Rusty Wallace won the series championship. It reached $2 million in 1999, $3 million in 2000 and climbed above $4 million last year.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-17-2004)

  • Sad News: Jimmy "Tiny" Crabtree who has posted Tinys TV Times at ERaceFans.com for a few years and former freelance racing photographer passed away on Tuesday after having serious health issues. In lieu of cards and flowers the family requests that donations be made in James Crabtree's name (in the memo part of the check) to the Victory Junction Gang Camp. For donations by check please place Tiny's name (James Crabtree) in the memo. See story about Tiny at Stooges and at Friend's of Tiny (11-17-2004)

  • Speed to carry Nextel Cup announcement: SPEED Channel will carry a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series press conference from Homestead-Miami Speedway LIVE Friday at 9:00am/et. The event is scheduled to include drivers still in the hunt for the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup -- Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Mark Martin. SPEED Channel will be the exclusive television outlet for the press conference, which will be simulcast by NASCAR.com and XM Satellite Radio. Mike Joy will host the event. In addition, SPEED Channel will expand Sunday's post-race coverage, going LIVE to the track immediately following the Ford 400.(SPEED Channel PR)(11-17-2004)

  • Kahne back to run the #2 Truck: Nextel Cup rookie Kasey Kahne will make another start in the #2 Ultra Motorsports Dodge in Friday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kahne won Saturday's truck race at Darlington Raceway in his first-ever start in the Truck Series.(Las Vegas Sun)(11-17-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 16, 2004

  • Jimmy Fennig Rallies for 1st Crew Chief of the Race Award: Jimmy Fennig would be the first to admit that the #97 Ford Taurus was not up to scratch in the Southern 500. Driver Kurt Busch struggled with the handling of the car throughout the race. His position fluctuated during the race from 1st to 26th. But it was awesome pit stops and precise planning by Fennig and the #97 team that enabled Busch to stay competitive in the race. This effort did not go unnoticed by the fans as they voted him the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. The majority of fans who logged onto www.WYPALL.com noticed how Fennig was able to rally his crew at strategic moments throughout the race. His pit stops allowed Busch to pick up track position at crucial points during the race. Tony Eury, Sr. remains in first place with ten wins. Chad Knaus is in second place with five wins. Tommy Baldwin and Robbie Loomis are tied for third place with four wins. Robbie Reiser and Matt Borland are in fourth place with two wins. Pat Tryson, Larry Carter, Lee McCall, Donnie Wingo, Phillipe Lopez, Ryan Pemberton, Tony Glover, Jimmy Fennig and Pete Rondeau are tied for fifth place, each with one win. The crew chief with the most weekly wins at the end of the season will be named WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and receive $10,000.00.(S.M.C. 500 PR)(11-16-2004)

  • Overnight Darlington TV Ratings Match Chase's Best UPDATE Final Ratings Up: NBC's broadcast of Sunday’s Mountain Dew Southern 500 drew an overnight rating of 4.6 and a 9 share from Nielsen Media Research, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The overnight rating is up 4.5 percent from the 4.4 the Darlington event drew for NBC on its traditional Labor Day weekend in 2003. The next-to-last race in 2003, the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, was carried on cable's TNT, so direct comparisons aren't available. This year's 4.6 figure from the nation's largest markets equals the best overnight figures from any of the seven Chase For The Nextel Cup races NBC has broadcast, the 4.6 for the Oct. 3 EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and the Oct. 16 UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, which was a Saturday night event.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-16-2004)
    UPDATE: NBC's coverage of the Mountain Dew Southern 500 Sunday earned a 5.1 national rating/11 share, the best rating ever for this race and a 50 percent increase over the 3.4/8 share for the comparable date on TNT last year (Rockingham, Nov. 9). Through nine races in NASCAR's inaugural 10-race "Chase for the Nextel Cup," the average rating on NBC and TNT is a 4.4/10, up 10 percent over last year's 4.0/9 for the same nine telecast dates. "Brian France had a clear vision of how to increase interest in NASCAR," said Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports. "The truly inspired idea for the 'Chase for the Nextel Cup' has had its supporters and critics along the way and we've all had to be patient to see the results of the new format. As we approach the final showdown, it is clear that the "Chase" is a resounding success. It has significantly increased the attention paid to and the audience watching NASCAR. It has elevated the exposure of drivers and teams both in the Top 10 and out. And it has produced the kind of drama and excitement Brian envisioned when he molded his plan."
    The record Mountain Dew Southern 500 rating raises the season-to-date NASCAR on NBC and TNT average rating to a 4.4/10 (18 telecasts), a 5 percent increase over last year's 4.2/10 (19 tc's). The Mountain Dew Southern 500 rating peaked at 5:30 p.m. with a 6.7/13 as Jimmie Johnson raced to his fourth checkered flag of the "Chase" to position himself in second-place in the Nextel Cup Championship standings, a mere 18 points behind leader Kurt Busch.(NBC PR)(11-16-2004)

  • No More Lucky Dog? NASCAR is contemplating dropping the so-called "lucky dog" rule implemented last season after racing back to the start-finish line under caution was outlawed. The rule allows the first driver a lap down when a caution comes out to get back onto the lead lap. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said the rule has created confusion among fans and, at times, the competitors.(USA Today)(11-16-2004)

  • Wheeler, Richmond and Hyde honored: Lowe's Motor Speedway track president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, driver Tim Richmond and crew chief Harry Hyde were inducted Saturday night into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame. Wheeler, known as the P.T. Barnum of racing for his epic promotions at Lowe's Motor Speedway, accepted the honor, while Richmond and Hyde, the inspiration for the two main characters in the move Days of Thunder, were inducted posthumously.(USA Today)(11-16-2004)

  • NASCAR Enters Strategic Alliance with CASCAR: In a joint effort to increase fan interest and visibility for stock car racing in Canada,NASCAR and CASCAR [www.cascar.com]have entered into a multi-year operational and marketing agreement. “NASCAR is looking forward to working with CASCAR in a growing market for stock car racing,” said George Pyne, Chief Operating Officer of NASCAR. “NASCAR will lend operational and marketing expertise to help grow Canada’s only national stock car series. This partnership further demonstrates NASCAR’s support of grassroots racing throughout North America and our efforts to bring sponsorship and licensing opportunities to businesses at every level of the sport.”
    “In the past 23 years, CASCAR has grown from a regional racing series to a national organization,” said Tony Novotny, President of CASCAR. “NASCAR’s experience and resources will strengthen and support racing in Canada while establishing a foundation for future growth.”
    Earlier this year, NASCAR formed NASCAR Canada, a partnership with TSN that established a Canadian base of operation in Toronto, as well as NASCAR Mexico, based in Mexico City. These new offices support local racing and extend the marketing of the sport to borders north and south of the U.S.
    “NASCAR’s alliance with CASCAR, which complements our partnership with TSN, will help attract new fans to our sport and bring new opportunities to NASCAR sponsors and licensing partners,” Pyne said. “It will be an important vehicle for NASCAR’s continuing support of stock car racing at the grass roots in the Canadian market.”
    NASCAR is the top-rated motorsport on Canadian television, and TSN is the most preferred viewing destination. The Canadian fan base is six million strong with Canadians considered among the most passionate NASCAR fans, according to the 2004 Ipsos-Insight NASCAR Canada Brand Tracker Survey. A significant number of Canadians have attended a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. Regular travel to NASCAR events across the United States is common and growing.(NASCAR PR)(11-16-2004)

  • Gaughan will NOT return to the #77 in 2005; Kvapil? UPDATE: Brendan Gaughan was told his contract would not be renewed with Penske-Jasper Racing [#77 Kodak Dodge], and apparently Gene Haas has offered Gaughan, 29, the #0 Chevy seat for 2005. Haas-CNC G.M. Joe Custer added that Richard "Bootie" Barker would remain as crew chief on the #0 and has a three-year contract. Putting Travis Kvapil in the #77 next season is coming with a price. Alex Meshkin wanted compensation for letting Kvapil out of his Bang Racing contract, so Kvapil is expected to run 20 Busch events next season in a Dodge.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-15-2004)
    UPDATE: A decision has not yet been made on whether Brendan Gaughan will return to the #77 Penske-Jasper Racing Dodge for the 2005 season, Penske Racing South President Don Miller said Monday. Miller said Gaughan would drive the Kodak Easy Share Dodge in the NEXTEL Cup season finale at Homestead this weekend. Miller, who noted that Gaughan currently possesses second in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings, said a decision on Gaughan's status for next year wouldn't be made until after the season ended. "And that is after the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Awards Banquet in New York City," Miller added. The banquet is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 3.(Penske Racing South PR)(11-16-2004)

  • MB2 forms 3rd team, Said to run minimum of 10 races in 2005: MB2 Motorsports and CENTRIX Financial jointly announced a multi-team sponsorship agreement and the formation of a NASCAR Nextel Cup team that will commence in 2005 with Boris Said as the driver. CENTRIX Financial, a Denver-based financial management and services firm, is the Official Auto Finance Company of NASCAR. Founded in 1990 and purchased by current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert E. Sutton in 1998, the company specializes in providing unique products and strategies to the auto finance market. The MB2, CENTRIX Financial multi-year agreement includes the following:
    * Creation of MB/Sutton Motorsports Team -- The agreement calls for the creation of MB/Sutton Motorsports, which will own the #36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet that Said will drive in a minimum of 10 races in 2005. The MB/Sutton Motorsports entry with Said as the driver will kick off the 2005 campaign at the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.
    * Four-Race Primary Sponsorship -- CENTRIX will have a total of four primary sponsorships on the MB2/MBV cars of Joe Nemechek’s #01 Chevrolet and Scott Riggs’ #10 Chevrolet.
    * Major Associate Sponsor -- Additionally, CENTRIX will carry a major associate sponsorship package with the No. 01 and No. 10 teams. The U.S. Army is the main sponsor of the #01 car, and Valvoline is the main sponsor of the #10 car.
    The 10 race locations are undecided, but three are set: Daytona 500, Infineon Raceway and Watkings Glen. For Said, the long wait of competing with more regularity on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit is now a reality. “This is the big time – competing against the best drivers in the world,” offered Said, whose first Cup race was at Watkins Glen in 1999. “The new deal for next year is a great opportunity for me, and as I have stated many times – I love being on the edge and I welcome the challenge. Everything about this operation is top-shelf – Bob Sutton and CENTRIX Financial, MB2 and the entire crew back at the shop who has always given me excellent racecars. Right now, I’m like a kid in a candy store."
    Said, a youthful 42 year-old from Carlsbad, Calif., carved his mark as one of the world’s top road racers, including becoming the first American to win the German 4-hour GT Endurance this year. Though he is known as a hired-gun specialist for NASCAR’s two road races each season, three out of his 12 career NASCAR Nextel Cup races have been on ovals with a fourth oval event scheduled for this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Some of Said’s best performances in NASCAR Nextel Cup races include sixth-place finishes the past two years at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. He also captured the pole at the 2003 Sonoma race and finished 10th in this year’s Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.(MB2 Motorsports PR)(11-16-2004)

  • Last Chance To Vote: Earnhardt Jr. Holds Lead: With just days remaining for nationwide fan voting, Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to lead the Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award - but fans and fan clubs for other drivers appear to have picked up their support. Fan clubs and web sites for several drivers have urged their fans to vote regularly at www.mostpopulardriver.com, as votes have tightened to determine which drivers will finish in the top 10 of the final tally. "The fans have really jumped on this, wanting to make sure their driver finishes as high as possible," said Kenny Bruce, president of the National Motorsports Press Association. "Among the top 20 drivers, several are separated by fewer than 5,000 votes, so a good effort in the final week could make a big difference in who finishes where. The right kind of effort could make a big difference in the top five as well."
    Jeff Gordon is second in the voting, followed by Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip and Tony Stewart. Rounding out the top 10 are Kasey Kahne, Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson and Bobby Labonte. The most coveted NASCAR award behind only the national driving championship itself, the Most Popular Driver is determined by an online vote by fans at www.mostpopulardriver.com. The winner will be announced during the NASCAR Nextel Cup Awards Banquet weekend, Dec. 3-4 in New York City. A record 3.7 million votes have been cast, and Earnhardt Jr. has led since voting began in February. The driver standings may change this final week, however, as fans hope to move their favorite drivers into the top spot before the balloting ends at 11:59 p.m. (EDT), Monday, Nov. 22, the day after the final race of the season at Homestead, FL. The NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award has been given since 1956. The National Motorsports Press Association administers the award, which is sponsored by Pillsbury Grands! Biscuits.(Williams Company PR), for voting link and past news on the award, see my Awards Page.(11-16-2004)

  • 'The Chase' Stays in 2005, no major changes: NASCAR chairman Brian France will keep the new points system in place for next year, satisfied that the closest championship race in history is proof that the 10-race playoff structure works better than expected. Five drivers head into Sunday's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway separated by 82 points, creating a one-race shootout to crown the Nextel Cup champion. "The new points system has been wonderful, it's created interest and a scenario that was unthinkable under the old system," France told The Associated Press. "Obviously, we were hoping to create drama all the way down to the last lap of the last race. That was our preference under the old system, and it just wasn't happening. So we like things the way they are. We always said we wanted to let the full year play out, but the balance we have now, we're real happy with. We may end up making some slight adjustments next season, but nothing very noticeable." The system has had opponents since it was announced, and critics are still finding faults. The biggest complaint was the theory that one bad finish would ruin a driver's title hopes. France said Jimmie Johnson has proved that wrong. After dropping to ninth in the standings with six races left, Johnson has used four victories to pull into second place, 18 points behind leader Kurt Busch. "Everybody thought Jimmie Johnson was out, he had three bad races and everybody said you couldn't have one," France said. "Well, nobody thought about the way to climb back into races. That is to win. That is exactly what we wanted."
    So forget about a points system within a points system.
    He said he is also not going to award extra points to a race winner.
    France is particularly pleased with what the Chase has done for television ratings. Part of the reason he wanted the new system was to create drama that could match up with the NFL and baseball playoffs. Although NBC's ratings didn't move at first -- the first race was down 8 percent from last year, and the third race was down 2 percent -- it's been a steady climb since. The race in Atlanta three weeks ago was up 21 percent from last year, and NASCAR expects the Miami finale to post similar numbers now that there is a five-driver battle. It couldn't come at a better time for France, who is just starting to renegotiated NASCAR's television package. He said he was impressed with the $8 billion extension the NFL worked out last week with CBS and Fox, NASCAR has a $2.8 billion deal with NBC and Fox that they signed in 2001 and expires at the end of the 2006 season.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-16-2004)

  • Did ya know? The first and last Southern 500s were won by drivers from Southern California. Johnny Mantz won it in 1950 and Jimmie Johnson won it in 2004.(Gaston Gazette)(11-16-2004)

  • #40 to sport a Lone Star paint scheme at Homestead: Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon has joined Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in a partnership that will debut on the #40 Coors Light Dodge at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The #40 will be adorned with the Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon logo for the November season ending event. The #40 Dodge will be black with red and white accents and will feature the Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon logo on the hood and the deck lid as well as the rear quarter panels. The Coors Light logo will appear on the rear bumper and lower rear quarter panel. Lone Star first opened in October 1989 in Winston-Salem, NC. There are currently 268 Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloons, 15 Sullivan's, six Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak Houses, 20 Texas Land & Cattle restaurants and one Frankie's Italian Grille.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(11-16-2004)

  • NASCAR looking to get TV renewals underway: In the wake of the NFL’s [go Eagle's] announcement last week of a new $8 billion, six-year deal with CBS and Fox to televise Sunday afternoon games through 2011, NASCAR is itching to get underway with its own TV rights renewals, the first of which comes up following the 2006 season. NASCAR officials privately believe their telecasts are currently undervalued, particularly the second-half of the racing season on NBC and TNT, in which ratings have grown as a result of the new Chase for the Cup driver points system that was initiated this year. Ratings for the last four races on NBC are up 15 percent cumulatively over last season, and NASCAR is expected to seek a hefty increase from NBC if it wants to renew its telecast rights. The NBC/TNT portion is up for renewal following the 2006 season, while the Fox portion of NASCAR rights runs through the 2008 season, although NASCAR has the option of terminating it after the ’06 season [didn't know that!].
    If the NFL can secure hefty rights-fee increases when the TV ratings over the course of its current contract declined, NASCAR officials believe they can do as well, or better, since its ratings have grown. Also bolstering NASCAR officials’ hopes for big rights hikes is ESPN’s open desire to televise the races. At a recent upfront event, George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN/ABC Sports, stated that the one property he would like to add to the ABC/ESPN schedule is NASCAR. While NBC has an exclusive window to negotiate, NASCAR could hold out and allow ESPN to bid. This prospect has fueled speculation that NBC may walk away from NASCAR, and concentrate its efforts on a bid for either ABC’s Monday Night Football package or the newly created NFL Thursday/Saturday package. NBC may also bid on a new Major League Baseball telecast-rights package.(Mediaweek.com)(11-16-2004)

  • Yeley to attempt Homestead: J.J. Yeley will attempt to make his third NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start this weekend and race his #11 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. In 2004, Yeley has also made 17 NASCAR Busch Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. Yeley completed a test session at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 9th. Yeley tested with his fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte. Yeley's #11 team tested Chassis #65 at Homestead. Joe Gibbs Racing will race the #11 FedEx Chevrolet full-time in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series action next year with driver Jason Leffler. The entire #18 Vigoro/Home Depot Busch Series crew will move over with Yeley to the NEXTEL Cup garage, including crew chief Doug Hewitt. Hewitt will call the shots for Yeley's effort, and Yeley's Busch Series crew will pit the car for Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.(Rockwell Sys/JGR PR)(11-16-2004)


    News and Rumors from November 15, 2004

  • Closest Points Race: The top-five drivers in the title hunt are separated by 82 points, and that sets up the closest championship finale since 1992 when six drivers were separated by 113 points. Davey Allison was then the leader, by 30 points over Alan Kulwicki, 40 points over Bill Elliott, 97 points over Harry Gant, 98 points over Kyle Petty and 113 points over Mark Martin. Kulwicki won by 10 points over Elliott.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-15-2004)

  • CHEVY Notes UPDATED:
    To date, Chevrolet has collected 32 victories at Darlington Raceway - more than any other manufacturer in the Modern Era (1972 - present).
    At Sunday's Mountain Dew Southern 500, Chevrolet will be going for its seventh straight win in as many races. Chevy drivers have won the past six races (since Talladega, Oct. 3). #48-Johnson won, 8 straight.
    At Darlington, Chevrolet got it's 23rd victory of the season, which matches its best Modern Era record of 22 wins set in 1980.
    Chevrolet has led more laps than any other manufacturer this season with 5334 of 10,484 possible.
    Chevrolet is the most successful manufacturer of all time in NASCAR Cup racing with a total of 556 victories since 1949 (Ford currently has 553).(see the list on my Manufacturers Champiobship page)
    Jimmie Johnson's victory in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway Oct. 16 clinched the 2004 Manufacturers' Championship for Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The title is the 28th for Chevrolet since 1952 and the 24th in the Modern Era (since 1972). Ford ranks second with 15 titles.(GM PR)(11-13/15-2004)

  • It's official - Happy Hour is history: NASCAR will implement a post-qualifying impound procedure for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at the majority of the 36 championship-point races in 2005, NASCAR officials announced today. More than half of the events on the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule will utilize the new procedure that will provide cost-containment benefits to the teams. Following qualifying and the post-qualifying inspection process, the starting field of 43 cars will be impounded by NASCAR officials until race day. During this period, the teams will not be permitted to work on their cars unless for special circumstances and authorized by NASCAR officials.
    “We are still in the process of getting more tracks to commit to this procedure,” NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby said. “We appreciate the cooperation of our track operators to assist us in delivering cost-saving measures to the team owners.”
    Some of the benefits of the new procedure will include reducing the amount of labor by crew members on the cars throughout a race weekend; reducing practice tire consumption and, most importantly, eliminating special qualifying parts, components, oils and set-ups. “Ultimately, all the teams will arrive at the track with a focus on one goal,” Darby said. “That goal will be to have the best possible race set-up, and hopefully that will enhance the overall competitive element throughout the field.”
    The new procedure will alter the traditional race weekend schedule. The two 45-minute final practices the day following qualifying – commonly known as “Happy Hour” – will be eliminated.
    In many cases for a traditional race weekend (Friday-Sunday), two hours of practice would take place Friday, Bud Pole qualifying on Saturday and then the cars would be impounded immediately following post-qualifying inspection. On doubleheader weekends, Bud Pole qualifying could be followed by a NASCAR Busch Series event, creating a strong single-day package for race fans.(NASCAR PR)(11-15-2004)

  • West Coast Testing at California/Las Vegas UPDATE: NASCAR plans to allow Nextel Cup teams two days of preseason testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway while being charged for only one test. Las Vegas will be open from Jan. 31-Feb. 2. California Speedway will be available Feb. 1-3.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-15-2004)
    UPDATE: In a cost-saving measure with competition benefits, NASCAR also will give its NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams the opportunity to conduct a combination preseason test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams will be permitted to test a maximum of two days at each track. Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be available to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, and California Speedway will be available Feb. 1-3, eliminating the expense of making two separate trips for tests at those respective tracks. “This benefit to the teams would not have been possible without the cooperation and willingness of both Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway,” Darby said. “We expect the teams to take full advantage of the opportunity.” The tests at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and California Speedway will serve as the western swing of NASCAR Preseason Thunder, which kicks off the 2005 season with sessions Jan. 11-13 and 18-20 at Daytona International Speedway.(NASCAR PR)(11-15-2004)

  • Top 10 for Mikey in 2005 to keep ride: Dale Earnhardt Inc. Director of Motorsports Richie Gilmore said yesterday Michael Waltrip will need to finish in the top 10 next season to keep his spot in the #15 Chevrolet. DEI has one-year contracts with the 40-year-old and his sponsor, NAPA. "Michael would love to retire at DEI, and [owner] Teresa [Earnhardt] would love to have him retire here," Gilmore said. "But we have to get to another level. We need to be in the Chase for NAPA and DEI."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(11-15-2004)

  • Testing at Kentucky this week:
    NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Testing At Kentucky Speedway:
    November 15th, #8-DEI [cancelled]; #9-Kasey Kahne, #30-Jeff Burton
    November 17th, #32-Bobby Hamilton, Jr.
    Fans can view testing from a designated area outside the speedway Fan Center in Turn 3.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(11-15-2004)

  • Twenty-two 2 day shows in 2005? UPDATE: on Speed Channel's NASCAR Live, Bob Dilner reported that during the crew chief meeting, NASCAR floated out an idea that there could be 22 two-day shows in 2005 for the Nextel Cup Series. The cars would go thru tech on Friday, but no track activities, the drivers would practice and qualify on Saturday, after qualifying the cars would be impounded and there would be NO Happy Hour [final] practice.(11-14-2004)
    UPDATE: A new post-qualifying procedure designed to save money and significantly alter racing weekends will begin next season in NASCAR. Car owner Jack Roush said he and his crew chiefs were briefed on the measures Saturday at Darlington Raceway. NASCAR is expected to announce the plans this week [Friday on Speed 9:00am/et?]. Under the plan, qualifying would be moved from Friday to Saturday, then the cars would be impounded. They would then line up Sundays with no tire, gear or shock absorber changes. NASCAR chairman Brian France said the plans are still under consideration. If implemented, France said "time is the cost they'll be helping teams save.'' The traditional pair of 45-minute Saturday practice sessions, called "Happy Hour,'' will be eliminated. Nextel Cup teams will run two hours of practice laps on Fridays. After impoundment, any work on cars would have to be approved by NASCAR and only for special circumstances. One benefit is that overworked Nextel Cup teams would get some rest on Saturday afternoons. Another would come in the wallets of race teams, saving money on practice tires and special parts.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-15-2004)

  • Slugger being courted: Richard "Slugger" Labbe, the crew chief who took #15-Michael Waltrip to two Daytona 500 wins during the past four years, is being wooed by car owner Joe Gibbs to join the Tony Stewart-Bobby Labonte-Jason Leffler operation next season, according to team sources. Labbe is also being courted by other car owners too, possibly including Roger Penske. Labbe, who quit Waltrip's Cup team last month "because the team wasn't making progress," has been floating among the various Dale Earnhardt Inc. teams since, waiting to see what options that team owner Teresa Earnhardt and manager Richie Gilmore might have for him for 2005. "I want to stay at DEI, and I'm just waiting to see what happens," Labbe said. "It's up to Richie. I told him I'm going on vacation the end of the month for a couple of weeks and I'd like to know something before then."(Winston Salem Journal)(11-15-2004)

  • Lopez to Gibbs? BDR? RCR? UPDATE 3: Philippe Lopez, a crew chief who has been working in research and development at Joe Gibbs Racing [JGR] since August, was missing in action at Phoenix. Several possible scenarios were presented by garage sources: Lopez was offered the crew chief job on Gibbs' #18 (Bobby Labonte) but turned it down, Lopez has discussed the #22 (Scott Wimmer) crew chief job with Bill Davis Racing, and Lopez could be reunited with Dave Blaney at Richard Childress Racing. "It's a possibility," Richard Childress says.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-8-2004)
    UPDATE: been told that Lopez has left JGR, no word on any more info.(11-9-2004)
    UPDATE 2: hearing Lopez is the leading canidate to go to the #22 team, not sure what current crew chief, Frank Stoddard would do, another position with BDR or go to another team.(11-10-2004)
    AND: also hearing that Lopez will be the crew chief for Dave Blaney at RCR in the #07 Jack Daniel's Chevy.(that is one diecast I will buy)(11-11-2004)
    UPDATE 3: Philippe Lopez is expected to start work at Richard Childress Racing this week. An announcement that Lopez will be crew chief for the #30 Chevrolet in 2005, reuniting him with Dave Blaney, could come at Homestead. The #30 crew will rejoin RCR crew chief Kevin Hamlin next season on Jeff Burton's #31 car, so Lopez can pick much of his staff.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-15-2004)



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