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  • MORE NEWS/RUMORS
    NOV 22-28, 2004


    MORE NEWS-RUMORS!
    YESTERDAY and BEYOND..


      News and Rumors from November 28, 2004

    • Schrader back in ARCA: Ken Schrader, driver of the Nextel Cup #49 BAM Racing Dodge, will also run five ARCA RE/MAX Series events in 2005. If Schrader is able to make all five events, the season will mark his most ARCA Series starts in any given year since the Fenton, Missouri native first raced with the series at Daytona in 1981. Schrader, with sponsorship from Federated Auto Parts, has plans to enter RE/MAX Series events at Salem Speedway, Toledo Speedway, Gateway Int’l Raceway, Michigan Int’l Speedway and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile-dirt track. Schrader, in 34 career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, has 11 wins, 11 Pork pole awards, 22 top-5 finishes and 25 top-10s. In addition, Schrader has led 1,417 laps in 20 races. Other events on Schrader’s 2005 calendar under the Federated Auto Parts banner include at least nine NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races and at least 20 dirt late model events spread out across the country with the possibility of adding more in each category. In 2004, Schrader raced in over 40 short-track races on dirt in a combination of late models and UMP modifieds. Veteran crew chief Donnie Richeson is slated to crew chief Schrader’s RE/MAX Series cars as well as his Craftsman Truck Series machines.(ARCA Racing site)(11-28-2004)

    • TV Talks to Heat Up in NYC: When NASCAR holds its award banquet in New York City this week, there will be plenty of behind the scenes deal making. One of the biggest discussions will be over the future of NASCAR's television contract. In 1999 NASCAR inked a $2.4 billion deal with FOX and NBC/Turner, which gobbled up TV rights through the 2006 season. FOX has a two-year option through the 2008 season. So up for grabs is the second half of the Cup season beginning in 2007, a position NBC/Turner has enjoyed since the 2001 season. NASCAR brass will sit down with its current television partners this week to review the 2004 season, look ahead to next year and begin talks about a contract in 2007. NASCAR would prefer to retain its current dance partners. "Clearly, from our perspective, we are very happy with our current partners," Dick Glover, NASCAR's vice president of broadcasting and new media said. "We would love to extend and be in business with them for a long period of time." But as the rights for 2007 and beyond go on the auction block, there are two interesting factors to consider: The NFL's newly inked $11 billion television contract and the ABC Sports/ESPN group waiting in the tall weeds to make a bid. ABC Sports may be saving up to increase the ante on NBC/Turner. ABC pulled out of extending its BCS contract in college football, which would have cost $80 million a year in broadcast rights fees. Back in 1999, ESPN was the big loser in the NASCAR TV wars, after spending nearly two decades broadcasting stock car races and building the sport on a national scale. The starting line for 2007 TV rights is New York this week as the NASCAR community gathers to honor Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch. "During banquet week we sit down with them (broadcast partners) and review the year and look forward to the year coming," Glover said. "We'll start talking to them about opportunities going forward. Our goal is to work with them to find some kind of agreement to go forward for the longer term. When we're ready to announce it, we hope they will have a big smile on their face and we'll have a big smile on our face."
      The NFL is undisputed king of network sports. NASCAR has zoomed up the chart as the #2 most-watched sport in the land. The NFL's new contract has completely changed the broadcast rights playing field, which means NASCAR can expect a bigger check for its next TV contract. The bidding is expected to be fierce and finalized in the next 12 months. ABC/ESPN has stayed in the racing game by airing NHRA and IRL events since 2001. Here's another hint about ESPN's interest level in NASCAR. On Dec. 11, ESPN will premier the movie "3," a docudrama about racing legend Dale Earnhardt.(in part from the Daytona Beach News Journal)(11-28-2004)

    • An Evening with Bobby Labonte: Former Cup champion Bobby Labonte will be honorary chairman and the featured guest for an American Lung Association benefit on Dec. 8. "An Evening with Bobby Labonte" is scheduled at the Speedway Club ballroom at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Sponsorship opportunities remain available and tickets and keepsake prints are limited. More info on my Racing Charities page.(11-28-2004)

    • Gaughan at Chrysler Museum: 2005 Dodge truck test drives and an appearance by NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Brendan Gaughan highlight the What to Give Your Truck for the Holidays expo Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum at One Chrysler Drive in Auburn Hills, MI. The event runs 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. and admission is free. More info and link at my Driver Appearances page.(11-28-2004)

    • Turkey Night Brings out some NASCAR drivers: USAC National Midget Champion Bobby East won the 64th “Turkey Night Grand Prix” at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, driving Steve Lewis’ Beast. East took the lead from Tony Hunt on the 26th lap of the 100-lap feature and then outlasted Aaron Fike for the victory. The win made East the top USAC winner of 2004. Rounding out the top five were Fike, Tracy Hines, Jason Leffler and Jerome Rodela. Last year’s USAC Triple Crown winner J.J. Yeley finished eighth while NASCAR star Tony Stewart failed to make the feature, having suffered mechanical problems in the qualifying heat.(Speed Channel)(11-28-2004)


      News and Rumors from November 27, 2004

    • Busch final driver to qualify for the Bud Shootout: During last weekend's Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Kurt Busch became the final driver to qualify for the 2005 Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night, Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway. Busch, driver of the #97 Sharpie Ford for Roush Racing, lapped Homestead-Miami Speedway at 179.319 mph to earn the Ford 400 pole and become the 20th driver eligible for the Budweiser Shootout, a non-points race that features previous season's pole winners and past Budweiser Shootout champions. The field of 20 eligible drivers is two shy of the record 22 that competed in the 2002 edition of the Budweiser Shootout. Other drivers that have won pole positions this season and are qualified for next year's Budweiser Shootout are #01-Joe Nemechek, #16-Greg Biffle, #9-Kasey Kahne, #25-Brian Vickers, #41-Casey Mears, #24-Jeff Gordon, #12-Ryan Newman, #18-Bobby Labonte, #21-Ricky Rudd, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #19-Jeremy Mayfield. Past Budweiser Shootout champions eligible are #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #20-Tony Stewart, #88-Dale Jarrett, #6-Mark Martin, #2-Rusty Wallace, #49-Ken Schrader, #91-Bill Elliott and #44-Terry Labonte [and Geoffrey Bodine who ran in the race in 2004?]. Tickets for Speedweeks 2005 and the 47th annual Daytona 500 are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS PR)(11-27-2004)

    • MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award: #12-Ryan Newman won the final MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award of the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season by leading Sunday's Ford 400 at half-way mark. Newman went on to finish the race in the 30th position after a late-race accident. The MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award race-win bonus went unclaimed as a result of Newman not winning the race. The $10,000 bonus will be added to the $75,000 awarded to the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award Champion. The MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award is worth $10,000 to any eligible NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver who leads a race at the half-way mark and displays the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award decal on their race car. An additional $5,000 is earned if that driver also wins the race. If the race-win bonus goes unearned, the $5,000 rolls into the next week's award. Eligible drivers earn two points for winning the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award and another point if they also go on to win the race. The driver who earns the most points during the season will win the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award Championship. $75,000 [$85,000] paid to the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Champion Tony Stewart.(MBNA Motorsports PR), see the race results and standings for the bonus on my Ford 400 Race Rundown/Info page.(11-27-2004)


      News and Rumors from November 26, 2004

    • Odds for 2005: Nextel Cup odds have already been established for the 2005 season. Jimmie Johnson is a 9-2 favorite of one Internet site, with Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon second at 6-1. Kasey Kahne was the #5 favorite with the same odds as 2004 champion Kurt Busch -- 8-1 -- and lower odds than former series champions Stewart (10-1), Matt Kenseth (10-1), Bobby Labonte (30-1), Dale Jarrett (40-1) and Rusty Wallace (50-1).(Indianapolis Star)(11-26-2004)


      News and Rumors from November 25, 2004

    • Tony Stewart Named Fourth Quarter NASCAR USG Person of the Year: It’s not often that an event can benefit so many people, but that’s exactly what a benefit concert hosted by the Tony Stewart Foundation did this summer, raising over $270,000 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Easter Seals West Kentucky, the Dream Factory-Paducah Chapter and the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center. For his efforts, Stewart has been named the 2004 Fourth Quarter NASCAR USG Person of the Year.
      "It's an honor to be selected as the fourth-quarter winner,” said Stewart. “This is a special award, because it's not about what you do on the race track, it's about what you do with your heart. I know that the previous winners of this award were some very deserving people, and to join them means a tremendous amount to me."
      Stewart created his Foundation in 2003 to assist groups caring for chronically ill children and drivers injured in motorsports, as well as to support other charitable organizations in the protection of animals. Other charities the Foundation supports include the Ronald McDonald House, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Indiana Special Olympics, Greyrescue (Greyhound Rescue Organization) and Charlotte (N.C.) Metropolitan Zoo.
      USG (United States Gypsum), a promotional partner of NASCAR, is in its second year as sponsor of the NASCAR USG Person of the Year program. The award is designed to honor drivers not only for their accomplishments on the track, but for their community service contributions and charitable efforts.
      To determine the NASCAR USG Person of the Year Award winner, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season is divided into four quarters in which drivers are nominated for their off-track efforts. A select group of panelists chooses one of the four quarterly finalists as the NASCAR USG Person of the Year. This award will be presented the week of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony in New York City, along with a prize of $100,000. The prize will be divided evenly between the driver and the charity of his/her choice.
      Other notable nominees were Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton. Gordon was the first quarter nominee, Elliott Sadler the second quarter nominee and Dale Jarrett was the third quarter nominee.
      In addition to the NASCAR USG Person of the Year, USG also sponsors the Driver of the Race Award, which goes to the eligible winning driver of each of the 36 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship events. Each USG Driver of the Race Award winner receives $2,500 with an additional $2,500 going to the charity of his/her choice.(NASCAR PR)(11-25-2004)

    • Update on LMS Dirt Driver: Jimmy Weller III has made remarkable progress since his accident at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s motor speedway on October 13th during a USAC race. Jimmy has overcome two surgeries and has been moved to physical therapy unit at The Carolina’s Medical Center, where he has been a patient for over two weeks now. Doctors are happy with his progress and they anticipate that he will be released from the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation on Wednesday December 1st at that time Jimmy will be moved to his home near Youngstown, Ohio. After returning home Jimmy will continue to receive physical therapy at a facility near his home until he is completely rehabilitated. Jimmy has been able to read the hundreds of cards and go thru the generous gifts that his friends and race fans from all over the country have sent him. Cards can continue to be sent to Jimmy at the Charlotte facility unit the end of this week. Starting next week all cards can be sent to Jimmy Weller III 299 Warner Roa! d, Hubbard, Ohio 44425. Jimmy and the entire Weller Family would like to “Thank” everyone for all their prayers, cards and support during this difficult time over the past month. We will continue to update you on Jimmy’s progress once we return home. (Weller Racing PR)(11-25-2004)


      News and Rumors from November 24, 2004

    • Penske Turns down Jack Daniel's: per Speedway Scene's S-Notes, Penske Racing [#2,#12,#77,#06] had plans for a 4th full-time Cup team for Travis Kvapil as the driver and Jack Daniel's as the sponsor. However someone within the 'Penske Family' found an issue with alcohol sponsorships [um.....Miller Lite ain't a soft drink], so the full-time 4th team was scrapped. That is leading to the rumors that Kvapil could replace Brendan Gaughan in the #77 Kodak Dodge, since it looks like Kvapil doesn't have a full-time gig in 2005 in any series. And while it is widely speculated that Jack Daniel's will go to Richard Childress Racing for the #30 [to #07?] car and driver Dave Blaney [supposedly already signed], rumor has it that NASCAR may have Jack Daniel's as a NASCAR Sponsor [like Gatorade...etc].(Speedway Scene Print Edition - Nov.19th)(11-24-2004)

    • Gaughan disputes reports: Brendan Gaughan told Sirius Speedway (MRN Radio/Sirius Satellite Radio) Tuesday that, contrary to published reports, he has not been told whether he will return to the #77 Kodak Dodge next season. "They haven't told me anything," said Gaughan. "But then again, I haven't asked. I'm working on some things for myself next year, including a minimum 18-race Truck Series program at Orleans Racing. I have also had quite a few team owners approach me about possibilities for next year; people who obviously don't think the driver was the problem (with the #77) this season. I'm not too worried about it. If they decide to ask me back, we'll deal with it then." Gaughan said he enjoyed his relationship with co-owner Doug Bawel and sponsor Kodak this season, calling them, "super people to work with." However, he added that he was disappointed with the team's poor performance, saying, "I'm in racing because I love it. It's not about the money for me. I'm a competitor, and I want to run up front and contend for wins. If I'm not doing that, I'm not happy." The Las Vegas native said he would not necessarily return to the #77 next season, even if asked. "I would have to give it some thought," he said. "I think the world of Doug (Bawel) and Kodak, and Roger Penske is a very difficult man to say no to. But another year like we just went through? I don't know. I guess I'll just wait and see if an offer is made, then see what's in my heart at that time."(MRN Radio/Sirius Satellite Radio)(11-24-2004)

    • Stewart's Pit Crew Edges Earnhardt Jr.'s Crew For Season Title, $200,000 Champion's Bonus: The pit crew for Tony Stewart captured the season title in the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade. The #20 Home Depot/Joe Gibbs Racing crew will collect a $200,000 champion's bonus from McDonald's/POWERade, Dec. 3 in New York City. By winning the weekly competition three times and earning $20,000 for each victory, the total prize money earned in 2004 by Stewart's crew was $260,000. In the 36-race competition, Stewart's crew defeated the pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. by a mere four points - 1262 to 1258. Earnhardt's crew won the inaugural McDonald's/POWERade championship in 2003. Elliott Sadler's crew, a seven-time weekly winner, finished third with 1248 points. The crew for Nextel Cup champion, Kurt Busch, was fourth (1240) and Kevin Harvick's crew rounded out the top five (1222). "I think it's awesome that my guys won the McDonald's/POWERade pit crew championship," said Stewart. "They've worked hard all year, in the gym and at the race track. And when track position was tough to come by, they gave it to me with fast pit stops. My guys definitely earned this championship."
      Stewart's over-the-wall crew consists of: Chuck White (jackman), Tom Dean (front-tire carrier), Mike Lingerfelt (front-tire changer), Jody Fortson (rear-tire carrier), Todd Foster (rear-tire changer), Jeff "Gooch" Patterson (gas man) and Brian Larson (catch can). The team's crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa.(DMF Commincations PR)(11-24-2004), for the season standings see my Pit Crew News/Awards page.

    • Marlins pit crew takes the honors at Homestead: Sterling Marlin's pit crew took top honors in the NASCAR season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was the third McDonald's/POWERade win of the season for the #40 crew. Marlin's Coors Light Dodge spent the least amount of time on pit road - 238.383 seconds. Bobby Labonte's Interstate Batteries Chevrolet was second at 241.073 and coming in third was Michael Waltrip's #15 NAPA Chevy at 258.508. 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 Tony Glover and the pit crew coach is Phil Horton.(DMF Commincations PR)(11-24-2004), for the top 10, race by race winner and season standings see my Pit Crew News/Awards page, past race results on the very large 2004 Pit Crew Past News page.

    • Docs not happy with NASCAR's hard liquior decision: Backed by poll results it claims show a majority of Americans believe sports leagues should reduce the amount of alcohol marketing, the American Medical Association [AMA] on Tuesday called on NASCAR to reverse its recent decision to recind its long-standing ban on sponsorships from hard liquor companies. "We believe (NASCAR) should use its new-found marketing and cultural influence to be a positive role model, not to endanger the lives and health of youth through the glamorization of liquor," said Dr. J. Edward Hill, president-elect of the AMA. "Alcohol is involved in a third of all automobile accidents that kill teenagers, so advertising liquor on the actual race cars that youth idolize sends the wrong message." In its statement calling for NASCAR to reverse its stance on hard liquor sponsorships, the AMA cited a recently completed study by The Mellman Group, which polled 1,000 adults 18 years old and older. Sixty-nine percent of those participating agreed sports teams and leagues should reduce the amount of alcohol marketing underage fans are exposed to. In addition, 44 percent said NASCAR should reverse its decision on hard liquor, while 30 percent agreed with NASCAR's decision and 25 percent had no opinion. "NASCAR - already a billion-dollar industry - is clearly willing to trade the health and safety of its young viewers for more profits.," Hill said. NASCAR officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.(ThatsRacin.com) and see the AMS's statement at ThatsRacin.com
      Guess the Doctors missed this part of the NASCAR PR [from Nov 10th]: "The distilled spirits companies participating in NASCAR must agree to comply with the Distilled Spirits Council's "Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing" and abide by the Code Review Board's decisions. Each company's marketing activities will be grounded in a responsible behavior message. A dedicated portion of advertising by spirits companies in NASCAR will be solely focused on encouraging responsible drinking decisions, with all remaining advertising including a responsible behavior tag."(11-24-2004)

    • Gillette Young Guns - Ford 400 Notes: It was Kurt Busch's championship to lose, and during the Ford 400 on Sunday, it looked as though there was a chance that might happen. In the end though, like he and his #97 team had done so many times during the course of the season, Busch overcame numerous challenges and obstacles at Homestead en-route to a fifth-place finish to clinch the 2004 championship by a mere eight points over fellow Young Gun Jimmie Johnson.
      * As the highest finishing Gillette Young Gun, a $1,000 donation will be made to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC) on behalf of Jimmie Johnson. This is the 13th time this year that a donation in Johnson's name has been made to the NPCC. To date, $36,000 has been donated to the NPCC over the course of the season in the name of the Gillette Young Guns.
      * As the race winner and being the highest finishing eligible driver in the contingency program, Greg Biffle picked up the $4,800 Gillette Mach3 Turbo Award.
      * Five members of the Gillette Young Guns made the top-10 and were awarded the chance to battle for the Chase for the 2004 NEXTEL Cup. They were Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(11-24-2004)

    • Las Vegas to honor NASCAR champion Kurt Busch on Dec. 5: Local race fans will get an opportunity to welcome hometown hero and newly crowned NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch back to Las Vegas during a special celebration at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 5 at the Fremont Street Experience. "It's an honor to be recognized by the people of Las Vegas for what we have accomplished," Busch said. "I'm looking forward to having an opportunity to celebrate and share this championship with everyone in my hometown." Officials from local, state and federal offices will be on hand to make special presentations to Busch, a graduate of Durango High School. The ceremony, which will be held on the First Street Stage near the Golden Nugget, will be free of charge and open to the public. Busch will be on hand to address the crowd - only 14 days following his clinching of one of motorsports' most coveted titles. "It's hard to believe that just five years ago we were watching Kurt race Modifieds and Legends at the Bullring," said Chris Powell, Las Vegas Motor Speedway general manager. "His rise to the top of NASCAR's premier series has been phenomenal. It's a special time for our entire community to have a local product like Kurt win NASCAR's biggest championship. This puts him in an elite group with Greg Maddux and Andre Agassi as one of Las Vegas' biggest sports heroes. "We're happy that we can do our part to recognize his outstanding accomplishments, and we invite everyone in the Las Vegas area to join us on Fremont Street Dec. 5 to show Kurt how much we appreciate what he has done." For more information on this event, please contact Las Vegas Motor Speedway's public relations department at (702) 632-8266.(LVMS PR)(11-24-2004)

    • Homestead TV Overnight Ratings 47% Up - Charlotte ratings come in 2nd: NBC's coverage of Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, delivered a 5.6 overnight rating/11 share the best overnight rating in the event's six year history, according to Nielsen Media Research. Kurt Busch held-off Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to win NASCAR's hotly contested inaugural "Chase for the Nextel Cup."
      The 5.6/11 (1-5:30pm/et) for the Ford 400 was a 47% gain over the 3.8/8 (1-5:15pm/et) last year when Matt Kenseth clinched the championship at the Ford 400. The 5.6 overnight rating was also a 24% improvement over the previous best overnight rating for the event, a 4.5/9 when Tony's Stewart clinched the 2002 championship. Since broadcasting the NASCAR Nextel Cup season finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway, NBC has increased the overnight rating 87% from a 3.0/7 in 1999.
      The 5.6 overnight rating for the Ford 400 also marks the best performance ever against Sunday afternoon football competition. The previous high was a 4.7 overnight rating/9 for the 2003 EA Sports 500 from Talladega.
      "We are thrilled with the continued success of NASCAR on NBC and TNT," said Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports. "When the top 4 drivers were separated by just nine points with 72 laps to go it proved positively the wisdom of the "Chase." In that moment the sport's burgeoning popularity coupled with the innovative season ending "Chase" and ISC's investment to create a track worthy of hosting a true championship event, all combined to create exceptional drama."
      The rating peaked at a 7.1/13 from 5-5:30pm/et as Greg Biffle took the checkered flag to win the race and his teammate Kurt Busch clinched the NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship.
      NBC's "Discover Card Countdown to Green" pre-race show (noon-1pm/et) earned a 2.8/7 up 22% from a 2.3/5 in 2003. The 2.8/7 also outperformed CBS's "NFL Today" by four% as the hour-long NFL pre-game show earned a 2.7/7 (noon- 1pm/et). National ratings will be not be available until next Monday as a result of the Thanksgiving holiday.(NBC PR)(11-22-2004)
      Panthers outdraw Chase finale: Sunday's Carolina Panthers broadcast edged NASCAR's Ford 400 in the local ratings. The Panthers got a 15.3 rating, meaning 15.3 percent of the households in the Charlotte area were tuned to the game on Fox (WCCB, Ch. 18). The race got a 12.4 rating on NBC (WCNC, Ch. 36), more than twice the overall national rating, which was a 5.5. The national rating was up 45 percent over the same race in 2003 and up 22 percent from the 2002 numbers, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research.(Charlotte Observer)(11-24-2004)


      News and Rumors from November 23, 2004

    • Fennig wins Wiper Award: Internet voters have selected Jimmy Fennig as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race after his driver, Kurt Busch, overcame several setbacks to finish fifth in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and collect the Nextel Cup championship. Wypall [www.wypall.com] says nearly 65 percent of voters selected Fennig after Busch overcame a broken wheel and other problems to collect the title in Roush Racing's #97 Ford. Tony Eury Sr., crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s #8 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr., won $10,000 for the charities of his choice after collecting the most weekly victories in the voting this year with 10 wins.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-23-2004)

    • Pit Bull goes poof: 'Pit Bull,' the weekly NASCAR discussion show on Speed featuring a panel of print reporters, will not return for 2005. In an e-mail to the show's participants sent Tuesday, Speed Channel president Rick Miner said "we live by ratings and 'Pit Bull' did not make the cut for 2005."(ThatsRacin.com)(11-23-2004)

    • Crown Royal to be Primary Sponsor in Selected races on the #97: Diageo, the world's leading premium drinks business, today announced its Crown Royal brand will become a primary sponsor of 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch and the #97 Roush Racing Sharpie/Irwin car for select races throughout the 2005 season. Crown Royal becomes the first spirits brand to enter the sport since NASCAR recently announced that spirits companies would be allowed to participate as team sponsors.
      The Crown Royal sponsorship will be built around Diageo's existing relationship with Roush Racing, which started in 2003 with a primary sponsorship of Matt Kenseth and the #17 Roush Racing car for Diageo's flavored malt beverage Smirnoff ICE. That sponsorship continued for part of 2004 before switching to the #97 car late in the season. Diageo will utilize the Crown Royal brand's new association with NASCAR to promote responsible drinking with millions of NASCAR's adult fans.
      "We're excited that Crown Royal will be entering NASCAR so prominently with a sponsorship of the sport's newest champion, Kurt Busch and Roush Racing," said Mark Waller, Executive Vice President, Consumer Strategy and Marketing, Diageo. "Our association with this world class racing team gives Diageo the opportunity to connect with millions of adult NASCAR fans, and remind them about the importance of responsible drinking. A multi-million dollar marketing budget supporting this sponsorship will include dedicated social responsibility messaging."
      Busch, 26, captured his first NASCAR championship on Sunday, November 21 by rallying to finish fifth in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. NASCAR's newest champion won three races during the 2004 season to increase his career total to 11 NASCAR victories. The championship season marks the second in a row for Roush Racing following last season's championship with Matt Kenseth and the #17 car.
      "I'm thrilled about the opportunity to continue the partnership with Crown Royal as they further commit to our sport," Busch said. "I know that as the NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion I am in a great position to help Crown Royal reach our fans with the importance of responsible drinking."
      Crown Royal's integrated motorsports marketing plan will include primary sponsorship of the #97 car at select races during the 2005 season including the Brickyard 400. When Crown Royal is not a primary sponsor, the brand will support Kurt as an associate sponsor of the #97 car during the 2005 season. Crown Royal will also continue to engage race fans across the country to "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly." with its 2005 title sponsorship of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions.
      For more information about Diageo, its people, brands, and performance, visit us at www.diageo.com. For more information on Crow Royal, visit www.crownroyal.com/racing.(Alan Taylor Communications PR), see an image of the cae on my #97 Team Paint Schemes page.(11-23-2004)

    • No word on BANG UPDATE: The weekend passed without the announcement on the future of Bang Racing that owner Alex Meshkin had promised two weeks earlier. Bang fielded trucks for Travis Kvapil and had planned to move to the Busch Series next year. Kvapil has driven in three Nextel Cup races for Penske Racing, though, and that team is working on a deal for him.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(11-22-2004)
      UPDATE: hearing that crew chief Eric Phillips left the team after Homestead, supposedly the team only has a twenty race Busch Series deal in place with Line-X. Kvapil has said he is signed thru 2005, imagine that hinges on a full-time sponsor. Most rumors point to Kavapil in Penske's Kodak Dodge in 2005.(11-23-2004)

    • Kurt's Cap: got many email's complaining about 2004 Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch leaving his Sharpie Cap on during the singing of the National Anthem....anyhow, Busch was on Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain [can catch re-air at 9am on Tuesday, Nov 23rd], Dave asked Kurt about it, and Kurt seemed surprised and said he was late getting to his car, and didn't hear or realize the National Anthem was being played at the time.....so let's chalk it up to an honest mistake.(11-23-2004)

    • Last Time Ford won drivers championships in two consecutive seasons? In 1968 and 1969 when David Pearson won in a Holman-Moody Ford crew chiefed by Jake Elder.(11-23-2004)


      News and Rumors from November 22, 2004

    • Sunoco Truck to benefit Victory Junction Gang: For the past 11 years, Sunoco has produced a mini-hauler for sale at its participating Sunoco and APlus retail locations. This year, to celebrate its first year as official fuel supplier of NASCAR, the truck will have a NASCAR theme. The proceeds from sales of the mini-hauler will go to benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., to the tune of $250,000. Beginning Nov. 23, you can purchase the Sunoco mini-hauler ($19.99) with featured drivers Richard Petty, Kyle Petty, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Robby Gordon. Each hauler makes authentic truck sounds when turned on, has working head and tail lights and side panels with Sunoco-themed racing graphics. Inside the truck, a racing car sits on a pedestal and rotates when the truck is rolled, while a spotlight focuses its beam on the race car. Each truck also comes with a mini war wagon, complete with Goodyear tires, Sunoco dump cans and Sunoco checkered flags. Equity Marketing has produced some 150,000 of the mini-haulers for sale, and the trucks will be in participating locations beginning Nov. 23. Should fans wish to order any of the previous 10 mini-haulers, point-of-purchase displays will be located in participating retailers for this purpose.(NASCAR.com)(11-22-2004)

    • Hmiel loses hard card, will NOT spot for Dale Jr. Sunday MORE II: NASCAR officials confiscated Dale Earnhardt Inc. Steve Hmiel's hard card on Saturday and escorted him from the garage at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hmiel was reprimanded in the trailer for inappropriate language over the radio during the Craftsman Truck race on Friday. In addition to Hmiel's position of technical director for DEI, he is also Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s spotter. Earnhardt is currently fourth in the Chase, 72 points behind Kurt Busch. Tony Eury Jr., car chief for the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet, says Hmiel's absence is indefinite, and he will not return on Sunday. When asked who will spot for Junior, Eury Jr., replied, "Some guy named Danny." The Sporting News has learned that Danny Culler, who used to spot for the late Dale Earnhardt, will spot for Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday's Ford 400.(FoxSports)(11-20-2004)
      UPDATE: Steve Hmiel, technical director for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and the usual weekend spotter for Dale Earnhardt Jr., was told to leave Homestead-Miami Speedway for the remainder of the weekend Saturday morning by NASCAR President Mike Helton. The move is a suspension in fact, if not in name. Hmiel was not allowed to spot for Earnhardt Jr. during two Saturday Nextel Cup practice sessions, or for his son, Shane, in Saturday's Busch Series race. Hmiel is also prohibited from spotting for Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday's Ford 400. Earnhardt Jr. is one of five drivers eligible to win the Chase for the Nextel Cup in the race. Officials with Dale Earnhardt Inc. could not be immediately reached for comment late Saturday. Hmiel was asked to leave for making several "inappropriate remarks" – directed at NASCAR officials – over a team radio during Friday's Truck series race, in which he was spotting for his son. "The comments showed a total lack of respect for NASCAR officials. They were totally inappropriate," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications. At the time of the incident the race was under caution and NASCAR had awarded Shane Hmiel the "free pass" for the first driver not on the lead lap. However, after a review of the circumstances, which included Hmiel crossing the pit road commitment line, NASCAR took back the free pass. Steve Hmiel then lit into NASCAR officials repeatedly over the team radio, including at one point declaring, "NASCAR (expletive) it up." Hmiel reported to the spotter's stand Saturday morning for the first Cup practice session, but was called into a meeting with Helton, during which he was told to leave the track, Hunter said.(ThatsRacin.com)
      AND NASCAR said Hmiel, director of motorsports at Dale Earnhardt Inc., made disparaging remarks about series officials over the radio during Friday's Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hmiel was spotting for his son, Shane, when he became angry about a ruling against him. He was called in for a meeting with NASCAR president Mike Helton Saturday morning and was sent home. "It showed complete disrespect for NASCAR and its officials, so after a meeting with Mike Helton, he was sent home for the weekend," said NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo.(AP/ESPN.com)(11-21-2004)
      UPDATE: Danny Culler, who used to spot for Dale Earnhardt Jr's father, replaced Hmiel on the spotter's stand Sunday. Halfway through the race, Earnhardt praised Culler on the team radio: "Hey Danny, I know you been doing this a while, but I really like the way you spot. You've done a good job."(Dallas Morning News)(11-22-2004)

    • Crew Chief Changes at Hendrick? UPDATE 3: 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)
      UPDATE: Nextel Cup rookie Brian Vickers is expected to get a new crew chief next season and be reunited with Lance McGrew, the crew chief with whom Vickers won the 2003 Busch Series championship, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Vickers’ crew chief for the #25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet this season, Peter Sospenzo, will remain with the Hendrick Motorsports organization in another capacity, sources said. Officials with Hendrick said Sunday no announcements on personnel changes will come until after the season.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-21-2004)
      UPDATE 2: After a lackluster rookie year in the #25 car, Brian Vickers will be reunited with his Busch Series crew chief, Lance McGrew. They won the Busch title in 2003, and some were surprised when McGrew didn't join Vickers during his rookie year in Cup. Vickers' current chief, Peter Sospenzo, will join Terry Labonte's limited run in 2005 [in the #44], and Jim Long, who was crew chief for Labonte's #5 Kellogg's Chevy, will work on the NBS program with rookies Boston Reid and Blake Feese and possibly a driver or two from the Cup stable. Alan Gustafson, who previously was the team engineer for the #25, will be Kyle Busch's crew chief on the #5.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-22-2004)
      AND Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick today announced key personnel changes affecting each of his organization's stock-car teams going into the 2005 NASCAR campaign. Racing veterans Jim Long, Lance McGrew and Peter Sospenzo will each assume fresh responsibilities next season, while lead engineer Alan Gustafson has been promoted to crew chief. As part of the restructuring effort, team executive Brian Whitesell will also transition into a new role. "With a new shop opening and drivers moving to different teams, it made sense for us to look at our organizational structure in a different light," Hendrick said. "These changes will create more opportunities for our folks and help us work together more efficiently."
      GUSTAFSON TO LEAD KELLOGG'S RACING: Gustafson, 29, has been named crew chief of Hendrick's #5 Kellogg's Chevrolets, which next season will feature NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie Kyle Busch as driver. A native of Ormond Beach, Fla., Gustafson cut his racing teeth working as a mechanic at local short tracks in his home state while taking mechanical engineering courses at nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Gustafson moved to North Carolina in 1996 to pursue a career in motor sports, gaining experience with various teams before joining Hendrick's in-house chassis effort in 1999. He was named lead engineer for the No. 5 Cup Series team the following year.
      LONG MOVES TO BUSCH SERIES: After leading the No. 5 NEXTEL Cup team for the past three years, Long will slide into the crew chief position with the No. 5 Lowe's-sponsored NASCAR Busch Series operation. The team has earned a championship, eight victories and six pole positions over the past two seasons. An announcement regarding driving duties for the No. 5 Busch Series team is forthcoming.
      McGREW AND VICKERS REUNITED: A Baton Rouge, La., native, McGrew, 36, has been named crew chief of the NEXTEL Cup No. 25 GMAC Financial Services team, a move that reunites him with driver Brian Vickers. The duo already has an impressive track record, winning Hendrick Motorsports' first-ever Busch Series championship together in 2003.
      SOSPENZO JOINS LABONTE EFFORT: A three-time winner on the NEXTEL Cup circuit, Sospenzo will work exclusively with two-time Cup Series champion Terry Labonte as crew chief of the new #44 Hendrick Motorsports team, which will attempt a 10-race schedule in 2005.
      WHITESELL NAMED TEAM MANAGER FOR 5, 25 & 44: Whitesell, 40, will take on the newly created position of team manager for the Nos. 5, 25 and 44 NEXTEL Cup teams. A native of Stuarts Draft, Va., he most recently held an identical post with Hendrick Motorsports' Nos. 24 and 48 efforts.
      Shop foreman Mark Thoreson and lead engineer Darian Grubb will share Whitesell's former duties with the "24/48" operation. The Nos. 5, 25 and 44 teams will be housed together in a new facility adjacent to the 24/48 building on the Hendrick Motorsports grounds. The new state-of-the-art shop is scheduled to open before the 2005 season.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(11-22-2004)

    • Stewart not happy with penalty: #20-Tony Stewart had plenty reason to be upset about Sunday after a questionable penalty for ''disobeying a NASCAR directive'' dropped him from first to 25th on Lap 170, then a miscalculation by his pit crew left him short on fuel four miles from the finish. After climbing out of his car, Stewart had an angry exchange with members of his team, who immediately surrounded the driver to shield him from fans and photographers. As Stewart unclipped his protective harness and pulled off his gloves and other parts of his fire suit, he threw them angrily against the car. ''I'm just upset,'' said Stewart, who needed several minutes to regain his composure. Stewart, who led three times Sunday, lost two of those advantages coming out of cautions, the first when NASCAR officials said he failed to maintain ''a smooth and consistent speed'' before a restart on Lap 170, and the second when his car, desperate for gas, nearly stopped in front of eventual winner #16-Greg Biffle just after the green flag dropped for the final dash to the finish. ''I was lucky I didn't get run over,'' said Stewart, who finished sixth in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. ``I don't know [what happened]. I don't do fuel mileage. I just drive. I can't launch the space shuttle or anything else. I just drive, all right?'' As for the black-flag penalty, which forced the #20 Home Depot Chevy into the pits, Stewart had even less explanation. ''I'm kind of curious myself right now as to what that penalty was all about,'' said Stewart, who repeatedly has run afoul of NASCAR officials in his short six-year career. ``I'm going to talk to [NASCAR president] Mike Helton. I'm going to find that out myself.''(Miami Herald)(11-22-2004)

    • Crew Changes at the #17: #17-Matt Kenseth fell from last year's title to eighth this year, and his crew will be overhauled. At least five crew members are expected to either come off the road or change teams completely, but owner Jack Roush says he won't do any crew swapping in the off-season. "Some of the people have had their jobs for a long time, and Robbie (Reiser, crew chief) is going to reassess the motivation and capabilities, both the physical attributes and the mental attitudes, of everybody," Roush says. Some will be reassigned, and others will move on.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(11-22-2004)

    • Busch 4th Youngest Series Champ:
      1. Bill Rexford, won championship on 10-29-50: Born 3-14-27; 23 years, 229 days old
      2. Jeff Gordon, 11-12-95: Born 8-4-71; 24 years, 100 days
      3. Jeff Gordon, 11-16-97: 26 years, 104 days
      4. Kurt Busch, 11-21-04: Born 8-4-78; 26 years, 109 days
      5. Jeff Gordon, 11-8-98: 27 years, 96 days
      6. Richard Petty, 11-8-64: Born 7-2-37; 27 years, 129 days.(DBNJ)(11-22-2004)

    • Hendrick honored: Car owner Rick Hendrick was honored by NASCAR drivers and officials Sunday afternoon, one day after he returned to the track for the first time since four family members and several employees were killed in a plane crash. NASCAR president Mike Helton stopped the pre-race meeting to welcome Hendrick, who received a standing ovation from drivers, pit crew members and others. "We love you, it's great to have you back," Helton said.(USA Today/AP)(11-22-2004)

    • Newman not happy with dirty track: Newman's #12 Alltel Dodge appeared to cut a tire, one of several that helped cause a track-record 12 cautions. "It was pretty embarrassing that NASCAR didn't clean up the track when it was in that condition," Newman said. "The track had a lot of debris on it all day. Before the race even started it looked like they couldn't even blow the debris off of it. They made mention in the drivers' meeting that they were going to keep everything clean. It's very disappointing, but it's pretty convenient and on par for NASCAR."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(11-22-2004)

    • Protesters at Miami: Steve Richman, director of a new group called the National Association for Minority Race Fans, joined 16 other protesters near the entrance of Homestead-Miami Speedway for about two hours before Sunday's race. The goal of the protest was the group's mission statement of promoting a safe environment at the racetrack for minority fans and to promote racial diversity among NASCAR competitors and employees. Richman said he was thrilled at the opportunity to ``deliver their message in a place as diverse as South Florida.'' Among the demonstrations was an offer to exchange an American flag to any fan who would turn in a Confederate flag to the group. The protesters, who claimed NASCAR events are unsafe for women and minorities, met some resistance from the predominantly white fans filing in to the racetrack who shouted racial obscenities, according to Richman. Despite the battle of words, the demonstration proceeded without violence. ''We're used to being called idiots and a lot of worse things when we're out there,'' Richman said. ``Overall, I think it went well.'' The Atlanta-based group, which formed during the summer, has undertaken ''peaceful demonstrations'' at other NASCAR events in Talladega and Atlanta the past couple of months. Richman said the group will continue to plan events during next year's season.(Miami Herald)(11-22-2004)



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