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    MAY 16-22, 2005

      News from May 23, 2005

      News from May 22, 2005

    • Ford vs. Kahne: A case in U.S. District Court in Michigan provides an inside look at NASCAR contracts between teams and drivers. Ford has sued Kasey Kahne for breach of contract for leaving a Ford-backed team to drive Dodges for Evernham Motorsports in 2004. Kahne had a five-year contract with car owner Robert Yates and a supplemental contract with Ford before joining Evernham. Kahne's lawyers argue that Ford could not provide a suitable ride for him, allowing him to seek a ride elsewhere. Kahne's contract with Yates was submitted May 12 by Kahne's attorneys, who seek a summary judgment. The case is scheduled to go to trial in August. Kahne's contract with Yates shows it was signed Feb. 4, 2002, and was for the 2002-04 seasons. Yates' team had the option to extend the contract through 2006. According to the contract, Kahne was to be paid a $100,000 salary in 2002 while in the Busch series. His salary was to increase to $150,000 the next year and go to $225,000 in 2004. The contract states if Yates moved Kahne to Cup in 2004, Kahne's salary would be $700,000 for his rookie season. The salary was scheduled to increase to $850,000 the following year and go to $1 million in his third year in Cup. The contract stated Kahne would receive 35 percent of the race purse minus bonuses designated for the team. He would receive 50 percent of the race purse for a top-three finish. He would receive 35 percent of the season-ending money based on his placement in the driver standings. If he finished in the top three, he would receive 50 percent of the money. The final clause in the contract dealt with confidentiality. "All parties hereto acknowledge that the terms and contents of this agreement are confidential in nature and that neither will divulge any of the terms herein to anyone, except as may be required by law or for tax accounting or other reporting obligations."(News and Record)(5-22-2005)

    • NASCAR HOF news: The buzz in the Nextel Cup garage says the search for a NASCAR Hall of Fame has boiled down to two scenarios. The first would have the hall located in Kansas City, where Lesa France Kennedy spearheaded construction of Kansas Speedway. Kennedy is president of International Speedway Corp., which is majority owned by her father, Bill France, Jr., and other family members, including her brother, NASCAR Chairman Brian France. Kennedy is seen as her brother’s ultimate successor at NASCAR at some as-yet-undefined point in the future.
      The other scenario is that the battle will be between Atlanta, which first approached NASCAR about housing the hall last year, and Charlotte, whose metro area is home to most of the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series teams. Atlanta has a deep war chest with corporate support from Home Depot, Coca-Cola and UPS, among others, while Charlotte has strong grass-roots community support and is launching a massive marketing push. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce has launched a website, , which prominently features the NASCAR bar logo, one of the most closely guarded trademarks in sports merchandising. NASCAR officials said although the Charlotte Chamber was not given formal permission to use the NASCAR logo and is not paying a licensing fee to display it, NASCAR has no objections to its use on the website or other hall of fame promotional material.(Speed Channel)(5-22-2005)

    • Skydiver at LMS, MORE: been getting questions about a supposed skydiver accident at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday night before the Nextel All-Star Challenge. I was not there,just saw the little bit of TV coverage, have not heard or seen anything out there but was told that is was announced on LMS's PA system that it was NOT a person that crashed/went into the parking lot, but did not specify what it was.
      MORE Spectators and media alike thought a tragedy unfolded in Saturday’s pre-race festivities when an unopened parachute plummeted to the infield ground. Fortunately, the chute had no skydiver attached to it and fell harmlessly to the ground. At the time, no one knew what had happened and spectators gasped at the thought of a skydiver taking a fall. An announcement from NASCAR shortly before the start of The Open put fans and media at ease.(Gaston Gazette)
      AND there was concern about the cut-away canopy that landed outside LMS last night. The jumper was not happy with the way his primary canopy opened so he "cut-away" and deplyed his reserve. The jumper landed safely, on target, and on time, in the speedway along with the other two parachutists.(5-22-2005)

    • Will the All-Star Challenge stay at LMS? Fans were handed buttons as they walked through the gates at Lowe's Motor Speedway that read, "Racing was built here. Racing belongs here." Even as local and racetrack officials intensified their efforts to keep the Nextel All-Star Challenge at the 1.5-mile speedway, speculation continued to grow it might be moved. The merger between Nextel Communications and Sprint, which will be finalized later this year, triggered a lot of talk the race could be moved around on a rotating basis. Fueling the speculation is the fact NASCAR is owned and controlled by the France family - the same people who own International Speedway Corp. Lowe's is a member of rival Speedway Motorsports Inc., while the tracks in Richmond and Kansas City are owned by ISC. In short, the France family would make millions by moving the all-star race to one of their tracks. Nextel officials, however, still love Charlotte. They are impressed with the community's passion for the sport and the way speedway officials have fought to keep back-to-back races in the area in May. The decision to keep the race at Lowe's doesn't belong to Nextel. "That's one of things that's NASCAR's call," said Michael Robichaud, Nextel's senior director of sports and entertainment marketing. "We expect it to stay here, we expect it to continue to grow as an event, to grow and learn from what we learned this year and take it a few steps forward. Hopefully it will be here next year, but I haven't been privy to next year's schedule. These are the best fans, they love the sport. We love it here. It's been great to us here." Nextel officials not only aren't part of the scheduling process, they apparently aren't even given a preview of the schedule. Nextel didn't learn its all-star race was returning to Lowe's until the schedule was released to the public last May.(Augusta Chronicle)(5-22-2005)

    • ESPN to Debut SportsCentury Profile of Tony Stewart: The far-reaching ESPN television network will debut a SportsCentury profile of Tony Stewart, driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, at 2:00pm/et on Mon., May 23 on ESPN with a simulcast on ESPN HD. The SportsCentury: Tony Stewart profile will make its ESPN Classic debut at 8:00pm/et on Fri., May 27.
      By having an ESPN SportsCentury profile, Stewart joins an elite list of racing counterparts previously chronicled on SportsCentury. They include Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, Tim Flock, A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Bill Vukovich.(5-22-2005)

    • Rusty thinking of racing in Cup in 2006? not with Penske? Speculation is intensifying that #2-Rusty Wallace might not be retiring at the end of the season after all. This year has been billed as "Rusty's Last Call," as his final season on the NASCAR tour. However, in the past few days there has been intense speculation that Wallace is having second thoughts about hanging it up while he's running so well. A question - car owner Roger Penske may be under pressure from sponsor Miller to keep Wallace in that car another year. However Penske just bought out Wallace's share of Penske South, after nearly 15 years as business partners, and Wallace has been complaining about the huge tax bite that sale is costing him. The prospect that Wallace might not be hanging it up has some rival car owner eager to make a bid for his services. Ford men are expressing an interest in Wallace, who drove for Ford for several years before switching to Dodge. Chevy men are also expressing an interest in Wallace. Miller officials of course want their NASCAR team competing head-to-head against the Budweiser team, with superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. And so far Wallace is doing just that - he's led 204 laps, to Earnhardt's five. Wallace has four top-10s, Earnhardt five.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-22-2005)

    • New Product by Racing Electronics: Racing Electronics has a revolutionary new product for the serious racer. A new microphone, called RealClear, is for both headsets and helmets and virtually eliminates all unwanted background noise which allows all listeners to hear a cleaner copy (crisper reproduction) of the talkers' voice. The new RealClear microphone utilizes a unique shape rather than electronics to accomplish the increased clarity. "We had been working with electronic technology to eliminate more background noise for nearly two years and thought we could find an electronic solution. With noise levels that change from track to track as well as series to series, we found that an electronic solution was not the answer. RealClear is an affordable option and RE is proud to be the exclusive supplier", says Bruce Silver, President. There is no need for bulky belt-packs or batteries with the new RealClear microphone. The RealClear microphone is an available option on any new headset or Racing Electronics can adapt any 2-way headset or racers helmet to work with the new RealClear product either at the race track with an RE Service Technician or in our New Jersey or North Carolina Service Centers.(Racing Electronics) also see the scanners frequency page...sponsored by Racing Electonics.(5-22-2005)

    • National Anthem at LMS - one good, one huh? Diamond Rio did a nice job singing the National Anthem for the Truck Series race tonight at Lowe's Motor Speedway...and no hats on either.......(5-20-2005)
      as for Saturday night at the Nextel All-Star Challenge....Anthony Hamilton snag the National Anthem....was that off-key? his own version? or just plain bad?(5-22-2005)

      News from May 21, 2005

    • Shelmerdine gets an assoc for 2005: #27 Kirk Shelmerdine Racing would like to welcome back Wabash Motorsports as an associate sponsor for the Nextel Open. Wabash Motorsports will be continuing as an associate sponsor through the rest of the 2005 season.(Kirk Shelmerdine Racing)(5-21-2005)

    • Tide to Go at Charlotte on the #32: #32-Bobby Hamilton Jr. will be sporting a new paint scheme for his sponsor Tide for both the Nextel All-Star Challenge festivities and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Tide to Go, a new instant stain remover that helps eliminate many fresh food and drink stains on the spot will be featured on the #32 PPI Motorsports Chevy.(PPI Motorsports)(5-21-2005)

    • Nemechek/Harvick altercation: in the garage after Joe Nemechek and Kevin Harvick came back from the infield care center at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Nextel All-Star Challenge, Nemechek walked up to Harvick's wrecked car and started to apologize to Harvick's crew when Harvick walked up and they went nose-to-nose. Here's what was said:
      Nemechek: "Hey, I'm sorry about that dude."
      Harvick: "I'm starting to get tired of you wrecking me."
      Nemechek: "I didn't start the deal."
      Harvick: "You called me out at Daytona."
      Nemechek: "Hey, if you wanna go at it..let's have at it big boy."
      Harvick: "But you know what, you need to take your old washed up [butt] out of here...that's what you need to do."(from a source in the garage at LMS)(5-21-2005)

    • #1-Martin Truex Jr. won the fan vote and will run in the Nextel All-Star Challenge. Sorry, no idea on who was 2nd or how the voting results ended up

    • Martin wins the Nextel All-Star Challenge: #6-Mark Martin, in his final Nextel Cup season, won the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Martin also won segment 1 and was strong all night, leading 24 laps. It is the 2nd win in the All-Star race for Martin [also in 1998], Martin said if they field a car for him in 2006, he'd run it in the All-Star race. Martin is the oldest driver to ever win the event. Finishing 2nd was #38-Elliott Sadler, followed by #25-Brian Vickers [the Nextel Open winner], #24-Jeff Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson. Wrecks and problems left 11 drivers on the lead lap at the end, with three of them damaged. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was never a factor and was involved in the 'Big One' when #20-Stewart got into #01-Nemechek, who turned into #29-Harvick. Some bad blood between Harvick and Nemechek boiled over, with Harvick firing his HANS at the windshield of Nemechek and words between the two a few times, Ten cars were involved in the wreck, with 7 retiring right after the wreck. #12-Newman got loose on the Segment 3 restart and slid backwards into the wall and collected his 'teammate' #2-Rusty Wallace, who had no place to go. See my All-Star Challenge Page for the Nextel Open results, Each segment results and starting lineup for each segment.
      See reults on my Nextel Open/Nextel All-Star Challenge Results page.(5-21-2005)

    • Vickers wins Nextel Open: #25-Brian Vickers won the Nextel Open at Lowe's Motor Speedway with a last lap bump of leader #0-Mike Bliss about 100 feet from the start-finish line. Pole sitters Mike Bliss had led the most lap with 16 before his 'mishap'. Vickers transfers into the Nextel All-Star Challenge. #77-Travis Kvapil was 3rd, followed by #5-Kyle Busch and #32-Bobby Hamilton Jr.
      See reults on my Nextel Open/Nextel All-Star Challenge Results page.(5-21-2005)

    • Jeff Gordon starts Driving School: Four-time NASCAR Cup champion #24-Jeff Gordon is joining forces with retired driving legend Mario Andretti to launch a driving school scheduled to open in August at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. The story says the new school will compete with those run by Richard Petty, which generates an estimated $25 million in annual revenue at 25 tracks nationwide, and one run by Dale Jarrett, which had revenue of $1.8 million in its most recent fiscal year. Gordon won't be an investor in the school but will license his name for use, the story says. Plans call for expansion to additional tracks in 2006.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter) more info at

    • Marriage proposal a success . . . with a little help from Ken Schrader: Theresa Krueger never thought to ask why when she found out boyfriend Mark Spiller had booked them a weekend in Concord to enjoy NASCAR's Nextel All-Star weekend. Perhaps she'll be more inquisitive next time. Spiller, a long time Ken Schrader fan from Plainfield, Ill., made what he calls "a shot in the dark" several months ago, when he reached out in an attempt to meet the Nextel Cup veteran when the couple came to Lowe's Motor Speedway. That "shot" turned out more beneficial than Spiller could ever imagine when a simple meeting with Schrader morphed into a Schrader-assisted wedding proposal. After Nextel Cup practice concluded on Friday, Schrader spent several minutes with the couple giving them a tour of the garage, before leading them over to his #49 Red Baron Dodge. With the couple in tow, Schrader casually leaned inside the car and emerged with the ring case in which he promptly handed to Spiller. It became official just after 3:45 p.m. Eastern when the 36-year old Krueger said "yes" to Spiller's proposal on bended knee in front of Schrader's #49 Red Baron Dodge.
      "I'm still in disbelief that all of this came together," said Spiller, the 38-year old Illinois native. "Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Kenny would actually assist in my marriage proposal. We're both huge NASCAR fans, and Kenny Schrader fans; it's pretty cool that we had this opportunity and something we'll both never forget. and thank God she said yes. We'll eat Red Baron pizza and have food delivered from Schwan's on our anniversary every year!"
      As for Schrader? "I told him congratulations. It's a good thing Theresa said yes and probably what he was going for, but if she had said no, it'd surely made one of them blooper reels."(Williams Company)(5-21-2005)

      News from May 20, 2005

    • New Artwork by Garry Hill: "NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge 2004" - Matt Kenseth In The Roush Racing Ford Battles Past A Sliding Ryan Newman For The Lead On His Way To Victory In The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Race At Lowe’s Motor Speedway May 22, 2004. Garry Hill is pleased to present the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge 2004. The artwork captures the defining moment of the event as Matt Kenseth takes the lead from Ryan Newman. 500 prints and 50 artist’s proof prints have been produced each signed and numbered by NASCAR artist Garry Hill. Since 1987 Garry Hill has had the distinct honor and privilege of creating the artwork to commemorate the annual all-star race. More info at

    • #9 Crew are NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge Champions: The #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge pit crew of driver Kasey Kahne battled against the clock and 23 teams to earn the title as 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge Champions at the inaugural event presented by Motorola Thursday at the Charlotte Coliseum. Racing against the clock in team and individual skills components, 24 teams battled through four rounds of competition with only one team remaining at the event’s conclusion to answer the question of who owns pit road. In the final round of competition, the # 9 team defeated the # 42 Texaco Havoline team of driver Jamie McMurray by 1.69 seconds to secure the championship. Kahne’s pit crew completed a four-tire pit stop in 16.14 seconds in the finals to the # 42 team’s 17.83-second stop.
      The team received $70,000 in cash, as well as special leather jackets and championship rings by Jostens, which produced rings for the 2005 Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots and the 2005 World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox. Seven individual champions were also crowned in their respective positions. Each winning crew member was awarded a fully stocked Craftsman toolbox, along with a $10,000 cash prize, a special leather jacket and a championship ring from Jostens. Gas man Rodney Rhodes and catch-can man Brent Wentz were crowned champions in their fueling discipline in addition to winning the team title.
      The NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge presented by Motorola was an added component to the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, one of the nation’s elite sporting events. The only event of its kind officially sanctioned by NASCAR, this contest pitted over-the-wall athletes against each other in seven head-to-head skills competitions designed to showcase the talents of NASCAR’s top crew members. Components of the competition included individual and team contests for tire changers, tire carriers, gas men, jack men and catch-can men, with competitors earning more than $250,000 in guaranteed cash and prizes. Eligible teams included those able to compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.
      Position: Name, Team, Time (seconds)
      Front-tire change/carrierr: Mike Trower/Shane Cook, #10 Valvoline Chevy, 14.29
      Rear-tire changer/carrier: Andy Brown/Donald Richardson, #2-Miller Lite Dodge, 14.72
      Jack man: Kevin Pennell, #15 Napa Auto Parts 7.24
      Gas man and Catch-Can man: Rodney Rhodes/Brent Wentz, #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, 14.50
      Fans across the country can see the top teams in action during a special television presentation of the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge. The one-hour show will air on FX at 6 p.m., leading into the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on Saturday, May 21. MRN radio will also broadcast event highlights on May 21 at 6:00pm/et., see more on my Pit Crew News page, some results and images.(5-20-2005)

    • Levi's to sponsor Soap Box Derby, Johnson involved: The Levi Strauss Signature brand has entered into a sponsorship agreement with the All-American Soap Box Derby (AASBD) to become the title sponsor of the premier youth and family oriented racing program in the United States. The AASBD's annual event, held since 1934 in Akron involving boys and girls ages 8-17, will be called the All-American Soap Box Derby presented by Levi Strauss Signature. In addition, the Levi Strauss Signature* brand's spokesperson and current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points leader Jimmie Johnson will serve as the AASBD's national spokesperson. A NASCAR official youth initiative, the AASBD season runs year-round and is comprised of more than 450 races across the United States and overseas, culminating with the 68th AASBD Championship scheduled for July 30, 2005. Each competitor builds his / her own gravity-powered car from kits purchased from the AASBD, typically with assistance from a parent or other adult. By nurturing children to become solid community citizens through the teaching of basic construction skills, teamwork, the spirit of competition, perseverance and family values, the AASBD is highly respected by community leaders, educators, racing enthusiasts and beginners alike. For more information about the Levi Strauss Signature brand and its products visit To get involved or for more information on the About the All-American Soap Box Derby, call (330-733-8723) or visit Taylor Communications)(5-20-2005)

    • Hendrick teams up with college: Groundbreaking ceremony for the Joe Hendrick Center for Automotive Technology at the Central Piedmont Community College Levine Campus in Matthews, N.C. is scheduled for Monday, May 23 at 2:00pm/et.(Hendrick Motorsport)(5-20-2005)

    • Newman wins pole for All-Star Race: #12-Ryan Newman won the pole for the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway with a time of 122.443 seconds in his 3 laps and 4 tire pit stop. #6-Mark Martin will start 2nd, followed by #2-Rusty Wallace, #38-Elliott Sadler and #9-Kasey Kahne. #20-Tony Stewart came in too fast on his stop and slammed on the brakes and spun around. #15-Michael Waltrip bottomed out on his first lap, but saved it but will start 16th. Three drivers were penalized 20 seconds for speeding entering pit road: #88-Jarrett, #29-Harvick, #8-Earnhardt Jr. Three drivers were penalized 5 seconds for loose/missing lug nuts: #16-Biffle, #19-Mayfield, #24-Gordon. If Biffle didn't have the penalty, he would had won the pole with a 121.725 seconds. Newman's car is sporting the new Alltel logo. For qualifying times/starting lineup and pit stop times, see my Jayski's Nextel Open/All-Star Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup Page.(5-20-2005)

    • Bliss wins pole for Nextel Open: #0-Mike Bliss won the pole for the Nextel Open with an unofficial track record of 189.208mph, #5-Kyle Busch is on the outside pole, followed by #41-Casey Mears, #77-Travis Kvapil and #25-Brian Vickers. Two drivers wrecked on their first lap, #11-Jason Leffler [his 2nd car of the day] and #10-Scott Riggs. Leffler will have to go to a backup car, Riggs team may be able to fix the car as just the nose was damaged. For qualifying times/starting lineup, see my Jayski's Nextel Open/All-Star Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup Page.(5-20-2005)

    • Stock Car Fans - Ramblings Nextel Challenge:
      Two for one tonight when it came to quals.....
      First off, we timed in for the NEXTEL Open. Mike Bliss knocked Kyle Busch off the pole late to take the top-spot for tomorrow night's 30 lapper. His speed of 189.208 (28.540) was easily a new track record, but I betcha that'll stand for all of a week!
      Four Chevys and four Dodges in the Top-8. Only three Fords in the Open...the other six are already where you wanna be.
      Scott Riggs and Jason Leffler had problems and they'll be the caboose when they throw the green. With the Open being only a 30-lapper there'll be no time to waste on this train.
      Qualifying for the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge was up next, and we used the format which included a pit-stop again this year. Apparently, these guys still haven't figured out that NASCAR is timing pit-road speeds cause the usual cast of characters were caught again.
      One thing that didn't change was Ryan Newman on the three quarters of a second! Not only is he fast, but if you let his pit crew help they beat you to death even more!
      We've got twenty cars already in the Challenge....the winner of the Open will transfer along with a driver voted in by the fans (provided he's on the lead lap at the end of the Open).
      With a cool $1M on the line for the winner, forget that trophy & steering wheel stuff....just bring back that check!(Stock Car Fans)(5-20-2005)

    • Driver convicted in fatal limo wreck: A man whose truck rammed a limousine, sparking a fire that killed the wife of a former NASCAR crew chief and two others, was convicted Friday of three counts of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to five to six years in prison. Jeffrey Niles McFayden also was convicted in Guilford County Superior Court of one count of driving while impaired. Evidence showed the limousine, bringing the women back from a concert, was stopped in traffic on Interstate 40 Greensboro on Sept. 10, 2003 when it was struck from behind by McFayden. The limousine exploded almost immediately and trapped the victims. Tara Howell Parker, wife of Dale Jarrett's former crew chief, Shawn Parker; her stepsister, Mysti Howell Poplin, 24, and her half-sister, Megan Elizabeth Howell, 16, died of smoke inhalation and burns. McFayden's attorney, Krispen Culbertson, argued the fire sparked by a leak from the limo's gas tank resulted in the women's deaths, not the crash. Howard Neumann, chief Guilford County assistant district attorney, argued that McFayden was intoxicated and got behind the wheel without any regard for human life. McFayden had a blood-alcohol content of 0.17 after the crash, more than twice the legal limit, police said. The women's families also blame the limousine's gas tank in a pending lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. The lawsuit alleges that the limousine, a 1998 Lincoln Town Car, was defective because the fuel tank was behind the rear axle.(

    • New sponsor/look for Lepage at Lowe's UPDATE Underdog: This Friday [May 20th], The #37 R&J Racing Team will announce its two-race sponsorship program on Friday, May 20th with Classic Media, Inc. Classic Media is America's largest independent family entertainment company and manages some of the world's most recognized kids' and family properties across all media including feature film, television, home video and consumer products. The #37 R&J Racing Dodge Charger will be encouraging race fans to "Have No Fear!" at this weekend's upcoming Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge and next weekend's Coca-Cola 600. The team will be unveiling its "animated" new look on Friday just prior the Nextel All-Star Challenge open-practice at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.(R&J Racing)(5-19-2005)
      UPDATE: The #37 R&J Racing Dodge Charger has joined forces with Underdog, the world's most lovable superhero, for two of NASCAR's most high profile races, this weekend's Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge and the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday, May 28. The #37 racecar will be fueled by the "speed of lightning and roar of thunder" in its all-new red, white and blue Underdog paint scheme. In recent months the team has been referred to as the 'underdog' of Nextel Cup. Beginning with a 9th place finish in the Daytona 500, the team has sought week after week to qualify and race in every Nextel Cup event on the schedule thus far. Lepage and his crew are working against the odds with a small new team with big dreams. It's no secret that the team has been making waves and gaining a substantial amount of support from the fans. Kevin Lepage, driver of the #37 Dodge Charger said, "Underdog is one of my favorite cartoons. I was actually watching the show not long ago and thought about how our team was a lot like this scrappy superhero. So many fans have cheered for us as the 'underdog' team that continues to race against the odds, that it makes perfect sense to have the real Underdog character support the No. 37 Dodge Charger." For the next two races, R&J Racing has teamed up with Classic Media to bring Underdog himself to the racetrack.
      Since the animated TV series debuted in the 1960s, Underdog has become a pop-culture icon. Audiences all over the world continue to cheer Shoeshine Boy and his alter ego Underdog, as the unlikely superhero helps restore order to society whenever danger looms. Called into action by his would-be girlfriend, ace news reporter Sweet Polly Purebred, the anti-hero must thwart the evil plans of unsavory characters such as the mad scientist Simon Barsinister or the underworld boss Riff Raff. Using a phone booth to swiftly change into the pup-of-steel, Underdog flies into action. Underdog is currently starring in a national advertising campaign for Visa Check Card. A live action/CGI Underdog feature film is also currently in development with Spyglass Entertainment.(R&J Racing), see images of the car on my #37 Team Schemes page.(5-20-2005)

    • Why does TV miss restarts sometimes? In this week's "Ask the Producer," FOX producer Neil Goldberg answers the age-old question of why viewers are occassionally forced to miss on-track action due to commercials.
      "The shorter the track the more difficult it is at times to get back for all the restarts," Goldberg said. "When the caution comes out we must replay the reason for the caution, by that time the cars will be coming into pit. Once we have documented that we try to break for commercial. NASCAR has done a really good job of turning around the caution flags and we often get notice for the green with two laps to go. Pace laps at the short tracks can run from 50 seconds to 1 minute, 10 seconds where commercials are often 2:30. It is just a matter of math. We have to get the breaks in. We try to balance telling the story while at the same time meeting the networks sales commitments."(

    • Kahne tests at sprint car: Just five days after winning his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, Kasey Kahne returned to Richmond International Raceway for an impromptu test session. Kahne, who owns a USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship Series team joined his driver, Erin Crocker for a few extra laps around the ¾-mile facility on Thursday, May 19. Kahne had planned to have Kraig Kinser, son of World of Outlaws star Steve Kinser, behind the wheel of his second car, however due to the young Kinser's aggressive World of Outlaws schedule and his position in the points standings [second], Kinser will not be in the car for next month's Richmond Times-Dispatch 100. So, Kahne returned to his roots and joined his USAC team to help them get a feel for the track and gather notes for when they return Saturday, June 25. Although Kahne will not be at the June race weekend and doesn't know yet who he will have running the second Silver Crown car, he hopes to have a second trophy from Richmond International Raceway to display on his mantel after one of his cars wins the Richmond Times-Dispatch 100 USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship Series race.(RIR)(5-20-2005)

    • State comes thru for money for NASCAR HOF in Charlotte: State financing for Charlotte's NASCAR Hall of Fame bid cleared its first turn Wednesday, but tourism groups say they're prepared to put up a major roadblock if the city doesn't change the way it would handle the money. The N.C. Senate Finance Committee unanimously backed a funding bill that goes to the full Senate today. It would allow Charlotte to increase its tax on hotel rooms from 6 percent to 8 percent to help pay for the hall. That would give the city the highest room tax in the state. Charlotte is working to get a $137.5 million financing plan into NASCAR's hands by a May 31 deadline, and state backing is a key component. Charlotte is competing with four other cities for the hall, including Atlanta and Kansas City. The Florida Legislature's refusal this month to commit $30 million to Daytona Beach hurt that city's bid in many observers' eyes.(Charlotte Observer)(5-20-2005)

    • NASCAR Day - May 20th:
      * NASCAR Day , NASCAR's largest annual charity event, is less than two weeks away (Friday, May 20) and AutoZone is leading the charge by creating a national promotion for their support of this event
      * AutoZone, title sponsor of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division regional touring series, is selling NASCAR Day lapel pins at its more than 3,400 locations nationwide
      * For $5, fans may purchase a NASCAR Day pin and have the option of wearing their favorite NASCAR apparel to work on 5/20
      * AZ customers who purchase pins will have a chance to win a trip to meet Richard and Kyle Petty at the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Charlotte and take a VIP tour of the Victory Junction Gang Camp and Petty Enterprises race shop.
      * All proceeds from the sale of the pins go to the 2005 NASCAR Day Designated Charities.(NASCAR)(5-13-2005)
      AND The Betty Jane France Pediatric Center, Speediatrics, at Homestead Hospital will benefit directly as the nation participates in NASCAR's largest annual charitable event - NASCAR Day - this Friday, May 20. To help support this cause, the City of Homestead has proclaimed Friday as NASCAR Day encouraging the local community to join many of NASCAR's 75 million fans worldwide in celebrating the sport while giving back to the community.
      "We're pleased to proclaim May 20th, 2005 as NASCAR Day in the City of Homestead," said Mayor Roscoe Warren. "With NASCAR crowning its champions here in Homestead each November during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and with such a great cause as Speediatrics at Homestead Hospital, NASCAR Day is the perfect way to celebrate NASCAR and give back to the community."
      For NASCAR Day, fans, businesspeople and students will earn the opportunity to wear their favorite NASCAR gear to work or school in exchange for a minimum $5 donation to the 2005 NASCAR Day Designated Charities, including Speediatrics® at Homestead Hospital. Participants will also receive a commemorative NASCAR Day 2005 lapel pin (while supplies last). To participate in NASCAR Day, individuals and businesses can call Homestead-Miami Speedway for more information at (305) 230-5000.
      In addition to the Betty Jane France Pediatric Center, Speediatrics, at Homestead Hospital, NASCAR Day will also benefit the Speediatrics unit at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina, and Speedway Children's Charities.
      Individuals and organizations can also participate in NASCAR Day by visiting Individuals can make their $5 donation through the website and will be mailed the commemorative lapel pin. Businesses, schools and other organizations can take part by requesting a NASCAR Day Participation Kit. The kit includes posters, pins, envelopes and a Crew Chief Manual - everything needed to jump start NASCAR Day within the organization.(5-18-2005)
      AND click here to see a list of participating companies.(5-20-2005)

    • NASCAR DAY in Pennsylvania: Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has proclaimed May 20, 2005, as NASCAR DAY in Pennsylvania and urges everyone to make a donation to the NASCAR DAY fund to support NASCAR related charities.(Pocono Raceway)(5-20-2005)

      News from May 19, 2005

    • Ford steps down as Jarrett's crew chief UPDATE Wilburn interim crew chief: Robert Yates Racing (RYR) announced that Mike Ford has elected to step down as crew chief for the #88 UPS/Robert Yates Racing NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team and driver Dale Jarrett. Ford joined RYR in November 2003. “Mike made this decision based on what was in the best interest for himself and for his family,” said Eddie D’Hondt, general manager for RYR. “We obviously wish him the best in his future endeavors. We are actively pursuing someone to replace him,” D’Hondt continued. “Until we find the right individual for the job, we will fill the role in-house on an interim basis.”(RYR PR)(5-16-2005)
      UPDATE: Until a permanent replacement can be found for the role of crew chief, the duties of crew chief will be filled on an interim basis. Filling that role this weekend for Team UPS is veteran crew chief Bill Wilburn who served as crew chief for Rusty Wallace during the 2003 NASCAR season [and was Brendan Gaughan's crew cheif on the #77 Truck Series team for the 1st 5 races this year)(UPS Racing Site)(5-19-2005)

    • Rusty in, Mikey out at Trackside? hearing that Rusty Wallace will replace Michale Waltrip on Speed Channel's Trackside show, starting sometime this summer. No reason mentioned. The show airs on Friday's at various times, sometime live and sometimes same day coverage and is hosted by Steve Byrnes with Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond adding commentaty and funny stuff to the mix. Guest each week include drivers from the different NASCAR Series and other NASCAR personalities. This weeks scheduled guests: Mike Skinner, Shane Hmiel and Kurt Busch. The SPEED Channel Stage Truck will be located outside the track behind Turns 3 & 4 at Lowe's Motor Speedway and will start at 4:10pm/et with air time at 11:00pm/et, after the Truck Series race. It is free to watch live and no tickets are required.(5-19-2005)

    • Gordon to run DuPont Performance Alliance scheme at All-Star Race: Jeff Gordon’s #24 DuPont car will make its first appearance as the DuPont Performance Alliance car at the NASCAR Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge on Saturday, May 21. Designed by renowned NASCAR graphic artist Sam Bass, this special version of the 24 Chevrolet celebrates DuPont’s all-star collision repair centers throughout the United States. This paint scheme reverses the car’s primary colors of the fire and flame design, and the Performance Alliance logo and name will be featured on the hood, side panels and TV panel. Gordon, winner of the season-opening Daytona 500, will wear a specially created Performance Alliance-themed uniform.(DuPont), see images of the scheme on my #24 Team Schemes page.(5-19-2004)

    • #97 to run Blue Blade scheme at All-Star Race: Kurt Busch and his #97 IRWIN Industrial Tools Racing Team will run an "Unbreakable" theme this week at Lowe's Motor Speedway as Busch will sport a unique silver, blue and yellow paint scheme to showcase IRWIN Blue Blade utility knife blades during the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, Saturday, May 21. The IRWIN Blue Blade is a revolutionary utility blade that is unbreakable under normal work conditions. Its patented, bi-metal technology sets new standards of performance by delivering an unbreakable blade that lasts longer than standard utility blades. And since it's unbreakable, it's also safer to work with. The IRWIN Blue Blade is further enhanced by the quick and easy functionality and comfort of IRWIN Utility Knives, which recently received top honors in a test conducted by Tools of the Trade magazine. For more information about the IRWIN line of hand tools and power tool accessories, call 1-800-GO IRWIN or visit Racing/IRWIN Industrial Tools)(5-19-2005)

    • Office Depot adds more races to #99 sched: Roush Racing and Office Depot announced that Office Depot, the "Official Office Products Partner of NASCAR," is expanding its on-track sponsorship commitment with the #99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards to a total of 17 races for the remainder of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season. In addition to the nine races announced earlier this year, Office Depot will appear as the primary sponsor on the #99 Ford for eight additional races this season. The schedule includes both races at Dover, the two road course tracks (Infineon and Watkins Glen) and the second races at Pocono, Bristol, Martinsville and Phoenix. With the addition of these races, Office Depot will appear on Edwards' #99 Ford for six of the final 10 races in the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup." Office Depot will also become Track Sponsor for races at seven International Speedway Corporation (ISC) tracks that include Daytona International Speedway, California Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Watkins Glen International, Martinsville Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Plus, Office Depot has a new sponsorship relationship with Speedway Motorsports, Inc., at Bristol Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Race fans can follow news of Carl Edwards and the #99 race team all season long at Fans can watch video interviews with Edwards, get a sneak peak behind the scenes of Office Depot's NASCAR commercials, download screensavers of Edwards and the #99 Office Depot Ford and view or a gallery of exciting race photos.(Business Wire)(5-19-2005)

    • So what is up at Penske Racing? Now that Roger Penske owns all of Penske Racing South, crew chief Matt Borland has been signed to a contract extension and driver #12-Ryan Newman is in negotiations for a similar extension, the focus shifts to finding a replacement for Rusty Wallace. Penske bought the 48% share of the team owned by Wallace, Don Miller and John Erickson this week, giving the racing magnate complete control of the three-car [#2, #12, #77] team. Wallace has announced he'll retire at the end of this season, and many believe Jamie McMurray, whose contract with Chip Ganassi Racing ends this season, will climb into the #2 Miller Dodge. McMurray, who is dating Wallace's daughter, is trying to avoid all the speculation. "Last year I got to talking about my contract," McMurray said. "I'm not going to talk about that at all." Newman has talked with Roush Racing and Evernham Motorsports about a future, but he's leaning toward staying with Borland and Penske.(Augusta Chronicle)(5-19-2005)

    • Martin to run special scheme at Challenge: Mark Martin and the Viagra* (sildenafil citrate) Racing Team will take another stroll down memory lane during this weekend’s Nextel All-Star Challenge, with Martin’s No. 6 Viagra* Ford featuring a special Retro ’93 paint scheme for Saturday night’s Nextel All-Star event. The retro scheme is the second of four the team will run during this year’s “Salute To You” Tour. The team ran a Retro ’89 scheme earlier this year at Texas.(Roush Racing), see image of the scheme on my #6 Team Schemes page.(5-19-2004)

      News from May 18, 2005

    • Rusty Busy: Rusty spent all day Monday (May 16) doing promotional work in the Chicago area. Among the activities he enjoyed was throwing the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox/Texas Rangers Major League Baseball game. Texas won the game 7-6 on Kevin Mench's solo drive in the ninth inning, his second home run of the game. "It was a pretty good pitch that I threw, I thought," he said on Tuesday. "The biggest thing was to get out there and not embarrass myself. They all said I did just fine and that was all I wanted to hear. We had a really fun time and you can have a blast visiting Chicago."
      Miller Brewing Company will be celebrating Rusty's final season racing by inviting legal drinking age race fans to Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday (May 21) for a landmark free concert by the Black Crowes. As part of the Miller Lite Rock'n Racing Concert Series, the show is set for Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in the Lowe's Motor Speedway infield between Turns 1 and 2. Rusty will be present at the concert, addressing his loyal fans and introducing the Black Crowes.(TRPR)(5-18-2005)

    • Champ watches from Tower: #97-Kurt Busch spent Friday night's Busch Series race in the scoring tower at Richmond for an inside look at what officials do during a race. Was Busch genuinely interested in seeing how it all works? Or was he just kissing up to NASCAR in the wake of his most recent outburst? "I hope he was genuinely interested," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of communications. "He appeared to be. I think he clearly understands that his behavior under the conditions at Darlington was inappropriate, was just wrong — and especially wearing the champion's crown."
      Busch was penalized during the May 7 race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for not lining up in the correct position behind the pace car for a restart. Already frustrated by a first-lap crash that caused severe damage to his car, Busch boiled over about the penalty. He made profane remarks directed at NASCAR officials over his in-car radio, revved his engine in anger after officials ordered him to turn it off and threw a water bottle in the direction of an official standing next to his car. Addressing the media earlier in the day Friday, Busch said, "I'm not there to bend any of the rules. I'm there to abide by them and as the champion to represent the sport."(USA Today)(5-18-2005)

    • Urban Youth Racing School Interns: There are few better career previews than internships, and four young people with the Philadelphia-based Urban Youth Racing School have that opportunity this week. Sponsored by Craftsman, the week-long learning experience pairs young people with various outlets in motorsports – Goodyear, the NASCAR Research and Development Center, NASCAR Scene and Speed Channel.
      This year’s UYRS interns are Stephanie Hartfield, 18, from Mt. Vernon, N.Y.; Taj Muhammad, 17, Jason Simmons, 17, and Carnell Robinson, 18, all from Philadelphia, Pa. They’ll work in the Charlotte, N.C. area offices of their outlets early this week, then follow with at-track learning Thursday and Friday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Using the context of their outlet, the UYRS interns will see what goes on behind-the-scenes for a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event.
      Hatfield is working with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series inspectors. Roberts is working with Goodyear. Muhammad is working with SPEED Channel and Simmons is working with NASCAR Scene. The Urban Youth Racing School is a component of NASCAR’s diversity initiative.(NASCAR)(5-18-2005)

    • Robby offers Dakar seat to Armstrong: #7-Robby Gordon has invited cyclist Lance Armstrong to ride with him during the Dakar Rally. The rally, perhaps the most grueling event in motor sports, begins Dec. 31 and lasts two weeks. Off-road vehicles will race from Portugal to the city of Dakar in Senegal, a country on the west coast of North Africa. Along the way, drivers will bounce through terrain that ranges from mountains to deserts. The rally is organzied by a company called ASO, which also organizes the Tour de France. Armstrong will retire after trying to win his seventh Tour next month. In an interview with Velo, a French cycling magazine, that was excerpted on the English-language Web site, Armstrong said of Gordon's invitation, "I get propositions like this all the time, and it could be an interesting program for Discovery." Armstrong's cycling team is sponsored by the Discovery Channel.(USA Today)(5-18-2005)

    • Trouble at Action; cuts out distributors: Shares of Action Performance, the Phoenix-based auto racing merchandiser, crashed 21% to $9.35 on Tuesday after it swung to a loss and suspended the quarterly dividend. "The market for die-cast collectibles is soft and a lot of it is Action's own fault," says Dennis McAlpine, a principal at the independent research boutique McAlpine Associates. "It flooded the market to keep sales going. Action saturated it with new versions of the same things. Instead of one Jeff Gordon #24 car with one paint scheme, it put out four or five paint schemes to get the collectors to buy them all, and it outlasted the collectors' ability to buy." In addition to the metal replicas of NASCAR cars, Action markets t-shirts, hats and other racing memorabilia. It blamed the disappointing results on lower sales of die-cast collectibles to mass merchandisers and, to a lesser extent, lower apparel sales to wholesalers. Domestic sales of die-cast cars fell 21% to $23.8 million, with the biggest area of weakness in the mass merchandise space, where sales plunged 43% to $7.8 million. Apparel sales slid 7% to $30.5 million, driven by a decline in sales of Jeff Hamilton [jackets, etc] merchandise.
      Action recently announced plans to cut out distributors, keeping their cut for itself. It's also trying to restore its product's appeal by limiting supply, in the hope that the resulting scarcity will restore prices. Sources indicate Action will retain a key merchandising contract with racing star #8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The deal, which expires at the end of the year, accounts for 26% of the company's revenues.(Smartmoney)(5-18-2005)

    • Next Pit Crew Event on May 19th, there will be a 2nd Pit Crew Competition, this time in Charlotte called the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge:
      When: Thursday, May 19th, 7:00pm/et
      Where: Charlotte Coliseum
      How Much: $10 (Kids Under 12 Free)
      See top NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series pit crew members compete for over $200,000 in prizes in seven head-to-head events, including: Front and Rear Tire Changer, Front and Rear Tire Carrier, 40-yard Push, Gas Man, Jack Man.(5-11-2005)
      UPDATE - Tickets going fast: Tickets are going fast for the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday, May 19! The event will begin at 7:00pm/et on Thursday the 19th with special parking lot activities including driving simulators and souvenir haulers starting at 4:30pm/et. Tickets for the event are available for $10; children under 12 will be admitted free. Tickets for the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge can be purchased through Ticketmaster, at Lowe's Motor Speedway website, at each stop of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Trophy Tour or by calling (800) 455-FANS. There is free parking for all fans.
      Eligible Teams: A total of 24 teams are eligible to compete in Thursday’s event at the Charlotte Coliseum – the teams qualified for Saturday’s NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, plus the team that won last year’s NEXTEL Open [#40 Team], a preliminary race to the all-star challenge for teams without wins in the previous and current seasons; the team of the NEXTEL Open competitor last year who made the “big race” via a fan vote [#49-Schrader], and other teams eligible for the event based on current owner points.
      For the rules and format of the event, see my Pit Crew News page.(5-14/18-2005)

      News from May 17, 2005

    • Richmond TV Ratings: The Chevy American Revolution 400 was the highest rated cable sports event of the weekend (4.4 versus the next closest event, Sunday's NBA playoff match up between Phoenix and Dallas on TNT, which pulled a 3.7 rating) and also attracted the most viewers among cable sports events (3.77 million). Those numbers represent a ratings increase of 16% from the 2004 race (4.4 vs. 3.8) and a whopping 20% jump in households (3.77 million vs. 3.16 million). Total viewers also increased by 11%, from 5.05 million in 2004 to 5.58 million on Saturday.
      The Chevy American Revolution 400 FX broadcast also attracted the most households for a spring NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway (3.77 million vs. 3.75 million for the 1997 race). That household rating ranks second in track history to last September's Chevy Rock & Roll 400, which was seen by 3.82 million households. The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 was the 26th event on last year's schedule and set the field for the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. The track again occupies the same position on the schedule this season.
      On the NASCAR Busch Series side, the FUNAI 250 also had excellent numbers against last year's event in rating (1.9 vs. 1.4, a 36% increase), households (1.602 million vs. 1.189 million, a 35% increase), and viewers (2.09 million vs. 1.6 million, a 24% increase). Only the September 2002 NASCAR Busch Series race has had a higher rating and household number than Friday's FUNAI 250.(Richmond International Raceway)(5-17-2005)

    • Tide to Roush? UPDATE: hearing that Tide could be the new sponsor for the #6 Roush Racing Ford in 2006, leaving the #32 PPI Motorsports team [Bobby Hamilton Jr. driver] at the end of the season. Mark Martin currently drives the #6 and is retiring from full-time Nextel Cup racing after 2005 [supposedly going full-time Truck Series racing] and Pfizer/Viagra is in it's fifth year of sponsoring the #6 team. As rumored, Ricky Craven could be reunited with Tide and take the wheel of the #6 Ford in 2006. Craven ran the Tide colors from 2001 thru late 2004 with PPI Motorsports.(5-17-2005)
      UPDATE: been told the Roush part of this is not true, that Tide plans to honor their contract thru 2006.(5-17-2005)

    • The Big Break: All-Star Challenge will pit NASCAR stars Dale Jarrett, Jamie McMurray, Elliott Sadler, Elliott Sadler, Rusty Wallace and Michael Waltrip against each other in a special event for charity and bragging rights. The event will be held in the Charlotte, N.C. area, on Tuesday, May 24 and air on the Golf Channel, Tuesday, July 5 at 9:00am/et. The players will not only take on one another, they'll also take on some of the most demanding challenges from The Golf Channel's The Big Break, The Golf Channel's hit reality series. A previous All-Star Challenge aired featuring the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Preparing to enter its fourth season, The Big Break has been one of The Golf Channel's most successful programs in the network's 10-year history. The show features 10 golfers putting it all on the line for a chance to win prizes and earning exemptions to play in major tour events on the LPGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, European Tour or Canadian Tour.
      Thousands of golfers toil endlessly on the mini-tours, aiming for a shot to play with the best in the world and chase their dreams. Now they have a shot at it. Viewers see great golf - the strategy, the tension, clutch shots and critical mistakes - as contestants take on challenges that reveal the strengths and weaknesses in their games and test their mental toughness. Players are eliminated one by one until only one remains earning their Big Break.(PR)(5-17-2005)

    • Hermie adds a sponsor for the 600: The Ace & TJ Show has teamed up with Peak Fitness to run the #66 Ace & TJ Show/Peak Fitness Ford with driver Hermie Sadler in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race on Sunday, May 29th at Lowe's Motor Speedway.(Ace & TJ Show site)(5-17-2005)

    • Boris to run the Nextel Open: The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star weekend was not on Boris Said's latest schedule of 2005 Cup races. But that slate recently changed after rain cut short last Tuesday's test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the MB/Sutton Motorsports team. Said, whose part-time Cup schedule includes the May 29th Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's, felt he did not have enough time to acclimate himself to the 1.5-mile oval during the rain-shortened test session. "Since we didn't run a full test session, coupled with the top 35 drivers in points are already guaranteed a spot in the (43-car) field, we felt more seat time was needed to have a realistic shot of qualifying for the Coca-Cola race," offered Said, driver of the #36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet. "Our main purpose for this weekend is to take advantage of the practice sessions and use them as a test and tune for next week's race. I need more time and the crew also needs more time to find the best setup for Lowe's. We knew going into this race that it would be difficult to qualify. And not having the full test session last week made it even more difficult." Though Said will be in a test mode this weekend, it doesn't mean he will not be at full throttle when the green flag drops for Saturday night's NEXTEL Open. The winner of the Open will transfer into the main feature -- The NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.(MBSuttom Motorsports)(5-17-2005)

    • Cope to run the Open: Derrike Cope will be running in the Nextel Open at Lowe's Motor Speedway May 21st. According to Cope, "I'm looking forward to being behind the wheel of Larry Gunselman's #60 Chevy for the All-Star Challenge. I am anxious to compete and to represent Year One. Kevin King is a super individual and we are pleased to be giving him additional exposure at Charlotte. We really appreciated his support and sponsorship at Daytona."(Derrike Cope site)(5-17-2005)

    • Last double DNF for #24 and #48? Before Saturday at Ricmond's Cup race, the last time Hendrick Motorsports teammates #24-Jeff Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson both failed to finish a race was at Dover on June 6, 2004.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-17-2005)

    • Sponsor for Long?: from the Sponsorship In The Works: Carl Long and McGlynn Racing are happy to announce a major new sponsorship deal is about to be signed for 2005. Their new title sponsor will be with the team for 10 races in 2005 beginning at Michigan International Speedway on June 19th 2005 and concluding at Homestead-Miami November 20th. Both sides have also agreed to terms for the bulk of the 2006 season as well. The name of the new sponsor will be announced here on the team web site as well as at a planned unveiling of the car and hauler. The exact date and location of the unveiling is still up in the air. The addition of this major sponsor will make a significant impact on the team in more ways than one. The team will compete in more races than previously planned and the team will have the additional resources available to make the competition worry that much more about the #00. The trademark green will also change during this sponsorship. The green will be replaced by blue and silver.(5-17-2005)

      News from May 16, 2005

    • Penske buying out Rusty and Miller? UPDATE 2: Roger Penske is buying out the 48% share of Penske South that is owned by Rusty Wallace and his long-time business manager Don Miller.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-16-2005)
      UPDATE: Wallace, driving his final full season in Nextel Cup, said Penske has offered to buy out his share of the team, as well as his longtime friend Miller's share. But Wallace said the ongoing fuss with Newman will not play a part in that decision, when he makes it. "Again, I want to stress I haven't made that decision,'' Wallace said. "I've got an offer to do that. I lay awake at nights wondering if that's what I should do.''(
      UPDATE 2: Penske Performance, Inc., the majority shareholder of Penske Racing South, Inc., announced today that it has purchased the individual ownership interests in the company held by Rusty Wallace, Don Miller and John Erickson. "The transaction represents an opportunity to reward Rusty, Don and John for their many contributions to the growth and success of the company," said Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Performance. "Penske Racing South is committed to its participation as a competitor in NASCAR. We enjoy the support of a dedicated and loyal group of sponsors who will be with us well into the future. Our focus is to maximize all three cars' performance every week with winning the NEXTEL Cup Championship as our goal." Don Miller said, "The purchase allows me to extract the equity that I put into the company over the last 14 years. For me, the time is right. Given our recent investments to grow the company, this helps relieve some of my personal financial burden. I look forward to fulfilling my management responsibilities on an ongoing basis." Rusty Wallace noted that "this deal is important to my future as I move into the next phase of my career. I value the opportunity to have been an owner at the NEXTEL Cup level and I am excited about contributing to the success of the team going forward, especially in my remaining races as a driver. Penske Racing South has been a great part of my life," Wallace said.
      John Erickson said, "I appreciate having been part of the ownership structure. I will continue to do my best in helping build a championship team." The terms of the transaction are confidential.(Penske Performance PR)(5-16-2005)

    • Wheeler picks Gordon to win All-Star Race: The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge is racing's version of a high-stakes poker game and H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, thinks Jeff Gordon will draw the $1 million winning hand. Wheeler named Gordon as his selection to win Saturday night's 21st running of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge during his annual pick-the-winner press conference Monday in downtown Charlotte. Known for his promotional flair and Karnac-type ability, Wheeler has correctly picked the winner of NASCAR's all-star race nine times in the past 16 races. This is the fifth time in 11 years Wheeler has selected Gordon to win NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing's all-star event and only one of the four previous picks panned out. That came in 1995 when Gordon avoided a crash involving Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip at the start of the final segment and went on to record his first of three victories. After thoroughly reviewing the data, Wheeler said his selection came down to a choice between Gordon and Greg Biffle. Ryan Newman, the 2002 winner of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, was another driver Wheeler gave heavy consideration during the extensive selection process. This year, instead of a dark horse selection, Wheeler's going with a pair of sentimental favorites-Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace.
      In the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Pit Crew Challenge Thursday night, May 19, at the Charlotte Coliseum, Wheeler predicts the event's unique format will result in true athleticism rising to the top. "If the competition was a normal pit stop, it would be hard to bet against the 48, 24 or 97 teams," Wheeler said. "However, I had spies watching some of the practice and I think this format, which includes pushing the car, gives Michael Waltrip's No. 15 team the edge."
      Good seats, in various price ranges, are still available for Saturday's NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. Tickets start at $33 and may be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at
      For a list of "Humpy" Wheeler's Pick and the Winner Results, along with eligible drivers, rules, format, see my 2005 All-Star Challenge page.(LMS PR)(5-16-2005)

    • #37 R&J Racing releases crew chief: The #37 R&J Racing Team has released crew chief Billy Poindexter from the team as of Monday [5-16]. Poindexter has been the crew chief for the R&J Racing Team since the fall of 2004. Owners John Carter and Roger Craven made the decision due to the teams' recent lack of performance. The decision to let Poindexter go was also tough on R&J Racing driver Kevin Lepage as well. As of today Poindexter will have no affiliation with the R&J Racing Team. A new crew chief has not yet been announced as the R&J Racing Team is in search of a new crew chief. If you are interested in this position please contact Kevin Lepage at the R&J Racing Shop.(R&J Racing)(5-16-2005)

    • Testing at Dover: The following drivers will be testing at Dover International Speedway the next two weeks, in preparation for the races at Dover on June 3-5:
      May 16: #99-Carl Edwards (Cup)
      May 17: #99-Carl Edwards (Cup); #77-Travis Kvapil (Cup); #41-Reed Sorenson (Busch)
      May 23: #29-Kevin Harvick (Cup); #17-Matt Kennseth (Cup); #10-Michele Jourdain, Jr.(Busch); #8-Debra Renshaw (Trucks)
      May 24:#17-Matt Kennseth (Cup); #10-Michele Jourdain, Jr.(Busch).
      These are closed test sessions and are not open to the general public.
      Tickets are still available for all three races, see for more info.(5-16-2005)

    • McMurray quiet about 2006: #42-Jamie McMurray gets asked every week if he's going to replace Rusty Wallace in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge next year. "Sometimes you get asked questions and just don't know what to say," McMurray said. "Last year, I talked about my contract, but I'm not going to do that this time. I don't want to get any more rumors started. I just want to go on and not worry about it." McMurray, who drives the #42 Havoline Dodge, has one year remaining on his deal with Chip Ganassi Racing. It hasn't stopped speculation that he will take over for the retiring Wallace at Penske Racing South. "I've been reading the stuff about it," McMurray said. "It's better to be in the rumor mill than not be in it. As long as they're talking about you it's a good thing."(Dallas Morning News)(5-16-2005)

    • Baldwin Win Wins Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race: After finishing runner-up in six Nextel Cup races, #9-Kasey Kahne finally took his first trip to Victory Lane this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Kahne dominated the event, starting from the pole and leading the most laps before taking the seemingly elusive checkered flag. For bringing his driver his first career win in racing's top series, Tommy Baldwin won the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award. The supporting cast of the Evernham Motorsports Dodge was as much a part of the win as the driver. When the leaders made their final trip down pit road, lap 333, the #9 crew executed a flawless stop, putting Kahne back on the track in the command position. Despite three more caution flags, Kahne stayed on the track and held onto the top spot. "We had a good idea of how long the tires would last in a run," said Baldwin. "We knew with sixty laps to go, that was it. We were done with the pit stops. We were sticking to our plan. If the caution came out anywhere from (lap) 290 and on, we were staying out the whole run. At lap 353, there was no way were coming in."
      The panel of voters; including Mike Harris of the Richmond Times Dispatch, a WYPALL Wipers representative and Robbie Reiser; all agreed that Baldwin was the top crew chief of the event. With his first WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award, Baldwin joins Scott Miller, Bob Osborne, Alan Gustafson and Pete Rondeau in a tie for third place in the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year standings. Doug Richert stays in first place with three wins. Robbie Loomis is in second place with two wins. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000. Fan can also vote for their choice at 500)(5-16-2005)

    • Yates, Evernham and DEI up to 3 teams? #38 and #88 team owner, Robert Yates, is expected to add a third Cup team in 2006, if current Busch sponsor CitiFinancial is willing to make the move. "We'd like to develop a young driver and advance him to Cup," Yates Racing G.M. Eddie D'Hondt says. Three seems to be the magic number for most Cup organizations. Evernham Motorsports (#91-Gaughan?)) and Dale Earnhardt Inc. (#1-Truex Jr.) also are expected to expand to three full-time cars next season.(Sporting News)(5-16-2005)

    • DEI working on contracts with Waltrip and Truex: DEI vice president Richie Gilmore says contract discussions continue with NAPA and #15-Michael Waltrip and with Martin Truex, who is expected to revive the #1 Chevrolet in Cup with Bass Pro Shops as the sponsor. Gilmore says that NAPA is looking at a one-year extension, and DEI would like a three-year deal.(Sporting News)
      AND Richie Gilmore, director of motorsports at DEI, says he's confident that Dale Earnhardt Inc. will sign Martin Truex Jr. to a new contract soon. Michael Waltrip's situation, though, is not as certain. Truex' contract expires after this season. While there is interest in the Cup garage for the defending Busch series champion, DEI has it set up for him to drive Cup cars full time next year with Bass Pro Shops as the sponsor. "Martin's dad and I talk pretty much every day. I think we'll get back together with (car owner) Teresa (Earnhardt) next week and, hopefully, we'll get something together," Gilmore said. Gilmore says that Waltrip's sponsor NAPA has an option for next season. That leaves Waltrip's status uncertain. "We talked to Michael last week," Gilmore said. "We told Michael that we're trying to get the NAPA deal and then we can sit down and talk with him about talk about the future."(Roanoke Times)(5-16-2005)

    • Newman being courted: #12-Ryan Newman has another year on his contract with car owner Roger Penske, but Ford's Jack Roush, Dodge's Ray Evernham, and Chevy executives have all been making a run at Newman, who is the hottest qualifier on the stock car tour.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-16-2005)

    • Ford testing 2006 model: Ford was to test its 2006 Nextel Cup model this week at a wind tunnel in Marietta, Ga. The test will determine how close Ford is to submitting the car to NASCAR. A name has yet to be announced, but sources say the car could be the Fusion.(Sporting News)(5-16-2005)

    • Hendrick Suspensions different?: #24-Jeff Gordon made a rare driving mistake, one which resulted in his hitting the wall and doing damage to the front end of his car. And being the class act he is, Gordon admitted making the mistake on national television. "It was one of the stupidest things I've ever done in my life," he said. Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate #48-Jimmie Johnson also had front-end woes that put him out of the race early. I [Yahoo! Sports] was told that the Hendrick Motorsports guys have found something that makes the front end suspension of their cars work better. I [Yahoo! Sports] understand it has to do with both mechanical and aerodynamic elements. Perhaps it also has made their front suspensions more susceptible to damage.(Yahoo Sports)(5-16-2005)

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