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  • MORE NEWS/RUMORS
    NOV 21-27, 2005


      News from November 27, 2005

    • Sad News: Ray Nichels, one of the preeminent race car mechanics and car builders of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, passed away on Friday, November 25, 2005.
      Raymond "Ray" Nichels, age 83, of Merrillville, IN, passed away on Friday, November 25, 2005. He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Eleanor (nee Govert); two children: Terry (Kathy) Nichels of Highland and Vickie (Bill) Masters of GA; 10 beloved grandchildren and 12 beloved great-grandchildren; brother, Albert (Maxine) Nichels of Griffith; brother-in-law, Vince Sell of Merrillville and numerous nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by his brother, Roy Nichels and sister, Grace Sell. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, November 29, 2005 at 9 am at Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church, 8303 Taft St., Merrillville with Rev. Joseph Vamos, officiating. At rest Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens, Schererville. Friends may visit with the family on Monday from 2 to 8 pm at the Lincoln Ridge Funeral Home, 7607 W. Lincoln Highway, Schererville. (US Route 30 east of Cline Avenue) and also at Our Lady of Consolation Church on Tuesday from 8:30 am until the time of service. Wake prayer service Monday evening at 5 pm.
      Ray was the founder and owner of Nichels Engineering and Nichels Automotive Products. He was the former co-owner of G&N Aircraft. He was involved in Indianapolis Motor Speedway Auto Racing since 1949 as car owner and builder, as well as the USAC and NASCAR Stockcar divisions. He was a member of Our Lady of Consolation Church, a veteran of WWII U.S. Coast Guard, American Legion Griffith Post. Ray also belonged to many other racing groups and associations. Memorials may be given to the St. Jude House of Crown Point or Our Lady of Consolation Church.(Raynichels.com)(11-27-2005)

    • First Trees Planted in Dale Earnhardt Forest: The first 50 of 77,000 trees that will honor the memory of NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt were planted recently by the national nonprofit American Forests and The Dale Earnhardt Foundation. The trees were planted in Sloan Park outside Mooresville, NC home of The Dale Earnhardt Foundation and Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. A total of 77,000 trees are planned for the 15-county region surrounding Charlotte. The goal of the Dale Earnhardt Forest is to restore trees to the city of Charlotte and to restore wildlife habitat, expand greenways, and return trees to riparian areas. The project was announced last year with the planting of seven trees-symbolizing Earnhardt's seven NASCAR Championships -at Dale Earnhardt Day, which coincides with Arbor Day and the late racing legend's birthday. The former Mooresville resident and NASCAR legend was an avid outdoorsman and conservationist who championed environmental causes and environmental education. The Dale Earnhardt Foundation is also supporting American Forests' efforts to bring high tech environmental education program to 120 middle and high school classes in 2006. The program combines computer technology and math, science and geography with tree care and hands-on activities to teach students to value trees in their local areas. The saucer magnolias, willow oaks, and red maples in the Dale Earnhardt Grove at Sloan Park will be part of the Park's Historic Tree Trail. The Historic Tree Trail consists of numerous trees propagated from trees found at various national landmarks, historic sites, and locations related to significant historical figures. Those wishing to find out more about the Dale Earnhardt Forest or contribute to planting trees can do so by visiting www.americanforests.org and clicking on campaigns or by visiting the Dale Earnhardt Foundation at www.thedaleearnhardtfoundation.org.(DEI PR)(11-27-2005)


      News from November 26, 2005

    • Parade for Stewart UPDATE 2 Postponed: Tony Stewart's hometown will hold a parade next month to honor him for winning the NASCAR series championship. The parade is planned for Dec. 17, starting at 2:20pm from the Hamilton Center Ice Arena and ending at Columbus [IN] North High School. It would be the second parade in Columbus for Stewart in four months. On Aug. 15, he was recognized for his win in the Allstate 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Judy Jackson, the city's community development director, said Monday that Dec. 17 was the earliest date Stewart was available for the parade.(Fort Wayne Sentinel/AP)(11-22-2005)
      POSTPONED: Columbus, IN: Mayor Fred L. Armstrong says that due to Tony Stewart’s busy scheduled, a celebration will NOT be held on December 16 and 17. City officials are currently working with Stewart representatives to find a date and time that will accommodate Tony’s busy schedule. As soon as plans are finalized, complete information will be released to the media.(columbus.in.gov)(11-24-2005)
      UPDATE 2: A parade to honor NASCAR champion Tony Stewart in his hometown has been called off because a conflict with his schedule, and city leaders are now planning for a two-day celebration sometime in January. The parade was scheduled for Dec. 17. The dates for the new celebration has not yet been set. The January celebration might include fireworks and a hog roast, said Lynn Lucas, director of the Columbus Visitors Center. "The economic impact of all this will be tremendous," she said. "This is an opportunity, and we want to take advantage of it. She said they hope to attract thousands of Stewart fans to the event, including some from out of town. "We're talking about 6,000," she said. "Some of them could be coming in for two nights, and that means they'll need a hotel." Stewart won his second NASCAR championship in four years Sunday, beating Greg Biffle by 35 points in the Nextel Cup standings. Columbus held a parade for Stewart in August to celebrate his victory in the Allstate 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. An estimated crowd of 5,000 lined downtown streets in the city about 40 miles south of Indianapolis. "Tony is from the city of Columbus, and that should be celebrated," Mayor Fred Armstrong said. "We need to recognize our citizens."(Indianapolis Star/AP)(11-26-2005)

    • Arnold to team up with Yates? UPDATE: hearing that Arnold Motorsports will team up with Robert Yates Racing to form a third team of sorts for Yates.(11-1-2005)
      UPDATE: There was talk early in November that Yates might form a third satellite team, perhaps merging assets from Arnold Motorsports or Cal Wells III’s PPI Racing. Instead, Yates says he’s committed to making his existing teams better before adding to his stable.(Ford Racing)(11-26-2005)

    • Starr and #75 part ways UPDATE Cup races?: David Starr and his #75 Spears Chevy team will go their separate ways in 2006. David Starr, concluding his fourth season with Spears, finished 7th in the 2005 NCTS Championship points standings, has 3 wins in 140 career starts to his credit. The #75 Spears Manufacturing Chevy owned by West coast racers Wayne and Connie Spears. "I can't thank everyone enough at Spears for giving me four awesome years in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," said Starr "Wayne and Connie Spears gave me my first competitive full-time ride in NASCAR. We got some wins and I am grateful for the opportunity to drive for such a dedicated race team." Starr continued, "We had four great years; we talked and agreed to look at other options. I have several opportunities to race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next year," commented Starr "I'm looking forward to running for the 2006 Championship."(Truckseries.com)(11-22-2005)
      UPDATE: David Starr will not return next season as the driver of the #75 Spears Manufacturing Chevy in the Truck Series, but he probably will drive for another team in 2006. Starr and team owner Wayne Spears agreed to part ways after the season finale last weekend at Homestead. Two Toyota teams and one Ford team have approached Starr about driving for them next season. Starr said those talks are ongoing, and he didn't want to name the teams. Starr also said he probably would compete in 10 to 12 Nextel Cup races in 2006 with a team that's forming a new partnership.(Dallas Morning News)(11-26-2005)


      News from November 25, 2005

    • Wimmer expects to run Busch/Cup in 2006: Scott Wimmer, who lost his Nextel Cup ride with Bill Davis Racing [#22] after two seasons, expects to race in both the Busch Series and Nextel Cup next year even though most of the best seats are full. "I used to be at the top of the line, but now I'm behind everybody," conceded Wimmer, whose prospects depend on the decisions of other drivers. "If I've got to take a ride with a team that's not right up there. . . and can just stick it out, maybe one of these guys that's getting into these Cup cars next year won't do so well and I'll have a shot."(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(11-25-2005)

      Leffler wins Turkey Night at Irwindale: Jason Leffler, who was releasd from his Nextel Cup ride from the Joe Gibbs #11 Fed-Ex car after this year's Brickyard 400, sparkled en route to winning Thursday night's 65th running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix (TNGP) for Midget cars before approximately 7,000 at Irwindale Speedway. Leffler raced in 15 Busch Series races, finishing 30th in the points in the #32 Braun Racing Chevy. "It's hard to say it was a bad year, but racing-wise, it was a bad deal," the 30-year-old said. "I won this!" Leffler, who won the TNGP in 1999, the first time it had been held at Irwindale, had a loose spring coil and the left front of his car was dragging along the ground, drawing sparks. He said it made it tougher to drive later in the race. His Busch owner, Todd Braun, watched Leffler win the race Thursday. He also helped Leffler secure the ride; they built the car together. "I called around for a ride and everyone said I wasn't good enough," he said. "So I built my own car. It's not like when you just show up, suit up and drive. There's a lot to worry about. I grew up watching this race as a kid. This is the biggest race." Among those watching his victory were NASCAR Nextel Cup champion and USAC Midget car owner champion Tony Stewart, the 2000 Turkey Night champion, who was watching his driver, Josh Wise of Riverside, IRL veteran Bryan Herta and numerous former Turkey Night champions, including Parnelli Jones.(SGVtribune.com)(11-25-2005)

    • Motorsports HOF to move: The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is planning to leave its Novi, MI home and the board of directors is expected to announce the new location on Dec. 15. The choice appears to be between Jackson and a spot in the Detroit area. The hall, which features race cars, motorcycles, antiques and memorabilia, plans to leave its 11-year location in the Novi Expo Center. Hall president Ron Watson said several short-term and permanent locations are still in the running. Jackson officials say they hope to boost the hall's fortunes with ties to Michigan International Speedway in nearby Brooklyn.(Detroit News)(11-25-2005)

    • Twinkie Diva's: Interstate Bakeries Corp., the bankrupt maker of Hostess Twinkies and Wonder Bread, signed sponsorships with IRL driver Dana Patrick and two other female race drivers, stock-car racer Leilani Munter and drag racer Melanie Troxelits. It is Interstate Bakeries first deals with athletes in more than 20 years. The three will be Hostess "Race Divas," promoting Twinkies and other snacks. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Interstate said its target market is mothers and that its research found a third of all racing fans are women.(Detorit News)(11-25-2005)

    • Nextel Cup Banquet Info and Stewart Appearance Schedule in NYC:
      Monday, Nov. 28 … Tony Stewart begins his week with two memorable photo shoots, beginning at 11:30am He’ll visit two famous New York City locations, the Top of the Rock observation deck on the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center and the distinctive Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets… Fox News Channel “Dayside” interview at 1:00pm/et.
      Tuesday, Nov. 29 … Satellite media tour from 10:15am – 12:15pm/et. … Visit to Staten Island Hospital Pediatric Burn Unit at 1pm/et. … Visit to FDNY Fire Academy at 3pm/et. … Appearance on MRN Radio’s “NASCAR Live” talk show at 7pm/et.
      Wednesday, Nov. 30 … NBC Today Show appearance at 8:30am to kick off NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Victory Lap presented by Sprint … Victory Lap departs from NBC Today Show Plaza at 9am The procession will wind across town and arrive at 375 Park Avenue, the site of NASCAR’s New York office.
      Thursday, Dec. 1 … New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) opening at 8:45am, attended by the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top-10 drivers, Sprint Nextel Chairman Tim Donahue and NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne … NASCAR Press Conference and luncheon at Cipriani, beginning at 11am … NASCAR Champions’ photo, featuring Stewart and all of the other 2005 NASCAR series champions, 1:30pm/et. at Cipriani … Times Square photo shoot at 3pm/et. … Visit to Ronald McDonald House at 4:30pm/et. … Stewart will also pay a visit to the NASCAR champion’s dinner to honor the regional touring series and NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champions, at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel at 7:15pm/et.
      Friday, Dec. 2 … National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers Breakfast presented by Sunoco, in The Waldorf-Astoria hotel at 8:45am … Photo shoot on Park Avenue at 3:45pm/et. … NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony doors open and “Yellow Carpet” festivities begin at 6pm/et. … Champion’s “Red Carpet” arrival at 6:40pm/et. … NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony in The Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom at 7pm/et.
      Tune in … NASCAR Radio on XM Satellite Radio will broadcast live from The Waldorf-Astoria, next Monday-Friday at 4pm/et. (ET). Host Claire B. Lang will report on each day’s events and feature exclusive interviews with the Top-10 drivers and other personalities. … MRN Radio will also broadcast live from New York, including an interview with Stewart on Tuesday and live coverage of the awards ceremony on Friday. … SPEED Channel will air a special “NASCAR Takes Manhattan” show live, beginning at 7pm/et. on Friday. Marketing blitz … The awards ceremony is the culmination of the season for NASCAR’s top drivers, as well as an annual gathering for the sport’s marketers and media personalities. Sprint Nextel plans a massive marketing campaign throughout the city, including its interactive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Pit Stop Tour, show car displays and other fan events. There will be a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series display each day at the NBC Experience Store at Rockefeller Plaza, along with a driver autograph session there Wednesday afternoon. The annual Street & Smith’s Motorsports Marketing Forum will be held Wednesday at the New York Marriott East Side, featuring several NASCAR executives and top drivers in a panel discussion on marketing trends and other industry issues.
      France to be honored at March of Dimes luncheon … NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France will attend the 22nd annual Greater New York March of Dimes luncheon at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Wednesday, where he’ll be recognized with the organization’s Sports Leadership Award. Other honorees include Barry Frank Sr., Corporate Vice President, IMG and Vice Chairman, TWI, who will receive the Corporate Leadership Award; U.S. Women's Soccer stars Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett, who will be recognized as Sportswomen of the Year; and Willie Randolph, manager of the New York Mets, as Sportsman of the Year.
      Fast Facts
      What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony Where: Grand Ballroom, The Waldorf-Astoria hotel New York City. When: 7-10:30pm/et, Friday, Dec. 2.
      TV: TNT, 9pm/et/pt
      Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
      NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 6,533. 2. Greg Biffle 6,498. 3. Carl Edwards 6,498. 4. Mark Martin 6,428. 5. Jimmie Johnson 6,406. 6. Ryan Newman 6,359. 7. Matt Kenseth 6,352. 8. Rusty Wallace 6,140. 9. Jeremy Mayfield 6,073. 10. Kurt Busch 5,974.
      11th-place driver: Jeff Gordon
      Raybestos Rookie of the Year: Kyle Busch
      Special Guest: Comedian Jay Mohr
      Musical Entertainment: Singers Toni Braxton and Gavin DeGraw; Jazz pianist Eric Lewis.(NASCAR PR)(11-25-2005)


      News from November 24, 2005

    • Standing 'O' for Rusty at drivers meeting, except....UPDATE: Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, invited Rusty Wallace to the microphone within the first five minutes of the weekly prerace drivers meeting at Homestead on Sunday. Wallace, who went on to finish 13th on Sunday evening, drew a standing ovation from the drivers in the room. Everyone stood, with the exception of Penske Racing South teammate Ryan Newman, who has been at constant odds with the 1989 Cup champion."It's been a great ride," Wallace told his fellow drivers. "I can remember when I came in, it was [Cale] Yarborough, [David] Pearson, [Richard] Petty and [Dale] Earnhardt. Now those guys are all gone and you guys are all here. I'm looking forward to life after racing. And if I've roughed anybody up along the way, I'm sorry. I didn't really mean it, unless it paid more."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(11-21-2005)
      UPDATE: Contrary to published reports, Ryan Newman, as well as his crew chief, Matt Borland, joined their fellow NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors in a standing ovation in honor of their Penske Racing South teammate Rusty Wallace during the driver's meeting for last Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I respect Rusty Wallace as a race car driver," Newman said. "And I put effort forward in recognizing that on Sunday."(Penske Racing PR)(11-24-2005)


      News from November 23, 2005

    • Chase Races Record High Ratings, Homestead down from 2004: NASCAR on NBC & TNT averaged a 4.7 rating and 10 share for its coverage of Nextel Cup racing, its best season-to-date rating for NASCAR since beginning their partnership to broadcast the second half of the NASCAR schedule in 2001, and a 74% increase from the 2.7/8 for the 2000 season, the last season before the current network television deal. NBC & TNT's ratings for the ten races of the "Chase for the Nextel Cup" averaged a 4.7, up 2% from the inaugural "Chase" last year (4.6).
      NBC's coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship finale, the Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, rated a 5.9/11, the second-highest rating in the history of the event, below only last year's 6.2/13, and drew an estimated 19 million viewers. The rating peaked at a 7.2 between 7-7:30pm/et as Greg Biffle outdueled Mark Martin to take the checkered flag and Tony Stewart clinched the NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship.
      The top ten rated markets for the second half of the 2005 season are: 1) Greensboro, NC: 12.4; 2) Greenville, SC: 12.0; 3) Knoxville, TN: 11.4; 4) Charlotte, NC: 11.1; 5) Indianapolis, IN: 9.4; 6) Louisville, KY: 8.4; 7) Atlanta, GA: 8.3; t8) Birmingham, AL: 8.2; t8) Jacksonville, FL: 8.2; 10) Dayton, OH: 8.0.(NBC PR)(11-23-2005)

    • Testing at Kentucky confirms driver changes? Dave Blaney is scheduled to test the #22 Caterpillar Dodge for Bill Davis Racing at Kentucky Speedway on Wed November 30th and Jeff Green is scheduled to test the #0 NetZero Chevy for Haas CNC Racing on Dec 7-8, 2005. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway site)(11-23-2005)

    • Kyle Petty Nominated SI Sportsman Of Year: Kyle Petty has become the first stock car driver nominated for one of the most prestigious honors in athletics. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series driver is up for Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman Of The Year" honor, which the national magazine has awarded since miler Roger Bannister won the first in 1955. Others such as the Boston Red Sox, Tiger Woods, Arthur Ashe, Jack Nicklaus, Muhammad Ali and Pete Rozelle have won it. Others nominated this year include cyclist Lance Armstrong, NBA star Reggie Miller, and World Series star Scott Posednik, among others. Writer Lars Anderson, in making his argument in nominating Petty, noted mostly his and wife Pattie's leadership of the Victory Junction Gang Camp. "Put simply," Anderson wrote, "he's got the biggest heart in American sports today. "Kyle Petty as Sportsman of the Year? Take a look at those beaming kids and tell me he's not." The winner will be announced next month.(Williams Company PR)(11-23-2005)

    • Special Bike for Rusty: Award-winning custom bike designer Jim Wubben and his son, Shaun, owners of PB Choppers, to unveil a unique, one-of-a-kind motorcycle to honor Rusty Wallace. The bike will feature characteristics of the winning #2 Miller Lite car driven by Wallace over the course of his career - including its vivid blue coloring and sponsor logos. Wallace will work with Wubben to hand-pick the design of the wheels, gas tank and other custom bike features. Designs will be made public in the coming weeks and the Rusty Wallace Tribute Bike will make its debut in February, 2006.(PR)(11-23-2005)

    • Edwards, Green, Bodine Claim WIX Filters Lap Leader Awards: Drivers Carl Edwards, David Green and Todd Bodine won the WIX Filters Lap Leader Awards during the Nov. 19-20, 2005 NASCAR racing weekend. Edwards' WIX Filters Lap Leader Award win in racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway was his sixth award of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. The win propelled Edwards to second overall in the WIX Filters Lap Leader standings, five points behind 2005 NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. The WIX Filters Lap Leader Award is presented to the driver who leads the most laps during each race in NASCAR's NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck racing series. The award includes a cash prize presented to the winning driver during a ceremony before the next race and an end-of-year payout and trophy for the driver who earns the most WIX Filters Lap Leader awards over the course of the entire season. Cash awards for the end-of-year honor are: $75,000 for the NEXTEL Cup Series; $20,000 for the Busch Series; and, $10,000 for the Craftsman Truck Series. More info on WIX Filters' at wixfilters.com.(11-23-2005)


      News from November 22, 2005

    • Sad News: Sonny Hutchins, one of the best stock-car drivers in Richmond history and a member of the famed "Strawberry Hill Mod Squad," died this morning. He was 76. Hutchins raced for more than 30 years, competing in Late Models, Modifieds and NASCAR's premier Winston Cup series. Often driving for the city's two greatest car owners, Junie Donlavey and Emanual Zervakis, Mr. Hutchins won hundreds of races and several track championships. He won Southside Late Model titles in 1968 and'80 and made 38 starts in Cup, placing a career-best second twice in 1969.(Richmond Times Dispatch and see an obit and service info at the Richmond Times Disptach)(11-22-2005)

    • Sad News: John Reiser, father of #17 crew chief Robbie Reiser and Matt Kenseth’s long-time Busch Series car owner, has passed away. John had been battling cancer for the past few months. Sympathies are with his wife, Alice, and Robbie, and the rest of the family this weekend. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held from 4-7:00 PM, Tuesday, November 22, 2005 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Denver, NC. The family will greet friends on Friday, November 25, 2005 from 3-7:00 PM, followed by a prayer service at Phillips Funeral Home in West Bend, WI. Funeral services will be conducted at 10:00 AM, Saturday, November 26, 2005 at Resurrection Catholic Church in Allenton, WI, followed by the burial at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Allenton, WI. More info on services at the Matt Kenseth site an the obit at the Charlotte Observer.(11-19/22-2005)

    • Craven may start Truck team, looking for Cup ride: Ricky Craven said Monday he doesn't expect to race full time next year. "I'm not going to pursue full-time Busch or Truck Series opportunities and it's late in the game for Nextel Cup," said the 39-year-old Craven, who has run 278 Nextel Cup races in his career. "I'm not saying it won't happen [in Nextel Cup], but I don't expect it this late." He reiterated he doesn't want to drive for a single-car Cup team or a team that doesn't have the resources to be competitive. "I'm not interested in just racing. I don't want to be a field-filler. That's not how I want to race," said Craven. "I've established my criteria for that. I am interested in racing in the Truck Series part time. It's a wonderful series. I may even pursue that with my own team. If I did that, I would still have an opportunity to race Nextel Cup." He indicated he would be interested in a part-time ride for a good, established Nextel Cup team, also. There are rumors circulating that Bobby Hamilton Jr., who replaced Craven in the Tide #32 Nextel Cup Chevy 16 months ago, won't return to drive for PPI Motorsports and team owner Cal Wells III next season. Would Craven return to the team with which he won two Nextel Cup races, the only single-car team to do so over the last five years, and posted 10 top-fives and 24 top-10s in their 3 1/2-year relationship? "I certainly have an interest in helping Cal. We're friends. We'll see. But it needs to be a different situation," said Craven, referring primarily to Wells' ability to land a second team and sponsor.(Bangor Daily News)(11-22-2005)

    • Driver Change at PPI? UPDATE: hearing Bobby Hamilton Jr. will probably not return as the driver of the #32 Tide Chevy for PPI Motorsports in 2006. Dave Blaney has been rumored for the #32 ride as well as the #22 Caterpillar Dodge ride, IF the #77 shuts down, Travis Kvapil could head to either the #22 or #32 teams.(11-17-2005)
      UPDATE: #32 Car owner Cal Wells still isn't revealing his plans for 2006, but he said that tentative plans to do some deal next season with Doug and Robert Yates didn't get off the planning board. There has been considerable speculation about Wells, a longtime Chevy man, and the Yateses, with Fords, doing a team together. But Wells said he'll remain with Chevrolet. "I've heard everything, and things are going on that will be exciting - but I'm not part of that," Wells said. "There was a door that opened and closed a couple of weeks ago. Doug and I are good personal friends, and I would do whatever he might want. I have immense respect for Doug. And we kicked around some ideas, that probably got talked about around the garage. But all of that was incredibly premature." So what will Wells have for 2006? "We're all racing for our jobs, Bobby Hamilton Jr. included," Wells said. "But Bobby is my driver today, and we'll see where it goes."(Winston Salem Journal)(11-22-2005)

    • Ward Named 2005 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Ward Burton has been honored by the Virginia Piedmont Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals as the 2005 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser. With his family present, the award was given to him on National Philanthropy Day (NPD) at Boonsboro Country Club. Having received the award, he joins some of Virginia's most distinguished citizens who have given the honor in the past. NPD has been observed since 1986 to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy has made to the lives, communities, the nation as a whole and the world. "I have been very fortunate with the opportunities that I have been given. I believe in giving back and helping others whenever possible," stated Ward Burton. Awards are given to acknowledge outstanding individual across the entire spectrum of services provided by the nonprofit sector and recognized the profound impact that philanthropy has on the fabric of society. NPD is observed in November each year. It is a time to honor exemplary philanthropist, volunteer fundraisers, corporations, foundations, media outlets, children, young adults and professional fundraisers for their outstanding work and contributions to the community. Ward Burton is the founder and President of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation. Established in 1996, the WBWF is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 whose mission is to conserve America's land and wildlife through wise stewardship while educating children and adults about the natural resources that will shape America's future. For more information about the WBWF please visit www.twbwf.org.(11-22-2005)


      News from November 21, 2005

    • Nice Gesture: #45-Kyle Petty's wife Pattie gave Stewart a lucky charm from her late son Adam with the inscription John 3:16 on Sunday morning. Stewart had it in his pocket all day.(Yahoo Sports)(11-21-2005)

    • Slugger to #88; Baldwin to #38? Look for some organizational changes at Robert Yates Racing. Slugger Labbe will take over as crew chief of the #88, which is driven by Dale Jarrett, and Tommy Baldwin will lead the #38 crew and Elliott Sadler. Yates ended rumors that he will start a third team; he says he first wants to make the 88 and 38 teams stronger. But there still are plans for additional buildings on Yates' property in Mooresville, N.C.(Sporting News)(11-21-2005)

    • Blaney to the #22 car? UPDATE: Bill Davis Racing is expected to announce soon it has signed Dave Blaney to replace Scott Wimmer for next season [in the #22 Caterpillar Dodge]. Mike Brown, general manager at Bill Davis Racing, said the team has made its selection and expects to make an announcement in about 10 days. Brown wouldn't confirm Blaney as the choice, but acknowledged Blaney would make a good fit for the High Point-based team. "It would be a welcome sight for the guys at the shop," Brown said of Blaney returning. Blaney drove for the team from 1999-2001. He also drove six Cup races for Davis in 2004 before joining Richard Childress Racing for this season.(Roanoke Times)(11-19-2005)
      UPDATE: Dave Blaney will drive the #22 for Bill Davis Racing next season, replacing Scott Wimmer. Blaney says a decision has not been made on a crew chief, but he's content to have Derrick Finley remain in that position.(Sporting News)(11-21-2005)

    • Roush Crew Chiefs all back in 2006: Roush Racing President Geoff Smith said Sunday that the team has re-signed all of five of its crew chiefs for 2006, although it has some unfilled crew vacancies remaining. Roush is one of the few teams that had no midseason crew chief turnover and return of its five team leaders should help the organization get off to a strong start next season.(Speed Channel)(11-21-2005)

    • Rudd Honored...by Fatback and Drivers: When NASCAR failed to recognize the career accomplishments of Ricky Rudd during what might have been his final drivers meeting, his crew chief, Michael McSwain, came to the rescue. During a season dominated by recognition for the retiring Rusty Wallace, there has been little for the veteran Rudd. But at the conclusion of Sunday's drivers meeting, McSwain unexpectedly stood up and offered a tearful farewell to NASCAR's "Ironman." "My buddy is leaving me, and I don't think there will ever be another one like him," said McSwain, so overcome with emotion that he struggled to finish each sentence. "He's done a lot for this sport, and I know nobody will ever touch his record for consecutive starts." Rudd, who made his Nextel Cup-record 788th straight start on Sunday and has announced he won't return to drive the #21 Ford next season, seemed taken aback by McSwain's impromptu salute. He stood up and acknowledged his longtime crew chief, before addressing the drivers. "[I] thank everybody for allowing me to compete with you all," said Rudd, who wound up 37th in the season finale, five laps behind the leaders. "I'll come out and check on you on the weekends when I can sit up in the stands, drink beer and watch everybody." An hour later, as he strolled with his wife, Linda, to driver introductions, Rudd said he was caught off guard in the drivers meeting. "I didn't expect it," the 49-year-old Rudd said. "I was getting through this weekend, then I got a little choked up. I was awful proud. NASCAR sort of ignored me and [McSwain] got up and said a few words for me. I can't put into words what it meant." NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter defended the sanctioning body's decision not to honor Rudd before the Ford 400. "Ricky hasn't retired," Hunter said. "Rusty said he's retiring. Ricky said, 'I'm going to step back. I may drive if the right thing comes along.' As far as we know, Ricky hasn't retired. If he had said he was retiring, I'm sure we would have recognized him."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), no word if Newman stood up for Rudd.(11-21-2005)

    • Helicopter Crash at Homestead UPDATE Close Call for Sorenson: Two helicopters collided at the Homestead-Miami Speedway after the NASCAR championship Sunday, killing one pilot, authorities said. One helicopter was taking off from the speedway's helipad shortly before 9 p.m. while another was attempting to land, said Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Richard Martin. "They had either a mid-air collision or a near-midair collision. One of them did a hard landing right on the helipad. No one on that craft was injured," Martin said. The other pilot died after being airlifted to a Miami hospital, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Police Department said. The pilot's identification was being withheld pending family notification. Todd Shook, 46, of Sarasota, said he saw the blades of one helicopter clip the body of the second helicopter as he was walking to his RV parked outside the speedway. One helicopter landed lopsided on the speedway's helipad, and the other crashed into an RV parked nearby, he said. "It just hit real hard, and then I saw the windshield all broken out," Shook said. It was not immediately clear if the RV was occupied at the time of the crash.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-20-2005)
      UPDATE: A pilot was killed after two helicopters crashed en route to pick up participants following Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. One helicopter was taking off from the speedway's helipad shortly before 9 p.m. while another was attempting to land, Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue battalion chief Richard Martin told The Associated Press. The pilot died after being airlifted to a Miami hospital, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Police Department said. The pilot's identity was being withheld pending family notification. Reed Sorenson, who finished 28th in the 400, was waiting to board one of the helicopters just prior to the crash. "I was the next one in line to go," Sorenson said. "I saw them hit. One went straight down and the other tried to land in the grass nearby. It took off part of his landing gear. I took off running because I thought parts were going everywhere. After seeing that, I don't think I'll ever fly a helicopter again." Speedway officials said only that the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(11-21-2005)

    • #10 Tire Changer OK: Richard Boyle, the rear tire changer on Scott Riggs' #10 Chevy of MB2 Motorsports , escaped serious injury when he was struck by Ricky Rudd's #21 Ford during a pit stop on Lap 18. Boyle, who was hit when Rudd's car was bumped by the #66 Ford of Kevin Lepage, was treated and released from the track's care center. The wreck also spoiled Rudd's hope of a fine finish in his last ride in the Wood Brothers' #21 Ford. The damage to his car doomed him to a 37th place finish.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(11-21-2005)

    • Chase Drivers get separate point system? BUT: NASCAR may consider a separate point system for the 10 drivers in the Chase for the Championship. The sanctioning body wants to reduce the penalty for a bad finish to promote more racing by the leaders. In the first two years of the Chase, the winners have combined to win only one race during the playoffs.(Augusta Chronicle)
      BUT NASCAR chairman Brian France said the Chase format is working and NASCAR doesn't plan any major changes in the off-season. "We will look at it when the season ends," France told Speed Channel on Sunday. "But my sense is anything we do would be a small adjustment." France didn't say what that adjustment might be, but he did clarify one point. The Chase won't change to a separate points system for the 10 drivers in the playoff, as some of the Chase contenders have suggested.(Dallas Morning News)(11-21-2005)

    • Brown Team probably not until 2007: Former NFL star Tim Brown still is trying to put together a Nextel Cup team for 2006, but the team probably will not be full-time until 2007. Still to be determined is how NASCAR will treat Brown’s partnership with Roush Racing in light of its four-car team cap that will be enacted next year.(Speed Channel)(11-21-2005)

    • The 2005 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and More
      • Tony Stewart became the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion. He finished the 2005 season 35 points ahead of second-place Greg Biffle.
      • Five drivers in the Chase changed point positions at Homestead Miami Speedway.
      • Four of the 10 Chase drivers led at Homestead earning lap leader bonus points. (Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Ryan Newman).
      • Seven of the 10 drivers who made it into the 2005 Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup did so for the second straight year: Greg Biffle, Rusty Wallace, and Carl Edwards were new to the Chase in 2005.
      • Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards were the only drivers who finished with two victories in the Chase. Johnson won at Dover and Charlotte while Edwards won at Atlanta and Texas.
      • Nine of the 10 drivers competing in the 2005 Chase for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup scored at least one victory in the 2005 season. Five of the 10 drivers scored multiple victories led by Greg Biffle with six. Rusty Wallace was the only Chase driver that remained winless in 2005.
      • Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle each earned 50 lap leader bonus points in the Chase, leading all drivers
      • Carl Edwards scored eight top-10 finishes in the 2005 Chase for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the most of all drivers.
      • Jeff Gordon remained 11th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. He finished 44 points over 12th-place Jamie McMurray.
      • Rusty Wallace (13th) ended his career with a 49-race streak of running at the finish that began at Bristol in August 2004.
      • The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Leader bonus was worth $80,000 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Because it was not won it will be distributed among the top-10 drivers at the 2005 awards banquet.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(11-21-2005)

    • A Championship Outlook - champ usually wins in first 6 races: Only six times in the modern era (1972-present) has the eventual champion not won in the first six races. The winners in the first 6 races of 2005: #24-Jeff Gordon, #16-Greg Biffle, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #99-Carl Edwards and #29-Kevin Harvick.
      When did a driver win the Championship and not win a race in the first six? 1973-Benny Parsons; 1984 and 1996-Terry Labonte; 1985-Darrell Waltrip; 1999-Dale Jarrett; 2005-Tony Stewart.(11-21-2005)

    • Busch wins 2005 ROTY: Kyle Busch in the #5 Kelloggs Chevy clinched the 2005 Raybesto Rookie of Year at Homestead, beating out #77-Travis Kvapil, who was the only other full-time rookie driver. Busch racked up two wins, one pole, nine top-fives and 13 top 10 finishes this season. He claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Race 23 times in 36 races and was the only Raybestos Rookie to post a top-five finish this season. Busch joins Jeff Gordon (1993) as the only Hendrick Motorsports drivers to win Raybestos Rookie of the Year. He is the first Raybestos Rookie to post two or more wins since Jimmie Johnson won three races in 2002. Busch became the youngest pole winner in NASCAR's premier series (19 yrs., 9 mos. and 24 days) when he grabbed the No. 1 qualifying spot for the February 27 Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. He is also the most recent Raybestos Rookie to win a pole and is the only first-year driver to win a pole in 2005. Where the Raybestos Rookies finished at Homestead: T. Kvapil 32nd; K. Busch 41st.(Raybestos/Camp and Assoc PR), also, Busch became the youngest race winner in NASCAR's premier series when he won at California in Sept. beating out Donald Thomas who was 20 yrs, 4 months, 6 days old when he won at Lakeland in 1952, Busch was 20 yr, 4 months, 2 days old.(11-21-2005)

    • Cingular name to AT&T, RCR signed thru 2007: SBC, which closed its merger with AT&T on Friday [Nov 18th], plans to sell Cingular Wireless under the fabled AT&T name, Ed Whitacre, the chairman and CEO of the combined company, has confirmed to USA TODAY. Cingular, the USA's No. 1 wireless company, is 60% owned by the new AT&T; BellSouth controls 40%. SBC recently said it would adopt AT&T's name, putting to rest questions about what would happen to the famous name. But speculation had also swirled about what would happen to the Cingular brand name once the AT&T deal closed. In an interview with USA TODAY on Friday, Whitacre left no doubt about his plans. Asked if the company planned to drop the Cingular name in favor of the AT&T brand, Whitacre said, "Yes, we do."(See full article at USA Today), how will this effect the #31 Richard Childress Racing team and Cingular's sponsorshjip? No word if they At&T will take over BUT Cingular is signed with RCR thru 2007.(11-21-2005)

    • Overnight TV numbers for Homestead down: NBC's broadcast of Sunday's Ford 400 Nextel Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway earned a 4.8 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 9 market share, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. The Daily says the rating is 14.3% lower than the 5.6 overnight rating in 2004 but reports that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market was not reportable because of Hurricane Wilma.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-21-2005)

    • 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion: Tony Stewart:
      • Tony Stewart won the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship in the 57th season of NASCAR’s premier series.
      • This is Stewart’s second title in the seven seasons that he has competed in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Stewart was also the Series champion in 2002.
      • Stewart has ranked in the top 10 every season since his 1999 rookie year and has never ranked lower than seventh in the final point standings.
      • Stewart posted three Bud Poles, five victories, 17 top-fives and 25 top-10 finishes this season.
      • This is Joe Gibbs’ third championship as a car owner. Bobby Labonte won for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2000 and Stewart in 2002. Gibbs has fielded at least one full-time team since 1992.
      • This is also the second championship for crew chief Greg Zipadelli, both with Stewart. Zipadelli has been a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Crew Chief for seven seasons, all with Stewart and Gibbs.
      • There have been 27 different champions Stewart is the 14th different driver to win multiple championships.
      • Stewart was the 1999 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year. He became the eighth Rookie-of-the-Year to subsequently win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship.
      • Stewart started the season at Daytona in sixth place after leading the most laps en route to a seventh-place finish. He struggled for the next 13 races, finishing in the top 10 only five times but also finishing 24th or worse five times. He then finished second in the June Michigan race, beginning a 13-race streak of consecutive top 10 finishes that ran through Loudon in September. During the 13 races, he scored five victories and 10 top fives. His Brickyard 400 victory propelled him to first place in the point standings for the first time in 2005. He held the top position following all but one of the final 15 races.
      • His biggest point lead was 213 points following second Bristol. His smallest lead was when he was tied with Jimmie Johnson in points scored after the second Charlotte race.
      • Stewart started the Chase in first place by five points over Greg Biffle, 15 ahead of Johnson. Stewart led the standings after nine of the 10 Chase races (all but Dover when he fell to fifth after an 18th place finish).
      • This is the 22nd time in 57 seasons a Chevrolet driver has won the championship; the first since 2001.
      • Stewart’s other championships:
      2001 World of Outlaws (Car Owner)
      1997 Indy Racing League (IRL)
      1995 USAC Midget; USAC Sprint Cars; USAC Silver Crown
      1994 USAC Midget
      1987 World Karting Association National Title
      1983 International Karting Foundation Grand National
      Stewart is 34 years old (5/20/71); Zipadelli is 38 years old (4/21/67); Gibbs is 64 years old (11/25/40).(NASCAR Statistical Services)(11-21-2005)



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