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  • MORE NEWS/RUMORS
    DEC 19-25, 2005





      News from December 25, 2005

    • nothing to report, have a nice holiday.....


      News from December 24, 2005

    • Busch court date postponed: #2-Kurt Busch has a January court date to face a criminal reckless driving citation he received while in the Valley for the Nextel Cup race last month. Busch was scheduled to appear in Tolleson Justice Court on Thursday but changed the court date to 9:00am on Jan. 27, according to court officials. The 2004 Nextel Cup champion was belligerent and uncooperative when he was pulled over by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies on Nov. 11 near Phoenix International Raceway, according to sheriff's reports. A breath test and field sobriety tests confirmed Busch wasn't drunk, but deputies issued a criminal traffic citation for reckless driving. Busch's 2005 team, #97 Roush Racing [now #26 team, Busch to drive #2 Dodge in 2006], suspended him for the final two races of the season.(East Valley Tribune)(12-24-2005)

    • Paul Tracy to race in Busch Series in 2006 UPDATE Full-time in 2007: Paul Tracy will make the jump to the NASCAR Busch Series in selected races in 2006. Tracy, who was in Daytona testing an ARCA car for Andy HIllenburg, told MRN Radio's "NASCAR Today" that he will run a second Busch car for Biagi Brothers [#4 team with Mark Green driving] racing next year. "I will be doing the 24 hours again and trying to get some experience in stock cars and make the transition into stock cars in the future. Andy Hillenburg, who I am driving for here, has been really helpful with trying to help me out make the transition. We've got a deal 99% done to run 4 or 5 Busch Series racing for Fred Biagi. We've got a sponsor package put together to run a second car. Really my timetable is to be up and running by 2007... maybe run 10 or 11 races and a Cup race or 2 next year." MRN Radio's "NASCAR Today" can be heard on 505 radio stations and XM Satellite Radio.(MRN's NASCAR Today)(12-17-2005)
      UPDATE: After testing a stock car last week at Daytona International Speedway, Paul Tracy told reporters he expects 2006 to be his final Champ Car season. "My game plan was to make the transition in '06, but it didn't come together," the Canadian said. Tracy, 37, the 2003 Champ Car titlist, said he hopes to run 10 Busch Series races and a couple of Nextel Cup races in 2006 ahead of a full-time move to NASCAR in 2007.(Indianapolis Star)(12-24-2005)

    • RYR signs new driver: Two-time defending NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Midwest point series champion, Justin Diercks, will sign a contract with Robert Yates Racing in the coming days, Yates team general manager Eddie D’Hondt said Thursday. The Yates team has three Nextel Cup cars [? three? #38, #88 and ?], but D’Hondt said Diercks likely would spend the coming year driving on the ARCA circuit. D’Hondt said Diercks also could earn some starts in the Busch Series, which is raced at NASCAR tracks in conjunction with Nextel Cup events. Diercks could not be reached for comment, but D’Hondt confirmed that the 26-year-old Quad-Citian tested twice at different tracks for RYR, driving Dale Jarrett’s #88 UPS Ford Taurus once and Elliott Sadler’s M&Ms Ford on another occasion. “He did a really good job both times and on different-sized racetracks,’’ said D’Hondt, who is entering his third year with RYR and previously worked for Bill Elliott Racing and Evernham Motorsports. “We plan on making him part of our family in the near future.’’ Diercks has been racing on asphalt tracks for almost a decade and won his first feature at the age of 17. D’Hondt said a Diercks representative made the Yates team aware of Diercks a year ago, and he said RYR closely followed Diercks’ second straight Midwest Series points win last summer and fall. Diercks interviewed with D’Hondt and RYR engine builder Doug Yates twice and impressed them, D’Hondt said. “He is just a good kid,’’ the general manager said. “He’s a racer, and he’s a worker. He has a very good background, and what he has accomplished to date is strong. Marketability-wise, he will do a good job for any sponsor. We just have to get behind him.’’ D’Hondt said Diercks would be one of three young racers RYR planned to groom for a possible Nextel Cup future, joining racers Steve Leicht and Matt McCall. Diercks will continue to test in RYR’s Nextel Cup cars throughout the year, D’Hondt said. As for getting to drive in a Nextel Cup race, “Not until he earns it,’’ the GM said. “But he’ll get to that eventually.’’(Quad-City Times)(12-24-2005)


      News from December 23, 2005

    • Hamilton Jr. released from #32 ride UPDATE: PPI Motorsports (PPIM) announced that Bobby Hamilton Jr. will no longer be the driver of the #32 Tide/Downy Chevrolet. “I want to thank Bobby for his efforts over the past year and a half,” said Cal Wells III, owner of PPI Motorsports. In 44 starts for PPIM, Hamilton Jr. has produced three top-15 and 13 top-25 finishes. “I wish Bobby nothing but the best as he pursues his options for next season,” stated Wells. PPI Motorsports, based in Hickory, N.C., fields the #32 Tide/Downy Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Since joining the series in 2000, the team has earned two wins, three pole positions, ten top fives and 26 top tens. The team also owns multiple titles and victories in off-road and open-wheel racing and celebrates its 25th year in racing this season.(PPI Motorsports)(12-22-2005)
      STATEMENT: the official statement from Bobby Hamilton Jr. regarding his release from PPI: "Today [Thurs] PPI notified me that I was terminated. I'm looking forward to talking to teams about the opportunities that are still out there for next year and beyond. I've been a full time driver in Busch or Cup for five years, I've won races, I'm still just 27, and I know I can drive. While I don't agree with PPI's decision, I have only best wishes for Cal and the whole team as they prepare for next season.(Motorsports Management PR)(12-23-2005)

    • Budweiser gets the most in-broadcast TV exposure value; Lowe's gets hood time: The streak continues. For the 21st consecutive season, the primary team sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series champion (The Home Depot/Tony Stewart) did not earn the most in-broadcast exposure value for the season. The 2005 team sponsor top-five ranked as follows: Budweiser ($149.0 million), Lowe's ($140.2 million), The Home Depot ($125.0 million), NAPA Auto Parts ($105.5 million) and DuPont ($84.7 million). The hood of a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series car is some of the most valuable real estate in all of sports. The following is the top-3 of the top hoods in terms of generating on-screen time during the race telecasts: 1) Lowe's/#48-Johnson, 7:16:32; 22.0%; 2) DuPont/#24-Gordon, 5:40:24 (exposure time), 28.3% (% of Brand's Exp); 3) The Home Depot/#20-Stewart, 5:39:27; 19.7%.(Joyce Julius PR)(12-23-2005)

    • Hamlin goes to work at FedEx: Rolling up his sleeves during FedEx's Peak Week, which are the busiest holiday shipping days, #11 FedEx NEXTEL Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin toursedthe FedEx hub in Memphis, Tenn. Hamlin sorted packages, met with hub employees and signed autographs. On Monday, Dec. 19, 2005, FedEx shipped 8.9 million packages around the world, the busiest night in the company's history.(Weber Shandwick PR)(12-23-2005)

    • Urban Wheel Awards honor NASCAR: On Wheels Inc., publisher of African Americans On Wheels, Latinos On Wheels and the soon-to-be-launched Asians On Wheels, says it will honor NASCAR at the 10th Annual Urban Wheel Awards next month. The sanctioning body will receive the Diversity in Motorsports award, and NASCAR President Mike Helton is scheduled to attend the Jan. 10 ceremony in Detroit to accept the honor.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-23-2005)


      News from December 22, 2005

    • Kvapil to PPI? UPDATE 4 Official: Travis Kvapil recently received his release from #77 Penske Racing, but he is not expected to be out of work for long. Kvapil, 29, is the latest candidate for the #32 PPI Motorsports ride. Bobby Hamilton Jr. has not been re-signed.(Sporting News), Ricky Craven has also been rumored to be going back to the #32, but that seems like a slim chance.(12-12-2005)
      UPDATE: been told that Hamilton Jr. is signed thru 2006 with PPI Motorsports and has not been released from his contract.(12-13-2005)
      UPDATE 2: Bobby Hamilton, Jr. will return to the #32 Tide Chevrolet in 2006. He is still under contract to Cal Wells, who can't find an upgrade in talent on the current NEXTEL Cup unemployment line and will most likely stay with the second generation driver.(RacingOne)(12-14-2005)
      UPDATE 3: hearing Kvapil will be named the new driver of the #32 Tide ride, could be as soon as today [Wed].(12-21-2005)
      UPDATE 4: Cal Wells made a move on Thursday that should stop the #32 from spinning out. Wells announced that Travis Kvapil is replacing Bobby Hamilton Jr. in the #32 PPI Motorsports Chevrolet in 2006. Kvapil, 29, was released from the #77 Penske Racing Dodge at the end of last season. Although he finished 33rd in the Nextel Cup standings, that was three positions higher than Hamilton Jr., who failed to qualify at Charlotte and was replaced on the road course races. Regardless, Hamilton had an average finish of 32nd. In Hamilton's defense, his engines were inconsistent at the start of the season. Wells did his best through a lease program with Richard Childress Racing but engine failures led to two DNFs. Secondly, Hamilton lost crew chief Harold Holly midseason. Danny Gill filled in until after the first race of the Chase, when Hamilton gained the ever-so-savvy James Ince. But the relationship never took off, as the driver appeared to be mailing it in towards season's end. The stark comparison must be made between Hamilton and Ricky Craven, Hamilton's predecessor in the #32. Craven ran only 26 races in 2004 and finished 34th -- two positions ahead of Hamilton, who competed in 33 events. Craven finished 27th in 2003 and a PPI career-high 15th in the 2002 standings. Wells simply couldn't afford to let the downward spiral continue. Although Kvapil's rookie season was a struggle, his championship in the Craftsman Truck Series is proof of his ability to win and points race. His demeanor on and off the track has been compared to fellow Wisconsinite Matt Kenseth. Kvapil's desire to succeed combined with Ince's strong work ethic will help overcome the obstacles facing a single car team until Wells can find the funding to expand his operation.(Sporting News)
      AND PPI Motorsports (PPIM) announced that 2003 Truck Series Champ Travis Kvapil will be behind the wheel of the #32 Tide/Downy Chevy for the upcoming 2006 Nextel Cup season. “PPI Motorsports is excited to have Travis join the Tide Racing team,” said Cal Wells III, owner of PPI Motorsports. “I believe he will be a strong addition to our organization especially under the tutelage of crew chief James Ince. The two of them, along with the new crew we have assembled, have the ability to reach the goals set forth by this organization. We have experienced some unfortunate setbacks over the last two seasons and I am determined to get PPI Motorsports back in contention for race victories in 2006. I believe Travis can certainly make that happen for us and I am proud to have him on board.” Kvapil, a native of Janesville, Wis., will embark on his second full season in NASCAR’s premiere series after competing last year for Penske-Jasper Racing where he recorded two top-10 and 18 top-25 finishes. He was able to join PPIM when Penske-Jasper Racing released him after a joint decision was made by Penske and sponsor Kodak not to field the #77 car in 2006. “As the saying goes, when one door closes another will open,” said Kvapil. “I feel fortunate that the door to PPI Motorsports has opened to me. I want to thank Cal for giving me the chance to drive one of the most recognizable race cars in NASCAR. Tide has been in the sport for a long time and has experienced a lot of success in the past. I am honored and will do everything I can to become a part of the Tide winning tradition. All of the resources to succeed are in place here at PPI Motorsports so I am excited to get the season started.”(PPI Motorsports)(12-22-2005)

    • Army no longer NASCAR sponsor BUT will sponsor #01 team: The U.S. Army will no longer sponsor NASCAR [be an official NASCAR sponsor], Street & Smith¹s SportsBusiness Journal reports, but it will continue as sponsor of MB2 Motorsports' #01 Chevrolet driven by Joe Nemechek in NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series. The publication reports that the decision was based on price and says the Army will spend the money it would have used in NASCAR for "grassroots programs supporting the Army's primary sponsorship objective of generating recruiting leads." The story says NASCAR will leave representation of the armed forces with individual teams.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-22-2005)

    • #66 changes to #61: hearing the Peak Performance Motorsports #66 Nextel Cup Team will run the #61 in 2006. The #66 has been released and the new #61 has been assigned by NASCAR. Kevin Lepage will drive the #61 Ford in 2006 nd finished up the 2005 season with the team [when it was #66] after Hermie Sadler and Mike Garvey drove the car. No word on a 2006 sponsor.(12-22-2005)

    • Lepage to new #64 team? hearing Kevin Lepage, who ened up the 2005 season driving for the #66 Peak Performance Motorsports team [now #61] could be headed to the new #64 Premier Motorsports team as their driver.(12-22-2005)
      UPDATE: been told that while the team is down to three choices for their driver, Lepage is not one of those drivers and he will run full time in the #61 Peak Performance Motorsports team [was #66] in 2006.(12-22-2005)

    • Rusty and Dale Jr. well liked in poll - Genius Insight’s 25 Most-Liked Athletes Of ’05: The following presents recently released data from Genius Insight report, detailing the top 25 most-liked active athletes in ’05. The report includes 1,988 stars, approximately 400 of which are athletes, rated by U.S. respondents aged 13-49. Stars are ranked by the percentage of people who say they “like the star a lot.” Data was compiled during a six-month period, ending October 1. Fan base figures are rounded to the nearest whole (Genius Insight StarPower Report). The top five most well-liked were: Lance Armstrong (27%), Tiger Woods (15%), Shaquille O’Neal (14%), Brett Favre (14%), Serena Williams (14%). NASCAR's Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Jr were 8th with 12%, no other drivers were mentioned in the top 25.(Sports Business Daily(need sub/or Rustywallace.com)(12-22-2005)

    • McMurray to run Smirnoff in a few races: Jamie McMurray will drive the #26 Smirnoff Ice Ford at Lowe's Motor Speedway (May), Daytona (July) and Fontana (Sept).(Racing One) or see images on my #26 Team Schemes page.(12-22-2005)

    • Rusty Wallace Shakes Down Daytona Prototype At DIS: Rusty Wallace has retired from Nxtel Cup Series competition, but he's still got one more race on his to-do list - the 44th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29. Wallace flew down to Daytona International Speedway for the day to shake down a Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford on the historic 3.56-mile road course as he considers competing in the upcoming prestigious twice-around-the-clock race. "This 24 Hours of Daytona has been on my plans for over a year and a half," Wallace said. "I've been on again, off again with it but the last couple of weeks I've really gotten on it again. Jim France gave me a call and said I ought to reconsider and go back down and try it out." Wallace says that the Howard-Boss Motorsports team hopes to have a driving team finalized within the week that will include him and a couple of sports car specialists. Sports car aces and former Rolex 24 champions Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson have been giving Wallace tips on the twists and turns of the road course as well as the Daytona Prototype. Wednesday's test was a star-studded one with several major drivers getting shake downs in Daytona Prototypes. Among the teams participating include Cheever Racing (Eddie Cheever, Christian Fittipaldi, Bill Lester, Paul Menard and Patrick Carpentier), Finlay Motorsports (Memo Gidley), Alex Job Racing (Patrick Long) and Brumos Racing (Hurley Haywood, David Donohue, Ted Christopher, JC France and Darren Law).(DIS PR)(12-22-2005)


      News from December 21, 2005

    • Mike Wallace plans to run Daytona 500: Mike Wallace plans to attempt 2006 Daytona 500, looking for other Daytona rides and a full season seat. "I will be down in Daytona for speedweeks, and I will be with a team attempting to make the field for the 2006 Daytona 500," said Wallace. "I am also looking for opportunities to race in the Craftsman Truck Series race and the Busch Series race there in Daytona." The car and team Wallace will attempt to make the 2006 Daytona 500 field in will be named in the future. Wallace also said he is looking at running the full 2006 Nextel Cup Series season. "We are working on some opportunities to run the full 2006 Nextel Cup season. Hopefully in the near future we will have something to announce."(Motorsports Lounge)(12-21-2005)

    • Kentucky Testing: #43-Bobby Labonte was scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway, Thursday, Dec 15th, but weather cancelled the test session, Labonte is now scheduled to test on Tuesday, Dec 20th, with #18-J.J. Yeley and #5-Kyle Busch scheduled to test next Wednesday [12/21] and Thursday [12/22]. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway)(12-15-205)
      UPDATE: Crew chief Todd Parrott and driver Bobby Labonte ushered in a new era for the storied Petty Enterprises #43 Nextel Cup Series car with a test at Kentucky Speedway today. Labonte, the 2000 series champion who finished 24th in the 2005 standings with Joe Gibbs Racing, and Parrott, who helped Dale Jarrett win the 1999 series title with Robert Yates Racing, will join new Exec. VP of Operations Robbie Loomis, who guided Jeff Gordon to 23 wins and the 2001 championship with Hendrick Motorsports, in an attempt to rejuvenate a Petty program that hasn't scored a series race win since Loomis last worked there in 1999. Temperatures in the low to mid 20s didn't curb the enthusiasm both crew chief and driver expressed for their new project during their first test together. The new team agreed that the focus of the one-day test was to begin to establish solid team communications. "It's different," Labonte said. "I was kind of jittery at first because it's been 11 years since I've had anything like this go on. It's a little too cold here for me, but, so far, so good. I'm just real excited to work with Todd and all these guys. Hopefully, I understand Todd and when I talk, he can understand the language I'm talking. For us, today is about getting a feel for everybody and everybody getting a feel for Todd. He's the main character here that everyone will have to look up to. When I'm on the racetrack, they've got to know what to do next and he's the guy leading them."
      Robert Yates Racing joined the test. Drivers Matt McCall, Steven Leicht, and Justin Diercks split time in a research and development car. Testing is scheduled to continue Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 when Kyle Busch and his #5 Hendrick Motorsports machine share track time with J.J. Yeley and his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing ride.(Kentucky Speedway)(12-21-205)





      News from December 20, 2005

    • Impound Changes: NASCAR will impound the Nextel Cup cars at five races in 2006: Both Talladega events, both Richmond events, and the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, according to a memo sent to teams last week. NASCAR used the impound rule at 21 of the 36 races in 2005. Neither of the Talladega events was an impound race last year. The rule was consistently criticized throughout the year as vastly different weekend schedules led to confusion and large amounts of downtime. An impound race usually featured two Friday practices and Saturday Bud Pole Qualifying instead of the traditional Friday Bud Pole Qualifying and Saturday practices.(NASCAR.com), see past reules on my Impound Rules page.(12-20-2005)

    • Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper back with Evernham Motorsports: Moving into their second year of partnership, aftermarket auto parts giant Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper and Evernham Motorsports have turned up the heat for what is sure to be another great season. As a NASCAR sponsor of Evernham Motorsports, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, parent company of Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper, will receive primary status on the #10 Dodge in the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and on the #9 Dodge in the Busch Series. The #10 Dodge will be showcased by driver Scott Riggs for Nextel Cup races at New Hampshire on July 16, 2006 and at Richmond on September 9, 2006.
      The Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper brands take the lead with the primary sponsorship of the Busch Series#9 Dodge driven by Jeremy Mayfield at California on February 25, 2006. Not to be called a rookie any longer, Kasey Kahne will be behind the wheel of the Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper #9 Dodge for the Busch Series race at Bristol on August 25, 2006. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper's multi-year sponsorship of Evernham Motorsports will build their brand across a broad audience whose love affair with cars starts in their own garage and culminates with high performance racing. NASCAR brand research shows that NASCAR fans are more likely to have more than one vehicle. NASCAR fans are also more likely to buy used vehicles, which are typically older and require additional maintenance and auto parts. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper's association with Evernham also will be used in key customer outreach efforts, retail marketing efforts and internal promotions. For more information about Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper visit www.800autotalk.com.(PR), see an image of the #10 car on my #10 Team Schemes page.(12-20-2005)

    • Wimmer to #4? UPDATE Official: hearing that Scott Wimmer, former driver of the #22 Caterpillar Dodge, will be the new driver of the #4 Morgan-McClure Chevy in 2006. No word on the status of the alliance with Victory Motorsports Racing that Morgan-McClure announced a few months ago.(12-2-2005)
      UPDATE: Morgan-McClure Motorsports President and Team Manager Larry McClure has announced the signing of a contract with AERO Exhaust as the primary sponsor and with Scott Wimmer as driver of the # 4 AERO Exhaust Chevy for the 2006 season. "We are very pleased to have AERO Exhaust partner with us going into the 2006 season. AERO has experience in racing with both the Grand Am series and NASCAR's AutoZone Elite Division series and we are happy to extend their involvement into the NASCAR Nextel Cup series level. We are looking forward to a long-term relationship with AERO that will bring success to their business and to this race team. We have won three Daytona 500's, something no other single car team can say, and we are ready to be that winning team again. I believe we are on the right track to make that happen," said McClure at the Abingdon, VA based race shop on Monday morning.
      McClure continued, "At the same time, I am very excited to have a young, aggressive, knowledgeable driver like Scott Wimmer join our team. Scott brings a history of building his own race cars along with a winning career to our team and I believe we have a great combination of talents that will put us back in the winner's circle. We are very happy to have Scott and his family become a part of our racing 'family' here at Morgan-McClure."
      When Wimmer spoke with his new team at the race shop, he found support from everyone including the team member who brought all three Daytona 500 rings in for him to see. "I'm very happy to be a part of the Morgan-McClure team. This team has won the Daytona 500 three times and I believe we can win again. I'm excited to be in a position where I can be more hands on with the cars and I know we can be successful if we all work together. I want everyone on the team to talk to us about their ideas so we can bring out the best each of us has to offer. I'm excited to get in the cars and start testing. . .how long is it before we go to Daytona? I really appreciate the opportunity to continue my Nextel Cup career with this team." The team will be testing at Daytona International Speedway the second week in January.(Morgan-McClure Motorsports PR), no word if Lucas Oil will be back as a sponsor, supposedly it was a multi-year deal.(12-20-2005)

    • Three from NASCAR make list of influential people in Sports Biz: Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal's Dec. 19 issue features the 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business, and three men from NASCAR are ranked. NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France is ranked seventh on the 2005 list, up three spots from 10th in 2004. The publication cites France's successful and continuing expansion of the sport. Also to make the list are newcomers George Pyne, NASCAR's chief operating officer, and Jim France, CEO of International Speedway Corp. The publication ranked Pyne 47th, saying he deserves much of the credit for NASCAR's maturation. Jim France was ranked 50th, and the publication says his impact on the sport is "immeasurable and underrated."(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-20-2005)


      News from December 19, 2005

    • DEI gearing up for 2006: It's full steam ahead for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the improved #8 brew crew. The team's fabrication shop is refurbishing the stable and has two intermediate cars, a new Bristol car and two speedway rides ready to roll. The engine department tested earlier this month at Nashville and tested restrictor-plate engines with ARCA journeyman Mark Gibson last week at Daytona. #15-Paul Menard will test at Daytona the next week to prepare for his first of seven Cup races. Dan Stillman will be his crew chief.(Sporting News)(12-19-2005)

    • #88 Team picks up some crew people: Robert Yates Racing [RYR] picked up two new pit crew members for Dale Jarrett's #88 team: Cory Quick, previously a tire changer for Jimmie Johnson, and jackman Tim Boatwright, who joins the squad after the dismantling of the #77 Penske Cup team. Former Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew member Shannon Myers, a former Dolphins draft pick, will move to the #90 RYR Busch program.(Sporting News)(12-19-2005)

    • Knaus leaving Hendrick? denied UPDATE 2 more: hearing [or have leaned] that #48 Hendrick Motorsports crew chief, Chad Knaus will leave the team and driver Jimmie Johnson and go back to Evernham Motorsports [was one of Evernham's first hires, until moving to #92 Melling team in 2001], then Hendrick Motorsports in 2002 to crew chief Johnson.
      UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports says Knaus has no plans to leave Hendrick Motorsports and has multiple years remaining on his contract.(12-2-2005)
      UPDATE 2: hearing some crew members from the #48 Lowe's Hendrick Motorsports team have left andf gone to Evernham Motorsports recently and that one of the Evernham's engineers could be headed over to be the crew chief on the #48.(12-19-2005)

    • Toyota leaves IRL...for NASCAR? Toyota's withdrawal from the Indy Racing League before the 2006 season--it had previously announced it would stick around in the IRL for one more year--is designed to give it plenty of time and resources to prepare for its 2007 entry into the Nextel Cup Series. Bill Davis and Michael Waltrip are expected to field teams. Penske Racing also has been mentioned [and denied] as a candidate.(Sporting News)
      AND It's a matter of when, not if, Toyota announces its intentions to expand its NASCAR entry beyond the Truck Series to the Nextel Cup and Busch circuits. Another sign that "when" could be soon came this week when the IndyCar Series confirmed Toyota's exit a year earlier than had been planned. Honda will provide all of the engines for the IndyCar Series in 2007. That frees up a lot of money in Toyota's racing budget, and it has been clear for some time that the manufacturer was heading this way. ThatsRacin's David Poole is hearing that the NASCAR world could get first word of Toyota's timetable before the 2006 season begins, perhaps in late January on the preseason media tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway.(ThatsRacin)(12-19-2005)

    • Chili Bowl coming up: The Chili Bowl midget race runs Jan. 11-14 in Tulsa, OK. Among entrants this year are NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, J.J. Yeley, Jason Leffler, A.J. and Aaron Fike, and Justin Allgaier; and drag racers Morgan Lucas, Cruz Pedregon and Frank Pedregon. More info at chilibowl.com.(12-19-2005)

    • Sad News: Gene Harper, 58, of Newnan, Ga., passed away on Dec. 18, 2005. Surviving are his wife, Patricia D. Harper, Newnan, Ga.; son Michael D. Harper, Ft. Worth, Tx; daughter and son-in-law Bennie and Christi (Harper) Hurt, Carrollton, Ga. Owner of Harper Motorsports Carolina Crusher Monster Truck team and son Michael's legends cars have won 100's of races over the years, and several national champonships. His drivers have included, David Ragan, Chase Miller, Stuart Kirby, Robert Richardson, Chris Buescher. Flowers, Card's, and letters can be sent to: Harper Family, 80 Newnan Lakes Blvd #812, Newnan, Georgia 30263. Services to be held at: Higgins Hillcrest Chapel, Monday, Dec 19th from 5-8pm, 1 Bullsboro Dr, Newnan, GA 30265.(12-19-2005)

    • Tragedy at Racing event: James Avink Jr., who supplemented his income with a part-time job at DK Security, which provides guards for events in DeVos Place convention center. Avink was standing watch about 1:00am/et Saturday when one the center's loading-bay doors fell on him. The door was open to provide ventilation for the Mason Dixon/Dixieland Challenge indoor sprint-car races. The ambulance company standing by at the event said Avink died at the scene of major head and back injuries. Event promoter Gerry Olson said a cable connecting four sections of the 16-foot-tall door snapped, allowing part of it to fall on Avink. The section of the door that struck Avink could be seen Saturday resting diagonally across the still open doorway on the building's Bridge Street NW side. Avink is survived by his wife, Lindy, and daughters Kahli, 7, and Kendal, 1. Convention center spokeswoman Lynn Ike said while Saturday's race was canceled, the incident would likely not affect similar events at DeVos in the future. "It had nothing to do with the race itself," Ike said. "If this promoter wanted to come back next year, he'd be welcome." Ike said the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.(Michigan Live)(12-19-2005)



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