News from January 29, 2006
- NASCAR Drivers running Rolex 24 At Daytona UPDATE winners: At least nine drivers with NASCAR ties are scheduled to test Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series cars Thursday through Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the Jan. 28-29 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Defending Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart and recently retired Rusty Wallace are on the entry list for testing. They will be teammates - but in different cars - for Howard-Boss Motorsports. Ganassi Racing driver Casey Mears will be part of Ganassi's driver lineup, which includes former Cup driver Scott Pruett, who still drives road-course Cup events. Two-time Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie is on the entry list, as are Mexican drivers Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain, who ran partial schedules in the Busch Series last year. NBC commentator and former Cup driver Wally Dallenbach will also participate.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter), also Northeast short-tracker Ted Christopher and former Truck/Busch Series driver David Donohue will run the race.(Elmira Star Gazette)(1-5-2006)
MORE NASCAR Ties: other drivers with "NASCAR Ties":
Christian Fittipaldi (Cup/Busch); Butch Leitzinger (Cup/Busch); Darrin Brassfield (Cup in 1989); Tommy Riggins (Cup/Busch); Jack Baldwin (Busch); Tommy Archer (Trucks); Mike Borkowski (Busch/Trucks); Tony Ave (Cup start); Chris Bingham (Busch); Ron Fellows is testing the #40 with Bingham this week in Daytona and could end up running the race.(Mike Paz, DIS PR Announcer)(1-6-2006)
PLUS: NASCAR NBC Broadcaster and racing legend, Benny Parsons, will be the grand marshal of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.(1-9-2006)
WINNERS The team of Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon and Casey Mears survived the Rolex 24 to give car owner Chip Ganassi a victory in America's most prestigious sports car endurance event. Reigning Indy Racing League champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Wheldon, former IRL champ Dixon and NASCAR star Mears drove together for the first time and put together a solid effort on the way to victory Sunday. Avoiding major trouble was the key in this grueling twice-around-the-clock battle that saw seven different leaders, all of them among the 31 Daytona Prototypes that started at the front of the 66-car field at 12:10 p.m. Saturday. The winning Lexus Riley covered 734 laps and 2,613.04 miles on Daytona International Speedway's 3.56-mile, 14-turn road circuit. That was good for a one-lap victory over the Lexus Riley of Champ Car teammates A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson and Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson. The winner among the 400-horsepower GT entries was the Porsche GT3 Cup car driven by Randy Pobst, Michael Levitas, Ian Baas and Spencer Pumpelly, finishing ninth overall. NASCAR drivers Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart fell out of the race with mechanical problems.(ESPN.com/AP)
INFO: more information about the race at grandamerican.com, Daytona Beach News Journal, Daytona Intl Speedway site or daytona24hr.com..(1-29-2006)
- Emerson Climate Technologies partners up with RCR: Emerson Climate Technologies has been named an official partner of Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and will be an associate sponsor of the #29 GM Goodwrench/Reese's team in the NEXTEL Cup Series and #2 ACDelco team in the Busch Series. Emerson Climate Technologies, a business of Emerson, is a provider of technology solutions for the global heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration industries serving residential, industrial and commercial markets. Key products of Emerson Climate Technologies include Copeland Scroll compressors, White-Rodgers thermostats and controls, and Emerson motors. Emerson Climate Technologies will use its RCR program as a relationship-building tool with industry-leading HVAC and refrigeration contractors through point of purchase and internet promotions, driver appearances at industry events, show car appearances, bringing contractors to race events, and events at the team's race shop. For more information, visit www.EmersonClimate.com.(RCR PR)(1-29-2006)
News from January 28, 2006
- Stewart: Rib might be cracked: Tony Stewart said Friday that his ribs are hurting more than his arm, two weeks after his accident in his Midget car at the Chili Bowl. Stewart said he likely has a cracked rib, but it did not shown up on X-rays taken after his Jan. 13 accident in the race in Tulsa, where he flipped his car. Stewart talked about his injuries before he had a chance to practice for the Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway. The race begins at noon Saturday, and Stewart is teamed with road racing aces Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace. The team will start the race 21st. "It's actually my ribs that are bothering me," Stewart said. "The arm is fine. The arm is back to 100 percent. The ribs, there is really nothing you can do but rest and relax. That's what we've done from the time it happened until now. We just tried to rest as much as possible and give it time to heal. It's going to be a painful weekend, I'm sure. The good thing about adrenaline is that adrenaline will mask a lot of that and we will get through 24 hours no problem." Stewart said the X-rays on his ribs were inconclusive. "[The doctor] is pretty confident that there is a crack somewhere they couldn't find," Stewart said. "I'm not a doctor and don't understand this stuff, but he said if I came back two days later, he would probably be able to see it better. He said there's no point in coming back and verifying that because there's nothing they can do anyway. It's just painful." The injured ribs will hurt him more driving on a road course rather than when he tests Monday and Tuesday in his Nextel Cup car at Las Vegas, Stewart said. "The hard thing is we're doing it back-to-back for four straight days," Stewart said.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(1-28-2006)
- Kenseth signs multi-year deal with Roush UPDATE: Matt Kenseth has signed a multi-year contract with Roush Racing to continue to drive the #17 DEWALT Ford. Kenseth and Roush Racing's relationship dates back to 1999. "We are very pleased that Matt extended his contract with Roush Racing last fall," said Jack Roush, owner of Roush Racing. "Matt is one of the most talented drivers in the garage and he'll always hold a special place in our organization, having helped to bring us our first Cup championship in 2003. It's very assuring knowing that he will be staying on with us and I know that the first goal on his agenda is to take that championship trophy back."(Roush Racing PR), no terms mentioned.(1-27-2006)
UPDATE: Terms were not disclosed, beyond the deal being described as "multi-year." Team owner Jack Roush has said he has driver and sponsor agreements for all five of his Nextel Cup cars until 2010 or beyond.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(1-28-2006)
- Busch's court date postponed again UPDATE 2: #2-Kurt Busch has a court date today in Maricopa County (Ariz.) on charges of criminal reckless driving stemming from a Nov. 11 traffic stop near Phoenix International Raceway where he verbally abused officers, according to charging documents.(St. Petersburg Times
UPDATE: For the second time Kurt Busch has had his Maricopa County Arizona court date postponed. Tolleson Justice Court Judge Joe "Pep" Guzman granted Busch's lawyer another continuance however the date has not yet been set. Busch was charged with reckless driving after being stopped by a Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputy last November.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(1-27-2006)
UPDATE 2: Lawyers for Kurt Busch have asked for a continuance in his pretrial hearing originally set for Jan. 27 at the Agua Fria Justice Court in Tolleson. His lawyers have 30 days to reschedule his hearing.(Arizona Republic)(1-28-2006)
News from January 27, 2006
- UMI's NASCAR Preview and Press Guide marks 20th year: UMI Publications announces the 20th annual issue of The
Official NASCAR Preview and Press Guide. The Official NASCAR Preview and Press Guide 2006 marks the magazine’s 20th year
of being the trackside companion since 1986. With unmatched quality, insightfully written features and unique format, there is no question why for 20 years the Press Guide has been THE magazine of choice for true NASCAR fans and industry professionals alike! The 2006 Press Guide waves the green flag on the beginning on this year’s racing action with over 450 pages of the most accurate and valued sources of information highlighting and previewing every NASCAR series across the country. The Press Guide will be available on newsstands beginning February 1st or copies may be ordered directly from UMI at 800-747-9287 or umibooks.com.(1-27-2006)
- Vickers cleared to test: #25-Brian Vickers, who missed the Daytona test earlier this month because of sports hernia surgery, received clearance from his doctor Wednesday to participate in the Nextel Cup test at Las Vegas later this week. David Green will be on standby as a backup driver.(Charleston Post and Courier)(1-27-2006)
- Newman/Busch split Busch duties: Penske Racing announced its two drivers, #12-Ryan Newman and #2-Kurt Busch, will split time in 14 Busch Series races this season [#39 Dodge](Florence Morning News)(1-27-2006)
- DW and Buzzie make EMPA HOF: This Saturday, Jan 28th, Darrell Waltrip and Emil "Buzzie" Reutimann will be inducted into the Eastern Motorsport Press Association Hall of Fame during the annual convention at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Trevose, Pennsylvania. To be inducted into the EMPA Hall of Fame, is a special honor for Waltrip and the elder Reutimann. "It is always flattering when people want to recognize your accomplishments that you worked so hard to earn," said Waltrip, a three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion with 84 career wins. "I'm thrilled Buzzie and I are both winners together. The Reutimann family is a class act and I am excited about the opportunities that lie before Buzzie's son, David, for the future with my team."
The 64-year-old echoes Waltrip's sentiment. "I would like to thank the press for telling our stories over the years," said Reutimann. "If it wasn't for them writing the stories, we wouldn't be anywhere. Without them, Buzzie Reutimann wouldn't be Buzzie Reutimann. I
wouldn't be receiving an award tomorrow night if it wasn't for them. What they write is what you save in your scrapbooks. It is the memories you have. They write the memories we have and I know DW feels the same." As Waltrip supposedly competed in his final NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway last October, Reutimann continues to race and win championships at age 64. As Reutimann accepts his award, he will be also accepting on behalf of Waltrip in his absence. "I want to thank my dear friend Buzzie Reutimann for filling in for me," said Waltrip. "I am so thankful for this honor, but I do have one concern. Buzzie is a racer and he always has been and always will be. He is like me and he is always racing for the trophy. So, I'm a little concerned that Buzzie is taking two trophies to his house tomorrow tonight and that I will never see mine."(Darrell Waltrip Motorsports PR)((1-27-2006)
- Quit Smoking Program teams up with NASCAR: GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare has launched "QUIT Crew" a smoking cessation program through its 2006 NASCAR sponsorship. The program is designed to help partnering teams within NASCAR to
quit smoking and help reduce the number of smokers throughout the sport. Last season, GSK Consumer Healthcare conducted a pilot program with the Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing team [#41 Dodge in Cup]. Sixteen members of the Ganassi Racing Team in
Concord, NC participated in the program last year. Thus far, Hendrick Motorsports, Petty Enterprises and Chip Ganassi Racing have signed up to offer the program to their employees. Other teams are expected to join the program as it's offered more broadly over the next several weeks.
When a group enrolls in the program, interested team members will be invited to an orientation and seminar about quitting smoking presented by Frank Vitale of the University of Pittsburgh Pharmacy School. During orientation, Vitale will explain the process of quitting, the products available to help them and enroll those interested in joining the 10-12 week program.
Program participants will be counseled and monitored closely by GSK Consumer Healthcare smoking cessation counselors on a weekly basis. Vitale will meet with participants privately the afternoon of the seminar and will be available to them by telephone during the program. GSK Consumer Healthcare is providing counselor services free of charge as well as a starter kit of smoking cessation products. In addition, GSK Consumer Healthcare smoking cessation counselors will be available to crew members in the garage areas at 30 NASCAR races this season.
To inspire NASCAR fans to quit, each participating team will be given an opportunity to take a video camera provided by GSK Consumer Healthcare to document their thoughts and experiences during the quit smoking process. The challenges they encounter will be documented on the quit2winracing.com web site to help others understand what the quitting process is really like.(Lighthouse Marketing PR)(1-27-2006)
- Randy LaJoie to drive the #34 car in 2006: Front Row Motorsports announced that Randy LaJoie has been retained to
drive the #34 car for the 2006 season. Randy will join teammate Chad Chaffin, driver of the #92 FRM Chevy. The second team was formed as a partnership between car owners Bob Jenkins and Chris Edwards [former Mach 1 owner]. " We worked with Chris and his team last year, and felt like we were able to share information between the two cars. With the success that Randy has had in the Busch series, and Chad has had in the truck series, we believe that we will continue to improve upon last year's results. We have a unique opportunity for these two teams to compete for spots with in the top 35 in points and we intend to do everything within our power to get them there."
"Our philosophy is that in this sport, you have to make your own place at the table and our goal is to do exactly that,” stated Jenkins. Both teams will be based out of FRM's Denver, NC facility. The team is currently adding additional positions including crew chief, fabricators, and track personnel, see my Racing Schools page for more info.(Front Row Motorsports PR)(1-27-2006)
- Alltel Extends #12 Sponsorship: Alltel has signed an agreement to extend its sponsorship with Penske Racing South through 2008, company officials announced Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. "Our relationship with Penske Racing and Ryan Newman has provided invaluable exposure and creative marketing opportunities over the past six years to win new customers and strengthen relationships with existing ones," said Scott Ford, Alltel President and Chief Executive Officer. "We look forward to capitalizing on those opportunities even more this year and, with this extension, for many years to come."
"Alltel has become synonymous with myself and the #12 Dodge in NASCAR Cup racing," Newman said. "They've been with us since the very beginning of this venture. They have always been very supportive of me, Matt (Borland, crew chief), the entire Alltel team and Penske Racing. Alltel stands by their service with America's only network quality quarantee and I stand by their quality as a sponsor in this series. I'm proud to be associated with Alltel and to have them on the #12 Dodge."
"Penske Racing South is excited and proud to have the opportunity to continue our successful relationship with Alltel," Roger Penske said. "Alltel has been a terrific sponsor with great products, services and people. We look forward to providing the Alltel employees, their customers and their race fans with many more victories over the next several years."(Penske Racing)(1-27-2006)
- No Plans for Penske to switch: Penske officials announced a contract extension that will keep Alltel as Ryan Newman’s sponsor through the 2008 season. Walt Czarnecki, Penske Racing LLC president, also said the team has “a long-term commitment from Dodge,” obviously implying that no move to Toyota was imminent. “We wanted to answer that question because I anticipated that coming up,” he said.(Gaston Gazette)
AND John Fernandez, Dodge's racing boss, was asked about the possibility that some of his Dodge teams might jump ship.
"Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi and Ray Evernham are all under contract for periods of time beyond when Toyota is coming into the marketplace," Fernandez said. "Nothing is guaranteed, but we believe those people will be loyal to us." Penske Racing's Don Miller said that Roger Penske's Dodge contract runs through the end of 2009.(Winston Salem Journal)(1-27-2006)
- Three Teams to field Camry's in 2007 Cup Series UPDATE 2 Harvick?: hearing that Bill Davis Racing [#22,23], Michael Waltrip Racing [#55] and Team Red Bull will run the Toyota Camry in 2007 when Toyota enters the series. In addition to Red Bull, other sponsors that will be associated with the Toyota teams are Caterpillar (Bill Davis Racing) and NAPA (Michael Waltrip Racing). Team Red Bull will be based in Mooresville, NC, and stock car veteran Marty Gaunt [Penske] will serve as the team's general manager. Who will drive for Red Bull? how many teams/cars? not sure, Robby Gordon, who owns his own team has been sponsored by Red Bull. And have heard that Kevin Harvick, who drivers the #29 RCR Chevy, could be one of the drivers for Red Bull team. Expect these teams, but doubt the Red Bull drivers, in part to be announced at Toyota's Press Conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway tonight.(1-24-2006)
UPDATE: One veteran race team with close to 20 years of stock car experience, another with an owner who has been driving race cars for more than 20 years, and a third totally new team will all be running the Toyota Camry in the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
Bill Davis Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull will all utilize the "Most Popular Car in America" when the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season kicks-off next February with the Daytona 500, Toyota and teams announced.
Bill Davis Racing has been a regular competitor in the NASCAR Cup Series since 1993, while Michael Waltrip Racing has primarily been involved in the Busch Series. Team Red Bull is new to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, although the company has been heavily involved in worldwide motorsports. In addition to Red Bull, other primary sponsors that will be associated with the Toyota teams are Caterpillar (Bill Davis Racing) and NAPA (Michael Waltrip Racing). Caterpillar has been associated with Bill Davis Racing for nine years and NAPA has had a relationship with Michael Waltrip for five years. Team Red Bull will be based in Mooresville, N.C., and stock car veteran Marty Gaunt will serve as the team's general manager. Although Red Bull is new to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition, the world's leading energy drink company has been increasingly involved in global motorsports over the last decade. Red Bull owns and operates two Formula One teams -- Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso -- plus is an active supporter of action and adventure sports, music and culture, along with motorsports.(Toyota Motorsports Site), see full PR on my Toyota News page.(1-25-2006)
UPDATE 2 more on Harvick: Unless car owner Richard Childress can sign him to a long-term extension, Kevin Harvick will be one of the top free agents for the 2007 season -- just in time for Toyota to make its NASCAR debut. "They are going to make a run at a lot of drivers, and everyone is aware that Kevin's contract is up," Childress said Thursday. "I am sure they are going to make a run at him." Harvick has been reluctant to negotiate with Childress, unsure of where the program is headed. Until he's sure that Childress can give him a team capable of winning a championship, Harvick doesn't want to commit to anything. "We've kind of agreed to sit down in April and just kind of evaluate where things are," Harvick said. "I'm not going to rush into things and do things I don't want to do. I think right now we are in the same frame of mind about our goals, and our goals are to go out and get the season going out good and make the Chase. All the rest of it, the paper stuff, is something that's not high on the list right now."
But contracts are high on the list to Toyota, which announced Monday it will field Nextel Cup teams in 2007. The Japanese automaker will have at least three teams and anywhere from four to seven drivers, depending on sponsorship. Bill Davis Racing is expected to field two drivers, and Michael Waltrip, who will drive for his own team, wants to field two cars. Team Red Bull, a startup, was Toyota's announced third team and has revealed very few details about its operation. It's led to speculation that Toyota will recruit top drivers and hand-deliver them to Red Bull. Harvick should be on the top of Toyota's list, and he apparently knows it. "Our position right now is favorable," he smiled.
But Childress knows it will take more than a blank check to lure Harvick away. "I don't know that it's all about money with Kevin Harvick -- if we can get our teams back to where he's competitive that's going to mean a lot to him," Childress said. Aside from his unquestionable driving talent, Harvick's growing business could also be an interest to Toyota. In just three years, Kevin Harvick Inc. has grown to an established operation with 65 employees, two Busch Series and a Truck Series team. It could be just the operation Toyota would like to support. "I think there are a lot scenarios, but we just have to concentrate on what we are doing," Harvick said. "Right now, I don't have a whole lot of comment on that."(ESPN.com/AP)(1-27-006)
- Danica thinks Cup sched is too long: Indy Racing League star Danica Patrick said Thursday that the 36-race Nextel Cup season intimidates her. Patrick, who is teaming with Rusty Wallace, Allan McNish and Jan Lammers this weekend at the Rolex 24 At Daytona sports car race at Daytona International Speedway, offered the assessment at the track. "The thought of NASCAR has always been there," Patrick said. "It definitely is something that I would never rule out. Like I've told Rusty and everyone else, I'm just not sure that I have the energy to do that many races. That's my biggest complaint. So if NASCAR cuts down their year - by half maybe? - I'd think about it. I think it would be a lot of fun racing it."(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(1-27-2006)
- Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Award Winners: The six journalists honored Wednesday evening during the 21st annual presentation of the Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence in honor of Russ Catlin included a writer who detailed former driver Ward Burton's wildlife conservation efforts for the Richmond Times-Dispatch;and a Bristol, Va., television reporter who earned first-place in two categories for a story that allowed viewers to see in Rusty Wallace's face and hear in his voice his belief that son, Stephen, will carry the Wallace racing torch into the future.
The Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence traditionally recognize outstanding motorsports coverage in five categories while honoring the memory of Russ Catlin, a motorsports journalism pioneer. This year, two additional categories were added to recognize outstanding print and electronic coverage of Wallace's "Last Call," the 1989 series champion's final season of Nextel Cup racing.
Each winner received a plaque and a Rolex watch from Miller Lite Nextel Cup driver Kurt Busch following a dinner at the Penske Racing South facility in Mooresville, N.C. The event was part of the Nextel Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedeway.
The 2005 Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence in honor of Russ Catlin winners:
Print - Daily: Nate Ryan - Richmond Times-Dispatch, Entry: "Call of the Wild (Ward Burton)"
Print - Other: Mike Hembree - NASCAR Scene, Entry: "The Driver and the Dandy"
Print - "Last Call": Rea White - NASCAR Scene; Entry: "End of the Show"
Broadcast - National: Mike Massaro - ESPN "Outside the Lines", Entry: "Cheat to Win"
Broadcast - Local: Paul Johnson - WCYB - TV, Entry: "The Crash"
Broadcast - "Last Call": Paul Johnson - WCYB - TV, Entry: "The Crash"
Photojournalism: Phil Rider - Sports Illustrated, Entry: "Fire Escape"
(Tom Roberts PR)(1-27-2006)
News from January 26, 2006
- Testing at Las Vegas - Jan 30/31-Feb 1: Las Vegas Motor Speedway has received 41 entries for NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. This test session, which many NASCAR drivers are calling the most important of the season, will take place Jan. 30, 31 and Feb. 1. Each team will be allowed to test for two of the three days. The public is invited to watch the test sessions free of charge each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets for the March 10-12 NASCAR Weekend are available by calling 1-800-644-4444 or logging on to www.lvms.com.
Here is a tentative list of test dates and drivers:
Jan. 30-31: #07-Clint Bowyer, #31-Jeff Burton, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #7-Robby Gordon, #66-Jeff Green, #29-Kevin Harvick, #88-Dale Jarrett, #32-Travis Kvapil, #6-Mark Martin, #26-Jamie McMurray, #38-Elliott Sadler, #00-Hermie Sadler, #21-Ken Schrader, #49-Brent Sherman, #41-Reed Sorenson, #40-David Stremme, #1-Martin Truex Jr., #55-Michael Waltrip and #4-Scott Wimmer.
Jan. 31-Feb. 1: #16-Greg Biffle, #22-Dave Blaney, #2-Kurt Busch, #5-Kyle Busch, #99-Carl Edwards, #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #9-Kasey Kahne, #17-Matt Kenseth, #43-Bobby Labonte, #96-Terry Labonte, #14-Sterling Marlin, #19-Jeremy Mayfield, #42-Casey Mears, #01-Joe Nemechek, #12-Ryan Newman, #45-Kyle Petty, #10-Scott Riggs and #25-Brian Vickers.
Jan. 30 and Feb. 1: #11-Denny Hamlin, #20-Tony Stewart and #18-J.J. Yeley.
NOTES: also scheduled to test is #04-Bobby Hamilton Jr.(Dodge), #51-Maike Garvey and #03-Todd Bodine.
PLUS: There will be a major announcement regarding construction projects at LVMS on Monday, January 30th at LVMS.(LVMS)
TV: news and info from the test session will be aired on Speed Channel at 7:00pm/et on Wed., Feb 1st.
AND on Tuesday, Jan. 31st, the track will hold "LVMS Night of Champions", more info on my Racing Charities page.(1-26-2006)
- Geoff Bodine honored, coins to help: On Saturday, 19 Cup race winner, Geoff Bodine was inducted into the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of a Fame during its annual awards banquet in Albany, NY. The NYSSCA has a Hall of Fame display in the Saratoga Automobile Museum. More info and images of the event at geoffbodinefanclub.com
AND The medals that were awarded to the 10 NASCAR drivers competing in the Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge earlier this month were collectible coins that are now on sale to the public. Proceeds will go to the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project. Boris Said and Kevin Lepage were the winners of the Bobsled Challenge at Lake Placid on Jan. 7. The event will be televised on ESPN2 with a one-hour show at 11:00am/et Sunday [Jan 29] and on Speed Channel with a two-hour special at 2:00pm/et, Saturday, Feb. 4. The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project was started by Bodine to design and build Made in America bobsleds for the USA Bobsled Team.(Elmira Star Gazette)
More info on the coins on my Racing Charities page.(1-26-2006)
- Hendrick offer bonus for The Chase: Hendrick Motorsports Team owner Rick Hendrick said he will split a $1,248,525 bonus between his four full-time teams if they qualify, figuring to increase his odds of winning the title. Last season Roush Racing placed its five Fords in the 10-race playoff among the top 10 drivers. Hendrick's lone qualifier, Jimmie Johnson, finished fifth. "We're thankful for what we've done, but that doesn't count," Hendrick said Wednesday during the media tour of Nextel Cup garages. "We're hungry for another championship here. We want to win Busch and Cup titles, we want to all be in the Chase, we have bonuses, we have coins that say all four are in the Chase ..." The bonus amount is comprised of the car numbers of four-time champ Jeff Gordon (24), Johnson (48), '05 Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch (5) and Brian Vickers (25).(USA Today)(1-26-2006)
- More on Toyota's move to Cup: According to Toyota Racing Development officials, the newest manufacturer will field six Camrys when it debuts in 2007. Bill Davis Racing, Waltrip-Jasper Racing and Team Red Bull will each enter two apiece. The only driver sure to be racing a Toyota in 2007 is Michael Waltrip. Dave Blaney, who will drive a Dodge for Davis this year, is only under a one-year contract with the team.(Gaston Gazette)(1-26-2006)
- Ganassi's comments about Toyota: Q) Does the new Manufacturer's Lineup [now with Toyota] surprise you and would you consider joining them [Toyota]? A-Chip Ganassi - #40, #41, #42 team owner) "I've been in Phoenix all week, so I'm not exactly sure what they announced or who they announced. Whoever they go with, I think you saw in the truck series they made winners out of teams that were otherwise not. I don't really know what their plans are for teams or drivers, but I can assure you they'll do it right no matter who they're with. We were with them for a lot of years and had some success with them on the Indy car side. Right now we don't have any plans to switch off from Dodge. We'll see what happens down the road, but right now that's not in our plans."(Clear!Blue PR)(1-26-2006)
- Wood to run 7 Cup races, McSwain to crew chief: Michael “Fatback” McSwain, who stepped down as crew chief from the Wood Brothers #21 Ford to oversee the team’s move from Mooresville, NC, to Harrisburg, NC, and the competition end of the team’s merger and expansion, will be back atop the pit box later this season. McSwain will be the crew chief for Jon Wood’s #47 Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Ford, which will be entered in seven Cup races. And there could be more such work in the future. “Have I done my last (full-time) crew chiefing? Have I been on the pit box for the last time? I don’t know,” McSwain said. “Me personally, the only thing that I’d like to do that I haven’t done … I’d like to win a championship. If I could take a young guy who’s learning to be a Cup crew chief and help him or teach him, that’d be equally as gratifying as me doing it myself.”(Speed Channel)(1-26-2006)
- Boys and Girls Club to Honor DW: Rusty Wallace, Michael Waltrip, Ken Schrader and football great Terry Bradshaw are a few of the sports figures that will be on hand to "roast" NASCAR racing legend Darrell Waltrip at the 17th annual Steak & Burger Dinner on March 14, 2006, a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin/Williamson County. Newschannel 5 sports director Hope Hines will emcee the event. Other roasters include Mike Helton, president of NASCAR; David Hill, CEO of FOX Sports; Rudy Kalis, of WSMV; George Plaster, of WGFX The Zone; and entertainer T. Graham Brown along with several surprises. See full details on my Racing Charities page.(1-26-2006)
- Energizer scheme for Sorenson at California IMAGE: Energizer has announced plans to unveil a special edition paint scheme on the #41 Dodge driven by Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) rookie Reed Sorenson. The new design will be unveiled on January 25 as part of a media day at the CGRFS facility in Concord, NC. This uniquely designed Energizer e2 Lithium Dodge will be featured exclusively in the Fontana, Calif. race on February 26. The dynamic silver and blue paint scheme will feature Energizer e2 Lithium, the World's Longest Lasting AA /AAA Batteries in High Tech Devices, alongside the famous Energizer Bunny.(Yahoo Biz)(1-24-2006)
IMAGE: see image of the car and more #41's on my #41 Team Schemes page.(1-26-2006)
- N.C. college announces motorsports degree program: Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, NC, has disclosed plans for what it says will be the first four-year degree with emphasis on the business of motorsports management. Students in the program will work toward a bachelor's degree in business management with a concentration on motorsports management. The Charlotte-area college will begin offering the program during the next fall semester. The courses will focus on four areas, including a traditional liberal arts core combined with courses in sports marketing, racing management, team management and three required internships in various areas of the industry. NASCAR specialists will be involved in teaching the coursework.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(1-26-2006)
- Checkers Expands Role with NASCAR Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, the nation's largest chain of double drive-thru restaurants and the Official Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, announced that it is expanding its popular Double Drive-Thru Challenge Contingency program from the NEXTEL Cup Series to include the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series as well. Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge focuses on the team element of the race that is integral to successful performances each week. To win, teams were required to finish on the lead lap while spending the least amount of time in pit lane. For details on the Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge, visit checkers.com.(Yahoo Biz)(1-26-2006)
News from January 25, 2006
- Rusty auditions for ABC/ESPN IRL gig UPDATE: Don’t look now, but the IRL’s television broadcast team is about to get a new face. Actually, it figures to be an old one. Auditioning as Autoweek went to press was retiring NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace, who appears to be prepping for a switch to the Nextel Cup announcers booth when ABC and ESPN get back in the game in 2007. Hiring Wallace, an avid Indy car fan, figures to be a win-win for all parties, including the IRL, which is in desperate need of a ratings jolt. The IRL’s play-by-play voice figures to be Brian Kenny, host of Friday Night Fights on ESPN2, with former driver Scott Goodyear joining Wallace in the booth. Jerry Punch, Jack Arute and Jamie Little will be the pit reporters.(Autoweek)(1-20-2006)
UPDATE: Retirement didn't last very long for Rusty Wallace, who only needed about two months to land a job in a new profession. Wallace became the first on-air hire by ESPN and ABC Sports when he was named lead auto racing analyst on Wednesday. His first assignment will be covering next month's Daytona 500 for ESPN's SportsCenter. "I feel like broadcasting is my calling,'' Wallace said. "I knew when I retired this is what I wanted to do. I feel like I am well educated in the cars, NASCAR, the whole industry.''
ESPN and ABC will broadcast 17 Nextel Cup races beginning in 2007, the first year of an eight-year contract the networks signed with NASCAR. In preparation for his move into the broadcasting booth, Wallace will spend this upcoming season analyzing Indy Racing League events, including this year's Indianapolis 500. Wallace, the 1989 Cup champion, ended his 22-year career last November. "Rusty earned the respect and admiration of fellow drivers and fans with his engaging personality and unquestioned racing ability -- attributes that will continue to entertain race fans,'' said Norby Williamson, ESPN's executive vice president.(ESPN.com/AP)(1-25-2006)
- Looks like Mikey, NAPA and Toyota in 2007 UPDATE, IMAGES: hearing that NAPA will continue to sponsor Michael Waltrip in the #55 NAPA Camry and welcoming Toyota into their first year of Nextel Cup competition. Expect this to be announced at Toyota's Press Conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway tonight. See images of the #55 NAPA Toyota on my Toyota Images page.(1-24-2006)
UPDATE: Michael Waltrip announced that Michael Waltrip Racing will field multiple Toyota Camry entries in the NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup Series when the green flag waves for the 2007 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. "Toyota is a leader in the automotive industry and has quickly become a consistent winner in the NASCAR Truck Series," Waltrip said. "The logical step is for them to come into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and I am honored to be a part of their entrance into the sport."
Driving the #55 NAPA Toyota Camry, Waltrip has support from all of his sponsors and he has the resources in place to chase the coveted NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship. In addition to NAPA supporting Waltrip's efforts, Best Western, Klaussner (Sofa Express and More) and Coca-Cola will be heavily involved in his racing endeavors during Toyota's inaugural year in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
To prepare for the future of Michael Waltrip Racing, Waltrip devised a plan to achieve his goal of becoming a successful owner in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Setting the stage in August of 2005, Waltrip announced his plans to design and create Waltrip Racing World, an interactive high-tech race shop designed for the ultimate fan experience.(MWR PR), see the full PR on my #55 Team News and Links page.(1-25-2006)
- MB2 Update on sponsorship: MB2 Motorsports CEO Jay Frye said Tuesday that the team right now has sponsorship commitments for only 14 of 36 races this season for Sterling Marlin’s #14 Chevy [12 with Waste Managment, 2 with Centrix]. Frye said he expected to have another partial sponsor signed by week’s end to take 12 additional races and has some good candidates to sponsor the car in the remaining 10 dates. As for the team’s part-time #36 third car, which will be driven at Daytona by Bill Elliott, it only has sponsorship for two races at the moment. Frye said if he can find funding for it, Elliott, Boris Said or both could do some additional races behind the wheel.(Speed Channel)(1-25-2006)
- Stewart and team visit President Bush: #20-Tony Stewart has had such a successful racing career that he's becoming a regular at the White House. Stewart said President Bush recalled his two previous visits to the Oval Office -- one for his first Cup championship and another with other top drivers -- when he came in for a third Tuesday. "It's a real big honor to be able to come here and have the president remember you," Stewart told reporters as he left the West Wing. "He said, `I'd like to see you back here next year.' So I'm definitely on his side on that. I would love to come back here next year as a champion again." Stewart's entire team was included in the meeting. Stewart gave Bush a team driving suit, and Bush checked out the car parked outside. Joe Gibbs, owner of the team and coach of the Washington Redskins, said Bush was joking with all the guys. It got so chummy that one team member gave the president a sporty pat on the rear and told him he is doing a good job, Gibbs said. "I was talking to Tony, and I said, `Who would believe that eight years ago when I was talking to you on this ramp at this little airport and we were trying to get together racing, we'd wind up at the White House?"' Gibbs said. "So, it's a big thrill for all of us."(ESPN.com/AP)(1-25-2006)
- Race Purses Won't Drop: NASCAR will attempt to keep race purses in 2007 at the same level as 2006 even though the television contract will be worth approximately $70 million to $100 million less. The new $4.48 billion contract eventually will increase the annual revenues, but the first year of the eight-year deal is less than the final year of the six-year deal signed in 2001. About 25% of the contract goes to the purse. The 2006 deal is worth approximately $575 million, while the 2007 deal is worth $470 million to $500 million, according to International Speedway Corp. estimates. "We're working on that to make sure that there is a smooth bridge," France said Jan. 23. "It is not uncommon - the NFL's deal has the same issue that we had. These contracts sometimes are back loaded. Even though the total amount is higher in the new contract, it could be a slight decrease from one year to the next. "But we'll work on that and to make sure we keep the purses going to the right direction." NASCAR could require tracks to put more money into the purses, NASCAR could put more money into the purse or NASCAR could increase the plan and contingency money to increase the purse.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter), see a race-to-race comparison of 2004 purses vs. 2005 purses on my MISC States page.(1-25-2006)
- Roush and NASCAR agree on downsizing: Five-Team Owner [#'s 6,16,17,26,99] Jack Roush said he and NASCAR have agreed on the basics of how to get his Nextel Cup team down to four cars, which was mandated by the sanctioning body late last season.
“We will go back to four teams, but it’s not immediate,” Roush said. “There is a cap of four [Cup teams]. I will comply with that when I’m past my commitments I have with drivers and sponsors. We’ve finally got an understanding of what is possible and what we can do.”
Roush would not speculate on when his team might go back to four cars, but said his existing commitments expire between 2009 and 2011.(Ford Racing)(1-25-2006)
- Hendrick makes $3 million donation in Ricky's name: Carolinas Healthcare System announced the commitment of $3 million from the Rick and Linda Hendrick family to benefit Levine Children's Hospital. In recognition of the gift, Levine Children's Hospital will dedicate its Pediatric Intensive Care Centers in honor of the Hendrick's late son and youngest child, Ricky Hendrick. Encompassing the sixth floor of the new hospital, the Ricky Hendrick Centers for Intensive Care will house the facility's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the region's first Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. The Centers will feature a five-room sleep inn for parents, two private family waiting areas, a large open waiting space and a state-of-the-art business lounge. "Our family is proud to make this pledge in Ricky's name," said Linda Hendrick, Ricky's mother. "He was a young man who would run, not walk, to wherever he was going. This hospital will make certain that others have the same opportunity." Lauded by planners as the hospital's "heart and soul," the Centers will treat the most critically ill and injured children from across the region. Upon completion in summer 2007, the 234-bed facility will be the third-largest of its kind in the southeastern United States and the largest between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. "Our son placed a great importance on doing one's part to help others," said Ricky's father, Rick Hendrick, chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group and Hendrick Motorsports. "He had a passion for making a difference in people's lives, which is exactly what Levine Children's Hospital will do for families of this region."
Currently under construction on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center, Levine Children's Hospital will have the capacity to provide daily treatment to hundreds of patients from all walks of life. Its forward-thinking design will foster a warm and loving environment that is also state of the art. Levine Children's Hospital, already under construction on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center, will be dedicated solely to the needs of children and their families. Expanding upward to 12 stories, the new children's hospital will feature several of the region's "firsts," including a dedicated cardiac intensive care unit and a 24-hour pediatric emergency department.(Carolinas Healthcare System PR)(1-25-2006)
- Testing at Texas: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #43-Bobby Labonte had an early opportunity to gain some valuable track time at Texas Motor Speedway as they participated in a special two-day tire test session Tuesday. With NASCAR's new testing policy limiting NEXTEL Cup teams to six designated tracks (Daytona, Las Vegas, Lowe's in Charlotte, Richmond, Indianapolis, Homestead-Miami) at appointed dates during the season, Earnhardt Jr. and Labonte are getting dialed in for the two races at Texas Motor Speedway during the two-day test. Labonte and Earnhardt Jr. will close out their test session Wednesday with another full day before heading to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next week with their NEXTEL Cup competitors for one of the six NASCAR-sanctioned test sessions.(TMS PR)(1-25-2006)
- Newmans make donation to Humane Society: Ryan Newman, Nextel Cup Series driver of the #12 alltel Dodge, and his wife Krissie Newman have revved up the Humane Society of Catawba County Capital Campaign by pledging a $400,000 donation to name the facility’s regional spay/neuter clinic. The Newmans have a close relationship with the Humane Society, which is located in Hickory, North Carolina. They serve as the honorary co-chairs of organization’s capital campaign, and Krissie Newman serves on the no-kill animal shelter’s board of directors.(Ryan Newman Foundation)(1-25-2006)
News from January 24, 2006
- Schwan's to #45? hearing that Schwan's Home Service, who sponsored the #49 BAM Racing Dodge in 2004-2005 with Ken Schrader, could be heading to Petty Enterprises to be the primary sponsor for Kyle Petty on the #45 Dodge for 10-12 races in 2006. Wells Fargo already announced they would run 12 races as primary. Also there is a rumor floating around, but unable to confirm it at all, the new Coca-Cola soft drink, Vault could sponsor Petty in some fashion.(1-24-2006)
- Hill presents artwork to Martin: One perk of winning the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway is that Mooresville-based artist Garry Hill does a commemorative painting of each year's key moment, and the members of the winning team get prints of the limited edition work. Hill unveiled the 2005 painting showing Mark Martin celebrating his victory in that race on Monday. "That's probably the most meaningful victory of my career, and just because I'm getting old and it's hard to remember the other ones," Martin joked.(Thatsracin), see an image on my Image Links/News page.(1-24-2006)
- IROC: Edwards out, Newman in; sched conflict: Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) officials announced a change in the 2006 driver roster. Ryan Newman will replace Carl Edwards representing the NEXTEL Cup Series. A scheduling conflict remains unresolved involving Crown Royal IROC Race Four at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Busch Series race in Memphis, both taking place on Saturday, October 28. Edwards will be competing full-time in the Busch Series in 2006.(IROC Racing PR), see more on my IROC 2006 page.(1-24-2006)
- Drive for Diversity Drivers Announced: The 2006 Drive for Diversity driver roster was announced by NASCAR Director of Diversity Tish Sheets. The program, which is managed by Access Marketing & Communications, will give eight ethnic and gender diverse drivers the opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series. The drivers were chosen from a pool of over 300 applicants.
The Drive for Diversity program was founded in 2004 to help develop diverse and female drivers and crew members and is endorsed as NASCAR's leading on-trac diversity initiative. Nineteen applicants were chosen to participate in the Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine last October. They were observed during various on-track test sessions and off-track interviews.
The following eight drivers were selected by their respective team owners to compete in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series this season: Chris Bristol, Brianne Cronrath, Allison Duncan, Marc Davis, Paul Harraka, Jessica Helberg, Jesus Hernandez and Peter Hernandez.(Drive for Diversity PR), see my Racing Schools/Jpbs page for more detail on each driver and which team they will drive for.1-24-2006)
- Three Inducted into NMHOF: O. Bruton Smith, Paul Sawyer and Butch Lindley were inducted into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 21. Smith, whose Speedway Motorsports Inc. empire currently includes race tracks hosting Nextel Cup Series events in Charlotte, Atlanta, Bristol, Texas, Las Vegas and Sonoma, Calif., debuted in NASCAR in the late 1950s when he, along with driver Curtis Turner, built Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 1.5-mile track opened in 1960, one year after Daytona International Speedway. Although he later lost ownership the track because of financial difficulty, Smith eventually was able to regain control. Years later, it became one of the first to feature sponsor suites, condominiums overlooking the track and lights for night racing, something never before attempted on a 1.5-mile facility.
The late Sawyer founded Richmond International Raceway, developing it into a 3/4-mile short track that annually sells out two Nextel Cup night races. Sons Wayne and Billy Sawyer were on hand for their father's induction, with Wayne Sawyer recalling his father's well-known work ethic. "There was the right way, the wrong way and Paul's way," Sawyer said. "There was more than one occasion when I left his office after being told that, and no doubt times when I did so with his footprint on my backside."
The late Lindley's legacy includes Late Model Sportsman championships in 1977 and 1978, as well as points finishes of third or better in 1979, '80 and '81.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(1-24-2006)(
News from January 23, 2006
- Nine IMAGEs of the 2007 NASCAR Toyota Camry on my Toyota Camry Scheme page.(1-23-2006)
- Toyota's Press Release: NASCAR and Toyota announced Monday the manufacturer’s plans to expand its NASCAR program by competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the NASCAR Busch Series starting in 2007, fielding the Toyota Camry model. The expansion will follow three years of Toyota competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and will result in all three of NASCAR’s national series having four manufacturers competing, as Toyota will join Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford.
“NASCAR welcomes Toyota to the greatest auto racing in the world,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, who made the announcement on Monday at NASCAR’S Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. “Toyota’s entry into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the NASCAR Busch Series is good for drivers, teams and the fans. This move provides for even more intense competition on the track between drivers and manufacturers, which will provide more excitement and fan interest. Toyota’s entry also provides more options for drivers and teams, which will increase the competition between manufacturers.”
“It’s a great pleasure to announce Toyota’s entry into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series with the Toyota Camry,” said Dave Illingworth, senior vice president and chief planning and administrative officer for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “Next year – 2007 – will be a special year for Toyota in more ways than one. Toyota will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in the United States, and we will be joining the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP Series, America’s premier racing series. Toyota has been an important part of the U.S. motorsports community for almost 25 years. We’ve competed and won in different series and on tracks across America. Toyota drivers and teams have won championships in a variety of different series. But, if you want to compete against the best, in America that means NASCAR. We look forward to February of 2007 when the green flag waves to start the Daytona 500 and the starting lineup features the Toyota Camry.”
Illingworth, who joined France in making the announcement, said more information – regarding possible sponsor and driver lineups – will be released Tuesday night, during a media gathering at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord.
Toyota, which has been doing business in America since 1957, now has eight plants in the United States – 14 if you count all of North America. Toyota will build approximately 1.6 million vehicles this year, including production at its new Tundra pickup plant in Texas. Toyota
and its dealers now directly employ approximately 142,000 Americans. Since 1986, Toyota has built more than 12 million vehicles in the United States. More than 6.5 million Camrys have been sold in the United States and it has been the bestselling car in America for eight of the past nine years. Camrys are built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, Ky.(Toyota.com)(1-23-2006)
- NASCAR: COT or nothing: NASCAR has unveiled its plan for slowly implementing the car of tomorrow [COT] into competition. NASCAR president Mike Helton says it's not a matter of whether it's going to happen but when, so resistance from teams concerned about costs is futile [the Borg?].(Sporting News)(1-23-2006)
- NASCAR Makes Announcements: at 12:15pm/et on Monday, January 23, NASCAR and CEO Brian France made some announements from the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, NC:
Toyota: Toyota's Dave Illingworth announced that Toyota will run the Toyota Camry model in the Busch and Nextel Cup Series in 2007 and continuing in the Truck Series. Toyota will not have any Toyota branded teams/cars as teams will bring theie owns sponsors to the teams. The 2007 Camry was unveiled. Past news and the PR and iamges of the car on my Toyota News page. There will a more detailed press conference at Lowe's Motor Speedway Tueday evening [Jan 24th]
Car of Tomorrow: will debut at Bristol Motor Speedway in early 2007. France said the goal was so teams didn't have to have special cars for each type of track [short term, road course, intermediate, super speedway]. NASCAR's Gary Nelson then gave many details on the COT.. Past news and the PR on my Car of Tomorrow News/Image page.(1-23-2006)
- Car of Tomorrow [COT] announcement: NASCAR announced the Car of Tomorrow will begin competition in 2007. Teams will use the newly-designed race car for 16 events next season, beginning with the spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway – currently the fifth event on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. A five-year project overseen by NASCAR Vice President for Research and Development Gary Nelson, the Car of Tomorrow offers important safety and performance upgrades. It also addresses cost reduction, providing teams with a more efficient car to produce and tune. “The Car of Tomorrow represents one of the sport’s most significant innovations, and we feel everyone involved in NASCAR will experience the benefits,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “No subject is more important than safety, and while the Car of Tomorrow was built around safety considerations, the competition and cost improvements will prove vital as well.”
Aside from Bristol events, teams will use the Car of Tomorrow in 2007 events at Phoenix, Martinsville, Richmond, Dover, New Hampshire, Darlington, Talladega [the fall race and last restrictor plate race of the season] and road-course events at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen.
The 2008 Car of Tomorrow implementation schedule includes 26 events – adding both races at Daytona, California, Pocono, Michigan, the spring event at Talladega and Indianapolis. Teams will run the entire 2009 schedule with the Car of Tomorrow, adding both events at Atlanta, Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Texas, plus events at Chicagoland, Kansas, Las Vegas and Homestead. The rollout schedule could be sooner.
“All of our engineering staff and each of the teams and manufacturers that contributed will now be able see the product of their hard work in competition,” Nelson said. “Many of the obvious safety and competition benefits have been a topic since the beginning of this project. We think one of the major benefits is yet to be realized as the car owners begin to build a more cost-efficient race car.”
The next round of Car of Tomorrow on-track testing will be scheduled following Speedweeks in Daytona, with officials from the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., refining car components and performance baselines. The Car of Tomorrow is a collaborative effort, with Nelson’s team leading the way. Manufacturers, teams and industry suppliers all contributed during the design phase, with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams and drivers offering important feedback during the latest round of on-track testing.
NASCAR’s prototype car, built by the Research and Development staff, is driven by Director of Cost Research Brett Bodine, a former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competitor and team owner. The Car of Tomorrow began as a design five years ago, progressing through simulation, laboratory and wind tunnel tests. Of primary significance are the safety innovations: the Car of Tomorrow is four inches wider and two inches taller than current NASCAR race cars. The driver compartment, or “roll cage,” has been shifted three inches to the rear. The driver’s seat has been shifted four inches to the right, allowing more protection from a driver’s side impact. More “crush-ability” is built into the car on both sides, ensuring even more protection.
The Car of Tomorrow exhaust system is another safety innovation. It runs through the body, diverting heat away from the driver and exiting on the right side. Another important Car of Tomorrow feature is performance – how the car handles in traffic and reacts to downforce. The project represents the latest move by NASCAR to reduce current cars’ aerodynamic dependence, and several innovations have addressed it:
• The windshield is more upright, designed to increase the amount of drag, thereby slowing the cars.
• The more box-like front bumper, which is three inches higher and thicker, catches air rather than deflecting it, another way to slow the car.
• The air intake is below the front bumper, which eliminates the problem of overheating. Wind-blown trash can cover current car grilles, blocking air flow.
Several components – both those built into the Car of Tomorrow and those being tested – will make the car easier to drive in traffic. Some of those components also are bolt-on, bolt-off pieces that teams can use to tune their cars, making them cost-efficient as well. Those include:
• The “splitter,” a flat shelf below the front bumper that can be adjusted.
• A wing, like those commonly used in sports car series, also is a possibility. It fits on the car’s rear deck lid, in the same spot where the spoiler is bolted.
• The spoiler, a NASCAR staple, is a straight line on the Car of Tomorrow, rather than curved, as on current cars. A straight spoiler yields more stability in traffic.
“We designed this car to run for a long time, at road courses, short tracks, intermediate-sized tracks all the way to Daytona,” Nelson said. “You would be able to run the same foundation car, the frame, the cage, the body, all of the components that today are being swapped around as the cars are purpose-built for certain types of tracks. We're eliminating that with this car.”(NASCAR PR)(1-23-2006)
- NMPA names Stewart DotY: #20-Tony Stewart, winner of the 2005 Nextel Cup title, added another award to his five-win season Sunday when he was named the National Motorsports Press Association's Richard Petty Driver of the Year. Stewart is the 11th driver to win the award, established in 1969, more than once. He also won it after his first Cup championship in 2002. Stewart did not attend Sunday's luncheon in the NMPA's annual convention in Charlotte, where the award was announced. He accepted via a videotaped message, saying he had a commitment at a charity snowmobile ride hosted by his crew chief, Greg Zipadelli.(Thatsracin)(1-23-2006)
- Shepherd Wins NMPA Pocono Spirit Award: Morgan Shepherd, at 64 the oldest full-time driver in Nextel Cup Series racing, was named winner of the National Motorsports Press Association's Pocono Spirit Award Sunday night. The award, determined by a vote
by the full NMPA, is sponsorred by Pocono International Raceway. Shepherd was the fourth quarter winner of the award, mainly due to his 19th annual Morgan Shepherd Charity Ride, dedicated to helping handicapped and underprivileged people eac December. With a passenger bus and passenger vans, a group of drivers, racing personnel and media travelled from Conover to the PARC Workshop in Stuart, Va., and other towns in the region. "We carry friends, presents and hope for these people," Shepherd said. "Besides
a donation, hopefully a large donation each year, to the PARC Workshop, we are delighted to have the chance to meet with old and new friends, and to show the love of Christ to these folks." The annual Christmas trip began in 1986 when the Morgan Shepherd Charitable Fund
was established to assist the needy and handicapped in the Virginia mountains. That first year the trip culminated with the group putting a new roof on the house of a needy person in Fries, Va., and has grown since then. The trip now assists over 300 needy and handicapped persons each year. Race fans and corporations can help by making donations via MasterCard or Visa at www.morganshepherd.com.(Williams Company PR)(1-23-2006)
- Kurt Busch to test at Nashville: #2-Kurt Busch is scheduled to test at Nashville Superspeedway Tuesday, January 24. The test is closed to the public.(Nashville Superspeedway PR)(1-23-2006)
- #51 Team gets assoc sponsor: Print Media Inc. has joined forces with #51 Competitive Edge Motorsports for the first four races of their 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup campaign. Jordan Wachtell, President of Print Media, said, "As one of America's top business printers, we are proud to be part of such a first-class operation. We look forward to a long term relationship with Competitive Edge." Competitive Edge Motorsports owner, Joe Auer, looks forward to the chance of representing Print Media, Inc. at the track and throughout his other business relations. “There is no better place to supplement your marketing efforts than NASCAR. The quality of work and service Print Media provides, gives me the confidence to recommend them to our other business relations throughout the country, and we are glad to have them aboard.” The #51 Marathon Chevy team will test two cars in Las Vegas with Mike Garvey driving the cars, January 30-31 and Feb 1. Later on that month, the team will start their race season in California February 26.(Competitive Edge Motorsports PR)(1-23-2006)
- Schrader wins again at Phoenix: Nextel Cup driver Ken Schrader raced to his record 16th title at Phoenix International Raceway and fourth West Series victory on the track Sunday, winning the feature race in the Copper World Classic. Schrader, second in a 100-mile NASCAR Southwest Tour event earlier, had better luck in the 125-mile West Series race that capped the combined USAC-NASCAR lineup in the 29th Copper Classic. The 50-year-old Schrader took the lead three times while leading a total of 50 laps. The third time, he passed Spencer Clark after 108 laps and held off the Eric Holmes to take the United Rentals 125 by 0.0128 seconds.
Schrader broke a tie with Richard Petty for West wins at Phoenix. "We've run so many races here we ought to have won one," Schrader said. "You know, we haven't won any Cup races here. Finished second once." Matt Kobyluck finished third, Clark fourth and rookie Peyton Sellers fifth.(ESPN.com/AP)(1-23-2006)
- Toyota Announcement coming? UPDATE 4...Monday?: NASCAR President Mike Helton said Tuesday on MRN's NASCAR Live with Eli Gold that NASCAR hopes to make some sort of announcement about Toyota's future involvement within the next few weeks.(1-4-2006)
UPDATE: Toyota officials were present for last week's Car of Tomorrow tests at Daytona, marking the first time they were officially invited by NASCAR to attend a CoT test. Although the manufacturer hasn't officially announced its intention to enter both the Busch and Nextel Cup Series in '07, there should be something official from the Toyota camp soon, possibly as early as the weekend of the Feb. 26 Cup race at California Speedway.(Yahoo Sports)(1-18-2006)
UPDATE 2: Toyota could join the three American manufacturers [Chevy, Dodge, Ford] within two years. NASCAR is expected to address the issue Monday when it holds its state of the sport address on the annual media tour [in Charlotte]. Toyota, which already competes in the NASCAR truck series, has a press announcement scheduled Tuesday.(St. Petersburg Times)(1-19-2006)
UPDATE 3: Toyota will move into NASCAR's Nextel Cup and Busch Series beginning in 2007, becoming the first foreign manufacturer to compete in the top racing series since Jaguar in the 1950's. The announcement is expected Monday in a news conference at NASCAR in Concord, N.C., according to a person with knowledge of the announcement who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it. Toyota will join the American brands Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge in the top two levels of competition. Toyota has competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since 2004, ending a long-held rule by NASCAR that only American-based manufacturers could compete in its events. Toyota has paid to align itself with elite teams and drivers in the Truck series. There has been widespread speculation that Honda will follow Toyota into NASCAR.(New York Times)(1-20-2006)
UPDATE 4: Toyota will race in Nextel Cup events beginning in 2007, becoming the first foreign competitor in NASCAR's top stock car series since the 1950s. The Japanese auto maker will also run the Busch Series races after the 2006 season, joining Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge. The announcement was expected at a Monday news conference from NASCAR's research and development facility in Concord, a person close to Toyota told The Associated Press. The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn't been made, said Toyota ``is looking forward to being competitive right off the bat'' in both series. The last foreign manufacturer to participate in NASCAR's top racing series was Jaguar, which entered several races in the 1950s [and even won a race].
The move by Toyota was not a complete surprise. The company moved into NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series in 2004 and quickly became competitive, with Travis Kvapil giving the manufacturer its first win in July of that year. Toyota raced in several American-based sports car series before moving into open-wheel racing in 1996.(ESPN.com/AP)(1-23-2006)