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  • MORE NEWS/RUMORS
    MAR 27- APR 2, 2006





      News from April 2, 2006

    • Stewart wins at Martinsville: #20-Tony Stewart won the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway, leading 288 or 500 laps for his first win of 2006, 25th of his career and first since Watkins Glen last August. #24-Jeff Gordon held on for 2nd, with #48-Jimmie Johnson 3rd, then #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a very beat up car and #5-Kyle Busch. The rest of the top-10 were #38-Sadler, #29-Harvick, #25-Vickers, #26-McMurray and #10-Riggs. Points leader #17-Matt Kenseth was 7th as late as lap 493 when he lost his brakes on a restart and smacked the wall, finishing 24th and dropping to 3rd in points with #48-Johnson taking over the lead, leading #6-Martin by 59 points going into Texas next week. There were 16 cautions for 87 laps and 6 leaders with 12 lead changes. The race will re-air on Speed Channel, Thursday, April 6th at 4:00pm/et.
      Race Results on my Martinsville Race Results/Awards Page.
      Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Martinsville page.
      Race Rundown: see my Martinsville Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(4-2-2006)

    • Smaller fuel cells at LMS and road courses? UPDATE: hearing that NASCAR is looking at putting the smaller fuel cells in the cars at Lowe's Motor Speedway to force cars to pit somewhere between 35-40 laps, due to the tire wear with the new surface. NASCAR may also due this in the future at all road races to break up the pit strategies and could also use the smaller fuel cells when they return to Atlanta in the Fall.(4-1-2006)
      UPDATE: Smaller fuel tanks might be a way to deal with excessive tire wear at tracks like Atlanta Motor Speedway and the newly paved Lowe's Motor Speedway. The idea is that if drivers ran out of fuel after 30 laps or so, they'd make pit stops before tires could wear to a dangerous point. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said it's too soon to tell whether the smaller tanks, which are used at Daytona and Talladega to add pit stops and therefore break up big packs of cars, will be used elsewhere. "Our primary focus in preparing for the upcoming races at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May is testing the tires and getting them right," he said.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(4-2-2006)

    • Robby and Andretti in Jim Beam PSA commercial: Jim Beam bourbon announced the launch of its 2006 Public Service Announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of the company's drink smart social responsibility platform. Through drink smart, the company reminds consumers of the basic principles for making responsible decisions concerning alcohol: 1) if you're under 21, don't drink; 2) if you're of legal purchase age and choose to drink, do so in moderation; 3) and never drive drunk. The television PSA, featuring NASCAR Nextel Cup driver and owner Robby Gordon of Robby Gordon Motorsports and Indy Racing League (IRL) driver and co-owner Michael Andretti of Andretti Green Racing, reinforces the drink smart messages and the importance of making smart decisions about alcohol. Using a victory lane backdrop, both Gordon and Andretti reinforce the Jim Beam drink smart messages of making smart choices "on and off the track."
      "As professional racecar drivers and team owners, Michael and I are in a great position to encourage fans to make the right decisions when it comes to consuming alcohol responsibly," said Gordon. "We're very committed to helping spread the drink smart messages." For more information on drink smart, please visit www.drinksmart.com. Jim Beam is a primary sponsor of the #7 Chevy driven by team owner Robby Gordon of Robby Gordon Motorsports for a designated number of races in the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. Jim Beam is an associate sponsor for an additional number of races. In addition to the Jim Beam logo, the company's drink smart logo is displayed on the car and Gordon's firesuit to communicate the importance of responsible drinking.(Jim Beam PR)(4-2-2006)

    • Drive for Diversity driver wins: In his debut race with the Drive for Diversity program and Joe Gibbs Racing, 15 year-old Marc Davis won the Limited Late Model stock car race at Hickory (NC) Motor Speedway last Saturday night. In doing so, he became just the second African-American to win a stock car race at Hickory, joining former Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Chris Bristol who won at the famed short track last April. After starting third, Davis took the lead during the final lap and piloted the #92 Levi Strauss Signature Chevy to victory, making him the first Drive for Diversity driver to win in 2006. Hickory's Limited Late Model division is one of six support classes at the historic speedway, one step below the premier NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model Stock Cars.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(4-2-2006)

    • Martinsville Race Notes:
      • Tony Stewart won the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway, scoring his 25th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 254th career start.
      • Stewart’s last victory came at Watkins Glen last August, 20 races ago.
      • Stewart scored his second Martinsville victory. His other victory here came in October 2000.
      • Stewart scored his eighth top-10 finish in 15 races at Martinsville.
      • Stewart moved into 22nd on NASCAR’s all-time winners list, tied with Jim Paschal and Joe Weatherly.
      • It is his sixth short-track victory. He has 14 superspeedway victories and five on road courses.
      • Stewart scored his third top-10 finish in six races this season.
      • Stewart climbed from ninth to eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago after six races he ranked 11th in the point standings.
      • Stewart led the most laps (288) – including the final 27, the second time this season that he led the most laps. He also led the most laps last week at Bristol. The last time he led the most laps and won the race was at Watkins Glen last August.
      • Stewart has led the most laps in the last three races at Martinsville. He led 247 of the 500 laps in the spring of 2005 and 283 of the 500 in the fall race. Stewart became the fourth driver in Martinsville history to lead the most laps in three straight races. He joined Cale Yarborough (fall 1976 and both races in 1977), Rusty Wallace (both races in 1994 and spring 1995) and Dale Earnhardt (both races in 1987 and spring 1988). Yarborough won all three, Wallace won all three and Earnhardt won two of the three and finished second in the September 1987 event. Ironically, Stewart won only one of the three races, posting finishes of 26th, 2nd and first.
      • This was team owner Joe Gibbs’ 48th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory. Gibbs has scored three victories at Martinsville. Joe Gibbs Racing has won at least one race each season 1993-2006, 14 consecutive years.
      • Tony Stewart has won at least one race each season 1999-2006, eight consecutive years.
      Notebook Items
      • Jeff Gordon (second) has finished in the top-10 in his last six races at Martinsville Speedway. Four of those finishes were victories He scored his third top-10 finish of the season and best finish in 2006. Gordon remained seventh in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago he ranked sixth after six races.
      • Jimmie Johnson (third) scored his eighth top-10 finish in nine races at Martinsville Speedway. He climbed from third to first in the NASCAR NEXTEL cup standings. Johnson is the only driver to score four top-five finishes in the first six races of the season.
      • Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth) scored his sixth top-10 finish in 13 races at Martinsville and his third top10 finish in 2006.
      • Kyle Busch (fifth) scored his second top-10 finish in three races at Martinsville and his fourth top-10 finish in 2006.
      • Brian Vickers (eighth) was the fourth Hendrick Motorsports driver to finish among the top-10 in the DIRECTV 500. It was Vicker’s first top-10 finish in five races at Martinsville.
      • Reed Sorenson (12th) was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender. At least one of the Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders has scored a top-15 finish in every race this season.
      • Joe Nemechek (23rd) has been running at the finish in the last 38 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April, the longest current streak.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-2-2006)

    • Rumblings - Martinsville:
      Tony Stewart led the most laps (five times for 288 circuits), then held off Jeff Gordon for a three lap sprint (after a late red flag) to take today's DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. In a caution filled race (we had 16 of 'em) Stewart grabs his second win at this half-miler, the 25th of his career (he's tied for 22nd on the all-time win list with Jim Paschal & Joe Weatherly), and the 48th for Joe Gibbs Racing. The win was worth $220,786 from the over $5.4M in posted awards.
      The Chevy domination was certainly a story today. The Top-5 spots and seven of the top eight were members of the bow-tie brigade.
      Jeff Gordon (2nd) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Atlanta last October.
      Scott Riggs (10th) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Michigan last August.
      Sterling Marlin (14th) had his best finish since he was 13th at Kansas last October.
      Tony Raines (21st) had his best finish since he was 13th at Homestead in November of 2003 (only 13 races).
      Chad Chaffin (36th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 39th when we were here in October of 2004.
      STREAKIN....Jimmie Johnson has 5 Top-10's in the last 6 races.
      Kyle Busch has 4 Top-10's in the last 5 races.
      The Rookie Report: Reed Sorenson (12th) is the top-finishing first year driver for the second time this season. He was followed by Martin Truex Jr (19th), J. J. Yeley (20th), Clint Bowyer (22nd), Denny Hamlin (37th), and David Stremme (38th). Sorenson & Hamlin have each topped this category twice this season....Brent Sherman was replaced by Jimmy Spencer for this event and that team was a dnq this weekend.
      This Week's Elevator....UP: Operator of the Week is Dale Earnhardt Jr (+25) followed by Clint Bowyer (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Kasey Kahne (-30), followed by Greg Biffle (-21) and Ken Schrader (-21).
      In that ever shifting battle to gain an exempt spot in the Top-35 in Owner Points, Sterling Marlin in now in and Bobby Labonte may have to rely on the Champions Provisional (if needed) next week. Jimmie Johnson regains the points lead today (he's led five of the six weeks) as Matt Kenseth's late race problem dropped him to third in the standings. Jamie McMurray (24th to 17th) made the best move forward today while Robby Gordon (20th to 27th) fell the same number of spots.(Stock Car Fans)(4-2-2006)

    • Makoto Dressing on #34 and #92 at Martinsville: Front Row Motorsports placed both of their entries into the starting lineup at Martinsville for the DirecTV 500. The #34 Oak Gloves car driven by Chad Chaffin will start 31st and the Makoto Dressing #92 driven by Chad Blount will start 43rd. Makoto Dressing will be a sponsor on both cars. They will be on the hood of the #92 and on the quarter panels and TV panel of the #34. Makoto Ginger Dressing, which was developed at one of their two Japanese Steakhouses in Florida, is available in refrigerated sections of grocery stores across the United States. For more information, please visit www.makotogingerdressing.com.(Front Row Motorsports PR)(4-2-2006)


      News from April 1, 2006

    • Ward looking to race again: Ward Burton was back in the garage at Martinsville Speedway on Friday wishing he were wearing a driving suit instead of jeans. "I've been carrying on some communication, seeing what kind of dominoes need to fall to get back in," he said, adding that he no longer is as insistent on getting a Nextel Cup ride as he was last year. "I'm getting a little more open-minded to the possibility of another series," he said, indicating that he'd be willing to make a comeback in the Craftsman Truck or Busch series. Burton, a five-time Cup winner who hasn't raced since the fall race at Phoenix in 2004, said he enjoyed his year layoff, but he's ready for it to end. "I had a whole year to get a good breather, and I probably needed it," he said. "But when it got close to Daytona and I wasn't testing and doing appearances, I started having a longing, like I had lost a friend in my heart."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(4-1-2006)

    • Been Asked...about Steve Byrnes UPDATE: As you may have noticed, NASCAR on FOX pit reporter Steve Byrnes' left eye has been swollen, and he was not part of the Nextel Cup broadcast from Bristol. On Sunday, he was hospitalized with a viral infection in his left sinus cavity that will not respond to oral antibiotics. In the past three weeks, Steve has visited five different doctors and has been placed on four different oral antibiotics, none of which improved the situation. Dr. Jerry Petty, a trusted physician in the NASCAR community, insisted that Steve depart Bristol Sunday morning and go to Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte for an office visit that Dr. Petty had arranged with a specialist. Doctors have run a CT scan to see how far the infection has spread, and he has been put on "gorilla-strength" I.V. antibiotics. Steve and his family thank you for your notes of concern and will try to keep you posted as his recovery continues.(FoxSports)(3-28-2006)
      UPDATE: on Speed Channel's NASCAR Live, John Robert's mentioned that Byrnes' is out of the hospital, responding to the medication and hopes to be back at the track in Texas.(Speed Channel's NASCAR Live)(3-31-2006)
      COLUMN: Check out Steve Brynes' column on FoxSports: 'Family' support helped through eye ordeal which explains what he went thru and his plans.(4-1-2006)

    • 'Craftsman For A Cure' Announced at Martinsville: Craftsman Motorsports in conjunction with Bobby Hamilton Racing will host the 'Craftsman For A Cure' charity event which will support the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the Victory Junction Gang Camp. 'Craftsman For A Cure' will give race fans the opportunity to live their racing dream, to meet and race fender-to-fender with some of their favorite NASCAR drivers at NASCAR SpeedPark in Concord, N.C., while also helping out two very important charities on May 23rd. More info on my Racing Charities Page.(4-1-2006)

    • Schrader Book Released: Motorsports publisher Coastal 181 has announced the release of GOTTA RACE!, the autobiography of popular Nextel Cup driver Ken Schrader. The book was written with Joyce Standridge and includes forewords by Rick Hendrick and Bones Bourcier. GOTTA RACE! is the latest in Coastal 181’s series of race driver biographies, which has included RICHIE! (Richie Evans), BUGSY! (Bugsy Stevens), They Called Me ‘The Shoe’ (Ken Shoemaker), and Life Wide Open (Dave Dion). More info on my Bookstore Page.(4-1-2006)

    • 15 Minute Penalties dished out: #01-Nemechek, #5-Busch and #43-Labonte were all penalized 15 minutes of practice time at Martinsville Speedway on Friday as the teams were amonished for being late for inspection last week at Bristol.(MRN Radio Qualifying Coverage)(4-1-2006)

    • Kenseth: My Fault: Matt Kenseth disagreed with NASCAR's decision to fine Gordon $10,000 and place him on probation for shoving Kenseth at Bristol. "The deal was my fault," Kenseth said. "I made a mistake and I should have known better than to go over there and try to apologize."(Dallas Morning News)(4-1-2006)


      News from March 31, 2006

    • Sad News: Veteran NASCAR Crew Chief Butch Hylton's, Mother, Patsy Hylton past away yesterday afternoon. She had been recovering from major aorta aneurysm surgery on 12/19/2005 and been in the hospital ever since the surgery, fighting for recovery. Family and Friends are invited to her Memorial service at 12:30pm on Monday, April 3, 2006. It will be held at her church: Epworth United Methodist Church, 1030 Burrage Road, Concord NC 28025. There will be a reception for Family and Friends at BKB2 Motorsports, 41 Odell School Road Suite A, Concord NC 28027 immediately following her memorial service, a celebration for her life. Patsy's request for donations should be made to Epworth United Methodist Church- Building Fund at the address already given.(3-31-2006)

    • Craven to run race in Maine: Ricky Craven will hop into a Johnny Clark Motorsports car this summer, returning to his roots with the 34th running of the prestigious TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. It will mark the first time Craven races in his home state since 1992. "I'm really excited about this," said the 39-year-old Craven, who has no other racing on his calendar this year. "This race has been such a big part of my life. I sat in the grandstands and watched it in the '70s, and I fulfilled a dream when I won it in 1991." Though no concrete plans have been laid out, Clark and Craven expect to test the car on a couple of occasions before the race weekend. Even then, Craven will be in attendance all weekend to participate in the numerous practice sessions for the 250.(Maine Today)(3-31-2006)

    • Rusty teams up with Microsoft: Rusty Wallace and Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 with GPS Locator are teaming up to help families embark on successful and stress-free road trips this spring and summer. While Wallace hung up his racing helmet at the end of the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season, he has hardly put it in park. After driving around in circles for over 20 years, Wallace is now helping travelers explore the open road with a wealth of road trip tips and tricks. From planning ahead with a trip-planning tool like Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 with GPS Locator to taking the time to enjoy the interesting stops along the way, Wallace’s tips — available at www.microsoft.com/streets/rustywallace — will help ensure that everyone in the car enjoys the ride this travel season.(Wireless Dev Network)(3-31-2006)

    • Goodyear Martinsville Tire Notes: This is Goodyear's short track tire set-up for 2006 . . . this is the first time Goodyear has brought this combination to the track . . . Martinsville is the only track at which Nextel Cup teams are scheduled to run this exact combination of left- and right-side tires . . . Cup and Busch Series teams will run this right-side tire code (D-4044) in all four tire positions on the road courses this season . . . Craftsman Truck teams will also run this set-up at Mansfield in May . . . as on most ovals less than one mile in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Martinsville. Estimated Nextel Cup Pit Window: Every 145-155 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR). See the codes, numer of tires, more notes on my Martinsville Race Info/Rundown Page.(3-31-2006)

    • Mrs. VA to best guest of #01 Army team: Rose Lopez-Keravuori, the reigning Mrs. Virginia will be a guest of the U.S. Army team at Sunday's DIRECTV 500 Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. It will be the first NASCAR race for Lopez-Keravuori, who was crowned Mrs. Virginia last May. A 1997 West Point graduate with degrees in Spanish, French and Computer Science Engineering, Lopez-Keravuori spent six years of active duty in Germany as a military intelligence officer. She currently serves as a military intelligence captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and holds down a full-time job as an intelligence analyst with BAE Systems. Lopez-Keravuori is an avid outdoor enthusiast and adventurer. She and her husband Eero have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, surfed in Bali and gone ice climbing in New Zealand. Lopez-Keravuori resides in Arlington, Va. and travels the state to promote her platform on education.(MB2 Motorsports PR)(3-31-2006)

    • Johnson wins pole at Martinsville: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the Budweiser Pole for the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway with a speed of 96.736mph for his first pole of 2006, his 9th career pole in 153 races and first in 23 races, since Chicago last July. #26-Jamie McMurray will start on the outside pole, followed by #20-Tony Stewart, #12-Ryan Newman and #9-Kasey Kahne. #24-Jeff Gordon will start 8th, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 29th. #14-Sterling Marlin was the highest qualifier of the go or go homers, and will start 6th. #18-J.J Yeley is the highest starting rookie at 18th. #49-Jimmy Spencer couldn't get the BAM Dodge up to speed and will miss the race along with #74-Cope, #61-Lepage [first dnq of the season], #78-Wallace, #89-Shepherd and #00-Sadler. No wrecks or major incidents.
      For pole progression, qualifying speeds, order and starting lineup, see my Martinsville Starting Grid/Qualifying Page.(3-31-2006)

    • Martinsville Qualifying News and Notes:
      • Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the DIRECT 500, lapping Martinsville Speedway in 19.575 seconds at 96.736 mph. Tony Stewart holds the track-qualifying record of 19.306 seconds, 98.083 mph, set Oct. 21, 2005.
      • This is Johnson’s ninth career Bud Pole in 153 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
      • Johnson posted his fifth top-10 start his 2005. His only non-top 10 came at Atlanta (14th).
      • It is Johnson’s first Bud Pole and fifth top-10 start in nine Martinsville races.
      • The last Bud Pole by a Hendrick Motorsports driver was at New Hampshire in July 2005 by Brian Vickers.
      • Jamie McMurray posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 19.583 seconds, 96.696 mph – and will join Johnson on the front row for the DIRECTV 500. He posted his third top-10 start in 2006 and his third in seven races at Martinsville.
      • This is the second Bud Pole for Chevrolet in 2006. Dodge also has two Bud Poles and Ford has one. Qualifying was canceled at Bristol.
      • Tony Stewart (third) posted his third top-10 start this season, all third or better and all in the past four races. It is his eighth top-10 start in 15 races at Martinsville.
      • Ryan Newman (fourth) has three top-10 starts this season, all in the past three races. This is his ninth top-10 start in as many races at Martinsville.
      • Kasey Kahne (fifth) posted his first start better than 15th in five Martinsville races. This is his third top-10 start this season – all top fives.
      • Chad Blount (43rd) became the 52nd driver to make the field for a race this season.
      • Six driver qualified for their first race at Martinsville: Stanton Barrett, Chad Blount, Clint Bowyer, David Stremme, Martin Truex Jr., and J.J. Yeley.
      • Six of the seven Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidates qualified for the DIRECTV 500. Brent Sherman did not attempt to qualify. Yeley (18th) was the highest qualifying rookie contender for the fourth time this season.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(3-31-2006)

    • Ramblings - Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson becomes our fifth different pole winner in as many races (we got snowed out last week if you remember) today at Martinsville Speedway as he captured the Bud Pole for Sunday's DIRECTV 500 with a speed of 96.736 mph (19.575 sec). This is career pole #10 for JJ.
      Jamie McMurray will join Johnson on the front-row. This is his best starting spot since he had the pole at Pocono last July.
      Sterling Marlin (6th....and with the pressure on) has his best starting spot since he timed in 3rd at Bristol in August of 2004.
      Scott Riggs (11th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 7th at Talladega last October.
      Tony Raines (12th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 4th at Rockingham in November of 2003! (only 14 races)
      Ken Schrader (19th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 7th at Bristol last August.
      Chad Chaffin (31st) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 35th at Phoenix last November (this is only his 4th career NEXTEL Cup start).
      STREAKIN....Kurt Busch has 5 Top-10 starts in a row.
      Greg Biffle has 8 Top-10 starts in the last 9 races.
      Jimmie Johnson has 5 Top-10 starts in the last 6 races.(StockCarFans.com)(3-31-2006)

    • State Water Heaters sponsors #61 at Martinsville: Peak Performance Motorsports announced that its #61 entry will be sponsored by State Water Heaters for the Direct TV 500 at Martinsville. "We welcome State Water Heaters to the Nascar Nextel Cup family," said team owner Jeff Stec. "We are expecting an exciting race at Martinsville and thankful for the opportunity to brand such a fine product", said Stec. "I'm looking forward to giving State Water Heaters their first Martinsville race and want to thank all the folks at State for stepping up this weekend to make this all possible", said Lepage. More info on State Water Heaters at statewaterheaters.com.(Peak Performance Motorsports PR), see images of the car on the #61 Team Schemes page.(3-31-2006)

    • Memorial Service for Campbell at RIR Today: The family of Kenneth Campbell will hold a memorial service for him today, Friday, March 31 at 5:00 p.m. The service for the longtime VP of Public Relations at Richmond International Raceway who passed away last Friday will be open to friends, family and business associates of Mr. Campbell and his family, and not the general public. The service will take place in the media center in the Richmond International Raceway infield. Upon Mr. Campbell's retirement in 2001, the building was renamed the Kenneth Campbell Media Center in his honor. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in his name to the Victory Junction Gang Camp at 4500 Adam's Way, Randleman, NC 27317.(Richmond International Raceway PR)(3-31-2006)


      News from March 30, 2006

    • LMS testing, restrictor plate doubtful UPDATE: Official lap times were not reported during a tire test at Lowe's Motor Speedway Tuesday and Wednesday, but #43-Bobby Labonte said he came within .3 second of the last October's pole-winning lap, Elliott Sadler's 27.948-second lap at 193.216 mph. "It's going to be faster [than 2005]," Riggs said. "Is it going to be fast enough that we're going to need restrictor plates? Absolutely not ... even if we are going to break the track record. Anytime you come out with a new tire or new paving, we always break track records. I don't think just because we are going to run faster than the track record previously, it's not by two seconds or 10 miles an hour." Goodyear is testing tires to determine a compound to use when Nextel Cup teams test on the newly paved track May 1-3. The Nextel Cup series races at the track twice in May, for the all-star event and the Coca-Cola 600. Tire problems marred both races at Lowe's after the track surface was ground down last year, but this year, the track has been repaved. "Anytime you come out to a test like this, there are a lot of unknowns," said Rick Heinrich, Goodyear's Nextel Cup product manager. "We knew the conditions would be severe. We knew there would be a lot of speed. New asphalt generally generates a lot of wear. Conditions were a little more severe than we anticipated but not out of the ordinary." Labonte, Riggs, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and the truck of Bobby Hamilton Jr. participated in the test. Riggs said he did not think speeds were so fast that restrictor plates would be needed in May. Heinrich said the wear is coming on both sides of the car and front and rear. The loads are similar to loads from last year, he said. "Right now, there's a little bit too much wear, but that's kind of expected because the asphalt is real fresh," Heinrich said. "The more laps ... will slow that wear down."(SceneDaily.com)(3-29-2006)
      UPDATE It could take weeks for Goodyear to decide what tire will be best because the track surface will continue to change as more and more cars drive on it. The only thing that's certain is that the speeds should reach record highs. Labonte said his laps Wednesday were just a tick off of Elliott Sadler's track record 193.216 mph. But Sadler's mark was set in qualifying, when a car is designed to go as fast as possible for only one lap. The times posted during the test were in race trim, when a car is supposed to be much slower. "It would not surprise me if you saw a 197-mph lap," track president Humpy Wheeler said. Although using horsepower-sapping restrictor plates is an option, no one really wants to use them.(AP)
      UPDATE 2: Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, was at LMS monitoring the situation. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said no decision will be made on whether the sanctioning body will step in to lower speeds until after a full Cup test session in early May.(NASCAR.com)(3-30-2006)

    • Final Bristol TV Ratings down: Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway drew a final Nielsen Media Research rating of drew a 6.2, the second-highest figure in the race's history, track officials say. The rating was 1.6% lower than last year's 6.3, but officials say last year's race was a week later, while this year's event aired directly against the regional finals of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The track says Sunday's race was seen by more than 9.9 million viewers -- up 2% from last year. Officials also say Fox's coverage of Saturday's Sharpie Mini 300 drew a 2.5 broadcast rating, making it the highest-rated, most-watched Busch Series event in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway. Officials say the figure marked a 25% increase over the previously highest-rated Busch race at BMS, the 2004 Sharpie 250.(SceneDaily.com), never did see the final Atlanta TV Ratings.(3-30-2006)

    • #37 Team Slows to limited schedule UPDATE: Two Toccoa [GA] businessmen, John Carter and Roger Craven, did the near-impossible last year when they took their shoestring budget team to Daytona and finished ninth in the Daytona 500, earning more than $300,000. But this year, Carter and Craven are on the verge of dropping off the circuit. With Mike Skinner at the wheel of their #37 Dodge, the R and J Racing team has failed to qualify for an event this year, and the team has no primary sponsor to help foot the bills. "We're still trying to get on our feet, and we're too good a team to just quit," Carter said. "It's a shame that a Georgia-based team can't get a Georgia-based company to help us just a little bit."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-24-2006)
      UPDATE: After failing to qualify for the first five races this year, #37 R&J Racing moved its shop back to Toccoa, Ga., and plans to spend the next month rebuilding cars. Car owner Roger Craven said the team needed time to re-evaluate its schedule and concentrate on selected races for the rest of the year. "We've decided to put everything under the same roof," Craven said. "We're re-organizing and using the rest of the year to rebuild for the future."(Augusta Chronicle)(3-30-2006)

    • Mathis team hopes to run ARCA race UPDATE: Victory Motorsports Racing, owned by former NFL All-Pro Wide Receiver Terance Mathis, will participated in the ARCA Series open test session in Nashville with hopes of being approved to run April 15, 2006, in Nashville. Morty Buckles will run car # 81 for Victory Motorsports Racing. "This is just the first step in getting on the Nextel Cup Circuit," says Terance Mathis, majority team owner of Victory Motorsports Racing. "I have been waiting for this day for a while now. Terance took a chance on me when I came out of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity Program, and now we are making strides to run ARCA, and eventually run Nextel Cup. This entire experience is so much bigger than myself and Terance, it's about creating more opportunities for minority drivers, and minority owners," says Morty Buckles. Victory Motorsports Racing is owned about by majority partner, former NFL All Wide Receiver Terance Mathis, and minority partner Morgan-McClure Racing, a 23 year veteran to the Motorsports Industry.(Origins Public Relations)
      UPDATE: looks like the PR folks jumped the gun, been told while Buckles will attempt to make the ARCA race at Nashville, it will not be in the #81 Victory Motorsports car but that Buckles will be working with and driving for ST2 Motorsports from Columbia, TN with BRG Racing, contracted with ST2 to provide a Dodge Charger #67.(MortyBuckles.com)(3-30-2006)

    • Wimmer and Morgan-McClure team protected by LifeLock: Morgan-McClure Motorsports, which owns the #4 AERO Exhaust Chevy Monte Carlo team with driver Scott Wimmer, announced that it has decided to offer the LifeLock Identity Theft service to its NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team. LifeLock is the nation's first and only service that prevents identity theft and backs it up with a $1 million guarantee. LifeLock does the prevention work by maintaining active fraud alerts with the three major credit bureaus as well as ChexSystems. The LifeLock system makes personal information useless to everyone but the rightful owner. Every time someone attempts to open credit, change an address or make changes in bank accounts, LifeLock is there to make sure the right person is making the request. LifeLock and MMM are also proud to announce that fans of MMM and Scott Wimmer can get identity theft protection at a discount by going to www.lifelock.com and signing up using the promotion code (McClure). A link is also provided on the MMM website (morgan-mcclure.com).(3-30-2006)


      News from March 29, 2006

    • Johnson wrecks in LMS tire testing: #48-Jimmie Johnson crashed in Turn 4 when his right rear tire went flat at Lowe's Motor Speedway during the Goodyear tire test Wednesday morning. Johnson was not injured in the accident, but his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy could not be repaired enough for him to continue to test on the newly repaved track. "The tire went down, lost air pressure," said Rick Heinrich, Goodyear's Nextel Cup product manager. "He had felt the tire start to go down in Turn 1, and in Turn 3, the deflation of the tire completed. ... We're still looking at the tire and trying to come up with a concrete determination of what caused the tire to go down. We don't know if it was a puncture or wear-related at this point." Johnson's was the only incident during the Tuesday all-day session and the Monday morning session. #43-Bobby Labonte, #10-Scott Riggs, #29-Kevin Harvick and Bobby Hamilton Jr. in a truck also participated in the session.(SceneDaily.com)(3-29-2006)

    • Lester Welcomes a New Son: Barely a week after the excitement of racing in his first Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bill Lester and his wife Cheryl had another major event to celebrate ... the birth of their second son, Austin Richard Lester, who arrived on the starting grid at 1:56pm/et on Tuesday, March 28, at 9lb Ooz and 20.5" tall. Following the introduction ceremony and command to start your engines, he immediately posted competitive nap times. Mom, dad, baby and brother Alex are doing fine.(AMS PR)(3-29-2006)

    • New look for #07 at Martinsville: The #07 Chevy will sport a new look this weekend as DIRECTV assumes the primary sponsorship role on Bowyer’s Chevy. DIRECTV will also be showcased on his entry in June at Pocono and this fall at Talladega. Bowyer’s customary primary sponsor Jack Daniel’s will be featured on the car’s lower quarter panels and the trunk lid. DIRECTV is also the entitlement sponsor of this weekend’s race.(RCR PR), see an image on my #07 Teams Schemes page.(3-29-2006)

    • #26 Tire Changer Injured, Prognosis Good: Joe Kruschek, rear tire changer for the #26 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, was injured in last Monday’s race in Atlanta during a routine pit stop. Kruschek sustained injuries to both hands when the jack was released while he was still in the process of tightening lugnuts. Kruschek suffered a broken left thumb, a broken right middle finger and a cut right index finger. He successfully underwent surgery on Tuesday, March 21st, in a local hospital in Griffin, Georgia, and was transported back to the Charlotte, North Carolina area by Roush Racing. Kruschek will be in a cast and will undergo physical therapy for at least a couple of months, but the prognosis is good for a satisfactory recovery. Upon welcoming Kruschek back to the Charlotte area, team owner Jack Roush contacted Dr. Jerry Petty, a Charlotte neurosurgeon, to further evaluate Joe and refer him to a hand specialist. “We’re going to see that Joe Kruschek has the best possible care and that the most appropriate specialists are consulted and brought on board. Joe is a racer and I know that more than anything he wants to get back to work at the race track, but first and foremost we want him to be healthy,” commented Jack Roush. This is Kruschek’s first year with Roush Racing.(Roush Racing)(3-29-2006)

    • Why #1 Crew Chief not fined: FOX Sports used the same excuse for profanity creeping into Sunday's broadcast of the Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway as CBS did for Janet Jackson's breast being exposed during halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII. Equipment malfunction. "We've talked to FOX Sports and they told us there was a malfunction, that it wasn't deliberate,'' NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Tuesday. "They told us there's some sort of system in play where there's a delay. For whatever reason, it didn't work. They assured us they're looking at ways to make sure that doesn't reoccur.'' The incident occurred when the in-car radio conversation between crew chief Kevin Manion and his driver, Martin Truex., Jr., was broadcast. Manion was caught using the same word that earned driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. a $10,000 fine and the loss of 25 points two years ago at Talladega Superspeedway. Hunter said Manion was not fined because "this was a glitch that occurred.''(NASCAR.com)(3-29-2006)

    • Stewart's Team Earns Second Straight Pit Crew Challenge Win: For the second week in a row, Tony Stewart's pit crew secured the weekly Checkers / Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition by spending the least amount of time on pit road in Sunday's (March 26) NEXTEL Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. "Our pit stops were really good all day," said Stewart, who recorded a 12th-place finish in his Home Depot/Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet. "For two straight weeks our stops have been good. The guys have really stepped it up and I'm proud of them. We never lost a spot on pit road, and at a place like Bristol where track position is so important, having a crew that keeps what you earned on the race track is invaluable." Stewart's team will be awarded the weekly $10,500 prize entitled to the winning team. In addition, a $105,000 reward will be presented to the team with the most pit crew wins at the conclusion of the 36-race Nextel Cup season. Stewart's over-the-wall crew, who spent 206.844 seconds on pit road during the 500-lap event, consists of: Jason Lee (jackman), Tom Dean (front-tire carrier), Ira-Jo Hussey (front-tire changer), Jody Fortson (rear-tire carrier), Todd Foster (rear-tire changer), Jeff Patterson (gasman), Brian Larson (catch can) and Scott Geerts (windshield). The team's crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa. The Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge is in its second season with the Nextel Cup Series. Checkers/Rally's is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at checkers.com.(DMF Communications PR)(3-29-2006)

    • #88 tests at Caraway: In preparation for the DirecTV 500 at Martinsville the #88 UPS Team spent Monday at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., shaking down the car Dale Jarrett will race this weekend.(UPS Racing PR)(3-29-2006)

    • #400 for Nemechek: #01-Joe Nemechek will reach another career milestone when the green flag drops for Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. It will be his 400th career Cup start. Nemechek's first start was July 11, 1993 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon. He started 15th and finished 36th in a family-owned Chevrolet sponsored by Dentyne. Since then, the U.S. Army Chevy driver has carved an impressive career leading up to his 400th start.(MB2Motorsports PR)(3-29-2006)

    • Stewart tests at Lakeland: #20-Tony Stewart tested at USA International Speedway at Lakeland, FL on March 21-22 in preparation for this weeks race at Martinsville Speedway.(Truespeed/JGR)(3-29-2006)

    • Mississippi passes resolution for Dale Earnhardt Day: The Mississippi House passed a resolution Tuesday designating April 29 each year as "Dale Earnhardt Day" in the state. The NASCAR star, also known as "The Intimidator" was born April 29, 1951, in North Carolina. He was killed in a crash at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2001. Although there are no NASCAR races in Mississippi, the resolution says that Earnhardt "created a legacy in Mississippi (by) amassing so many wins." It also says Earnhardt "changed the sport of racing, bridging past, present and future generations of fans by upholding the finest NASCAR traditions while remaining a cutting-edge competitor throughout the entirety of his career." The resolution was sponsored by a diverse group of 55 House members — Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, men and women. It now goes to the Senate. A similar resolution passed the Georgia House of Representatives in 2005. Another one was filed in the Ohio House of Representatives this week.(Clanton Advertiser/AP)(3-29-2006)

    • New NASCAR auto body shop opens in Mooresville: Race City USA just got its newest full-service auto body and paint shop-Automotion, which just opened its doors at 149 Beyer's Creek in the Talbert Pointe Business Park. President Frank Norris has teamed up with several local NASCAR body and paint technicians in a brand new 12,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility..(PR) more info on my Racing Parts Links page.(3-29-2006)

    • #5 tested at Caraway: #5 Crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 263 for Sunday's race at Martinsville. The Kellogg's team tested the car, which saw action in both Martinsville events in 2005, on March 22 at Caraway Speedway, a .455-mile oval in Asheboro, N.C.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(3-29-2006)


      News from March 28, 2006

    • Sadler vs. Hammond: NASCAR and wrestling fans will join together this Saturday night in Martinsville as TNA Wrestling comes to the Old Lowes Building across the street from the Martinsville Speedway after the Truck Series race. In addition to the TNA Superstars, NASCAR will be well represented in a 8 man tag team "Lumberjack" match that will feature NASCAR on Fox's Jeff Hammond and driver Hermie Sadler teaming with Team 3-D (formerly the Dudley Boys) to take on 5 time NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett, Americas Most Wanted, and "Showtime" Eric Young.(3-28-2006)

    • Spencer to drive the #49 at Martinsville: Jimmy Spencer will drive the #49 Dodge Charger for BAM Racing at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. Spencer will join BAM Racing as an advisor for the team and mentor for rookie driver Brent Sherman. Spencer may run several additional races with BAM Racing this season, either in the #49 Dodge or another car. “I enjoy working with young drivers as they progress through the ranks of NASCAR,” said Spencer. “Brent has the determination and support it takes to compete at this level. I hope to be able to help him make a successful transition to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.”
      “The team has made this decision due to the fact that NASCAR will not allow rookie drivers any test sessions at Martinsville,” commented team general manager Eddie Jones. “Brent has never been to Martinsville before and our hope is that Jimmy will be able to provide him with the guidance it takes to compete at short tracks.”
      “I believe the team is being fair in its decision for this weekend,” said Sherman. “Although I am not currently in a championship race, the team is in a points race. I always welcome opportunities that are presented to me, and to work with a veteran like Jimmy Spencer is a great opportunity. I hope that this decision will not only benefit me, but the team as well.” Sherman will return to driving duties for the #49 Dodge Charger for the upcoming race at Texas Motor Speedway.(BAM Racing PR)(3-28-2006)

    • Jeff Gordon Fined by NASCAR as a Result of Bristol Infraction: NASCAR announced today that Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, has been fined $10,000 as a result of his involvement in an altercation on pit road [he pushed #17-Matt Kenseth] after the completion of Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Gordon has also been placed on probation until Aug. 30, 2006. Gordon was in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rule book.(NASCAR PR)(3-28-2006)

    • Stremme to run Truck race at Martinsville: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced NEXTEL Cup Series rookie #40-David Stremme will drive the #04 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge in the Truck Series event on Saturday, April 1 at Martinsville Speedway. Scott Lagasse Jr. will resume driving duties of the #04 Dodge at Gateway International Raceway on April 29.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-28-2006)

    • Dodge files responses in BDR case: Dodge has filed its responses to Bill Davis Racing's motions that ask a federal judge to reconsider a $6.5 million jury verdict levied in February against the race team. Dodge asks the judge not to change the verdict or grant BDR a new trial in the case, where the jury found the team guilty of giving confidential Dodge information to Toyota while building Toyota products for the Craftsman Truck Series. In May 2003, Dodge terminated its six-year, $18.425-million contract with BDR signed in 2000 and filed suit against the race team. Dodge also indicates that it will ask BDR for attorneys' fees for the trial, which could raise the total amount due to the manufacturer. BDR contends the verdict should be overturned for what it terms improper jury instructions and issues dealing with the way Dodge compiled its amount of damages. Dodge says the jury instructions were valid and that it compiled the amount of damages fairly. "BDR's issues in its motion for new trial are frivolous, improper and in bad faith," the Dodge brief states. Judge George Caram Steeh has not indicated when he would rule on the motions. If BDR loses, the team has said it would take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals.(SceneDaily.com)(3-28-2006)

    • Rookie News and Notes - Post-Bristol/Pre-Martinsville: Denny Hamlin was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 26 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin finished 14th and took top Raybestos Rookie honors for the second time this season. He was the only Raybestos Rookie to finish on the lead lap at Bristol. Clint Bowyer holds a six-point advantage over Hamlin and J.J. Yeley (52-46) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the April 2 DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Morgan Shepherd is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the DirecTV 500 (since 1975). Shepherd won the 1981 event, outlasting the late Neil Bonnett to score his first NEXTEL Cup Series win. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to score a top-five finish in the spring race at Martinsville is Dick Trickle. Trickle finished third in 1989, the best finish by a first-year driver since Morgan Shepherd won the 1981 Advance Auto Parts 500. Trickle also led the race once for seven laps. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to score a top-10 finish in the Advance Auto Parts 500 is Jeff Gordon, who placed eighth in 1993.(Raybestos PR), see the full report/notes on my Rookie Page.(3-28-2006)


      News from March 27, 2006

    • Testing at Kentucky week of March 27th UPDATE: #96-Tony Raines is scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday, March 28th and #12-Ryan Newman is scheduled on Wed., March 29th. Fans are able to view testing from the designated area outside Turn 3 for free. Testing usually begins at 9:00 a.m., and ends at approximately 5:00 p.m. Test times will vary based on team goals.(KS site)(3-26-2006)
      UPDATE: Four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway Wednesday, March 29. Tony Raines will practice with his #96 Texas Instruments DLP HDTV Chevy, Kurt Busch will put his #2 Miller Lite Dodge through its paces, Sterling Marlin will practice his #14 Waste Management Chevy and Morgan Shepherd will test his #89 Victory in Jesus Ministries Dodge.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-27-2006)

    • Overtnight Bristol TV Ratings down: Overnight Nielsen Media Research ratings were down for Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but the network saw an increase for Saturday's Busch Series race, Street and Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. Sunday's Food City 500 earned a 5.3/11, down 5.4% from 2005's overnight 5.6/13, while coverage of Saturday's Sharpie Mini 300 was up 9.5% from a 2.1/5 last year to 2.3/5 this year.(SceneDaily.com), never did see the final Atlanta TV Ratings.(3-27-2006)

    • Tire Testing at Lowe's coming up UPDATE: The repaving at Lowe's Motor Speedway is expected to be finished this weekend. Goodyear has scheduled a tire test there March 28 and 29. Scheduled to test are #21-Ken Schrader, #29-Kevin Harvick, #10-Scott Riggs and #43-Bobby Labonte, along with Bobby Hamilton in his Craftsman Truck.(Roanoke Times)(3-11-2006)
      UPDATE: #48-Jimmie Johnson, #29-Kevin Harvick, #43-Bobby Labonte and #10-Scott Riggs have been picked by Goodyear and NASCAR to run the Charlotte tests, and that is drawing criticism from rivals. Johnson was a late substitution for Ken Schrader, and Johnson's selection has drawn criticism from some who say that the test may give him an unfair advantage. Some question why NASCAR and Goodyear would pick Labonte for a second tire test already this year, after just doing a tire test at Texas, when so many other teams have not yet been picked. No Ford drivers were picked, which led Jimmy Fennig, crew chief for Jamie McMurray, to complain that "all the manufacturers should be represented." Gil Martin, the crew chief for Clint Bowyer, said that "a dozen teams ought to be testing at Charlotte." Richard "Slugger" Labbe, the crew chief for the Dale Jarrett-Robert Yates operation, was more pointed, questioning the pre-race tire data supplied by Goodyear. Last year many teams, with the backing of Detroit's manufacturers, did their own pre-race tire testing at high-tech places like New York's Calspan tire-research facility. This year, NASCAR officials have halted all that independent testing by instituting a tire-leasing program, and teams are not allowed to take any tires away from any track after the race.(Winston Salem Journal)
      NOTE: Schrader and the Wood Brothers pulled out of the test because of a schedule conflict.(Roanoke Times)(3-27-2006)

    • More sponsorship for Marlin coming UPDATE: Expect a sponsorship announcement soon from MB2 Motorsports about additional funding for Sterling Marlin’s #14 Chevrolet. Currently, the team has sponsorship for about half the Nextel Cup schedule, but is close to finalizing more deals. An announcement could come next week at Martinsville.(Speed Channel)(3-26-2006)
      UPDATE: MB2 Motorsports announced that Ginn Clubs & Resorts (pronounced GHIN) has agreed to be a primary sponsor on Sterling Marlin's #14 Chevy for three Nextel Cup races and Kraig Kinser's Silverado for one Truck Series race. The sponsorship package kicks off this weekend at Martinsville Speedway with Ginn Clubs & Resorts being the primary sponsor on Marlin's #14 entry for Sunday's Cup race and Kinser's #29 [not #47?] entry for Saturday's truck race. Kinser, an MB2 Motorsports development driver, is part of the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports truck team. The agreement also calls for Ginn Clubs & Resorts to sponsor Marlin's MB2-owned Chevrolet -- July 1 at Daytona and Oct. 14 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Ginn Clubs & Resorts, based in Celebration, Fla., is a privately held resort development and management firm specializing in exclusive leisure lifestyle and vacation destination communities in the United States. The company first partnered with MB2 as the primary sponsor on Bill Elliott's #36 Chevy during February's Daytona Speedweeks.(MB2 Motorsports PR), more info on Ginn Clubs & Resorts at ginnclubsandresorts.com.(3-27-2006)

    • Dale Jr. testing at Greenville: Dale Earnhardt Inc. officials say Dale Earnhardt Jr. is testing the team's #8 Budweiser Chevy at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina today. The team is testing a new short-track car that will likely be the primary car for this weekend's race at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th in yesterday's race on another half-mile oval, Bristol Motor Speedway.(SceneDaily.com), plus Dale Jr, Truex Jr. and others are scheduled to race online at simracingnetwork.com.(3-27-2006)

    • NASCAR Safety, reason Robby left the IRL: Paul Dana's death in an Indy Racing League crash was a grim reminder for Robby Gordon of why he raced at Bristol Motor Speedway instead of Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. "That's why I left," said Gordon, who gave up a promising open-wheel career to race NASCAR full time four years ago. "One hundred percent, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Indy cars are too fast for ovals, and they run ovals every weekend. If I run on ovals, then I'm running around in a stock car with a lot more protection around me and at less speeds as well." News of the fatality in Florida spread through the Nextel Cup garage about two hours before the Food City 500.(USA Today)(3-27-2006)

    • COT and the Wing: One item that is expected to be missing in the final version of the car of tomorrow [COT] will be the customary rear spoiler, which NASCAR has used for decades as part of its aerodynamic package. In its place will be a single-element rear deck wing, which was first track-tested at Daytona earlier this year. Monday's session at Bristol will be used to test different wing designs. The wing will represent a dramatic change in the look of NASCAR's stock cars, but according to Brett Bodine, a former driver who now serves as NASCAR's test driver and is heavily involved in the development of the new car, the wing is more in tune with today's modern race cars as well as new showroom models. He added that using a wing will allow teams to build a more symmetrically shaped car rather than the current models, which are cut and bent to shape to permit them to run better on ovals. According to Bodine, the wing will be a bolt-on piece that will be given to teams each race weekend by NASCAR, thus preventing any cheating. The wing will most likely include a small wickerbill/Gurney flap – a right-angle piece of metal rigidly bolted or riveted to a wing's trailing edge – which will offer an additional level of downforce or drag to be produced by the wing. Monday's session also will test the design of the new air splitter located below the bumper on the front of the new car. The splitter is designed to keep the front of the car on the ground. Both the wing and the splitter are items that have been used successfully for decades in sports car racing worldwide.(Yahoo Sports)(3-27-2006)

    • Gordon push to be looked at by NASCAR: Although not giving as firm a statement as typical when penalties are imminent, NASCAR officials said they will review the Jeff Gordon shove of Matt Kenseth, which occurred on pit road after the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said Sunday night that NASCAR will follow its typical procedure and review the incident in the next few days, probably Tuesday. Kenseth and Gordon were involved in a crash on the final lap, where Kenseth sent Gordon spinning. Kenseth went over to Gordon to apologize after the race, and Gordon shoved him away. "I would have been ticked off, too," Kenseth said. "I probably should have known better than to go over there, but I just think when you do something wrong, you should try to be a man about it and apologize." Both drivers and crew chiefs were called to the hauler after the race. "I'm sure he didn't mean to do it and all that stuff, but I wasn't happy about it," Gordon said. "I showed it to him after the race."(SceneDaily.com)(3-27-2006)

    • Even more on Cingular/AT&T/Childress: Car owner Richard Childress could have sponsor trouble if AT&T changes the names of the brands its about to acquire. AT&T has said it will spend $67 billion to purchase BellSouth, the parent company of Cingular - which currently sponsors Childress' #31 Chevrolet. If the deal goes through, Cingular and BellSouth will be known as AT&T. That won't fly in NASCAR, where series sponsor Nextel Cup has an exclusivity contract that grandfathered in the Cingular and Alltel sponsorships and logos. But they can't be changed, and new names will not be permitted. "The contract NASCAR presented us is pretty straightforward," said Michael Robichaud, vice president of sports sponsorships. "It's really no different than the category exclusivity that Winston had for 33 years. We actually took it one step further, out of respect for Richard Childress and Roger Penske, and grandfathered in their existing sponsorships as it stood on the day we signed our agreement." Childress wasn't sure how it will play out. "It's too early to comment on all that," he said. "Cingular has said they're going to be here for the long haul, and we expect them to be in the sport for quite a while."(Associated Press)(3-27-2006)

    • McCauley Wins Crew Chief of the Race Award: Kurt Busch and crew chief Roy McCauley survived 500 laps of furious racing action this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Despite setbacks with tires and radio transmissions, Busch battled back from the problems to capture his fifth victory at Thunder Valley. Busch's come from behind win earned McCauley the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. Trouble started early for Busch and McCauley. From the get-go, Busch and the team battled radio problems that hindered Busch from communicating with the team. On lap 62, a flat right-rear tire forced the #2 Miller Lite Dodge to make an unscheduled pit stop. Even with the problems, Busch methodically worked his way through the field in route to one of the speedway's most impressive comebacks. A panel of voters; including Tony Eury Sr., a member of the local media and a Wypall Wipers representative; all agreed that McCauley's comeback deserved Crew Chief of the Race accolades. For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, Wypall Wipers gave McCauley $1,000. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. This was McCauley's first Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him with Darian Grubb and Kenny Francis for second-place in the standings. Robbie Reiser is in the lead with two wins.(Wypall PR)(3-27-2006)

    • Kahne Joins the Winners Circle UPDATE and now Busch: #9-Kasey Kahne has joined an elite group of drivers as a result of his victory in the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta. Kahne’s second career victory earned the Ray Evernham-owned #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge team a spot in NASCAR’s Winner’s Circle Program, if Kahne enters, qualifies and competes in the remaining 32 races on the schedule this season beginning with Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kahne joins the Winner’s Circle Program as a “wild card,” leaving one more “wild card” slot open to an additional race winner this season that is not already in the program. The Winner’s Circle Program, which starts each season with the top 10 winning drivers from the previous season, is designed to reward teams who have typified the best in NASCAR racing. Two “wild card” slots are available each year, making a total of 12 maximum spots open for the program in any season. For more info, the 2007 and 2006 charts and more, see my Winner Circle page.(3-24-2006)
      UPDATE: after his win in Bristol on March 26th, #2-Kurt Busch takes over the final wild card spot on the program.(3-27-2006)



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