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  • MORE NEWS/RUMORS
    APR 3-9, 2006


      News from April 9, 2006

    • Kahne wins at Texas: #9-Kasey Kahne won the Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, leading 63 of 334 laps for his 2nd win of 2006 and 3rd of his career. #17-Matt Kenseth passed #20-Tony Stewart late and held on to 2nd place, with Stewart finishing 3rd after leading the most laps [99], #11-Denny Hamlin was 4th for his 1st top-5 of the year then #29-Kevin Harvick. #31-Burton was 6th, followed by #10-Riggs, #1-Truex Jr., #6-Martin and #43-Labonte. Points leader #48-Jimmie Johnson holds on to the points lead by 15 over #17-Kenseth, finishing 11th after being down two laps. Points leader #48-Jimmie Johnson holds on to the points lead by 15 over #17-Kenseth, finishing 11th after being down two laps. There 9 cautions for 43 laps and 12 leaders with 22 lead changes.
      Race Results on my Texas Race Results/Awards Page.
      Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Texas page.
      Race Rundown: see my Texas Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(4-9-2006)

    • Four Tracks Jeff Gordon has never won at: There are four current race tracks the Nextel Cup Series runs on that #24-Jeff Gordon has not won at, Texas 0 for 11 with a best of 2nd in 2002, Phoenix International Raceway 0 for 14 with a best of 3rd in 2002 and 2004; Chicago 0 for 5 with a 2nd in 2003 being his best; Homestead 0 for 7 with a best finish of 3rd 2004. Gordon has won at 20 [18 active] of 24 tracks he has raced on including two not on the circuit any longer, North Wilkesboro and Rockingham.(4-9-2006)

    • PE: #74-Derrike Cope's team was a PE [Post Entry] for the race at Texas and did't get credited Drivers/Owners Points. Teams need to have the entry blank into NASCAR 13 days before the race.(4-9-2006)

    • New Bumper at 'Dega: Teams will have a new bumper configuration for the Talladega race later this month that is intended to reduce the amount of bump drafting. Drivers complained about bump drafting at Daytona. Bump drafting is where the trailing car rams the rear end of the leading car to help them push forward. It's an accepted practice in the straightaways, but when done in the corners it can lead to an accident. While the new rule reduces the strength of the bumpers, opinion is mixed if the rule change will make a difference. The new rule forces teams to remove steel plates underneath the bumper. NASCAR wanted to maintain the bumper strength for safety but not make it so strong that drivers used it to constantly bump draft.(Roanoke Tines)(4-9-2006)

    • Sadler's old crew chief leaves RYR: Kevin Buskirk, formerly head engineer at Robert Yates Racing and Elliott Sadler's interim crew chief at the end of 2005, has gone to work at Richard Childress Racing as the engineer for driver Kevin Harvick's #29 GM Goodwrench/Reeses Chevy. "Kevin joined the organization a couple of weeks ago, and he's a great talent and a great find," Richard Childress said Saturday. "Him and [crew chief] Todd Berrier think and work a lot alike, and I think he'll do a lot of things. I'm excited to see how that will work out."(NASCAR.com)(4-9-2006)

    • Manifold Problem with the #74: Sitting side by side, for anyone in the garage interested in looking, an intake manifold submitted by Dodge and approved by NASCAR and an illegal manifold taken from the #74 MyGuardian911.com Dodge of McGlynn Racing and driven by Derrike Cope [who will make his 400th career start at Texas on Sunday]. Raynard McGlynn of Wilkes Barrie, PA owns McGlynn Racing. John Darby, NEXTEL Cup Series Director of Competition, jokingly commented the infraction, exterior illegal modifications, was "too cool" to warrant a penalty. On the serious side, Darby commented it wasn't "Tuesday" the day NASCAR typically issues penalties for infractions from the previous weekend. Specifically, the illegal manifold violated rule 20-5.9G, which states external modifications are not permitted unless specifically approved by the Series Director. Darby did clearly not approve the modifications to the confiscated manifold. Tom Durse, crew chief on the #74, hopes NASCAR is lenient with what he describes as a "young team," despite his admittance, "Once we bolt a part onto the car and present it to NASCAR we own it and we're responsible for it." Should a penalty be issued Durse is also hoping NASCAR concentrates on points versus money. "Right now the points are not nearly as important to us as the money. We're a struggling operation that has is running the full season for the first time after two years of running a limited schedule."(CircleTrackPlus), with the #74 probably being a post-entry [not entered before the deadline] and not getting any points, it may end up being a money fine and taking away some of the team's existing points.(4-9-2006)

    • Martin/Hamlin make up: After the race a week ago in Martinsville, rookie #11-Denny Hamlin blamed #6-Mark Martin for a wreck and claimed basically that the 47-year-old veteran had been wrecking him all year. It all seemed rather shocking since Martin is almost universally praised by fellow drivers for his clean driving style. “We talked on Tuesday,” said Hamlin. “It kind of settles our differences, I guess you could say. I asked him what I could do differently to avoid that from happening, and I basically told him where he did me wrong. We agreed on everything when it was all said and done. I’m glad it’s over with and we can move on. He admitted to things that he did and I admitted to things that I did in the past. It’s just one of those things where you learn. We haven’t raced with each other that much. With time it’s going to fix itself. We’ve got to learn each other’s driving styles and move on. I’m the last driver that wants to start anything with anybody. I spent all last year just trying to get respect from these guys and let them know that I can race with them without controversy, without getting into them. I felt like it was time to stand up for what I thought was right and wrong. I felt good after talking to him because I felt like he understood where I was coming from …”
      Martin was predictably magnanimous. “It shouldn’t matter if you’re a rookie or not,” he said, “and Denny shouldn’t be treated on the race track differently from me. Denny and I have had a conversation since, and I made it clear to Denny that everything that I’ve done to him on the race track I would have done to Rusty Wallace, who I respect as much or more than anyone in the garage, or Dale Jarrett. My point was, ‘Don’t bring up the rookie thing again,’ because he’s done a fabulous job. He’s been incredibly competitive and respectful and fair on the race track, and the rub that we have had came from he and I not knowing each other’s style.”(Gaston Gazette)(4-9-2006)

    • Rumblings - Texas: Kasey Kahne passed Tony Stewart on lap 308 today at Texas Motor Speedway and drove off into the sunset to capture the Samsung/RadioShack 500 by a margin of over five seconds....giving himself an early birthday present (it's Monday). This was Kasey's second win of the season (he took down Atlanta three weeks ago) and the third of his career (all three of his wins have come from the pole, btw) moving him into a tie for 85th on the all-time win list.
      Kasey's the 11th different winner in 11 races at TMS, and this was victory #9 for Ray Evernham.....and it was worth a handsome $530,164 to boot!
      Denny Hamlin (4th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 7th when we were here last November.
      Scott Riggs (7th) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Michigan last August.
      Martin Truex Jr (8th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Lowe's last May.
      David Stremme (21st) had his best finish since he was 16th at Chicagoland last July.
      STREAKIN....Kasey Kahne has 5 Top-10's in the last 6 races.
      Mark Martin has 5 Top-10's in the last 6 races.
      This Week's Elevator...UP: Operator of the week is a lonely Tony Stewart (+37). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Greg Biffle (-37), J. J. Yeley (-33), Kurt Busch (-27), Ryan Newman (-26), and Kyle Petty (-20). With the way this season has gone for Biffle, it should come as no surprise that his is his 2nd BD of the season all ready.
      We had three drivers lead a lap today for the first time this season. Martin Truex Jr, Jeff Green, and Carl Edwards give us 30 different drivers to lead a lap already this year.....last year we had a total of 51 different leaders.
      No change at the top of the standings this week....Jimmie Johnson's lead is now only 15 markers over new #2 man Matt Kenseth. Denny Hamlin (23rd to 14th) made the best move forward while Kyle Petty (26th to 32nd) fell the most spots.(Stock Car Fans)(4-9-2006)

    • Texas Race Notes:
      • Kasey Kahne won the 2006 Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, scoring his third NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 79th career start. Kahne’s last victory came at Atlanta, three races ago. It was his second victory on a superspeedway. His career-first victory came at Richmond in May 2005.
      • Kahne scored his first victory and second top-10 finish – both top-fives - in four races at Texas Motor Speedway.
      • He became the 11th different race winner in 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Texas.
      • Kahne scored his fifth top-10 finish in seven races this season.
      • Kahne climbed from fourth to third in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. After seven races in 2005, he ranked 23rd in the point standings.
      • Kahne led the final 27 laps in today’s race.
      • Evernham Motorsports has won at least one race each season 2001– 2006, six consecutive years.
      • This was team owner Ray Evernham’s ninth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory and first at Texas Motor Speedway.
      Notebook Items
      • Tony Stewart led the most laps (99) in the Samsung/RadioShack 500 - the third time in 2006 that Stewart led the most laps in a race – all in the past three races.
      • Matt Kenseth (second) posted his fourth top-10 finish in eight races at Texas Motor Speedway. He scored his fourth top-10 finish of the season, all top-fives and climbed from third to second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago he ranked 21st after seven races.
      • Tony Stewart (third) scored his sixth top-10 finish in nine races at Texas and climbed from eighth to fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
      • Denny Hamlin (fourth) scored his second top-10 finish in two races at Texas Motor Speedway. It is his career-best finish and the highest finish by a rookie in 2006. It was Hamlin’s second top-10 finish in 2006 and his second in as many races at Texas.
      • Kevin Harvick (fifth) scored his second top-10 finish in seven races at Texas. It was his third top-10 finish in 2006.
      • Scott Riggs (seventh) scored his first top-10 finish in four races at Texas Motor Speedway. This is his second top-10 finish in six races this season after he failed to qualify for the 2006 Daytona 500.
      • Denny Hamlin was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender at Texas Motor Speedway.
      • At least one of the 2006 Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders has scored a top-15 finish in every race this season.
      • Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contenders Denny Hamlin (fourth) and Martin Truex Jr, (eighth) both finished in the top 10. The last time two rookies finished in the top 10 came at Phoenix in November 2005 when Kyle Busch finished first and Travis Kvapil finished 10th.
      • Joe Nemechek (23rd) has been running at the finish in the last 39 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April, the longest current streak.
      • Greg Biffle (42nd) has finished 31st or worse in four of the seven races this season. Biffle dropped from 18th to 23rd in the point standings. One year ago, after seven races, he ranked second in the point standings.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-9-2006)


      News from April 8, 2006

    • NASCAR outraged by 'Dateline' racial story approach UPDATE: NASCAR said it was "outrageous" that "Dateline NBC" targeted one of its race tracks last weekend for a possible segment on anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. NASCAR said NBC confirmed it was sending Muslim-looking men to a race, along with a camera crew to film fans' reactions. The NBC crew was "apparently on site in Martinsville, Va., walked around and no one bothered them," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Wednesday. "It is outrageous that a news organization of NBC's stature would stoop to the level of going out to create news instead of reporting news," Poston said. "Any legitimate journalist in America should be embarrassed by this stunt. The obvious intent by NBC was to evoke reaction, and we are confident our fans won't take the bait," he said. NASCAR is in the final year of a broadcasting agreement with NBC Sports. "'Dateline' is looking into this story," NBC said in a statement. "We were intrigued by the results of a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll and other articles regarding increasing anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States. "It's very early on in our newsgathering process, but be assured we will be visiting a number of locations across the country and are confident that our reporting team is pursuing this story in a fair manner," it said.(ESPN.com/AP)(4-6-2006)
      UPDATE: Bruton Smith, theTexas Motor Speedway owner, said the FBI will be here paying attention this weekend to see if NBC follows last weekend's NASCAR sting operation at Martinsville, where the network brought in Muslims for the Nextel Cup race and followed them around with hidden cameras to judge racism in the stock-car racing crowd. NBC has been one of NASCAR's television network partners since 2001, carrying the second half of the Nextel Cup season. But NBC's contract runs out at the end of this season and the network has declined to renew its NASCAR sponsorship, deciding instead to concentrate on NFL games.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-8-2006)

    • Goodyear Tire Update for LMS: A successful second Goodyear race tire test was held Tuesday, April 4, on the new track surface at Lowe's Motor Speedway in preparation for the May NASCAR races, according to Goodyear race tire engineers. Data collection and driver input confirmed the choice of tougher, more durable tire compounds on the right and left sides which reduced grip, slowed lap times, reduced tire temperatures and wear, noted Rick Campbell, team leader for NASCAR tire development. The new tire construction is exclusive to the Lowe's track. Drivers Kevin Harvick and Dale Jarrett both were pleased with the tire performance. Lap times indicated there could be a slower race pace than anticipated, as compared to a week-earlier test held with Harvick, Bobby Labonte, Scott Riggs, Jimmie Johnson and Bobby Hamilton Jr. The tires ran cool and the rate of tire wear indicated by the test is expected to exceed a normal fuel stop, as evidenced by Jarrett's test run of more than 80 laps on one set, which could have gone farther. NASCAR Nextel Cup open team testing with the new tires is scheduled for May 1-3.(Goodyear PR)(4-8-2006)

    • STP back with Petty? UPDATE 2 races: One of the most famous car designs in all of NASCAR history was the #43 STP design driven to victory lane all over the country by Richard Petty. It appears the STP name will once again grace a Petty-owned car as a primary sponsor, this time with another NASCAR champion at the wheel, Bobby Labonte.(CircleTrackPlus)
      UPDATE: the makers of STP products announced a return to the hood of the legendary #43 car being driven by former Nextel Cup champion, Bobby Labonte. The familiar red, white and blue STP logo will highlight a retro paint scheme designed to pay tribute to one of the longest running sponsorships in the history of stockcar racing and to launch the new STP Oil Stabilizer. STP will be the primary hood sponsor of Labonte's #43 Dodge for the Aaron's 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway on April 30 and the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at the Richmond International Raceway on September 9. To commemorate the occasion, the makers of STP products will donate $43 for each lap raced during these two events to the Petty family's charity, Victory Junction Gang Camp (VJGC).(PRN Newswire)(4-7-2006)
      IMAGE see an image of the car on my #43 Team Schemes page.(4-8-2006)

    • #66 to have SanDisk scheme at Texas IMAGE: Jeff Green's #66 Chevy will carry a special black paint design this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, featuring the logo of SanDisk Corporation on the hood of the Haas CNC Racing entry. SanDisk, the world's largest supplier of flash memory data storage products, is an associate sponsor of the #66 Chevy this season. SanDisk joins Best Buy, the consumer electronics, home-office products, entertainment software, appliances and related services retail chain as a sponsor of the Haas CNC Racing entry.(GMR Marketing PR)(4-6-2006)
      IMAGE: see an image of the scheme on my #66 Team Schemes page.(4-8-2006)

    • Scoring tower will count the laps 'down' and 'up': Texas Motor Speedway received approval from NASCAR for a scoring tower innovation. Traditionally, tracks have counted "up" on the lap total. Gossage wanted to count down to zero – like NFL, NBA and NHL scoreboards. "[NASCAR] had competition reasons for the scoreboard to count up," TMS president Eddie Gossage said. "We had fan reasons to count down." A fan suggestion solved the problem. The scoring tower has room for six numbers, so why not do both? NASCAR president Mike Helton approved the change for the Samsung/RadioShack 500.(Dallas Morning News)(4-8-2006)

    • Shamu To Join Johnson At Daytona In July: Lowe's and SeaWorld announced today that Jimmie Johnson will feature a Shamu paint scheme on his Chevrolet when the Daytona 500 champion returns to the superspeedway on July 1. Lowe's is the official Home Improvement Store of all the Busch Entertainment Corp. theme parks, including SeaWorld. The paint scheme is part of SeaWorld's introduction of its all new Shamu show, called "Believe" at each of the SeaWorld parks this year. In addition to the Shamu paint scheme, a lucky race fan will have the opportunity to see the new show and watch as Jimmie Johnson races the Shamu #48 Lowe's Chevrolet. Fans can log on to www.lowesracing.com, sign up for a free Team Lowe's Racing fan club membership, then race the specially designed #48 Chevrolet online. The fan with the fastest time will win a trip to Orlando to visit SeaWorld and Discovery Cove as well as the opportunity to watch Jimmie race. The Contest will run from April 7 to May 12.(GMR Marketing PR), see an image of the car on my #48 Team Schemes page.(4-8-2006)


      News from April 7, 2006

    • Stewart wins IROC Race at Texas: #20-Tony Stewart won the Crown Royal IROC Race at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, with Ryan Newman finishing 2nd, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth. Stewart climed the flag stand after his first ever win in any series at Texas Motor Speedway. It is Stewart's third career IROC win. More info later. Kenseth's points lead is now 9 over Stewart [43-34], then Newman, Truex Jr. and Kimmel. See more and results on my IROC page.(4-7-2006)

    • Smaller fuel cells at LMS and road courses? UPDATE 2: 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)
      UPDATE 2: NASCAR will require cars to use a smaller fuel cell at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May, NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton said April 7. The move is designed to make teams pit more frequently and give them a chance to check tire wear on the newly repaved surface on the 1.5-mile track outside Charlotte. Pemberton said the tire Goodyear has decided to use "is a great tire," but NASCAR wanted to enter the first weekend on the new surface cautiously. The fuel cell will be about 13 gallons, compared to the usual 22-gallon cell. Teams will be able to go about 35-40 laps on fuel instead of 60-70 with the bigger cell. Nextel Cup teams will test at the track May 1-3, and Busch Series teams will test there May 8-10.(SceneDaily.com)(4-7-2006)

    • Little League Baseball scheme for #16 IMAGE: This weekend the #16 National Guard Ford of Greg Biffle will run a special Subway/Little League Baseball paint scheme. Subway is a proud sponsor of Little League Baseball.(Roush Racing)(4-5-2006)
      IMAGE: see an image of the scheme on my #16 Team Schemes page.(4-7-2006)

    • Kahne wins pole at Texas: #9-Kasey Kahne won the Budweiser Pole for the Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway for his 2nd lap of 2006 and 8th of his career. He won the pole and race at Atlanta a few weeks ago. Kahne ran a lap of 190.315mph, the only driver over 190. Starting 2nd is #18-J.J. Yeley, then #6-Mark Martin, #66-David Green and #16-Greg Biffle. The fastest of the non-top 35 teams/driver is #43-Bobby Labonte, who will start 10th. Missing the race were: #49-Sherman, #92-Blount, #78-Wallace, #34-Chaffin and #95-Barrett. #74-Derrike Cope make his first start of 2006. See the qualifying results below.
      For qualifying speed, starting lineup, pole progression and more, see my Texas Starting Grid/Qualifying Page.(4-7-2006)

    • Rookie News and Notes - Post-Martinsville/Pre-Texas: Reed Sorenson was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the April 2 DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Sorenson finished 12th and took top Raybestos Rookie honors for the second time this season and twice in the last three races. J.J. Yeley led the Martinsville race once for one lap. He is first Raybestos Rookie to lead a lap in the spring race at Martinsville since Kasey Kahne in 2004. Yeley is the only first-year driver to lead a lap in two short-track races this season. Clint Bowyer holds a five-point advantage over Yeley (60-55) in the Raybestos Rookie standings. Only once in 10 races at Texas has a Raybestos Rookie won the race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his first career NEXTEL Cup Series win by 5.920 seconds over Jeff Burton in 2000. Earnhardt Jr. led six times for 106 laps, more than any other driver. Two or more Raybestos Rookies have led the same Texas race just once: (Earnhardt Jr. and Scott Pruett in 2000). The best start by a Raybestos Rookie at Texas is third by Kahne in 2004.(Raybestos PR), see more and standings on my Rookies Page.(4-7-2006)

    • Goodyear Tire Notes: This is the first time Goodyear has brought this right-side tire code (D-4014) to the track, and Texas is the only track at which it is scheduled to be run in 2006 . . . this left-side code (D-4008) was run previously at California and will be run again at Dover, Michigan and Chicagoland . . . Nextel Cup and Busch Series teams will run the same tire set-up this weekend . . . as on all ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Texas . . . the inflation in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. Estimated Pit Window: Every 60-65 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see the full facts report on my Texas Race Info/Rundown Page. (4-7-2006)

    • Food Lion AutoFair at LMS: The Food Lion AutoFair runs Thursday, April 6 through Sunday, April 9 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The Food Lion Pavilion features several unusual vehicles with land, sea, and air capabilities, including The Flying Red Baron from "Monster Garage," Steve Green's Tornado Attacker and an amphicar. Other attractions include unique cars from the Lane Motor Museum, the "Globe of Death" motorcycle stunt show, a tribute to the Turbocharger, collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack Classics on Friday and Saturday and a concert by The Marshall Tucker Band on Sunday.
      Garry Hill Automotive Fine Art, Inc. will be exhibiting at the Food Lion Auto Fair at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Busch Garage April 6th-9th. The show will feature many driver autographed art prints documenting the greatest races and greatest driver moments with a focus on the history of stock car racing. For a complete overview of the Food Lion AutoFair click here.(4-7-2006)

    • Texas Qualifying Notes:
      * Kasey Kahne won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the Samsung/RadioShack 500, lapping Texas Motor Speedway in 28.374 seconds at 190.315 mph. Bill Elliott holds the track-qualifying record of 27.803 seconds, 194.224 mph, set in April 2002.
      * This is Kahne's eighth career Bud Pole in 79 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
      * This is his second Bud Pole and fifth top-10 start in 2006.
      * This is Kahne's first Bud Pole and third top-10 start, all top-threes - in four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. He became the eighth different Bud Pole winner at Texas.
      * J.J. Yeley posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 28.515 seconds, 189.374 mph and will join Kahne on the front row for the Samsung/RadioShack 500. Yeley posted his career-best start in his 13th race. It is his fourth career top-10 start and his third in 2006.
      * This is the third Bud Pole for Dodge in 2006. Chevrolet has two Bud Poles and Ford has one. Qualifying was canceled at Bristol.
      * Mark Martin (third) posted his fourth top-10 starts in 2006 and his eighth in 11 races at Texas. This is his best starting position since he started second at California in September 2005.
      * Jeff Green (fourth) posted his first start better than 14th this season and also his first better than 14th in six races at Texas. It is his best since he started third at Richmond in May 2004.
      * Greg Biffle (fifth) posted his sixth top-10 start of the 2006 season, more than any other driver. It is his fourth top-10 start in five races at Texas.
      * Ryan Newman (14th) has gone nine races without a Bud Pole, just the fourth time in his career that he has gone more than eight races without a Bud Pole.
      * Brothers Bobby (10th) and Terry Labonte (30th), both had the possibility of using the past champion provisional but made the question moot when both made the race on time.
      * Derrike Cope (38th) qualified for his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race since Martinsville in October 2005, and just his second since 2004. He will be the 54th driver to compete in at least one race this season.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-7-2006)

    • Ramblings - Texas: Kasey Kahne went out late today and snatched the Bud Pole away from J. J. Yeley for Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Kasey blistered a lap of 28.374 (190.315 mph) to become our first two-timer of the season (pole-wise) and take down his 8th career NEXTEL Cup top-spot.
      J. J. Yeley (2nd) grabbed his career-best starting spot today. His previous best was 4th at California this past February.
      Mark Martin (3rd) has his best starting spot since he had the outside pole at California last September.
      Jeff Green (4th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 3rd at Richmond in May of 2004!
      Matt Kenseth (6th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 3rd when we were here last November.
      Martin Truex Jr (9th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 8th at Atlanta last October.
      Clint Bowyer(12th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 16th at Atlanta last month.
      Reed Sorenson (13th) also has his career-best starting spot for Sunday. His previous best starts were 15th at Atlanta last month and at Homestead last November.
      Mike Garvey (23rd) has his career-best starting spot this weekend as well. His previous best was 32nd at Pocono last July.
      Terry Labonte (30th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 20th at Michigan last August.
      Welcome Back Derrike Cope (38th). This is Derrike's first start since Martinsville last October.....the only Cup race he qualified for last year.
      STREAKIN.....Greg Biffle has 6 Top-10 starts in a row.
      Kurt Busch has 6 Top-10 starts in a row.
      Kasey Kahne has 4 Top-5 starts in the last 5 races.
      In 10 races at Bruton's "Palace on the Prairie" we've had no repeat winners, but you can look for that to end on Sunday. With the Roush Fords running so good and with 7 of the previous wins here belonging to the Blue Oval guys, they've gotta be considered your favorite going in.(Stock Car Fans)(4-7-2006)

    • Nemechek to a backup car: On the first lap of today's practice session at Texas Motor Speedway, Joe Nemechek spun and hit the concrete wall, forcing the #01 U.S. Army team to go with a backup Chevrolet for the rest of the weekend, including today's qualifying session. Nemechek did manage to make a few practice laps in the backup car and was 29th fastest out of the 48 cars entered for Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500. After the practice session, the #01 team put the engine from the primary car into the backup car. "Once we get the primary engine in the backup (car), we should be fast," said Nemechek, who has qualified in the top 10 at the last four Texas races. "I am not really sure why the (primary) car did what it did. I was down low and the car was sticking, and then all of a sudden it was headed to the wall."(MB2 Motorsports PR)(4-7-2006)

    • Martinsville final TV Ratings up 21%: Fox's broadcast of last Sunday's DirectTV 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race from Martinsville Speedway earned a final 6.2 Nielsen Media Research rating and a 15 share, Street and Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 21.6% higher than the 5.1 the race drew last year, when it was aired on the same weekend as the Masters, one of professional golf's four major tournaments.(SceneDaily.com)(4-7-2006)

    • Texas Terry back in the #44: Driving a #44 Chevy with a familiar Kellogg's Corn Flakes paint scheme, Terry Labonte will make his 2006 Hendrick Motorsports debut Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. The event will mark the first of 10 NEXTEL Cup races the two-time champion will run for Hendrick in his final season of competition.(Hendrick Motorsports)(4-7-2006)

    • Red Bull hires Elton Sawyer: Elton Sawyer, who was working with Evernham Motorsports in its driver development program, has been hired by Red Bull Racing as its Director of Competition, a team spokesman confirmed Thursday. Sawyer is third all-time in Busch Series starts with 392. He finished fifth in points three times in the series. He also had 29 Cup starts. Red Bull Racing will field two teams as part of Toyota's Nextel Cup effort next season. The team is owned by the energy drink company.(SceneDaily.com)(4-7-2006)

    • McLean Retiring as Executive Director of NCMA and NCMF: In a joint announcement the North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA) and the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation (NCMF) today announced that Ed McLean, their founding executive director, is retiring from management of the organizations and will resume management of his McLean Marketing Group. McLean shepherded the organizations through their first four years of growth and directed their efforts to bring the business of motorsports in the North Carolina to the attention of the citizens of the state, the government and the business community. "Ed has contributed greatly to the entire North Carolina motorsports community during his tenure as director," said NCMA chairman Richard Petty. McLean will be available to both the NCMA and NCMF to assist in the transition to a new executive director for the organizations. Ed has been awarded a lifetime membership in the NCMA through his McLean Marketing Group and will continue to be a part of the NCMA.(NCMA PR)(4-7-2006)

    • Dodson Grant at over $40k: Friends and colleagues of Barry Dodson, a Mooresville resident and a familiar figure in NASCAR, have given more than $40,000 to establish athletic scholarships at Wake Forest University in honor of his children, Trey and Tia, who were killed in 1994. "Losing a son and daughter is like a free fall; you never get settled back," Dodson said. "I donít think you ever learn to deal with it. But this has made it easier when I thought nothing ever would. It has put life back into the entire family." Trey, Tia and one of their high school friends were killed in a car accident near Darlington, S.C., where they lived with their mother, Jan. Trey was 17 and Tia was 16. Dodson has supported Wake Forest's athletic program for years and attended many events with his children. For more info, see my Racing Charities page.(4-7-2006)

    • #12 to run blue and purple scheme? got images from Penske Racing in Mooresville, NC from a reader in which the nose and smaller parts of the #12 Alltel Dodge of Ryan Newman is painted purple. See my #12 Team Schemes page.(4-6-2006)
      UPDATE: hearing this scheme could run at Phoenix on April 22.(4-7-2006)

    • IROC at Texas: The Crown Royal International Race of Champions team hit the pavement at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday in preparation for round-two of the 30th Anniversary season of Crown Royal IROC racing. For the third-consecutive year “The Great American Speedway” will host the second race of the Crown Royal IROC season, which will take place on Friday, April 7 at 7:00pm/et, broadcast live on SPEED Channel and PRN Radio. Crown Royal IROC test drivers, Dave Marcis, David Donohue, Jim and Jay Sauter recently tested the cars, collecting initial test data on all of the Crown Royal IROC race cars. IROC President, Jay Signore said, “We’re off to a good start here at Texas Motor Speedway. We’re all getting re-acclimated to the racetrack and to the Goodyear Eagle Radial race tires, which is a different compound for us this year. The tires seem to have a lot of grip, especially with the track being as green as it is and out of the box the feedback on the race cars is all good. “ David Donohue is new to the IROC test team this year, and the IROC experience at Texas Motor Speedway is completely new to him. “This is my first time in the IROC cars at Texas Motor Speedway and I didn’t have any problem getting comfortable, so I would have to say it should be a comfortable situation for the drivers who don’t do this everyday.” Although new to the test team, Donohue is not new to IROC as his father, the late Mark Donohue was an integral part of the development team that created the series and also the inaugural IROC champion in 1974. For race ticket information, call the Texas Motor Speedway ticket hotline at (817) 215-8500 or log on to texasmotorspeedway.com.(IROCRacing.com and see my IROC page for more)(4-7-2006)

    • Matt Kenseth Educates, Paints with Dallas Area Kids: #17-Matt Kenseth took time out of his work schedule on Thursday morning at Texas Motor Speedway to visit with teenagers from Dallas / Ft. Worth area middle schools and after-school programs to teach them about teamwork, achievement, and the importance of making a difference in their community. The national educational initiative called 'Ameriquest Soaring Dreams Youth Program' is a partnership between Ameriquest Mortgage Company, non-profit organization Portraits of Hope and Roush Racing that bring together youth from schools, hospitals and after-school programs to explore personal goals and societal issues through education and art. Portraits of Hope is an organization that develops creative projects merging the healing arts with inspirational public art. Middle schoolers from Boles Jr. High School (Arlington), Dunbar 6th Grade Middle School (Ft. Worth) and Girl's Inc., a non-profit youth organization based in Arlington, participated in the program. As part of the interactive workshop, teens and Kenseth shared their creative expressions by creating murals replicating the shapes and colors depicted on Kenseth's #17 Ameriquest Soaring Dreams race car that he will drive in Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. This is the second of four Ameriquest Soaring Dreams workshops and paint schemes this year. Last month in Bristol, Kenseth's teammate, Carl Edwards, participated in the Ameriquest Soaring Dreams workshop with a local high school. Mark Martin will do so later this month in Phoenix (Apr. 20) and Greg Biffle at Dover (May 30). Ameriquest Mortgage Company is the primary sponsor of four of Roush Racing's NBS teams in 2006, which includes Kenseth, Edwards, Martin and Biffle.(Alan Taylor Communications)(4-7-2006)


      News from April 6, 2006

    • Mikey in Stars and Stripes again at Daytona: #55-Michael Waltrip will run his annual Stars and Stripes NAPA scheme for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, this year on his #55 Dodge. See an image on the #55 Team Schemes page.(4-6-2006)

    • Too Many Cautions? If you think too many caution flags interrupt NASCAR action these days, you're not alone. #6-Mark Martin believes excess cautions not only diminish the racing on the track but creates more conflict. "We have 10 times more cautions than we used to," Martin said. "If a drink bottle or a spring rubber falls out on the track, we have a caution flag. We used to run over starters and alternators and all kinds of stuff. We'd hit them and knock them out of the way and we could keep racing. But things have changed. We have a lot of debris cautions." As Martin points out, the cautions enable the field to pack in behind the leader, increasing the likelihood of contact — and more cautions. "Every time we pack the cars up, we have another caution," Martin says. "Then the kids get excited, run over one another and we have another one. It seems that 10-15 laps is all we can go, typically. I don't feel like we get a chance to race anymore. We run short little 10-lap bursts for 500 or 400 miles. It's not a chance to really get out there and do your business. And it's tough on the cars. They get wrecked a lot." NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said it all boils down to safety. "Perhaps we look at it a little differently than they did years ago. Perhaps they did run over some things years ago. We don't want to have anything on the racetrack at all that could pose a safety threat to drivers or the spectators." Sunday's race produced 16 cautions (only one for debris on the track) and meant 87 of the 500 laps were run under yellow. That wasn't as disruptive as the 19 cautions last October at Martinsville Speedway.(USA Today)(4-6-2006)

    • Last Race for Intrepid at Texas: NASCAR's last glimpse of the Intrepid — a car that Dodge no longer produces — is expected to come this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. #12-Ryan Newman, the final Intrepid holdout, will run the car one more time before the Penske South team switches to the Charger full time. Matt Borland, Newman's crew chief, said he expects the transition to go a little easier than last year when Newman found the Charger wanting on intermediate and larger ovals. Roger Penske said recently that he's pleased with the strides the Charger has made of late, noting Kasey Kahne's victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 27. "It's good to see those cars run well," Penske said. "They had a good car in Atlanta, and we were not where we wanted to be with the Intrepid." Penske Racing's other driver, Kurt Busch, also has run the Intrepid at times this season, as has Petty Enterprises' Bobby Labonte. All the Dodge [supported] teams have run the Charger exclusively at the smaller ovals this season.
      "We're going to run (the Intrepid) in the Texas race. That will probably be the final race for us," said Robbie Loomis, director of operations for Petty Enterprises. "If we went to Texas, led the most laps and won the race, it would be hard to do something different for Charlotte. But right now we're 99.9% (sure) it's going to be Chargers the rest of the year. Dodge re-entered Nextel Cup in 2001 with the Intrepid after a 24-year absence. The Charger has four wins since its debut in the 2005 Daytona 500.(USA Today)(4-6-2006)

    • #31 Crew Chief to throw out 1st pitch: As part of a promotion for Cingular Wireless, #31 Cingular Chevy crew chief Scott Miller will throw out the first pitch at Ameriquest Field for the Texas Rangers game Thursday, April 7 vs. the Detroit Tigers.(RCR)(4-6-2006)


      News from April 5, 2006

    • Robby back in Black: Jim Beam Black will take the spotlight for the first time this year with the #7 Chevy at Texas Motor Speedway. Race fans can also enjoy the limelight for a day by entering the inaugural Jim Beam 1100 sweepstakes. The ultimate racing adventure includes an all expense paid trip to see the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 - all on the same day, more info at jimbeam.com. Menards, Harrah's and CarLoan.com will serve as associate sponsors.(RGM PR), see image of the scheme on my #7 Team Schemes page.(4-5-2006)

    • Boris and Stoddard to Roush? UPDATE: hearing #36 MB2 Motorsports crew chief, Frank Stoddard has left MC2 Motorsports and gone back to Roush Racing [where is was the crew chief of the #99 and Jeff Burton for years] and that driver Boris Said also signed with Roush Racing. Not sure of the details or specifics yet but hearing the races planned are Infineon Raceway, Pepsi 400 at Daytona, Brickyard 400 and Watkins Glen. Could be in the #06 the Todd Kleuver is supposed to run 6 races in later this year as these four races are not on Kleuver's Cup schedule. Stoddard mentioned this on the radio show, The Morning Buzz, which Stoddard calls in to give NASCAR reports on Tuesday mornings.(4-4-2006)
      UPDATE: Boris Said and veteran crew chief Frank Stoddard have formed their own Nextel Cup team, Yahoo! Sports has learned. They are partnering with long-time Said associate and former driver and team owner Mark Simo. The team, which is slated to run four or five races this season, will work with Roush Racing, which has offered to supply the team with cars, engines and technical expertise. Stoddard recently left MB2 Motorsports and speculation was that he was set to rejoin Roush. But Stoddard, who used to be crew chief for Roush's #99 car when Jeff Burton was behind the wheel, instead has been working with Roush officials on forming the new team. Said has been frustrated with his inability to find a regular Cup ride this season after running nine races with MB2 in 2005 with Stoddard as his crew chief. After Simo's No Fear clothing company purchased a building adjacent to Roush Racing headquarters in Concord, N.C., for a planned East Coast distribution center, Said, who has been working as a consultant for Roush's teams, began talking with Roush about possibly starting a team. The current plan is for the new team to run the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway road course in June, the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July, the Brickyard in August and the Watkins Glen road course, also in August. The team has secured sponsorship for at least four races, with an announcement regarding sponsorship details to come.(Yahoo Sports)(4-5-2006)

    • Rule Violations Result in Suspension, Fine for #07 Team: NASCAR has announced that one member of the #07 Jack Daniel's/DirecTV Chevy team has been suspended and another has been fined, as a result of rule violations during this past Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Martinsville Speedway. Crew member Clint Almquist has been suspended from NASCAR until April 19, 2006 [misses Texas] and placed on probation until June 7, 2006 for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rule book. During Sunday’s race, Almquist on one occasion did not place racing fuel in the designated collection area. Crew chief Gil Martin was fined $2,500 for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 9-4-A (crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his team members).(NASCAR PR)(4-5-2006)

    • Goodyear to test again at Charlotte UPDATE 2 testing goes better: Goodyear officials confirmed Thursday that it will conduct another tire test at Lowe's Motor Speedway next Tuesday, a week after a two-day test on the newly resurfaced 1.5-mile oval. Rick Heinrich, project manager for Goodyear, said Wednesday that the tires showed a little more wear than Goodyear would have liked, but that could be expected as Goodyear attempts to create a compound that will work on the track. Lowe's Motor Speedway underwent a $3.5 million repaving job after tire problems plagued races there last season. Track president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler said it is too early to predict whether tire wear will be an issue during the May races. All of the Nextel Cup teams are scheduled to test May 1-3 and then Busch Series teams will test May 8-10. "It's going to be a challenge, and I'm not sure that we really are going to now exactly what we've got as far as the track is concerned until we have all of the cars come in here in early May," Wheeler said. "We have no idea right now about a second groove because everybody is staying down low."(SceneDaily.com)(3-31-2006)
      UPDATE: Goodyear is planning to do a second tire test at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Dale Jarrett and Kevin Harvick will test there Tuesday.(Roanoke Times)(4-1-2006)
      UPDATE 2: Officials from NASCAR, Lowe's Motor Speedway and Goodyear met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the results of a second tire test at the newly paved 1.5-mile track, with everyone apparently feeling better than they did after last week's initial test. "Goodyear officials were a lot more optimistic," said Jerry Gappens, the track's senior vice president. "They brought a completely new tire and they did not encounter the challenges they had last week with the higher speeds, excessive wear and higher tire temperatures." Kevin Harvick and Dale Jarrett participated in Tuesday's test. Goodyear built a totally different tire, with new construction and a harder compound, and Gappens said cars were about one second per lap slower than last week, a drop of about 6 mph. There were no apparent issues with excessive wear or high temperatures. Goodyear plans to bring the tire tested Tuesday back for the Nextel Cup test scheduled at the track May 1-3. It also the one Goodyear plans to supply to Busch and Truck series teams for their races here in May. It appears now that carburetor restrictor plates like those used at Daytona and Talladega will not be needed for the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge and the Coca-Cola 600. It however remains possible that smaller fuel cells used at those tracks might be employed for May's races here.(full column at ThatsRacin)(4-5-2006)

    • Robby to deliever Meals On Wheels: Robby Gordon will make a special delivery to a homebound person on Thursday, April 6 in Ft. Worth, TX in his #7 Harrah's Chevy via police escort. He will assist Carla Jutson in delivering the 10 millionth meal served in Tarrant County since Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County began meal deliveries in 1973. In 2002, Harrah's became a national prime sponsor of the Meals On Wheels Association of America's "March For Meals" campaign, committing $1 million over three years and an additional $1 million from 2005 to 2009. Since 2004, Harrah's Entertainment and Gordon have teamed up to aid Harrah's nationwide efforts to drive public awareness for the association's campaign. This is the first of six deliveries in race markets this season.(RGM PR)(4-5-2006)

    • #92 gets a sponsor for Texas: Front Row Motorsports announced that FOX Collision Center will sponsor the Front Row Motorsports #92 Chevy driven by Chad Blount at Texas Motor Speedway, for the Samsung/RadioShack 500. FOX Collision Center, Inc., with 11 full service body shops is owned and operated by Kansas native Todd Fox, an industry veteran with over 20 years experience in collision repair. He began his collision repair business in Wichita and operated four facilities before moving onto Tulsa, Oklahoma in spring of 2001. After just a few short months, FOX quickly became Tulsa’s premier Collision Center. There are currently four FOX Collision Centers in Wichita, one in Kansas City, Kansas; four in Tulsa and one in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. FOX Collision launched in Arkansas last week with the opening of their newest shop in Springdale. For more information about Fox Collision please visit www.foxcollision.com.(FRM PR)(4-5-2006)

    • Sadler's Team Earns Pit Crew Challenge Win: Elliott Sadler's #38 M&M's pit crew claimed its first win of the season in the weekly Checkers / Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition, helping boost the Robert Yates Racing driver to a sixth-place finish in Sunday's (April 2) Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. Sadler's over-the-wall team edged out other participating crews by spending the least amount of time in the pits during the DIRECTV 500. Sadler's #38 Ford spent 279.774 seconds on pit lane. "You've got to have good pit stops and my guys were definitely on it on Sunday," continued Sadler, whose crew earned $10,500 for the win. "This M&M's team needed a good run. I think we are definitely back on track." Sadler's over-the-wall crew consists of: Rodney Fetters (jackman), Ryan McCray (front-tire carrier), Mike Lingerfelt (front-tire changer), Lance Hanna (rear-tire carrier), Dave Smith (rear-tire changer), Brian Dunaway (gasman), Frankie Good (catch can) and Toby Mellott (windshield). The team's crew chief is Tommy Baldwin Jr. and the pit crew coach is Andy Ward. After the sixth race of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, Jimmie Johnson's and Tony Stewart's pit crew are tied in the Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge standings with two victories each. The season champion will receive a $105,000 bonus. Checkers/Rally's is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at checkers.com.(DMF Communications PR)(4-5-2006)

    • Eury Jr. Wins WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award: Martinsville Speedway delivered 500 laps of incensed racing excitement in this weekend's DIRECTV 500. Pushing, bumping and shoving were the norm at the half-mile bull ring, leaving the garage littered with numerous torn up vehicles by the event's end. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. weren't exempt from the action, as the #8 Budweiser Chevy was involved in two separate incidents on the race track, forcing lengthy pit stops to fix the damage after each episode. Still, with Eury Jr.'s guidance, Earnhardt Jr. was able to climb back and finish inside the top-five. Eury Jr.'s comeback earned him the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. Earnhardt Jr. suffered extensive damage to the right side of his Monte Carlo after getting collected in a multi-car accident during the opening stages of the DIRECTV 500. Eury Jr. ordered vast repairs to the #8 Chevy and worked his driver inside the top-10 following the maintenance, but contact wit the #12 car on lap 318 forced another unscheduled stop. Despite the two setbacks, the Earnhardt Jr. and Eury Jr. combination fought to a fourth-place finish. A panel of voters; including Robbie Reiser, Mike Mulhern of the Winston-Salem Journal and a WypAll Wipers representative; unanimously agreed that Eury Jr.'s comeback deserved Crew Chief of the Race accolades. For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WypAll Wipers gave Eury Jr. $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 Eury Jr.'s first Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him with Darian Grubb, Kenny Francis and Roy McCauley for second-place in the standings. Robbie Reiser is in the lead with two wins.(Wypall PR)(4-5-2006)

    • Cope plans to attempt Texas: Derrike Cope and the #74 Dodge are heading to Texas. Cope told derrikecope.com: "It looks as if we will have the My Guardian/Sundance Vacations/YRA Dodge at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend! I am looking forward to this opportunity after last weekend. I really enjoy The Texas race track. It is very fast and always produces a great race. I have had some very good runs there as of late, both in the Busch Series as well as the Cup series." The team is not listed on mine or nascar.com's entry list as of yet.(4-5-2006)


      News from April 4, 2006

    • Ince and #32 PPI part ways UPDATE: been told that the #32 PPI Motorsports / Tide team and crew chief James Ince have parted way. No word on the new crew chief. Ince is actively seeking a new position in the sport.(4-3-2006)
      UPDATE: PPI Motorsports officials say Gary Putnam will take over as crew chief of the #32 Chevy driven by Travis Kvapil in the Nextel Cup Series. Putnam, who was the team's competition director, will immediately assume the duties of James Ince. Officials say Ince, who also served as team manager, has been released to pursue other opportunities.(SceneDaily.com)(4-4-2006)

    • Changes with Nextel/Sprint? UPDATE: A major shakeup appears under way in the Sprint-Nextel sports department with two top players leaving, and that has the NASCAR garage abuzz with questions about the company's future in NASCAR stock-car racing. Jill Gregory, the director of NASCAR Nextel Series marketing since 2004, is leaving to join Bank of America's new NASCAR marketing operation. And Michael Robichaud, vice-president of sports marketing for Sprint-Nextel, and formerly Nextel's director of sports and entertainment marketing, is also leaving, though his next job is up in the air. And there is intense speculation here that Sprint-Nextel's chairman, Tim Donahue, who made the original deal with NASCAR before last year's merger, may be leaving, too. All that increases speculation that officials on the Sprint side of the company are taking control from all the key Nextel people. Sources here say that might not be good for NASCAR, because they say Sprint executives generally aren't fond of NASCAR and might try to unload the $70 million a year, 10-year sponsorship, perhaps by selling it to another company.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-3-2006)
      UPDATE: Sprint Nextel officials Tuesday reiterated the company's commitment to NASCAR despite the recent merger of the two companies and the pending departure of two marketing executives who handled Sprint Nextel's management of its Nextel Cup sponsorship. Mark Schweitzer, the chief marketing officer from Sprint Nextel, said the company has no plans to back away from its 10-year deal (reportedly $75 million per year) that began in 2004 to sponsor the Nextel Cup Series. Schweitzer said there are not many outs in the contract and added that the sponsorship cannot be transferred and it cannot be sold. Sprint Nextel also has contracts with the tracks and is also committed to spend an undisclosed amount of advertising in conjunction with the sponsorship. Sprint and Nextel completed their merger in 2005, and the series name is expected to change. Schweitzer said original plans called for a decision on whether to make a name change by last February, but that decision has been delayed until "the middle of this year. We want to make sure that, if we were to make a change, it isn't detrimental to the equity that we've built up, particularly in support of our Nextel product," Schweitzer said. Schweitzer was speaking an attempt to dispel questions about the company's commitment to the sport with the pending departure of Michael Robichaud, vice president for sports marketing and Nextel Cup program marketing manager Jill Gregory. Gregory is going to Bank of America to help activate its NASCAR sponsorships, while Robichaud plans to pursue other opportunities.(SceneDaily.com)(4-4-2006)

    • McMurray to drive Taxi in Fort Worth: Everyone wants a reliable designated driver and you would be hard pressed to find a better driver than a NASCAR star. Some lucky bar patrons will experience that very scenario on Thursday night, April 6, leading up to the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. That's when NASCAR's Jamie McMurray will lead a fleet of 10 #26 Crown Royal Ford Fusions as they provide free, safe, rides home to Dallas / Ft. Worth area nightlife revelers. Crown Royal's annual "Safe Rides Home" initiative to help promote responsible decision making has provided rides for hundreds of patrons and NASCAR fans since its inception in 2003. Bar patrons can sign up for free rides home at a specially decorated taxi kiosk at Rodeo Plaza in downtown Fort Worth as part of Crown Royal's "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly." program that promotes responsible drinking. Crown Royal is the primary sponsor of McMurray's #26 Ford, and the purple and gold colors will run again in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.(Alan Taylor Communications)(4-4-2006)

    • Sad News - Jack Arute, Sr.: One of the best known and most progressive track operators in the country has passed away. Jack Arute, Sr. of Stafford Motor Speedway fame died Monday morning in Connecticut. Arute was in the construction business and co-owned Eddie Flemke’s racecars in 1969 when he was approached about buying the track from former driver Bill Slater. At that time, the track was almost ready to shut down. Arute came in and made several improvements to the facility, including building new grandstands. Through the years, he aligned the track closely with NASCAR, started the SK Modified division and created a weekly racing card that attracted national short track stars on a regular basis. Drivers like Ron Bouchard and Richie Evans raced there regularly in the 1970’s and well known touring competitors like Ted Christopher and Zach Sylvester compete there on Friday nights to this day.(speed51.com and modseriesscene.com.
      from NASCAR: “Racing has lost one of its best friends. Jack Arute Sr. certainly helped build our sport and helped make NASCAR what it is today. He was a ‘man’s man,’ a personal friend, and he will be greatly missed. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Arute family,” NASCAR Vice Chairman Bill France said.(4-4-2006)
      AND see another column at the Hartford Courant: A Long Track Record: Arute Helped Change Perception Of Local Auto Racing.(4-4-2006)

    • Former Hendrick Development team signs Munter: SS Racing has signed race car driver Leilani Münter for the 2006 racing season. Leilani will run a combination of ASA, USRA Super Late Model Series and NASCAR Elite division along with an extensive testing program. Three time ASA Champion and Winston Cup veteran driver Butch Miller will serve as Leilani's mentor and coach. Münter and SS Racing plan to run approximately 30 races this season including events in the ASA Southern Division, ASA Northern Division, and ASA Challenge Series. Leilani and SS Racing will race in the USRA Super Late Model event on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway during the race weekend with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the Indy Racing League. Her last race of the season will be on November 9 at Phoenix International Raceway in the NASCAR Elite Southeast Series during the NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend which also features the NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series. Leilani will carry the colors of Konica Minolta as her primary sponsor in 2006. In addition to racing in the NASCAR Elite Division and ASA, she is a race instructor at Fast Track High Performance Driving School and a special correspondent for NASCAR.com. She is a Hostess "Race Diva" alongside IRL's Danica Patrick and NHRA's Melanie Troxel.(leilanimunter.com)(4-4-2006)

    • NASCAR Day at 36,000: NASCAR Foundation officials say more than 36,000 NASCAR Day pins have been sold and more than 1,000 companies have signed up to take part in this year's May 19 observance. For a $5 donation, participants receive an official commemorative lapel pin and are encouraged to wear them on May 19 to show their pride in the sport on NASCAR Day. (SceneDaily.com), more info on NASCAR Day, see my Racing Charity page.(4-4-2006)

    • Tony will keep climbling: #20-Tony Stewart says he plans to continue his fence-climbing ways when he wins races. When he first scaled a catchfence after winning at Daytona in July 2005, the fans went wild. Since then, Stewart has turned the impulsive move into his own victory signature, pulling himself up some difficult wiring at tracks such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When he won at Martinsville Speedway Sunday, Stewart once more worked his way up the fencing onto the flagstand to the delight of the sellout crowd. "I wish everybody had the opportunity to be up there during something like that, because that is the coolest view to see people," he said. "No matter what kind of driver they're supporting, they're still cheering because they know that before you even celebrate with your race team, you're celebrating with them." So look for more of the Nextel Cup defending champion's flag-grabbing ways during future wins. "The response every time we've done that has been so overwhelming that that is part of [the] victory celebration," he said. "When I get that checkered flag first, that's part of what I look forward about winning races, celebrating with the fans like that."(SceneDaily.com)(4-4-2006)

    • DEI Graphic Artist's work wins EVIE Award: In a recent competition, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. was nominated in four categories at the EVIE Award ceremony in nearby Charlotte. Kellie A. Schmidlin, our Graphic Artist, created the only award winner for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. when her work won Best Invitation. The award-winning creation was used for the 2005 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Holiday Party last December. Schmidlin, 27, has been with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. since June of 2001 as a graphic artist. Originally from Bristol, Va., she's a 2000 graduate of Emory & Henry College in Emory, Va. where she studied Mass Communications and Art. This was the second nomination in this category, but first award for her work from EVIE (Events in Excellence). The award and invitation are currently on display in the company's Trophy Room where employees dine.(DEI)(44-2006)


      News from April 3, 2006

    • COT to test at Martinsville UPDATE 2: NASCAR, which tested its “Car of Tomorrow” on Monday at Bristol, will test it again next Monday at Martinsville. The car will debut next spring at Bristol and be phased in over three years.(Speed Channel), no word who will be testing a COT, but last week Rusty Wallace said he would test there for NASCAR.(4-1-2006)
      UPDATE: NASCAR's testing of its car of the future continues today at Martinsville Speedway. The car, which will debut next year at the Bristol spring race, also will run at Martinsville as the car is phased in over a three-year period. Richard Childress Racing and NASCAR are each scheduled to test the car today. Kevin Harvick is expected to drive for Childress with Brett Bodine driving the NASCAR vehicle. The test will be open to the public.(Roanoke Times)(4-3-2006)
      UPDATE 2: For the second straight week, NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow tested on a short track as preparations continue for next season’s debut of a safer, more competitive and cost-efficient stock car. On Monday at Martinsville Speedway, #29-Kevin Harvick of the Richard Childress Racing team, along with NASCAR’s Brett Bodine, tested the new car. While early morning rain delayed the start of the test, the results were extremely positive. “We went through our normal aero changes here today, just to back up what the wind tunnel has been telling us, and were able to get some quality laps on the track,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition. “The wing continues to give us positive results. It is going to provide the teams with a lot of advantages when it comes to competition. We’ll even get more evidence of that when we test the Car of Tomorrow next month at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.”
      For Harvick, it was his first time driving the Car of Tomorrow and he was encouraged with his initial test run. “When you get in the driver’s seat, it feels like just another race car,” said Harvick. “We got a lot out of today’s test, because it helps us determine what kind of package we will need when we run the car next season. From everything I’ve heard about the wing, it should be a big help in helping the car behind you get some air on its nose. That seems to be what we’re fighting all the time; the aero push on the bigger race tracks.” Monday marked the second straight week for RCR to test its Car of Tomorrow, as #31-Jeff Burton participated in the session a week ago at Bristol. Harvick says that the RCR team has made a commitment to develop its Car of Tomorrow program. “We didn’t go to the Car of Tomorrow test at Daytona (held in January), so we came out of there saying that since we had a clean sheet of paper, we needed to work to get ahead of the game and come out of the gate strong with this car next season,” said Harvick. “Richard (Childress) has made a commitment to do that and we’ve assembled a team to take this car around and we should have a couple of more cars done by Charlotte.” The next NASCAR Car of Tomorrow test is scheduled for May 30-31 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord.(NASCAR PR), no mention of Rusty Wallace testing.(4-3-2006)

    • Overnight Martinsville TV ratings up: Fox's broadcast of Sunday's DirectTV 500 Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway earned a 5.1 overnight Nielsen Media Research rating and a 12 market share, Street & Smith's Sports Business Daily reports. The daily says two markets - Indianapolis and St. Louis - were not included because of weather problems, but the rating was still 10.9% higher than the 4.6/11 last year's Martinsville race earned. The 2005 race, however, was a week later and aired opposite one of golf's major events, the Masters.(SceneDaily.com)(4-3-2006)

    • Who's Hot - Texas Motor Speedway:
      • Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to score four top-five and five top-10 finishes in the first six races in 2006.
      • Mark Martin is the only driver to score top-15 finishes in each of the six races in 2006.
      • Mark Martin has scored 10 straight top-15 finishes; extending a streak that began at Atlanta last October.
      • Tony Stewart is the only driver to lead at least one lap in all six races this season.
      • Carl Edwards has moved from 43rd to 19th in the point standings since Daytona.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-3-2006)

    • Ricky Remembered: Sunday would have been the late Ricky Hendrick’s birthday. Hendrick and ninth others perished in the crash of a team plane near Martinsville in October 2004 and the accident is always on the minds of racers whenever the circuit returns here. “This is Ricky Hendrick’s birthday today and I know I’m not part of the Hendrick organization, but every time we come to Martinsville, we think of the Hendrick family and the tragedy and (pilot) Scott Lathram and his family,” race-winner #20-Tony Stewart said. “I just want everyone to know we’re thinking about them.”(Speed Channel)(4-3-2006)



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