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    APR 17-23, 2006

      News from April 23, 2006

    • Toyota to buy out Robby? Harvick? Jarrett AND UPS? UPDATE: #7-Robby Gordon declined to comment on the latest reports that Toyota and sponsor Red Bull are making an offer to buy him and his entire team. General Motors executives are still hopeful of keeping Gordon in their fold and point to the extensive work they've done to help Gordon become more competitive as an independent owner-driver. #29-Kevin Harvick, also said to be on Toyota's wish list, is still negotiating with GM and owner Richard Childress for a contract renewal, and the yes or no could come in the next few days. Harvick has set a package and price, and the ball is in Childress' court. But team sources indicate that Childress isn't willing to meet Harvick's demands. Childress has been unavailable for comment, and Harvick has declined to comment. According to sources, Dodge owner Ray Evernham may be interested in hiring Harvick.
      And Toyota apparently wants not only Dale Jarrett but also his sponsor, UPS. That situation is unclear, but it appears to mean that if car owner Robert Yates wants to keep UPS on his quarterpanels, he would also have to re-sign Jarrett for two more years.(Winston Salem Journal), note: supposedly UPS is signed thru 2007 with Yates and Jarrett is signed thru 2006.(4-22-206)
      UPDATE - more Jarrett: It would appear Dale Jarrett is in the driver's seat when it comes to where he will drive in 2007. UPS has not renewed with car owner Robert Yates and will not until they are assured Jarrett's services have been secured. Jarrett, on the other hand, is being wooed by Toyota, with the full knowledge wherever Jarrett goes, UPS goes.(

    • Spencer to run #78 at Pocono: on Speed Channel's Victory Lane, Kenny Wallace said that Jimmy Spencer will drive the #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy at Pocono in June, as Wallace will be driving the Busch race in Nashville.(4-23-2006)

    • 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 15 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.(4-23-2006)

      News from April 22, 2006

    • One of the Manufacturers pulling out of NASCAR? UPDATE 2 comments from all: an column is reporting that: It has come to our attention that serious discussions are taking place for the first time in the conference rooms of one domestic manufacturer in particular on a subject heretofore unthinkable in Detroit. The subject? Pulling out of NASCAR. Yes, it has been mentioned before, and I have predicted it for months now - ever since the announcement was made that Toyota would be buying its way into the France family circus - but we have confirmation that not only are the discussions taking place, they're so far down the road that a timetable for a pullout has been created, taking into account the end dates of existing contracts with individual racing teams currently aligned with this particular manufacturer. This Detroit manufacturer has decided that if it competes in motorsports in the future, it will only compete in three basic areas: 1. In production-based racing series that by rule and specification retain more than a passing resemblance to the cars they sell and the competitors they compete against in showrooms. 2. "Technical" efforts, in other words, engine programs for open-wheel and prototype racing series, but stopping short of Formula 1. And 3. Developing an effort to compete for the overall victory at Le Mans. Any other efforts, grass-roots racing, drag racing, etc., would be covered as the need and budget allow.(in part....see full article at, note: thr article doesn't say which manufacturer COULD be leaving [Chevy, Dodge, Ford] and this column will only be up a few days), Peter M. DeLorenzo, who owns and writes for the site has been on Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel a few times and tends to be controversal and a bit anti-NASCAR, however doesn't tend to just post stuff for the sake of posting it and has a lot of sources.(4-20-2006)
      UPDATE: A report on the website suggested this week that one of Detroit’s big three automakers could pull out of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series some time after NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow” debuts next year. Speculation has centered on Chevrolet, given the Draconian financial state of its parent company, General Motors, which lost $10.6 billion in 2005 and $323 million in the first quarter of ’06. Alba Colon, Chevrolet’s Nextel Cup program manager, said Thursday that if there have been discussions about GM leaving Nextel Cup, she hasn’t been part of them. “I will be honest with you, I just learned about that (the report) last night,” Colon said Thursday morning at Phoenix International Raceway. “I have never been in a meeting where anything like that has ever been discussed, at least not with me or anyone in my office. We have a commitment with all our teams, a long-term commitment. I can’t comment on the contract we have with our teams, but it’s longer than a year, I can tell you that. It’s more than the end of this year, and it’s not GM’s philosophy to break contracts like that.”(Speed Channel)(4-21-2006)
      UPDATE 2 - Comments from all 3: Reports that one of Detroit's Big Three auto manufacturersmay be considering dropping out of NASCAR racing swirled through the Cup garage, possibly stemming from the report that Ford's SVT (Special Vehicle Team) program may be shut down in October. But Ford's Kevin Kennedy, the company's public-affairs manager for racing, said that there are no plans to get out of NASCAR: "We've seen that story, and I can assure you Ford does not plan on getting out of NASCAR. Our racing program has support at the highest levels of the company, and our research and data has shown conclusively that there's a viable business case for us being involved in the sport in terms of our market share and purchase consideration among race fans. Racing is part of the Ford DNA and has been since Henry Ford raced back in 1901."
      General Motors' Pat Suhy, the company's NASCAR director, said that GM isn't leaving, either: "We're here in NASCAR and we're here to stay. It makes good business sense for us to be here. We get a great return on our investment. We have a lot of activation around this around the country with our dealers and our regional dealer groups. And we have great sponsorship partners with our teams. So if there is any truth to that, I don't know about it, and it certainly isn't us."
      Ray Evernham, owner of the season's winningest operation, which is sponsored by Dodge dealers, said: "I can't speak for Dodge, but I can tell you I know they're happy. If you look at their stock, it's up. And they're the only American manufacturer with an increase in market share. I've got a really long-term contract with them, and if I were a betting man, I'd bet it's not Daimler."(Winston Salem Journal)(4-22-2006)

      John Fernandez, Director of Dodge Motorsports Operations: "I've heard the rumor, but obviously we're not involved in it. I haven't heard anything from General Motors or Ford that indicates they're in any jeopardy. Obviously their total companies right now are having a tough time in the marketplace, but that's happened before and it'll happen again I'm sure. As far as I know, GM and Ford are still committed to NASCAR and committed to racing in the Cup Series. As far as I know right now it's only a rumor."(Clear!Blue/Dodge PR)(4-22-2006)

    • Harvick Wants to Stay at Childress: #29-Kevin Harvick is certain he wants to extend his contract at Richard Childress Racing. "We have talked," Harvick said Friday before practice at Phoenix International Raceway. "I know the ball is pretty much on that side." Harvick is considered this year's top free agent, and the one driver on almost every car owner's wish list. His contract is up at the end of the year, and before Friday, neither he or Childress had been very committal on their future together. All either said was that they had planned to discuss 2007 and beyond sometime this month. Harvick said the meeting has now happened, and he's told the car owner he wants to stay put. Childress was on an African safari and unavailable for comment. "There is a seven-year relationship here that first and foremost is the main priority," Harvick said. "I have a lot of friends here ... it's something that we'll - it will be the first thing we try to work out."(in part from the Associated Press)(4-22-2006)

    • COT to test at Lowe's Motor Speedway: Lowe’s Motor Speedway will play host to a test of NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow” [COT] May 30 and 31, the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Coca-Cola 600 is run at the track. NASCAR officials said eight to 12 cars are expected at the next test.(Speed Channel)(4-22-2006)

    • Toyota looking at Fennig? 5 hired from Penske..more: former #26/97/6 Roush crew chief Jimmy Fennig [recently replaced on the #26 and now with Roush in the Busch Series], a highly respected, no-nonsense guy who gained his credentials with Bobby Allison and Mark Martin, is suddenly the hottest item in the stock-car racing garage, with Toyota officials and Dodge's Chip Ganassi expected to make calls. Ganassi is looking for a new team manager for his three-car operation after Andy Graves' resignation. And Fennig could be just the guy to fill the void, with instant credibility. Toyota could be an option. Toyota executives are wide open in building their Nextel Cup tour operations, and now they're raiding teams right and left, according to car owners. Don Miller, of the Roger Penske team, said that Toyota has picked up five Penske men already: "They just offer them $20,000 more than they're currently making, and get them." Ganassi has been so upset at losing crewmen to Toyota that he has sent the company a "cease-and-desist" letter. That move has many here writing off Ganassi for any Toyota-NASCAR deal.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-22-206)

    • Harvick wins at Phoenix: #29-Kevin Harvick won the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, leading the final 10 laps [of 312], blowing by #16-Greg Biffle [who was saving fuel and eventually ran out, finishing 16th] on lap 303 to win his first race of 2006, first since Bristol last April and 6th career win. Harvick swept the Nextel Cup and Busch Series races at Phoenix. #20-Tony Stewart, who was to start 3rd, but had to start last due to a tire infraction [drivers qualifying in the top-10 must start the race on the tires they qualified with] finished 2nd, followed by #17-Kenseth, #99-Edwards and #07-Clint Bowyer [his first career top-5]. The rest of the top-10 were #9-Kasey Kahne, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #43-Bobby Labonte, #31-Jeff Burton and #24-Jeff Gordon. Only ten drivers finished on the lead lap with #6-Martin, #16-Biffle, #1-Truex Jr. among the lead lap cars who ran out of fuel. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. hung around the top-10 all day until a late accident [he admitted it was his fault] relegated Earnhardt to a 23rd finish, 2 laps down. #5-Kyle Busch, the pole sitter, sped entering pit road while leading early in the race, got sent to the end of the longest line. Busch then got into #42-Mears then spun and with another wreck behind them which caused a 9 minute red flag. Busch then rammed Mears car and headed to the garage for repairs and refused interview requests from FOX or MRN. When Busch's team fixed the car and he went back on the track, Busch was black flagged and penalized five laps for ramming Mears, he finished 36th. #17-Kenseth takes over the points lead by 9 points over former leader #48-Johnson. There were 7 cautions for 29 laps and 11 leaders with 20 lead changes.
      Race Results on my Phoenix Race Results/Awards Page.
      Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Phoenix page.
      Race Rundown: see my Phoenix Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(4-22-2006)

    • Phoenix Race Notes:
      • Kevin Harvick won the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, scoring his sixth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 186th career start. He also won the NASCAR Busch Series race at Phoenix. Harvick’s last victory came at Bristol in April 2005, 39 races ago where he also swept the weekend winning both the Cup and Busch races. This is the second time a driver has swept both races in a weekend at Phoenix. The last time a driver swept both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series races at Phoenix was Jeff Burton races in 2000.
      • Five of Harvick’s six victories have come on a superspeedway.
      • Harvick became the sixth different race winner in eight races in 2006 and the 17th different race winner in 20 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Phoenix.
      • Harvick scored his fourth top-10 finish in eight races this season, all in the last four races. The last time Harvick scored four straight top-10 finishes was when he scored five straight in September-October 2003 (Dover, Talladega, Kansas, Charlotte and Martinsville).
      • Harvick climbed from ninth to eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. After eight races in 2005, he ranked 11th in the point standings.
      • Harvick led one time, leading the final 10 laps.
      • This was team owner Richard Chidress’s 78th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory. Childress has scored two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories at Phoenix. His other Phoenix victory was by Dale Earnhardt in 1990.
      Notebook Items
      • Greg Biffle led 151 laps, leading the most laps for the third time in 2006. He also led the most at California and Atlanta.
      • Tony Stewart (second) posted his sixth top-10 finish in nine races at Phoenix. He scored his fifth top-10 finish of the season, all top-fives and remained fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago he ranked 14th after eight races.
      • Matt Kenseth (third) scored his fourth top-10 finish in eight races at Phoenix International Raceway and climbed from second to first in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
      • Carl Edwards (fourth) scored his third top-10 finish in four races at Phoenix International Raceway. It marked his best finish at Phoenix and his third top-10 finish in 2006, all top fives.
      • Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender Clint Bowyer (fifth) scored his first top-10 finish in two races at Phoenix. It was his second top-10 finish in 2006 and marked his career-first top-five finish. Bowyer led 21 laps, the first laps of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career. He became the 31st different lap leader of the 2006 season.
      • Bowyer was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender at Phoenix.
      • At least one of the 2006 Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders has scored a top-15 finish in every race this season.
      • Bobby Labonte (eighth) scored his eighth top-10 finish in 15 races at Phoenix. It was his third top-10 finish in eight races in 2006.
      • Joe Nemechek (35th) has been running at the finish in the last 40 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April - the longest current streak.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-22-2006)

    • Rumblings - Race Notes - Phoenix: It what turned out to be a "fuelish" event tonight at Phoenix International Raceway, Kevin Harvick passed Greg Biffle on lap 303 and led the final 10 circuits to capture the Subway Fresh 500....with probably only a little gas to spare. Harvick got the weekend sweep as numerous cars ran out near the end with most teams trying to stretch it and quite a few failing in that attempt. This was win #6 for Happy Harvick (he's solo in 61st on the all-time win list) and the 78th for RCR. They may send RC packing more often.....I seem to remember when Dale Earnhardt got his first ever road course win at Sears Point back in 1995 that Childress was off hunting that weekend as well. Harvick's take from the over $4.8M in posted awards was $228,486.
      Tony Stewart finished as the runner-up in the final shake out as Greg Biffle had to pit for fuel with just a handful of laps left.
      Clint Bowyer (5th) had his career-best finish tonight. His previous best was 6th at Daytona in February.
      Sterling Marlin (12th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Talladega last October.
      Tony Raines (17th) had his best finish since he was 13th at Homestead in November of 2003! (only 15 races)
      Travis Kvapil (21st) had his best finish since he was 10th when we were here last November.
      Kenny Wallace (25th) had his best finish since he was 21st at Homestead last November. (only 3 races)
      Stanton Barrett (33rd) had his best finish since he was 31st at Darlington last May. (only 9 races)
      STREAKIN....Kevin Harvick has 4 Top-10's in a row.
      Kasey Kahne has 6 Top-10's in the last 7 races.
      Tony Stewart has 4 Top-10's in the last 5 races.
      This Week's Elevator....UP: Operator of the week is a lonely Jeff Burton (+28 ). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Kyle Busch (-35), followed by Denny Hamlin (-28 ), and Ryan Newman (-26). As longtime "Shaft" watchers will know (and we've been doing this since waaaaay before TV thought it was cool), Tony Stewart's official starting spot is listed as 3rd, so he's not eligible for this week's prestigious Op Award.
      Clint Bowyer led three times tonight for 21 laps....the first time he's ever led a NEXTEL Cup event. Dave Blaney led once for two laps tonight, the first time he's led since Homestead last November. And, Brandon Ash led a lap tonight for the first time in his Cup career. That gives us 33 drivers to lead a lap this season.....a far cry from the 51 we had last year, but the season is still young.
      We've got a new points leader after tonight. Matt Kenseth takes over the top spot for the second time this season (he led for one week after Bristol), this time by 9 markers. Our "Stayin' Alive" line is all the way up to this point last season we had 18 drivers eligible. Carl Edwards (22nd to 16th....and jumping ahead of the "Line") made the best move forward this week while Reed Sorenson (19th to 24th) fell the most spots.(see much more at Stock Car Fans)(4-22-2006)

    • NASCAR Softball Returns: Sixteen teams will compete in Bob Hubner's Totally Racin' Softball League beginning April 25th 2006. Games will be played on Tuesday & Wednesday nights 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 at Walter Safrit Park in Kannapolis, NC. The Teams are: Defending 2005 Champions Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Racing (Cup), Speed Channel, Hendrick Motorsports, Champion Tire & Wheel, NASCAR Media, Race City Marketing, Stock Car Steel, Waltrip Racing, Evernham Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, HRE Engines, Roush/Yates Racing Engines, Richard Childress Racing, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Wood Brothers/JTG Racing. More info at

    • Fans Get Chance to Vote in Driver for NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge: For the third straight year, NASCAR fans will choose an at-large driver for the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Saturday, May 20 (FX, 7:00pm/et). Fans will have the opportunity to vote in one driver among the top 50 in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points who is not already on the list of eligible drivers for this year’s all-star event. Voting is now available through the following channels:
      • On-line at www.NASCAR.Com
      • Trackside at the Nextel Experience
      • Bass Pro Shop retail locations
      In 2005, nearly 440,000 votes were cast, with Martin Truex, Jr. topping the fan vote to secure a position in the field. The 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge kicks off May 20 at 7:30pm/et with the running of the NEXTEL Open, a 30-lap race divided into two segments featuring drivers who rank in the top 50 in the points standings, but have not yet qualified to run in the All-Star Challenge. The winner of the Open advances to the All-Star Challenge, which begins at 9 p.m. and is a 90-lap competition, divided into three segments. The race winner will receive prize money in excess of $1 million. Tickets for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge can be purchased online at, at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway Ticket Office or by calling (800) 455-FANS.(NASCAR PR)(4-22-2006)

      News from April 21, 2006

    • Lots of racing for Schrader this weekend: #21-Ken Schrader raced in Thursday's NASCAR Grand National West Series Casino Arizona 150 [finished 10th, won by Andrew Myers], will race in Friday’s Bashas Supermarkets 200 Busch Series race and Saturday's Subway Fresh 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race, all at Phoenix International Raceway. On Sunday afternoon, Schrader will run the ARCA event at Salem (Ind.) Speedway before heading to Sunday night’s dirt late-model event at Vermilion County Speedway in Danville, Ill.(Speed Channel)(4-21-2006)

    • Unleaded fuel sooner for Busch & Trucks? Before the end of the 2006 racing season, NASCAR officials hope to have both Busch and truck series teams using unleaded fuel. And if all goes well, it's likely that unleaded gas will be used in the Nextel Cup Series beginning in 2007. "We don't know where we're going to be with [unleaded fuel for the Cup series]," Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said April 20. "We said by '08. ... If the tests look promising, we will re-evaluate the timeline. We are going to, before the end of the year, run unleaded fuel in some select races, probably in the Busch and truck series. Some of their races are stand-alones, [on] short tracks and things of that nature. You're looking at less mileage, smaller carburetors, less horsepower." NASCAR teams have always used leaded fuel, and is exempt from the Clean Air Act of 1970 requiring unleaded fuel be used in all automobiles. Pemberton said testing with the new fuel has been "on-going" since the 2005 season, both at the NASCAR Research and Development facility in Concord, N.C. and among a number of individual teams.(

    • Final Texas TV Ratings mixed: took a while for Texas TV Ratings ---- Final Nielsen Media Research numbers show that Fox's broadcast of the April 9 Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway earned a 5.4 rating and a 13 share. The rating is 5.3% lower than the 5.7/15 Fox earned for the Texas race in 2005, but that race was on a different weekend from the Masters, one of golf's four major events. The Masters traditionally draws strong television ratings. The 5.4 rating is 5.9 percent higher than Fox's 5.1/13 for its coverage of the 2005 Martinsville race, which aired opposite the Masters.(

    • News about Jenkins: Veteran broadcaster Bob Jenkins [former ESPN NASCAR Anchor and current Speed broadcaster] joined the new Premier Racing Association as director of communications. PRA will use what once were known as USAC's dirt Silver Crown cars.(Indianpolis Star)(4-21-2006)

    • #74 appeals NASCAR fine and penalties: #74-McGlynn Racing announced today that the have formally requested a hearing with the National Stock Car Racing Commission for the [25 point] penalties issued to owner, Raynard McGlynn, driver Derrike Cope as well as the $50,000 fine issued to crew chief, Domenic Turse.(McGlynn Racing PR)(4-21-2006)

    • Biffle: Girlfriend's spat "out of proportion": NASCAR officials have yet to speak with Greg Biffle's girlfriend about her confrontation with Kurt Busch's fiancee following a wreck between the two drivers. But Biffle did. Nicole Lunders has been embarrassed by the attention her spat with Eva Bryan received, and Biffle said Thursday that two much has been made about the words exchanged on pit road two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway. "It certainly got way out of proportion because there wasn't any big news that week," Biffle said. "Nobody got out of the car and shoved somebody. It was kind of an uneventful weekend in sports, so it was a highlight. She didn't want it to be and we didn't want it to be. I think it's over." Lunders was upset after Busch hit the back of Biffle's car, sending him into the wall and ending his race. The accident caused a hard impact for Biffle, and Lunders was angry because Busch had been involved in several recent wrecks. So Lunders climbed off of Biffle's pit box, walked down pit road to find Bryan and had a brief exchange with her that was caught on national TV. NASCAR officials said they planned to speak with Lunders about it. "She was just upset about it and really felt like Kurt was going to end up hurting somebody, and that's what she conveyed to Eva," Biffle said. "She wasn't mad at Eva one bit. They're friends and they talk and they do stuff."(Associated Press)(4-21-2006)

    • Special Look for the pole winning car at Phoenix: To commemorate Kyle Busch's 50th Nextel Cup start, the #5 Hensdrick Motorsports Chevy will sport a new color combination at Phoenix. The car, a joint venture between Hendrick Motorsports sponsors Kellogg's, CARQUEST Auto Parts and Delphi, will feature primary colors of blue, yellow and red. The CARQUEST shield will adorn the hood, with the Kellogg's logo on the quarter panels and Delphi oval on the deck-lid. The familiar Kellogg's paint scheme will return next week at Talladega.(Hendrick Motorsports PR), see image on my #5 Team Schemes page.(4-21-2006)

    • #12 to run blue and purple scheme? UPDATE 4: 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)
      UPDATE 2: #12-Ryan Newman will make his eighth Phoenix International Raceway start and his 160th in NASCAR's Cup Series this Saturday. The new paint scheme on the Alltel Dodge this weekend will be hard to miss. The paint [purple] scheme highlights a new feature that Alltel will launch soon. The team plans on showcasing the paint scheme in several upcoming NEXTEL Cup Series races.(Penske Racing PR).
      UPDATE 3: have another image of the car, looks like the program will be MyCircle as is noted on the purple hood, see images of the scheme on my #12 Team Schemes page.(4-18-2006)
      UPDATE 4: Alltel announced that Ryan Newman's #12 Alltel Dodge, traditionally royal blue and black, will display a special paint scheme at various races throughout the 2006 season. Set to debut on April 22 at the Subway Fresh 500 in Phoenix, a new purple and black color design will hit the track in support of Alltel's exclusive wireless feature "My Circle." The new paint scheme will be featured during a total of five races, which include Talladega, Richmond, Darlington and the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge.(Alltel Racing PR)(4-21-2006)

      News from April 20, 2006

    • Sad News - Bill Ellis: Bill Ellis, 42, of Mooresville, NC, passed away on Tuesday, April 18, 2006, at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, Mooresville. Born August 20, 1963 in Danbury, CT, he was a son of William and Barbara Ellis, of Bethel, CT. Mr. Ellis was a metal fabricator for Chip Ganassi Racing. He was a member of St. Therese Catholic Church, Mooresville, and a former baseball coach for the Lake Norman Youth Athletic Association. In addition to his parents, Bill is survived by his wife, Karen Joan Reilly Ellis; children, Brianna Ellis, of Danbury, CT, Alec and Raymond Ellis, of the home. The family will receive friends from 6 - 8 PM, Thursday, April 20, 2006, at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville. Funeral and burial will take place at a future date in Danbury, CT. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, P.O. Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA 01202 or the Christopher Reeve Foundation, 636 Morris Turnpike Suite 3A, Short Hills, NJ 07078.(

    • New Burton/Cingular Commercial: Cingular Wireless, primary sponsor on Jeff Burton’s #31 Chevy, will debut a new commercial during the Subway Fresh 500. The new spot titled ‘Golf Cart’ features Burton and was shot earlier this season in Las Vegas. It highlights Media Net, a new service which provides Cingular subscribers access to all things racing like insider info, driver stats and racing updates. Burton rides in on a customized high-speed golf cart carrying the same paint scheme as his Cingular Chevy.(RCR PR)(4-20-2006)

    • Kurt Busch makes amends for traffic violations: #2-Kurt Busch, cited last year by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies for reckless driving, offers a word of advice: Dangerous driving belongs on racetracks, not public roadways. That's the gist of a public-service announcement that Busch did Wednesday with Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, south of Phoenix. The PSA is expected to air on Valley television stations in May or June. The NASCAR driver was stopped Nov. 11. He was fined $580 and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty Feb. 10 to a reduced charge of speeding, a misdemeanor, and admitting responsibility for following too closely and passing in a no-passing zone. The time spent on the PSA is expected to count toward the 50 hours. Arpaio said that he was "pleasantly surprised" Wednesday "at how gracious this man was" despite the controversy.(Arizona Republic)(4-20-2006)

    • #2 Crew Chief to miss Phoenix race: Roy McCauley, crew chief for driver Kurt Busch and the #2 Miller Lite Dodge team out of the Penske Racing stable, will not be making the trip out West for this weekend's Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. He will be absent per doctor's orders. McCauley experienced some mild chest pains and went to the hospital Monday for diagnostic tests. He successfully underwent minor surgery yesterday (Tuesday) to treat a small blockage. “The procedure was 100 percent effective in alleviating the problem, but my doctor advised me to take it easy and spend this weekend relaxing at home,” said McCauley, who will return to work – and Talladega – next week.(Tom Roberts PR)(4-20-2006)

    • Red Bull Hire: Red Bull Racing has hired John Probst from Ford Racing Technology, a team spokesman confirmed Tuesday night. Probst will serve as the new team's technical director. A mechanical engineer with a degree from Penn State, Probst was the vehicle systems supervisor for Ford. The Red Bull operation, owned by the energy drink company, will field two Toyota teams in Nextel Cup in 2007. Probst joins a management team that includes recently hired Elton Sawyer as director of competition, Marty Gaunt as general manager and Guenther Steiner as a technical advisor. Steiner comes over from Red Bull Racing's Formula 1 team.(

    • Phoenix Qualifying Notes:
      • Kyle Busch won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the Subway Fresh 500, lapping Phoenix International Raceway in 26.917 seconds at 133.744 mph. Ryan Newman holds the track-qualifying record of 26.499 seconds, 135.854 mph - set Nov. 5, 2004.
      • This is Busch’s second career Bud Pole and came in his 50th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.
      • This is Busch’s fourth top-10 start this season – all in the past four races. It is his first start better than 15th in three races at Phoenix.
      • Busch became the 13th different driver to post a Bud Pole at Phoenix – the fourth different one in the past four races.
      • Greg Biffle posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 26.990 seconds, 133.383 mph – and will join Kyle Busch on the front row for the Subway Fresh 500. Biffle has posted seven top-10 starts this season – failing to start in the top-10 in only the season-opening Dayton 500. It is his third top-10 start in five races at Phoenix – all in the past three races here.
      • This is the third Bud Pole for Chevrolet in 2006. Dodge also has three Bud Poles and Ford has one. Qualifying was canceled at Bristol.
      • Tony Stewart (third) posted his fourth top-10 start of the season – all third or better. It is his best start in nine races at Phoenix – bettering his previous best of sixth, which he had posted three times.
      • Matt Kenseth (fourth) posted his best start of 2006 in posting his fourth top-10 start this season. It is his career-best start at Phoenix and first start better than 12th in his eight races here.
      • Carl Edwards (fifth) posted his third top-10 start this season and his second in four races at Phoenix.
      • Three Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidates qualified in the top-10 for the second straight race this season: Denny Hamlin (sixth), Clint Bowyer (eighth) and Martin Truex Jr. (ninth). Last race (Texas) J.J. Yeley joined Hamlin and Truex in starting in the top-10. This is the career-best start for Bowyer.
      • Brandon Ash (40th) became the 55th driver to make the field for at least one race this season.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-20-2006)

    • Ramblings - Phoenix: Kyle Busch sped around the one mile oval that is Phoenix International Raceway tonight in 26.917 (133.744 mph) to grab his second ever Bud Pole for Saturday Night's Subway Fresh 500. The only other driver under 27 seconds was Greg Biffle and they'll lead 'em to the green two nights hence. Kyle Busch also becomes the 6th qualifier for next February's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. His only other career top-spot came at California in February of 2005.
      Matt Kenseth (4th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 3rd at Texas last November.
      Clint Bowyer (8th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 12th two weeks ago at Texas.
      Kenny Wallace (31st) has his best starting spot since he qualified 17th when we were here last November (he was subbing for Kurt Busch in the #97 that day).
      Scott Wimmer (33rd) has his best starting spot since he lined up 27th at Homestead last November.
      Welcome Back Brandon Ash (40th). He'll make his first start since Kansas last October when he qualified 18th and finished 42nd.
      STREAKIN....Greg Biffle has 7 Top-10 starts in a row.
      Kurt Busch has 7 Top-10 starts in a row.
      Hard to believe we've had 19 races here already....seems like just a couple years ago we started coming out here (a sure sign of old-age). Anyway, this place has pretty much been a Ford track (they've won 12 with Chevy only 5 and Pontiac with 2). We've had 16 different winners in those 19 races with Davey Allison, Jeff Burton, and Dale Earnhardt Jr as the only repeaters.(more at Stock Car Fans)(4-20-2006)

      News from April 19, 2006

    • Sad News - Chuck Warren: Chuck Warren died on Monday April 17 after a valiant fight against cancer at the age of 78. He left behind a son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter and countless friends from the racing community. Although Warren is not a household name among today’s racing fans, he was well known and well respected by the NASCAR community in his day. Warren got his start in auto racing working as a crew member for a local Ashtabula, Ohio short track racer in the late 1940s. He moved to Florida in the early 1950s and took a job as body shop foreman for Stephens Pontiac in Daytona Beach, a new-car dealership known for its sponsorship of race cars. While in that position, Warren worked with the original factory-backed Pontiac racing team of Ray Nichels with driver Cotton Owens in their 1957 win on the beach at Daytona. It was the first NASCAR victory for Pontiac. Warren formed a working relationship with Daytona’s own Smokey Yunick through the Stephens body shop. He became the paint and body man for the Yunick team, applying the famous black and gold colors to the legendary Pontiacs for several seasons. After leaving the Yunick team and the Stephens dealership, Warren secured a position with the Champion Spark Plug Co., where he served on the team which represented the product on the NASCAR circuit. During the off season, part of Warren’s job was to visit all the race shops and install the electrical wiring in the race cars. He also implemented a plan to provide lunches for race team crew members at the track. Warren later moved to the Prestolite Company where he instituted the first pit crew competition, later adopted by the Unocal Co.(NASCAR Media)(4-19-2006)

    • Sad News - King Hodges: King Hodges, the Vice President and General Manager of Langley Speedway passed away. Thurs. [Apr 20] night practice is cancelled due to visitation that will be held in his honor from 6:30 - 8:30 at Amory Funeral Home in Grafton, Va. The track will be closed on Friday for his funeral which will be held at 1:00 pm at Williamsburg Baptist Church, Richmond Road in Williamsburg. Amory Funeral Home in Grafton, Virginia is handling the arrangements. Anyone wishing to send cards, flowers or food may contact the track.(4-19-2006)

    • Martin part-time Cup in 2007? UPDATE denies part-time Cup sched rumor: #6-Mark Martin is hedging on his vow to not return to Nextel Cup in any part-time capacity after moving to a full-time Craftsman Truck Series ride next year. He now says if the right opportunity presents itself, he might consider doing Cup races that run in conjunction with truck events.(Tampa Tribune)(4-14-2006)
      UPDATE: #6-Mark Martin, who was at Lowe’s Motor Speedway to help promote the upcoming NASCAR All-Star race at the 1.5-mile track, said Tuesday that he has no plans to run a partial Nextel Cup schedule in 2007 and that he’d likely only drive a Cup car if a Roush Racing teammate is injured and unable to drive. “I’ve got to be careful about saying ‘never,’ but there may be a situation where I fill-in or whatever,” said Martin. “I’m just not going to say it couldn’t happen. … There is some wiggle room and I just can’t say ‘never,’ but there’s no plans.”(Speed Channel)(4-19-2006)

    • Special Stanley Scheme at Talladega: Scott Riggs will run a special Stanley Tools scheme on the #10 Evernham Motorsports Dodge at Talladega Superspeedway on April 30th, Stanley FatMax Xtreme Tools, which is part of the ten race primary sponsorship with Stanley Tools. See an image of the scheme on my #10 Team Schemes page.(4-19-2006)

    • 650 for Mikey: #55 NAPA Auto Parts driver Michael Waltrip will make his 650th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend. Waltrip sits 15th overall in career NASCAR Cup Series starts and is fourth among full-time active NEXTEL Cup Series drivers.(Wasserman Media Group/NAPA PR)(4-19-2006)

    • France backing all-star race locale: NASCAR Chairman Brian France offered his strongest endorsement yet for keeping the all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway during a speech Tuesday at the Charlotte Business Journal's annual Power Breakfast, the Business Journal reports. France, who has flirted with the notion of relocating the Nextel All-Star Challenge in recent years, said reinvigorated corporate and community support for the race has put it on more solid ground. The all-star race has attracted crowds of 120,000 to 140,000 in recent years. This year's race is May 20. "I think the all-star race has done very, very well here," France said during the speech in front of more than 1,000 civic and business leaders gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center. "Historically, big events tend not to move around much unless they're not working well. [Charlotte civic leaders] have started to rally around the [motorsports] industry and the all-star race. Community leaders have sorted [an earlier lack of attention] out." The NASCAR chairman also said the uncertainty of moving events around on the schedule is a "bad business model" because it discourages track operators from investing in their events and venues. A recent higher profile for the all-star race and related events has made France more bullish on having it in Charlotte: "I hope we'll be able to keep it here." Even France's endorsement included a bit of wiggle room. He reiterated his stance that every race is subject to re-evaluation on a yearly basis. Still, the positive comments on the all-star race in Charlotte represent France's strongest public backing of keeping it in place. Corporate and political leaders began rallying around the all-star race when NASCAR officials began discussing a possible relocation of the event in 2004. Since then, a local organizing committee has been formed with state and local government agencies contributing money to create ancillary events tied to the race.(

    • #74 withdraws from Phoenix and skip Talladega: McGlynn Racing announced that Derrike Cope and the #74 Dodge will withdraw from this weekend's Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Speedway. The team will also skip the Aaron's 499 at Talladega. During this period, Derrike and the team will be conducting testing for upcoming race events that are important to team sponsors. Having 35 spots guaranteed to the larger teams presents a significant challenge to the smaller, less funded teams. Since the team is not in a position to challenge for the top 35 points position at this time the team feels the best course of action is to skip select races to concentrate more effort on those they do enter. McGlynn Racing and Derrike continue to receive great support from of each of our current sponsors and are always searching for additional sponsors to improve upon equipment and hire personnel to make us even better," said Ryan McGlynn, General Manager for the team. For more information on McGlynn Racing, visit Racing PR)
      AND hearing that McGlynn Racing/Cope are conducting a private test session with a European driver and sponsor next week at an undisclosed location. The purpose of the test is to audition the driver for a possible second McGlynn car later this season. If the driver is hired by McGlynn Racing, Cope will mentor the driver as he learns the ropes in ARCA and the Busch Series then onto Cup competition late in 2006 and full time Cup Series in 2007. Cope will remain the primary driver of the #74 car. The visiting driver and representatives of the major sponsor will be visiting the team to finalize the proposed partnership. An announcement is expected soon after the testing is complete.(4-19-2006)

    • Pennzoil to sponsor Kluever at Texas in Nov.: Pennzoil and Roush Racing announced that Pennzoil Platinum will be the primary sponsor for the #06 Ford Fusion entry driven by Todd Kluever in the NEXTEL Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5. Kluever's seven-race schedule will consist of Chicagoland, July 9; Michigan, August 20; California, September 3; Kansas, October 1; Lowe's Motor Speedway, October 14; Texas, November 5 and Phoenix, November 12. The other six races will be sponsored by his current Busch Series primary sponsor, 3M.(Roush Racing PR)(4-19-2006)

    • Rookie News and Notes - Pre-Phoenix, Post Texas: Denny Hamlin was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the April 9 Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Hamlin finished fourth, his best finish in 14 career NEXTEL Cup Series starts. He led the race three times for 41 laps, and took top rookie honors for the third time this season and for the second time in the last three races.
      For the first time this season, Hamlin grabbed the lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings. He leads Clint Bowyer by three points (71-68) entering the April 22 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Martin Truex Jr. finished eighth at Texas, his first top-10 finish of the 2006 season. The Samsung/RadioShack 500 was the first race this season where TWO or more Raybestos Rookies have finished inside the top 10.
      The Samsung/RadioShack 500 is the only race this season where THREE or more Raybestos Rookies led at least one lap in the same race: Hamlin, Truex Jr. (once for two laps) and J.J. Yeley (once for two laps). See more Rookie Notes and Standings on my Rookies page.(Raybestos PR)(4-19-2006)

      News from April 18, 2006

    • Sad News - Barbara Cleveland: Services for Barbara Cleveland, 49, of Pahrump, who died April 15 in Pahrump, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Pahrump Winery. Barbara is the wife of former Pahrump Valley Times NASCAR columnist Davve Cleveland [NASCAR Junky]. She was born July 22, 1956 in Queens, N.Y. She moved to Nevada in 1982 and to Pahrump in the early 1990s, with her husband David, who with his wife owned Valley Homes in Pahrump. Barbara was trained in classical ballet and acting, she loved camping, fishing, gardening, and photography, NASCAR and worked for many organizations engaged in the battle against pancreatic and other cancers. She is survived by her husband, David, of Pahrump; father Jerry Padell of Pahrump; Sister Linda of Connecticut; a niece and nephew, Amanda and Glenn Greenberg; and many loving friends.(Pahrump Valley Times)(4-18-2006)

    • NASCAR, ESPN International announce venture: ESPN International will become the exclusive worldwide syndication agent for NASCAR outside of North America, officials for both groups announced. Beginning in 2007, ESPN International will handle the worldwide television syndication for NASCAR and will also help find broadcast partners on a country-by-country basis. Therefore, both companies will expand the scope of their operations. ESPN and ABC take over broadcasting of the portion of the NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule currently carried on NBC beginning next season. The group also has the rights to the Busch Series broadcasts as of 2007. "This agreement is an important step in the continued growth of NASCAR beyond the U.S.," Robbie Weiss, international managing director for NASCAR, said in a news release. "We are excited to partner with ESPN International and their worldwide syndication team to help strengthen NASCAR's reach and bring NASCAR to audiences all over the world."(

    • Different Car Models the answer in Busch Series? NASCAR continues to look for a way to differentiate the Busch Series from the premiere Nextel Cup Series, in answer to critics who suggest Busch has become Cup Lite, with near-identical cars and a plethora of invading Nextel Cup drivers. One possible way: Change the Busch Series cars from sedans to the manufacturers’ “pony” cars—the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Toyota Solara. Sound farfetched? It isn’t. “It’s under discussion with NASCAR,” said John Fernandez, director of Dodge’s racing operation. “It isn’t to what I’d consider the serious stage, but it is under discussion.” Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, said, “We’ve discussed it. And I’d like to see it. We need to do something about the Busch Series.” Given the production schedule of the Camaro and Challenger, it is unlikely those cars would be able to enter the Busch Series before the 2008 season, with 2009 a more likely scenario. By then Nextel Cup’s Car of Tomorrow redesign should be in place. One scenario would have the Busch pony cars built on modified platforms from the Nextel Cup cars used now, thus helping team owners who say the Car of Tomorrow seriously reduces the value of the old cars. Manufacturers are hoping that if it happens, NASCAR will allow the pony car racers.(

    • #12 to run blue and purple scheme? UPDATE 3 - "MyCircle" and? 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)
      UPDATE 2: #12-Ryan Newman will make his eighth Phoenix International Raceway start and his 160th in NASCAR's Cup Series this Saturday. The new paint scheme on the Alltel Dodge this weekend will be hard to miss. The paint [purple] scheme highlights a new feature that Alltel will launch soon. The team plans on showcasing the paint scheme in several upcoming NEXTEL Cup Series races.(Penske Racing PR).
      UPDATE 3: have another image of the car, looks like the program will be MyCircle as is noted on the purple hood, see images of the scheme on my #12 Team Schemes page.(4-18-2006)

    • Special Scheme for #24 at All-Star race and other races: Jeff Gordon’s #24 DuPont car will once again carry the DuPont Performance Alliance colors at the Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge on May 20, 2006. Like last year, the car's color scheme was designed by renowned NASCAR graphic artist Sam Bass. This special version of the #24 Chevy celebrates DuPont’s all-star collision repair centers and auto body shops throughout the United States. The paint scheme reverses the primary colors of the Fire and Flames design, and the Performance Alliance logo and name will be featured on the hood, side panels and TV panel. Gordon will also be wearing a matching Performance Alliance-themed uniform for the special event. The Performance Alliance logo will appear on the cars decklid or tv panel at Richmond [May]. Dover [June], Loudon [July], Pocono [July], Watkins Glen, LMS [Oct], Martinsville and Texas. See images of the three schemes on my #24 Team Schemes page.(4-18-2006)

    • Sylvania scheme on #07 at Phoenix: Clint Bowyer's #07 Richard Childress Racing Chevy will sport an orange and white Sylvania paint scheme this weekend at Phoenix. Headquartered in Danvers, Mass., OSRAM SYLVANIA is the North American lighting operation of OSRAM GmbH. Together they are the second-largest lighting and materials enterprise in the world, serving customers in more than 140 countries. Bowyer's standard primary sponsor, Jack Daniel's, is featured on the car's lower-rear quarter panel and on the trunk lid this week.(RCR PR), no image yet, but Bowyer ran a Sylvania scheme on RCR's #33 Chevy last year in this race.(4-18-2006)

    • Graves Steps Down as Ganassi Team Manager: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today that Andy Graves has resigned his position as team manager and will be reassigned to a different position within the company. "Andy Graves has been a passionate and valued member of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for the past seven years," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "I have an extremely high regard for him both professionally and personally and look forward to his continued contributions here at Chip Ganassi Racing."
      "It has been a privilege to work with Chip, Felix and the whole team over the last seven seasons," said Graves. "These years with the team have been a part of my life that I will never forget and for that I am truly grateful. I am now just looking forward to the next chapter of my career here at Chip Ganassi Racing." Graves was in his sixth season as team manager for CGRFS. He joined CGRFS in 2000 as one of its first employees and was promptly named team manager for the Indianapolis 500 team that would go on to capture the 2000 Indianapolis 500 crown. Graves was also instrumental in the transition from SABCO to CGRFS. On an interim basis the duties of team manager will be absorbed by the current management staff that is in place.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(4-18-2006)

    • Portenga to attempt Phoneix: former Truck Series driver Steve Potenga will attempt to make the Subwy Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in the #52 Ware Racing Dodge.(4-18-2006)

      News from April 17, 2006

    • #40 Crew Chief change? UPDATE: hearing that Steve Lane has taken over crew chiefing the #40 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge for rookie driver David Stremme, no word on plans to crew chief Jeff Vandermoss who was the crew chief. Vandermoss moves over to the #41 Target team and driver Reed Sorenson as the car chief. Lane was the car chief there.
      UPDATE: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today that Steven Lane will take over crew chief duties on the #40 Coors Light/Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon Dodge starting this weekend in Phoenix. "Everyone is excited about the experience that Steve will bring to the #40 team," Team Manager Andy Graves said. "This is Steve's third year with the organization and has been instrumental in the success of this year's #41 car. We are committed to getting all three teams running up front and Steve brings with him the necessary experience to help both David Stremme and the entire team. This is a great opportunity for him and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates." Lane has been the car chief on the #41 Dodge since joining the CGRFS team in 2004. Before coming on board at CGRFS, Lane was crew chief of the #45 Petty Enterprises Dodge for two seasons. He also served as Jeremy Mayfield's car chief at Penske from 1997 through 2001. Jeff Vandermoss will assume the car chief duties on the #41 Dodge. Vandermoss began the season as crew chief on the #40 car after a successful seven-year career at Roush Racing, four of those years as the car chief for Matt Kenseth.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(4-17-2006)

    • Sad News: Louise Smith: Louise Smith [obit link], Greenville's stock car racing pioneer whose fearless passion for speed made her the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999, died Saturday. She was 89. Smith battled cancer and had been under hospice care in Anderson, but she remained fiercely independent well into her ninth decade, according to Dora E. Owens, one of her nieces. A native of Barnesville, Ga., Smith lived in Greenville from age 4. Her father and brothers were mechanics. One of her early memories was of driving her daddy's Model T --straight into the chickenhouse. Services for Smith will be today at 2 p.m. in the chapel of Westville Funeral Home, 6010 White Horse Road. The family will receive friends from 12:30-1:30pm/et before the services. Interment will be in Graceland West in Greenville.(Greenville News), Smith raced in 11 Grand National [now Nextel Cup] races in 1949, 1950 and 1952. Her best finish was 16th at Langhorne in 1950, her last race was in 1952 at Morristown, NJ.(4-17-2006)

    • Kurt Busch tests at the Rock: #2-Kurt Busch is testing at North Carolina Speedway [Rockingham] in preparation for the upcoming race at Darlington. Busch and the team are testing there as the track surfaces are worn and similar.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(4-17-2006)

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