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    NOVEMBER 20-26, 2006

      News from November 26, 2006

    • Johnson Finishes Season With Top Driver Rating: Not only did #48-Jimmie Johnson out-duel Matt Kenseth to win his first career Nextel Cup championship, he also finished the season with the highest Driver Rating. Driver Rating, part of NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics, uses a formula to rate a driver based on a number of factors including: wins, top-15 finishes, Average Running Position, Average Green-Flag Speed, Most Laps Led and Lead-Lap Finishes. The close championship battle was not only evident in the point standings, but also in Driver Rating. Johnson finished the season with a Driver Rating of 101.9, only a fraction of a point better than second-place Matt Kenseth who finished with a rating of 101.7. Johnson’s slim points lead over Kenseth is also illustrated in five other Loop Data categories. He leads Kenseth in Average Starting Position with 10.8 to Kenseth’s 14.6 and in Average Finish, 9.7 to Kenseth’s 9.8. Johnson’s Average Running Position of 10.8 was also better than Kenseth’s 11.5. Johnson also completed the Fastest Lap nearly 100 more times than Johnson this season. Johnson (1,952) also completed over 100 more Quality Passes than Kenseth (1,820).(NASCAR PR)(11-26-2006)

    • Wypall Wipers Crowns Crew Chief Champions: Wypall Wipers announced Robbie Reiser, Trip Bruce and Rick Ren as the winners of its 2006 Crew Chief Challenge. The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge has been a season-long contest to determine the best crew chiefs in the garage. At the conclusion of each event in racing's top-three series, a panel of judges, including Tony Eury Sr., Director of Competition at Dale Earnhardt, Inc., a member of the local media and a Wypall Wipers representative, decided which crew chief did an outstanding job. It wasn't necessarily the crew chief that went to victory lane, but it was always the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team. The crew chief in each series with the most weekly wins won top honors as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge spotlights the crew chief's efforts to get his team in Victory Lane.
      Robbie Reiser, crew chief of the Nextel Cup Series #17 Roush Racing DeWalt Ford, earned Crew Chief of the Race accolades at five events this season, narrowly edging Kenny Francis, crew chief of the #9 Dodge Dealers Dodge, who won the award four times. Reiser received $20,000 as the Crew Chief of the Year.
      Trip Bruce, crew chief of the Busch Series #9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger, won the Crew Chief of the Race award five times this season, beating out Shane Wilson, crew chief of the #21 Coast Guard Chevrolet, who picked up four wins. Bruce won $10,000 for his achievement.
      Rick Ren, crew chief of the Craftsman Truck Series #23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota, won a close competition over Mike Hillman Jr., crew chief of the #30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota, for Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year honors. Ren won the Crew Chief of the Race award five times throughout 2006, earning a $10,000 grand prize as the champion.
      Wypall Wipers will return in 2007 with its Crew Chief Challenge and continue to spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto

    • Mike Hampton Wins Chase Tracker Game: Mike Hampton was on the stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway celebrating Jimmie Johnson’s Nextel Cup Series championship when he got news of his own victory. Hampton correctly identified the final position of four drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup – including Johnson – to win the 2006 Nextel Chase Tracker game. Hampton, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, entered the season finale in fifth place out of 20 Chase Tracker celebrities, but accumulated 55 points to pass former Green Bay Packer Aaron Taylor for the win, 138-136. Former Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee finished third with 127 points. San Diego Padres pitcher Jake Peavy was leading the standings heading into Homestead, but only picked two drivers’ final positions in the standings and finished fifth with 121 points. Taylor, who was in third before Homestead, held a three point lead over Hampton and both athletes correctly identified four drivers final position in the standings, including Johnson. Hampton secured his Chase Tracker championship by predicting Greg Biffle’s victory in the Ford 400. Hampton was one of six different athletes to lead the Chase Tracker game. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady led the first two weeks, followed by former Chicago Bulls superstar Scottie Pippen, Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Peavy. Each contestant filled out the Chase Tracker grid with their Chase predictions prior to the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Each grid contains the predicted order of the Chase drivers after each race as well as a predicted race winner. Points are awarded for each correct pick following each event. One point is awarded for each correct pick in week one, two for each correct pick in week two and so on through the final race on Nov. 19. Each correct pick of the race winner earns the contestant five bonus points. Correctly predicting the 2006 Nextel Cup Series champion is worth 20 points.(NASCAR PR)(11-26-2006)

      News from November 25, 2006

    • More on Sauter to the #88, or will it be Rudd?: The stars appear to have lined up perfectly for Johnny Sauter to drive Robert Yates Racing's #88 Ford Fusion in the Nextel Cup Series next season. Sauter has the inside track to the only car without a driver in the top 35 in the Nextel Cup owner points, guaranteeing a position in the Daytona 500 and the next four races in 2007. Yates is also talking to Ricky Rudd, who doesn't want to compete full time. Unless Yates can induce the 50-year-old Rudd into changing his mind -- and it seems unlikely -- the #88 belongs to Sauter. They're the only two drivers under consideration.(CNNSI)(11-25-2006)

    • Mears and National Guard in Turkey race: while not yet confirmed, it was reported a while back that the National Guard sponsorship would move from the #16 Greg Biffle Ford to the #25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy that Casey Mears will drive in 2007. It has been reported that Mears drove a sprint car at Irwindale Speedway in the Turkey Night Grand Prix and was sponsored by the National Guard and he was wearing a National Guard/GMAC Hendrick firesuit. It was recently announced that the National Guard would not return to the #16 [Ameriquest and 3M will sponsor Biffle in 2007](11-25-2006)

    • BAM Racing to return in 2007, Bliss to drive? Although the Beth-Ann Morgenthau/BAM Racing owned operation haven't confirmed their driver for the #49 Dodge for 2007, team manager Eddie Jones and current crew chief David Hyder, as well as the primary sponsor, have all been confirmed for the 2007 season. With Mike Wallace, Chris Cook, Kevin Lepage and Mike Bliss all spending time behind the wheel of the #49 Dodge during the course of the year following Brent Sherman's departure, consistency was a major problem for the team in 2006 and it was no surprise to see the team finish 40th in the final team standings having failed to qualify for eleven of the 36 races.(in part from

    • Tragic News: A Kansas woman and her teenage son have died in a wreck on Interstate 85 in South Carolina. Daniel John Becker, 19, of Mooresville, N.C., was driving south at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, when a northbound tractor-trailer crossed the median, went through the barrier cables, and hit his car nearly head-on, troopers said [Becker worked in Concord NC at the Fast Track Driving/Racing School]. Pamela Becker, of Milford, Kan., was taken to the hospital, where she died Thursday from head injuries. The tractor-trailer also hit two other vehicles, but no one else was seriously injured, authorities said.(Topeka Capital-Journal)(11-25-2006)

      News from November 24, 2006

    • Stewart makes surprise appearance: Two-time Nextel Cup Series champion Tony Stewart made a surprise appearance in the 66th running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Irwindale Speedway on Thursday night. Stewart spent the afternoon putting down test laps, but made no indication he was racing until he took his car out for qualifying. It turns out Stewart was trying to make his first USAC race of the year. Not that he has much time for USAC racing with his NASCAR schedule. But he owns a Midget team and apparently decided a week ago to race his own car in the traditional USAC event that is run on Thanksgiving. After beating a slew of NASCAR stars in qualifying, Kody Swanson of Kingsburg ended up battling his Western Speed Racing teammate Billy Wease {Penske Dev. driver] in the Midget race. Wease led the final 20 laps to win after he and Swanson ran into lapped traffic late in the race. Wease was able to maneuver his way through the lapped cars better than Swanson and won by 0.189seconds. Swanson, who crashed and rolled his car during the USAC Sprint car race, started from the pole in the 100-lap Midget race that included a NASCAR-filled field with Stewart, Mears, Jason Leffler and Truck Series driver Bobby East. Wease, who started fifth, caught Swanson on lap 80 and took the lead on the next lap. But on lap 90, Stewart crashed with Brady Bacon [Ganassi Dev. Driver] and set up a five-lap shootout between Wease and Swanson. Casey Mears was the highest finisher among the NASCAR drivers entered in the race, taking 16th. Stewart was 24th, Leffler was 30th and East finished last, in 34th place. Swanson, from Kingsburg, Calif., was the top qualifier of the 59 cars that came out for the Midget race. He beat out Stewart, Mears, Leffler and a host of USAC stars to win the pole in 16.988 seconds around the half-mile paved oval. Mears, Stewart and East, a driver on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, were in the same Midget B-main race to qualify for the feature. East won the B-main with Stewart in second and Mears in fourth. Tony Hunt led all 30 laps of the USAC Sprint car race and capped his championship season with a win in the Turkey Night GP. Mike Murgoitio was second and Tracy Hines was third. Mears, who started the Sprint car race in eighth, finished 16th, more than 10 seconds behind the race winner.(Los Angeles Daily News)(11-24-2006)

    • Ince gets married and starting own team: Retired and former Nextel Cup Crew chief James Ince was married today at the Elvis Presley Chapel in Las Vegas Nevada. Mr. Ince wed Jennifer Kendelhard, 33 of Charlotte, NC. The couple reside in downtown Charlotte, NC and own Graceful Properties, a real estate investing firm in Charlotte together. James Ince Motorsports is planning on running a limited ABC [ARCA, Busch, Cup] race program in the second half of the 2007 race season, with a young developmental driver from the state of Missouri. Further information will follow as sponsors are put into place.(11-24-2006)

    • #32 Team closed after Homestead? UPDATE: hearing that PPI Motorsports will close up shop after the 2006 season, that the pit crew has been hired by Michael Waltrip Racing and most of the team/crew at the shop has been laid off. Driver Travis Kvapil, as announced, will drive a Roush Racing Truck in 2007. Sponsor Tide is leaving after this season and word is that they will not be back in NASCAR as a sponsor.(11-18-2006)
      UPDATE: Sunday’s “Ford 400” at Homestead-Miami Speedway was likely the final ride for Cal Wells and his PPI Racing Team. Longtime sponsor Tide announced a few weeks ago that it will leave the team (and the sport) at the end of the season, and Wells has been unsuccessful in securing a new backer for his struggling Nextel Cup team. Sources close to the situation say Wells informed his employees that he will close the doors later this week, after a hoped-for sponsorship deal fell through.(Motorsports Soapbox)(11-24-2006)

    • SPEED is looking for four serious NASCAR fans: The Charlotte-based network will conduct open auditions Dec. 9 at Michael Waltrip's new race shop in Cornelius, N.C. for SPEED Road Tour Challenge, a new reality show scheduled to debut Feb. 22 at 8:00pm/et. SPEED is in search of four NASCAR fans willing to travel to 13 races from Daytona through Charlotte, competing with each other along the way for a prize package that will include an offer to join the SPEED Road Tour crew for the remainder of the NASCAR season. Once four participants are selected, they will travel together by motor coach -- one equipped with cameras and microphones to record every turn and every pit stop along the way -- all hours of the day, seven days a week. Beginning at Daytona, the four will compete in weekly challenges, all recorded for a prime time television show scheduled to debut on SPEED in February with a one-hour tryout special. Interested fans should visit for more information and a SPEED Road Tour Challenge application.(

      News from November 23, 2006

    • Earnhardt's Driver Suit stolen from TMS: The Fort Worth [Texas] Police Department is investigating the theft of a vintage racing suit once worn by Dale Earnhardt Sr., according to a department news release. Earnhardt’s racing suit, along with a helmet, racing gloves and a pair of racing shoes turned up missing from a locked storage closet earlier this month at the Texas Motor Speedway, the release read. The racing suit was part of a promotional display that was taken down on Nov. 5, according to the release, and the items were then boxed up and placed in storage. A week later, staffers discovered that the items, which are valued at up to $100,000, were missing, the release read. The suit was housed at the TMS because it was donated to its president, Eddie Gossage. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 817-469-TIPS. There is a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible.(

    • Johnson's Pit Crew Claims Season Title: The pit crew for newly-crowned Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson claimed the season-long Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition. Though Johnson's #48 Lowe's crew was tied with Tony Stewart's crew with five wins each, the tiebreaker went to Johnson's crew for having the highest finish in the driver point standings. For winning the season pit crew championship, Johnson's team will collect a $105,000 bonus from Checkers/Rally's. The presentation will be made Nov. 30 in New York City at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon. By winning the Checkers/Rally's weekly competition five times and earning $10,500 for each victory, the total prize money earned in 2006 by Johnson's pit crew was $157,500. Johnson's over-the-wall crew consists of: Chris Anderson (jackman), Art Simmons (front-tire carrier), Mike Trower (front-tire changer), Ron Malec (rear-tire carrier), Tim Ladyga (rear-tire changer), Rich Gutierrez (gasman), Mike Knauer (catch can) and Sean Kerlin (eighth-man). The team's pit crew coach is Matt Clark and the crew chief is Chad Knaus.
      "I'd like to congratulate Jimmie Johnson's crew for winning the Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge championship as well as the Nextel Cup championship," said Rich Turer, Vice President of Marketing, Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. "It was a competitive season among the pit crews with 15 different teams winning the weekly competition. Checkers/Rally's is excited to bring the spotlight to the crew members, who play an integral role in the success of each team."
      Joe Nemechek's U.S. Army pit crew took top honors in Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was the second Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge win for the #01 team. Nemechek's over-the-wall crew, which spent 298.990 seconds on pit road, includes: Scott King (jackman), John Boyd (front-tire carrier), Charlie Brock (front-tire changer), Dwayne Moore (rear-tire carrier), Dave Woodhead (rear-tire changer), Danny Harrington (gasman), Mark Bieberich (catch can) and J.D. Hilton (windshield). The team's crew chief is Ryan Pemberton and the pit crew coach is Lance Munksgard.
      Checkers/Rally's paid out $483,000 in prize money during the 2006 Nextel Cup season. Checkers/Rally's is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at The Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge is in its second season with the Nextel Cup Series.(DMF Communications PR), see race by race results, season ending totals and more on my 2006 Pit Crew News page.(11-23-2006)

      News from November 22, 2006

    • Schwan's not sponsoring a team in 2007? hearing that Schwan's Home Service, who sponsored #45-Kyle Petty in five 2006 races, will not sponsor any Nextel Cup team in 2007.(11-22-2006)

    • Hoosier back in NASCAR if Goodyear strike continues? UPDATE 2 denied: An Oct. 5 system-wide strike by some 15,000 United Steelworkers union members at 16 Goodyear Tire and Rubber manufacturing plants might have provided Lakeville, Indiana-based Hoosier Tire and Rubber a chance to get rolling again in NASCAR's three top racing divisions, sources close to the situation said. A meeting between Hoosier and NASCAR occurred last week at the latter's Daytona Beach headquarters to establish a contingency plan that likely will kick into action by the end of November so that NASCAR's Nextel Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series will have race tires on which to compete after the sanctioning body's first event of the 2007 season at Daytona International Speedway. Presently, non-striking Goodyear workers -- most of whom normally perform white-collar duties -- are at full-tilt-boogie in producing enough tires to satisfy demand for Daytona Beach's Speed Weeks at NASCAR's 2.5-mile "home" track. But it's Goodyear's inability to meet demand for the rest of the 2007 race schedule that has caused concern at NASCAR. For 2007 Goodyear currently sees itself as producing tires only for Nextel Cups three biggest races held at Daytona, Charlotte and Indianapolis. With roughly a three-month lead time needed for manufacturing lines to ramp-up and complete tire production, such leaves Goodyear needing to settle the dispute with its workers no later than about the end of next week so that tires can be made ready for the February 25, 2007, California Speedway race. "From everything I've heard," said one well-placed Wall Street insider consulted for this story, "Goodyear is looking to outsource the manufacture of its product in the long haul." See full story at
      UPDATE: Goodyear officials have indicated NASCAR race tire production has not been affected by the strike. 2007 race production is on schedule.(11-17-2006)
      UPDATE 2: While there has been little progress made between tire manufacturer Goodyear and United Steelworkers union members, rumors that NASCAR is looking to Hoosier for tires in 2007 aren't true, officials with both Goodyear and NASCAR said. Approximately 15,000 USW members went on strike at 16 Goodyear plants in the U.S. and Canada, sparking rumors that Goodyear would not be able to provide race tires for NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series next season. Talk that Hoosier officials were having meetings with NASCAR officials at the Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., as well as NASCAR's Daytona Beach headquarters did little to quell the rumors. "We talk to someone from Hoosier probably every week," Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications, said Nov. 17. "Hoosier supplies tires for a number of NASCAR's regional series. They supply tires for Grand Am, for ARCA as well." But, he said, such talks have not dealt with Hoosier providing tires for either Cup, Busch or Craftsman truck series teams.(

    • Parsons to Receive NCMA Award: The North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA) will honor the outstanding achievement of individuals and organizations that have a significant impact on the North Carolina motorsports industry at the new Concord Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at the Inaugural NCMA Awards Banquet. Companies are nominated for nine awards in seven distinct categories including education, diversity, marketing, economic development, safety innovations, event facilities and manufactures & suppliers. Nominees do not have to be Association members. The event will culminate with the Achievement in Motorsports Tribute Award. This year’s recipient of this prestigious lifetime achievement award will be International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Benny Parsons. Parsons, 1973 NASCAR Cup Series champion, NBC and TNT television commentator and radio talk-show host, has devoted his life to motorsports as a competitor, analyst and -- most importantly -- as a friend to many in the industry. Parsons also recently battled lung cancer while remaining active and involved in the sport that truly is his passion. The Tribute Award is a continuation of the concept to honor the biggest contributors to Motorsports which began with the Bill France Tribute Dinner in 2004. Members of NASCAR will be on hand to “pass the baton” to Benny.
      Award nominations are underway and will be evaluated by the NCMA Awards Nomination Committee, which is made up of Motorsports professionals and industry experts. Three finalists for each award are chosen by the Nominations Committee. Then NCMA member votes will determine the winners. The NCMA, led by executive director Andy Papathanassiou, is the voice of the motorsports industry in North Carolina, representing businesses that support more than 26,000 jobs in North Carolina. During 2004, the NCMA commissioned a study which revealed that the industry is responsible for that level of employment and has a total economic impact of $5.9 billion annually within the state. The economic impact study played an important role in Charlotte’s successful bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Richard Petty is chairman and Rick Hendrick the vice-chairman of the NCMA Board of Trustees. Steve Earwood, president of Rockingham Dragway is the Board of Directors chairman.(Performance PR Plus)(11-22-2006)

    • Kenny Lee Wallace to carry JEGS Banner into NASCAR arena: JEGS Automotive, Inc is taking a big step into the NASCAR arena by signing colorful driver and television personality Kenny Wallace as a company spokesman. Wallace will carry the familiar yellow and black JEGS logo onto Speed TV's highly-rated NASCAR Raceday prerace and NASCAR Victory Lane shows, the JEGS colors will also be on the #78 Furniture Row Nextel Cup car and will brand his Late Model and Modified Stock Cars with prominent JEGS signage. Wallace will add a JEGS logo to all the items in his on-air wardrobe and will campaign a JEGS Mail Order Late Model Stock Car at approximately 30 races on the United Midwestern Promoters (UMP) tour. He will also promote JEGS with prominent signage on his St. Louis Cardinals-themed UMP Modified Stock Car racer.(JEGS PR)(11-22-2006)

      News from November 20, 2006

    • MB2 Motorsports Changes Name to Ginn Racing: MB2 Motorsports has changed its name to Ginn Racing, effective immediately. The name change is a result of the team's new owner Bobby Ginn, who purchased majority interest in the racing organization in July. Regarding the pronunciation of Ginn -- it is GHIN as in the second syllable of begin. The company's web site address is: MB2 Motorsports began operations in July 1996. Ginn Racing will field three full-time Nextel Cup teams in 2007 with drivers Mark Martin/Regan Smith sharing the #01 U.S. Army Chevy ride, Joe Nemechek in the #13 Chevy and Sterling Marlin in the #14 Chevy. The organization will also field a full-time Busch Series team with Smith and Kraig Kinser co-driving a Ginn Racing Chevy. The team's development program includes drivers Jesus Hernandez and Ricky Carmichael. Ginn Racing is based in Mooresville, N.C.(Ginn Racing PR)(11-21-2006)

    • Homestead overnight TV ratings drop 10.4%: NBC's broadcast of Sunday's Ford 400 Nextel Cup season finale earned a 4.3 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 7 market share, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating represents a 10.4% drop from the 4.8/9 the race earned overnight in 2005 and a 23.2% drop from 2004, when the format of the Chase For The Nextel Cup was used for the first time.(

    • Haas CNC Racing Opens New Shop; will run 2nd full time Cup team in 2007: Haas Racing #66 Best Buy Chevy / Jeff Green] held a grand opening of its new facility at Kannapolis Gateway Business Park on Monday to a crowd of local leaders, race fans and Haas employees. Gene Haas, owner of Haas CNC Machinery, was on hand to cut the ribbon and open the 144,000-square-foot facility. "This was a big undertaking," Haas said. "We broke ground a year ago and here we are. It was very quick." Kannapolis Mayor Bob Misenheimer said this was a major investment in Kannapolis. Total cost for the new building is $16 million. Joe Custer, head of Haas Racing, said this new facility will be the new headquarters for two racing teams - the Best Buy Racing Team, with the #66 car, driven by Jeff Green, and the race team for the #70 Cup car [could be Johnny Sauter as driver]. That team sponsor has not been officially announced, Custer said. "We will have two (Nextel) Cup teams operating here," Custer said. On the main floor, visitors mingled among race cars, with finger food and drinks in hand. Kids ran around, their eyes excited at being up close to a real race car. Drive Jeff Green was on hand to give an interview to a racing network. Haas Racing moved from Harrisburg and is planning a state-of-the-art rolling road wind tunnel facility on Ivey Cline Road in Concord, NC. The wind tunnel will employ a belt system for the car to ride on while in the wind tunnel and will create maximum sustained winds of 180 mph.(Kannapolis Independent Tribune)(11-21-2006)

    • Ragan not cleared yet by NASCAR: David Ragan has not raced in a Nextel Cup event since NASCAR held him out of the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last month, but he still could race in the season-opening Daytona 500 next year. Ragan is set to replace Mark Martin in the #6 AAA Ford Roush Racing entry next year. The rookie has failed to qualify for Nextel Cup races at Texas and Homestead since his rough outing at Martinsville that led to NASCAR keeping him out of the car for a week. A decision from NASCAR on whether it would hold Ragan out of the 2007 season opener could come this week, but that scenario seems unlikely.(

      News from November 20, 2006

    • Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Ford 400:
      Total number of commercials: 151
      Total number of companies or entities advertised: 76
      Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 25
      Restarts missed due to being away at commercial: 0
      Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:50pm/et
      End time to record race/commercial periods: 6:31pm/et
      Total minutes: 221
      Minutes of race broadcast: 147
      Minutes of commercials: 74
      See full report at

    • Still a chance for Villeneuve in Cup..with his own team? UPDATE: There remains an outside chance that former Formula 1 World Champion and Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve could end up behind the wheel of a Nextel Cup car in 2007. That’s the word from Roush Racing President Geoff Smith, who said Roush would help Villeneuve put together a team, if his handlers can bring the money to make it happen. “We’re open to it, we’re willing to work with them, but, really the ball is in their court right now,” Smith said Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “His (Villeneuve’s) manager, Craig Pollock, he’s the man behind the marketing of that, and … I’ve heard in the garage that certain sponsors are being pitched by him, so there is some activity going on.” If a deal were to happen, it would not be in a Roush car, since that would exceed NASCAR’s team-size limit. Instead it would be a squad the Canadian driver and his minions would assemble, with Roush providing the technical muscle. “There’s two kinds of chances, and they’re both related to whether or not his marketing organization, which supports him, can close on financial support,” Smith said. “If they’re able to close on full-time Cup support in the next few minutes, few days, then we can support that team with cars, engines, gears, all the hardware stuff — enough to get it up and running. If they’re not able to do that shortly, but they’re able to get a support for commitment next year that’s partial, then we’ll have a little more time to be able to put an infrastructure around helping them,” Smith said.(Speed Channel)(11-19-2006)
      UPDATE: The US$100 million Canada's Jacques Villeneuve banked during his five years with Formula One's BAR-Honda team may end up being the stake for his entry into the Nextel Cup series. After lengthy negotiations with Roush Racing failed to produce more than just promises, Villeneuve and his manager Craig Pollock appear headed toward buying their own Cup team. Roush general manager Geoff Smith told Speed TV that the organization will help Villeneuve and Pollock put together their own team if they come up with the money. That help would be in the form of Roush-built chassis and engines from the Roush-Yates Ford motor program. The 35-year-old Villeneuve, meanwhile, became a father this week for the first time after his wife Johanna gave birth to a baby boy, named Jules, on Tuesday.(Toronto Sun)(11-20-2006)

    • Almirola could make Cup debut in 2007: Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs said Tampa product Aric Almirola is likely to make his Nextel Cup debut next season as part of a plan to enter him in up to 20 Busch Series races and test a research and development car for the team's three current Cup programs. NASCAR holds seven open test sessions for all Cup teams and a driver must try to qualify for a race after attending the first two. They must then try to qualify for a race for every subsequent test. "For our future, it's our best option to concentrate on Busch stuff with him," Gibbs said. "It's only five races (less than) a full truck season so he'll probably benefit more from working with our guys." Almirola will race in both JGR's #18 and #20 Busch Chevrolet entry, Gibbs said.(St Petersburg Times)(11-20-2006)

    • Ford Mgr May Retire: Greg Specht, a veteran NASCAR field manager and the director of racing operations for Ford, is indicating he will be turning the reins over to someone else for 2007 and possibly retiring after 30 years in the business. But it's unclear who might replace Specht, who has been the right-hand man for Ford racing boss Dan Davis.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-20-2006)

    • Newman called to the Hauler about Montoya wreck: #12-Ryan Newman's final night of the 2006 season lasted a little longer than he had planned when he was called to the NASCAR hauler after #30-Juan Pablo Montoya spun into the wall and his car burst into flames. "That's just one of those things," Montoya said. "He came up to me and if that's what he wanted to do, I don't care. I'm not racing for points or anything here." Newman spun into the grass with 21 laps to go and said that was his fault with no help from Montoya, who was beside him when it happened. When Newman was behind Montoya when his car went into a tailspin, NASCAR officials wanted to talk to Newman to find out if it was a payback move. "We were basically going for the same piece of real estate," Newman said when he came out of the hauler. "His bumper went across my nose and it spun him out. This was nobody but racing's fault, in my opinion. I felt bad for the situation because obviously it looked like I was retaliating and that wasn't the case, and that's what we talked about in there."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(11-20-2006)

    • Borland to meet with Penske: Matt Borland [former? #12 crew chief] is scheduled to meet with Penske Racing South owner Roger Penske on Monday, a day after missing his second consecutive Nextel Cup event. If no decisions are reached regarding Borland's future in that meeting, nothing might be decided until he meets with Don Miller, the team's president, and others the week after Thanksgiving. Borland has served as Ryan Newman's crew chief since Newman made the move to stock cars, but he received permission to skip the year's final two events. Newman said at Phoenix that he'd have a new crew chief in 2007, as Borland focused on spending more time with his family. A source, though, indicated Borland could still remain crew chief if he had a change of heart. Reached by phone on Saturday, Borland said he wasn't sure where things stood, adding that he didn't want to say anything more until after meeting with Penske. While rumors persisted at Homestead that Borland is looking for opportunities elsewhere, Miller expects Borland remain with the team, though it could be in an engineering role.(, one recent rumor had Borland going to Red Bull Racing as Brian Vickers crew chief in 2007.
      AND Matt Borland's run as Ryan Newman's crew chief appears to be over. Borland, who asked for a leave of absence as Ryan Newman's crew chief for the final two races, is expected to become the director of competition at Penske Racing South next season. Team officials said an official announcement should come within the next couple of weeks.(, one recent rumor had Borland going to Red Bull Racing as Brian Vickers crew chief in 2007.(11-20-2006)

    • Stewart wins lap leader award: #20-Tony Stewart clinched the $75,000 cash prize as the WIX Filters Lap Leader of the 2006 season. This is the second consecutive season Stewart has captured the overall prize.(Camp & Assoc PR)(11-20-2006)

    • Daytona 500 and Championship in same year: only eight times by five drivers has the Daytona 500 and the Nextel Cup Championship been won in the same season:
      1959: Lee Petty
      1964, 1971, 1974, 1779: Richard Petty
      1977: Cale Yarborough
      1997: Jeff Gordon
      2006: Jimmie Johnson.(11-20-2006)

    2006 Nextel Cup Schedule
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