News from December 3, 2006
- HANS Device wins Award: Bob Hubbard and Jim Downing, founders of HANS Performance Products, manufacturers of the internationally award winning HANS Device, are the recipients of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s (AARWBA) inaugural Auto Racing Safety and Humanitarian Service Award. The award will be presented at the AARWBA’s 37th All America Team Banquet in January, where Jack Roush will be giving the keynote address. The AARWBA committee, comprised of professional motor sports journalists and photographers, were given a list of organizations and people who met certain criteria for the award. Part of the criteria required acts of kindness of heroic proportion without regard to the consequences. Details and information about HANS Performance Products are available on the company’s website http://www.hansdevice.com or by calling 1-888-HANS-999 or 770-457-1046.(HANS PR) Sam Hornish Jr. has confirmed he will attend the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s 37th annual All-America Team dinner, Saturday, January 13, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis. With triple Champ Car series titlist Sebastien Bourdais also scheduled to attend, the AARWBA celebration will mark a rare joint appearance by the champions of both major U.S. open-wheel tours.(12-3-2006)
- Shepherd Awarded by Nintendo:#89-Morgan Shepherd is one of 100 people across America who have been honored by game-maker Nintendo for their ageless endeavors, the company announced December 1. Amber McCollom, senior manager of public relations for Nintendo, said as part of his recognition as a 2006 Nintendo Ageless American, the 65-year-old Shepherd will be presented with a Nintendo DS player and Brain Age software to help allow him to "keep his mental muscle flexed." "Your devotion to challenging the limits of what one can accomplish is remarkable," McCollom said of Shepherd. "Your unbounded enthusiasm sets such a positive example for all ages." Shepherd will celebrate his 40th year in stock car racing during the 2007 season, beginning in February at the historic Daytona 500. Shepherd will again pilot the #89 Racing With Jesus Dodge Charger for Faith Motorsports in 2007.(Faith Motorsports PR)(12-3-2006)
News from December 2, 2006
- Sauter moving back up to Cup, with Haas CNC: Johnny Sauter is returning to the Nextel Cup Series, and will drive the #70 Chevy for Haas CNC Racing in 2007. Jeff Green, who finished 28th in the driver standings, will continue to drive the #66 for Haas CNC.(NASCAR.com)
AND been told that Bootie Barker will be crew chief for the #70 Haas CNC car [moving up with Sauter from the Busch Series] and Derick Jennings will be car chief moving from the #66 car.(12-2-2006)
- Hunter Honored: NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter was honored with the Buddy Shuman Award, presented at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers luncheon Thursday. The award is presented annually by NASCAR in recognition of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the growth of Cup Series racing. Louis Grier "Buddy" Shuman was a pioneer NASCAR Grand National driver and tough competitor who was well respected by his peers. He died in a hotel fire in 1955. NASCAR established the Buddy Shuman Award in 1957 to recognize outstanding contributions to NASCAR racing. "I love this sport. I love NASCAR," Hunter said. "I love the people in this sport. And I thank you for this honor."(SceneDaily.com)(12-2-2006)
- Benny Honored: Benny Parsons, NASCAR's 1973 Cup champion and a veteran broadcaster, has been named the 2006 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers Award. The award, named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers, was presented today during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon in New York. Parsons is the 47th recipient of the award. Parsons, who had 21 wins in 526 starts between 1964 and 1988, has more recently been a member of NBC/TNT's race broadcast team for the NASCAR Nextel Cup. Parsons, 65, underwent treatment for lung cancer earlier this year. "All the years that I've been there, been at the breakfast ... seeing all those people receive the awards, never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be me," Parsons said. "Because let's face it, it's for the RJ Reynolds, the Nextels, the Bill Frances and Bruton Smiths of the world, people like that. The real movers and shakers in this industry. I truly appreciate it, I really do." The Myers Brothers Award recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing.
- Dr. Petty Honored: As a physician, North Carolina neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty ranks among the top of his field. He also ranks highly in the minds of many NASCAR drivers, officials and industry members – both past and present – whom he’s cared for during his 46-year medical career. For those contributions, and his enduring commitment to the sport, Dr. Petty is being honored during this week’s 2006 Champions Week festivities in New York City. He’ll receive the Bill France NASCAR Award of Excellence during Friday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s historic Grand Ballroom. The Bill France NASCAR Award of Excellence spotlights career or lifetime achievements, and Dr. Petty’s longtime contributions have been crucial to the growth of NASCAR’s safety program. Dr. Petty, 71, has treated innumerable NASCAR participants since 1968 – the year he joined his Charlotte, N.C.-based practice. A Gastonia, N.C., native, he began his medical career in 1960 as an assistant neurological surgery resident at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. He ended his tenure there as a senior resident in 1967, and joined Charlotte Neurosurgery and Spine Center in Charlotte, N.C., in 1968. As an at-track medical presence, Dr. Petty has treated many NASCAR greats, team members and employees. His home track is Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where he’s worked the infield care center since 1970, but he’s equally renowned for his neurological skill and experience off-track, and at other NASCAR venues. Also, Dr. Petty has been a consultant for NASCAR’s medical liaison program since 2002, and his reservoir of experience and familiarity provides valuable long-term data and continuity. A University of North Carolina alumnus and 1960 graduate of the UNC Medical School, Dr. Petty served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force’s medical corps from 1961-63. He and his wife, Audrey, have four children and 11 grandchildren. Son Scott is a radiologist in Franklin, N.C. Daughter Mary Key is a speech pathologist and daughters Kate Boyd and Laura Barrett are registered nurses. Dr. Petty also serves as a team physician for the Carolina Panthers; he’s done so since their inaugural 1995 season.(NASCAR PR)(12-2-2006)
- Summer Shootout Highlights to Air on SPEED: Racing's stars of tomorrow will be in the spotlight during December, January and February as SPEED Channel presents 10 one-hour telecasts featuring highlights of the 13th annual Summer Shootout Series. Run on the frontstretch quarter-mile oval at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the 10-race series has served as a training ground for such NASCAR stars as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Reed Sorenson. The opening round is scheduled to air at noon (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 3, with subsequent rounds slated for broadcast at noon on Sunday, Dec. 10; Sunday, Dec. 17; Sunday, Jan. 7 and Sunday, Jan. 14. The remaining one-hour telecasts will air at noon on Saturday, Jan. 20; Saturday, Jan. 27; Saturday, Feb. 3; Sunday, Feb. 4; and Saturday, Feb. 10. Veteran Summer Shootout public address announcer Steve Post will anchor the telecasts with NASCAR analyst Wally Dallenbach and former motorcycle road racing star Dave Sadowski alternating as the color commentator. Veteran broadcaster Terry Chick will report from the garage area and victory lane.
The 13th annual Hardee's Summer Shootout featured three divisions of Legends Cars, three classes of Bandoleros and the Thunder Roadsters. School Bus races were run three times and the wild-and-wacky CRASHCars were in action on seven nights. In addition to the on-track action, the telecasts will introduce viewers to young racers such as 13-year-old Casey Roderick, of Lawrenceville, Ga., who won the prestigious Peach Auto Body Legends Car Pro division championship, and 11-year-old Cody Blackburn, of Stanley, N.C., who recorded 10 straight top-10 finishes en route to the Lucas Oil Bandolero Bandits title.
Several Summer Shootout competitors have close ties to the NASCAR community including: Mike Wallace's daughter Chrissy and son Matt; Richard Childress' grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon; and Dave Blaney's son Ryan. SPEED Channel's complete schedule is available at www.speedtv.com. Information about Legends Car, Bandolero or Thunder Roadster racing can be obtained by contacting 600 Racing at (704) 455-3896 or visiting www.600racing.com.(LMS PR)(12-2-2006)
News from December 1, 2006
- Nextel Cup Series Champions Week - Day 5:
Nextel Cup Series teams and drivers have competed all season long for this. It’s time to present the final point fund awards and this year’s total is another record-setting amount for NASCAR. Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevy) will collect a point fund award of $6,785,982, bringing his 2006 season total winnings to $15,770,125 – a new single season winnings record. Johnson has won more than $44 million during his Nextel Cup career. And that’s just the beginning. The Nextel Cup Top 10 drivers will share $22,081,489, the largest top 10 point fund payout in series history. Each of the Top 10 will receive over $1 million, and they aren’t the only million-dollar winners at year’s end.
Eleventh-place driver Tony Stewart (#20 The Home Depot Chevy) received a $250,000 bonus for finishing 11th and his total point fund award is $1,143,888. Stewart also receives $310,000 for winning three special awards – the Bank of America Card Services Mid-Race Leader Award, the USG Improving the Finish Award and the WIX Lap Leader Award – bringing his 2006 total to $8,739,169, the third-highest season total in the series. Matt Kenseth (#17 DeWALT Power Tools Ford), who finished second in the standings, receives $2,841,047 from the point fund and $75,000 for the Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award – to go along with his regular-season race winnings of $6,608,919 for a 2006 total of $9,524,966. It is $102,202 more than he won in 2003, when he was the series champion.
Sixth-place Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevy), the series’ all-time money leader, collects $1,495,574 from the point fund for a season total of $7,471,447. With this payout, Gordon’s career winnings now total $82,838,526.
The Nextel Cup Top 10 – those drivers who participated in the Chase for the Nextel Cup – gain the greatest rewards for their efforts, but the point fund is shared among many more drivers, down to 30th place in the standings. In total, more than $30.4 million will be distributed to the top 30 drivers.
Nextel Cup Series Top 10 – Point Awards and Season Totals:
any news, schedule for the week and appearances will be posted on my 2006 Cup Awards Page.(12-1-2006)
||#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- No Big Changes Expects in Points System/Chase: NASCAR has all but ruled out major changes to the point system or Chase for the Championship format, three of the sanctioning body's top officials said Thursday. President Mike Helton, vice president for competition Robin Pemberton and Nextel Cup series director John Darby said if there are any changes, they'll be minor. Helton said there is no need "to fix what isn't broken," and Darby said the most likely adjustment will be a few more points for wins. An announcement, he said, probably would come in January. Darby said NASCAR executives favor keeping the Chase field at 10 drivers, but he wouldn't rule out changing the format to make it slightly easier for someone below 10th place to qualify. Currently, any driver below 10th place who is within 400 points of the leader would qualify, and that hasn't happened yet. Pemberton said NASCAR won't drastically alter the existing formula, partly because of the risk of having someone who wins a few times during the Chase running away with it.(Tampa Tribune)(12-1-2006)
- Champ Provisional rules may be changed: Watch for NASCAR to limit the number of past-champion's provisionals any driver can take to make Nextel Cup races next season to six, series director John Darby said. Such exemptions - providing the 43rd starting spot to the most recent past champion not to qualify on speed or by car owners' points - were first introduced toward the end of Richard Petty's career. The new rule is most likely to affect 1999 champ Dale Jarrett, who will start the season with Michael Waltrip's new team, and 1988 title-holder Bill Elliott, who can be expected to race part time.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(12-1-2006)
- and the winner of the NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award is.....: NASCAR fans across the nation logged on to www.mostpopulardriver.com and with the click of a mouse, voted Dale Earnhardt, Jr. the most popular driver in 2006.Earnhardt, Jr. was presented with the NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver award Thursday, Nov 30th at the NASCAR Myers Brothers Award Luncheon in New York City. After receiving the award, this marks the fourth consecutive year the North Carolina native has won the prestigious award. After his selection in 2005, Earnhardt, Jr. joined drivers Bill Elliott and
Richard Petty as the only drivers to win four-straight. "I want to thank General Mills, Chex and the National Motorsports Press Association for this award," said Dale Earnhardt, Jr. "It's a great honor, because it's the only award in our sport voted on by the fans. I
share this award with my fans, because it is as much theirs as it is mine. I've always been grateful for their loyalty and support. Words can't say how much I appreciate it."
Throughout the race season, race fans logged on to www.mostpopulardriver.com and voted for their favorite driver. A total of 2,835,277 votes were cast this year, with Earnhardt, Jr. receiving 1,172,195 votes. #24-Jeff Gordon finished second in the voting, followed by #9-Kasey Kahne, #20-Tony Stewart, #29-Kevin Harvick, #15-Michael Waltrip, #6-Mark Martin, #17-Matt Kenseth, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #19-Elliott Sadler [no totals were given for the other drivers]. More than 40 Nextel Cup Series drivers were eligible in 2006 for the
esteemed NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award, which is administered by the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA). It has been awarded annually since 1956 and is one of the oldest awards in racing.(Elevation / General Mills PR)(12-1-2006)
- #32 Team closed after Homestead? UPDATE 2 not yet: 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)
UPDATE 2: The doors are still open at PPI Motorsports, but the downsizing continues as owner Cal Wells laid off six employees on Wednesday and now has a staff of nine at his Hickory, NC shop. The total will remain there for the time being but will be reduced to four by January unless a sponsor comes through to keep the #32 Nextel Cup team on the track in 2007. Wells signed a contract with a company based in California's Silicon Valley back in June but said the company, which he wouldn't name, has changed its business philosophy and isn't ready to invest in motorsports at this time. Wells found that was tough to take after spending more than two years working with the company. NASCAR worked with Wells to attract the sponsor, and Wells is grateful for that help, saying NASCAR can't be blamed for the company's decision. Wells said he's been able to place many of his employees with other teams, including Michael Waltrip Racing, saying, "very few of them" are on the unemployment line. While the owner plans to register the #32 with NASCAR for 2007, it will take something out of the blue to field a team next season. At the moment, he's talking with people interested in buying all of the team's equipment and inventory. "There are a couple of folks that are looking at running a limited program [in '07], and we're just perfect," he said. "They could come in and start a new lease - our lease is up on the building, but the owners [really want] to have somebody in here. We're trying to work a deal where we can just hand the keys [to the shop] to somebody and lease back some office space." Wells said he's "pricing it to sell" and will see what happens. The employees on hand are inventorying the equipment and preparing it to be shown to additional parties. Wells will keep four employees through January before deciding on the next step. And he hopes the sponsor eventually steps up to the plate. "I'm keeping PPI as a business. I'm going to enter my number for next year. And I'm working on some other things that I can hopefully partner up or do something. I've still got some other deals out there cooking."(SceneDaily.com)(12-1-2006)
- Schumacher wins 4th Qtr DOTY award: Tony Schumacher did everything necessary to win the Top Fuel title in the NHRA and convinced the expert panel that he was the Fourth Quarter Driver of the Year 2006. Schumacher won his third-straight NHRA POWERade world championship driving the US Army Top Fuel dragster. How he won it, that's the story. In a deep hole, in eighth place in the standings - 338 points behind almost halfway into the season, "Sarge's" last quarter charge stunned the racing community. With four poles and two victories he still had to, and did, set a national elapsed record in the final event. It was the biggest comeback in the series' history. In the voting, by an elite panel of print and broadcast journalists, the 35-year-old Chicago native was dominant taking 11 out-of-the 16 first-place votes that were cast. Coincidentally, Melanie Troxel, Schumacher's former teammate, was the first woman to win a quarterly vote earlier this year. Jimmie Johnson, who had a no-less remarkable comeback in the final quarter with one victory and five second-place finishes to lock up his Nextel Cup Championship, tallied two first-place votes and totaled 73 points. Kevin Harvick clinched his second NASCAR Busch Series early in the fourth quarter with three victories. The Richard Childress Racing Chevy driver had one win in the Nextel Cup Chase, earned one first-place vote and tallied 68 points. Tony Stewart - the 2005 Driver of the Year - won three races, although out of the Chase for the Cup, was rewarded with two first-place votes, finishing fourth with 62 points. A total of 12 drivers scored points in the fourth quarter voting. In its' 40th year Driver of the Year is unique because it is the oldest award that encompasses all of the racing series in the United States. A panel of 17 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. determine the winner. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9,6,4,3,2,1 basis. A separate one-driver vote will determine the 2006 Driver of the Year. In recognition of the award, Schumacher will receive a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix, wristwatch. The trophy presentation will take place at time and place to be announced later.(DOTY PR)(12-1-2006)
News from November 30, 2006
- Villeneuve Closer to NASCAR Deal: According to RDS, the former Formula One champion has reached an agreement with Roush Racing to help facilitate his move into NASCAR next spring. Team president Geoff Smith tells XM Satellite radio that Villeneuve would begin his career in the Craftsman Truck Series before graduating to the Busch Series. Smith adds that there's a 50-percent chance Villeneuve could be in Montreal next August for the inaugural Busch Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Villeneuve reportedly needs to find between $16-million and $18-million in sponsorship before the deal can be finalized.(TSN.ca)(11-30-2006)
- Sirius to Provide Unprecedented NASCAR Driver-To-Pit Crew Race Coverage In 2007: SIRIUS Satellite Radio announced that it will present unprecedented live radio coverage of NASCAR races starting in 2007, making listeners feel like they are on
top of their favorite team's pit box on race day. In addition to the live race broadcast, SIRIUS will take fans into the cars and pits by devoting up to 10 additional "Team Talk" channels that will carry the driver-to-crew communications of up to 10 different race teams during Nextel Cup Series races. SIRIUS will combine the race broadcast with the driver-to-crew chatter on these channels, allowing fans to follow the overall race call and the in-car audio of a driver on a single channel throughout the race. The channels will feature top drivers based on the Nextel Cup Series standings. The lineup of drivers and their channel assignments will be available at www.sirius.com/nascar prior to each race.
Listeners will hear drivers and crew chiefs schedule pit stops and discuss strategy over audio of the overall race broadcast. When the
team members are not on the radio the audio of the live race broadcast will come up allowing listeners to follow the entire race uninterrupted.
As the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR starting in 2007, SIRIUS will broadcast every Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR Busch
Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, carrying the live broadcasts of Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN) and the IMS Radio Network's broadcast from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In addition to live race coverage, SIRIUS will launch SIRIUS NASCAR Radio / channel 128 in January. The channel will air 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will include live races, plus daily and weekly talk programs, including Tony Stewart Live, a two-hour show hosted by the two-time Nextel Cup Series champion and veteran pit road reporter Matt Yocum. A detailed schedule of programs and hosts on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio will be announced prior to launch. Click on www.sirius.com to listen to SIRIUS live, or to purchase a SIRIUS radio and subscription.(Sirius Radio PR)(11-30-2006)
- Wells Fargo and Marathon Oil looks like back as sponsors of #45: got two diescat images of the #45 Petty Enterprises Dodge for 2007 [among many others], one schemes is for Wells Fargo and the other is for Marathon Spirit Oil. Both were part of a many sponsorship package for Petty in 2006. Supposedly Schwan's will not return, but have heard nothing official. See the images on my #45 Team Schemes page.(11-30-2006)
- Craven still looking to race..part time: Ricky Craven isn’t ready to retire from auto racing, but said he doesn’t foresee driving a full-time schedule next season. "In looking toward 2007, I expect to race. Perhaps on a part-time basis. And I could enjoy that. I want to help a team and have a positive influence on that team," said Craven, who last ran a full season in 2005 for Roush Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series. "I certainly enjoyed that year in the truck series but I don’t see myself running in it again full time other than if I owned my own truck team," said the 40-year-old Craven. Craven admitted that he had discussions with a Nextel Cup owner earlier this month about returning to race full time for one year. But he wouldn’t confirm if it was Cal Wells III, for whom he drove for 3½ years and registered his two victories. They were the only single-car team to win a race in the decade. "That opportunity isn’t going to happen now," said Craven, who raced twice last year. He spent the majority of his time off "reflecting on my career and catching up with my family. "I made the right decision," said Craven, who thoroughly enjoyed his year away from the sport. However, he also said "I missed competing and interacting with the fans and I was a little uncomfortable being stagnant." He said if he accepts a part-time ride in the Nextel Cup, Busch or Craftsman Truck series, "it will really have to be a concentrated effort. We would have to decide on the races we were going to run so we have time to prepare for them. We would have to be focused on just those events in order to maximize our performance." He purposely stayed away from the racetrack this past season so he could spend time with wife K.K. and children Riley, Everett and Lydia. He said he knew that hurt his chances of landing a ride for 2007 but has no regrets about doing so.
"I know it made it more difficult for me to be part of the discussion leading into 2007. However, taking any other approach other than the one I did would have been a contradiction to my reasoning [for taking the year off]," said Craven, who has a home in Greenville in addition to Concord, N.C. Craven, who owns a commercial leasing [land] firm in Kannapolis, N.C., said running the two Cup races at New Hampshire International Speedway are "at the top of my list. "That would be personal," said Craven, who has won poles but hasn’t won a Nextel Cup race at Loudon, N.H. He is confident he can be a productive driver again after shaking off the rust. He also said he may explore other opportunities in the sport such as radio or television work.(Bangor Daily News)(11-30-2006)
- Goodyear Strike hits NYC Awards Celebration: Striking Goodyear tire workers and their supporters are demonstrating against the company in New York City, in conjunction with NASCAR's Champions Week celebration. The action started on Wednesday and is scheduled to continue through Friday, when the awards ceremony is held at the Waldorf-Astoria, according to a press release. The release asks: "Will defective tires make their way into Goodyear stores or on NASCAR tracks in 2007?" Goodyear workers went on strike on Oct. 5, though the stoppage did not affect any of NASCAR's series this season. The strike by members of the United Steelworkers union has sparked rumors that NASCAR was considering rival manufacturer Hoosier as a tire supplier for next season. Officials from both NASCAR and Goodyear have said that isn't the case.(SceneDaily.com)(11-30-2006)
- RCR and McCreadie reach deal? According to sources, both at RCR and locally, the Watertown, NY native Tim McCreadie has reached a deal with Richard Childress Racing to drive in the Winston West West Series in 2007. "Tim will be competing in the Winston West Series next year, for RCR's Driver Development Program," a source at RCR's PR Dept. has stated."The plan right now is for Tim to participate in all 14 West Series events for next season. If all goes well and we have no reason to think it won't, Tim will move up to either the Busch or Craftsman Truck Series in 2008. Tim is a very talented driver and we at RCR are very excited about him coming on board and helping RCR get back to the top." The deal will allow "T Mac" to drive in select WoO Late Model and Modified Series events on the DIRT circuit.(localtrax.com)(11-30-2006)
- Sad News - Al Grinnan: Arnold Perry "Al" Grinnan Jr., a Fredericksburg native and long-time Richmond resident who was a well-known race car driver, died Friday at the age of 76. Grinnan was a driver at many race tracks in Virginia, as well as others from Florida to Maine . He began racing after leaving the Army following a decorated tour in Korea where, for a short period of time, he was a prisoner of war. One of the original breed of stock-car racers on the precursor to NASCAR known as the Grand National circuit, Mr. Grinnan estimated last year in an interview with The Times-Dispatch that he won more than 500 races from the early 1950s until he retired from racing in 1979. He raced at Strawberry Hill - now Richmond International Raceway - with legends such as Runt Harris, Ted Hairfield, Sonny Hutchins, Eddie Crouse and many others. In 1968, Mr. Grinnan was voted the most popular Modified Sportsman driver on the circuit. Grinnan is survived by his Wife, Carolyn O'Neal Grinnan, a daughter and three sons, three grandchildren and three sisters. Visitation will be today from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at the Mechanicsville Chapel of Bennett funeral Home, 8014 Lee Davis Road, with a service immediately following. Burial will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Sunset Memorial Park in Fredericksburg.(Richmond Times Dispatch), Grinnan ran one Nextel Cup race [then know as Grand National Series] in 1971 at Richmond, starting 33rd and finishing 13th.(11-30-2006)
- Stewart Sirius Radio Show preview in NYC: Sirius Satellite Radio is doing a Tony Stewart Live preview show on Thursday night, November 30th, of Champions Week from 6:00 to 8:00pm/et, live from Sirius headquarters in NYC on SIRIUS channel 128.
MORE: Special preview broadcast of Tony Stewart Live, hosted by two-time Nextel Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart and veteran pit road reporter Matt Yocum. The weekly, live two-hour radio show debuts in January exclusively on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, channel 128, the 24/7/365 radio channel launching in January. Stewart and Yocum will take calls from listeners, talk with prominent guests and cover the spectrum of motorsports - from NASCAR to open-wheel racing and beyond.
WHEN: Thursday, November 30 (6 to 8pm/et) the broadcast will air exclusively on SIRIUS, channel 128 from the SIRIUS Satellite Radio Studios, 1221 Ave of the Americas (@ 49th street), New York, NY
Guests scheduled to call in to the program include:
* Multi Platinum recording artist Kid Rock
* NASCAR Busch Series Champion Kevin Harvick
* Fitness guru Richard Simmons, who will talk to Tony about Tony's new fitness regimen.(Sirius Radio PR)(11-30-2006)
- Johnson named spokesperson: Elizabeth Arden announced that Jimmie Johnson, 2006 winner of the Nextel Cup Series and reigning champion of its premiere race, the Daytona 500, has signed on with the company as national spokesperson for the Daytona 500 Fragrance for Men.(Yahoo Biz)(11-30-2006)
News from November 29, 2006
- Buckshot back racing/Wallace to run Snowball Derby: former Cup and Busch Series driver, Roy 'Buckshot' Jones has entered a #00 in the 39th annual Snow Ball Derby for Mid-South Motorsports owned by Skoot Rice.(Buckshot Jones Group MSN), other drivers with NASCAR connections include Dave Mader, III, Stanley Smith, Butch Miller, Steve Wallace and Travis Kittleson. The 39th Snowball Derby runs from Wednesday, November 29 through Sunday, December 3.(11-8-2006)
AND Steve Wallace, winner of the 2004 Snowball Derby, is bringing a part of the past to this year’s race. The son of retired NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace will drive for Ritchie Wauters and have a special sponsor - Southland Fire & Equipment Company. The Baton Rouge, La-company sponsored Rusty during 1980s when he raced in the Snowball Derby. This year’s start will mark Wallace’s fourth derby start. Last year, he finished second to Pensacola's Eddie Mercer.(RWI PR)
And see official coverage of the event at speed51.com.(11-29-2006)
- Carmichael testing at New Smyrna UPDATE images: hearing that former motorcycler Ricky Carmichael, who recently signed with Ginn Racing [formerly MB2 Motorsports] is testing today for Ginn Racing at New Smyrna Speedway in FL. Supposedly, some of the team members welded motorcycle handles on the steering wheel so Carmichael could feel more comfortable.(11-28-2006)
UPDATE and IMAGES: Carmichael tested the #66 Coca Cola Ford of Matt Martin at New Smyrna Speedway, why a Ford when Ginn Racing runs Chevy's? because Matt Martin is signed with Ford, Mark Martin, Matt's father, will drive for Ginn Racing in 2007 in the #01 U.S. Army Chevy.
UPDATE 2: Carmichael turned about 80 test laps over the half-mile oval at New Smyrna Speedway in a Late Model owned by Nextel Cup Series veteran Mark Martin. Martin supervised the morning practice session before flying to New York City for NASCAR's Champion's Week festivities. He was not available for comment. Members of Martin's local race team combined with some of Ginn Racing's crew from Mooresville, N.C., to support Carmichael's practice session. Jay Frye, Ginn Racing's CEO and managing partner, confirmed the test session and said Carmichael's lap times were comparable to qualifying speeds posted in New Smyrna's recent Governor's Cup event. "Ricky ran quite a few laps, fast laps," Frye said. "My guys down there reported it was a very successful test.
This was Ricky's third or fourth time in a race car but his first real test in a car with that kind of horsepower. Frye said Carmichael will be back in several weeks for another test in Martin's Late Model racer.(in part from the Daytona Beach News Journal)
See some images of the test on the Paint Scheme Galley Page.(11-29-2006)
- Nextel Cup Series Champions Week – Day 4:
On the eve of the Nextel Cup Series Awards Ceremony in New York, over $1 million in special awards were presented at the NASCAR/National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers luncheon. Headlining the list of award winners was Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#8 Budweiser Chevy), who won the Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award for the fourth consecutive year, and 2006 Raybestos Rookie of the Year Denny Hamlin (#11 FedEx Chevy), who finished third in the Chase for the Nextel Cup and received $50,000 as the series’ top rookie racer. Chevy received the Nextel Cup Series Manufacturers’ Championship for the 30th time. Chevy teams won 23 races in 2006, while seven of the 10 Chase for the Nextel Cup drivers drove Chevys. During the presentation, Chevy made a surprise presentation of its own – giving a 2007 Chevy Corvette convertible to Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s wife, Chani.
Other special award winners included:
NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter, who was honored with the Buddy Shuman Award, in recognition of his longtime role and impact in the NASCAR community.
Benny Parsons, the 1973 Nextel Cup Series champion and NBC television commentator, who was honored with the Myers Brothers Award, for his contributions to the growth of Nextel Cup racing.
The #48 Lowe’s Chevy team takes top honors on Friday evening, but also received several awards on Thursday. Johnson won the $105,000 Checker’s/Rally’s Double-Drive Thru Pit Award, the Goodyear Award – including a scale replica of his #48 Lowe’s Chevy made from gold – and the $75,000 Sunoco Diamond Performance Award; the Hendrick Motorsports engine department won the $107,000 Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award; and crew chief Chad Knaus was recognized with the Nextel Cup Series Championship Crew Chief Award.
Tony Stewart (#20 The Home Depot Chevy) received three different awards for his on-track performance – the $135,000 Bank of America Card Services Mid-Race Leader Award; the $100,000 USG Improving the Finish Award and the $75,000 WIX Lap Leader Award.
Kasey Kahne (#9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) received $100,000 for winning the Budweiser Pole Award and $101,000 for winning the Commit Lozenges Commit to Win Award. Kahne won six pole positions in 2006.
Mike Ford, crew chief for Denny Hamlin, won the $102,400 DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Year Award.
Matt Kenseth (#17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) won the $75,000 Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award.
The #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy team of Jeff Burton received the $75,000 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award.
Kevin Harvick (#29 GM Goodwrench Chevy) received the $100,000 Mobil 1 Command Performance Award.
Allstate, the Official Insurance Partner of NASCAR, was presented with the Marketing Achievement Award.
Champions gather at Rockefeller Plaza … An annual Champions Week tradition is the gathering of champions from all of NASCAR’s national, regional and local racing series, for a commemorative photo opportunity. It is the only time during the year that all of NASCAR’s champions from 12 different racing series are together in one location. Since 2002, this exclusive gathering has been held in New York as part of Champions Week.
On Thursday, the group – including Johnson, NASCAR Busch Series champion Kevin Harvick, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine, NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series champion Eric Holmes, NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series champion Mike Olsen, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Mike Stefanik, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Junior Miller, NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series champion Tim Schendel, NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series champion Gary Lewis, NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series champion J.R. Norris, NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series champion Rip Michels and NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champion Philip Morris – assembled at Rockefeller Plaza, near the city’s famous Christmas Tree, for their photo.
One day and counting … Champions Week concludes Friday with a final day of activities for Jimmie Johnson, the rest of the Nextel Cup Top 10 drivers and 11th-place driver Tony Stewart. Johnson and his team will pose for photos along Park Avenue in Manhattan, before attending several pre-Awards Ceremony receptions. The Awards Ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. At 6pm/et, SPEED will air a special one hour pre-show: “NASCAR Takes Manhattan.” TNT will televise the Awards Ceremony beginning at 9pm/et, featuring musical entertainment by singer/songwriter Jewel and comedy performances by Jay Mohr.(NASCAR PR) any news, schedule for the week and appearances will be posted on my 2006 Cup Awards Page.(11-29-2006)
- Robby could run Indy 500 in 2007: #7-Robby Gordon could attempt to race in the Indianapolis 500 again next year after skipping the race in 2006. Gordon has raced in the showpiece event and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in the past, and his interest has been renewed by the level playing field in the IndyCar Series at present. "I have been offered a lot of rides for Indy," said Gordon. "Next year the race could be the most competitive it's ever been and that would be fun. Looking at the package for the Indy 500, every team will have the same tools to work with one engine manufacturer and one tyre supplier." Gordon has raced at Indianapolis and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on the same day in the past, but he insists that he would only attempt the double if his Nextel Cup program is going well. "I would rather wait until the first six Cup races next year so we can say 'are we sitting 15th in points? Have we the improvements we think we are going to make with our program? It's better to wait rather than just say we are going to do it now."(Autosport.com)(11-29-2006)
- Homestead Final TV ratings fall 20.3%: NBC's broadcast of the Nov. 19 Ford 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway earned a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 4.7 and a 9 market share, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 20.3% lower than the 5.9/11 NBC earned in 2005 and 24.2% lower than the 6.2/13 the network earned in 2004, the first year of the Chase For The Nextel Cup format.(SceneDaily.com), see rating for the whole season and news..on the 2006 TV Ratings Page.(11-29-2006)
- New Watches for the Top 10 in NYC: Swiss watch brand Tissot, the Official Timekeeper and Watch for the sport of NASCAR, will bring its sponsorship of NASCAR's Victory Lap to life on Wednesday, November 29th, centered in New York City's Times Square by rewarding the top 10 Nextel Cup Series drivers each with a new T-Touch NASCAR Special Edition watch. Jimmie Johnson, the Nextel Cup Series champion, will also receive a limited edition Tissot Heritage 150th Anniversary watch. The presentation will be held at ESPN Zone as one of the highlights of the morning. Tens of thousands of fans are expected to attend the event location in the heart of midtown Manhattan.(PR Newswire)(11-29-2006)
News from November 28, 2006
- Martin talked to Dale Jr about Busch ride: Mark Martin told Sirius Speedway (MRN/Sirius Satellite Radio) Monday that he
spoke to Dale Earnhardt, Jr., about a possible, part-time Busch Series ride with Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports in 2007. Martin, who has already inked deals to drive the Ginn Racing/US Army Nextel Cup Chevrolet next season, as well as a Craftsman Truck for Wood Brothers/JTG Racing, said sponsor conflicts prevented the deal with Earnhardt from coming to fruition. “I talked to Dale Junior about sharing a Busch car with him and a couple of other guys next season,” said Martin. “We both wanted to do it, but we couldn’t get the details figured out. The Army and the Navy (sponsors of Earnhardt’s #88 Busch car) were kinda like oil and water, and we couldn’t figure out a way to make it work.” Martin said he could run for as many as four different teams next season on the Cup, Busch and Truck Series.(MRN/Sirius Satellite Radio)(11-28-2006)
- Ford Not leaving NASCAR: Ford Racing Technology’s Greg Specht said this week that the automaker is not panicking in the face of defections by Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler to rival manufacturers, and has absolutely no plans to leave NASCAR. Specht said he has been assured by corporate management that Ford will remain a viable part of NASCAR, and that adequate funding will be allocated to keep the automaker competitive with Chevrolet, Dodge and Toyota. Ford CEO Edsel Ford made similar comments on MRN Radio two weeks ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway.(Motorsports Soapbox)(11-28-2006)
- Labonte, Cheerios raise 126,893 Books for Kids in Need through "Race for Books": Bobby Labonte, driver of the #43
Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge, ended the 2006 racing season by starting a whole new chapter on reading for kids across the country. That's because for every lap Labonte completed in the last 10 races, Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories and nonprofit partner First Book are donating 43 books to disadvantaged children in a "Race for Books." Labonte and the team's performance in the last 10 races raised a grand total of 126,893 books that will be donated to kids, and helped call attention to the importance of reading and getting books to children. The "Race for Books" kicked off September 17th at the New Hampshire International Speedway and wrapped up at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. In that time Labonte earned four top-10 finishes.(Moore Consulting Group PR)(11-28-2006)
- 2007 Budweiser Shootout Driver Lineup Finalized: The field for the 29th annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway is set. There will be at least 21 drivers that will be eligible for the 2007 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night, Feb. 10. The field for the non-points Nextel Cup Series All-Star race features the previous season's pole winners and past Budweiser Shootout champions. Drivers that have won pole positions during the 2006 season and
qualified for 2007 Budweiser Shootout are three-time Daytona 500 champion Jeff Gordon, 2006 Daytona 500 winner and 2006 Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, 2006 Budweiser Shootout champion Denny Hamlin, Brian Vickers, rookie driver David Gilliland, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Elliott Sadler, Scott Riggs, Ryan Newman and Boris Said. Past Budweiser Shootout champions eligible for the 2007 event are three-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Jarrett, 2004 Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., two-time Pepsi 400 winner Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Ken Schrader and Bill Elliott. With only prize money and the prestige of winning at "The World Center of Racing," the Budweiser Shootout turns into a no-holds barred race with an electric atmosphere. Jarrett and Vickers will be behind the wheel of Toyotas in the manufacturer's first Nextel Cup Series event while Hamlin will be gunning for two straight Budweiser Shootout victories. Hamlin became the first rookie to win the Budweiser Shootout when he led 16 of the final 21 laps and held off restrictor-plate titans Earnhardt Jr. and Stewart in a green-white-checkered finish.
Speedweeks 2007 kicks off with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28. Also on tap for the three-week festival of speed are the Budweiser Shootout (Feb. 10), the Gatorade Duel (Feb. 15), the Chevy Silverado HD 250 Craftsman Truck Series race and IROC (Feb. 16), the Daytona 300 Busch Series race (Feb. 17) and the 49th annual Daytona 500 (Feb. 18). Tickets to all exciting events at Daytona International Speedway are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS PR), see my 2007 Budweiser Shootout page for more.(11-28-2006)
- Nextel Cup Series Champions Week – Day 3:
It seemed like a normal race morning in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The drivers awoke early, attended a meeting with NASCAR President Mike Helton, donned their uniforms, signed autographs, participated in live television interviews, climbed into their race cars and drove off to the cheers of their fans. But this was no normal race morning. The setting was Times Square in New York City. The drivers took to the streets of New York for the NASCAR “Victory Lap,” which began with a live national television appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America. A procession of the Top 10 drivers and cars departed from Good Morning America’s Times Square Studios and ended at the ESPN Zone restaurant, where the drivers met with sponsors and media.
Where past champions have gone before … NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), posed for photos in Times Square after the Victory Lap was completed. During the shoot, a feature of NASCAR’s Champion’s Week in New York for many years, was especially poignant for Johnson – a moment he now shares with dozens of other series champions who came before him. With the Victory Lap completed, the countdown continues toward the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony on Friday evening. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been joined in New York by the rest of the Top 10 drivers, along with 11th-place finisher Tony Stewart (#20 The Home Depot Chevrolet).
Next up for this exclusive group is the NASCAR / National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers luncheon on Thursday. This prestigious event, at Cipriani on 42nd Street, includes presentations to the special award winners of 2006. In addition, the champions from all of NASCAR’s other series will be recognized. After Thursday’s luncheon, all of the champions will gather for their annual champions’ photo shoot, at Rockefeller Plaza. On Thursday evening, the group of champions will be treated to an exclusive Champions’ Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Friday: Johnson and his team will pose for formal photos on New York’s Park Avenue before attending several pre-awards ceremony receptions. Then, Johnson officially will be crowned NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion; the Awards Ceremony begins at 7:00pm/et in the Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom. SPEED will broadcast a live Awards Ceremony pre-show, “NASCAR Takes Manhattan,” beginning at 7:00pm/et, while TNT will air the ceremony at 9:00pm/et.
Pit Stop Tour … For any local race fans that missed the Victory Lap, several slower-moving cars will be visible throughout Champion’s Week. In fact, several race cars will be parked on display at many popular New York locations every day this week.
From 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., today through Friday, six city locations will host the Champion’s Week Pit Stop Tour, where fans can view NASCAR stock cars up close. The locations are: Times Square/Military Island (Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets); Bryant Park (6th Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets); by the News Corp. Building (6th Avenue between 48th and 49th Streets); Madison Square Garden (7th Avenue between 31st and 32nd Streets); at the Tissot Retail Gallery/Tourneau Atrium (57th & Madison Avenue); and the Sprint retail store located at 175 5th Avenue, between 22nd and 23rd Streets.(NASCAR PR) any news, schedule for the week and appearances will be posted on my 2006 Cup Awards Page.(11-28-2006)
News from November 27, 2006
- Borland staying at Penske: Matt Borland, Ryan Newman's longtime crew chief, is staying at Penske Racing South for the 2007 season, team president Don Miller said Monday, although no title or job description has been finalized. One of Borland's first jobs will likely be helping to determine who will replace him as crew chief for Newman and the #12 Dodge team. Miller said Monday that Borland met with owner Roger Penske following the season finale. "He told Roger that under no circumstances does he want to leave, because Roger gave him the option," Miller said.(Scenedaily.com)(11-27-2006)
- BAC and NASCAR sign 5-year deal: Bank of America Corp. has signed a five-year deal as the official bank of NASCAR. The bank shared details of the agreement with The Associated Press before the public announcement Monday. The multiyear deal greatly expands Bank of America's sponsorship of stock car racing, while also marking a change in how NASCAR lines up sponsors. NASCAR has begun to reduce its sponsor base by consolidating deals and seeking opportunities to cover entire industries in one deal.
Bank of America already has an "official bank" deal in place with baseball, long known as the national pastime. Now, the nation's No. 2 bank adds a similar deal with a sport widely viewed as the nation's fastest-growing. A person familiar with the agreement put the overall value of the five-year deal between $15 million and $20 million. Under the deal, Bank of America will be NASCAR's exclusive sponsor for banking and related financial services, including checking and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, mutual funds and securities brokerage services. The company gets the right to use the NASCAR logo and name in marketing and advertising promotions through 2011.(Associated Press)(11-27-2006)
- NASCAR looking to expand: NASCAR is seeking to expand in China and western Europe by marrying its licensing, sponsorship and media expertise with local partners. "We're sizing it up," Brian France, NASCAR's chairman and chief executive, said in an interview with the Financial Times. "We have a couple of people who are looking at that carefully." NASCAR compares opportunities in China to those in the US in the late 1940s when stock-car racing began to take hold. The Formula One group has staged an annual Grand Prix in Shanghai since 2004. But NASCAR believes that Chinese consumers are likely to identify with racing cars that look more like passenger vehicles. "NASCAR appeals to the mass market," said Robbie Weiss, NASCAR's international director. "Our fan is the football fan." See full articles at MSNBC and the Financial Times.(11-27-2006)
- Johnson to run ROC in Paris: The organizers of the 2006 Race of Champions - Nations Cup, a unique and spectacular competition that opposes motor sport champions and superstars from across the world, are delighted to confirm the return of NASCAR superstar Jimmie Johnson and multiple X-Games Champ Travis Pastrana to spearhead the USA's bid to win the coveted Nations Cup.
Johnson, currently 2nd in Nascar's title Chase and winner of both this year's Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400, was a member of Team USA in 2002 that claimed America's first Nations Cup title in the Canary Islands with teammates Jeff Gordon and Colin Edwards. The 31-year old Californian will participate in his third ROC event (2002 and 2004) and return to the Stade de France in Paris on December 16. Other drivers that have committed to participate in the 2006 ROC event include Formula 1 stars Jenson Button, David Coulthard, Rally World Champions Sebastien Loeb, Marcus Gronholm and Colin McRae, Dakar Champion Stephane Peterhansel, World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx, DTM Champion Bernd Schneider, 7-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais, etc. For more information on Race of Champions please visit www.raceofchampions.com.(11-27-2006)(ROC PR)
- Ganassi Racing Development Driver Nominated for Award: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) development driver and USAC National Sprint and Midget Car Series star Bryan Clauson was recently nominated for RACER
Magazine's Rookie of the Year Award which will be presented during this year's SPEED Performance Awards. Clauson's nomination pits him against the best young talent motor racing has to offer worldwide, as evidenced by the selections of Marco Andretti (Indy Racing League), Colin Braun (Grand American), Dan Clarke (Champ Car), Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) and Robert Kubica (Formula One).
At just 16 years of age, Clauson (now 17) became the youngest driver in USAC history to win both a National Sprint Car Series and National feature Midget race- topping a list of USAC's all-time greats including Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. After an injury in September in Wheatland, Mo. sidelined him for the remainder of 2006, Clauson still finished in the Top 10 in both Sprint and Midget points. He also won selected USAC Regional Midget Car Series events in 2006. The RACER Rookie of the Year winner will be featured in the April edition of the magazine. Beginning this week, SPEED will present nominees for the fan-vote categories, allowing viewers to vote for their favorites at SPEEDtv.com. The winners will be announced as part of a 60-minute special in February.
Also, CGRFS recently signed 16-year-old open wheel standout Brady Bacon to the team's driver development program. Bacon has been the feature driver at Keith Kunz Motorsports, filling in for Clauson as he continues to recover from his aforementioned accident. Bacon is the 2006 Southern Midget Racing Series champion, and recently finished third in the USAC National Sprint Car race in his first outing at Eldora Speedway in Ohio.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(11-27-2006)
- Nextel Cup Series Champions Week – Day 1:
The whirlwind officially began for 2006 Nextel Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevy) on Monday, as he kicked off one of the busiest and most exciting five days of his career. The reason? NASCAR is celebrating its 26th annual Champions Week in New York City this week, marking the beginning of Johnson’s year-long reign and the recognition of all the sport’s 2006 champions. Included in this week’s very busy and wide-reaching itinerary are national media appearances, activities with the other Nextel Cup Top 10 drivers and the crowning moment – Friday night’s awards ceremony. Johnson, who clinched his title in the series’ season finale last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, arrived in New York on Sunday evening, where he enjoyed a welcome dinner with NASCAR and Sprint Nextel executives at the sport’s longtime Champions Week headquarters – the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
“It’s been a great journey for us,” said Johnson. “We feel like we were in contention last year and the year before to win the championship but came up a little short. In racing there’s only one winner; one champion. To be a champion is so difficult to do.”
Johnson’s Monday began with his appearance on ESPN’s Cold Pizza, followed by guest stints on radio shows and an early-afternoon appearance on FOX News Live. He also was scheduled for afternoon interviews with Forbes.com, XM Satellite Radio and Associated Press interactive. Johnson, who won his first Nextel Cup title in only his fifth season, hopes this week’s activities won’t be his last as a series champion. “I really feel we are coming into our prime as a team,” he said. “I am hopeful that as time goes on we can stay in that championship mindset and win a couple more.”
Champions Week, Part II … Jimmie Johnson’s Champions Week gets busier as the hours tick by. Here’s a quick glance at some of what the 2006 Nextel Cup champion will experience on Tuesday [11-28-2006]:
Tuesday: More national and New York media interviews, visits and a prime photo shoot at one of the Big Apple’s Art Deco landmarks – Rockefeller Center’s observation deck, or, “the Top of the Rock.” Later that night, Johnson appears on the nationally-syndicated “NASCAR Live” radio show on the Motor Racing Network (MRN), any news, schedule for the week and appearances will be posted on my 2006 Cup Awards Page.(11-27-2006)