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  • MORE NEXTEL CUP NEWS/RUMORS
    DECEMBER 4-10, 2006


      News from December 10, 2006

    • NASCAR Announces newest series: NASCAR announced its newest international racing series. Under a licensing agreement with NASCAR, the Desafio Corona Series – the No. 1 stock car racing series in Mexico – will become the NASCAR Mexico Corona Series in 2007. The re-launch of this series expands NASCAR’s presence in Mexico and supports NASCAR’s commitment to Mexico and the international motorsports community. The series was originally founded in 2004, in conjunction with the OCESA and NASCAR partnership to form NASCAR Mexico. NASCAR Mexico is a local base of operations, which oversees sponsorship, licensing and marketing for the NASCAR and NASCAR Mexico brands in Mexico. OCESA, a subsidiary of CIE, the leading live entertainment company in Latin America, also stages the NASCAR Busch Series event in Mexico City. In 2006, the Desafio Corona Series consisted of a 14-race schedule at oval tracks and road courses throughout Mexico, including seven of its largest cities: Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla, Zacatecas, Guadalajara, San Luis Potosi and Queretaro. Several drivers have successfully made the transition from this series into NASCAR racing in the U.S., including the 2005 Desafio Corona Series champion, Jorge Goeters, who claimed the Busch Pole award for the inaugural Busch Series race in Mexico City and made his Nextel Cup Series debut at Watkins Glen International in 2005. The 2007 NASCAR Mexico Corona Series is scheduled to debut at the renowned Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City the weekend of March 2, along with the NASCAR Busch Series and the Rolex Sports Car Series. All NASCAR Mexico Corona Series events are broadcast live in Mexico, on Televisa, and throughout Latin America on SPEED Latin America. Former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Chad Little, who has worked as NASCAR’s director of racing development, Mexico since 2005, will continue to provide competition support for the NASCAR Mexico Corona Series.(NASCAR PR)(12-10-2006)

    • More on Sauter to the #88, or will it be Rudd? UPDATE Rudd and #28?: 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)
      UPDATE: Ricky Rudd will join Robert Yates Racing, driving the #28 Mars Company [was #88] sponsored Ford, replacing Dale Jarrett [who drove the #88 UPS Ford, now going to MWR in the #44 UPS Toyota]. Butch Hylton will continue in his role as the Yates #28/88 team's crew chief.(Sporting News)(12-10-2006)

    • Holiday Driver Collection by Sam Bass: NASCAR Artist, Sam Bass, has teamed with Motorsports Authentics to create one of the most innovative diecast lines ever produced. The Sam Bass Holiday Collection features driver-specific holiday-themed diecast showcasing some of NASCAR's most celebrated stars and cars. Each collectible is created using the car's actual paint scheme, then embellished with an assortment of holiday images and graphics created by Bass. Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne are the drivers included in this unique new series. Each car in the Sam Bass Holiday Collection highlights the featured driver's individual personality through Bass' artistic talents. For example, Santa is shown doing a back-flip on the hood of Edwards' car. A snowman is snowboarding -- much like a surfer -- across California-born Johnson's car. And Kahne's car, of course, features lots of candy canes and a blue-eyed reindeer. The Sam Bass Holiday Collection is offered in Motorsports Authentics' most popular 1:24 scale diecast that features both opening hood and trunk and a full complement of detailing. Suggested retail is $66.95. The Mark Martin car is also available in the smaller 1:64 scale version. Each collectible boasts the strict attention to authenticity that has made Motorsports Authentics the industry leader in the racing diecast business. More info at sambass.com.(12-10-2006)


      News from December 9, 2006

    • Crash cuts Goodyear test short for Biffle at Vegas UPDATE Biffle injured: Testing tires is pretty boring stuff for most drivers, but this week's two-day Goodyear test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway left Kyle Busch excited and Greg Biffle with a headache. The two drivers spent Wednesday and Thursday testing tires to help the tire manufacturer find the proper tire combination for the new 20-degree banking at LVMS. It will determine which tires Goodyear brings back for the NASCAR-sanctioned test Jan. 29-30 as well as for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup event on March 11. "There are a lot of neat characteristics to the track," said Busch, a Las Vegas native. "It's still pretty wide and a great racing surface. It's wide enough that we'll be able to run two and three wide. The transitions from the corner to the straightaways and then the straightaways to the corners are awesome. It's a great layout." Biffle said Wednesday that he is looking forward to racing on the new layout. But his test ended early on Thursday when he made hard contact with the wall between turns one and two. The impact knocked the fuel pump off the car and made for a fiery scene. Busch, who was closely following Biffle, helped the veteran driver from his car. Biffle wasn't injured, but decided to discontinue testing for the day. "That was a really hard hit and we lost a good car," Biffle said. "But I'm O.K." Unofficially, the drivers were clocked at speeds near 187 miles per hour, but Biffle said that may pick up to closer to 190 once the Nextel Cup teams start qualifying in March. Kasey Kahne holds the track qualifying record of 174.904 mph set in 2004. Tickets for the March 9-11 NASCAR Weekend are on sale by calling 1-800-644-4444 or by logging on to www.lvms.com. Passes for the new Neon Garage and pre-race activities passes also are available through the ticket office.(LVMS PR)(12-8-2006)
      UPDATE: Statement from Greg Biffle Regarding On-Track Incident At Vegas Test: "During a tire test this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway I cut a right front tire and made heavy contact with the wall. As a result of the incident, I dislocated my shoulder and have been advised by my doctors to remain in Mooresville [NC] today for further assessment of the injury. It is for that reason that I will be unable to attend this year's NASCAR Busch Series Banquet. I would like to extend my sincerest apologies to NASCAR, the Busch Series and Ameriquest for my absence. It was a privilege and a great pleasure for me to continue to be a competitor for Roush Racing, Ameriquest, Brewco Motorsports and Ford Motor Company in NASCAR's Busch Series this season. I love racing in the Busch Series and I plan to continue to do so for many years."(Roush Racing PR)(12-9-2006)

    • Sad News - Herman Ross McKay: Herman Ross McKay, 78 of Mooresville, NC, died Tuesday, December 5, 2006 at Carolinas Medical Center. For many years he was a truck driver for TCT and later was employed with Joe Gibbs Racing in the parts department. He was one of the original Joe Gibbs Racing employees. Ross especially enjoyed being around antique tractors. Survivors include his wife, Louise Wilson McKay, sons, David McKay and wife Betty Y. and Ronnie McKay and wife Shirley B. all of Mooresville, NC, daughter, Denise McKay Motes and husband Charles W., Jr., sisters, Lorrine M. Harris of TX and Doris McKay of VA, 6 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren. Services were helf Friday, December 8th. Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association 222 S. Church St., Suite 303, Charlotte, NC 28202 or Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church, Cemetery Fund, 1600 Mallard Creek Church Rd., Charlotte, NC 28269.(12-9-2006)


      News from December 8, 2006

    • Evernham Announces 2007 Paint Schemes: Dodge and Evernham Motorsports announced today new primary paint schemes for the #9 and 19 Dodges of drivers Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler for the 2007 season. The two cars are near mirror images of each other, but both carry the distinctive bold red color of the Dodge brand and signature Ram logo on the hood. Kahne’s racing colors will flip from 2006 to 2007, moving the red from the top side of the Dodge to the bottom and bringing white to the hood and roof areas of the car. The number will again be black on the sides and roof of the Dodge. Sadler’s Dodge will be the reverse of Kahne’s, with red adorning the hood and roof areas of the car and white on the lower portions of the side panels, growing more dominant as it reaches the rear of the car and eventually fully covering the back end from the rear quarter panel.(Clear!Blue PR), see images on my #9 Team Scheme page and #19 Team Scheme page.(12-8-2006)

    • Borland, Carter, Hyder named crew chiefs at Michael Waltrip Racing: Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Matt Borland, Larry Carter and David Hyder have been named crew chiefs of the organization for the 2007 Nextel Cup Series season. Borland has been designated as crew chief of the #44 UPS Toyota with former champion Dale Jarrett. Carter will reside as crew chief of the #00 Toyota co-sponsored by Burger King and Domino's Pizza driver David Reutimann. Michael Waltrip has assigned Hyder as crew chief of his #55 NAPA Toyota.(MWR PR), see the full PR with quotes. stats on the #44 Team News Page, #55 Team News Page or #00 Team News Page.(12-8-2006)

    • Kurt Busch Presents "Impact Athlete Award" to Kyle Petty: A special "Impact Athlete Award" presentation by 2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch to popular veteran driver/humanitarian Kyle Petty was among the highlights of Wednesday night's 2006 Southern Sports Awards. The two-hour made-for-TV ceremony was held at the Duke Family Performance Hall here at Davidson College. A devoted supporter of the Victory Junction Gang Camp, Busch announced last May that his Kurt Busch Foundation had donated $1 million to the camp to create a 28,000-square-foot, climate-controlled athletic facility at the 72-acre camp located in the Piedmont Triad of North Carolina. Included among the other 2006 Southern Sports Awards luminaries announced on Wednesday night were Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers (Fan Favorite), Wake Forest head football coach Jim Grobe (Coach of the Year), NASCAR rookie competitor Denny Hamlin (Newcomer of the Year), the Columbus (Ga.) Little League All Stars (Amateur Team of the Year) and the Hendrick Motorsports #48 NASCAR Team (Pro Team of the Year). Hosted by James Carville, Finesse Mitchell and Jon Reep, the 2006 Southern Sports Awards two-hour TV special will air in 45 markets and affiliates beginning Saturday (December 9). Visit www.SouthernSportsAwards.com for a complete list of markets, stations and air times [Charlotte, WJZY the CW on 12/16 at 8:00pm/et].(TRPR)(12-8-2006)

    • Starr let go from Red Horse Racing Truck Team UPDATE: David Starr who finished fourth in the Truck Series point standings this past season, has been let go by Red Horse Racing (#11 Toyota) because of a lack of sponsorship. He's expected to be replaced by Aaron Fike, who is bringing a sponsor to the team for 2007. At the season finale in Homestead, team co-owner Jeff Hammond said the plan was to expand to two trucks, one for Starr and one for a driver to be announced. But when the sponsorship for Starr's team didn't come together, Starr learned he'd be without a ride. As of Thursday afternoon, Starr didn't have anything set for 2007 but said he may have a ride secured in a NASCAR series within days. (Scene Daily)(12-7-2006)
      UPDATE: Starr had been rumored to the Robert Yates Racing #88 Cup ride back in August but was denied by Starr.(12-8-2006)

    • Former NASCAR driver, Amick, headed to Afghanistan: Within just a few months, Spc. Lyndon Amick will be in the heart of Afghanistan, deployed there with his South Carolina National Guard unit, Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion -- 118th Infantry Regiment based out of Fountain Inn. A former Busch and Craftsman Truck Series driver, Amick once lived the life of a young up-and-coming racer. He gave up his NASCAR career to join the Guard, and by May, Amick will be on the ground in a country that has been ravaged by war for centuries. Amick is trained as an airborne infantryman, and in Afghanistan, will serve in security details that may range from patrols in and around the Kabul area to protecting various VIPs. The life he will lead will be light years removed from the one he is leaving behind at home. A member of what's surely one of South Carolina's wealthiest families and a successful real estate developer in his own right, Amick was most definitely not forced into joining the military in order to make ends meet. But he did it anyway. Racing had been a part of Amick's life for more than a decade. At just 18, he became the youngest winner in the history of Daytona International Speedway by taking his family owned machine to Victory Lane following the track's February 1996 Goody's Dash Series event. After capturing the now-defunct division's championship that season, Amick and his father, Bill, moved their team to a limited Busch Series schedule in 1997. The younger Amick would eventually run a total of 93 Busch Series races between 1997-2003, with best finishes of fourth in 1998 at Myrtle Beach and fifth a year later at Talladega. In four career Craftsman Truck Series events split evenly between 2000-2001, his top showing was an August 2000 runnerup effort at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Amick is a team leader who oversees four men in a squad of nine. As military commands go, it's as small as it gets. But it's one that Amick takes very seriously.(see full story at NASCAR.com)(12-8-2006)


      News from December 7, 2006

    • Germain Racing sets sights on Nextel Cup racing: On the heels of winning the 2006 Craftsman Truck Series championship, Todd Bodine and Germain Racing have announced that they will take their success to the Nextel Cup Series in 2007. In what will be Toyota's inaugural season of Nextel Cup racing, Bodine, Toyota's first ever NASCAR champion, will pilot the #03 Toyota Camry in 15 select events that represent top markets and NASCAR's premier events. Germain Racing captured the 2006 Truck Series title in only its second full year of racing. The team hopes to mirror their immediate impact at NASCAR's highest level. "Since we started the team in August of 2004, our primary goal has been to be Toyota's #1 truck team and to win them their first NASCAR championship," said Germain Racing team owner Bob Germain. "In 2007, our goal is to successfully defend our truck championship and also be the first Toyota team to win a Nextel Cup race. With the team we have, I think it's very possible." The team is currently seeking marketing partners for the 15 races. Interested parties should contact Germain Racing [germainracing.com]. Owned by brothers Bob, Steve, and Rick Germain, Germain Racing is home to 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine and 2005 champion Ted Musgrave. Since its debut in 2004, Germain Racing has captured ten victories and claimed this year's Truck Series championship.(Sullivan Worldwide PR)(12-7-2006)

    • Sauter moving back up to Cup, with Haas CNC UPDATE with Yellow as sponsor?: 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)
      UPDATE: hearing that Yellow Transportation, Sauter's 2006 Busch Series sponsor, will move up and sponsor the #70 Nextel Cup Chevy that Sauter will drive in 2007 for Haas CNC Racing.(12-7-2006)

    • Crown Royal and IRWIN return to the #26 in 2007: Roush Racing announced today the 2007 racing schedule for the #26 Ford driven by Jamie McMurray. Next year's roster will include 28 races with Crown Royal and 10 races with IRWIN Industrial Tools on the #26 Ford. The first race for Crown Royal will be the season-opening Daytona 500. IRWIN Industrial Tools will run its first race on March 18th at Atlanta Motor Speedway. IRWIN Industrial Tools was the primary sponsor for 11 races in 2006. "Everyone at IRWIN Industrial Tools is extremely excited about the 2007 season and continuing our strong support for Jamie McMurray and the entire #26 Roush Racing team," said Eric Pinkham, Director of Motorsports, Newell-Rubbermaid. "We look forward to a fresh start and are already eager to get started." During the 2006 season, McMurray ran 18 races in the #26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion. "We are excited to have Jamie McMurray behind the wheel of the #26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion for a second year," said Jim Lorenz, Senior Brand Manager, Crown Royal. "With a new paint scheme, more primary races than ever and exciting programming that will bring more attention to the brand's 'Be A Champion. Drink Responsibly.' message, Crown Royal is primed for an exciting 2007 season."(Roush Racng PR)(12-7-2006)

    • Arby's to Sponsor Kenseth at Bristol:: The Arby's brand will be the primary sponsor of 13 races on Matt Kenseth's #17 Ford Busch Series entry beginning with the season opener at Daytona. Arby's also will appear as the primary sponsor on Kenseth's Nextel Cup Ford in the Spring 2007 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.(Roush Racing PR)(12-7-2006)

    • New crew chief named for Newman? UPDATE 2 official: hearing Mike Nelson, who crew chiefed #12 Ryan Newman for the final two 2006 Nextel Cup races, was named crew chief for the Penske #12 team this week.(12-1-2006)
      UPDATE: Michael Nelson has been appointed Ryan Newman's crew chief at Penske Racing South for the 2007 season, and a source says former crew chief Matt Borland may yet be leaving the organization. Nelson's appointment hadn't officially been announced as of midday Monday, but a source familiar with the situation said Nelson had the job and David Dembicki would serve as the team's race engineer. That's the role Nelson held with the team prior to November's race at Phoenix. He served as the team's interim crew chief the last two races as Borland stayed in North Carolina. At the time, Newman said that he'd need a new crew chief as Borland wanted to come off the road to spend more time with his family. While rumors persisted that Borland was being courted by other race teams, Don Miller, the team's president, insisted Borland had no interest in leaving Penske Racing South. Borland and owner Roger Penske met following the season finale, and Miller confirmed on Nov. 27 that Borland would remain with the team in a role still being defined. Borland was expected to oversee the competition department for an operation fielding two Cup teams and a part-time Busch Series team, even if the parameters hadn't been finalized. But after a phone conversation with Penske on Saturday, the source said Borland may be leaving. Once thought to be a leading candidate for a job with Team Red Bull, the source indicated that Michael Waltrip Racing has made Borland a substantial offer for a major position with a team that will field three Nextel Cup teams in 2007. In a move to further bolster its engineering department, Penske Racing South has also hired longtime engineer Troy Raker to work as a chassis engineer in the engineering group.(SceneDaily.com)(12-5-2006)
      UPDATE 2: Mike Nelson, a race engineer for Penske Racing since 2000, has been named crew chief of the #12-Alltel Dodge team that competes in the Nextel Cup Series. Nelson, who served as the team's interim crew chief for the 2006 season's final two races, assumes his role immediately. Nelson, 33, joined Penske Racing in 1998 as a data acquisition engineer. He attended Ryan Newman's first test with the team in April 2000 and was offered the opportunity to be the team's first race engineer. Nelson has worked side-by-side with previous crew chief Matt Borland and the Alltel team ever since. Newman noted that due to Nelson's tenure with the team, the two men have a strong working relationship.(Penske Racing PR)(12-7-2006)

    • Sad News… Bob Tomlinson: James Robert (Bob) Tomlinson, born in Stanley County, NC on July 31, 1939, passed away on Tuesday, December 5, 2006 after a long bout with cancer. Bob began his professional career working in management at Cannon Mills in Kannapolis, NC, where he retired at an early age. As a long time supporter of NASCAR, Bob then embarked on a journey that took him down many roads in the sport. Many will remember him from his time with Darrell Waltrip, as well as Jack Beebe and Race Hill Farms. He also served as a field representative for Pontiac Motorsports and NASCAR. At the peak of his career, he acted as team manager for Cale Yarborough Motorsports, Whitcomb Racing and Eel River Racing. Bob was one of many who did his part to help make the sport what it is today. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in memory of Bob Tomlinson to Candor Presbyterian Church, PO Box 635, Candor, NC 27229. A memorial service will be held in his honor at Candor Presbyterian Church on Saturday, December 9 at 11:30 AM.(12-7-2006)

    • Lucky Dog Pass Stats: in 2006 only one driver made all 36 races and did not use a Lucky Dog/Lap Back pass: #31-Jeff Burton. #14-Sterling Marlin and #88-Dale Jarrett used the pass the most times with 11 lucky dog passes used in 36 races. In 2006, two drivers benefitted from a Lucky Dog pass and won the race: #2-Kurt Busch at Bristol and #9-Kasey Kahne at Michigan. #26-McMurray [2nd at Dover], #8-Earnhardt Jr. [3rd at Atlanta], #6-Martin [3rd at Kansas], #99-Edwards [3rd at Charllotte], #43-Labonte [3rd at Martinsville], #16-Biffle [4th at Richmond and 5th at Dover in Sept] are the drivers this year to get a top five after using the pass. Since the Lucky Dog Pass came to be at Dover in September 2003, six drivers have won seven races after getting the pass. For more, who got the passes for each race and totals along with some tidbits, see my Lucky Dog page.(12-7-2006)

    • Johnson up for Athlete of the Year..vote: The acknowledgments continue for 2006 Nextel Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevy), who was honored during last week’s annual Champion’s Week festivities in New York City. Johnson, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, is among the candidates listed for the 2006 United States Sports Academy Athlete of the Year presented by USATODAY.com and MSNBC.com. The ballot for male athletes includes South Korean speed skater Hyun-Soo Ahn, Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele, Italian soccer star Fabio Cannavaro, Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, Johnson, golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, swimming star Michael Phelps, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Albert Pujols, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith and Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young. Voting, done online, began Dec. 1 and ends Dec. 25. An overall winner will be selected, along with male and female athletes of the year. Federer was the 2005 overall winner. Sports fans worldwide can vote online at athleteoftheyear.msnbc.com or www.ussa.edu.(NASCAR PR)(12-7-2006)

    • 5-Time NBA All-Star Daugherty Shifting Gears: Basketball fans know Brad Daugherty as an accomplished and well-known NBA and college basketball star, but few may know of Daugherty’s lifelong passion of NASCAR racing. Daugherty’s racing interests date back to his childhood when he met Richard Petty at the Daytona International Speedway in 1977. Daugherty would later choose to wear Petty’s number – 43 – throughout his NBA career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now, Daughterty has joined the ESPN and ABC team of hosts, analysts and pit reporters in 2007 to provide what he describes as the “fan’s perspective” in the network’s comprehensive, multimedia coverage devoted to NASCAR. “I’m just really excited about being able to get involved on this level,” said Daugherty. “I have a little bit of technical and ownership experience, but mostly, I am a fan.” In his second year in the NBA, Daugherty took a serious interest in racing and in 1987, co-founded a late-model stock race team with driver Robert Pressley in Asheville, N.C. The team raced in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the NASCAR Racing Series, winning the regional championship in 1987 and 1988. In 1989, they joined the NASCAR Busch Series and earned the team’s first major victory at the Orange County Speedway in North Carolina. While continuing to play pro hoops, Daugherty supported and mentored several up-and-coming drivers as an owner in the NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series, explaining that he wanted to nurture their talents and see their careers grow. Drivers included the late Kenny Irwin Jr., Wayne Anderson and Kevin Harvick. Irwin won two Craftsman Truck Series races driving for Daugherty in 1997, the first at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and the second at Texas Motor Speedway in June. "I hope to draw in a new audience,” he added. “NASCAR is a sport that business-wise, has to continue to grow and go international. It needs to broaden horizons and I hope my presence gives fans even more reason to turn it on and watch.”
      A long-time fan of the sport, Daugherty will sit alongside fellow commentators on two new shows -- NASCAR Countdown and NASCAR Now. NASCAR Countdown will immediately precede all Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series races televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, while NASCAR Now, the network’s first-ever daily program solely dedicated to NASCAR, will deliver the most up-to-date news and information each weekday. NASCAR Now will debut on ESPN2 on Feb. 5, 2007. “It’s like taking a fan out of the stands and into the booth,” said Daugherty. “I’m as interested in the stories and sagas as the competition. I know those little pieces that nobody talks about.” Daugherty previously served as a college basketball game sideline reporter and analyst for ESPN and ABC (1999-2001), covering the ACC conference telecasts. Before ESPN, Daugherty served as a game analyst for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers from 1996-1998 on the Hometown 43/Cavaliers Television Network and in those same years did limited work as an analyst for the San Antonio Spurs.(ESPN PR)(12-7-2006)


      News from December 6, 2006

    • DirecTV to take NASCAR fans inside the car: In 2007, NASCAR HotPass will debut on DirecTV at the Daytona 500 in February and offer fans at home the opportunity to watch a race from a driver's vantage point. Subscribers will have access to five channels dedicated to individual drivers, who will change every week. Each channel will have up to six cameras and two isolated announcers focusing solely on one driver for an entire race. Viewers will have access to in-car audio communication, real-time statistics and cameras covering every angle from inside the race car to the pit box and all around the track. HotPass is the brainchild of Fox Sports chairman David Hill. He tried the idea in 2005 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he had multiple cameras follow winning driver Tony Stewart from flag to flag. He liked the results but still felt the effort was missing perspective. So Hill tried it again at Las Vegas in March, adding two dedicated announcers to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. coverage. The announcers explained everything Earnhardt was doing, debated strategy, called pit stops and even chatted with the driver during cautions. Pleased with the effort, Hill took it to NASCAR, which awarded DirecTV a three-year contract. But with NASCAR's TV ratings declining, Hill knows HotPass is a risky venture. DirecTV must persuade fans to pay $99 for a season pass with no guarantees on which drivers will be featured. DirecTV isn't the only medium offering new access next season. Sirius Satellite Radio plans to offer 10 driver channels that will combine the overall race broadcast with driver-to-pit crew chatter in 2007. Dick Glover, vice president of broadcasting and new media for NASCAR, said the DirecTV and Sirius deals show how committed the sport is to providing new and exciting ways for fans to enjoy it.(ESPN.com/AP)(12-6-2006)

    • Richert named #83 Red Bull Crew Chief: At the ripe age of 20, Brian Vickers became the youngest-ever NASCAR title holder in winning the 2003 Busch Series driver’s championship. Likewise at 20, Doug Richert became the youngest crew chief to win NASCAR’s elite Cup Series championship back in 1980, the first of Dale Earnhardt’s seven titles. As of today, Brian and Doug now have something else in common. Together they’ll make up the driver-crew chief tandem for Team Red Bull’s #83 Camry entry in the 2007 Nextel Cup Series. QUOTES: DOUG RICHERT – #83 Crew Chief “The Cup series has gotten so much more competitive these days. Starting from scratch is no easy task, but once the team gets some chemistry and momentum going, we’ll hopefully be able to do some exciting things.” BRIAN VICKERS – #83 Driver “Doug has worked with practically a Who’s Who list of drivers in this sport and he knows what it takes to be consistently successful at this level. What an awesome feeling to know he’s in my garage now.”(Team Red Bull Racing)(12-6-2006)

    • Rudd Joins Virginia Sports Hall of Fame: When the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame opened last year, it included a NASCAR exhibit with a Ricky Rudd race car. Monday, the Hall added the driver. Rudd, a Chesapeake native, joined five other sports figures and one media member in the announcement of the 2007 induction class. The class also includes James Madison and Washington Redskins wide receiver Gary Clark, University of Virginia basketball star Bryant Stith, VMI coaching legend John McKenna, NFL player and coach Charlie Sumner, former ACC and NCAA head Gene Corrigan, and Roanoke sports radio icon Jim "Carroll" Colston. The 2007 Hall of Fame's induction ceremony is scheduled for April 28 at Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel and Waterfront Conference Center. Tickets will be on sale in February, but members can reserve space early by contacting the Hall of Fame at 757-393-8031. Rudd, who holds the NASCAR record of 788 consecutive race starts from 1981-2005, ranks among NASCAR's top 50 drivers of all time. His career started on go-cart tracks, finally taking to professional racing where he was named the 1977 NASCAR Rookie of the Year. Rudd won at least one race every year for 16 consecutive years, a modern-era record he shares with Rusty Wallace. Among Rudd's victories was the 1997 Brickyard 400. The car he used in that race is on the second floor of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.(Virginian-Pilot)(12-6-2006)

    • Lowe's To Sponsor Johnson In 2007 Daytona Rolex Races: Lowe's Companies, Inc. announced it will sponsor Nextel Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson in both Grand-Am Rolex Series races at Daytona International Speedway in 2007. Johnson will team with Riley-Matthews Motorsports for the Jan. 27 Rolex 24 At Daytona as well as the July 5 Brumos Porsche 250, both on the Daytona road course. Jim Matthews, Marc Goossens, and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as co-drivers in the #91 Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype. The team begins testing on Jan. 4 at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 45th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The July race at Daytona is held the Thursday night before the Saturday Nextel Cup race. Johnson has competed two times in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He finished second in 2005 and 28th in 2004 driving for Howard-Boss Motorsports.(GMR/Team Lowe's Racing PR)(12-6-2006)

    • Montoya to race Daytona 24 Hours? The word in America is that Juan Pablo Montoya will exploit his new-found liberty to race with a run in the Daytona 24 Hours at the wheel of one of Chip Ganassi's Riley-Lexus GrandAm sportscars. It is anticipated that Montoya will join Scott Pruett in the CompuUSA-sponsored car. The team is looking for a fulltime team mate for Pruett next year but Montoya is not on the list, having his hands full with NASCAR Busch Series and Nextel Cup events. The one thing that Montoya is not going to get in 2007 is a lot of time off.(GrandPrix.com)(12-6-2006)

    • Jimmie Johnson wins 2006 Driver of the Year Award: Although Jimmie Johnson needed an almost unprecedented comeback to win his first Nextel Cup series championship, he dominated the voting for the 2006 Driver of the Year. Johnson, a native Californian, won some of NASCAR's most prestigious races along with his title. He took the checkered flag at the Daytona 500, the Allstate 400, the spring race at Talladega and two other points events. After crashing, in the first of ten races in the Chase to the Cup, he came back from ninth in the standings to earn that precious piece of hardware not to mention a record $15.7 million in prizes and bonuses. "It's quite an honor to be Driver of the Year, it's great," exclaimed the 31-year old driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendricks Motorsports. "I know we've been close before," Johnson added "I'm excited to be Driver of the Year." In fact in Johnson's five seasons in the big leagues he's finished second, twice, and never lower than fifth. Johnson's championship season started in a rocky fashion when his crew chief, Chad Knaus, was excluded from the four opening events. Johnson and the team responded with two wins and no finish lower than sixth during that period. Barry Schmoyer, President of the Driver of the Year Foundation, noted "Johnson, and his team's never-say-die attitude was a great example of how a team, in the face of stiff competition, prevails." Professionals, who voted - in a secret ballot - for a single driver, gave Johnson 11 votes out the 17 cast. Kevin Harvick, the Busch Series champion who also finished fourth in the Nextel Cup standings, scored two votes while Sebastien Bourdais (Champ Car), Sam Hornish, Jr. (IRL), Donny Schatz (World of Outlaws) and Tony Schumacher (NHRA) tallied one vote apiece. In its' 40th year, the Driver of the Year title is unique because it is the only award that encompasses all of the racing series in the United States. A panel of 18 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. are eligible to vote via a secret ballot. Johnson will receive a trophy, and a TISSOT wristwatch which will be presented on Thursday, April 26, 2007 at the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama.(DOTY PR)(12-6-2006)

    • SPEED Names Six Finalists for Inaugural SPEED Performer of the Year: SPEED has named six finalists for the inaugural SPEED Performer of the Year, including Fernando Alonso (Formula One), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), Nicky Hayden (MotoGP), Sebastien Bourdais (Champ Car), Sam Hornish Jr. (IRL) and Tony Schumacher (NHRA). The winner will be announced in February as part of the one-hour SPEED Performance Awards television special presented by BF Goodrich. SPEED on-air personalities Bob Varsha, Dave Despain, Tommy Kendall, Ralph Sheheen and Dorsey Schroeder, along with SPEEDtv.com columnists Robin Miller and Tom Jensen led a panel of voters who submitted nominations, trimming the list of finalists to six with a preliminary round of voting. The winner will receive the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak.(SpeedTV.com)(12-6-2006)

    • Biffle/Kyle Busch to test Goodyear tires at Las Vegas:: Las Vegas Motor Speedway's new high banks will be tested by Nextel Cup cars for the first time this week. #5-Kyle Busch and #16-Greg Biffle will participate in a two-day tire test for Goodyear on Wednesday and Thursday [Dec 6&7]. It will mark the first time Nextel Cup cars have turned hot laps on the superspeedway since the banking in the turns was raised from 12 degrees to 20 degrees and the entire tri-oval was repaved. Goodyear engineers will use this test to help determine a tire compound to be used in the March 11 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. This test also will determine the tire race teams will use during the NASCAR-sanctioned test for all Nextel Cup teams Jan. 28-29. Tickets as well as Neon Garage and pre-race activities passes are available for the March 9-11 NASCAR Weekend by calling 1-800-644-4444 or by logging on to www.lvms.com.(LVMS PR)(12-5-2006)

    • Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Debuts on ESPN2: NASCAR fans will get inside access to Nextel Cup team Michael Waltrip Racing [#00, #44, #55] in the all new television series Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era, part of ESPN2 Garage, debuting this Sunday, Dec. 10, at 10:00pm/et on ESPN2. Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era is an 11-episode, documentary television series that chronicles Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota’s new partnership in the Nextel Cup Series. In the premiere episode, Waltrip breaks ground at his new fabrication shop and announces to his staff that ESPN2 will document all of the exciting developments for the new race team. He also visits Toyota Racing Development to see the new Toyota Camry stock car and Toyota executives explain why the company is partnering with the team and entering Nextel Cup racing.  “This show was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to build a race team and give the fans an inside look into everything that goes into it,” said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. “From hiring the crew, to applying information about rules and competition, and seeing how it all comes together - that’s what this story is about.” Waltrip takes on the daunting task of creating a new Nextel Cup team with new manufacturer, Toyota, with just months before their Nextel Cup Camry debuts in the Daytona 500. In June 2006, Michael Waltrip Racing opened its new race shop in Mooresville, NC, and the rookie race team has been hard at work building and perfecting the first 200-mph Toyota Camry.  “The creation of Michael Waltrip Racing is a tremendous undertaking and we’ve got a lot of people invested in seeing us grow and succeed,” added Waltrip. “The 2007 season is when we open the curtains on the world and everyone will get the chance to see what we’ve been doing this last year. Not only are we working hard, but we’re working smart. Starting Dec. 10, fans can follow the story just like I’ve been living it the last year.” Waltrip is challenged to find sponsors, hire his entire crew and two drivers, and build a fleet of race cars – giving viewers the true-life drama of creating a new championship race team. "This is a series that will give NASCAR fans real insight into the complex process of assembling a racing team,” said ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions Julie Sobieski. “It will be educational and informative but with a personality like Michael Waltrip involved, it will also be very entertaining."(ESPN PR)(12-5-2006)

    • JGR are NASCAR Football Champs: NASCAR Flag Football: Joe Gibbs Racing are the 2006 Champions of Bob Hubner's Totally Racin' Flag Football League presented by Race City Resumes.com. JGR led by quarterback J.D. Gibbs went 10-0 competing against 5 other NASCAR Teams for the title. Evernham Motorsports Hendrick Motorsports, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Roush Racing and Team Red Bull.(Race City Resumes)(12-6-2006)

    • XM Radio Plans in 2007: Claire B. Lang, the on-air host currently on XM's NASCAR Radio 144 channel, has entered into a new, multi-year agreement with XM Satelitte Radio. Lang's fans will continue to hear her daily, three-hour racing show each weekday afternoon on XM. Claire will anchor her show on XM Channel 144 from 4-7pm/et daily. Starting in January 2007, channel 144 will become XM's newly-launched sports talk channel XM Sports Nation. More new announcements about Lang's show will be made in the coming months leading up to the start of the 2007 season. Lang will continue her afternoon racing show as well as expand her reach hosting unique specials and in-depth features across XM programming.(XM Radio PR), as previously announced, Sirius Radio will take over broadcasting NASCAR races on satelitte radio in 2007 [thru 2011](12-6-2006)


      News from December 5, 2006

    • Testing at Lakeland: #43-Bobby Labonte, #55-Michael Waltrip and #10-Scott Riggs tested cars of tomorrow yesterday [12/4] at Lakeland tested COT's [Car of Tomorrow] at USA International Speedway in Lakeland FL, not sure if they will continue to test anymore this week.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(12-5-2006)

    • Bobby Labonte Racing to field cars for Pearson Jr. Bobby Labonte Racing has reached an agreement with Dunn-Benson Motorsports and will field Late Model cars for the Jacksonville, Florida resident and three time Dirt Late Model National Champion Earl Pearson Jr. beginning with the 2007 season. The team will be based out of the Bobby Labonte Racing shop in Archdale, NC. The 2006 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Crew Chief of the Year Jason Fitzgerald will continue to handle the crew chief duties along with Matt Langston as additional full time crew for Bobby Labonte Racing. #43-Bobby Labonte is excited about the opportunity to field cars for Earl Pearson Jr. and to be a part of the huge sport of dirt late model racing. Bobby is equally excited to be associated with Carlton & Kemp Lamm and Dunn-Benson Motorsports. Bobby Labonte Racing and Earl Pearson Jr. are finalizing sponsorship for the team and working on their schedule for the 2007 season. A special press conference announcing more details and sponsorships about the new team is tentatively scheduled for the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Orlando on December 14th. A new Bobby Labonte Racing website will be released in the near future for fans, sponsors, and the media to keep up with the new team and information about Earl Pearson Jr.(more at dunnbensonfordmotorsports.com)(12-5-2006)

    • Sad News - Len Sutton: Len Sutton, a race car driver who appeared in seven Indianapolis 500s, including a second-place finish in 1962, died Monday in Portland, Ore. He was 81. Sutton finished 11.5 seconds behind Rodger Ward in the '62 500. He also won the Milwaukee 200 in 1960.(Indy Star)
      AND Portland's Len Sutton, one of the greatest race car drivers of his generation and the second-place finisher in the 1962 Indianapolis 500, died in his sleep Monday morning at his Portland home. He was 81, and his wife Anita, the love of his life for 59 years, was close by. While horrific racing accidents claimed the life of Oregon drivers Les Anderson, George Amick and Art Pollard over the years, Sutton survived several close calls, raced in seven Indianapolis 500s, and won United States Auto Club championship races at Trenton, Springfield and Milwaukee. Sutton had 43 career top 10 finishes. Among his numerous honors, Sutton said he was proud to be a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, joining ageless stock car racing legend Hershel McGriff and Portland sports car racer Monte Shelton, who noted simply of his longtime friend, "he was almost too nice to be in racing. You couldn't find a mean bone in that guy's body. And yet, when he raced, he was really good." Sutton is survived by his wife and his two daughters, Christy and Hollie. Funeral services are pending.(The Oregonian), Sutton also race in five Nextel Cup events [then called Grand National] once in 1958 [at Portland, starting 9th and finished 11th] and four races in 1963 with his best finish of 30th at Daytona].(12-5-2006)

    • Sad News - Wilson Shanks: He made stock car history in the Valley last year. NBC29 brought you Wilson Shanks' story just before he became the oldest stock car driver to ever win a race. Shanks passed away over the weekend at the age of 75. Known as the "Millboro Express" on the track, where he had been racing since the 1950's, Shanks was the owner and operator of Shanks Logging in Millboro for more than 58 years. Shanks is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son.(nbc29.com) AND Wilson raced at Eastside Speedway some thirty-five years and made many cherished friends and fans along the way. Wilson set history as he became the oldest active Late Model driver in the United States to win a feature race in what turned out to be his final race back on September 27th, 2005. Wilson Shanks was best known at Eastside as a quiet fraile old man who wheeled his familiar red Ford #77 Late Model like a 20 year-old, not like the 70 plus year-old man he was. Shanks suprised many people every week as many first timers discovered that behind the wheel of that car speeding down the oval was not what they would expect. And as Shanks climbed out of his car in victory lane one last time back in Sept of 2005, the crowd was quiet except for a few sobs as Shanks announced he was going for surgery for throat cancer. Weeks later Dick Berggrens Speedway Illustrated did a story proclaiming Shanks historic win.(Eastside Speedway site)(12-5-2006)


      News from December 4, 2006

    • Kodak to sponsor Newman in three Cup races and: Eastman Kodak Company will serve as primary sponsor of the #12 Dodge driven by Ryan Newman at three Nextel Cup races in 2007. Kodak will also sponsor Newman’s car in seven Busch Series races next year, and will be an associate sponsor of Penske Racing’s IndyCar Series entries driven by Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish, Jr. Plans call for Newman’s Dodge to wear red-and-yellow Kodak colors at Nextel Cup races in Talladega [Apr or Oct?]; Fontana, CA [Feb or Sept?] and Watkins Glen, near Kodak’s headquarters in Rochester. At 33 other Cup events, Kodak will be an associate sponsor of the #12 Alltel Dodge. The seven Busch Series races where Newman will drive a Kodak EasyShare Gallery-sponsored car are Bristol, Texas, Darlington, Chicagoland, Watkins Glen, Fontana, and Richmond [assuming they are in order of the races, so Bristol would be in March..not August, but it doesn't clearly say]. [Businesswire.com), see image of the scheme on my Paint Scheme Gallery.(12-4-2006)

    • Waltrip Raceworld on Track, crew chiefs to be announced soon: Michael Waltrip has a huge undertaking with Michael Waltrip Racing and Waltrip Raceworld (formerly called Waltrip Racing World). Waltrip does not foresee anything that will slow down progress, but if something does come up he’s prepared. “We mapped out a plan with a timeline to monitor our progress,” Waltrip said. “We are at a very good place. There have been many challenges and I know there will be more. I have been racing my whole life and it has always been about adapting to change. That mentality has helped our organization grow from a plan to a reality.” Finding quality crew members that have chemistry obviously plays a large part in the success of any racing organization and Michael Waltrip Racing’s competition department has been hiring daily. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, crew chiefs will be announced and over-the-wall teams will be assembled. “Over the next week or so, we will announce our team rosters including crew chiefs,” Waltrip said. “By mid-January, we will be operating exclusively out of Waltrip Raceworld (former movie theater). As Michael Waltrip Racing continues their hiring process and Waltrip Raceworld becomes a reality, SPEED Channel is holding auditions for its own reality show called SPEED Road Tour Challenge at Michael Waltrip Racing’s fabrication shop (19340 Liverpool Parkway, Cornelius, NC 28031) on December 9th and 10th. SPEED is looking for four NASCAR fans to travel to 13 races from Daytona to Charlotte. The four participants will compete for a prize package, which includes a 2007 Toyota Tundra and an offer to join the SPEED Road Tour crew for the remainder of the season.(MWR PR)(12-4-2006)

    • Jeff Gordon testing Daytona Prototype at Homestead: Jeff Gordon and Sam Hornish, Jr. will join over 25 Rolex Sports Car Series teams to participate in the Rolex Sports Car Series test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, December 5th and 6th from 9:00am to 12:00pm/et and 1:30 to 4:30pm/et. Gordon will return this time to battle the Speedway's 11-turn road course in a Daytona Prototype - a car that he has never driven before. He is scheduled to share the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with 2005 Rolex Series Daytona Prototype co-champions Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor. Hornish will also be driving a Daytona Prototype for the very first time next week. He will share the #60 Flight Options/Net App Lexus Riley with his Penske Racing IndyCar teammate Helio Castroneves, South Florida resident Oswaldo Negri, and Mark Patterson. Fans are welcome to attend the free Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series test, December 5-6 to catch Gordon, Hornish and other favorite drivers in action. Those who plan to attend should check in at the first-floor lobby in the Homestead-Miami Speedway administration building, and then take the elevator to the Speedway Club on the fourth floor. The Rolex Sports Car Series Linder-Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami and the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 will return to Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24, 2007 along with concerts, displays, food, and more. To purchase tickets or for more information please visit www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com or call (866) - 409-RACE.(HMS PR), others scheduled to test include: Scott Pruett, Boris Said, Paul Tracy, David Donohue and J.C. France.(12-4-2006)

    • Cope back in the #74 in 2007: Derrike Cope, #74-McGlynn Racing and Sundance Vacations will now begin looking at their options to further the team's productivity for next year. Cope adds, "I want to thank all of the crew for their hard work and dedication. They are all giving their time each week voluntarily, with the exception of [a few]. We accomplished a great deal more than people expected us to, although the latter portion of the year was a bit disappointing. For such a small team I personally am pleased with what we were able to make happen [in 2006]." The 2007 race season will bring along another year of hope for McGlynn Racing and Sundance Vacations. Derrike Cope concludes, "I am already looking forward to the start of the 2007 NASCAR season!"(PRweb.com)(12-4-2006)

    • 800 runners run in Victory Junction 1/2 marathon: Michael Waltrip and about 800 other runners got together for the Victory Junction Run, a 13-mile half marathon. Kyle Petty, who founded Victory Junction Gang Camp with his wife Pattie, said he got the idea for the race from Waltrip. “Michael did a thing a couple of years ago called Operation Marathon,” said Petty. “He ran Vegas and I ran with him, and we raised substantial funds." “I just came to help,” said Waltrip, “so don't watch because I'm going to be going real slow." Waltrip finished the race in two hours, 26 minutes and 11 seconds, good enough for 355th place. Sunday’s race raised $85,000 for Victory Junction Gang Camp. The Petty’s said they hope to make the mini-marathon an annual event.(MyFox WGHP)(12-4-2006)

    • Rogers wins Snowball Derby, Wallace 2nd: Snowball Derby winner Johnny Brazier and runner-up Bobby Gill were disqualified in postrace inspection following the race Sunday night at Five Flags Speedway.That gave the victory to Clay Rogers, who had finished third. Rogers was the USAR Hooters ProCup champion. Brazier led the final 83 laps to take the checkered flag. He led four times for 122 laps. With the DQs, Steven Wallace, the 2004 winner, finished second, Panama City's Ryan Crane was third, Jeremy Rice was fourth and Shaun McWhirter was fifth.[Buckshot Jones was 37th]. More at snowballderby.com or speed51.com.(12-4-2006)



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