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    DECEMBER 18-24, 2006

      News from December 24, 2006

    • Rudd back to Yates, Snickers to sponsor, UPDATE 4 official, car #?. Previously paired for the 2000-2002 seasons, Ricky Rudd and Robert Yates Racing on Monday will announce the driver and car owner will again become an item for the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. Rudd will take over the driving duties vacated by 1999 Cup champ Dale Jarrett at the end of the 2006 season, joining David Gilliland, who will drive the #38 M&M's RYR Ford.(, rumors have the #88 using the #28 that was previously used by Yates and Rudd and the Mar's Company as the sponsor with other brands being used such as Snickers, Pedigree and Combos on the car.(12-18-2006)
      UPDATE: no announcement on Monday, Dec 18th.(12-19-2006)
      UPDATE 2: been told there will be no announcement until after the holidays....also the RYR website is down and has been down for a few weeks, no idea why or what it means.(12-20-2006)
      UPDATE 3: Masterfoods USA announced it will sponsor a second entry with Robert Yates Racing in 2007 with Snickers Brand as the primary sponsor. Veteran driver Ricky Rudd will return to RYR to drive after a one-year break from competition. Joining Snickers to support the program are Pedigree Brand Food for Dogs and Combos Brand Snacks. Each will hold the primary sponsor position on the second car for a combined seven events during the 2007 season. Additionally, Masterfoods’ brands Twix, Milky Way, Skittles and Starburst will serve as associate sponsors on Rudd’s Ford during the 36-race schedule.(Elevation Group PR)(12-21-2006). No mention of a car number.
      UPDATE 4 - car number: Rudd will pilot a Yates Ford Fusion in 2007, with sponsorship from Masterfoods USA. The primary Masterfoods brand on Rudd’s car will be Snickers, which will sponsor the car for 29 races, with Masterfoods’ Pedigree Brand Food for Dogs and Combos Brand Snacks combining to sponsor the car for seven races. Car owner Robert Yates said he has not yet decided whether the Snickers car will carry the #28 or #88. An announcement on that will be expected soon, though Yates hinted the #28 might carry the day, which Rudd said would be fine with him. “From a driver’s standpoint, I was always proud to drive the #28 because of the history of the car,” Rudd said. … I guess if I had a preference, I’d take the #28.”(Ford Racing)(12-24-2006)

    • Congrats: Mike Nelson: #12-Crew chief Mike Nelson and his wife, Kim, welcomed a baby girl into their family on Friday, December 22 at 11:33 a.m. Claire Margaret Nelson arrived three weeks early at 5 pounds, 6 ounces, but mother and baby are doing fine. Claire joins big brother Carter, who is 2.(12-24-2006)

    • Goodyear, Strikers Reach Tentative Deal: Thousands of striking workers are preparing to review a tentative deal between Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the United Steelworkers union to resolve an 11-week dispute over health care and plans to close a tire factory in Texas. About 12,600 union workers in the U.S. and another 1,400 workers considered inactive, including those on layoff, will be able to vote on the contract Thursday at ratification meetings in their communities. The world's third-largest tiremaker and the union reached the deal after both sides resumed talks in Pittsburgh early this week. The strike began Oct. 5. The deal allows Akron-based Goodyear to stick with plans to close the plant in Tyler, Texas, but not immediately. It provides for a one-year transition period during which workers will have the opportunity to take advantage of retirement buyouts. The plant employs 1,100 workers.(Associated Press), see past news on the strike on the Sponsors News page.(12-24-2006)

    • NASCAR’s Technical Director honored: Steve Peterson, NASCAR’s Technical Director who has been heavily involved in helping introduce a wide range of safety initiatives within the sport, was recently the recipient of the 2006 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Motorsports Achievement Award. Peterson received the award at the annual SAE Motorsports Engineering Conference and Exhibition Dec. 5 in Dearborn, Mich. SAE presents this award to the individual that has shown outstanding leadership or contribution to motorsports over an extended period of time. Peterson has served as NASCAR’s Technical Director since 1995 and during that span he has been instrumental in the development and implementation of such safety features as the SAFER Barrier and Head and Neck Restraints, along with improved Seat Belts, Cockpit Surrounds/Seats and Fire Safety. His most recent work has been with the Car of Tomorrow, NASCAR’s new race car that focuses on safety, improved performance and cost efficiency. A graduate of Western Michigan University, Peterson has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive engineering industry. He worked as a crew chief for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Mark Martin in 1982 and also has experience as a race team engineer and design engineer. He currently resides in Concord, N.C., where he works at the NASCAR Research and Development Center.(NASCAR PR)(12-24-2006)

    • Amateur fishermen win Newman Charity Fishing Tournament: #12-Ryan Newman and #20-Tony Stewart shared big fish stories with over 300 fisherman at the inaugural Ryan Newman Foundation Celebrity Charity Fishing Tournament at Blythe Landing in Huntersville, NC on Saturday, December 16, 2006. The charity bass tournament-sponsored by Ranger Boats and facilitated by FLW Outdoors-and VIP Reception-sponsored by Huckleberry's BBQ-raised over $40,000 for the Ryan Newman Foundation Endowment, which will be a source for grants to nonprofit organizations that fulfill the foundation's mission. Tony Stewart fished on Lake Norman during the tournament and signed autographs during the VIP Reception to support his fellow driver's charity. Newman fished Lake Norman with FLW Angler of the Year Anthony Gagliardi in his Alltel-wrapped Ranger Boat. Newman and Stewart were joined on the FLW Outdoors stage by Ranger Boats Founder Forrest Wood during the Awards Ceremony, sponsored by Alltel. Fisherman Brian Morgan and Michael Fox of Newton, NC won the grand prize, a 519VX Ranger Boat with a VZ200TLR HPDI Yamaha motor, valued at $35,000.(Ryan Newman Foundation PR)(12-24-2006)

      News from December 23, 2006

    • Kearns named fourth quarter NMPA/Pocono Spirit winner: Owen Kearns, manager of communications for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, has been named the fourth quarter recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association Pocono Spirit Award. Kearns, who began his racing career as a journalist, joined NASCAR in 1983 to run what was then known as the Winston West Series. In addition, he has worked with NASCAR’s Weekly, Southwest and Northeast series. He began working with the truck series upon its inception, and worked 288 consecutive events before health issues forced him to the sidelines for a single race – the 2006 Easy Care 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway – in October of 2006. However, after only a brief stay in the hospital, Kearns was back on the beat, overseeing the series when it returned to Texas Motor Speedway the following week. “Actually, I’ve been around the truck series before it even began,” he said, “as early as 1993. Through the meetings with NASCAR in Daytona and the exhibition races, I’ve been involved with it for quite some time. I’m humbled to receive the award ... I really appreciate it.” The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, quarterly winners are selected, and an overall winner is selected by a vote of the NMPA membership. The 2006 overall winner will be announced during the NMPA’s annual convention and awards ceremony scheduled for Jan. 21. Also receiving votes for the fourth-quarter award were Ryan Newman. Other quarterly winners for 2006 included: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner/driver Bobby Hamilton (first quarter); longtime photojournalist Dozier Mobley (second quarter); and 1973 Cup champion Benny Parsons (third quarter).(NASCAR PR)(12-23-2006)

    • Kurt Busch salutes Guntersville Wildcats: (A personal note from 2004 Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch) "I first started following the Wildcats’ journey to the Alabama Class 4-A Football Championship at the first of the 2006 season,” said Busch, who drives the Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing on the Nextel Cup tour. “My PR guy, Tom Roberts, or ‘TR’ as he has been known forever along the NASCAR trail, and I have been talking about all kinds of sports ever since we started working together at the end of last season. See full story at

      News from December 22, 2006

    • Sponsor changes at the #25? UPDATE 2 National Guard official: hearing National Guard could end up being the sponsor, either whole or in part, of the #25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy that Casey Mears will drive in 2007. No word if current #25 primary sponsor, GMAC, stays as a co-sponsor or would leave the team. National Guard currently sponsors the #16 Roush Racing Ford of Greg Biffle, supposedly Subway could step up full time or be co-sponsors with Ameriquest [sponsors a slew of Roush Racing Busch cars] or 3M.(7-30-2006)
      UPDATE: been told the National Guard will move to the #25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy and will team up to co-sponsor the team with GMAC.(8-19-2006)
      UPDATE 2: Beginning in 2007, the Army National Guard will join forces with longtime Hendrick Motorsports partner GMAC to sponsor the #25 Chevry driven by Casey Mears in the Nextel Cup Series. "This is a fantastic day for our organization," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "We take an enormous amount of pride in welcoming the men and women of the National Guard and continuing our time-honored relationship with GMAC. These are two incredible groups that share our vision for the #25 team and its bright future." Mears, 28, will drive the new-look #25 National Guard/GMAC Chevy in the car's on-track debut this February at Daytona. "The National Guard is looking forward to joining the #25 Hendrick Motorsports team," said Col. Mike Jones, chief of the Army National Guard's Strength Maintenance Division. "NASCAR continues to be a vital component of our recruiting and retention programs, and we believe this new relationship will further enhance our involvement in the sport." GMAC's association with Hendrick Motorsports is one of the longest and most successful sponsor-team relationships in NASCAR. Headquartered in Detroit, the company joined Hendrick in 1993 and has since been featured in some form on 10 championship-winning race cars, including two as a primary sponsor. The red, white and blue #25 Chevy design will make its first public appearances during activities surrounding the Jan. 7 GMAC Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. New enlistees of the Alabama National Guard will be sworn in on the field prior to the game featuring Ohio University and the University of Southern Mississippi. For more information, visit the National Guard website at Motorsports PR), see an image of the paint scheme on my Paint Schemes Gallery.(12-22-2006)

    • Hero of the Year to be announced in January, featured on a car: For the first time, a non-celebrity's image will be featured on a NASCAR race car that will be raced in the 2007 Nextel Cup Series. The national award winner will be featured on Greg Biffle's #16 NASCAR race car [or it could be #25 Casey Mears as the National Guard sponsorship will move to the #25 in 2007] and will be a VIP guest trackside at a race during the 2007 season. To nominate a hero of the National Guard, military family or employer, visit The award is co-sponsored by the Army National Guard and Jackson Hewitt as a part of their National Guard Heroes of the Year campaign.(Biloxi Sun Herald)(12-22-2006)

    • Johnson to be awarded timepiece: Swiss watch brand Tissot has been chosen as the sole watch provider for the Driver of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious and highly anticipated awards in all of motorsports. Tissot will award this year’s recipient, 2006 Nextel Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, with a unique 18-carat gold Tissot Sculpture mechanical power reserve timepiece at the annual banquet held at the Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, AL, in April.(

      News from December 21, 2006

    • Ex-TMS guard arrested, released in connection with stolen Earnhardt suit: A former Texas Motor Speedway security guard surrendered to authorities in connection with the theft of a racing suit worn by the late NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Sr. After Fort Worth police obtained an arrest warrant for him, James John Karl, 44, of North Richland Hills, went with his attorney Monday to the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office, where he posted a $1,500 bond and was released, police Lt. Dean Sullivan said Wednesday. Police filed with Denton County prosecutors a charge of theft of $500 to $1,500, Sullivan said. The Class A misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. The racing suit – worth between $50,000 and $100,000 – along with a helmet and shoes were stolen in November but were returned last week after Karl's attorney, Jeff Kennedy, contacted police. The items are usually displayed on a mannequin in a glass case at the race track's gift shop. Earnhardt Sr., arguably the most famous driver in NASCAR history, gave the items as a gift to speedway president Eddie Gossage in 1996.(Dallas Morning News/AP), past news on the Dale Earnhardt News page.(12-21-2006)

    • Carter leaves MWR? heads to Roush? UPDATE: hearing that Crew Chief Larry Carter, recently announced as #00-David Reutimann's crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing, supposedly has left MWR and will be #26-Jamie McMurray' crew chief at Roush Racing.(12-18-2006)
      UPDATE: Larry Carter has left Michael Waltrip Racing to join Roush Racing, MWR general manager Ty Norris said Wednesday. Carter had been a part of building of MWR from the beginning and was slated to serve as crew chief for rookie #00-David Reutimann in 2007. He told Norris of his decision to leave shortly after Matt Borland was named crew chief for #44-Dale Jarrett earlier this month. Norris refused to call Carter's departure a setback. "We only need people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for a period of time for the betterment of our company," he said Wednesday. "You're either in the mode to do it or you do not want to. There were a couple of people who were not willing to do it." Norris said Carter was given an out in his contract. Carter will be McMurray's fourth crew chief at Roush Racing in less than a year. McMurray began last season with crew chief Jimmy Fennig, then inherited Bob Osborne from Carl Edwards' team in April. Osborne returned to Edwards for the final two races and Wally Brown, who has since left Roush Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing, finished out the year with McMurray.(

    • Rudd/Gilliland tested for RYR? been told that David Gilliland and Ricky Rudd tested the COT [Car of Tomorrow] last week at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, SC for Robert Yates Racing. Gilliland is, of course, the driver of RYR's #38 M&M's Ford and Rudd is being heavily rumored to be taking over the #88 Ford [Snickers? renumbered to #28?] in 2007.(12-21-2006)

    • Changes at Hass CNC Racing? UPDATE: been told that Team Manager Bill Ingle and Haas CNC Racing have parted ways and that #70 Crew Chief, Robert 'Bootie' Barker will take over as the Team Manager and #70 Car Chief Derick Jennings will be the new crew chief for the new #70 Haas CNC Racing Nextel Cup team and driver Johnny Sauter. Yellow Transportation is the rumored sponsor for the team.(12-15-2006)
      UPDATE: Haas CNC Racing no longer employs Bill Ingle. Robert "Bootie" Barker is currently the crew chief for the #70 Nextel Cup entry. Derick Jennings is currently the car chief under Barker.(Haas CNC Racing PR)(12-21-2006)

    • Furniture Row Racing adds crew chief, other enhancements: Furniture Row Racing’s Nextel Cup program continues to make enhancements to strengthen the competitive level of its organization. The #78 Chevy with veteran driver Kenny Wallace will run a full Cup schedule in 2007. New hires, new departments, new equipment, and Wallace’s complete focus on the team will expedite the growth and development of the program. Joe Garone has been juggling duel roles as both crew chief and manager for Furniture Row Racing for two years. He will now focus his efforts exclusively on general manager responsibilities. Reporting directly to team owner Barney Visser, Garone will oversee the team operations in the various departments, act as the liaison between Furniture Row Racing and its partners, and continue to support the growth and development of the entire program. Furniture Row Racing’s new additions to the organizations will be instrumental to realizing the team’s goals. The new hires include Jay Guy, Doug Holbrook, Gary Beveridge, and Claude Rouelle. Guy joins the team as the newly appointed crew chief. Guy’s prior stint was with the #47 Busch team. His resume includes crew chief positions with Johnny Benson in Cup, and Casey Atwood, Dave Blaney and David Stremme in the Busch Series. Furniture Row Racing has also inked a deal with a new car chief, Doug Holbrook. Holbrook, formerly with Evernham Motorsports, brings a vast repertoire of knowledge and experience to the position. Gary Beveridge comes to the organization after heading up the superspeedway department for Robert Yates for the last four years. Beveridge has been brought on as the fabrication shop supervisor. In addition, a big gun as been added to the engineering department of the program. Claude Rouelle has been named as the Director of Engineering. Rouelle is a renowned high-performance racecar research and development engineer. With 30 years of experience in designing, testing and engineering racecars in Europe, Japan and the USA, Furniture Row Racing will benefit from his extensive and specialized skill set. In 1997, Rouelle also created OptimumG, a consulting company that teaches racecar engineering and data acquisitions. Along with new equipment purchases in engine shop, the organization has acquired a seven-post rig (ride simulator). This equipment is extremely valuable in acquiring data due to the lack of actual track testing opportunities permitted by NASCAR during the season.(Business Wire)(12-21-2006)

    • Delphi to announce NASCAR plans at open house in Vegas: Delphi Corp. will host a media open house on Monday, Jan. 8 from 3 - 5 p.m. at its exhibit at the Las Vegas Convention Center (#Exhibit 5206). Jeff Owens, president of Delphi Electronics & Safety and Francisco (Frank) A. Ordonez, president, Delphi Products & Service Solutions, will host the reception. Also hosting is: NASCAR driver Kyle Busch. Kyle will be on hand to sign autographs and meet fans. Along with Kellogg's, Delphi was a major associate sponsor of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy driven by Busch during the past NASCAR season. Delphi will announce its 2007 sponsorship at the open house. During the event, a host of Delphi subject matter experts will be available for interviews and to demonstrate the new technologies.(Yahoo Biz)(12-21-2006)

    • Ambrose to Make Announcement on 2007 Plans UPDATE: A press conference is scheduled to Wednesday evening where Marcos Ambrose will announce further plans for 2007. From the release, "Australian driver Marcos Ambrose will make one of the biggest announcements in Australian Sport this year by confirming an extended schedule in America during 2007."(Ambrose PR)(12-20-2006)
      UPDATE: Australian businessman Craig Gore has finalized a deal with Wood Brothers-JTG Racing which will see Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards branding on the back quarter panel of Ambrose’s #59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford for all 35 rounds of next year’s Busch Series. Part of the agreement will also see a full Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards entry in a minimum of two, and up to 10, NASCAR Nextel Cup events. Ambrose will campaign the full Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards entry in Nextel Cup road course events at Infineon Raceway at Sonoma, California on June 24 and at Watkins Glen International Raceway in New York State on August 12.(BAM Media PR)(12-21-2006)

      News from December 20, 2006

    • 4th MWR show to air on ESPN2 Sunday: The fourth episode of Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era, part of ESPN2 Garage, will be televised Sunday, Dec. 24, at 11:00pm/et, on ESPN2. It will feature a father and son car builder team from Michael Waltrip Racing, as they install the first Toyota Racing Development engines into the brand new NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Toyotas.  Once the car and engine are assembled, Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann take the new engine and chassis combination to the race track for its first crucial test drive. Michael Waltrip Racing: A New Era is an 11-episode, documentary series that chronicles Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota’s new partnership in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.(ESPN PR)(12-20-2006)

    • Toyota Looking for Land near Charlotte: Toyota Racing Development officials met with Rowan County commissioners Monday night about the potential purchase of an 89-acre parcel of land near Salisbury, N.C., about 43 miles north of Charlotte, NC. TRD president Jim Aust said Toyota plans to build an engineering facility to support its NASCAR teams. The manufacturer, which will enter the Nextel Cup Series in 2007, would use about half the site's land for the building. The sale wouldn't be complete until next year after a follow-up meeting with the county.(USA Today)(12-20-2006)

    • Barnes & Reese to prepare engines for Shepherd: #89-Faith Motorsports announced that Barnes & Reese Racing Engines will supply the power for the #89 Dodge Chargers and Avengers in the 2007 season. Morgan Shepherd, team co-owner and driver of the Racing With Jesus Dodge, said the team began experimenting with Barnes & Reese at the very end of the 2006 season and were impressed with the builder's program. "After trying a few different options during the end of last season we got the engine where we felt good about it," Shepherd said.(Faith Motorsports)(12-20-2006)

    • 2006 Auto Racing All-American Team Selected: The 2006 All-America Auto Racing Team has been chosen, and now the question turns to: Who will win the Jerry Titus Award? The Titus, given in remembrance of the late racer/journalist, signifies the top vote-getter on the All-America team regardless of category, and is not announced until the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association's banquet Jan. 13 at the Hyatt Regency in Indianapolis. For the past two years the Titus winner has been the Indy Racing League champion and this year's IRL champion, Indy-winner Sam Hornish Jr. is among the contenders. Also in contention are NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson and Todd Bodine, NHRA's John Force (already a 4-time Titus winner) and Tony Schumacher, and ARCA's Frank Kimmel. Hornish led the vote in the Open Wheel category, joined by Champ Car champion and 7-time winner Sebastien Bourdais on the First Team. Not far behind Bourdais was A.J. Allmendinger, five-time winner on the Champ Car circuit, joined by IRL runner-up Dan Wheldon on the Second Team. Nextel Cup champion Johnson easily led the Stock Car category, but the other First Team slot turned into a four-driver battle, eventually taken by Tony Stewart whose five Cup wins included three during the Chase for the Championship, even through he did not qualify for the Chase. Second Team honors went to rookie Denny Hamlin and Busch Series champion Kevin Harvick, separated by just one vote. In Touring Series it was NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Todd Bodine and eight-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel who dominated the category. Far behind but taking Second Team honors were USAR Pro Cup champion Clay Rogers and NASCAR East titlist Mike Olsen.
      OPEN WHEEL: Sébastien Bourdais, Sam Hornish Jr
      STOCK CAR: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart
      ROAD RACING: Jorg Bergmeister, Rinaldo Capello/Allan McNish and Scott Pruett/Luis Diaz (tie)
      DRAG RACING: John Force, Tony Schumacher
      SHORT TRACK: Donny Schatz, Josh Wise
      TOURING SERIES: Todd Bodine, Frank Kimmel
      AT LARGE: J.R. Hildebrand, Travis Pastrana.(AARWBA PR), see full PR, driver list and other teams on my Awards Page.(12-20-2006)

      News from December 19, 2006

    • Atlantic City to host Motorsports Show and Indoor Races: the Motorsports 2007 show will be held at the Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, NJ in 2007. The show will fill more than 275,000 square feet of the Convention Center with 600 booths for exhibits and memorabilia sales, along with 250 racing vehicles of all types and a few Nextel Cup driver appearances. The event will run from Jan. 12 to 14. There also will be midget car races on Jan. 12 and 13 at Boardwalk Hall. More info on my Driver Appearances page.(12-19-2006)

    • France: Daytona Accident "closed case": After Daytona Beach Police officers were determined to have followed proper procedures investigating a traffic accident of NASCAR Chairman Brian France, the NASCAR head says he considers the issue closed. "As previously stated, I fully cooperated with the police on the night in question about what happened on my way home from a fast-food restaurant," France said in a statement released by NASCAR. "I accidentally brushed against a tree or roadside stump on the narrow road leading to my apartment. The State Attorney's Office and the Daytona Beach Police Department have concluded that all the procedures were followed; as such I consider this case closed."(

    • DW in the 'Nutcracker': Nashville Ballet's "Nutcracker," which signifies the beginning of the holiday season for many locals, opened last night in TPAC's Jackson Hall. As with any other holiday tradition, the comforting familiarity of the story and Tchaikovsky's music quickly drew the audience into "Nutcracker's" action. Clara's Christmas party, a dream that takes her on a fantastic journey with a prince, Drosselmeyer's magic, giant mice, toy soldiers and confections come to life are standard, well-loved fare that held even the youngest members of the audience rapt throughout the evening. Act II performance highlights included Christine Rennie and Eddie Mikrut as Dew Drop and Dew Drop Cavalier, Robert Gosnell as Chinese, and Eric Harris with Sadie Harris and Kimberly Ratcliffe as Marzipan. Darrell Waltrip played the humorous Mother Ginger with an engaging, understated demeanor that brought laughter from the audience, especially when he turned to reveal a racing logo on the back of his enormous skirt.(Tennessean)(12-19-2006)

    • Sweden's Ekstrom wins Race of Champions in Paris: Mattias Ekstrom of Sweden beat three-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb of France to win the Race of Champions at Stade de France on Saturday. Loeb raced for the first time since breaking his arm in September and reached the final for the third straight year. He won last year and lost to Finland's Heikki Kovalainen in 2004. Ekstrom downed Citroen driver Loeb 2-0 in a best-of-three legs final after overcoming Formula One's Heikki Kovalainen and three-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais in earlier heats. The Race of Champions, a yearly event since 1988, features 16 drivers from various motor racing disciplines. It was held on a custom-built 0.7-mile figure-of-eight asphalt track with a crossover bridge.(
      AND NASCAR Jimmie Johnson was scheduled to run for Team USA but. Johnson broke his left wrist last week while participating in a charity golf tournament in Florida. Formula One driver Scott Speed injured his left wrist Thursday in a testing accident at Jerez, Spain and had to withdraw. It was too late to find another dirver so X-Games star Travis Pastrana was forced into one-man duty for Team USA and finished. Kovalainen and Gronholm defeated North American Rally champion Travis Pastrana in the final of the nations cup.(12-19-2006)

      News from December 18, 2006

    • Geoff Bodine Daytona 500 deal falls thru: Geoff Bodine said Wednesday [Dec 13th] he hasn't been able to find a team to run a car in February's Daytona 500 Nextel Cup race. Bodine, who has been in retirement for the past season or so, said in November he has a sponsor -- energy drink Mona Vie -- that wants to put him in a car during NASCAR's season-opening Cup race. "It's the hardest thing to find a Cup car and team to do it, so I've pretty much written off a Cup deal," Bodine said. "I'm going to try and pursue another angle." Geoff said he's exploring rides in the other series running at Daytona, along with non-race options. "I'm looking to try to get something so I can to be there at Daytona," Bodine said. Bodine will travel to Lake Placid, N.Y., this weekend to watch the World Cup Bobsled event and make some runs of his own on the bobsled track with his NASCAR sled. From Jan. 5 to 7, Bodine will host the second annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge at the Verizon Sports Complex, an event to help raise money for the U.S. Olympic Bobsled team, which uses Bo-Dyn sleds developed through Bodine.(Elmira Star Gazette)(12-18-2006)

    • Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital opens UPDATE plans to drive "long time": Jeff Gordon saw firsthand the strain and heartache childhood illnesses bring early in his career when Ray Evernham's young son was diagnosed with leukemia. Watching his crew chief battle to find top-notch care for Ray J. stuck with Gordon, who made children's charities a top priority of his foundation. His largest contribution yet came to fruition Saturday when the ribbon was cut at the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital, a 28-bed pediatric unit at Northeast Medical Center [in Concord, NC]. Located not far from Lowe's Motor Speedway and many of NASCAR's race shops, the hospital will serve six counties and eliminate the need to travel to Charlotte for specialized pediatric care.(ESPN/AP)(12-17-2006)
      UPDATE: Gordon, 35, hopes to compete on NASCAR's premier circuit well past his current contract with Hendrick Motorsports, which expires in 2010. He might go 10 years beyond that, perhaps longer if he can work out a limited schedule the way Mark Martin has for next season. "I want to do it as long as I can," Gordon said Saturday before the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital. "I've always said as long as I'm competitive and healthy and enjoying being out there [I want to do this], and right now I definitely am. Who knows? Things change. Life changes."(

    • Millsport Hires former Nextel Marketing Manager Mike Mooney: Millsport, the sponsorship consulting and activation division of The Marketing Arm, today announced that Mike Mooney has joined its motorsports practice as vice president, account director. Mooney will be responsible for client strategic direction and activation development, as well as building a communications capability for Millsport Motorsports. Prior to Millsport, Mooney was the director of marketing communications for Sprint Nextel. In that role, he developed the marketing communications platform to support the launch of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series sponsorship as well as its numerous sponsor partnership, industry and NASCAR-specific product roll-out initiatives. Mooney will be based out of Millsport's offices here [Concord NC]. Millsport serves as the motorsports agency for companies including Elizabeth Arden, Sunoco, Tylenol and XM Satellite Radio.(Millsport/The Marketing Arm PR)(12-18-2006)

    • Lester's Cup hopes dim: Bill Lester's chances of landing a Nextel Cup ride in 2007 have dimmed with news that he has left the Bill Davis Racing fold to sign a full-time Craftsman Truck Series deal with #15-Billy Ballew Motorsports. Lester, who became the first black driver to start a Nextel Cup race in 20 years when he qualified for the March race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway had been looking at securing a limited Cup programme at least in 2007 with BDR and Toyota, for whom he has driven the last couple of Truck seasons with. However no that Lester has left the BDR fold that now looks unlikely. While Lester has at least secured a full time ride in one of the top three NASCAR series,' Billy Ballew Motorsports do not have a Cup or Busch Series program and Lester must now seek occasional Cup outings around his NCTS commitments.(

    2007 Nextel Cup Schedule
    2006 Race Results
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