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  • MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
    JANUARY 21-27, 2008


      News from January 27, 2008

    • Tragic News for the Motorsports world: The two young sons of Top Fuel racer Doug Herbert were killed in an automobile accident Saturday morning in Lake Norman (Cornelius), NC. Jon, 17, and James, 12, died instantly when their Mazda3 collided with a second vehicle [2004 Hummer]. Herbert, who was in Phoenix for preseason testing, is heading home to be with his family. Condolences can be sent to Raymer Funeral Home, 16901 Old Statesville Road, Huntersville, N.C. 28078. In lieu of flowers, Herbert asks that people make a donation to the Speedway Children's Charities in Jon and James Herbert's name.(NHRA.com/ Charlotte.com), thoughts and prayers are with the Herbert family. Guest Book: Post thoughts, condolences.(1-26-2008)
      Services: The service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at SouthLake Christian Academy at 13901 Hager's Ferry Road in Huntersville, N.C. The family visitation will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Raymer Funeral Home at 16901 Old Statesville Road in Huntersville.(1-27-2008)

    • Kentucky Derby scheme at 'Dega: #44-David Reutimann is scheduled to run a special UPS Kentucky Derby paint scheme at Talladea Superspeedway in April. See image on the Paint Scheme Gallery.(1-27-2008) Comment here

    • Montoya, Franchitti, Pruett and Rojas win Rolex 24: Chip Ganassi's guys are making this look easy. The quartet of Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas encountered no serious problems, giving Ganassi an unprecedented third straight victory in America's premier sports car race -- the Rolex 24-Hour at Daytona International Speedway. Other than a minor handling problem for Pruett at the start of the race Saturday afternoon, the team's #01 Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype was nearly perfect, racing at or near the lead in an event that was the most competitive in the 46-year history until the waning hours. At dawn Sunday, with about six hours to go, there were five other prototypes on the lead lap. But, as often happens in endurance events, attrition suddenly took its toll. The Ganassi car had been swapping leads with the Ford Riley shared by NASCAR's A.J. Allmendinger, Ian James, Burt Frisselle and John Pew. That car, driven by Frisselle, was just seconds behind the leader when a tire blew, damaging the suspension midway through the 21st hour and knocking it out of contention. Montoya, who had taken the wheel near the end of the 18th hour, had a comfortable five-lap lead on the 3.56-mile road circuit and his team was able to cruise the rest of the way. The race began with scattered rain showers and a treacherous track and ended on a warm, sunny afternoon. Fifteen different cars led, breaking the record of 11, set last year. Overall, there were 60 lead changes, 16 more than the record of 44 set in 2005. In the end, though, the winning car led a race-high 252 of 695 laps, completing 2,460 miles and beating the runner-up Pontiac Riley co-driven by two-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, former CART champion Jimmy Vasser and 2007 Rolex Grand-Am Series prototype champions Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney by two laps. Johnson, who has raced in this event four times, also finished second in 2005. Four more laps back in third was the Pontiac Riley co-driven by NASCAR champion Kurt Busch, two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe.(ESPN.com), More info at grand-am.com and the DBNJ site.(1-27-2008) Comment here

    • Nationwide Deal for Kenny Wallace? UPDATE 3 confirmed: hearing Kenny Wallace will make his 2008 Nationwide Series announcement at Gateway Internationl Raceway on Friday, Jan 25th. Wallace tested at Daytona in the #37 Baker Curb Racing Ford and has been rumored to be driving for that team or for the #22 Fitz Motorsports ride.(1-24-2008)
      UPDATE: Kenny Wallace announced that he will drive a second Nationwide Series car for Fitz Motorsports. Wallace unveiled his plans at a news conference that also announced the Dodge sponsorship of the Nationwide race at Gateway International Raceway. Wes Ward, formerly of JR Motorsports, will be the crew chief for Wallace. The number and sponsor will be announced prior to the season-opening race, Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway.(SceneDaily.com)(1-25-2008)
      UPDATE 2: Hearing that Wes Ward will not be the crew chief, but will continue to work with Mark McFarland in the Hooters Pro Cup Series.(1-25-2008)
      UPDATE 3: “Kenny is a great guy who has multiple wins in the NNS and we are very excited to have him drive for us this year,” owner Armando Fitz stated. “We have a great sponsor lined up and we are looking forward to what we can do with two cars on the track this year. I think it will be very beneficial to our entire team.”(Fitz Motorsports PR)(1-27-2008) Comment here

    • 1998 Daytona 500 to be aired: In advance of the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, ESPN Classic will be televising six of the best Daytona 500 races of all time every Monday at 2:00pm/et through Feb. 11. On Monday, Jan. 28, ESPN Classic will air the 1998 Daytona 500 [won by Dale Earnhardt....nothing like the end when he drives down pit road and all the crews come out to great him....look for the Jayski.com sign on the pit wall].(1-27-2008) Comment here

    • Kyle Busch stays to run at Lakeland: #18-Kyle Busch will spend an additional day at USA Speedway in Lakeland, Fla. after Saturday's SpeedFest was delayed until 1:00pm/et on Sunday by rain. Then he will head to Las Vegas to test his Sprint Cup cars.(Speed51.com)(1-27-2008)


      News from January 26, 2008

    • Villeneuve cuts ties with manager: #27-Jacques Villeneuve has cut ties with his long-time manager Craig Pollock just weeks before the start of the 2008 Sprint Cup season. According to the Journal de Montreal, the split was primarily due to Pollock's personal life going in another direction. However, there are also reports that the two differed on the management of Villeneuve's NASCAR career. "Craig has a new wife and he seems to want to concentrate on his new family life which will be centered in Europe," Villeneuve tells the newspaper. For my part, I chose to base myself here, in Canada, with my family, in order to pursue my career as a NASCAR driver. It's going well so far with Bill Davis Racing. I want to concentrate on it and do my things here." Villeneuve is set to start his first full season in the Sprint Cup series but reports he has not yet secured financing for the entire year meaning he is only guaranteed to compete in the first five races. It's believed the former F1 and Indy 500 champion has been able to secure two-thirds of the sponsorship needed for a full time ride but suggestions that Pollock's management style was becoming an obstacle for both Bill Davis Racing and Toyota may have forced Villeneuve's into the decision to part ways.(TSA.ca)(1-26-2008) Comment here

    • Remember 360 OTC? getting sued again: World Wrestling Entertainment, the producer of Wrestlemania, has sued an Athens [GA] company that markets a hangover pill, alleging the company failed to pay for a sponsorship agreement worth more than $1 million. The WWE suit claims that Three Sixty Inc., which distributes over-the-counter hangover medicine 360 OTC, promised in 2006 to pay $1 million to sponsor Wrestlemania, but paid only $75,000. Three Sixty has continued to represent itself as the "official pain relief" of Wrestlemania against WWE's demands to remove the claim from the company's Web site, according to the suit. The suit also names IAHL Corp., Three Sixty's new corporate name; Three Sixty's subsidiary Rockford-Montgomery Labs Inc.; company officers Michele Shearer and Mark De Mattei; and Air, Sea and Ground Inc., an advertising agency De Mattei runs. WWE asked the U.S. Middle District Court of Georgia to force Three Sixty to pay for the sponsorship, including a percentage of 360 OTC profits, and to stop using the Wrestlemania name to promote the 360 OTC products. The WWE lawsuit is the latest in a barrage of legal troubles for Three Sixty, Shearer and DeMattei.
      Last year, Virginia-based NASCAR racing team Morgan-McClure Motorsports, sued, claiming that Rockford-Montgomery failed to make payments on a $10.1 million race team sponsorship. The two parties settled the case on Jan. 14, and Rockford-Montgomery Labs promised to pay Morgan-McClure $3 million.
      In another case, Dirt Motorsports, a Delaware company that sponsors the World of Outlaws racing tour, sued in August, claiming that Three Sixty and others failed to pay $4.8 million in sponsorship agreements. That case remains unresolved.
      Just Marketing International, an Indiana-based firm, also sued Rockford-Montgomery, Three Sixty, Shearer and De Mattei last summer for failing to pay for marketing work the company did for Rockford-Montgomery. Gary Coulter, the Athens attorney who represents Shearer and DeMattei, had no comment on any of the cases. Shearer and DeMattei did not respond to e-mails.(Athens Banner-Herald)(1-26-2008) Comment here

    • Roush looking to re-sign drivers: Roush Fenway Racing officials say they are working on contract extensions for #99-Carl Edwards and #16-Greg Biffle. The contracts for both drivers expire after this season.(Virginia Pilot)(1-26-2008) Comment here

    • Sprint Cup Series teams coming to test at Las Vegas: Race fans are invited to watch the cars and stars of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series Monday and Tuesday as Las Vegas Motor Speedway conducts the annual NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas test session. The grandstands will be open to the public and fans are invited to watch their favorite drivers test the new Car of Tomorrow on the high banks of LVMS. The so-called Car of Tomorrow competed at select tracks in 2007 but will be used at all tracks in 2008. The Car of Tomorrow never has been raced at LVMS. LVMS' grandstands will be open to the public from 9am-5pm during the Jan. 28-29 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. The Nationwide Series will test at LVMS Jan. 30-31. Tickets for the Feb. 29-March 2 NASCAR Weekend - featuring the UAW-Dodge 400 for the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 sale by calling (800) 644-4444 or visiting www.LVMS.com. Race fans also may purchase tickets to the Neon Garage fan experience as well as Driver Introduction passes and Lucky 7 preferred parking passes.(LVMS PR)(1-25-2008)
      AND For Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series teams, the western swing of NASCAR Preseason Thunder – the sport’s annual preseason test sessions – extends some recent learning curves. Next week, both series test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with the Sprint Cup Series also testing at California Speedway. Both series are fresh off preseason sessions at Daytona International Speedway; now they head west. Sprint Cup teams will test Monday, Jan. 28 and Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Las Vegas, and Thursday, Jan. 31 and Friday, Feb. 1 at California. NASCAR Nationwide Series teams will test Wednesday, Jan. 30 and Thursday, Jan. 31 at Las Vegas. Times are 9am until 5pm, with a noon-1pm lunch break each day, except for Thursday, Jan. 31 at California, when Sprint Cup teams test from 9am until 9pm. That day’s schedule includes a dinner break from 5-6pm. “I’m not aware of anybody that’s going to switch out the cars,” Darby said, between West Coast sessions. “I think everybody’s gearing-up to bring two cars to Las Vegas and California. And that is a good part about the new car. According to Sprint Cup Director John Darby, teams can adjust their schedules at California, running two sessions on Thursday and Friday, or three Thursday and one Friday, if they prefer. Sprint Cup teams also can use Wednesday’s travel day as a garage work day at California, prior to taking the track Thursday morning.(NASCAR PR)(1-26-2008)
      Will report speeds as they are released on the Las Vegas Test Speeds and News page.(1-28-2008) Comment here


      News from January 25, 2008

    • Hendrick museum closes for renovations: The Hendrick Motorsports museum, located on the team's racing complex in Concord, has been temporarily closed to the public while it undergoes a full renovation. The redesigned facility will reopen in time for NASCAR's annual visit to Lowe's Motor Speedway in May. Hendrick Motorsports is located one mile from the race track. Also undergoing a facelift is Hendrick Motorsports' team store, which will reopen in a temporary location on Jan. 28. The store will operate under its regular business hours in the race shop of drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson until construction on the new facility is completed. Other areas of the Hendrick Motorsports complex, including the team race shops, will remain open to the public during the museum renovation.(HMS Site)(1-25-2008) Comment here

    • Petty in KC to work on children's camp: #45-Kyle Petty’s vision to open a Victory Junction Gang Camp in the Kansas City area moved a step closer to reality today. Petty, and his wife, Pattie, addressed more than 200 business and community leaders at the Kansas City Area Development Council this morning at the Westin Crown Center Hotel. They were to spend the afternoon visiting 11 potential sites for the camp, which helps children with chronic and terminal illnesses. An announcement on a site is expected by the end of February, Pattie Petty said. The facility would cost about $50 million to build and could open as soon as 2010. Thursday marked the Pettys’ third visit with representatives from the business, political and medical communities since announcing their interest in a camp in Kansas City last September.(Kansas City Star)(1-25-2008)

    • New car chief for #43: Long time Yates Racing employee [car chief, crew chief, mechanic], Ray Fox Jr., is now the car chief for the #43 Cheerios Dodge for Petty Enterprises and driver Bobby Labonte. So Fox is working in the same building as he worked in last year since Petty Enterprises moved into the old Yates Racing shop over the 'off season'.(SPEED's coverage of the Media Tour)(1-25-2008)

    • some NASCAR drivers to run Rolex 24 at Daytona: quite a few drivers with NASCAR ties [ran a race in Cup, Nationwide, Trucks, track owner] will be running the Rolex 24 at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway. Including: Jimmie Johnson, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Boris Said, Michael McDowell, Scott Pruett, Bill Lester, John Andretti, A.J. Foyt IV, Tony George, Brent Sherman, David Donohue, Buddy Rice, JC France, Colin Braun, Marc Goossens, Andy Pilgrim, Anthony Lazzaro, Jack Baldwin, Andy Lally, Max Papis, David Murry, Chris Bingham, Joe Varde. Tony Stewart will NOT run the race. More info at grand-am.com and the DBNJ site. Fox and SPEED will televise parts of the race.
      UPDATE: Eight hours into Saturday's Rolex 24 At Daytona, half of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers in the race showed that they were going to be players in the twice-around-the-clock event. The rides of Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson all led during the first third of the event, and most of the others stayed trouble-free. Busch, driving the #9 Penske-Taylor Racing Pontiac Riley, stayed in the top 10 for the first third of the race and teammate Helio Castroneves was in the lead just before 9 p.m.(Daytona Beach News Journal) Comment here

    • Andretti still looking for 2008 ride: John Andretti says he is looking for a ride for 2008 and won't totally rule out a return to #49 BAM Racing in the future. Andretti drove 15 Cup races last year, including 14 for BAM and had been slated to drive for the team until a couple of weeks ago when the team put Ken Schrader in the driver's seat for the season-opening Daytona 500. For now, the only thing solid for Andretti is this weekend, where he will drive in the Rolex 24 At Daytona for Indianapolis Motor Speedway/Indy Racing League CEO Tony George, who will be one of Andretti's teammates along with Anthony Foyt IV and others. "I think the sponsorship [at BAM] didn't come through like they had hoped - they're still working on it," Andretti said Thursday in the Daytona garage. "That's all I really know. ... I'm out looking and talking." Andretti said he anticipates participating in the Las Vegas test Monday and Tuesday if he can finalize a deal with a Cup team. Andretti wouldn't confirm which team he would test with, although one possibility would be Front Row Motorsports, which he drove for last year. He also said he has talked to teams in other NASCAR series. He also is seeking an Indianapolis 500 ride. "I probably am going to do a few races in the truck series, and then we'll see," said Andretti, who has 355 career Cup starts. "Everything happened so late [at BAM]; it happened after the new year. I guess I thought I was going to be doing that, so [now] I've got to change course." Andretti didn't rule out a return to BAM, which hasn't named a driver for anything past the opening race.(sceneDaily.com)(1-25-2008) Comment here

    • Ford commits to NASCAR: Ford isn't giving up on NASCAR. After a dismal 2007 season that saw the manufacturer win only seven Nextel Cup races - to Chevrolet's 26 - Ford officials made a point Thursday to show their commitment to the newly named Sprint Cup. Edsel Ford II, a member of Ford's board of directors and the great-grandson of Henry Ford, visited Roush Fenway Racing's shop Thursday during the final day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour. "There's been a lot of talk in the Ford Motor Company in the media in the past year, much of it negative," Ford said. "People have wanted to write us off, to say we couldn't compete in the marketplace or on the race track. I'm here to tell you one thing today: don't underestimate our resolve."(Canadian Press)(1-25-2008) Comment here

    • Fox announces 2008 Cup broadcast schedule: As Fox Sports prepares to begin its eighth year of NASCAR coverage, the network revs its engine with the unveiling of 2008 NASCAR on Fox broadcast schedule. Prior to exclusive, live coverage of the 50th Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17, Fox Sports hits the gas on its coverage with night racing from Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 9 (8:00pm/et) with The Budweiser Shootout. This 70-lap exhibition pits last season's Sprint Cup pole winners and past champions in an all-out "sprint" for the checkered flag. Mike Joy, with almost 40 years in racing, returns as race announcer, and is joined by NASCAR racing legend Darrell Waltrip and former champion crew chief Larry McReynolds, who return to provide race analysis for all NASCAR on Fox events. Prerace coverage is again hosted by Chris Myers with analyst Jeff Hammond, and returning to cover pit road are reporters Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda and Matt Yocum. In all, Fox Sports airs 13 Sprint Cup points races, highlighted by races from Las Vegas on Sunday, March 2; Texas on Sunday, April 6; Talladega on Sunday, April 27; Charlotte on Sunday, May 25 from Lowe's Motor Speedway and the NASCAR on Fox season finale from Dover on Sunday, June 1. In addition to its Sprint Cup coverage, Fox Sports presents two live Craftsman Truck Series races: Saturday, Feb. 23 from California Speedway and Saturday, March 29 from Martinsville Speedway.(Fox PR)(1-25-2008) Comment here

    • Junior Achievement honorees include NASCAR founder France: Junior Achievement announced the inductees into its 2008 U.S. Business Hall of Fame, one of the most prestigious honors awarded for success in the business world. Junior Achievement selects inductees for their business excellence, courageous thinking and actions, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership, and philanthropy. The 2008 Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame laureates included William H.G. France (1909-1992): Founder and President of NASCAR. For more information and the other inductee's, see www.ja.org.(1-25-2008)

    • Lesa France Kennedy honored by Daytona Chamber of Commerce: Lesa France Kennedy, President of International Speedway Corporation, received the Lou Fuchs Award on Wednesday from the Daytona Beach/Halifax Area Chamber of Commerce. The award is named for a champion of the local tourism industry who organized an effort to prevent weekend closings of gas stations during the oil embargo of the 1970s. Kennedy, daughter of the late William C. France Jr., also is the Vice President and Assistant Treasurer of NASCAR. The United Way of Volusia-Flagler Counties was selected as the 2008 Enterprise Award winner by The Chamber. The Enterprise Award is given "to an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the quality, vitality and growth of our community," said Ed Williams, chamber chairman and sales manager for Coca-Cola in Daytona Beach.(NASCAR PR)(1-25-2008)

    • McDowell to take over #00 after 5 races UPDATE 2: Michael McDowell, the 2007 runner-up on the ARCA circuit, will succeed David Reutimann in the #00 Sprint Cup car at Michael Waltrip Racing. McDowell, a 22-year-old native of Phoenix, likely will take over the #00 Toyota in late March at Martinsville, Va., when Reutimann will slide into the #44 car being vacated by the retirement of teammate and 1999 series champion Dale Jarrett [Jarrett will also run the All-Star race in the #44]. A formal announcement is expected later this month. Michael Waltrip Racing officials tested McDowell and Wise repeatedly during the offseason in the hopes that one would be ready to take over the #00 car in 2008. Wise, a two-time U.S. Auto Club champion, likely is bound for a Nationwide Series ride, pending sponsorship.(NASCAR.com)(1-5-2008)
      UPDATE: Michael McDowell was tabbed Wednesday to drive a Sprint Cup car for Michael Waltrip Racing after Dale Jarrett's retirement. The 23-year-old McDowell will get his Cup car when Jarrett steps out of his ride following the fifth race of this season. David Reutimann will actually replace Jarrett in the #44 Camry, while McDowell will get Reutimann's #00 Camry. McDowell won four races, nine poles and rookie of the year honors in ARCA last season, but had to undergo significant testing for Waltrip to earn his ride. Waltrip, in his second season as a car owner, also relied on the recommendation of driver Boris Said, who vouched for McDowell and praised his skill on tricky road courses. "Boris said, `That kid gets it. He can go. No matter what he gets in, he's fast," Waltrip said. "Once I talked to Boris, and went to a couple of tests with Michael, to me it was a no-brainer. And there's never been that many of them." Waltrip has been looking for a third driver since last October, when Jarrett said he was ready to get out of the car. The 1999 Cup champion will move into the broadcasting booth for ESPN following his retirement. But the candidates were slim, and Waltrip focused mostly on McDowell and Josh Wise, the two drivers in his development system. Both tested, and Waltrip said McDowell got the nod because he's more experienced right now than Wise. McDowell will make his Cup debut in March at Martinsville Speedway. He'll team with Guy Cosmo and Marc Camirand to run the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, and he's scheduled to race the #00 Camry in the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona next month.(AP/ESPN.com)(1-24-2008)
      UPDATE 2: Wednesday night, sitting on a stage with racing royalty, 23-year-old Michael McDowell heard the words he thought were only audible in his dreams as Michael Waltrip announced his organization's 2008 Sprint Cup Series driver lineup. Waltrip officially revealed that the Arizona native will drive the #00 Toyota Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing, beginning on March 30th at Martinsville Speedway, joining MWR's driver lineup of Waltrip, Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann. Reutimann will start the season in the #00 Toyota Camry while Jarrett finishes out his career in the #44 UPS Toyota Camry, running the first five races on the schedule. Jarrett will turn the #44 UPS ride over to Reutimann and McDowell will fill the seat vacated in the #00 by Reutimann starting at Martinsville. McDowell, a four-time race winner, nine-time pole-sitter and Rookie of the Year in the 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series, has been sharpening and showcasing his skills with extensive testing in preparations to drive the #00 Toyota Camry. McDowell will take into account everything he has learned from testing as he begins to write his first chapter in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Waltrip's guidance. McDowell is extremely focused and also serious about being a 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender joining a formidable class, which includes Dario Franchitti, Regan Smith, Sam Hornish Jr., Patrick Carpentier and Jacques Villeneuve. Before making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut, McDowell will run the Spirit of Daytona entry during the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway with Guy Cosmo and Marc Camirand. He is also scheduled to drive the #00 Toyota Camry in the Nationwide Series Camping World 300 at the 2.5-mile tri-oval.(MWR PR)(1-25-2008) Comment here


      News from January 24, 2008

    • Shifting Gears on ESPN Goes Behind Scenes with Dale Earnhardt Jr.: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the focus of a new television series on ESPN, Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears, premiering prior to next month’s opening of the 2008 NASCAR season. The five-part series chronicles Earnhardt’s move from Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team founded by his father, to Hendrick Motorsports, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The first episode airs Friday, Feb. 8, at 7:00pm/et on ESPN2.  The series provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved with the five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver award recipient changing teams. Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears is produced by Earnhardt Jr.’s Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard. The new program is part of an exclusive, multimedia agreement between ESPN and Hammerhead Entertainment. “We were working on a new DVD about my life and the guys kept getting more and more footage, so they decided to put a whole TV show together to document the biggest career decision I’ve ever made,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “The past year of my life has been a roller coaster, and it’s pretty cool that we’re giving everyone an inside look at how everything came together.” Three of the five episodes of Shifting Gears air on ESPN2 in the nine days prior to the Daytona 500, including following ESPN2’s live coverage of Nationwide Series qualifying on Friday, Feb. 15, and the Nationwide Series Camping World 300 at Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 16. The final two episodes air on ESPN in prime time the week of the July 27 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, ESPN’s first live Sprint Cup event of the season. The pre-season episodes reveal never-before-seen footage from the 2007 press conferences and fan response to the announcements. Shifting Gears also chronicles the design process of the new paint schemes, the makings of Earnhardt Jr.’s Adidas fire suit and how the driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew AMP/National Guard Chevrolet handles the pressure of working with new sponsors as he prepares for his first season with Hendrick Motorsports. The final two episodes, each one hour in length, will catch up with Earnhardt Jr. and the Hendrick team as he chases his first Sprint Cup championship. Previews and additional video from the show will be made available on ESPN.com Video and DaleJr.com starting next week and the full episodes will be made available shortly after they air on ESPN2 on ESPN MobileTV and ESPN.com Video.
      The air schedule (all times Eastern):
      Friday, Feb. 8 7-8 p.m. ESPN2
      Friday, Feb. 15 6:30-8 p.m. ESPN2
      Saturday, Feb. 16 4:30-6 p.m. ESPN2
      Thursday, July 24 7-8 p.m. ESPN
      Friday, July 25 7-8 p.m. ESPN.(ESPN PR)(1-24-2008) Comment here

    • McDonald's to sponsor Sadler UPDATE: McDonald's will make its return to NASCAR's Cup series as one of three primary sponsors for Gillett Evernham Motorsports' #19 Dodge of Elliott Sadler this season. McDonald's, Best Buy and Stanley Tools were announced as company's sharing sponsorship on the car Tuesday. Best Buy is expected to be on the car for 15 races, while Stanley will have 13 and McDonald's eight, although those numbers are still subject to change.(SceneDaily.com)(1-23-2008)
      UPDATE: McDonald's USA and Gillett Evernham Motorsports [GEM] announced that McDonald's will sponsor Elliott Sadler's #19 Dodge in six [not 8] Sprint Cup races in 2008. "McDonald's is thrilled to partner with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, which is one of the premier teams in the Sprint Cup Series," said John Lewicki, McDonald's senior director of alliance marketing. "This partnership is a great fit as McDonald's, Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Elliott Sadler are all committed to delivering quality experiences to fans and customers alike." McDonald's will sponsor Sadler's #19 Dodge all season and serve as the primary sponsor at Martinsville on March 22, Darlington on May 10, Michigan on June 15, California on Aug. 31, Talladega on Oct. 5 and Atlanta on Oct. 26. McDonald's logos will also appear on the uniform of Sadler's teammate Kasey Kahne in the 2008 season. McDonald's has sponsored Gillett Evernham Motorsports since 2004 and has continued to grow its involvement. "McDonald's is obviously one of the great brands of American history and we feel proud a company of its prestige selected Gillett Evernham Motorsports," said team co-owner Ray Evernham. "The sponsor partners we have at this race team are second to none. McDonald's has supported my team and my family for quite a few years now. They are more than just a sponsor, they are my friends." Sadler will carry "trimary sponsorship" in 2008 with Best Buy and Stanley taking turns serving as primary sponsor along with McDonald's throughout the season. "The cool thing is I've always been a McDonald's, Best Buy and Stanley kind of guy," Sadler said. "We have some great partners and I am glad they are coming on board with us. McDonald's has been a big part of my life growing up." For more information about McDonald's visit www.McDonald's.com.(GEM PR).see an image for the car on the #19 Team Schemes page.(1-24-2008) Comment here

    • McMurray misses media tour due to jury duty: #26-Jamie McMurray will not be present at the Lowe's Motor Speedway Media Tour Thursday afternoon. It's not because McMurray is testing a racecar, or at a sponsor appearance, but serving his civic duty at the Iredell County Courthouse. "I can't believe that I'm going to miss the media tour this year," said McMurray. "Instead of being the driver of the #26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion, I'm Juror #7 at the Iredell County Courthouse, after being selected for jury duty earlier this week. So rather than joining my teammates at Roush Fenway Racing this afternoon, I'll be at the courthouse serving my civic duty. I'm looking forward to returning to Daytona in a couple weeks and hope to catch up with all the media when I get there. We have some really exciting things coming up with both Crown Royal and IRWIN Industrial Tools. The #26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion will have a new look when we return to Daytona - we're running the Cask #16 paint scheme on it. It's a great looking car that I hope we can return to Victory Lane for Crown Royal." The new paint scheme is intended to celebrate the recent unveiling of Crown Royal Cask #16*, a special blend of Crown Royal whisky, which is finished in rare Cognac casks.(Roush Racing)(1-24-2008) Comment here

    • Motorcraft, Elliott and Wood Brothers team up in 2008: Three longtime Ford Motor Company icons are teaming up again in 2008: The Motorcraft brand, Bill Elliott and the Wood Brothers. Motorcraft, a Ford Motor Company brand of automotive parts ranging from filters and spark plugs to engines and transmissions, will be the primary sponsor on the famed Wood Brothers #21 Sprint Cup Ford Fusion for eight races, beginning in April at Texas and culminating with the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Motorcraft brand will also be an associate sponsor for all other 2008 NASCAR events. Bill Elliott is scheduled to be the driver for all of Motorcraft's races. Elliott, Motorcraft and the Wood Brothers first joined forces last season. Motorcraft first sponsored Wood Brothers Racing in 2001. The Wood Brothers are acknowledged pioneers in the sport of stock-car racing, and have earned 96 wins in over 50 years of NASCAR competition - second most in Ford Racing history. The 2008 Motorcraft Primary Sponsor Sprint Cup Schedule: Texas on April 6, Phoenix on April 12, Michigan on June 15, Indy on July 27, Bristol on Aug 23, New Hampshire on Sept 14, Talladega on Oct and Homestead-Miami on Nov 16. For more information, visit www.motorcraft.com.(PCGCampbell/Ford PR)(1-24-2008) Comment here

    • Stewart in no rush to sign contract extension: #20-Tony Stewart, who has spent his entire NASCAR Cup Series career at Joe Gibbs Racing, says he is in no rush to begin talks regarding a contract extension with the successful racing operation. "Right now I just want to get started with this year," Stewart said Tuesday. "I'm really not concerned about the end of '09 right now because we've still got to get through '08. Obviously, it's a topic with the team here, and they want to get it taken care of, but right now I want to see how the beginning of this year goes. Get halfway through the season before we even worry about talking about it again." Stewart's contract ends after the 2009 season. A change in manufacturer - the team will field Toyotas in 2008 after a long, successful stint with General Motors products - is of a more pressing concern to the 36-year-old Stewart. "There's nothing that has to be done right now anyway," he said of contract talks. "I'm here. It's about now to me; it's not about what's going to happen. Right now ... we've got a big change with a new manufacturer coming in, let's worry about running good and winning races and worry about the rest of it [later]." Stewart and crew chief Greg Zipadelli have been paired together since Stewart departed the open-wheel ranks to make the move to NASCAR.(in part from SceneDaily.com)(1-24-2008) Comment here

    • Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Award Winners Announced: A quintet of journalists were honored Tuesday afternoon during the 23rd annual presentation of the Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence in honor of Russ Catlin. The Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence annually recognize outstanding motorsports coverage in five categories while honoring the memory of Russ Catlin, a motorsports journalism pioneer. The entries were submitted to the Indiana University School of Journalism, whose faculty members selected the winners. Each winner received a plaque and a Rolex watch from Miller Lite NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch during a Dodge Motorsports luncheon at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Concord Convention Center. The event was part of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The 2007 Miller Lite Motorsports Journalism Awards of Excellence in honor of Russ Catlin winners: Print – Daily: Nate Ryan of USA Today; Print – Other: David Caraviello of NASCAR.com; Broadcast – National: Drew Gallagher of ESPN, NASCAR Countdown; Broadcast – Local: Blair Miller of WSOC-TV; Photojournalism: David Griffin of NASCAR Scene.(Tom Roberts PR)(1-24-2008)

    • TNT Fuels Six Weeks of Sprint Cup Series Coverage: TNT is gearing up for the network's 2008 Sprint Cup coverage, which includes telecasts of six consecutive Cup races beginning on Sunday, June 8th from Pocono Raceway. The NASCAR on TNT Summer Series will feature two marquee primetime races with the Daytona race on July 5 and racing from Chicagoland Speedway on July 12; both races take off at 8pm/et. Rounding out the network's schedule are races in Michigan (June 15), Sonoma (June 22) and Loudon (June 29). The Daytona 400 will feature the return of Wide Open Coverage, the highly lauded innovative broadcast format that provides continuous race coverage free of national commercial breaks and offers original branded content and on-screen graphic elements from sponsors. The production features 22% more unobstructed race action than that of a standard telecast. The network's 2008 race programming marks TNT's 24th year of televising Cup coverage, making it NASCAR's longest running broadcast partner. TNT's NASCAR coverage will include comprehensive pre-race coverage to provide viewers with analysis, updates, interviews and features and will include all of the TNT announcers and pit reporters who will provide analysis and commentary on the NASCAR season to date. Also, TNT will cover the drivers preparing for the race and all of the exciting moments leading up to green flag action.(Turner Sports PR)(1-24-2008) Comment here


      News from January 23, 2008

    • Jarrett and Rusty Headline ESPN’s Season-Long NASCAR Coverage: Dale Jarrett will expand his role with ESPN and join high school friends Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree in the booth for ESPN’s full season of NASCAR coverage in 2008. Rusty Wallace will become lead analyst for ESPN studio programs in 2008, highlighted by serving as analyst for an enhanced NASCAR Countdown, the program that precedes all NASCAR telecasts. Wallace also will appear across multiple ESPN platforms, including regularly on NASCAR Now, ESPN’s daily NASCAR news and information show, and will call several race telecasts in place of Jarrett. Allen Bestwick moves into the fulltime role of host of ESPN’s race telecasts and host of NASCAR Countdown. Wallace and Bestwick will appear with analyst Brad Daugherty on the pre-race program, and the three will be integrated with the booth team during race telecasts. ESPN also has named motorsports television veteran Nicole Manske as host of NASCAR Now, which returns to the air for its second season Feb. 4 on ESPN2. Manske, who joins ESPN after two years as co-host of a weekly motorsports news program on the SPEED Channel, will share the NASCAR Now host role with Bestwick and ESPNEWS anchor Ryan Burr. On ESPN’s event coverage, Shannon Spake, a reporter for ESPN’s studio programs and fill-in pit reporter last year, will take Bestwick’s position as a fulltime pit reporter, joined by returnees Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro. Two-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Tim Brewer returns to report from the ESPN DISH Tech Center. “We now have the opportunity to provide our viewers with analysis from a pair of former NASCAR Cup champions with Dale Jarrett in the booth and Rusty Wallace on the NASCAR Countdown set as well as on other platforms,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, studio and event production. “We were pleased to have Dale with us in a limited role last year and look forward to his participation on a regular basis,” Williamson said. “Rusty’s enthusiasm, team spirit and knowledge make him an invaluable contributor to our coverage. These champion drivers in their new roles add tremendously to ESPN’s championship team for our second year back in NASCAR.” ESPN’s 2008 NASCAR season begins with live, flag-to-flag coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 16, at noon ET on ESPN2. In addition to coverage of all 35 races in the Nationwide Series, ESPN also will have telecasts of the final 17 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Jarrett, who is retiring from driving after the first five races of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, was booth analyst for 10 Nationwide Series ESPN race telecasts last year and worked several Sprint Cup races as a guest analyst on NASCAR Countdown. Punch, ESPN’s lead announcer, Petree, booth analyst and a two-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief, and Jarrett are all natives of Newton, N.C., and attended Newton-Conover High School within a few years of each other in the early 1970s. The three were partners in one of Jarrett’s first race cars in 1979. “It was exciting to see ESPN return to NASCAR last year and be a part of it when my racing schedule allowed,” said Jarrett, winner of 32 NASCAR Cup Series races and 11 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. “To have this opportunity to shift from fulltime driver to fulltime analyst for ESPN’s second year back is a great privilege and I can’t wait to get started.” Jarrett followed the footsteps of his father, Ned, a two-time NASCAR champion, into driving and television. Ned Jarrett was a popular analyst on ESPN’s coverage of NASCAR from 1988-2000 and returned to the booth as a guest analyst for one race last year to work alongside his son for the first time. Wallace joined ESPN after retiring from driving following the 2005 season and spent 2006 as analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the IndyCar Series in preparation for ESPN’s return to NASCAR in 2007. Bestwick served multiple roles for ESPN’s NASCAR coverage last year, including pit reporter, host of NASCAR Countdown for Nationwide Series races and play-by-play announcer for several events. Along with returning NASCAR Insiders Angelique Chengelis and Marty Smith, ESPN.com reporters Terry Blount and David Newton and analysts Boris Said, Tim Cowlishaw and D.J. Copp, many members of ESPN’s event coverage team also will contribute to NASCAR Now in 2008.(ESPN PR)(1-23-2008) Comment here

    • IROC up for auction: Looks like no IROC in 2008. The series took 2007 off, in search of a sponsor for the series. None was found and the cars were up for sale and now the cars, engines and equipment will be up for auction Match 6-8, 2008. More info at IROCracing.com.(1-23-2008) Comment here

    • Earlier Start Time for Races This Year? UPDATE: [Humpy] Wheeler [president of Lowe's Motor Speedway] said the start times for many Sprint Cup races this coming season will be earlier, a departure from the mid-afternoon green flags used to try and entice West Coast viewers. "I think we all yielded to pressure from the networks a little more than we should have," Wheeler said. "We paid the price for it, and we're getting back to sanity again."(NASCAR.com)
      AND: Wheeler says, "It's not a fancy sport. It's guys with big hands and getting sweaty and getting out there and banging on each other and knocking each other around and all-American fans sitting there having a good time." Earlier and more consistent starting times is the first move to correct that. When NASCAR announces starting times on Tuesday, races beginning at 2:00pm or earlier will go from 15 to 18 on the 36-race schedule.(1-22-2008)(ESPN.com)(1-22-2008)
      UPDATE: Broadcast times for the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season have been announced, beginning with FOX’s broadcast of the non-points Budweiser Shootout at 8:30pm/et on Feb. 9 at Daytona International Speedway. The 2008 season marks the second year of an eight-year partnership between NASCAR and FOX, TNT, ABC, ESPN and SPEED. This year, in an effort to standardize the start times and better accommodate the fans, 18 races on the 2008 Sprint Cup Series schedule will have a 2:00pm/et Sunday start time, up from 15 in 2007. All Sprint Cup Series points events will be seen on FOX, TNT, ABC and ESPN. In addition, two other non-points events – the Gatorade Duel at Daytona (2:00pm/et on Feb. 14) and the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (7:30pm/et on May 17 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway), will be broadcast by SPEED. FOX will broadcast the first 13 Sprint Cup events, beginning with the 50th running of the Daytona 500 (Feb. 17, 3:20pm/et) and ending with the June 1 event at Dover International Speedway at 2:00pm/et. TNT will broadcast the next six series events, beginning with the Pocono 500 at 2:00pm/et on June 8 at Pocono Raceway and ending with Chicagoland Speedway’s first night race, July 12 at 8:00pm/et. ESPN and ABC will broadcast the final 17 Sprint Cup events. ESPN will broadcast six, beginning with the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at 2:00pm/et on July 27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and ending with the Aug. 31 event at California Speedway (8:00pm/et). ABC completes the season with 11 broadcasts, beginning with race #26, the cutoff event for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 6 at 7:30pm/et. ABC will also air the entire Chase, encompassing the final 10 series events. The season ends with ABC’s broadcast of the Ford 400 at 3:45:00pm/et on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.(NASCAR PR), see the 2008 Sprint Cup Schedule with times page.(1-23-2008) Comment here

    • Edwards testing at Nashville: #99-Carl Edwards is testing his Cup car at the Nashville Superspeedway today. Roush Fenway rented the facility for the one day test. Edwards won the two Nationwide [then Busch] races at the Nashville Superspeedway in 2007.(Nashville Superspeedway PR)(1-23-2008)

    • Sprint Woes? Sprint, the sponsor for NASCAR's premier series, recently cut 4,000 jobs and closed 125 retail outlets. The company reportedly lost 683,000 postpaid subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2007. But NASCAR chairman Brian France isn't concerned that the series will be looking for a new title sponsor after this season, saying he has talked to company officials and they have assured him of their commitment to NASCAR.(ESPN.com)(1-23-2008) Comment here

    • Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper to sponsor GEM: Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper has contracted with Gillett Evernham Motorsports as the primary sponsor for six 2008 races. The Auto Value logo will decorate the Dodge race car for three races during the season while the other three races will showcase the Bumper to Bumper logo on the renowned Gillett Evernham Dodge racecar. Taking the wheel of the #10 Dodge in 2008 Sprint Cup races will be new GEM teammate Patrick Carpentier. He will drive the #10 Bumper to Bumper Dodge on June 1 at the Dover International Speedway and the #10 Auto Value Dodge at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2008. Auto Value will be making their first appearance in international racing during the Nationwide Series race with the #9 Auto Value Dodge on the track in Mexico at the Autodromo in Mexico City, April 20, 2008 with Carpentier taking the wheel. A driver, yet to be announced, will be at the Kentucky Speedway on June 15, 2008 behind the wheel of the #9 Bumper to Bumper Dodge for another Nationwide Series race. Elliott Sadler will begin his second year of driving for Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper in two Nationwide Series races in 2008. Sadler will be racing the #9 Auto Value Dodge July 11, 2008 at the Chicagoland Speedway and the #9 Bumper to Bumper Dodge August 22, 2008 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper will be an associate sponsor of the Gillett Evernham Dodges for all other Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races in 2008 and will receive branding on Gillett Evernham team uniforms, team haulers and pit equipment.(Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper site and GEM PR)(1-23-2008), see images of the schemes on the #10 Team Schemes page. Comment here

    • BAM Racing has Schrader at Daytona, Andretti unlikely: BAM Racing has not solidified its driver lineup beyond the Daytona 500. Ken Schrader will attempt to qualify the #49 for the team with sponsorship from healthlife.com, BAM Racing marketing coordinator Rhett Vandiver said Tuesday. A sponsor for the Budweiser Shootout is still to be named and a driver beyond Speedweeks is still to be determined, Vandiver said. Vandiver also confirmed that John Andretti, who drove for the team at the end of last season, likely would not return to the seat.(Scenedaily.com)(1-23-2008) Comment here

    • BofA boosts its NASCAR incentives: A sharp drop in profits isn't keeping Bank of America from pursuing NASCAR fans as new customers. The Charlotte-based bank on Tuesday announced it was more than doubling the number of drivers featured in race-themed accounts. The bank also will boost its NASCAR rewards program, providing more access to drivers and behind-the-scenes experiences. Bank of America launched the NASCAR-themed "affinity banking" accounts last spring as part of its push to win business from loyal race fans. The bank also sponsors the October Sprint Cup race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, issues officially licensed NASCAR credit cards and, since 2006, has been the official bank of NASCAR. In its NASCAR banking program, Bank of America issues cards and checks printed with a driver's image or the NASCAR logo. Account holders get "RacePoints" that can be redeemed for merchandise, race tickets or -- for those with high point totals -- special honors, such as meeting a driver or waving the green flag at the Bank of America 500. Along with the NASCAR logo, Bank of America offers accounts with several current and past drivers' images: Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Dario Franchitti, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Reed Sorenson, Martin Truex Jr., Kenny Wallace and Rusty Wallace.(Charlotte Observer)(1-23-2008)

    • "The Humpy Show" to premiere Feb 12th: Lowe's Motor Speedway President & General Manager H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler will put his skills as NASCAR's ultimate promoter, storyteller and diplomat on display for SPEED viewers beginning with a one-hour pilot Feb. 12 at 9:00pm/et, when The Humpy Show debuts with guests Buddy Baker and Kurt Busch discussing great NASCAR rivalries. Calling the shots behind the camera will be Wheeler's daughter, Patti, whose team from Wheeler TV delivered the idea to SPEED. During his 33 years at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Wheeler has increased the track's seating capacity from 75,000 to 160,000 and made it one of the most modern facilities in sports entertainment.(SPEED PR)(1-23-2008) Comment here

    • Villeneuve's Uncle injured in snowmobile crash: Jacques Villeneuve Sr., the uncle of 1997 Formula One world champion and NASCAR newcomer #27-Jacques Villeneuve, was released from the hospital Tuesday after breaking his pelvis and suffering a spine injury at the 45th World Championship Snowmobile Derby. Villeneuve is a three-time winner at the event in Eagle River, Wis. During a heat Friday in the 440 class championship, Villeneuve was knocked off his snowmobile and hit by another racer. The 54-year-old was airlifted to a hospital in central Wisconsin, about 120 miles away. Track general manager Todd Achterberg said Villeneuve's Ski-Doo sled appeared to blow its engine before it was hit from behind on a straightaway, leaving Villeneuve vulnerable. Villeneuve, a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, previously raced open-wheeled vehicles in Formula Atlantic, CART, Can-Am and Formula One. He is most well-known for being the first Canadian to win a CART IndyCar race when he captured a title at Elkhart Lake, Wis., in 1985. Villeneuve, who had a wide open and sometimes wild driving style, also raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1986 after a bad wreck in practice in 1985 forced him to skip the event.(Associated Press)(1-23-2008)


      News from January 22, 2008

    • Evernham not leaving NASCAR: Ray Evernham said that rumors of his retirement from NASCAR were greatly exaggerated. After selling part of his business to the Gillett group (GEM) Evernham, Jeff Gordon’s former crew chief who started his own team full-time with Dodge in 2001, admitted that racing is not fun any longer in an interview during the Sprint NASCAR Media Tour in Concord. “Honestly, no, I wasn’t having fun,” he said, adding “it wasn’t just because of the (team’s poor) performance. There was a lot going on, over the last few years, that took the fun out of it for me because I love racing. Some of the fun had gone away, but, there’s a lot of great people in the sport and I want to spend time with those people and maybe being away from the negative people will help a little bit.” Remaining in NASCAR’s top series was a battle he explained “it was a constant fight to keep people, to keep sponsors, to keep relationships in a in a highly competitive world not all things don’t always go well. Evernham said that since it took three people to take over his previous job, he was working too hard to accomplish his goals. For now he’ll remain an “owner” but have the freedom to chose what role he’ll continue with at Gillett Evernham Motorsports.(Franckly Speaking/Lewis Franck)(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • All-star race will stay in Charlotte for now: Sprint Cup officials have changed the name and logo for the annual all-star race, added a few laps to each segment and indicated that the race will remain in Charlotte [NC] beyond this season. The race will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race XXIV. The event was previously known as the Challenge, but officials say they decided to call it what it is - a race. The race involving drivers not already qualified for the event, previously known as the Nextel Open, will now be called the Sprint Showdown. While the all-star race will still feature four segments, the former 20-lap segments have been lengthened to 25 laps each, giving drivers more time to actually race. The race, held annually at Lowe's Motor Speedway, appears to be staying at the track for some time. Sprint Cup Director of Marketing Dean Kessel said that he and Lowe's Motor Speedway President H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler have been in discussion about the 2009 race, which will be the 25th anniversary of the all-star event. During all-star week, the pit crew challenge has been moved to Thursday night, leaving a packed Friday night for fans. The start time for the all-star race will remain the same [Showdown at 7:30pm/et, All-Star race approx 9:00pm/et].(Scenedaily.com)(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • Elliott to run the #21 at Daytona..after that? UPDATE 2 17 races: Wood Brothers Racing is set to announce driver and sponsor information regarding their #21 Sprint Cup entry for the 2008 Daytona Speedweeks events. Veteran driver Bill Elliott has agreed to once again serve as the driver of the #21 Ford Fusion in this year's opening event. The team will test with Elliott on January 14-16th of this month. He will compete in all Speedweeks events, which will include the February 9th Bud Shootout, the Gatorade Duels-and the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on February 17th. For the Daytona 500 event, the team will have primary sponsorship from McKee Foods, Little Debbie Snack Cakes Brand. Associate sponsors for this event will again be the United States Air Force and Ford Motor Company's Motorcraft Brand. Crew Chief Gene Nead will lead all efforts in the Sprint Cup Series.(Wood Brothers/JTG Racing PR), no word on other driver schedules for the team such as Ken Schrader. Marcos Ambrose is scheduled to run 12 races, no schedule announced yet.(1-4-2008)
      UPDATE: Bill Elliott will drive the Wood Brothers' #21 at Daytona before eventually turning the team's entry over to Marcos Ambrose and Jon Wood for most of the races. "I'd just as soon run a good bit at the start and then let Ambrose and Jon run as time goes on here," said Elliott. "I kind of like that plan. Let's get started and run a little bit. Really, it's a perfect world for me, and I can't argue with it."(Gaston Gazette)(1-20-2008)
      UPDATE 2: per billelliott.com, it shows Bill Elliott's 2008 planned Cup schedule in the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Seventeen races, including the 2008 Budweiser Shootout along with the Daytona 500, then California [2/24]; Atlanta [3/9]; Bristol [3/16]; Texas [4/6]; Phoenix [4/12]; Darlington [5/10]; Pocono [6/8]; Michigan [6/15]; Chicago [7/12]; Indianapolis [7/27]; Bristol [8/23]; New Hampshire [9/14]; Kansas [9/28]; Charlotte [10/11] and Homestead [11/16].(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • Ganassi expects to line up sponsors for Franchitti UPDATE: Team owner Chip Ganassi says that he expects to put together a "patchwork" of sponsorship for Dario Franchitti and his #40 Sprint Cup team. Franchitti, the 2007 IndyCar Series champion, will debut as a rookie in the NASCAR series this season. The team has not announced sponsorship plans for that car. Ganassi didn't seem too worried about that while speaking with reporters during the annual NASCAR media tour put together by Lowe's Motor Speedway.(SceneDaily.com)(1-22-2008)
      UPDATE 2 - Energizer to sponsor Franchitti for 5 races? hearing that #40-Dario Franchitti will be sponsored by Energizer batteries for the first five races of the 2008 season while the team looks for other sponsors and a full primary sponsor. Also hearing that Fastenal, who will sponsor Ganassi teams in the Nationwide Series, could sponsor the #40 Sprint Cup a few races. See images of the #40 Fastenal Nationwide scheme on the Nationwide Paint Schemes page.(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • Reeses back on the #29 in 2008: Reese's/Hershey's will be the primary sponsor for #29-Kevin Harvick for two races; at Phoenix in May nad at Daytona in July. See images of the scheme on the #29 Team Schemes page.(1-22-2008)

    • Cheez-It back on the #5 for a few races: #5-Casey Mears is scheduled to run the Cheez-it paint scheme in Sprint Cup four races: Texas [4/6]; Pocono [8/3]; Michigan [8/17]; and California [8/31]. Kellogg's and Carquest will split the rest of the races. See an image of the scheme on the #5 Team Schemes page.(1-22-2008)

    • Furniture Row Racing to field two cars in 2008 UPDATE: Furniture Row Racing enters its third year of competitive Sprint Cup racing this season, and the team is positioning itself to have its best opening season yet. Striving to reach its top potential, the team will be powering their Chevy Impala's with Hendrick Motorsports engines. Team Manager Joe Garone comments, "Having a world class driver in Joe Nemechek, and in our mind the best power in the garage with Hendrick engines, allows us to put the driver and engine program behind us. Crew chief Jay Guy and his staff can now focus on the vehicle dynamics and aero package of the new COT's." Furniture Row Racing will be running the #78 Chevy Impala this season with sponsorship from both Furniture Row and Denver Mattress. The Team will continue to seek associate sponsorship for the #78 and primary sponsorship for the #87 Chevy Impala which will be making its debut at the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500. Additional races for the #87 will only be scheduled when sponsorship is secured. The #87 Chevy Impala will be piloted by former Furniture Row driver Kenny Wallace. "I'm honored that Furniture Row Racing has asked me to attempt to qualify the #87 Denver Mattress Chevy in the 50th Anniversary of the Daytona 500. It's a team effort, with Joe and I hopefully both qualifying. It's also a chance… which is better than no chance at all to race." Ed Nathman will be the crew chief for the #87 Denver Mattress Chevy Impala. Furniture Row Racing looks forward to having Kenny as Joe Nemechek's teammate. As this sport evolves into more and more multi-car teams, single car teams are becoming a thing of the past. To be able to continue their two car effort, Furniture Row is eagerly seeking sponsorship for the #87 car. For more information on sponsorship opportunities you can go to www.furniturerowracing.com.(FRM PR)(1-22-2008)
      UPDATE: There is a catch, however. If Kenny Wallace qualifies [for the Daytona 500 in the #87] and teammate #78-Joe Nemechek doesn't, Wallace must relinquish the seat to Nemechek.(SceneDaily.com)(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • PRN Radio wins six NMPA Awards: At the annual National Motorsports Press Association dinner, the Performance Racing Network [PRN] walked away with six radio awards. PRN's Doug Rice was named Broadcaster of the Year co-winner along with capturing first place in the short form feature and second place in the live event categories. Kent Bernhardt collect two awards - first place in long form radio and third place in short form feature. Mark Garrow, host of PRN's Garage Pass, won second place in radio spot news, his 32nd NMPA award.(PRN PR)(1-22-2008)

    • MRN Radio wins seven NMPA Awards: The National Motorsports Press Association held their annual Awards Ceremony on Sunday, January 20 and MRN Radio earned multiple honors. Motor Racing Network (MRN Radio) - The Voice of NASCAR, won seven awards in four different categories. The awards were won by the network as a whole, with three individuals being sited for their efforts, as well. In the Long Form Radio category, Live Event Director Ryan Horn won Third Place for the "Road to the Nextel Cup" which aired during the 2006 Nextel Cup Series Awards ceremony in New York City. In the Short Form category, Producer Marty Hough won Second Place for "NASCAR Live." MRN Radio took two of three awards in the Spot News category. Producer Marty Hough won First Place for "NASCAR Live" and Co-Lead Anchor Joe Moore won Third Place for "NASCAR Today." Both shows are long-time staples of the MRN Radio Network heard throughout the country on a majority of their 750 affiliates. For the Live Event category, MRN Radio earned two of three honors. They were awarded First Place for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. That race featured a last-lap chase to the checkered with Jamie McMurray winning by .005 seconds over Kyle Busch. The network also won Third Place for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in October. The prestigious Broadcaster of the Year Award is the one saved for last. And, MRN Radio represented with Producer Marty Hough winning Co-Broadcaster of the Year honors.(MRN Radio PR)(1-22-2008)

    • Earnhardt Jr.'s Big Mo' Chocolate Bar Hits Store Shelves:"Dale Jr.'s Big Mo' " chocolate bar was created specifically for NASCAR's mega star driver through the R.M. Palmer Company. The name Big Mo' is a play off Earnhardt Jr.'s hometown of Mooresville, N.C., and the longtime moniker used for he and his closest friends, the Dirty Mo' Posse. Weighing in at an impressive 2.5 ounces for only .99 cents, the king size milk chocolate filled bar is currently available in two popular flavors- creamy caramel and peanut butter. The exclusive recipe of the Big Mo' bar included numerous taste-tests by Earnhardt Jr., and was tailored to please his pallet. "We went though a few rounds of taste tests with the team at RM Palmer, and I was very happy with the final result of the Big Mo'. I'm excited it's available now so I can share it with racing and chocolate fans," Earnhardt Jr. said. To coincide the launch of the Big Mo' bar, R.M. Palmer Company has created the "Big Mo'ment with Dale Jr." sweepstakes which runs from January 10th to April 30th 2008. More info about the sweepstakes on the Racing Contest page. For more information in RM Palmer Company please visit www.rmpalmer.com.(PR)(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • Rusty shakes down Nationwide car: Rusty Wallace, the retired NASCAR champion and current ESPN analyst, returned to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway for the first time since 2006 ARCA RE/MAX Series testing when he shook down one of his Rusty Wallace Inc. Chevrolets [#64J, was 13th fastest in the afternoon session]. Wallace, the 1989 NASCAR champion, has both of his Nationwide Series teams in attendance for this week's test as his drivers David Stremme and son Steve were preparing for the season-opening Camping World 300 presented by Chevy.(DIS PR)
      AND Steve Wallace knocked down the fence - literally - at Daytona on Monday. Wallace was leaving the garage through an opening on pit road when he lost control of his #66 Rusty Wallace Racing Chevy and slammed into a chain-link fence and pole behind the pit wall. More to the story and an image of the car on the Nationwide Silly Season main page.(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • Wheldon Talked to Ganassi About Move to NASCAR: Dan Wheldon might be driving in the Sprint Cup Series this season instead of Dario Franchitti had team owner Chip Ganassi let him. Wheldon said on Monday he had several conversations with Ganassi about making the jump this year from the IndyCar Series, which he won in 2005, to NASCAR. "I talked to Chip enough about it to know that for whatever reason he didn't want to let me move from the Indy car,'' Wheldon said on the first day of the 2008 Sprint Cup media tour. "He definitely wants to keep me [in the IndyCar Series]. We'll see. "I've got some big decisions to make at the end of next season. The main thing is I need to put myself in a strong position so I can make the decision I want to make."(ESPN.com)(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • SPEED Announces Daytona Speedweeks Schedule: SPEED will deliver 100 hours of High-Definition programming from Daytona Speedweeks, highlighted by coverage of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14 at 2:00pm/et with a prime time replay at 9:00pm/et, the season opening Craftsman Truck Series race Feb. 15 at 7:30pm/et, the ARCA 200 on Feb. 9 at 4:00pm/et and special editions of the high-energy NASCAR pre-race show, NASCAR RaceDay. Krista Voda and Jeff Hammond will host SPEED coverage of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona, with Hammond being joined in the booth by Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip for race coverage. Steve Byrnes, Dr. Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum will report from the pits. SPEED opens its Daytona Speedweeks lineup with coverage NASCAR Media Day on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the Bud Shootout Drawing at 8:00pm/et. The second annual SPEED Performance Awards (10:00pm/et), culminating with Mario Andretti's crowning of the SPEED Performer of the Year will close out first-day coverage. In addition to extensive on-track action, Daytona Speedweeks marks the return of popular NASCAR on SPEED programming, including NASCAR RaceDay, NASCAR Victory Lane, Trackside Live, Tradin' Paint with Kyle Petty, NASCAR Live!, NASCAR Performance, Go or Go Home, Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain and The SPEED Report. Speedweeks on SPEED also will mark the debut of The Humpy Show, with legendary promoter and NASCAR storyteller Humpy Wheeler making the connection between NASCAR's past and current storylines. The premiere airs Feb. 12 at 9:00pm/et with guests Buddy Baker and Kurt Busch.(SPEEDtv.com)(1-22-2008) Comment here

    • Petty Returns to Tradin' Paint: NASCAR veteran Kyle Petty steps back into the SPEED boxing ring this season for his weekly rounds with NASCAR media on Tradin' Paint, which premieres Feb. 8 at 9:00pm/et as part of the network's 100 hours of Daytona Speedweeks in HD. "Kyle Petty is credible, informative, engaging and current on every issue in NASCAR," said Steve Craddock, SPEED Senior VP of Programming. "It is so important for the fans to hear every angle of a particular issue and whether or not Kyle agrees with the media guest, he can and will debate them fiercely and in an entertaining manner. Kyle is part of racing royalty and his passion for NASCAR is evident in his weekly discussions about the sport. We are thrilled to have him continue on Tradin' Paint and become a more permanent fixture on the network." Petty, known for his confrontational, engaging and heated debates with media guests last year, has signed on for another season of trading volleys on the hottest topics in NASCAR. John Roberts will return as host.(SPEEDtv.com)(1-22-2008) Comment here


      News from January 21, 2008

    • Go or Go Home Drivers to Qualify Together: Michael Waltrip suggested last season that drivers outside the top 35 in owners' points should be allowed to qualify together so nobody would have an advantage in track conditions. NASCAR officials must have listened. The governing body kicked off its annual media tour by announcing that those outside the top 35 in all three series [30 locked in for Nationwide and Trucks] -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series and Craftsman Truck Series -- will qualify at the end of their respective session.(ESPN.com)(1-21-2008) Comment here

    • NASCAR to Provide Tires for Tests: It was announced that teams will be provided tires for testing at non-sanctioned NASCAR tests. Sprint Cup teams will be given 200 tires, Nationwide teams 160 and Craftsman Truck Series teams 120.(ESPN.com)(1-21-2008) Comment here

    • NASCAR Fine Payments Going to NASCAR Foundation: NASCAR announced that starting this season, all money collected from fines issued to drivers will go to the NASCAR Foundation for its charitable initiatives. “Now that the NASCAR Foundation is well established and supporting dozens of charitable organizations it is the logical place for fine money to be distributed,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “We are excited to be able to work with our charities and help them develop a program that will maximize the impact they can have with their organizations,” said Sandy Marshall, executive director of the NASCAR Foundation.(NASCAR PR)(1-21-2008) Comment here

    • Childress auctioning 'Intimidator' Camaro: UPDATE: A highlight on the auction block of the 2008 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event will be "The Intimidator," a one-of-a-kind Richard Childress '69 Series 3 Camaro that honors the accomplishments of Childress with NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. The Intimidator '69 Series 3 Camaro is scheduled to roll onto the main stage Jan. 19 at approximately 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The bidding for this one-of-a-kind vehicle can be seen live on SPEED. To pay homage to the #3 Chevy made famous by Dale Earnhardt Sr., Richard Childress joined forces with Total Performance, Inc. to build the '69 Series 3 Camaro. The car crossing the block in Scottsdale will be Serial #3 and the only one with the official title of "The Intimidator" - a total of 50 '69 Series 3 Camaros will be built over the next three years. The black, red and silver muscle car commemorates the dynamic relationship forged between Childress, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and Earnhardt.(RCR PR)(1-18-2008)
      UPDATE: “The Intimidator,” a one-of-a-kind RCR Series 3 Camaro with direct ties to Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and the legendary Dale Earnhardt, sold Jan. 19 at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., for $575,000. The RCR Series 3 Camaro (www.rcrseries3.com) is a joint venture between RCR and Total Performance Incorporated (TPI) of Wichita, Kan. “The Intimidator,” serial No. 3 of the 50 which will be produced through 2010, is equipped with the actual engine block and other engine components that powered Earnhardt and the #3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevy in the 2000 Daytona 500. The buyer, Jimmy Richardson, principal of Colson Park Capital, Inc., in Hickory, N.C., also has ties to the famed No. 3 GM Goodwrench teams. His Mom ‘N’ Pop’s Old Fashion Sugar Cured Country Ham was an associate sponsor of the team for six years (1991-96), three of which resulted in championship seasons (1991, ‘93, ‘94).(RCR PR)(1-21-2008) Comment here

    • Johnson Named NMPA Driver of the Year; Houston Named to Hall of Fame: There was little doubt about who was going to be chosen the National Motorsports Press Association's driver of the year for 2007. The question, instead, was whether Jimmie Johnson would personally accept the Richard Petty trophy. The answer, for the second year in a row, was no. Johnson, who repeated as NASCAR champion last season, was announced as 2007's top driver Sunday at a luncheon during the NMPA's annual convention. When he was unable to attend last year's awards presentation, Johnson videotaped an acceptance message. He did likewise this time, too, but the video wouldn't play. It's the third time in four years that Johnson was voted the NMPA driver of the year, and it was part of the spoils that went with a 10-win season by the 32-year-old native of El Cajon, Calif. Johnson is the fourth driver to win the NMPA award more than twice. Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough each captured the trophy three times, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. won it by himself four times and shared it with Tim Richmond in 1986. The trophy has been given annually by the media group since 1969.(Fayetteville Observer)
      AND: On Saturday night Tommy Houston, one of the truly significant figures in the history of what was previously known as the Busch Series, joined the National Motorsports Press Association's Stock Car Hall of Fame. Like most of the men honored by the NMPA, the honor clearly moved Houston. He basked in the attention, answered every question and went out of his way to be cooperative. Houston's last words to the audience -- the dinner was near Lowe's Motor Speedway at the Concord Convention Center and Embassy Suites hotel -- were, "Thank you for remembering me, and good night."(Gaston Gazette)(1-21-2008) Comment here

    • HANS in space? Astronauts wearing HANS devices? It could happen, according to Dr. John Melvin, who helped NASCAR improve the safety features of its stock cars since the start of the 2001 racing season. Melvin said NASA has taken an interest in the data gathered by NASCAR's black box recorders over the last five years and may apply stock car safety standards to its upcoming moon and Mars programs. "NASA has become interested in this data for protecting the crew of the lunar and Mars modules," Melvin said. "I'm working with them, along with some other people, trying to get this data built into their understanding on how to protect people." When NASA ditches the shuttle program and goes back to Apollo-like capsules, the space agency plans to bring the returning space craft home with a ground landing.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(1-21-2008) Comment here

    • Sprint Cup Series Media Tour Starts Monday: More than 200 print and electronic journalists from 23 states and as far away as Germany will make their annual pilgrimage to the heart of NASCAR racing as Lowe's Motor Speedway hosts the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour. An integral part of NASCAR's pre-season schedule, the 26th edition of this media event begins Monday morning, Jan. 21, and continues through Thursday afternoon, Jan. 24. Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Petty Enterprises, Hall of Fame Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing are among the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams scheduled to host events. Media members will also get their initial look at the new Windshear wind tunnel facility during an event co-hosted by Haas/CNC Racing. In addition, the Media Tour will also make its annual visit to the NASCAR Research and Development Center.(Lowes Motor Speedway PR), NASCAR and teams have typically used the media tour to make a variety of announcements for the upcoming season. (1-21-2008) Comment here



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