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  • MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
    FEBRUARY 11-17, 2008


      News from February 17, 2008

    • Newman wins Daytona 500: #12-Ryan Newman won the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, getting pushed by his teammate #2-Kurt Busch for the first Daytona 500 winner for owner Roger Penske, first restrictor plate win for Penske and first ever 1-2 finish for Penske Racing in a Cup race. It is Newman's first win since Sept 18, 2005 at New Hampshire, 80 races ago and his 13th career win. #20-Tony Stewart finished 3rd, followed by #18-Kyle Busch, #41-Reed Sorenson, #19-Elliott Sadler, #9-Kasey Kahne, #7-Robby Gordon, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #16-Greg Biffle. Pole sitter #48-Jimmie Johnson got in a late wreck and finished 27th, #24-Jeff Gordon had a shock plate problem and finished 39th. Outside pole sitter, #55-Michael Waltrip led three laps early, but fell back and finished 29th. #77-Sam Hornish Jr. was the highest finishing rookie at 15th. There were 7 cautions for 23 laps and there were 42 lead changes among 16 drivers. The average speed was 152.668mph. See results at Jayski's Race Results/Awards Page
      For drivers and owners points, see Jayski's Drivers/Owners Points after Dyatona page.(2-17-2008) Comment here

    • Some Daytona 500 Notes: early in the race #29-Harvick thought his engine was going, but as of lap 52 and a pit stop, Harvick is running better and in the top 25. #78-Nemechek lost 13 laps when a lugnut went thru the oil cooler, losing the oil, the team made repairs and as of lap 58, he is back on the track. #77-Hornish had a vibration, came in for an unscheduled pitstop on lap 58, losing a lap. #7-Gordon has Valvoline decals on the quarter panels, looks like helping out GEM sponsors, since Gordon is affiliated with GEM now and the #10 didn't make the race. As of lap 64, Nemechek is back in the garage, engine may be shot. #34-Andretti short pitted earlier then the other regular scheduled stops, about 15 laps early and went down a lap on lap 63. On lap 67, #19-Sadler scraped the wall hard after cutting a right tire down, came in to pit for new tires and lost a lap. Nemechek came back on the track and is 28 laps down after 95 laps. #34-Andretti's car was pushed behind the wall around lap 136 with a broken shock. #78-Wallace headed to the garage on lap 142. #01-Smith was off track a few laps and came back out, 6 laps down. On lap 154, #24-Gordon came back to pit road, the crew went under the hood and found a broken shock plate, took it to the garage. Gordon came back out 11 laps down, Andretti is back out, 16 laps down.
      Lucky Dogs:
      Caution 1: #26-McMurray
      Caution 2: #83-Vickers
      Caution 3: #8-Martin
      Caution 4: #66-Riggs
      Caution 5: #38-David Gilliland
      Caution 6-7: none, ten laps or less left
      (2-17-2008) Comment here

    • Fatback looking for a gig..TV?: Former Sprint Cup crew chief Michael “Fatback” McSwain was in the garage at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, looking for work, but not the kind he used to do when he was atop the pit box for drivers like Bobby Labonte and Ricky Rudd. McSwain, a devoutly religious man and the father of two young children, decided last year that he wanted to get off the crew chief treadmill and the savage grind of 38 races per year and day after day of testing. To that end, he’s become something of a jack-of-all-trades, doing some media work – he’s looking for more – auctioning memorabilia on eBay and other odds and ends. “I’m doing a little bit of everything, anything I can do to generate income,” said McSwain. “I’m in the process of building a tire store and front-end alignment shop in Dallas, N.C. I’ve been doing a little bit of TV stuff, some one-off shows, some fill-in work. … Anything I can do to generate enough income to stay home with my family.” McSwain was optimistic about the next phase of his life. “It’s a big, old world, there’s a lot of opportunities out there,” he said. “I started in this business at the bottom, so I’ll start my next venture at the bottom.”(SPEED)(2-17-2008) Comment here

    • Dynos after 150's show Toyota's stronger: Judging from NASCAR’s post-150s chassis-dyno tests, which showed Toyota’s #20-Tony Stewart had at least a 15 horsepower edge at his rear wheels over Chevy’s #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Thursday’s twin races. And Richard Childress’ Chevy engines were about 30 horsepower off the Toyotas, which is some concern in both the Childress camp and with GM officials. NASCAR didn’t post any official numbers, but Stewart’s engine - built by Mark Cronquist, head of Joe Gibbs’ motor shop - pulled around 462 to 464 effective horsepower, according to those familiar with the results. That’s about 15 horsepower more than Earnhardt had and about 30 horsepower more than Chevy’s Kevin Harvick.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-16-2008)
      UPDATE: NASCAR tested about 10 different Sprint Cup engines following last Thursday’s Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying races. According to several officials from NASCAR, the manufacturers who race in the Sprint Cup Series and race teams, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, all parties involved are satisfied that the engines from Toyota, General Motors, Dodge and Ford are competitive with each other in terms of horsepower. Most of the engines tested varied by less than 10 horsepower, multiple sources told SPEEDTV.com, with all but two of the engines within 7-8 horsepower of each other. And none of the four brands tested had a consistent advantage over the others. Media reports on Saturday that Toyotas had a 30-horsepower advantage over the Chevrolets were, to say the least, erroneous. Had that actually been the case, Chevrolet teams would have been raising a ruckus with NASCAR and complaining bitterly to the media about being at a competitive disadvantage. Nothing of the sort has happened.(SPEED)(2-17-2008) Comment here

    • MWR doesn't plan points swap when drivers shift: David Reutimann will replace his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate in the #44 car after the race at Martinsville Speedway and his crew chief go with him. Michael McDowell will take over driving the #00. As of right now, though, the plan is not to swap the team’s points. If Reutimann’s team cracks the top 35 in owners points and the Jarrett team doesn’t, MWR could opt to swap the points to make sure that Reutimann is locked into the field. Neither team finished in the top 35 last year and each must qualify on speed for the first five events this year. “David’s earning points for Michael McDowell and Dale Jarrett is earning points for David Reutimann – that’s the way we’re approaching it,” said MWR general manager Ty Norris. “If one of them happens not to be in the top 35, obviously we’ll have to consider what’s going on then.” Reutimann said the points situation won’t affect the way he races. “It would be nice when that situation comes around to have everybody locked in,” Reutimann said. “We’ll see. We’ve got to try to make that happen, make that deal work out. I’m trying to get in the top 35 for me.”(SceneDaily.com)(2-17-2008) Comment here

    • Goodyear's Holmer to retire: After 32 years with Goodyear Tire, most spent as field manager for NASCAR racing events, Phil Holmer will retire after today's Daytona 500, his 40th overall. "It'll be my last day with the company," Holmer said. "I guess that's kind of corny, isn't it." Rick Heinrich, who will replace Homer as field manager, said his 65-year-old boss cannot be replaced. "Mighty big shoes to fill," Heinrich said. "He's been the face of Goodyear for NASCAR for 30 years. He's going to be greatly missed."
      "It won't be the same without Phil around," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of communications. "If he has an enemy in the industry, I don't know him, because everybody likes him."(Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-17-2008) Comment here

    • Tryson named 2007 Sporting News "Crew Chief of the Year": #2 Miller Lite Dodge crew chief Pat Tryson’s effort last season garnered him the prestigious 2007 Sporting News “Crew Chief of the Year” designation. “It was a real honor to receive that notoriety, especially with the great jobs done by so many crew chiefs last year,” said Tryson. “They may have cited me for it, but it was a tribute to Kurt and our whole Miller Lite Dodge Team.”
      Added his driver, Busch: "Just think about the big statement winning that award meant. The fact is that Pat didn't even join our team until June and he was on our pit box for only 21 of the 36 races. That's pretty incredible if you ask me. It's like spotting all the other competitors 15 races to make their marks and then going out there and making a huge impact and a major statement in a relatively short period of time. I am so proud of Pat and thrilled to have him as our team's leader."(Tom Roberts PR)(2-17-2008) Comment here

    • Dale Sr. to be honored: In honor of Dale Earnhardt's 1998 Daytona 500 victory, Dale Earnhardt Inc. Sprint Cup teams [#01,#1,#8,#15] will pay tribute to the legendary driver by standing on pit wall on Lap 3 of the season-opener, holding up three fingers to salute the life, legend and legacy of Dale Earnhardt.(DEI PR)(2-17-2008)

    • Tire problems not expected: At least two teams that had issues with tires blistering Thursday are still scratching their heads a little bit on whether the tires will be good for Sunday, but NASCAR doesn’t anticipate major problems in the Daytona 500. “Thursday showed us a huge improvement [over earlier practices] and every practice since then, it keeps getting better,” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said Saturday after the final Cup practice. “To make a statement that all the blistering is totally gone, that would be false. … It’s rescinded enough that I think we’re more than fine for the 500 on Sunday.” Darby said he didn’t see a need for a competition caution to check tire wear. A green-flag fuel run lasts about 41-44 laps at Daytona. Tire issues have cropped up for several teams during the week, and at least four teams had problems in the qualifying races Thursday. The temperatures Sunday should be about 10-15 degrees warmer than Thursday, which should result in slower speeds and less blistering. “Hotter temperatures means the driver has got to lift earlier,” Darby said. “It may relate into speed, but what it really means is they’re not charging the corner as hard, they’re not abusing everything as much. When the track starts to lose grip, you can’t.”(SceneDaily.com)(2-17-2008) Comment here

    • Gold wheels for Mikey, Dale and David: #55-Michael Waltrip and his three Sprint Cup Series, #44-Dale Jarrett and #00-David Reutimann teams will pay tribute to the golden anniversary of the Daytona 500 on Sunday by starting the 50th running of The Great American Race sporting specially-designed gold wheels. Following the 200-lap event, the wheels will be autographed and sold to raise money for charities supported by the France family. The Waltrip teams will run the gold wheels only for the start of the race, moving back to their traditional chrome wheels after the first round of pit stops. (MWR PR)(2-16-2008) Comment here


      News from February 16, 2008

    • Latest on the HMS engines: Jeff Andrews, head engine builder for Hendrick Motorsports, said that the team sent all its race engines back to the team's race shop Wednesday night after finding problems with the lifters. Andrews said the engines were being rebuilt and would return to the track Friday night. "Because of the wear we were seeing ... you end up with this debris in the engine,'' Andrews said. "You have to take [the engine] apart. Not only are you changing those parts, but you're taking apart and cleaning, washing everything and going back through it and fitting everything up again." Andrews said he saw no problems with the Hendrick engines after Thursday's first qualifying race.(Roanoke Times)(2-16-2008) Comment here

    • Skinner and Benson take over #27 ride...for now UPDATE: Jacques Villeneuve's career in the Sprint Cup Series is on hold. Villeneuve will be replaced next week at California, likely by Mike Skinner, unless a sponsor can be found for the Bill Davis Racing car over the next 24 hours. Mike Brown, the general manager at BDR, said there are no other plans to use Villeneuve until a sponsor is found. "It's a race-to-race thing," Brown said. "We thought we had one sponsor, down to having the uniform with the logo on it. We just never got the deal closed. It's unfortunate for everyone." Brown said the decision to go with a driver such as Skinner was based totally on experience. "By missing Daytona and putting ourselves in position of having to qualify to make the race we need somebody with Skinner's ability," he said. "Mike has run so well in the Truck Series out there." Brown said Villeneuve, whose attempt to make Sunday's Daytona 500 ended with a crash in Thursday's qualifying race, continues to work on finding a sponsor and rebuilding his marketing team, which was disrupted with a recent split with manager Craig Pollock. "Jaqcues is working hard to put all the right people in place with different Canadian companies," he said. "He just needs to regroup and get his management team in order."(ESPN.com)(2-15-2008)
      UPDATE: Bill Davis Racing (BDR) announced that it will tap into its pool of veteran Cup Series drivers to pilot the #27 Toyota Camry during the next several Sprint Cup Series races. Truck Series drivers Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson are both expected to step behind the wheel of BDR's #27 entry. BDR will continue to support Jacques Villeneuve in his pursuit of a successful career in the Sprint Cup Series [find a sponsor]. "We know that Jacques has the talent and the desire to be in NASCAR, and are diligently working on a long term relationship with him," commented team owner Bill Davis. Skinner will drive the #27 Toyota next weekend at California Speedway.(BDR PR)(2-16-2008) Comment here

    • Drivers Elected to Motorsports Hall of Fame of America: Open wheel racing champion Michael Andretti, NASCAR legend Buddy Baker and perennial drag racing king John Force will lead a class of seven racing greats into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America when the organization stages its annual induction ceremony on Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at the Fillmore Detroit. These three, along with sports car ace Richie Ginther, motorcycle hero Wayne Rainey, versatile competitor Paul Goldsmith and pioneering aerobatic pilot Betty Skelton will join 167 racers already enshrined in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Tickets for the Induction Ceremony can be purchased by calling 1-800-250-RACE (7223). The Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame is operated by the nonprofit Motorsports Museum and Hall of Fame of America Foundation Inc. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America is a museum housing more than 40 racing and high-performance vehicles. The constantly changing collection features racers from the world of Indy cars, stock cars, Can Am, TransAm, sprint cars, powerboats, truck racing, drag racing, motorcycles, air racing and even snowmobiles. Among the highlights are Art Arfons' Green Monster jet car and championship NASCAR stock cars driven by Darrell Waltrip and Dale Jarrett.(MSHF PR)(2-16-2008) Comment here

    • Happy Hour practice for the Daytona 500 is over at Daytona International Speedway, the fastest:
      #99-Edwards 191.034
      #34-Andretti 190.937
      #45-Petty 190.634
      #7-Gordon 190.375
      #16-Biffle 190.323
      slowest: #87-Wallace 186.590 and #40-Franchitti 186.590
      most laps run: #41-Sorenson 50; #9-Kahne 46
      incidents: #07-Bowyer ran into the rear of #41-Sorenson when the field slowed and he hit the outside wall, doing damage to the front right nose of the #07. #66-Riggs and #01-Smith both scraped the wall
      See the speeds on the Daytona Practice Speeds Page.(2-16-2008)

    • Sad News - Michael Dean Jackson: Michael Dean Jackson, 54, passed away on February 14, 2008 at his residence. He was President of Jackson Automotive Engineering Inc. (DBA-JAE Racing Engines Established 1974). Mike graduated from Gaston College, was a Deacon of Shady Grove Baptist Church and a longtime NASCAR Member and NASCAR Racing engine builder for all series. In addition to his parents he is survived by is wife Veda Dellinger Jackson of the home, one son Camden Jackson of Cherryville , two brothers, Douglas Jackson and wife Sheree and Charles Jackson and wife Ellen all of Cherryville. Nephews, Seth Jackson and Wesley Jackson. Memorial and Celebration of Life Services will be held at the Cherryville Country Club, 215 Club Drive, Cherryville, N. C. on February 18, 2008 at 4:00pm/et. Visitation will be immediately following the services. Mike's wishes were for his body to be donated to Duke University Anatomical Gift Program. The family is at home and request that in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: "Mike's Wish" Brain Tumor Assistance Fund, C/O Peoples Bank, P.O. Box 134, Lincolnton, NC 28093 Attention, Nikki Crafton.(carpentersfuneralhome.net.(2-16-2008)


      News from February 15, 2008

    • New Earnhardt movie planned...but: Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher have hitched their Red Wagon banner to a bio on NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. Wick and Fisher have made a deal to tell the life story of the stock car driver, who was killed in a crash in the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. The deal comes just as Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolls into Sunday's Daytona 500 for the first time since leaving DEI, the racing empire built by his dad. Earnhardt's widow, Teresa, and son Dale Jr. have both pledged their cooperation on the biopic even though their relationship is strained -- he left DEI after his stepmother refused his request for majority control. Wick and Fisher will produce with Richard Blackstone, who reps DEI, and Bernie Cahill of Roar. Max Siegel, DEI's president of global operations, is also closely involved. Sony-based Red Wagon will first shop the project at the studio, though the producers may wait to attach a director and star. They said the picture will be put on a fast track. DEI Statement: Statement from Max Siegel, president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., in response to a published report regarding an agreement for a Dale Earnhardt biopic. “We are enthusiastic about the prospect of making a compelling theatrical movie which celebrates the sport and Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s life. To that end we are excited that Red Wagon has committed themselves to developing such a project. Contrary to published reports, we have not granted any rights to Dale Sr.'s life and are in the very preliminary stages of putting a project like this together. We will keep the public informed as our efforts progress.”(DEI PR)(2-15-2008) Comment here

    • Elliott to retire for good at end of 2008: After 33 years on the NASCAR trail, Dawsonville's Bill Elliott is ready to head down another path. #21-Elliott, who did not finish high enough in Thursday's 150-mile qualifier to start Sunday's Daytona 500, said 2008 will be his last year as a Sprint Cup driver. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it, but it's time to move on and let this other generation have it," Elliott said. "I just feel like it's good to let everyone know what my thinking is. I've kind of put it off and rolled with the flow these last few years, but it's time. It's time to go do something different." He said he'll continue to drive the #21 Wood Brothers Ford on a part-time basis as he had planned, but if the Woods' other drivers, Marcos Ambrose and Jon Wood, seem ready to take on a larger role, he might cut short his planned 17-race schedule. "Ambrose might fall into place, or Jon might fall into place, and that would be what the Woods need to do to make the next step," he said. Another young racer is figuring into Elliott's decision, too —- his 12-year-old son Chase, who is rapidly developing into a formidable competitor in the Bandolero racing series. Traveling to Chase's races and also competing in Cup races has proved to be a logistical nightmare. "Last summer, I'd go race with Chase on Thursday night, then I'd pick up and go to wherever the Cup race was," Elliott said. "The earliest I got anywhere was 10 p.m., and it could be up to 4 in the morning to get where I was going, depending on when we raced. That's crazy." As a full-time driver, Elliott won 44 Cup races, 55 poles and the 1988 championship, but since going to part-time status after the 2003 season, he has had just one top-10 finish, at Indianapolis in 2004. Still, he has no regrets about the latter part of his career.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(2-15-2008) Comment here

    • AT&T Races into 2008: Racing fans, fasten your seatbelts. AT&T Inc. announced the major components of the company’s 2008 multiplatform motorsports campaign. To promote its sponsorship in stock car racing’s elite-level circuit, AT&T has developed a creative campaign that includes a fully branded integration into FOX Sports NASCAR broadcasts — titled “AT&T Race Break” — as well as heavy promotion of its Safe Driving public service initiative, which is a pillar of AT&T’s larger Be Sensible public awareness campaign. AT&T has been the primary sponsor for a professional stock car racing team for more than a decade. Hosted by Emmy-winning FOX Sports broadcaster Chris Myers and champion crew chief Jeff Hammond, the “AT&T Race Break” segments will broadcast live from the “Hollywood Hotel” — FOX Sports’ mobile trackside studio. During breaks in racing action, “AT&T Race Break” segments will give viewers the latest in racing news and exclusive insight from the world of NASCAR. In addition, AT&T will use the platform to promote racing-related streaming video content available exclusively to its wireless subscribers.
      To start the season, and to promote the Safe Driving initiative, AT&T will customize approximately 200 service vans across the country to reflect the look and feel of the #31 AT&T Chevrolet. Driver Jeff Burton will be on hand when the first wrapped vehicle is rolled out Friday, Feb. 15, at the Daytona Speedway AT&T retail store (Daytona Beach, Fla.). At the unveiling, Burton will officially sign the Safe Driving pledge, along with Rudy Hermond, vice president and general manager, AT&T North Florida, and a representative service van driver. The Safe Driving pledge that Jeff Burton and the service van drivers will sign include the following tips:
      * Ask passengers to help by changing the CD or radio station, placing a mobile phone call or reading directions to you.
      * If you don’t have a passenger, wait until you come to a complete stop at a red light or stop sign before changing the CD or radio station.
      * If you need to make or take a call, wait until your trip is complete and your car is safely stopped.
      * Never use your phone to take pictures, send and read messages, record video or watch video while driving.
      * It’s best not to eat and drive at the same time. If you’re traveling with someone, take turns driving while the passenger eats.
      * Avoid stressful or emotional conversations with passengers while driving.
      * Don’t be a “rubbernecker.” Let your passengers do the sightseeing while you drive.
      * Make safety your most important call. In the case of any emergency, a mobile phone can be a very useful tool. Remember, dialing 911 is always a free call.
      For more information on AT&T’s Be Sensible public awareness campaign, visit wireless.att.com/be-sensible. For more information on AT&T racing news, visit www.att.com/racing.(Career Sports & Entertainment/AT&T PR)(2-15-2008)

    • Principal Financial Group expands sponsorship of DEI: The Principal Financial Group, the nation's 401 and employee benefits leader, announced its expanded relationship with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI). The Principal has agreed to a multi-race primary sponsorship involving DEI's #8 Chevy, co-driven by Mark Martin and Aric Almirola and the #01 Chevy driven by Regan Smith during the 2008 Sprint Cup Series. The Principal will also serve as an associate sponsor on both cars for the entire Sprint Cup season. "Rookie-of-the-year" candidate #01-Regan Smith will drive the Principal Financial Group Chevrolet Feb. 17 at the Daytona 500 and again July 27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Mark Martin will represent The Principal in the #8 Chevrolet at California Speedway February 24 in what will be Martin's 700th career Cup Series start. This marks the third season for The Principal as Sprint Cup Series team sponsor, and the second year that Mark Martin and Regan Smith will race in the Principal Financial Group colors. The Principal first joined NASCAR in Aug. 2006 with MB2 Motorsports [Ginn Racing then DEI].. For more information, visit www.principal.com.(DEI PR)(2-15-2008) Comment here

    • Gopher Cams at the Daytona 500: Gopher Cam, a small, stationary high-definition point-of-view camera buried underneath the asphalt track surface, inches below the yellow line at Daytona International Speedway will be used Sunday. There are four Gopher Cams in-place for the 50th Daytona 500, one in each of the track's four turns. This is the first instance where a camera has been installed below the surface of a superspeedway, and this is the first time that a sub-track surface camera is HD caliber. The cameras have also been paired with high quality condenser microphones, another first, for an unbelievably realistic audio/video experience. The camera hardware and electronics have been installed six inches below the asphalt, and is housed in a cylindrical stainless steel fixture. The lens is less than a half-inch in diameter, and camera is angled slightly to see oncoming traffic. The assembly is covered by a protective dome that is four-inches in diameter and rises less than one-quarter inch above the track surface. Cars rolling over them will have no idea of their presence. The cameras are connected to Fox's mobile production units outside DIS via copper wiring that was trenched in below the track and grass and run to where it meets up with the network's advanced fiber optic wiring system. Installation of Gopher Cam, with the cooperation of Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR's Competition and Media Group department's, was conducted over a three day period last week and tested during the Budweiser Shootout Saturday night. The wiring and stainless steel housing for Gopher Cams remain behind in-place after the race, but the actual cameras travels with Fox to be used at the next race location. A plate replaces the dome that is used on raceday. Gopher Cams are currently being installed in all NASCAR in Fox Sprint Cup race locations, including California Speedway in Fontana (Feb. 24) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 2). While most tracks will have as many as four Gopher Cams, similar to DIS, the number at any individual track may vary.(Fox Sports PR)(2-15-2008) Comment here

    • Commercial breakdown, driver focus, and links related to the Gatorade Duels: Total number of commercials: 100
      Total number of companies or entities advertised: 46
      Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 18
      Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:00pm
      End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:28pm
      Total minutes: 208
      Minutes of race broadcast: 157
      Minutes of commercials: 51
      Number of missed restarts: 0
      See full report at CawsnJaws.com.(2-15-2008)

    • NASCAR viewers get a break, ad-wise: Viewers tuning in to ESPN's coverage of stock-car racing are likely to notice a change in how the commercials play out. Starting with Saturday's Nationwide Series event at Daytona, ESPN will slot commercials at times that annoy viewers the least, says Rich Feinberg, network vice president of motor sports. "Obviously, commercials are part of our business," Feinberg said. "They're necessary." But, he said, the network did a study after last season to see where the breaks came in the racing action, and how viewing patterns may have changed during telecasts. "We went back and looked at the length of the break, track by track," he said. Commercial breaks in live events are a sticking point for viewers of all sports, but in auto racing, there are no set timeouts or other interruptions. So producers end up guessing when they can break away from the action without missing too much, or else they wait until everything slows after an accident. The length of the breaks also changes depending on the track. At Daytona, where a lap around the 2.5-mile track takes about 49 seconds, ESPN can take a relatively long break without missing much. But at a smaller track, where a lap may take only 14 seconds, a one-minute break keeps viewers away for a significant amount of track time. Taking those factors into account, Feinberg said, ESPN may take more frequent but shorter breaks this year. "In the end, if you totaled all the commercial time, there will be slightly less," he said.(New York Daily News)(2-15-2008) Comment here

    • Latest on the blistering tires: Some Sprint Cup teams are still reporting blistering of right-side tires after practice Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway. A full fuel run is 41-44 laps, and teams have shown signs of blistering before then. Blistering of tires during the Budweiser Shootout Saturday night affected cars that had about 33 laps on them, and not all of those were under green-flag conditions. “A lot of guys have made some progress and improvements and there are still a few guys still struggling, trying to find answers,” said Goodyear program manager Greg Stucker, who didn’t have an exact number of teams that had trouble with blistering Wednesday. “[The blistering] is a little less severe than what we saw during testing and than they were early in the week. People were trying different things with suspension and setups.” The cool temperatures Wednesday might have contributed to the blistering because speeds were faster than they would be on a hotter, slicker track. “It appears this car doesn’t fall off a lot,” Stucker said. “It’s consistent.”(SceneDaily.com)(2-14-2008)
      UPDATE: Teams are still battling tire issues as they head into the final few days of preparation for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Several drivers, including Patrick Carpentier, Regan Smith, Elliott Sadler, and Brian Vickers, had trouble with the tires in the 150-mile qualifying races Thursday. A full fuel run at Daytona International Speedway is about 41-44 laps, and the new NASCAR car runs with more weight on the right side. The teams that are having problems have them on the right fronts and the right rears. Goodyear’s Greg Stucker said that teams are adjusting to the new car and should be OK by Sunday. Rains on Wednesday cleaned the track and, if it remains dry the rest of the weekend, there will be much more rubber down on the track by Sunday, Stucker said. “Everybody is still learning the car a little bit and deciding what they needed to do tire-wise,” Stucker said. “It looks like more and more guys are getting it the more practice they get with time in the race car.” Stucker said he didn't see a reason why NASCAR would need a competition caution to check tires for the Daytona 500.(SceneDaily.com)(2-15-2008) Comment here

    • Woods miss 500 field: The Wood Brothers [#21 Ford] will not compete in the Daytona 500 for the first time since 1962 [they didn't attempt the 1960 or 1962 races] after Bill Elliott failed to advance through his qualifying race Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. "I don't think there are words that can describe it, but that's life,'' Elliott said. "There will be days like this." Sunday's 50th Daytona 500 will be only the third time the Wood Brothers have not been a part of this race. Co-owner Eddie Wood said he'll remain for the race but admits he'll likely have a hollow feeling. "I don't know what that'll feel like [not to be in the 500]. I'm sure it's going to be bad,'' he said.(Roanoke Times)(2-15-2008) Comment here

    • Friday's practice for the Daytona 500 is over at Daytona International Speedway, the top 5 were:
      #41-Sorenson 190.351
      #88-Earnhardt Jr. 189.825
      #1-Truex Jr. 189.781
      #66-Riggs 189.577
      #29-Harvick & #48-Johnson 189.438
      slowest: #42-Montoya 184.787 and #78-Nemechek 185.185
      six drivers did not practice: #'s 96,07,87,11,18,8
      See the speeds on the Daytona Practice Speeds Page.(2-15-2008)


      News from February 14, 2008

    • Gatorade Duel Race #2: #11-Denny Hamlin won the 2nd Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. Hamlin just beat #20-Tony Stewart, who finished 2nd and pushed Hamlin past #24-Jeff Gordon on the final lap for the win. Gordon was third, followed by #9-Kasey Kahne, #8-Mark Martin, #6-David Ragan, #29-Kevin Harvick, #16-Greg Biffle, #44-Dale Jarrett and #34-John Andretti. Jarrett clinched the first of the two spots available to drivers out of the top 35 in points from last year and Andretti got past #00-David Reutimann on the last lap to get the other spot. Reutimann earned a spot based on his qualifying lap last Sunday and will start 42nd. Ironically, the top three finishers all had backup engines and had to start at the rear of the field. There were 14 lead changes amoung 9 drivers and 3 cautions for 15 laps. For results, see my Gatorade Duel 150 races results page and for the Daytona 500 lineup, see my Daytona 500 Starting Lineup.(2-14-2008)

    • Gatorade Duel Race #1: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 1st Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt started from the rear of the pack due to an engine change and first took the lead at lap 18, leading 25 of the 60 laps to win his 2nd race at Daytona in 2008. Earnhardt also won the Bud Shootout last Saturdat night and has a chance to be the first driver ever to win the Bud Shootout, a qualifying race and the Daytona 500. #41-Reed Sorenson came from the back to finish 2nd, followed by #12-Ryan Newman, #5-Casey Mears, #99-Carl Edwards, #43-Bobby Labonte, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya, #87-Kenny Wallace, #77-Sam Hornish and #15-Paul Menard. Wallace clinched the first of the two spots available to drivers out of the top 35 in points from last year and #83-Brian Vickers finished 11th to grab the 2nd spot. #78-Joe Nemechek fell back on his speed to make the race and will start 41st. #2-Kurt Busch had electrical problems and finished 26th/out of the race and will use the past champions provisional to start the Daytona 500 43rd. #08-Carl Long finished 24th, but the car was found to be too low during post race inspection and he was credit with finishing 27th/last. There were 16 lead changes amoung 9 drivers and 2 cautions for 5 laps. For results, see my Gatorade Duel 150 races results page and for the Daytona 500 lineup, see my Daytona 500 Starting Lineup.(2-14-2008)

    • Drivers who will miss the Daytona 500 after the first Gatorade Duel 150: #84-Allmindinger, #21-Elliott, #09-Marlin, #08-Long
      after the 2nd Gatorade Duel 150, missing the race are: #27-Villeneuve; #50-Barrett, #37-McClure, #10-Carpentier, #49-Schrader and #60-Said
      (2-14-2008)

    • Harley J. Earl trophy, who was Earl? The Daytona 500? Its trophy is named after Harley J. Earl. Who was Earl? No drivers asked knew about Earl. None of these responses come as a surprise to Richard Earl, Harley's grandson. The 48-year-old West Palm Beach resident is determined to put his late grandfather's prize on a figurative mantel alongside the most-recognized prizes in sports. Richard Earl believes Daytona's annual Speed Weeks, which culminate in Sunday's 50th running of the Daytona 500, should be a perfect platform for a Harley Earl renaissance. He had hoped to do much to educate the public about his grandfather's legacy, but his plans haven't materialized. He's disillusioned, not sure he'll even accept Daytona International Speedway's invitation to attend the race. "When you look at all their promotion for the upcoming race, there's very little mention of Harley," Richard Earl said. "This guy did a lot. His name's on this trophy for a reason. He's a real icon." Harley Earl was an automotive pioneer, the father of car design. He has been called the "Da Vinci of Detroit." When he began in the 1920s American cars were basically boxes on wheels. By the time he retired in 1958, he and his designers had created many "concept cars" that looked more like spacecraft. See the full story at the Palm Beach Post. Richard Earl, a former Wall Street broker, makes his living selling Harley Earl-designed cars. " 'Motoramic masterpieces' is how I like to refer to them," he said. He maintains the official Harley Earl Web site, carofthecentury.com, and is working on a biography of his grandfather.(2-14-2008) Comment here.

    • Dale Jr on SI cover: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine's Feb. 18 issue, which is set to hit news stands this week. Shot by photographer Michael J. LeBrecht II, the cover depicts a relaxed Earnhardt on the hood of his #88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy with the headline "Time to Win? Dale Earnhardt Jr. Has a New Car." The cover story, penned by writer Lars Anderson and entitled "Fired Up," details Earnhardt's journey to Hendrick Motorsports and his relationship with team owner Rick Hendrick. For more information on Sports Illustrated magazine, visit www.SI.com.(HMS PR)(2-14-2008) Comment here.

    • 2008 Rookies - News and Notes: Six drivers are expected to compete for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors in the 2008 Sprint Cup Series: Jacques Villeneuve, Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti, Regan Smith, Patrick Carpentier, and Michael McDowell. Three organizations - Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Michael Waltrip Racing – will have Raybestos Rookies behind the wheel for the second consecutive season. Ryan Newman (2002) is the most recent driver to capture top rookie honors in the Daytona 500 and go on to win Raybestos Rookie of the Year. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to win a pole in the Sprint Cup Series is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin grabbed the top starting position for the 2006 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway, 46 races ago. David Ragan was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the 2007 Daytona 500, scoring a fifth-place finish. Since 1975, only three Raybestos Rookies have scored top-five finishes in the Daytona 500: Ragan, Scott Wimmer and Jeff Gordon. Wimmer placed third in 2004 while Gordon finished fifth in 1993. Gordon is the only Raybestos Rookie to win a Gatorade Duel qualifying race at Daytona in the sport’s modern era. Gordon won his qualifying race for 500 in 1993. Denny Hamlin is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the Budweiser Shootout. Hamlin won the race in 2006 and went on to capture Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors that same season. Greg Biffle is the only Raybestos Rookie to win a Sprint Cup Series points event at Daytona International Speedway. Biffle won the 2003 Pepsi 400, scoring his first career win in the Sprint Cup Series. Denny Hamlin is the only Raybestos Rookie to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup since the program was created in 2004.(Raybestos/Camp and Assoc PR)(2-14-2008) Comment here.

    • Gatorade Duel Race #2: is being run now, while not doing the semi-live racepage for the races this season [hits had dwindled with many sites having live streaming of the races], but will do a semi-live here [every 10 laps with some notes] on this page for the Gatorade Duel 150's today.
      (after 64 of 64)
      FINAL UNOFFICIAL RESULTS
      #11-Hamlin (5) [in top 35/to back, engine change, starts 4th]
      #20-Stewart (8) [in top 35/to back, engine change, starts 6th]
      #24-Gordon (6) [in top 35/to back, engine change, starts 8th]
      #9-Kahne (18) [in top 35, starts 10th]
      #8-Martin (12) [in top 35, starts 12th]
      #6-Ragan (9) [in top 35, starts 14th]
      #29-Harvick (21) [in top 35, starts 16th]
      #16-Biffle (15) [in top 35, starts 18th]
      #44-Jarrett (14) [needs to race in, no champ prov avail, starts 20th]
      #34-Andretti (25) [needs to race in, starts 22nd]
      #18-Busch (20) [in top 35, starts 24th]
      #00-Reutimann (2) [in by speed, can start higher if races in, starts 42nd]
      #55-Waltrip (1) [in by speed, will start 2nd]
      #7-Gordon (17) [in top 35, starts 26th]
      #17-Kenseth (10) [in top 35, starts 28th]
      #28-Kvapil (4) [in top 35, starts 30th]
      #38-Gilliland (13) [in top 35, starts 32nd]
      #49-Schrader (22) [needs to race in, DNQ]
      out:
      #10-Carpentier (7) [needs to race in], accident DNQ
      #37-McClure (19) [needs to race in] ? DNQ
      #22-Blaney (3) [in top 35], engine, starts 34th]
      #31-Burton (24) [in top 35], shocks, starts 36th]
      #27-Villeneuve (11) [needs to race in, DNQ]
      #26-McMurray (16) [in top 35, starts 38th]
      #50-Barrett (26) [needs to race in, DNQ]
      #40-Franchitti (23) [in top 35, to the back, missed driver intros, starts 40th]
      The race is being televised live on SPEED and is scheduled to re-air tonight at 9:00pm/et.
      Caution: 1) lap 17-23; #27-Villeneuve lost it came down then shot up the track into the wall, collecting #50-Barrett, #40-Franchitti and #26-McMurray. All the drivers came in to pit after pit road was opened.
      Caution: 2) lap 25-29; #22-Blaney lost an engine, heavy smoke; taking a lot of time cleaning off the track, red flag for about 6 minutes
      Caution: 3) lap 59-; #10-Carpentier lost a right tire and slapped the wall, RED Flag as of 5:16 until 5:22pm/et


      Notes: #31-Burton made a pit stop for a possible tire going down on lap 9; #00-Reutimann jumped the start of the race and was black flagged and had to do a pass-thru penalty.(2-14-2008)

    • Gatorade Duel Race #1: is scheduled to start around 2:00pm/et, while not doing the semi-live racepage for the races this season [hits had dwindled with many sites having live streaming of the races], but will do a semi-live here on this page for the Gatorade Duel 150's today.
      (after 60 of 60 laps)
      UNOFFICIAL RESULTS:
      #88-Earnhardt Jr. (5) [in top 35/to the back, starts 3rd]
      #41-Sorenson (18) [in top 35, starts 5th]
      #12-Newman (9) [in top 35/moves to pole for this race, starts 7th]
      #5-Mears (3) [in top 35/to the back, starts 9th]
      #99-Edwards (15) [in top 35, starts 11th]
      #43-Labonte (23) [in top 35, starts 13th]
      #42-Montoya (19) [in top 35, starts 15th]
      #87-Wallace (11) [needs to race in, starts 17th]
      #77-Hornish Jr (20). [in top 35, starts 19th]
      #15-Menard (16) [in top 35, starts 21st]
      #83-Vickers (6) [can get in on speed or race in, starts 23rd]
      #78-Nemechek (2) [in by speed, starts 41st]
      #84-Allmendinger (7) [needs to race in, DNQ]
      #1-Truex Jr (17). [in top 35, starts 25th]
      #66-Riggs (8) [in top 35/to the back, starts 27th]
      #21-Elliott (22) [can race in or gets past champ if #2 AND #44 race in, DNQ]
      #01-Smith (10) [in top 35, starts 29th]
      #07-Bowyer (21) [in top 35/to the back, starts 31st]
      #60-Said (4) [can get in on speed or race in, DNQ]
      #70-Mayfield (12) [in top 35, starts 33rd]
      #09-Marlin (25) [needs to race in, DNQ]
      #19-Sadler (14) [in top 35, starts 35th]
      #48-Johnson (1) [pole/to the back, starts 1st/pole]
      #96-Yeley (26) [in top 35/to the back, starts 37th]
      #45-Petty (24) [in top 35, starts 39th]
      #08-Long (27) [needs to race in, DNQ], finished 24th but car was found low and penalized to 27th
      out of race
      #2-Busch (13) [will past champ provisional, starts 43rd] OUT engine
      The race was televised live on SPEED and re-aired at 9:00pm/et.
      Cautions:
      1) lap 4-5: #60-Said and #83-Vickers make contact, sending the #83 spinning and slinding on the backstretch asphalt, no damage.
      2) lap 56-58 : #19-Sadler lost a right front tire and smacked the wall; #'s 83,66,60,07,84,1,21,01 pitted for tires
      Notes: #19-Sadler lost a right front tire and fell back around lap 25; #83-Vickers lost a right front tire and had to pit early on lap 30;
      #48-Johnson felt a tire go down a pitted with 8 laps to go;
      Currently one of the two highest running do-or-go-homers and would make the race, if things stayed the same, the top 2 make it in

    • TO THE BACK: SPEED reports eleven teams have changed engines so their drivers will have to start to the ear of the field before the start of their Gatorade Duel 150 race, the 11 reported:
      Duel #1: #48-Johnson [was to start 1st]; #5-Mears [3rd]; #88-Earnhardt Jr. [5th]; #84-Allmendinger [7th]; #66-Riggs [8th]; #07-Bowyer [21st]; #96-Yeley [26th]
      Duel #2: #11-Hamlin [was to start 5th]; #24-Gordon [6th]; #20-Stewart [8th]; #44-Jarrett [14th]
      Team are allowed to change engines between the Duels and the Daytona 500 and not have to fall to the rear of the field. These engine changes only effect the starting lineup for the Duels. And the drivers in line move up, so in the 1st Duel, all drivers with odd starting spots [1, 3, 5, etc] move up to the next sport. so #12-Newman will move up from 9th to the pole with #78-Nemechek on the outside pole.(2-14-2008)

    • Jarrett will not take Reutimann's ride if he fails to make the 500: #44-Dale Jarrett said he would not consider getting into teammate #00-David Reutimann's car if the worst-case scenario happens Thursday and Jarrett fails to qualify for the Daytona 500. Some people have speculated that team owner Michael Waltrip might ask Reutimann to skip the race to allow Jarrett to compete in his final Daytona 500 start, if Jarrett doesn't make it in. "We won't do that just because it's my last one," Jarrett said. "It won't be the end of the world for me. We haven't talked about it. "David is going to be there for the whole season. And I'm the one that recommended David to UPS [Jarrett's longtime sponsor], so I want him to go out and have a great Daytona 500." Reutimann will take over in the #44 UPS Toyota after the first five races when Jarrett retires. Reutimann is driving the #00 Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing in the first five events. Waltrip and Reutimann are starting on the front row in the second qualifying race Thursday. Jarrett is starting on the outside of Row 7. Waltrip and Reutimann have guaranteed spots in the 500, so they will allow Jarrett to move ahead of them in the qualifying race if necessary to get Jarrett into the 500.(ESPN.com)(2-14-2008) Comment here.

    • Engine problems pile up UPDATE: #88-Earnhardt Jr. lost and engine midway thru the 2nd Wed practice at Daytona International Speedway and the team will change engines, then it was mentioned on SPEED's coverage that all the Hendrick Motorsports cars #24-Gordon, #48-Johnson, Earnhardt and #5-Mears will change engines as there is some sort of lifter problem. #66-Riggs team is changing engines, also uses Hendrick engines and the other teams that run Hendrick engines are checking them out: #09-Marlin, #87-Wallace, #70-Mayfield and #78-Nemechek [not changing engines]. Also #07-Bowyer lost an engine and is changing their engine.
      confirmed engine changes: #48-Johnson, #5-Mears, #24-Gordon, #66-Riggs, #96-Yeley, #07-Yeley and #88-Earnhardt Jr. that means these drivers have to fall to the rear of the pack before the drop of the green flag for the Gatorade Duel they are running. #84-Allmendinger's team already changed engines over the past weekend. This does NOT effect where they start the Daytona 500. Team are allowed to change engines between the Duels and the Daytona 500.(2-13-2008)
      UPDATE: All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers -- #48-Jimmie Johnson, #24-Jeff Gordon, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #5-Casey Mears -- will start in the back of the field in Thursday's 150-mile qualifying races for the Daytona 500 after their engines were replaced on Wednesday afternoon. Jeff Andrews, HMS's head engine builder, said the problem appears to be related to a batch of lifters. The problem also was discovered in the cars of #78-Joe Nemechek and #87-Kenny Wallace of Furniture Row Racing, and #66-Scott Riggs and #70-Jeremy Mayfield of Haas Racing. All four are powered by HMS engines. But the problem wasn't contained to HMS. Toyota is bringing new engines from California for #44-Dale Jarrett and #84-A.J. Allmendinger. Joe Gibbs Racing is bringing new engines for #20-Tony Stewart and #96-J.J. Yeley. Yeley, who drives for the JGR satellite team Hall of Fame Racing, has replaced two engines since arriving at Daytona. Because the problem appears consistent among both manufacturers officials are speculating it is related to coating on the lifters that could have come from the same vendor. "We took engines back after the Bud Shootout, they look really good, looked great," Andrews said. "So we are looking at a batch issue right now and trying to sort through some things to get the guys in Charlotte pointed in the right direction." Chad Knaus, the crew chief for pole-sitter Johnson, said coating on the cam shaft appears to be getting on the lifters and filtering throughout the engine. "Definitely by Sunday we'll have it all squared away," he said. Johnson, Nemechek and Mears were slated for the first three starting spots of the first qualifying race with Earnhardt fifth before the engine changes. Riggs was eighth, meaning a lot of fast cars will begin the 60-lap event at the rear. Gordon would have started sixth in the second race that will determine the starting lineup behind Johnson and Michael Waltrip, who earned the front row for the 50th running of the 500 on Sunday. There also was an engine change in Clint Bowyer's Richard Childress Racing #07 Chevrolet because of a broken rod. Richie Gilmore, who heads up the program that supplies engines for RCR and Dale Earnhardt Inc., said Bowyer's problem was not related to what the others experienced. But because of those problems Gilmore said he'll look over all three RCR and all four DEI cars before the qualifying races. "Everybody is going to be pulling stuff apart," he said. "It might be a bigger issue."(ESPN.com)
      AND Hendrick-built motors were not removed from the CNC/Haas Chevy of Jeremy Mayfield, the two Furniture Row Racing Chevys of Joe Nemechek and Kenny Wallace and the Miccosukee Indian Nation Chevrolet. But later Wednesday, the problem widened to include several Toyotas that also had their engines pulled for potentially similar problems with the lifters. The Toyota Camrys of Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, A.J. Allmendinger and J.J. Yeley all were forced to switch engines.(Yahoo Sports)(2-14-2008)
      Comment here


      News from February 13, 2008

    • Special NASCAR coverage in USA Weekend: USA Weekend Magazine gathered five decades of Daytona 500 champs —Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Jimmie Johnson and Sterling Marlin — for an exclusive autographed poster in the 2/15 issue! Also, you can read what these champs had to say about NASCAR's biggest race! Look for this issue in your local paper or read online at usaweekend.com.(2-13-2008)

    • Evernham Joins ESPN’s NASCAR Team as Analyst: Ray Evernham, a successful team owner in NASCAR racing and a three-time Sprint Cup champion crew chief, has joined ESPN’s NASCAR coverage team as an analyst. Evernham, who makes his debut this week from Daytona International Speedway, will appear on NASCAR Now, ESPN’s daily NASCAR news and information show, as part of a rotating panel of ESPN analysts for a weekly roundtable discussion in an expanded one-hour Monday edition of the program. The roundtable, hosted by ESPN’s Allen Bestwick, will discuss the latest NASCAR news and events. Evernham, owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, also will make appearances via satellite on other editions of NASCAR Now. NASCAR Now airs weeknights at 6pm/et on ESPN2. In addition to his duties with NASCAR Now, Evernham will work as an analyst in ESPN’s booth for live telecasts of Nationwide Series races from Mexico City and Loudon, N.H. Evernham also will join ESPN’s pre-race NASCAR Countdown show for some races in 2008, including prior to the Feb. 16 Nationwide Series opening event from Daytona, and will appear from Daytona on NASCAR Now, SportsCenter and ESPNEWS.   “We are thrilled to further elevate our NASCAR telecasts with the addition of another former champion in Ray Evernham,” said Rich Feinberg, vice president, motorsports, ESPN production. “Our team already has a very deep bench and this only strengthens it.” Evernham appeared on several Nationwide Series telecasts in 2007 as a guest analyst on the pre-race program and also was featured in Race Wizard with Ray Evernham, a program that aired on ESPN2 in 2007. He previously appeared as an analyst on ESPN and ABC’s coverage of the IROC Series in 2000. "ESPN is the leader in sports worldwide,” said Evernham. “Their expertise and credibility with the men and women around the world reinforces this position, and I am excited that NASCAR is such an integral part of their programming. I look forward to joining their team and sharing my knowledge and experience of the sport with the fans."(ESPN PR)(2-13-2008) Comment here.

    • Vickers skydives: #83-Red Bull Racing driver Brian Vickers completed his first skydiving jump - Solo - yesterday under the guidance of the Red Bull Air Force, a group of air savvy professionals who specialize in skydiving. Vickers spent the first half of his day at Skyventure Orlando in a skydiving wind tunnel with the RBAF simulating the motions he'd feel in the sky and taking an Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) class that allowed him to complete his skydiving mission solo - not tandem, like most first time jumpers. Vickers jumped at Skydive Deland.(TRB PR)(2-13-2008) Comment here.

    • Stewart getting waxed...for charity: During last night’s SIRIUS radio show Tony Stewart Live with Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick mentioned “Operation Wax Smoke,” and the fact that the fans had met the goal [of $100,000]. In response, Tony said he would like to have Kevin host the show while he was getting “the procedure.” Now, we are just waiting on Tony to set the date! The fans raised a total of $39,611.00 and Harvick has pitched in the rest, which totaled $60,389.00 just to make the goal. Details as things become more final.(Kevin Harvick site)(2-13-2008) Comment here.

    • Thomas Kinkade Paints Daytona 500 to Commemorate 50th Running of “The Great American Race”: NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation announced today that they have licensed Thomas Kinkade, the Painter of Light, to create a commemorative painting of the historic 50th  Running of the Daytona 500.  While on location at Daytona International Speedway, Thomas Kinkade will sketch and paint multiple scenes from Daytona 500 Speedweek.  From the collection of images Thom creates at Daytona, the image that best embodies the history, traditions, and values of the 50 years of “The Great American Race” will be selected to become the Study for Thom’s Limited Edition release. NASCAR fans will be able to participate in this process through an online vote.  The final painting will be released as a special Commemorative Limited Edition Portrait and available to fans everywhere of NASCAR, the Daytona 500, and Thomas Kinkade. Thomas Kinkade’s collection of sketches and paintings created in various locations during Speedweek will be placed online at thomaskinkade.com/Daytona.  For the first time ever, fans will be able to register to vote and let Thom know their favorite image.  Thomas Kinkade will paint the selected image to become the Commemorative Limited Edition Portrait of the 50th Running of the Daytona 500. The collection of images will be available for voting from March 1st through March 15th, 2008. or more information, please visit Thomas Kinkade web site at thomaskinkade.com.(PR)(2-13-2008) Comment here.

    • Hall of Fame Racing Forms Board of Advisors: Hall of Fame Racing officials announced today the formation of a Board of Advisors to serve as conduits for excellence in business practices and driving more value for sponsors. Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel own Hall of Fame Racing and field the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry in the Sprint Cup Series for driver J.J. Yeley. "The concept of an Advisory Board for a race team is something that we believe can help us in the development and execution of our plan for successful growth," Garfinkel said. "In an effort to add more value to sponsors and operate with transparency about how their investments in our team are deployed, we've invited executive leadership from our sponsors to participate on the Board as well."
      "This is a virtual dream team of successful business leaders and entrepreneurs who will assist us in our quest for building a great organization," Moorad said. "Their vast experience and unparalleled integrity will be invaluable to us and our partners as we move forward."
      The Board of Advisors will consist of: Bob Damon, President of Korn/Ferry International; Tom Davin, CEO of Panda Restaurants Inc.; Mike Gray, most recently President and CEO of Sweet Life Enterprises; Ken Kendrick, Managing General Partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Bob Piccinini, Chairman and CEO of Save Mart Supermarkets; Stephen Prough, retired Chairman and CEO of Long Beach Acceptance Corporation; Conrad Wetterau, President and CEO of Quality Beverage Inc., Mark Wetterau, Chairman and CEO of Golden State Foods.(Hall of Fame Racing PR)(2-13-2008)

    • Wednesday's 2nd Practice for the Gatorade Duel 150's/Daytona 500 is over, the top five were:
      #12-Newman 189.765
      #55-Waltrip 189.557
      #22-Blaney 188.957
      #21-Elliott 188.917
      #9-Kahne 188.838
      slowest #37-McClure 177.326 and #08-Long 182.760
      47 of 53 drivers have made runs
      The six who didn't run: #19-Sadler, #48-Johnson, #5-Mears, #24-Gordon, #66-Riggs and #96-Yeley
      #88-Earnhardt Jr. lost and engine midway thru the practice and the team will change engines, then it was mentioned on SPEED's coverage that all the Hendrick Motorsports cars #24-Gordon, #48-Johnson, Earnhardt and #5-Mears will change engines as there is some sort of lifter problem. #66-Riggs team is changing engines, also uses Hendrick engines and the other teams that run Hendrick engines are checking them out: #09-Marlin, #87-Wallace, #70-Mayfield and #78-Nemechek [not changing engines]. Also #07-Bowyer lost an engine and is changing their engine.
      confirmed engine changes: #48-Johnson, #5-Mears, #24-Gordon, #66-Riggs, #96-Yeley, #07-Yeley and #88-Earnhardt Jr. that means these drivers have to fall to the rear of the pack before the drop of the green flag for the Gatorade Duel they are running. This doe NOT effect where they start the Daytona 500. Team are allowed to change engines between the Duels and the Daytona 500.
      For all the sppeds, see my 2008 Practice Speeds page. (2-13-2008) Comment here.

    • Wednesday's 1st Practice for the Gatorade Duel 150's/Daytona 500 is over after rain shortened the 90 scheduled minute practice to 60 [the original sched], the rain stopped and they are drying the track and the plan is to try to practice as soon as the track is dry. The 2nd practice today is scheduled for 2:00pm/et. The top-5 were:
      #18-Busch 190.525
      #17-Kenseth 190.440
      #66-Riggs 190.351
      #99-Edwards 190.311
      #20-Stewart 190.299
      slowest is #37-McClure 183.113 and #34-Andretti 185.300
      the drivers are drafting, running in a packs
      #27-Villeneuve hit the wall and pancaked the right side of the car, the team made repairs and Villeneuve is back on track making laps
      also #18-Kyle Busch and #50-Stanton Barrett also scraped the wall and #96-Yeley lost an engine, the 6th Toyota to expire since last Friday.
      See the speeds on my Daytona Practice Speeds page.(2-13-2008)


      News from February 12, 2008

    • Penalties for Busch, Stewart after practice incident? UPDATE Probation: NASCAR chairman Brian France kicked off the 2008 media tour in Charlotte, N.C., last month by saying Sprint Cup drivers needed to show more of their personalities. #2-Kurt Busch and #20-Tony Stewart obliged on Friday night when they got into a sheet metal exchange on pit road after an on-the-track incident that wrecked both of their cars in the final practice for Saturday's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. Both drivers immediately were summoned to the NASCAR hauler to meet with Series director John Darby and competition director Robin Pemberton. They will meet again on Saturday before the governing body determines what fines, if any, will be issued. The only words spoken by either driver -- both left through a side door without commenting -- came from Busch before entering the hauler. "It's a great way to start off 2008," he said, clapping his hands together.(more at ESPN.com)(2-9-2008)
      UPDATE: On SPEED's NASCAR Live, Bob Dillner reported that he spoke with NASCAR's Jim Hunter that Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch met Saturday morning in the NASCAR Trailer and the meeting was cordial. It was also reported that Stewart may had thrown a punch in the NASCAR trailer Friday night after the incident, but NASCAR declined to comment on that and no more about possible penalties for either driver yet. Dr. Dick Berggren talked to Stewart during practice, who was very contrite and said it was part of racing and that what happened was over.(2-9-2008)
      UPDATE 2: NASCAR has placed drivers Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch on probation for the first six races of the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season, a result of their on-track altercations this past Friday during practice for the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Stewart, driver of the #20 Toyota and Busch, driver of the #2 Dodge, violated Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing; altercation with another competitor) of the NASCAR rule book.(NASCAR PR)(2-12-2008) Comment here.

    • Wypall Wipers announces 2008 Crew Chief Lineup: Wypall Wipers announced its all-star line-up of crew chief representatives today, continuing the tradition of top-notch crew chiefs who call Wypall Wipers their wiper of choice. The Wypall Wipers 2008 Crew Chief Program will launch in Daytona on Feb. 17. Serving as spokesmen for the Wypall Wipers brand, the noted crew chiefs include some of NASCAR’s best, including the defending Daytona 500 winner. Todd Berrier, who helped guide Kevin Harvick and his #29 Richard Childress Shell Pennzoil Racing Chevrolet team to victory in last season’s “Great American Race”, makes his debut into the program. He is joined by fellow newcomer Bob Osborne, who makes the decisions on the #99 Roush-Fenway Racing Office Depot Ford team for driver Carl Edwards. Kenny Francis returns to the Wypall Wipers program in his second year, leading the #9 Gillett Evernham Budweiser Dodge team and driver Kasey Kahne. “What an incredible lineup of crew chiefs we have on the Wypall Wipers team this season,” said Tom Merrill, Category Manager for Wypall Wipers. “All have race wins under their belt and they know the importance of using reliable, high-performance products on their race cars and engines. That is why they are sold on Wypall Wipers.” Also joining the Wypall team to help promote the brand’s 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Program is FOX/Speed TV analyst Jeff Hammond, a former championship crew chief in his own right. Hammond, along with the three crew chiefs, and representatives from Wypall Wipers will serve as the panel for the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge, a season-long contest which will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, they will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and ingenuity during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief who goes to victory lane, but the crew chief who made the biggest difference to his team. The weekly winning crew chief will receive a $1,000 check as well as signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, FL. Former yearly winners include Tony Eury, Sr. (for driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr.), Robbie Reiser (for driver Matt Kenseth), Doug Richert (for driver Greg Biffle) and Mike Ford (for driver Denny Hamlin). The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2008 season and spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(Wypall PR)(2-12-2008)

    • Villeneuve close to a sponsor? Hires Barry Green UPDATE: #27-Jacques Villeneuve has moved to NASCAR, where he's signed on with a fledgling team that's very short on sponsorship. If this venture fails - and it soon might if he doesn't find a sponsor for his Bill Davis Racing team - there's nowhere else for the 36-year-old driver to go. If he's worried, Villeneuve isn't letting on. "It can't fall apart. I won't let it,'' he said Thursday at media day for the Daytona 500. "Of course you are not in 100% control of what happens all the time, so if it does fall apart, I will just persevere.'' It begins this weekend for Villeneuve, who will attempt to qualify his unsponsored car for the Daytona 500. If he's not among the fastest two in Sunday's time trials, he'll have to race his way into the field next week. He's confident about his chances, even though he has a shell of a team working on his Toyota Camry. The financial limitations have him lagging behind the super teams, and even though his years of open-wheel success made him a very rich man, he's not prepared to finance this venture himself because he spent so much to get the operation off the ground late last year, and money is a little tight. But Villeneuve claims he has a sponsor on the edge of commitment, a company just needing one final push to sign on the dotted line. This weekend could seal it, ensuring him a fully funded car for the entire 36-race schedule. Having to deal with all the details has stressed Villeneuve a bit, so he last week called Barry Green, who fielded his cars for him in CART, and asked him to handle his business affairs. "The only thing I want to be doing is drive the race car,'' he said. "When you try to do more than one job at a time, you won't do it as good as you should because your mind is not as rested the way it should be. It's not a positive thing. If I am driving, then I just want to concentrate on that.''(in part from Sports Illustrated/AP)(2-8-2008)
      UPDATE: Villeneuve had hoped to sign CGI Group as his primary sponsor, but the deal fell thru and Villeneuve is talking to other Canadian companies.(translated from La Presse.(2-12-2008) Comment here.

    • Dakar Rally to shift to South America for 2009: The next Dakar Rally will zoom past the Andes, over Argentine plains and through Chilean desert instead of racing through African scrub and dunes. Forced by the threat of terrorism to cancel this year's race, organizers hope to give the Dakar Rally a new beginning by swapping continents and going to South America in 2009. Race director Etienne Lavigne detailed the route in a telephone interview Monday. He was already in Buenos Aires, scouting out the Argentine capital that will host the start and finish of next year's race. This year marked the first time that the 30-year-old rally, one of the biggest competitions in automobile racing, was called off. Next year will mark the first time that it will not race in Africa. The race will start in Buenos Aires on Jan. 3 and finish in the Argentine capital Jan. 18, organizers said. About 500 competitors signed up for the 2008 edition, which was canceled in January after French government warnings about safety. Lavigne said the race will return to Africa when it can. The 2009 edition will traverse 5,600 miles in Argentina and Chile, with racing over nearly 3,700 miles in 15 days, with one rest day. The race will start in Buenos Aires, go to Patagonia, the Andes mountains and venture into the Atacama desert, the world's driest, Lavigne said. The exact route is still being worked out.(USA Today/Associated Press PR), #7-Robby Gordon was to run the 2008 version and estimates he lost millions of dollars when the race was cancelled.(2-12-2008) Comment here.

    • Johnson honored at SPEED performer of the year: Legendary racer Mario Andretti awarded two-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson his second consecutive Mario Andretti Trophy as the 2007 SPEED Performer of the Year, as part of the second annual SPEED Performance Awards, hosted by Danica Patrick and Tommy Kendall. Johnson earned six first-place votes from the 15-member panel after winning 10 Sprint Cup Series races in 2007, including four in a row during the Chase. Two-time defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champ Donny Schatz (two first-place votes) earned runner-up honors. Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen (one first-place vote) finished third in the voting, followed by MotoGP rookie phenom Casey Stoner (one first-place vote), F1's Lewis Hamilton (three first-place votes) and Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti (one first-place vote). Champ Car titlist Sebastien Bourdais also received one first-place vote. With 100,000 fans casting votes on SPEEDtv.com. Hamilton also earned Racer Magazine Rookie of the Year Honors as part of the fan-voting portion of the SPEED Performance Awards. The SPEED Performance Awards will re-air Feb. 15 at 3pm/et. The Mario Andretti Trophy is a three-foot sculpture by renowned bronze artist Elie Hazak.(SPEED PR)(2-12-2008)

    • MRN Announces New Programming: The Motor Racing Network (MRN) debuted its new "NASCAR Today Midday" program on over 100 radio stations nationwide on Monday. The program, which has been created in response to the demands of race fans for more NASCAR coverage, is a two-minute program that will air Monday through Friday at midday throughout the year. Kyle Rickey will headline the program.(MRN Radio PR)(2-12-2008)


      News from February 11, 2008

    • Eury dedicates Junior's Shootout win to mourning teammate: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr crew chief, Tony Eury Jr. was shocked upon returning from the Sprint Cup test session at California Speedway to see Joey Arnold, one of his car setup specialists, working feverishly in the shop on one of the #88 cars. Arnold's 5-year-old son, Cayden, had died just days beforehand. "I said 'Joey, what are you doing here?'" Eury said. "I mean, what do you say to a guy whose 5-year-old kid just died? I didn't know. I couldn't believe he was there." Arnold's response was one Eury won't soon forget. "He said 'This is my best chance to win the Daytona 500, and I want to be a part of it,'" Eury said. Eury was so deeply impacted by the scope of that statement that his eyes welled with tears recounting it Sunday just before pole qualifying at Daytona. "His son had a lung issue, I think, and he couldn't run from here to that generator," Eury said, pointing out a distance of about 20 feet, "and he'd have to go back inside and lay down for the rest of the day. "But that day [he died], he ran down the driveway, down into the cul-de-sac and back up the driveway. They all stood there like, 'Wow, what was that?' He came in, went to sleep and never woke up." So when Eury's #88 opened the 2008 Sprint Cup season in Victory Lane, the win was dedicated to Arnold. "To me, that kind of dedication from that guy -- that meant a lot to me, so I told Joey that was for him," Eury said. "It took a lot of heart and emotion for him to walk in that shop, so I told my guys in Victory Lane [Saturday] night: That [checkered] flag, hold on to it, it's going to Joey Arnold."(full story and quotes at ESPN.com)(2-11-2008) Comment here.

    • Bud Shootout TV Ratings up 6%: The 2008 Sprint Cup season got off to a strong start Saturday night by notching a 5.1 household rating and a 9 share (8.5 million viewers) for the Budweiser Shootout shown on Fox from Daytona International Speeday. Saturday's 5.1/9 is a +6% gain over last year's 4.8/9 for the Shootout, according to Nielsen Fast National ratings released today. The Budweiser Shootout powered FOX to primetime wins for the night in both household rating and the Adults 18-49 demographic. Among all homes, FOX's 5.1/9 for the Shootout scored a +19% win over second place NBC's 4.3/8 and FOX's 3.0 rating in Adults 18-49 was good for an impressive +30% win over ABC's 2.3. The Shootout also saw ratings increases among Men 25-54 (+6%, 5.1 vs. 4.8) and Men 55+ (+8%, 5.6 vs. 5.2). Viewing of the Budweiser Shootout peaked at a 6.1/11 from 10:00-10:10pm/et as over 10 million viewers saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. take the checkered flag in his first outing in the #88 car for Hendrick Motorsports.(Fox PR)(2-11-2008)

    • Tire blistering confirmed: Goodyear Tire and NASCAR officials confirmed there was tire blistering during Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout, but assured competitors the problem is correctable. "We saw some signs, up and down pit road, of excessive heat on the right front and right rear (tires) and some blistering," Goodyear's Rick Heinrich said Sunday before Daytona 500 qualifying at Daytona International Speedway. #38-David Gilliland spun and hit the wall late in the Shootout because of tire blistering. Other accidents were the result of mechanical issues or contact between cars, according to Goodyear engineers. The tire problem, said Sprint Cup Series director John Darby, was a "worse-case scenario" as far as racing conditions for the 70-lap sprint race, won by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Darby said Saturday night produced optimum speed conditions. The more speed, the more heat builds in the Goodyear racing tires. "It was nice, cool air, night time racing, maximum grip in the racetrack, all those things," Darby said. Goodyear tested at DIS in September to find a competitive tire compound and design for the Daytona 500. Heinrich said Sprint Cup lap speeds have improved by more than one second since those fall test sessions. The blistering problem popped up during Preseason Thunder in January. Heinrich said Saturday's fastest cars, including Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt, had no issues. "Their tires were very clean," Heinrich said. "They have looked really good." Heinrich said Goodyear engineers are in the process of assisting the teams that showed blistering Saturday night. Darby said NASCAR will monitor the tire situation and doesn't expect blistering issues for next weekend's Daytona 500.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-11-2008) Comment here.

    • #5 car too low in Bud Shootout post-tech UPDATE: Casey Mears' #5 Chevy was determined to be too low during Budweiser Shootout postrace inspection. Mears finished sixth in the race, his first with the Hendrick Motorsports #5 Sprint Cup team. Jim Hunter, NASCAR's Vice President of Corportate Communications, said NASCAR will continue investigating the issue today. "It might have some damage," Hunter said. "We'll let you know tomorrow."(Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-10-2008)
      UPDATE: Casey Mears’s #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy was too low in post-race inspection after finishing sixth in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout. But the car suffered collision damage in the race and NASCAR officials said Sunday the car had been cleared and no penalties would be issued.(SPEEDtv.com)(2-11-2008) Comment here.

    • Drivers who are not yet assured of a spot in the 500 and how they can get in:
      Who Could Get In Via Duels/
      Qualifying Time
      #60-Boris Said: Fastest of non-qualifiers, but could make the 500 one of two ways -- if he finishes first or second among the go-or-go-home drivers, or if #55-Michael Waltrip, #78-Joe Nemechek or #00-David Reutimann finish top-2 among the drivers not in on owners' points.
      #10-Patrick Carpentier: Second-fastet of non-qualifiers, but could make the 500 one of two ways -- if he finishes first or second among the go-or-go-home drivers or if Waltrip, Nemechek, Reutimann or Said finish top-2 among the drivers not in on owenrs points.
      #83-Brian Vickers: Third-fastert non-qualifier, but could make the 500 one of two ways -- if he finishes among the top-2 among the go-or-go-home drivers, or if Waltrip, Nemechek, Reutimann, Said or Carpentier finish top-2 among the drivers not in on owners points.
      #27-Jacques Villeneuve: Fourth-fastest non-qualifiers, but could make the 500 one of two ways -- if he finishes among the top-2 among the go-or-go-home drivers, or if Nemechek, Reutimann, Said and Carpentier finish top-2 among the drivers not in on owners points.
      Past Champions
      #21-Bill Elliott: The 1988 champion must place top-2 among the go or go-homers in his duel or hope both #2-Kurt Busch and #44-Dale Jarrett finish top-2 in their Duels.
      #44-Dale Jarrett: must finish top-2 among the go or go-homers, unless Busch manages to do that. Then Jarrett would earn the past champion's provisional because his 1999 championship is more recent than Elliott's 1988 title.
      Who Must Race Their Way In: #50-Stanton Barrett; #49-Ken Schrader; #08-Carl Long; #37-Eric McClure; #09-Sterling Marlin; #84-AJ Allmendinger; #87-Kenny Wallace; #34-John Andretti.(Daytona Neach News Journal), see the lineup with notes and more on my Gatorade Duel 150 Lineups page.(2-11-2008) Comment here.



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