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  • MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
    MARCH 3-9, 2008


      News from March 9, 2008

    • Kyle Busch wins at Atlanta, Toyota's first win: #18-Kyle Busch won the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his 1st win of 2008, 5th career win and first ever for Toyota in Sprint Cup [40th race]. It is the first time a foreign manufacturer has won a Cup race since Al Keller won in a Jaguar on June 13, 1954 in Linden Airport [NJ]. Busch also won the Truck Series race at Atlanta on Friday and leads the Cup and Truck Series points standings. Busch is now the youngest driver to win a Cup race at Atlanta [Jeff Gordon had been the youngest at 23 years, 7 months, 8 days old], Busch is 22 years old, 10 months and 8 days old [approx]. #20-Stewart was 2nd [and not happy with the tires at all] followed by #88-Earnhardt Jr., #16-Biffle, #24-Gordon, #07-Bowyer, #29-Harvick, #17-Kenseth, #83-Vickers and #31-Burton. Last weeks winner, #99-Edwards was leading the race late when his engine gave out on lap 275 and he finished 42nd. There were 8 cautions for 35 laps and there were 26 lead changes among 9 drivers.
      Race Results on my Atlanta Race Results/Awards Page.(3-9-2008) Comment here

    • The Unofficial Points Standings [after Atlanta, race 4 of 36]:
      1) #18-Kyle Busch 665 [finished 5th in 2007]
      2) #16-Greg Biffle 592 -73 [14th]
      3) #29-Kevin Harvick 574 -91 [10th]
      4) #12-Ryan Newman 571 -94 [13th]
      5) #31-Jeff Burton 555 -110 [8th]
      6) #9-Kasey Kahne 534 -131 [19th]
      7) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 531 -134 [16th]
      8) #20-Tony Stewart 525 -140 [6th]
      9) #83-Brian Vickers 491 -174 [38th]
      10) #2-Kurt Busch 478 -187 [7th]
      11) #1-Martin Truex Jr. 471 -194 [11th]
      12) #17-Matt Kenseth 470 -195 [4th]
      notable drivers not in the top 12
      13) #48-Jimmie Johnson 467 -198 [1st]
      15) #24-Jeff Gordon 444 -221 [2nd]
      16) #07-Clint Bowyer 436 -229 [3rd]
      17) #99-Carl Edwards 433 -232 [9th]
      19) #11-Denny Hamlin 413 -252 [12th]
      For drivers/owners points, see my Jayski's Drivers/Owners Points Page.(3-9-2008)

    • Atlanta Motor Speedway Goodyear Tire Comment: Following the Kobalt Tools 500, Ed Clark, president and general manger for Atlanta Motor Speedway, spoke with Stu Grant, General Manager Global Racing Tires for Goodyear. "Following my conversation with Stu Grant, I have pledged to make our track available to Goodyear to come to AMS on an as needed basis to get the proper compound they need before the October 26 Pep Boys Auto 500," said Clark. "We will do everything possible from our end to help make sure that we have the best tire compound available when the Sprint Cup teams return this fall."
      Tire Talk - Drivers Point Fingers at Goodyear for Poor Tire Selection Drivers were still not happy with their Goodyear Eagles after climbing from their Sprint Cup cars following the Kobalt Tools 500, perhaps none were more unhappy than two-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. "That was the most pathetic racing tire that I've ever been on in my professional career," Stewart said. "They (Goodyear) exited out of Formula One. They exited out of IRL. They exited out of World of Outlaws and there is a reason for that. Goodyear can't build a tire that is worth a crap. If I were Goodyear, I would be really embarrassed about what they brought here. I guarantee you Hoosier of Firestone or somebody can come in and do a lot better job than what they are doing right now."
      Goodyear marketing manager Justin Fantozzi said Goodyear officials were not disappointed with their selection for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500. "We are tremendously proud of the wear rates we saw here," Fantozzi said. "We have a defined development for this particular tire that started in August with a test here in Atlanta." When asked if there are changes in store for the tire Goodyear will bring back when the Cup Series returns to AMS in October, Fantozzi said they have a defined process that is followed. "We'll do the same thing we do after every race. We have post race data now, so we will go back to Akron, Ohio and sit down with engineers and see where that leaves us for the October race. Driver comments are part of the data set we use when selecting tires, so we will gather input there as well."
      Georgia Power NASCAR Sprint Cup Pole winner Jeff Gordon didn't have rave reviews about Goodyear's tire selection either. "I felt like I was going to crash every single lap," Jeff Gordon said about his run. "I'm exhausted right now. I feel like I've run a thousand miles here. That was the hardest day I have ever had at Atlanta, especially for a top-five finish. This car, this tire, at this track was just terrible."(AMS Pit Notes)(3-9-2008) Comment here

    • Petty finds investor? Yahoo! Sports has learned through two independent sources that Richard Petty [#43, #45] will soon announce that he has struck a deal with a major investor that should keep the Petty name in the sport it has been so instrumental in building. While it's obviously good to keep the Petty name alive in NASCAR, it also signals the beginning of the end of an era.(Yahoo!Sports)(3-9-2008) Comment here

    • Scouts to Race at AMS UPDATE: Saturday is Atlanta Motor Speedway's biannual Scout Day at the Races, when all Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in uniform are admitted free for the day's festivities, including the Nicorette 300 Nationwide Series race. New for this year will be a Pinewood Derby demonstration in front of the Petty Grandstand after the conclusion of the Nicorette 300. Sprint Cup owner Ray Everham and broadcaster Mike Joy will host the event, and all scouts participating will receive a commemorative certificate and a T-shirt that says "I raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway." To get prepared for the big day, there was a special media flight of the Pinewood Derby held Friday morning in the media center, which was won by five-year-old Will Lanford, son of Atlanta Fox 5 sportscaster Buck Lanford. He clutched the winning Fox-5 "sponsored" car long after the end of the contest, and later had his carved wooden trophy autographed by Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards. The beautifully carved trophy was actually created by Atlanta Motor Speedway's own Grandstand Supervisor, Shaun Kelley, an accomplished woodworker.(AMS PR)(3-8-2008)
      UPDATE jayski.com #7 finishes 3rd: Motor Racing Outreach and Speedway Children's Charities conducted the first autotrader.com Pinewood Derby event Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Nearly 100 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts braved the chilly weather to watch the Nicorette 300 and race their cars down the 30 foot extruded aluminum track. Sprint Cup Series team owner Ray Evernham built two sleek entries, which were awarded to the winning scouts. Every scout received a "I raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway" T-shirt and certificate.
      In the MRO class for NASCAR participants' family members, Christian Yates raced his #28 to a one car length victory over John Hunter Nemechek's #78 Furniture Row entry, with Scott Joy's jayski.com #7 an inch behind in third, and Skylar Riggs' #66 fourth. Macy Waltrip, Layne Riggs, Todd Gilliland, and Emilia Reutimann also competed, racing cars that they and their dads had built.
      A variety of strategies were employed. Waltrip's car was "loose" and benefitted from a tire change, while graphite lube was a hot commodity among drivers trying to keep up with Yates' "horsepower". Joe Nemechek served as honorary starter, From FOX Sports, Mike Joy was race director and Matt Yocum was finish line judge. Proud crew chiefs included Doug Yates, Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann, Scott Riggs, David Gilliand, Ray Evernham, Nemechek and Joy. MRO President Billy Mauldin presented the awards. The next event is planned for Charlotte in May.(3-9-2008) Comment here

    • Four races for Skinner in the #84...hopefully: Mike Skinner envisions mentoring as the next phase in his NASCAR career, and what he did Friday was an important step toward ensuring that A.J. Allmendinger maintains his. Skinner quelled speculation about Allmendinger's benching by Red Bull Racing by making it clear he's just pinch-hitting for the struggling second-year Sprint Cup Series driver, who reiterated his commitment to NASCAR. Skinner then went out and fulfilled his primary duty by qualifying the #84 Toyota Camry 34th for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500, which will mark the car's first competition this season. Skinner's interim job description is getting the car into races and finishing in the top 35 to guarantee a spot in the field starting with the sixth race at Martinsville, Va. The hope is that Allmendinger, minus the pressure of having to race his way in, can take over from there and just drive. "We're planning on four races and hopefully that's all it's going to take," said Skinner, 50. "Hopefully we can go test somewhere (to the point) that I don't even get in the car and (Allmendinger) does all the driving, and I can talk to him and tell him some of those things I felt when I was in that situation and how I dealt with it. Hopefully, that will reduce some of that pressure. There's no question from anybody about this guy's ability to drive a car. Is it the race team? Is it the driver? Is it a combination? Is it too much pressure? That's what I'm here to evaluate. If A.J. succeeds, then I've succeeded." After winning five open-wheel races in 2006 in the since-disbanded Champ Car World Series, Allmendinger jumped to stock cars last season in start-up situations with Red Bull and Toyota. That combination has resulted in a series of hard knocks, with the start of his career delayed to the fifth race at Bristol and just 17 races in a 43rd-place ranking. This season Allmendinger has failed to qualify for the Daytona 500, while rain denied him an opportunity to make the field for the Auto Club 500 in California. He missed last week's race at Las Vegas despite being part of a "go or go home" group thought to have an advantage by going out after the top 35 drivers already locked in. Allmendinger and Skinner have a previous history as protégé and mentor dating back to Allmendinger's brief learning curve in the Truck series. He promised to stick by Skinner and absorb his expertise even harder this time, dismissing whispers that his struggles would send him back to America's reunited open wheel circuit. "No. I want to be here," Allmendinger said. "This is the place to race. The ultimate thing comes down to I know I have the ability to win races and win championships. We just need to get the ship turned around the right way. Mike doesn't want this job, he wants to help me."
      Going out next to last in qualifying, Skinner knocked out former champion Bill Elliott to ensure the team's first tandem appearance this season. That led to a series of congratulations for the driver and Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye, who also expressed a sense of relief. "Mike did a phenomenal job for the program," Frye said. "He and Brian were running similar lap times in practice and that gave us a direction. That's what a multi-car team has to do to get better. What we're trying to figure out now is the direction the car needs to go because A.J. is a phenomenal talent and he can do this. We're just trying to catch our breath and hopefully get this thing pointed in the right direction and put him back in there, and 10 years from now we'll forget this even happened." (USA Today)(3-9-2008)

    • Bliss in the #22 for Blaney for practice UPDATE: Dave Blaney is not practicing the #22 Caterpillar Toyota as he is not feeling well, Mike Bliss is practicing the #22 for Blaney in Happy Hour practice at Atlanta.(SPEED practice coverage)(3-8-2008)
      UPDATE: Blaney is expected to start the the race today, but how long he would drive is still to be determined. Blaney has the flu and Mike Bliss practiced the car Saturday in case he has to fill in for Blaney during the race today. “[Blaney] is better,” BDR General Manager Mike Brown said Sunday morning. “He’s going to try to run all he can, hopefully all of it.” As long as Blaney starts the race, he earns the points for the car’s finish, regardless of who is in the car at the end of the race.(SceneDaily)(3-9-2008)


      News from March 8, 2008

    • Edwards, Roush respond to NASCAR Penalty: Despite being blasted from nearly every angle by competitors for the loose oil tank lid that allegedly gave them an on-track advantage, Carl Edwards and Jack Roush defended their innocence while fielding questions from the media Friday afternoon. "I swear it was not an intentional thing," Edwards said. "It doesn't change what I'm gonna do; I just drive the race car as fast as I can. It's not my responsibility to tighten that bolt." Earlier in the day, nearly every fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup driver or owner who was asked about the penalty condemned Edwards and his Roush Fenway team for intentionally loosening the lid. "You can tell a lot about people by the way they act," Edwards said. "People get worked up about it; we've got 'em where we want 'em. It's not a big deal to me personally; it's almost comical." For owner Jack Roush, it's certainly not a laughing matter. While he wouldn't rule out appealing the decision, he did say he'd made a certain peace with what had transpired. "If NASCAR's decided that your car is out of variance, regardless if you're culpable or did it with intent, and then there's a penalty ... that's fine, just do it every time," Roush said.(AMS Pit Note)(3-8-2008) Comment here

    • Article about the oil tank controversy and how leaving the cover off can create an advantage:
      Stock Car Science:
      The Science of ...Missing Oil Tank Covers by Diandra Leslie-Pelecky

    • UPS, Toys for Tots announce program: UPS and Toys For Tots will launch a new Literacy Program, officials from both announced Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The mission of this new program is to give books to lower-income children in order to help them succeed in life. David Reutimann, who will take over the #44 UPS Toyota later this month [at Martinsville], will also pilot a special Toys For Tots paint scheme at the California race on Labor Day weekend [8/31]. "Women like to buy shoes; I like to buy helmets," Reutimann said. "We get a new paint scheme and I get to buy a new helmet." As a father, though, Reutimann also recognizes the importance of the new Literacy Program. "I think about the simple pleasure of sitting and reading to my daughter, and it's said to think that some children don't have that," Reutimann said. "I'm glad we're going to be able to give that to them and glad to be able to get a new helmet."(AMS Pit Notes)(3-8-2008) Comment here

    • No Indy 500 this year for Robby: DOES THIS MEAN [winning the appeal] YOU [#7-Robby Gordon] WON’T ATTEMPT THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 THIS YEAR? “It was more of a fact if we’re on the outside of the top 35, we really weren’t going to have a shot at making the Chase in 2008, we needed to do something big. Let’s go try to win Indy or something. That’s the pure racer coming out in me that wants to succeed. That deal is off.”(Dodge Motorsports PR)(3-8-2008) Comment here

    • Goodyear Satisified with Atlanta tire: Despite some complaints from competitors this weekend, Goodyear marketing manager Justin Fantozzi said he was pleased with the tire his company brought for competition in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I was not pleased at our open house test last fall, and that’s why we came back in December,” Fantozzi said. “Now what we have is a right-side tire that’s harder for better durability and a left side that has better grip in it.” Tony Stewart was highly critical of the tire Friday after qualifying, and other drivers echoed his concerns Saturday after practice. “We’re on the edge,” Gordon said. “It’s a handful. We’re all sliding all over the place.” Michael Waltrip agreed that the tire was a handful, but he saw that as a positive. “That’s what racing is all about,” Waltrip said. “Before, whatever you could give that car, it could take. But now a driver can give it more than it can take, and you have to finesse it. So, yeah, you’re sideways and slipping all over the place, but it should make for some fun racing.” While the drivers can’t agree how the new tire will affect competition Sunday, it has obviously slowed the cars dramatically. Jeff Gordon’s pole run Friday was 185.251 mph – more than eight mph slower than last spring’s pole run by Ryan Newman. “This tire makes it harder to get a hold of,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after qualifying second Friday. “You can’t enter the corner nowhere near as fast as you used to.” Fantozzi said Goodyear is continuously looking for a better tire, and that won’t change now. “We’re never stagnant, we’ve got a whole crew of engineers back at the shop that you never see, analyzing data and working on next year’s tire,” Fantozzi said. “But at the end of the day, we always err for safety.” (AMS Pit Notes)(3-8-2008) Comment here


      News from March 7, 2008

    • Sad New - Kitty Allison: Kitty Allison, mother of legendary NASCAR drivers Bobby and Donnie Allison, died Thursday at the age of 101. From BobbyAllison.com: The Matriarch of the Allison Family, Kittie (Mom) Allison passed away on Thursday evening, March 6, 2008. She and Ed (Pop) had 13 children, 8 of whom are still living, 25 grandchildren, 32 great grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter. Mom was a devout Catholic and an inspiration to everyone she knew. Born and raised in New Jersey, Mom lived in Miami, Florida most of her life and raised her children there. She and Pop moved to Hueytown, Alabama to be near their family and racing in the 1970's. A Lifetime Member of the Winston Cup Ladies Auxiliary in Racing (WAM) Mom was always on the racing scene and flew to many tracks with her son Bobby to watch him and Donnie race. For the last few years, she made her home at the Little Flower Catholic Assisted Living Community in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mom will be greatly missed by her family and all who met her over the 101 years of her life.
      There will be a Viewing and Rosary Service at Browns Service Funeral Home-West at 2885 Allison-Bonnett Memorial Parkway in Hueytown, Alabama on Tuesday, March 11th -- Viewing at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm with the Rosary being said at 7:30 pm. The Funeral Mass will be at St. Aloysious Catholic Church in Bessemer, Alabama at 751 Academy Drive, Bessemer, Alabama at 10:00 am on Wednesday, March 12th with burial following at Highland Memorial Gardens in Bessemer, Alabama.
      In lieu of flowers, any donations can be made to: Little Flower Assisted Living, 8700 Lawyers Rd., Charlotte, NC 28227 or
      St. Aloysious Catholic Church, 751 Academy Dr., Bessemer, Alabama 35022 or
      Victory Junction Gang Camp.(Bobbyallison.com)(3-7-2008)

    • Analysts say T-Mobile MAY acquire Sprint; T-Mobile Series?: Sprint Nextel may be a takeover target, according to one of the nation’s largest investment banking firms. Deutsche Telekom, owner of T-Mobile and the world’s sixth largest phone company, may consider acquiring Overland Park-based Sprint to block a price war in the mobile phone industry, analysts for Merrill Lynch said today. The Wall Street firm said Sprint’s operational problems and shaky position in the U.S. wireless industry may force the company to cut prices even further to attract customers. T-Mobile generally is considered to be the low-cost alternative among the top five U.S. mobile phone companies. Last week, Sprint introduced an unlimited voice and data wireless plan that undercut other U.S. companies. Lynch, which advises its clients to sell Sprint shares, said it is not aware of any acquisition discussions.(Kansas City Star)(3-7-2008) Comment here

    • Home Depot Sells Off Sponsorship For Some Races; Subway?: the Long Island Press reports that Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs told the Press Wednesday that the [Home Depot, #20 Tony Stewart] home improvement warehouse has sold off the primary sponsorship for some races to another company. "At times we'll bring people to them and say, 'Hey, what do you think,' and usually in the past they say, 'Thanks but no thanks,'" Gibbs said. "I think they found a partner here that makes sense for them." Gibbs wouldn't divulge who the partner is, saying, "I'll let them go into all that detail when the time is right." He did add, though, that the agreement is more than a one-off deal. Home Depot has shared primary signage with assorted other sponsors, including animated movies Shrek 2 and Madagascar, for one-off races in the past. A Home Depot PR rep reached by the Press following the interview with Gibbs had no comment other than adding that such announcements would be made by JGR. But without prompting, the spokesperson asked if anything had been mentioned during the interview about restaurant chain Subway. Stewart regularly stars in commercials for the company, and his car has carried small signage of the company's logo. Selling off races obviously saves money in a sport that is getting increasingly pricey to sponsor. JGR's contracts with Stewart and Home Depot run through 2009.(Long Island Press)(3-7-2008)Comment here

    • Toyota's GM says #99 knew what it was doing with lid UPDATE: Lee White, GM for Toyota Racing Development, said Carl Edwards' team knowingly caused a lid to come loose on an oil tank in his Ford because it increased the car's speed during Sunday's victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Edwards was penalized 100 points by NASCAR for the missing cover. Roush Fenway Racing has denied the infraction was intentional, saying a bolt broke because of a vibration. The team said it wasn't certain it achieved a gain in performance. White said the manufacturer's testing at wind tunnels in Germany revealed removing the cover on the oil tank (located in a steel box behind the driver's seat) resulted in 170 extra pounds of downforce, the aerodynamic measurement of keeping a car glued to the track. White also said video of a pit stop showed a member of Edwards' pit crew pulling on a right rear fender to open a 3-inch gap to an inner panel. Toyota testing showed that would create about 70 pounds of downforce, White said. NASCAR said the only issue with the car during inspection was the lid.(more at USA Today)(3-7-2008)
      UPDATE: What began as a debate over whether the infraction was intentional -- which is the overwhelming opinion of the Sprint Cup garage -- has turned into personal warfare between Jack Roush and Toyota's Lee White. Roush has badgered White repeatedly since Toyota came into the sport last season, complaining about how the foreign manufacturer stole away crew members by doubling salaries and drove up the overall cost it takes to compete. He even referenced the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. So when NASCAR hammered Edwards with the penalty, which included the loss of 10 bonus points he would get should he makes the championship chase and a six-race suspension for crew chief Bob Osborne, White didn't hesitate to fire back at his former boss. White, the general manager of Toyota Racing Development, told USA Today on Thursday that Roush Fenway Racing knowingly caused the lid to come off to increase the car's speed. Roush fired back with claims that White basically cheated during his days as the manager of his road-racing team and that was the reason he didn't bring him to North Carolina when he moved into NASCAR. He also questioned why White would test a car without the lid or with the side panel pulled out when both are illegal. And then to throw fuel on the fire, Roush said Michael Waltrip's car wasn't the only Toyota at the 2007 Daytona 500 that had "jet fuel" in the engine. NASCAR never has revealed what the foreign substance was. Roush and White actually were once friends. White often tells how in 1986 his wife picked out Roush's first fedora that has become synonymous with the man known as the "Cat in the Hat." NASCAR officials declined to comment on that topic, but got a kick out of the way Roush and White were attacking each other. Maybe the two simply are following the edict of chairman Brian France and showing more of their personalities.(see full story and many quotes at ESPN.com)(3-7-2008) Comment here

    • Jeff Gordon wins pole at Atlanta: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his 1st pole of 2008, 2nd ever at Atlanta and 64th of his career [he has won from the pole 17 times] with a speed of 185.251mph. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr will start 2nd, followed by #1-Martin Truex Jr., #99-Carl Edwards, #43-Bobby Labonte, #18-Kyle Busch, #07-Clint Bowyer, #29-Kevin Harvick, #9-Kasey Kahne and #8-Mark Martin. The Go-or-Go Homers who made the race: #78-Nemechek [fastest at 17th], #10-Carpentier, #55-Waltrip, #2-Busch, #00-Reutimann, #84-Skinner, #83-Vickers and #44-Jarrett [uses past champions provisional].
      See qualifying results, starting lineup and more on my Starting Lineup/Qualifying Page.(3-7-2008)

    • Slowest pole speed at Atlanta since 1995: the 185.215mph pole speed run by #24-Jeff Gordon on Friday, March 7, 2008 for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the slowest pole speed since Darrell Waltrip won the pole at Atlanta on November 12, 1995 with the speed of 185.046 mph. The current track record is 197.478mph held by Geoff Bodine and set in Nov 1997, the first race after the track was reconfigured and repaved. The March 2007 pole speed was 193.124mph set by #12-Ryan Newman.(3-7-2008)

    • Five drivers fail to qualify for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway: #49-Ken Schrader, #21-Bill Elliott, #28-Johnny Benson, #34-John Andretti and #08-Burney Lamar.(3-7-2008)

    • Petty's Donate Atlanta Race Sponsorship to Paralyzed Veterans of America: Petty Enterprises will donate the primary sponsorship of their #45 Dodge at this weekend's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to Paralyzed Veterans of America. "I would like to express my thanks to Richard and Kyle Petty for doing something good for America's paralyzed veterans, not just one day a year but year-round. We really appreciate the fact that you guys care," said Paralyzed Veterans' National President Randy L. Pleva, Sr. Petty Enterprises announced in November 2007 that Paralyzed Veterans will serve as a primary sponsor on the #45 Dodge Avenger for two races during the 2008 Sprint Cup season at the Richmond in May and Pocono in June. The organization will be an associate sponsor on the #45 Dodge for the remaining 34 races of the season. "I'm honored to have the Paralyzed Veterans of America on board with us for this weekend's race in Atlanta," said Kyle Petty, driver of the #45 PVA Dodge. "We need to take care of those who sacrifice so much for us. Paralyzed Veterans is a leading advocate for the improvement in the quality of health care for our veterans. Everyone knows that I care deeply about charitable work, so this is a natural partnership." "The King" Richard Petty sees Paralyzed Veterans as a great way to give back to those who do so much for our way of life. "From helping our vets get the benefits they deserve to promoting buildings that are wheelchair accessible, Paralyzed Veterans sets a great example of how we should treat our service men and women," said Petty. "People say that racecar drivers are heroes, but these guys are the real heroes." For more information visit www.pva.org/petty. Founded in 1946, Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of individuals with spinal cord injury or disease.(Petty Enterprises PR), see images of the car on my #45 Team Schemes page.(3-7-2008) Comment here

    • Atlanta Rookie Notes: #40-Dario Franchitti was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 2 UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Franchitti scored a 33rd-place finish and took top rookie honors for the first time this season. Franchitti also grabbed the lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings. He holds a one-point edge over #01-Regan Smith (31-30) entering the March 9 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Franchitti is also the only Raybestos Rookie to lead a lap in three Sprint Cup races this season. He led the Auto Club 500 (race No. 2) once for one lap. Kevin Harvick scored a memorable win as a Raybestos Rookie in the 2001 Kobalt Tools 500. He beat Jeff Gordon by just .006 seconds to capture his first Sprint Cup Series victory in just his third career start. Robby Gordon is the most recent Raybestos Rookie to win the pole for the spring 1997 race at Atlanta. The late Kenny Irwin holds the record for most laps led by a Raybestos Rookie in the spring race at Atlanta. In 1998, Irwin led five times for 112 laps. Since 1975, TWO or more Raybestos Rookies have finished in the top 10 in the spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway three times. Ryan Newman holds the all-time Raybestos Rookie record for most poles (6), most top-fives (14) and most top-10s (22).(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos PR), see the full report, history, standings and more on my 2008 Rookies Page.(3-7-2008)

    • Atlanta Goodyear Tire Notes: Teams in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be running the same tire codes at Atlanta this weekend . . . teams in the Craftsman Truck Series will run the same left-side code (D-4152) with a different right-side code this week . . . this is the first time that teams have run a race on either of these two tire codes . . . this tire setup was tested by Bobby Labonte at Atlanta in December . . . this tire combination has some changes over what has been run at Atlanta in the past . . . this left-side code (D-4152) features Goodyear's new construction that will help add grip and will be run on all intermediate tracks . . . this right-side code (D-4154) has a tougher tread compound for better wear . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Atlanta. . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window is every 50-54 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see full report with code and pressures on the Atlanta Race Info page, Goodyear Section.(3-7-2008)

    • Newman Eyes Pole Record at Atlanta Motor Speedway: #12-Ryan Newman is currently tied with Buddy Baker for pole positions at Atlanta Motor Speedway at seven each. Newman has never won from the pole [best was 4th in March 2004], but 14 drivers have, including Baker, winning the 1979 spring race from the pole. Newman notched six consecutive poles through 2003-2005 and grabbed his seventh last year in the spring race.(AMS PR)(3-7-2008)


      News from March 6, 2008

    • Sponsor for Kvapil at Atlanta? UPDATE: hearing that Zaxby's Restuarant's will sponsor Travis Kvapil's #28 Yates Racing Ford in a one-race deal for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 in Atlanta. Zaxby's restaurants also sponsors the #09 Craftsman Roush Racing truck that Kvapil drives on a part-time basis.(3-5-2008)
      UPDATE: Yates Racing announced today that Zaxby's will sponsor the #28 entry with driver Travis Kvapil for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 9th. "I'm really thrilled to have Zaxby's as the sponsor of our #28 Ford Fusion for this weekend at Atlanta," stated Kvapil. "Having the opportunity to drive the Zaxby's Ford, and Atlanta being Zaxby's home base for the company, is a great tie-in. I know that we're going to have a lot of success for them on Sunday. Our Cup team has really been able to show our potential over the past few weeks, and I think that this is a great time for sponsors to jump on board to partner with our Yates Racing teams. I'm really looking forward to this weekend and representing Zaxby's."
      "We are ecstatic to have Travis representing our company at Atlanta this weekend," commented Tony Townley, Vice-President of Zaxby's Franchising. "We are thrilled to have Travis representing us at Atlanta, since our company is headquartered here. I think our franchisees and customers will be excited to watch the #28 in our first Cup series endeavor. Our customers can identify with our colors and branding from our last couple of years racing in the Truck series, and we're looking forward to our partnership with Yates Racing for this weekend's Cup race." Kvapil has already achieved a top-10 finish this season in the Sprint Cup series when he brought home an eighth-place finish this past weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Yates Racing. Kvapil will drive the #09 entry in the Craftsman Truck Series this weekend at Atlanta for Roush Fenway Racing, which is also sponsored by Zaxby's. Kvapil will pilot the #09 Zaxby's truck for ten more races following this weekend's race at Atlanta.(Yates Racing PR), see an image of the scheme in my Paint Schemes Gallery.(3-6-2008) Comment here

    • Fastenal on Franchitti's car at Atlanta: This weekend Dario Franchitti's primary Nationwide Series sponsor Fastenal will be adorning the hood of his both his NNS and Sprint Cup car as at Atlanta as he pulls double duty for the fourth straight weekend.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-6-2008)

    • Reutimann Tests at Infineon Raceway: #00-David Reutimann visited Infineon Raceway for the first time on Wednesday and he was surprised by the challenges of the twisting 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. Reutimann came to the track for a one-day test session before his first race start in the Sonoma Valley at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sprint Cup Series event, June 20-22. Currently in his second year of full-time Cup Series competition, he was replaced by road-course specialist P.J. Jones for the Infineon Raceway event in 2007. The visit also marked Reutimann's first trip to the Sonoma Valley and Northern California, and he was quite taken with the rolling hills and beautiful landscape. "This track is pretty tricky. It's a really neat layout with all of the elevation changes. It's a lot to take on, but it's a great track," said Reutimann. "It's a beautiful area. I've never been here before, and it'll be great to come back in June." Reutimann piloted a GT America stock car supplied by Pioneer Motorsports out of Lake Oroville. He was coached by road-course veteran Chris Cook and completed approximately 90 laps in the full-day test. "David, even with his limited road-course experience, is that good. He can be a contender on the road courses. He progressed all day long and finished at a very high level," said Cook, who has also worked with NASCAR drivers Johnny Sauter, Paul Menard and Los Gatos native AJ Allmendinger. For ticket information on the Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 20-22, call 800-870-RACE or visit www.infineonraceway.com.(Infineon Raceway PR)(3-6-2008)

    • Texas Motor Sports HOF names inductees: Mark Martin and open-wheel star Jim McElreath have been selected as this year's inductees into the Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame and will be honored April 2 at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway. In addition, Texas Motor Speedway and Happy Hill Farm Academy announced that Jimmie Johnson, the two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and defending Dickies 500 winner; Sam Hornish Jr., a three-time IndyCar Series champion and last season's Bombardier Learjet 550k winner; and Indy-car veteran Arie Luyendyk, who won the first nighttime Indy car race at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997, will also be honored with special awards during the ceremony.(TMS PR)(3-6-2008) Comment here

    • Kessel Leaving Sprint's NASCAR Account For Victory Junction Gang: Dean Kessel, Sprint's Director of NASCAR marketing for the past two-plus seasons, is leaving to become president of the Victory Junction Gang, a camp for special-needs children. With Kessel's departure effective April 4, Sprint Dir of Sports Marketing Steve Gaffney will assume an increased role in overseeing the NASCAR sponsorship. Gaffney and Kessel were previously peers at the director level. Sprint will hire a GM for its eight-person office in Huntersville, NC. The GM will report to Gaffney, who will continue to operate out of Sprint's K.C. HQs for the near future. Gaffney will continue to direct Sprint's other sports sponsorships including the NFL, Sprint Center and the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association.(Sports Business Daily)(3-6-2008)


      News from March 5, 2008

    • Retro Mountain Dew scheme for Dale Jr.? hearing that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run a retro #88 Mountain Dew scheme sometime in 2008, supposedly at Darlington in May, see an image on my #88 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008)

    • Robby Gordon's reaction: The following is a statement from Robby Gordon regarding today's decision by the National Stock Car Racing Commission restoring his 100 owner and driver points as well as reversing the six-week suspension of crew chief Frank Kerr. The commission did increase the fine from $100,000 to $150,000. Gordon is now 21st in driver points. Robby Gordon: "We see this as good news. We are grateful the commissioners rescinded the points penalty and suspension but disappointed by the fine. Still, we see this as a victory for Robby Gordon Motorsports. We feel like justice was done and appreciate NASCAR creating a system that allowed us to take our appeal to the National Stock Car Racing Commission. Now we plan to put this issue behind us and concentrate on making the "Chase" in 2008 as well as getting the Jim Beam Dodge into victory lane. I want to thank the thousands of fans and our sponsors who have supported us through this episode and want everyone of you to know how much we appreciate all that you have done. Our goal is to be a model team in the future and never go through something like this again."(Robby Gordon Motorsports PR)(3-5-2008)

    • Roush Fenway Racing Statement on #99 Penalty: Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith’s statement on the penalty given to the #99 team following Sunday’s Las Vegas race. “The bolt holding the lid in place failed in its purpose as a result of vibration harmonics generated by the car and the race track during the race. The bolt was secure enough to survive 225 miles of practice, perhaps up to 399 of 400 miles of the race and the scrutiny of numerous inspections. It’s a tough business for any race team to have to pledge $100,000, 100 points and a six race crew chief suspension as an indemnity payment to NASCAR against a promise forced from us by NASCAR that no bolt will ever fail its purpose under race conditions. We are currently evaluating whether or not the circumstances justify submitting to the unpleasantness of the appeal process, but from a competitive standpoint, we believe it is in our best interest to have Bob Osborne begin serving the penalty now. Chris Andrews, our chief engineer, will be at the track on Friday and Saturday to lead the #99 team and general manager Robbie Reiser will join Chris on the pit box Sunday during the race. We are confident that we have the depth of talent in our organization and the strength in Carl Edwards and the #99 team to overcome this penalty, should that end up being the final outcome of this unhappy episode.”(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(3-5-2008)

    • Robby's Appeal to be held on March 5th UPDATE 2: #7-Robby Gordon's appeal to NASCAR officials in response to a 100-point penalty and six-race suspension and $100,000 fine for crew chief Frank Kerr is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 in Daytona.(2-28-2008)
      UPDATE: nothing official, but am hearing all of the penalties [points and crew chief suspension] have been rescinded BUT the fine was increased from $100,000 to $150,000.(3-5-2008)
      UPDATE 2: On March 5, 2008, the National Stock Car Racing Commission [Doug Fritz, Bud Moore and Chairman George Silbermann] heard and considered the appeal of Robby Gordon Motorsports regarding the #7 car. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following opening day inspection on February 8, 2008 for the Sprint Cup Series event at Daytona International Speedway. The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”; Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules” and Section 20-3.1-A: “Unapproved front bumper cover.”
      The penalties assessed were:
      * Loss of 100 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Robby Gordon.
      * Loss of 100 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver Points for driver Robby Gordon.
      * $100,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR for the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until April 9, 2008, and probation until December 31, 2008 for crew chief, Frank Kerr.
      The Appellants argued that the bumper cover was installed as delivered from the manufacturer, that it did not provide a competition advantage since it was discovered prior to being allowed on the racetrack, and that the bumper met the templates. The Appellants also argued against the severity of the penalties. In deliberating, the Commission considered several factors. The bumper cover constituted an obvious rules infraction and the Appellants did not contest the legality of the part. The Commission notes and reaffirms the following fundamental principal which is vital to maintaining the integrity of the sport: Regardless of the source of an unapproved part on a racecar, the race team that officially enters the car in a NASCAR race is ultimately accountable for that racecar’s conformance, or non-conformance, to the rules. However, the Commission believes that the facts presented during the hearing represented an extraordinary and unusual set of circumstances. While this does not excuse the infraction, the National Stock Car Racing Commission has decided to reinstate the car owner and driver championship points, lift the suspension, and increase the fine. For the crew chief, Frank Kerr, the penalty is increased to $150,000 and he remains on probation through Dec. 31, 2008. The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner.(NASCAR PR)(3-5-2008) Comment here

    • #99 Fails post race inspection at Las Vegas UPDATE 3 Penalties announced: been told the oil tank lid was not secured on the winning #99 Ford of Carl Edward's and found during post race inspection at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The car failed post race inspection and will keep the win, but will face points penalties and a fine. NASCAR usually announces penalties late Tuesday afternoons.(3-2-2008)
      MORE: The #99 car had a problem in the postrace inspection. The lid of the oil tank reservoir was off, so NASCAR officials are taking the car to the Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. Any possible penalties would come later this week, probably Tuesday. Five Nationwide Series teams were penalized for a similar violation at Daytona.(ESPN.com)....the rule...the oil reservoir tank cover was not fastened securely, the five teams were penalized with the loss of 25 driver and owner championship points.(Jayski's Past NNS News page)
      UPDATE: Carl Edwards said on NASCAR This Week [SPEED] that a bolt backed out, but he expects to be penalized.(3-3-2008)
      UPDATE 2: NASCAR did not announce any penalties Tuesday and supposedly will make an announcement on their decision sometime Wednesday, March 5th.(3-4-2008)
      UPDATE 3: NASCAR has issued penalties and fines to the #99 team that competes in the Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rule infractions found last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The #99 car driven by Carl Edwards was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-2.1J (any device or duct work that permits air to pass from one area of the interior of the car to another, or to the outside of the car, will not be permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, the inside of the car to the trunk area, or the floors, firewalls, crush panels and wheel wells passing air into or out of the car) of the 2008 NASCAR rule book. The violations were found during post-race inspection at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2. As a result, Edwards and car owner Jack Roush have been penalized 100 championship driver and 100 championship owner points, respectively. In the event the #99 team qualifies for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the team will not receive the 10 bonus points for the UAW-Dodge 400 victory used for determining the Chase seeding order. Crew chief Bob Osborne has been fined $100,000, suspended from the next six Sprint Cup Series events, suspended from NASCAR until April 30 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.(NASCAR PR), Expect Roush Fenway Racing to appeal the penalties. The 100 pt deduction takes Edwards from leading the Drivers Points Standings to 7th, 79 pts out of 1st and #18-Kyle Busch retakes the points standings by 20 over #12-Ryan Newman.(3-5-2008) Comment here

    • 10th Anniversary Scheme for Stewart at Atlanta: Tony Stewart's #20 Home Depot Toyota will sport a slightly different look when it takes to the track for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The traditional orange and black colors of primary sponsor Home Depot will remain, but in celebration of the Atlanta-based company's 10-year anniversary as a proud NASCAR sponsor and staunch supporter of Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing, a special paint scheme designed by one of The Home Depot's 350,000 associates will adorn the #20 machine. In a company-wide contest that began on Dec. 17, 2007 and ended on Jan. 18, 2008, Home Depot associates were encouraged to design the car that Stewart would drive March 9 at Atlanta. From a total of 351 entries, the winning design came from the pen of Scott Foreman, a Pro Desk Sales Associate who works at The Home Depot in Brighton, Colo. A Pro Desk Sales Associate like Foreman bleeds orange, for they are on the front line of The Home Depot's core customer - general contractors and do-it-yourselfers who view no home improvement project as too large. The Home Depot entered NASCAR with a bang in 1999, as the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer became the Official Home Improvement Warehouse of NASCAR. Augmenting that platform, The Home Depot also signed to sponsor a newly formed second team of Joe Gibbs Racing with a rookie crew chief and a rookie driver who had made a name for himself in open-wheel race cars but was still a stock car neophyte.(True Speed Communication/Joe Gibbs Racing), see images of the scheme on my #20 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008) Comment here

    • GEM has full sponsor for #10 car: from a Dodge Motorsports transcript, George Gillett- Majority Owner, Gillett/Evernham Motorsports:
      DO YOU HAVE SPONSORSHIP LEFT ON THE #10 CAR FOR PATRICK (CARPENTIER)?
      “We don’t get into that kind of detail. I’m happy to report – as recently as last night [Monday] – for 2008 we have a verbal which is in the writing today, for a major, major, major new sponsor the 10 car. It’s very exciting for us and for the sponsors. We are really starting to see some major new sponsors come on board. Budweiser is a thrill, Best Buy, McDonalds, Cintas and so forth. We’re pleased with the way things are going – but as Patrick gets even more success on the track – his wonderful personality – we’re finding a lot of people interested in the 10 car.”(Dodge Motorsports Transcript)(3-5-2008)

    • DIRECTV scheme for Bowyer at Atlanta: For the second time in three weeks, Clint Bowyer's #07 Chevy will feature a blue and white DIRECTV paint scheme. Jack Daniel's, Bowyer's traditional primary sponsor, will be featured on the car's deck lid and lower-rear quarter panels. DIRECTV is the leading digital TV provider dedicated to the best entertainment experience available. With more than 16.8 million customers, DIRECTV is the industry leader in satellite service. DIRECTV will strategically place four Mobile Pit Boxes throughout the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) concourse and display area for fans to enjoy a free preview of NASCAR HotPassT Only on DIRECTV.(RCR PR), see images on my #07 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008)

    • PVA.org scheme for Petty at Atlanta: Quotes from Kyle Petty: “I’m honored to have the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) on board with us for this weekend’s race in Atlanta. Their plan was to be a primary sponsor on the #45 Dodge Charger for two other races this year, but they picked up this weekend too. They are a great sponsor, but an even better group of people. We need to take care of those who sacrifice so much for us. The PVA is a leading advocate for the improvement in the quality of health care for our veterans. Everyone knows that I care deeply about charitable work so this is a natural partnership.” Petty’s Victory Invitational Celebrity Golf Tournament, held last weekend in Phoenix, raised $110,000 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Arizona State University College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation.(Petty Racing PR), see images on my #45 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008)

    • Robby to have sponsor fron Valvoline at Atlanta: Robby Gordon will race the #7 Dodge with Valvoline sponsorship this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gordon said: "We are going to carry the Valvoline sponsorship this weekend to help out Gillett Evernham Motorsports. This is pretty cool. I saw on one of the online auction sites someone was auctioning off the Valvoline driving suit I wore in the off road days. It was going for $500! Maybe I should have saved a couple.(RGM PR)(3-5-2008), see images on my #7 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008) Comment here

    • Carpentier To Drive #10 Cintas Dodge At Atlanta: Patrick Carpentier will attempt to make his fifth career start this weekend driving the #10 Cintas Dodge at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Carpentier once again faces the daunting challenge of making the 43-car field solely on his qualifying time. He is 47th in car owner points.(GEM PR)(3-5-2008)

    • Interesting Stat: #99-Carl Edwards scores back to back wins for the second time in his career. It is the second time in his young career that he would win 2 races in a row. That makes Carl the 32nd driver in NASCAR history to have more than one winning streak of 2 races or more. There have been 48 drivers to win 2 in a row once, and now 32 drivers that have done it twice. Here is a list of all drivers that have 2 or more winning streaks of 2 races or more. Of course, the King leads all drivers with an untouchable 37 winning streaks.(LTpicks.com)(3-5-2008) Comment here

    • Benson in the #27 at Atlanta: The #27 Toyota Camry of Johnny Benson will feature the decals of Toyota Certified Used Vehicles this weekend in Atlanta. TCUV is one of Benson's primary sponsors on his #23 Craftsman Truck Series machine as well. Benson hopes to make his 275th career Sprint Cup Series start when the green flag waves for the 500-mile event Sunday afternoon. The #27 Bill Davis Racing team plans to utilize chassis #40 for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This is the same Camry the team ran last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.(BDR PR)(3-5-2008) Comment here

    • Eury Jr. named Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” in Las Vegas: Tony Eury Jr., crew chief of the #88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevy driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., was named the WYPALL Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” Tuesday for his team’s second place finish in the UAW/Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Eury Jr. helped his team vault to the front of the field in Sunday’s race with strategic two-tire and gas-only calls that gained the #88 team valuable track position at critical times in the race. Eury Jr. will receive a $1,000 check as a result of his leadership and proactive thinking during the race. The 2008 WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team. Representatives from WYPALL Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent WYPALL, including Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team, make up the panel of judges. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top 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. 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)(3-5-2008) Comment here

    • GA Governor to host Atlanta Motor Speedway Day: Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue will host the 6th annual Atlanta Motor Speedway Day at the Georgia State Capitol [Atlanta, GA], along with Georgia State Senator John Douglas, AMS President and General Manager Ed Clark, Past champion Rusty Wallace, David Ragan (Unadilla, Ga. native), Steve Wallace, David Stremme, Truck Series Owner Billy Ballew (Blairsville, Ga. native and resident), Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga. resident and driver for TRG Motorsports) outside the State Capitol on Mitchell Street [If it rains, the location will be inside the Capitol in the North Wing] on Thursday, March 6 @ 10:45am/et.(AMS PR)(3-5-2008)

    • SPEED adds two NASCAR shows: SPEED adds two NASCAR programs to its line-up beginning this weekend with the introduction of NASCAR Confidential and NASCAR in a Hurry. NASCAR Confidential premieres March 23 at 8:00pm/et on SPEED, offering a new twist on the behind-the-scenes genre. Instead of focusing on at-track competition, teams or drivers, the program will tell a unique and untold story on a variety of subjects through the eyes of several participants. It will be a one-hour, highly-produced narrative covering a 24-hour period.
      NASCAR in a Hurry, a 30-minute weekly program hosted by Adam Alexander and a number of rotating SPEED on-air personalities, premieres Sunday at 11am/et from Atlanta Motor Speedway. It will recap the weekend's early highlights from the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series, in addition to clips from various NASCAR on SPEED programs. NASCAR in a Hurry will air immediately prior to NASCAR RaceDay on Sundays, while NASCAR Confidential is currently scheduled as a six-episode series with its March 23 premiere focusing on what it took to put together the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500.(SPEED)(3-5-2008)


      News from March 4, 2008

    • National TV Ratings up for Vegas: NASCAR on Fox earned a major victory this weekend with an excellent 7.1/13 (12.1 million viewers) for the UAW Daimler-Chrysler 400 from Las Veg. Sunday's 7.1/13 marks a +13% gain over last year's 6.3/13 and is the best rating ever for the Las Vegas race, topping the previous high of 6.9/15 in 2003. Excluding the Daytona 500, this is Fox's highest-rated NASCAR race since the 2006 Fontana race (7.4/14). The long-sought elimination of the bye week between Fontana and Las Vegas was the primary factor in this weekend's big ratings increase. So far this season, Fox has aired four Sprint Cup programs that were not impacted by rain, and all four of them have posted better ratings than last year (Bud Shootout, Daytona qualifying, Daytona 500, Las Vegas 400). Looking just at Sprint Cup races, Fox is up +1% for the season including the rain-impacted Fontana race (7.9/14 vs. 7.8/15). Excluding Fontana, Fox is up +2% for the two races that ran as scheduled (8.6/17 vs. 8.4/17).(Fox PR)(3-4-2008) Comment here

    • Edwards in select company...but: #99-Carl Edwards is the fifth driver to win the two races following the Daytona 500 in the last 25 years, of the other four, one has won the championship, Dale Earnhardt. The drivers:
      1987, Dale Earnhardt, finished 1st in points
      1988, Neil Bonnet, 16th
      1992, Bill Elliott, 2nd
      2004, Matt Kenseth, 8th
      2008, Carl Edwards, ?
      (3-4-2008)

    • Quite a change in top-35 possible: after three races, the 2008 Owners Points are shaping up with quite a few changes, there currently are five teams that were in the top-35 in 2007 Owners Points, and locked in the first five 2008 Sprint Cup races, who are out of the top-35 in current 2008 Owners Points Standings: #22-Dave Blaney, #40-Dario Franchitti, #77-Sam Hornish Jr. [switched with #2-Kurt Busch to be guaranteed a spot in the first five races], #01-Regan Smith and #45-Kyle Petty. Five teams/drivers who were not in the top-35 of owners points at the end of 2007, are currently in the top-35 after three races: #2-Kurt Busch [traded #2 owners points with Penske's third team, #77-Hornish], #83-Brian Vickers, #00-David Reutimann, #44-Dale Jarrett and #55-Michael Waltrip. At the sixth race, Martinsville, the current season points start being used for the top-35 and a guaranteed spot, but it can change from week to week, harder to get in as the season moves on.(3-4-2008)

    • Texas offers up track for testing; NASCAR declines: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage has given NASCAR an open invitation for further testing in preparation for the TMS debut of the new Sprint Cup Series car at the upcoming Samsung 500. The new Sprint Cup Series car, formerly known as the “Car of Tomorrow,” is making its first appearance at 1.5-mile ovals this season, and Gossage would like to provide additional testing time after watching the car’s debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval this past weekend. There was an abundance of on-track incidents during practice and qualifying, a track-record 11 cautions on race day and some driver concerns regarding their April 4-6 visit to Texas Motor Speedway for the Samsung 500 race week. For the time being, however, Gossage is encouraging NASCAR to give the competitors an additional opportunity to test at Texas Motor Speedway prior to the Samsung 500 because the only testing on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval came in the form of a two-day Goodyear tire test Jan. 15-16 with Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer. Gossage is open to a test session in the coming weeks, opening the speedway Wednesday (April 2) of race week for a practice session or expanding the race week schedule Thursday (April 3) to add a Cup practice to the Nationwide Series’ practice and qualifying for the O’Reilly 300.(TMS PR)
      UPDATE: NASCAR says it will keep an eye on the car's performance at Texas before determining whether any additional track time is necessary. As for an additional test, the sanctioning body's answer is clear-cut. "The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is testing in Phoenix [Tuesday] and will test at Pocono and Charlotte later this year," series spokesman Ramsey Poston said Tuesday. "There are no plans to add tests at this time." Sprint Cup teams also tested at Daytona, California, and Las Vegas in addition to the session this week in Phoenix and those upcoming at Pocono and Charlotte. Texas officials lobbied NASCAR for an open test, but did not receive one. But Gossage still holds out hope that NASCAR will change its mind. The track president also sent an overnight letter to NASCAR president Mike Helton outlining his concerns about racing at Texas without a test.(NASCAR.com)(3-4-2008) Comment here

    • Toyota's Aust retiring: Jim Aust, who has been responsible for Toyota’s motorsports activities in the U.S. for the past 10 years, has announced his retirement. Aust will step down as vice president, motorsports for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., and president and chief executive officer of TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development), on June 31. Toyota’s racing programs in the U.S. flourished under Aust’s leadership and included a victory in the Indianapolis 500, multiple series championships and the expansion of the company’s racing activities into NASCAR. Beginning in 2004, Toyota began competing in the Craftsman Truck Series with the Tundra and last year Toyota entered the Camry in the Sprint Cup Series, the premiere race series in the U.S. “Jim has played an integral role in the growth of Toyota’s racing activities in the U.S.,” said Dave Illingworth, TMS senior vice president, chief planning and administrative officer. “From the high banks of NASCAR to short track midget racing, drag racing, sports cars and off-road trucks, Toyotas are now racing and winning at tracks across the country.” Aust joined Toyota in 1987 and held various management positions in the Toyota Motor Credit Corporation/Toyota Motor Insurance Services (TMCC/TMIS) division before moving to motorsports in 1998. “There are a lot of great memories, made possible by the hard work of the people at TRD and the great teams and drivers running with Toyota power,” Aust said. “There was Toyota’s first CART win by Juan Pablo Montoya, Gil de Ferran’s Indy 500 win, a CART championship for Cristiano da Matta and an IRL championship for Scott Dixon, Johnny Greaves’ multiple championships in CORR, Todd Bodine’s championship in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and the three-peat by Ganassi Racing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. “Seeing a Camry compete in the Daytona 500 last year for the first time was very special and I expect to see Toyota’s first Sprint Cup victory before I retire in June.” Aust’s replacements at TMS and TRD will be announced closer to his retirement date.(Toyota Motorsports PR)(3-4-2008) Comment here

    • NASCAR Penalty RECINDED: don't see this too often and will be interesting to see what bearing it has on Robby Gordon's Penalty and Carl Edwards possible penalty, both should be announced this week sometime. Anyhow......On March 3, 2008, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Rusty Wallace Racing. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following post-qualifying inspection on February 15, 2008 for the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway. The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”; Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules” and Section 20A-8.4C: “The oil tank reservoir tank cover was not fastened securely.”
      The penalties assessed were:
      • Loss of 25 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Ed Rensi.
      • Loss of 25 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship Driver Points for driver David Stremme.
      • $15,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR from the next six Nationwide Series events; suspension from NASCAR until April 9, 2008; and probation until December 31, 2008 for crew chief Steve Darne. In deliberating, the Commission also considered Section 20A-2.1L of the Rule Book concerning the passage of air into or out of the car. After reviewing the testimony and evidence presented during the hearing, the Commission determined that the cover appeared to be fastened. All bolts appeared to be fully engaged. The slight deflection at one corner of the cover which gave rise to the penalty was arguable, given the overall design of the oil tank reservoir encasement. Therefore, by a majority decision, the National Stock Car Racing Commission decided to rescind the penalties assessed by NASCAR.(NASCAR PR)(3-4-2008) Comment here

    • Red Bull could replace Allmendinger UPDATE Skinner in: Red Bull Racing is considering temporarily pulling #84-A.J. Allmendinger from his Toyota as it reevaluates that struggling program. Allmendinger failed to qualify for Sunday's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, making him 0-for-3 on the season. In contrast, teammate #83-Brian Vickers has made all three races in the other Red Bull car. "We can't keep missing races. It's just not an option," said general manager Jay Frye, hired in January to turn around the second-year Red Bull program. We're looking at several different ideas, all aimed at figuring out what's wrong with that program, how we can fix it and how we can get that car into races. But it can't continue the way it is. It just can't." One of the options being considered is pulling Allmendinger from the seat and replacing him with a veteran who can help assess the program and get the car into races. Among the available drivers are Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson, who are currently both pitching in to fill an open seat at Bill Davis Racing, and Sterling Marlin and David Stremme. "We love A.J. and we're 100 percent committed to him and want to develop him," Frye said. "This is not at all giving up on A.J. But we just can't do nothing and risk having a season like that team had last year." Red Bull is also working on securing seat time for Allmendinger in Nationwide Series and Truck Series races to help his adaptation to NASCAR. Options in the Nationwide Series are rides in a Joe Gibbs Racing or Chip Ganassi car, and there could be some seat time available in a truck owned by Billy Ballew.(Associated Press/Sports Illustrated)(3-3-2008)
      UPDATE: Red Bull Racing Team has confirmed that veteran NASCAR driver Mike Skinner will temporarily replace AJ Allmendinger in the #84 Red Bull Camry in the Sprint Cup Series effective this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Skinner, a Craftsman Truck Series champion, currently races full-time in the #5 Toyota Tundra. "We’re at a crossroads where we need to make a change that will elevate the #84 team to success,” said VP and General Manager Jay Frye. “AJ’s our guy and he’s a talented driver, but there’s a lot being asked of him. In order for him to be successful, we have to get this team pointed in the right direction. We hope we can do that with the help of a veteran driver.” Skinner’s history with Red Bull Racing Team dates back to 2006 when he served as a test driver for the team. Skinner’s history with Allmendinger also dates back to 2006, when he mentored teammate Allmendinger during the rookie’s part-time ride with Bill Davis Racing NCTS team. Frye hopes with the help of Skinner, that RBRT will have the program turned around and the ride returned to Allmendinger in no time. AJ Allmendinger, #84 Red Bull Driver said: “Let’s not kid ourselves; I’m a racer and I want to be racing, but I get the big picture here and obviously we need to improve our program. Do I want to be out of the car? #But, I know Skinner can help both me and my team. All I can say is he better be prepared for me to eat, drink, and sleep with him. Ok, well maybe not the sleeping part, but I’m ready to attach myself to him and learn everything I can.” Mike Skinner, Substitute #84 Driver: “The first time I ever met AJ, I took an immediate liking to him. He’s not just a great personality; he also has a remarkable amount of talent. He took on a huge challenge jumping into stock cars last year, and I’m glad I can be the one to help him and his team figure out where the glitches are in their program. This is a positive thing for AJ as a learning experience, for the Red Bull Racing Team to get back on track, and for me to have the opportunity to help another Toyota team that has great equipment and potential.”(Red Bull Racing PR)(3-3-2008) Comment here

    • Overnight TV Ratings up for Las Vegas: NASCAR ON Fox earned a major victory Sunday with a 6.2/12 for Sprint Cup Racing from Las Vegas. That 6.2/12 is a 13% gain over last year's 5.5/11 for the same race. This year's 13% growth for the Las Vegas race matches Fox's best gain for any single race in almost four years, since the 2004 California race posted a 14% increase. Sunday's 6.2/12 is Fox's best rating for the Las Vegas race since 2003 (6.3/13), which not coincidentally is also the last year that Fox's Vegas race was not preceded by a bye week. For the season-to-date, NASCAR On Fox is averaging a 7.2/14 for the Sprint Cup, up +3% over last year's 7.0/14. So far this season, Fox has aired four Sprint Cup events that were not impacted by weather (Bud Shootout, Daytona qualifying, Daytona 500, Las Vegas 400) and all four have either matched or beaten last year's metered market rating.(Fox PR), have not seen any ratings on Monday's rain-delayed Cup race.(3-4-2008) Comment here


      News from March 3, 2008

    • Kahne the only one: #9-Kasey Kahne is the only driver with three top ten's after three races in 2008, finishing 7th at Daytona, 9th at California and 6th at Las Vegas. #24-Jeff Gordon joined #5-Casey Mears as the two drivers with 2 DNF's [did not finish] in the first three races. Gordon had one DNF all of 2007. #48-Johnson had run ten races in a row finishing on the lead lap until Las Vegas where he was 2 laps down. #29-Harvick has been running at the finish in 47 consecutive races, the longest current streak, next up is #07-Bowyer at 40 consecutive races.(3-3-2008) Comment here

    • Gordon calls for more SAFER walls at Vegas UPDATE LVMS statement: #24-Jeff Gordon, who escaped injury after crashing hard into the inside retaining wall in Turn 2 in the closing laps of Sunday’s UAW-Dodge 400, called on Las Vegas Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith to add ‘soft walls’ in the area. Gordon crashed on lap 263 of the 267-lap race and hit a spot in the wall where there is a gap. “I’m really disappointed right now in this speedway for not having a soft wall back there,” Gordon said. “And even being able to get to that part of the wall shouldn’t happen. I’ve got two things to say: 'Bruton, you need a soft wall and to change the wall back there on the back straightaway'. Thankfully, Hendrick Motorsports … builds an unbelievable race car because that’s the hardest I’ve ever hit.” Greg Biffle, who finished third in the race and was behind Gordon on the track when he crashed, agreed with Gordon and said there is no excuse for having gaps in the walls. “There shouldn’t be any gaps anywhere,” Biffle said. “There should be SAFER barriers all the way around the inside and the outside of these racetracks. You can’t say we don’t have the time or money to do it because we’re coming back here next year and going to race again.”(Las Vegas Sun)
      UPDATE: Las Vegas Motor Speedway statement concerning Gordon's comments: "We began evaluating that section of the speedway today. As we have done since the SAFER barrier program began, we will work with NASCAR, and we will do whatever it recommends."(3-3-2008) Comment here

    • Stewart OK after hard wreck at Vegas: #20-Tony Stewart experienced a case of déjà vu in Sunday's UAW-Dodge 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) had led six laps and was running solidly in the top-10 until a blown right front tire on lap 107 sent Stewart hard into the SAFER Barrier that lines the outside retaining wall in turn four. "That's the hardest one I've taken in a long time," said Stewart after being evaluated and released from the infield care center. "It just blew a right front I guess and went straight in. It didn't try to turn or anything. It was a real tight part of the corner. It hit so hard it's got my lower back sore and made my legs feel about half numb. They just tingled until we got to the infield care center. I tried to knock the fence down yesterday in the Nationwide race and thought I'd made some ground on it and tried to finish it off, but it shows how good the soft walls are. They still don't go anywhere. Yesterday, I just hit my right foot on the pedals because I hit (the wall) with the left side (of the car). It just bruised it. It bounced off it and hit it again today," said Stewart, who wound up 27th in the Nationwide Series race and 43rd in the Sprint Cup race. "Today's hit was probably 10 times harder than yesterday's. My legs were tingling and my lower back is sore. That's probably from tensing up on the way to hitting the wall. When you see the wreck coming and you know you're not going to miss it, every muscle in your body tenses up and that makes it worse." Despite feeling sore and knowing some bruising would have to be dealt with in the days to come, Stewart declared himself healthy for the team's test Monday and Tuesday at Phoenix International Raceway and the upcoming Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "I'll be all right for the test tomorrow in Phoenix," Stewart said. "It's going to be a miserable two days. I was already sore today and my foot was sore from the wreck yesterday. It didn't make it any better today. We'll do what we have to do the next two days and get ready for Atlanta."(True Speed Cummications/Joe Gibbs Racing PR)(3-3-2008) Comment here

    • Race and Commercial Breakdown of the UAW-Dodge 400
      For those of you NASCAR fans that like stats and love to hate commercials, or wonder how often your driver was focused on, here is the breakdown for Sunday's race. Fox was the broadcaster for this event.
      Total number of commercials: 110
      Total number of companies or entities advertised: 61
      Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 39
      Start time to record race/commercial periods: 4:30pm
      End time to record race/commercial periods: 8:14pm
      Total minutes: 224
      Minutes of race broadcast: 171
      Minutes of commercials: 53
      Number of missed restarts: 1 (and one near miss)
      Number of 'debris cautions' when debris not shown: 1
      See full report and stats at CawsnJaws.com.(3-3-2008) Comment here

    • Phoenix Test Speeds - Session 3, Day 1: 47 drivers/teams in 58 cars took to the track on Monday, March 3rd for the evening session. #1A-Martin Truex Jr. was the fastest at 130.326mph in a Chevy, followed by #29A-Kevin Harvick (Chevy), #11A-Denny Hamlin (Toyota), #07A-Clint Bowyer (Chevy) and #8A-Mark Martin (Chevy). #2A-Kurt Busch was the fastest Dodge at 6th and #99A-Carl Edwards was the fastest Ford at 7th. The slowest cars were #10B-Patrick Carpentier at 126.103 and #49A-Ken Schrader at 126.975.
      For the speeds and news about testing at PIR, see my Phoenix Testing Page.(3-3-2008) Comment here

    • Phoenix Test Speeds - Session 2, Day 1: 47 drivers/teams in 60 cars took to the track on Monday, March 3rd for the afternoon session. #07A-Clint Bowyer was the fastest at 130.222mph, followed by #22A-Dave Blaney (Toyota), #2A-Kurt Busch (Dodge), #1A-Martin Truex Jr. (Chevy) and #18A-Kyle Busch (Toyota). #6A-David Ragan was the fatest Ford at 7th. Slowest cars #49A-Ken Schrader at 124.848 and #10B-Patrick Carpentier at 126.059. Jason Keller is testing the #9 car in place of Kasey Kahen, who was ill over the past weekend. Tony Stewart is testing the #20 Toyota.
      For the speeds and news about testing at PIR, see my Phoenix Testing Page.(3-3-2008) Comment here

    • Phoenix Test Speeds - Session 1, Day 1: Only 21 teams/drivers in 25 cars took to Phoenix International raceway for the first day, morning session of testing. #15A-Paul Menard was the fastest at 131.186mph in a Chevy, followed by #42A-Montoya (Dodge), #96A-Yeley (Toyota), #41B-Sorenson (Dodge) and #07A-Bowyer (Chevy). there were only two Ford that tested #6A-Ragan was the fastest at 17th] and #21A-Bill Elliott. Michael McDowell tested the #44 Toyota for Dale Jarrett.
      For the speeds and news about testing at PIR, see my Phoenix Testing Page.(3-3-2008) Comment here



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