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  • MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
    MARCH 24-30, 2008


      News from March 30, 2008

    • Hamlin wins at Martinsville: #11-Denny Hamlin won the Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway for his 1st win of 2008, 4th of his career, becoming the 45th driver to win a race at Martinsville. #24-Gordon was 2nd, followed by #31-Burton, #48-Johnson, #20-Stewart, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #50Mears, #26-McMurray [back in the top-35 of owners pts], #99-Edwards [who ran out of fuel on the last lap while running 5th] and #07-Bowyer. The points leader going into the race, #18-Kyle Busch had trouble, spent some time in the garage and finished 38th, falling to 5th in drivers points. #31-Burton takes over the points lead by 39 over #29-Harvick. There were 20 lead changes among 8 drivers and 18 cautions for 89 laps.
      Race Results on my Martinsville Race Results/Awards Page.(3-30-2008) Comment here

    • Unofficial Drivers Points Standings [after Martinsville race 6 of 36]:
      1) #31-Jeff Burton 915
      2) #29-Kevin Harvick 876 -39
      3) #16-Greg Biffle 855 -60
      4) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 846 -69
      5) #18-Kyle Busch 831 -84
      6) #20-Tony Stewart 811 -104
      7) #9-Kasey Kahne 786 -129
      8) #11-Denny Hamlin 758 -157
      9) #24-Jeff Gordon 749 -166
      10) #48-Jimmie Johnson 746 -169
      11) #12-Ryan Newman 741 -174
      12) #07-Clint Bowyer 740 -175
      other chase contenders
      13) #1-Martin Truex Jr. 695 -220
      14) #99-Carl Edwards 686 -229
      15) #17-Matt Kenseth 677 -238
      16) #2-Kurt Busch 669 -246
      Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Martinsville page.(3-30-2008)

    • Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Texas
      A couple changes, #26-McMurray and #01-Smith move into the Top-35 and #77-Hornish nad #44-Reuitimann are now out and must qualify by speed at Texas.
      The teams are NOT locked in past the next race at Texas as the owners points change after each race.
      31) #26-McMurray/Roush Racing 494 +59
      32) #96-Yeley/Hall of Fame Racing 468 +33
      33) #55-Waltrip/Waltrip Racing 460 +25
      34) #70-Mayfield/Haas CNC Racing 441 +6
      35) #01-Smith/Dale Earnhardt Inc 438, 3 points ahead of 36th
      these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed:
      36) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing 435, 3 points out of 35th
      37) #44-Reutimann/Waltrip Racing 418 -20
      38) #40-Franchitti/Ganassi Racing 416 -22
      39) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis 373 -65
      40) #45-Petty/Petty Racing 327 -111
      For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(3-30-2008)

    • Martinsville Speedway Fast Facts:
      .. Denny Hamlin won the Goody’s Cool Orange 500, his fourth victory in 85 Sprint Cup Series races.
      .. This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in 2008.
      .. This is his first victory and fifth top-10 finish in six races at Martinsville – including second in October 2006 and third in this race in 2007.
      .. Jeff Gordon (second) posted his 25th top-10 finish in 31 races at Martinsville. Gordon has been running at the finish in all of his Martinsville races and has finished on the lead lap 24 times.
      .. Jeff Burton (third) posted his 14th top-10 finish in 28 races at Martinsville.
      .. Regan Smith (14th) was the highest finishing rookie.
      .. Jeff Burton took the lead in the Sprint Cup Series point standings, leading Kevin Harvick by 39 points.(NASCAR Statistics)(3-30-2008)

    • Did Not Finish Streak and stats: #29-Harvick has been running at the finish in 50 consecutive races, the longest current streak, next up is #07-Bowyer at 43 consecutive races.(3-30-2008)

    • Roush Fenway Racing doesn't plan any legal action against MWR: Roush Fenway Racing doesn't plan to take legal action against Michael Waltrip Racing for what it characterized as the theft of a sway bar unless there is evidence that the piece has been duplicated. Team president Geoff Smith said the issue would not have surfaced at all had Toyota general manager Lee White not insinuated that Roush's team of Carl Edwards intentionally cheated at Las Vegas.(see full story at ESPN.com), so lets hope this whole thing is over.(3-30-2008) Comment here

    • Truex focused on racing - not contract: #1-Martin Truex Jr. says that he’s not worried about contract talks with his Dale Earnhardt Inc. team yet [his contract runs out at end of season]. He’s too busy focusing on improving his performance. These days, just five races into the season, his thoughts are on racing, not negotiations of the contract that ends this season. “I haven’t even looked down that road yet,” he said of any potential contract developments. “I’m so focused on winning right now with my team and giving these guys everything I’ve got."(SceneDaily)(3-30-2008) Comment here

    • Villeneuve could return to BDR: Even though Bill Davis Racing released former World Driving Champion Jacques Villeneuve after he failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 and subsequently shut down the #27 Toyota Camry he drove, it doesn’t necessarily mean the story is over. BDR General Manager Mike Brown said Saturday morning that the team is still maintaining regular contact with both Villeneuve and his advisor, Barry Green, and if sponsor money can be found, the team might resume racing this season. “We could make that happen if we can put a sponsorship deal together,” said Brown. “We have weekly dialog with those guys and they’re all hoping we can put something together.” As for the new association with BAM Racing, who switched from Dodge to Toyota this week and is using BDR engines, Brown said it doesn’t necessarily mean the teams will merge. “We’re just doing what we can to better ourselves right now,” he said.(SPEEDtv)
      AND Villeneuve is to join the Speedcar series for the last two rounds, taking the grid for the upcoming race at the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 4-6, followed by the final round in Dubai a week later on April 11-12. He will join Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert, Stefan Johansson, Ukyo Katayama, JJ Lehto and Gianni Morbidelli in the field. "Speedcar Series looks like a great event and I have heard that it is a lot of fun," he said. "It's a series still in its infancy and will build up but I think it's a great idea. On a personal level, Speedcar will give me more road racing experience with this kind of cars which will be useful in future NASCAR road courses events, and it's also a great excuse to meet race fans."(GrandPrix)(3-30-2008) Comment here

    • Rain at Martinsville possible: there is rain in the area of Martinsville Speedway and is a threat for race time. NASCAR Now's Marty Smith reported that NASCAR said they need to start track drying by 3:00pm/et and the race by approx 4pm/et as the track does not have lights [how great would a night race at Martinsville be?]. The forecast for the Martinsville area is: Rain likely. Cloudy, with a high near 41. East wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible. See a few weather links and info on my Martinsville Race Info page - weather section.
      UPDATE: looks like the race will start as scheduled and the radar looks pretty clear as of 2:00pm/et.(3-30-2008)

    • Martinsville Grand Marshal can't make it: Inclement weather has derailed the schedule of Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer, who was set to serve as grand marshal for today's Goody's Cool Orange 500 race at Martinsville Speedway. Icy weather in Blacksburg grounded Beamer's flight plans, according to the coach, who spoke to the media via telephone this morning. Recent knee surgery has made it difficult for Beamer to get around. "I had a helicopter that could bring me right to the track and I was going to be in good shape, but then they couldn’t fly (due to the ice)," said Beamer. "Once that happened, I felt like I needed to cancel out." Beamer apologized repeatedly for his cancellation, lamenting the fact that he couldn't attend in person. "I’m very sorry because I really like racing, and I really like the Martinsville track, and I really like the people at the Martinsville track," said Beamer. "I think the heart of NASCAR is right here in Virginia when you talk about Bristol and Richmond and then Martinsville." A spokesman for Goody's Cool Orange, the race's primary sponsor, said various members of the Virginia Tech community, including the Tech band, which is set to play the national anthem, would serve in Beamer's place as grand marshal. The most notable grand marshal duty is announcing the famous racing line, "Gentlemen, start your engines."(Martinsville Bulletin)(3-30-2008)

    • Sad News - Bill Neely: William Neely, a prolific racing writer who chronicled the lives of Richard Petty and A.J. Foyt, died Tuesday, March 25, in North Carolina after complications from heart surgery. Neely was 77. He was most famous for the 1974 classic Stand on It, a Novel by Stroker Ace, which told the fictional story of driver/wild man Stroker Ace and was later made into a movie starring Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson. Neely loosely based the book on his experiences in the 1960s, when he headed up public relations for Goodyear at the height of the racing “tire wars” with Firestone. Neely was AutoWeek’s travel editor in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His work also appeared in Playboy, Car and Driver, Esquire and Sports Illustrated. He also penned a chili cookbook, as well as Tire Wars, a look at Goodyear’s racing program in the 1960s. H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, who led public relations for Firestone at the same time, said Neely was known for his grace under fire, as the 1960s was a turbulent time for racing, wrought with accidents and driver deaths. “He was one of the icons of auto racing in the 1960s, when auto racing was really jumping forward by leaps and bounds,” said Wheeler, who is now the president of Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Neely also worked in public relations for Rolex and Exxon. In total, he authored 19 books. Neely later turned to acting and appeared in "Night Flier" in 1997, a movie based on a Stephen King novel where Neely’s character had his head chopped off. He moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, about a decade ago to try to secure more acting roles with a local studio. He also made an unsuccessful bid for Congress. He had a heart attack several years ago, and the surgery he was having Tuesday was to install a new heart valve. In his later years, he enjoyed driving around Wilmington in a black 2002 Corvette, and lounging in a yacht he owned that previously belonged to Hollywood actress Greta Garbo. As his longtime friend Jeannette McLean said, he was “living the life of a retired person who loved life.” Neely is survived by five children and four grandchildren. He was a native of Jane Lew, West Virginia, and graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1952. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Neely’s name be made to Friends of Felines, P.O. Box 475, Castle Hayne, NC 28429.(Autoweek)(3-30-2008)


      News from March 29, 2008

    • MWR had [Roush] part, says it was a mistake UPDATE: Michael Waltrip confirmed Friday afternoon that it was his team that Jack Roush was alluding to when saying a Toyota team had stolen a sway bar from Roush Fenway Racing at Dover last September. “It was a mistake,” Waltrip said. “Look at the back of these toolboxes. There are sway bars, there’s jack handles, and it wound up in our possession. We called them and said, ‘We want to give this back.’ ”(full story atSceneDaily)
      MORE: Michael Waltrip acknowledged on Saturday that his team had the sway bar that team owner Jack Roush accused a Toyota team of stealing last season. But Waltrip insisted that it wasn't a theft, that the bar accidentally wound up at his shop after the September race at Dover and that nobody realized it belonged to Roush Fenway Racing until that organization called to inquire about it in January. "Accidents happen, mistakes happen," Waltrip said. "If you look inside this garage area today there's over 70 racing vehicles in here and stuff gets slung everywhere ... I could see why he would be upset. He feels like he was wronged and he's mad about it." Roush said the sway bar was specially designed by Roush Fenway for his cars. He said they were larger than the old bars, unable to fit in the toolbox slot and were put underneath the box instead. Roush said a member of a Toyota team -- which turned out to be David Reutimann's #00 car -- parked next to him at Dover, then walked over and took the piece. "I don't know what makes him tick," Waltrip said of Roush. "But I do know that no one went to his toolbox and swiped his bar." Waltrip said he had no knowledge that the piece was sandblasted to hide its identity and that somebody from his team called a vendor to have it duplicated as Roush alleged. "I don't have knowledge of any of that," he said. "I heard it was painted blue and when we figured out that it wasn't ours then it was set off to the side and eventually returned."(ESPN.com)(3-29-2008) Comment here

    • NASCAR won't intervene in Roush dispute with Toyota team: NASCAR officials say they will not intervene in the dispute between Roush Fenway Racing and an unspecified Toyota team that allegedly took a part from the Ford organization. Team owner Jack Roush is asking NASCAR for “relief” on the issue, but NASCAR Vice President of Competition strongly dismissed that idea on Friday. “If they’ve got issues with each other or other teams, then they’ve got to talk to those other teams,” Pemberton said. “I didn’t take a part or a piece, all right? Nobody in this [NASCAR] trailer took a part or a piece. We know Jack said that, and apparently some other team acknowledged having a part or a piece. Those people need to work their deal out.” Roush said a Toyota team took a sway bar home from a September race at Dover last season. If that’s true, Pemberton said, “Then shame on a team that has that person working for them. If you’ve got a guy that takes a part or a piece from another team, then, in my opinion, I wouldn’t have a guy like that work for me,” he said. Still, that doesn’t mean NASCAR is going to do anything about it. “[The teams] have to work together,” he said. “We’re not going to build walls in here. We’re not going to separate everything. We’re going to run this garage area just like it’s been run. If you have issues, then you've got to work it out.”(SceneDaily)(3-29-2008)

    • Tums to sponsor fall Martinsville race and #40, #41 cars: TUMS announced that it is using its newest product, the TUMS QuikPak instant dissolve powder, to bring its fastest relief ever to Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., as the entitlement sponsor of the October 19, 2008 Sprint Cup series race – The TUMS QuikPak 500. The TUMS QuikPak 500 will be the first NASCAR race sponsored by the TUMS brand. The race sponsorship will continue to build on the long-standing relationship between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare and the .526-mile Virginia short track. The partnership began in 1983 when Goody’s Headache Powder first sponsored the Goody’s 500 at Martinsville Speedway. In addition to the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway, TUMS will serve as an associate sponsor of the #40 and #41 Dodges for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) throughout the 2008 season. The TUMS logo will appear on the B-post and rear quarter panel. The agreement also includes a primary sponsorship in two races. TUMS QuikPak will serve as the primary sponsor of Sprint Cup series rookie Dario Franchitti’s #40 Dodge Charger for the Aaron’s 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27. CGRFS teammate Reed Sorenson will carry the TUMS QuikPak paint scheme under the lights August 23 for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. TUMS will host 18 fan events at race tracks during the season. For each event, TUMS will bring its blue QuikZone display to the fan concourse area along with TUMS Racing simulators, games and the TUMS show car. Fans will have an opportunity to learn more about TUMS fast relief and simple solutions for heartburn and sample the new TUMS QuikPak. The TUMS QuikZone debuted in Daytona for Speedweeks. The TUMS QuikZone also will travel to community events throughout the country. For more information on TUMS Racing, visit www.TUMSracing.com.(Clear!Blue PR) see images of the cars on my #40 Team Schemes page and #41 Team Schemes page.(3-29-2008)

    • New FedEx ad to speed up "slow things" auction: This weekend, FedEx will unveil the latest effort from the popular series of television commercials that has supported the company's sponsorship of the #11 car. In the new "Garage Sale" ad, driver Denny Hamlin holds a garage sale to sell off the things that slow him down. In fact, he's so serious about it he's teamed up with FedEx to hold an online auction of everyday items that just aren't fast enough for Denny and the #11 team. More info on my Racing Charities page.(3-29-2008)

    • Sadler injured? Setzer to qualify? UPDATE 2: It was reported on SPEED's Truck Series practice coverage [Friday 11am-12pm] that #19-Elliott Sadler injured his back and that Truck Series veteran, Dennis Setzer, may practice and qualify the #19 McDonald's Sprint Cup Dodge for Sadler on Friday at Martinsville Speedway.(3-28-2008)
      UPDATE: In response to the announcement that Elliott Sadler sustained an off-track injury that makes his status in question for today’s practice for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Mark McArdle, vice president and managing director of competition of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, has issued the following statement:
      ON THE STATUS OF ELLIOTT SADLER’S CONDITION? “The situation that we’re finding ourselves in is that the driver of our No.19 McDonald’s Dodge – Elliott Sadler - sustained a low-back injury away from the racetrack during the course of the week. He’s finding himself in quite a bit of discomfort, so what we‘ve done is put Dennis Setzer in a position of stand-by.
      “It’s high likely that Dennis will do some laps in the car here during today’s practice session and get the car dialed in for us in race configuration. Elliott’s pretty uncomfortable in any kind of sitting position this morning. We’ll have to make a decision as the day goes on as to exactly what our plans will be with regard to putting Elliott in the car for qualifying or not. We’re going to take it on an hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis for the course of the rest of the weekend. What’s important of course is doing what’s best for Elliott to make sure that we don’t exaggerate or exasperate his injuries any further. So we’re taking medical advice to ensure that we do the right things in that regard. We’re pleased that Dennis has accepted our request to put himself in a stand-by role. He’s an outstanding Dodge driver. Of course it’s a natural fit for us at Gillett Evernham and we’d like to thank his ownership in the truck series for giving him permission to put him in that status for us. Obviously, with his pedigree at this race track, it was an easy choice as to who to ask to stand-by. We’ve got him fitted to the car and trying to work on the logistics of being able to go back and forth between drivers - if that proves to be the right thing to do. We just want to make sure that we kept you folks informed on what’s going on here this morning.”
      HOW DID HE INJURY HIS BACK? “Apparently he had some injury after doing some routine for the week. Apparently during the course of that, something went slightly wrong and I think he exasperated it later that same day with a different sporting injury of some kind. We really don’t know too much detail about the nature of the injury other it’s just low back and seems to be involving a lot of nerve endings.”
      WHEN DID IT HAPPEN? On Wednesday.
      WHO WILL MAKE THE DECISION TO IF ELLIOT RETURNS TO THE CAR? “It will be Elliott’s call working with me in trying to make the best decision that we can. I think right now our inclination will be that we begin practice with Dennis. Certainly the possibility exists that as we go from race mode to qualifying trim, that at that point, we put Elliott in the car for a lap or two to put him in a position where John (Darby) and NASCAR would be happy (for Elliott) to qualify the car and then make our decision as to whether he will qualify based on his condition.”
      Elliott Sadler, driver of the #19 McDonalds Dodge Charger: "My back started to hurt late Wednesday and the pain was more noticeable when I got up Thursday. It was a normal week for me, so that's what really gets me more than anything. Nothing hurts a driver more than not being in his race car with his team. My goal is to be better by Sunday so I can race."(Dodge Motorsports PR)(3-28-2008)
      UPDATE 2: ELLIOTT SADLER (#19 McDonalds Dodge Charger) HOW DOES THE BACK FEEL TODAY? “The back is a little sore. I’m going to ice it down and take some inflammatory medicine and try and get as best prepared as I can.”
      DO YOU THINK THAT YOU CAN DRIVE 500 LAPS TOMORROW? “Right now, I feel like that I can go maybe half-way tomorrow. Right now it’s a 50-50 chance of going the whole way. Dennis (Setzer) is going to stay and hang out with us tomorrow. If I need him, then we’ll go to him. I’m still in a lot of pain right now. You use so much brake here. I’m pushing my back up against the seat a lot. We made seat adjustments today and that helped. Right now it’s 50-50 of going the whole way.”(Dodge Motorsports PR)(3-29-2008) Comment here

    • Happy Hour [Final] practice for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway is over, the fastest:
      #24-Gordon 95.439
      #26-McMurray 95.256
      #48-Johnson 95.027
      #6-Ragan 94.951
      #99-Edwards 94.865
      slowest: #00-McDowell 93.171 and #01-Smith 93.562
      most laps run: #48-Johnson 102; #44-Reutimann 90
      best average laps [all laps averaged]
      #1-Truex Jr. 93.434 [6th fastest lap]
      #6-Ragan 93.394 [4th]
      #29-Harvick 93.375 [8th]
      For all the speeds, see my Martinsville Practice Speeds Page.(3-29-2008)

    • Security company wants Gordon to stop using its logos UPDATE RGM Statement: A security software firm wants #7-Robby Gordon to remove its logos from his uniforms and equipment as part of a contract dispute that began when the Dakar Rally was cancelled because of terrorism threats. Vanguard Integrity Professionals is suing Gordon in U.S. District Court in California over the sponsorship of Team Gordon in the Dakar Rally and is asking for $1.15 million back from the driver. The company went public with the dispute Wednesday because it wants Gordon to immediately cease using its logos in his NASCAR ventures, and claims the driver was only authorized to promote Vanguard outside the United States. "We want the world to know that Vanguard is no longer associated with Team Gordon," the company said in a statement released to The Associated Press. Gordon could not immediately be reached for comment. Gordon contends Vanguard cannot terminate the contract. Upset that Gordon continues to use Vanguard logos, the company requested a temporary restraining order to prohibit Gordon's use of the logos. The motion was denied March 5 in U.S. District Court.(Associated Press/ESPN)(3-27-2008)
      UPDATE: We are disappointed by Vanguard's decision to present our issues to the media. But given the inaccuracies and misleading statements recently published by Vanguard, we want to make sure that the public is aware of important information pertaining to the 2008 Dakar event. The organizer of the Dakar races, ASO, will present the 2008 Dakar Series race in Central Europe beginning April 19, 2008. As with the originally planned Dakar event, the race in Europe will be a cross country endurance off-road event that will traverse threatening and difficult terrain in multiple stages. The race will be covered by international media, and the coverage will be carried by media outlets throughout the world. ASO describes the 2008 Dakar event, dubbed the Central Europe Rally, as follows: "The demands on competitors of the Central Europe Rally will be equivalent to those of the Dakar. The quality of competition also guarantees strong media interest." See full statement at Robbygordon.com.(3-29-2008) Comment here


      News from March 28, 2008

    • Latest on the 'stolen' Roush "proprietary part" UPDATE MWR: Jack Roush said on Friday that a Toyota team stole a sway bar made specifically for Roush Fenway Racing from one of his Sprint Cup teams last season at Dover. "A theft did occur," the co-owner of Roush Fenway said during practice at Martinsville Speedway. "The part was recovered ... We are still considering what if any legal action to seek." One of Roush's options is asking for a restraining order to guarantee the team in question does not duplicate the bar, which has been determined legal by NASCAR, for a competitive advantage. "It's lawyer time," Roush said. Roush made his first comments since he was quoted in ESPN The Magazine as saying a proprietary part was found missing from his inventory and discovered with a Toyota team. He discounted comments made by Jim Aust, the president of Toyota Racing Development, that a valve spring was found during a teardown inspection, identified as belonging to Roush and returned. Roush said the theft occurred in the garage area at Dover in September [2007], where the only Toyota teams in the field belonged to Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull.
      Lee White, the general manager of TRD, said his organization launched a full investigation into the allegation when Roush's allegations were published in ESPN The Magazine. He said a valve spring that did not belong to Toyota ended up at TRD's California location after the California race, that it was reported to NASCAR and returned. Roush said he became aware of the theft in early January when the vendor that produced the product for Roush Fenway was contacted by the Toyota team in question about duplicating the bar.
      Roush said he's had several discussions with NASCAR officials about the situation. He was alarmed when Robin Pemberton, the vice president of competition for the series, said disappearing parts are a common occurrence and the teams needed to work it out amongst themselves. Roush said there is something fundamentally wrong if NASCAR doesn't intercede, reminding the governing body has no problem reacting when somebody uses an illegal part -- on purpose or not. Roush, noting he has been in the business 22 years, and said this is the first time he's heard of such a situation. He declined to respond to a question in which Michael Waltrip Racing was insinuated as the Toyota team. "I don't substantiate," he said. Waltrip declined to comment until he heard how the question was posed and the way Roush responded.(see full story at ESPN.com), see past news about this on the #17 Team News and Links page.(3-28-2008) Comment here

    • Goodyear completes 2nd test at Darlington: The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Wednesday completed a "continuation test" at Darlington Raceway with drivers #16-Greg Biffle, #24-Jeff Gordon and #12-Ryan Newman.  An initial test with the same drivers earlier this month got Goodyear half-way to its goal of finding the right tire combination for the May 10 race at the legendary track. Goodyear engineers and the three teams held an original tire test at Darlington on March 10-11.  They struck on the correct right-side tire, though they were not completely satisfied with the left-side codes they tested.  Thus, Goodyear brought back the same three teams -- so as to take advantage of their baseline notes -- to hone in on that correct left-side. "Goodyear did a great job with the tire that they brought back," said Greg Biffle.  "The track still has quite a bit of speed.  The 'softer' left-side tire had us a little faster than we wanted to go, but the 'tougher' left-side was real driveable.  We were all happy with it." A complete track repaving job was recently completed at Darlington, changing what had traditionally been one of the NASCAR circuits most abrasive racing surfaces.  The result is a smooth, fast race track. "The track seems to be, as all dark, repaved tracks are, very sensitive to temperature.  The hotter it is, the less grip there is," explained Rick Campbell, Goodyear's team leader for NASCAR Racing.  "The Darlington race will be run primarily in the evening and this tire is intended to perform on a cool race track where grip will be a little better.  This is the right tire for an evening race at Darlington and based on the feedback we received from all three drivers in attendance, they agreed with that."(Goodyear PR)(3-28-2008)

    • NASCAR said NO to a #44 - #00 pts swap: David Reutimann wanted to keep the points he earned in the #00 car during the first five races of the Sprint Cup season as he makes the switch to the #44 driven by Dale Jarrett for Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway. NASCAR said no. "They wouldn't let us switch," Reutimann said Friday. "It puts you back almost in the same boat you were before. It's aggravating." Reutimann was 27th in owner's points in the #00. Jarrett, who is retiring, was 34th in the #44 and only 16 points from falling out of the top 35 -- the cutoff for a guaranteed spot in the field for each Sprint Cup race. Michael Waltrip Racing announced last season that Reutimann would replace Jarrett after the first five races. John Darby, the Sprint Cup series director, said point swaps typically are granted only when there is a change in a business function or when an owner is trying to reorganize during the offseason. Sam Hornish Jr., for example, was given Kurt Busch's points at the start of this season as the newest member of Penske Racing so that he would be guaranteed a spot in the first five races. "This was never meant to be used to give a driver the best position he can get," Darby said. "Most people in the garage understand that." Rookie Michael McDowell will inherit Reutimann's points as the new driver of the #00.(ESPN.com)(3-28-2008)

    • Biffle 90% sure he'll stay at Roush UPDATE: #16-Greg Biffle is in his contract year -- is deal with Roush Fenway Racing is up at the end of the season. He's got something to prove, not only to everybody who thought he would never make the Chase again, but also to team owner Jack Roush. He's said that he feels there's a "90 percent" chance he will re-sign, but there's little doubt that the better he does on the track, the more money he's likely to make off of it.(Sports Illustrated)(3-28-2008)
      UPDATE: Greg Biffle on Friday stated his intent to sign a contract extension with Roush-Fenway Racing, saying he is "90%" sure he will do so. "We're really just in the fine-tune negotiations [stage]," Biffle said. "I think we're coming along fairly well. It hasn't been a top priority, but we've been communicating back and forth about what we'd like to see in a contract -- appearances and the way it's structured and different things. And I feel pretty confident we're going to be able to reach middle ground [at Roush Fenway]. I would say 90%." The hope, Biffle said, is to complete the agreement by midseason. "That would be preferable," Biffle said. "So closing down to the chase, and the championship, we have the thing ironed out." Biffle said other teams have mentioned casual interest in securing his driving services, and he's spoken with them -- but only in passing. Roush Fenway, he said, is the only team with which he is negotiating.(ESPN.com)(3-28-2008) Comment here

    • Interim crew chief named for the #21: Team engineer Mike Smith is the interim crew chief for the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Sprint Cup Series team this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Smith is an aerodynamic specialist who has been with the team for 18 years. Bill Elliott is driving for the Wood Brothers this weekend at Martinsville. The team is outside the top 35 in owners points, but has access to a past champions provisional and is, therefore, locked into the field for Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500.(SceneDaily)(3-28-2008)

    • Tony cuts his mane: Tony Stewart comes into Martinsville Speedway relaxed and refreshed after a rare off-weekend on the 38-race weekend Sprint Cup Series schedule. The driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing is also a bit more aerodynamic, for the long hair he had sported since the end of last season is gone. Stewart’s mane looks more like it did when he was a rookie in 1999.
      Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing:
      What made you decide to finally cut your hair? “To be honest, I just woke up one morning and told one of my roommates, ‘Today’s the day. I’m going to get it cut.’ There was no rhyme or reason for it. I just woke up that morning and decided to get my hair cut, and that was that. I kind of laughed about it myself because there wasn’t anything that happened that made me do it. I just went ahead and did it. People who know me say I look 10 years younger now.”
      How is the aftermath of having your back waxed? “It’s already growing back. It’s like a Chia Pet.”
      Is it a testament to NASCAR’s popularity that the length of your hair and your hair follicles in general have become a topic of discussion?
      “Yeah, it’s kind of unbelievable, and it does say that the sport is popular because I never thought the length of my hair would ever gain so much attention.”(JGR PR)(3-28-2008) Comment here

    • Jeff Gordon wins pole at Martinsville: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway with a speed of 96.288mph for his 2nd pole of 2008 and the 65th of his career. #11-Hamlin qualified second with the rest of the top-10 being: #8-Almirola, #6-Ragan, #26-McMurray [best go-or-go homer], #9-Kahne, #49-Schrader [first race w/Toyota], #18-Busch, #20-Stewart and #48-Johnson. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were: #26-McMurray, #49-Schrader, #21-Elliott, #22-Blaney, #84-Skinner, #01-Smith, #10-Carpentier and #40-Franchitti. Franchitti tied with #45-Kyle Pettyy, but go the 43rd starting spot over Petty due to the fact that Petty was 40th in owners points and Franchitti was 38th.
      For the starting lineup, qualifying results, pole progression see my Starting Lineup/Qualifying Results/Order Page.(3-28-2008)

    • Four do not qualify [DNQ] for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway: #45-Petty, #34-Andretti, #78-Nemechek and #08-Raines.(3-28-2008)

    • Qualifying Notes:
      .. Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 with a lap of 19.666 seconds, 96.288 mph.
      .. This is his 65th pole in 515 career NASCAR Sprint Cup races. He is fourth on the all-time pole winners list behind Richard Petty (126), David Pearson (112) and Cale Yarborough (70).
      .. This is his second pole and sixth top-10 start in 2008.
      .. This is Gordon’s seventh pole at Martinsville Speedway. He also started first here in September 1995 when qualified was canceled.
      .. Denny Hamlin posted the second-fastest qualifying time with a lap of 19.775 seconds, 95.757 mph. This is his fourth top-10 start in six Martinsville races – all also top-fives. This is Hamlin’s second top-10 start in 2008.
      .. Aric Almirola (third) posted his career-first Sprint Cup Series top-10 start. His best start in his seven-race Sprint Cup Series career was 16th, which came last race at Bristol.
      .. Jamie McMurray (fifth) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
      .. Sam Hornish Jr. (26th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
      .. Michael McDowell (34th) qualified for his career-first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
      (NASCAR Statistics)(3-28-2008)

    • Martinsville Goodyear Tire Notes: Teams in both the Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck Series will be running the same tire codes at Martinsville this weekend, though the Cup tires will be branded "Goodyear Eagle," while the Truck tires will be branded "Goodyear Wrangler" . . . this is the same successful tire combination of left- and right-side tires that Goodyear brought to Martinsville for the COT cars and trucks in 2007 . . . this is the only track at which Cup teams will run this combination this season, though this right-side code (D-4110) will be run on all four tire positions at the road courses of Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International . . . Truck teams will run this combination on one other short track in 2008 -- Mansfield . . . as on most NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners their tires at Martinsville. Estimated Pit Window: Every 120-130 laps, based on fuel mileage (Sprint Cup).(Goodyear PR), see full notes on my Martinsville Race Info page.(3-28-2008)

    • Stewart and Zippy at the Rock: Tony Stewart will be climbing into the flagstand for the first time to wave the green flag to start a major stock car race when 50 cars come roaring by to start the Carolina 500 at Rockingham Speedway on May 4th. Stewart's Sprint Cup crew chief will also be in Rockingham for the Carolina 500 and he will trade his normal race day duties as crew chief in for a position as driver. Greg Zipadelli will drive the pace car for the parade laps to begin the 312-lap race before relinquishing the steering wheel back to Jack Wallace, the regular ARCA RE/MAX Series driver. "It is an honor to have Tony and Greg join us for our race," said track owner Andy Hillenburg. "Tony has the same passion for the sport that our fans have and there is not a nicer person in the garage area than Greg." Stewart and Zipadelli will be traveling to Rockingham after trying to win the Sprint Cup Series race the night before in Richmond, VA. If weather is a factor in Richmond then both men will not be present for the Carolina 500.(Rockingham Speedway)(3-28-2008) Comment here

    • Friday Practice for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway is over, the fastest:
      #11-Hamlin 95.338
      #48-Johnson 95.275
      #41-Sorenson 95.237
      #24-Gordon 95.145
      #88-Earnhardt Jr. 95.161
      slowest: #08-Raines 92.974 and #83-Vickers 93.580
      most laps run: #00-McDowell 72; #77-Hornish 65
      For the speeds, laps run, see my Martinsville Practice Speeds Page.(3-28-2008)

    • Where did the non top-35 drivers practice at Martinsville
      if things stay the same, these drivers would make the race:
      #22-Dave Blaney, 6th
      #26-Jamie McMurray, 11th
      #49-Ken Schrader, 12th
      #84-Mike Skinner, 19th
      #45-Kyle Petty, 25th
      #01-Regan Smith, 34th
      #78-Joe Nemechek, 35th
      #21-Bill Elliott, [could use past champ provisional], 38th
      if things stay the same, these drivers would miss the race:
      #10-Patrick Carpentier, 39th
      #40-Dario Franchitti, 43rd
      #34-John Andretti, 44th
      #08-Tony Raines, 47th
      For the speeds, laps run, see my Martinsville Practice Speeds Page.(3-28-2008)


      News from March 27, 2008

    • Special Black and Silver Scheme for Dale Jr.: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr will run a special monochromatic paint scheme at the Sprint Cup All-Star Race, featuring an all black and silver design with hints of red and only a few sponsors in full color. 3 Doors Down dedicated a song they wrote for the National Guard Citizen-Soldiers. National Guard soldiers are "Citizens" in time of piece - "Soldiers" in time of need. Dale Jr. wanted to run a car that looked like the "Grey Ghost" that Buddy Baker drove. Most of the design work was done by Jim Gravin at Hendrick Motorsports. See an image of the car on my #88 Paint Schemes Page.(3-27-2008) Comment here

    • Martinsville Rookie Notes: #01-Regan Smith was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 16 Food City 500 at Bristol. Smith scored a 25th-place finish and claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the second time this season. #40-Dario Franchitti leads the Raybestos Rookie standings by one point (50-49) over Smith and Sam Hornish Jr. entering the March 30 Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville. #00-Michael McDowell and #77-Sam Hornish Jr. are the only members of the Raybestos Rookie class with a guaranteed starting spot at Martinsville. Three Raybestos Rookies entered in this weekend’s race at Martinsville do not have a guaranteed starting position: Franchitti, Smith, and #10-Patrick Carpentier. Morgan Shepherd is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 (since 1975), winning the 1981 event. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to score a top-five finish in the spring race at Martinsville is Dick Trickle, a 3rd in 1989. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to score a top-10 finish in the spring race at Martinsville is Jeff Gordon, who placed eighth in 1993. Tony Stewart is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the pole for the 1999 spring race (since 1975).(Camp and Assoc/Rabestos PR), see standings, history and more notes on my 2008 Rookies page.(3-27-2008) Comment here

    • Original Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury on Display: The Wood Brothers Racing original 1971 #21 Purolator Mercury driven by David Pearson has been brought home to Stuart, Virginia where it will be on display at the Wood Brothers Racing museum beginning this week. The legendary race car is in fact, the same machine that David Pearson won his first race with the Wood Brothers and also shared the infamous 11 out of 18 wins in 1973. The race car also known as "The Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury" was loaned to the Darlington Speedway 34 years ago and still carries all of the original parts and paint scheme as it was raced in those infamous years. It was brought back to the Stuart, Virginia race shop for routine maintenance and restoration. The museum of Wood Brothers memorabilia spans 58 years of racing. Among some of the many items on display are; a 1989 Neil Bonnett Thunderbird, a 1937 Glen Wood Ford Coach, and cars from Jon Wood and Keven Wood's careers. Every inch of the walls are decked with plaques and photos, new and old that Glen Wood personally hung himself. There are also a variety of trophies, helmets, uniforms and other items from the Wood Brothers history. Nineteen of NASCAR's "50 Greatest Drivers" have piloted the Wood Brothers cars over the past 58 years, such as David Pearson, AJ Foyt, Curtis Turner, Dale Jarrett and others. The museum is open weekdays from 9:00am to noon, & 1:00pm to 5:00pm. There is no admission fee, and the gift shop offers varied souvenir items. It's located only thirty minutes from Martinsville Speedway, just off highway 58. The museum and souvenir shop is also open this Saturday during the Martinsville Race weekend until 1pm.(WBR PR)(3-27-2008) Comment here

    • BAM merging..with someone? UPDATE 3: been hearing rumors, but no confirms, that the #49 BAM Racing team may be merging with another team, the rumors include either the Petty Enterprises Dodge teams [#43 and #45] or the #22 Bill Davis Racing Team. The Petty deal sounds like a better match as BAM already uses Dodges. BDR just recently suspended operations of its 2nd team [#27] and parted ways with the crew chief of that team, Slugger Labbe. BDR is currently out of the top 35 in owners points and not guaranteed a spot in the next race at Martinsville. Either is BAM Racing's #49 with Ken Schrader or one of the Petty cars, #45-Kyle Petty. Supposedly CAT is only signed with the #22 thru 2008 and could be headed to Joe Gibbs Racing in some capacity for 2009.(3-21-2008)
      UPDATE: Microsoft, through the Microsoft U.S. Small Business Team, has just become one of the sponsors of the #49 Sprint Cup Series team for the 2008 season. The Microsoft sponsorship will feature the Microsoft Small Business name as well as the Microsoft Small Camry Microsoft Full Rear Business Specialist (SBSC) ‘blue badge,’ which designates those Microsoft Partners who specialize on servicing the needs of small businesses. With this sponsorship, the Microsoft Small Business name, as well as the Microsoft Small Business Specialist ‘blue badge,’ will be shown in a Microsoft section on the #49 car for all remaining races of the 2008 season. The BAM Racing #49 car will feature a full-car Microsoft Small Business theme (primary sponsorship) for the March 30, 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race next Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA. The car will show Microsoft SmallCamry Microsoft Rear 3-4 view Business and the Microsoft Small Business Specialist ‘blue badge’ across the entire car.(in part from the Microsoft SMB Community Blog), see images of the #49 TOYOTA on the blog site or my #49 Team Schemes page. Hearing this will be more of a working association the a merger with BDR. The #49 is listed as a Dodge on the entry list, but that could change when updates are made later this week. Of note, Schrader is entered in the Truck race at Martinsville...in the #52-Federated Auto Parts TOYOTA.(3-25-2008)
      UPDATE 2: BAM Racing will begin using Toyota engines from Bill Davis Racing in the #49 car driven by Ken Schrader this weekend at Martinsville Speedway in what could be the first step toward a merger between the companies. "Right now it's more of a collaboration than a merger," said Eddie Jones, general manager at BAM Racing. "We're trying to work together to see what we can do for them and what they can do for us and see if there is anything to move forward on." BAM was under contract to use Dodge engines supplied by Gillett Evernham Motorsports this season. Jones said they're still in the process of working through that deal, but added that GEM has given permission for BAM to move forward with BDR. "That's the business part of the deal," Jones said. "I'm trying to get the race car all put together." Jones said he contacted BDR a couple of weeks ago, believing the power Toyota engines have shown could be the best long-term solution. "Short term, we expect to at least stay the same or get a little better," he said. "Long term, we're doing what we can do this year and hoping to have a great situation and by the time the year is over look at something else."(ESPN.com)(3-26-2008)
      UPDATE 3: BAM Racing, announced that Microsoft joins the team in a multifaceted capacity that includes a Diamond Sponsorship as well as a strategic offering. The two companies are excited to provide current and future members of the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community the opportunity to leverage BAM Racing’s ground-breaking Diamond Sponsorship Program enhanced with added features and a reduced price - available only through this offer at 49Team.com. While striving to improve its financial prospects with the innovative Diamond Sponsorship Program, BAM Racing is making significant changes on the performance side also. Beginning this weekend in Martinsville, driver Ken Schrader will be piloting a Toyota Camry. According to team co-owner Tony Morgenthau, “We had a great seven-year run with Dodge, but as a single-car team we took a long hard look at all the manufacturers. The bottom line is that we found Toyota to be the most committed to racing and the absolute best fit for our team. We’re not satisfied with being an ‘also-ran’ so we are looking to significantly improve our performance. The switch to Toyota should help BAM Racing realize that goal.”(BAM Racing PR)(3-27-2008) Comment here

    • Two associate sponsors on the #17 at Martinsville: The logo for Southern Air will ride along on the C-post of the #17 DeWalt Ford of Matt Kenseth this weekend. Southern Air is the region’s largest mechanical, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical commercial and residential contractor company - with over 700 employees they cover Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia. Coleman Adams Construction, one of the largest and oldest General Contractor companies in Virginia will ride along on the #17’s wings this weekend at Martinsville.(RFR PR)(3-27-2008) Comment here

    • Sad News - Geno Tataryn: Eugene 'Geno' Mychailo Tataryn passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, March 23, 2008. He was a devoted son to Anna and Mykola, loyal brother to George, and close friend to many. Towering at 6'4", Geno was a kind, gentle spirit with a heart as supersized as his stature. He never met a stranger because it took only minutes for a friendship with Geno to blossom, and he was always there to lend a helping hand or console a friend in need. He was brilliant and talented and possessed a wealth of qualities many admired. Geno developed a passion for racing that brought him to North Carolina, where he worked for five years as an Engine Development Engineer for Dale Earnhardt Inc. After resigning that position to care for his mother, he went on to work as a consultant for an engineering company, which allowed him the opportunity to travel and the freedom to pursue other interests. Geno was an SCCA sanctioned racecar driver and competed in road races around the country and in Puerto Rico. He was proud to have been the inspiration and the original track designer for High Rock Raceway in Salisbury, NC.(more info at the Charlotte Observer)(3-27-2008)


      News from March 26, 2008

    • Roush Says Toyota Team Stole "Proprietary Part" UPDATE 2: ESPN the Magazine has an interesting and potentially explosive quote from Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush as part of its 10th Anniversary issue, which is on newsstands this week. Two weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the magazine quotes Roush as saying, “We had a proprietary Roush Fenway part go missing from one of my race teams, and we recovered it from a Toyota team. I’m not going to say which team it is, but we are considering legal action, or getting NASCAR involved.” If Roush’s allegations prove to be true, this could become NASCAR’s version of the recent spy scandal that rocked Formula One racing, in which the McLaren-Mercedes team was caught with confidential, proprietary test information belonging to rival Ferrari. We contacted Roush Fenway Racing today in search of further information – including team was involved and the specific part in question -- and we [SIRIUS Speedway w/ Dave Moody] hope to have a statement from them later today.(Motorsports Soapbox)(3-25-2008)
      UPDATE: Jack Roush, co-owner of Ford-based Roush Fenway Racing, leveled another serious accusation at nemesis Toyota at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- one that took nearly three weeks to surface. No one from either RFR or Toyota was willing to comment on Tuesday, but no one was denying Roush told a reporter from ESPN The Magazine on March 7 that a Toyota team had been in possession of an RFR team part.(ESPN)(3-26-2008)
      UPDATE 2: Toyota officials on Wednesday identified the Roush Fenway Racing part that owner Jack Roush said was found in a Toyota team's [supposedly MWR] possession during a Sprint Cup post-race teardown as a spring. Jim Aust, the president and chief executive officer of Toyota Racing Development, said once the part was found to belong to RFR that it was returned. He was uncertain how the part, discovered on a table with other Toyota parts, got there or from which team it came. "I don't understand the whole procedure when a teardown happens," said Aust, referring to a post-race process in which several cars are broken down by NASCAR inspectors. "The only thing I know is it wound up with parts we had and [which were] returned to Roush. "It's unfortunate it happened the way it did. It wasn't anything intentional. There's no reason to be done intentional. I have no idea how it happened to begin with." Roush Fenway president Geoff Smith said the part in question was not a spring, but he would not elaborate. No one at RFR has identified which Toyota team had the part. "Jack is the only one to talk to at this time and he presently doesn't want to make any additional comments," Smith said.(ESPN.com)(3-26-2008) Comment here

    • BB&T colors on #07 at Martinsville: This week, Clint Bowyer's #07 Chevy Impala SS will feature a burgundy, gold and white BB&T paint scheme. Jack Daniel's, Bowyer's mainstay primary sponsor, will be featured on the car's lower-rear quarter panels and deck lid. BB&T is the full-time sponsor of Bowyer's #2 Chevy in the Nationwide Series. BB&T Corporation, headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a fast growing, highly profitable financial holding company. Bowyer will pilot Chassis No. 218 from, built new last season but yet to be raced, this is the same Chevrolet Impala SS Bowyer and his Gil Martin-led team tested last week at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Condolences go out to Phil Gould, Car Chief of RCR's #07 Chevy, and his family on the unexpected passing of his mother Hazel Gould. Gould will miss this weekend's race at Martinsville but is expected to return to the track next weekend in Texas.(RCR PR)(3-26-2008)

    • Kennametal to sponsor Franchitti at Martinesville and Texas: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced an expansion of their current partnership with Kennametal to include primary sponsorship for the next two Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races in Martinsville and Texas on the W40 Dodge Charger driven by NSCS and Nationwide Series (NNS) Raybestos Rookie of the Year points leader Dario Franchitti. A longtime CGRFS partner, Kennametal supplies tooling and machining technology to CGRFS' Charlotte and Indianapolis-based racing shops. In addition they provide the team's engineers and machinists a myriad of opportunities to further refine their skills in order to gain optimum performance through Kennametal's internal university program.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-26-2008)

    • Tire test at Darlington: One test of Darlington Raceway’s new surface wasn’t enough, so Goodyear is coming back. The tire manufacturer will hold a one-day test Wednesday at NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway. The test, which is closed to the public and the media, will feature the same three drivers who participated in the last test (Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle), which was held March 10-11. Toyota, which didn’t have a driver represented in the last test, also won’t have a driver at this one. During the last test, Goodyear officials said they only need two teams for collecting data and the exclusion of Toyota wasn’t deliberate. One of the main reasons for the test clearly is to find a tire that might help slow the speeds down. During the last one, speeds reached more than 200 mph on the back stretch. The qualifying record for the track is 173.797, set by Ward Burton in 1996. “Speeds picked up over 18 miles an hour and that’s pretty substantial,” Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning said. “They are doing the right thing by coming back and listening to the comments the drivers made. Hopefully, they will design something to withstand the speed.” Since the first test, the track has changed a little with more rubber being put down on it. A six-day driving school was held last week and Browning said 16,416 laps were put down on the track, which is more than a typical 500-mile race with 43 cars. “That definitely doesn’t hurt the track,” Browning said. “Historically, tracks just need time to settle in.”(South Carolina Now)(3-26-2008)

    • McDonald's debut on the #19 car: #19 Dodge driver Elliott Sadler carries the familiar McDonald's paint scheme this weekend in the Sprint Cup series race at Martinsville Speedway. Sadler will race the McDonald's car six times in 2007 joining a small group of Sprint Cup drivers who have carried the Golden Arches paint scheme through the years. The list includes Hut Stricklin, Jimmy Spencer, plus Gillett Evernham Motorsports drivers Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne. The #19 McDonald's Dodge will run GEM Chassis No. 221 this weekend; a brand new car never raced and tested last fall in Atlanta.(GEM PR), see images of the scheme on my #19 Team Schemes page.(3-26-2008)


      News from March 25, 2008

    • Kennedy Assumes Crew Chief Role #55 team: Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Bobby Kennedy and Paul Andrews will switch managerial roles beginning with Martinsville Speedway. Kennedy will now serve as crew chief for Michael Waltrip and his #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota team as Andrews will continue in a leadership role to supervise Michael Waltrip Racing's test teams. "Paul did a great job in helping us reach our top-35 goal and I know he will continue his diligence with our test teams for the betterment of our organization," Waltrip said. "Bobby has always been there for me and my NAPA Auto Parts Toyota team to help with our decision making process. We have known each other for a very long time and I guess you can say that we are made for each other. Going to Martinsville with Bobby knowing we have the luxury of being in the top 35, is a relief. Now, it is all about being successful in the race."(MWR PR)(3-25-2008) Comment here

    • Testing at Nashville: Toyota Motorsports rented the Nashville Superspeedway for an all day test on Tuesday [March 25th] for team testing. Bill Davis Racing, Hall of Fame Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, and Red Bull Racing Team participated in the day long test. Nashville Superspeedway will serve host to Toyota Motorsports testing 25 times throughout 2008. Nashville Superspeedway host the Toyota Tundra 200 Craftsman Truck Series race in August. (Nashville Superspeedway PR)(3-25-2008) Comment here

    • Charter to sponsor Robby: Robby Gordon will race the #7 Charter Communications Dodge this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. "We are excited to have Charter Communications as the primary of the #7 this weekend, and we hope to finish strong on Sunday for them" said Gordon.(RGM PR)(3-25-2008) Comment here


      News from March 24, 2008

    • Nationwide Series Testing at Richmond: Nationwide Series teams will test Monday, March 24 and Tuesday, March 25. Testing is from 1:00 to 9:00pm/et each day. In case of rain, teams will test on Wednesday. More than 30 drivers representing more than 20 teams are expected to participate and gather notes for the remaining three short tracks on the 2008 series schedule. See the complete release on the Richmond Testing Page. Speeds will be posted when available.(3-24/25-2008) Comment here

    • #21 Crew chief leaves team: Gene Nead, crew chief for the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Sprint Cup car, has left the team, team officials confirmed Monday morning. Nead joined the Wood Brothers in November 2007 after a stint with Robby Gordon Motorsports. With a variety of drivers this year – Bill Elliott, Johnny Sauter and Jeff Green – the Wood Brothers have failed to qualify for four of the five events. The team is 44th in owners points and has had to qualify for races on speed but should be OK for the race in Martinsville because with Dale Jarrett’s retirement and Kurt Busch now being locked in with points, Elliott is expected to be the only past champion who isn’t locked into the field. The team has not yet named a replacement for Nead.(SceneDaily)(3-24-2008)
      UPDATE: “We had a whole bunch of testing planned, to go out and just race more and go through some things and figure them out,” [#22-Dave] Blaney [of Bill Davis Racing] said. “We needed the days to try to learn something, but we missed out on a couple.” Instead, the #22 Cat team will attempt to make up for lost time this week before going to Martinsville. Monday’s workout will be at a short track in [Caraway Speedway in Asheboro] North Carolina in preparation for Martinsville, while Tuesday and Wednesday in Nashville are for general testing. “We’ll try to learn all we can this week,” Blaney said. Since Bristol, the Cat team has added Gene Nead, who left a year ago to join another team. “He’s coming back,” Blaney said of the crew member whose role will most likely be that of engineer. “He’s very good,” Blaney said of Nead, who will help crew chief Tommy Baldwin in all phases. “If you can add some people to make your team stronger, no matter when, that’s a good thing. Hopefully, it’ll give us a little shot in the arm and turn it around.”(Youngstown Vindicator)(3-24-2008) Comment here

    • Justice Dept Approves XM-Sirius Deal: The Justice Department approved Sirius Satellite Radio's $5 billion buyout of rival XM Satellite Radio on Monday, saying the deal was unlikely to hurt competition or consumers. The deal was approved despite opposition from consumer groups and an intense lobbying campaign by the land-based radio industry. The buyout received shareholder approval in November. The companies said the merger will save hundreds of millions of dollars in operating costs - savings that will ultimately benefit their customers. The Justice Department, in a lengthy news release explaining its decision, said the two companies compete not just with each other but also with other forms of radio and entertainment.(Associated Press), no word how this will effect Sirius or XM's coverage of NASCAR.(3-24-2008) Comment here

    • McDowell to make Cup debut at Martinsville; Aaron's to sponsor next 5 races: March 30th is significant to Michael McDowell because he will make his long-awaited Sprint Cup Series debut with Michael Waltrip Racing in the Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway. As the 23-year-old steps into the #00 Toyota Camry, Aaron's Sales and Lease Ownership announces today that their partnership will continue with the Michael Waltrip Racing team through Richmond International Raceway. "We are thrilled to continue to be on the #00 for the next five races and help introduce Michael McDowell to the Cup side." stated Ken Butler, President of Aaron's Sales and Lease Ownership. "We are proud to be able to extend our involvement in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Michael Waltrip Racing and look forward to having McDowell in the Aaron's Dream Machine especially at Talladega Superspeedway for our race, the Aaron's 499. I have seen Michael race in the ARCA Series last year and was impressed with his driving. I think he will do well at this level and everyone at Aaron's will be behind him 100 percent." This may be McDowell's first race in the #00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, but this is his second visit to the .526-oval. "In October, I raced for Darrell Waltrip Motorsports in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the biggest thing I learned is you have to be patient," McDowell said. After Bristol Motor Speedway, all three Michael Waltrip Racing entries were locked into the top 35. McDowell is glad the pressure to make the race is no longer there.(MWR PR)(3-24-2008) Comment here

    • Chrissy Wallace to make CTS debut: Germain Racing will field the #03 Germain Motor Company/Chase Toyota Tundra this weekend at Martinsville Speedway for Chrissy Wallace's Craftsman Truck Series debut. Wallace's NASCAR career is set to kick off, by strange coincidence, at the same track where her father, NNS driver Mike Wallace, began his career in 1990. Mike will spot for Chrissy. Mike Abner, who has served as crew chief for Ted Musgrave and Justin Marks at Germain Racing, will lead the #03 team effort at Martinsville.(Germain Racing PR)(3-24-2008)

    • Milestone coming up for Stewart...laps led: after Bristol, #20-Tony Stewart has led 9,892 laps in his Sprint Cup career, which is 13th all time and 108 laps short of 10,000. Bill Elliott is 12th at 11,416. #24-Jeff Gordon is the leading active driver with 19,557. Richard Petty is the all time leader with 52,194 [racing reference or 51.382 NASCAR Stats], followed by Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson. #8-Mark Martin is 11th at 11,437.(data from RacingReference.info and NASCAR Statistics)(3-24-2008) Comment here

    • After five Sprint Cup Races parity has reigned in the first five races of this Sprint Cup Series season. All four manufacturers have at least two cars in the top 12. Only 96 points separate first-place Kyle Busch from fifth-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet). Six drivers have Driver Ratings above 100.0, and one other – Earnhardt – is one-tenth off at 99.9.
      A look at the Loop Data box score tells some other interesting tales:
      For instance, there is a reason Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevrolet) hasn’t been his usually dominant self. The statistics show a huge dip in the way he closes out races this year. Gordon’s “Closer” number (the positions gained/lost in the last 10% of races) is last at -31. Last season he led the stat with a +78. Furthermore: Gordon’s average starting position this season is 3.4. At mid-race, he’s averaging a sixth-place position. His average finish, though, takes a huge dive at 18.6. But the stats show Gordon’s been better than his finishes – as his Driver Rating of 102.9 is fourth-best in the series. The side of that scenario explains the huge comeback year Greg Biffle (#16 Jackson Hewitt Ford) is having. Biffle, improving throughout, averages a start of 13.0, a mid-race of 9.2 and a finish of 7.4. Overall this season, Biffle has a Driver Rating of 102.1 (fifth-best), an Average Running Position of 9.5 (fourth) and 1,372 (88.6%) Laps in the Top 15 (second-best).
      Another storyline: The speed Carl Edwards (#99 Office Depot Ford) has flashed this season. He has 213 Fastest Laps Run, by far the highest total in the series (second most is Kyle Busch at 125). The statistical story of points leader Kyle Busch begs to be told. The stats show his tremendous passing ability this season – he’s first in Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) at 126. Busch is the only driver in triple-digits in the stat, and is far ahead of second-place Tony Stewart (#20 Home Depot Toyota) with 72.
      Another week in the books and the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings are still tight as Sprint Cup teams take the week off and prepare for Martinsville. Dario Franchitti leads the rookie standings with 50 points, just one point over Sam Hornish Jr. and Regan Smith who are tied with 49. Smith was the highest-finishing rookie at Bristol posting a 26th, after finishing 38th at Atlanta. Smith is the only rookie this season to have competed at Martinsville; he posted a 26th-place finish last April in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Hornish Jr. finished 26th at Atlanta and 29th at Bristol, but has never raced at Martinsville. Patrick Carpentier (#10 Valvoline Dodge) sits fourth in the rookie standings with 21 points. Carpentier finished 35th at Atlanta, but due to qualifying being cancelled, did not start at Bristol. This will also be the first time Carpentier has competed at Martinsville.
      Competition amongst manufacturers is extremely close, with all four manufacturers represented in the top 12 of the driver standings, and all four manufacturers having won at least one race in the first five races of the season. Plus, for the first time in Bristol Motor Speedway history, 42 cars finished the race last Sunday, a clear testimony to the “new car” being used in the Sprint Cup Series. In the Manufacturers’ Standings, Ford and Chevrolet both have 31 points, but Ford has two wins to Chevrolet’s one. Chevrolet grabbed its first win of the season at Bristol and has the most wins by a manufacturer at Martinsville with 43.(NASCAR Statistics)(3-24-2008) Comment here



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