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


      News from April 27, 2008

    • Sad News: Condolences to ESPN NASCAR analyst Marty Smith on the death of his father Leo. Thoughts go out to Marty and his family.
      AND Leo Harvey (Butch) Smith II, 60, of Pearisburg, died on Friday, April 25, 2008. In death, Leo regained life, reuniting with his everything, his beloved wife, Joy, in the arms of the Lord after 10 heartbroken years apart. He yearned for nothing but to see her sweet face again. He said so every day. In life, Leo impacted many through anonymous generosity. Few kids contemplate where those Big Macs come from as the athletic bus meanders down the mountain on fall Friday evenings, or how those sparkling new bats appear in the Little League dugout. He was that kind of man. A lifelong resident of the New River Valley, Leo was raised an only child in Christiansburg by a pair of hardworking educators, Leo H. Smith and Eunice Martin Smith. Following brief stints in Culpeper, Va., and Salem, W.Va., during which he worked tirelessly to provide for a young family while earning a college degree, Leo eventually settled his family in Giles Co., in close proximity to his widowed mother and the Virginia Tech Hokies. A loving son, he called his mother daily to ensure her well-being. She once broke a hip and he didn't just visit sporadically. He was there every day and literally taught her to walk again, tracking every step with an elaborate Excel spreadsheet that spoke well to his meticulous nature. A loving father, he attended ballgames and high school chorus concerts, leaving little doubt to the assemblage which children were his. He was the proudest of papas, and until his dying day instilled in others the value of determination. He cared not if you were the best, he cared that you strove to be. Leo was preceded in death by his father, Leo H. Smith and his wife, Joy Massey Smith. He is survived by his mother, Eunice Martin Smith, 93, of Christiansburg; his daughter, Stacy Smith Moyer and her husband, Chris, of Suffolk, Va.; his son, Marty and his wife, Lainie, of Huntersville, N.C.; and one grandson, Cambron Reed Smith. Visitation will be held Tuesday, April 29, 2008 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Givens Funeral Home, in Pearisburg. Funeral services will be held April 30, 2008, at 2 p.m. at Angel's Rest Baptist Fellowship, in Pearisburg, with the Rev. Lee Ellison officiating. The interment will follow at Birchlawn Cemetery. Flowers are appreciated and donations made in his honor may be sent to the American Breast Cancer Foundation or Angel's Rest Baptist Fellowship.(Roanoke Times)(4-27-2008)

    • Ownership not an option at JGR for Stewart: If #20-Tony Stewart wants to become a NASCAR team owner, he'll have to do it somewhere other than Joe Gibbs Racing. J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, said Sunday that co-ownership at Gibbs is not an option for Tony Stewart, but other options are available. "Our [ownership] deal is set the way it is," Gibbs said. "But we could do some stuff to help him get started with his own team if that's what he really wanted." Stewart said earlier in the week that he is interest in becoming a Sprint Cup team owner. He also said Haas/CNC Racing has offered that option while allowing him to drive for them. But Stewart is under contact with JGR through the 2009 season. Gibbs said they have no intention of ending the relationship with Stewart before the contract expires. The deal with Home Depot, the primary sponsor of the #20 Toyota Stewart drives, also goes through 2009.(ESPN.com)(4-27-2008) Comment here

    • Franchitti injured in Nationwide race, Stremme to run #40 UPDATE: #40-Dario Franchitti has fractured his left ankle in the Nationwide Series race at Talladega on Saturday and will not be able to race in Sunday's Sprint Cup race. David Stremme, former driver of the #40 Dodge for Ganassi Racing, has been asked to sub for Franchitti and got permission from Roger Penske [he is their test driver] and Rusty Wallace [who Stremme drives for in the Nationwide Series] to start and run the race Sunday.(PRN's Garage Pass)(4-26-2008)
      UPDATE: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) driver Dario Franchitti will not compete in the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway after suffering a slight fracture in his left ankle as a result of a collision on lap 11 in Saturday's Nationwide Series (NNS) event. Franchitti will be reevaluated early next week. On lap 11, Franchitti's #40 Fastenal Dodge blew a right-rear tire which caused the on-track incident. Franchitti was treated at the Talladega Superspeedway infield care center and then driven to Physicians Medical Center Carraway in Birmingham, Ala., where he was further evaluated, treated and released.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)(4-27-2008)
      UPDATE 2: Stremme will replace the injured Dario Franchitti today in the #40 for Chip Ganassi Racing. Franchitti broke his ankle in a hard wreck Saturday in the Nationwide race. Stremme drove the #40 full time last year but was released to make way for Franchitti. Stremme stressed that it's just a one-race deal and the team has yet to decide what to do for the race at Richmond next week. Ganassi Manager of Competition Steve Hmiel said no plans have been made yet for Richmond or beyond, depending on how quickly Franchitti can return. "Hopefully Dario will be back sooner rather than later, but it's very unclear at this point," he said.(Alabama Live)(4-27-2008) Comment here

    • Kyle Busch wins at Talladega: #18-Kyle Busch won the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, for his 2nd win of 2008 and 6th of his career. The race ended under caution when there was a semi-big wreck on the last lap [once the white flag is thrown, NASCAR does not do a Green-White-Checker]. It is the 8th time since the 'Lucky Dog' rule went into effect at Dover in Sept 2003 that a driver who has received the Lucky Dog/Lap Back pass has gone on to win the Cup race. Busch now has seven NASCAR victories this season: two in Sprint Cup, three Nationwide and two in the Craftsman Truck Series. Finishing 2nd was #42-Montoya [his best oval finish] followed by #11-Hamlin, #6-Ragan, #83-Vickers, #28-Kvapil, #5-Mears, #12-Newman, #07-Bowyer and #88-Earnhardt Jr. #7-Robby Gordon finished 11th. #20-Stewart wrecked late and ended up 38th, #99-Edwards lost a tire and smacked the wall, finishing 40th. There were 8 caution flags for 23 laps and there were 52 lead changes among 20 drivers.
      See race results and awards on my Talladega Race Results page.(4-27-2008)

    • REVISED UNOFFICAL Drivers Points Standings [after Talladega race 9 of 36]:
      1) #31-Jeff Burton 1347 [1 win]
      2) #18-Kyle Busch 1325 -22 [2 wins]
      3) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1268 -79
      4) #11-Denny Hamlin 1248 -84 [1 win]
      5) #48-Jimmie Johnson 1245 -102 [1 win]
      6) #29-Kevin Harvick 1208 -139
      7) #07-Clint Bowyer 1182 -165
      8) #16-Greg Biffle 1148 -199
      9) #20-Tony Stewart 1137 -210
      10) #99-Carl Edwards 1084 -263 [would be 7th if no 100pt penalty][3 wins]
      11) #12-Ryan Newman 1062 -285 [1 win]
      12) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya 1029 -318
      other chase contenders
      13) #9-Kasey Kahne 1028 -1pt out of 12th
      14) #24-Jeff Gordon 1018 -11
      15) #6-David Ragan 994 -35
      15) #83-Vickers 994 -35
      Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Talladega page.(4-27-2008)

    • Talladega Superspeedway Fast Facts
      .. Kyle Busch won the Aaron’s 499, his sixth victory in 123 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
      .. This is his second victory and sixth top-10 finish in 2008.
      .. This is his first victory and first top-10 finish in seven races at Talladega Superspeedway.
      .. Juan Pablo Montoya (second) posted his first top-10 finish in 2008 and his first finish better than 15th in three races at Talladega.
      .. Denny Hamlin (third) posted his sixth top-10 finish of 2008. This is his second top-10 finish in five races at Talladega. He eclipsed his previous best finish of fourth set in October 2007.(NASCAR Statistics)(4-27-2008)

    • Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Richmond
      no changes in who is in or out, the order got changed a bit and the points between 35th and 36th is now 61
      The teams are NOT locked in past the next race as the owners points change after each race.
      31) #55-Waltrip/Waltrip Racing 708 +110
      32) #41-Sorenson/Ganassi Racing 678 +80
      33) #44-Reutimann/Waltrip Racing 670 +72
      34) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing 663 +65
      35) #01-Smith/Dale Earnhardt Inc 659, 61 points ahead of 36th
      these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed:
      36) #40-Franchitti/Ganassi Racing 598, 61 points out of 35th
      37) #70-Sauter/Haas CNC Racing 584 -75
      38) #96-Yeley/Hall of Fame Racing 579 -80
      39) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis 577 -82
      40) #84-Allmendinger/Red Bull Racing 521 -138
      For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(4-27-2008)

    • Talladega Superspeedway Penalty Report:
      Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
      1 #17 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 20
      2 #8 Excessive speed - Exiting pits PT 53
      3 #17 Excessive speed - Exiting pits PT 54
      4 #5 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 117
      5 #09 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 117
      6 #17 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 119
      7 #20 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 144
      8 #70 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 144
      9 #10 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 144
      10 #2 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 174
      11 #20 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 174
      12 #43 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 174
      13 #43 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 181
      PT - Pass through
      TE - Tail end of the longest line
      SG - Stop and Go
      OL - One lap
      ND - NASCAR discretion
      MCI - Must come into pits.(NASCAR Statistics)(4-27-2008)

    • Who got a lap back on each caution at Talladega: (and their finish)
      Caution 1: #21-Wood, still 7 laps down, 36th
      Caution 2: #18-Busch, back on lead lap, WON
      Caution 3: #2-Busch, back on lead lap, 39th
      Caution 4: #7-Gordon, back on lead lap, 11th
      Caution 5: #66-Riggs, back on lead lap, 16th
      Caution 6: #09-Marlin, back on lead lap, 21st
      Caution 7: none awarded with 10 or less laps to go
      Caution 8: none awarded with 10 or less laps to go
      (4-27-2008)

    • Raines to run the #08 at LMS: EM Motorsports owner John Carter announced that Tony Raines would pilot the Rhino’s Energy Drink Dodge Charger in both the Sprint Showdown and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Fans will have the opportunity to vote a driver from the Sprint Showdown race into the field for the Sprint All-Star Race. EM Motorsports driver Tony Raines is eligible for the fan vote based on his finishing position in the 2007 Nextel Cup Series point standings had to be in the top 50, was 29th in drivers pts while driving ther #96). Based in Toccoa, GA, EM Motorsports presently has three race-ready COTs for Sprint Cup Series competition. EM Motorsports is led by owner John Carter, Crew Chief Charles Swing, Marketing VP Doug Barron and NASCAR Consultant James Hylton.(Tonyraines.com)(4-27-2008) Comment here

    • Sauter back in #70 at RIR; Schrader could run more races: from a Team Chevy PR:
      KEN SCHRADER, #70 HUNT BROTHERS PIZZA IMPALA SS – Qualified 3rd: HOW DID YOU MAKE THAT CAR GO THAT FAST AS THE LAST QUALIFIER OUT? "It was desperation. When you aren't locked in to the top-35, you do what you have to do. We definitely concentrated more on qualifying for today. We will probably have to undo a little bit of that tomorrow. The Haas/CNC grout built us a heck of a little car. It is brand new with a brand new sponsor, Hunt Brothers Pizza. The Hendrick Motors, they did their job for sure. You work on qualifying differently when you are one of those cars that is not locked in the top-35 because if you don't go fast enough, you go home. It brings a out desperation. There are a lot of things you have to do. We are going to have a good little race car."
      IS THIS A ONE-SHOT DEAL? “No, we’re going to run it some more. We’re definitely going to run it some more. We’re working on the schedule, but we are going to run the car some more this year. I know that Jay [actually Johnny, not Jay] Sauter is going to run it next week and we’re working on that stuff now. That’s the only real good advantage I’ve found to being old so far. I told them to just let me know if I need to be there.”
      YOU WERE SCHEDULED TO BE IN THE BAM CAR FOR TALLADEGA. DO YOU STILL HAVE ANY TIES WITH THEM? COULD YOU UPDATE THAT STATUS?
      “I can’t speak for them. I’ve driven for those people two full years and then drove one race last year. We started of the year this year and they love the sport a lot and they’ve invested a lot of their own money on that team. I know they’re working hard to get funding to run it. I’ll always be indebted to them because I’ve been working for them for a while and they’re just good people that love this sport. But I don’t have any ties to them.”(Team Chevy)(4-27-2008) Comment here

    • Danica Patrick talked to Roush Fenway recently UPDATE: Officials from Roush Fenway Racing "had a conversation" with IndyCar driver Danica Patrick as recently as two weeks ago when the Sprint Cup Series was in Phoenix for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. And while Jack Roush, the founder and co-owner of the organization, said that he was not part of the conversation, he also said Friday from Talladega Superspeedway that he believes Patrick has an interest in eventually pursuing a future that would include at least some stock-car racing. He even offered to lay out a program for her indoctrination into NASCAR. "I think Danica, from what I understand, has got an interest in stock-car racing," Roush said. "Any sponsor, any team owner that felt the need to have more of a diverse situation in their driving lineup would look at Danica very favorably."(more at NASCAR.com)(4-26-2008)
      UPDATE: Danica Patrick's visit to the Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway two weeks ago was more about seeing friends than putting out feelers. But aside from renewing ties with former Indy Racing League peers Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr., Patrick's Phoenix appearance as a guest of Roush Fenway Racing also could mark a step toward establishing new relationships in stock-car racing — perhaps with Jack Roush, who admitted officials from his powerhouse Cup team spoke to Patrick at Phoenix. NASCAR still remains a possibility for Patrick in the wake of becoming the first woman to win a major-league open-wheel event. "The door has never been shut," she said Friday at Kansas Speedway. "I've learned too well over the last six to eight years, you can't say anything is a never. Saying never is a very strong word, and if you do enough interviews and say that word, it really lives." Patrick, 26, had a brief flirtation with leaving Indy cars to race NASCAR in the summer of 2006 while in the final season of her contract with Rahal Letterman Racing. She signed with Andretti Green Racing for the 2007 season in a multiyear deal whose terms weren't disclosed. But SPEEDTV.com reported that Patrick's primary sponsor, Motorola, signed a contract for 2007-09, and driver contracts often run concurrently with their sponsors. That could put the IRL's most popular star up for bidding again in 2010, and Patrick won't rule out considering NASCAR again. "Yes, I'm knee deep in Indy car," she said. "But when your contract time comes, anyone would be foolish not to explore options that are relevant. You have to go where you feel you have the best chance to win and the most opportunities and where you feel your heart is." Patrick tested a Ford for a now-defunct team in the Nationwide series several years ago, and she now is drawing interest from Ford's top team owner in NASCAR.(USA Today)(4-27-2008) Comment here

    • Executive to lead Petty Kansas camp for ill children: Mike Lepore, a former executive with Wells Fargo Financial, was introduced on Friday as the president of the new Victory Junction Gang Camp for children scheduled to open in Wyandotte County [KS]. The original Victory Junction camp in North Carolina, founded by NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie, in honor of their late son, Adam, provides free, year-round, activities for chronically ill children. The Pettys announced earlier this year they would open a camp in Wyandotte County, and on Friday, Lepore said the search has been narrowed to one of three sites in Wyandotte County. A final decision could be announced as soon as the July 5 Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway, home of International Speedway Corp., owner of Kansas’ Speedway. A ground-breaking is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 27-28, when NASCAR Sprint Cup stages the Kansas 400 at Kansas Speedway. The hope is the $40 million facility, funded totally by donations, will open in 2010 or 2011 at the latest. Lepore already has set up office space at Kansas Speedway. ‘”We see 26 disease groups in North Carolina, and I foresee seeing that many at the camp here, maybe many more,” Pattie Petty said of the original Victory Junction Camp, opened in 2004 on 72 acres outside Randleman, N.C., that were generously donated by NASCAR legend Richard “The King” Petty. ”Maybe we’ll build it bigger, better, faster stronger. With all the people who have come on board, I can’t imagine we won’t. “I’ve never been to an area where the people are so community oriented as they are in this Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska … Midwest area.”(Kansas City Star)(4-27-2008) Comment here

    • Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop Using GEM Drivers to Reach Parents and Teens: Allstate Insurance Company is using a group of athletes who drive fast for a living to caution parents and teens to slow down when making decisions behind the wheel. By partnering with Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM), Allstate has created the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop, an interactive, racing-focused program that will promote teen safe driving in key NASCAR markets throughout the year. The goal of the initiative is to facilitate communication between parents and teens about the importance of teen safe driving and provide tools to spark these conversations, including Allstate's interactive Parent-Teen Driving Contract, available at www.allstate.com/teen. Allstate is the official insurance provider of GEM. GEM NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Patrick Carpentier, as well as team owner Ray Evernham, will headline the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stops at high schools across the country prior to the Sprint Cup Series races in select markets. Joining them will be SPEED personality John Roberts, who will serve as emcee at all of the events. Events are being scheduled for Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., and Richmond, Va., with other markets to be announced throughout the year. Highlights of the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop will include an interactive discussion with GEM drivers and Evernham and an open forum and question and answer session between the drivers, parents and teens. The Allstate Safety Zone, an interactive safe driving mobile display, will also visit the high schools and provide illustrations of important safety components in NASCAR stock cars. Computer kiosks will be available for parents and teens to complete Allstate's Interactive Parent-Teen Driving Contract at www.allstate.com/teen.(Allstate)(4-27-2008)

    • Montoya named to People en Español's 50 Most Beautiful: #42-Juan Pablo Montoya will make his first appearance in People en Español's special-edition magazine as one of its 50 Most Beautiful of 2008. Montoya earned a spot beside singer Christina Aguilera, designer Daisy Fuentes and actor and current participant on "Dancing with the Stars" Christián de la Fuente on the exclusive list. Montoya is one of just four athletes whose photos will appear in the magazine along with NFL quarterback Tony Romo, NHL center Scott Gómez and basketball player Alexis Castro. Montoya participated in a special photo shoot on location in Miami for the magazine in February before heading out to the NASCAR race at California Speedway. Aside from an interview for the magazine, Montoya made a few wardrobe changes and even spent a few minutes in the make-up chair in preparation for the shoot.(Ganassi Racing)(4-27-2008) Comment here


      News from April 26, 2008

    • Robby Gordon and Team Dakar USA Closes out the Central Europe Rally: The final stage of the Central Europe Rally concluded today with Robby Gordon experiencing more bad luck. Gordon lost a handful of minutes on the stage when his rear wheel came off but still managed an eight place finish. The result was good enough for Gordon to move the Monster Energy Hummer up into the 10th position. BJ Baldwin had another solid day, scoring a fifth place finish on the stage which allowed him to maintain his seventh place in the overall classification. After seven days of racing in Hungary and Romania, Team Dakar USA heads back to the United States with a strong sense of accomplishment. "We did not meet our overall objective but this team was strong," remarked Gordon "I think the international off-road community know we were here. These are the best race teams in the world and to go door to door with them says a lot about our program. BJ did such a fantastic job of representing Team Dakar USA and Ronn Bailey's Vanguard. I think he really made a name for himself." The team will now load up and make the drive back to Paris to organize the vehicles and equipment for shipping back to the United States. For Robby Gordon there is one more stage – he will fly overnight to Alabama for the NASCAR race in Talladega. In 2009 Team Dakar USA will race the first ever Dakar Rally in South America.(Robby Gordon PR) For additional rally coverage please visit robbygordon.com and robbysuprising.com where Team Dakar USA will have daily updates, the twitter micro blog feed, and videos.(4-26-2008) Comment here

    • Red Bull's Speed gets ARCA win: ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Scott Speed, with an assist from the Aaron's Lucky Dog, won the Kansas Lottery $150 Grand Friday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. Speed, in the #2 Red Bull Toyota, battled back from a lap down, blew by rookie Jesse Smith on a late-race restart with six laps remaining, and then kept Roush Fenway Racing's Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at bay to claim his career-first victory in his fifth career series start.(ARCA Racing)(4-26-2008) Comment here

    • Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway Pit Stall Selections

    • Nemechek wins pole at Talladega: #78-"Front Row" Joe Nemechek lived up to his nickname, winning the Coors Light Pole for the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway with a late run of 187.386mph, for his first pole of 2008, first since 2005 and 10th of his career. It is the slowest pole speed at Talladega since April 2003 when Jeremy Mayfield won the pole with a speed of 186.489mph. The pole was the first ever for the Furniture Row Racing team. #20-Stewart will start 2nd, followed by #70-Schrader, #84-Allmendinger, #18-Busch, #6-Ragan, #11-Hamlin, #83-Vickers, #88-Earnhardt Jr. and #48-Johnson. Points leader, #31-Burton will start 38th. The go-or-go homers to make the race were: #78-Nemechek, #70-Schrader, #84-Allmendinger, #21-Wood, #45-Petty, #09-Marlin, #10-Carpentier and #40-Franchitti [who will start 43rd, as 8th fastest gets the spot unless a past champ needs it]. Missing the race were: #22-Blaney, #96-Yeley [the first time Hall of Fame Racing has missed a race] and #34-Andretti.
      See qualifying results, pole progression and starting lineup on my Qualifying Results/Order Page.(4-26-2008)

    • Kyle Busch looks to tie NNS record: Kyle Busch will attempt to accomplish something that has happened only once in the 27-season history of the Nationwide Series, when the Aaron’s 312 takes place Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway. Busch has won the past three Nationwide races, at Texas, Phoenix and Mexico City. The series record for consecutive victories is four, set by Sam Ard in 1983 during the circuit’s second season. Making it four in a row could prove to be a challenge for Busch. He has never won a race at Talladega and has failed to finish in the top-10 in any of his past six NASCAR starts at the track (including the Cup and Truck Series). In 12 career Talladega starts, Busch has finished outside the top-30 seven times.(TSS)(4-26-2008)

    • Newman talks contract: #12-Ryan Newman....WHAT IS YOUR STATUS AS A ‘FREE AGENT’? “I haven’t signed my contact yet. We haven’t really even talked about it yet. There are some options out there. Obviously, team wise - people who have gone public about wanting to start a fourth teams and other teams that are changing things – changing driver’s and crew chiefs and things like that. It seems to be starting earlier than it ever has – at least in the last couple years. I’m sitting happy in my seat right now, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy some place else. Whatever happens with Tony (Stewart), he’s a friend of mine, and I haven’t talked to him about it. I read it on Jayski. I haven’t event gotten a phone call. Being the top of the free agent list hasn’t gotten me anywhere yet.” HAVE YOU TALKED TO OTHER TEAMS YET? “I know that there are other options out there besides my retaining my position at Penske Racing.” DO YOU HAVE AN AGENT? “I’m my agent. I went to college for four years; it’s got to pay for something.”(Dodge Motorsports)(4-26-2008) Comment here

    • Kevin Harvick Inc. implementing drug testing: Kevin Harvick Inc. has implemented a different type of testing the past couple of weeks. The racing team has started a random drug testing program since recent revelations that former Nationwide and Craftsman Trucks driver Aaron Fike had used heroin on some race days. "The whole company will be tested within the next week," Harvick said. "We've got most of them done. We haven't had any failures yet, so that's a good thing." An outside company was hired to administer the tests, and he said all the drivers and crew chiefs volunteered to go to the drug-testing facility. Harvick is hoping NASCAR will adopt a similar policy to help keep the sport clean. He initially approached officials pushing that idea last season. NASCAR's substance abuse policy is based on "reasonable suspicion" and allows drug tests anytime.(Associated Press)(4-26-2008) Comment here

    • Edwards talks contract: #99-Carl Edwards ON CONTRACTS AND NEGOTIATIONS. "For me, personally, just out of respect to everyone and sponsors, and the teams and the way we do business, for me it's always my mission to get that stuff out of the way and get it done as early as I can. That's how I've always tried to do it." WHERE DO YOU STAND ON YOUR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS? "I don't want to say anything." MORE ON CURRENT NEGOTIATIONS. "I'm working really hard to get my stuff, just because I think it's fair to get it done early, and once I get it done I'll let everyone know what I've done. But, we're working on it."(Ford Racing)(4-26-2008) Comment here

    • Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills: Some of the nation's best young automotive technicians, as identified during the 59th annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, will spend a week with Roush Fenway Racing, learning about the team at the shop and at the track. David Ragan, driver of the #6 AAA Ford Fusion, and Jack Roush, Roush Fenway Racing team owner, were among those participating in a press conference about the program at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday. The competition is the largest competition for high school automotive technology students in the country. The 2008 National Finals will be held at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., on June 24. The grand prize is going to be to a two-person team. The prize will include an opportunity to job shadow David Ragan's pit crew in Concord, North Carolina, and then to fly with the team to the Joliet Sprint Cup race on the weekend on July 12th.(Ford Racing)(4-26-2008) Comment here

    • Biffle talks contract/ownership: #16-Greg Biffle ON ALL THE TALK THIS WEEKEND OF TONY STEWART AND HIS CONTRACT SITUATION. "Obviously, he's let the world know that he was unhappy about something at Gibbs. I think we've all been in that situation before. There's certain ways to go about it, I guess, and he's made it known that he wants to get out of his current contract at the end of the season, I guess, or whatever. We all go through that, we all go through contract periods and wanting to get out of contract early to go do something else is part of the sport, I guess."
      IS ANYTHING THAT HE'S DOING HAVE ANY EFFECT ON WHAT YOU'RE DOING REGARDING YOUR NEGOTIATIONS? "I don't think so. It may open up a ride at the 20 car, I guess, at Gibbs Racing. It may be another option, but I don't know. I don't think it affects what I'm doing. I'm negotiating with Roush Fenway for an extension on my current contract, so I don't think what he's trying to do or going to do makes a difference."
      WHERE ARE YOU WITH YOUR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS? "Sort of in a holding pattern. We're not in a big hurry to get it done, I think. We're in that negotiation period, and like I said, I'm pretty confident that we're going to be able to get to common ground on what I want and what they want."
      IF SOMEBODY THREW OWNERSHIP AT YOU, EVEN A PARTIAL OWNERSHIP, WOULD THAT SUDDENLY CHANGE THE WAY YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT THINGS? "They have. I have had offers of ownership of more than one team in the garage, and it's definitely an intriguing offer. There's a lot of things to consider when you're an athlete in you're in the position that we are in. Both Tony and I are, let's say, we're at the 60-percent point in our career. We're not Kyle Busch, you know, 21 or 22 years olds. So, at some point we need to start thinking about how long we want to be involved in this sport and what we want to do in the future. So, those ideas to stay involved in the sport are very intriguing to us. And I'm sure that's part of Tony's thinking is, when I'm done driving the 20 car, or whatever car, what am I going to do in the future? And he's probably watching out for himself, thinking ahead, and somebody's made an offer or whatnot, and he's considering it."(Ford Racing)(4-26-2008) Comment here

    • Talladega Qualifying Fast Facts:
      .. Joe Nemechek won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Aaron’s 499 with a lap of 51.103 seconds, 187.386 mph.
      .. This is his 10th pole in 465 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. This is his first top-10 start in 2008.
      .. This is Nemechek’s fourth pole and 11th top-10 start in 27 races at Talladega Superspeedway.
      .. Tony Stewart (second) posted his fifth top-10 start in 2008 and his eighth top-10 start in 19 Talladega races. He tied his career-best start here set in May 2006.
      .. Ken Schrader (third) posted his 14th top-10 start in 45 races at Talladega, but his first since September 2003. He also was the 2nd fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
      .. Kyle Busch (third) posted his sixth top-10 start in 2008 and his second in seven Talladega races.
      .. Jon Wood (12th) qualified for his second Sprint Cup race. He started 41st and finished 29th at Las Vegas in 2007
      .. Sterling Marlin (16th) qualified for his first race since Homestead in 2007.
      .. Patrick Carpentier (17th) was the fastest qualifying rookie and all five rookie candidates made the field.(NASCAR Statistics)(4-26-2008)

    • Old School Racing Postpones Inaugural Season: Old School Racing announced today a new plan for the series. Under the new plan The Old School Racing (OSR) Series will launch its inaugural season in the spring of 2009 and not in the spring of 2008 as originally planned. The postponement of the inaugural season of the OSR will allow a partnership to form that will make the OSR bigger and better for the drivers, crews and fans. The new partnership between OSR and the soon to be named partner has not been completed, but plans have already begun to move forward for the 2009 debut of the redesigned OSR program. The Old School Racing Series is based in Mooresville, NC and is scheduled to field cars for such drivers as David Pearson, Harry Gant, James Hylton, Geoff Bodine and more.(OSR)(4-26-2008) Comment here

    • Road Racer looking for Cup Options: In the midst of a hectic stretch of sports car races in both the American Le Mans Series and the Rolex Series, Atlanta-area race car driver David Murry is also beginning to cast his NASCAR line out in an effort to land a Sprint Cup ride for the road course races at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen. "The timing is right to look at those teams that might be able to use my help," said Murry. "Specifically, those teams that aren't in the Top 35 in points and who don't have an experienced road course driver might just need to look elsewhere to get them in the show. I'm hoping they look my way. I'm ready, willing and able." Murry is no stranger to Sprint Cup road course events. He's recorded numerous qualifying attempts at both venues and even made a start at Watkins Glen with the defunct Phoenix Air Racing Team.(PR)(4-26-2008) Comment here


      News from April 25, 2008

    • Movie to film at Alabama speedway: The latest installment of New Line Cinema's popular horror/thriller franchise, Final Destination 4, will film racing sequences at Mobile International Speedway [AL] from Monday, May 26th to Saturday, May 31st. The Ronald McDonald House Night race, scheduled for 8:00pm on May 31st, has been moved to a 3:00pm start to accommodate filming. The film crew will be shooting crowd scenes and reactions during the racing program on Saturday, May 31st. Final Destination 4 stars a fresh ensemble cast that includes Bobby Campo, Shantel Van Santen, Haley Webb, Nick Zano, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella and Mykelti Williamson. Final Destination 4 is being shot in High Definition with the most advanced form of stereoscopic image capture yet invented - Fusion 3D. It utilizes the dynamic PACE camera system to ensure a rich visual experience matched only by reality.(MIS)(4-25-2008)

    • Smaller Restrictor Plate at Talladega: For the third time in the past four Talladega Cup races, crew chiefs will deal with a new size for the four holes on the restrictor plates required at the track by NASCAR. Sunday's holes will be 15/16ths of an inch in diameter, 1/32nd of an inch smaller than the holes for the fall race, the first plate race for the Car of Tomorrow. The change will cut about 25 horsepower. In last's year spring race and the 2006 fall race, the holes were 7/8ths of an inch in diameter. The holes were enlarged for the Car of Tomorrow because the taller, boxier vehicle required more horsepower to go the same speed as the old ride. Two years ago, the holes were 57/64ths of an inch, but NASCAR cut the size because of the faster speeds produced by Talladega's smooth new pavement. The restrictor plate reduces the flow of air into the engine's carburetor. NASCAR has required the plates at its races at Talladega and Daytona to slow the cars at the giant, high-banked tracks.(Alabama Live)(4-25-2008) Comment here

    • Dale Jr. Recruiting Men and Women for the U.S. Navy: The U.S. Navy and Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced the formation of the Dale Jr. Division, an 88-person boot camp division at Recruit Training Command. Potential sailors will be able to start signing up for the division on May 24 at their local recruiting station. To officially launch the division, Earnhardt Jr. will drive the JR Motorsports #83 Navy Dale Jr. Chevy in the Nationwide Series CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 24. The national recruiting effort is the first of its kind for the Navy, and will be supported by a national advertising and marketing campaign.(JR Motorsports PR), see an image of the car on my #83 NNS Team Paint Scheme Page.(4-25-2008)

    • Microsoft Small Business joines up with MWR: Microsoft expanded its motorsports reach today in an effort to increase visibility of its growing Small Business Specialist Community of Partners and solutions for small businesses by announcing it has formed a unique sponsorship with Michael Waltrip Racing. Microsoft will serve as an associate sponsor on MWR’s #00 Toyota Camry entry driven by rookie Michael McDowell for the remainder of the 2008 season, beginning this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. The sponsorship, in conjunction with California-based advertising agency RainMakers International [this was the company and the sponsorship deal with #49 BAM Racing at 49team.com], offers a motorsports marketing platform to Microsoft’s Partners, a growing group which supports businesses everywhere in the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community. Each participating partner will receive a structured marketing package which utilizes Michael Waltrip Racing marks, images of the #00 race car with their logo on it, tickets, likeness of Michael McDowell in his driver’s suit, and the usage of Waltrip’s race facility for contest winners. Additionally, each partner will have the ability to utilize the discounted media buying services offered by RainMakers, and more.(MWR)(4-25-2008) Comment here

    • Polaroid on the #41: Reed Sorenson will document his Talladega weekend through a Polaroid Photo Diary. Polaroid will be making its NSCS debut on the #41 Dodge this weekend in the Aaron's 499. Sorenson's diary will be showcased on Polaroid.com.(CGRFS), see images of the scheme on my #41 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2008)

    • Burton is it: #31-Jeff Burton is the lone driver who has completed every lap of competition this season in the Sprint Cup Series. Burton also has completed 82.8% of the total laps (2,235 of 2,699) running in the top 15 and leads all drivers with the most runs on the lead lap (2,694 of 2,699). Burton has finished 14 straight races on the lead lap.(RCR)(4-25-2008)

    • Juicy Fruit colors for Montoya: The Wrigley's Juicy Fruit brand will adorn the hood of the #42 Dodge this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway with Juan Pablo Montoya.(CGRFS), see images of the scheme on my #42 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2008)

    • DIRECTV returns to the #07: For the second race in a row, 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.(RCR), see images of the scheme on my #07 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2008)

    • Tums scheme for Franchitti at 'dega: This weekend the all-new TUMS QuikPak instant dissolve powder will serve as the primary sponsor of the #40 CGRFS Dodge Charger at Talladega Superspeedway fro Dario Franchitti. TUMS first became a CGRFS partner in 2007, as an associate sponsor of the #40 and #41 cars. This will be Franchitti's first time representing the TUMS brand. The #40 TUMS QuikPak Dodge team is taking on the identity of its primary sponsor by renaming the pit crew "The TUMS QuikPak" for this weekend's Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup series race.(CGRFS), see images of the scheme on my #40 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2008)

    • Stewart to leave JGR? UPDATE 3 statements Gibbs and Stewart: Sources tell Sports Illustrated that #20-Tony Stewart is working on the final stages of a deal to move from Joe Gibbs Racing to Haas CNC next season. Considering the ramifications of such a move, no one's admitting anything quite yet, as you'd expect. When reached for comment, Haas CNC Racing spokesman Ron Mench claims there's been no communication between Stewart and the organization. Stewart's PR spokesman Mike Arning was noncommittal ("I've heard what you've heard," when asked about Haas CNC) but he reminded SI [Sports Illustrated] that Stewart's contract with Gibbs runs through the 2009 season. "He's there this year and he's there next year," claimed Arning. "And I know for a fact that JGR is interested in retaining Tony for '10 and beyond. They'd like him to retire at Joe Gibbs Racing. As Tony's said many times, 'Nothing's broke. Why change it?' Tony's going to have a lot of options in front of him; why wouldn't he? But I don't see [an early out happening] ... everyone is going to live up to the terms of the contract that runs through '09." However, sources are adamant that not just the talking, but deal-making is already taking place for Stewart to go elsewhere. And, while sometimes a formidable opponent, contracts can be easily bought out, as Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch have shown us in recent years.(Sports Illustrated)(4-23-2008)
      UPDATE: Tony Stewart has begun discussion with Joe Gibbs Racing officials about his future with the company, ESPN.com has learned. And that future, sources say, is questionable. Multiple sources close to the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity said Stewart told Gibbs officials that he'd like to be released from the final year of his current driving contract, which expires at the conclusion of the 2009 season. "He definitely has some options," JGR president J.D. Gibbs said. "To me it's no different than any of the the options he's had before. The reality is he's racing here through 2009. There's no ifs, ands or buts about that one. Our stance is he's racing for us through 2009." Stewart's publicist, Mike Arning, said "Tony's contract is through the 2009 season. When that is up he'll have a lot of options for 2010 and beyond. But in terms of what he's going to do, or might do, for now and in between, as far as JGR is concerned he's their driver for 2009." Sources said Stewart is intrigued by the thought of team ownership. One potential scenario mentioned was a partnership with Haas/CNC Racing, under which Stewart would own as much as a 50% stake in the race team that currently fields the #66 and #70 Chevys. Under that scenario he would drive one of those two machines. Haas GM Joe Custer said he has spoken with several people about the future status of his team, including Stewart's group. He was adamant that his team has reached no deal with Stewart, but would "by all means be interested in discussing a partnership with a driver of his caliber." Such a move would reunite Stewart with Chevrolet, which sources said was of the utmost importance to the driver, given that he's driven for General Motors for most of his career, and that GM sponsors Stewart's open wheel sprint car program. Gibbs switched to Toyotas from Chevrolets in 2008. Haas/CNC Racing currently fields cars built and powered by Hendrick Motorsports, the organization that has won four Cup championships in the past 10 years, including the past two.(ESPN.com)
      UPDATE 2: The following is a statement from J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, regarding the contract status of driver Tony Stewart: "There has been much speculation regarding the future of our driver, Tony Stewart. Tony is currently here through 2009, and from a Joe Gibbs Racing standpoint, we hope he drives for us longer than that and retires here. Tony is a great partner and a huge asset to Joe Gibbs Racing. Right now, we are focused on winning races and winning the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships under his current contract."(Joe Gibbs Racing/True Speed Communication)(4-24-2008)
      UPDATE Stewart speaks: Tony Stewart has several different offers to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, and he is considering every option - including ones that could make him the owner of his own NASCAR team. "We've got multiple offers on the table right now, and there's a couple in particular that really have caught our interest," Stewart told reporters Thursday after Nationwide Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway. "We haven't made a 100% decision yet on what we're going to do, but we're going to look at all the options. And the options are exciting, all the way around." Stewart's deal with JGR runs through 2009, and he said last summer he was interested in signing an extension with the team he's driven for since 1998. But contract talks moved slowly, with Stewart saying in January he was in no rush to get a deal done. Stewart said Thursday he has not ruled out staying with JGR, but when he began negotiating a new contract, other teams approached him with new opportunities. The same thing happened back in 2003, when Stewart was able to leverage several deals - including one from Chip Ganassi - to secure a more lucrative contract with Gibbs. "A wise person told me it never cost a dime to listen, so right now we're all ears," Stewart said of the latest offers. "Right now it's just a matter of figuring out what we want to do, and being smart. We've had a great run at Joe Gibbs Racing. It doesn't mean it's over. We're just going to look at everything that's out there." Stewart said Thursday he has informed Gibbs officials of his offers, and there were discussions of potentially leaving the team early depending on what deal he agreed to. But he said "a couple offers" included ownership, and the thought of running his own team excited him. Stewart said he has not discussed owning a portion of JGR with owner Joe Gibbs. "Right now we've not asked to be released out of our contract," he said. "They know there are other offers on the table and we've said, `What if this is the case? And what if this is presented to us? Is there a possibility we could be released from our contract early?' But we have not asked to be released from our contract." Cary Agajanian, who represents Stewart through the Motorsports Management Int. agency, cited the sensitivity of contract talks in declining to comment. "His contract is through 2009 with Joe Gibbs Racing," said Agajanian, "that's about all we know, and all we can say."(Associated Press)(4-25-2008)
      am sure this will be much discussed about over the weekend at Talladega, there are already many articles posted on the Article Links page about the subject. Comment here

    • Talladega Goodyear Tire Notes: This weekend will be the first time that Goodyear has run a race on these tire codes . . . compared to last year at Talladega, there are two changes of note on this tire set-up . . . first, this left-side code (D-4138) is slightly taller to adjust the stagger and align this set-up with what was run at Daytona in February . . . second, this right-side code (D-4140) has a slight design modification to help reduce the operating temperature of the tire. . the compounds on both sides of the car are the same as in 2007 . . . this is the only track at which these tire codes will be run this season . . .teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup will run different tire codes than those in the Nationwide Series at Talladega this weekend . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Talladega . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.(Goodyear), see full report, pressures, codes and more on my Talladega Race Info page.(4-25-2008)

    • Team Dakar USA/Robby Gordon Update in the Central Europe Rally: On the familiar tracks of Veszprem, Robby Gordon claimed his second special win on the sixth stage of the Central Europe Rally. Gordon, who yesterday suffered a major setback in the overall classification yesterday when he broke the rear hub of his Hummer was determined to showcase his teams talents. Before the start of the second special of the day he and BJ Baldwin wagered dinner on the outcome. The bet was to see if BJ could stay within 45 seconds of Gordon's time. While the chance to win the rally overall is all but gone, the two drivers served notice that the Hummers are for real. Both drivers attacked the course and in the end Gordon finished first, one second over Carlos Sainz of Spain. Baldwin was not far behind, in fact just 19 seconds. Gordon got the victory and Baldwin gets dinner. Team Dakar USA also had a strong showing in the first 157km special in the morning. Gordon and Baldwin claimed the sixth and seventh spots respectively. The Vanguard Hummer has now moved up into the seventh spot while Gordon's Monster Energy Toyo Tire Hummer is in 11th. Tomorrow the Central Europe Rally wraps with a 155km special on the Veszprem tracks and then heads to Balaton Lake for the final festivities. Instead of participating in the festivities Gordon will board a plane and deadhead for Talladega for Sundays NASCAR race.(Robby Gordon PR), earlier updates about the rally are available on the #7 Team Page.(4-25-2008) Comment here


      News from April 24, 2008

    • Sad News: Cameron Argetsinger: Cameron Argetsinger, the founder of racing at Watkins Glen, died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 87. Argetsinger's death comes at a time when the Watkins Glen community is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the first road race through the streets of the village, organized by Argetsinger, in 1948. That event eventually led to the construction of the Watkins Glen Racetrack and the community became world famous after Argetsinger succeeded in attracting Formula 1 races to the track in 1961. Argetsinger, a lawyer by profession, left Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corp. in 1970 to head up other racing organizations. He returned to the area in 1977 and became a partner in a local law firm. He remained passionate about all types of auto racing right until the end, said longtime track historian Bill Green. Argetsinger was a driver, a race promoter and organizer who did more than anyone to put Watkins Glen on the map with his vision for the future, Green said.(Elmira Star-Gazette)(4-24-2008)

    • Northern Tool + Equipment to Sponsor Travis Kvapil at Talladega IMAGE: Yates Racing announced that Northern Tool + Equipment, a leading supplier of high-quality tools and equipment for more than 27 years, will sponsor the #28 entry with driver Travis Kvapil for this weekend's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27th. Sunday's race will mark the first time Northern Tool + Equipment has been a primary sponsor in NASCAR's most elite division, the Sprint Cup Series. Northern Tool + Equipment has been a sponsor in the Craftsman Truck Series since 2006.(Yates Racing)(4-22-2008)
      added an image of the scheme to the Paint Schemes gallery.(4-24-2008) Comment here

    • Career start #300 for Dale Jr: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to make his 300th career start in the Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. In 10 years at NASCAR's elite level, Earnhardt has recorded 17 wins, eight pole positions, 79 top-five finishes and 127 top-10s. He has completed 85,378 laps, and his 5,842 laps led is fourth among all drivers since 1999. In 16 starts at Talladega, Earnhardt has five wins, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He has led 21.23 percent of the laps he's run on the 2.66-mile superspeedway (570 of 2,684 laps).(HMS)(4-24-2008) Comment here

    • Talladega Rookie Notes: #77-Sam Hornish Jr. was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race at Phoenix. Hornish Jr. scored a 20th-place finish and took top rookie honors for the third time this season. Hornish Jr. leads #01-Regan Smith by three points (78-75) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the April 27 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Hornish Jr., Smith and #00-Michael McDowell are the only members of the Raybestos Rookie class with a guaranteed starting spot at Talladega. Two Raybestos Rookies entered in this weekend’s race at Talladega do not have a guaranteed starting positions: #40-Dario Franchitti and #10-Patrick Carpentier. The late Davey Allison is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. Allison remains the only Raybestos Rookie to lead the most laps in the Aaron’s 499 and holds the record for most laps led by a rookie in the spring race at Talladega. Since Allison’s win in 1987, a Raybestos Rookie has finished in the top-five in the Aaron’s 499 just twice: Tony Stewart (fifth in 1999) and Kurt Busch (third in 2001). Only one Raybestos Rookie has won the pole position in 38 previous spring races at Talladega: Jimmie Johnson (2002). Johnson won the second pole of his career and posted a seventh place finish in the race. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to win a Sprint Cup Series race is Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya captured the 2007 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon (Sonoma, Calif.) Raceway, crossing the finish line 4.097 seconds ahead of second-place Kevin Harvick (28 races).(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos), for more notes, standings and history, see my 2008 Rookies page.(4-24-2008)

    • Edwards Tests in Iowa: Carl Edwards already owns three Sprint Cup Series wins this season, but continues to look beyond the immediate horizon. This weekend, Talladega. Next weekend, Richmond. So it made sense for the #99-Roush Fenway Racing driver to conduct a closed test today [Wednesday, April 23rd] at Iowa Speedway in Newton, a 7/8-mile asphalt track similar in terms of specifications to Richmond.(Des Moines Register)(4-24-2008) Comment here

    • Team Dakar USA/Robby Gordon Update in the Central Europe Rally: The course was once again centered around the ex-military base outside of Veszprem, which provided an emotional rollercoaster ride for Robby Gordon and Andy Grider's. Stage five started out strong with the Monster Energy Hummer taking its first special win in the Central Europe Rally. With that strong performance the team moved to within three minutes of the top spot held by Carlos Sainz. Fortunes turned quickly on the second special for Gordon and Grider when they experienced mechanical problems with the rear wheel assembly of the Hummer. "After the special win we were pumped up because we had fought our way back into this thing. The only thing left to do was to go hard and keep pace with the leaders. I'm very disappointed after the second special. We flew a decent size jump and the truck just came down wrong on the rear and damaged the rear hub. We finally managed to get it fixed but at that point it was too late. Our chances on this rally are over but I'm really proud of this effort." The bright spot for Team Dakar USA was another couple of strong specials for BJ Baldwin. Baldwin managed ninth in the first special, fifth in the second and seventh on the day. His showing has earned the Ronn Bailey Vanguard Hummer a spot in the top-ten in the overall classification. Once again tomorrows tracks can be found in Veszprem where there will be two specials. The first special in the morning will be 157km while the afternoon special will be 54km. From there the rally goes to Balaton Lake for the final stage in the 2008 Central Europe Rally. Coverage of the rally can be seen in the United States on DirecTV. The half hour show will be aired twice - first at 7p.m. EST and then again at 12:30a.m.(Robby Gordon PR), earlier updates about the rally are available on the #7 Team Page.(4-24-2008) Comment here

    • Checkers/Rally's no longer official burger of NASCAR: Checkers/Rally's has been released from its position as the official burger of NASCAR, creating an opening in the quick-service restaurant category. NASCAR called the separation a mutual decision. Checkers/Rally's, based in Tampa, also has exited its sponsorships of the Indianapolis 500, Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. All of the motorsports deals were scheduled to run through the 2009 season. Checkers/Rally's confirmed the end of the sponsorships, but its chief marketing officer, Terri Snyder, could not be reached for comment. NASCAR now has turned its attention to filling the QSR category. Brian Corcoran, managing director of corporate marketing in NASCAR's New York office, is spearheading the effort to find a brand with a national footprint. (Sports Business Daily/SceneDaily.com)(4-24-2008) Comment here

    • Reutimann To Be Featured in Talladega Nationwide Series Telecast: David Reutimann will be featured as the "In-Race-Reporter" in ESPN on ABC's telecast of Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Aarons 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. Reutimann will speak with ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett on the parade laps and during caution periods, giving viewers a unique perspective. The telecast on ABC begins at 2:30pm/et.(4-24-2008)

    • Hall of Fame induction tonight: The International Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be top-heavy with NASCAR characters. Tonight's program includes three stock-car men who helped push their sport into major-league status. The NASCAR banner will be carried into the Hall of Fame by Robert "Red" Byron, Everett "Cotton" Owens and Ralph Seagraves. On the other half of the program are Art Arfons, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins and Frank Kurtis.
      The following men will be inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame tonight in Talladega, Ala.:
      Art Arfons (1926-2007): Set the unlimited Land Speed Record three times in the infamous Green Monster.
      Robert "Red" Byron (1926-60): Won the first NASCAR-sanctioned race on the Daytona Beach & Road Course in 1948.
      Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins (1930- ): Built engines for 61 NHRA eliminators, producing five titles and three ARHA crowns.
      Frank Kurtis (1908-87): Built five Indy 500-winning cars, and his midget-car package dominated the sport for 20 years.
      Everett "Cotton" Owens (1924- ): Scored 41 NASCAR wins and 38 poles as driver and car owner.
      Ralph Seagraves (1929-98): Helped initiate R.J. Reynolds' sponsorship of motorsports, including NASCAR, in the 1970s.
      (Daytona Beach News Journal), for more info, see the International Motorsports Hall of Fame site.(4-24-2008)

    • Johnson and Montoya on QVC TONIGHT: Sprint Cup drivers #48-Jimmie Johnson and #42-Juan Pablo Montoya are scheduled to appear live on QVC For Race Fans Only with QVC on-air host and NASCAR enthusiast Dan Hughes, live from Talladega, Ala. For Race Fans Only will be broadcast Friday, April 25, 2008 from 8-10 pm/et.(QVC PR)(4-24-2008) Comment here

    • Stewart going for 'a record': Tony Stewart, the driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota, has finished second six times but never won in 18 Cup races at Talladega. He's tied with Bobby Allison at Martinsville and Mark Martin at Pocono for NASCAR's record for single-track second-place finishes without a victory.(Alabama Live), Talladega is one of four Cup tracks that Stewart has never won a CUP race at: California, Las Vegas and Darlington.(4-24-2008)


      News from April 23, 2008

    • Fans Can 'Ride with Dale Jr.' in the AMP Energy 500: If #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. goes to Victory Lane in the Oct. 5 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, he will bring the names of more than 70,000 members of JR Nation with him. To become one of the many people who will catch a "Ride with Dale Jr.," all consumers need is one can of AMP Energy drink and a computer. Beginning April 22, Earnhardt fans can simply take the code found on the bottom of any AMP Energy can, log onto www.AMPEnergy.com and register. The first 70,000 will have their names featured on the special #88 AMP Energy "Ride with Dale Jr."/National Guard Chevy paint scheme.(Hendrick Motorsports PR), see more details on my Contests Page.(4-23-2008) Comment here

    • Tire test scheduled at Indy: UPDATE: Goodyear has scheduled a NASCAR tire test at IMS for April 22-23. Data learned from #48-Jimmie Johnson (Chevrolet), #2-Kurt Busch (Dodge) and #83-Brian Vickers (Toyota) will be used by Goodyear to select the tires it brings to the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 27.(Indianapolis Star)(4-11-2008)
      UPDATE:Given the opportunity to replace Hendrick Motorsports teammate #48-Jimmie Johnson for a two-day tire test this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't have to be asked twice. With tires being an issue at several tracks this season as the teams and Goodyear struggle to learn the nuances of NASCAR's new-generation car, every day on the racetrack is a learning experience. "I want to tire test as much as possible under the circumstances that we have this season," Earnhardt said on a teleconference during a break in testing Tuesday. "I want to be the guy they call first." Earnhardt, representing Chevy, is joined by Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Brian Vickers (Toyota) for the test, which concludes today. Data from the test will be used by Goodyear to select the tires it will supply for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 27.(Indianapolis Star)(4-23-2008) Comment here

    • Burnouts and Donuts Highlight Pre-Race Show For Sprint All-Star Race: Top Sprint Cup Series drivers will prove who can execute the best burnout and donuts during the inaugural Pennzoil Victory Challenge prior to the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night, May 17, at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The timed-competition will include five drivers who must demonstrate four essential skills of any victory celebration: a tire-smoking burnout; spectacular donuts; precision driving into "Victory Lane;" and, as with anything in racing, speed. Clint Bowyer, a first-time Sprint All-Star Race participant and driver of the #07 Jack Daniel's Chevy, is the first official entry for the inaugural event. Other participants will be announced at a later date. The Pennzoil Victory Challenge will take place on the frontstretch of the 1.5-mile superspeedway at 6:15 p.m., just prior to the start of the Sprint Showdown. Each driver will be in similarly prepared Richard Petty Driving Experience cars wrapped with Sprint All-Star Race decals. A $10,000 donation will be made to the winner's designated charity. The inaugural Pennzoil Victory Challenge will be televised live during SPEED Channel's pre-race coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.(LMS PR)(4-23-2008) Comment here

    • Max Papis in the #70?: UPDATE: Hearing that Haas CNC Racing has talked to Max Papis about running the two Sprint Cup road course races in the #70 car. Papis' agent confirmed talks and said he "feels as though they are close to a deal". Papis was originally planning to drive the Phoenix Racing #09 at both road course events.(4-21-2008)
      UPDATE: Max Papis will drive the #70 Haas Automation Chevy during the two road-course races on the 2008 Sprint Cup Series schedule.(Haas CNC Racing PR)(4-23-2008) Comment here

    • Important two months ahead for Truex: If free agent-to-be #1-Martin Truex Jr. is considering employment with another team, the next two months should help him make up his mind. Starting with last year's spring race at Talladega, Truex shrugged off a slow start with finishes of 11th or better in six of nine races -- including a dominant win at Dover. During that stretch, Truex rose from 20th in the standings to ninth. But Truex's situation is much different this season. He's feeling the pressure to duplicate last year's performance and is unable to sneak up on competitors. The good news is that Truex may not have to worry about finding a new employer. His performance to date has been much better than in the first eight races of last year. If Truex decides to bolt, Richard Childress Racing's new fourth car would be a step up. Truex is a good qualifier and probably wouldn't sweat too much over the first five races of next season, when he would have to qualify solely on time. Also, Truex would be joining an organization whose current drivers rank among the top eight in points. If Truex's cars don't measure up to his expectations during these next two months, the decision to leave will become that much easier. And it would leave DEI without any full-time premier drivers.(NASCAR.com)(4-23-2008) Comment here

    • "Tri Primary" Scheme for Kyle Petty at Talladega: Kyle Petty: "Petty Enterprises is truly fortunate in that we have three great primary sponsors on my #45 Dodge. So this weekend we are going to show our appreciation by sporting a tri-primary paint scheme. Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil, Wells Fargo and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) will all get primary treatment."(Petty Racing PR)(4-23-2008) Comment here

    • Turtle Wax on the #15 at Talladega: In addition to his on track competition, #15-Paul Menard will have car care on his mind this weekend as he sports the colors of Turtle Wax on the hood of his Chevy.(Co-Pilott Motorsports Marketing)(4-23-2008) Comment here

    • Up and Down Day for Team Dakar USA in the Central Europe Rally: It was a seesaw day for Team Dakar USA. Over the past three stages when things have gone well for Robby Gordon and his Monster Hummer, BJ Baldwin and the Vanguard Hummer has had its set of challenges. Today the roles were reversed. The Central Europe Rally shifted back to Hungary and revisited the site of the first special in Dubras, just outside Budapest. Gordon impressed on the first special of the day, finishing third in the opening segment. BJ Baldwin was in full attack mode as well but managed to tangle with a tree. That episode relegated him to seventh on the first special. Team Dakar USA then travelled 201km to the start of the second special in Veszprem where the rally will be for the next two days. There was no holding back for either of the two hummer teams. Gordon and Grider were flying when a rock managed to sever the rear brake line. The duo acted quickly to cap of the line and continue with only front brakes. Navigation errors by some of the top rivals allowed them to close up the gap only to give it back when the Hummer H3 went off the track just a few kilometers from the end of the special. The second special was the best moment yet for BJ Baldwin and navigator Kevin Heath. Coming from the back the team scored an impressive 5th place finish which vaulted them up to 15th in the overall classifications. With Gordon's mechanical luck he dropped back to eight in the standings, 7:05 adrift.(Robby Gordon PR), earlier updates about the rally are available on the #7 Team Page.(4-23-2008) Comment here


      News from April 22, 2008

    • American Red Cross Launches Campaign to Connect Fans With Blood Donations: The American Red Cross announced the launch of Red Cross Racing, a new national campaign to recruit NASCAR fans as blood donors and raise awareness of the need to give blood. Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood. Through the support of 3M and Roush Fenway Racing the #16 Ford will race this Sunday at the Aaron's 499 in Talladega, Ala. in a full paint scheme featuring the Red Cross logo. The car will be driven by Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet member and blood donor Greg Biffle. Race fans will be able to join a Donor Rewards Program by visiting redcrossracing.com beginning on April 24. This new Web site makes it easy to schedule blood donation appointments online and offers frequent donors the chance to get points, which can be exchanged for Red Cross Racing gear, including caps, t-shirts, jackets and limited edition die-cast cars. Race fans can also join Red Cross Racing at one of the nine NASCAR races where a Red Cross trailer will be on the midway. All participants who sign up between April 24 and October 1 are automatically entered into a sweepstakes for an all-expense paid trip for two to the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Speedway on November 9, 2008. The Red Cross will be highly visible at NASCAR races, thanks to a nearly $2 million donation by 3M. The #16 Ford Fusion will also feature the full Red Cross paint scheme on November 9, 2008 during the Phoenix race. In both races Biffle will wear a Red Cross-branded fire suit. In addition, the Red Cross logo will be seen on the #16 Ford Fusion in eight other races this season: New Hampshire, Chicago, Michigan, Richmond (September), Kansas, Charlotte (October), Texas and Phoenix.(Red Cross PR), see image of the scheme on my #16 Team Schemes page.(4-22-2008) Comment here

    • Office Depot negotiating with Roush; if not UPS could replace: MORE Office Depot is in the midst of an exclusive 60-day negotiating period to extend its sponsorship of Carl Edwards’ #99 Ford, but industry sources say that UPS is waiting in the wings to make a run at the hot Roush Fenway Racing driver.(SportsBusinessJournal.com-sub)(4-21-2008)
      UPDATE: Office Depot is in the final year of its three-year deal with the #99 team. Edwards and Roush Fenway appear to be in position to push the first of many sponsor dominoes in the coming four to six weeks. If Office Depot, which has used Edwards out front for its annual "Official Small Business of NASCAR" promotion, doesn't have a deal done by mid-May, industry sources say UPS will pursue sponsorship of Edwards' car. UPS has been considering several options, from staying at Michael Waltrip Racing to Edwards to Jeff Burton's #31, which is scheduled to lose AT&T as its primary sponsor at the end of this season, but sources said Edwards has emerged as the top option. The issue between Office Depot and Roush Fenway, sources said, is the price tag for the #99 car has increased significantly from three years ago when Edwards was considered more of an up-and-comer than a bona fide star. If Edwards stays in the # 99 as expected, Roush Fenway hopes to extract $22 million to $24 million a year in the next contract, sources said, a significant step up from the deal Office Depot signed three years ago in the $14 million to $15 million range annually. It's uncertain how aggressively Office Depot will pursue another three years on the #99 at the higher price. The office supply retailer is embroiled in a proxy fight with a shareholder group that is attempting to oust CEO Steve Odland from the company's board after an 85 percent drop in fourth-quarter net earnings year-over-year. Office Depot's stock price has dropped from a high of $37.05 nearly a year ago to $11.51 at Monday's close, which has prompted questions about its ability to win a bidding war for the #99 car. John Miller, a former Roush marketing executive who now owns his own agency, Xceed Sports Marketing, is representing Office Depot in these negotiations.(Sports Business Journal/SceneDaily.com)(4-22-2008) Comment here

    • Silver scheme for Allmendinger at 'dega: The silver #84 that’s been shining in Red Bull Racing Team’s shop unloads for the first time Friday at Talladega, and AJ Allmendinger, who returns after a five-race layoff, can’t wait to show off his car’s new look. “I think it’s sweet,” Allmendinger said. “Our blue has been good, but it’s one of those things that says, ‘I’m back!’ It’s silver. It’s going to stand out. It’s going to look fast, and it’s going to be fast.” In 2007, Red Bull’s motorsports branding featured dynamic bulls, suns and custom deep blue color. More than a year later, the design is expanding with the silver #84. The car maintains the same styling cues as the #83 to ensure close affiliation but carries a metallic silver pearl base and blue number to create its own identity and personality.(Team Red Bull Blog), see image of the scheme on my #84 Team Schemes page.(4-22-2008)

    • Testing at Nashville: Nashville Superspeedway is scheduled to host two days of testing on Tuesday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 23. Tentative teams and drivers scheduled: Chip Ganassi Racing [two cars, no drivers named]; #12-Ryan Newman/Penske Racing; #24-Jeff Gordon; Richard Childress Racing with #31-Jeff Burton and a test team; #20-Joe Gibbs Racing [driver TBD]; DEI with #01-Regan Smith (Tuesday Only); #43-Bobby Labonte of Petty Enterprises; Haas/CNC Racing with #66-Scott Riggs and #70 driver TBD. The test is not open to the public.(Nashville Superspeedway)(4-22-2008) Comment here

    • National Day of Prayer on the #78 at Talladega: The #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy, driven by Joe Nemechek, will once again showcase a unique paint scheme at Talladega Superspeedway, site of this weekend's Sprint Cup race. For the third year in a row at the Talladega spring event, Furniture Row, the Denver-based company which owns the #78 Chevy, is devoting its entire space on the car to the National Day of Prayer. The red, white and blue patriotic paint scheme will include the National Day of Prayer logo on the hood, the rear quarter panels, trunk-lid and the rear bumper (TV) panel of the #78 car.(Furniture Row Racing PR)(4-22-2008) Comment here

    • Robby Godon Survives the Mountains in the Central Europe Rally: The damage was contained for Robby Gordon on stage three of the Central Europe Rally. The rock course that provided the four-wheel drive vehicles an advantage the day before was now in rough shape and Gordon and his Monster Energy Hummer managed a stronger than expected performance. Gordon began the day in seventh position overall and after the two specials managed to move up to sixth in the overall classification just 5:33 back of Stephan Peterhansel. Despite running the final portion of the second special on a deflated tire Gordon claimed the fourth best time of the day. Once again Bj Baldwin was not so lucky. A navigation error sent them into a snow bank which cost the Vanguard team over 20 minutes after getting stuck. Baldwin and navigator Kevin Heath are now in 20th place. The Rally now heads back to Debrecen, Hungary and the site of the first stage where the team can look forward to running the course in reverse. Again the stage will feature two specials, 62km and 88km. The rough terrain should be better suited for the Hummer than the tight tracks of Romania.(Robby Gordon PR)(4-22-2008) (Robby Gordon PR).(4-22-2008) Comment here


      News from April 21, 2008

    • Jon Wood in the #21 at Talladega: Jon Wood will make his 2008 Sprint Cup Series debut in the Wood Brothers Racing #21 Honey Buns Ford in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 27th. Since the race was not a scheduled event for Bill Elliott, the team felt that Jon was a logical choice given his experience in the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series on superspeedways. Jon has a busy schedule this week as he is also entered to drive the #21 Air Force Ford in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 CTS race at the Kansas Speedway on April 26th. The team is making every effort to make sure Jon participates in both events. An alternative driver is being considered to practice, qualify and possibly race the truck if arrangements cannot be made to get Jon to the Kansas Speedway.(Wood Brothers PR)(4-21-2008) Comment here

    • No Blank Car For Sponsor-Seeking #01: The #01 DEI Chevy of Regan Smith may be short on sponsorship, but don't expect a blank car to show up at the track resembling Yates Racing entries. Instead of running a plain scheme to highlight the need to find more sponsorship, DEI Vice President of Motorsports Operations John Story said the team has decided instead to "sweeten" its deal with Principal Financial Group, who initially just signed as a full-season associate sponsor with a handful of races as the primary. "We've discussed, do you leave the car blank, do you do what Yates has done and say, 'SponsorYates.com and call us,' and we believe it can actually work against you in many ways," Story told the Press. "If you left the car white, a sponsor may in fact say, 'Hey, that's a great car and they've got space available, let's call.' Or they may say, 'Nobody else is sponsoring that car. Why should we? Is there something wrong with them?'" Recently, the car has run with the DEI logo on the hood, but with the Principal signage on the rear quarterpanels and back. In addition, Smith has worn the Principal firesuit and referred to the company in interviews as if it's any other primary sponsor. Story doesn't believe that DEI is devaluing the sponsorship long-term by giving Principal more than it's paying for. He also doesn't think the No. 01 is missing out on the opportunity to attract new sponsors by not running a blank car, saying that DEI is in discussions with companies about sponsorship for this year and beyond.(Long Island Press)(4-21-2008) Comment here

    • Jamie Little wins Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race: ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little held off Craftsman Truck Series driver Mike Skinner by .324 seconds in race-modified Scion tCs to win the 32nd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on Saturday. "When you interview a winning driver after the race, they always tell you how they just try to get through that last lap," said Little after beating Skinner, a repeat winner in the Pro Category. "Well, now I know exactly what they're talking about." In a last-lap duel, Skinner made contact with Little coming out of the hairpin turn on the 1.97-mile street circuit through the downtown streets of Long Beach to pull side-by-side, Little was able to get back on the gas and pull in front of Skinner as the two came to the finish line. "You go into the event with everyone out here wanting to help raise money for charity and have fun," said Little, who will give the $5,000 from Toyota to UCI Reeve/Irvine Center in California for spinal cord injury research. In the Professional category, Skinner never gave up the lead. After starting 30 seconds behind, he quickly made up ground and caught up with the tail end of the celebrities by lap 3. He then maneuvered through traffic, catching the leaders with just two laps remaining.(SceneDaily.com)(4-21-2008) Comment here

    • Second Day of Central European Rally Tougher for Robby Gordon: The second stage of the Central Europe Rally proved to be quite the challenge for Team Dakar USA. The mountainous tracks on the outskirts of Baia Mare proved to favor the four-wheel drive vehicles today. Recent snow storms left the tracks muddy in places and made the rocky course very slippery. Approaching the stage the Hummer team conceded the disadvantage and vowed to fight back on the upcoming specials but for today and possibly tomorrow they will take their lumps. The day was to be comprised of two identical specials each 76km in length. After the first special Robby Gordon found himself 4:43 back from special winner Stephan Peterhansel. He posted the 11th fastest time. BJ Baldwin lost 8:14 and finished 15th on the special. After the motorbikes, cars and trucks grooved up the course the organizers decided to shorten the second special to just 34km. The shortened special allowed Gordon to limit the damage on the second special. He finished just 39 seconds back of winner Al Attiyah, which secured a fourth place finish on the special. BJ Baldwin was not so lucky. A small rock managed to work its way up into the throttle cable housing and prevented Baldwin from getting full power. The freak occurrence cost Baldwin 6:22 and relegated him to a 30th place finish. At the end of the day Robby Gordon is 7th in the overall classification, 4:03 back while Baldwin's Vanguard Hummer is 18th overall, 22:17 back. Tomorrow's stage will be a repeat of today's events and then the rally returns to the site of the first stage, which was more suited for the Hummers.(Robby Gordon PR), earlier updates about the rally are available on the #7 Team Page.(4-21-2008) Comment here



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