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    JUNE 30-JULY 6, 2008

      News from July 6, 2008

    • More cuts at Ganassi? With 71 employees already in the unemployment line, Chip Ganassi Racing is looking to cut another 30 jobs from its stock-car operations, several current employees said Saturday. The team shut down the #40 Dodge earlier this week after it wasn't able to find a sponsor for driver Dario Franchitti. With that came layoffs, some of them surprising. Several team sources confirmed that department heads often weren't included in the decision-making process. Some employees who were laid off had been with SABCO Racing long before Ganassi bought the team from Felix Sabates in 2001. While the #40 Dodge was missing from Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, most of that team still had a job. The cuts last week affected the #41 and #42 teams more than the 40. Most of the mechanics from Reed Sorenson's and Juan Pablo Montoya's team received their pink slips, replaced by members of the defunct team. Franchitti, the reigning IndyCar Series champion, has struggled to make the transition to stock cars. Ganassi has offered him a ride in the Nationwide Series for the rest of the season, but the Scot has yet to make a decision. Those left behind now are bracing for more cuts. Many of those who lost their jobs last week apparently didn't take the news well. In fact, the team had 12 police officers on hand to keep order.(Florida Times Union)(7-6-2008) Comment here

    • Ragan to return to #6 in 2009: Roush Fenway Racing officials confirmed Sunday that David Ragan will be back behind the wheel of the #6 Ford next season. Sponsor negotiations to replace AAA on the #6 are awaiting the completion of Stewart’s deal, though team sources confirmed that Office Depot will not be back at Roush Fenway Racing next season.(SPEEDtv)(7-6-2008) Comment here

    • France hopes automakers stick with NASCAR: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Friday that he is cognizant that Detroit’s Big Three automakers are suffering critical financial problems, but he’s hopeful they will continue to support NASCAR next year and beyond, despite dire circumstances. The news coming out of Detroit in recent weeks has been beyond dismal: General Motors stock has lost nearly 75% of its value in the last nine months and is trading at a 54-year low. Ford Motor Co. stock has fallen nearly 50% in just the last three months, and auto analysts have been predicting that Chrysler LLC will either file bankruptcy or divide the company and sell it piecemeal. According to a report, GM is pulling the plug on its 12 NASCAR track sponsorships, including Daytona International Speedway. That would be the first step of a reduction in Big Three spending in NASCAR. It likely will get worse before it gets better. Some of the more dire predictions among industry websites are that one or more of the Big Three could abandon NASCAR entirely, or perhaps the Nationwide or Craftsman Truck Series. Friday at Daytona, France acknowledged that the automakers are going through tough circumstances. “Well, look, they’re going through a very difficult time and I’m not going to read into all of their issues because they would be better to speak to those,” France said during his annual midseason media press conference. “They have repeatedly told us that their longstanding positions in NASCAR work well. And they’ve got to market their products, whatever their products are going to be. This is a place where they come and get to actually be part of the sport in a way that’s so unique and so different than any other sport.” Still, France acknowledged that NASCAR could well be affected by the chaos in Detroit. “Obviously, with their challenges come reviews and everything else, and we’ll have to see how that goes,” France told reporters. “It would be … we’ll just have to see. Those are the kind of decisions that they’ll need to make. Wish they were more healthy. Think that they will be at some point.”(SPEEDtv)(7-6-2008)
      GM Plans to stay: Despite the severe economic problems that General Motors Corp. is experiencing, the automaker’s NASCAR point person said Sunday that GM remains committed to NASCAR. Alba Colon, GM Racing program manager for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, told that she expects that in 2009, GM will fund its NASCAR operations at the same level it is this year. Colon would not discuss specifics about reports that GM would scale back some specific elements of its program, including its track sponsorships.(SPEEDtv)(7-6-2008) Comment here

    • Yates close to sponsorship..and a 3rd team?: Doug Yates, who has been worried that he might not make it to year two as a NASCAR team owner, is doing better now, according to Roush, a fellow Ford team owner, who said sponsorship is coming through for Yates -- not only enough sponsorship to keep Yates' two teams going but to allow Yates to expand to a three-car operation [currently #28, #38). No word on who the third driver might be.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-6-2008) Comment here

    • Almirola to run #8 fulltime for DEI in 2009 UPDATE 2: An official announcement that Aric Almirola will drive the #8 car at Dale Earnhardt Inc. full time next season will be made on Tuesday, sources close to the situation said. The decision to put Almirola into the U.S. Army-sponsored car full time had nothing to do with Martin's decision to return to a full-time Sprint Cup schedule and make one last run at a championship, sources said. It had more to do with advancing Almirola's talents and taking advantage of the appeal he has shown with sponsors looking for a younger driver. One of those is U.S. Army, whose target audience fits the 24-year-old Almirola much more than the 49-year-old Martin.(
      UPDATE: After spending two seasons sharing a car with veteran Mark Martin, 24-year-old Aric Almirola will take over the #8 Sprint Cup Series Chevy full time in 2009. "This is an incredibly exciting opportunity," said Almirola. "When you get into racing, you always dream of competing at the highest level and I've had the chance to do that on a limited basis for the past two seasons. Now I will have the opportunity to race the car full time and I could not be more excited about driving the #8 car each week for Dale Earnhardt Inc. This is a really great race team to work with. (Crew Chief) Tony Gibson and these guys have put me in really good race cars this season and they've never treated me like a rookie. They are committed to being competitive every week and I'm really looking forward to working with them on a weekly basis next season." Martin, who has driven the #8 in 12 events this season, will compete in 12 more races this year before moving to another team for the 2009 campaign. Almirola will compete in the balance of the season's seven races. In addition to his time in the Sprint Cup Series, Almirola has made 27 starts in the Nationwide Series, earning four poles and one win at Milwaukee in 2007.(DEI PR), there is no mention of a sponsor of the US Army in the press release.(7-1-2008)
    • UPDATE 2: What DEI didn’t announce was a sponsor for Almirola, but DEI President Max Siegel indicated that the team has solidified those plans. Currently, the U.S. Army sponsors that car but it has not announced whether it would remain with DEI next year as it goes through its annual bidding process. “We’re fine,” Siegel said. “We’ll make the announcements of who it is over time.” Siegel said the team is still looking for sponsorship for the #01 car of Smith to be able to keep that car on the track and he said there was nothing new to report on Truex’s status for next year. Truex faces the prospect of losing 100 or 150 points as penalty for his team presenting a car that didn’t meet NASCAR’s roof templates.(SceneDaily)(7-6-2008) Comment here

    • Carpentier rookie of the race: #10-Patrick Carpentier scored a 14th-place finish in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway and took Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the first time this season. This is Carpentier’s best finish in 18 Sprint Cup Series races. His previous best effort was 22nd at Watkins Glen International in 2007. Carpentier’s best finish of the 2008 season was 23rd-place at Infineon Raceway. For the first time this season, all Raybestos Rookies that competed in a Sprint Cup Series races finished on the lead lap.(Raybestos PR)(7-6-2008)

    • Penske back at the track: Legendary team owner Roger Penske,71, missed his second consecutive NASCAR race weekend after having a scheduled medical procedure (related to his kidney) two weeks ago. Team president Tim Cindric handled the day-to-day operations for both the NASCAR and IndyCar teams in his absence. "The Captain," as Penske is known, is expected back at the track today for the IndyCar Series race in Watkins Glen, N.Y.(Tampa Tribune)(7-6-2008) Comment here

    • Sad News - Irma Combs: Mrs. Irma B. Combs, 89 of Shelby NC, passed away Saturday, July 5, 2008. She was employed for 20 years with NASCAR as a track steward until 1970. Her late husband was Roby Combs, Pioneer NASCAR Flagman. She is survived by two sons, Roby S. Combs and Phil Combs, both of Shelby; two grandchildren, Shane Combs of Charleston and Tara Combs of Shelby; and a great-grandchild, Hannah Banicki-Combs of Charleston. Visitation info can be found at the Clay-Barnette Funeral Home website.(7-6-2008)

      News from July 5, 2008

    • Stewart Ill and replaced in car: #20-Stewart was ill before the race, had an IV in the infield care center at Daytona, and felt better, but as the Coke Zero 400 progressed, Stewart felt worst and was replaced by former teammate, J.J. Yeley on lap 73. Yeley drives the #96 DLP Toyota, but failed to make the race.(7-5-2008)

    • Kyle Busch wins at Daytona: #18-Kyle Busch won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway for his 6th win of 2008 and the 10th of his career. The race ended with a green-white-checkered finish with #24-Gordon getting spun by #99-Edwards on the restart, no caution was thrown as Gordon was out of the way and was able to get going THEN just after the white flag was waved, there was a big wreck behind the leaders and the yellow came out with the video showing #18-Busch ahead of #99-Edwards. The rest of the top-10 were #17-Kenseth, #2-Busch, #6-Ragan, #7-Gordon, #9-Kahne, #88-Earnhardt Jr., #07-Bowyer and #8-Martin. NOTE: the results are under review and could change a bit. There were 11 cautions for 33 laps and their were 21 lead changes among 10 drivers.
      For race results, awards and more, see my Daytona Race Results Awards Page.(7-5-2008) Comment here

    • REVISED Drivers Points Standings [after Daytona race 18 of 36]:
      1) #18-Kyle Busch 2686 [6 wins]
      2) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2504 -182 [1 win]
      3) #31-Jeff Burton 2484 -202 [1 win]
      4) #99-Carl Edwards 2437 -249 [3 wins][would be 2nd w/out 100pts penalty]
      5) #48-Jimmie Johnson 2319 -367 [1 win]
      6) #24-Jeff Gordon 2249 -437
      7) #11-Denny Hamlin 2240 -446 [1 win]
      8) #9-Kasey Kahne 2177 -509 [2 wins]
      9) #17-Matt Kenseth 2166 -520
      10) #07-Clint Bowyer 2159 -527 [1 win][16 pts ahead of 13th]
      11) #16-Greg Biffle 2153 -533 [10 pts ahead of 13th]
      12) #20-Tony Stewart 2145 -541 [only 2 pts ahead of 13th
      CHASE contenders
      12) #29-Kevin Harvick 2143 -543 [only 2 pts out of the Chase]
      13) #6-David Ragan 2043 643 [-102]
      14) #83-Brian Vickers 2033 -653 [-112]
      18) #1-Martin Truex Jr. 1907 -779 [-238 out of Chase after the penalty]
      Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Daytona page.(7-5/8-2008)

    • Lucky Dogs...Who got a lap back on each caution at Daytona: (and their finish)
      Caution 1: #21-Wood, still 7 laps down, 33rd
      Caution 2: #60-Said, 35th
      Caution 3: #09-Marlin, 41st
      Caution 4: #44-Reutimann, still 4 laps down, 21st
      Caution 5: #44-Reutimann, still 3 laps down, 21st
      Caution 6: #44-Reutimann, still 2 laps down, 21st
      Caution 7: #44-Reutimann, still 1 lap down, 21st
      Caution 8: #44-Reutimann, WOW back on the lead lap, 21st
      Caution 9: #26-McMurray, still 5 laps down, 32nd
      Caution 10: none awarded with 10 or less laps left in race
      Caution 11: none awarded with 10 or less laps left in race

    • Daytona International Speedway Penalty Report:
      Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
      1 #60 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 20
      2 #60 Running the stop & go sign/light OL 22
      3 #60 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 20
      4 #12 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 44
      5 #01 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 71
      6 #15 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 71
      7 #78 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 71
      8 #42 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 71
      9 #16 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 70
      10 #31 Removing equipment from assigned pit area TE 72
      11 #09 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 110
      12 #6 Non-compliant refueling (overflow container) TE 125
      13 #26 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 131 14 #48 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 157 15 #11 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 157
      16 #01 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 157
      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)(7-5-2008)

    • Latest on the Grant lawsuit: NASCAR has nearly completed its investigation of the allegations made by former Nationwide Series inspector Mauricia Grant in a $225 million discrimination lawsuit, CEO Brian France said in his annual midseason question-and-answer session Friday. Grant, who is black, is alleging racial and sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination in a lawsuit filed last month. She discussed her accusations in detail on ESPN this week. France reiterated that NASCAR will vigorously defend itself in court, but he didn't discuss any specifics of the case. "My own experience with lawsuits over many years is, by the time the facts ultimately catch up to the actual lawsuit, they're usually a whole lot different than the claims that are made on the front end when you're after a lot of money," France said.(Tampa Tribune)(7-5-2008)

    • Congrats to Elliott Sadler: #19-Elliott Sadler has already had a big week. On Tuesday he proposed to his girlfriend, Amanda Prince, who is also from his hometown of Empopria, Va. She said yes, and they've already picked a January [17th] date for the wedding.(Thatsracin)(7-5-2008) Comment here

    • Racing Resources Says …
      * Kyle Busch won the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway. Busch started ninth in the race. He scored his 10th-career series victory in 132 races. He remained first in the standings with an unofficial points lead of 182 points over second-place Dale Earnhardt Jr., the largest points lead of the season. It was his sixth series victory in 2008, the most among all drivers. It was his first victory in eight races at Daytona and was his second career restrictor-plate win. He also won Talladega in April. Busch became the sixth different race winner in the last six races at Daytona. Busch scored his fourth top-5 finish in the last five races at Daytona. He led 31 of the 162 laps raced including the final seven. Busch's last win was at Infineon two races ago.
      * Toyota scored its seventh victory in 2008. Dodge and Chevrolet each have four while Ford has three.
      * This was Joe Gibbs Racing's fourth series victory at Daytona. Gibbs Racing has seven wins in 2008, the most of any team.
      * 15 of the 18 races in 2008 have been won from a top-10 starting position. The only three races in 2008 that were not won from a top-10 starting position were at Richmond when Clint Bowyer won from the 31st starting position, at Infineon with Kyle Busch winning from 30th and New Hampshire where Kurt Busch started 26th.
      * Carl Edwards finished second, scoring his eighth top-10 finish in the last nine races. He remained fourth in the standings.
      * Matt Kenseth finished third, posting his seventh top-10 finish in his last eight races.
      * Kenseth climbed from 13th to ninth in the points standings, his highest points position in 2008. He now is 23 points ahead of 13th-place Kevin Harvick. Kenseth ranked 22nd eight races ago after Richmond.
      * A mere 34 points separate eighth-place Kasey Kahne from 13th-place Harvick with eight races remaining in the race to the 12-driver Chase.
      * Harvick is just two points behind 12th-place Tony Stewart.
      * Martin Truex Jr. is 14th, 88 points behind 12th-place Stewart.
      * Kurt Busch finished fourth, posting his second top-5 finish in as many weeks. He only has four top-10 finishes this season.
      * David Ragan finished fifth, posting his second top-five restrictor-plate finish this season. He finished fourth at Talladega in April.
      * Robby Gordon (sixth) posted his best finish of the season. It was his best finish since he finished fifth at Watkins Glen last August.
      * Patrick Carpentier (14th) posted his career-best finish.
      * Pole winner Paul Menard led 19 laps in the s race. He had led just eight laps in his previous 56 career races.
      * Stewart became ill and did a driver change on Lap 73, being replaced by J.J. Yeley. Stewart was running ninth prior to the switch and Yeley restarted 33rd still on the lead lap.
      * Winner Kyle Busch had a "steering problem" on Lap 82 dropping from third to 37th which actually was the result of contact with teammate Denny Hamlin.
      * Jeff Burton spun on Lap 123 while running 11th and dropped to 36th, the last car on the lead lap and somehow never touched anyone as he spun down. He crashed again on Lap 139. Burton dropped from second to third in the points standings. Burton ended a streak of 23 straight top-15 finishes since Lowe's last October.
      * David Reutimann got the "free pass" -- earning his way up a lap -- five times tying the all-time record for the most free passes in a race set by Kyle Busch at Watkins Glen in 2006.
      * A last-lap crash ended the race under caution.
      * This was the sixth green-white-checkered finish in 2008.(

    • Stewart Ill and replaced in car: #20-Stewart was ill before the race, had an IV in the infield care center at Daytona, and felt better, but as the Coke Zero 400 progressed, Stewart felt worst and was replaced by former teammate, J.J. Yeley on lap 73. Yeley drives the #96 DLP Toyota, but failed to make the race.(7-5-2008)

    • Pit Stall selections: pole sitter #15-Paul Menard's team chose the first pit stall selection for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Outside pole sitter, #8-Mark Martin chose the next stall with an opening in front of it, stall 21, #60-Boris Said chose the last pit stall. See the full pit stall selections on my Daytona Pit Stall Selection page.(7-5-2008)

    • FREE Coke Zero: For several members of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, a victory in the inaugural Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola was so close they could taste it. Although the drivers were unsuccessful in their bid to take the checkered flag, millions of fans in the U.S. still have an opportunity to get a "Taste of Victory" of their own. Through the Coke Zero "Taste of Victory" program, if one of the 13 drivers sponsored by Coca-Cola won the Coke Zero 400, fans would be able to enjoy the Real Coke Taste and Zero Calories of Coke Zero for free. Even without a victory, Kyle Petty - a founding member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family and analyst in the TNT broadcast booth for the race - announced that in celebration of the inaugural Coke Zero 400 at iconic Daytona International Speedway, fans would still be able to receive free Coke Zero. Any U.S. resident 13 years of age or older can simply visit through July 13 and follow the instructions to receive a coupon for a free 20-ounce bottle of Coke Zero. In addition to quenching their thirst, fans can help support a charity close to the hearts of Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers. Coke Zero will donate $1 to the Victory Junction Gang Camp on behalf of the first 10,000 people who visit to request a free coupon.(Coca-Cola PR)(7-5-2008)

    • Another open wheeler out of the mix, Castroneves to stay in IRL: Helio Castroneves has agreed to a long-term contract with Penske Racing IndyCar Series team, squelching rumors he was considering a jump to NASCAR. Castroneves declined to confirm details except to say it is a multiyear contract. Castroneves was to become a free agent at the end of the season. "We don't have it signed, but we have everything agreed to," Castroneves said Friday at Watkins Glen International, site of Sunday's Indy Racing League event. "It's good." Team president Tim Cindric confirmed the oral agreement. Series officials were ecstatic with the news. "That's excellent, cool, very good, it's huge," said Terry Angstadt, the president of the league's commercial division. "You look at the breakthrough names (in the series) and it's Helio and Danica at this stage. Those two are very important names. It's critical to have Helio here not just with his personality but his talent and all the things he brings to the table." Castroneves is the first piece of the IndyCar Series' driver puzzle to fall into place for the 2009 season. Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti also have contracts that expire at the end of the season. Wheldon has said he is working through the details to remain with Ganassi Racing, and Andretti figures to return to his family-owned Andretti Green Racing.(Indianapolis Star)(7-5-2008) Comment here

    • First Daytona pole for DEI: #15-Paul Menard's Pole in the qualifying session for the Coke Zero 400 is the first by any Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver at Daytona International Speedway. In addition, the pole is the first by a DEI driver in the Sprint Cup Series at either of the two NASCAR restrictor plate tracks (Daytona or Talladega Superspeedway). Menard will start alongside Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Mark Martin in the race. The second-place qualifying effort is Martin's best at Daytona since 1990 and his best at a restrictor plate track since qualifying second at Talladega in 1991.(DEI PR) and NO, Dale Jr nor Waltrip never won a pole at Daytona or Talladega with DEI and neither did Steve Park, he won a Daytona pole while with RCR's #30 team.(7-5-2008) Comment here

    • JTG CUP? UPDATE: hearing JTG Racing could move up to Sprint Cup in 2009 with Marcos Ambrose driving and the team could switch from Ford to Chevy, no idea if Daugherty would be part of this deal. Other rumors have Ambrose going to the #21 of the Wood Brothers in 2009, that team would remain a Ford. Ambrose is schedule to run eight races this season in the #21 and four in the #47 Ford fielded by JTG Racing.(6-25-2008)
      UPDATE: JTG Racing owner Tad Geschickter said Friday he hopes to move Marcos Ambrose to the Sprint Cup Series next season, in addition to having Nationwide and truck series teams in 2009. The Australian Ambrose, in his second season in NASCAR’s No. 2 series, made his Cup debut at Infineon Raceway last month for Wood Brothers Racing. Ambrose is slated to drive four Cup races later this year under the JTG banner. JTG currently fields two cars in the Nationwide Series, for Ambrose and Kelly Bires. Geschickter said Bires would stay in the Nationwide Series in 2009, with Coleman Pressley to drive for the team in the truck series. The team currently fields Fords but Geschickter said the manufacturer the team will be affiliated with next year is open.( Comment here

    • NASCAR could make changes to drug testing policy soon: From Brian France's press conference Friday at Daytona:
      FRANCE: "We’re about completed with our look at our policy and we’ve said before that we have a longstanding policy that we think works well. We’ve also acknowledged that there’s different circumstances and different things that are going on today that might not have gone on when we originated the policy and if there are ways to improve it and there probably will be, we will. We’ll have those answers pretty shortly. I would think within a month to six weeks we should be ready to … and I wouldn’t look for some dramatic change in our policy because the basis of our policy, No. 1 we can test any time that we want for cause. The other key ingredient, and I’ve told a lot of people this, you can have any policy you want but if the punishments aren’t tough, that’s the ultimate deterrent and if you look at lifetime suspsensions, which we have several out there today, you look at what happens on a first infraction. In our sport, its’ very severe and it probably means that your career could be over, probably will be over. Certainly in a second infraction, probably will end a career. A third will get you a lifetime suspension and so while our policy ought to be looked at and reviewed, it’s important to point out we’ve got some very strong parts in our policy that we want to make sure that we preserve."(Roanoke Times)(7-5-2008) Comment here

    • Presidential Candidates to Visit Races? Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama could make campaign stops at NASCAR tracks in the next few months. NASCAR chairman Brian France said Friday that he has extended invitations to both camps and expects the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees to accept. "We would welcome both of them at various times and places," France said. "And I anticipate seeing both of them. NASCAR has historically been a place that politicians have come to interact and get noticed by our fans and just be part of our sport. My anticipation is we'll see both of them. We'll see."(Associated Press/Fox Sports)(7-5-2008) Comment here

    • Goodyear Announces Victory Lane Medallion Medallion Program: Now, thanks to The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Sprint Cup team members will have a keepsake that honors their hard work and commemorates each race win. Goodyear announced a new tradition for the Sprint Cup Series, its Victory Lane Medallion program. Now, each week in victory lane, the winning team owner, crew chief and driver will be awarded a three-inch medallion to go along with 100 two-inch medallions to reward team members. Each Victory Lane Medallion is die struck on both sides to resemble a mounted Goodyear Eagle tire. On one side there will also include the word "Winner" above the specific track logo, as well as the race date and Goodyear's winning left-side tire code. The opposite side will be stamped with Goodyear's right-side tire code and will be sequentially numbered up to 100. A limited number of sets of the complete fan version of the Victory Lane Medallions - called the Goodyear Eagle Race Win Medallion Set -- are available for purchase through the Racing Collectibles Club of America (RCCA) by calling 1-800-952-0708. The Goodyear Eagle Collection is only available through the RCCA offering. The sets are in limited edition, sequentially numbered and come with a die-cut leather carrying folio.(Goodyear PR)(7-5-2008) Comment here

      News from July 4, 2008

    • Martin back to fulltime in 2009, to the #5 HMS car: Mark Martin has signed a two-year agreement to drive for Hendrick Motorsports beginning in 2009. Martin will race the full 2009 Sprint Cup schedule in the #5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevy, becoming teammates with #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. It will mark his first full season of Cup competition since 2006, when he finished ninth in points. A Batesville, Ark., native, Martin also is slated to run a partial Sprint Cup schedule for Hendrick Motorsports in 2010, sharing the #5 Chevys with a to-be-determined second driver. Martin will enter 26 events, including the non-points Budweiser Shootout and Sprint All-Star Race. “Mark is an incredible racer and one of the classiest guys around,” said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, whose organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2009. “He is a driver who makes everyone around him better, and our entire company is going to benefit from his presence.”
      “I feel very fortunate to have this chance to win races and go after a championship with Hendrick Motorsports,” Martin said. “Coming back full time wasn’t something we planned, but driving the #5 car, with all its history, was an impossible opportunity to pass up. Rick and I have enjoyed a great relationship over the years, and we’ve always talked about doing this. Now it’s working out, and we’re both excited about the possibilities.” Martin, 49, will be paired with crew chief Alan Gustafson, who now is in his fourth season at the helm of the #5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevy team. Gustafson has posted four Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief and has a history with Martin, having worked with him in multiple Nationwide Series events.(HMS PR/ Comment here

    • Menard and Yates? John Menard, the wealthy businessman (Menards, the privately owned home improvements company), may be losing interest in NASCAR racing after so many years, according to sources. Menard, whose son #15-Paul is driving for DEI, is reportedly in negotiations with Ford’s Jack Roush, perhaps to help fellow owner Doug Yates keep afloat in this sport, which would involve a move from Chevrolet to Ford. “I don’t have any idea what might be going on there,” DEI’s Story said. “We just met with John, and everything is good.”(Winston Salem Journal)(7-4-2008) Comment here

    • Gibbs to 4 teams in 2009? maybe: Will Joe and J. D. Gibbs have four Cup teams in 2009? It’s looking good. “I wouldn’t rule it out….but we’re in no hurry,” J. D. Gibbs says. “If everything lines up well, great. But if you don’t have all the parts there, don’t do it. “We’ve done this before. We’ve got the key guys already. So we’ll sit down with Mark Cronquist (the team engine man) and Jimmy Makar (the team manager) and the guys and talk it over. And if the time is right, we’ll do it. The driver is key, obviously. The crew, we’d be in good shape. The infrastructure is all there. But we won’t do it until everyone signs off on it. Joey Logano? What I’ve seen is the guys who are really talented, they don’t need much time. He’s been on a track since he was six. And, like we’ve seen with Tony (Stewart) and Kyle (Busch) and Denny (Hamlin), those guys ‘pop’ right away. Joey fits that mold. Some guys do get better after a while. But usually if you don’t come out of the box strong, it’s hard to say ‘he’s going to get better down the road.’”
      And how about Juan Pablo Montoya? Is he a candidate for a Gibbs’ ride? “We think the world of Juan…though I wouldn’t ask Kyle that question this week,” Gibbs said, laughing about the Busch-Montoya run-in at Loudon Sunday. “I don’t know Juan’s situation…. “But to the best of my understanding he’s there (at Chip Ganassi’s). So we’re not going to look at that. We’re actually talking more about 2010 (when Stewart’s contract is up).”(Winston Salem Journal)(7-4-2008) Comment here

    • NASCAR and UTI Foundation Establish Brienne Davis Scholarship Fund: Recognizing there are many women interested in pursuing careers in the automotive industry, NASCAR and the UTI Foundation established the Brienne Davis Scholarship Fund for women seeking an automotive technical education. Davis, a Universal Technical Institute (UTI) graduate and NASCAR Sprint Cup official, died tragically earlier this year at age 28, and is honored by this scholarship created to encourage women to seek a career in the automotive industry. The Brienne Davis Scholarship Fund is intended to provide an opportunity for a qualified female student who wishes to attend the NASCAR Technical Automotive Program at the UTI’s NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C. Each year a $10,000 scholarship will be presented to one student to attend NASCAR Tech. Criteria and application information for this scholarship is available on the UTI Foundation website at The inaugural scholarship was made possible by proceeds raised through an online auction of the NASCAR Performance Show Car during The NASCAR Foundation’s initiatives for NASCAR Day 2008. The NASCAR Foundation started NASCAR Day five years ago to bring together fans, corporations, schools and organizations to raise money for others who need it most. At this year’s event, NASCAR enthusiasts were invited to make monetary contributions and bid on the NASCAR Performance Show Car donated to The NASCAR Foundation by NASCAR’s Automotive Aftermarket Department. Every dollar of the $16,000 winning bid for the car has been designated for the Brienne Davis Scholarship Fund. Future years of the program will rely on funding through charitable contributions made to the UTI Foundation and The NASCAR Foundation. Those interested in contributing to the fund should go the or PR)(7-4-2008)

    • Sad News - Bob Reuther: "“Bullet Bob” Reuther, the first track champion in Music City Motorplex [Nashville] 50 years ago, died this [July 3rd] morning after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80. He grew up in Nashville and during a Navy stint was stationed in Seattle where he saw his first race car. When he returned he helped create a local league that raced on a dirt track on Cowan Street called Cumberland Speedway. His local success led him to other tracks in the South and then to Daytona Beach, Fla. In 1947 he set a beach record of 150.250 mph in the Modified Division that still stands. A decade later, the Fairgrounds track was built in Nashville and in 1958 Reuther won the first championship. He also raced in three Grand National (pre-Winston Cup) races, including Nashville in 1959 and 1960. Reuther owned and operated an electronics business to support his family and his racing. He also was a licensed pilot and flew his godson, Bobby Hamilton, to many of his NASCAR races. Visitation is Sunday from 4-7 p.m. at Nashville’s Woodlawn Funeral Home. The service is at 2:30 p.m. Monday at Woodlawn.(Tennessean)(7-4-2008)

    • NASCAR slashing prices on memorabilia: Borrowing a page from late President Gerald Ford, the people who sell authentic NASCAR memorabilia are trying to help cash-strapped fans by lowering prices. Motorsports Authentics said it would cut prices of Sprint Cup team jackets by $30 and standard die-cast car models by $10, among other reductions, starting with this weekend's race at Daytona International Speedway. The twill jackets normally retail for $120 and the die-casts for about $75. The promotion is called "Whip Inflation Now," the name given to Ford's attempt in 1974 to encourage the public's help in curbing rising prices. "We know times are hard for all Americans right now," said Mark Dyer, chief executive of Motorsports Authentics, adding that the price cuts apply to sales at tracks and online.(Los Angeles Times)(7-4-2008) Comment here

    • New Hampshire TV Ratings equal 2007s: NASCAR delivered a 3.4/8 (5.5 mill.) this Sunday on TNT for a rain-shortened race from New Hampshire. Sunday's 3.4/8 matches last year's TNT rating for the same race.(PR and Comment here

    • Chase notes going into Daytona: Only 56 points separate 9th place #20-Tony Stewart, 10th place #9-Kasey Kahne, 11th place #07-Clint Bowyer, 12th place #29-Kevin Harvick and 13th place #17-Matt Kenseth. Harvick finished four spots ahead of Kenseth at Loudon and unseated him from the final "bubble spot" in the Top-12. Call it a fluke win on fuel mileage and weather forecasting, but 2004 Chase champ #2-Kurt Busch can use the victory at New Hampshire as a springboard to another comeback to make the 2008 Chase. He catapulted four positions forward to 18th and now sits 222 out of 12th place. This time last season, he was 236 points out, but was in 15th place. So, he's got six cars to pass instead of three. Don't count out the #2 car yet. Even though the pit rotation and weather cost #83-Brian Vickers a top five finish, the former Nationwide Series champ is THE turnaround story of the 2008 season so far, at 23 positions better in the standings than this time last year. This team is running good enough to stalk the Top-12 with 113 points to make up over the next nine races. #6-David Ragan had the misfortune of getting caught up in the McMurray/Dale Jr. mishap and it cost him big in The Race to The Chase, dropping 81 points to 12th place. #42-Juan Pablo Montoya's extra-curricular move on points leader #18-Kyle Busch cost him a two-lap penalty and precious points he can't afford to lose if he wants to stay in contention for The Chase. See more at my Chase Stats page and Chase News page.(7-4-2008)

    • Menard on pole at Daytona: #15-Paul Menard won the Coor's Light Pole for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway with a speed of 185.916mph for his first career pole in 57 Sprint Cup races. Menard's DEI teammate, #8-Martin will start 2nd followed by #88-Earnhardt, Jr., #78-Nemechek, #70-Sauter, #6-Ragan, #60-Said, #01-Smith, #18-Busch, and #10-Carpentier..
      The Go-or-go homers [non top 35 in owners pts] to make the race: #78-Nemechek, #70-Sauter, #60-Said, #10-Carpentier, #84-Allmendinger, #09-Marlin, and #21-Wood. Missing the race are #66-Riggs and #96-Yeley.
      For the starting linup, qualifying results, order, pole progression, see my Daytona Starting Lineup/Qualifying Results/Order Page.(7-4-2008)

    • Daytona International Speedway Qualifying Fast Facts
      .. Paul Menard won the Coors Light Pole for the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, turning a lap of 185.916 mph/48.409 seconds.
      .. This is Menard’s first pole in 57 career Sprint Cup Series starts. His previous best career start was 13th at this season’s Dover race.
      .. Menard’s previous best start at Daytona was 21st at this season’s Daytona 500.
      .. Menard is the second first-time pole winner this season (Patrick Carpentier, New Hampshire).
      .. Mark Martin (second) notched his seventh top-10 start of the season, and 19th at Daytona.
      .. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (third) registered his 11th top-10 start of the season, and 13th at Daytona.
      .. Regan Smith (eighth) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
      .. Joe Nemechek (fourth) was the fastest of those drivers who were required to make the field on time.(NASCAR Statistics)(7-4-2008)

    • Daytona Tire Notes: This is the first time Goodyear has brought these tire codes to the race track . . . after bringing different codes to run in the Daytona 500 in February, Goodyear tested here with Bobby Labonte, Mike Skinner and Jamie McMurray in May . . . compared to February, this left-side tire (D-4180) features a new construction and softer compound . . . this right-side tire (D-4182) features a slightly tougher compound with a revised mold shape . . . this is the only track at which these tire codes will be run in 2008 . . . teams in Nationwide Series will run different tire codes than those in the Sprint Cup Series at Daytona this week . . . as on all NASCAR's ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Daytona . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window is every 36-38 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see my Daytona Race Info page.(7-4-2008)

    • Stewart ticked, defends Zippy: #20-Tony Stewart sharply defended crew chief Greg Zipadelli's decision to pit late in last weekend's race at New Hampshire, saying "it's easy to be an armchair quarterback." Stewart dominated the race but wound up 13th when officials stopped it 17 laps early because of rain. Zipadelli called for the late pit stop -- most of the leaders followed suit -- and Stewart found himself in the middle of the pack when the rain started a few minutes later. Many of Stewart's fans were critical this week of Zipadelli's call. "You see all of this criticism from people and it's people who can't even control their own lives and they want to sit here and tell us how to run race teams on the weekend," Stewart said. "I find that highly amusing that people think that they've got a better solution all the time than what we do. It's easy after it's all over to say, 'Well you should've done this. What was he thinking? If they were that smart, they would be crew chiefs, and obviously they're not that smart listening to the criticism. It just frustrates you as a driver knowing that you've got a crew chief that's won two championships and 30-plus races with you that people think they are a lot smarter than and they're not."(Associated Press/ESPN)(7-4-2008) Comment here

      News from July 3, 2008

    • Office Depot to Stewart: been told that Office Depot will be the sponsor for Tony Stewart in 2009 when he drives for Haas CNC Racing which is will buy in to. Hearing the announcement of the buy and deal will be made in Indianapolis the week NASCAR is in Indy for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, July 27th. See past news nad rumors on this on my #70 Team News and #20 Team News pages.(7-3-2008)

    • Dale Jr. plans to race in Australia UPDATE...maybe: Dale Earnhardt Jr. plans to make his Australian racing debut in a V8 Supercar at Sydney’s Oran Park this December [2008]. Earnhardt will race a Holden Commodore in V8’s junior feeder category, the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series, at Oran Park’s curtain-closing Grand Finale before it is torn down to make way for redevelopment. Fujitsu V8 series team boss Scott Loadsman confirmed on Monday he will expand his current one-car team to two cars. He has purchased a Commodore from Paul Morris Motorsport, nicknamed ‘Gidget’. With Loadsman’s existing driver, series leader Steve Owen, more likely to use this newer chassis, Earnhardt is set to drive Owen’s current car. Coincidentally, its nickname is ‘Earnhardt’. Earnhardt first visited Australia at the 2007 V8 Grand Finale at Phillip Island during his end-of-season holiday as a guest of former V8 champ Marcos Ambrose. Morris gave Earnhardt a test in a V8 Supercar ride car at his facility on the Gold Coast, and Earnhardt has since remained in contact with the V8 driver. With the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race being held on November 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Earnhardt will be able to fly to Australia in time for Oran Park on December 4-7.(
      UPDATE Many a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan has written Marty Smith of late to get the lowdown on his reported offseason jaunt to Australia to compete in the V8 Supercar Series. They want to know how and where they can see it and what time it airs stateside and what number he'll be and what his car will look like and, above all else, just how excited he is about it. Well, there may not be a lowdown. At this point, it's just in the discussion stage. A recent column posted on cited Earnhardt's plans to make his Australian racing debut at Sydney's Oran Park in early December, racing a Holden Commodore owned by Scott Loadsman in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series. But when Smith casually told Earnhardt how cool the deal sounded, his response was anything but giddy. Junior told Smith and Morris have indeed had candid discussions about Earnhardt racing in Australia, but that's where the story ends. There are no specific plans at this time for him to run the season finale. He may ultimately race in Australia. He'd like to. But there's still many variables that must be finalized before that will happen.( Comment here

    • Franchitti undecided on future plans: Dario Franchitti isn't sure what his future holds, but the former open-wheel star said Wednesday he'd like to remain in NASCAR. Franchitti lost his full-time ride Tuesday when team owner Chip Ganassi closed down the unsponsored No. 40 Dodge 17 races into Franchitti's first season. The move also resulted in 71 layoffs. "This is not a decision he made lightly, and it shows how bad the economy is," Franchitti told The Associated Press. "And you certainly never want to see all those people lose their jobs. I know for certain Chip struggled with that -- I didn't even recognize his voice when he called me to tell me what he had to do. But the decision has been made and now I'll sit with Chip next week and decide what we're going to do going forward." Ganassi's got sponsorship on his Nationwide Series car, and has offered Franchitti that seat going forward. Ganassi also has successful teams in the IRL and Grand Am Series. Franchitti wasn't sure Wednesday what he'll do next. "Let's see what the future holds. I really just need to sit with Chip and see where his head is," he said. "But NASCAR is where I want to be. I want to be successful here and I certainly don't want it to end like this. I made a big commitment coming over here and I'd like to get in an opportunity to be successful." Franchitti said he'll skip Saturday night's race in Daytona and, after briefly considering returning to England to watch the British Grand Prix, decided to stay at his Nashville, Tenn., home this weekend clearing his head. He doesn't regret leaving the IRL for NASCAR. "When I made the decision to come here, I wasn't going to do the IndyCar thing anymore so this isn't a case of missing out on what could have been in Indy cars," Franchitti said. "That just wasn't a direction I wanted to go in. Never say never, but it's unlikely I'll go back." He's also not sure about moving to Grand-Am, where Ganassi drivers Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett are leading the standings. For now, he's waiting to see what Ganassi has available for him and is hopeful something can be worked out in NASCAR. Although the results don't show it, Franchitti and his team had made slow progress since he returned from his broken ankle four races ago. He started a career-best seventh last week in New Hampshire, but finished 38th.(Associated Press)(7-3-2008) Comment here

    • BAM Racing could return at Indy: #49 BAM Racing is targeting July 27’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard as a possible return date. “Beth Ann [Morgenthau, the team’s owner] loves Indianapolis, and if we can make that race, we’re definitely going to try to do that,” said BAM Racing spokesperson Rhett Vandiver. BAM last competed in a points race at Martinsville on March 30 with Ken Schrader behind the wheel. The team’s planned two-race sabbatical to facilitate a switch from Dodge to Toyota turned into a long-term hiatus when primary sponsorship fell through. While searching for a primary sponsor, the company has still been offering its Diamond Sponsorship Program, which allows companies with smaller marketing budgets to get signage on the car, along with other activation materials. When the program launched last year it was being offered at an introductory rate of just less than $5,000. While Vandiver said he didn’t know how many Diamond Sponsors were now onboard, he added that when the team does return to the track it will have a lot of new decals to make for the car. A large portion of BAM’s workforce has been laid off, but the general feeling around NASCAR circles is that team members are ready to come back at a moment’s notice. That includes the 53-year-old Schrader. “My understanding is he’s ready to go when we are,” Vandiver said.(Long Island Press), looks like a company, Hapman may be a sponsor, see images of the car recently at the shop at and scroll down or see a couple on my #49 Team Schemes page.(7-3-2008) Comment here

    • Special scheme for #26 at Daytona: Jamie McMurray will pilot the #26 IRWIN Marathon with WeldTec Ford at Daytona Interntional Speedway this weekend in the Coke Zero 400, the same winning paint scheme from last July. This is a special paint scheme promoting IRWIN’s Marathon saw blades.(Roush Racing), see image of the scheme on my #26 Team Schemes page.(7-3-2008)

    • Reese's on the #29 at Daytona: Reese's, a major associate sponsor of RCR's #29 Chevy of Kevin Harvick kicks into high gear this weekend in Daytona as Harvick and the #29 team transform their bright yellow-and-red Shell-Pennzoil Chevy into a bright orange Reese's racing machine for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Reese's has become the No. 1 selling candy bar in the United States and the Reese's brand is the most successful brand owned by The Hershey Company. On Thursday, July 3, Harvick will officially wave the green flag on the Pennzoil Clean Change Challenge, a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about the need to properly dispose of used motor oil. Harvick will join Pennzoil and Wal-Mart's finest team members in an attempt to collect 200 gallons of used motor oil in just two hours. The two-hour event, which will kick off at 10 a.m. at the Wal-Mart located at 1101 Beville Rd, in Daytona Beach, Fla., is designed to help ensure that used motor oil is properly recycled and that Florida's drinking water stays clean. In honor of Harvick's commitment, and to help motivate the local residents to participate Pennzoil is proud to donate $29 to the Central Florida Boy Scouts Council for each gallon of used oil collected.(RCR PR), see images of the scheme on my #29 Team Schemes page.(7-3-2008)

    • Polaroid on the #41: Polaroid will be returning to the track on Reed Sorenson's #41 Dodge this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. Polaroid is proud to introduce its new POGO printer which prints pictures on the go in 60 seconds. This portable printer and other Polaroid products are available at Target.(Ganassi Racing PR), see images of the car on my #41 Team Schemes page.(7-3-2008)

    • Special scheme for Truex at Daytona UPDATE: #1-Martin Truex Jr. will run a special paint scheme at Daytona next week in the Coke Zero 400. It promotes 'Swing Vote', in theaters August 1st. In addition, Kevin Costner will be on the pit box as the honorary crew chief. See an image of the scheme on my #1 Team Schemes page.(6-27-2008)
      UPDATE: Martin Truex's car will carry a special paint scheme this weekend to promote Kevin Costner's new movie, "Swing Vote", opening in theaters August 1. The actor will also serve as honorary crew chief for the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy. "We don't run that many special paint schemes in a season, so it's really cool to be doing this with Kevin," Truex said with a laugh. "I'll have to make a deal with him, though. I won't try to act if he doesn't try to make the calls for us on pit road."(DEI PR)(7-3-2008)

    • Happy Hour practice for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway was rained out and cancelled.(7-3-2008)

    • 1st Thursday practice for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway is over, the fastest were:
      #2-Busch 189.633
      #9-Kahne 189.143
      #20-Stewart 188.846
      #6-Ragan 188.513
      #31-Burton 188.450
      slowest: #21-Wood 182.741 and #00-McDowell 182.867
      no speed listed: #1-Truex Jr.
      incident: #2-Busch lost a right front tire and slammed the wall and will have to go to a backup car
      For the speeds and laps run, see my Daytona Practice Speeds page.(7-3-2008)

    • Hinton finds a ESPN: Award-winning sports journalist Ed Hinton, entering his fourth decade in the profession, has joined as a senior writer. Hinton will focus on motorsports to serve fans through ESPN's digital platforms. "We're thrilled to welcome Ed," said Rob King, editor-in-chief of "His talent and experience makes our strong motorsports writing team of Terry Blount, Angelique Chengelis, Ryan McGee, David Newton and Marty Smith even stronger, and we very much look forward to Ed's work appearing on our platforms." Most recently Hinton was senior reporter for auto racing with the Tribune Co. newspaper chain, writing for the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Previously he was a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, where he covered auto racing, the NFL, college football and Major League Baseball. Before that he worked for The National sports daily and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
      Hinton has won numerous professional journalism awards, some transcending sports, including the Scripps-Howard Foundation First Amendment Award in 2001. Twice, he has led reporting teams nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and he has also won several awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors' largest-circulation newspaper categories, and recognition from United Press International, Sigma Delta Chi professional journalism society and the National Motorsports Press Association. He is the author of two books. Born in Laurel, Miss., Hinton attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a B.S. degree in journalism.(ESPN PR)(7-3-2008) Comment here

    • Yeley goes for a journey ay Daytona: In Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, J.J. Yeley’s #96 DLP HDTV Toyota will have a special paint scheme featuring the film “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” which is set to be released July 11. The film, based on the Jules Verne novel, is a co-venture between New Line Cinema and Walden Media and is the first live-action feature film to be shot and released entirely in digital 3-D. What does this have to do with DLP? Given that more than 700 theaters throughout the United States offer the digital 3-D experience powered by DLP Cinema technology, several Americans will watch this historic movie thanks to DLP products.(True Comminications/JGR PR)(7-3-2008)

    • Daytona Rookie Notes: #01-Regan Smith was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the June 29 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Smith scored a 27th-place finish and claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the sixth time in 2008. #10-Patrick Carpentier won his first Sprint Cup Series pole position at New Hampshire and it came in his 17th career start. He became the first Raybestos Rookie to win a pole since Denny Hamlin grabbed the top starting position at the 2006 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Racewa, a span of 62 races. Carpentier was also the only Raybestos Rookie to lead a lap at New Hampshire, holding the top spot once for four laps. He also led once for four laps at Darlington Raceway (race No. 11). #77-Sam Hornish Jr. leads Smith by five points (162-157) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the July 5 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Greg Biffle is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the Coke Zero 400. Biffle won the race in 2003, scoring his first career win in the Sprint Cup Series. Biffle crossed the finish line 4.102 second ahead of second place finisher Jeff Burton and led only once, covering the final 21 laps. He was the only Raybestos Rookie to score a win during the 2003 season. Since 1975, only three Raybestos Rookies have scored a top-five finish in the Coke Zero 400: 1979-Dale Earnhardt, third; 1993-Jeff Gordon, fifth; 2003-Greg Biffle, FIRST. Three Raybestos Rookies have won the pole position for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona: Geoffrey Bodine (1982), Davey Allison (1987), and Mike Skinner (1997). Davey Allison is the only Raybestos Rookie since 1975 to lead the most laps in the Coke Zero 400 (twice for 32 laps in 1987).(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos), see Rookies standings, history or more on my 2008 Rookies page.(7-3-2008)

    • Five NASCAR-related nominations for the ESPY Awards: There are five NASCAR-related nominations for this year’s 16th annual ESPY Awards. #18-Kyle Busch is involved in three of the five. At last summer’s Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, #26-Jamie McMurray edged Busch for the victory by a margin of only .005-seconds, the second-closest margin since NASCAR instituted electronic scoring in 1993. That spectacular under-the-lights ending has been nominated in the “Best Finish” category. Busch also is nominated in the “Best Breakthrough Athlete” category and in the “Best Driver” category. Two-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Dario Franchitti also are nominated for Best Driver. Franchitti’s nomination was based primarily on his splendid 2007 season in open-wheel racing, when he won the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series championship. The “2008 ESPYs” will be held July 16 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. This marks the first time for the show at the Nokia Theatre, following a six-year run at the Kodak Theatre. The show – hosted annually by ESPN – will be televised on Sunday, July 20 at 9pm/et on ESPN and ESPN HD, hosted by Justin Timberlake. All awards are determined by an online fan vote. Fans can vote on-line for their favorites in all ESPY categories by going PR)(7-3-2008) Comment here

    • Hendrick and Mears to part ways after 2008 season UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports and driver Casey Mears will part ways following the 2008 Sprint Cup Series season. "We've put a ton of emphasis on the #5 program," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "It's been a total team effort, and Casey has worked as hard as anyone to help us improve. We've tested more than we ever have, but the results just haven't come. None of us, Casey included, have been satisfied with the situation this season. But he's confident there are other options out there for him in 2009, and we feel like Hendrick Motorsports will have some opportunities, too." Mears will finish the 2008 Sprint Cup campaign in Hendrick's #5 Chevrolets. "I know the effort has been there, but we haven't had the finishes to show for it," Mears said. "I've never tested this much or put more energy into racing. But for whatever reason, we just haven't been able to make it click. It's certainly not for lack of dedication on anyone's part. I'll talk to people about opportunities and get my 2009 plans wrapped up soon, but I'm also focused on the next 20 races and finishing 2008 on a positive note. We ran well the second half last year, and I know we can do it again. I want to close this season the right way." Hendrick Motorsports will announce its 2009 plans at a later date.(Hendrick Motorsports PR), rumor has Mark Martin taking this ride in 2009, either as full-time or part-time.(6-27-2008)
      UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports will hold a news conference at the press conference room in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center in Daytona Beach, FL on Friday, July 4 at 12:30pm/et to announce future plans for its #5 Chevrolet team. Owner Rick Hendrick will be in attendance.(Hendrick Motorsports)(7-3-2008) Comment here

      News from July 2, 2008

    • Special scheme for Dale Jr at Daytona: To honor the National Guard and this weekend's Fourth of July holiday, the #88 Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run a special, hand-painted camouflage ACU (Army Combat Uniform) scheme. The National Guard Defending Freedom (ACU)/AMP Energy Chevy took two days and 10 coats of DuPont paint to finish. The scheme was unveiled to National Guard soldiers at North Carolina's Camp Butner on June 18 by Earnhardt and the #88 team.(HMS PR), see the scheme on my #88 Team Schemes page.(7-2-2008)

    • Prelude to the Dream on SPEED UPDATE: SPEED will offer multiple replays of Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream, beginning July 5 at 1:00pm/et and previously only available through HBO Pay-Per-View. The race, run June 4 at famed Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, benefited Kyle Petty's new Victory Junction Gang Camp outside Kansas City.(6-30-2008)
      UPDATE: SPEED will offer multiple replays of Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream, beginning Friday at 7:00pm/et and previously only available through HBO Pay-Per-View. The race, run June 4 at famed Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, benefited Kyle Petty's new Victory Junction Gang Camp outside Kansas City.
      The replay schedule (subject to change) includes: July 4, 7pm/et; July 5 1pm/et; July 8, 8pm/et; July 8, 12midnight/et and July 9, 8:00am/et.(7-2-2008)

    • Waltrip gives car to victim of scam: After hearing about an Iraq war veteran who was victimized by an Internet scam, former NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip stepped in and gave the man a 2004 Honda Accord on Tuesday. The vehicle has a Kelley Blue Book retail value of about $13,000. "It's beyond awesome,'' said Jay Strobino, 24, of Franklin, who lost $5,500 trying to buy a used Honda Accord on Craigslist earlier this year. He wired the money to a scam artist who claimed to be heading out soon for a military deployment, setting up a fake WorldPay Web site to handle the purchase. Strobino's story appeared in The Tennessean on Tuesday in an article about the growing sophistication of Internet fraud. Waltrip said the general manager of his Franklin auto dealership, John Gallagher, alerted him to the story and recommended the vehicle giveaway. "I thought that's a no-brainer — let's help this kid out,'' Waltrip said after handing Strobino the keys at Darrell Waltrip Honda Volvo on Tuesday. "There are so many fake sites,'' he said. "You really have to be sure. We're in the car business, and he got ripped off by someone pretending to be real." Waltrip said he also was motivated by Strobino's military service. Strobino, who was injured in a firefight south of Baghdad in 2004, is a Silver Star medal recipient, the third highest-ranking military honor. When hearing the Honda dealership was going to give him a car Tuesday, Strobino, who described himself as being "broke," said simply: "Are you serious?"(Tennessean)(7-2-2008) Comment here

    • Felix Sabates talks about closure of #40 team: Felix Sabates spoke with Claire B. Lang on "Dialed In" on XMSN (XM Channel 144) Tuesday evening about Dario Franchitti's future with the team
      CBL: You didn't have a sponsor - people forget this team was unsponsored:
      Sabates: "What happened to us - we kind of got hung out to dry by Coors. Coors was with me for almost ten years and they had a management change and the new people come over and told us don't worry about it - 'Don't look for a sponsor; we're going to be back with you in 2008, 2009.' So, we never looked for any sponsors and come October they come and tell us well Coors is going to do something else. They're going to sponsor the NASCAR Coors pole and this and that so then it was too late (for the 2008 season) we have been running all year long without a sponsor."
      CBL: Talk about the options for Dario Franchitti:
      Sabates: "Dario had a hard time with it. He made a change from the Indy Racing League to come here. But truth of the matter is that he needs more seat time. We gave him an option to go in the Nationwide car because we do have a sponsor for the #40 Nationwide car. He's going to decide what he's going to do in the next few days and maybe he'll be racing in Chicago (Nationwide race July 11).....I hope he does get in the Nationwide car. He's a very talented driver and if he gets a few more months under his belt maybe we can get a sponsor for next year and we can go racing next year.
      Sabates told CBL on the cost of running the team and how much he's paid to keep it running: - "It cost you $20 to $21, $22 million dollars to run a competitive team and if you run 15 races and you don't have any money coming in you have already lost $10 or $11 million dollars."
      Sabates on Dario's choices: "Chip pretty much told him if he wanted to go to back to Indy that, because it doesn't cost near as much money there as it does here, and over there Chip is the Rick Hendrick of over here - so he can get a sponsor for an IRL car very easily. So he's got his choice - if he wants to drive the Nationwide Car - get some more experience, maybe we'll get a sponsor for next year or go back to the IRL -- it's up to Dario - he has a contract and we intend to honor it."
      Sabates on what he thinks Dario will do: "At the end of the day - I think he will get in the Nationwide car- he needs more seat time anyway."(XM Radio PR)(7-2-2008) Comment here

    • Red Bull Racing helping out: After treating all of Red Bull Racing Team to lunch Tuesday, members of the #83 and #84 pit crews caught I-85 north to Randleman, N.C. The destination? The NASCARnival at Victory Junction Gang Camp. They took a tour of the sprawling facility that, through fun activities and experiences, empowers the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. Along with #84 driver AJ Allmendinger, the Bull Crews sat down for dinner with campers, then performed pit stops and taught them how to tear through lug nuts. And all were more than happy to offer an autograph or two. The #83 Bull Crew’s victory in the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge is still paying off. The charity portion of the hefty purse earned in May comes out to $23,793.25. On Friday, crew members will present a check, through the NASCAR Foundation, in that amount to the Speediatrics unit of Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Over-the-wallers Jake Brzozowski, Brian Haaland, Danny Kincaid, Shaun Peet and Aaron Schields will take a tour of the unit and hand out Speediatrics teddy bears.(Red Bull Racing PR)(7-2-2008)

    • Testing at Kentucky: a few R&D team are testing at Kentucky Speedway today, July 2nd. Penske Racing with David, Chip Ganassi Racing with Juan Pablo Montoya and Haas CNC Racing. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway site)(7-2-2008)

    • Testing at Carolina Motorsports Park: Ron Fellows with JR Motorsports Park was doing a private test at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC on June 30 & July 1.(7-2-2008)

      News from July 1, 2008

    • Ganassi's #40 team closes down: hearing that the #40 Chip Ganassi Racing team of Dario Franchitti will skip the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway and has closed the team, supposedly laying off around 70 employees.(7-1-2008)
      UPDATE: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today that due to a lack of sponsorship funding it will cease operation of the team's #40 Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Dodge driven by Dario Franchitti beginning this weekend in Daytona. "This is a difficult decision for Felix and I that did not come without its share of anguish," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "In this tough business environment continuing to run the car without proper funding has become increasingly difficult." CGRFS is committed to Franchitti's continued stockcar development and are currently in discussions with him on his racing options with the team which could include running the balance of the 2008 Nationwide season in the #40 Fastenal Dodge. Currently the #42 Texaco/Havoline/Juicy Fruit Dodge of Juan Pablo Montoya is 21st in owner points while the #41 Target Dodge driven by Reed Sorenson is sitting 31st in the standings.(CGRFS PR)(7-1-2008) Comment here

    • Almirola to run #8 fulltime for DEI in 2009 UPDATE: An official announcement that Aric Almirola will drive the #8 car at Dale Earnhardt Inc. full time next season will be made on Tuesday, sources close to the situation said. The decision to put Almirola into the U.S. Army-sponsored car full time had nothing to do with Martin's decision to return to a full-time Sprint Cup schedule and make one last run at a championship, sources said. It had more to do with advancing Almirola's talents and taking advantage of the appeal he has shown with sponsors looking for a younger driver. One of those is U.S. Army, whose target audience fits the 24-year-old Almirola much more than the 49-year-old Martin.(
      UPDATE: After spending two seasons sharing a car with veteran Mark Martin, 24-year-old Aric Almirola will take over the #8 Sprint Cup Series Chevy full time in 2009. "This is an incredibly exciting opportunity," said Almirola. "When you get into racing, you always dream of competing at the highest level and I've had the chance to do that on a limited basis for the past two seasons. Now I will have the opportunity to race the car full time and I could not be more excited about driving the #8 car each week for Dale Earnhardt Inc. This is a really great race team to work with. (Crew Chief) Tony Gibson and these guys have put me in really good race cars this season and they've never treated me like a rookie. They are committed to being competitive every week and I'm really looking forward to working with them on a weekly basis next season." Martin, who has driven the #8 in 12 events this season, will compete in 12 more races this year before moving to another team for the 2009 campaign. Almirola will compete in the balance of the season's seven races. In addition to his time in the Sprint Cup Series, Almirola has made 27 starts in the Nationwide Series, earning four poles and one win at Milwaukee in 2007.(DEI PR), there is no mention of a sponsor or the US Army in the press release.(7-1-2008) Comment here

    • Elliott testing #21 at Nashville; Wood to run Daytona: Wood Brothers Racing is set to test Nashville Superspeedway on Wednesday, July 2nd.  Coming off of a strong performance in Sonoma, the team experienced disappointment last weekend when they did not make the race in New Hampshire.  The #21 team and driver Marcos Ambrose found that the Little Debbie #21 Ford did not respond to any changes that were made and the handling issues persisted during the practice sessions and qualifying on Friday afternoon.  Driver Marcos Ambrose stated that after such a fantastic run at Infineon, not making the race was disheartening. He said, “It’s really disappointing.  I just feel bad for the Wood Brothers.  I’ve had limited experience in the COT and we just didn’t roll off the truck that great and I haven’t had enough experience to really give them direction to tune on it.  I tried as hard as I could there, but it just wasn’t to be.”
      Taking a proactive stance, the team and Bill Elliott will be testing a new car at Nashville.  Ford Racing Engineer, Dave Cimba, commented on the team’s goals for the test, “It was time to put that [New Hampshire] chassis away and start from scratch. We believed that we had fixed previous issues, but it wasn’t the case, new issues would develop, so it’s time to cut it down and start over. The goal of this test is to make things better on the cars week in and week out and to try new ideas that will make performance and handling better overall. Bill [Elliott] is the best candidate to drive because he’s been in the #21 for most of the season and can give us good feedback for tracks that we race on similar to Nashville [Superspeedway]. As we test new ideas and find that they work we will incorporate them into the rotation of the fleet of cars that we have built.” The team also plans to step up the testing program for the rest of the season on intermediate tracks where the most improvement is needed. Wood Brothers Racing will head to Daytona International Speedway for July 4th weekend in the patriotic #21 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion with Jon Wood once again behind the wheel for the Coke Zero 400 on July 5th.(Wood Brothers Racing PR)(7-1-2008) Comment here

    • Sauter to run the #08 at Chicago & Indy: EM Motorsports owner John Carter announced Johnny Sauter will pilot the #08 Dodge Charger in both the LifeLock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway and the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sauter has competed at Chicago on seven occasions (two Cup and five Nationwide) and won the 2002 Tropicana Twister 200 Nationwide Series event while driving for Richard Childress Racing. The Necedah, Wisconsin native competed for the first time at Indianapolis in 2007, driving for #70 Haas Racing in the Allstate 400. FUBAR is a proprietary beverage scientifically formulated for superior performance, endurance and outstanding recovery. Each 12oz bottle or 50 gram bar of FUBAR delivers essential nutrients to the body for up to 6 hours, maximizing overall performance, endurance and allowing for faster recovery. Each FUBAR contains all the natural fuels the body needs with healthy carbs, beneficial fats and pure unprocessed sugars. Based in Toccoa, GA, EM Motorsports presently has three race-ready COTs for Sprint Cup Series competition and the team's shop was completely overhauled during the month of June. EM Motorsports is led by owner John Carter, Crew Chief Charles Swing, Marketing VP Doug Barron and NASCAR Consultant James Hylton.(EM Motorsports PR)(7-1-2008) Comment here

    • Free Coke Zero for fans if a Coke Driver wins at Daytona: For members of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, each victory in a Sprint Cup Series race is traditionally followed by a thirst-quenching chug of an ice cold Coke Zero in the winner’s circle. This weekend, 13 of the sport’s top drivers will attempt to give fans around the country their own “taste of victory” by taking the checkered flag in the inaugural Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway. The Coke Zero “Taste of Victory” program will give fans an added incentive to pull for their favorite Coca-Cola Racing Family members during this weekend’s race. If any one of 13 drivers sponsored by Coca-Cola wins, people across the United States will be able to enjoy the Real Coke Taste and Zero Calories of Coke Zero for free. Participating Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers include #20-Tony Stewart, #29-Kevin Harvick, #31-Jeff Burton, #11-Denny Hamlin, #8-Mark Martin, #16-Greg Biffle, #19-Elliott Sadler, #26-Jamie McMurray, #43-Bobby Labonte, #55-Michael Waltrip, #07-Clint Bowyer and #6-David Ragan. #45-Terry Labonte also is eligible as the driver of the #45 Petty Enterprises Dodge and substitute for Coca-Cola Racing Family member Kyle Petty, who is in the TNT broadcast booth this weekend. If a Coca-Cola Racing Family driver takes the checkered flag Saturday night, fans will be able to visit July 5 through July 13 and follow the instructions to receive a coupon for a free 20-ounce bottle of Coke Zero. The debut of the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola is part of a 10-year sponsorship agreement between Coca-Cola North America (CCNA) and International Speedway Corporation (ISC). Coupons for free 20-ounce bottles of Coke Zero will be redeemable until September 1, 2008 at participating retailers across the country where Coca-Cola products are sold. Limit is one coupon per person. All U.S. residents 13 years of age or older are eligible.(PR)(7-1-2008) Comment here

    • Earnhardt brings fearless approach to barrel racing: 19-year-old Taylor Earnhardt, daughter of the late Dale Earnhardt and Teresa Houston Earnhardt — wrapped up her nearly weeklong stay in Marshall yesterday while doing what Earnhardt's do — race. Miss Earnhardt's racing talents are centered on fast horses — not speedy race cars — and her visit to the area was spent at Josey Ranch where she, along with her horse, Packin Sixes Cowboy, were in town to improve their respective games in the world of barrel racing. ESPN crews were on hand Saturday filming a segment on Miss Earnhardt and her equestrian skills. "ESPN being here at the ranch is exciting for all the other girls too," said Stephanie Boyd, Josey Ranch Clinic Coordinator, late Friday afternoon. "It will open Josey Ranch to different people who have never had the opportunity to see what we have and that are not familiar with what we offer, not only on a national level, but a regional level as well."(see full story at the Marshall News Messenger)(7-1-2008)

      News from June 30, 2008

    • Randy Moss starting truck team: UPDATEs: Hearing that NFL Player Randy Moss has bought into Morgan-Dollar Motorsports and the team will be renamed Randy Moss Motorsports. No idea when this will be announced.(6-12-2008)
      UPDATE 3: Moss Motorsports has scheduled a press conference at Daytona Int'l Speedway on Thursday, July 3rd at 2:00pm/et - anticipating a formal announcement of future plans.(6-27-2008)
      UPDATE 4: A source at New Hampshire Motor Speedway told the Herald yesterday that Moss' NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team, Randy Moss Motorsports, will make its debut on July 19 at Kentucky Speedway. Moss' truck will be #81, the jersey number he wears for the Patriots. Moss has also purchased a major portion of Morgan Dollar Motorsports, a team currently racing in the truck series. Moss will make the announcement on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway and is expected to have a prominent Sprint Cup driver race his truck in Sparta, KY.(Boston Herald), see more on this, the original post, PR and news on my Truck Series Site.(6-30-2008) Comment here

    • Hunt Brothers Pizza Extends Sponsorship with HAAS CNC Racing: HAAS CNC Racing announced today that it has extended its sponsorship agreement with Hunt Brothers Pizza for the 2008 Sprint Cup season. The Nashville, Tenn.-based company will serve as a primary sponsor of the #66 and #70 Chevys in multiple races and will be an associate sponsor on the #66 in each of the remaining races. "We are very excited to have Hunt Brothers Pizza as a continued partner," said HAAS CNC Racing general manager Joe Custer. "This is a great step ahead for our race team. We're looking forward to representing Hunt Brothers well, both on and off the track." The #70 Chevy Impala SS first featured the Hunt Brothers Pizza brand at Talladega in April where the team qualified third. "NASCAR is a natural fit for Hunt Brothers Pizza," said company executive Scott Hunt. "NASCAR fans are known to be the most brand-loyal fans among all of the major sports and we're proud to have many NASCAR fans in our existing customer base. We look forward to taking our message nationally to the millions of fans across the country." Next up for Hunt Brothers Pizza is the July 5, Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway where the company will be primary sponsor of the #66 HAAS CNC Racing Chevy driven by Scott Riggs. For more information about Hunt Brothers Pizza, please visit or call 1-800-453-3675.(Haas CNC Racing PR), see an image of the scheme on the #70 Team Schemes page.(6-30-2008) Comment here

    • Did Not Finish Streak and stats: #29-Harvick has been running at the finish in 61 consecutive races, the longest current streak and a NEW modern era record, next up is #07-Bowyer at 54 consecutive races. The all-time record for the longest streak of NOT having an DNF is 84 races held by Herman Beam from April 30, 1961 thru March 10, 1963. Kevin Harvick held the modern era (1972-present) record at 58 (10/3/2002-8/1/2004) unil he broke it himself in 2008. Next up was Jeff Gordon at 56 and Dale Earnhardt at 53 [Indy in 1996 thru Martinsville in the spring of 1998.(6-30-2008)

    • Top-5's, Top-10's: #18-Kyle Busch leads all drivers after 17 races in 2008 with 10 Top-5 finishes followed by #88-Earnhardt jr. and #24-Gordon at 7. #99-Edwards has the most Top-10's after 17 races with 12, followed by #88-Earnhardt jr. and #18-Busch with 11. Full-time drivers who have run all 17 races in 2008 with no top-10 finishes are #77-Hornish Jr. and #15-Menard. Seven drivers have not scored a Top-5 and ran all 17 races: #-7-Gordon [last top-5 at Watkins Glen 8/2007], #15-Menard [none so far], #26-McMurray [last at Daytona, a win 7/07], #28-Kvapil [none], #43-Labonte [last at Martinsville in 10/2006], #44-Reutimann [none] and #77-Hornish Jr.[none].(6-30-2008)

    • New Hampshire Commercial breakdown:
      Total number of commercials: 120
      Total number of companies or entities advertised: 48
      Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 37
      Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:00 PM
      End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:15 PM
      Total minutes: 195
      Minutes of race broadcast: 137
      Minutes of commercials: 58
      Number of missed restarts: 0
      Number of mystery cautions (no debris shown): 0
      See the full report at

    • Montoya and Kyle Busch tangle: While trying to wreck #18-Kyle Busch on Sunday, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya managed to wreck himself in the process near the end of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. And he did it during a caution. After a caution flag flew with 21 laps to go, Montoya ran into the right-rear fender of Busch's car. It caused Busch to spin and hit Montoya's car as Montoya was driving by. "We always give each other lots of room," Montoya said of Busch. "But he went wide like I wasn't there. Then I got beside him and he started banging me like he was trying to wreck me. I looked at him like, 'What are you doing?' " Montoya had no problem admitting he deliberately ran into Busch's car. "Yeah. I did what he did to me," Montoya said. "I don't appreciate people who race me like that. There's a fine line and he crossed it." Apparently, NASCAR officials felt the same was about Montoya's retaliation move. He was assessed a two-lap penalty for rough driving outside of race procedure. It dropped Montoya to 32nd in the finishing order. Busch finished 25th, but still leads the Cup standings by 64 points over #31-Jeff Burton. So what caused the altercation with Montoya? "I have no idea," Busch said. "I got a run on him earlier. I didn't turn down into him. He ran me up the race track. The caution came out and he thought he had to beat me. I touched his door and he spun me out. I don't know what his beef is."( Comment here

    • Stewart hits 10,000 laps led: when #20-Tony Stewart led 132 laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, he surpassed 10,000 career laps led, the 13th driver in history to do so. Stewart now has led 10,123 laps. Richard Petty is the all-time lap leader. Jeff Gordon is the leading active driver and 8th overall. See the laps led list on my MISC stats page.(6-30-2008)

    • Richard Petty on QVC: Petty Enterprises quickly approaching the 50th anniversary of Richard Petty's first race, which will be celebrated July 10th-12th at Chicagoland Speedway. As part of the campaign surrounding this event, Petty Enterprises has worked with partners to produce special merchandise designed to commemorate this momentous occasion. On July 3rd Richard 'The King' Petty is scheduled to be on QVC's For Race Fans Only show to promote the 50th anniversary merchandise. The #43 and #45 Richard Petty 50th anniversary die-cast cars will be featured along with die-casts of some of 'The King's' most famous racecars from 8:15-9:00pm/et. See images of the cars [real and diecast] on my #43 Team Schemes page and #45 Team Schemes page.(6-30-2008)

    • Newman To Have His Space In Daytona 500 Champion's Walk Of Fame: Ryan Newman's signature, right footprint and hand prints will now have their place in the history of Daytona International Speedway. During the Coke Zero 400 Weekend, Newman on Friday, July 4 at 1:30 p.m. will participate in a question and answer session with the race fans inside Daytona 500 Experience motorsports attraction and then proceed outside where he will have his 3x3 cement block with his signature, hand prints and right foot print placed into the Daytona 500 Champion's Walk of Fame. Newman, the winner of the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500 earlier this year, put his right foot, autograph and handprints into the cement during his post-race Gatorade Victory Lane celebration. Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig and Daytona 500 Experience General Manager Kim Isemann will assist Newman in placing the block into Daytona 500 Champion's Walk of Fame, which is located just outside the "Official Attraction of NASCAR." Winning drivers of the Daytona 500 since 1996, the first year of operation for Daytona 500 Experience, have their hands, right foot and signature immortalized in cement in the Daytona 500 Champion's Walk of Fame. Tickets to the Coke Zero 400 Weekend are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS PR)(6-30-2008)

    • Top Sponsors Fuel the Return of TNT's 'Wide Open Coverage': TNT announced its full lineup of sponsors for this year's highly-touted Wide Open Coverage race telecast, which will air once again during the primetime Coke Zero 400 race from Daytona International Speedway on Sat., July 5th. The ten national sponsors, which matches last year's sponsorship commitment, featured in this year's innovative telecast include Coke Zero, Coors Light, HP, Papa John's, Sprint, Subway, Toyota, US Army, Viagra and Warner Bros. TNT's exclusive Wide Open Coverage telecast is a groundbreaking television presentation format that provides continuous race coverage free of national commercial breaks and features 22% more unobstructed race action than that of a standard telecast by using a letterbox widescreen format. In place of the national ads, the telecast features a variety of animated sponsor messages, unique branded content and distinct on-screen graphic elements. Wide Open Coverage debuted on TNT during the 2007 Daytona 400 race and showcased extended non-stop green flag racing, missing only three laps of green flag racing. The network's race coverage begins at 6:30pm/et with the NASCAR Live pre-race show hosted by Marc Fein with analysts Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds, followed by the Allstate Countdown to Green at 7:30pm/et with Bill Weber, Wally Dallenbach and Petty with reports from pit reporters Marty Snider, Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen and Lindsay Czarniak. The race will begin at 8:00pm/et with a brief Wide Open Coverage introduction by Sprint Cup Series drivers Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle.(Turner Sports PR)(6-30-2008)

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