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  • MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
    OCTOBER 13-19, 2008




      News from October 19, 2008

    • Johnson wins at Martinsville: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the TUMS Quickpak 500 at Martinsville Speedway for his 6th win of the season, 5th win at Martinsville, 8th short track win and the 39th of his career. Johnson held off #88-Earnhardt Jr. after a green-white-checkered finish, #88-Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd followed by #99-Edwards, #24-Gordon, #11-Hamlin, #5-Mears, #29-Harvick, #17-Kenseth, #07-Bowyer and #1-Truex Jr.. #84-Scott Speed finished 30th in his Sprint Cup debut. There were 12 cautions for 76 laps and 14 lead changes among 7 leaders.
      For race results, awards and more, see my Martinsville Race Results Awards Page.(10-19-2008)

    • UNOFFICIAL Chase Driver Points Standings [after Martinsville race 32 of 36]:
      1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 6073 [6 wins]
      2) #16-Greg Biffle 5924 -149 [2 wins]
      3) #31-Jeff Burton 5921 -152 [2 wins]
      4) #99-Carl Edwards 5875 -198 [6 wins]
      5) #07-Clint Bowyer 5831 -242 [1 win]
      6) #29-Kevin Harvick 5817 -256
      7) #24-Jeff Gordon 5798 -275
      8) #20-Tony Stewart 5735 -338 [1 win]
      9) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5694 -379 [1 win]
      10) #17-Matt Kenseth 5665 -408
      11) #11-Denny Hamlin 5653 -420 [1 win]
      12) #18-Kyle Busch 5628 -445 [8 wins]
      Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Martinsville.(10-19-2008)

    • Where did the 12 Chase Drivers finish at Martinsville?
      (the chase standings before Martinsville)
      1) #48-Jimmie Johnson, WON
      2) #31-Jeff Burton, 17th
      3) #16-Greg Biffle, 12th
      4) #99-Carl Edwards, 3rd
      5) #07-Clint Bowyer, 9th
      6) #29-Kevin Harvick, 7th
      7) #20-Tony Stewart, 26th
      8) #24-Jeff Gordon, 4th
      9) #18-Kyle Busch, 29th
      10) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2nd
      11) #17-Matt Kenseth, 8th
      12) #11-Denny Hamlin, 5th
      (10-19-2008)

    • UNOFFICAL Classic Driver Points Standings [after Martinsville race 32 of 36]:
      1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 4609 [6 wins]
      2) #99-Carl Edwards 4496 -113 [6 wins]
      3) #18-Kyle Busch 4426 -183 [8 wins]
      4) #31-Jeff Burton 4295 -314 [2 wins]
      5) #16-Greg Biffle 4204 -405 [2 wins]
      6) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4172 -437 [1 win]
      7) #29-Kevin Harvick 4100 -509
      8) #20-Tony Stewart 4020 -589 [1 win]
      9) #24-Jeff Gordon 4019 -590
      10) #07-Clint Bowyer 3937 -672 [1 win]
      11) #11-Denny Hamlin 3878 -731 [1 win]
      12) #6-David Ragan 3802 -807
      13) #17-Matt Kenseth 3797 -812
      14) #9-Kasey Kahne 3656 -953 [2 wins]
      (10-19-2008)

    • Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Atlanta:
      No drop in or out of top 35, #84 moves up to 34th and #7 down to 35th and the spread is larger, 75 pts ahead of 36th
      The teams are NOT locked in past the next race as the owners points change after each race.
      33) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis Racing: 2566 +196
      34) #84-Speed/Red Bull Racing: 2460 +90
      35) #7-Gordon/RGM: 2445 75 points ahead of 36th
      these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed but are close to the top-35:
      36) #47[was #00]-Ambrose/Waltrip Racing: 2370, 75 points out of 35th
      37) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing: 2305 -140
      For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(10-19-2008)

    • Who got a lap back on each caution at Martinsville: (and their finish)
      Caution 1: #21-Elliott, 16th
      Caution 2: none awarded
      Caution 3: #28-Kvapil, 19th
      Caution 4: #00-Bliss (still 4 laps down), 39th
      Caution 5: #00-Bliss (still 4 laps down), 39th
      Caution 6: #45-McCumbee, 25th
      Caution 7: #17-Kenseth, 8th
      Caution 8: #38-Gilliland, 32nd
      Caution 9: #10-Allmendinger, 15th
      Caution 10: none, #41-Sorenson would had, but he caused the caution
      Caution 11: #16-Biffle, 13th
      Caution 12: none awarded when 10 laps of less are left in the race
      (10-19-2008)

    • Martinsville Penalty Report:
      Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
      1 #88 Excessive Speed-Entering pits TE 30
      2 #2 Commitment Line Violation TE 64
      3 #2 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 66
      4 #78 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 115
      5 #17 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 116
      6 #18 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 163
      7 #70 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 163
      8 #77 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 163
      9 #18 Intentionally causing a caution 2 Laps 163
      10 #19 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 197
      11 #7 Safety violation PT 219
      12 #43 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 259
      13 #42 Excessive Speed-Entering pits TE 259
      14 #12 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 259
      15 #2 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 381
      16 #31 Car/truck pitting out of the assigned pit box OL 461
      17 #1 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 461
      18 #12 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 461
      19 #44 Lug nut(s) not installed MCI 462
      20 #38 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 486
      21 #41 Safety violation PT 488
      22 #41 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 489
      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)(10-19-2008)

    • Rain out winners: so far in 32 2008 races, there have been NINE qualifying sessions rained out, the most since 1959. In the nine races run, all nine winners have come from the top 10 starting spot:
      California, February: winner #99-Edwards started 9th, #48-Johnson started 1st finished 2nd
      Bristol, March: #31-Burton 8th, #48-Johnson 18th
      Michigan, June: #88-Earnhardt Jr. 3rd; #18-Busch 13th
      Chicago, July: #18-Busch 1st
      Watkins Glen: August, #18-Busch 1st
      Richmond, September: #48-Johnson 3rd; #18-Busch 15th
      New Hampshire, September: winner #16-Biffle 9th, #18-Busch 34th
      Charlotte, October: winner #31-Burton 4th, #48-Johnson 6th
      Martinsville, October: winner #48-Johnson 1st
      The NINE qualifying sessions cancelled are the most since 1959. From 1980 thru present, the next worse year for qualifying cancellations was in 2002 when five were cancelled. Back a few years ago, if it rained on Friday, qualifying was many times moved to Saturday morning, that doesn't happen any longer.(10-19-2008)

    • Sad News - Steve Lawson: it was reported on ABC's opening coverage of the TUMS Quickpak 500 at Martinsville Speedway Sprint Cup race that NASCAR Sprint Cup official, Steve Lawson, has passed away. No details or arrangements known.
      UPDATE: Steve Lawson, a popular NASCAR official, was found dead in his hotel room Sunday morning, NASCAR officials said. He was 51. The cause of death was not announced. Lawson, of Rockford, Ill., worked as an official for stock car racing's governing body for more than a decade, most recently as a safety inspector in the Sprint Cup Series. He was scheduled to work at Sunday's TUMS Quikpak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. A moment of silence was held before the race.(ESPN/Associated Press)(10-19-2008)

    • Pit Stall Selections have been made for the Tums QuickPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway, #48-Johnson got to choose first since he will start from the pole, and took stall #1, #31-Burton, who starts 2nd, took stall #11, the next pit with an opening in front of it and #16-Biffle, who starts 3rd to stall #10, a stall that has an opening behind it. #83-Vickers took the final pit stall. See who took what stall on my Martinsville Pit Stall selections page.(10-19-2008)

    • Where did the 12 Chase Drivers finish at Martinsville in March 2008?
      (the chase standings before Martinsville)
      1) #48-Jimmie Johnson, 4th
      2) #31-Jeff Burton, 3rd
      3) #16-Greg Biffle, 20th
      4) #99-Carl Edwards, 9th
      5) #07-Clint Bowyer, 10th
      6) #29-Kevin Harvick, 12th
      7) #20-Tony Stewart, 5th
      8) #24-Jeff Gordon, 2nd
      9) #18-Kyle Busch, 38th
      10) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 6th
      11) #17-Matt Kenseth, 30th
      12) #11-Denny Hamlin, WON
      (10-19-2008)

    • Tums QuickPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway Pit Stall Selections

    • Race Coverage of the Tums QuickPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway is scheduled for Sunday, October 19, 2008.
      TV: ESPN at 1:30pm/et; pre-race show at 1:00pm/et
      Radio: MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite NASCAR Radio
      ESPN.com: on the ESPN.com NASCAR page - Racecast and Chat.
      Scheduled Race Re-Airs:
      ESPN2, Monday, October 20 at 2:30am/et
      ESPN Classic, Monday, October 20 at 9:00am/et
      SPEED, Thursday, October 23 at 12:00pm/et and;
      HDNET, Thursday, October 23 at 5:30pm/et

    • added #38 FCC/Digital TV Transition image from Martinsville.(10-19-2008)

    • Ford re-ups with Roush BUT pulls some support for Trucks: Ford Racing has reinforced the importance of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series to the manufacturer under tough economic times by reaching a five-year deal to remain with Roush Fenway Racing. BUT Ford will pull its financial support in the Craftsman Truck Series beginning next season. Team owner Jack Roush assured that Ford has not pulled support from the Cup program. "Ford has made us a commitment for five years going into the future that we feel is adequate to our needs for the support that comes from manufacturers," Roush said before Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway. Roush has been with Ford since he got into NASCAR in 1988. His organization owns five of the eight Cup teams currently funded by the manufacturer and has an alliance with two more at Yates Racing. The single-car team [#21] of the Wood Brothers is the only other one that runs fulltime in NASCAR's premiere series, although Yates plans to expand to three teams [#28,#38 and Paul Menard] in 2009. The withdrawal of financial support in the Truck Series was purely an economical decision. It is the second big hit for that series, which lost Dodge support earlier this year. Unlike Dodge, Ford will continue to provide technical support and engineering. "We remain positive about the performance of our teams and their dedication to the company during these challenging times," said Brian Wolfe, the director of Ford Racing Technology.(ESPN.com)(10-19-2008) Comment here

    • Smaller fields in NASCAR's future? UPDATE denied: Another sign of the times is the rumor [Bob Margolis] heard in the Cup garage that NASCAR has floated the possibility of a change in the field size for the Craftsman Truck and Nationwide Series to 28 vehicles and the Cup field down to 36 sometime in the future.(Yahoo Sports)(10-13-2008)
      UPDATE: Q: There was a report last week about NASCAR looking at trimming the fields of truck races to 28 and Cup fields to 36. Is this accurate?
      A: "First of all it wasn't a report, it was somebody's opinion from the garage area and it was not a NASCAR opinion. We're not looking at reducing the fields. If circumstances warranted it, then a field less than 43 cars ... a reasonable size field under 43 cars does not, I think, impair the quality of a NASCAR race. But there is no thought process today to shorten the field of a Cup or Nationwide series or Truck series."(Roanoke Times)(10-19-2008) Comment here

    • So how is the Budweiser Shootout shaping up? as posted and announced back in August, the 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona will have a new format with a field of 24 cars representing the top 6 teams from each manufacturer [Chevy, Dodge, Ford and Toyota], based on the final 2008 car owner points [NOT driver points]. NOT who won poles in 2008. The Chevy six teams [# 48,31,07,29,24,88] are all set since they are in the Chase, the only change will be Casey Mears will be in the #07 with Bowyer going to the #33 unless RCR lets Bowyer run the race in the #07. The six Dodge teams are pretty set [#'s 9,12,2,43,19,42] as the team in 7th, #41 Ganassi is 354 pts down and David Stremme will be in the #12 with Newman moving on. The top 5 Ford teams [#'s 16,99,17,6,26] are set with the two Yates Racing cars, #28 and #38 fighting for the 6th spot, with the #28 ahead by 133 points. The top 5 Toyota teams are set [#'s 20,18,11,83,44] with the #55 MWR only 37 points ahead of #22 BDR team. The #44 will become the #00 in 2009 with Reutimann. See the new Budweiser Shootout standings on my 2009 Budweiser Shootout page.(10-19-2008)


      News from October 18, 2008

    • Happy Hour practice for the TUMS Quickpak 500 at Martinsville Speedway is over, the fastest:
      #24-Gordon 94.671
      #48-Johnson 94.637
      #07-Bowyer 94.354
      #88-Earnhardt Jr. 94.190
      #26-McMurray 94.167
      slowest: #78-Nemechek 92.438 and #2-Busch 92.737
      TV: Happy Hour is scheduled to be aired on ESPN2 at 7:00pm/et.
      See speeds, laps run, fastest lap and average speed on my Martinsville Practice Speeds page.(10-18-2008)

    • Saturday 1st practice for the TUMS Quickpak 500 at Martinsville Speedway is over, the fastest:
      #48-Johnson 94.808
      #24-Gordon 94.500
      #6-Ragan 94.369 [wrecked]
      #29-Harvick 94.223
      #26-McMurray 93.999
      slowest: #78-Nemechek 92.574 and #66-Riggs 92.665
      incident: #6-Ragan spun around in turn 1 and smacked the wall and will go to a backup car
      See speeds, laps run, fastest lap and average speed on my Martinsville Practice Speeds page.(10-18-2008)

    • Nicroette back with Gordon in 2009? UPDATE: When Jeff Gordon’s new DuPont paint scheme was revealed recently, Nicorette’s associate sponsorship along the lower rear quarter panels was notably missing. But that doesn't mean Hendrick Motorsports’ relationship with the smoking cessation product is necessarily over. And even if it is, there appears to be an opportunity for another sponsor to form a marketing relationship with Gordon’s team. “Nicorette has been a valued partner of Hendrick Motorsports, and we are in the process of discussing 2009 options with them,” a Hendrick spokesperson told the [Long Island] Press. In 2008, Gordon’s car will sport Nicorette green six times as primary sponsor, including upcoming races at Atlanta and Texas. Pepsi was the primary sponsor twice in ’08. But the Hendrick rep later added, “The structure of the sponsorship will be similar to what you’ve seen the past few seasons.” Attempts to reach Lutz, Fla.-based Lighthouse Marketing, LLC, which manages Nicorette’s motorsports account, were unsuccessful. National Guard, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s co-primary sponsor, could pick up Nicorette’s former spot on the lower rear quarter panels.(Long Island Press)(10-15-2008)
      UPDATE: during Friday nights 'For Race Fans Only' on QVC, in which Darrell Waltrip was the special guest, the new 2009 'black' DuPont car was in the studio and instead of having Nicorette on the lower rear quarter panels, it had National Guard BUT the diecast being hawked was had Nicorette instead. See images and video at QVC.com. But am hearing Nicorette is out and National Guard is in, NO word how or if this would effect the co-primary sponsorhip of Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 Chevy.(10-18-2008) Comment here

    • New Crew Chief for McMurray in 2009 UPDATE: from a Detroit Free Press article by NASCAR Sprint Cup owner Jack Roush: "By the way, Jamie [McMurray, #26 Ford after his 1st top-5 in over a year] did the job at Charlotte [in the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway], finishing fifth. We'll be looking to 2009 with a new crew chief for him -- mix up the chemistry again".(Detroit Free Press), so looks like current #26 crew chief, Larry Carter, will not return to the #26 team and McMurray in 2009.(10-17-2008)
      UPDATE: hearing that McMurray will reunite with his former Ganassi crew chief Donnie Wingo and Carter could be headed to Yates Racing as the crew chief for Paul Menard.(10-18-2008) Comment here

    • DEI and Petty merger? UPDATE: Talks about a possible merger between Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Petty Enterprises are under way, according to sources familiar with the situation, and Wells Fargo's sponsorship money could be key to making something happen. However, the economic chaos that is wracking the country is also playing havoc with so many suddenly struggling NASCAR teams that it's unclear how any of the various scenarios might actually play out. And just what positives might even come out of a DEI-Petty merger aren't that clear, either. Richard Petty sold a "significant" stake this summer in Petty Enterprises, the family racing operation in business since 1949, to Boston Ventures, a private equity firm. Precisely how that joint NASCAR venture might fit into any DEI-Petty merger is unclear, considering the financial problems of many Wall Street investment firms. Petty Enterprises is looking for a 2009 sponsor for Bobby Labonte, who drives the legendary #43 car. #45-Kyle Petty, the other Petty driver, has been at odds apparently with some of the team's executives, and he appears to have the option to take the Wells Fargo sponsorship with him to another team. If Kyle Petty were to leave, that would, for the moment, leave Petty Enterprises with no major sponsors.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-17-2008)
      UPDATE: Robbie Loomis said Petty Enterprises has been approached by at least three organizations about a possible alliance heading into next season. The vice president of racing operations, speaking Friday at Martinsville Speedway, would not identify them, but published reports say Dale Earnhardt Inc. might be on that list. DEI officials declined to comment. Loomis said the Pettys' deal with Dodge extends three years past this one. DEI signed an extension with General Motors/Chevrolet before this season. Loomis said Petty Enterprises is closer to naming a sponsor for Labonte, and he appears close to set on Chad McCumbee to drive the second car, which will be the #44. He said the key in all of this is continued growth of the Petty brand, which a merger with DEI may or may not allow.(ESPN.com)
      AND Officials from Petty Enterprises do not deny that they have held preliminary discussions about a possible future partnership of some sort with Dale Earnhardt Inc., but they strongly deny that anything is close to happening or even likely to happen. In fact, Robbie Loomis said that DEI is not the only group with which Petty Enterprises is discussing its future. Nor is it alone in the Sprint Cup Series garage area, where Loomis insisted all teams are scrambling to find stronger footing in difficult economic times. "The bottom line for us is that we're committed to Dodge," Loomis said. "We like Dodge as our manufacturer; Richard Petty especially. We have three more years with them as far as solid commitments. We feel good about where we're at with them."(NASCAR.com)(10-18-2008) Comment here


      News from October 17, 2008

    • Rain cancels qualifying at Martinsville: rain showers at Martinsville has cancelled qualifying for the TUMS Quickpak 500 at Martinsville Speedway and the field was set by the rules books [owners points, past owner win, past champ and race attempts]. Two drivers will miss the race, #09-Sterling Marlin and #75-Derrike Cope. Cope has missed the last two race due to the rain, without a shot of qualifying.
      So #48-Johnson starts 1st followed by #31-Burton, #16-Biffle, #99-Edwards, #07-Bowyer, #29-Harvick, #20-Stewart, #24-Gordon, #18-Busch and #88-Earnhardt Jr.
      See the full starting linup on my Starting Lineup/Qualifying Results/Order Page.(10-17-2008)

    • Rain out winners: so far in 2008 31 races and 32 qualifying attempts, there have been NINE qualifying sessions rained out. In the eight races run, all eight winners have come from the top 10 starting spot:
      California, February: winner #99-Edwards started 9th, #48-Johnson started 1st finished 2nd
      Bristol, March: #31-Burton 8th, #48-Johnson 18th
      Michigan, June: #88-Earnhardt Jr. 3rd; #18-Busch 13th
      Chicago, July: #18-Busch 1st
      Watkins Glen: August, #18-Busch 1st
      Richmond, September: #48-Johnson 3rd; #18-Busch 15th
      New Hampshire, September: winner #16-Biffle 9th, #18-Busch 34th
      Charlotte, October: winner #31-Burton 4th, #48-Johnson 6th
      Martinsville, October: winner ? #48-Johnson starts 1st
      The NINE qualifying sessions cancelled are a record. From 1980 thru present, the next worse year for qualifying cancellations was in 2002 when five were cancelled. Back a few years ago, if it rained on Friday, qualifying was many times moved to Saturday morning, that doesn't happen any longer.(10-17-2008)

    • Petty hopes to race in 2009; #44 back to PE UPDATE: Kyle Petty said that he will drive at Phoenix International Raceway later this year, but then he is still unsure of how many Sprint Cup races he will enter in 2009. Petty did say whatever races he does drive, he will compete under the Petty Enterprises banner. Bobby Labonte is signed to return to Petty Enterprises and Chad McCumbee is being looked at for the car where Kyle Petty is currently the primary driver. “I don’t have anything going right now for next year,” Petty said Saturday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “We’d like to run five races, 10 races, 15 races, whatever we can run. It really depends on what you get financially. We feel like we’ve got some good leads for the 43 and pretty confident that Marathon and everybody will be here for Chad [McCumbee]. I’m not going to go somewhere else. I’ve always said if I run Cup stuff, I [will come] back here and I don’t want to go anywhere else. I’m too old to learn new tricks.” Petty Enterprises CEO David Zucker indicated that the team would have two primary drivers next year – and Kyle Petty, who already has a six-race commitment to TNT, wouldn’t be one of them. Petty likely would continue to drive the #45, which was the number of Petty’s son, Adam, who was killed during Nationwide Series practice eight years ago at New Hampshire. Michael Waltrip Racing Executive Vice President Cal Wells indicated that MWR will return the #44 to Petty Enterprises for its use next year. Petty said any perception of a rift between him and the Boston Ventures people is not necessarily accurate.(SceneDaily)(10-16-2008)
      UPDATE: Petty Enterprises will resurrect the #44 for its second Sprint Cup team next season, vice president of racing operations Robbie Loomis said Friday. The #45, currently fielded as the second team with Bobby Labonte in the #43, will be reserved only for any races that Kyle Petty may run. Petty switched from the #44 to the 45 after his son, Adam, was killed driving that number in a Busch [now Nationwide] Series practice in 2000. Loomis said the organization remains high on Chad McCumbee as the second driver. He did not rule out Petty appearing in a handful of races if sponsorship is available. The #44 was used sparingly by the Pettys from 2000 to 2003, and then was transferred in 2007 to Michael Waltrip Racing for Dale Jarrett. David Reutimann has driven the #44 for MWR this season, but he will switch to the #00 in 2009. The #00 crew will move to Marcos Ambrose's #47 team with the JTG organization that recently formed an alliance with MWR for next season.(ESPN.com)
      AND MWR will return the #44 to Petty Enterprises, with MWR's #00 taking the points of the #44 in 2009.(NASCAR.com)(10-17-2008) Comment here

    • Driver for the #00 at Martinsville? Atlanta? UPDATE 4: hearing that J.J. Yeley could be running the #00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota next week at Martinsville Speedway.(10-10-2008)
      UPDATE: MWR Executive Vice President Cal Wells said there is a plan for the rest of the year [for the #00 team] that includes [rookie Michael] McDowell and wouldn't say who would drive next week at Martinsville. He said the situation is "fluid," but did say that J.J. Yeley, rumored to have been driving the car, will not be driving it.(SceneDaily)(10-12-2008)
      UPDATE 2: Bob Dillner reported on SPEED Report that Mike Bliss will drive the #00 at Martinsville next weekend and Marcos Ambrose will be in the car at Atlanta.(10-13-2008)
      UPDATE 3: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announces Mike Bliss will attempt to qualify and race the #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series Tums QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. Bliss follows Kenny Wallace and AJ Allmendinger with the same agenda of repositioning the MWR team inside the top 35 owner points standings.(MWR PR)(10-13-2008)
      UPDATE 4: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced Friday that Marcos Ambrose is scheduled to drive for the racing organization in the Sprint Cup Series Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Little Debbie as primary sponsor. The #00 MWR Toyota team will switch to the #47 number for the final four events. At this time, the Michael Waltrip Racing #47 driver is to be determined for Texas, Phoenix and Homestead [Ambrose was scheduled to run all three races in the #21 Ford and #47 Ford, the the MWR changed that, but he could end up in the #47 Toyota for the 3 races]. “It’s really nice to have a head start on the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and integrate Marcos with our team,” Waltrip said. “We are pleased that NASCAR worked with us to switch our number so that Marcos and his sponsors have continuity. I, of all people, know the importance of car numbers to sponsors. We are very appreciative that everything worked out. This is a great opportunity for Marcos and it gives him a glimpse of what next season may look like for him. We are really happy about that.”
      “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to come to Michael Waltrip Racing,” Ambrose said. “There is a lot of synergy here and I am looking forward to qualifying the #47 Little Debbie Toyota. Racing with the organization gives me the chance to have an early start on getting to know my team, Michael Waltrip and how the company operates."(MWR PR)(10-17-2008) Comment here

    • DEI and Petty merger? Talks about a possible merger between Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Petty Enterprises are under way, according to sources familiar with the situation, and Wells Fargo's sponsorship money could be key to making something happen. However, the economic chaos that is wracking the country is also playing havoc with so many suddenly struggling NASCAR teams that it's unclear how any of the various scenarios might actually play out. And just what positives might even come out of a DEI-Petty merger aren't that clear, either. Richard Petty sold a "significant" stake this summer in Petty Enterprises, the family racing operation in business since 1949, to Boston Ventures, a private equity firm. Precisely how that joint NASCAR venture might fit into any DEI-Petty merger is unclear, considering the financial problems of many Wall Street investment firms. Petty Enterprises is looking for a 2009 sponsor for Bobby Labonte, who drives the legendary #43 car. #45-Kyle Petty, the other Petty driver, has been at odds apparently with some of the team's executives, and he appears to have the option to take the Wells Fargo sponsorship with him to another team. If Kyle Petty were to leave, that would, for the moment, leave Petty Enterprises with no major sponsors.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-17-2008) Comment here

    • Chase stats after Charlotte: #48-Jimmie Johnson's drive to a third straight title is going pretty much according to plan, as he takes a 69-point lead to Martinsville, a track where he has failed to make the top 10 in only one of 13 starts! He also hasn't finished worse than fourth since the spring race of 2005 and has four career wins at Martinsville. #31-Jeff Burton vowed his team was "dangerous" as a Chase contender going into Saturday night's race at LMS and he certainly made a statement with the win. The #31 bested the #48 by one position in the spring Martinsville race. #16-Greg Biffle and #99-Carl Edwards each only have one top 10 finish at Martinsville on their resumes. Edwards' situation is especially important as he lost 96 points to Johnson at LMS and is now more than one race out at 168 points. Only the Top 10 Chasers make the stage at the Waldorf for the championship banquet. At the halfway mark, 11th place Matt Kenseth is 6 points out of 10th place Dale Earnhardt Jr., and last place Denny Hamlin is 26 out. See more Chase stats on my Chase Stats after Charlotte page.(10-17-2008)

    • FCC to sponsor #38 in three races: Yates Racing announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will sponsor the #38 entry with driver David Gilliland for a total of three races in the remaining Sprint Cup Series schedule. The primary sponsorship will debut at Martinsville Speedway on October 19th as the #38 Digital TV Transition Ford will take to the track. The primary sponsorship is to help educate the American public about the fact that on February 17th, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United State will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality along with additional channels. The debut of the #38 Digital TV Transition Ford Fusion will take place on October 19th, 2008 at Martinsville Speedway. The remaining two races of the primary sponsorship will include the Sprint Cup Series events at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Digital Television (DTV) is a new type of broadcasting technology that will transform television since the DTV signal is delivered digitally the television signal is virtually free of interference. DTV is more efficient than our current analog signal and with DTV broadcasters are able to offer television with improved quality pictures and surround sound. For more information about the Digital Transition visit www.DTV.gov.(Yates Racing)
      AND: Hoping to rev up awareness for the transition to digital TV, the Federal Communications Commission is putting up $350,000 to sponsor NASCAR team #38. The price tag covers a race Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, another in Phoenix and a third in Miami and includes the posting of www.dtv.gov along the track, on the car's sides and on the driver's helmet and suit. The market rate for the package is around $450,000.(Associated Press)(10-17-2008) Comment here

    • Teams test at new 1/2 mile track at the Rock: Monday morning, October 13th, the final strip of pavement was placed on “Little Rock,” the new half-mile track built [supposedly shaped and banked like Martinsville] just outside the backstretch of the one-mile oval at Rockingham Raceway Park. Fast Track High Performance Driving School cars worked rubber into the new track surface Monday evening and then turned the track over to 10 Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck Series teams that were testing for this weekend’s race at Martinsville. Kyle Busch’s #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Joe Nemechek’s #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy, Scott Riggs’ #66 Haas CNC Racing Chevy and Jack Sprague’s #60 Wyler Racing Toyota Truck all tested at the Little Rock Speedway on Tuesday. Wednesday’s test session featured current Sprint Cup Series points leader, Jimmie Johnson and his #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy as well as Chad McCumbee’s #45 Petty Enterprises Dodge and two test teams from Gillett Evernham Motorsports driven by A.J. Almendinger and Dennis Setzer. Thursday, Roush Fenway Racing’s test team brought two cars to be driven by Colin Braun. The team spent the morning on the one-mile speedway before taking their second car to Little Rock for the afternoon testing. The Little Rock Speedway will also see plenty of racing action during the 2009 season with over 15 races planned on the ¼ mile race track that is contained inside of the half-mile. Those races will feature the INEX Legend Series and Bandolero Series cars. Tickets will be going fast for the Black’s Tire American 200 with reserved seats starting at $25 and kids 12 and under are free with a paid adult. A special John Anderson concert will be held following the race and is included in the ticket price as well. Call the Rockingham Speedway ticket office to order your reserved seats today at 910-205-8800 or visit www.rockinghamspeedway.com.(Rockingham Raceway Park PR)(10-17-2008) Comment here

    • Goodyear Tests at Indy and Homestead: The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company had its test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway shortened last week due to rain. The tiremaker returned this week to complete its agenda on Monday, then held a scheduled test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Tuesday. While 13 cars participated in the Indianapolis test last week (Oct. 6-7), the track was able to take on a good amount of rubber. Returning this week after rain had washed the track clean added another level to the proceedings. "We went back to Indy to finish up the end of our program from the previous week," said Rick Campbell, Goodyear's NASCAR project manager. "We went back to see if we could document the same gains on a green track that we saw on a 'rubbered in' race track. What we learned over the past two weeks was that we saw a significant improvement under a variety of track conditions, and that everything we learned will provide a basis to begin our 2009 development program." This Monday's test at Indianapolis was run by the #10 Gillett-Evernham Motorsports Dodge with driver A.J. Allmendinger.
      The Homestead test was a basic confimation for the upcoming event scheduled for the South Florida-facility on November 14-16. Goodyear's tire codes for the race will be D-4134 on the left-side and D-4136 on the right-side, the same tire set-up that has been run at Texas and Chicagoland this season. The Homestead test was handled by the #42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge team with Juan Pablo Montoya and the #83 Red Bull Racing Toyota with Brian Vickers. This week's tests completed a busy stretch of testing for Goodyear. NASCAR's exclusive tire supplier for its top-three series has now completed eight tests at six different facilities over the past eight weeks. Still on this year's calendar is a tire test at Las Vegas on December 10-11.
      Martinsville Tire Notes: Teams in both the Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck Series will run the same combination of left- and right-side tires at Martinsville this weekend, though the Cup tires will be branded "Goodyear Eagle," while the Truck tires will be branded "Goodyear Wrangler" . . . this will be the fourth consecutive race weekend at Martinsville that Cup and Truck teams will run on these particular tire codes . . . Martinsville is the only track at which Cup teams run this specific tire combination, though this right-side tire code (D-4110) is used on all four tire positions at the series' two road course events . . . Truck teams have run this specific tire set-up at its other, true short track race at Mansfield in May . . . as on most NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners their tires at Martinsville.(Goodyear PR), see more tire notes/stats on my Martinsville Race Info page and/or Tire Notes Chart.(10-17-2008)

    • Congrats: hearing that congrats are due to #99-Carl Edwards and his girlfriend, Dr. Katherine Downey, who have just become engaged to be married!(10-17-2008)


      News from October 16, 2008

    • Speed to make Cup debut at Martinsville: Debut #2 for Scott Speed comes this weekend at Martinsville Speedway, where he’ll drive the #84 Red Bull Toyota in the first of five races to close the Sprint Cup season. The 25-year-old Speed missed out on his first attempt at a Cup race [in the #82 Toyota] when rain cancelled qualifying last Thursday at Charlotte. “Martinsville isn’t the nicest track to make my introduction to Cup, but it’s got to happen sometime,” Speed said. “It’s going to be a tough race, and I expect to get beaten up quite badly, like everyone else. The drivers are going to be really rough, and I’m not going to make a lot of friends out there being a rookie.” Speed has experienced Martinsville’s long straightaways and tight corners once before. In his second start in the Craftsman Truck Series, he finished 10th there last March. He’ll also drive Bill Davis Racing’s #22 Toyota truck in Saturday’s truck race. In the span of a short Sunday afternoon, Scott Speed went from points leader to finishing fifth in the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship. He got wrecked by his closest pursuer [Ricky Stenhouse Jr] on lap 27 and returned the favor seven laps later — an incident that classified his car’s damage as “terminal” after it hit the inside and outside walls. Still, Speed said he earned valuable “street cred.” “Straight out of ‘Days of Thunder,’ I just said, ‘Change my tires. Just put the tires on it and let me go out and try it,’” said Speed (a.k.a. Cole Trickle). “I went out for a lap and a half until the 99 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a.k.a. Russ Wheeler) was in our presence. And I did to him what he did to me. From my perspective, I was the championship leader and he disrespected me on the track so there was no way I was going to let him win a championship like that.” Speed finished 34th in ARCA’s season finale. His 2008 stat line reads like this: four wins, three poles, 10 top fives and 17 top 10s in 21 races.(Red Bull Racing PR)(10-16-2008) Comment here

    • All Sport to sponsor Kvapil for three races: Yates Racing announced today that All Sport, a leading isotonic sports drink company which is a subsidiary of Big Red, Inc., will sponsor the #28 entry with driver Travis Kvapil for a total of three races in the remaining Sprint Cup Series schedule. The primary sponsorship will debut at Martinsville Speedway on October 19th and the race will mark the first time All Sport has been a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series. The All Sport brand has a history of success in auto racing. From 1994 through 1997 the brand was the primary sponsor for Tommy Kendall and his Ford Mustang in the Trans-Am Series. Kendall drove the All Sport Ford to three consecutive series championships in 1995, 1996, and 1997 while also winning eleven straight races in 1997. Kendall’s win streak rocketed the All Sport Ford into the record books as he surpassed Mark Donahue’s previous record of eight consecutive wins which had stood for nearly 30 years. Yates Racing’s General Manager and Co-Owner, Max Jones, was the General Manager of Roush Fenway’s Trans-Am series at the time of All Sport’s and Kendall’s success. The #28 All Sport Ford Fusion will debut on October 19th, 2008 at Martinsville Speedway. The remaining two races of the primary sponsorship are the Sprint Cup Series events at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami. For more info about All Sport go to www.drinkallsport.com. A subsidiary of Big Red, Inc., All Sport, Inc. is based in Austin, Texas and distributed by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.(Yates Racing)(10-16-2008) Comment here

    • Evernham thinking about leaving GEM? UPDATE: Ray Evernham, who has a minority share in Gillett Evernham Motorsports [#9, #10, and #19], said he was not involved in the decision to release rookie Patrick Carpentier. Evernham stressed he's a minority partner in the team and hinted maybe that role could change to not being a part of the team. "That's largely up to the Gillettes,'' Evernham said if he would remain with the team. "I want to help Mr. Gillette, and I'll do whatever I can to help him be successful, but I also want to pursue ... I'm enjoying my life at ESPN. I'm enjoying a little bit of semi-retirement. I want to help as much as I can, but I also want to make sure I have creditability with the viewers and that's important to me.''(Roanoke Times)(10-13-2008)
      UPDATE: Tuesday [Oct 14th] on “SIRIUS Speedway” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Dave Moody spoke with Gillett Evernham Motorsports co-owner Ray Evernham. Evernham talked about the rumor that he is considering reducing his stake in the race team and reports that Gillett Evernham Motorsports is contemplating a manufacturer switch from Dodge to Toyota. On the rumor that he is considering selling part of his stake in Gillett Evernham Motorsports:
      Host, Dave Moody: “Randy Lajoie said on Sirius NASCAR Radio last week that you told him you’re considering selling your remaining 20% stake in Gillett Evernham Motorsports to the Gilletts. True?”
      Ray Evernham: “We’ve talked about some things with some stuff that they have going on. I do have a percentage stake that Mr. Gillett and I could talk about but a lot of it depends on what his future is and where he’s headed. But that offer is on the table, yes. Not the complete. Just to make me a smaller partner. It was not the complete buyout.”
      Moody: “So you’re not going to disappear. You’ll just go from one-fifth to a fraction smaller than one-fifth?”
      Evernham: “Correct.”
      On reports that Gillett Evernham Motorsports will switch from Dodge to Toyota:
      Moody: “There are published reports out there this week that say George Gillett is “99 percent certain” that he’s going to move from Dodge to Toyota next season. To your knowledge, is there truth to that?”
      Evernham: “To my knowledge George is talking about several different things and to his credit, as I’ve said before, he’s going to do what he believes it takes to win a championship. And that’s why he purchased the race team. Again, I’m removed from the business side. There are things going on there that I don’t really need to be involved in nor want to be involved in. I try to help George with the competition stuff but George has made it very clear to me and to Dodge and to everybody else that he wants to win a championship. He’s got a good plan for growing this team. The man knows how to win championships if you look at the history with his hockey team. He’s going to do what it takes. I’ve heard a lot of those things just like everybody else but I don’t really have the answer for that.”
      Moody: “You are still 20 percent owner of that team. Could something as important as a manufacturer change be done without your knowledge?”
      Evernham: “No, it cannot be done without my knowledge. Any kind of business proposition, until it comes time to put something on paper, anybody can talk about anything. But certainly it could not be done without my knowledge.”(SIRIUS Speedway PR)(10-16-2008) Comment here

    • Bob Bahre Named To Hall of Fame: New Hampshire Motor Speedway founder Bob Bahre will be inducted to the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Jan. 25, 2009 at LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, Conn. Bahre, generally acknowledged as the man who brought “major league’ auto racing to New England, is also recognized as having saved Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway. He lifted the track to prominence with the Oxford 250, long one of the richest short track races for late model stocks in America. He changed the face of the sport in 1990 when he built the mile oval in Loudon — today New Hampshire Motor Speedway. At the time it was the first superspeedway built in the world in 20 years. Tickets to the ceremony are on sale in Nov. at near1.com.(Union Leader)(10-16-2008)

    • Braun to test for Roush at the Rock: Roush Fenway Racing Truck Series driver Colin Braun is scheduled to test COT Cup car at Rockingham Speedway on Thursday, Oct. 16th.(Ford Racing)(10-16-2008)

    • Back in the Saddle Barry Sheppard, transporter driver for the #07 Jack Daniel’s Racing team and driver Clint Bowyer, will return to the track this weekend in Martinsville after 11 weeks on the sidelines. Following the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sheppard had surgery to repair two ruptured discs in his lower back. After a lengthy convalescence at his home in Stuart, Va., the 2001 International Truck Challenge Championship winner has been cleared by Dr. Charles Branch to return to his regular duties beginning this weekend.(RCR PR)(10-15-2008)

    • Martinsville Rookie Notes: #77-Sam Hornish Jr. was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the October 11 Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Hornish Jr. scored a 22nd-place finish and took top rookie honors for the eighth time this season. He was the top Raybestos Rookie in both races this season at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. His 13th-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 is the best by a freshman driver this season. Regan Smith leads Sam Hornish Jr. by two points (191-189) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering Martinsville. Smith was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 30 Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville. He has been the top Raybestos Rookie in four of the five short track races this season. Only one Raybestos Rookie has won a pole for the Subway 500 since 1974: Ryan Newman (2002). A Raybestos Rookie has finished on the lead lap in each of the past SEVEN consecutive Subway 500 races at Martinsville. The record for most wins by a Raybestos Rookie is three, shared by Tony Stewart (1999) and Jimmie Johnson (2002). More than one Raybestos Rookie has posted victories in their rookie season only three times: Morgan Shepherd and Ron Bouchard (one each in 1981), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two) and Matt Kenseth (2000), Jimmie Johnson (three) and Ryan Newman (2002).(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos), see rookie standings, history and more on my 2008 Rookies page.(10-16-2008)

    • Drive for Diversity Combine finishes up: Twenty-Six drivers took to the track Monday/Tuesday for the fifth annual Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco. The drivers competed for 14 spots - 10 rides in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and four in the NASCAR Camping World Series. For more news and notes for Day 1 and Day 2, see the driver development page.(10-16-2008) Comment here


      News from October 15, 2008

    • schemes added: for the 2009 season, three of Marco Ambrose's #47 Toyota's with Kingsford, Clorax and Little Debbie's; plus another image of the #39 U.S. Army scheme, see my Paint Scheme Gallery/Chart and/or 2009 Paint Scheme page.(10-15-2008)

    • DEI working on the future: Max Siegel, Bobby Hutchens and John Story are trying to hold Dale Earnhardt Inc. together, rebuild it and find solid sponsorships for 2009 in a dismal economic climate. Siegel heard the rumors that swirled through the Lowe's Motor Speedway garage last weekend, including the one that DEI was on the verge of laying off 80 employees after losing Paul Menard and the John Menard and U.S. Army sponsorships. But Siegel says he's doing his best to put together the sponsorship deals to keep DEI running smoothly. "Since I've been with DEI, we've had to deal with perception issues," said Siegel, a two-year veteran with the operation. "But we've got great people and great facilities. Right now, today, it is an interesting dynamic. If you look at the company and our infrastructure and the people who have been there a long time, and look at how our cars have been running, we have made some impressive gains. Last year people were killing us about our engines, so we've made a concerted effort to focus on our joint engine venture (with fellow owner Richard Childress). And there has definitely been improvement."
      "We're running four team cars ‘til the end of the year (with #1-Martin Truex Jr., #01-Regan Smith, #8-Aric Almirola and #15-Menard). And our intent is to run four cars again next year … but we are going to be fiscally responsible So right now any of the deals that are out there, we're trying to put those together. And we're wide-open as to how we can sustain a healthy race program. We have some very resilient people … but it's the end of the year, and everyone is on pins and needles, trying to figure out what the future may bring."
      Cutting 80 people? Siegel says he heard the rumors. "That's not our intent, but I was hearing it, too," he said. "Over the last two years, we've done some things and made some investments to strengthen our racing program. Sure, people tend to speculate when you see a sponsor leave." And rivals are not above creating such speculation in order to pluck off key employees. "My heart goes out to all 400 of our employees who work so hard every week," Siegel said. "And I am doing the best I can to sustain a level of confidence in our company and reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to keep it healthy. And we have no imminent plans to lay off any people or shut down any of our race teams."(Winston Salem Journal)(10-15-2008) Comment here

    • Jeff Gordon heading to 20,000 laps led: Another milestone – 20,000 career laps led – is well within reach for #24-Jeff Gordon this Sunday in the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Gordon, who is currently eighth all-time with 19,823 laps led, can surpass Rusty Wallace for seventh on that list if he leads 150 laps this Sunday – something Gordon has accomplished on nine occasions there. Tack on another 27 and Gordon reaches 20,000. While Gordon is well shy of Richard Petty’s total of 52,194, he holds a commanding lead over the nearest “active” competitor in that category – future teammate Mark Martin – who ranks 11th with 11,560.(PPR Plus PR), see the top 30 lap leaders on my MISC Stats page.(10-15-2008) Comment here

    • Kurt Busch live at Barrett-Jackson…this Thursday (Oct. 16) between 4:10 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. local time in Las Vegas (PDT – 7:10 to 7:20 Eastern) at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Events Center. Kurt will help auction – live on SPEED-TV – the Miller Lite Dodge he raced last year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with all proceeds going to the Kurt Busch Foundation benefiting the Victory Junction Gang Camp.(Tom Roberts PR)(10-15-2008)

    • Nicroette back with Gordon in 2009? When Jeff Gordon’s new DuPont paint scheme was revealed recently, Nicorette’s associate sponsorship along the lower rear quarter panels was notably missing. But that doesn’t mean Hendrick Motorsports’ relationship with the smoking cessation product is necessarily over. And even if it is, there appears to be an opportunity for another sponsor to form a marketing relationship with Gordon’s team. “Nicorette has been a valued partner of Hendrick Motorsports, and we are in the process of discussing 2009 options with them,” a Hendrick spokesperson told the [Long Island] Press. In 2008, Gordon’s car will sport Nicorette green six times as primary sponsor, including upcoming races at Atlanta and Texas. Pepsi was the primary sponsor twice in ’08. But the Hendrick rep later added, “The structure of the sponsorship will be similar to what you’ve seen the past few seasons.” Attempts to reach Lutz, Fla.-based Lighthouse Marketing, LLC, which manages Nicorette’s motorsports account, were unsuccessful. National Guard, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s co-primary sponsor, could pick up Nicorette’s former spot on the lower rear quarter panels.(Long Island Press)(10-15-2008) Comment here

    • Yeley hopes to get back in Cup ride soon: J.J. Yeley would welcome the opportunity to return to Sprint Cup this season. He tried to get into MWR's #00 Toyota for Martinsville, but the team hired Mike Bliss. "He had a little sponsorship and he won," Yeley said. Yeley has spoken with Chip Ganassi about the #41 [Target Dodge] being vacated by Sorenson at the end of the season. It's the only fully funded car left in the Cup garage. "Chip hasn't said no," Yeley said. "My name is still on the list. It would be a great opportunity." A.J. Allmendinger's name has been linked to that seat, too. Other seats with established teams are available, but they need funding and a driver with some of it will have an edge. Yeley is working with a marketing company to bring something to the table if he doesn't land the job at Ganassi. "I've had lots of discussions with a lot of teams," Yeley said. "If you can bring a little bit of money, they can bring the rest. It puts you at the front of the line. I want to race at the highest level, I'd love to do Cup. If I can't, then I'll look at Nationwide and [Craftsman] Trucks."(Sports Illustrated)(10-15-2008) Comment here

    • Miko Salo to NASCAR? UPDATE: not much reported, but during SPEED's broadcast of "The Petit Le Mans" American Le Mans Series Sports car race from Road Atlanta, it was reported that Miko Salo is talking to NASCAR teams about running there in 2009, no series was mentioned [Cup, Nationwide or Trucks].(10-4-2008)
      UPDATE: Former Formula One racer Mika Salo is pondering moving to NASCAR and has been in talks with a number teams to try to arrange a first test at the wheel of a stock car. The Finnish driver was in attendance at Lowe's Motor Speedway during the race weekend, as he explores the possibility of making a first approach to NASCAR to evaluate if he would like to commit to it in the future. "I have a little interest, yeah, so just having a look to see if there's any opportunity or anything for me to at least try the thing and know if I like it," Salo told autosport.com while visting the Sprint Cup garage. "I've driven everything else in the world, not NASCAR, so that's why I want to try it." Salo has recently been competing in the American Le Mans series driving a Ferrari 430 GT for Risi Competizione, winning a couple of weeks ago in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Salo confirmed he has already approached a couple of teams hoping to get an opportunity to drive a stock car for the first time. He said he still hasn't signed a contract for next year - although he expects to do so next week – but would like to sample the car first before progressing into further talks with teams. "I've been in contact with a few teams and yeah, there's serious contact," Salo said. "But I'd like to try the car first before I sort of go any further. Just trying to work on a test day for now and see then. I haven't signed anything for next year yet but I will probably next week. Then I'm stuck but maybe next year I can try one." The 41-year-old says he has followed NASCAR more closely since former Formula One colleague Juan Pablo Montoya made the switch two years ago. However, he admits he would like to have a first go on a road course, given that he has never raced on an oval before.(Autosports)(10-15-2008) Comment here

    • #00 team could go away in 2008, McDowell not picked up: Michael Waltrip Racing will field cars for #55-Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann [#44 in 2008 supposedly will use the #00 in 2009 with #44 owners points] and then partner with JTG Daugherty Racing to field the car for Marcos Ambrose [#47] in the Sprint Cup Series in 2009. The fate of the current #00 MWR team is still to be determined. Running that car would depend on sponsorship, MWR Executive Vice President Cal Wells said Saturday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “Our plan right now is two plus one [of JTG Daugherty], and we’re working on some other opportunities for next year,” Wells said. “We’re all in to make those three cars race-winning contenders every week. We’re not going to spread our resources unless we can really find the right kind of deal. We did this year, but next year we’re going to make sure that we’re [sponsored].” The team currently fields three cars, including one that has primarily been driven by Michael McDowell. But McDowell hasn’t driven the last two weeks. AJ Allmendinger drove the car Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Wells said he considers him a candidate for a full-time ride if sponsorship is found for the fourth car. McDowell didn’t seem very optimistic about returning to MWR when talking Saturday. “They didn’t exercise the option on me,” McDowell said. “I know it’s due to not having funding, but being out these few races here, I’m not really sure where that’s driven from. I don’t know if I’m racing next week. Hopefully I’ll be in at Martinsville or in at some races before the end of the year. But in the meantime, they’re working hard on sponsorship and I’m working hard on trying to stay in the garage.” Wells said there is a plan for the rest of the year that includes McDowell and wouldn’t say who would drive next week at Martinsville. He said the situation is “fluid,” but did say that J.J. Yeley, rumored to have been driving the car, will not be driving it.
      “I just want to race – I don’t care if it’s a truck, Nationwide or a Cup car,” McDowell said. “I’m ready for any of the above. You’re not going to be extremely picky, choosy at this point. I need a job.” Wells said he was unsure exactly will happen with the points and which cars’ points the JTG Daugherty team will get.(SceneDaily)(10-15-2008) Comment here

    • Clauson to attempt Atlanta: Chip Ganassi Racing’s #40-Bryan Clauson said he will attempt to make his Sprint Cup debut in the upcoming race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a Ganassi Dodge. Clauson, a part-time Nationwide Series driver this year, didn’t get a chance to qualify at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last weekend because of rain, but the team will try again at Atlanta in the Pep Boys Auto 400 on Oct. 26. “We hope it doesn’t rain,” Clauson said. “It was frustrating, as good a test as we had out here. The guys went back and worked really hard on that car, and the motor shop did an awesome job, giving us a motor to come back with. We felt like we wouldn’t have any problem getting in the show. To not get to go out there and turn a lap, let alone make an attempt, was really frustrating.”(SceneDaily)(10-15-2008)

    • Cope to run at Martinsville: from Derrikecope.com - "I get to come back to the Cup Series with the #75 Cope/Keller Racing Dodge entry. Germane RED from Reading, PA will be on as an associate sponsor as well as Design Elite, a home interior design company based in Concord, NC."(Derrikecope.com)(10-15-2008) Comment here

    • #77 Corn Maze: The Leaders farm, the home of Ohio's original corn maze since 1997, are sporting a #77 Sam Hornish Jr. corn maze. See the maze at funtimefarm.com.(10-15-2008)

    • Blaney to test at Nashville UPDATE: #22-Dave Blaney and the Caterpillar Racing team are scheduled to spend Wednesday testing at the Nashville Superspeedway in preparation for several upcoming events on the Sprint Cup schedule.(BDR PR)(10-14-2008)
      UPDATE: Jeff Burton and the AT&T Chevy joined Dave Blaney testing Wednesday at the Nashville Superspeedway.(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(10-15-2008)


      News from October 14, 2008

    • Congrats: Bill Davis Racing's Vice President Marty Gaunt and his wife Cindy welcomed son Parker Martin to the family last Thursday. Parker weighed in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and is the first child for the couple.(BDR PR)(10-14-2008)

    • McMurray's golf event helps out: On Monday, the Jamie McMurray Foundation raised over $100,000 for autism awareness in the Third Annual Jamie McMurray Foundation golf tournament.(RFR PR)(10-14-2008)

    • Steve Peterson Memorial Trust Fund: Contributions are being accepted for the Steve Peterson Memorial Trust Fund for Motorsports Education and Safety. The scholarship fund has been established by the family of the late Steve Peterson, the former NASCAR Technical Director who passed away this past July at his home in Concord, N.C. Peterson began his NASCAR career in January, 1995 and led many of NASCAR’s safety initiatives including development and installation of SAFER barriers, management and approval of head and neck restraints and improved seat belts, and coordination of the safety features in NASCAR’s new Sprint Cup Series car. The scholarship fund will be for students who aspire to study Motorsports Engineering and work in the field of motorsports safety. Contributions can be made through deposits to the following Wachovia bank account: 2000042225126 in the name of the Steve Peterson Memorial Trust Fund for Motorsports Education and Safety. Any questions can be directed to Greg Peterson by calling 616-662-1612.(10-14-2008)

    • Charlotte TV ratings: the ABC broadcast of the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway had a an overnight overnight rating 3.5 with a 7 share.
      AND ABC’s live coverage of the Bank of America 500 Sprint Cup race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday night, Oct. 11, earned a final national rating of 3.8, down from the 4.2 final rating for last year’s telecast that also aired on ABC. The race averaged 6,034,447 viewers. ABC’s coverage of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is up from last year, averaging 3.9 through five races. Last year’s five-race average was 3.8.
      ESPN2’s live coverage of the rain-plagued Nationwide Series event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Oct. 10 earned a final national HH coverage rating of 1.1, averaging 1,356,716 viewers. The race had two red flags for rain. The rating was down from 1.3 for the same race last year when the event ran without rain delays. ESPN2 continues to be up over last year’s Nationwide Series with an average rating of 1.5 after 20 races, up from a 1.4 average last year (ESPN). See more about TV Ratings on my 2008 TV Ratings page.(10-14-2008)

    • Testing at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday: The Joe Gibbs Racing teams of Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway Tuesday, October 14. Fans can view testing from the designated area outside the Kentucky Speedway Fan Center in Turn 3 for free. Tests usually begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. Times will vary based on team goals.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(9-15-2008)

    • No rules changes for COT next year: Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's VP of competition, says series officials won't be making rule changes for the Cup car after this season, saying they want to keep the rules constant so teams have a better chance of improving their cars instead of changing rules all the time and forcing teams to work in several different directions. "We're going to remain firm on our rules," Pemberton said Monday during a break in testing for the Nationwide COT at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "There are no rule changes coming along. We've had conversations with competitiors in the garage area throughout the summer and generally when we're talking about the (upcoming) year, those discussions happen in mid-August, early September as far as rules and regulations go. We're pleased with the progress the teams have made. I think as the teams have made their improvements, maybe early on they were looking for rule changes but I think as they found things to get their drivers and teams competitive and happy, they've come back and said, "OK, let's stay the course on rules and regulations and we'll get another year under our belt."(Roanoke Times)(10-14-2008) Comment here

    • Goodyear may have to build different tires for Cup and Nationwide COTs: Goodyear could be forced to build different tires for NASCAR's Sprint Cup and Nationwide series in 2010 when the Nationwide car of tomorrow is rolled out, a top official from the sanctioning body says. Currently, Goodyear uses the same tire when both series run on the same weekend, even thought the Cup series is using a new-model car. But NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said differences in the 2010 models for both series will be substantial, and that could mean a different tire for each. When the Nationwide car is introduced in 2010, it will have less horsepower and more downforce than the Cup version. NASCAR wants to make the cars "significantly different" for drivers, Pemberton said. Some in the Nationwide Series have asked for different tires than the Cup series to help differentiate the series and make sure Cup drivers don't simply use the Nationwide Series as a test bed.(Scene Daily)(10-14-2008) Comment here

    • Drive for Diversity Combine gets underway: More than a dozen drivers took to the track Monday as the fifth annual Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco got underway. The two-day event, sponsored by NASCAR, is designed to showcase the sport’s top minority and female drivers in front of NASCAR car owners. Twenty-five drivers will take part in on-track testing, off-track media training and evaluations. They are competing for 14 rides – 10 in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and four in the NASCAR Camping World Series.(NASCAR PR), for more information on the event and participants see my driver development page.(10-14-2008) Comment here

    • R+L on the #17 at Martinsville: The #17 will sport the green and yellow colors of R+L Carriers this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Team 17 will be unloading chassis RK-574. Matt Kenseth raced this car at both Richmond races this year. Each time, he was relegated to less than stellar finishes due to accidents.(Roush Fenway Racing PR) see an image of the car on my #17 Team Schemes Page.(10-14-2008)


      News from October 13, 2008

    • Yeley to the #00 at Martinsville? No, Bliss: hearing that J.J. Yeley could be running the #00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota next week at Martinsville Speedway.(10-10-2008)
      UPDATE: MWR Executive Vice President Cal Wells said there is a plan for the rest of the year [for the #00 team] that includes [rookie Michael] McDowell and wouldn't say who would drive next week at Martinsville. He said the situation is "fluid," but did say that J.J. Yeley, rumored to have been driving the car, will not be driving it.(SceneDaily)(10-12-2008)
      UPDATE 2: Bob Dillner reported on SPEED Report that Mike Bliss will drive the #00 at Martinsville next weekend and Marcos Ambrose will be in the car at Atlanta.(10-13-2008)
      UPDATE 3: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announces Mike Bliss will attempt to qualify and race the #00 Champion Mortgage Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series Tums QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. Bliss follows Kenny Wallace and AJ Allmendinger with the same agenda of repositioning the MWR team inside the top 35 owner points standings.(MWR PR)(10-13-2008)

    • Racing Resources Says...
      ...Jeff Burton won the Bank Of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday. He posted his 21st career victory in his 506th career race. It was his first win in the 2008 Chase and fifth top-10 finish in the five races so far in the Chase.
      ...Burton posted his second victory of the 2008 season. He also won the first Bristol race. Richard Childress Racing scored its third Sprint Cup victory in 2008. The last Lowe's victory for RCR came in the 1993 Coca-Cola 600 by Dale Earnhardt.
      ...Burton won the race from the fourth-place starting position. He led twice for 58 laps, including the final 57.
      ...This was the ninth win for Chevy in 2008. Toyota has 10 wins, Ford has eight and Dodge has four.
      ...Burton has scored 25 top-15 finishes in 31 races this season, the most of any driver. He has scored top-10 finishes in the past six races.
      ...Jimmie Johnson (sixth) has scored top-10 finishes in the past seven races. He made his 250th Cup start in Saturday's race.
      ...Johnson has led in 25 of the 31 races this season, more than any other driver. He has led at least one lap in the past 14 races at Lowe's, the longest current streak. Johnson failed to lead in his first race at Lowe's in October 2001 but has led in every race since.
      ...Kevin Harvick (13th) has been running at the finish in the past 75 races, the longest current streak by any driver.
      ...The top 10 consisted of four Chevys, two Dodges, three Fords and one Toyota.
      ...Kasey Kahne (second) made his 175th Cup start in Saturday's race.
      ...Kyle Busch (fourth) posted his best finish in the 2008 Chase.
      ...Tony Raines (40th) made his 125th Cup start.
      ...Jeff Gordon (eighth) has gone 36 races without a victory, his longest streak between wins.
      ...Two of the top five finishers were Chase drivers. Five of the top 10 were Chasers.
      ...Greg Biffle won the first two Chase races. Jimmie Johnson won at Kansas, and Tony Stewart won at Talladega.
      ...Seven of the 12 Chase drivers earned lap-leader bonus points at Lowe's.
      ...Four of the 12 Chase drivers changed positions after Lowe's.
      ...Carl Edwards (33rd) dropped from second to fourth in the Chase standings, now 168 points behind Johnson after suffering ignition problems.
      ...The top three drivers (Johnson, Burton and Biffle) are separated by 86 points.
      ...Bobby Labonte (17th) has been running at the finish in his past 20 races at Lowe's, the longest current streak.
      (ESPN.com)(10-13-2008)

    • Smaller fields in NASCAR's future? Another sign of the times is the rumor [Bob Margolis] heard in the Cup garage that NASCAR has floated the possibility of a change in the field size for the Craftsman Truck and Nationwide Series to 28 vehicles and the Cup field down to 36 sometime in the future.(Yahoo Sports)(10-13-2008) Comment here

    • Evernham thinking about leaving GEM? Ray Evernham, who has a minority share in Gillett Evernham Motorsports [#9, #10, and #19], said he was not involved in the decision to release rookie Patrick Carpentier. Evernham stressed he's a minority partner in the team and hinted maybe that role could change to not being a part of the team. "That's largely up to the Gillettes,'' Evernham said if he would remain with the team. "I want to help Mr. Gillette, and I'll do whatever I can to help him be successful, but I also want to pursue ... I'm enjoying my life at ESPN. I'm enjoying a little bit of semi-retirement. I want to help as much as I can, but I also want to make sure I have creditability with the viewers and that's important to me.''(Roanoke Times)(10-13-2008) Comment here

    • Stremme beats Busch at Winschester: David Stremme won the 37th Annual Winchester 400 Sunday in Winchester, IN beating Kyle Busch.(CRA Racing)(10-13-2008)



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