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    OCTOBER 20-26, 2008

      News from October 26, 2008

    • Edwards wins at Atlanta: #99-Carl Edwards won the Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his 7th win of the season and the 14th of his career. #48-Johnson came back from a speeding penalty and being a lap down, getting the lucky dog and finishing 2nd, followed by #11-Hamlin, #17-Kenseth, #18-Busch, #2-Busch, #26-McMurray, #6-Ragan, #24-Gordon and #16-Biffle. There were 10 cautions for 43 laps and 18 lead changes among 8 leaders.
      For race results, awards and more, see my Atlanta Race Results Awards Page.(10-26-2008)

    • UNOFFICIAL Chase Driver Points Standings [after Atlanta race 33 of 36]:
      1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 6248 [6 wins]
      2) #99-Carl Edwards 6065 -183 [7 wins]
      3) #16-Greg Biffle 6063 -185 [2 wins]
      4) #31-Jeff Burton 6030 -218 [2 wins]
      5) #29-Kevin Harvick 5941 -307
      6) #24-Jeff Gordon 5936 -312
      7) #07-Clint Bowyer 5934 -314 [1 win]
      8) #20-Tony Stewart 5847 -401 [1 win]
      9) #17-Matt Kenseth 5835 -413
      10) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5829 -419 [1 win]
      11) #11-Denny Hamlin 5823 -425 [1 win]
      12) #18-Kyle Busch 5783 -465 [8 wins]
      Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Atlanta.(10-26-2008)

    • UNOFFICAL Classic Driver Points Standings [after Atlanta race 33 of 36]:
      1) #48-Jimmie Johnson 4784 [6 wins]
      2) #99-Carl Edwards 4686 -98 [7 wins]
      3) #18-Kyle Busch 4581 -203 [8 wins]
      4) #31-Jeff Burton 4404 -380 [2 wins]
      5) #16-Greg Biffle 4343 -441 [2 wins]
      6) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4307 -477 [1 win]
      7) #29-Kevin Harvick 4224 -560
      8) #24-Jeff Gordon 4157 -627
      9) #20-Tony Stewart 4132 -652 [1 win]
      10) #11-Denny Hamlin 4048 -736 [1 win]
      11) #07-Clint Bowyer 4040 -744 [1 win]
      12) #17-Matt Kenseth 3967 -817
      13) #6-David Ragan 3944 -840
      14) #9-Kasey Kahne 3720 -1064 [2 wins]

    • Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Texas:
      No drop in or out of top 35, #7 moves up to 34th and #84 down to 35th and the spread is larger, 80 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: 2606 +160
      34) #7-Gordon/RGM: 2551 +105
      35) #84-Speed/Red Bull Racing: 2526 80 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: 2446, 80 points out of 35th
      37) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing: 2396 -130
      For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(10-26-2008)

    • Lucky Dogs - Who got a lap back on each caution at Atlanta: (and their finish)
      Caution 1: no driver a lap down
      Caution 2: #78-Nemechek, 42nd
      Caution 3: #38-Gilliland, 27th
      Caution 4: #48-Johnson, 2nd
      Caution 5: #16-Biffle, 10th
      Caution 6: #6-Ragan, 8th
      Caution 7: #31-Burton, 18th
      Caution 8: #12-Newman, 16th
      Caution 9: #10-Allmendinger, 14th
      Caution 8: #20-Stewart, 17th

    • Atlanta Penalty Report:
      Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
      1 #77 Excessive Speed-Entering pits TE 3
      2 #21 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 3
      3 #77 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 3
      4 #21 Pulling up to pit OL 5
      5 #77 Pulling up to pit OL 5
      6 #66 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 35
      7 #48 Excessive Speed-Entering pits PT 89
      8 #84 Excessive speed - Exiting pits PT 90
      9 #22 Excessive Speed-Entering pits TE 112
      10 #9 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 132
      11 #55 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 134
      12 #55 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 209
      13 #55 Excessive Speed-Entering pits PT 245
      14 #29 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 254
      15 #55 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 254
      16 #55 Excessive Speed-Entering pits TE 254
      17 #21 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 255
      18 #7 Commitment Line Violation TE 255
      19 #22 Commitment Line Violation TE 255
      20 #55 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 289
      21 #55 Safety violation MCI 299
      22 #83 Car/truck pitting out of the assigned pit box OL 299
      23 #41 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 303
      24 #42 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 303
      25 #78 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 303
      26 #31 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 304
      27 #66 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 305
      28 #47 Excessive speed - Exiting pits TE 307
      29 #31 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 313
      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)(10-26-2008)

    • Winning streaks in jeopardy: Drivers with a streak of consecutive seasons with at least one win a year thru 2007 and need to win in the last four races to keep their streak going
      seasons streak, driver, last win/track listed:
      14, Jeff Gordon, Charlotte, October 2007
      6, Matt Kenseth, Homestead, November 2007
      2, Kevin Harvick, Daytona, February 2007
      1, Casey Mears, Charlotte, May 2007
      1, Martin Truex Jr., Dover, June 2007
      1, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sonoma, June 2007
      1, Jamie McMurray, Daytona, July 2007
      See the list of streaks on my Alltime/Active Wins Page - Streaks section.(10-26-2008)

    • Interesting Streak: The past three winners of the fall race at Atlanta Motor Speedway have won at Texas Motor Speedway the following week [all three years since Texas got a 2nd date in 2005]. The year and winner: #48-Jimmie Johnson in 2007; #20-Tony Stewart; and #99-Carl 2005.(10-26-2008)

    • Testing changes to be announced soon? UPDATE: NASCAR hasn't delineated the exact testing policy [for the Sprint Cup Series], but apparently it will allow teams to test at any of the tour tracks, for a total of about 24 days a team per season. There are 22 tracks on the tour, so teams should be able to test everywhere.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-20-2008)
      UPDATE: NASCAR VP of Communications Jim Hunter said the sanctioning body is rethinking the 24-day testing schedule given the current economic conditions. Testing has to make financial sense for the haves as well as the have-nots.(FoxSports)(10-26-2008) Comment here

    • Harvick Donates Van to Former NASCAR Nationwide Champ Ard: Kevin Harvick presented former NASCAR champion driver Sam Ard [see] with the van that was used in the Shell fuels commercial featuring the #29 Shell-Pennzoil driver and the “Passionate Experts” from Shell at Atlanta Motor Speedway today. Ard, who won the NASCAR Nationwide Series title in 1983 and 1984, has been battling Alzheimer’s disease and facing financial woes. The former champion was 66 years old when he was first diagnosed with the disease. Doctors believe that that the onset of the disease was likely quickened by severe head injuries Ard sustained in a career-ending accident in 1984. Despite missing the final event of that season, he still won the championship by more than 400 points. In addition, Ard’s wife Jo has been diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease that is slowly taking her vision. “Sam Ard has been a huge part of NASCAR and an inspiration in my career,” said Harvick. “A lot of people don’t understand how hard those guys raced and how different it was back then. Those guys spent everything they won on racing and I am just happy that we are able to help Sam because none of us would be able to do what we love to do if it weren’t for guys like Sam Ard.”
      In just three seasons as a competitor in the Nationwide Series, Ard recorded an astonishing 22 wins, 24 poles, 67 top-five and 80 top-10 finishes. He had 10 wins in the 1983 season alone. Ironically, in 2006, Harvick chased Ard’s record for most wins in a season but fell one victory short before the season ended as he went on to claim his second Nationwide Series championship. The donated Chevrolet van was used in the Shell fuels commercial that has run throughout the 2008 season. The commercial featured the driver of the #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet and the Shell “Passionate Experts.” The Shell pit crew along with the experts, were trying to pull a prank on Harvick by disassembling what they thought was the two-time Nationwide Series champion’s van. The experts realize the vehicle they tore apart wasn’t Harvick’s as he drives away in another van identical to the one they dismantled. After the commercial shoot was completed, professional mechanics put the van back to its original state and Shell, along with Harvick, decided to present it to Ard.
      The NASCAR Foundation and Motor Racing Outreach have partnered together for an online auction to raise additional funds for the Sam Ard Fund more info on my Racing Charities page.(RCR PR)(10-26-2008)

    • Petty covers #45 up on his cap during TV show UPDATE to honor Adam: This weekend, Tradin' Paint [SPEED] welcomed [NASCAR Scene] reporter Bob Pockrass back to the program in Atlanta as the media guest. It was cold outside and Kyle Petty wore a Petty Enterprises jacket and a black baseball hat for his #45 car and its sponsors. Only this week, TV viewers saw that something was different. Petty had a black band firmly placed right through the numbers on the front of his baseball hat. It was clear for all to see that the #45 car that Kyle had clung-to in memory of his late son Adam was no longer his. The frustration emerged on a day when it was reported that Boston Ventures CEO David Zucker had said the company [Pettty Enterprises] would field two cars for 2009, but that Kyle Petty was not going to be involved with either effort. "Part-time if a sponsor could be found" was the phrase used to describe Petty's future opportunities. Petty's words on that topic came out during a Tradin' Paint discussion about mergers. "I have not seen an acquisition help any team in the sport yet," said Petty about the new wave of outside investors. "I have not seen Boston Ventures help Petty Enterprises be more competitive now than what they were at the beginning of the year. When you look at it and ask what do they get (in mergers), I don't have a clue what they get," continued Petty. "You are taking two organizations who are falling or stable and just putting them together. Sometimes, warm water and warm water (combined) just gets colder."(Daly Planet)(10-26-2008)
      UPDATE: Kyle Petty is wearing a black band over the #45 on hats he is wearing to honor his son, Adam Petty, who died in 2000 during Busch Series practice at New Hampshire. Petty said it was his son Austin’s idea and should not be construed as a statement against new Petty Enterprises majority owner Boston Ventures. “When Adam was killed and Austin said lets put a black band across [the number],” Petty said Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “If you live in our neighborhood, you’ll see hundreds of these numbers [with black bands] on cars around our neighborhood. … When I started driving the 45, I said I drive the 45 and that’s Adam’s car and I didn’t even put my name on that car. So since I’m not driving the 45 as much, Austin about a month ago said, ‘Why don’t you go back and wear that hat again.’ And I thought, ‘Good idea.’ All I did was switch back since I’m not driving the 45 full time. Austin’s opinion was, and I deferred to him, that it was Adam’s number and Adam’s car and now you’re not in it, let’s go back and close the personal door. It’s a personal thing. It’s not a statement. It’s not anything other than that.” Petty had said earlier in the weekend that Boston Ventures, which bought its stake in the organization in June, had not helped the competitive side yet of the teams. Petty said Sunday that he was trying to explain that none of the mergers have helped on the competitive side and Boston Ventures had only been with the organization for four months.(SceneDaily)(10-26-2008)

      News from October 25, 2008

    • Pit Stall Selections have been made for the Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, #48-Johnson got to choose first since he will start from the pole due to rained out qualifying, and took stall #1, #16-Biffle, who starts 2nd, took stall #21, the next pit with an opening in front of it and #31-Biffle, who starts 3rd took stall #20, the first stall with an opening behind it. #17-Kenseth [starts 10th] took the final pit stall. See who took what stall on my Atlanta Pit Stall selections page.(10-25-2008) Comment here

    • Happy Hour Practice for the Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is over, the fastest:
      #99-Edwards 181.776
      #15-Menard 180.710
      #29-Harvick 180.669
      #8-Martin 180.628
      #16-Biffle 179.977
      slowest: #22-Blaney 171.667 and #70-Raines 172.834
      See speeds, laps run on my Atlanta Practice Speeds page.(10-25-2008)

    • Saturday Practice for the Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is over, the fastest:
      #99-Edwards 184.726
      #29-Harvick 182.189
      #18-Busch 181.046
      #24-Gordon 180.981
      #17-Kenseth 180.981
      slowest: #70-Raines 174.192 and #45-McCumbee 174.807
      See speeds, ave speed, laps run on my Atlanta Practice Speeds page.(10-25-2008)

    • Newman becomes 19th driver to win a race in all National series: When Ryan Newman won the Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 25th, he became the 19th driver to win at least one race in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Craftsman Truck Series race [the three National Series]. Newman has won 13 Cup races, 7 NNS races and 1 CTS race for a total of 21. See the full list of 19 drivers who have won on my Misc Stats page - All 3 wins section.(10-25-2008)

    • Martin to the 2008? UPDATE: hearing that Mark Martin may get started on his ride a few races early and running the #5 Carquest/Kelloggs Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports in the final four races [Atlanta , Texas, Phoenix, Homestead] of the 2008 Cup season. Casey Mears currently drives the car. Martin is slated to drive the #8 US Army Chevy for DEI in 3 of the 4 final 2008 races, with Aric Almirola in at Phoenix.(8-6-2008)
      UPDATE: during SPEED's coverage of the first Saturday practice, Larry McReynolds said he had a nugget....Mark Martin will run the final four races of the 2008 Sprint Cup season, including the final race at Homestead, but not in the #8 DEI Chevy, but in a Hendrick Chevy, so he could be in the #5 Chevy, meaning we may see Casey Mears in a 4th RCR car [#33?] at Homestead.(10-25-2008) Comment here

    • Latest on the possible GM-Chrysler merger: the ragged U.S. economy and slumping car sales are leading General Motors to the brink of what looks like a buyout of Chrysler, which has NASCAR’s 11 Dodge teams [#'s 2,7,9,10,12,19,41,42,43,45,77] on pins and needles. One Detroit source says he senses the merger as inevitable and says that merger could really shake up the NASCAR garage, because rival car makers GM, Ford and Toyota may be quite unlikely to want to pick up any new NASCAR teams. George Gillett has been looking at buying Bill Davis’ Toyota team and becoming a three-team Toyota operation; however there now appears to be a major stumbling block to any such move by Gillett – Toyota itself. There are also worries that when the 2009 season dawns at Daytona there will be only 30 teams with full-time non-factory corporate sponsorship.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-25-2008)

    • Roush's #6 & AMS to honor soldier: Roush Fenway Racing will honor Sgt. William P. Rudd this weekend by placing a decal in honor of his memory on the #6 AAA Ford Fusion at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Additionally, Atlanta Motor Speedway has donated 200 tickets for members of Sgt. Rudd’s unit to attend Sunday’s Sprint Cup event. Sgt. Rudd died on October 5, 2008 while on combat patrol in Mosul, Iraq. This was the same raid in which U.S. soldiers killed the alleged #2 leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Qaswarah. Sgt. Rudd, originally from Madisonville, Ky., joined the Army on October 2, 2003 and was a member of the U.S. Army Rangers, an elite special operations troop. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Ft. Benning, Ga. and had previously been deployed twice to Afghanistan and five times to Iraq. His story was told to Jack Roush by Roush’s friend Don Bowles who also hails from Madisonville, Ky. Instantly, Roush knew he wanted to not only honor the fallen soldier, but celebrate the homecoming of his unit. In his five years of service, Sgt. Rudd was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. He is expected posthumously to receive the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal and Meritorious Service Medal.(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(10-25-2008) Comment here

    • Jeff Burton promotes safe teen driving: On Thursday, a group of Luella High School underclassmen got positive reinforcement about driving safety from veteran NASCAR driver Jeff Burton. Burton visited the school enroute to the Atlanta Motor Speedway. He will run his #31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS in hopes of winning Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500. "Driving safely is so important, and this is the place where all the young drivers are," Burton said. "It's just a great opportunity [to promote safe driving]." Burton, a driver-safety advocate with AT&T, has visited high schools around the country for the past two years, urging students and would-be new drivers of their driving responsibilities. He was at Luella early Thursday afternoon. "Every year, high schools across the county lose students because of car accidents," Burton said. "It's really, really important for you guys to understand [driving ...], with it comes a huge responsibility." He told his teenage audience that he experienced the loss of friends, and injuries to family members in preventable automobile accidents. He urged teens to use sound judgment, common sense and adhere to the rules of driving, to avoid fates similar to people he knew. According to the Teen Driving Council, one in three teen drivers has an accident in the first year of receiving a license, and a teenager is injured in a car crash every 55 seconds, and killed every 6.5 minutes. Crashes continue to rank as the top cause of death among children and young adults. "Anytime you have a celebrity push the same message that we try to, it's important," added Principal Eckerle. "With Jeff Burton speaking about it, the message becomes even stronger."(Henry Daily Record)(10-25-2008) Comment here

    • #99 Hauler Driver wins the 2008 Pilot Truck Driver Challenge: Pilot Travel Centers announced the winner of the 2008 Pilot Truck Driver Challenge. Bob Decker, transport driver for the #99 Office Depot team from Roush Fenway racing, was awarded $50,000 for capturing the 2008 title. He narrowly defeated Peter Jellen, Joe Gibbs Racing and Tom McCrimmon, Joe Gibbs Racing who both tied for second place, receiving $12,500 each. The yearlong competition is open to all NASCAR Sprint cup transport drivers and promotes safe and responsible driving on the highways, offering over $75,000 in cash and prizes. Throughout the competition, participants were judged in various categories including safety quizzes, a DOT check and chicane courses designed to test driving skills. “This competition is designed to encourage and inspire the professional truck driver. Pilot recognizes their commitment to this sport, as well as to this nation’s economy,” shared Mark Hazelwood, executive vice of Pilot Travel Centers. Decker revealed top-notch driving abilities and skill level as a professional truck driver by exhibiting perfect driving scores in three out of four chicane courses. He also showcased his knowledge by scoring the highest on the total of three safety quizzes. “Bob Decker has been an efficient and reliable transport driver for Roush Fenway for several years. I am pleased to hear that he has won the Pilot Truck Driver Challenge Award, but not surprised. His pleasant demeanor has made the #99 transporter a welcoming place for employees and sponsors alike. He is a valued employee and is truly worthy of this award,” stated Jack Roush, team owner. The Pilot Truck Driver Challenge will return in 2009, giving Pilot Travel Centers the opportunity to honor the hardest working members of any race team, the professional truck driver.(Marketing 500 PR)(10-25-2008) Comment here

      News from October 24, 2008

    • Qualifying for the Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway has been cancelled due to rain and a wet track. The field was set by the rules book [owners pts top 35, 2007 owners win, past champ and race attempts], so #48-Johnson will start first followed by #16-Biffle, #31-Burton, #99-Edwards, #07-Burton, #29-Harvick, #24-Gordon, #20-Stewart, #88-Earnhardt Jr. and #17-Kenseth. Two drivers will miss the race, #02-Logano and #40-Clauson. This is the 10th time in the 2008 season where rain washed out qualifying. See the starting lineup on my Starting Lineup/Qualifying page. For weather links, see my Atlanta Race Info page.(10-24-2008)

    • Practice for the Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway finally began after a 2 hours, 15 minute delay. The fastest after 8 minutes, then a mist rolled in and it has been red-flagged:
      #12-Newman 187.900
      #16-Biffle 1850536
      #6-Ragan 184.302
      #99-Edwards 183.966
      #55-Waltrip 183.673
      28 of the 45 drivers have made a run
      after 8 minutes, a light mist started and has halted practice
      see the cancelled practice speeds on my Atlanta Practice Speeds page.(10-24-2008)

    • Rain out winners: so far in 32 2008 races and 33 qualifying sessions, there have been TEN qualifying sessions rained out, supposedly the most ever. 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: #16-Biffle 9th, #18-Busch 34th
      Charlotte, October: winner #31-Burton 4th, #48-Johnson 6th
      Martinsville, October: winner #48-Johnson 1st
      Atlanta, October: #48-Johnson started 1st

    • added #18 Halloween M&M's, #19 Ronald McDonald House Charities, #38 FCC/Digital TV Transition and #28 All Sport and the 2009 #48 Lowe's diecast image.(10-24-2008)

    • Kyle Busch not at the track: during SPEED's Truck Series rain delayed practice coverage, it was mentioned that Kyle Busch is not yet at the track as his helicopter can't get to the track yet due to the weather, so Mark Martin is standing by to practice Busch's truck at Atlanta Motor Speedway, if the trucks make it to the track.
      UPDATE: just after 3pm/et, SPEED showed Busch walking into the garage area.(10-24-2008)

    • Red Bull fires supervisor, reprimands others: Red Bull Racing has fired a supervisor and reprimanded several other employees for their involvement in the violation that resulted in major points penalties and suspensions for Brian Vickers' team [see #83 Team Page for the penalty news], general manager Jay Frye said on Friday. Vickers was fined 150 driver points and crew chief Kevin Hamlin was indefinitely suspended and fined $100,000 after NASCAR officials determined during a random post-race inspection at Martinsville that the sheet metal did not meet the minimum thickness specifications. Frye said Hamlin and Vickers had no knowledge of the violation that also resulted in the indefinite suspension of car chief Craig Smokstad and the loss of 150 owner points to Dietrich Mateschitz. "It was an isolated incident and somebody made the decision without the appropriate people knowing," Frye said. "These people are good veteran guys. They should have known better. They just made a poor decision. There's too much at risk and NASCAR has very much of a zero tolerance on these cars. We know that." Frye said the sheet metal was not dipped in acid as originally reported, but it simply was a thinner grade that he estimated lightened the car by two or three pounds. He said procedures are being put in place to make sure such an incident doesn't happen again. Frye said NASCAR has given no indication of whether the suspensions will spill over into next season. And while he sees the suspensions as a setback, he is confident interim crew chief Randy Cox will fill in nicely.(ESPN)(10-24-2008) Comment here

    • Papis to run some 2009 Cup races with Germain UPDATE: Sirius Speedway has learned that GEICO Insurance will team with Italian road course expert Max Papis to run as many as 18 Sprint Cup Series races next season, in Toyotas fielded by Germain Motorsports. GEICO currently sponsors veteran Mike Wallace on the Nationwide Series, but cannot remain in NASCAR’s number two series beyond 2009, due to language in the sanctioning body’s contract with major sponsor, Nationwide. They can, however, move to either the Sprint Cup or Truck ranks. Wallace said recently that he is already looking for a new backer, adding, “We have an indication of what (GEICO is) going to do, (and) for me to continue to race in years to come, I’ve got to go find another sponsor." A spokesperson for Germain Motorsports declined to comment earlier today.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(9-10-2008)
      UPDATE: Former open-wheel star Max Papis is set to run a limited Sprint Cup schedule with Germain Racing and sponsorship from Geico in 2009. Papis is expected to run 18 races in Cup next year, Papis' agent Doug Barnette confirmed Friday afternoon. An official announcement is expected Monday. Geico has posted a pair of videos online with Papis, including one that says he is “the new Geico driver” for Sprint Cup. The car pictured is a #13 Sprint Cup car. Papis tested a Toyota Camry with Germain Racing this past week at Kentucky Speedway. Geico sponsored Mike Wallace at Germain Racing in the Nationwide Series but NASCAR required the company to leave that series after this season because of a conflict with the title sponsor.(SceneDaily)(10-24-2008) Comment here

    • Ronald McDonald House Charities Featured on #19 at AMS UPDATE: Elliott Sadler’s #19 Dodge will feature a Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) paint scheme this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in support of World Children’s Day at McDonald’s. This year, participating McDonald’s restaurants will offer customers the opportunity to Give A Hand by donating a small amount to personalize and post a paper hand that symbolizes their support. In addition, in the U.S. on November 20, participating restaurants will donate $1 from the sale of select menu items to RMHC. In addition, from November 10 – 20, customers in the U.S. can help support RMHC through the “Give a Hand” in-restaurant program. For each hand sold, $1 will go to support RMHC. Started in 2002, World Children’s Day at McDonald’s is the company’s largest annual fundraiser for children. The #19 Ronald McDonald House Charities Dodge will run “Thank You Paul Newman 1925 – 2008” on the rear panel of the racecar. Paul Newman, a former IndyCar team owner, actor and philanthropist, began supplying McDonald’s with Newman’s Own all-natural salad dressing in March 2003. McDonald’s, as a Newman’s Own customer, enabled Paul Newman to donate additional profits to charity through the exclusive agreement. Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $250 million to thousands of educational and charitable purposes worldwide since 1982. In 2005, Newman accepted the Ronald McDonald House Charities Award of Excellence on behalf of the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps.(GEM PR)(10-23-2008)
      UPDATE - Image: on Friday #9-Kasey Kahne and #19-Elliott Sadler, of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, combined efforts to help raise awareness for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), benefitting programs to support children and families in need around the world. Kasey Kahne, founder of the Kasey Kahne Foundation, donated $150,000 to Ronald McDonald House Charities to support its three core programs: Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. Kahne is a long-time supporter of RMHC, donating $500,000 to date.
      In addition to Kahne's donation, Elliott Sadler announced he will drive an RMHC-themed race car this weekend, during the Sprint Cup Series race in Atlanta, to help raise awareness for the Charity and World Children's Day at McDonald's – the company’s largest annual fundraiser for RMHC. The race car will also feature a special tribute to Paul Newman – famous philanthropist, race car enthusiast and long-time supporter of the Charity. The #19 Ronald McDonald House Charities Dodge will run "Thank You Paul Newman 1925 – 2008" on the rear panel of the race car. Since 1982, Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $250 million to thousands of educational and charitable purposes worldwide.(CSRwire) See an image of the scheme on my #19 Team Schemes page.(10-24-2008)

    • Ambrose to drive final four Cup races: In preparation for Sprint Cup Series competition in a Toyota in 2009 with JTG-Daugherty Racing, Marcos Ambrose has agreed to drive the final four races of the season for Michael Waltrip Racing. The Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) Toyota team, which has carried the #00 this season, will switch to car #47 for remainder of 2008, starting this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway [as previously announced]. JTG-Daugherty, co-owned by Tad and Jodi Geschickter and former NBA All-Star Brad Daugherty, will field Toyotas through a technical alliance with MWR in 2009 for Ambrose, carrying sponsors Kingsford Charcoal, Clorox, Bush’s Baked Beans and Little Debbie [see image of the schemes on my 2009 #47 Team Schemes page]. Frank Kerr, who has been named Ambrose’s crew chief for the JTG-Daugherty entry in 2009, will serve as crew chief for the remaining MWR races this season. In 2009, JTG-Daugherty Racing will operate out of MWR’s 140,000-square foot facility in Cornelius, North Carolina, and receive cars, engineering, mechanical and other technical support from MWR’s existing infrastructure.(MWR PR)(10-24-2008) Comment here

    • 1992...4 races to go, large points lead...and: Martinsville marked Jimmie Johnson's 13th career victory in the Chase. No one has squandered a lead of 149 points in the final four races since the Chase was implemented in 2004. However, in 1992, Bill Elliott led Alan Kulwicki by 144 with four races remaining, but Kulwicki managed to come from third to first in the standings. Elliott had led then-runnerup Davey Allison by 67.(NASCAR This Week)(10-24-2008) Comment here

    • Car counts not changing: from the NASCAR Teleconference Transcript - Truck Series Sponsor Announcement, an interview with NASCAR's chairman and CEO, Brian France:
      Q. Brian, is there any consideration whatsoever at NASCAR in the Sprint Cup Series of reducing the size of the field in 2009?
      BRIAN FRANCE: #We've had some events, many events, where we've had to send cars home. Obviously in the last 10 or 12 weeks, you're seeing some of the cars on the fringe there that aren't making it to the events. But still we expect full fields in 2009.(NASCAR)(10-24-2008) Comment here

    • Newman could break Atlanta pole record: Should #12-Ryan Newman claim the pole during Friday’s Hot Shot Qualifying Night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Newman would surpass his mentor, Buddy Baker, with eight-career pole wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Currently tied with Baker at seven poles. More info about poles, records, all time pole list and 2008 poles, see my All Time Pole Wins page.(10-24-2008) Comment here

    • Jim Beam back on the #7 at Atlanta: The #7 Jim Beam Dodge returns to racing action this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Before Robby Gordon makes a lap around the 1.54-mile track in his Dodge Charger, he will help Jim Beam and the National Center for DWI Courts (NCDC) raise awareness about the success of DWI Courts in Georgia on Friday, October 24th at the Georgia State Capital Building. With more than 170,000 people killed by drunk drivers in the United States each year, Beam Global and NCDC have joined forces to bring national attention to the effectiveness of the DWI Courts in addressing drunk driving, and Gordon serves as spokesman on the issue.(RGM PR)(10-24-2008) 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 Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gordon, who is currently eighth all-time with 19,880 laps led, can surpass Rusty Wallace for seventh on that list if he leads 93 laps this Sunday. 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. See the top 30 lap leaders on my MISC Stats page.(10-24-2008)

    • Chase Stats going into Atlanta: In the very first Chase in 2004, Kurt Busch [then in the #97 Ford] built his lead to 96 points as he went to Atlanta for race #7. At Atlanta, Busch blew an engine and Jimmie Johnson (entering the race down 207) won the race, and the Chase was on, although Busch ended up edging Johnson by 8 points. Johnson's convincing win at Martinsville gives him a Chase record 149 point lead over Greg Biffle with four races to go. If Johnson gains just 13 more points on second over the next three races, he need only start the Homestead race to ice his third straight title. Johnson used a second at Lowes in race #5 as a springboard to his first title in 2006. Counting the last six races of '06, the 07 Chase and the first six races of the '08 chase, consider these stats:
      Top 10 finishes in 20 of 22 races
      No finish worse than 14th
      15 Top Five finishes in 22 races
      14 Podium finishes (1st, 2nd or 3rd)
      7 wins in 22 races
      Carl Edwards posted a career best 3rd at Martinsville and still lost 30 points to the leader. However, he gained ground on Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton and is still in striking distance if Johnson and the #48 have some uncharacteristic trouble. Although he's essentially out of the title hunt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a strong showing with a second at Martinsville and gained some margin on a spot at the NY banquet as only the top-10 drivers go to the banquet. Matt Kenseth took 10th place from Denny Hamlin and how has a 12-point lead on Hamlin in 11th. Kyle Busch fell all the way from 9th to last, now 37 points out of Kenseth. See more stats on my Chase Stats after Martinsville page and check out the 2008 Chase News/Stats page.(10-24-2008)

    • Atlanta Goodyear Tire Notes: Based on two tire tests held at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the Sprint Cup race at the track in March, Goodyear has brought a new right-side tire for this Sunday's event . . . only teams in the Sprint Cup Series will be running the new right-side tire code, while those in the Craftsman Truck Series will be running the same tire combination as in March . . . this being the second COT race at Atlanta, Goodyear improved its tire recommendation through tests at AMS held on July 21-22 and September 16 . . . both tests were handled by the same three teams in order to keep continuity and build off early results . . . those teams were the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (Kyle Busch), #28 Yates Racing Ford (Travis Kvapil) and #66 Haas-CNC Racing Chevy (Scott Riggs) . . . while Goodyear will bring the same left-side tire code as in March (D-4152), the new right-side tire code (D-4188) will help give cars more grip while maintaining good wear characteristics for Atlanta's abrasive racing surface . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams will are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Atlanta . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window is every 50-54 laps, based on fuel mileage. See codes, pressures and more on my Atlanta Race Info Page.(10-24-2008)

      News from October 23, 2008

    • Martinsville Final TV Ratings down: ABC’s live coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Martinsville Speedway earned a final national rating of 3.3, down from last year’s 3.7, also aired on ABC. The race had an average viewership of 3,776,618. Through six races, ratings in the Males ages 35-54 demographic are up five percent in ABC’s coverage of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as compared to last year.(ESPN)(10-23-2008). See more about TV Ratings on my 2008 TV Ratings page. Comment here

    • Atlanta Rookie Notes: #77-Sam Hornish Jr. was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the October 19 TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Hornish Jr. took top rookie honors for the ninth time this season and was credited with a 34th-place finish in the race. #01-Regan Smith and #77-Sam Hornish Jr. are tied for the lead (192-192) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the October 26 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Since 1975, Kenny Irwin is the only Raybestos Rookie to win a pole at the fall race in Atlanta. Irwin grabbed the top spot for the 1998 Pep Boys Auto 500. The best finish in the fall race at Atlanta (since 1975) is second by Dale Earnhardt in 1979. Earnhardt finished one-half car length behind winner Neil Bonnett. Earnhardt also holds the record for most laps led by a Raybestos Rookie in the Pep Boys Auto 500, leading six times for 69 laps.(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos), for rookie standings, history and more, see my 2008 Rookies Page.(10-23-2008)

    • Camping World to sponsor Truck Series: NASCAR announced today that Camping World will be the title sponsor for the NASCAR Truck Series beginning in 2009. Camping World replaces longtime series sponsor Craftsman, which had been the sole title sponsor since the inception of the NASCAR Truck Series in 1995. The seven-year agreement gives Camping World the exclusive rights to sponsor the series, which features 25 points events at 23 tracks across North America. All NASCAR Camping World Truck Series [NCWTS] races will be broadcast live on SPEED or FOX.. Camping World will continue its successful relationship with Kevin Harvick Inc., RCR, ISC, SMI, Dover Motorsports, ESPN, SPEED and its title sponsorship of the NASCAR Camping World East and West Series through 2009 (NASCAR PR)(10-23-2008)

    • Waltrip Set to Make 1,000th Career NASCAR Start at Atlanta: #55-Michael Waltrip will make his 1,000th NASCAR start at Atlanta Motor Speedway when he starts the #55 NAPA Toyota for the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Sunday, Oct. 26. After finishing 18th in Martinsville in his 999th-combined NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series start, Waltrip returns to Atlanta for number 1,000, where he has eight career top-10 finishes.
      Stats: After Atlanta Waltrip will have 722 Cup starts [4 wins], 270 Nationwide starts [11 wins] and 8 Truck Series starts [0 wins]. Check out a full story on Waltrip’s career at and more at Comment here

    • Kyle Busch says what? joke? Last week on the Big D & Bubba Show show, #18-Kyle Busch talked a little NASCAR, discussing everything from the hatred of fans to a certain little physical altercation between Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. Kyle had some interesting thoughts on that fight, saying that Harvick is "one of the biggest hotheads" in Sprint Cup, and Edwards is "probably on more juice than Barry Bonds." Jayski note: after listening to the interview on Monday, it sounded like Busch was joking and Big D & Bubba asked him briefly about it, Busch laughed and said "I said probably" and it was never brought up after that or later in the interview. I had not planned to post anything as it seemed to all be taken out of context, but folks are asking about it, so see/hear more at the links on Comment here about the Busch interview

    • Petty's Loomis talks about Dodge & mergers: from a Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Transcript:
      ROBBIE LOOMIS: We’re very committed to Dodge at Petty Enterprises. If you read the news out there, everybody is talking to everyone about our merger. As the future unfolds, we all have to be smart on how we pay attention to how we operate and is there ways that we can be more efficient as we grow. That’s what will drive the decision of the future.
      LOOMIS: It’s a tough question. I think that our number one thing is… 2008 we wanted to move into a new shop. We wanted to move to Charlotte. We wanted to bring in an investor with Boston Ventures. We’ve got a new CEO in David Zucker. We have been looking at things…I know as I have the last couple years…we kind of saw that we were two cars and we wanted to get to four because years ago, NASCAR said there needs to be a four-car team. Then all of a sudden the landscaping is kind of changing and there are a lot of alliances. Before, a one or two car team was trying to hook on another two car team. Now, you’re seeing a four-car team and two-car team that want to attach to them and maybe grow to a four-car team to attach to that.(Dodge Motorsports PR)(10-23-2008) Comment here

    • Johnson has the highest winning % of active drivers: By winning at Martinsville on Sunday, #48-Jimmie Johnson passed #24-Jeff Gordon on the all-time list for Cup Series win percentage. Johnson has 39 victories in 251 career starts, pushing his winning percentage to 15.54%. Gordon's percentage stands at 14.87% (81 wins in 541 starts.) Overall, Johnson is eighth all-time in win percentage [drivers with over 100 starts]:
      1. Herb Thomas -- 21.05% (48 wins, 228 starts)
      2. Tim Flock -- 20.86% (38/187)
      3. David Pearson -- 18.26% (105/574)
      4. Richard Petty -- 16.89% (200/1184)
      5. Fred Lorenzen -- 16.46% (26/158)
      6. Fireball Roberts -- 16.02% (33/206)
      7. Junior Johnson -- 15.97% (50/313)
      8. Jimmie Johnson -- 15.54% (39/251)
      9. Jeff Gordon -- 14.97% (81/541)
      10. Cale Yarborough -- 14.82% (83 / 560)
      (stats from and NASCAR Statistics)(10-23-2008)

    • Halloween colors for Kyle Busch at AMS: Kyle Busch’s #18 M&M’s Toyota will feature a special Halloween M&M’s paint scheme in the Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in celebration of Halloween on Friday, Oct. 31, and to promote the M&M’s Halloween Millions contest. Busch will participate in the NASCAR Foundation Track Walk Sunday morning in Atlanta and walk alongside the children of the Carrie Steele-Pitts Home orphanage located in Atlanta, a charity supported by the Kyle Busch Foundation (KBF). The children will stick around and cheer Busch on during the Pep Boys Auto 500, compliments of the NASCAR Foundation and Busch.(Elevation Group PR), see my #18 Team Schemes page for an image of the scheme.(10-23-2008)

    • So how is the Budweiser Shootout shaping up after 32 races? 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. NOTE: IF Dodge leaves OR teams merge or run a new manufacturer in 2009, no word how that will effect the 2009 lineup.
      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 [Childress has said he is not moving the #07 owners points to the #33 for Bowyer].
      The six Dodge teams are pretty set [#'s 9,12,2,43,19,42] as the team in 7th, #41 Ganassi is 417 pts down; David Stremme will be in the #12 with Newman moving on [in the past the Petty cars would not run the Bud sticker and would not run the Bud Shootout, no word if the #43 would run the race of not].
      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 172 points.
      The top 5 Toyota teams are set [#'s 20,11,18,83,44] with the #55 MWR 49 points ahead of #22 BDR team. The #44 will become the #00 in 2009 with Reutimann.
      NOTE: IF Dodge leaves OR teams merge or run a new manufacturer in 2009, no word how that will effect the 2009 lineup. See the new Budweiser Shootout standings on my 2009 Budweiser Shootout page.(10-23-2008) Comment here

    • Official - Ford and Roush re-up: Ford Racing and Roush Fenway Racing announced Wednesday that they have agreed in principle to a multi-year contract. Brian Wolfe, director, Ford Racing Technology, along with Jack Roush, owner of Roush Fenway Racing, and Geoff Smith, president of Roush Fenway Racing, answered questions about the deal during a teleconference. A few highlights:
      BRIAN WOLFE CONTINUED - WHAT CHANGES, IF ANY, DO YOU ANTICIPATE NEXT YEAR IN NATIONWIDE AND TRUCK SERIES PROGRAMS? IS FORD GOING TO BE GIVING THE SAME LEVEL OF SUPPORT TO THOSE SERIES AS IT HAS IN THE PAST? "First, our prime goal was really to protect our performance in Cup racing, and with that we have cut back our support for the supporting series. We have not pulled out of those series, for example, with truck we are basically going to continue with the contingency program and continue our technical support to the teams racing Ford products. But as far as financial, we will not continue next year. And, also our Nationwide program has been scaled back as well, but we are continuing with technical support and the contingency programs as well."
      JACK ROUSH CONTINUED - WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE TRUCK SERIES NEXT YEAR, INCLUDING ENGINE SUPPORT? "The Roush Yates engines are partnered with Ford to provide engines, not only for the Sprint Cup Series but the Craftsman Truck Series and Nationwide Series as well. Ford's support for the engines - through the engine shop - for the development of the engines for the specific rules and I guess the other challenges that come from other manufacturers is the same that it has been. So for people that want to race Ford trucks and people that are able to and want to race Nationwide Fusions, there is no change. The support continues at the same level it's been at. We've got one sponsored entry - Con-way Trucking - for Colin Braun that we're gonna run for a championship in the Craftsman Truck Series next year, and we're open to accept interesting calls and proposals from other sponsors that would like to be involved with truck. Right now, all of our Nationwide programs are fully funded. Our Truck program is fully funded. We've got one more year running five Sprint Cup teams. They're all fully funded with sponsorship and I think that's a testament to the fact that over the period of time we've given our sponsors good value, good return for what they've done and how strong NASCAR is in the eyes of the consumer and how well that's recognized by the people who need to compete for the support of interest of consumers."
      WHAT ABOUT ERIK DARNELL'S STATUS WITH YOUR ORGANIZATION? YOU SAID COLIN BRAUN WAS THE ONLY FULL-SPONSORED TRUCK NEXT YEAR. "Erik is gonna have an involvement with us next year in the Nationwide Series. If a sponsor came and very much wanted to have Erik back in the Truck Series, we would certainly think about that. If Erik is going to advance, my understanding of his career goal wasn't that he wanted to be a Craftsman Truck driver for his career. He's looking to advance into Nationwide and into Sprint Cup and we've got an opportunity, although he's not running for a championship, he'll get a significant number of races in a Nationwide Fusion next year. We would look, I think, with greater interest in having a full program for Ricky Stenhouse or one or two other drivers that we haven't really had a chance to audition yet in the Truck Series.
      See the full transcript at the Ford Racing site.(10-23-2008) Comment here

      News from October 22, 2008

    • Sad News - Steve Lawson UPDATE: 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)
      UPDATE 2: NASCAR Statement On The Passing Of NASCAR Official Steve Lawson - Steve Lawson, 51, a NASCAR official for more than 10 years, passed away Sunday morning in Martinsville, Va. Lawson was in town working the NASCAR events at Martinsville Speedway. Lawson, a native of Rockford, Ill., worked as a safety inspector in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. NASCAR made the following statement regarding Lawson's death: "The entire NASCAR family is saddened by the loss of one of its own - Steve Lawson. He provided outstanding service to our sport. And, while our officials are certainly keeping Steve's family and friends in their thoughts and prayers, they are preparing to officiate today's race with the quality and efficient manner that Steve would want them to."(NASCAR)(10-19-2008)
      SERVICES: Funeral/memorial information for Steve Lawson follows:
      Tuesday, October 28, Visitation from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Funeral from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
      Fred C Olson Funeral Chapel, 1001 2nd Avenue, Rockford, IL 61104 815-963-6521
      Donations in lieu of flowers to NASCAR Foundation/Brienne Davis Scholarship Fund.
      Anyone wishing to send cards to the family should send them to: Steve Lawson Family, C/O NASCAR R&D Center, 7010 Westwinds Blvd., Concord, NC 28027.(10-22-2008)

    • Three Episodes of Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears Airs This Week: NASCAR fans will have an opportunity to see three encore presentations of episodes of the television series Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears, chronicling the move of Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, this week on ESPN Networks. Back-to-back episodes air Wednesday, Oct. 22, beginning at 10pm/et on ESPN2, and a third episode airs Friday, Oct. 24, at 6pm/et on ESPN Classic. The series provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved with the five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver award recipient leaving Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the team founded by his late father. Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears is produced by Earnhardt Jr.’s Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard.(10-22-2008)

    • Red Bull faces heavy fines for shaving weight UPDATE: NASCAR is expected to levy what could be record-breaking fines on the #83 Team Red Bull Toyota outfit on Wednesday. After Brian Vickers finished 11th at the Tums QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the #83 Toyota was selected as the random car to be further inspected at the NASCAR Technical Center in Concord, N.C., where officials discovered the sheet metal on the #83 car did not meet the minimum thickness requirements. According to sources familiar with the situation, the sides of the car — the doors, fenders and quarter panels — were too thin. The NASCAR rulebook states in rule 20-2, 1D that teams must use a minimum of 24 gauge (0.025 inch thick) sheet steel for their car bodies. Also, the practice of "Acid dipping or chemical milling," which makes the sheet metal thinner, is strictly forbidden. One individual close to the situation said acid dipping would allow a fabricator to make the metal thinner. Once the steel is sanded and painted, it is nearly impossible for NASCAR to detect. Multiple sources said NASCAR returned the car to TRB after cutting off the sheet metal.(FoxSports)(10-22-2008)
      UPDATE: NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the #83 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rules infractions found on Tuesday during a Martinsville post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. The car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-2.1-D (exterior sheet metal body parts did not meet the specified minimum thickness) of the 2008 NASCAR rule book. As a result, both the crew chief, Kevin Hamlin, and the car chief, Craig Smokstad, have been suspended indefinitely from NASCAR. Additionally, Hamlin has been fined $100,000. river Brian Vickers and owner Dietrich Mateschitz have been penalized with the loss of 150 driver and 150 owner points, respectively.(NASCAR PR)
      RED BULL STATEMENT: Jay Frye, General Manager & VP, Red Bull Racing Team, on the #83's infractions: "As a team we accept full responsibility for the infractions regarding the #83's Martinsville car and will not appeal NASCAR's ruling. This approach to racing is against the values of the Red Bull Racing Team, and the necessary steps will be taken to rectify the situation ensuring it does not happen again. It is a privilege to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and we are taking this penalty seriously. R&D Manager Randy Cox will assume the duties of interim Crew Chief on the #83 in Atlanta."(TRB PR)
      POINTS: Vickers drops from 15th in drivers points to 17th and the #83 drops from 16th in Owners Points to 18th, see my Drivers/Owners Points page for updated standings.(10-22-2008) Comment here

    • Elliott may come back for a few races in 2009: Q: You really think you'll [Bill Elliott] be able to step out of the car for good at the end of this season? What if the Wood Brothers come knocking on your door again to maybe run a few more races for them again next season?
      Elliott: At this point in time, I don't know. I think I'm just going to look at the next few races and see if I can help 'em out maybe, but it would just be a short-team deal. A few and that's it. I think right now they're trying to sell stuff, and they don't really have a whole lot else going on. If we can turn around and get something going here -- and keep it going -- that's one thing. If it's gonna go and turn around and change directions on you, then no, I don't want to do this anymore. We've been through some changes [at Wood Brothers Racing] and now we've kind of turned the corner a little bit. But there again, unless they can put several deals together, it's gonna be tough on them boys anyway. You never can predict the future.
      As far as me ever runnin' a full-time deal again? No, never. Would I run a couple first off? Yeah, maybe. But that would be it. And if they could find something to fill the void before the first of next year, I wouldn't even do that. What I'm saying, I guess, is let's get through the next few races -- and then what they find out and what they come up with will be the determining factor.( Comment here

    • Yarborough resigned to sharing record with Johnson: When Cale Yarborough won a third-straight NASCAR title in 1978, he never expected that it would take 30 years for someone else to challenge that record. Now that two-time reigning Sprint Cup champion #48-Jimmie Johnson appears on the way to doing just that, Yarborough has mixed feelings about sharing the record that some thought was untouchable. "The handwriting's on the wall," Yarborough said Monday during a telephone news conference. "It's going to happen. I understand that I was Jimmie's hero when he was growing up, so if he does it more power to him," the longtime NASCAR star added. Then that old competitive streak that helped Yarborough to 83 race wins, including four Daytona 500s, showed itself. "That don't mean I'm pulling for him," Yarborough added, laughing. "But, if he does it, I'll be in good company. I hope he feels the same way." While the 32-year-old Johnson has not finished worse than fifth in the points since he became a full-time Cup driver in 2002, Yarborough's best years didn't come until he got a full-time ride with Richard Howard in 1973 at the age of 34. The driver from South Carolina finished second for two straight years driving for Howard before going to work for Junior Johnson in 1975. He finished ninth that first year with Johnson before beginning his unprecedented string of championship in 1976. Yarborough stayed with Johnson for two more seasons, finishing fourth in the points in 1979 and losing the title to Dale Earnhardt by just 19 points in 1980. That was his last full season of racing before cutting his schedule to spend more time with his family. One major difference between the years when Yarborough won his titles and the current era is the points format. In his day, everyone raced for the same points throughout the season. Since 2004, the Cup title has been decided by the Chase, with a small group of drivers who spent 26 races making themselves eligible for the postseason competing for the championship over the final 10 races of the season. "I think it may have been harder to win (championships) back then than it is today because you had to compete against everybody," Yarborough said. Asked if he would have to change his style if he was racing today, Yarborough said, "I never was one to do much calculating. I went all out every lap I ever raced in my whole career. I'd still be doing it today. The only thing I can say is Jimmie better be glad I'm not racing with him today."(Associated Press/ESPN)(10-21-2008) Comment here

    • Start #300 for Blaney: This weekend marks a milestone in #22-Dave Blaney’s career as he will make his 300th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start when the green flag waves Sunday afternoon. He made his first Cup Series start in October 1992 at [Rockingham] North Carolina Speedway driving for owner Stan Hover [in the #80] and finished 37th (qualified seventh) in his first Cup race at Atlanta in 1999 [his 2nd career start] in which, like this weekend, Blaney was aboard a Bill Davis Racing owned machine. Blaney's best career finishes were 3rds: at Darlington in March 2003 and Talladega in Oct 2007.(BDR PR)(10-21-2008) Comment here

      News from October 21, 2008

    • 2009 Crew Chief for Newman? hearing that #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew chief, Tony Gibson, will be Ryan Newman's crew chief on the #39 U.S. Army Chevy Stewart-Haas Racing team in 2009.(10-21-2008) Comment here

    • Shane Wilson Named Crew Chief for RCR’s #33 in 2009: Richard Childress Racing has named veteran NASCAR crew chief Shane Wilson to head up its #33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team for the 2009 NASCAR Cup Series season. Wilson will call the shots for Clint Bowyer, who was announced in August as the driver for RCR’s fourth Cup Series team next year after completing this season with its #07 team. “Shane brings a great deal of knowledge and success to the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team, much of which he has earned since coming to RCR in 2006,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “He will be able to hit the ground running since he’s already familiar with and has been a part of the organization for the past three years. He and Clint have worked together a little bit and I’m confident they will complement each other in this new program.” Wilson, a South Royalton, Vt., native has been with RCR since January 2006 and has nearly a quarter-century of motorsports experience.(RCR PR), when the Mears-Bowyer switch was announced, it was mentioned that the #33 would NOT get the #07 team owners points, but that Childress had something in the works, like possibly buying owners points from another team, with all the merger rumors out there, that could be DEI, Ganassi or another team in the top-35. Have heard nothing since.(10-21-2008) Comment here

    • Aflac Cancer Center to sponsor #38 at Atlanta: Yates Racing announced that the Aflac Children’s Cancer Center will serve as the primary sponsor on the #38 entry with driver David Gilliland for the Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on October, 26, 2008. The Aflac Cancer Center is committed to providing their pediatric patients a brighter future through advanced medical treatment, family-centered care, a child-friendly environment and innovative research. Recognized as one of the top five childhood cancer centers in the country by Child magazine, the Aflac Cancer Center treats nearly 350 new cancer patients each year and follows more than 2,500 patients with sickle cell disease, hemophilia and other blood disorders. Their courageous patients range in age from infants to young adults. Aflac Cancer Center, in conjunction with Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Winship Cancer Institute, is committed to excellence and innovation in pediatric cancer and blood disorders research. Their participation in hundreds of national therapeutic and non-therapeutic clinical trials gives their patients access to the latest in treatment for childhood cancer and blood disorders. More info at or call 404-250-KIDS.(Yates Racing PR)(10-21-2008) Comment here

    • Latest Ganassi merger rumor? Petty? UPDATE:Trying to pin down the state of Petty Enterprises, under its new Boston Ventures' management, and the future of the Chip Ganassi operation has been tough enough the last few weeks, but now the speculation of a GM-Chrysler corporate merger has thrown things into a real tizzy. Insiders at both the Petty and Ganassi Dodge camps say there is speculation that the two struggling teams may somehow merge, and that that speculation is fueled by the sense that fellow Dodge owner George Gillett, who has majority interest in Gillett-Evernham-Motorsports, is "99 percent" certain to jump to Toyota. Ray Evernham was Dodge's mainstay in NASCAR racing, making such a move highly unusual. Dodge officials a few weeks ago denied such a change might be coming. One major complication for Dodge teams like Petty's and Ganassi's is that Gillett-Evernham has been a major Dodge engine operation. If Gillett moves to Toyota, then Dodge loses a very big player.(Winston-Salem Journal)(10-12-2008)
      UPDATE: hearing that a Ganassi-Petty Enterprises merger is still possible with Target being the sponsor for Bobby Labonte in the #43. With #42-Juan Pablo Montoya and #44-Chad McCumbee as teammates and a possible 4th team with Kyle Petty running part time in the #45.(10-21-2008) Comment here

    • Clauson to attempt Cup debut at Atlanta: The #1 best-selling video game, Guitar Hero, returns to the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) as primary sponsor of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ #40 Dodge driven by 19-year-old Bryan Clauson. Clauson was scheduled to make his Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) debut at Lowe’s Motor Speedway but qualifying was washed out and the #40 car was unable to make a qualifying run. Bryan Clauson will be attempting his debut in the Sprint Cup Series at AMS in the #40 Target/Guitar Hero World Tour Dodge. Clauson—a 19-year-old from Noblesville, Ind.—has competed in the 24 Nationwide Series (NNS) races throughout this 2008 season, driving the #40 Fastenal Dodge. To-date, the teen racer has collected one pole, one top-five and two top-10 finishes. Guitar Hero World Tour transforms music gaming by expanding Guitar Hero’s signature guitar gameplay into a cooperative band experience that combines the most advanced wireless and wired controllers with new revolutionary online and offline gameplay modes including Band Career and 8-player “Battle of the Bands,” which allows two full bands to compete head-to-head online for the first time ever. The Guitar Hero consumer bus will be parked in the display area at AMS all weekend for fans to take a sneak peak at the game. Clauson and Target Driver Reed Sorenson will make an appearance on Sunday to display their music talents prior to the Pep Boys Auto 500.(CGRFS PR) see an image of the scheme at or my #40 Team Schemes page.(10-21-2008)

    • Racing Resources Says …Sprint Cup Series
      * Jimmie Johnson won the Tums QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson posted his 39th career victory in his 251st career race.
      * Johnson posted his second win in the Chase. It was his sixth win of the 2008 season, including four of the last eight. Johnson posted his fifth win in 14 races at Martinsville. He has won four of the last five races there, and he has won four of the five Chase races at Martinsville, since 2004.
      * Johnson won the race from the pole position. He has scored top-10 finishes in the last 13 straight races at Martinsville. Johnson posted his 13th win in 46 Chase races, the most of all drivers. It marked his eighth career short-track victory in 42 short-track races.
      * Johnson has scored top-10 finishes in the last eight races, extending a streak that began at California in August.
      * Johnson led seven times for 339 laps, including the final 35. The 339 laps led are the most Johnson has led in a single race in his Cup career, exceeding his previous record of 334 laps led at Lowe's in May 2004. Johnson has led in 26 of the 32 races this season, more than any other driver. Johnson has led 710 laps in the six Chase races. Matt Kenseth is second in laps led at 199. Johnson has led at least one lap in the last six races at Martinsville, the longest current streak.
      * Hendrick Motorsports posted its 18th win in 46 Chase races, the most of all teams. HMS posted its seventh victory in 2008 (Johnson, six; Dale Earnhardt Jr., one). Hendrick had all four teammates finish in the top-six positions (Johnson, first; Earnhardt, second; Jeff Gordon, fourth; and Casey Mears, sixth).
      * Earnhardt posted his best finish in 18 races at Martinsville. He has scored four top-10 finishes in his last six races at Martinsville.
      * Gordon has scored top-10 finishes in the last 12 races at Martinsville. He has gone 37 races without a victory, his longest streak between victories.
      * Denny Hamlin (fifth) has scored six top-10 finishes in his seven races at Martinsville.
      * Kevin Harvick (seventh) has been running at the finish in the last 76 races, the longest current streak by any driver.
      * Clint Bowyer (ninth) has scored top-15 finishes in his last nine races, a streak that began at the second Bristol race.
      * This was the 10th win for Chevrolet in 2008. Toyota has 10 wins, Ford has eight and Dodge has four. The top 10 consisted of seven Chevrolets, two Fords and one Toyota. The top five finishers were Chase drivers. Eight of the top 10 were Chasers.
      * Greg Biffle won the first two Chase races, Tony Stewart won at Talladega, Jeff Burton won at Lowe's and Jimmie Johnson won at Kansas and Martinsville.
      * Four of the 12 Chase drivers each earned lap-leader bonus points at Martinsville by leading at least one lap. Eight of the 12 Chase drivers changed positions after Martinsville.
      * Johnson now leads second-place Greg Biffle by 149 points, the biggest lead in the six races thus far. Johnson is the only driver to score top-10 finishes in the first six races of the Chase.
      * This was the eighth green-white-checkered finish in 2008.(ESPN)

      News from October 20, 2008

    • Testing changes to be announced soon? NASCAR hasn't delineated the exact testing policy [for the Sprint Cup Series], but apparently it will allow teams to test at any of the tour tracks, for a total of about 24 days a team per season. There are 22 tracks on the tour, so teams should be able to test everywhere.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-20-2008)

    • Martinsville Overnight TV Ratings down: The overnight TV Ratings for the TUMS Quickpak 500 at Martinsville Speedway drew an overnight rating of 2.9 with a share of 6. In 2007, the overnight rating was 3.3. The final national TV Ratings for the race in 2007 wasd 3.7.(10-20-2008). See more about TV Ratings on my 2008 TV Ratings page. Comment here

    • DEI and Petty merger? UPDATE 2: 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.(
      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."(
      UPDATE 2: Petty Enterprises appears on track to merge – somehow – with Dale Earnhardt Inc., which would turn the Petty Dodges into Chevrolets….apparently. Or maybe it’s just Kyle Petty ‘merging.’ Richard Petty Sunday didn’t have much to say about the DEI report; he didn’t deny the talks, but he insisted he didn’t have to panic about things: “We did our panicking last year. That’s why we did the deal with Boston Ventures. We’re ahead of the curve.” However there appears to be considerable internal disagreement between the father and son about the next business steps to take, though #43-Bobby Labonte still has no sponsor for 2009, and Kyle Petty himself apparently is looking to leave Petty Enterprises at the end of the year and take the company’s only full sponsor, Wells Fargo, with him.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-20-2008) Comment here

    • GM-Chrysler Nov 4th? If the General Motors merger/buyout of Chrysler does go through, and well it might, perhaps by Nov. 4, what happens to all those NASCAR Dodge teams? [GEM, Petty, Ganassi, Penske] Dodge racing executives haven’t had much to say lately about the situation. And what might happen to Dodge’s various NASCAR contracts if Chrysler is ‘sold’ to GM is up in the air. Dodge has a number of long-term contracts in place, and just a few weeks ago Dodge officials insisted things were fine.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-20-2008)

    • Race and Commercial Breakdown of the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville:
      Total number of commercials: 127
      Total number of companies or entities advertised: 65
      Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 16
      Start time to record race/commercial periods: 1:31 PM
      End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:18 PM
      Total minutes: 227
      Minutes of race broadcast: 174
      Minutes of commercials: 53
      Number of missed restarts: 0
      Number of ‘mystery cautions’: 0
      Total race brdcst time 174 Total comm. brdcst time 53
      See full report and more on my 2008 TV Commericals page.(10-20-2008) Comment here

    • added #5 Cheez-It Chevy image that Mark Martin will run in a few races in 2009.(10-20-2008)

    • Kurt Busch not leaving Penske: Walt Czarnecki, a top Penske Racing executive, denies speculation #2-Kurt Busch might be with another team next season. There are reports that at least one top team would be interested in talking with Busch if his Penske contract were up. But Czarnecki calls it “categorically untrue” that Busch might be moving on.(Winston Salem Journal)(10-20-2008) Comment here

    • GEM on the Toyota? George Gillett [GEM], who with minority owner Ray Evernham (20%, perhaps to shrink to 10) has been Dodge’s anchor in NASCAR, is on the verge of making a deal to run Toyotas next season. That would put #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Elliott Sadler and #10-Reed Sorensen in the Toyota camp.(Winston Salem Journal)
      AND could an announcement of a Gillett/Bill Davis Racing [#22-Dave Blaney] deal be imminent?(Yahoo Sports)(10-20-2008) Comment here

    • Did Not Finish Streak and stats: #29-Harvick has been running at the finish in 76 consecutive races, the longest current streak and a NEW modern era record, next up is #07-Bowyer at 69 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 is Jeff Gordon at 56 and Dale Earnhardt at 53 [Indy in 1996 thru Martinsville in the spring of 1998.(10-20-2008)

    • Testing at Kentucky: Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Joe Nemechk are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Tues. Oct 21 and Wed., Oct 22. 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)(9-20-2008)

    • Top-5's, Top-10's: #18-Kyle Busch leads all drivers after 32 races in 2008 with 16 Top-5 finishes followed by #99-Edwards at 15. #99-Edwards has the most Top-10's after 32 races with 23, followed by #48-Johnson with 20. All full-time drivers who have run all 32 races in 2008 have scored a top-10 finish. Four drivers have not scored a Top-5 and ran all 32 races: #7-Gordon [last top-5 at Watkins Glen 8/2007], #28-Kvapil [none], #43-Labonte [last at Martinsville in 10/2006] and #44-Reutimann [none].(10-20-2008)

    • #99 Team Wins 3rd Quarter Mechanix MVPC Competition: The #99 Office Depot Ford over-the-wall team from Roush Fenway Racing has earned third-quarter honors in the 2008 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award competition. The #99 crew is the third team to qualify for the 2008 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award title. The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award is given quarterly throughout the Sprint Cup season. At the end of each quarter, the winning pit crew is determined by a vote of each team's crew chief. The four quarterly winners are eligible for the year-end Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award and a check for $100,000. The presentation will be made at the 2008 NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association Myers Brothers Media Luncheon in New York City in December. The #18 Joe Gibbs Racing team of Kyle Busch won the first quarter and the #9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports team of Kasey Kahne won the 2nd quarter.(Roush Fenway Racing site)(10-20-2008)

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