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MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
NOVEMBER 17-23, 2008
News from November 23, 2008
- Nicorette back with Gordon in 2009? UPDATE 2 National Guard?: 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)
UPDATE: hearing that Jeff Gordon will be driving a National Guard scheme on the #24 Chevy in eight races in 2009, no word how/if this effects the National Guard sponsorship of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr..(11-23-2008) Comment here
- Pemberton leaves MWR for Red Bull UPDATE: After asking for his release, #44 crew chief Ryan Pemberton is expected to reunite with his friend and former boss Jay Frye at Team Red Bull. Pemberton, 39, spent this year working with David Reutimann and the #44 Toyota after weathering the MB2 Motorsports buyout and the Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc. merger last fall. The Pemberton-led crew won the pole at Homestead, but finished 20th on Sunday. Pemberton's official position has yet to be determined.(FoxSports)(11-18-2008)
UPDATE: #44-David Reutimann [will be back in #00 in 2009], who finished 22nd in points in his second full Sprint Cup season and won the pole in the finale at Homestead, is short a crew chief and a half-season's worth of sponsorship on his Toyota for next season. He also is unlikely to run a third straight full Nationwide season because of sponsorship issues. Reutimann said a replacement for (crew chief) Ryan Pemberton, who said late in the season he was leaving for Red Bull, could be announced next week. "You would like to get somebody in there because Ryan decided to do his deal so late in the season it doesn't give you much opportunity to talk with people," Reutimann said. "You know your crew chief is leaving halfway through the year, you can start talking to people who are interested in doing something different. He just didn't give us that option."(St Petersburg Times)(11-23-2008)Comment here
- Robby Gordon Gears Up for Baja UPDATE: Robby Gordon left this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series finale in Homestead and headed straight for Ensenada, Mexico to compete in the 41st annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, one of the most grueling off-road races in the world. Gordon, a three-time overall winner, hopes to pilot his #77 Monster Energy / Toyo Tires Chevy CK 1500 to his fourth victory when the race commences on Friday, November 21st. The Baja 1000 is the world’s longest non-stop and most famous desert race. This year’s race will be a challenging 631.35-mile journey around the northern Baja California peninsula, beginning and ending in Ensenada. It will be trying even to the most skilled racers as they weave their way over rocky desert landscape and mountain terrain. For a map of this year’s loop course, visit score-international.com.
When asked about this year’s event, Gordon commented, “This year’s course is very technical, very rough and very fast, which plays right into our team’s strengths. The team has done a good job building up the reliability in our Monster Energy / Toyo Tires / 4Wheel Parts trophy truck. We’ve been in Mexico pre-running the course over the past few weeks. Having covered the course twice, I feel very confident of our chances. With the assistance of both our Off-road and NASCAR team personnel, we have a really good support staff in place. Everyone is well informed on our race strategy and goals for this week. If all goes according to plan, we should bring home our fourth overall Baja 1000 victory.”
Pre-race activities started on Wednesday, November 19th. As a prelude to the 41st annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, Gordon will participate in a media conference on Thursday at 11:30am along with other notable drivers and celebrities. Later that evening, he and his #77 Monster Energy / Toyo Tires trophy truck will appear that the AM PM store across from the navy base in downtown Ensenada from 5 to 6pm. The pre-race driver/rider briefing will be held Thursday at 7pm. The green flag will drop for the car and truck classes at approximately 10:30am on Friday. All starters will have a 31-hour time limit to finish the legendary race. Over 300,000 spectators are expected to line this year’s course to watch over 375 entries from around the world compete in the historic race. Live internet coverage will be available at www.2008SCOREBaja1000.com with a special one-hour NBC Sports special scheduled to be televised at 1pm/et on Sunday, December 14th.(RGM PR)(11-20-2008)
UPDATE: Update 11:56pm on 11-22-2008 - Nascar Driver and Off-Road Phenom, Robby Gordon blows motor in the #77 Trophy Truck ending a long race day filled with twists and rolls.(dirtnewz.com)(11-23-2008) Comment here
- USAC driver critically injured in accident UPDATE: U.S. Auto Club driver Cameron Dodson has been critically injured in a crash along a rural Hancock County road. The 20-year-old Dodson drives for Carl Edwards' team and was the USAC Silver Crown series rookie of the year in 2007. He won one race in four starts this year. Methodist Hospital spokesman Gene Ford said Dodson was in critical condition Wednesday evening but did not disclose the nature of the injuries. The Daily Reporter in Greenfield reported that authorities said Dodson was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from his car when it went off a county road into a ditch about 20 miles east of Indianapolis early Wednesday.(AP/ESPN)(11-19-2008)
UPDATE: Injured USAC driver Cameron Dodson remained in critical condition Friday at Methodist Hospital. Dodson, a 20-year-old from Greenfield, was injured when he was ejected from his passenger car as it veered into a ditch Tuesday in Hancock County. Cards may be sent to the driver in care of Rising Star Management Group, 6199 SW Leland Ave., Des Moines, Iowa, 50321.(Indianapolis Star)(11-23-2008)
News from November 22, 2008
- Hylton to attempt Daytona 500: #08-EM Motorsports announced that legendary NASCAR competitor James Hylton [2 wins, 1966 rookie of the year. 2nd in points 3 times) has teamed up with team owner John Carter to compete in the 51st annual Daytona 500 on February 15, 2009. The 74 year old Hylton made a well publicized comeback run at Daytona in 2007 which was thwarted by a faulty clutch in the Gatorade 150 qualifying event. During the race, Hylton ran as high as second, which put aside any doubts about the 1966 Rookie of the Years driving abilities. Hylton has competed in 16 Daytona 500s, with his best finish being third. In 2008, Hylton competed full-time in the ARCA RE/MAX Series as well as running in the Winn-Dixie 250 Nationwide Series race at Daytona. At age 73, Hylton set the record as the oldest driver to start a Nationwide Series event and also hopes to set the record as the oldest driver to compete in a Sprint Cup series event in February 2009.(EM Motorsports PR)(11-23-2008) Comment here
- McCumbee not sure of 2008 plans: Despite several Internet reports that link Chad McCumbee to a full-time seat in the #44 car for Petty Enterprises next season, McCumbee said the sagging economy has changed a lot of plans. "We have to wait for sponsorship," he said. "If we don't have it, we can't go racing. We've had some things lined up, but when companies start to struggle, NASCAR sponsorship will be the first to go." McCumbee said he doesn't "have an answer" to what next year will look like, but is "confident we will be able to run some," in the Sprint Cup Series. He also said he may return to the Craftsman Truck Series. McCumbee is scheduled to run Sunday's Seneca 250 Late Model stock car race at Myrtle Beach Speedway.(Myrtle Beach Sun News)(11-22-2008) Comment here
- Evernham quitting NASCAR to buy a track? NASCAR team owner Ray Evernham announced Thursday night in Lincolnton [NC] that he is in advanced negotiations to purchase the East Lincoln Speedway and plans to retire from NASCAR. Evernham and partner Bob Mack of Cornelius-based RPM Group Holdings said they had hoped to have the keys to the speedway in their hands when they appeared at the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce’s Business After-Hours event to make the announcement, but were prevented from doing so as negotiations continued. Evernham said he has already sold off most of his interest in the Gillett-Evernham Motorsports race team and is ending his career with NASCAR. “I want to get back into grassroots racing,” he told the gathering of area community leaders and businesspeople. Contacted by the Times-News Friday morning, current track owner Ralph Nantz said he couldn’t “talk much about it right now,” but confirmed that “serious” negotiations with Evernham were under way. “You might say he is showing some interest,” Nantz said. The East Lincoln Speedway has been in operation since 1991 and is a 3/8 mile clay oval track.(Lincoln Times-News), no word if Evernham will be back with ESPN in 2009.(11-22-2008) Comment here
- Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR named: In a sport filled with "colorful" fans, Deborah Gannon of Canton, Ga., claimed the title of the most colorful of them. Prior to the start of the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M'S Toyota, helped crown Gannon as the winner of "The Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR" contest. Created by M&M'S Racing, "The Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR" contest celebrates, recognizes and rewards all of the enthusiastic NASCAR fans throughout the country, regardless who they pull for at the track. From June 8-Oct. 11, 2008, NASCAR fans nationwide showcased their unmatched love for the sport by uploading their most colorful photos to NASCAR.COM. In the end, Gannon's photo stood out from the tens of thousands of entries. "I think the people that follow NASCAR are the best fans in the world, so this truly is a great honor," Gannon said. "Of course, the opportunity to see the season finale in Miami, as well as meet Kyle and coach [Joe] Gibbs ran a close second. It's an experience I will cherish forever." Gannon and four other finalists won the opportunity to travel to Homestead to watch the finale and find out who the contest winner was. As the grand prize winner, Gannon also will receive a designer watch, as well as a Richard Petty Driving Experience for her and a guest.(NASCAR.com)(11-22-2008)
- New Smyrna track to get busy, not Disney and Texas World Speedway?: last week NASCAR banned testing at its sanctioned tracks, providing a small, silver lining to short tracks that can host NASCAR test sessions. As for Central Florida short tracks, New Smyrna Speedway is in position to gain the most. Orlando Speedworld, at 3/8 of a mile, is much too small to be useful for testing. The mile-long tri-oval at Disney World is the right size, but its surface makes it unlike any NASCAR track. Darrell Fry, sports media director for Walt Disney World, said they have neither received nor expect any requests from NASCAR teams.(Orlando Sentinel)
TEXAS? but what about Texas World Speedway a two mile "D" shaped oval with 22 degree banking turns with 8 degree banking in the front of the grandstands, it is still in operation.(11-22-2008) Comment here
- Trenton Speedway to be remembered: Trenton International Speedway which was located on the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds in the capital city and closed in 1980 will again be in the spotlight as one of the key attractions of the weekend of the Motorsports 2009 Race Car & Trade Show at the Atlantic City, NJ Convention Center, January 16 & 17th. “In my younger years I spent a lot of time at the speedway. My family operated the souvenir concession,” said Motorsports 2009 produced Len Sammons. “It is a shame that there has been little or nothing done to remember what a great speedway it was. We are going to try to change that with our trip down ‘memory lane’ at our show.” For the Motorsports 2009 weekend, many of the race cars that were seen in action at Trenton International Speedway will be on view. And, plans are in the works to have a number of the drivers and team members who participated there at the show to meet the fans. Originally a dirt oval, Trenton became a one-mile paved track in the mid-fifties. By the 1970s, until its final race, Trenton Speedway was a peanut shaped one and one-half mile track. Overall, it produced some exciting racing events throughout the years. Notable organizations such as NASCAR, USAC, ARDC and URC sanctioned the events. The final race run at Trenton was for the asphalt Modified stock cars, in June, 1980. That scheduled 134-lap event, which was called official after 79 circuits due to rain, was won by Geoff Bodine. The fairgrounds and speedway location has since been turned into an industrial complex and is also the site of the New Jersey Sculpture Gardens and the very classy Ratz Restaurant. The Motorsports 2009 Race Car & Trade Show will fill close to 300,000 square feet of the Atlantic City Convention Center and will offer just about everything imaginable in motorsports. Attendees will have the opportunity to collect autographs from a variety of national and regional racing figures. And as Motorsports 2009 takes place during the day on January 16th and 17th, the Gamblers Classic Indoor Auto Races [where Jayski first saw racing live] will be take place at night at Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk Hall [some drivers include: Ted Christopher, Billy Pauch Sr.]. Information on both events can be had at www.aarn.com. Ticket information is also available at the site or by telephoning (609) 888-3618.(AutoRacing1)(11-22-2008) Comment here
News from November 21, 2008
- Parrott leaves Yates UPDATE: Todd Parrott, a second-generation racer with more than two decades of racing experience, was released from Yates Racing after leading the #28 Ford and driver Travis Kvapil to a 23rd-place finish in the point standings.(FoxSports), no word where Parrott ends up or who will be Kvapil's crew chief in 2009.(11-18-2008)
UPDATE: After spending a year building a relationship with Todd Parrott, #28-Travis Kvapil will have to get acquainted with a new Sprint Cup crew chief next season at Yates Racing. "Especially with a driver and crew chief, there are a lot of details or quirks you learn about each other," Kvapil said Thursday. "Todd found out a lot about me, about what I like this year. At the same time, we weren't content with how we ran, 23rd in points, and I guess the team felt we needed a change." Max Jones, the team's co-owner and general manager, gave Kvapil no indication of who his crew chief would be beyond someone with Cup experience. Parrott's role with Yates, if any, is undetermined. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(11-21-2008) Comment here
- No major layoffs at Roush: Jack [ROush] said he would have to "displace" half a dozen employees involved with his test program as a result of NASCAR banning testing at its sanctioned tracks in 2009. But his core staff -- those involved with his Sprint Cup and Nationwide team operations at his race shop in Concord, N.C. -- "will remain intact," he said.(Detroit Free Press)(11-21-2008) Comment here
- Allmendinger steps up for Make A Wish: As driver who has rapidly emerged as a talent to keep an eye on, and a personality to match, it wasn't anything new to hear Sprint Cup racer AJ Allmendinger being interviewed on the radio Thursday morning, but this time his message was a little bit different from just talking racing. Speaking with Dave Smiley on 99.5/WZPL's Smiley Morning Show on Thursday morning, AJ called in to donate over $6,000 to the Make A Wish Foundation. The donation will fund two different wishes for 2 children and their families, including one for Ellie, who will be heading on a Disney Cruise Vacation thanks to AJ's gift. This is an important thing to do and I'm pretty excited about it. Even though I don't live in Indianapolis, my manager is based there and of course we race at the Brickyard so this is a good opportunity for me to do some good outside of my backyard." AJ is a competitive guy, even when it comes to charity work. "Now that I've done this, I'd like to challenge the guys who actually live in Indy-I know there are a lot of racers there-to step up and do the same thing!"(ajallmendinger.com)(11-21-2008)
News from November 20, 2008
- Kenseth re-signs with Roush Fenway: Roush Fenway Racing announced that it has re-signed 2003 Sprint Cup Champion Matt Kenseth to a multi-year contract. Kenseth has been with Roush Fenway since 1998 and has claimed 16 Sprint Cup Series wins and 24 Nationwide Series wins in addition to Roush Fenway’s first Sprint Cup championship. “It’s been a great 11 years at Roush Fenway Racing,” said Kenseth, driver of the #17 DeWalt Ford. “I appreciate everything Jack and DeWalt have done for me over the years. We’ve had a lot of success together including a championship and I’m really proud of that. I’m looking forward to the next few years and winning another championship with Roush Fenway.” Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush was elated with the news stating, “Matt Kenseth is a champion in every sense of the word and John Henry and I are proud to have him in our stable of drivers. Over the last 11 years Matt has been a leader in our organization and a voracious competitor on track, and to know that he will continue on in that role with Roush Fenway is gratifying.”(Roush Fenway Racing PR), no terms or exact length was announced, Kenseth was signed thru 2010.(11-20-2008) Comment here
- #78 Team plans limited 2009 schedule UPDATE Nemechek out?: Furniture Row Racing announced it is planning a limited 2009 schedule [supposedly 12 races] for their Sprint Cup Series team and Car #78 driven by Joe Nemechek. "This has nothing to do with our on-track performance," said Team President, Joe Garone. "This is simply a business decision by Furniture Row of balancing priorities in a tough economy and, from all appearances, looks to be getting even tougher." In only its third year as a Sprint Cup Series team, Furniture Row Racing is coming off its best year, qualifying for 31 out of 35 races, earning a pole position at Talladega and having several strong finishes. As a privately-held entity, Furniture Row Companies - the team owner, primary sponsor, and one the nation's largest furniture retailers - does not make its sales figures public. But the company is looking at retail sales trends and is tightening all expenses as a result. "Running a limited schedule is simply a cautionary measure," said Tom Faulkner, President of Furniture Row Companies. "While we've been faring significantly better than most in our category, it's no secret that our business is tied to the health of the economy - in particular, housing starts and real estate sales." No additional announcements regarding team staffing or any other infrastructure or organizational changes are being made at this time. Garone added: "We've got some tough decisions to make, but we all know it will take fewer people and resources to run a limited versus full schedule. But we're also optimistic that our best days are still ahead of us."(Furniture Row Racing PR)(11-11-2008)
UPDATE: The day after the annoucement that #78 Furniture Row Racing was running a partial schedule for 2009, [Team Owner] Barney Visser released [driver] Joe [Nemechek] from his ride. Visser said that the team may not even race at all for 2009 and how money was tight. So Nemechek is looking for a ride in 2009.(joenemechek.net)(11-20-2008) Comment here
- Final Homestead TV Ratings down: ABC’s telecast of the Ford 400 Sprint Cup race from Homestead-Miami Speedway earned a final national rating of 4.0, down from the 4.2 earned for last year’s race that also aired on ABC. The race averaged 6,598,877 viewers. Ratings for the 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup averaged a 3.8 rating on ABC, the same average as last year.(ESPN PR), see each race, overnight ratings, news and more on my 2008 TV Ratings page.(11-20-2008) Comment here
- NASCAR roundtable on economic welfare of sport: NASCAR's 2008 season has come to a close, and few people seem certain the sport will look the same next year as it did this year. Garage talk is dominated by merger-and-acquisition rumors as teams fight for the right short-term and long-term strategies to stay afloat. Marketing budgets are being scrutinized so sponsors can adapt to the changing economy. Questions about car counts and attendance loom over a sport that has been riding a wave of prosperity. Those and other topics were fair game when NASCAR stakeholders from throughout the industry gathered recently in SportsBusiness Journal's headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. Here are the highlights from that roundtable discussion that featured:
• Paul Brooks, president, NASCAR Media Group
• Michael Burch, VP, business development, Speedway Motorsports Inc.
• Mark Coughlin, executive VP, Octagon Racing
• Mark Dyer, CEO, Motorsports Authentics
• Michael Hargrave, senior VP, motorsports executive, Bank of America
• Steve Lauletta, president, Chip Ganassi Racing
• Hunter Nickell, president, SPEED
• Julie Sobieski, VP of programming and acquisitions, ESPN
• Michael Waltrip, owner/driver, Michael Waltrip Racing
• Trip Wheeler, president, The Wheeler Group, and independent contractor, Velocity
some of the questions include:
How much does the economy dominate your conversations these days?
How did the talks between ESPN and SPEED start?
The theme of "Returning to the Roots" came out of that. How has that message gone over?
What is the future for teams and is consolidation coming?
Is there going to be fallout from all of these new team alliances and driver changes?
See the few article at NASCAR.com.(11-20-2008) Comment here
- Nationwide Series Season Ends on High Ratings Note: A season of improved ratings and viewership for the NASCAR Nationwide Series on ESPN2 ended on a high note this past weekend as the Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway delivered a 1.6 household coverage rating, an increase of 33% from the 1.2 rating for last year’s race that also aired on ESPN2. ESPN2’s coverage of 23 Nationwide Series races during the 2008 season averaged a 1.5 rating, a seven% gain from last year’s 1.4 average. The coverage also saw a double-digit increase in the Males 25-54 demographic, averaging 1.3 vs. 1.1 last year. The event at Homestead-Miami Speedway averaged 2,096,644 viewers, up 38% from last year’s telecast. Live NASCAR racing returned to the ESPN networks in 2007 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series immediately became ESPN2’s highest-rated series. ESPN2 airs highlights of the NASCAR Nationwide Series awards banquet on Sunday, Nov. 30, at 12noon/et. The recently-completed Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series seasons will be reviewed in a pair of half-hour special programs airing Sunday, Nov. 23, at 1pm/et on ESPN2. The Sprint Cup season review program airs first, followed at 1:30pm by the Nationwide Series review.(ESPN PR)(11-20-2008)
News from November 19, 2008
- Tony Stewart Live on Sirius ending? Speculation after listening to the final segment of Tony Stewart Live [Sirius Satellite Radio] on Tuesday night is the radio show may be ending after their Stewie Awards champions week show in December. The show has aired two years.(11-19-2008)
- USAC driver critically injured in accident: U.S. Auto Club driver Cameron Dodson has been critically injured in a crash along a rural Hancock County road. The 20-year-old Dodson drives for Carl Edwards' team and was the USAC Silver Crown series rookie of the year in 2007. He won one race in four starts this year. Methodist Hospital spokesman Gene Ford said Dodson was in critical condition Wednesday evening but did not disclose the nature of the injuries. The Daily Reporter in Greenfield reported that authorities said Dodson was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from his car when it went off a county road into a ditch about 20 miles east of Indianapolis early Wednesday.(AP/ESPN)(11-19-2008)
- Congrats - Jason Jarrett: Congratulations to Jason and Christina Jarrett, who welcomed Anthony Ford Jarrett into their family on November 14th, 2008. Baby Jarrett weighed in at 6 lbs, 5 oz. and was 18.75 inches long. Jarrett is a 2-time runner-up in the ARCA RE/MAX Series point standings, and two ARCA RE/MAX Series race wins.(ARCA Racing site). Jarrett has two Cup starts and 40 Nationwide Series starts. Jarrett was #66-Scott Riggs spotter in 2008.(11-19-2008)
- Chat Stats - End of Season: #48-Jimmie Johnson managed to win his first Chase championship in 2006 by scoring 1430 points, the lowest winning total in the five-year history of the Chase. Since then, he has rung up 1663 points (1643 if you adjust for the 5-point increase rule in 2007) in 2007 and 1644 (1629) to win the 08 title. Here are the champion chase points scored and runnerup for the first five years of the Chase:
2004: 1st-Kurt Busch 1486, 2nd-Jimmie Johnson 1453
2005: 1st-Tony Stewart 1483, 2nd-Greg Biffle 1453, 3rd--Carl Edwards 1483
2006: 1st-Jimmie Johnson 1430, 2nd-Matt Kenseth 1369, 3rd-Denny Hamlin 1377
2007: 1st-Jimmie Johnson 1663, 2nd-Jeff Gordon 1606
2008: 1st-Jimmie Johnson 1644, 2nd-Carl Edwards 1560
Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr get to pass on banquet week, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch made the top-10 and the trip to NYC. Brian Vickers gets the top spot by improving 19 positions from 2007, finishing in 19th this season. David Reutimann gained 17 spots and boss/teammate Michael Waltrip improved 15 positions in 08. Kurt Busch suffered the largest decline in 08, dropping 11 spots from 7th to 18th this season. Reed Sorenson was next, falling 10 spots to 32nd. See full 2008 Chase Stats page and my 2008 Chase News, Rules, Wins, History page for more.(11-19-2008)
- HOF Racing layoffs? UPDATE: on Monday, a large layoff at #96 Hall of Fame Racing, supposedly due to lack of full sponsorship. Also, the current Hall of Fame Racing shop building is up for sale.(11-18-2008)
UPDATE: Hall of Fame Racing, the NASCAR team owned by Arizona Diamondbacks executives, will cut its staff even if it secures sponsorship to run a full 2009 season. HoF general manager Tyler Epp said Tuesday employees were told no one will be laid off before the end of November, as team officials search for more funding. But with 44 employees for a single car operation, Epp said the team is overstaffed. "The reality is we ran 39th in points this year and personnel changes are going to be made," Epp said. "And we simply have too many people for a one-car team. We're going to have a reduction no matter what happens." Epp said the team is close on several possibilities, but a merger with another small NASCAR team is not likely at this time. The team has partial sponsorship from DLP HDTV for next season. Hall of Fame originally was formed by former Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, but they sold their interest in the team last year to Diamondbacks executives Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel. Moorad is the Diamondbacks' chief executive officer, and Garfinkel is the chief operating officer. The team had a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, but Epp said the agreement most likely will not carry into 2009 as the team searches for a new partner. Depending on whom they lease their motors from - and JGR is still a possibility, Epp said - the team could also have a manufacturer switch.(Associated Press)
AND: Epp said it was unlikely his team – whose ownership group is led by Arizona Diamondback executives Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel – would merge with another team for 2009. “It’s been a rough year of transition, but that doesn’t change the intent and the model we’re trying to build,” Epp said. “Whenever you merge two different groups, you have to compromise on things, and we don’t want to compromise [certain] things.” As far as a driver for next year, Epp said he has had talks with at least six drivers whom he would be interested in having for 2009. “I can’t say enough about Ken Schrader and the job he’s done this year,” Epp said. “He’s certainly on the list.” Epp added that the team most likely will not be an affiliate of Joe Gibbs Racing next season, but he would like to remain with Toyota. He said the team likely would contract a body hanger, and the team also would need to find an engine supplier. Epp also said the team also is working on extending its lease for the building from Herzog Motorsports. The lease runs through December.(SceneDaily)(11-19-2008)
- Updates on Team Layoffs: nothing official but heard that Stewart-Hass Racing [formerly Haas CNC Racing] laid off 16 people Monday, November 17th. Also .(11-18-2008)
UPDATE: Wood Brothers Racing has downsized its Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck Series operations [supposedly 25 people] effective immediately. The Wood Brothers expect to continue the 58-year tradition of the #21 Ford when racing resumes in February. "This economic downturn has been tough on everyone and racing is not immune," team owner Eddie Wood said. "What we're experiencing now is a dramatic correction but we will be geared up for the 51st running of the Daytona 500. We will be racing in 2009. We're just not sure what that schedule looks like at this time. We're going to do whatever is necessary to survive."(FoxSports)
UPDATE 2: hearing 23 people were laid off at Petty Enterprises on Tuesday.(11-18-2008)
UPDATE 3: Petty Enterprises, The Wood Brothers, Bill Davis Racing and Ernie Elliott's engine shop all reduced their staffs in the two days since Sunday's season finale. Although exact numbers are hard to pin down, Petty chief marketing officer Mike Bartelli said the company released 30 employees.
The Wood Brothers are believed to have let go more than 20 employees.
BDR, which has no sponsorship lined up for its Sprint Cup program, has cut its staff to all but a handful of employees. Elliott, who built engines for Chip Ganassi Racing, did the same since it's unlikely Ganassi will use his motors once he completes a merger with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Just last week, 100-plus employees were released from DEI so the team can move forward with its merger with Ganassi.
Ganassi let go of 71 people in July, starting a wave that has hit all teams regardless of their level of funding. Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Fenway Racing all had small staff reductions over the past month, and Roush let additional employees go this week as the organization adjusts to running fewer entries in the Truck Series next season.(Associated Press)(11-19-2008)
- Sad News - Don Hunter: Award-winning motorsports photographer Donald A. Hunter of Charlotte passed away on Nov. 6 following a brief illness. Hunter, 79, worked as a photographer for the Charlotte Observer for many years and was the director of photography for Charlotte Motor Speedway, according to an obituary in the Observer. Considered a pioneer in motorsports photography, Hunter won close to 100 awards, and was best known for his black- and-white photographic work. Many of his best photos captured the legends of NASCAR. In 1967, Hunter was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for photography, and one of his images remains in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Hunter is survived by his wife, Jean A. Hunter: daughter, Donna H. Franklin; and granddaughter, Marie R. Franklin. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association and the Alzheimer's Foundation.(SceneDaily)(11-19-2008)
News from November 18, 2008
- Menard to drive #98 for Yates in 2009: Yates Racing announced Paul Menard as the driver of the #98 Menards Ford Fusion in 2009 Sprint Cup Series competition. Following his first full season in the Sprint Cup Series, Menard finished 26th in the point standings, while earning his first career pole at Daytona International Speedway and his first career top-five finish at Talladega Superspeedway. "I’m really looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life with Yates Racing and behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford Fusion,” said Menard. “The #98 has been to victory lane 25 times, many times with Marvin Panch and Lee Roy Yarbrough. It’s exciting to be starting with Max (Jones) and Doug (Yates), and having Larry Carter on the box making the calls. I’ve seen how solid the Roush/Yates engine program has been over the years and I know we can have a really good season in the #98 Menards Ford Fusion.”
Helping Menard make the transition to Yates Racing and Ford Motor Company will be veteran crew chief Larry Carter. Carter comes to Yates Racing from Roush Fenway Racing, where in 2008 he helped Jamie McMurray earn four top five and 11 top-10 finishes. Prior to working with McMurray, Carter worked with veteran driver Rusty Wallace in his final season of Sprint Cup racing. Yates Racing co-owner Max Jones is pleased with the addition of the #98 to the team's racing stable. “Paul is a focused and determined young man. His efforts combined with the strength and compatibility of our sponsor partners, and with Ford, will take him to new levels,” Jones said.(Yates Racing PR)
AND: hearing that Yates Racing laid off quite a few people Tuesday and could end up being only a two car team at the start of the 2009 season.(11-18-2008) Comment here
- Pemberton leaves MWR for Red Bull: After asking for his release, #44 crew chief Ryan Pemberton is expected to reunite with his friend and former boss Jay Frye at Team Red Bull. Pemberton, 39, spent this year working with David Reutimann and the #44 Toyota after weathering the MB2 Motorsports buyout and the Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc. merger last fall. The Pemberton-led crew won the pole at Homestead, but finished 20th on Sunday. Pemberton's official position has yet to be determined.(FoxSports)(11-18-2008) Comment here
- Homestead Overnight TV Ratings down: ABC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Ford 400 Sprint Cup season finale from Homestead-Miami Speedway earned an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 3.6, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. The figure is 5.3% less than the 3.8 ABC earned overnight for the 2007 race.(SceneDaily), see all the 2008 TV Ratings and the chart on my 2008 TV Ratings page.(11-18-2008) Comment here
- Racing Resources Says …
* Carl Edwards won the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Edwards scored his third victory in the 10-race Chase, winning at Atlanta, Texas and Homestead and his ninth victory of the season. He posted his 16th career victory in his 157th career race. Edwards led five times for 157 laps including the final four.
* Roush Fenway Racing posted its 11th victory in 2008; Edwards won nine, Greg Biffle won two. Roush Fenway Racing posted its sixth Homestead victory in 10 races there.
* 2008 Champion Jimmie Johnson (finished 15th) scored top-15 finishes in the last 12 races, extending a streak that began at California in August. Johnson scored his third straight series championship (2006-2008). He finished second in final points in 2003 and 2004. Edwards finished second in points, 69 behind Johnson, his career-best series finish in his five years of competition (2004-2008).
* Johnson became only the eighth driver to win three or more series championships; Richard Petty (7), Dale Earnhardt (7), Jeff Gordon (4), Cale Yarborough (3), David Pearson (3), Darrell Waltrip (3), and Lee Petty (3) are the others.
* Johnson won his third series championship with only 255 career starts, the second fewest number of starts by any driver to win three titles; Jeff Gordon won his third in 1998 with only 188 career starts.
* Johnson was the only driver to score top-15 finishes in all 10 Chase races. He produced a 5.7 average finish in the 10 Chase races.
* Kevin Harvick (2nd) and Clint Bowyer (5th) each scored nine top-15 finishes in the 10 Chase races.
* Gordon (4th) has gone 41 races without a victory, his longest streak between victories. Gordon, who finished seventh in 2008 points, ended a 14-year streak of winning at least one race a year (1994-2007).
* Matt Kenseth (25th) who finished 11th in 2008 points, ended a six-year streak of winning at least one race a year (2002-2007). Kenseth's last win came at Homestead in 2007 -- 36 races ago.
* Harvick who finished fourth in 2008 final points, ended a three-year streak of winning at least one race a year, 2005-2007. Harvick's last win came at Daytona in February 2007 -- 71 races ago. Harvick has been running at the finish in the last 80 races, the longest current streak by any driver.
* Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Martin Truex Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya each won a race in 2007 but failed to win in 2008.
* Dale Earnhardt Inc. ended an eight-year streak of scoring at least one victory (2000-2007).
* McMurray (finished third) scored five top-10 finishes in the final six races of the season.
* The top 10 consisted of five Chevrolets, three Fords, one Toyota and one Dodge.
* Greg Biffle won the first two Chase races, Tony Stewart won at Talladega, Jeff Burton won at Lowe's, Jimmie Johnson won at Kansas, Martinsville and Phoenix, and Carl Edwards won Atlanta, Texas and Homestead. No non-Chase driver won during the Chase.
* Eight of the 12 Chase drivers changed positions at Homestead.(ESPN)(11-18-2008)
News from November 17, 2008
- Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Ford 400 at Homestead:
Total number of commercials: 122
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 69
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 19
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 3:45 PM
End time to record race/commercial periods: 7:09 PM
Total minutes: 204
Minutes of race broadcast: 156
Minutes of commercials: 48
Number of missed restarts: 0
Number of ‘mystery cautions’ (debris not shown): 1
Total race brdcst time 156 Total comm. brdcst time 48
See more and links to the full report on my 2008 TV Commercials page.(11-17-2008) Comment here
- Did Not Finish Streak and stats: #29-Harvick has been running at the finish in 80 consecutive races, the longest current streak and a NEW modern era record, next up is #07-Bowyer at 73 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.(11-17-2008)
- Top-5's, Top-10's: #99-Carl Edwards led all drivers in 2008 with 19 Top-5 finishes, #18-Kyle Busch was next with 17. #99-Edwards had the most Top-10's with 27, followed by #48-Johnson with 22. All full-time drivers who ran all 36 races in 2008 scored a top-10 finish. Four drivers did not have a Top-5 and ran all 36 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].(11-17-2008)
- Smith named Rookie of the Year: Rean Smith in the #01 The Principal Finacial Chevy clinched the Raybestos Rookie or the Year in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The year-end payout for 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is $75,000, the same amount Darrell Waltrip earned from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for his 1982 Cup series championship. Smith will earn a grand total of $91,500 from Raybestos brand Brakes for his efforts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season. Smith became the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the 52-year history of the program without a DNF (did not finish). He was running at the finish in all 34 starts he made this season.
· This is the first Raybestos Rookie of the Year title for Dale Earnhardt Inc.
· Smith led or shared the lead in Raybestos Rookie standings in the 26 of the 36 Sprint Cup Series races this season.
· Smith scored a 34th-place finish in the Ford 400 and captured Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the 11th time in 2008.
SMITH: YOU WERE THE UNDERDOG FOR RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR BUT HAD A SOLID SEASON ALL YEAR LONG? DO YOU TAKE A LOT OF PRIDE IN BEATING SOME BIG NAMES FOR THIS AWARD? “I do. You know, there were a lot of big names that I was racing against and you look at the stuff at the beginning of the year, not very many people had me chartered as one of ‘em that was going to contend for Raybestos Rookie of the Year championship. So definitely had a little bit of a chip on the shoulder about that and wanted to go out there and prove that there is still a good ol’ stock car path and NASCAR path to get to this series. I feel like we did that to a certain extent. Obviously there were weeks I wanted to run better and there was weeks where we ran good and didn’t get what we deserved or ran good and got what we deserved. All in all, I'm very proud to win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year. You look at the names that are on there and some good names to be included with. At the end of the day you can’t change that. It’s going to be there forever.”
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO HAVE THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT BUT HAVE YOUR FUTURE BE SO UNCERTAIN? “This time of year if you don’t figure out what you’re doing it’s always difficult but it’s something at the end of the day you can put that on the shelf at the house and have that accomplishment. I’m very confident in my abilities as a race car driver. This year’s been a tough year and was a tough year for all the rookies. No excuses for that. It was a difficult year with the new car and that’s all their way to it. I’m pretty confident I’ll be driving a Cup car for somebody next year. I just don’t know which one and if not then I’ll look to the other two series and work hard to get back to this level.”(Camp and Assoc/Raybestos PR), see Rookie history, standings and more on my 2008 Rookies page.(11-17-2008) Comment here
- Many sponsors for the #43 in 2009: After 35 years in which the #43 made famous by Richard Petty had season-long sponsorship continuity with either STP (1973-2000) or General Mills (2000-2008), a scorecard might be necessary to keep track of the car's paint schemes in 2009. Petty Enterprises chief marketing officer Mike Bartelli says five or six companies will share primary sponsorship and space has been sold for more than half of the 36-race season. Bartelli says though sponsor opportunities remain available on the car, the team (shored up financially from its acquisition by private equity firm Boston Ventures) will field the #43 for the full season regardless. "Here you have the most iconic number in the sport's history, and it's not that we're losing deals to others," says Bartelli, who added Petty is substantially far away from cobbling together the millions needed to run its #45 Dodge [supposedly will be the #44 with McCumbee] full time in 2009. "It's that deals aren't there. We had a deal done two weeks ago, and the CEO reversed the decision after blessing it and indicated the company was going to make hundreds of millions in cuts."(USA Today)(11-17-2008) Comment here
- Lowe’s Extends the Celebration with a Winning Deal for Consumers: To celebrate Jimmie Johnson’s third consecutive Sprint Cup Series Championship, Lowe’s is offering customers 10% off KOBALT tools, tool storage and truck boxes. The offer will be available Nov. 17 through Nov. 19 in all Lowe’s stores in the U.S. and Canada on all in-stock Kobalt tools. “It’s a great feeling to win our third straight Championship, but I didn’t get here without a great team and the support of all the Team Lowe’s Racing fans,” said Johnson. “I want to thank Lowe’s for sharing our success with the fans that supported us throughout the 2008 season.” Only 10 years ago, Lowe’s introduced Kobalt tools, an exclusive line of quality tools at an affordable price. Today there are more than 900 tools under the Kobalt brand and every tool is designed and engineered to combine toughness and durability with the latest developments in comfort, balance and practical innovations. “To be successful, it helps to have the right tools for the job,” said Team 48 Crew Chief Chad Knaus. “The way Lowe’s is rewarding the fans with this great Kobalt offer is another example of the support they give us both on and off the track.” Kobalt Tools has been the proud sponsor of the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the past two seasons. In addition, Johnson drove the #48 Kobalt Tools Impala SS in eight races this year. The 10% offer is valid from Nov. 17 through Nov. 19, 2008 in stores only while supplies last and excludes Special Order items. The discount will be taken at the register. Visit your local Lowe’s store or lowes.com for additional details.(Lowe's PR)(11-17-2008)
- Best Wishes to Victory Junction Gang Camp volunteer Thom Tittle of Barbenton, Ohio in his fight with AML type M4, an acute form of leukemia. Thoughts and prayers go out to Tim, who I met at VJGC a few years ago.(11-17-2008)
- #48 Team wins 4th Quarter pit crew award: The #48 Lowe's Chevy team from Hendrick Motorsports put together a string of seven consecutive top-10 finishes including two wins to earn four-quarter honors in the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award competition. The eight-race fourth quarter began with New Hampshire and ended at Texas. The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award has been given quarterly throughout the 2008 Sprint Cup season. The winning pit crew was 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 voting for the overall winner from among the four quarterly winners will take place this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Lowe's team collected four more points in the eight races this season compared to 2007. This year, he has scored 116 more points than Carl Edwards who is currently second in the Chase standings.
The #48 Hendrick Motorsports team, led by crew chief Chad Knaus, swept fourth-quarter honors last year en route to its second year-end award and $100,000 bonus. The team also won the title in 2004. In 2008, the #18 M&M's over-the-wall crew from Joe Gibbs Racing emerged the first-quarter winner while the #9 Budweiser Dodge team from Gillett Evernham Motorsports prevailed in the second quarter. Third-quarter honors went to Edward's #99 crew from Roush Fenway Racing.(Mechanix Wear PR)(11-17-2008)
- Support Rally for Domestic Automakers: Next week, Congress and the current Administration will determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in the nation’s history. GM is asking for folks to help to let your US Senator and Representatives know how important the Domestic Automotive Manufacturers and their continued survival is to the future of this country. See the full PR at the GM Media site - click here and/or go to gmfactsandfiction.com and follow the easy steps to email your congressman and senator to support the U.S. automakers loan plan.(GM PR)(11-17-2008) Comment here
- Speed Perfornmace Awards Voting Starts: SPEED opens fan voting for the third annual SPEED Performance Awards on Nov. 17 with an eye towards highlighting the year’s defining moments on and off the race track. The first three categories -- Biggest Hit, Oops Award and Best Move -- open for video voting at SPEEDtv.com (Keyword: Performance) on Monday with nominees from nine different sanctioning bodies, including NASCAR, Formula One, NHRA, the American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am, MotoGP, AMA Motocross and CORR, Indy Lights. Three more categories will open for voting on Nov. 24, with the final three opening for voting on Dec. 1. Voting for all categories will end at midnight on Dec. 14. Race fans across all disciplines will get to voice their opinions through SPEEDtv.com on the following awards:
* The OOPS Award (biggest mistake)
* Biggest Hit
* Temper, Temper
* Biggest Upset
* Best Rivalry
* Best Finish
* Best Move
* Best Comeback
* RACER Magazine Rookie of the Year
In addition to the fan-selected SPEED Performance Awards, SPEED will once again present the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak, to the SPEED Performer of the Year. Nominations are made and voted on by a panel of SPEED personalities, producers, former trophy winners and Andretti. All of the awards will be part of a one-hour SPEED Performance Awards special to air in February.(SPEED)(11-17-2008)