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MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
DECEMBER 1-7, 2008
News from December 7, 2008
- France asks Congress to help Big Three automakers: NASCAR chairman Brian France has lobbied Congress to support a financial rescue plan for the struggling Big Three automakers. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors - three of the four manufacturers that participate in NASCAR - are pleading with Congress for a bailout to prevent their companies from going bankrupt. "I'm writing you as a concerned American who wants what is best for our great country," France wrote. "Of course, the domestic automobile manufacturers play a very important part of the heritage of NASCAR, but more importantly, it is vital for all of America." The letter, a copy of which was obtained Saturday by The Associated Press, was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Banking Committee. It was dated Tuesday. France's letter warned that if the auto industry fails, 3 million people would lose their jobs in the first year, and another 2.5 million over the following two years. He said personal income in the U.S. would drop by $150 billion in the first year and domestic automobile production - even by foreign manufacturers - would likely drop to zero. "For these manufacturers to survive, your assistance is urgently needed," France wrote. "By immediately supporting America's automobile industry, you can help our nation avoid a devastating economic blow. We urge the Administration and Congress to support the bridge loan package under deliberation. As unattractive as the idea of corporate federal bailouts can be to many Americans, including me, there appears to be no alternative. Federal aid is in the best interest of the entire country." Although France said last month that NASCAR could survive a manufacturer pullback or pullout, teams throughout the industry are deeply concerned about the stability of the Big Three. Toyota, the only foreign manufacturer that participates in NASCAR, has also seen slumping sales but is on more solid financial footing than the American automakers. Any sort of pullback by the manufacturers would cripple many race teams, particularly because sponsorship is extremely difficult to find during the economic crisis. Many teams have been forced to release employees, and some are reconsidering their 2009 plans.(see full story at the Associated Press)(12-7-2008) Comment here
- Some Homestead images added: #09 Miccosukee, #6 AAA, #10 Valvoline, #19 Hellmanns, #21 Motorcraft, #25 GoDaddy, #28 AllSport, #29 Pennzoil/Shell, #42 Juicy Fruit, #43 Liberty Mutual, #47 Little Debbie's, #48 Kobalt Tools, #70 Haas Automation 25th Anniversary, #83 Red Bull [Scott Speed], see my Paint Schemes Gallery for more.(12-7-2008)
- Logano to run Daytona ARCA race? UPDATE: Look for Joey Logano, scheduled to run the #20 Home Depot Toyota in 2009, to test at Dayotna in December in Venturini Motorsports ARCA car and may run the ARCA race at Daytona in February. Logano ran for Venturini Motorsports at Talladega and finished 2nd.(12-1-2008)
UPDATE: Venturini Motorsports announced that the Concord, NC-based team would be fielding a full-time ARCA RE/MAX Series team in 2009 with Surrey British, Columbia driver Ryan Fischer as the driver. Fischer has nine previous ARCA Series starts in 2007 and 2008 for Venturini Motorsports with a career-best finish of third at Kentucky Speedway in 2008. Venturini Motorsports also announced that veteran crew chief Steve Darne would be crew chiefing for Fischer. In addition, Venturini Motorsports announced a continued alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing under which Sprint Cup Series driver #20-Joey Logano would be running at least two ARCA RE/MAX Series races for Venturini Motorsports in 2009 at Daytona and Pocono.(ARCARacing.com)(12-7-2008) Comment here
News from December 6, 2008
- Yarborough Surprises Johnson With Ring Presentation: Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Cale Yarborough made an unannounced appearance tonight at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York City. Followed by a rousing standing ovation, Yarborough presented the championship ring to 2008 series champion Jimmie Johnson during this year’s annual ceremony. The two champions will be forever linked in NASCAR lore. This season, Johnson joined Yarborough as the only drivers to win three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. Yarborough accomplished the historic feat from 1976-78. During Yarborough’s incredible three-year stretch, he posted 28 wins, 70 top-five and 74 top-10 finishes.
"Somebody finally did it,” Yarborough said. “I set a pretty good record, didn't I? It took them 30 years to tie it. There are only two of us who have done it in the 60 years of the sport. That's a pretty good accomplishment. You know, I haven't been to this banquet in several years, but tonight I feel like I got my racing spirit back. You know, all he really did is tie the record – he still has to break it. He still has some work to do. I want to congratulate Jimmie; he's a great man and a great racer. I know he's going to win some more championships. Maybe he can skip a year though."
Yarborough’s famous swagger continues to this day. During his speech, he told team owner Rick Hendrick that if there was a ride open in his stable, he could have the first 70-year-old series champion. Yarborough turns 70 next March. Johnson matched Yarborough’s record with another typically brilliant performance. In 2008, Johnson had seven wins, 15 top fives and 22 top 10s. "What a surprise and what an honor to have Cale present me with the championship ring,” Johnson said. “I'm pretty much floored.”
The Yarborough ring presentation was the culmination of a night filled with memory-making moments. Earlier in the program, Betty Jane France – widow of former NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr. – introduced Academy Award winning actor Kevin Costner, who made some remarks commemorating the 60th anniversary season of NASCAR. Costner was later joined on stage by seven-time champion Richard Petty, who spoke on the impact NASCAR has had on his life and the tremendous growth of the sport. Also in attendance was Academy Award nominee Tom Cruise, who played Cole Trickle in the NASCAR-themed film Days of Thunder.(NASCAR PR) see images, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-6-2008)
- Wood Brothers team to cut back to 12 races in 2009: The legendary #21-Wood Brothers organization will run only 12 Sprint Cup races next season. Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing, said tough economic times have forced the organization to enter only the season-opening Daytona 500 and mile-and-a-half tracks with Bill Elliott, the 1985 Cup champion. The mile-and-a-half tracks were picked because Ford's program is strongest there. "We could run up to 20 but we decided to do 12 and do it right," Wood said Saturday. "We're going back to doing it the way we did it years ago." The organization used to pick and choose races in the early years. It ran only 18 races in 1973, with David Pearson, who won 11 of them. Wood said the organization, which lost Air Force as a sponsor to Gillett Evernham Motorsports, had to let 22 employees go to reduce the team to about 40.(ESPN.com)(12-6-2008) Comment here
- Carl Edwards won't cancel trip to Thailand #99-Carl Edwards still plans to visit Thailand later this month, despite that country’s recent political turmoil. Sprint Cup Series champion #48-Jimmie Johnson canceled his planned trip after protestors targeted airports for sit-ins and even shut down the airport in Bangkok for a week. But Edwards and his fiancé, Dr. Kate Downey, are not changing their plans to bike through the country. “I am going to do it,” Edwards said. “If the airport is open, we’re going. I couldn’t be more excited about it. I talked to a couple of people, and they said it’s really a peaceful nation and even the protests are peaceful. I think it will be good.”(SceneDaily)(12-6-2008)
- Most Popular Driver = Dale Jr.: NASCAR fans across the nation have once again made a statement about their favorite driver. After tallying over one million votes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the recipient of the 2008 NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award. Throughout the race season, fans voted daily for over 40 of their favorite drivers online at chexmostpopulardriver.com. Earnhardt Jr. was presented with the award at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers Media Luncheon in New York City on Dec 4th. The award is Earnhardt Jr.'s sixth consecutive win since 2003. Only Bill Elliott (1991-2000) has more consecutive wins. The NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award has been given annually since 1956 and today is the only award for NASCAR's top drivers given by the fans. The six wins by Earnhardt Jr. moved him past Bobby Allison and now only behind Richard Petty (9) and Bill Elliott (16) for most total awards. "I've been fortunate enough to win this award now for the sixth time, and I can tell you it never gets old." said Earnhardt Jr. "I've said it many times before that this award is special because it's the voice of the fans. I think back to over a year ago when I made the decision to go to Hendrick Motorsports, and my biggest concern was whether the fans would support my decision." continued Earnhardt Jr. "They did, and I will always be grateful for that. I appreciate everyone who voted, and I want to thank Chex and the National Motorsports Press Association for all they do for the sport."
"The fans have spoken, and it's obvious that Dale Earnhardt Jr. truly is amongst the elite of fans' support," said Tom Jensen, President of the National Motorsports Press Association. "He deserves this award, and we're thankful for all the fans who continue to vote and make this award a rich part of our sports history." The NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award is recognized as one of the sport's pioneering awards.
Drivers first voted amongst themselves for a winner before fans later voted on the winner. The top 10 drivers receiving the most votes in alphabetical order were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.(DalrJr.com)(12-6-2008) Comment here
News from December 5, 2008
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week – Day 5: A busy week in New York City culminated Friday evening with the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. Jimmie Johnson, who etched his name in the NASCAR record books by becoming only the second driver in the sport’s history to win three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, was officially coronated as the 2008 series titlist. The #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team relished in the spotlight Friday afternoon, posing for dozens of photographs with Johnson and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Trophy. It’s a ritual that Johnson says he looks forward to continuing in 2009 and beyond. “Yes, I want to win a fourth championship,” said Johnson, who along with Cale Yarborough is the only NASCAR driver to ever win three straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles. “Right now, I’m just part of history. I’d love to make history. I’m not pulling a Babe Ruth and pointing over the outfield fence and saying I’m going to hit it over here, but yeah, I want to win a fourth championship. We’ll see.”
Team owner Rick Hendrick, whose teams have won eight series championships, says the chemistry on the No. 48 team has helped provide a winning combination. “There’s a lot of talent on that team, but the thing that really impresses me is how well they work together toward achieving the common goal of winning a championship,” said Hendrick. “They stay motivated and have that “refuse to lose” mentality. For the most part, the team has remained intact from the inception and the consistency has been a real plus in helping them get to the level they are today.”
Johnson’s wife, Chandra, says it’s amazing to see how passionate her husband is about his work. “Jimmie loves what he does for a living and that’s a real blessing,” said Chandra. “The passion he has for driving that race car is unbelievable.”
Friday night’s awards ceremony not only recognized Johnson and his championship team, it also featured the remaining top 10 drivers from the 2008 season, including Kyle Busch (10th); Tony Stewart (9th); Denny Hamlin (8th); Jeff Gordon (7th); Jeff Burton (6th); Clint Bowyer (5th); Kevin Harvick (4th); Greg Biffle (3rd); and Carl Edwards (2nd).
Actor and film director Kevin Costner made some remarks during the banquet regarding NASCAR’s recently completed 60th anniversary season and was joined at the podium by seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty. The musical group Matchbox 20 performed and comedian John Pinette also entertained the audience.(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-5-2008)
- Labonte to the #41 ride? A possible scenario that could play out if this deal [Petty-GEM merger] goes through would place Reed Sorensen, who signed with GEM in August, in the #43. AJ Allmendinger, who parted ways with Red Bull Racing after the Kansas Speedway race in September and drove the #10 GEM Dodge for the final five races of the season, would remain in that ride according to sources. Bobby Labonte, who signed a four-year extension with the new BV regime and was given ownership as part of his benefit package. Now, it appears that Labonte could drive the #41 Target car for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing.(FoxSports) Comment here
- Blaney will be back in 2009: Dave Blaney will be driving a race car next year. Where he races and what circuit he's involved with are questions he can't answer at this time. Blaney, who drove the Caterpillar #22 Toyota of Bill Davis Racing on the Sprint Cup Series last season, is facing the economic crunch. The flow of money that once poured into the world's most popular racing circuit has slowed to the point that NASCAR has placed a one-year moratorium on testing at tracks where events are staged to save costs. Caterpillar recently ended its association with BDR. Blaney is hoping to land another Cup ride but is realistic in knowing he might have to look elsewhere. "It's up in the air at the moment," he said. "There aren't many Cup rides at all. The 22 team is shut down. Other teams are in the same ball park. Some are trying to round up enough money to race. It's pretty tough." The most logical landing point for Blaney is NASCAR's Truck Series. He's raced trucks twice and is intrigued by the idea of switching to that style of racing. "It's good racing," he said. "If you can land with a competitive team with a chance to win races and run for the championship, heck yeah, it would be very interesting."(Tribune Chronicle )(12-5-2008) Comment here
- Hamlin visits Japan: #11-Denny Hamlin recently visited Japan to participate in Toyota's annual Motor Sports Day at Fuji Speedway. The event featured Toyota drivers from a variety of different racing series, including NASCAR and Formula One, as well as Toyota race cars that participate in various racing series. “This was my first time traveling overseas,” said Hamlin, who took a few demonstration laps in the JGR Camry. “It was an excellent experience. The Fuji Speedway was a good track and I was impressed with the Japanese fans and how excited they were to see a NASCAR race car. It was really enjoyable and I'm glad I was able to attend Toyota’s Motorsports Day.”(Toyota Motorsports PR)(12-5-2008) Comment here
- Smith still in limbo over 2009 Sprint Cup ride: Regan Smith doesn’t expect to be part of the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team but said Wednesday he continues to have promising discussions with other teams. Smith, talking at the New York City bar Foley’s as part of his winning NASCAR’s top Sprint Cup rookie award, said he has little dialogue with the new leadership at Earnhardt-Ganassi in the weeks since he completed his first Sprint Cup season at Dale Earnhardt Inc. DEI and Chip Ganassi Racing are merging and the #01 car Smith drove in 2008 will not be around next season. “I’m not going to say there’s no chance of it, but I haven’t had very much conversation with them [at Earnhardt-Ganassi] about it,” Smith said. “It’s probably more of a slim chance than some of the other opportunities I’ve got right now.” Among the teams Smith has visited was Furniture Row Racing in Colorado. That team likely will run a partial schedule next season. “I’ve been to the shop, and it’s a great place, a great organization and they’ve got a lot of tools to work with out there,” Smith said. “I was definitely very impressed with it. I didn’t realize there was a shop with that much technology outside of North Carolina.”(SceneDaily)(12-5-2008) Comment here
- Trouble at Dale Jr's Charlotte nightclub: Police have charged a bouncer at an uptown Charlotte bar with selling drugs to undercover officers. Anthony Ortega Rodriguez, 28, was arrested on Tuesday after police received complaints about drugs being sold at Whiskey River. The bar – located at the new EpiCentre -- is owned by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Police say that when they arrested Rodriguez he was carrying 12 bags with 15 grams of cocaine.(News 14)(12-5-2008)
- Stewart-Haas Still Searching For #39 sponsorship: Tony Stewart doesn’t necessarily equate America’s financial crisis with the fact that he hasn’t yet secured full sponsorship on teammate Ryan Newman’s #39 Chevy for next year’s launching of Stewart-Haas Racing. He thinks the bigger problem was the delay in getting Newman in the fold. “Obviously, we wished we could’ve announced Ryan coming on board two or three months earlier and got that little bit of a head start trying to secure sponsorship for it,” Stewart said Thursday during the NASCAR Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at Cipriani’s. That said, when Stewart announced in October the deal naming the U.S. Army as sponsor for 22 points races on the #39, he added that he was close to signing another company to fill out the schedule. Two months later, he’s still looking. “This week we’ve got a meeting with a potential sponsor to fill the rest of those races,” Stewart said. “So, even with the economy the way it is, there are still companies out there that are—people aren’t going to stop advertising. They’re not going to shut down their marketing programs.” Burger King, which last sponsored a car for David Reutimann at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2007, is a company initially rumored as a Stewart-Haas target that hasn’t yet affiliated with another team for 2009.(Long Island Press)(12-5-2008) Comment here
- Championship “Tire Specialist” award announced: Champion Tire & Wheel announced the winner of the annual “Consistently Smooth” award. Sean Kerlin, tire specialist for Hendrick Motorsports #48 team, is the recipient for the 3rd straight year. The award recognizes the skill and effort of the team’s tire specialist in overseeing the organization and management of their tire and wheel program. The tire specialist is a critical piece in the formula for a championship team as it takes over 2,500 tires and wheels during the course of a full Sprint Cup season. The lead crystal trophy will be presented to Sean at the team’s shop with #48 team manager Michael Landis, and crew chief Chad Knaus. (Champion Tire and Wheel PR)(12-5-2008)
- NASCAR to partner with Kevin Costner: NASCAR announced a year-long partnership with actor and director Kevin Costner that will see the Academy Award winner participate in several NASCAR initiatives, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards banquet, narration of a new NASCAR movie and the exclusive debut of the latest music video for Kevin Costner and Modern West on NASCAR.COM. “As a long time NASCAR fan, I’m very excited about this partnership,” said Kevin Costner, who has starred in several sports-themed movies. “They have tremendous fans, which are truly the most passionate in all of sports.” Costner kicks-off the partnership with a special guest appearance at the Sprint Cup Series’ annual Champions Banquet at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on December 5 (9:00pm/et on ESPN Classic). Costner narrates a special tribute to the 60th Anniversary of NASCAR. Additionally, Costner and his band, Modern West, will debut the music video for their newest single, “Backyard,” exclusively on NASCAR.com beginning on Monday, Dec. 8. Costner will also serve as the voice of the latest NASCAR film. “The Ride of Their Lives,” narrated by Costner, is a first-person account of the history and heroes of NASCAR brought to life through the men and women who lived the dream. The film includes new, exclusive interviews with famed NASCAR personalities Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, and tells the story of how family dynamics weaved a thread through a half-century of racing. Produced by CMT Films and NASCAR Media Group, “The Ride of Their Lives” premieres Dec. 13 on CMT [9pm/et].(Rogers & Cowan PR)(12-5-2008)
- Childress selected as recipient of 2008 Humanitarian Award: The Home Depot and NASCAR announced that Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing and former NASCAR driver, was selected as the recipient of the 2008 NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Childress is honored for establishing the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The award is open to any member of the NASCAR community who has shown extraordinary dedication to serving others and improving communities through meaningful service efforts. As the 2008 NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian of the Year, Childress received a $100,000 donation made by The Home Depot to his charity of choice, the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and a specially-designed crystal award.
In 2008, Childress made a $5 million donation to establish the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. The Childress Institute aspires to impact the chances of a child dying from a traumatic injury through advancing and disseminating research and knowledge on the treatment and care of children with traumatic injuries. Traumatic injury is the leading cause of death for children in the United States, and the Childress Institute will focus on research, education, treatment, prevention and raising awareness of childhood injuries. Childress is currently working with a number of organizations and donors in an effort to raise additional support for the Institute. The other finalists for the award were Artie Kempner, coordinating director of NASCAR for FOX Sports and founder of the Autism Society of Delaware, and Ryan Newman, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver for Penske Racing, founder of Racing for Wildlife with The Conservation Fund and animal rights advocate. They received a $25,000 donation each to their designated non-profit organizations.
All active employees within the NASCAR industry – drivers, owners, team and track employees, licensees, media partners, and motorsports media – were eligible to receive the NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Nominees were assessed based on their community commitment and dedication; impact on the community; and charitable giving of their time and talents. A blue-ribbon committee comprised of representatives from NASCAR, The Home Depot and motorsports media selected the NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award winner. The NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award was established in 2007. The inaugural Humanitarian Award winner was Don Miller, a former Penske Racing executive. Miller started the Stock-for-Tots program as a holiday event to collect toys and raise funds for Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN).(NASCAR PR)(12-5-2008)
News from December 4, 2008
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week – Day 4: The top performers from the recently completed 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season were honored Thursday at the annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon at Cipriani in New York City. Bob Bahre, long a champion promoter and supporter of stock-car racing in the New England region, collected one of NASCAR’s most prestigious and longest-running awards, as the former owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, received the Buddy Shuman Award. Presented since 1957, the award annually recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to NASCAR racing. “We might have built the thing, but it’s been the fans and drivers who have made it what it is today,” Bahre said.
Longtime NASCAR photographer Thomas Taylor Warren, affectionately known to the motorsports community as “T. Taylor,” is the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award for 2008. Warren was recognized for a lifetime achievement in NASCAR photography. Accepting on behalf of Warren, who died on Oct. 8 at the age of 83, was NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications, Jim Hunter. “T. Taylor was a true pioneer in NASCAR photography,” Hunter said. “He may no longer be with us, but his photographs will live forever.”
Team owner Richard Childress was the recipient of the NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Childress recently helped fund the establishment of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at Wake Forest University’s Baptist Medical Center. “This is an important cause that we really believe in,” Childress said. “More than 12,000 children die each year from traumatic accidents. We’re committed to do all we can to help make life better for some of these children.”
For the sixth straight year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award. More than 1.2 million fan votes were cast for Earnhardt Jr. “It’s a great honor to be chosen by the fans once again,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “NASCAR fans are the best in all of sports and we’re fortunate to have a large group of fans that have been extremely loyal to us over the years.”
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson picked up five awards and his #48 Hendrick Motorsports team received three other awards. “Today was an opportunity to reflect back on all of the hard work and effort put in by everyone at the race shop,” Johnson said. “The emotions kind of go over the top when you take a moment and realize just how special each of these individuals have been in sharing in the success we’ve had the past three seasons.”
Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners:
* Buddy Shuman Award – Bob Bahre
* NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award – Richard Childress
* NMPA Myers Brothers Award – Thomas Taylor Warren
* Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
* Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award – Regan Smith
* DirecTV Crew Chief of the Year Award – Steve Addington
* Dow Automotive Strategic Call of the Race Award – Carl Edwards
* Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Year Award – Bob Osborne
* MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award – Hendrick Motorsports
* Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Award – #48 team
* Mobil 1 Command Performance Award – Ryan Newman
* USG Improving the Finish Award – Jeff Burton
* Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award – Jimmie Johnson
* WIX Filters Lap Leader Award – Jimmie Johnson
* Coors Light Pole Award – Jimmie Johnson
* Sunoco Diamond Performance Award – Jimmie Johnson
* Goodyear Award – Jimmie Johnson
* Championship Sponsor Award – Lowe’s
* Champion Crew Chief Award – Chad Knaus
(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-4-2008)
- Petty-GEM merger? UPDATE 3: hearing there could be an announcement as soon as today that Gillett Evernham Motorsports [#9,10,#19] and Petty Enterprises [#43,#45] has merged.(12-4-2008)
UPDATE: SI.com has learned that Petty Enterprises' top operation will not return in 2009. The organization will merge with George Gillett, giving that team its fourth car. No word on the future association with Petty Enterprises and Boston Ventures, although Boston Ventures may maintain some involvement in the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Official announcement of the news could come as early as this afternoon. No word on whether Richard Petty will have an ownership stake as part of the merger agreement.(Sports Illustrated)(12-4-2008)
UPDATE 2: Petty Enterprises is in discussions to merge its storied franchise with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Multiple people familiar with the talks told the AP that the two teams are discussing a deal that would merge Petty's #43 Dodge with GEM to become a four-car operation. They requested anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing. SI.com first reported Thursday that Petty Enterprises' top operation will not return in 2009. But David Zucker, CEO of Petty Enterprises, said the report was "not accurate."
He would not discuss a potential merger. "We're not going to comment on rumors and speculation," he said. Petty has no full-time sponsorship lined up for next season. The team fields cars for Bobby Labonte, Chad McCumbee and Kyle Petty. Robbie Loomis, vice president of Petty Enterprises, told the AP nothing has changed with the organization, and the team is continuing to talk to potential partners. Drew Brown, a spokesman for GEM, did not immediately return a call for comment.(Associated Press)(12-4-2008)
UPDATE 3: Petty Enterprises remains in discussions with Gillett Evernham Motorsports to merge into a four-car operation, sources told ESPN.com on Thursday. A report by SI.com that the merger would happen and that Petty Enterprises would not return in 2009, according to multiple sources, is premature. Drew Brown, the director of communications at GEM, said the status of the company has not changed and there are no impending announcements. Officials at the office of GEM majority owner George Gillett were surprised by the report. "We're just not going to comment on speculation," Brown said. Should such a merger happen it would shrink the garage by another car, the 45 driven by Kyle Petty, Chad McCumbee and Terry Labonte last season. The #43 of Bobby Labonte would combine with GEM's #9 of Kasey Kahne, #19 of Elliott Sadler and #10 of Reed Sorenson. A merger could also mean the end of NASCAR's most storied organization as it has been known since 1969. Owner and seven-time champion Richard Petty sold majority interest in Petty Enterprises earlier this year to Boston Ventures but maintained the Petty name. It is unclear if a potential merger with GEM would incorporate both parties or if the Petty Driving Experience would be included. News of the SI.com report spread rapidly through the Manhattan banquet room that hosted a Thursday awards luncheon featuring the top 12 drivers from this past season.
GEM has already benefited from the merger of DEI and Ganassi, which will run under General Motors -- Ganassi was a Dodge team -- and use engines prepared by Earnhardt-Childress Racing. The #10 car that was 37th in points will move into the top 35 guaranteed a spot in the field because the two DEI cars lost in the merger have been eliminated from the top 35. The #47 car that will be driven by Marcos Ambrose for JTG-Daugherty moved from 36 to 35. "Everybody will just shift up," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "We will use the top 35 at the track."(ESPN)(12-4-2008) Comment here
- Bob Bahre Named 2009 Buddy Shuman Award Winner: Bob Bahre, long a champion promoter and supporter of stock-car racing in the New England region, collected one of NASCAR’s most prestigious and longest-running awards today in New York City.
Bahre received the Buddy Shuman Award during the 2008 NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon. Presented since 1957, the award annually recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to NASCAR racing. It honors the late Buddy Shuman, a pioneering NASCAR driver who died in a hotel fire in Nov. 1955. “Bob was a pioneer in NASCAR’s growth in the northeast,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “He’s one of the most respected men in the sport – ever.” Bahre, 80, is the former owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway. A resident of Paris Hill, Maine, he purchased what is now New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 1989 and re-opened it – following reconstruction and renovations – in 1990. NASCAR events have been held at the track since July 1990. Bahre also owned and operated Oxford Plains Speedway from 1986-’94. He’s also renowned for his collection of vintage cars, which he shares with the public each summer during a Founder’s Day festival in Paris Hill. As New England’s largest sports facility, New Hampshire Motor Speedway includes a 1.056-mile oval track and a 1.6-mile road course and room for 105,491 spectators. A new chapter in the track’s history began in Nov. 2007, when Bahre and his son Gary sold the facility to Speedway Motorsports Inc. More recognition is forthcoming: Bahre will be inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Jan. 25, 2009.(NASCAR PR)(12-4-2008)
- Tire Testing at Las Vegas: there is a Goodyear Tire test scheduled at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on December 10-11, 2008, hearing the drivers to test will be #99-Carl Edwards, #5-Mark Martin, #83-Brian Vickers and #12-David Stremme.(12-4-2008)
- Testing at Nashville: Gillett Evernham Motorsports tested Wednesday, Dec. 3rd at the Nashville Superspeedway with Reed Sorenson and Dennis Setzer as the drivers on the 1.33 mile Superspeedway. The test was closed to the public. Chip Ganassi [Earnhardt Ganassi Racing?] was scheduled to test Thursday, but it is raining at the track.(Nashville Superspeedway)(12-4-2008)
- McCumbee not sure of 2008 plans UPDATE: 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)
UPDATE: #44?/#45?-Chad McCumbee is under contract to drive for Petty Enterprises in 2009, though the number of Sprint Cup races he and the second Petty team will run as a teammate to Bobby Labonte will depend on sponsorship, the team has confirmed. Petty Enterprises CEO David Zucker was asked about his plans for McCumbee at the Street & Smith's Motorsports Marketing Forum.
"It's tough to break into the sport, and I think expectations sometimes get ahead of the game," Zucker said. "We've seen it with some of the younger drivers. It takes a while. We don't want to bring them [up] too fast. ... You've got to invest in younger drivers. The sport needs it. Our plan is to bring him in and get him some exposure but not bring him in too fast."(NASCAR.com)(12-4-2008) Comment here
- Daytona 500 in 3-D? Fox Sports Chairman David Hill says Fox hopes to let theatergoers use 3-D glasses to watch February's NASCAR Daytona 500. Hill says sports in 3-D is "fabulous," and high-def TV "has just been a steppingstone" to get to 3-D. But even though TV sets already being sold are 3-D-ready, he says don't expect TV networks to lead the way.(USA Today)(12-4-2008) Comment here
- #48 Team wins most valuable pit crew honors: A key component of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team’s championship formula is the performance of the over-the-wall crew. In the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, Jimmie Johnson’s performance on the track was matched with near perfection on pit road by the pit crew. The result was a third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship for Johnson and the Hendrick Motorsports team which equaled the 30-year record established by Cale Yarborough (1976-1978). For their effort on pit road, the #48 crew has earned the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award for the third time and second consecutive year.
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 in 2004. In the 10 races that made up the Chase, the 48 team had only two finishes (15th at Texas and Homestead-Miami) outside the top 10. Johnson had three wins and a pair of seconds and finished the season with seven trips to victory lane, 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.
The #48 Lowe's Chevy team: Greg Morin - Pit Crew Coach; Kenneth Purcell - Jackman; Mike Lingerfelt - Front-Tire Changer; Art Simmons - Front-Tire Carrier; Jeremy West - Rear-Tire Changer; Ron Malec - Rear-Tire Carrier; Rick Gutierrez - Gas man; Mike Knauer - Catch Can; Chad Knaus - Crew Chief. The first-quarter winner was the #18 M&M’s over-the-wall crew from Joe Gibbs Racing while the #9 Budweiser Dodge team from Gillett Evernham Motorsports prevailed in the second quarter. Third-quarter honors went to the #99 crew from Roush Fenway Racing. The #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team emerged the fourth-quarter winner.(Mechanix Wear/C4 Explosive Communications PR)(12-4-2008) Comment here
- Johnson cancels trip to Thailand: #48-Jimmie Johnson has tabled a planned offseason trip to Thailand after protestors had shut down an airport in Bangkok for a week and left the country's government in turmoil. “We just canceled our trip and [are] trying to think of what to do now,” Johnson said Tuesday. “We’re on short notice, and I’m sure we can think something out. We really wanted to travel somewhere off the wall and far. I’m not sure where we’ll end up now.”(SceneDaily)(12-4-2008)
- NASCAR Kart Racing: Five things you need to know: Mario Kart meets Jimmie Johnson. That's the simplest way to breakdown EA Sports' sudden shift in direction for its NASCAR series. Produced exclusively for the Wii (and now under the Freestyle brand), NASCAR Kart Racing looks to combine the arcade-nature of power-ups and tracks that do more than turn left with actual NASCAR strategy like teamwork and drafting. "The Wii is the number one console in North America, and when you look at the Wii audience, they're not the traditional hard-core gamers," explains Ryan Stradling, the game's Senior Development Director and the founder of EA North Carolina. "The Wii really appeals to the whole family and we want to take the NASCAR series in that direction, so that the whole family could play together and have that living room experience". So what should you expect? How about Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart dropping oil slicks behind them as they race for first, the Dover monster starring as an actual monster on the track, and teammates who are able to work together to slingshot one another to first place. See more at ESPN Video Games.(12-4-2008)
- The Unofficial Layoff Count since end of season:
Dale Earnhardt Inc -- 120
Ganassi -- 71 (from shutdown of the #40 team in June)
Bill Davis Racing -- 60
Richard Petty Driving Experience -- approx 45
Roush Fenway Racing -- 35
Petty Enterprises -- 30
Wood Brothers -- 25
Furniture Row -- 25 [approx]
Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies -- 25 [approx]
Hendrick Motorsports -- 19
Stewart-Haas -- 16
Richard Childress Racing -- 15
JTG Daugherty Racing -- 12
Michael Waltrip Racing -- 12
Ernie Elliott Inc [Ganassi engines] -- 9
Joe Gibbs Engines -- approx 5
Hall of Fame -- heard many were let go this week, no number yet
Yates -- Unknown
See my Racing Schools/Jobs page for news, postings, links and more including Racers Form Support Website, Motorsports Employment Task Force and more.(as of 12-4-2008)
News from December 3, 2008
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week – Day 3: Day Three of Champions Week was a busy one indeed for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson got an early start in the morning, by ringing the New York Stock Exchange’s Opening Bell, in what has become an annual tradition for the series champion. Following an appearance at the Tissot Countdown Clock event at the Marquee of the Hard Rock Café, Johnson attended the March of Dimes Luncheon at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, where he was the recipient of the organization’s Sportsman of the Year Award.
Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and team owner Rick Hendrick later attended a media luncheon at Foley’s Pub and Restaurant, where more than 40 New York City and Northeast region media visited with and interviewed the three key components of this year’s No. 48 championship team. A host of NASCAR fans from the area were also in attendance, as Johnson posed for photographs and signed autographs for the faithful. 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raysbestos Rookie of the Year Regan Smith was also recognized at the luncheon.
“It (winning three straight championships) is starting to sink in some,” said Johnson, who joins Cale Yarborough as the only NASCAR drivers to ever win three consecutive titles. “I probably won’t realize just how special this run’s been until I retire one day. I can tell you that we’re already looking ahead to next season, and doing all we can to win another championship. I can remember I was up in our transporter at Texas late in the season and Chad (Knaus) was already studying some computer data regarding next year’s Daytona 500 car.”
Hendrick, who won his eighth team championship this season, says the accomplishments of the No. 48 team have been extraordinary.
“The work and dedication from this race team have been second to none,” said Hendrick. “To win three straight championships in a sport as competitive as NASCAR is really extra special.” Knaus applauded the leadership Hendrick provides to the entire organization.
“To win three in a row is a real tribute to the leadership “Mr. H” provides our team,” said Knaus, who becomes the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win three straight championships. “He’s such a special person in my life.” Smith, a native of Upstate New York, said winning the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award was a “tremendous honor.” “Being able to celebrate this award in my home state is really a big deal,” said Smith. “This is actually my first trip to New York City and I know it’s going to be an awesome experience.”
Thursday – Johnson’s major event this day is the annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon at Cipriani. He’ll be joined by the rest of the top 12 drivers in the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, plus Raybestos Rookie of the Year Regan Smith and other annual award winners. Following the awards luncheon, Johnson will participate in the traditional Times Square photo shoot outside the Hard Rock Café, then attend the annual Stewie Awards, orchestrated by fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, at Sirius/XM Satellite Radio studios.
Friday – The Big Day. Johnson, his family and his Hendrick Motorsports team will participate in traditional photos during the afternoon, before attending the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony that evening in the Waldorf=Astoria’s Grand Ballroom.(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-3-2008)
- Parrott to GEM? Hearing crew chief Todd Parrott, who recently left Yates Racing, could end up at Gillett Evernham Motorsports, reuniting with #19-Elliott Sadler. Sadler and Parrott worked together when Sadler drove the #38 M&M's Ford for Yates. Parrott would replace Rodney Childers who is supposedly headed to the #00 to crew chief David Reutimann.(12-3-2008) Comment here
- Automakers make their case: Humbled and fighting for survival, Detroit's once-mighty automakers appealed to Congress with a retooled case for a bailout as large as $34 billion Tuesday, pledging to slash workers, car lines and executive pay in return for a federal lifeline. GM and Chrysler said they needed an immediate cash infusion to last 'til New Year's, and warned they could drag the entire industry down if they fail. Chrysler LLC said it needed $7 billion by year's end, and General Motors Corp. asked for a quick $4 billion as just the first installment of as much as $18 billion to stay afloat and weather even worse economic storms. Ford Motor Co. had a more upbeat report, but the other two members of the U.S. Big Three painted the direst portraits to date - including the prospects of shuttered factories and massive job losses - of what could happen if Congress doesn't quickly step in.(See full story at the Associated Press site)(12-3-2008) Comment here
- NASCAR R&D Center Wins SAE Award: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Motorsports Engineering Conference Award was presented to the NASCAR Research and Development Center on Tuesday for its efforts towards “designing safer and more competitive vehicles.” NASCAR’s new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car, a seven-year project undertaken at the R&D Center, made its debut on the track in 2007 and was fully implemented into the series at the beginning of the 2008 season. The new car was designed with three primary goals in mind: improving driver safety, improving competition, and helping teams be more cost efficient. Peter Wright, FIA Technical Consultant and the conference’s keynote address speaker, presented the award to Mike Fisher, NASCAR’s Managing Director of the R&D Center. “The NASCAR R&D Center is honored to receive this award and our thanks and appreciation go out to all of the people in our industry who have been involved with the development of the new car, including the race teams, owners, manufacturers, and the staff here at the R&D Center,” said Fisher. “Safety is our #1 priority and is certainly an initiative that we work on every single day.”(NASCAR PR)(12-3-2008)
- Johnson named Sporting News Driver of the Year: Jimmie Johnson, who drove to a record-tying third consecutive Sprint Cup championship, is Sporting News’ 2008 Driver of the Year. Sporting News’ voting was conducted by a panel of 14 drivers, 14 crew chiefs and three owners from the Sprint Cup Series. The full awards appear in the new issue of Sporting News magazine, which hits newsstands later this week. Sporting News’ other winners:
— Dale Earnhardt Tough Driver of the Year: Carl Edwards
— Owner of the year: Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Motorsports
— Rookie of the Year: Regan Smith
— Crew chief of the year: Chad Knaus.(Sporting News)(12-3-2008) Comment here
- Evernham quitting NASCAR to buy a track? UPDATE 2: 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)
UPDATE: Cup team co-owner Ray Evernham has completed his deal to purchase East Lincoln Speedway and said that might not be the last track he buys. “I will try to save race tracks to keep them from becoming shopping malls,” Evernham said on Sirius NASCAR Radio.(Charlotte Observer)(12-1-2008)
UPDATE 2: Ray Evernham has announced that he has acquired the assets of the East Lincoln Speedway in Stanley, NC from founders Ralph and Joanne Nantz. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The East Lincoln Speedway is a 3/8 mile dirt track located on Mariposa Road in Lincoln County, NC. The facility was built by the Nantzes and opened for racing in 1990. The 2009 season will mark its 19th consecutive year of racing. The Speedway runs various classes of cars ranging from Micro-sprints to Late Model Modified-Sportsman. Evernham, whom motorsports media voted "The Greatest Crew Chief of All Time", won three Sprint Cup championships as Jeff Gordon's crew chief and led Dodge in its re-entry into NASCAR. He remains a minority owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports and is a motorsports analyst for ESPN. "When I sold the majority interest in Evernham Motorsports to George Gilllett in 2007, one of my goals was to find ways to give back to the sport and help up-and-coming drivers find a safe, low-cost way to race," said Evernham. "Unfortunately, rising property values and land development have taken away many of the great dirt tracks around the country. With the acquisition of the East Lincoln Speedway, I can make sure that racers in the Charlotte area will have access to a safe, low-cost, family friendly racing facility for many years to come." The transaction was negotiated by Bob Mack, who will also be a minority owner of the speedway. About The East Lincoln Speedway: The East Lincoln Speedway is a 3/8 mile red clay track located off Mariposa Road in Lincoln County, NC. The track typically operates from April through September and racing is held on Saturday evenings. Admission is typically $10 for adults, children under 10 are free. Pit admission is $20. The track is available for rental during the week and has been used in the filming of several movies and commercials. For more information, see the track website at www.elspeedway.com.(Victory Management Group PR)(12-3-2008) Comment here
News from December 2, 2008
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week - Day 2: Jimmie Johnson visited one of New York City’s most famous landmarks – Central Park – for a photo shoot Tuesday, as the first full day of Champions Week activities unfolded. Among the photos taken were Johnson in front of Wollman Rink, one of two ice skating rinks in Central Park and one of him on a bridge overlooking The Pond in Central Park. Johnson also plans to have his photo taken Thursday afternoon at the intersection of 48th and 3rd Streets, signifying Johnson’s No. 48 team winning its third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
“We took some cool photos in Central Park; I think those photos are going to be amazing,” said Johnson, who has an apartment in the Chelsea section of New York City. “I like to go running in Central Park when we’re in town and it’s always a good cut through when you’re on the East Side and have to go over to the West Side or Columbus Circle, so I spend a lot of time in Central Park.”
Earlier in the day, Johnson visited two of the country’s most highly regarded news organizations – the New York Times and Associated Press. At both offices, Johnson met with print and online editors, discussing topics ranging from his record-tying third straight series championship, the type of physical and mental preparation he undergoes each week, how the team analyzes the video, audio and computer data that is available in helping them prepare for each race, the suspension of the testing policy for 2009, the challenges the current state of the economy is posing to the sport, and how he studies other drivers’ styles to help make himself better. Championship crew chief Chad Knaus accompanied Johnson on the Associated Press visit.
Later Tuesday afternoon, Johnson participated in a Satellite Media Tour, taping interviews with affiliates from more than 10 of the country’s top television markets. Tuesday night he was scheduled to appear on Motor Racing Network’s NASCAR Live national radio program.(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-2-2008)
- Childers new crew chief for Reutimann? UPDATE: hearing former #19 GEM crew chief, Rodney Childers, will be Reutimann's crew chief in 2009.(11-26-2008)
UPDATE: Rodney Childers will leave Gillett Evernham Motorsports, where he was crew chief for #19-Elliott Sadler, to become #00-David Reutimann's crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing, according to sources familiar with the situation. An announcement should come later this week. Childers will replace Ryan Pemberton, who left MWR to become Brian Vickers' crew chief at Red Bull Racing.(SceneDaily)(12-2-2008) Comment here
- New Crew Chief for McMurray in 2009 UPDATE 3: from a Detroit Free Press article by NASCAR Sprint Cup owner Jack Roush: "By the way, Jamie [McMurray, #26 Ford after his 1st top-5 in over a year] did the job at Charlotte [in the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway], finishing fifth. We'll be looking to 2009 with a new crew chief for him -- mix up the chemistry again".(Detroit Free Press), so looks like current #26 crew chief, Larry Carter, will not return to the #26 team and McMurray in 2009.(10-17-2008)
UPDATE: hearing that McMurray will reunite with his former Ganassi crew chief Donnie Wingo and Carter could be headed to Yates Racing as the crew chief for Paul Menard.(10-18-2008)
UPDATE 2: "I am all for the crew chief change because I've worked with the crew chief in the past," McMurray said of bringing in veteran Donnie Wingo. "He's like my best friend, and ever since I left Ganassi, I have remained very good friends with Donnie. "The whole time I was at Ganassi, I can remember seeing crew chiefs that had an engineering background and thinking in my head, 'Damn, I really wish I had a crew chief with that background, because I think that would take me to that next level. Instead of running sixth to 12th, we'll maybe contend for wins. But I didn't realize how great I had it. I've missed Donnie ever since. Larry's done a great job, but you kind of get used to working with someone, and I feel like everyone I've had since [Wingo], I've compared to my times with Donnie. And those were probably some of the best races for me. Next year, I think, should be my best year ever."(ESPN.com)(11-6-2008)
UPDATE 3: Roush Fenway Racing announced that Donnie Wingo will serve as crew chief for Jamie McMurray and the #26
Crown Royal / IRWIN Industrial Tools team. Wingo, who has more than 15 years of NASCAR experience, will lead the #26 team in the upcoming Sprint Cup Series season. “I’m thrilled to be working with Jamie again,” said Wingo, who served as McMurray’s crew chief for three seasons at Ganassi Racing. “Jamie and I had some good runs together at Ganassi and we were pretty successful on the track. I’ve seen how well Jamie has performed in the past and I hope with coming over to Roush Fenway Racing we can build on that success.
Not only do I get to work with Jamie, but I get to work with four other really good crew chiefs here at Roush Fenway Racing. With the
support of them and everyone at Ford Racing, I’m really looking forward to next season.” In 2008, McMurray finished 16th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings with four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. “Donnie and I have been friends for years,” said McMurray. “Even
when he wasn’t my crew chief, I would still call and talk to him - not just about racing - but anything. He is one of the hardest workers I
know, so to be able to have him come over to Roush Fenway and be a part of this #26 Crown Royal / IRWIN Industrial Tools team is really exciting. We ended our season on such a high note, that I can’t wait to get back to Daytona. We have a few changes we are going to make to the #26 team during the off season, but I totally expect that we will be able to start the 2009 season just as strong as we finished 2008. I’m excited to have Donnie back as my crew chief and I am looking forward to next season here at Roush Fenway Racing.”(Roush Fenway Racing)(12-2-2008) Comment here
- Tony Stewart Live on Sirius ending? UPDATE: Speculation after listening to the final segment of Tony Stewart Live [Sirius Satellite Radio] on Thursday night [Dec 4th] is the radio show may be ending after their Stewie Awards champions week show in December. The show has aired two years.(11-20-2008)
UPDATE: been told that the December 4th segment of Tony Stewart Live [Sirius Satellite Radio] will be the final show after a two-year run.(12-2-2008)
- Johnson named March of Dimes Sportsman of the Year: #48-Jimmie Johnson, fresh off chalking up his third straight Sprint Cup Championship, will be rewarded in a different way on December 3 when he is honored as the 2008 March of Dimes Sportsman of the Year. Johnson will be presented by NASCAR CEO Brian France. Only the second NASCAR driver ever to win the Sprint Cup Series three consecutive times, Johnson will be joined by NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer (Corporate Leadership Award) and MLS Commissioner Don Garber (Sports Leadership Award) at the 25th Annual March of Dimes Sportsman of the Year Luncheon at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. LPGA star Lorena Ochoa was named “Sportswoman of the Year”.(Taylor PR)(12-2-2008)
- Economaki Champion of Champions to be awarded National Speed Sport News will announce the sixth annual Economaki Champion of Champions presented by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., at the PRI Trade Show in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 11. Speedway Motorsports, Inc. will be presenting sponsor of the award for the first time, replacing Rockett Brand Racing Fuel, which previously supported the award that is annually given to the North American racing champion judged to have had the best season on and off the race track. J.J. Yeley was the first recipient of the award when he won the USAC Triple Crown in 2003. Since then, the trophy named for longtime NSSN editor Chris Economaki has been presented to Steve Kinser, Tony Schumacher, Jimmie Johnson and Donny Schatz, who won the award in 2007.(National Speed Sport News)(12-2-2008)
- 41st Annual Snowball Derby: This December, the annual short-track racing Super Bowl, the Snowball Derby Weekend, will celebrate its 41st Anniversary at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. The 41st Annual Snowball Derby Weekend, December 3rd through 7th, will feature scores of the country’s top short track talents vying for victories in the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 or the 300-lap Snowball Derby Super Late Model feature. Names such as Darrell Waltrip, Ted Musgrave, Butch Miller, Rick Crawford, Rich Bickle, Donnie Allison and Steven Wallace have all added their name to the Snowball Derby win list over the previous 40 editions of the Snowball Derby. Five Flags Speedway announced that Speed51.com will once again be the official news site of the Snowball Derby in 2008. The 41st Annual Snowball Derby is scheduled to take the green flag at 2pm CT at Five Flags Speedway on Sunday, December 7th. For more information on the 41st Annual Snowball Derby event and tickets see www.snowballderby.com.
Some Cup, Nationwide or Truck Series drivers schedule to run in the Snowball Derby this year include: John Wes Townley [NNS], Danny Bagwell [ran a couple Truck races], Stanley Smith [past Cup], Shane Sieg [trucks], Benny Gordon [trucks], Jeff Fultz [a few NNS races], Gary St. Amant [trucks], Wayne Anderson [trucks, 1 Cup race].(12-2-2008)
- Television Exposure during 2008 Cup Season: #48-Jimmie Johnson’s 2008 NASCAR dominance did not end on the racetrack, as the newly crowned three-time Cup Series Champion earned a combined total of $510,161,750 of in-broadcast television exposure, the most of any driver, for his sponsors during race telecasts this past season.
According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. — which specializes in measuring the impact of sponsorships across all forms of media — 62 brands appearing on locations such as Johnson’s car, uniform and support crew’s uniforms appeared clear and in-focus for a total of 59 hours, 28 minutes, 39 seconds (59:28:39) during television coverage of NASCAR’s premier series in 2008. Additionally, the sponsors were mentioned by Johnson, his crew, or the announcers 316 times. Exposure value is calculated by comparing the on-screen time and mentions to the estimated cost of a commercial spot during each respective race telecast throughout the season.
Johnson’s top sponsor, Lowe’s, garnered nearly $200 million of exposure value, or 39% of the total in-broadcast exposure associated with Johnson, to lead all team sponsors in 2008. Johnson also clocked in with the highest exposure contribution to a carmaker, as Chevrolet collected nearly eight hours of on-screen time and $67.8 million of exposure value from its association with the three-time champion.
Carl Edwards mirrored his runner up status in the points championship by collecting the second-most exposure for his sponsors, as 76 brands monitored with Edwards amassed 58:50:51, 311 mentions and nearly $496 million. One area Edwards did manage to surpass his rival Johnson was in exposure captured during the Chase for the Sprint Cup. During telecasts of the final 10 races, Edwards' sponsors laid claim to $225 million of exposure, compared to $201 million resulting from the Johnson’s effort.Full PR at Joyce Julius & Assoc. site.(12-2-2008) Comment here
- Jim France buys into bank: The vice chairman of NASCAR has acquired a 72% controlling interest in CenterBank of Jacksonville N.A. James C. France, who is also chairman of Daytona-based International Speedway Corp., said he made the investment based on the potential for growth in the Jacksonville market. “With port development activities and the potential of adding an aircraft carrier to the naval base at Mayport, we see Jacksonville as poised for exceptional growth,” said France. “We’re glad to be a part of a bank that will help that growth happen.” France is the son of Bill France Sr., the co-founder of NASCAR. The France family has a history of banking in Florida. Bill France Sr. was a shareholder in American National Bank. CenterBank President and CEO Raymond K. Mason Jr. was president of American National Bank. “I’ve known Jim and his family for more than 30 years and am looking forward to having him as a partner,” said Mason.(Jacksonville Business Journal)(12-2-2008)
- The Unofficial Layoff Count since end of season:
Dale Earnhardt Inc -- 120
Ganassi -- 71 (from shutdown of the #40 team in June)
Bill Davis Racing -- 60
Richard Petty Driving Experience -- approx 45
Roush Fenway Racing -- 35
Petty Enterprises -- 30
Wood Brothers -- 25
Furniture Row -- 25 [approx]
Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies -- 25 [approx]
Stewart-Haas -- 16
Richard Childress Racing -- 15
Hendrick Motorsports -- 12
JTG Daugherty Racing -- 12
Michael Waltrip Racing -- 12
Ernie Elliott Inc [Ganassi engines] -- 9
Joe Gibbs Engines -- approx 5
Hall of Fame -- Unknown, could come after the weekend
Yates -- Unknown
See my Racing Schools/Jobs page for news, postings, links and more including Racers Form Support Website, Motorsports Employment Task Force and more.(as of 12-2-2008)
News from December 1, 2008
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week - Day 1: Jimmie Johnson has been there before - the past two years to be exact - but celebrating his third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship on the biggest media stage in the world is certainly something the driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet is looking forward to. For the third straight year, Johnson and his team will be taking New York City by storm, participating in national media events and making a host of special appearances leading up to Friday night's annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony (ESPN Classic will televise beginning at 9 p.m.) at the Waldorf=Astoria. Johnson says celebrating championships in the Big Apple never gets old.
"Champions Week in New York City is always an amazing time," said Johnson, who joins Cale Yarborough as the only NASCAR driver to win three straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles. "It's fun to celebrate everything we've done this year as a team and really let loose and have some fun. Everyone works extremely hard year-round to make us one of the best teams in the garage, so it's nice to have some time to reflect on what we've done and enjoy some of the recognition."
Johnson arrived in New York Monday afternoon. That evening, he and his wife, Chandra, were scheduled to participate in the annual Champion's Welcome Dinner in the Waldorf=Astoria Executive Kitchen, a gathering attended by NASCAR, Sprint and championship team representatives and overseen by Executive Chef John Doherty.(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-1-2008)
- Speed changes to #82 UPDATE will run for MWR in Nationwide: been told the team will switch from the #84 to #82 for Speed in 2009, see images of the diecast car on my #82 Team Schemes page.(11-8-2008)
UPDATE: After ruffling fenders in ARCA and the Craftsman Truck Series, Speed graduates to a full-time Sprint Cup ride in 2009. He drove the ##84 in four races and the #83 in one to close last season. Speed, switching to a silver #82, will contend for rookie of the year and start the season locked inside the top 35 in car owner points under the watch of returning crew chief Jimmy Elledge. He’s guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races, including the season-opening Daytona 500. He’ll also run a partial Nationwide Series schedule in the #99 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. After a two-year stint in the NASCAR garage, the #84 retires to the RBRT museum/race shop in Mooresville, NC.(RBRT PR)(12-1-2008) 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: #83 driver Brian Vickers will have a new crew chief for his third season with Red Bull Racing Team, as Ryan Pemberton leads Vickers’ charge to his first Red Bull victory and a spot in the 2009 Chase. Teammate Scott Speed will return for his rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He’ll drive the #82 Red Bull Toyota under the watch of returning crew chief Jimmy Elledge. “We’re entering our third Sprint Cup season with driver and crew chief pairings that have what it takes to consistently compete at a high level,” said Jay Frye, RBRT Vice President and General Manager. “Brian and Ryan are each at a point in their respective careers where they can bring home wins and make a run for the championship. Scott earned his Sprint Cup ride by exceeding our expectations in ARCA and trucks. He has a great asset in Jimmy, who has experience working with both rookies and open-wheel drivers.” Pemberton, 39, inherits a #83 team that earned a pole, three top-five and six top-10 finishes before Vickers finished 19th in points. His most recent crew chief role was with the #44 Toyota, guiding driver David Reutimann to four top 10s in 2008. A longtime crewman, Pemberton became a crew chief in 1995 in the Nationwide Series and took his first Sprint Cup job in 1997 at MB2 Motorsports. Since then, he has crew chiefed for the likes of Derrike Cope, Jerry Nadeau, Joe Nemechek, Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. His first victory as a crew chief came when Nemechek won the 2004 race at Kansas Speedway.(RBRT PR), hearing that forrmer #83 crew chief, Kevin Hamlin will end up in a managerial position at RBRT.(12-1-2008) Comment here
- Wimmer may have Daytona 500 ride: Scott Wimmer, a part-time racer for Richard Childress this year, won a [Nationwide] race and finished in the top ten eight times. He's a six-time winner in the Nationwide Series. However, he was cut loose by RCR Racing after the season. He spoke with some owners this week and would love to drive both Sprint Cup and Nationwide next year. Scott Wimmer: "I talked to a team about running Daytona 500 so hopefully I can make a start down there again and run a Nationwide Car. I might be running both series so it might be a real busy year next year."(WAOW.com)(12-1-2008) Comment here
- Gordon fails to finish charity race in Brazil: Rubens Barrichello won a charity karting event in Brazil on Sunday, beating drivers including Felipe Massa, Michael Schumacher and Jeff Gordon. Barrichello edged Brazilian countryman Lucas Di Grassi in the first race of the "International Challenge of the Stars," then finished fifth in the second to clinch the overall title with 36 points. In its fourth edition, the event organized by Massa in southern Brazil will aid local charities and the victims of recent flooding in the region. Gordon, making his first trip to race in Brazil, struggled after starting in 25th place and failed to complete the first race because of mechanical problems. He also did not finish the second race. Gordon told local media it was all "too new" for him, but that it was "fantastic to see the guys" fighting each other for position throughout the races.(Sports Illustrated/Associated Press)(12-1-2008)
- Evernham quitting NASCAR to buy a track? UPDATE: 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)
UPDATE: Cup team co-owner Ray Evernham has completed his deal to purchase East Lincoln Speedway and said that might not be the last track he buys. “I will try to save race tracks to keep them from becoming shopping malls,” Evernham said on Sirius NASCAR Radio.(Charlotte Observer)(12-1-2008) Comment here