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  • MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
    DECEMBER 8-14, 2008


      MORE NEWS-RUMORS!
      YESTERDAY and BEYOND..






    • 2009 Cup Schedule Announced, 4 "off" weeks: NASCAR announced today its national series schedules for the 2009 season, which features realigned dates for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Truck Series. In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series there will be a three-way date swap between Atlanta Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway (formerly California Speedway) and Talladega Superspeedway.
      • Atlanta’s second 2009 race will be held on Sunday, Sept. 6, taking the Labor Day weekend slot now held by Auto Club Speedway.
      • Auto Club Speedway’s second race will be Sunday, Oct. 11 – the fourth week of the “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,” a slot formerly held by Talladega.
      • Talladega’s second event will move to Sunday, Nov. 1, making it the seventh Chase event – the slot formerly held by Atlanta.
      “The 2009 schedule reflects realigned dates that are good opportunities for everyone involved in our sport – fans, sponsors, tracks and teams," said NASCAR President Mike Helton. The season begins with a tripleheader weekend at Daytona International Speedway capped by the running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 15. In addition to that season-opening event for the Sprint Cup Series, the Truck Series starts its season on Friday night, Feb. 13, followed the next afternoon by the Nationwide Series opener. For all three series, the season will conclude with another tripleheader weekend, at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 20-22.
      Other key NASCAR Sprint Cup dates in 2009:
      • The 31st annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona – a non-points event – will be held on Saturday, Feb. 7.
      • On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 12, Richmond International Raceway will again host the “Chase cut-off” race, affording the last opportunity for drivers to qualify for NASCAR’s championship playoffs.
      • New Hampshire Motor Speedway will host the first races in both the “Race to the Chase” (Sunday, June 28) and the Chase (Sunday, Sept. 20).
      There also will be an additional off-week for NASCAR’s premier series in 2009, prior to the Labor Day weekend event, giving teams a final break before a 12-week stretch that will end the season. Because of the way the calendar falls, NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will have a total of four off-weeks during the 2009 season.
      The NASCAR Nationwide Series will have a 35-race schedule. Changes from this year include a new event at Iowa Speedway on Aug. 1, replacing Mexico City; a switch of the Atlanta Motor Speedway event from March to September; and moving the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve event in Montreal to Sunday, Aug. 30.
      The NASCAR Truck Series in 2009 again will have 25 races, with one realigned date: The series’ late-season race at Atlanta will be replaced by a night event at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, Aug. 28.(NASCAR PR)(8-19-2008)

      see my 2009 Unofficial Sprint Cup Schedule page for dates and some rumors on my 2009 Schedule News and Rumors page.




      News from December 14, 2008

    • Edwards wins award as best racer: NASCAR ace Carl Edwards was awarded the inaugural TAG Heuer Racing Award at Saturday’s Race of Champions preview press conference. The Award was set up by TAG Heuer this year to attempt to determine who is statistically the best racing driver in the world. A team of eight jurors has statistically analysed the weekly performances of more than 150 drivers from F1, GP2, NASCAR and the World Rally Championship. Edwards’ nine victories in this year’s NASCAR championship saw him finish ahead of the likes of five times World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and 2008 F1 World Championship protagonists, Felipe Massa and eventual champion, Lewis Hamilton.(F1-Live)(12-14-2008)

    • NASCAR community remembers Brienne Davis: When Block High School Principal Donald Money told Catahoula Parish schools Superintendent Gwile Freeman the NASCAR community was interested in placing some type of memorial at the school for Brienne Davis, neither one could imagine what would develop. Davis was a 1997 graduate of the school who grew up in Jonesville. She went to Universal Technical Institute in Houston, and upon completing her studies there, moved to North Carolina and landed a job rebuilding engines at Dale Earnhardt Inc. A few years ago, she left DEI to work for NASCAR as a technical inspector, becoming one of the few females to work in the garage. Davis died in an April car wreck in North Carolina, sending shockwaves through two tight-knit communities -- Jonesville and NASCAR -- that came together Friday morning at the school.
      "I thought it would be the memorial and tree," said Freeman, referring to the newly-planted tree and marker that sit in front of the main entrance to the school, where Friday's ceremony took place. "I never thought it would involve technology for the entire school." Neither did Robby Maschhaupt, who spearheaded the NASCAR effort to remember Davis by giving back to something she took great pride in -- her hometown and school. "I was hoping to raise enough money to get a laptop or two," admitted Maschhaupt, who works for Gillett-Evernham Racing as the transport driver and catch can man on the pit crew for the No. 10 team. "Then Best Buy and some of the drivers got involved." The end result was unveiled Friday in the form of a computer lab of six computers, a SMART board, in-focus projector and laser printer as well as a second lab of six more computers in the school's library. Both are named after Davis. Freeman said it would have taken years for the school system to raise the money necessary to furnish the two computer labs. "It was quite exciting," she said. "We never dreamed" it would be this big.
      Block assistant principal Buddy Trisler taught Davis and her mother. He said the labs have sparked interest in the students learning more about Davis and what she accomplished. "They're proud of her," Trisler said. "She was very positive and very motivated. Whatever she went after, she would accomplish." Freeman said Davis is an example for the student body, especially the girls. "If they pursue training and education, it's possible for a small-town girl to break through, even in a male-dominated sport," she said. "For me, as a female superintendent, and the first for Catahoula Parish, it hits home."
      Maschhaupt, who serves as the president of the Transport Drivers of Motorsports Association, led a delegation of NASCAR officials and inspectors who flew in from North Carolina on Friday for the ceremony. All wanted to see the place their friend was proud to call home. The stories they heard from the many relatives and friends of Davis who were on hand painted a similar picture of the co-worker they honored. "For Brienne, it wasn't about glory or status, it was the love of what she did," said Darryl Lomick, a NASCAR official. "You can't say enough about her," said Maschhaupt. "As beautiful as she was, she was 10 times more beautiful on the inside. We lost a friend but gained a town."(Alexandria Town Talk)(12-14-2008) Comment here


      News from December 13, 2008

    • Robby Gordon to Toyota? UPDATE: hearing Robby Gordon Motorsports will switch from Dodge to Toyota. No word if they will be aligned with another Toyota team.(12-11-2008)
      UPDATE: Jim Beam Bourbon announced that it will continue its partnership with Robby Gordon Motorsports (RGM) as a primary sponsor of the #7 driven by team owner and veteran driver Robby Gordon during the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. “With so many teams merging or taking on investors, Robby Gordon represents a one-of-a-kind driver and owner in NASCAR’s top racing series. His tenacity and commitment shows he has the competitive spirit, that our customers value and respect,” said Brian Gallagher, Motorsports Marketing Manager, Jim Beam. “We are proud to continue our support of Robby and his race team as they demonstrate true character and achieve success on the track.” Jim Beam will be the primary sponsor for 13 Sprint Cup Series races in 2009, and will serve as an associate sponsor for the remaining events. The deal marks the company’s fifth year of partnership with RGM, a relationship that began when Gordon created the team in 2005. “Jim Beam has been with me since the beginning,” said Gordon. “To have them back with us for a fifth straight year is exciting and a credit to everyone here at RGM. It’s challenging being one of the few single-car teams remaining and yet, we have shown we can still be competitive. With Jim Beam’s continued support for the No. 7 team, we can focus on improving our race program and build our way towards a successful 2009 season.”
      Jim Beam will utilize its sponsorship to reach race fans both on and off the track through a variety of racing related promotions, including the second annual Beam Bash, a concert featuring Grammy-nominated country music duo, Montgomery Gentry, scheduled to take place prior to the Daytona race weekend. Gordon will also support and serve as spokesperson for Beam Global Spirits & Wine reminding legal age consumers to drink responsibly throughout the year. Through its drink smart® responsibility platform, Beam Global educates consumers on how to make responsible decisions about alcohol and reminds them of these six basic principles: Respect Others, Obey the Law, Take Responsibility, Drink in Moderation, Be a Responsible Host and Drive Safe.
      Robby Gordon finished the 2008 season in the top-35, which guarantees the #7 a starting spot in the first five races of the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. The team scored three top-10 and seven top-20 finishes and displayed a solid performance at the superspeedway events, finishing second in restrictor-plate points.(GMR Marketing/Jim Beam Racing PR), no mention of Dodge or Toyota in the PR (12-13-2008) Comment here

    • Childress to have highway named for him: Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett will join local officials on Tuesday, Dec. 16th at Richard Childress Racing in a ceremony dedicating the segment of I-85 from Lake Road (State Road 2085) to U.S. 64 in Davidson County as the Richard Childress Freeway in honor of Childress and the work he has done for Davidson County and the Piedmont region of North Carolina.(RCR PR)(12-13-2008)

    • XM's Power Shift No Longer On The Air: XM Satellite Radio's nightly motorsports talk show, "Power Shift" hosted by Joe Castello aired its final show on Friday December 5. The show, covering all forms of racing, had a weekly rotation of experts including SPEED TV's Bob Varsha, The IMS Radio Network's Mike King and The NHRA's Alan Reinhart. NASCAR was a staple of the program dating back to its inception as Happy Hour on the original XM NASCAR Radio.(Lighthouse Marketing PR)(12-13-2008)


      News from December 12, 2008

    • GM rethinks Daytona sponsorship: General Motors Corp. has not decided whether to renew a decades-long sponsorship of the Daytona International Speedway and its signature stock car race, the Daytona 500, despite the deal's expiration in three weeks. GM has a multiyear agreement that ends Dec. 31 to serve as the official car and truck provider of the speedway and the Daytona 500, NASCAR's most prestigious event, speedway spokesman Andrew Booth said Thursday. The race is Feb. 15. GM said discussions are under way about the Daytona sponsorship but the automaker has not reached an agreement. The Daytona sponsorship dates to the early 1970s. GM provides fire and safety vehicles, pace cars and other vehicles for use during the race, as well as a July race at the track. GM did not disclose how much it spends on the Daytona deal or NASCAR sponsorships. Scaling back motorsports sponsorships is seen as a risky move because the auto industry and racing are closely linked and give automakers a prime marketing opportunity to reach customers who buy domestic vehicles at a rate higher than the national average. Race fans, particularly stock car enthusiasts, are loyal to the sport's sponsors and advertisers. The heritage and loyalty runs so deep that NASCAR Chairman Brian France recently lobbied Congress to support a financial bailout of the auto industry. NASCAR sponsorships are a wise investment because each race attracts about 120,000 fans, said Terry Dolan, manager of Chevy Racing. GM often creates a showroom environment on the speedway grounds, giving spectators an intimate look at its model lineup. The 2008 Daytona 500 attracted 33.5 million television viewers and is the top-rated motorsports telecast in North America. This year, GM had sponsorships at 12 tracks that feature NASCAR events, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though three of those sponsorships have not been renewed. Chevrolet also is the official vehicle sponsor of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 held in September at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia. That sponsorship expires next year.(Detroit News)(12-12-2008) Comment here

    • Car Chief change at the #48: SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Claire B. Lang recently spoke with Ron Malec, car chief for the Sprint Cup Champion #48 team at Hendrick Motorsports. Malec revealed that next season he’ll be giving up his over-the-wall pit crew duties to spend more time up on the pit box.
      Ron Malec: “I’m just going to take more of a role during the races and try to help out [crew chief] Chad [Knaus] and maybe delegate some of the pit stop stuff, like when we make adjustments on the car I’ll be there behind the scenes now to make sure it gets done right and make sure everybody knows what is going on. It was my choice to step down from the pit crew. I feel like I need to learn more about race strategy and stuff like that. I’ve suffered some injuries throughout the seasons and it just wears on you after a while. I feel sometimes that my body wasn’t 100% to do pit stops every weekend and with all the work on the car that we have to do now in preparation before the races sometimes you are a little worn out before the race and I don’t think it’s fair to go out there not 100%. So I offered to step down and retire. It’s been 10 years I’ve been doing pit stops and it wears on your after a while.”
      Host, Claire B. Lang: “So you’re still going to be the car chief but you won’t be playing a role on the pit crew?”
      Malec: “Correct. Yeah, I’ll be up on the pit box with Chad. I’ll still do all the preparation on the car all weekend long like I’ve been doing in the past. I just won’t be doing the over-the-wall pit stop stuff.”(SIRIUS XM Radio PR)(12-12-2008)

    • Gordon teams up with Pepsi again: Hendrick Motorsports and Pepsi are teaming up to give #24-Jeff Gordon fans something really refreshing next fall. #24-Jeff Gordon will partner with long-time sponsor, Pepsi, to run a special paint scheme at California Speedway on October 11, 2009. A break from his standard paint scheme, this royal blue car with extraordinary blue flames on both sides of the car is also available in brushed metal. The car is one of two Pepsi paint schemes Gordon will run in 2009. See the scheme on my #24 Team Schemes page.(12-12-2008) Comment here

    • Tire testing over at Las Vegas: #5-Mark Martin has driven a lot of different cars throughout his racing career, but the Hendrick Motorsports’ machine he’s driving in 2009 has energized the 49-year-old veteran. Martin spent Wednesday and Thursday testing tires for Goodyear at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with his new team. “The switch to a new team has certainly rejuvenated my career,” Martin said. “It’s such an honor to be wanted by this team and to be welcomed to a new team is very flattering to me. Now the pressure is really on and I will have to work hard to keep up with the other guys. It’s unbelievable to be able to work with (crew chief) Alan (Gustaffson) and (team owner Rick) Hendrick. The depth and knowledge of that group is unbelievable and I am looking forward to the 2009 season. I'm a lucky dude.” Martin was joined at the two-day test by #99-Carl Edwards, #83-Brian Vickers and #12-David Stremme. Edwards, who won this year’s Sprint Cup event at LVMS, is hoping for a repeat performance. With NASCAR’s ban on testing in 2009, Edwards hopes test sessions like these will help him back to the Winner’s Circle. “As far as testing, we would be fine if we didn’t, but it is nice to have the opportunity,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, these two days of testing will help us put on a lot of good races in 2009.” The four drivers were not only testing for Goodyear, but also looking to improve their chances at a posting a victory in the Shelby 427 on March 1. “Is it possible that this test session could be an advantage?” Martin asked. “I think that any experience you can get will be a premium factor in 2009. Drivers with experience can bring a little more to the team, test session or no test session. It’s about the time you've spent on the track.” There were no incidents during the two-day session.(LVMS PR)(12-12-2008)

    • 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, starting at Atlanta in March, no word how/if this effects the National Guard sponsorship of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.(11-23-2008)
      IMAGE: See an image of the #24 National Guard scheme on my #24 Team Schemes page.(12-12-2008) Comment here

    • Jeff Burton comments on Ward: Jeff Burton couldn’t leave the gathering without being asked what his older brother [Ward Burton] was up to these days. “I don’t know what he’s doing. He says he’s working but I doubt it,” Burton said with a laugh. “Ward’s conservation program always has been the thing that woke him up in the morning. It’s always been the thing that drove him, and that continues today. Obviously, he has quite a bit more time to spend on that now and he has done a lot of great things. And his oldest son, Jeb (now 16) is racing Late Models — he’s aging quickly, Ward is — and that’s required quite a bit of his time as well.”(Peoria Journal Star)(12-12-2008) Comment here

    • Cope plans to attempt Daytona 500: from Derrikecope.com: "A number of racing entities are struggling and being forced to alter their efforts for 2009. We are assessing where we are at and how we can continue to press on for next year. We at Cope/Keller Racing are gearing up for Daytona the best that we can. Our intent is to be at the Daytona 500 in February. We are actively searching for sponsorship to make that happen. We will continue to look towards the Truck and Nationwide series as well. The end of the year did not go the way we were hoping for, but we probably stretched ourselves a bit thin and the results were less than desirable. The one good thing is that our Sprint Cup efforts are pretty much on line for 2009. We have a bit of service work to do with regard to the trucks and Nationwide cars to ready ourselves. I have committed to an opportunity to drive for a Nationwide team next year, full schedule."(Derrikecope.com)(12-12-2008) Comment here

    • Laid off Roush Fenway crewman sues team: A former Roush Fenway Racing fabricator and over-the-wall crew member is suing the team for money he alleges he is owed for being laid off prior to the completion of his three-year contract. Nick Bailey, signed a three-year deal in October 2006 to run through the 2009 season, according to the complaint and portions of his contract filed recently in North Carolina Superior Court in Charlotte. He initially worked in the Truck shop at Roush as well as on the pit crew for the No. 16 Nationwide team. He was then transferred to Roush’s ARCA team in April 2008. At the time he was laid off Nov. 10 , 2008, his base salary was $1,050 per week, according to the complaint. He also was eligible for bonuses depending on the performance of the team and the pit crew. Bailey is asking for $63,000 – his salary from Nov. 10, 2008 through Dec. 31, 2009 – and for whatever bonuses it is determined he deserves. Roush Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith confirmed that Bailey had been laid off as part of a reduction in the company work force but declined further comment.(SceneDaily)(12-12-2008) Comment here

    • HANS files suit: HANS Performance Products “HANS”, manufacturers of the multiple award winning HANS Device, has filed a patent infringement suit in the District Court for the Southern District of California against Innovative Safety Technology, LLC. In the suit, HANS alleges that the defendant’s defNder G70 product infringes U.S. Patent No. 6,009,566. HANS is seeking damages, injunctive and other relief. “We and our licensees have invested significantly in the invention, innovation and continued development of proprietary head and neck restraint technologies,” said Mark Stiles, Chief Executive Officer of HANS Performance Products. “When others make use of our patented technology, we will always take aggressive action to protect our investment, including the enforcement of our legal rights.” The HANS Device is a safety product worn by racecar drivers to help protect against life threatening basilar skull injuries of the type that are acknowledged to have killed stock car racing legend Dale Earnhardt in 2001. With more than 65,000 users, the industry leading HANS Device is the most tried, tested and trusted head and neck restraint worldwide. The uniqueness of its intellectual property and the company’s leading contribution to motorsports safety was most recently recognized by the presentation of the Society of Automotive Engineer’s 2008 Motorsports Engineering Award. HANS is represented by the law firm Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP. Details and information about HANS Performance Products are available at www.hansdevice.com.(HANS PR)(12-12-2008)


      News from December 11, 2008

    • Labonte and Petty part ways: Bobby Labonte and Petty Enterprises have reached a mutual agreement to separate, the team confirmed on Thursday. The 2000 Sprint Cup champion signed a four-year extension with partial ownership to remain in the famed #43 car that Richard Petty drove to seven titles earlier this season when Boston Ventures purchased majority interest in NASCAR's most storied organization. But with the car unsponsored -- General Mills is moving to [#33 Clint Bowyer] Richard Childress Racing in 2009 -- and the future of the organization in doubt he has opted to seek employment elsewhere. A possible scenario for Labonte could be the new Earnhardt-Ganassi team that has an open spot in the #41 Target car. Sources said the organization has had informal discussions with Labonte and would be interested if he were available, although his car number may not be the #41. Labonte, in a prepared statement, said only that he did not have a contract for 2009 and that he was ready to explore all options.
      The Pettys have been in negotiations with Gillett Evernham regarding a possible merger into a four-car team. Under that scenario, the #43 would become the fourth car with the #9 [Kasey Kahne], #19 [Elliott Sadler] and #10 [Reed Sorenson] of GEM. "We can confirm Gillett Evernham Motorsports is in exclusive negotiations with Petty Holdings," Tom Reddin, CEO of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, said "GEM has a very solid foundation and this is an exciting opportunity to build on that foundation with one of the greatest names in the history of motorsports. We will work diligently over the next several weeks and make further comment at the appropriate time."
      Petty officials were not immediately available for comment, but it obvious they are in a state of flux. Approximately 65 employees have been released since the season ended. Thirty-nine were let go on Monday.(ESPN)(12-11-2008)
      UPDATE: Bobby Labonte has been released from his contract with Petty Enterprises, which is trying to negotiate a deal with Gillett Evernham Motorsports that would solidify the future of its famed #43 Dodge. Petty Enterprises has been unable to find sponsorship for Labonte, a former NASCAR champion, and is in danger of eventually closing its storied organization if it can't work out a merger with GEM. David Zucker, who took over as CEO of Petty Enterprises when Boston Ventures purchased majority interest of the organization in June, said Petty would run the #43 as a single-car team in 2009 if a merger with GEM is not completed. "Gillett Evernham Motorsports is a first class team with great drivers, sponsors and management," Zucker said in a statement Thursday. "We look forward to improved performance and maintaining the Richard Petty legacy, with the King front and center."
      Labonte, also believing Boston Ventures could bring the organization back to prominence, signed a four-year contract extension to remain behind the wheel of Richard Petty's legendary car. Only nothing has materialized in the six months since the sale, and Petty Enterprises has had two rounds of layoffs, letting go at least 70 employees since last month's season finale. After "serious and sincere discussions" with Petty Enterprises, Labonte said he reached the difficult decision to leave the team. Labonte said he does not have a job lined up for next season, and Chip Ganassi's #41 is the only open ride with full-time sponsorship already secured. Ganassi recently partnered with Dale Earnhardt Inc., and has taken his time filling his vacant seat. "Bobby is a true champion who never failed to give everything he had when he was behind the wheel of one of our race cars," Petty said.(Associated Press)
      UPDATE 2: Effective immediately, Bobby Labonte has been released from all contractual obligations with Petty Enterprises. The terms were mutually agreed by both parties. Labonte will now fully concentrate on preparing for the 2009 season. Comments from 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Bobby Labonte: "In over 15 years of racing in the Sprint Cup Series, I can't remember a time when the sport's landscape looks as it does today. Saying that, Petty Enterprises and I had serious and very sincere discussions about what was best for myself and everyone involved at Petty Enterprises moving forward. These discussions culminated with us agreeing that moving in a separate direction will be the greatest way to reach our end goals. It was by no means an easy decision. I am, and will always be, very appreciative of what Richard Petty and the Petty family, every employee of Petty Enterprises and members of Boston Ventures did to invest in bettering my career the past three seasons. Moving forward, I'm very anxious to prepare for the 2009 season. I do not currently have a contract with any other team for 2009, but I am ready to explore all opportunities and form the next partnership in my career. I'll continue to keep these matters private and will make the appropriate announcement and comments when my future plans are confirmed. I appreciate everyone's continued support."(BobbyLabonte.com)(12-11-2008)
      AND for the full rundown, initial rumor, Labonte to the #41 ride and updates to this rumor, see my #41 Team News and links page.(12-11-2008) Comment here

    • Robby Gordon to Toyota? hearing Robby Gordon Motorsports will switch from Dodge to Toyota. No word if they will be aligned with another Toyota team.(12-11-2008) Comment here

    • Labonte to the #41 ride? UPDATE 4 PE & Labonte to split?: 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)(12-6-2008)
      UPDATE: Adding another layer of intrigue to the [Ganassi-DEI merger] story are unconfirmed reports that Bobby Labonte may be negotiating to jump to DEI-Ganassi Racing, driving the #41 Target car. The deal would be contingent on Labonte's ability to negotiate an exit from Petty Enterprises, where he is signed through the 2012 season. A spokesman for DEI-Ganassi Racing said today that while he has heard Labonte’s name as one of many rumored to be in the running for the #41 car, he has no knowledge of any ongoing negotiations. A number of cards obviously remain to be dealt at this point. But at present, the most likely scenario appears to be for Labonte to negotiate his departure from Petty Enterprises, allowing him to move to DEI-Ganassi Racing with sponsorship from Target. That would keep Truex and his Bass Pro Shops sponsorship in-house, opening the door for AJ Allmendinger to drive the #43 Dodge next season for the newly merged Gillett-Evernham/Petty Enterprises tandem.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-9-2008)
      UPDATE Petty Announcement Thursday? The future of Petty Enterprises could be determined as soon as Thursday [Dec 11th] morning. Petty Enterprises will make an announcement -- most likely regarding driver Bobby Labonte and the team's flagship #43 car -- on Thursday. The Petty franchise has reportedly been in negotiations with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports about a possible merger. Representatives for Petty Enterprises did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment. A GEM spokesman said the team "has no plans to make any announcement" on Thursday.(NASCAR.com)(12-10-2008)
      UPDATE 3: Petty Enterprises plans to make an announcement regarding its future on Thursday morning, sources told ESPN.com. Bobby Labonte, the driver of the #43 that team owner Richard Petty drove to seven Sprint Cup championships, also is prepared to make an announcement. Details of the announcements were not immediately known, but the Pettys have been in negotiations with Gillett Evernham regarding a possible merger into a four-car team. GEM officials said they had no plans for an announcement. Whether Labonte, who signed an extension [thru 2012] with the Pettys earlier this year when the organization sold majority interest to Boston Ventures, will remain in the #43 or go elsewhere also is not known. Officials at Petty Enterprises and GEM were not immediately available for comment.(ESPN)(12-11-2008)
      UPDATE 4: Bobby Labonte and Petty Enterprises have reached a mutual agreement to separate, sources told ESPN.com on Thursday. The 2000 Sprint Cup champion signed a four-year extension with partial ownership to remain in the #43 car earlier this season when Boston Ventures purchased majority interest in NASCAR's most famous organization. But with the car unsponsored -- General Mills is moving to #33 Richard Childress Racing in 2009 -- and the future of the organization in doubt he has opted to seek employment elsewhere. A possible scenario for Labonte could be the new Earnhardt-Ganassi team that has an open spot in the #41 Target car. Sources said the organization has had informal discussions with Labonte and would be interested if he were available, although his car number may not be the #41. The Pettys have been in negotiations with Gillett Evernham regarding a possible merger into a four-car team. Under that scenario, the #43 would become the fourth car with the #9 [Kasey Kahne], #19 [Elliott Sadler] and #10 [Reed Sorenson] of GEM. Officials at Petty Enterprises and GEM were not immediately available for comment.(ESPN)(12-11-2008) Comment here

    • Tire Testing at Las Vegas UPDATE 2: 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)
      UPDATE: #99-Carl Edwards, who won this year's Sprint Cup event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will be joined by #5-Mark Martin, #83-Brian Vickers and #12-David Stremme for a two-day Goodyear tire test this Wednesday and Thursday at LVMS. For Martin, it will be a chance to get acquainted with Hendrick Motorsports' #5 Chevrolet, which he will pilot in the 2009 season. Vickers will be in the Red Bull Toyota, and Stremme will be in his new Penske Dodge. Stremme has replaced Ryan Newman in the #12 car for next season. "These two days in Vegas are going to be, quite possibly, the two most important days of our 2009 season," said Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Martin. "With NASCAR's new ‘no testing' rule, we are very fortunate to have been invited by Goodyear to this test. This gives us two extra days on an intermediate track that only three other teams are getting. We need to maximize that time all we can." The race teams and Goodyear will be testing in preparation for the March 1 Shelby 427 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The test will be closed to the public. Tickets are available for the 2009 NASCAR Weekend, more info by calling 1-800-644-4444 or logging on to www.lvms.com.(LVMS PR)(12-9-2008)
      UPDATE 2: It will seem strange to see someone other than Ryan Neman driving Penske Racing’s #12 Dodge this season, but new driver David Stremme already feels at home. Stremme joined fellow Sprint Cup drivers Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Brian Vickers for a Goodyear tire test on Wednesday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I can’t put a value on what we hope to accomplish here,” Stremme said. “We’re here testing tires for Goodyear first and foremost, but the more time I get in these cars the better. They didn’t have to try very hard to get me to come and do this test. I love coming out here, and more for the track than the rest of it.” Wednesday’s session was incident free. The testing will conclude on Thursday as teams representing all four manufacturers continue to look for the best tire combination to use in the Shelby 427 NASCAR Sprint Cup event at LVMS on March 1. The testing is closed to the public.(LVMS PR)(12-11-2008)

    • New gas man at the #20: Veteran racer Jeff Clark [formerly from DEI] is the new gasman for the #20 Home Depot Toyota of Joey Logano at Joe Gibbs Racing.(FoxSports)(12-11-2008)

    • Brad Parrott looking at GEM job: The newly merged Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team has shut down its NASCAR Nationwide Series operation, former crew chief Brad Parrott confirmed Wednesday. Parrott said seven crew members were laid off from the team, which originally planned to run the full Nationwide schedule next year with driver Bryan Clauson. The laid-off crew members were told Monday, Parrott said, and Earnhardt Ganassi is trying to sell its inventory of Nationwide Dodges. Parrott said sponsor Fastenal left Earnhardt Ganassi and is searching for another team. Parrott also hopes to bring a core group of crewmen with him to another team, if sponsorship can be found. Parrott said he has contacted Gillett Evernham Motorsports about the crew chief opening for Elliott Sadler’s #19 Sprint Cup team but has not talked directly about that job. “With 23 years of racing experience – and I just had my first year without going to victory lane in NASCAR since 1992 – the fire still burns,” Parrott said. “I can still win races as a crew chief, as a car chief or as a manager or as whatever needs to be done. I’ve got my name out there already, trying to beat down as many doors as I can because I know there’s a lot of people needing jobs,” Parrott said. “I’ve got a group of guys that have been together for three years. We can go as separate people, or we can go as a team.” Parrott has talked to two owners who want to bring him and his crewmen together, pending sponsorship. They said, ‘Brad, you’re at the top of our list if we can get this deal done,’” Parrott said. “They’re very close on the deals, and that’s them telling me I’m at the top of their list.”(SceneDaily)(12-11-2008)

    • NASCAR writer laid off: The Winston-Salem Journal is laying off 12 employees because of rough economic times. The newspaper reported that it will cut jobs in advertising and finance, among other departments. Most of the lost jobs will affect employees who build ads for local advertisers. The newspaper said three employees were laid off immediately and nine others will be laid off between now and February. Affected employees will receive severance packages. One of those let go was Mike Mulhern, who covered his last NASCAR race for the Journal last month. The paper has ended full-time staff coverage of stock car racing. Mulhern has covered NASCAR for 34 of his 35 years at the Journal.(News and Record), no word on Mulhern's plans for 2009.(12-11-2008)

    • Wrangler continues relationship with Dale Jr.: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will stay comfortable and stylish during 2009 with a continued relationship with the Wrangler brand. Today, the denim giant proudly announced it will once again be the official jean of Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a sixth consecutive year. Earnhardt Jr. will continue to be featured across a range of high-profile consumer promotions and Wrangler marketing initiatives.(Wrangler PR)(12-11-2008)


      News from December 10, 2008

    • No Hot Pass in 2009? UPDATE: The email is flying around the Internet, but as of Tuesday evening we [Daly Planet] are being told that DirecTV has cancelled NASCAR Hot Pass for 2009. Official word should come sometime on Wednesday. This service, which provided four "mini-networks" to subscribers, featured two announcers calling the race from the perspective of each driver. Fans got to hear all the in-car radio traffic, see the various in-car cameras and switch between the four feeds anytime during the race.(Daly Planet)(12-10-2008)
      UPDATE: from Ray Dunlap's site: If you could look through the telephone lines on Tuesday, you would have seen about fifty very long faces during the final and mandatory conference call for DirecTV’s NASCAR HotPass. The leader of the new to television concept of a true inside view of stock car racing, Chris Long, broke the news to a band of faithful that HotPass was indeed dead.(RayDunlap.net)(12-10-2008)
      UPDATE 2: The NASCAR Hot Pass on DirecTV won’t return in 2009 as it has been produced, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston confirmed Wednesday. Hot Pass typically would feature four/five drivers on four/five different channels with a play-by-play announcer and pit reporter for each driver. The driver’s channel would include video of the car throughout the race from several angles. It was offered on a subscription basis. “Hot Pass as we know it today is changing,” Poston said in a statement. “Fans are still going to get unique content from DirecTV, but they won’t be getting fully produced channels. We’re still in discussion with DirecTV for enhancements for 2009.”(SceneDaily)(12-10-2008) Comment here

    • Bruton Smith's daughter injured in accident: The daughter of Bruton Smith [Anna Lisa Smith] was taken to the hospital after an accident this morning in Huntersville, NC. The single vehicle accident happened on Gilead Road near Beatties Ford Road around 5 a.m. The wrecked vehicle was found off the road in a field. Smith’s daughter is listed in serious condition at Carolinas Medical Center.(NewsChannel 36)(12-10-2008)

    • Parrott leaves Yates; to GEM? UPDATE 3 No, back at Yates: 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)
      UPDATE 2 - 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)
      UPDATE 3: Yates Racing's Travis Kvapil said today that Todd Parrott will return as his team's crew chief for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. Kvapil told SceneDaily.com that a Nov. 20 story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that said Parrott had left the organization wasn't correct. "Todd's going to crew chief in 2009 again," Kvapil said. "I know there was some talk that he retired or quit, and none of that is true. He is still under contract. I'm excited to take what we established last year and work together again in 2009." In the Journal-Sentinel report, Kvapil was quoted as saying that because of the team's lack of consistency in 2008 that the organization has decided a change in leadership was needed. "Todd found out a lot about me, about what I like this year," Kvapil said in the report. "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." It was unclear why there was a discrepancy over whether or not Parrott had left the team. The #28 Yates Racing team has yet to secure a primary sponsor for the 2009 season, but Kvapil said he believes the organization is close to signing a deal soon.(SceneDaily)(12-10-2008) Comment here

    • Logano to run Daytona ARCA race? UPDATE 2: 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)
      UPDATE 2: Venturini Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing will continue their alliance in 2009, beginning with the ARCA RE/MAX Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway on February 7th. JGR rookie phenom Joey Logano will be piloting the Venturini Motorsports prepared Toyota Camry in the legendary #25. On top of running the season opener at Daytona, Logano will also race for Venturini Motorsports on June 6th in the Pocono ARCA 200 at Pocono Raceway. “I am thrilled to have extended our alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing into the 2009 season, and am truly honored to have such a great talent as Joey Logano in our car,” commented Bill Venturini. “Myself and my whole Venturini Motorsports team are excited for this upcoming season, and wish to thank Joe Gibbs Racing for this opportunity.”(Venturini Motorsports PR)(12-10-2008) Comment here

    • RCR Gets 20/20 Hindsight: Richard Childress Racing will utilize Monitoring Technology Corporation’s 20/20 Hindsight system to improve the efficiency of its Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series over-the-wall pit crews. RCR, through its Human Performance department, and MTC have entered into a multi-year technical partnership. MTC, based in Fairfax, Va., provides products that monitor industrial equipment and processes utilizing high-speed cameras, vibration sensors, tachometers and other sensors. Its 20/20 Hindsight technology provides millisecond accuracy, portability and, as a result, increased efficiency.(RCR PR)(12-10-2008)

    • 12 Chase Drivers get their own NASCAR HOF bricks: The top 12 drivers in the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship helped pave the way for the new NASCAR Hall of Fame during the Championship Week in New York last week. The NASCAR Hall of Fame awarded the drivers with their personalized brick marking their final standing in the 2008 season. The unique bricks will be installed in the Ceremonial Plaza at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte when it opens in 2010. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Commemorative Bricks can be ordered online at www.NASCARHall.com/brick or at 888.NHF-BRKS (888.643.2757).(PR)(12-10-2008) Comment here

    • Schumacher wins DOTY Award: In a year filled with great driving performances, U.S. Army NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher has been voted the 2008 Driver of the Year by an elite panel of broadcasters and journalists it was announced here today. In taking a record fifth consecutive Top Fuel world championship, he tied an NHRA record with 15 victories. He also won the third quarter Driver of the Year award. Although choosing a Driver of the Year usually comes down to two or three drivers, this was a particularly difficult year for the panel. "Usually one driver has a stand out season, but this year there were a handful of guys who were all viable candidates for the award including NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch," said Barry Schmoyer, President of the Driver of the Year Award Foundation. Professionals, who voted in a secret ballot for a single driver, gave Schumacher six votes, while Johnson and Edwards each received five votes. Busch and Tony Stewart each earned one vote. The Driver of the Year title is unique because a select panel of 18 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. are the only eligible voters via a secret ballot. Schumacher will be presented with a trophy and a Tissot wristwatch next April at the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala.(DOTY PR)

    • Revell stops making NASCAR model kits: From the revell.com site: Over the years we have been pleased to provide you with the finest NASCAR plastic model kits featuring the most popular drivers. Regrettably however, over the last several years we have faced increasing licensing costs that are greater than our increase in sales. Despite our best efforts to secure reasonable licensing terms for NASCAR model kits in general, and the Car of Tomorrow in particular, we have been unable to develop a program that allows us to market the product at a viable price point. Consequently, we will not be issuing a kit on the Car of Tomorrow and, in fact, will be exiting the NASCAR business altogether. We will discontinue all sales of NASCAR plastic kits by February 28, 2009.(revell.com)(12-10-2008)

    • Gillette receivers 2008 NASCAR Marketing Award: The 2008 season began with a victory at the Daytona 500 by Gillette Young Guns driver Ryan Newman and culminated last week with the announcement of Gillette, the world’s leading male grooming brand, being presented the 2008 NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award. Racing’s top sponsor award was presented during Sprint Cup Series Champions Week in New York, December 2 – 5. In February, days before the historic Daytona 500 race, rising stars Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer joined an exclusive team when they were unveiled as the newest members of the Gillette Young Guns during a ceremonial shave for fans at Daytona International Speedway. The six Gillette Young Guns and World Wrestling Entertainment® superstar John Cena® also were featured in a national ad campaign to support the launch of the Gillette Fusion Power Phenom that debuted during the Daytona 500 race broadcast.(Taylor PR)(12-10-2008)

    • The Unofficial NASCAR related Layoff Count since end of season:
      (exceptions noted)
      Dale Earnhardt Inc -- 120
      Ganassi -- 76 (71 + 5 more on Tues)
      Petty Enterprises -- 65
      Bill Davis Racing -- 60
      Richard Petty Driving Experience -- approx 45
      Roush Fenway Racing -- 35
      Furniture Row -- 25 [approx]
      Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies -- 25 [approx]
      Wood Brothers -- 22
      Hendrick Motorsports -- 19
      Stewart-Haas -- 16
      Richard Childress Racing -- 15
      Red Bull Racing -- approx 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 12-10-2008)


      News from December 9, 2008

    • See Top 25 and Season Winnings on my 2008 Cup Banquet page.

    • Tire Testing at Las Vegas UPDATE: 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)
      UPDATE: #99-Carl Edwards, who won this year's Sprint Cup event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will be joined by #5-Mark Martin, #83-Brian Vickers and #12-David Stremme for a two-day Goodyear tire test this Wednesday and Thursday at LVMS. For Martin, it will be a chance to get acquainted with Hendrick Motorsports' #5 Chevrolet, which he will pilot in the 2009 season. Vickers will be in the Red Bull Toyota, and Stremme will be in his new Penske Dodge. Stremme has replaced Ryan Newman in the #12 car for next season. "These two days in Vegas are going to be, quite possibly, the two most important days of our 2009 season," said Alan Gustafson, crew chief for Martin. "With NASCAR's new ‘no testing' rule, we are very fortunate to have been invited by Goodyear to this test. This gives us two extra days on an intermediate track that only three other teams are getting. We need to maximize that time all we can." The race teams and Goodyear will be testing in preparation for the March 1 Shelby 427 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The test will be closed to the public. Tickets are available for the 2009 NASCAR Weekend, more info by calling 1-800-644-4444 or logging on to www.lvms.com.(LVMS PR)(12-9-2008)

    • Truex/Bass Pro Shops could leave DEI...unless: Sirius Speedway has learned that DEI-Ganassi Racing is making a serious push to add another sponsor to its lineup, in an effort to avoid the possible loss of driver #1-Martin Truex, Jr., and sponsor, Bass Pro Shops. Language in the contracts of both Truex and Bass Pro Shops reportedly requires DEI to field at least two fulltime teammates for Truex next season, and with only Aric Almirola’s unsponsored #8 car likely to return, sources say DEI had little choice but to merge with Ganassi, in an effort to retain their only funded driver. The merged DEI-Ganassi stable now includes Truex’s Bass Pro Shops-sponsored #1, Juan Pablo Montoya’s #42 with partial sponsorship from Wrigley’s, the #41 car with Target sponsorship, and Almirola’s unsponsored #8. Sources say the [Ganassi] team made a major push recently to upgrade Fastenal’s Nationwide Series sponsorship to a Sprint Cup deal, but were left high and dry when Fastenal declined the offer in order to begin discussions with another major NASCAR team [no word who].
      Speculation centers on Stewart-Haas Racing getting Truex and Bass Pro Shops, with Truex teaming with #14-Tony Stewart and #39-Ryan Newman. Stewart said weeks ago that his team is not looking to field a third car next season, and team spokesman Mike Arning echoed those thoughts today. “We would obviously have to take a good, hard look at a situation like that, but I think we would be hard-pressed to make it happen,” said Arning. “We have a lot to prove to people next year; specifically that we can compete right out of the box as a two-car team. Adding a third car at this late date would be extremely difficult, and while it’s obviously not my call, my guess is that it might be too much to take on.”(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-9-2008) Comment here

    • Top 35 changes a bit: The #10 GEM Dodge 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 [DEI-Ganassi, #15 and #01 teams] merger have been eliminated from the top 35. The #47 car that will be driven by Marcos Ambrose for JTG-Daugherty moved from 36th to 34th. "Everybody will just shift up," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. "We will use the top 35 at the track."(ESPN), also the #22 Bill Davis Racing team is 31st in OWNERS points, reports have the return of this team in doubt, if the #22 does not return, #77-Sam Hornish Jr's team moves up to 35th, If the #22 team does come back in 2009, Penske Racing may switch the #2 and #77 OWNERS points [again] to give the #77 the first five races guaranteed and #2-Busch would have the past champions provisional to use BUT the risk there, is that #14-Tony Stewart is out of the top-35 and would have the past champions provisional to use and would get it over Busch since he won the Championship most recently. See how the Top-35 will 'supposedly' look in 2009 [unless other changes are made] on my 2009 Owners Position page.(12-4-2008)
    • Barraclough leaves Yates Racing: Crew chief Cully Barraclough will not return to the #38 Yates Racing team for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. Driver David Gilliland confirmed in a phone interview with SceneDaily.com that he and Barraclough will not be racing together next season. Gilliland also said he has not been told who his 2009 crew chief will be and that the team is still seeking a primary sponsor. Barraclough has left Yates Racing to join Roush Fenway Racing [doesn't say which team for Roush]. "We're still really looking for sponsorship," Gilliland said. "Everybody is looking for a sponsor and the economy right now is not in NASCAR's favor." Gilliland said he was disappointed that Barraclough will not be back. “We had a good relationship and it was his first year as a Cup crew chief,” Gilliland said. “I thought we were growing in the right direction together, but I guess sometimes change can be a good thing. We’re still great friends and I wish him nothing but the best.”(SceneDaily)(12-9-2008) Comment here

    • Latest on Yates Racing: Sponsorship issues are again a question for the team [Yates Racing] next season, but both #28-Travis Kvapil and #38-David Gilliland are expected to be back in what will grow to a three-car stable with the addition of #98-Paul Menard. The former DEI pilot brings his family's lucrative home improvement store sponsorship money with him to Yates, which will provide the financial resources the team so desperately needs. Veteran crew chief Larry Carter, who helped Jamie McMurray turn around his 2008 season, moves over from Roush to call the shots for Menard next year. "I'm really looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life with Yates Racing and behind the wheel of the #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 (team co-owner) 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 Menard Ford Fusion." [the last win for a car #98 was John Andretti at Daytona in July 1997]. Kvapil will also have a new crew chief with the team's decision to release veteran Todd Parrott, although no official announcement of his replacement has yet been made.(CBS Sports)(12-9-2008) Comment here

    • Latest on Kahne's Homestead battery charge: Gillett Evernham Motorsports driver #9-Kasey Kahne will have his record cleared provided he performs 50 hours of community service and donates $50 donation to a court charity to resolve a misdemeanor battery charge from Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2007. The court will dismiss the misdemeanor charge against Kahne once he performs his community service, according to Miami-Dade County (Fla.) court records. Such matters are typically resolved with this type of agreement when there is a dispute over the facts and the accused, with no criminal record, prefers to take care of the matter without going to trial. Kahne has maintained his innocence in the matter over whether he pushed security guard Archibald Hutchinson, who was guarding the driver motorhome lot Nov. 16, 2007 during the race weekend at Homestead. Kahne typically does community service as part of his foundation work. Kahne still faces a civil suit in the matter.(SceneDaily)(12-9-2008) Comment here

    • Labonte to the #41 ride? UPDATE: 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)(12-6-2008)
      UPDATE: Adding another layer of intrigue to the [Ganassi-DEI merger] story are unconfirmed reports that Bobby Labonte may be negotiating to jump to DEI-Ganassi Racing, driving the #41 Target car. The deal would be contingent on Labonte's ability to negotiate an exit from Petty Enterprises, where he is signed through the 2012 season. A spokesman for DEI-Ganassi Racing said today that while he has heard Labonte’s name as one of many rumored to be in the running for the #41 car, he has no knowledge of any ongoing negotiations. A number of cards obviously remain to be dealt at this point. But at present, the most likely scenario appears to be for Labonte to negotiate his departure from Petty Enterprises, allowing him to move to DEI-Ganassi Racing with sponsorship from Target. That would keep Truex and his Bass Pro Shops sponsorship in-house, opening the door for AJ Allmendinger to drive the #43 Dodge next season for the newly merged Gillett-Evernham/Petty Enterprises tandem.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-9-2008) Comment here

    • Stewart visits ARCA banquet: been told that Tony Stewart was a guest of Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. during Saturday night's ARCA RE/MAX Series awards banquet in Cincinnati.(12-9-2008)

    • Kyle has no clue about what is up at PE: If you want to know what's going down at Petty Enterprises these days, don't ask Kyle Petty. So says Kyle Petty, son of Richard and grandson of Lee, who founded the race organization in Level Cross, N.C., in 1949. Richard Petty is part owner of Petty Enterprises, which currently is in merger discussions with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Petty Enterprises entered into a partnership agreement with outside investment firm Boston Ventures this past May. "I don't work for Petty Enterprises," Kyle Petty said Monday. "When they did their deal and sold to Boston Ventures, Chad [McCumbee] was going to drive the second car and Bobby [Labonte] was going to drive the first car; they pretty much let me know there wasn't a place for me there going into '09. My deal runs out at the end of the year, but I don't go over there [to the shop in Mooresville, N.C.] because I don't work there. It was a different business and it got into a different place than where Boston Ventures wanted to be -- and I just don't think they have the stomach for it. It's their company and they can do with it what they want to. That's the way it works."
      When Boston Ventures came on board, Richard Petty said he would still be heavily involved in the day-to-day operation of Petty Enterprises. But Kyle Petty made it sound as if those from the investment company are pulling most of the strings for the organization now. "I don't know what the division is, and it's got nothing to do with me because it's my father's company," Kyle said. "So it's between Richard Petty and Boston Ventures. Me talking about it is about like anybody else talking about it from the outside looking in. I was not privy to any of the meetings. I was not a part of it. Once David Zucker took over as CEO, then I was out of the loop. So I've got no skin in this game."
      So for now, Kyle Petty is just another Cup driver without a ride for 2009. He's looking at possibly not suiting up to drive any Cup races for the first time since 1979 -- when he ran five races for Petty Enterprises at the age of 18, and Richard won the last of his seven championships. "I'm going to do my six TV races for Turner [Sports]," Kyle said. "I'm still working with SPEED, doing [the] Tradin' Paint [show] and I'll be able to do a couple different things with them, maybe with the Grand American division or a couple other things. I'm just going to take a step back and see what goes on, and see where the sport goes and see where motorsports goes for the next little bit and try to figure out what I'm going to do. I'm going to run the 24-hour [Rolex] race at Daytona. That may be my only race of the year; maybe I'll run more races. I don't know what I'm doing. If the right opportunity came along, I think I'm like Bill Elliott. I'm not ready to retire. I may not be there every week, but I don't consider myself retired. You know what I mean? So if the right opportunity came along where I thought we could be competitive, with the right leadership and the right group, I think I would be [interested]. But right now, just [looking at it] as a sports fan over the last eight or 10 years, it's a business decision. If somebody has the money -- if you have the sponsorship and you have the dollars -- it's easier to find something. But right now, there aren't a lot of people out there with money."(in part from NASCAR.com)(12-9-2008) Comment here

    • 11 Finalists for 2008 SPEED Performer of the Year: The 15-member SPEED voting panel, headlined by racing icon Mario Andretti, has named 11 finalists for the 2008 SPEED Performer of the Year honor, with the winner to be announced as part of the SPEED Performance Awards one-hour television special in February. Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and two-time winner of the SPEED Performer of the Year Jimmie Johnson is on a ballot that represents eight different racing series. The top six vote-getters will be featured on the special. In addition to Johnson, this year’s finalists are: NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz, AMA Motocross champion James Stewart, USAC champion Jerry Coons Jr., NASCAR drivers Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, and Formula One driver Felipe Massa. The Third Annual SPEED Performer of the Year will be selected by a panel including Andretti, "Wind Tunnel" host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha and Ralph Sheheen, SPEEDtv.com writers Robin Miller and Tom Jensen and versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder. The winner will receive the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak. Nine additional “fan chosen” SPEED Performance Awards are open for voting on SPEEDtv.com through Dec. 14.(SPEED PR)(12-9-2008)


      News from December 8, 2008

    • 2008 NASCAR Brand Leaderboard: NASCAR sponsors received almost $1.7 billion in exposure for their brands this year, according to the results of custom research for the recently concluded season. For the second straight year, SportsBusiness Journal/Daily teamed with Kansas City-based sponsorship measurement firm Image Impact to measure the exposure received by companies doing business with NASCAR. This year, they captured and assessed more than 138,000 sponsor impressions, 44% more than last year’s study, through NASCAR’s 37-race Sprint Cup Series schedule, which includes the Sprint All-Star Race.
      Nearly 600 sponsors were tracked. Primary and secondary car and driver partners were analyzed, along with all race venue signage, and the myriad graphics and audio mentions from the races’ TV broadcasts. Six additional sponsored locations were measured this year, including exposure a sponsor may have received by having its logo on a trophy. Tertiary sponsors on driver and pit crew uniforms and on the quarter panels of the race cars were not reported.
      Image Impact’s proprietary software provided analysis of the video feeds from each race. Each race broadcast was broken down and evaluated for all brand detections that occurred on screen and were clear and in-focus for at least one full second. Each of those individual detections was then evaluated based on its duration, average size, location and relative isolation (or lack thereof) from competing brands: Was the logo a featured image on the screen or was it shown among other sponsors? Nearly one-third of all monetary value calculated came via exposure on the on-screen leaderboard.
      Because location and clarity significantly affected the measured value of each detection, quantity did not always translate into increased value. Also, for the purpose of summary calculations, each audio mention was assigned a duration of five seconds. For example, Allstate’s 702 detections generated $32.9 million in exposure over the course of the season, putting Allstate No. 9 overall among the nearly 600 companies tracked. Home Depot, No. 10 overall, had almost three times as many detections, but because many of those detections were less prominently displayed, the company received $29.6 million in value. See full story and stats at the Sports Business Journal.(12-8-2008) Comment here

    • Petty-GEM merger? UPDATE 4: 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)
      UPDATE 4: Petty Enterprises released 39 employees on Monday, bringing the total to 65 since the end of the season. A source close to the situation said Petty Enterprises has about 54 employees anxiously waiting to hear whether there will be a merger with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports. "Everybody is still looking for marching orders in what direction we're going in," the source said. The Pettys have been in negotiations to merge with several teams for months. Two were eliminated when Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates merged last month. The possible merger with GEM would have the famous #43 joining the #9 (Kasey Kahne), #19 (Elliott Sadler) and #10 (Reed Sorenson) of GEM to become a four-car operation. Whether 2000 Cup champion Bobby Labonte, the current driver of the unsponsored #43, would be a part of that deal remains unclear. Labonte, who signed a long-term deal that included partial ownership with Petty Enterprises earlier this year, has reportedly had talks with DEI-Ganassi about driving the Target-sponsored #41. That could clear the way for AJ Allmendinger, released by Red Bull Racing late this season, to move into the #43. Officials at Petty Enterprises and GEM were not available for comment. Should the merger occur it would be the first time NASCAR has been without Petty Enterprises as it is known today since 1969. Richard Petty sold majority ownership to Boston Ventures earlier this year, but the name of the company and driving school remained the same.(ESPN.com)(12-8-2008) Comment here

    • 2008 Auto Racing All-America Team named: The polls have closed for voters choosing 2008 All-America Auto Racing Team and five drivers with landslides of more than 70% of the vote are contenders for the Jerry Titus Award -- the team's Driver of the Year. Who those five are is not revealed until the All-America ceremonies in Ontario, Calif., on Jan. 10 but they will come from among the 17 drivers named to the First Team by the voting members of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Three former Titus winners are on the team this year -- Indy Car champions Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005), and NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher (2006) but only Schumacher bids to repeat this year. The 2008 American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association all-American team consists of Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, David Brabham and Scott Sharp, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, Cruz Pedregon, Tony Schumacher, Jerry Coons Jr., Justin Allgaier, Johnny Benson, Jorg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler and Raphael Matos. Awards will be presented at a banquet Jan. 10, in Ontario, CA. More info at aarwba.org.(AARWBA PR)(12-8-2008)

    • Some Season Record Notes:
      • Five foreign-born drivers participated at Infineon Raceway: Marcos Ambrose (Australia), Patrick Carpentier and Ron Fellows (Canada), Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) and Max Papis (Italy). It was the largest contingent of foreign-born drivers in a race in NASCAR Sprint Cup history, eclipsing the previous mark of three which was set eight times – most recently at Infineon in 2007.
      • At Watkins Glen, three nations were represented among the top five for the first time in Sprint Cup Series history: Kyle Busch (first), Tony Stewart (second) and Martin Truex Jr. (fifth) from the United States, Marcos Ambrose (third) from Australia and Juan Pablo Montoya (fourth) is from Colombia.
      • The 28 different drivers that led at Talladega-2 set the all-time Sprint Cup Series record for different lap leaders in a race. It eclipsed the mark of 26 set at Talladega in July 1986 and tied in April 2001, also at Talladega.
      • Mark Martin started second six times this season – all as a result of timed qualifying. The modern era record for second-place starts is 10 by Jeff Gordon in 1996. Richard Petty (1964) and David Pearson (1968) each had 17 second-place starts – the all-time record – but both came in seasons with more than 48 races.
      • There has been a first-time pole winner in each of the past 22 years (1987-2008).
      • All 43 cars at Richmond in September completed the race, just the second time since the standardized 43-car field was implemented (1998) that all cars were running at the finish in a race. Driver Milestones.(NASCAR)(12-8-2008)

    • Augie Grill Wins 41st Annual Snowball Derby: Augie Grill won his second straight Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida on Sunday night. Grill actually finished the 41st annual edition of the race in the second position, but was awarded the victory after Brian Ickler’s car was found to have an unapproved brake cooling fan. Grill started the race in the 38th position and steadily worked his way through the pack to become a race contender. He led the middle stages of the race, but found himself with some ground to make up after the final pit stops. Over the last dozen laps of the race, Grill gained ground on Ickler on the racetrack, but came a little bit short of catching him. Approximately two hours after the race, Grill received word of his victory and celebrated with a small group of fans, family, friends and crew members. With the change, Grant Enfinger now moves up to second place. He was followed in the rundown by Matt Hawkins, Shane Sieg, Bubba Pollard, David Rodgers, Hunter Robbins, Dennis Schoenfeld, Heath Hindman and Paul Kelley. The 41st Annual Snowball Derby concludes the 2008 racing season at Five Flags Speedway. For more information on the Blizzard Series and the 41st Annual Snowball Derby event visit Speed51.com, fiveflagsspeedway.com and/or snowballderby.com.(Speed51.com)
      Some Cup, Nationwide or Truck Series drivers who ran in the Snowball Derby this year included: 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].(12-8-2008)



    2008 Race Results
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