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MORE SPRINT CUP NEWS/RUMORS
DECEMBER 22-28, 2008
News from December 28, 2008
- BDR Employees Laid-Off; But…: ....are hearing that most of Bill Davis Racing’s employees were laid-off earlier this week following the sale of the team to Marty Gaunt and Mike Held. Despite the bad news, all team members are getting a chance to reapply for their position with the team. They will begin bringing back employees after the first of the year. The move appears to be an attempt at restructuring the organization. By doing this, they can cut loose any employees they do not want while removing any seniority and cutting salaries they might see as high. Given the present climate, it is very much an owner’s market. There are a lot of talented people who are looking for work and those with an opportunity to stay where they are at are very likely to take a pay cut in order to avoid job loss.(NASCAR Insiders)(12-28-2008) Comment here
- Smith to the #78: 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year recipient Regan Smith will drive for Furniture Row Racing in 2009.(FoxSports), #78 Furniture Row Racing announced late in 2008 that it would run a limited 2009 schedule.(12-28-2008) Comment here
- Motorsports writer travels world for charity: In the spirit of the season, veteran motorsports writer Al Pearce deserves substantial recognition for a charitable project that has taken him around the world in the past 13 months. Pearce is a writer who literally has gone the extra mile in supporting two causes initiated by Kyle and Pattie Petty: the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Kyle Petty Charity Ride. At his own expense, Pearce, who lives in Newport News, Va., and covers NASCAR for AutoWeek, traveled approximately 67,000 miles to obtain the signatures of 20 Formula One world driving champions on a racing helmet he plans to auction in support of the two charities. Trips to London and Brazil in December, to get the signatures of Lewis Hamilton and Nelson Piquet completed the roster of living F1 champions. The helmet now features 20 names, including the 19 living champions plus Phil Hill, who died Aug. 28, 2008. Hill is the only American-born driver to win the F1 championship. Pearce met each driver face-to-face, with the exception of Sir Jack Brabham, who lives in Australia. FedEx delivered the helmet to Brabham and back to Pearce after it was signed.
Despite the enormous expenses he accumulated, Pearce won't take a dime of reimbursement for this labor of love.(NASCAR.com), more details and info on the upcoming auction on my Racing Charities page.(12-28-2008) Comment here
- Cicconi wins final race at Rumble: Lou Cicconi Jr. couldn’t wait to celebrate. So he yanked the steering wheel, stomped the throttle and began a dizzying series of 360-degree spins -- right there in the middle of the second turn, no more than two seconds after the checkered flag waved, with traffic bearing down on him. The 44-year-old East Coast standout reached a personal goal Saturday by beating NASCAR star Tony Stewart to win the 60-lap midget feature that capped the final night of the 11th annual “Rumble in Fort Wayne.” Forget champagne. Cicconi wanted donuts. “I was so excited,” the driver known as Liquid Lou said, still effervescent a half-hour later. “I’ve been thinking about this for a year -- beating Tony Stewart.” Stewart, the winner here on Friday, finished nearly a third of a lap behind in a race that went green all the way after a caution on lap 12. Jon Stanbrough finished third, giving Rick Daugherty the Rumble Series car owner championship, with Mike Fedorcak and Dave Darland completing the top five on the 1/6-mile indoor track at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center. Stewart, whose resume includes two NASCAR titles and another in the Indy Racing League, had won six of the past nine races here and a record seven overall. Stewart, now owner of his NASCAR Sprint Cup team, confirmed that this was his only indoor racing appearance of the winter. He said he will attend the Chili Bowl Nationals next month in Tulsa, Okla., but won’t race due to other commitments.(Fort Wayne News Sentinel)(12-28-2008)
- Sad News - "Pee Wee" Jones: Mr. Phillip "Pee Wee" Sylvester Jones, Jr., 80, passed away Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at his home. He was born March 31, 1928 in Davidson County to Mittie Cornish and Phillip Sylvester Jones. He was a member of First Christian Church of Clemmons and retired from Modern Chevrolet. Pee Wee was one of the original members of NASCAR beginning in 1949 until his retirement in 1972. He was a six-time ' Modified' Champion at Bowman Gray Stadium where his record of five consecutive championships still stands. He also won multiple championships at other race tracks.
He was preceded in death by his son, Steve Jones. Surviving are his wife, Shirley Jones of the home; two sons, Tim Jones and wife, Donna of Mooresville, Mike Jones and wife, Tammie of Clemmons; and two special grandchildren, Austin Jones and Vidalia Smallwood. The Jones Family will receive friends on Saturday, December 27, from 6-8 p.m. A Funeral Service will be held on Sunday, December 28 at 2 p.m. at the Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel with the Rev. Stacy Abernathy officiating. Burial will follow at First Christian Church Cemetery in Clemmons. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice by going to www.hospicecarecenter .org. Online condolences may be made at www.hayworth-miller.com.(12-28-2008)
News from December 27, 2008
- Penske-Jasper split? hearing that Penske Racing and Jasper Engines/Transmissions are going to dissolve their partnership in the engine building program. Supposedly Jasper will continue to build and supply transmissions to race teams.(12-27-2008) Comment here
- M&M's re-ups with the #18 & NASCAR: Mars North America announced that it will extend its contract as official NASCAR partner, giving tens of millions of NASCAR fans even more to cheer about at track and in store. The multi-year sponsorship commitment allows multiple Mars brands to connect with racing fans and includes four designations:
· Official Chocolate of NASCAR (M&M’S Brand)
· Official Chocolate Bar of NASCAR (Snickers Brand)
· Official Cheese-Filled Snack of NASCAR (Combos Brand)
· Official Pet Food of NASCAR (Pedigree Brand)
The multi-year partnership aligns Mars with its existing contracts with Joe Gibbs Racing, continuing a relationship that began in 2008.
For 2009, Mars will continue to develop programs that build relationships directly with NASCAR fans, including continuing two of its popular programs that let fans share their passion for NASCAR to the world. Brand highlights include:
· Now in its second year, M&M’S “The Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR Contest” will launch at the Daytona 500 and run for 24 weeks.
· For dog lovers, the Pedigree brand will launch a new contest, Pedigree Brand presents the Luckiest Dog of NASCAR, beginning in late April when the first of three cars sponsored by the Pedigree brand races at Talladega Superspeedway.
· Mars’ Combos Brand will also leverage its NASCAR sponsorship with the new "Man Zone" on-pack promotion, visiting ten race tracks during the first half of the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season.
· Snickers Brand will promote its sponsorship at retail stores nationwide.
For more information about Mars’ relationship with NASCAR, visit www.mms.com/us/racing.(PR)(12-27-2008) Comment here
- Stewart wins the Rumble: Tony Stewart made it three-in-a-row Friday, winning his third-consecutive 60-lap feature in the 11th annual “Rumble in Fort Wayne” indoor “Rumble Series” race in the Expo Center at Memorial Coliseum [Fort Wayne, IN]. See full stoty at the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.(12-27-2008)
- NASCAR Night with the Charlotte Bobcats is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 23, 2009, at Time Warner Cable Arena.
NASCAR Night will feature fan-friendly interactives, including:
• Meet the stars of NASCAR;
• Get your picture with the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series trophy;
• Test drive the new EA NASCAR Kart Racing game, the first racing game for Wii;
• Rub elbows with the new class of drivers in the Drive 4 Diversity Program;
• Meet the NASCAR Heroes Comic Book Mascots;
• Test your skills as a pit crew member with the Pit Stop Challenge;
• Shop for Officially Licensed NASCAR items.
Halftime ceremonies will include a public celebration of the 2008 Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson. Tickets are available in the lower bowl of the arena and range from $50 to 85 per ticket. Quantities are limited. To purchase tickets, click here and enter the code "charlotte" or call 704-688-8857.(12-27-2008)
News from December 26, 2008
- McCumbee unsure of 2009 plans: Reports, rumors and rumblings. That's what the last six weeks has revolved around for Chad McCumbee. "I read on the Internet what everyone else does," the West Brunswick (N.C.) High School graduate said. And with the start of the 2009 NASCAR season a little more than six weeks away, McCumbee still doesn't know if he'll be competing in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series. McCumbee was on course to drive the No. 44 Sprint Cup car for Petty Enterprises in 2009 before sponsorship issues arose. "We were all good to go and everybody was happy," McCumbee said. "The economy affected sponsors obviously. It hurt everything." So, McCumbee said he is keeping his options open, which means he could return to the Camping World Series (formerly the Craftsman Truck Series). He also said he has had "a few talks here and there" with teams in the Nationwide Series. McCumbee said he has the support of Petty Enterprises if he opts to drive a Nationwide Series car for another team. He ran a full-time schedule in the truck series last year and nine races on the Sprint Cup schedule in the #45 car.(Myrtle Beach Sun News)(12-26-2008) Comment here
- Richard Petty releasing audio book: NASCAR's King has spoken. Richard Petty is releasing an audiobook to coincide with the 25th anniversary of his record 200th career victory. Stock car racing "is a very popular sport, but every year that goes by, we leave a little bit of our past behind," Petty said. He added that the audiobook "will help bring our colorful past into public consciousness. This is not just about Richard Petty or Petty Enterprises. This is about the history of a great sport." The four-hour, four-disc series is titled "Richard Petty's Audio Scrapbook." On it, Petty is joined by longtime racing announcer Barney Hall, former crew chief Dale Inman and drivers Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Bobby Allison. His audiobook is scheduled for release in February during the week of the Daytona 500, a race he won seven times. Petty claimed victory #200 at one of the other major annual events at Daytona International Speedway, the Firecracker 400 in July 1984.(Associated Press / Charlotte Observer)(12-26-2008) Comment here
News from December 24-25, 2008
- Interesting trends in NASCAR: As Christmas looms, a lot of unknowns remain about the 2009 Sprint Cup season. There are so many gray areas these days, but this breakdown gives some interesting statistical information on cars, sponsors and drivers for 2009. It also adds some clarity about NASCAR today.
Cars committed to running the full schedule -- 37
Fully funded cars -- 29 of the 37
Age Breakdown of drivers: Over 50 - 1 (Mark Martin); Under 30 -- 14 (However, Clint Bowyer, Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards all turn 30 in 2009. Joey Logano is the only driver under 20. He won't turn 19 until May.); In their 40s -- 3 (We're counting Labonte  in this one. He will have a ride somewhere in '09. Jeff Burton  and Michael Waltrip  are the other two. Blaney  hopes he'll be included.)
Rookies -- 2 (Logano and Scott Speed.)
Southerners -- 12
West Coast -- 11
Midwest -- 10
Northeast -- 2
International -- 2
College graduates -- 1 (Newman has an engineering degree from Purdue)
Cup champions -- 6 Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001), Labonte (2000), Stewart (2002 and 2005), Kenseth (2004), Kurt Busch (2005) and Johnson (2006, 2007 and 2008).
Sons of Cup drivers - 1 (With Kyle Petty's Cup career probably over, Earnhardt is the only one left.)
These stats and more info available at the full article.(ESPN.com)(12-24-2008) Comment here
- SPEED Sets January NASCAR Schedule: SPEED will open its 2009 NASCAR coverage with the first episode of NASCAR 39/10: Reviewing the 60th Season on Jan. 7. The series of 10 three-hour specials, loaded with race highlights and extensive pre- and post-race interviews, will premiere Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. ET and run for five weeks, leading into the network's extensive NASCAR programming schedule from Daytona Speedweeks in February. In addition, SPEED also will kick off its annual NASCAR Preseason Thunder coverage on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. ET, with 17 original 30-minute shows and a one-hour special from Daytona Fan Fest on Jan. 17. The popular Trackside Live with Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and Steve Byrnes will open the 2009 season with five consecutive shows from Daytona, airing Jan. 19-23 at 7 p.m. ET. Live NASCAR racing returns to the track with live coverage of qualifying for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. ET and live race coverage Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. ET. Mike Joy and Phil Parsons will be in the booth, with Dr. Dick Berggren and Jim Tretow reporting from the pits.(SPEEDtv PR)(12-24-2008) Comment here
News from December 23, 2008
- P.J. Jones to ARCA? In addition to the cast of ARCA RE/MAX Series regulars and a brand new crop of rookies, several well known racing personalities were seen in the ARCA garage during the [Daytona] test, including PJ Jones. Jones, a veteran of NASCAR and the IndyCar Series, is the son of open wheel racing legend and 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones. So just what was Jones doing in Daytona, testing the #37 Spraker Racing Chevy? "PJ and I go way back, and we're trying to put a deal together for him to run here in '09," stated Jeff Spraker, the team owner. "It's interesting. I've been out trying to put some sponsorship together for next year, and one of the companies I talked to was looking for a way to make a little more impact. When I mentioned the possibility of PJ, they said ‘Parnelli's kid?' I said yes, and we agreed to continue to talk."(ARCARacing.com) Comment here
- Cope plans to attempt Daytona 500: UPDATE: 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)
UPDATE: from DerrikeCope.com: "Gary Keller and I are preparing cars for the beginning of the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. We will enter a one car team at Daytona and are preparing ourselves for a limited schedule beyond that with the possibility of continuing on to California and Las Vegas as well."(Derrikecope.com)(12-22-2008) Comment here
- NASCAR Promotes Three: NASCAR announced the promotion of Karen Leetzow, Paula Miller and Susan Schandel to vice president positions. Leetzow has been named vice president/deputy general counsel; Miller has been named vice president of human resources and organizational development; and Schandel has been named vice president/chief accounting officer. All three promotions are effective immediately.(NASCAR PR)(12-23-2008)
News from December 22, 2008
- Bill Davis Sells Team: UPDATE Triad Racing Technologies announced that the company will acquire Triad Racing Development, a major supplier of engines, chassis and bodies for NASCAR Camping World, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series teams. In addition to the acquisition of Triad Racing Development, the owners also purchased a majority interest in Bill Davis Racing. "This is an exciting time for us," said Marty Gaunt, co-owner of TRT. "With the changing economic landscape, we see this as an opportunity to service existing Toyota teams and build the business by providing cost effective engine support and chassis production to all racing teams regardless of manufacturer association." Gaunt along with business partner, Michael Held, entered into the agreement to purchase Triad this week. With more than 40 years combined motorsports experience, Gaunt and Held will provide management of the company effective immediately. Gaunt and Held both return to the ownership role, having spent time as NASCAR team owners. A California businessman, Held also owns Co-Pilott, LLC, a marketing company that services a number of clients in the motorsports arena. An announcement regarding the Bill Davis Racing Sprint Cup and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series operations, as well as detailed team plans for the 2009 race season, will be made in the coming weeks.(Triad/Co-Pilott PR)(12-22-2008)
UPDATE: New Bill Davis Racing majority owners Marty Gaunt and Mike Held say they hope to have the #22 Sprint Cup car on the track in 2009 but likely won’t be able to announce firm plans for another few weeks. Gaunt [said] that Mark Chambers will remain as general manager with other leadership positions at BDR to be determined in the next few weeks. Bill Davis will be available as a consultant, Gaunt indicated.(Scene Daily)(12-22-2008) Comment here
- NASCAR looking to fill four sponsor categories: NASCAR will go into 2009 with openings in at least four categories - rental car, quick-service restaurant, home improvement store and digital photography - while five other sponsors renewed their official status deals. The biggest defection comes from Home Depot, which has spent the last 10 years as NASCAR's official home improvement warehouse. It is one of four official partners that decided not to renew its league deal amid budget constraints. Enterprise, Domino's Pizza and Kodak also elected to let their official status deals expire. These agreements, which normally range from three to five years in length, typically go for the low seven figures annually. Jim O'Connell, NASCAR's vice president of corporate marketing, characterized the departures as "companies that are leaving the sport entirely. They all had bad years, earnings-wise, and they're looking at tighter budgets." Domino's and Kodak also vacated team deals in the past year - Domino's at Michael Waltrip Racing and Kodak at Penske Racing. Among the sponsors that renewed with multiyear deals are Mars, Office Depot, Tylenol, Unilever and Craftsman. The overall reduction going into 2009 leaves NASCAR with 38 official partners, including the four auto manufacturers, about 10 fewer than three years ago. Another pair of sponsors remain in limbo as 2008 comes to a close. DuPont is in negotiations to extend its contract with the sanctioning body, as is Sony.(Sports Business Journal)(12-22-2008)
AND: Mars North America announced that it will extend its contract as official NASCAR partner. The multi-year sponsorship commitment allows multiple Mars brands to connect with racing fans and includes four designations: Official Chocolate of NASCAR (M&M'S); Official Chocolate Bar of NASCAR (Snickers); Official Cheese-Filled Snack of NASCAR (Combos); and Official Pet Food of NASCAR (Pedigree).(Mars PR)(12-22-2008) Comment here
- Firestone testing stock car tires: Is there a tire war in NASCAR's future? Despite efforts to remain low key, Firestone was discovered testing stock car tires at Homestead-Miami Speedway this past week. A Chip Ganassi Racing ARCA stock car driven by Scott Pruett tested on the road course. But an executive with Firestone said the test was nothing more than that, a test. "It was not a Firestone test and it was not a NASCAR test, it was a technical exercise to try and develop current stock car technology," Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone/Bridgestone motorsports told SpeedTV.com's Robin Miller. "It was a brandless program. There was no name on the tires or the uniforms or even the tire machines. And the car was painted gray," he added. "We were just trying to be as low key as possible." Goodyear is the current sole supplier of tires to NASCAR and has been since 2000. But competitors criticized them several times during the 2008 season especially after the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was reduced to 10-12 laps segments due to tire failures. The current contract for Goodyear runs through 2011. "NASCAR did not come to us and ask us to test," said Speyer. "But we're currently talking to a lot of sanctioning bodies, ARCA, USAR and NASCAR and, yes, we're interested in developing a stock car tire. "But we don't have a specific timetable or contract with anybody," he added.(NASCAR Examiner)(12-22-2008) Comment here
- Interstate Batteries returns for 2009: #18-Kyle Busch and Interstate Batteries are back for another season in the Sprint Cup Series. Busch is scheduled to run the scheme six times in 2009, including California, Texas and Daytona [doesn't say which races]. See an image on my #18 Team Schemes page.(12-22-2008) Comment here