2004 MISC NASCAR NEWS, RULES CHANGES & INFORMATION
- NASCAR #8 in Yahoo searches: American Idol was the most popular item for search engine Yahoo! in 2004, Billboard reported Monday. The Fox network's talent competition also topped the Internet giant's list of top TV reality show searches. Another Fox reality star, Paris Hilton, held second-place honors. Coming in third was Jessica Simpson, with previous list-topper Britney Spears taking fourth. Rounding out the top 10 were fictional wizard Harry Potter, wrestling franchise WWE, recording artist Usher, NASCAR, the NBA and the NFL.(Fox 23 News)(12-28-2004)
- Electronic Timing for Pit Road in 2005? Instead of [NASCAR] Mike Helton & Company using a stopwatch to determine if a driver is speeding on pit road, NASCAR is finally joining the 20th century in 2005. Electronic scoring sensors will be installed at all NASCAR tracks for '05 which should eliminate any doubts or "favoritism" from this equation.(Speed Channel)(12-26-2004)
- IRL to follow NASCAR? In the wake of several incidents in the pits last year, the Indy Racing League is seriously considering only allowing two tire changers, instead of four, over the wall in 2005. IRL tire changers and fuelers were endangered species in 2004 and IRL boss Brian Barnhart may follow NASCAR's lead and go with two men changing all four tires. Besides putting two less people over the wall, this tactic could eliminate the fuelers being hit since it only takes approximately eight seconds to fuel the cars and it would take at least twice that time frame to change four tires.(Speed Channel)(12-26-2004)
- NASCAR files suit: NASCAR has filed a lawsuit against an individual and three companies involved with a pornographic video called Racetrack Girls Go Nutz for trademark and service mark infringement. NASCAR filed the suit Monday after learning that Daystrike Marketing Inc. was distributing flyers and advertisements for the video with NASCAR logos. The flyers also were soliciting investors for Consolidated Sports Media Group Inc., based in Addison, which is involved in financing the video.(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(12-9-2004)
- Helton Chat: some highlights from an ESPN Insider [a paid subscription service] chat with NASCAR President Mike Helton:
On the rumored 'return' of the Southern 500: "only the 2005 schedule is set."
More points for winning or a pole? "Traditionally points have only been awarded for race positions. But we continually think about new options."
Penalties: " I think we currently are satisfied with our reaction to violations. I don't see us changing from using points as part of the penalty.."
Pit road speeding: "we are working on the introduction of electronic timing hardware and software, possibly as early as the '05 season."
Lucky Dog rule? "We have found there are more supporters of the free pass than opponents. But we are looking at any tweaking that might improve it.(ESPN.com Insider)(12-8-2004)
- Army Helicopters Borrow NASCAR Windshield Technology: A laminate that protects NASCAR racecar windshields from rocks and debris will soon give extra protection to Army helicopters flying in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army's Aviation Applied Technology Directorate at Fort Eustis, Va., started testing the concept in March and just got the green light to begin applying the Mylar polyester coating to the windshields of operational aircraft. Nathan Bordick, an engineer working on the project, said the Army borrowed the idea from NASCAR, where teams have been applying multiple layers of the peelable coatings to vehicle windshields for years to resist cracking, chipping and scratching. Periodically throughout a race, pit crews peel away a layer, leaving a clear, undamaged windshield for the laps ahead, he said.(American Forces Press Service / Conservative Voice.(11-30-2004)
- Artist suing over Nextel Cup: A freelance designer and artist is gearing up for a battle against auto racing behemoth NASCAR, the Franklin Mint and the Mint's former president. Matthew T. Scharle of Barrington, N.J., filed a lawsuit last week against all three, seeking credit for the new Nextel Cup Series Championship trophy, which he claims to have designed. "It's not my intention to hurt NASCAR," said Matthew T. Scharle, who lives in this small Camden County borough. "I love the sport. I just want recognition for the design work I did." Scharle's lawyer Neal A. Jacobs said Scharle's suit also seeks compensation for the alleged incorrect identification of the trophy's designer and related copyright issues. The Franklin Mint, the Aston, Pa.-based collectible marketer, is involved in the matter because, two years ago, NASCAR hired it to design the new trophy. Jeffrey S. Edwards, a lawyer representing Franklin Mint, said the Mint believes it is inappropriate to comment on pending litigation. On Nov. 9, the NASCAR sued Scharle, Franklin Mint and former Franklin Mint President Bruce J. Newman, seeking an injunction to block Scharle from taking any action to interfere with the awarding of the trophy trackside after NASCAR's final race Nov. 21 or at NASCAR's Dec. 3 banquet. "NASCAR dealt with the Franklin Mint during the design process and is very proud of the trophy and what it symbolizes," the association said in a statement. "NASCAR maintains that it owns all rights, title and interest in the design of the NASCAR Nextel Cup trophy and in the trophy itself, including the right of attribution and all other worldwide copyrights as spelled out in NASCAR's agreements with the Franklin Mint." In its lawsuit, NASCAR stated any dispute between Scharle, who was paid for his work by Franklin Mint, and Franklin Mint should be handled by those two parties through binding arbitration.(MSNBC.com)(11-29-2004)
- 'The Chase' Stays in 2005, no major changes: NASCAR chairman Brian France will keep the new points system in place for next year, satisfied that the closest championship race in history is proof that the 10-race playoff structure works better than expected. Five drivers head into Sunday's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway separated by 82 points, creating a one-race shootout to crown the Nextel Cup champion. "The new points system has been wonderful, it's created interest and a scenario that was unthinkable under the old system," France told The Associated Press. "Obviously, we were hoping to create drama all the way down to the last lap of the last race. That was our preference under the old system, and it just wasn't happening. So we like things the way they are. We always said we wanted to let the full year play out, but the balance we have now, we're real happy with. We may end up making some slight adjustments next season, but nothing very noticeable." The system has had opponents since it was announced, and critics are still finding faults. The biggest complaint was the theory that one bad finish would ruin a driver's title hopes. France said Jimmie Johnson has proved that wrong. After dropping to ninth in the standings with six races left, Johnson has used four victories to pull into second place, 18 points behind leader Kurt Busch. "Everybody thought Jimmie Johnson was out, he had three bad races and everybody said you couldn't have one," France said. "Well, nobody thought about the way to climb back into races. That is to win. That is exactly what we wanted."
So forget about a points system within a points system.
He said he is also not going to award extra points to a race winner.
France is particularly pleased with what the Chase has done for television ratings. Part of the reason he wanted the new system was to create drama that could match up with the NFL and baseball playoffs. Although NBC's ratings didn't move at first -- the first race was down 8 percent from last year, and the third race was down 2 percent -- it's been a steady climb since. The race in Atlanta three weeks ago was up 21 percent from last year, and NASCAR expects the Miami finale to post similar numbers now that there is a five-driver battle. It couldn't come at a better time for France, who is just starting to renegotiated NASCAR's television package. He said he was impressed with the $8 billion extension the NFL worked out last week with CBS and Fox, NASCAR has a $2.8 billion deal with NBC and Fox that they signed in 2001 and expires at the end of the 2006 season.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-16-2004)
- It's official - Happy Hour is history: NASCAR will implement a post-qualifying impound procedure for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at the majority of the 36 championship-point races in 2005, NASCAR officials announced today. More than half of the events on the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule will utilize the new procedure that will provide cost-containment benefits to the teams. Following qualifying and the post-qualifying inspection process, the starting field of 43 cars will be impounded by NASCAR officials until race day. During this period, the teams will not be permitted to work on their cars unless for special circumstances and authorized by NASCAR officials.
“We are still in the process of getting more tracks to commit to this procedure,” NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby said. “We appreciate the cooperation of our track operators to assist us in delivering cost-saving measures to the team owners.”
Some of the benefits of the new procedure will include reducing the amount of labor by crew members on the cars throughout a race weekend; reducing practice tire consumption and, most importantly, eliminating special qualifying parts, components, oils and set-ups.
“Ultimately, all the teams will arrive at the track with a focus on one goal,” Darby said. “That goal will be to have the best possible race set-up, and hopefully that will enhance the overall competitive element throughout the field.”
The new procedure will alter the traditional race weekend schedule. The two 45-minute final practices the day following qualifying – commonly known as “Happy Hour” – will be eliminated.
In many cases for a traditional race weekend (Friday-Sunday), two hours of practice would take place Friday, Bud Pole qualifying on Saturday and then the cars would be impounded immediately following post-qualifying inspection. On doubleheader weekends, Bud Pole qualifying could be followed by a NASCAR Busch Series event, creating a strong single-day package for race fans.(NASCAR PR)(11-15-2004)
- Twenty-two 2 day shows in 2005? UPDATE: on Speed Channel's NASCAR Live, Bob Dilner reported that during the crew chief meeting, NASCAR floated out an idea that there could be 22 two-day shows in 2005 for the Nextel Cup Series. The cars would go thru tech on Friday, but no track activities, the drivers would practice and qualify on Saturday, after qualifying the cars would be impounded and there would be NO Happy Hour [final] practice.(11-14-2004)
UPDATE: A new post-qualifying procedure designed to save money and significantly alter racing weekends will begin next season in NASCAR. Car owner Jack Roush said he and his crew chiefs were briefed on the measures Saturday at Darlington Raceway. NASCAR is expected to announce the plans this week [Friday on Speed 9:00am/et?]. Under the plan, qualifying would be moved from Friday to Saturday, then the cars would be impounded. They would then line up Sundays with no tire, gear or shock absorber changes. NASCAR chairman Brian France said the plans are still under consideration. If implemented, France said "time is the cost they'll be helping teams save.'' The traditional pair of 45-minute Saturday practice sessions, called "Happy Hour,'' will be eliminated. Nextel Cup teams will run two hours of practice laps on Fridays. After impoundment, any work on cars would have to be approved by NASCAR and only for special circumstances. One benefit is that overworked Nextel Cup teams would get some rest on Saturday afternoons. Another would come in the wallets of race teams, saving money on practice tires and special parts.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-15-2004)
- New Qualifying format in 2005? UPDATE 2: Bob Dilner reported on Speed Channel that qualifying in 2005 for the Cup Series could have a different look in 2005, with the top 35 teams [owners points? drivers points?] be assured to make the top 35 no matter how fast or slow they are. From 36 on back could not get the pole and would be set by speed. No word on if provisionals would still be used. This is supposedly one of a few scenarios NASCAR is thinking about regarding qualifying in 2005.(10-30-2004)
UPDATE: New qualifying procedures will likely be in place at more than half the races on the 2005 Nextel Cup schedule, including a guarantee that the top 35 teams in the car owners' points would get a starting spot in each week's event. Nextel Cup Series director John Darby confirmed Friday that Nextel Cup is heading toward a process used several times this year in the Busch Series, where cars are impounded by NASCAR after qualifying and would then start the race with the same set-up they had for the time trials.
"That would allow the teams to have one focus per weekend," Darby said. "They would leave the shop in race set-up, then unload at the track and qualify and race with the car in race trim." Currently, Nextel Cup teams practice and then make two-lap qualifying runs on Fridays in a typical race weekend. They then change their cars dramatically before a running a pair of Saturday morning practices the way their cars will be for Sunday's race. Darby said the "ideal" schedule for 2005 would be Friday afternoon practices with Cup qualifying at midday Saturday preceding a Busch or Truck series support race. Cup cars would be impounded after qualifying and teams would be able to make only slight adjustments - air pressure in tires, for instance - before the green flag on Sunday.
There other major change in qualifying rules would be in effect at all tracks, however. The top 35 cars in owner points would be guaranteed a starting spot to protect teams running full schedules from being bumped by part-time teams who show up in qualifying mode to make a race with no regard of how that car would do in the race. There were 50 cars entered in this weekend's Checker 500 at Phoenix. Under the new set-up, the top 35 in points would be guaranteed spots. The other 15 cars would compete for the remaining eight slots [a heat race would be cool]. The field would still be lined up based on speed. But if the eighth fastest car not in the 35 in points had the 29th best speed, positions 30 through 43 would be filled by cars in the top 35, ranked by speed, even if the ninth best car among those not in the top 35 went faster.(ThatsRacin.com)(11-6-2004)
UPDATE 2: on Speed Channel's NASCAR Live, Bob Dilner said one way qualifying would work, is the top 35 would qualifying for the top 35 spots, any team/driver out of the top 35 in owners points making an attempt could start no better then 36th, not even the pole.[I don't offer opinion's much, but I don't like that scenario, top 35 in for sure is great, after the top 35, then the 8 out of the top 35 start here they qualified](11-14-2004)
- Twenty-two 2 day shows in 2005? on Speed Channel's NASCAR Live, Bob Dilner reported that during the crew chief meeting, NASCAR floated out an idea that there could be 22 two-day shows in 2005 for the Nextel Cup Series. The cars would go thru tech on Friday, but no track activities, the drivers would practice and qualify on Saturday, after qualifying the cars would be impounded and there would be NO Happy Hour [final] practice.(11-14-2004)
- NYC Blitz: NASCAR sponsor Nextel plans to have numerous signs throughout New York as part of the sanctioning body's Champions Week celebration Nov. 28-Dec. 3, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. The company's black and yellow colors will be on 10 airport shuttles, 25 taxi tops, 25 phone kiosks around the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, 30 street vendor carts and 250,000 coffee cups around the city. Eight team show cars are scheduled for appearances at numerous locations, including Madison Square Garden, the Plaza Hotel and Times Square, starting Nov. 29.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(11-20-2004)
- Lots of Cash on the line: Nextel and NASCAR unveiled a record Nextel Cup Series points fund of more than $24 million to be distributed among the top 25 drivers at the end of the 2004 season. The payout guarantees each of the top 11 drivers at least $1 million for the first time in the sport's history. "The Nextel Cup Series is America's most widely attended spectator sport, and the structure of this year's points fund reflects NASCAR's popularity and Nextel's commitment to this sport," said Tim Donahue, Nextel's president and chief executive officer. "NASCAR Nextel Cup Series teams compete on the highest level for 10 months out of the year, and we are proud to honor the drivers and teams for their hard work and achievement." The previous record points fund payout was $21,031,000 in 2003. This year's record payout significantly ups the ante for drivers. The 10 drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup are competing for the lion's share of the purse - $5.2 million - as well as the title of Nextel Cup Series champion. The points fund provides incentive for teams not contending for the Nextel Cup trophy, as the 11th place driver will win a minimum of $1 million. R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand began the points fund in 1971 to award end-of-season bonus money to teams. The 1971 purse totaled $100,000, including a $40,000 bonus for the series champion Richard Petty. This year's $5.2 million champion's prize sets a new benchmark. The winner's share reached $1 million for the first time in 1989 when Rusty Wallace won the series championship. It reached $2 million in 1999, $3 million in 2000 and climbed above $4 million last year.(ThatsRacin)(11-17-2004)
- NASCAR Enters Strategic Alliance with CASCAR: In a joint effort to increase fan interest and visibility for stock car racing in Canada,NASCAR and CASCAR [www.cascar.com]have entered into a multi-year operational and marketing agreement. “NASCAR is looking forward to working with CASCAR in a growing market for stock car racing,” said George Pyne, Chief Operating Officer of NASCAR. “NASCAR will lend operational and marketing expertise to help grow Canada’s only national stock car series. This partnership further demonstrates NASCAR’s support of grassroots racing throughout North America and our efforts to bring sponsorship and licensing opportunities to businesses at every level of the sport.”
“In the past 23 years, CASCAR has grown from a regional racing series to a national organization,” said Tony Novotny, President of CASCAR. “NASCAR’s experience and resources will strengthen and support racing in Canada while establishing a foundation for future growth.”
Earlier this year, NASCAR formed NASCAR Canada, a partnership with TSN that established a Canadian base of operation in Toronto, as well as NASCAR Mexico, based in Mexico City. These new offices support local racing and extend the marketing of the sport to borders north and south of the U.S.
“NASCAR’s alliance with CASCAR, which complements our partnership with TSN, will help attract new fans to our sport and bring new opportunities to NASCAR sponsors and licensing partners,” Pyne said. “It will be an important vehicle for NASCAR’s continuing support of stock car racing at the grass roots in the Canadian market.”
NASCAR is the top-rated motorsport on Canadian television, and TSN is the most preferred viewing destination. The Canadian fan base is six million strong with Canadians considered among the most passionate NASCAR fans, according to the 2004 Ipsos-Insight NASCAR Canada Brand Tracker Survey. A significant number of Canadians have attended a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. Regular travel to NASCAR events across the United States is common and growing.(NASCAR PR)(11-16-2004)
- Slower Pit Stops in 2005? UPDATES: NASCAR wants to slow pit stops next season on the Nextel Cup and Busch tours, and officials are considering a drastic change in the fuel-dump cans. Now a gas man can dump two 11-gallon cans in a car in about 11 seconds, and that has put a remarkable premium on car owners putting together a pit crew fast enough to change four tires in that brief time span. By ordering teams to use fuel cans with smaller spouts, NASCAR officials hope to slow the dump time to 19 seconds. In turn, that would lessen the need for lightning-fast pit crews. But some top pit-crew men are upset with NASCAR's plans, saying NASCAR is playing to car owners, who have been complaining about the rising cost of hiring fast pit-crew men.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-6-2004)
More on the 'slower' pit stop plans UPDATE Busch/Trucks: There are more twists now in NASCAR's proposed rules to slow pit stops and take good pit crews out of the equation: NASCAR officials are reportedly worried that super-fast pit crews might become organized, bringing sports agents into the negotiating process. A top over-the-wall crewman can make as much as $125,000 a year, considering his base in-shop salary and pit-crew bonuses. If all seven crewmen are in that category, a team's line-item budget would be $875,000.
Team owners and crew chiefs are also facing another worrisome aspect - dissent within the teams about the disparity in salaries. Some regular crewmen say that some pit crewmen are given full-time jobs in the shop but that those Sunday pit-road specialists take up space on the weekday shop roster that could be filled by more talented people.
The slower fuel-flow gas cans will likely be used on the Busch and Truck tours in 2005 and then on the Nextel Cup tour in 2006, though the Cup tour could see the new rules too sooner. By slowing the flow of fuel during a pit stop, NASCAR officials figure teams would not need lightning-fast pit crews, and the cost of such top-notch pit crews has gone up considerably.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-13-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials appear to be ready to implement a suggestion from Busch Series crew chief Ricky Pearson, who wants to restrict the flow of gasoline during pit stops. That would lengthen most pit stops and take away the advantage of teams that have full-time tire changers who can perform their tasks much quicker than the part-timers who work for many Busch teams. The changes would start in the Busch and Craftsman Truck series [in 2005], then possibly be expanded to Cup [in 2006].(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(11-14-2004)
- Still waiting a yes or no on hard liquor UPDATE 3 Yes is Official: There is still no official word from NASCAR executives about lifting the ban on hard liquor sponsorships on Nextel Cup cars, but an announcement is expected shortly, to come with Richard Childress' expected announcement of Jack Daniel's as a sponsor, apparently to replace AOL [or does it go to #7-Robby Gordon?]. NASCAR's announcement could open the door for Smirnoff to put its vodka brand on Matt Kenseth's car, replacing Smirnoff Ice [which moves to the #97 in 205], and for #99-Carl Edwards to get a Crown Royal-Diageo sponsorship, too.(Winston Salem Journal)
AND NASCAR officials are expected to announce this week that they will lift their long-standing ban on hard liquor sponsorships for next season. Several teams are hoping to court hard liquor companies, including Roush Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Under NASCAR's current rules, teams are allowed to advertise beer and so-called "malt beverages" such as Smirnoff Ice.(USA Today)(11-8-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials are expected to announce this week that they will lift their longstanding ban on hard-liquor sponsorships for next season. The move could bring an influx of sponsorship money. Several Nextel Cup teams -- Roush Racing and Richard Childress Racing among them -- are primed to sign deals with hard-liquor companies, including Diageo and Jack Daniels.(Chicago Tribune Wires)(11-9-2004)
UPDATE Yes..but too late for the #99?: NASCAR officials e-mailed a bulletin to team executives Tuesday afternoon advising them that a longstanding ban on hard-liquor advertising will be lifted for next season. By removing the ban, officials could create a sponsorship windfall for a couple of racing teams that have been courting liquor companies in recent months. NASCAR president Mike Helton will make the formal announcement Wednesday. NASCAR is not expected to name an official hard-liquor brand, but teams and tracks will be allowed to advertise hard-liquor products — as long as the advertising programs include a commitment to promoting responsible drinking. Roush Racing president Geoff Smith called the announcement "a victory for all the teams" but said he was disappointed that officials didn't lift the ban several months ago. Smith has spent much of this year vigorously lobbying NASCAR officials to allow liquor advertising. Smith was hoping to sign a brand from liquor manufacturer Diageo as the primary sponsor for up-and-coming driver #99-Carl Edwards next season. But because the ban was lifted so late in the year, Smith says the company can only commit to a reduced role as an associate sponsor for driver #97-Kurt Busch. Richard Childress Racing also is pursuing a liquor company to sponsor its No. 30 car for next season.(USA Today), would expect some team announcements within the next 10 days ago on sponsorship with these type companies, like RCR and Roush.(11-10-2004)
NASCAR Announcement: on Wednesday morning, November 10th, 2004, NASCAR is scheduled to make an announcment about Sponsorship - hard liquor? looks like it...(11-10-2004)
UPDATE - OFFICIAL: After conducting an extended review of its sponsorship policies and researching trends in consumer attitudes, NASCAR announced that distilled spirits products are now a new category for sponsorship in the sport beginning in the 2005 season. "We felt the time was right to allow distilled spirits companies into NASCAR," said Mike Helton, President of NASCAR. "Attitudes have changed, and spirits companies have a long record of responsible advertising. Any spirits company involved in NASCAR will have marketing campaigns strongly grounded in responsibility and will follow advertising and marketing guidelines set by NASCAR that are consistent with the Distilled Spirits Council's advertising code. Spirits companies are recognized as leaders in responsibility and are encouraging adults who choose to drink, to do so responsibly. We are confident that the spirits companies entering our sport will come to apply that same level of responsibility to their involvement in NASCAR, and will communicate the same responsible marketing and messages that beer companies have exhibited in the sport for the past 25 years," Helton said. "Additionally, this will provide numerous new sponsorship opportunities to our teams. While the NASCAR industry will benefit across the board, teams will be the primary beneficiaries of this decision in a way that promotes a responsible drinking message consistent with the practices in other motorsports."
NASCAR's internal review included outreach to advocacy groups such as the National Commission Against Drunk Driving and other experts in the field of alcohol-related issues. Additionally, NASCAR reached out to industry groups such as the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and The Century Council. NASCAR based its guidelines on the input received from these groups. The distilled spirits companies participating in NASCAR must agree to comply with the Distilled Spirits Council's "Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing" and abide by the Code Review Board's decisions. Each company's marketing activities will be grounded in a responsible behavior message. A dedicated portion of advertising by spirits companies in NASCAR will be solely focused on encouraging responsible drinking decisions, with all remaining advertising including a responsible behavior tag.(NASCAR PR)(11-10-2004)
- Drivers not happy with garage security: NASCAR's garage security has been terrible this season on the Nextel Cup tour, forcing drivers back into hiding in their motor coaches, to avoid being mobbed by the hundreds of fans swarming through the working areas. Yesterday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally had enough, and to make a point with lackadaisical NASCAR officials, Earnhardt took a page from his late father's book. He sat down on the rear deck of the NASCAR trailer and signed autographs for the crowd that quickly packed the area, making it impossible for officials to enter or leave.(Winston Salem Journal)(11-7-2004)
- Exclusive Springs Supplier for Daytona/Talladega: per Speed Channel's coverage of the SEMA show in Las Vegas, it was mentioned that on Monday, Nov 1st, Eibach Springs announced that they would be the exclusive spring supplier for the two restrictor plate tracks, where NASCAR issues and maintain control over rear springs.(11-7-2004)
- France talks to XM: NASCAR Chair and CEO Brian France joined Claire B. Lang [CBL] on "Dialed In" on XM Satellite Radio Wednesday [Nov. 4th]. He answered questions from fans and CBL. Among the issues that came up were the upcomming TV contract and the Dale Junior point penalty for swearing.
Question: With the TV contract coming up, are you looking to have more races on the network channels, or are you looking to expand it more onto cable?
Brian France: Well, we like the current balance that we have now, so we wouldn't be interested in changing that around too much, but you know you have to see how things play out. And we also really like our partners, we think that that's our first goal is to renew with the group that we have now at Fox, and TNT/NBC, they do a really good job - they get it, the races are entertaining in how they present them, my hope is that we'll figure out a way to renew our existing agreements with our partners.
Question: you fine these drivers, monetary amounts for swearing, and then deduct driver points and team points, my question is, why wouldn't you just go with the monetary fine, but make it, you know, their first offense around $50,000, and then up from there, because, $10,000 is nothing to these guys.
Brian France: Yea, that's a good question, and matter of fact, I'm glad you asked that question, that's the most often thing, and I haven't addressed this, other than on this show, and I'll do it right now, I'm sure you're referring to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. penalty,
Question: Drivers that were fined driver points.
Brian France: Here's the problem. If we just went with a monetary penalty, many drivers will tell you, they don't care. Now, the drivers that are doing real well financially will say that. Now other drivers, a rookie driver, a Busch driver, who's just getting started, they
would care. So the problem that we have is, on important matters that we want the drivers to conform to, we have to have a floating scale, we'd have to know your balance sheet - what's enough to make Dale Earnhardt [Jr.] think about it, and a Busch driver another. So what would we do? Have a floating scale based on your net worth? I mean, you can't do it that way. If it's a serious matter, then the only thing that all drivers understand are points. And we were consistently consistent when we told everybody at the beginning of the year we had an issue, that was right after the Super Bowl, under the backdrop of the FCC clamping down, our network partners called us and said you've got to - this is serious, you've got to help us, we're pumping racing into people's living rooms, and we're just not going to tolerate profanity and other things, and we understood that, and we passed it on to the drivers, and we told them, this is a serious matter, you're all aware of it, and then we were consistent. We have everybody the same penalty - the two guys that did it before Dale Jr - we had no other option but to do that. And that's why we don't have just a monetary fine. And I wish it weren't so serious of an issue, that the Super Bowl, and I wish that that incident didn't happen, the FCC and Howard Stern, and all the things that swirl around out there, that the FCC feels very strongly that has to be addressed - it's not my view, it's their view, and we have to conform to it.(XM Satellite Radio) and for those who don't know, XM Radio has a 2nd NASCAR channel, #145, used on raceday only: "NASCAR Radio fans, now you can hear your favorite drivers talk with their teams at any point during the race. With XM NASCAR Radio 2, you'll hear real-time, in-race conversations between the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers and their crews."(11-5-2004)
- CASCAR and NASCAR delayed UPDATE Nov 18th: CASCAR president Tony Novotny delayed an announcement that was scheduled for Oct 30th that the national stock car racing body has entered into an agreement with NASCAR. "We've been trying really, really hard to pull something together and hopefully we'll have something in the next few weeks," Novotny said. "Everybody knows we've been talking to them, but they move really, really slow." It's been speculated for almost two years that NASCAR would be buying CASCAR, which Novotny established in 1981 and is headquartered in Komoka [Canada]. CASCAR lost its flagship track, Delaware Speedway, this past season when it switched sanctioning to NASCAR and the Dodge Weekly Series. But Delaware retained its two CASCAR Super Series races. Novotny's announcement was to have come during CASCAR's annual awards dinner at the London Convention Centre Saturday.(London Free Press)(11-1-2004)
UPDATE: Dave Despain mentioned on Speed Channel's Wind Tunnel that the announcement would be November 18th.(11-5-2004)
- Helton to attend historic SAE Conference: NASCAR president Mike Helton is among the noted participants for the 2004 SAE Motorsports Engineering Conference & Exhibition in Dearborn, Mich., this fall. Held from Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn, the event focuses on high-performance technology in the racing industry. Particularly significant is the executive business panel on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Geared toward the theme of “Change for Relevance,” the panel will bring together – for the first time – the heads of the racing industry’s top sanctioning bodies: Max Mosley (FIA, Formula One’s global sanctioning body), Helton (NASCAR), Tony George (Indy Racing League), Tom Compton (National Hot Rod Association) and Steve Johnson (Sports Car Club of America). All five executives will discuss challenges and topics relevant to the current industry, including cost control, maintaining a competitive product, safety advances and the business of racing.(NASCAR PR)(11-4-2004)
- Martinsville Illegal Parts & Pieces:
#80 Mario Gosselin - Had a complete Hutchen's Device pulled, including attached yellow and red release straps. It was marked "Not to be used more than 2 years past manufactured date." Sewn on white tag, stated Manufactured (9-2001).
#31 Robby Gordon - Had numerous pieces on display, the items included damaged parts caused when lead weights left his car in turn 3 during early Friday practice laps at Martinsville Speedway, after light rain subsided. Obviously the lead weights were not secured.
* The largest magnetized lead weight 3 5/8 x 2 1/2 x 7 was so heavy it could not be moved on the metal counter top.
* The second magnetized lead weight was 2 5/8 x 2 5/8 x 7, extremely heavy but movable.
* A 3x2x7 piece of hollow metal was tagged lead weight holder.
* An approximate, 15" piece of hose and air duct smashed and ripped off by lead weights was on display.
* A metal strap that had been around the air hose had also been picked up.
* One Goodyear tire marked LR (Left Rear) was cut by lead weights, the cut was circled in red.
A Gordon team member, in the NASCAR hauler when IRN was present, advised NASCAR that a bolt was missing.(Insider Racing News)(10-24-2004)
- Firestone in NASCAR? UPDATE 2: on Monday's WInd Tunnel with Dave Despain [Speed Channel 10:00pm/et], Robin Miller reported that Firestone supposedly will test a Truck Series truck or Busch Series car in 2005 with a Toyota engine and Firestone tires, similiar to what Scott Pruett did in the early 1990's, where he tested Firestone tires for a full season. Goodyear has a contract with NASCAR thru the 2007 season, so Firestone couldn't come in the Cup Series until 2008.(10-19-2004)
AND see the full column by Robin Miller at Speed Channel - Bridgestone/Firestone to begin NASCAR initiative.(10-20-2004)
UPDATE 2: Goodyear has an exclusive deal with NASCAR to supply tires for its top three professional series through 2007, but there are reports Bridgestone/Firestone and B.F. Goodrich are interested in supplanting Goodyear. Stu Grant, general manager for Goodyear's worldwide racing program, isn't surprised by the interest. "Look at what's going on in racing," he said. "NASCAR is where everybody wants to be." NASCAR officials say that having a single tire supplier makes racing safer and they have no interest in starting another tire war such as the one that raged between Goodyear and Hoosier before the exclusive deal was signed in 1995. As for the possibility of changing tire suppliers, NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said only, "We have a great relationship with Goodyear. It's very satisfying and a continual benefit to the sport."(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(10-22-2004)
- More on Hard Liquior to NASCAR AND 21 the new age? UPDATE: With both NBC and Fox having apparently approved hard-liquor sponsorship of a Nextel Cup car, the ball is in NASCAR's court in the debate over whether to allow Diageo, makers of Crown Royal and other alcoholic beverages, to sponsor a car on the Nextel Cup tour next season, and sources say NASCAR has decided to allow the company to sponsor a Cup car. NASCAR vetoed Jack Roush's [#99] sponsorship plans earlier this season. For much of the year the debate has been in the network offices of Fox and NBC, where executives have been against allowing TV ads for products like Crown Royal, even while allowing their cable subsidiaries to accept such ads. The Fox Speed channel is carrying the Crown Royal-sponsored IROC series. But ABC's decision to allow Jim Beam sponsorship during the Indianapolis 500 apparently broke the long-time network ban, and Fox and NBC are willing to let Nextel Cup teams carry such sponsorships too - once NASCAR executives work out their own details - according to sources.(Winston Salem Journal)
AND rumors are circulating that if NASCAR allows hard liquior as a sponsor in the Cup Series, they may raise the minimum age requirement to 21. If so, would that stop Kyle Busch's possible move to the Cup Series in 2005? Brian Vickers couldn't race in the Crown Royal IROC Series and the Bud Pole stickers on the #25 [and Busch's #84 Cup car] says 'Pole Awards' with an Anheuser-Busch logo, NOT "Budweiser Pole Award".(9-18-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR has considered changing the minimum age to compete in the Nextel Cup Series to 21, but NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said he "doesn't know of any plan to do that." Speculation is that the change could come if NASCAR allows hard liquor companies to sponsor teams.(NASCAR Scene Print Edition)(9-25-2004)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR is set to rescind its ban on hard-liquor sponsorships beginning next season, ThatsRacin.com has learned. The move should bring an influx of new sponsorship money into the sport. Several Nextel Cup teams – Roush Racing and Richard Childress Racing among them – are primed to sign sponsorship deals with hard-liquor companies, including Diageo and Jack Daniels [Jayski says YES!], sources said. On Friday, NASCAR officials insisted they had not made a final decision. "We are currently evaluating the policy we have in place regarding liquor sponsors but no official decision has been made at this time in regard to any changes," NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said. NASCAR has allowed beer companies to sponsor cars and its Busch series has been sponsored by Anheuser-Busch since 1982. In recent years also has allowed hard liquor companies to advertise their malt beverage products. For instance, Smirnoff vodka is not allowed, but Smirnoff Ice is allowed as an associate sponsor on Matt Kenseth's #17 Ford. Several other racing series already allow hard liquor advertising. Crown Royal began sponsoring the International Race of Champions series this season. NASCAR will likely provide several guidelines overseeing the marketing of the hard liquor sponsorships, but is not expected to alter its 18-year-old minimum age requirement for its three national series – Craftsman Trucks, Busch and Cup, sources said.(ThatsRacin)(10-15-2004)
The normal Budweiser Pole sticker
The Pole Award sticker with the Anheuser-Busch logo, from the #25 car
Taken at Las Vegas by Jayski
- No Yellow at Talladega, some drivers wonder why? NASCAR's decision not to issue a yellow flag despite Greg Biffle's last-lap crash at Talladega Superspeedway caused rumblings in the Nextel Cup garage at Kansas Speedway yesterday. Elliott Sadler said he was confused and concerned by the call, which allowed the race to end under green. "If I was in a wreck, especially at Talladega, I'd want the safety guys to roll as fast as they can," Sadler said. "We need to figure out if that happens again, are we just going to race back and then worry about the guy who wrecked or throw the caution? We want a consistent pattern. It's frustrating they didn't throw it when Greg could have been hurt. We want to make sure our safety workers can get to us."(Roanoke Times)
AND Sadler admits the spring Talladega finish could have influenced NASCAR officials. During that race, series officials allowed the race to end under caution, angering fans who littered the track with debris. A NASCAR official said a caution was not thrown because the pack was by the accident and because of the size of the track. Drivers had plenty of time to slow after crossing the finish line before getting back to the crash scene on the 2.66-mile speedway.(Roanoke Times)(10-9-2004)
- Bleep doesn't mean no penalty: Five-second delay or not, it’s still not OK to use profanity on TV. That’s what NASCAR president Mike Helton said Friday. A bleeped-out oath will not excuse the offending driver from disciplinary action from NASCAR. “That delay doesn’t protect them,” said Helton. “First of all, the delay doesn’t necessarily mean the word won’t get through, and even if it doesn’t get through, it will still be obvious that an offensive word was used, even if the actual word doesn’t get out.” Helton conceded, however, that NASCAR officials will not likely take away points from a driver or owner whose profanity is bleeped out by TV censors. Radio will join the rush to delay, by the way. Motor Racing Network president David Hyatt announced on Friday that a seven-second audio delay would be implemented beginning with Sunday’s Banquet 400. Performance Racing Network, the Speedway Motorsports entity that broadcasts most of the races not assigned to MRN, began using a delay earlier this year.(Gaston Gazette)(10-9-2004)
- No more Happy Hour? NASCAR is considering reorganizing some Nextel Cup weekends for 2005, including cutting out Happy Hour. Many teams have complained there is too much idle time on the weekends and that the schedule should be more efficient. Under the usual schedule, teams show up, get inspected, practice and qualify on Friday, then have Happy Hour practice on Saturday afternoon. Dale Jarrett suggests teams could arrive and go through inspections on Friday but have practice and qualifying on Saturday. "We could definitely cut at least one day out of this," Jarrett says. Nextel Cup director John Darby says cutting a day would be difficult. But eliminating Happy Hour, which would save money and time, is a possibility. Because teams have Happy Hour to find the right race setups, they use qualifying practice to work on qualifying setups. Without Happy Hour, many teams wouldn't bother with the expense of qualifying setups. They'd practice and qualify in race setups. Eliminating Happy Hour also would give teams more down time on Saturday.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(10-4-2004)
- Inspection Process at Talladega: NASCAR pulled a little switch this week for Talladega inspections when they opened the garage a day earlier than usual. The effort, being heralded as a success by NASCAR, took a lot of the frantic movement out of the speedway inspection process. The idea was to get the cars on the ground, inspected and ready to go early Friday morning; and with the efforts of both NASCAR and the competitors the plan worked fairly well. The added bonus of an extra half-hour of practice time for the teams was the reward for the head start in the exacting and very involved speedway inspection process. NASCAR’s reward was a “friendlier schedule to deal with.” NASCAR opened the garage Thursday, with the promise that each team could make one pass through the inspection gauntlet that speedway cars must endure. The extra time made for a more casual inspection, and left most of the crew chiefs with extra pre-practice time to work on their cars. NASCAR sources said they didn’t find anything out of the ordinary in inspections here, but some teams had to grind edges off their cars to fit templates. There was also a curious set of rear spring buckets that were found on one of the DEI entries [#1], forcing NASCAR inspectors to check the other DEI cars that had already gotten their cleared for competition stickers.(Team Ford Racing)(10-2-2004)
- Some Qualifying Notes AND Official Suspended: Never saw this before, in an odd twist, #30-Jeff Burton and #22-Scott Wimmer were allowed to requalify as the NASCAR Official who was supposed to take the cowl cover off the cars, failed to do so on the #22 and #30, so NASCAR let them requalify. Burton ran 154.759 [would had been good for 36th fastest] the first time and 155.273 in the requalify attempt [33rd]. Wimmer ran 154.063 [would had been good for 39th and provisional land] the first time and 155.682 in the requalify attempt [29th].(9-24-2004)
AND NASCAR has temporarily suspended official Don Berry, following a mix-up on pit road Friday during Nextel Cup qualifying at Dover International Speedway, ThatsRacin.com has learned. On Friday, two cars – those of Jeff Burton and Scott Wimmer – were told to take to the track for qualifying runs without a NASCAR official first removing the tape that is placed over the cowl, the top part of the car body that supports the windshield and the dashboard. The tape can only be removed by a NASCAR official. Berry is the pit road coordinator during the qualifying process, supervising such actions. With the tape on, car will typically run somewhat slower. NASCAR officials noticed the mistake before the session ended and allowed both Burton and Wimmer to qualify again. Wimmer was 29th fastest, Burton 33rd. NASCAR spokesperson Tracey Judd declined to comment, citing NASCAR’s policy of not commenting on internal personnel matters.(ThatsRacin)(9-27-2004)
- Speeding - NASCAR's Monitoring System in the Dark Ages: #48 owner, Rick Hendrick was not pleased with the drive-thru penalty handed to driver Jimmie Johnson [for speeding]. "I don't understand with all the electronics at our disposal -- and even our sponsor Delphi has told (NASCAR) that they could put a wire in the ground at every track. If these people think that they can put another 10,000 people in the seats, they'll do that in a minute. But why not take the guesswork out of this pit-road deal. You got a guy up there with eyesight and a stop watch making a decision that can affect the championship."(FoxSports/Sporting News)(9-27-2004)
- France Launching Publishing Venture: NASCAR Chairman Brian France is launching a separate marketing agency providing custom publishing services for NASCAR and other sports and entertainment properties, Street and Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports in this week's issue. Game Change Marketing is expected to begin operations within the next month, sources told the magazine's Terry Lefton. The business, which will initially focus on custom publishing, has been circulating a "Racewatch" prototype modeled after the Playbill programs given away in theaters. Similar custom publishing deals are planned for the Professional Bull Riders Association, National Hot Rod Association and the Association of Volleyball Professionals. Lefton reports that NASCAR Director of Multimedia Marketing Josh Cohen would move to GCM and said NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne and Vice President of Corporate Marketing Brett Yormark may also have roles.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(9-21-2004)
- New Spring Rule for Talladega AND: On Fox Sports Net's NASCAR This Morning, Bob Dillner reported that the Cup teams were given news that they would be handed springs [front and rear?] in the 375-400lbs range that they would have to use at Talladega Superspeedway in the EA Sports 500.
AND NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Sunday the sanctioning body is contemplating a rule change for the Oct. 3 EA Sports 500 race at Talladega. NASCAR already mandates rear shocks and a restrictor-plate for all superspeedway races and beginning at Talladega this fall, NASCAR is also expected to mandate the rear springs teams can use. If adapted, the rule will require NASCAR to issue rear springs to teams at the start of the weekend and will maintain control over them as they do rear shocks and the plates. The rear springs issued by NASCAR are expected to rate between 375 and 400 pounds, likely to fall on the lower end of the scale, Zizzo said.(ThatsRacin.com)(9-19-2004)
- Teams/Drivers not happy with 2005 aero rules: The hottest topic in the garage [at NHIS] isn't the championship race but Goodyear's Las Vegas tire test four days ago. Stock-car crews studying test results from Las Vegas are ticked off more than ever about NASCAR's new aerodynamic rules. "They're just going to make the racing worse, just like those rules did back in 1998," one crew man said, after asking not to be named. "When Greg Biffle and Casey Mears are yelling 'loose!' what do you think the rest of these cats in here are going to say, because Greg and Casey can drive a loose race car better than just about anybody." The new rules cut an inch off the rear spoiler. In turn, Goodyear is to come up with a slightly softer tire. "The shorter spoiler is only going to make the cars faster and harder to drive," one crew chief said. "And you can't fix lack of downforce just by adding tire grip."<Winston Salem Journal)(9-19-2004)
- NASCAR tests scoring computers: NASCAR made sure its scoring computers were in top shape for Saturday night's run at Richmond International Raceway, the crucial 26th race of the Nextel Cup season which would determine the field for the "Chase for the Championship." To get a trial run of potential scoring situations, simulated models were run through the computer system, using the results of last weekend's race at California as if those were the results at Richmond. Statisticians even altered the order of finish several times to see what might occur around the critical 10th-place cutoff ranking in the standings. In one scenario, the results produced a tie for 10th between Mark Martin and Jamie McMurray. If that were the actual case, Martin would have been in the Chase and McMurray left out. The tie, as per NASCAR rules, would be broken by Martin having one victory and McMurray none.(Alabama Live)(9-13-2004)
- Lots of Work/Inspections UPDATE: NASCAR officials were expected to tear down as many as 20 cars in a postrace inspection after tonight's race. Typically, series officials examine about five cars after a race. "We're going to try to remove any doubt from everybody's mind," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president for corporate communication, of the increased inspection process.(Roanoke Times)(9-12-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR inspected 11 cars after the Richmond race to ensure there was no impropriety with the drivers who qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Although inspections lasted well into Sunday morning, no issues were found.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(9-13-2004)
- Chase for Nextel Cup only UPDATE well....: NASCAR president Mike Helton said the 10-driver, 10-race Chase to the Championship format now used in the Nextel Cup Series isn't likely to be applied to the Busch or Craftsman Truck Series. He said the drivers who race in more than one series complicate things. "The challenges, in addition to wanting this to be unique to the Nextel Cup Series, is that the Truck and Busch series have so many Cup competitors who participate," Helton said. "When you start running the models, it gets pretty skewed."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(9-12-2004)
UPDATE: Expect NASCAR to scrutinize the new points format closely before deciding whether to use it in the Busch Series and Craftsman Trucks Series. NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter says adapting the system in the two lower series is a possibility, but the issue would have to be "debated internally" first.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(9-13-2004)
- Fleetwood Develops NASCAR Products: Fleetwood RV, one of the nation's leading manufacturers of recreational vehicles, announced a new license agreement with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) that allows Fleetwood to develop custom-designed NASCAR-licensed RV products. "While RVing has become increasingly more popular nationwide, it has always been part of the NASCAR fan experience," said Mark Dyer, vice president of licensing and consumer products for NASCAR. "Additionally, recreational vehicles are seen all over the country, and NASCAR holds races in all corners of the United States." NASCAR fans are known to be strong outdoor enthusiasts. Compared to non-fans, they are more likely to visit campgrounds and travel by recreational vehicles, participate in outdoor activities, and own multiple types of outdoor gear, according to the Simmons National Consumer Survey. When NASCAR fans stay at a private or public campground, they are twice as likely to travel by recreational vehicle, according to the Simmons research. Fleetwood RV will unveil all of its new NASCAR-licensed products during the October 16, 2004, race weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, as well as the California RV Show in Pomona, California, October 15-24, 2004.(Motorhome Magazine)(9-9-2004)
- The Longest Line Rule: NASCAR officials reaffirmed in the drivers meeting that the car that gets its lap back [Lucky Dog] in a restart must start at the tail end of the longest line. That car can move up before the restart only if other cars ahead pull to the bottom of the track in a sign for series officials that they're letting the car by.(News and Record)(9-7-2004)
- Intake Manifolds Submitted: According to NASCAR sources all three manufacturers have submitted new intake manifolds for consideration of approval by NASCAR for the 2005 season. The deadline for new part submittal was Sept. 1. The Ford piece doesn't represent an earth shattering improvement, and actually the new item was submitted to help the engine builders assemble and seal the intake system. The current intake posses a problem due to the orientation of the bolts used to secure it to the head and the fasteners don't allow a seal to the quality of the other manufactures. The GM types are keeping their cards close to their vest, but cited assembly issues. The Dodge Boys weren’t available to learn their desires for a new intake.(Team Ford Racing)(9-6-2004)
- NASCAR Teams Using Facilities at ORNL to Increase Performance: More and more, NASCAR teams seeking a racing edge are making pit stops at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's High Temperature Materials Laboratory [ornl.gov / Oak Ridge, TN] for high-tech tips to better performance. "ORNL facilities that are used to test and develop transportation and materials technologies are gaining popularity among the NASCAR set," HTML Director Arvid Pasto said. "HTML provides a means for racing teams to study ways to enhance a car's ability to race at high speeds." Pasto said the HTML helps solve problems in advanced energy conversion systems -- such as race cars -- to make them more efficient and reliable. Engineers with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) of Welcome, N.C., which includes three cars [#'s 29,30,31] on the Nextel Cup circuit and two more in the Busch series, said they have been able to improve performances of their cars during the first half of the 2004 season based in part on research conducted last fall at the HTML.(more at azom.com.(9-1-2004)
- No Changes Expected in Points System in 2005: NASCAR chairman Brian France doesn’t expect to make major changes for next season in the new points system introduced in January to determine the Nextel Cup champion. “We’ll make them if we have to, but I can’t imagine anything significant,” he said before Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. France said the system, which calls for a playoff among the top 10 drivers and anybody within 400 points of the lead during the final 10 races, has surpassed expectations. “I love it,” he said. “I hope everybody else does as much as I do. I’m a little biased, but it’s been everything we could have ever hoped for and maybe a little more.” France said the biggest surprise is the attention being focused on drivers battling for the final few spots spot in the 10-race playoff with only two races remaining in the regular season. France said he has received no complaints from sponsors, which has been a concern of some drivers that might not make the playoffs.(The State)(8-29-2004)
- Notes on the Changes for 2005: As promised after last week’s NASCAR announcement to trim one-inch from the rear spoilers for 2005, the teams got to work to see what that inch meant to the cars. It didn’t take long for the results to come in. The news is that the cars will be lighter in the rear than they are this year. According to several team engineers the first results after the trim showed about a 200-pound reduction in rear downforce – a number that represents about a third of the total rear down. Last year’s trim of the rear spoiler, three-quarters of an inch, provided about the same reduction in rear down, but the teams have worked to regain all that was lost. Some teams, the ones who were pumping their rear shocks up to 900 PSI, were actually making a good bit more rear down now than they were in 2003, even with the reduced spoiler. Rear down is important to a driver as it helps the car bite when applying the throttle. However, as important as rear down is to the formula, a balanced car trumps it all. NASCAR hopes that the teams are forced to start pushing the front fenders in to balance their cars so that the total downforce starts heading downward, breaking a several year escalation of increased total downforce.(Team Ford Racing)(8-29-2004)
- 'COT - 'Car of Tomorrow' info: on Thursday's Totally NASCAR [Fox Sports Net], a chart was posted with dome specs on the COT or Car of the Future:
Greenhouse 2" higher and window opening 4" wider
Center point of driver moved 4 1/2" to the right.
Bumpers - front, raised; rear, lowered
and one that is quite cool:
LED Scoing on the car - shown in the side/rear window behind the driver.(8-28-2004)
- One Transmission Rule coming? NASCAR is considering moving to a "one transmission rule" next season in its top three series, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Friday. The rule would work similarly to that of the "one engine rule" adopted at the start of the 2002 season. Teams are allowed one engine per race weekend – except for the season-opening Speedweeks at Daytona. Should a team change engines over the weekend, the driver must start the race at the rear of the field. Teams, especially in the Nextel Cup Series, typically use a different transmission in qualifying than in the race. For one, lighter parts are used for qualifying, several team engineers said. If implemented, it has not been decided whether the "one transmission rule" would be used on the Cup series’ two road courses. The Busch Series will also have two road course events in 2005.(ThatsRacin.com)(8-27-2004)
- Chase Promotion Rejected: NASCAR has rejected a marketing proposal that would have promoted the contenders in this year’s Chase For The Nextel Cup, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. Reporter Scott Warfield says Action Performance Cos. had proposed special paint schemes for drivers in the Chase and says NASCAR's rejection of the plan will cost the company $10 million in die-cast car sales. Company Chairman Fred Wagenhals said the idea was rejected for fear of alienating sponsors and teams that didn't make the Chase field, which will determine the 2004 Nextel Cup champion.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(8-23-2004)
- 9 Cars Dyno'd: NASCAR tested nine cars on the chassis dynamometer after the race, measuring horsepower to the rear wheels. The cars tested were the Fords of #16-Greg Biffle, #6-Mark Martin and #88-Dale Jarrett; the Dodges of #42-Jamie McMurray, #9-Kasey Kahne and #12-Ryan Newman, and the Chevrolets of #24-Jeff Gordon, #20-Tony Stewart and #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr.(ThatsRacin.com)(8-23-2004)
- No more Souvenir Rigs? We [Speed Channel] hear the days of the old souvenir rigs at the race tracks could be numbered, to be replaced by track stores operated by ISC and SMI.(Speed Channel)(8-22-2004)
- Confiscated Parts UPDATE: NASCAR Officials confiscated several parts on Friday morning at Michigan International Speedway. The fuel cell badder was taken from the #6 Viagra Ford of Mark Martin. The lock ring had been tampered with and several other parts were confiscated marked as illegal spacer bars. Also the #09 Dodge of Boby Hamilton, Jr. had the fuel cell badder confiscated for the same reason, tampering with the lock ring.(Insider Racing News)(8-21-2004)
UPDATE: Kerry Earnhardt #33 Nextel Cup, Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, had a Coil Spring confiscated by NASCAR as the "outside diameter did not maintain the minimum of 5.25 inches". Strangely the team had borrowed a spring from NASCAR on Friday, as a comparison attempting to be sure theirs would be legal. The team did not qualify for the GFS Marketplace 400[ due to rainout].
Mark Martin #6 Viagra/Batman Ford, had a Fuel Cell Bladder confiscate because of "Tampering with the Lock Ring". It was an ATL Super cell 300, and the part may also be called a nut-ring. This is the exact item Geoffrey Bodine was fined $10,000, when his was confiscated at the Brickyard 400.
Mark Martin #6 also had Space Bars pulled by NASCAR. These four pieces, 2 of which were 1/2" x 2" and the other 2 were 1/2" x 17" in length were just marked illegal.(Insider Racing News)(8-22-2004)
- Unleaded Fuel in 2005? UPDATE: There is word, not confirmed, that NASCAR may be required by the EPA to change to unleaded fuel as soon as next year. Cup garage chief John Darby could not be found for comment, but top engine men say they also have heard talk. Randy Dorton, engine chief for Hendrick Motorsports, said he "would not be surprised" by such an edict, but that he has heard nothing directly from NASCAR. He noted that he and other teams had done a significant amount of work, in cooperation with NASCAR, on unleaded fuel four or five years ago, and that a Busch race at Richmond was run using unleaded, but that the project faded shortly afterward. One issue apparently is the fact that NASCAR now has three races in California, where air-quality regulations are much more stringent than in the nation in general. Sources say NASCAR has both kinds of fuel, leaded and unleaded, at its R&D Center in Concord, N.C. There was no word from series supplier Sunoco as to what it would take to convert to the "clean" fuel.(Speed Channel)(8-21-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR's John Darby addressed the subject of unleaded fuel Saturday morning, the matter again coming up in garage conversations after a five-year lull. "It's something we have to be prepared for," he said, "but it's not like somebody has got the vise turned up on us imminently. There has been talk that govenment and environmental agencies would require NASCAR to phase in unleaded fuel as early as next year, but Darby did not indicate that was the case. Such a move would require significant changes in engine construction, especially in the valve train, and Darby noted that he'd rather see the change in fuel come at a time of some other major engine change -- perhaps a change to fuel injection? Darby did, however, say the newly-announced gear rule for 2005, intended to reduce skyrocketing rpm, would be of benefit if and when unleaded is adopted, in that, with rpm reduced, vulnerable valves and valve seats would be under less stress. He also said Sunoco, which signed on last year for 10 years as fuel supplier for NASCAR, is "light-years ahead" of street and racing technology when it comes to producing suitable unleaded products, even in the 112-octane range used by NASCAR.(Speed Channel)(8-22-2004)
- Rear Spoilers Reduced by an inch starting in 2005: NASCAR announced that it will reduce the rear spoilers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series by an inch at all non-restrictor plate tracks beginning with the 2005 season. NASCAR, which decreased the spoilers by three-quarters of an inch entering this season, will require spoilers in 2005 to be 4½ inches in height. The reduction in the spoiler height is expected to further reduce aero-push while enhancing the competitive aspect in terms of racing and passing ability. It is a continuation of a multi-year plan that began in 2002 to return more drive-ability to the cars through their aerodynamics, engines and tires.(NASCAR PR)(8-18-2004)
- Another rules change, Gear Ratio's? UPDATE Gear Ratio Rule: NASCAR officials are considering a new rule in its top three series next season – Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks – that would limit the number of different gear ratios teams could use each weekend, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Sunday. A formal announcement could come within the next few weeks. Under the new rule, teams would likely be able to choose from only two different gears at each track, sources said. The move would force many engine and transmission providers to re-tool their products. NASCAR officials hope the move would prove a cost-saver in the long run. As is usually the case, reaction was mixed among Nextel Cup participants.(for quotes see ThatsRacin.com)(8-8-2004)
UPDATE: In an effort to contain team costs and further enhance competition, NASCAR will implement a gear rule for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series beginning with the 2005 season, NASCAR officials announced today.
"We conferred with our team owners at length on this issue and the decision was brought about by a combination of our initial ideas and their input. In the end, we had to put individual agendas aside and formulate a rule that was in the best interest of the industry,"
NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France said. "RPMs have been on a continual rise since the 1970s and the associated costs to gain an edge in that area have escalated substantially during that time as well. We have also noticed a substantial decrease in the number of engine builders over the past several seasons and this new rule should help reverse that trend."
The new rule for NASCAR's three national series will restrict teams to NASCAR-determined gear ratios at each event that will limit the
maximum RPMs (Revolutions Per Minute) that all engines will be able to produce in competition. The move is expected to reduce team costs associated with engine research and development to gain additional RPM. It also is expected to enhance the competitive balance with all makes in each series. The rule will be in effect at every track in all three national series with the exception of the two restrictor-plate tracks, Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, where limits already exist due to the carburetor plates.
NASCAR will regulate the new rule by inspecting the number of teeth on the pinion and number of teeth on the ring gear during its race
weekend inspection process. NASCAR also will equip each vehicle with a data logger, which measures the RPMs during all on-track activity, which will be located near the ignition system.(NASCAR PR)(8-18-2004)
- No Victory Lane Requirements Announced: Contrary to recent media reports, NASCAR has elected not to issue any new victory lane requirements as a result of Jeff Gordon's skipping the ceremony following his win last weekend at Indianapolis. No mention of the ongoing differences over promotions in victory lane was made during Sunday's drivers' meeting at Watkins Glen International. NASCAR officials said Sunday that victory lane procedures would remain as described by NASCAR president Mike Helton at New Hampshire, when he told participants "not to touch" the sponsor products.(ThatsRacin)(8-16-2004)
- Hendrick. Gordon, NASCAR Statements regarding Indy celebration: The following are statements from Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon regarding Hendrick Motorsports' Brickyard 400 victory Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
OWNER RICK HENDRICK: "Sunday's Brickyard victory was one of the most special moments I've ever experienced in this sport. I really wanted to win that race and kiss the bricks to honor my father. It was an unbelievable feeling for all of us. Nonetheless, I owe an explanation to the George family, along with everyone at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The celebration was emotional, and it was fun to acknowledge the fans like that, but it became obvious that we had unintentionally disrupted the Speedway's program by not driving to Victory Lane after the checkered flag. Speaking for everyone at Hendrick Motorsports, I personally called Mary Hulman George on Monday to apologize for any actions that may have been perceived as being disrespectful."
#24-JEFF GORDON: "I can't adequately describe how emotional Sunday was. When I got out of the car, it was my intention to get back in and drive to Victory Lane after waving to everyone in the stands. Our team certainly would not disrespect any procedures on purpose, and I truly apologize to everyone at the Speedway for any problems we may have caused. It was a classic case of being caught up in the moment. I plan to support NASCAR's Victory Lane protocol going forward."(Hendrick Motorsports PR)
NASCAR: released today the following statement from NASCAR President Mike Helton, regarding apologies by Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick for inadvertently altering post-race procedures this past Sunday at the Brickyard 400: "We appreciate the apologies offered today by Jeff Gordon and Rick Hendrick. We recognize the elation and spontaneity that a win like Sunday's can produce, and we do not want to hinder the 'emotions of the moment.' We want our drivers and teams to show their emotions. It was clear that this victory was a particularly emotional one for Hendrick Motorsports, in light of the recent passing of Rick's father, Papa Joe Hendrick.
We know how important it is for our competitors to celebrate their victories and share their happiness with the fans. But we also want our competitors to be mindful of the importance of protocol involving Victory Lane, which is as much a part of racing as taking the checkered flag. This situation is now behind us. Moving forward, we are confident all our teams will respect and respond appropriately to time-honored post-race protocol during their celebrations."(NASCAR PR)(8-11-2004)
- 'Bottle' Gate Continues? UPDATE NASCAR To clarify rules after winning the Brickyard 400, #24-Jeff Gordon, stopped at the yard of bricks / start-finish line and his team came out to the car and they celebrated there and not in Victory Lane, even a futile attempt by some NASCAR officials failed to get the team in Victory Lane [IMS Radio did report that later the #24 and the team made it to Victory Lane].
from a Chevy Notes - Gordon Brickyard Transcript with Jeff Gordon...
the querstion: I'll open up a can of worms maybe. When three other wins here, did you forget where Victory Lane was?
GORDON: I must have. I think it slipped my mind. I thought Victory Lane was where those bricks are out there. You know, you just react. I went down there, you know, thinking about a burnout or something like that. I stink at burnouts, so I just locked them up on the bricks and, you know, told the team to get out there. You know, your emotions are just going, and you're excited, the adrenaline's flowing. You know, I'm sure I'm going to get in some kind of trouble over it. But, you know what, right now I don't care (laughter). Also - Team owener, Rick Hendrick was called to the NASCAR Trailer afterwards.(GM/Chevy Notes)
AND been told that NASCAR said late Sunday that Jeff Gordon likely won't face a $10,000 fine, such as the one doled out to his Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson last week, after he parked his #24 DuPont Chevy on the front stretch instead of driving to victory lane where a rival Powerade bottle would have been placed on top of his car. Supposedly NASCAR felt Gordon's celebration was impromptu but the sanctioning body would address the issue if drivers begin ducking out of traditional victory lane celebrations.
AND some MORE: NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said officials would meet with team owner Rick Hendrick after the race. They also planned to meet with Gordon before deciding whether to issue a penalty. "We are exploring it," Hunter said. "I don't think it was preconceived. Hopefully, it was one of those impromptu things, where this is Indy and he won it. When he was finished (celebrating on the track), he went to Victory Lane. So the question is, was that ignoring our protocol?"(FoxSports/AP)(8-9-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR is expected to clarify its victory lane requirements this week after Jeff Gordon skipped the ceremony following his win at the Brickyard 400. Gordon did not drive his car into Victory Lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. Instead, he stopped his car on the track and got out, celebrating with his crew as they ran to join him. By doing so, he avoided being seen with a large bottle of sports drink made by a NASCAR sponsor that conflicts with Gordon's sponsors. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said it was undecided Monday if Gordon would be penalized for failing to drive into victory lane. However, Hunter said the sanctioning body would likely issue clarifications this week for what is expected from winning drivers after the race. Although there is nothing in the rule book addressing what drivers are required to do, the entire celebration is a made-for-TV choreographed moment in which a driver is told to sit inside his car until the cameras are live so viewers at home can see their reaction when they climb out.(FoxSports/AP)(8-10-2004)
- 'COT' tested at Richmond: After three wind tunnel tests with the car of the future [of COT - 'car of tomorrow' as it is nicknamed], NASCAR finally track-tested the prototype at Richmond with Brett Bodine, a former Cup driver and current director of cost research. NASCAR was pleased with the early results.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(8-9-2004)
- France talks to XM Radio: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France joined Claire B. Lang Live on XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 for her "Dialed In" Program Tuesday night. Some clips from the interview:
On Jimmie Johnson incident and penalty for putting Lowe's sign on car in Victory Lane:
"Look, this is another one that couldn't be any simpler. We've had a policy for 30 years that balances the event sponsor, and the team sponsor, and what we really don't want is to look like we're at the county fair where people hop out of their car, and put devices and start throwing things around...it' just doesn't look like where the sport is today, and frankly it doesn't respect the sponsorship from
the vairous companies that help the whole sport. That includes Gatorade, certainly, and Tropicana at Chicago, which had an unfortunate incident. Mike was right. Mike Helton was very clear that if you had a problem with the policy to check with us beforehand, not to pick something up on your way out of the car to drop it on the top of the car. He was very clear. Now we're just going to put some penalties in place and make sure we get it cleaned up and move on."
On the fact that fans had noted similar incident(s) like at Chicago (Tropicana bottle incident)
"Let me tell you exactly what happened. It wasn't just Tony Stewart. He was one and there were several others and it became a pattern that was occurring, and Mike tried to talk to people individually, and ask them for their cooperation. Then he made a formal announcement...you (referring to CBL) played that announcement, and he talked about that balance we have to have, and that we were going to get that right. The next week, here we go, they just ignored Mike's request. Obviously, we've got to react when that sort of situation occurs."
On rumors of announcement this week of Busch race in Mexico: "Well, we've said that Mexico and Canada both are interesting places for us, not necessarily the Busch Series, although it's a series we could take. But there are other divisions that we could take and we're working on that, although we're not ready to announce anything.
After answering Claire's questions France took calls from race fans coast to coast on topics ranging from the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup Championship to the length of the race at Pocono to the future of Watkins Glen. He chatted with fans for 20 minutes getting their
feedback and answering questions.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144)(8-6-2004)
- More on the caution lights/warnings - No more changes?: Nextel Cup director John Darby says NASCAR is working on sending caution warnings, possibly by radio, to drivers when there are accidents or debris on the track. Darby isn't a big fan of using dashboard lights for that purpose. He wonders where they'd go and whether drivers would notice them. "You can't guarantee that the driver is going to see it," Darby says. "You have to develop a system that's easy to put into play." Darby added that after evaluating the first half of the season and recent wind tunnel tests, he's fairly confident that no more changes will be made to the cars this season.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(8-2-2004)
- Dashboard Caution Lights Coming? Tail Lights too? NASCAR vice president of communications Jim Hunter says that series officials are looking at the possibility of adding dashboard caution lights and functioning tail lights to cars. The caution lights, which already are being used in other racing series, could be used to quickly warn drivers to slow down for accidents; a yellow light would be mounted on each car's dashboard and could be activated by NASCAR officials. As it stands, drivers must rely on their team spotters, trackside yellow lights or the official at the start/finish line to determine when officials have issued a caution. The lights could be a safety improvement, but officials remain concerned that they could lead to more timing and scoring disputes between teams and NASCAR. Having functioning taillights on race cars, meanwhile, would be a radical change. They could play a marginal role in helping a driver avoid plowing into the car in front of him, an issue on restarts during several recent races. But drivers likely would not want the driver behind them able to tell precisely when they were braking heading into a turn; that would allow the trailing driver to better judge where passing might be easier.(USA Today)(7-27-2004)
- Fashion Sense: G-III/Carl Banks has joined forces with NASCAR to launch a men’s and women’s fashion collection that will be available for Fall 2004. The collection consists of track suits, T-shirts, sweatpants, hats and wool outerwear. The items will retail from $20 to $125 and will be sold at Macy’s West, Bon Marche and select mid-tier and specialty retailers nationwide.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(7-26-2004)
- Sub Driver Rule coming? Fox's Darrell Waltrip reports that NASCAR is probably taking a pretty hard look right now at approving a substitute driver for all competitors who regularly race in Nextel Cup, but especially for those who are in the top 10 in points. I [DW] just feel certain that they're going to approve a substitute driver in case something like Dale Jr's accident happens to someone else.(FoxSports)(7-20-2004)
- Green-White-Checker OFFICIAL and: A “green-white-checkered” finish format will be used for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series beginning with next weekend’s races at New Hampshire International Speedway, NASCAR officials announced today. “The green-white-checkered format is an attempt to achieve everyone’s goals – a green-flag finish,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said. “This change hopefully will provide competitive finishes in the relatively rare occasions it is warranted. This format has been successful in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and considering the tight competition week in and week out in the other two national series, we feel the time is right to use the same procedure in all three national series.”
The new procedure will consist of a restart of two laps – green flag for the first lap of the restart and the white flag signaling the final lap leading to the checkered flag. All additional laps will be counted and scored. The new format will not guarantee a green-flag finish. Only one restart under the “green-white-checkered” format will be attempted. If a caution comes out during that period, the race will be complete. This procedure will eliminate the need for a red flag in the final laps to immediately stop the race in an attempt to finish under green-flag conditions. The announcement expands the single attempt “green-white-checkered” format to all three of NASCAR’s national series, beginning next week.(NASCAR PR), for the Truck Series, who have had this procedure since it started, in 48 races with a G-W-C, 6 times has the lead changed [12.5%](Speed Channel)(7-15-2004)
AND - Trucks Change too: Until now, the trucks have been allowed to run multiple green-flag restarts to determine a winner. That will end after the race at Gateway. Cup races will be allowed only one re-start, and NASCAR will enforce that rule in all three series. Thus, a finish under caution is possible if an accident occurs on the final two laps.(St Louis Post Dispatch)(7-17-2004)
- NASCAR Visits Toronto: Some NASCAR executives were at the Toronto Indy on Saturday [7/10]. The top racing series in North America has expressed an interest in the Canadian market as a jumping off spot for global expansion. NASCAR's chief operating officer George Pyne told The Toronto Sun he was here on a fact-finding mission. "We're just kicking the tires," Pyne said as he led NASCAR technical director Gary Nelson and international director Robbie Weiss on a tour of pit lane. "I have always said that Canada is an important market for us," Pyne said. "Is it possible we could run (Craftsman) trucks or Busch (at Molson Indy)? Yes, it is possible." Pyne and his group also met with CASCAR Super Series owner Tony Novotny. While Pyne would not comment on the possibility of NASCAR buying the Canadian stock car series, it was noted that Nelson, who controls all things technical in the Daytona Beach-based series, was inspecting the CASCAR cars that were getting ready to race yesterday. A Molson Indy executive told The Sun they were aware of NASCAR's interest in Toronto and welcomed any inquiries about future participation by them at the annual event.(Toronto Sun)(7-12-2004)
- Pit Road Rules Cleared Up: NASCAR cleared up some of its timing and scoring issues when cars are caught on pit road when a caution is displayed. NASCAR will revert to the method it used prior to the implementation of its "freezing the field" policy to score such cars. "It's very simple, it is where your car is on pit road when the caution comes out, not where you pit," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. If a car is ahead of the start/finish line when the caution comes out, it will remain on the lap it was on when it headed down pit road. If a car is beyond the start/finish line, to remain on its original lap it must beat the race leader to the pit exit line. However, a race leader must still slow when a caution is displayed and any driver on pit road cannot travel faster than the announced speed limit. "We are not going to promote speeding," Helton said. Since implementing its no-racing-back-to-the-caution policy last season, NASCAR has attempted to utilize electronic scoring to place cars into the running order when they were caught on pit road when a caution was displayed. The revised method of scoring began in Saturday's Busch Series race at Chicago.(ThatsRacin)(7-11-2004)
- Crews waiting for Pemberton: Stock-car crews are anxiously awaiting Robin Pemberton's takeover as NASCAR vice president for competition, and NASCAR executives want him in place by Aug. 1, which means that Ford officials have to find a replacement by then, too.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-11-2004)
- Finish under green, announcement soon? during FOX's pre-race coverage of the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Hammond said he expects NASCAR to make an announcement during the offweek [no race on the July 18th weekend] that ALL Cup races will finish under green flag conditions [even if there is a caution and the race goes longer then the dvertised distance], what exact format is not clear.(7-3-2004)
UPDATE: Sometime after Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Chicagoland and before the July 25 race at New Hampshire, NASCAR officials are expected to announce a plan that will guarantee green-flag finishes the remainder of the season. The idea is to give drivers a chance to adjust to the change before the 10-race “Chase for the Championship” begins Sept. 19 at New Hampshire.
Plans NASCAR is considering for mandatory green-flag finishes in Nextel Cup events:
• Green-white-checkered: A one-time, two-lap dash after the final caution.
• Green-green-white-checkered: A one-time, three-lap dash after the final caution.
• Multiple green-white-checkered: A two-lap dash after the final caution with the option to restart if caution comes out during the first lap of the dash.(The State)(7-9-2004)
UPDATE 2: Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said NASCAR has not decided on any one plan to ensure green-flag finishes. NASCAR has been considering several options, including the two-lap shootout plan currently used in the Craftsman Truck Series. The shootout is race extended in two-lap increments until there is a green-flag finish. Another option is a one-time shot at a green-flag finish using a three-lap shootout. If a caution comes out during the shootout, then the race would end under caution. A new policy could be in effect in time for the July 25 race at New Hampshire.(ThatsRacin)(7-10-2004)
- Brett Bodine back driving: Former driver Brett Bodine, who joined the staff at NASCAR's research and development facility earlier this year, also has replaced Buster Auton as the Nextel Cup pace car driver. Bodine took over the job in May at Charlotte.(Tampa Tribune)(7-10-2004)
- More rules changes? NASCAR is expected to announce two new rules changes today to clarify race procedures for cars on pit road when the caution comes out. But car owners trying to understand the new rules said they were not very clear.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-10-2004)
- Loop problems? NASCAR officials are still working out bugs in their new 'loop' scoring system. One problem is that the software can't take into account a car that might crash in between loops.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-5-2004)
- France on penalties: from an XM Satellite NASCAR Radio interview with NASCAR's Brian France;
Clarie B. Lang: Brian where do you form the line? [where the line will be drawn for drivers...some said there needs to be a firm line (like clipping penalty)]:
FRANCE: "It's like a basketball game. There's a penalty if you go on the court just to break up a fight. There's another penalty that's more severe if you actually participate. There's another penalty if you hit somebody. We're no different than anybody else from that standpoint. Obviously you can't touch another competitor. You can walk-up and voice your displeasure. That's perfectly acceptable, but when you go to the point of contact with another individual we're going to take a discipline action and depending on that contact is how severe we're going to be with the penalty. It's as simple as that."(7-3-2004)
- Hmmmm..what gives? NASCAR vetoed car owner Jack Roush's multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal with Crown Royal [actually parent company Diageo ...see my #99 Team News page for the past info], citing worries about hard-liquor sponsors. But NASCAR's concerns couldn't be too serious, because its sister company, the International Speedway Corp., just signed Crown Royal to a lucrative sponsorship as "the official whiskey of Daytona International Speedway."(Winston Salem Journal) and see a full article at ThatsRacin.com: Crown Royal is OK for ISC, but ....(7-3-2004)
New advertisor at Daytona International Speedway
would look good on the #99 car
image sent to me by a few readers, from autoracing1.com
- Another Series? At least three top Nextel Cup team owners have talked recently with officials at Speedway Motorsports about the long-debated issue of a second stock-car racing series, according to sources in the NASCAR garage. Bruton Smith, the head of Speedway Motorsports, has long denied any interest in a second series, despite rumors that date back several years. It's highly unlikely that any Cup team would leave the NASCAR fold, but talks would be another indication of owners' extreme frustration and increasing dissatisfaction with some aspects of the direction this sport is taking. Reports of the talks come amid increasing complaints about NASCAR's handling of a number of issues. While car owners are unlikely to leave, sources say they are more likely to start throwing their weight around in secret talks with NASCAR executives. It is unclear what particular points car owners might want to press, but a more equitable distribution of television money is likely.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-2-2004)
- Jackson back...or never left? Jesse Jackson says NASCAR should feature more African-American drivers because "negroes can drive cars fast." Jackson made the remarks on Tuesday at a NASCAR-sponsored sports luncheon at the 33rd Annual Rainbow/PUSH Coalition conference in Chicago. "One thing I know, negroes can drive cars fast," Jackson said to laughter. "I mean, we go through red lights, even [drive] at night with our lights off. We can drive cars fast," he asserted from the podium. NASCAR's sponsorship of the sports luncheon at this week's conference is contrary to previous reports indicating that NASCAR had ended its financial support of Jackson and his organizations in 2003 because of negative public pressure.(cnsnews.com)(7-2-2004)
- Confiscated parts...new spring rule? NASCAR inspectors appeared to have a light day’s work Thursday. Only two items were tagged and placed on display at the NASCAR hauler following Thursday’s pre-qualifying inspections at Daytona International Speedway. The rear decklid of the #09 Dodge driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr. was confiscated as were two unapproved oil line expansion hoses from the #30 AOL Chevrolet driven by Dave Blaney.(ThatsRacin.com)
AND Stock-car chassis specialists were up in arms yesterday at NASCAR's newest Daytona inspection procedures and were demanding changes. NASCAR hands out special shocks to each team here to keep costs down and keep teams from using exotic technology. But NASCAR lets teams use their own springs, and some trick springs can cost $500 apiece. Yesterday, NASCAR cracked down on that, confiscated large numbers of springs and promised a new rule. Crews said the best thing would be for NASCAR to hand them springs along with the shocks. NASCAR, in fact, has talked with spring makers about that possibility.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-2-2004)
- No Spolier Cut for 2004, lose an inch for 2005: NASCAR officials have decided against cutting the rear spoiler a half-inch at midseason and another half-inch at the end of the year, series spokesperson Mike Zizzo said Saturday. Instead, NASCAR will cut the rear spoiler one inch after the season. Zizzo said that NASCAR decided not to cut the rear spoiler this season because series officials are pleased with the competition. Also, series officials don't want to burden teams with additional costs adjusting to the new rear spoiler, such as more wind tunnel testing. The rear spoiler was 6 1/4 inches at the end of the 2003 season. NASCAR cut it to 5 1/2 inches for this season. The spoiler will be 4 1/2 inches for next season if NASCAR follows through on this plan.(Roanoke Times)(6-28-2004)
- Longer Road Races? Ford team owner [#'s 6,16,17,97,99] Jack Roush said he would prefer that the Nextel Cup Series’ two annual road races were longer. “I think it would be beneficial to hold these races for longer than 180 miles,” said Roush. “For many years I competed in endurance racing, and it would be a positive, I think, if we had an incentive to make these cars durable.” The actual length of Sunday’s race was 218.9 miles. During the 1960s and ‘70s, NASCAR held races on the road course in Riverside, Calif., that were 500 miles. Roush suggested a length of 350 miles for the races at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen.(Gaston Gazette)(6-28-2004)
- What happened to the Lucky Dog Pass? NASCAR announced Sunday it was eliminating the use of the "free pass" - allowing the first car not on the lead lap to return to lead lap under each caution - for both road course events this season. Generally the length and slow speeds of a road course make it unusual for cars to fall off the lead lap. NASCAR officials also cited the length of time to bring the car around the field as a reason not to use it on the road courses.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-28-2004)
- New Pit Road Speeding System: Greg Biffle wants NASCAR to develop a more accurate system to record the speed of cars coming down pit road. Biffle was busted for speeding in the Busch race at Kentucky, and it cost him the race. Although NASCAR contends Biffle was clocked at well over the 45-mph speed limit on pit road, Biffle insists he maintained the required speed and that officials using stopwatches don't produce precise speed measurements. Biffle might get his wish soon. NASCAR sources have told the Sporting News a new timing and scoring system is in the works.(FoxSports/SportingNews)(6-28-2004)
- Green x 2 -White-Checkers starting next week at Daytona? UPDATE - NO: NASCAR's proposed green-green-white-checkered finishing rule - for a three-lap green-flag shootout finish - may go into effect at Daytona next week, according to NASCAR sources.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-26-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR said Saturday that the Nextel Cup Series would not use a green-white-checkered rule next weekend at Daytona. Speculation has had NASCAR implementing the rule as soon as this Saturday's Pepsi 400, but NASCAR said that won't be the case. "We continue to evaluate the green-white-checkered, and there is a possibility you could see it sometime this season," said NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo.(NASCAR.com)(6-26-2004)
- New Shock Rule Coming? UPDATE 2: #9-Kasey Kahne, who had a rare off day Friday and will start 34th. NASCAR wanted to check the air pressure in his rear shocks after qualifying and got upset when the crew drained the pressure before turning them over. NASCAR is now considering a mandatory air-pressure rule for shocks. Changing the air pressure in shocks can change the ride-height of a car, increasing speed.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-20-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials are exploring the possibility of implementing a new shock rule for its Nextel Cup Series, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Friday. The rule, if adopted, would regulate the gas pressures in shocks, setting minimum and maximum limits. Currently, teams are encouraged to follow the shock manufacturers’ guidelines when setting pressures. The rule, which could be instituted as soon as the July 11 race weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., could also include confiscation of teams’ shocks following qualifying and races. Several Cup teams use high pressures in their rear shocks to help bring the rear ends of cars higher into the car, making up for the lower spoiler height instituted before the start of the season. The Cup rulebook sets a minimum height requirement of 51 inches for Cup cars, but there is no maximum limit.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-25-2004)
UPDATE 2: For the upcoming Chicagoland race, NASCAR officials will implement new rules regarding shocks that will require teams to turn in the shocks that will be mounted on their cars for NASCAR inspection. The shocks will be confiscated on the day before the race, after the final practice, and returned on race morning. Teams were informed of the impending move on Friday. Expect NASCAR to go public in Daytona next week.(Gaston Gazette)(6-26-2004)
- Pit Rule amended: NASCAR amended a pit-road rule. Pit road will open the second time the leader reaches the pit entrance while behind the pace car. The rule debuted at Pocono but didn't specify if the leader had to be behind the pace car. A NASCAR official signaled that pit road was open a lap early at Pocono, leading series officials to later apologize for the mistake.(Roanoke Times)(6-24-2004)
- NASCAR's R&D Center - a tour: check out FoxSports/SportingNews Lee Spencer's story and Harold Hinson's photos of NASCAR's Research and Development Center, click here and scroll through this guided tour/gallery of images and words.(6-24-2004)
- Pemberton to NASCAR? UPDATE: It has been more than four years since Mike Helton was named NASCAR president and vacated his former role of VP for competition. For some time, Helton has juggled the responsibilities of both jobs, but NASCAR has attempted to recruit someone to serve as a liaison between the competitors and the sanctioning body. Sources tell Sporting News that current Ford field manager Robin Pemberton has been selected for the job. Roger Penske says he was unaware of the situation, but refers to Pemberton as a first-class guy. Pemberton, 47, has 22 career wins as a crew chief and worked with such notables as Richard Petty, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(6-21-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR has hired Robin Pemberton. Pemberton was one of stock-car racing's best-known and most respected crew chiefs during his 17 years with drivers such as Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin. Now he has signed on with NASCAR, to take unspecified, but sorely needed, responsibilities helping the beleaguered sanctioning body regain credibility with its competitors, and, it is hoped, its fans. Pemberton has been Ford's NASCAR field manager the past 18 months. Ford officials yesterday said they have begun searching for a replacement. NASCAR discussed just such a management role with Pemberton in late 2002 when he left Petty Enterprises after a year as general manager. But NASCAR at that time was unwilling to offer a competitive salary.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-23-2004)
- Why the caution? and Jones is OK: After two weeks of confusion and controversy over scoring problems and miscues by NASCAR officials, Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway came off without a hitch. But there were some questions when a caution flag came out on the final lap with the crashed #50 car of P.J. Jones sitting in the middle of the track in Turn 2, far behind the leaders. NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said the yellow was waved because there were at least six cars racing on the track behind Jones' wreck and NASCAR did not want to delay the safety crew from reaching him. Jones was not injured.(NASCAR.com/AP)(6-21-2004)
- Pit Road Flagger reassigned....for now: Dean Duckett, the Nextel Cup Series official who mistakenly waved a green-flag signaling pit road was open in last weekend’s race at Pocono, has had his race-day duties temporarily reassigned, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Duckett did not work the entrance to pit road in Sunday’s DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway, and instead was assigned to the garage area during the race. It was unclear how long Duckett would serve in his new role, but it could be two or three weeks, sources said. When asked about Duckett’s reassignment, spokesman Mize Zizzo said NASCAR would not comment on internal personnel matters.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-21-2004)
- NASCAR says they are still in charge: the transcript of the statement by NASCAR President Mike Helton to the drivers at the drivers meeting: "I think everyone is aware of our challenges right now. Let me remind you of something that most all of us became participants in NASCAR well after it was began and founded with the exception of Richard (Petty). Richard's been around forever. And I suspect that 50 years from now as there still having driver's meetings at race tracks there won't be many of us around to remember this conversation. But I want to remind everybody that this sport is what it is because of its longevity, it's effort to be correct and fair and the participants that make it up and the officials that run the races and the race tracks that entertain us and the sponsors that become involved. And it's gotten bigger and better every time we've moved and it's still the greatest form of motorsports if not one of the greatest form of sports in this world. Don't misinterpret some of the issues we may have with weakness we may have to challenge us. We'll still police the sport...we will still police what goes on at the racetrack and we will still enforce the regulations of this sport.
So, don't misinterpret anything that may be going on right now as an opportunity to take advantage of any situation. We're not going to let
that happen. In saying that I would also, we seem to go in this cycle of everybody being very respectful to then everyone not being too respectful to get to the point where no body is respectful at all with each other on the race track. I think we're kinda getting back into the bottom of that cycle where it seems like theres a lot of beating and banging going on at the racetrack thats causing aggression thats causing cautions thats causing things that shouldn't be caused. So I would suggest drivers that you be more respectful on the race track to start with, with each other and that should go a long way to what goes on on the racetrack and what we have to get involved in. The other thing crew chief's, we announced last week that when we freeze the field the computer does it, the software establishes it and the messages comes back to you what your position is. When you ask or are told by an official on pit road what your position is thats it. Theres no debate. Go on to something else. Our officials will pay attention to other things but when he delivers the message to you of where your car belongs on the race track theres no debate to it.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144)(6-20-2004)
- Green Flag Finishes in all races in 2005? UPDATE 2 maybe sooner? and more NASCAR is looking at ways to finish races under green, but nothing is expected to change until next season at the earliest, a series official said Monday. Three of the past six Nextel Cup races have ended under caution. "I think long-term, we've got to do everything we can to figure out how to finish races under green," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president. Hunter said he doesn't anticipate a change this year. One option is to guarantee that the race's final two laps are run under green, as is done in the Craftsman Truck Series.(Roanoke Times)(6-15-2004)
UPDATE - sooner? Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark said Thursday that NASCAR officials indicated to him this week that mandatory green-flag finishes for Nextel Cup races are in the works and could be in place before the end of the season. Clark said this week would be a good time to start: "There's no reason not to do it right now. It would be equal for everybody." Fans have expressed their displeasure at races ending under caution by throwing objects onto the track and at officials. "My expectation is that every race that ends under caution, you'll see the same thing," Clark said. "It's like booing a driver -- once everybody gets to doing it, there's no stopping it."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(6-18-2004)
"green-green-white-checkered" but: NASCAR officials, working quickly to repair an image damaged by a series of recent mistakes, are considering a new rule intended to ensuring green-flag finishes. The rule, which could go into effect later this season, according to NASCAR sources, would be used in the event of a yellow flag in the closing laps of a race and would allow NASCAR to run a "green-green-white-checkered" finish - that is, a three-lap green-flag shootout - even if that meant the race would go beyond the scheduled distance. But if the yellow came out again during that shootout, then the race would end under caution.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-19-2004)
AND: NASCAR is exploring possibilities to help ensure green-flag finishes in its Nextel Cup Series, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Saturday. A green-white-checkered rule is already used in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series, but whether NASCAR would adapt the same rule, or something a little different for Cup has not yet been decided.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-19-2004)
- The Official Bank: SunTrust Banks announced a multi-year agreement with NASCAR to become the "Official Bank of NASCAR." SunTrust's relationship with NASCAR, one of the largest and most popular sports in the country, reinforces the company's commitment to serve the financial needs of the motorsports industry. Under terms of the agreement, SunTrust will be involved in NASCAR at many levels, including supporting the sport's diversity initiatives, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, grassroots racing, and various charitable and community programs. In order to best serve the NASCAR community of drivers, owners and teams, SunTrust will build upon its Motorsports Banking Group announced earlier this year. The expanded unit will support both the financial needs of NASCAR's drivers and teams as well as assist with the sport's community-related programs that directly benefit the families of NASCAR's drivers and teams. Sanctioned organizations that will receive immediate support from SunTrust Motorsports Banking include Women's Auxiliary of Motorsports (WAM), which helps to provide support for the families of NASCAR racers; Motor Racing Outreach (MRO), a non-denominational group that provides religious services for NASCAR and other racing series; and Victory Junction Gang Camp, a retreat for children living with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. SunTrust will also take its sponsorship to the track and broaden the number of NASCAR fans it reaches across the country by becoming an associate sponsor of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team to be named, as well as a contingency award sponsor of NASCAR's Dodge Weekly Racing Series, NASCAR's grassroots racing series. This local program will also include sponsorship of several grassroots racing facilities.(Yahoo Biz)(6-19-2004)
- Pit Road Flag Changes: the control tower will now radio down to the pit road flagman what flag to display and when pit road is closed or open.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio Report)(6-18-2004)
AND Beginning this weekend, NASCAR officials in race control will instruct the pit road flagman when to signal pit road is open or closed, NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said. Previously, the pit road flagman received instruction from race control, but also could wave the flag at his or her own discretion. Last weekend at Pocono, pit road flagman Dean Duckett mistakenly put out a green-flag, signaling pit road was open when it should have been closed. Several drivers, including then-race leader Jimmie Johnson, followed correct procedure and did not pit, but the majority of the lead-lap drivers did. NASCAR could not find a suitable method to correct the mistake and left the running order as it was. Johnson still won the race.(ThatsRacin)(6-18-2004)
- Official Suspended for Truck Race Snafu: Dion Hinskey, the official who mistakenly triggered a caution during the May 21 Craftsman Truck Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, was suspended by NASCAR for three races, ThatsRacin.com has learned. As of Friday, NASCAR, however, had not suspended Nextel Cup Series official Dean Duckett, who served as the flagman at the entrance of pit road in last weekend's controversial race at Pocono, sources confirmed. During the Pocono race, Puckett mistakenly waved a green flag allowing lead lap cars to pit when they were not supposed to. Then-race leader Jimmie Johnson and three others did not pit, instead following the correct procedure outlined in the drivers' meeting the morning of the race. Johnson rebounded and ended up winning the race. In the Truck race, Hinskey, the backup flagman, mistakenly activated the caution lights on the track with four of 134 laps remaining when a truck spun, but no caution was called by race control. Then-race leader Carl Edwards slowed thinking there was a caution as did second place Dennis Setzer. Setzer, realizing no caution was called, passed Edwards and held on for the victory. At the time, NASCAR denied the caution lights were activated. Later, once in-car camera footage was found showing the light illuminated, NASCAR admitted it had made a mistake. Hinskey's first missed race was the June 4 race at Dover, Del., where Cup flagman Jimmy Howell replaced him in the flagstand. When asked about any punishments officials have received in either incident, NASCAR spokesman Mize Zizzo said NASCAR would not comment on internal personnel matters.(ThatsRacin)(6-18-2004)
- Cautions...Cautions...Cautions: 24.5% of laps have been run under caution in last two races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup tour (and a whopping 34.3% in final half of those races) - only 13.8% of Michigan's last 10 races run under yellow -- "Gosh, I'll tell you, it must be a situation where the moon is aligned with some of the evil stars or something weird like that," chuckled Rusty Wallace about the recent happenings. "Michigan has always been a pretty calm place, with all the excitement centered around fuel mileage, pit strategy and track position. I really think things will calm down a whole lot this week at Michigan and I'll be totally shocked if they don't."(TRPR)(6-17-204)
- NASCAR Canada Announced: NASCAR announced the formation of NASCAR Canada, in partnership with TSN, that establishes a Canadian base of operation with a new office and dedicated staff in Toronto and further extends the marketing of the sport in NASCAR’s largest market outside of the U.S. The business venture with TSN, a division of Bell Globemedia, one of Canada’s leading media companies, supports the continued growth of the fan base of NASCAR in Canada and brings a range of sponsorship and licensing opportunities to all businesses involved in the sport. Under the agreement, TSN Events, TSN’s marketing division, retains exclusive rights through NASCAR Canada to NASCAR’s marketing assets over a multi-year period and will operate NASCAR Canada, providing partners with numerous opportunities in a sport known to have the most brand-conscious and brand-loyal fans. NASCAR Canada will provide Canadian businesses with marketing rights to the NASCAR mark; a multi-platform TV, print and radio media program; grassroots initiatives through the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series which has events at Delaware Speedway in Ontario and St. Eustache Speedway in Quebec; event marketing; and a licensed goods program. The bond between NASCAR sponsors and fans is unmatched in professional sports. NASCAR fans are three times more likely to purchase the products of NASCAR sponsors versus non-sponsors. NASCAR fans also purchase more than $2 billion in NASCAR licensed merchandise each year. Canadian fans already exude a strong passion for NASCAR. With TSN televising NASCAR since the network’s inception in 1984, NASCAR is the top-rated motorsport on Canadian television. Additionally, a significant number of Canadian NASCAR fans regularly travel to NASCAR events across the United States. NASCAR, the second-highest rated television sport in the United States, is also seen in 150 countries in 23 languages through relationships with 30 international broadcast partners. TSN recently signed a three-year agreement for 16 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races annually through the 2006 season. Additional NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races are broadcast in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet, Craig Media and SPEED Channel. NASCAR Canada will be based at TSN headquarters in Toronto and will liaise directly with NASCAR’s International Division in Los Angeles. The Canadian operation will work closely with NASCAR’s New York and Charlotte offices to assist sponsors and licensees, respectively, with their activation plans to extend their reach into Canada. TSN's programming and news content is also available online at TSN.ca.(NASCAR PR)(6-14-2004)
- No one in the garage believes NASCAR? Kahne too low? Yesterday's problems [at Pocono] were yet another chapter in one of the biggest stories of the season - NASCAR's dwindling credibility and numerous faux pas. One team owner, who declined to be named, shook his head and said: "I've been in this sport 30 years, and NASCAR's credibility in the garage is at an all-time low. Nobody believes them anymore." Among questions raised here: Was Kasey Kahne's car too low after winning Friday's pole and did NASCAR ignore it, as several rivals complained? Was Michael Waltrip's Talladega car too low and did NASCAR ignore that, as rivals too complain? The lower the nose, the faster the car. Car owner Ray Evernham denied that Kahne's car was too low: "Nothing was brought to my attention about our car being low, so I would say that's probably fake".(read more at the Winston Salem Journal)(6-14-2004)
- Changes during a caution flag UPDATE 2: NASCAR's Mike Helton held a press conference at Pocono to discuss the scoring and long cautions at Dover last week and said two changes would be made this week:
1) the scoing and freezing the field when a caution comes out will be entirely dependent on electronics [not video or spotters].
2) pit road opening during the caution will be yielded to the leader of the race.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 - subscription required), hope to have a better explantion in a bit.
UPDATE: NASCAR President Mike Helton apologized today for the 24-lap caution period that occurred at Dover, calling it "unacceptable" and announcing that NASCAR was taking steps to help ensure it doesn't happen again. Beginning with this weekend's Cup race at Pocono, NASCAR will now rely solely on its electronic timing and scoring system to determine when the field is frozen and the running order when a caution flag waves. NASCAR officials have been using both electronic scoring and what Helton called "the human element" to make such decisions. NASCAR uses electronic loops around the race track to determine the running order at different points around the race track. Those loops will now be the sole source for determining the running order when the field is frozen. NASCAR will also attempt to shorten its caution periods with two moves: One, it will allow the free pass or "Lucky Dog" driver to move ahead of the pace car and back onto the lead lap quicker, between the first and sec! ond laps of pitting, or while the leaders are pitting. It will also shorten the laps it will take before it opens pit road. Pit road will now open the second time the leader -- not the pace car -- reaches the entrance to pit road. That means that the field may not have to complete two full laps now before pit road opens.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-11-2004)
UPDATE 2 - good explanation:
1) Beginning Sunday, NASCAR will rely on electronic methods to resolve virtually all timing and scoring disputes. NASCAR will still use video replays to help resolve disputes at the end of races, Helton said [so you could see changes in the finishing order on Monday when the official results come out]. The change will affect all three of NASCAR's national touring series – Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks. It is also possible NASCAR would use a red flag in the future, rather than run several laps under caution, when trying to resolve scoring issues.
2) An extra caution lap will no longer be used to bring the car earning the "free pass" [Lucky Dog]back onto the lead lap. Instead, the car gaining the lap back will move ahead of the pace car while lead-lap cars are pitting. That driver will then pit with cars one or more laps down.
3) The race leader, rather than the pace car, will determine when pit road opens for the first time under each caution. Under current rules, pit road is closed the first time the pace car passes the entrance to pit road. The race leader's first pass will now be used to make that determination (instead of using the pace car during a caution period as the determining vehicle that opens pit road the second time passing, the race leader’s passing pit road the second time would open the pits, unless circumstances prevented this opening)(ThatsRacin.com)(6-12-2004)
- NASCAR defends safety efforts at Dover: NASCAR investigated the safety team's response time to #17-Matt Kenseth's wreck last weekend's race at Dover, but found no shortcomings, NASCAR President Mike Helton said. Kenseth was one of three cars to spin in oil dropped on the track by another car in the late stages of the race. His #17 DeWalt Ford came to rest alongside the pit road wall on the frontstretch. He then walked back to the garage area and complained that an ambulance never came to check on him. "They (safety teams) were moving in the proper amount of (time) of the command to go," Helton said. "The track did everything they were supposed to do. The workers at the track did everything they were asked to do when they were asked to do it. I don't have an answer past the point that if it took too long to get to him, we'll fix that."(ThatsRacin.com)(6-12-2004)
- CASCAR to NASCAR? UPDATE: Rumours are rampant that the CASCAR Super Series -- Canada's top stock car racing sanctioning body -- is in negotiations with NASCAR to sell its events, including races at the Toronto and Vancouver Molson Indys. Reports of the sale were being spread this past weekend in Charlotte, N.C., home of NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 [at Lowe's Motor Speedway]. If the sale were to be completed, it is expected that NASCAR would rename the series NASCAR North and lump it in with its two other regional racing series -- Busch North and Grand National West. CASCAR spokesman Richard Coughlin, reached at Delaware Speedway where the series held its first race of the season this past weekend, said there have been talks but denied a sale is imminent. Veteran driver Peter Gibbons, who coincidentally has his race shop in the Charlotte area, won the race at Delaware in his #1 Canadian Tire Chevrolet.(Toronto Sun)(6-2-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR has been in discussions to buy Canada's top stock-car racing series, CASCAR owner and founder Tony Novotny of London confirmed yesterday. "We have had discussions with NASCAR as recently as February of this year," Novotny said. "However, we don't have any kind of a deal on the table right now that says they are going to buy us at this point." Novotny said that the most recent talks have centered on whether NASCAR is able to make a deal that works for him and the 30 or so teams who regularly run the CASCAR Super Series, including the Toronto and Vancouver Molson Indys. This isn't the first time that NASCAR has focused it's attention on the Canadian market in general and CASCAR specifically. "We have had discussions with NASCAR as far back as five years ago," Novotny said. "I sat down with then NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr." A key impetus to getting NASCAR's attention has been the huge success the past two seasons of having Nextel Cup drivers race in the annual Canada Day Shootout at Cayuga.(London Free Press)(6-7-2004)
- NASCAR takes control of caution lights: NASCAR president Mike Helton said Friday the sanctioning body has taken control of the switches for the caution lights away from the flagstand. The switches will only be located in the control tower during races for all of NASCAR's three major divisions. The decision comes after a mistake in the Infineon 200 Craftsman Truck Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway last month where the caution lights came on and leader Carl Edwards slowed. The lights, allegedly turned on by the backup flagman, were quickly turned off, and there was no caution. Edwards ended up losing the race, and NASCAR later admitted it was wrong. The flagstand will no longer be able to turn on the caution lights but can still wave the caution flag.(NASCAR.com)(6-4-2004)
- Inspections Not Fair? One Cup car owner, who preferred not to be named, says it would be interesting for TV to set up cameras in the NASCAR inspection bay, because he says he's skeptical that every car gets a fair shake: "Some cars they don't even put half the body templates on."(Winston Salem Journal)(6-1-2004)
- Heat Races instead of qualifying? LMS's promoter Humpy Wheeler says he's considering heat races instead of traditional best-of-two laps qualifying sessions for setting the field for future Cup races in Charlotte. "That's the way to put 75,000 people in the grandstands," Wheeler said. "And there's no reason we can't do heat races." And he says that it's time for Charlotte and other cities to put up financial bids for NASCAR's annual all-star race. Wheeler is also looking at ways to provide more punch to the all-star weekend. "The NBA has that slam-dunk contest. Well, let's take these guys over to the dirt track and say 'OK guys....'"Why not? Some of these guys have never raced dirt, but I'm sure they'd like to try it. Imagine what that would be like."(Winston Salem Journal)(5-29-2004)
- NASCAR Launches Licensed Library Collection: NASCAR is set to wave the green flag on a new program as part of its publishing program, bringing NASCAR licensed books together into one branded group - the NASCAR Library Collection. The program launched on May 21st, and be immediately viewable via the NASCAR.com Superstore, which will give access to the NASCAR Library Collection specialty store on its homepage.
This year the NASCAR Library Collection will welcome 18 new titles to be part of the collection, which will include books for both kids and adults. The first branded release, under a new licensing agreement with DK Publishing, will be NASCAR Best Shots. This hardcover, coffee table book will be on shelf in time for Father's Day and contains exciting NASCAR photography, as well as a foreword by "The King", Richard Petty. The NASCAR Library Collection specialty store on nascar.com will give consumers the option to view excerpts from its officially licensed books, including the book cover and internal pages. Also featured will be detailed editorial descriptions and a place for fans to add their own book reviews. The next issue of the NASCAR.com Catalog, set to come out in June 2004, will also feature a section dedicated to the licensed books, offering volumes in the NASCAR Library Collection for sale. Several other consumer and retail programs are in the works for this year, making the NASCAR Library Collection and its books readily available to NASCAR's fan base of 75 million nationwide looking for other publications officially licensed by NASCAR.(NASCAR PR)(5-24-2004)
- COF to to Wind Tunnel: NASCAR's "car of the future" prototype is close to completion and expected to be taken to the wind tunnel for analysis in the next few weeks.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-24-2004)
- Check Speeds With Modern Technology? After Friday's numerous pit-road speeding penalties during qualifying for the Nextel All-Star Challenge race, several crew chiefs and car owners are once again insisting that NASCAR get up to speed with modern technology and throw out those handheld stopwatches in favor of more high-tech speed-monitoring systems.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-24-2004)
- Lawmakers rally around protecting NASCAR's favorable tax treatment: Stuffed in a package of proposed corporate tax breaks the Senate passed Tuesday is an order to the Internal Revenue Service: Don't start treating NASCAR as if it's something other than a carnival ride. For three decades, the owners of NASCAR tracks have built new grandstands and added restrooms or concessions using a seven-year depreciation schedule, an arrangement also enjoyed by amusement park owners. But given the actual life of such grandstands, the IRS has begun challenging whether race tracks and amusement parks should be treated the same. Recently, the agency has been telling track owners they should use depreciation periods of 15 years or more, which would reduce their tax deductions by half on an annual basis. They still could recoup their investment, but it would take twice as long. NASCAR leaders are saying they aren't seeking anything special; they than just want the tax treatment they've enjoyed in the past put into law. "We've had this. It's worked, and why mess it up?" said Humpy Wheeler, president of Speedway Motorsports, which operates six race tracks. "Everybody's trying to get an economic advantage today, whether it's taxation or whatever it is. There just simply won't be as much construction if we don't have the favorable depreciation."
There are 60 co-sponsors in the House – some from virtually every Southern state. The local political motivation can be found in nearly every statement lawmakers have released to tout it. "All the request says is treat us like you've always treated us," Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., estimates NASCAR's annual impact on North Carolina at $1.5 billion each year. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., also cites the numerous motorsports facilities in his state. "In the last decade alone more than a billion dollars has been invested around the country to improve the quality and safety of these facilities, large and small, in reliance on this understanding of the tax law," Santorum said. "It is only fair to provide certainty for the future to allow for continued growth." Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense says he isn't surprised the NASCAR provision is encountering little resistance in Congress, though he contends it should. "It's definitely something at face value you really don't want to oppose," Ashdown said. "'They voted against NASCAR' doesn't sound good for anybody running in middle America. It's kind of like opposing subsidies to the Indy speedway and living in Indianapolis. You would be seen as a vile outcast."(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(5-12-2004)
- NASCAR OK with Stewart: after the incidents this past race at the California Speedway Cup race between Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace, few have asked what would happen to Stewart, saw this........But NASCAR on Monday said, no harm, no foul. Well, at least no foul. "We addressed Tony Stewart's driving before [Friday's] practice started at California and there was nothing that happened on the race track [Sunday] that we would term anything other than a racing incident," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of communications. I don't know if Rusty's had a chance to review film or video of the race, but it was just a racing accident. [Stewart] got loose. That happens. It just happened to be Tony Stewart." Stewart, who underwent anger-management counseling at the direction of his Home Depot sponsor two years ago, has been remarkably proficient at finding controversy on the track recently. He also banged doors with eventual winner Jeff Gordon, and drove behind Ricky Rudd and briefly lifted Rudd's Ford off the pavement with the nose of his Chevrolet. "Tony has a way of picking up the bull's-eye," Hunter said. "When stuff happens with Tony, he becomes an obvious target. He's a hard charger, there's no doubt about that. But so is Rusty and a lot of other drivers, and that's one of the things that makes our sport so great." Hunter also said NASCAR was not going to reprimand Wallace for his on-air comments.(Los Angeles Times)(5-5-2004)
- Update on the car of the future: NASCAR may be stepping up plans for its "car of the future."
"The first iteration of the car is going together right now," said John Darby, NASCAR's competition director. "Once it's completed it will take quite some time to smash it and crash it (testing for crash-worthiness) to see what works and what doesn't. So we're a ways out with it. There is another debate, too, about where to introduce the car. At Daytona and Talladega, for example, aerodynamics is so critical that if we're a little off it shows up a whole bunch. So let's maybe roll it out at Martinsville, so if the aero isn't exactly right, we'll at least be able to get through the weekend." There is talk, however, that the project may be doomed. Darby dismisses such talk: "It's far from dead. Typically what happens is the ideas keep getting better as we go through the process. You get something engineered and apply it to the car, and then 30 days down the road somebody comes up with a better idea. So there's a lot of leap-frogging. The teams have helped a lot; their engineers have given us a ton of input. It is an intricate process. "It could probably be run in late '05 somewhere. But '06 is probably a better date."(Winston Salem Journal)(5-5-2004)
- NASCAR takes engine: Bill Davis Racing experienced engine woes last weekend. Rookie #22-Scott Wimmer broke engines on Friday and Saturday because of two different problems. The team was forced to go to a third engine for the race. Wimmer started 39th and finished 30th. The second engine was confiscated by NASCAR for further examination.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-3-2004)
- NASCAR Still looking at Spoiler Options UPDATE: Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said Friday NASCAR is weighing options on whether to make an additional cut to cars' spoilers this season. "What we're doing is working through the process and trying to decide, is it better to do a half (inch) in July and another half (inch) at the end of the year, or to leave everything alone and do a full inch at the end of the year," he said. Darby said the main concern over making an adjustment during the season is its possible effects on the 10-race "Chase for the Championship. We'll be watching these next couple races and finishing the process of watching how the teams have adapted to the first cut (in the spoiler)," Darby said. "The championship chase will enter into it, I'm sure, that being so new." Darby said teams were probably split about whether to cut the spoiler before the end of the season, but in any case, an additional inch will be cut from the spoilers by the start of the 2005 season.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-1-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials are telling crew chiefs they've decided to drop plans for any more aerodynamic rear-spoiler changes this season. Another half-inch cut in the rear spoiler had been planned for July at Chicago; that cut has been postponed until next year.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-3-2004)
- Cool down lap 'NOT' optional: NASCAR announced a clarification to post-race procedures Sunday, reminding drivers that once the take the checkered flag they must complete the "cool down" lap. Event director David Hoots told the drivers assembled in Sunday's pre-race meeting they were not allowed to turn into the exit of pit road and travel up the wrong direction toward pit road. Last week at Talladega, Ala., after taking the checkered flag, Tony Stewart made a sharp left turn into the exit of pit road, electing not to take the "cool down" lap. Instead, he turned into an approaching Terry Labonte and damaged both cars. He then traveled up pit road the wrong way at a high rate of speed to the entrance of the garage area.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-2-2004)
- Next Time They'll Stop the race: NASCAR president Mike Helton said that if they're unable to finish a race under green and fans litter the track again, series officials will end the race immediately without completing the full distance.(Roanoke Times)
AND .....Yet, the deluge of debris symbolizes NASCAR's dilemma: The balance between entertaining fans and creating a safe and competitive race. The line has blurred in recent years as NASCAR changed rules and its way of thinking to appease fans. Series officials altered the points system this season. They've stopped races late to get a green-flag finish for more than five years. They asked Goodyear to construct a tire that wears more to create more passing and reduce the number of ho-hum, fuel-mileage finishes that occurred last year. "There's a lot of influence in our decision-making process by fans and their reaction to things, but there are limitations," NASCAR president Mike Helton said Saturday at California Speedway, site of today's Auto Club 500. "We can't please them completely, but we strive to. The sport doesn't work without them. Period."(in part from the Roanoke Times)(5-2-2004)
- NASCAR Still looking at Spoiler Options: Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said Friday NASCAR is weighing options on whether to make an additional cut to cars' spoilers this season. "What we're doing is working through the process and trying to decide, is it better to do a half (inch) in July and another half (inch) at the end of the year, or to leave everything alone and do a full inch at the end of the year," he said. Darby said the main concern over making an adjustment during the season is its possible effects on the 10-race "Chase for the Championship. We'll be watching these next couple races and finishing the process of watching how the teams have adapted to the first cut (in the spoiler)," Darby said. "The championship chase will enter into it, I'm sure, that being so new." Darby said teams were probably split about whether to cut the spoiler before the end of the season, but in any case, an additional inch will be cut from the spoilers by the start of the 2005 season.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-1-2004)
- New Shock and Sway Bar Rules: NASCAR's latest tech bulletin, which goes into effect here, covers some left-front spring tricks discovered during post-Texas inspections last month, according to NASCAR sources.(Winston Salem Journal)
AND NASCAR issued a technical bulletin in the Cup series this week prohibiting the pre-loading of sway bars beyond the limits of the driver's weight in the driver's seat or on the left door top. Basically, the move will prevent teams from using as heavy a spring on the left-front and left-front will travel closer to the track.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-1-2004)
- Green/White/Checker in Cup? doesn't look like it, plus Trucks may lose it UPDATE:....Rules in NASCAR's truck series do allow for a green-white-checkered flag finish, meaning a two-lap dash where a race can be extended so it will not end under caution. "At the Nextel Cup level, that rule would be a recipe for disaster," NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said. "That would be like dangling a piece of raw meat in front of a hungry lion." In fact, Hunter said that rule may now be re-evaluated for the truck series. "We'll probably wind up looking at doing away with that rule for the trucks," he said.(Alabama Live)(4-27-2004)
UPDATE: On Wednesday, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter defused a misunderstanding that appeared in print following events last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, specifically investigating the use of green-flag finishes in the Craftsman Truck Series with the possibility of their deletion. "There is no effort going on right now to do away with having green-white-checker finishes in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," Hunter said. "What the reporter failed to say was that when we instituted that in the Truck Series, most of its races were on short tracks. And I said that we would have to look at that at some time in the future."(NASCAR.com)(4-29-2004)
- Helton - One-lap shootout won't work at Talladega: NASCAR on FOX' Steve Byrnes sat down on Wednesday with NASCAR president Mike Helton to get the latest on NASCAR's decision-making process. Helton said "We simply ran out and didn't feel like and had already predetermined that a one-lap shootout at Talladega is just not going to work because of the amount of time it takes for the cars to spool up and the fact that between the first and second laps, there's almost six, seven tenths a second difference in speed that we would not have a one-lap dash back to the checkers at Talladega and that's exactly what happened to us on Sunday."(FoxSports)(4-29-2004)
- Last 45 races, 7 finished under yellow [15%]: In the last 45 Nextel Cup races [beginning 2003 season] seven races have ended under the yellow flag/or due to rain:
Daytona, Feb 2003, #15-Michael Waltrip wins, called due to rain
Martinsville, March 2003, #24-Jeff Gordon, wreck/yellow
Richmond, May 2003, #25-Joe Nemechek, rain
Lowe's Motor Speedway, May 2003, #48-Jimmie Johnson, rain
Pocono, June 2003, #20-Tony Stewart, wreck
Atlanta, October 2003, #24-Jeff Gordon, wreck
Talladega, April 2004, #24- Jeff Gordon, wreck.(4-27-2004)
- How the field is 'frozen' and why no red flag at Talladega: The final four laps of the 188-lap race at Talladega Superspeedway ran under a yellow flag. The final caution, brought out by Vickers' spin, came too late for NASCAR to throw a red flag and stop the race, and also too late to get a restart. Had Vickers' incident come on lap 182 instead of 184, the race would have been stopped. "We would have had time to clean up, open the pits and still have at least three laps to get up to speed and race," NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said on Monday. "We missed by two laps." NASCAR informs the teams at its drivers meeting each raceday morning of the last lap when a red flag will be waved with the aim of insuring a green-flag finish. At Talladega, there would be no red flag from lap 183 on. So when the late caution came out, the field was frozen, under another NASCAR edict that forbids racing back to the yellow flag. At precisely that point, #24-Jeff Gordon was ahead of #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. The freeze-frame moment was recorded by what NASCAR calls "scoring loops," a series of marking spots around the track where electronic lines under the surface register the running order from signals transmitted by transponders in the race cars. At Talladega, there are eight markers imbedded under the 2.66-mile track. "We go back to the nearest scoring loop to the accident and then to whatever video is available," Hunter said. In this case, the video showed the caution came while Vickers' wreck was in progress and Gordon was nearly a full car length ahead of Earnhardt Jr. "Gordon was first when the caution came out and also first to cross the loop line," Hunter said. As for managing a restart with just four laps to go, the problem was not so much cleaning up the debris from Vickers' incident but sorting the running order through the full field where cars were racing three wide when the caution fell. With the red-flag option gone, the result would have been, at best, a one-lap shootout. Memories of massive pileups at Talladega and Daytona on two-lap restarts made that call a no-go. "We wouldn't start it with two to go at Daytona or Talladega," Hunter said.(Alabama Live)(4-27-2004)
- NASCAR's comments on the #8 and #24 placement and why no last lap shootout at Talladega: NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said a videotape review clearly showed Gordon ahead when the caution lights came on. "We turned the lights on when the wreck was in progress," Hunter said. "We had a great piece of footage that showed the two cars, so it was really clear-cut that Gordon was in the lead." Hunter said Tony Eury, Earnhardt's crew chief, looked the video and agreed with NASCAR. The other part of the controversy was the fact that NASCAR did not get the green flag back out for a race to the finish, keeping it under caution to the end and igniting the fans anger when they realized Gordon was going to win. "Here and at Daytona we're not going to have a one-lap shootout just because of safety," Hunter said. "We're just not going to do that."(Daytona Beach News Journal/AP)(4-26-2004)
- Spoiler Change starting at Chicago: Nextel Cup director John Darby says teams will have to cut one-half inch off of the cars' spoilers before the race at Chicago on July 11. Many teams have reserved tests anticipating the change.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(4-26-2004)
- Parts taken and work being done on cars at 'Dega UPDATE: NASCAR inspectors confiscated a few parts in the Cup garage Friday morning before qualifying. Unapproved fuel cell gaskets were taken from the cars of #30-Johnny Sauter and #17-Matt Kenseth and unapproved windshield braces from the cars of #32-Ricky Craven and #48-Jimmie Johnson. #24-Jeff Gordon's Chevy also required some work on its rear end before it passed inspection.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-23-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR inspectors added to their collection of bad parts from teams over the weekend at Talladega. Topping the list: unapproved springs from the cars of #49-Ken Schrader, #45-Kyle Petty, #09-Johnny Benson, #9-Kasey Kahne and #32-Ricky Craven. Also seized were unapproved underpans from the cars of #88-Dale Jarrret and #00-Kenny Wallace.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-25-2004)
- Gary Nelson Explains Restrictor Plates: The restrictor plates used by NASCAR to control speed at its two fastest tracks, Talladega and Daytona, are like a heart monitor or an artificial leg. You hate having to have them, but you can't do without them. The plate is a thin piece of steel, simple and bulletproof, about five inches square, and with four holes machined precisely so as to fit under the centers of the throttle bores. The holes have varied in size since the introduction of the plates in 1988, and currently are at 0.90625in (29/32nds). The plates are controlled by NASCAR and are installed and removed by NASCAR officials prior to competition events. The plate is intended to reduce the flow of air/fuel mixture from the carburetor into the intake manifold and hence into the cylinders, the ultimate goal being to reduce horsepower and speed. It is estimated that the restriction knocks about 300hp out of the engine, keeping speeds here and at Daytona in the 185-190 range, safely below the alleged "magic number" of 200mph.
There is a lot to this article by Ben Blake, see the full story at
Speed Channel: click here and for some stats and history of the restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega since 1987, see my Restrictor Plate Page.(4-25-2004)
- Q&A with Mike Helton: One interesting Q&A: Q: We're hearing that at Daytona in July you'll require that teams qualify with race set-ups, then cover the cars and come back Saturday night.
Answer: "We've talked about it, but I'm not sure we're ready to get that far. That goes to my point of making weekends more efficient. There is a conversation among the competitors with NASCAR right now -- John Darby was the author of this -- if you qualify, and we impound you basically after qualifying, what does that do? That's the conversation John's having in the garage area, as well as with the promoters. It has an impact on Daytona; it would have an impact on Talladega. We're in that phase of talking about it right now. It has a possibility of happening, but it's not near that point."
Full Q&A at Speed Chanel: Q&A with Mike Helton.(4-25-2004)
- Brett Bodine to the pace car? NASCAR is reevaluating its staffing on its pace car and chase vehicles and is seriously considering turning pace car driving duties in its Nextel Cup series races over to former Cup driver Brett Bodine, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Bodine, 45, who retired from active competition, was recently hired by NASCAR to tackle several special projects with its research and development team based in Concord, NC, including work on the "car of the future," which will incorporate new safety measures. Bodine would replace Buster Auton, who has served as pace car driver in the Cup series since 1997, following the death of Elmo Langley. Auton has missed only a handful of races due to medical reasons. Auton is expected to then move to the "chase car," NASCAR's first-response vehicle to accident scenes, generally followed by safety crews and ambulances. Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president for corporate communications, said no final decisions have been made on staffing changes. "Whether Buster is driving the pace car or the chase car or whatever Buster Auton is doing, he is a vital part of NASCAR's operations," Hunter said. Hunter said NASCAR is always evaluating its needs on the track and in the garage, attempting to find where its employees' talent can be best utilized. Bodine drove in Cup for 20 seasons. He had one win and five poles in 480 career starts. A formal announcement of any changes is expected within a couple of weeks.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-23-2004)
- No Selling of tires for testing rule? Michael Waltrip, who calls it "ridiculous" that NASCAR lets Cup teams test at Kentucky and Nashville, says the key to NASCAR ending expensive testing is simple: "Don't let Goodyear sell us tires for testing." Indeed NASCAR is considering just such a policy. Jimmy Makar, general manager for Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, says a no-tire testing rule would lead to more virtual testing through computers. "Virtual testing would become more important," Makar said. "If they put enough things in place to keep you from physically getting to a race track, obviously we'll look at all the loopholes to get around it. Would it save us money? Motels and engines and travel. But would you go more high tech? Obviously it would be easier on the guys who go on the road, and those guys would be all for it. But crew chiefs will be screaming they can't go test their ideas. I would be in favor of coming in Thursdays, a day early, for data acquisition testing at the tracks. Do that 12 times a year and that would take care of your testing." Makar said he and many crew chiefs are in favor of the no-happy-hour proposal that NASCAR officials have considered, where teams would qualify on race setups and then cover their cars after pole runs and not touch them until Sunday morning. Mark Cronquist, Gibbs' engine builder, goes a step further: "You could do all that on Friday, and then use only one motor. Let the engineers have the car Friday for computer data, Saturday you qualify, and Sunday you race. That way the engineers get data with the actual race motor at the track under actual conditions, much better than testing a month ahead. Like look at all those guys testing at Sears Point this week - that's two months before we race there."(Winston Salem Journal)(4-24-2004)
- France Happy with 'points chase': After eight races this season, 23 drivers are within 400 points of leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last year at this point, only 17 drivers would have qualified. But 18 races remain until the championship cutoff after the Sept. 11 race in Richmond, VA. Brian France, the NASCAR chairman and CEO who was instrumental in the change to the new system, is pleased with the racing so far this season. "We could not be happier on how the chase is shaping up, with every driver racing so hard to make sure that they have a shot at the championship," France said Tuesday. "That's exactly what we want." Since the modern scoring system was established in 1975, only once have there been more than seven drivers (12 in 2002) within 400 points of the leader with 10 races remaining. Included in the group that would qualify are seven former Cup champions and a pair of rookies.(USA Today)(4-22-2004)
- Spoiler Plans Dropped: NASCAR officials have told some teams they've dropped plans to change aerodynamic rules for the California 500 on May 2 and will stick to the original timetable of July 11 at Chicago for the half-inch chop off the rear spoiler.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-19-2004)
- Parts Confiscated: NASCAR inspectors confiscated parts from three Nextel Cup teams at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. The items: An unapproved TV camera pod from the #25 GMAC Chevy team of driver Brian Vickers, an unapproved control arm from the #02 Chevy of Hermie Sadler and an expired lap and shoulder belt from the #5 Kellogg's Chevy driven by Terry Labonte.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-17-2004)
- Goodyear planning no changes UPDATE: Goodyear's Rick Campbell, a veteran NASCAR tire engineer, said that, despite some complaints about less-than-thrilling on-track action with NASCAR's new soft tire-low downforce package this season, Goodyear's plans won't change. In large part, Campbell said, that's because tire production is not something that can be quickly reorganized. "Our year is pretty clearly defined already," Campbell said. "We have to look pretty far ahead. It would be pretty difficult for us in the middle of April to respond to a change in the next month or two. We're pretty pleased with where we are right now. We like our track groupings (of new tires)." The possibility of simply dropping the soft tire and reverting to last year's hard-tire package "hasn't even been brought up as a possibility," Campbell said. After the 500-miler at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4,some teams were asking for quick changes, for more downforce on their cars to improve handling and make for more passing. There has been no passing this season because drivers are reluctant to move their cars close to each other.
But NASCAR is expected to go the other way, and take another half inch of downforce away from the rear spoiler, cutting perhaps another 100 pounds off the cars for the Auto Club 500 on May 2 at Fontana, Calif.
Campbell said he would prefer that any announcement on such downforce issues come from NASCAR, but he said such a move wouldn't affect the tire Goodyear plans to run at California Speedway, which is the same tire used at Atlanta and Texas.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-16-2004)
UPDATE no spoiler changes anytime soon: There’s been some stories of late indicating that Goodyear was ready to change tire compounds and that NASCAR was going to be trimming spoilers, possibly as soon as the upcoming California event in two-weeks time. The stories, however, seem to be based more on garage talk rather than what either named party has planned. Goodyear engineers laugh at the notion that there will be any changes in compound coming from their camp before the end of the year. Goodyear’s Phil Homer reminded those in attendance, today, that the number of tires needed to run a Cup event require a long lead time. “Last week we worked on what we’ll need for Chicago,” said Holmer. “That shows we’re looking further down the road than the next few weeks.” NASCAR’s John Darby shook off the report that he was going to order a round of spoiler trims before the next California event. “Nothing at this point has changed in regards to our plan,” Darby said of his aero-reduction plan that he’s undertaking this year in the Cup garage. There is talk that NASCAR might trim spoilers later in the year, after a cycle through the tracks, but nothing would come sooner than the July 11, Chicago event, if even then, according to Darby.(Ford Racing)(4-17-2004)
- Changes coming, a 'bigger' car UPDATE Bodine Project: During the Speed Channel show Inside Nextel Cup, Gary Nelson, head of NASCAR R&D was interviewed on the 'Hot Seat' and mentioned the 'car of tomorrow' is currently being worked on and tested and hopes are to possibly run it late in the 2005 season. The car will have a larger greenhouse [the upper inside of the car above the 'doors'], have a different areodynamic signature [meaning not as aerodynanic], have a squarer appearance, move the driver over to the right away from the 'drivers-side door' but not in the middle, be safer for the driver and maintain most of the safety features currently being used and that NASCAR does NOT plan to have a 'common engine' as had been rumored.(4-13-2004)
UPDATE: Brett Bodine has a mechanical engineering degree from the State University of New York at Alfred. He will work at NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, N.C., as a special project manager. In addition to working with safety issues, the research and development center is responsible for creating the car of the future - one that incorporates safety, competition and cost. The car will feature a larger greenhouse - the passenger area - to mirror the kind of competition currently displayed on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The new car will be less dependent on aerodynamics and will be easier to police since all manufacturers will basically share the same body shapes. Bodine's new job comes at a time of change at NASCAR. Joe Garone, a former crew chief for Bill Elliott, is leaving his job as director of officiating to return to the garage area; vice president Jim Hunter, the company's top spokesman, is being moved to a new position that oversees regional touring and weekly series, and Don Hawk, the former business manager for Dale Earnhardt, is joining NASCAR as the director of regional racing development.(Augusta Chronicle)(4-15-2004)
- Modern Era Milestone Ahead: Baring unforeseen changes in the schedule, the MBNA America 400 at Dover in June will be the 1000th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Modern Era race. It will be the 2,042nd points race for NASCAR's premier division.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-13-2004)
- NASCAR.com to go: Nextel Communications, the leading provider of fully integrated wireless communications services, Digital Orchid Inc., an innovator in the development, management and distribution of branded wireless applications, and NASCAR.COM, a division of Turner Sports Interactive, today announced that a suite of real-time wireless NASCAR.COM content applications and services are available to consumers on mobile devices offered on the Nextel network. NASCAR.COM TO GO is a subscription service that gives members access to view and share a variety of real-time NASCAR.COM content via their wireless devices. Subscribers receive breaking news and features from NASCAR.COM's reporters, qualifying and race results, series standings, driver updates, as well as NASCAR.COM's live timing and scoring leaderboard service. "We are excited to have Nextel as our partner for the NASCAR.COM wireless services. Applications like NASCAR.COM TO GO are key components of Nextel's sponsorship of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, allowing all Nextel data users to access NASCAR.COM content in real-time on their mobile phone", said Cindy Sisson, senior vice president of marketing and co-founder of Digital Orchid. Services available to Nextel subscribers includes NASCAR.COM Mobile, a wireless web site with NASCAR.COM news and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series content, NASCAR.COM Alerts, a wireless messaging alert service that provides subscribers breaking news and event results, and NASCAR.COM TO GO, the first wireless java application created just for the NASCAR fan. NASCAR.COM TO GO is available on select Java-enabled color screen Nextel handsets, including the limited-edition NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series phones.
NASCAR.COM TO GO can be previewed and purchased at www.NASCAR.COM/mobile. NASCAR.COM TO GO is also preloaded on all 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series phones and all 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Drivers phones. Nextel i730 and i733 customers can download NASCAR.COM TO GO at no cost at www.iDENUpdate.com
To activate the subscription on 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series phones and all 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Drivers phones simply click on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series icon on the home page and click on the Get NASCAR.COM TO GO link. To activate the subscription on i730 and i733 phones, click on Net then Web Sites then Sports then Nextel Cup and then finally click on the Get NASCAR.COM TO GO link. Additional subscription fee of $9.99 for NASCAR.COM TO GO applies; Subscription service to Nextel Online Racing Connection data plan or any Nextel Online Web Access and Total Connect plan required.(TMCnet)(4-5-2004)
- More Downforce? Now there is talk that Goodyear may be under pressure to let NASCAR add more downforce to these cars and keep the same soft-tire line. That would make any tire engineer very nervous. Goodyear officials won't say just what they're talking about with NASCAR executives right now in discussions of the single-file racing. Could Goodyear OK NASCAR adding more downforce to these cars with this tire package, and not risk the tires blistering or tearing apart? Goodyear calls such a question "premature."(Winston Salem Journal)(4-6-2004)
- NASCAR reviews hard liquor ad ban: NASCAR officials may rescind their ban on sponsorships from hard liquor companies. "It's under review," says Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of communications. "We're trying to do what's right, weighing all the pros and cons." NASCAR allows beer companies to sponsor cars, and in recent years also has allowed hard liquor companies to advertise their "malt beverage" products; Smirnoff vodka, for example, is not allowed, but Smirnoff Ice is allowed. If NASCAR does lift the ban, it could provide a boost to teams that are searching for sponsors.(USA Today)(4-5-2004)
- Gear Ratio Change? NASCAR is exploring ways to slow Nextel Cup cars by decreasing RPMs through different gear ratios. But Dale Earnhardt Inc. technical director Steve Hmiel says a gear rule change "would be a nightmare." Teams are sending engine specialists to Europe to research the latest advancements in drive trains, and NASCAR is concerned that gains made by the top organizations will increase their advantage over the have-nots.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(4-5-2004)
- NASCAR to cut more off the spoiler? NASCAR officials have been considering new rules trimming another half-inch off the rear spoiler and limiting engine height, to limit use of exotic springs. However many teams are upset with that, and the lack of passing in yesterday's race may force NASCAR to reassess those proposed changes. "Nothing against the NASCAR guys, but they don't need to making an engine height rule like that," crew chief Tony Eury Sr. says. "If they do that, then we can't put the springs in the car we need to put in to make the car drive. If the car is up in the air, the car is going to push, and that's exactly why we're putting soft springs in the car. Now NASCAR wants to make a engine height rule, so we'll have to putting a bigger frame in the car to keep the engine off the ground, and it will push worse."(Winston Salem Journal)(4-5-2004)
- Official Auto Finance Co of NASCAR and Team Sponsor: Centrix Financial of Centennial, CO, has signed a sponsorship deal that makes it NASCAR's official auto finance company and is negotiating with several Nextel Cup teams about car sponsorship, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. Columnist Terry Lefton says the first year of the deal includes "largely Internet advertising and some" TV and print components. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Lefton writes that the deal represents Centrix's "biggest sports marketing expenditure to date."(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-5-2004)
- NASCAR Supports National Car Care Month: NASCAR recently announced a new marketing campaign that will support the automotive industry's "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education initiative. The campaign, which will debut in April, includes TV, radio, and print creative. In addition to spreading the word on April being 'National Car Care Month', the campaign will promote the NASCAR Performance Network, a network of thousands of auto repair and collision shops available to car-crazy NASCAR fans. Creative ads are set to debut around the time of the April 4th Samsung Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (FOX, 1 p.m. EST). The campaign features some of NASCAR's most popular crew chiefs, including Ryan Pemberton (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Jimmy Fennig (No. 97 Rubbermaid/Irwin Ford) and Tommy Baldwin (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) stepping into the consumer world and offering guidance with car repair.
The TV campaign is comprised of 3 different commercials. NASCAR crew chiefs relay automotive advice to everyone from a woman
distraught over a relationship gone bad to a frustrated man in marriage counseling. The crew chiefs humorously advise them on their
various issues by suggesting different forms of car care advice. Print and radio ads will follow the same theme of crew chiefs giving expert advice to everyday people on the importance of proper automotive care.
Working with the MAKOS agency out of Austin, the NASCAR campaign will reach key consumer broadcast audiences via in-race spots
on national NBC and FOX broadcasts as well as the SPEED Channel, XM Radio and the Motor Racing Network (MRN); and in print, via
publications including NASCAR Scene, NASCAR Illustrated, NASCAR preview and press guides, the NASCAR track and travel guides as well as select NASCAR souvenir race programs. Banners ads will also appear on NASCAR.com.
The NASCAR Performance Network is a new, nationwide branding and service initiative of NASCAR aimed at supporting the automotive
industry's call to "Be Car Care Aware" and the $62 billion of unperformed consumer maintenance each year.(NASCAR PR)(4-1-2004)
- New Practice/Qualifying Times? #18 Crew chief Michael McSwain is adding his voice to those accepting a new Friday testing policy each race week, with teams allowed to use computer-data acquisition on their cars. Then on Saturdays, drivers would get three 45-minute regular practice sessions before qualifying and no practice after qualifying, so they would effectively have to qualify on race setups. That, Mark Martin said, would give drivers much more practice on race setup than they get now.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-27-2004)
- "Field-filler" announcement? hearing that NASCAR is going to make some kind of announcement this week about the whole
- Hillenburg was up to NASCAR's minimum speed UPDATE more on speed requirements: #80-Andy Hillenburg was traveling above NASCAR's mandated minimum speed of 135.409 mph (34.5 seconds per lap) [note: not sure how NASCAR calculates minimum speed, this speed is about 80% of the pole speed] in Sunday's race when #20-Tony Stewart got a run on his car and sent it sideways on Lap 28. Title contender #24-Jeff Gordon, who was running behind those two, had nowhere to go and T-boned Hillenburg's car. The wreck ended Gordon's day, and he finished 41st, dropping him from fifth to 13th in the points standings. After the accident, Hillenburg admitted, "We have to go back and make the car faster to keep up with these guys." That wasn't good enough for Gordon's team owner, Rick Hendrick. After the race, Hendrick said, "If those guys can't get out of the way, then they shouldn't be there." Hendrick plans to discuss the issue of slower cars with NASCAR this week.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(3-22-2004)
UPDATE: Executive Vice President of Communications Jim Hunter said NASCAR still doesn't view the issue as a major concern, chalking up the crash as typical for the treacherous 1.366-mile oval with extremely tight corners. "It's racing," said Hunter, a former president of Darlington. "There are always going to be slower people. Not everybody is going to be running as fast as the leader." NASCAR polices the problem at each race by setting a minimum speed within about 15 percent of the fastest lap in the final practice. Failure to keep pace results in a black flag, and only one warning generally is given before teams are parked permanently. Sunday's minimum at Darlington was 142.539 mph nearly 25 mph slower slower than Mark Martin's fast lap of 166.298 mph Saturday. Kirk Shelmerdine was banished after 49 laps Sunday for excessive lagging. At least one car has started each of the four races since Daytona with a lap 10 mph slower than the pole. In recent years, Formula One implemented the "107 percent rule," which prevented cars from starting if they didn't qualify within a certain range of the pole position speed. Gordon suggested NASCAR might be well-served to follow the international series' policy, which Hunter said NASCAR would be willing to consider.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(3-23-2004)
- Bill France Jr. to visit Nashville's Music City Motorplex at Opener: Bill France Jr. is planning on attending the April 3rd Dodge Dealer's 400 at Nashville's Music City Motorplex. The April 3rd event will mark the return of NASCAR sanctioned events to this
historic 5/8 mile oval after a one-year hiatus. "When I got the word this past Friday it reaffirmed NASCAR's commitment to Nashville and to grassroots short track racing," commented Joe Mattioli, President of the Music City Motorplex. In September of 2003, Bill Jr. passed the baton to his son Brian France who now serves as NASCAR's board chairman and chief executive. Bill Jr. continues to serve as NASCAR's co-vice chairman and as a member of the board of directors. For the additional information call the Music City Motorplex at 615-726-1818, or visit www.musiccitymotorplex.com.(PR)(3-23-2004)
- Too Much Military at the Races? [not in my book] UPDATE Nextel Responds: NASCAR's pre-race shows are impressively and colorfully patriotic, with flags waving and race crews, including drivers, standing crisply at attention on pit road, and with glorious vocals and spectacular military flyovers. However, according to sources, some Nextel officials are uneasy with the image that might be seen by some as too staunchly militaristic and pro-war and might prefer a more middle-of-the-road approach to that and other sensitive political issues. And it is being suggested, according to these sources, that since Republican George Bush was invited to Daytona, a similar invitation should be extended to John Kerry, a Democratic presidential candidate, at another Nextel Cup race later this season.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-21-2004)
UPDATE - from NEXTEL: quite a few readers emailed Nextel and hammered them, they got a nice response back:
"Thank you for taking the time to write and voice your thoughts regarding NASCAR. I want you to know that Nextel supports our service men and women wherever they are serving this great country, without reservation. We have many Nextel employees in the reserves and a great many veterans. In fact, our Chief Operating Officer, Tom Kelly, is an Army veteran. There is no question that we value their dedication, bravery and commitment.
The comments and views that the Winston Salem Journal sports writer Mike Mulhern reported in his Sunday NASCAR notebook section are not remotely close to those of Nextel – I have personally discussed this with him. We are very upset with how Nextel has been improperly characterized as not supporting our service men and women through NASCAR pre-race shows. Nextel stands shoulder to shoulder with the millions of patriotic NASCAR fans.
In partnership with the American Red Cross, Nextel has supported the armed forces through the American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services (AFES) program. This is a program that asks people to donate their old wireless phones so that we can recycle them and generate funds for the Red Cross. Through this program, Nextel has already raised more than $400,000 for AFES and has helped service men and women around the world stay in touch with their families during times of celebration or grief.
Nextel has proudly taken this program to NASCAR and its fans to garner additional support for our armed services men and women. And we will continue our efforts on this front and wherever we see opportunities."(3-23-2004)
- Must Have A Pit Crew Rule to be Added? Expect NASCAR officials to add a rule in the off-season requiring teams to start each race with a full pit crew, because of the James Finch controversy at Rockingham. Finch and driver Joe Ruttman started the Rockingham race without a pit crew chief, and NASCAR planned to fine the team, until Finch pointed out that there was no such rule in the book.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-22-2004)
AND heard from a few folks telling about the effort that #89-Morgan Shepherd's crew gave, supposedly there were three crew members, a gas man, a tire changer and a jackman and did the stop one tire at a time. The first stop Shepherd made, after leading 2 laps under caution, Shepherd was able to do so without losing a lap, the next time around he got lapped while on pit road. After going a lap down, low on tires and making a few stops, Shepherd parked the #89 Racing for Jesus Dodge.(3-22-2004)
- More on Cursing; NASCAR won't police scanners: Inquiring NASCAR fans yearn to know why Nextel Cup Series rookie Johnny Sauter can be penalized for using the "s" word and most popular driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. can use the word "damn" without repercussion. According to NASCAR vice president for corporate communications Jim Hunter, the two words aren't comparable. "Our president, Mike Helton, when he first addressed this issue at Rockingham, made it a point to say hell or damn, depending on the context in which it's used, is sort of acceptable," Hunter said. "Those two words appear in different forms as a means of expression. Those are subjective. (They're okay) as long as they don't use them in a demeaning or scathing fashion. The other word is simply not acceptable." Both drivers used profanity in post-race interviews. But Sauter's comment following the Las Vegas Busch Series race that Michael Waltrip was "three-wide, doing stupid (expletive)," was considered demeaning. Conversely, Earnhardt's comment after winning the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta -- "I don't care if I don't see my own bed for two damn months" -- was not. Hunter also said Friday that NASCAR has no intent of policing profanity on race scanners, a recent burning question stemming from the crackdown on profanity by the Federal Communications Commission. NASCAR's focus is to assure drivers refrain from cursing on live television and/or radio. "The scanner issue is a separate issue," Hunter said. "People have a choice on whether to tune in on a scanner or not. We're cautioning our guys to be mindful, but scanners are a fun part of this sport, and they're big boys. They know what's going on." "We don't want our network partners to be put in a position of getting a huge fine for something one of our guys say," Hunter said.(NASCAR.com)(3-20-2004)
- NASCAR looking at the #25: Nextel Cup series director John Darby said officials at NASCAR's research and development center will look into an incident involving Brian Vickers' car during a practice session at Atlanta on Saturday. The driveshaft on Vickers' car broke, apparently punching a hole in the bottom of the car and sending a small chunk of metal through the catchfence and into an unoccupied area of the grandstands. A broken driveshaft is relatively rare in NASCAR, and it certainly got Vickers' attention. "When it comes apart, it's pretty big," Vickers said. "But luckily I wasn't hurt, nobody else was hurt. I could have sworn it sounded like a bomb went off. I thought we were under attack."(USA Today)(3-15-2004)
- More Pit Road Rule Changes Coming? NASCAR officials are asking for drivers' advice in devising a caution-period rule to deal with crews making extensive repairs on a car, such as occurred at Daytona when a driver, rushing back to the track to catch up with the rear of the pack after lengthy repairs, hit and killed a track worker. NASCAR has added a new twist to pit-road rules - when the caution comes out, pit road will be closed an extra lap to allow the field to close up. That is to keep the rear of the field from speeding up to hit pit road with the leaders, a potentially dangerous situation.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-15-2004)
- Helton Issues Warning: NASCAR President Mike Helton discussed the sanctioning body's three-week-old policy on obscenity during the Craftsman Truck Series drivers' meeting. Because the Craftsman Truck Series has been idle for four weeks, it was Helton's first opportunity to address the issue to the truck competitors. "There is a higher level of scrutiny by NASCAR on its participants
than there ever has been," Helton said. "And that comes from there being a higher level of scrutiny in all of live entertainment, but in particular sports. This is a serious issue for us because it effects our perception to the public. But, more importantly, it has become a significant issue at the federal government level to the point to where, even yesterday, there were a couple of half million dollar fines handed out to some radio networks for a couple of words that were used on a live radio show. And I'll tell you, if it gets to the point that this happens in our sport, we're not going to pay those fines. We'll pass them on to somebody. We're under a great deal of scrutiny and we're going to police the sport."(AMS Pit Notes)(3-13-2004)
- New Cams Installed on cars: Crew chiefs, worried about new aerodynamics issues, are upset with NASCAR's surprising decision yesterday morning to order all teams to cut holes in the roof of their cars and install 360-degree TV cameras, quickly dubbed submarine cams.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-6-2004)
- Spoiler Rules Change for the 2002 cars: NASCAR handed out new rear-spoiler rules yesterday, cutting the rear spoiler on 2002 models, effectively killing those cars, beginning with next week's Atlanta race. The only driver using a 2002 model here is #72-Kirk Shelmerdine [Ford]. NASCAR officials apparently had a difficult time determining just what model car Shelmerdine brought here.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-6-2004)
- NASCAR Working to Make Cars Safer: Part of Gary Nelson's job is to wreck cars. As managing director of NASCAR’s research and development team, he works to make auto racing safer and more competitive. Sometimes that means crash tests. “Rather than just react to what happened, maybe we can try to prevent bad things from happening by being a little more proactive,” Nelson said Wednesday. “And it takes resources to do that.” All of the cars used at the Concord facility have been donated by race teams. Researchers study the cars -- which usually have significant damage from a previous accident -- and look for improvements.(News 14 Carolina)(3-5-2004)
- NASCAR Pushing Older Drivers out or to Part-time? As long as the sponsors and team owners were satisfied with the driver's performance, he could race as long as he wanted [in the past]. But that's about to change. And the pressure to kick the aging cans of veteran drivers isn't coming so much from the owners or sponsors. It's coming from NASCAR. "NASCAR has suggested to many, many people that some drivers cut back to partial schedules," says Rusty Wallace, 47. "That might happen one of these days." And that came from NASCAR? "Yes," Wallace says. "One main NASCAR official suggested, 'Why don't you run a partial schedule? There's nothing wrong with a partial schedule.' " OK. Although there have been 100 races since he last won, at California in 2001, what right does anyone in Daytona have to tell Wallace, the 1989 champion, when it's time to hang up his helmet? But while NASCAR is ushering stars toward retirement, it's putting out desperate help-wanted calls to washed-up veterans to fill fields. Funny, but I must have missed the Joe Ruttman and Kirk Shelmerdine souvenir rigs on the way to the Rock. Perhaps that's where Ruttman's pit crew was two Sundays ago, selling T-shirts.(see full Sporting News article at Yahoo Sports)(3-2-2004)
- 43 requirement...a myth: NASCAR chief operating officer George Pyne denies that NASCAR recruited drivers to race at Rockingham, where several field fillers completed the advertised 43-car field. Pyne says it's a myth that the TV contracts require 43 drivers to be in a Cup race. "I asked the question point blank to our group, and they reported that we're not recruiting people to show up," Pyne says. "That's my understanding." Pyne says decreasing the field in the future is not out of the question.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(3-1-2004)
- NASCAR examining field-fillers: NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said yesterday the practice of "field fillers" will be discouraged more heavily in the future. Because only 37 full-time teams are slated to run the 2004 Nextel Cup schedule, several ragtag operations attempted to qualify for the 43 spots in Sunday's Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. Joe Ruttman made one lap and earned $54,196 for last place. He was black-flagged for not having a pit crew. "The Joe Ruttman thing was sort of a sham," Hunter told The Associated Press. "We always try to do the right thing, and since we had let it go that far, we let him start the race. However, that will not happen again."(Richmond Times Dispatch and see an AP story at MSNBC)(2-25-2004)
- More on the Field Fillers: #80-Andy Hillenburg, who failed to qualify Junie Donlavey's #90-car at Daytona (although he made a little money in the 125), made the field in Stan Hover's long-shot car here and did best among the irregulars, finishing 34th. You might also consider #14-Larry Foyt (32nd, running without sponsorship) and #50-Derrike Cope (30th), although Cope was semi-regular last year and may be again this year [Jayski Note: Cope and the #50 plan to run a full season]. Hillenburg's take for the afternoon's work was $55,425, not a bad payday for 376 laps of staying out of the way. Less notable were the ultimate back-mark cars of #09-Joe Ruttman and #72-Kirk Shelmerdine. Ruttman, "driving" for James Finch, was flagged before the green because he did not have a pit crew [should be a rule, no pit crew, no start, no points, no money]. Shelmerdine, lapped eight minutes after the start-engine command, made 19 laps before he was parked for being below minimum speed. Both, however, made minimum purse, which here is a little over $50,000. There was some talk that a driver had to make a certain number of laps in order to collect purse money, but that never has been the case and likely was not Sunday.(Speed Channel)(2-24-2004)
- F1 Team Boss Disses NASCAR, UPDATE now plans to attend a race: McLaren boss Ron Dennis is no fan of NASCAR, with its lines of growling stock cars rumbling bumper-to-bumper around ovals for hours on end. "You know one single thing that really, really upsets me?," he said last month when the talk turned to Formula One's commercial future. "It's every time that I read about NASCAR. It's just amazing. I mean they are just full up. Every race is full up, they've got more income, more television revenue and it's boring as hell. McLaren chief Ron Dennis doesn't understand why NASCAR is so popular in America. "That machine is working and yet we've got a much better show," he added.(see full ESPN column) better show? a driver wins the pole, he wins the race [9 of 16 won from the pole, worse starting spot to win was 11th], unless he has a mechanical problem or brain fade.(2-20-2004)
UPDATE: Why has McLaren principal Ron Dennis scheduled a trip to a NASCAR race? The English F1 boss reckons the US-based stock-car oval series is 'boring as hell' but they've got more spectators at the races and more cash flowing-in. He told Reuters: "[NASCAR] is working and yet we've got a much better show. If something is as successful as that then you'd be a fool if you didn't go and try to understand what the ingredients are." Most F1 pundits are dismissive of the stock-car technology but Dennis and managing director Martin Whitmarsh intend to keep a keen-eye on the circus.(F1-Live site), doesn't say what race Dennis will attend or when.(2-24-2004)
- Champ Car Series drops doctors....maybe NASCAR can hire them? The new owners of the Champ Car series are not renewing the contracts of two doctors credited with making the series' trauma team one of the world's best. The Open Wheel Racing Series on Sunday said Dr. Steve Olvey and Dr. Terry Trammel will not be retained. Olvey, a professor and director of the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, said his contract with the open-wheel racing series has not been extended. Trammell, an orthopedic surgeon based in Indianapolis, said he will remain with the series for the final year of his current contract as a consultant. Champ Car spokesman Eric Mauk confirmed that Olvey was being replaced as the series medical director but said the organization would have no further comment.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(2-23-2004)
- Qualifying Changes? Heat Races? Talladega Race Set-up qualifying? While most drivers and crews aren't showing much enthusiasm for eliminating traditional two-lap qualifying sessions in favor of 50-lap heat races to determine race lineups, Hill finds the idea intriguing. Certainly the current method of qualifying for Sunday Cup races makes for a terribly boring television show. Qualifying has been used over the years as a ticket-selling marketing promotion. However, over the last 15 years that aspect of qualifying has vanished and it has become a generally useless routine. "Nobody even pays attention to the sheets anymore," Gil Martin, the general manager for the Kevin Harvick-Richard Childress team, said. NASCAR officials are considering one novel response to the qualifying question - for the April 25 Talladega 500 Cup teams could be required to qualify on a race setup. How? That Friday teams, after practice and qualifying, will have their cars impounded and covered up until the start of Sunday's race. No Happy Hour Saturday.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-23-2004)
- Drivers Warned about 'colorful' language: NASCAR President Mike Helton issued a warning to Busch Series drivers Saturday to watch their language and actions, especially in regards to TV broadcasts and interviews. Helton addressed the group in Saturday morning's drivers meeting and plans to do the same in Sunday's Cup drivers meeting at North Carolina Speedway. "All of you understand how NASCAR typically treats actions that are played out on TV, particularly when it comes to profanity or actions that we think are detrimental," Helton said. "What I wanted to do today is to make sure you understand that while we may have been a little forgiving over the past few weeks ... that we're going to tighten back up on profanity in the sport." TV networks have come under scrutiny recently over events and language considered in bad taste or in violation of FCC regulations. Helton cited the Super Bowl halftime incident in which singer Janet Jackson exposed her breast as an example. In addition, NBA star Shaquille O'Neal recently was suspended for one game without pay (roughly $295,000) for a profanity-laced interview on TV following a game. "The networks and the government are getting ready to get into this deal and it's going to make things complicated. So, I wanted to be very precise and want you to understand that this is your warning," Helton said. "If somebody puts a microphone in front of you, the first thing that ought to go through your head is that you're talking to your grandmother or your 4-year-old daughter. You have to watch what you say because it's beyond what we want to do in the sport, to make it a family oriented sport." TV talent, particularly those who work pit road and conduct post-race interviews at races, have been advised to help prevent incidences of foul language as well, sources said. TV reporters caught in such situations are likely to cut an interview short, sources said.(ThatsRacin.com)
AND In the Subway 400 prerace drivers meeting, drivers were warned by President Mike Helton to maintain a suitable level of decorum during live television interviews in the wake of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime show. "That incident has caused the FCC and federal government to react, and that reaction has led to greater scrutiny of the entertainment industry and sports in particular," Helton said. "We have a policy about profanity, and that is under more of a microscope today than it ever has been. . . . When you're being interviewed, understand you're talking to an audience of 8 to 80. We've all worked very hard to get the following we got, and we don't want to mess that up."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-23-2004)
- More on Field Fillers: NASCAR’s John Darby declared here that there was no contractual provision requiring Nextel Cup fields to sport a full 43-car allottment at each event, but the governing body is obviously mounting a major effort to get enough cars to each track to fulfill such a requirement. They’re not providing any incentive to hang around, though. In fact, at Rockingham, they were discouraging it. Early in Sunday’s race, Joe Ruttman’s #09-Dodge was black-flagged for “not having a crew.” You’d think NASCAR’s crack operatives might have known about that in advance. And the race wasn’t 25 laps old when #72-Kirk Shelmerdine’s Ford was black-flagged for not maintaining a competitive speed. Not just anyone can run a Cup race, however. Morgan Shepherd is 62, and he failed to make the field. He was here, though his car was not allowed to make a qualifying run because it had not managed to get out on the track for a practice lap. #80-Andy Hillenburg’s first pit stop took 36.5 seconds.(Shelby Star)(2-23-2004)
- Some Ideas to curb costs: On the technical front, these are some ideas being bandied about the garage for France to consider:
Cutting back on the number of body templates and curbing the repeated, costly changes.
Rationing tires, as NASCAR does with the Busch Series.
Putting major limits on engine parts and high RPM technology.
One driver raised an even more dramatic cost-cutting option - that NASCAR issue full-shell molded bodies, registered and numbered the way NASCAR does with car noses and tails.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-22-2004)
- More night races? Triple Points for the Daytona 500? more Fox ideas: More night races and the Daytona 500 counting more than any other race are some of the ideas David Hill, Fox Sports Television Group chairman, says he'd like to see NASCAR enact. Hill, whose network broadcasts the first half of the NASCAR schedule, admits his ideas are not likely to be followed. "I've always believed that NASCAR would make fantastic prime-time entertainment," Hill said in a conference call this week. "The problem is that you've got 200,000 people who have got to get to work the next morning." Even so, he says night racing could work. "I've always believed that the next step forward for this sport is to regularize the races," he said. "If I had my way, I'd mandate that every track had lights so fans knew every Friday night was a Truck race and every Saturday night was a Busch race and Sunday was a Cup race." Hill said he would like to see quadruple points awarded at Daytona and the schedule changed to where the season finale takes place the weekend after Thanksgiving instead of the weekend before. Hill also said that he's "cautiously optimistic" that Fox can make money off the TV contract. Fox, NBC and their partners paid more than $2.4 billion to broadcast NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series events beginning in 2001. NBC's contract ends in 2006. Fox's contract ends in 2006, but it has the option to extend that through 2008.(Roanoke Times)(2-21-2004)
- Offer to attempt? While it couldn't be confirmed through NASCAR, team sources said some drivers were promised last-place money if they would show up and attempt to qualify for the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. That would be about $35,000.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-21-2004)
- Why Sauter and not Edwards: Why was #30-Johnny Sauter penalized for speeding down pit road during the Daytona 500, and Carl Edwards wasn't penalized for his during the Craftsman Truck Series race. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter explained it this way: Sauter was penalized for reckless driving. As drivers in front of him slowed to enter the pits, he elected to speed through pit road to avoid colliding with anyone. Edwards, on the other hand, got there as a result of contact between his truck and the one driven by Randy LaJoie. So supposedly Sauter was putting himself and others in harm's way, whereas Edwards was getting himself out of it.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(2-20-2004)
- NASCAR apologizes to fans for inconveniences during presidential visit: Some Daytona 500 attendees seated near President Bush's suite Sunday complained they couldn't return to the grandstands after using the bathroom, grabbing a soda or buying a T-shirt. Daytona International Speedway officials responded Monday by placing a formal apology on the track's Web site for any inconveniences fans faced while Bush met NASCAR drivers, posed with military personnel and gave television and radio interviews. "We want to get (fans) in their seats as soon as possible to enjoy the experience," Speedway spokesman David Talley said. "Unfortunately, we were doing exactly what the Secret Service asked, and that was holding people up until the president was done." A group of 75 employees from Bright House Networks were asked to move to another suite Sunday to make room for the president, but a company spokesman said no one minded. "It was kind of honor that our suite was where he wanted to take in the race," said spokesman Brian Craven. A spokesman with the United States Secret Service said Monday he was unaware of the complaints and declined comment.(Daytona Beach New Journal)(2-17-2004)
- NASCAR Connection an Amercian Idol: Former NASCAR broadcasting employee, Ashley Thomas, has been selected as one of 32 semifinalists, out of 70,000 contestants, on season 3 of American Idol. After Ashley's initial success in the American Idol auditions, she resigned from NASCAR in order to further pursue her dream of performing. For more information on Ashley, check out the American Idol website: www.idolonfox.com.(Rusty Wallace site)(2-11-2004)
- NASCAR Theme Song: Motor Music, a partnership between NASCAR and Cherry Lane Music Publishing, announces the unveiling of NASCAR's theme song, "Thunder." Composed by David Robidoux and mixed by Alan Meyerson, the NASCAR theme song, "Thunder" conveys the thrills, excitement and drama of NASCAR racing. This is the first time in the 56-year history of the sport that NASCAR will have branded theme music. In addition to the NASCAR theme song, Motor Music has created an initial 15-CD library of instrumental and orchestral cues covering a wide variety of genres. The NASCAR theme and library are intended for domestic and international broadcasts -- NASCAR races are now broadcast in 115 countries -- including television, radio, online and new media avenues of delivery, as well as commercial recordings. They are the first installments in an ever expanding body of NASCAR music that will enhance the brand beyond sports programming.(Business Wire)(2-10-2004)
- Brian France Named Most Influential in Motorsports: NASCAR Chairman Brian France has been named the most influential person in motorsports by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal. The magazine this week named France and his father, former NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr., to the top two spots on the list, which is dominated by NASCAR officials and others with close ties to the sport. Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc. took the third spot in the rankings, followed by Fox Sports Television Chairman David Hill and NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-10-2004)
- NASCAR Working on 'New Car': NASCAR is closer to a futuristic car that promises a safer ride for stock car racers and millions of drivers buying vehicles off the showroom floor. The fatal crashes in 2000 of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin in New Hampshire and Tony Roper in Texas led NASCAR to reach out to the best engineers it could find, and the Dale Earnhardt accident threw the project into high gear. There have been plenty of crashes since, some serious, but no deaths. And if NASCAR's safety program keeps progressing as it has recently, the risks of deadly wrecks will keep going down. With the major car makers working on the program with NASCAR, it's a good bet that some of those safety features will wind up on street cars. Practically every part of the car is being examined for ways to make it safer. New high-tech materials - a foam aluminum that resembles a sponge; a honeycomb metal that looks as if it came out of a mutant beehive; steel designed to bend and crinkle on impact - are under investigation. Improved "crush zones" would absorb energy in a crash to protect occupants. Better collapsible steering wheels, changes in the location of the oil tanks; refined gas, brake and clutch pedals; a new generation of shock absorbers and tires that will make cars easier to control; systems to prevent fires or suppress them - they're all part of NASCAR's overhaul.(FoxSports/AP)(2-8-2004)
- Glowing Track? The glow tracing the track under many of the cars during Las Vegas testing was a ride height laser, which gauges the vertical movement around the car and the angle on the track. The system, which costs about $20,000, provides data that allows the engineers to determine how to adjust shocks and springs and make the best use of a car's aerodynamics.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(2-2-2004)
AND A ride height laser puts out a beam of red light, just like a laser pointer. A team typically has 4 of these on the car, one at each corner. It is impossible to see these when the car is at speed on the track. More likely, what is being seen is a slip angle sensor. This makes a bright light under the car, as if a flashlight is being ponted down from the car. There are usually 2 of these (but sometimes only one) per vehicle. These sensors tell the team engineer how much the car is in yaw, or how much the front end is sliding in relation to the rear end.(2-2-2004)
- Less of a driver 'feel'? The NASCAR Busch and Cup teams have headed west for the first big test of the new downforce and tire package. Several teams hit the asphalt of Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Monday. They were joined on Tuesday by about 40 teams as preparations for the 2004 season hit a high gear. In speaking with Roush Racing's Brad Parrott, who is here with Matt Kenseth and a Busch car, www.teamfordracing.com learned that the new aero and tire package is making the cars a little less driver friendly. This is something that can easily be heard as the drivers are back to sawing at the throttle as they set their car for corner entrance. A shorter rear spoiler along with softer tires that Goodyear is running this year is driving the new feel. Looking at the tire Parrott, who is one of the best in the game at understanding the role of the tire on the car, tells TFR that the test tire, and the tire slated for the early March race, is the same tire that Goodyear brought to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season-ending Ford Championship weekend in 2003. These tires are very similar in construction to the 2001 Goodyear offering and had Parrott offering the warning regarding camber that bit so many teams that season. Camber, which is a measure of a tire's vertical relationship to the travel path, can help a car turn through a corner quickly. But too much camber can chew a tire apart, predominantly on the inner inch or two of the tire and lead to premature failure. Of the four tires most likely to suffer from overly aggressive camber settings the right front comes in at the top of the list as a majority of the car's weight leans on this quarter of the car at corner entry. This tire, which gets good wear, has a softer sidewall and gives the driver that "I'm hanging onto my butt out here" feel, according to Parrott. Parrott says that the lower rear blade and other NASCAR template issues have taken some of the aero load off the car, but not enough to totally change the approach to getting a car dialed in.(Ford Racing)(1-29-2004)
- Honda and Nissan next? Ford's Jack Roush and Chevrolet's Rick Hendrick both expect Honda to make a move into NASCAR soon, and Hendrick said he also expects Nissan to make overtures.(Winston Salem Journal)(1-24-2004)
AND - not NASCAR but about Nissan: In a bold announcement that could dramatically alter the balance of power in the Pro Class RWD divisions in all three professional drag race series in the United States, Performance Motorsport of Smithtown, New York, formally announced today its arrival into the world of Sport Compact drag racing – the fastest growing segment in motorsports. The Performance Motorsport Nissan 350Z is a pro rear wheel beast, fueled by a 3.5L Twin Turbocharged 350Z engine spitting out more than 1700 Horse Power at speeds in excess of 200 miles an hour. Sport Compact drag racing fans and automotive enthusiasts will be blown away by this new entry into the class. Nissan executive and owner of several of Nissan’s most successful car dealerships, Gary Rubio, will be the man responsible for leading Performance Motorsport to the top. As a former professional race car driver with years of CART racing under his belt, Rubio will rely on his knowledge of cars, racing and the 350Z to lead his team to a successful 2004 racing season. Team Performance Motorsport, already equipped with a new Toterhome and new support vehicles, plans to tour events at all major sanctioning bodies (NDRA, NHRA and IDRC) as well as attend several major industry shows. Determined to be a top 5 finisher in the NDRA and NHRA pro RWD classes, sport compact drag racing fans may very well be looking at the year of the Team Performance Motorsport and their Nissan 350Z. To inquire about the exciting sponsorship opportunities available or for more information on Performance Motorsport, and its 2004 racing schedule log onto www.TheExperience.com.(PR)(1-28-2004)
- More on the 'Hand Signals: NASCAR on Monday unveiled the penalties its officials will use hand signals to call during races in its top three series - Nextel Cup, Busch and Trucks - this season. Last week during the annual media tour in Charlotte, NASCAR President Mike Helton announced pit-road officials would use hand signals to indicate when teams committed one of the five most common infractions. Monday, NASCAR announced those penalties:
pitting out of the box
too many crew members over the wall
crew members over the wall too soon and
improper removing of equipment.
The officials also will have signals for the category of penalty (driver, team, equipment) and severity of the penalty (15 seconds, one lap, pass-through, end of the longest line and stop-and-go).
Until now, all communications between NASCAR and its officials have been by two-way radio. The communications between officials and teams have mostly been verbal.
"The idea is to utilize the hand signals to convey quicker what is going on on pit road," Helton said. Demonstrations of the hand signals are expected during the Feb. 5 Media Day at Daytona prior to Speedweeks.(ThatsRacin.com)(1-27-2004)
- NASCAR Looking at Europe? Brian France has been looking at Europe as a possible market for NASCAR, not Nextel Cup races but perhaps a NASCAR-branded series, to help pump up TV ratings over there.(Winston Salem Journal)(1-26-2004)
- Template Engine? Expect to see a common-template engine from NASCAR before the end of this season, Hendrick Motorsports head engineer Randy Dorton says. Plans that could lead to common engines in Nextel Cup for 2005 are being discussed.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(1-26-2004)
- Hand Signals on Pit Road: NASCAR officials calling pit road penalties have received their share of what might euphemistically be called "hand signals" flashed their way before. In 2004, those officials will have some signals of their own to dish out. NASCAR president Mike Helton said Thursday that a new group of five signals have been devised to indicate the types of pit-road rules violations being called on teams in the Nextel Cup, Busch and Truck series in 2003. Helton did not detail which violations would be indicated by the new signals - and declined an offer of $20 if he'd demonstrate them himself. He said they would demonstrated to the media during Speedweeks in Daytona prior. Common pit road infractions in NASCAR races involve speeding on or off pit road, cars stopping outside the marked boundaries of their pit stall, cars inadvertently taking equipment - fuel or fuel catch cans or wrenches, for instance - with them as they leave their pit boxes, running over air hoses, too many men going over the wall and allowing tires to roll across pit road.(ThatsRacin.com)(1-23-2004)
- NASCAR to Hire EMT: NASCAR president Mike Helton Helton said at Thursday's session at the NASCAR research and development center in Concord that the sport will hire an emergency medical technician to travel from race to race and ride in a chase vehicle that's designed to be among the first on the scene in the case of a crash where a driver might be injured. The EMT's role, Helton said, will not be to supervise the medical care given to an injured driver - that would be the job of doctors and other medical personnel from each track's medical staff. "An addition of an EMT to our staff is to help NASCAR provide direction and supervision over the standards and the requirements that we ask the tracks for," Helton said. "Also it provides a familiar face, if you will, in addition to other familiar faces that we'll use in chase vehicles or pace cars or in different situations so that the competitors to see and to feel that they have someone that they recognize that they can communicate with."(ThatsRacin.com)(1-23-2004)
- Restrictor plates news: Gary Nelson, NASCAR's managing director of competition, says he'd like to get rid of the plates, which officials use to control speeds at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, but NASCAR has yet to find an alternative. The plates reduce engine horsepower by slowing down air as it flows into an engine. The cars end up racing in large, tight packs at Talladega and Daytona — thrilling for fans, but just short of terrifying for drivers. "I'm still trying, but we haven't found anything better," Nelson said. The plates also lead to conspiracy theories in the garage; some teams believe NASCAR officials show favoritism in handing out less-restrictive plates to their rivals. Nelson says the officials take the responsibility of making all the plates equal "very seriously."(USA Today)(1-23-2004)
- Congrats II: NASCAR president Mike Helton was on hand for the ceremony Monday during which the red Winston Cup sign at the main entrance was replaced by a bright-yellow Nextel Cup sign at Lowe's Motor Speedway and was displaying the results of his decision to go on the Atkins diet. “I've lost 75 pounds,” Helton said. “I've got 15 to go.” The svelte Helton was asked whether he has also been running. “I only run when I'm being chased,” he replied.(KC Star), Jayski lost 30 doing a similar diet...lost a lot of bad eating habits.(1-20-2004)
- Shorter Fields? Could NASCAR be looking at shortening the fields? Just 38 full-time teams showed up for Daytona testing. Decreasing the fields from 43 to 38 cars could be considered in the future.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(1-19-2004)
- Tracks Adding Sensors for Yellow Flag Rule: This season NASCAR hopes to clear the confusion of the "No racing to the caution" rule by using computerized scoring. According to NASCAR competition director John Darby, each Nextel cup track is currently being equipped with sensors that will quickly enable scorers to identify driver's exact running position at the time of a caution. The system is a modified version of the loop that currently exists at the start-finish line of all tracks. Expanding upon that, tracks will now incorporate multiple sensor loops that will divide each track into trap zones.(ESPN), see past nres/rules on the 'yellow flag rule' on my No racing to the caution page.(1-17-2004)
- ISC not interested in buying CART: The Indianapolis Star reported in Monday's editions that International Speedway Corporation, which owns tracks including Daytona International Speedway, had a presence at the Dec. 30 bankruptcy hearing for Championship Auto Racing Teams. ISC spokesman David Talley said that his company is not interested in bidding on the faltering open-wheel series, and that the company's presence at the hearing was a representative of 88 Corp., an ISC subsidiary that owns California Speedway. That track is seeking reimbursement of a $2.5-million sanctioning fee for the cancellation of its CART race this fall. CART claimed the track canceled the race because of wildfires. Open Wheel Racing Series, made up of three CART team owners, has submitted a bid to purchase the circuit. A judge will review all bids on Jan. 28.(St Petersburg Times)(1-14-2004)
- Nextel Cup and Franklin Mint? hearing that Bruce Hayes, owner of Hayes Jewelers in Lexington, NC, who had made the Winston Cup trophy for RJR [Winston] for years, will not be doing so this year and that it will be made by the Franklin Mint.(1-12-2004)
- Fan Fest vs. Preview: NASCAR executives may be having second thoughts about moving the NASCAR Preview - now the NASCAR Fanfest -out of North Carolina. What was a successful Saturday-long venture in Winston-Salem for so many years was a flop here [Daytona] Wednesday night. Daytona Speedway officials said that 4,600 people showed up (at $10 a head) to ask questions of nine drivers, who sat on stage and didn't sign autographs, although autographs were available in souvenir packs. Others pegged the audience at fewer than 1,500. While in Winston-Salem, the event annually drew a sellout of 25,000. The drivers' stage was so low that most in the audience couldn't see the drivers. NASCAR officials said they would consider moving the preview around, perhaps one year in Charlotte, the next year in Richmond.(Winston Salem Journal)(1-9-2004)
- Trimming of the Spoilers? NASCAR is planning the next step in cutting aerodynamic downforce, which would be to trim the rear spoiler by half an inch for the second half of the season at all tracks except Daytona and Talladega. Under the rule, which would go into effect at Chicago on July 11, cars would carry five-inch-tall spoilers. NASCAR has already trimmed spoilers by three-quarters of an inch, down to 5 1/2 inches for the year's first 14 downforce events.(Winston Salem Journal)(1-9-2004)
- Changes to the Hot Pass credential system: NASCAR has made a slight modification to its "hot pass" credential system for its Nextel Cup series for the 2004 season. Beginning with the Feb. 6 Budweiser Shootout and extending for the remainder of the 2004 season, the "hot pass" rule will remain in effect until one hour after track activity has completed. When the system was implemented at the beginning of last season, it required media and spectators to vacate the garage and pit road 30 minutes before and 10 minutes after any track activity unless they had a "hot pass" distributed by NASCAR or an annual credential or "hard card." "If you think about everything that happens at the conclusion of a Cup race - 43 teams moving equipment, pushing it up on the lift-gates and rolling all of that stuff into the trucks - it takes a lot more than 10 minutes to get that done," Nextel Cup series director John Darby said. "This is a lot more comfortable feeling to allow the teams to work through this process without interference. "Beyond that," he said, "it's about the inspection process. Our inspectors need to do their jobs. We won't have to worry about who is in the garage and who isn't." Hot passes are limited to working personnel including drivers, officials, crew members, the working media and emergency and safety workers. The new policy was designed to improve safety in the pits and in the garage for spectarors, drivers, crews and working personnel.(ThatsRacin.com)(1-7-2004)
- Daytona/Talladega Aero Package: The Nextel Cup aero package for the 2004 season includes a 55 degree spoiler angle; 6.75-inch spoiler height; 57-inch spoiler width; and 29/32-inch restrictor plate openings. Last year's spoiler height was 6.25-inch and the plate opening was set at 28/32-inch.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(1-7-2004)