2005 MISC NASCAR NEWS, RULES CHANGES & INFORMATION
- Stewart's Indy win voted #1: Motorsports media from around the world have voted Tony Stewart's victory in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard as NASCAR's top story of the 2005 season, via several weeks of on-line voting on NASCAR's media site. Stewart also produced the season's third-best story, according to the vote - his capturing the NEXTEL Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, in the season's final race. In between those Stewart stories, at No. 2, was Carl Edwards' March weekend sweep of both the Busch Series race and the NEXTEL Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1-2 punch that propelled Edwards into championship contention in both series. Media members were given a list of 10 stories and asked to rank that list. Ten points were awarded for a first-place vote, nine for a second-place vote, etc. The Stewart win at Indy accumulated a total of 873 points, 560 coming from 56 first-place votes. Edwards' sweep added up to 679. (A total of 99 media members participated.) Following are the rest of the top 10 stories, according to the final vote tally.
No. 4 - Greg Biffle finishing second in NEXTEL Cup points, and having the most series wins.
No. 5 - Jeff Gordon winning the Daytona 500 for the third time.
No. 6 - The Busch Series hosting its historic first race in Mexico City.
No. 7 - Ted Musgrave winning his first Craftsman Truck Series championship and becoming the oldest national series champion in
No. 8 - Martin Truex Jr. repeating as Busch Serie champion.
No. 9 - Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch winning two NEXTEL Cup events.
No. 10 - Kasey Kahne finally getting his elusive first NEXTEL Cup victory at Richmond in May.
- NASCAR Restructures Regional Series in 2007: NASCAR announced it will restructure its regional touring series divisions beginning in 2007. Citing declining support for the Elite Division style of racing at all levels, NASCAR said it will focus its resources and efforts on those Divisions that will help build and sustain a better developmental program for the future. Following the 2006 season, the four current Late Model Elite Division Tours will be discontinued. The Elite Division tours were formed nearly 20 years ago, in the Southeast, Midwest, Southwest and Northwest regions of the country. Beginning in 2006 and continuing in 2007, NASCAR will implement several
Grand National Division changes in an effort to reduce the cost of competing in the Busch North Series (which will be re-named the Busch
East Series) and the AutoZone West Series. These changes include a less-costly "spec" engine, as well as composite bodies.(NASCAR PR)(12-28-2005)
- Urban Wheel Awards honor NASCAR: On Wheels Inc., publisher of African Americans On Wheels, Latinos On Wheels and the soon-to-be-launched Asians On Wheels, says it will honor NASCAR at the 10th Annual Urban Wheel Awards next month. The sanctioning body will receive the Diversity in Motorsports award, and NASCAR President Mike Helton is scheduled to attend the Jan. 10 ceremony in Detroit to accept the honor.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-23-2005)
- Three from NASCAR make list of influential people in Sports Biz: Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal's Dec. 19 issue features the 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business, and three men from NASCAR are ranked. NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France is ranked seventh on the 2005 list, up three spots from 10th in 2004. The publication cites France's successful and continuing expansion of the sport. Also to make the list are newcomers George Pyne, NASCAR's chief operating officer, and Jim France, CEO of International Speedway Corp. The publication ranked Pyne 47th, saying he deserves much of the credit for NASCAR's maturation. Jim France was ranked 50th, and the publication says his impact on the sport is "immeasurable and underrated."(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-20-2005)
- NASCAR Teams Looking at Indy to relocate? The motor sports development director for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels confirmed Wednesday one Nextel Cup team considering relocation recently visited Indianapolis, and a second, whose driver finished in the top 10 [Gibbs, Roush, Penske, Evernham, Hendrick], will do so Dec. 15. "We're concentrating on all types of motor sports," said Matt Steward, who in January became the state's first director of motor sports development. "But when you're talking about getting a big hitter, you're talking about a Cup team. We want one." Most of the top NASCAR teams are deeply rooted in North Carolina. But Steward said Daniels, a first-term governor, is committed to attracting a Cup team. "If the deal is right, we will be very aggressive with tax incentives," Steward said. Financial breaks could provide the impetus for a team to move north. Roger Penske's 300,000-square-foot shop is so large, it will be housing the company's Indy-car team, too, by 2007. Rick Hendrick's team is entrenched on family property near Lowe's Motor Speedway. Jack Roush's five-car operation is likely too big to move from its impressive new facility. Ray Evernham's operation, which has an open-wheel background and a history of operating differently than other NASCAR teams, is based in Statesville, N.C. The team recently expanded its existing complex and a spokeswoman said Wednesday she knew of no relocation considerations. A NASCAR team would be a first for Indiana, although a small stock car team based in Warsaw -- ML Motorsports -- recently moved into the Busch Series.(Indianapolis Star)(12-8-2005)
- NASCAR closes in on CASCAR: No big announcement but NASCAR is getting closer to taking the checkered flag with its purchase of CASCAR. "I would like to be optimistic about that," CASCAR founder and president Tony Novotny said on the eve of the national Super Series and regional Sportsman Series awards banquet at the Hilton Hotel in London [Canada]. One source said there could be an official announcement in two weeks. "It's just guessing, like everyone else is, and that's including myself," said Novotny, who founded the Canadian Association for Stock Car Auto Racing in 1981. "I'm not the guy behind doing the deal and whatever is holding this thing up. They (NASCAR) have an option and that option certainly doesn't play out yet and everybody is optimistic it will happen sooner. We went into an agreement with NASCAR and they have been working with us with the idea of eventually taking the operation over." Negotiations began almost two years ago and Richard Buck, NASCAR's director of racing development in Canada, confirmed in September that he recommended his board of directors on Aug. 22 that NASCAR buy CASCAR. "Basically the process is moving along," Buck said during the Super Series race at Delaware. NASCAR's takeover of CASCAR could see a Busch Series or Craftsman Truck race in this country next summer. CASCAR, which has maintained its office in Komoka, is the largest stock car sanctioning body in Canada, although the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series came into the country two years ago at three tracks, including Delaware.(London Free Press)(11-28-2005)
- NASCAR overhauling its impound rules: The procedures were implemented for Nextel Cup races this season as a cost-cutting move and were used at more than half of the events. An impound weekend typically featured Friday practice, Saturday qualifying and a Sunday race. Following qualifying, cars were impounded and could not be altered until the race without penalty. Teams that opted to work on their cars before the race were forced to start at the back of the field. At non-impound races, cars could be worked on after qualifying and before the race.
"This all boiled down to the balance between the show -- the garage area -- and the racetracks," NASCAR president Mike Helton said Friday, two days before the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "It just didn't fit right for right now." The offseason change relieved teams from the need to have race and qualifying setups on cars. NASCAR officials had announced plans to use the current impound procedures for most of the 2006 Cup schedule. But the sudden impound changes are likely related to the ongoing negotiations between NASCAR and its television partners. NASCAR's current TV contracts expire at the end of the 2006 season, and it has been in negotiations with several networks on a new deal. The networks in negotiations have indicated a desire for increased on-track activity that could be broadcast. "In the overall scheme of things, it didn't fit the way we thought it would right now," Helton said. "We just wanted to back off that and take a look at it from a different angle. We just haven't found the right balance yet."(ESPN.com/AP)(11-19-2005)
- NASCAR Announces some 2006 Rules; Multi-car teams, testing addressed: NASCAR announced today it is taking several steps to ensure the continued growth and popularity of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, including a program that will cap the number of cars under one ownership group; institute a new testing policy; and adopt a new tire leasing program [not included in the PR].
Car Ownership: The four-car ownership cap program starts in 2006 and NASCAR will work with groups that control more than four cars to establish a reasonable timeline for compliance. The four-car limit will extend to owners and any affiliate group, which includes situations where one or more of the car owners is entitled to receive, or actually receives, any financial consideration based upon the performance of the cars entered by the other car owners, or has any revenue sharing or ownership stake in the team.
Quotes: Most of NASCAR's current car owners think the cap rule is important for the continued success and growth of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
"It's a good move for the sport," said car owner Roger Penske. "It's important for the business model to remain pro-competitive for all
owners. This decision will have a positive impact on our sport for years to come."
NASCAR Chairman Brian France said the new steps are a continuation of NASCAR's pro-growth, pro-competition philosophy.
"The cap, the new testing procedure and the tire leasing program are in the best interest for the future of the sport," said France.
Jack Roush, owner of five cars, said he remains a critic of the cap, but added, "I'm committed to participate in this sport as long as I live.
NASCAR has agreed to work with us to get us where we need to be and that's what we'll do."
Other owners expressed optimism regarding the impact of the new cap rule, including Felix Sabates, J.D. Gibbs, Richard Childress, Bill
Davis, Richard Petty, Cal Wells, Robert Yates and the Wood Brothers.
"I think it will be good for the sport," said Childress. "Personally, I could never have gotten into the sport -- the way it is today - like I
did when I got in as a driver-car owner many years ago."
"There needs to be a cap," said Sabates. "I think it's the best thing that's happened in a long time."
"I think you're better off not having a handful of guys owning all the cars," said Gibbs.
Testing: Also new for 2006 is a track testing policy that sets a schedule for when and where NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series tests are to be conducted. The scheduled tests will be the only opportunities teams will have to test at Nextel Cup tracks. Teams will be able to schedule tests at facilities that do not host NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events [such as Kentucky, Nashville, Greenville-Pickens, Rockingham, etc]. There will be six test locations that include Lowe's Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Testing in Daytona will be conducted January 9-11 (even-numbered cars) and January 16-18 (odd-numbered cars). The Las Vegas tests will be January 30-February 1. All other dates will be announced at a later time.(NASCAR PR)(11-10-2005)
And what happens to Roush Racing? Roush officials were told in a recent private meeting with NASCAR that a "grandfather clause" would be included to allow them to keep their five teams at least through the 2009 season. All of their current contracts with sponsors and drivers at least run through then, but what happens when those deals expire remains somewhat murky.(ESPN.com/AP)(11-11-2005)
- Condolences: John Darby, director of the NASCAR Nextel Cup series, wasn't at the race following the death of his mother.
His role was filled by Wayne Auton, who normally directs the Craftsman Truck Series. The series director works in the control tower with NASCAR president Mike Helton, race director David Hoots and other officials. They make the call on caution flags, rules violations and other issues that come up during a race.(ESPN.com/AP)(10-31-2005)
- New Tire Pressure Rule? Last week's Charlotte tire debacle will prompt NASCAR to incorporate a minimum tire pressure rule, possibly by next weeek's trip to Atlanta.(RacingOne)(10-23-2005)
UPDATE: NASCAR made Goodyear's recommended air pressures mandatory for yesterday's Craftsman Truck race and also will hold teams to the rule in today's Cup race. One truck crew chief called the policy ridiculous. The tire-blowing debacle two weeks ago at Lowe's Motor Speedway was cited as a reason behind the decision. But team owner Richard Childress believes the problems stem from NASCAR instituting a shorter spoiler this year. "It hasn't done anything for racing but cost the owners a lot of money," Childress said. "And to offset it, they put on a soft tire, and what do you get there? You get track records and high cornering speeds everywhere. It hasn't been nothing but a disaster."(Richmond Times Dispatch)(10-30-2005)
- NASCAR expands relationship with AICG: NASCAR announced an expanded relationship with Atlanta International Consulting Group (AICG) as a NASCAR promotional licensee. NASCAR also announced a new vendor relationship with Padraic Major Photography. Both companies are minority-owned.(NASCAR)(10-21-2005)
- NASCAR at Atlanta Tests: noticed at Atlanta Motor Speedway testing on Tuesday were NASCAR's Mike Helton, Jim Hunter and Gary Nelson. They were there to check tire wear during the test. Following the race and tire problems at Lowe's Motor Speedway, they went around looking at tires and talking to drivers. Heard that tire wear at Atlanta so far has been 'normal', fast for three or four laps, then dropped off dramatically, which is normal.(10-19-2005)
- DirecTV becomes NASCAR sponsor, also a race and driver: DirecTV Inc. said Tuesday that it has signed a corporate-sponsorship agreement with NASCAR. The direct-broadcast satellite provider will have exclusive rights among subscription-television distributors to use the NASCAR brand in marketing and advertising promotions through early 2010. DirecTV said NASCAR will be integrated into many of its marketing campaigns, including national promotions, and many of the campaigns will focus on its new “DirecTV Plus” digital-video recorder. The company added that it will sponsor a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race team and driver during the 2006 season, and it has the rights to use NASCAR marks and tag lines to promote its NASCAR sponsorships on receiving equipment, service vehicles and installer uniforms.(Multichannel.com)(10-18-2005)
- “uni-template” demoed to some teams a recent test: NASCAR demonstrated its interlocking “uni-template” to at least some of the Nextel Cup teams recently, according to a source who was present at the test. The uni-template is a series of about 20 slotted individual templates that interlock on top of the car’s body to form an exoskeleton. The idea is that with the unit-template in place, NASCAR will be able to check every dimensional and aerodynamic measurement in one fell swoop. According to the source who was present at the test, when the uni-template was put on the car, there was “up to half an inch of wiggle room in some of the individual templates.” The bottom line, the source said, was “the uni-template actually gives NASCAR less control” over aerodynamic fudging than the system they have now, since some of the templates can be moved around so much. Presumably, NASCAR will get around to fixing that prior to the uni-template going into service late next year or early in 2007.(Speed Channel)(10-15-2005)
- NASCAR's Helton comments about Team Owner Cap: NASCAR President Mike Helton said Thursday that despite appearances to the contrary, the sanctioning body¹s decision to limit team size is not a personal attack on Jack Roush.
Other points Helton made in an interview with SPEEDTV.com included:
• Team owners have known the cap was under discussion for the last 12-18 months.
• The cap will be phased in to allow existing sponsor agreements to be exhausted.
• The sanctioning body will have to come up with strict definitions to police the teams from creating alliances that defeat the hard-cap concept.
• There will not be any franchising in NASCAR in the foreseeable future.
• NASCAR will not use the current Nextel Cup cars in the Busch Series once the ³Car of Tomorrow² is phased in starting in late 2006 or early ¹07.
Helton said many details remain to be worked out, but the buzz in the garage is that teams will be capped to three cars starting no later than 2010, with a limit of four placed sometime between now and then.(see full interview at Speed Channel)(10-14-2005)
- 60 Minutes and the France Family: see an article at CBS.com: The Real NASCAR Family with links to video on the piece and interviews. Check the ads on the left side when there, all were for Confederate Flags.(10-11-2005)
- NASCAR to limit number of teams that can be owned UPDATE - 3 teams?: NASCAR plans to limit the number of teams a car owner will be able to field in the Nextel Cup Series, chairman Brian France said Saturday. "We're going to make some adjustments in policy to balance the playing field a little better and really go after new ownership in the industry, really benefit and help the teams like the Wood Brothers, the Pettys, Cal Wells, independent teams that are finding themselves in ever increasing difficulties to compete," France said. He said the limit would be phased in over the next few seasons.
"It won't happen tomorrow," France said. "But it would phase down from five to four to some other number." All of the top teams currently in NASCAR are multicar teams, with Roush Racing and Hendrick Motorsports leading the way with five and four cars, respectively. The benefits of running more than one car are clear: additional tests under current testing limits, information sharing among the teams, multiple sponsorships that provide great resources and, sometimes, on-track cooperation among teammates. But France said the success of the big teams is also viewed as an obstacle to people contemplating starting a new Cup team. For example, Jack Roush's team has won the last two Cup titles and all five of his cars are in NASCAR's 10-race Chase for the championship. "We don't like the fact that the independent teams, or in particular a new owner looking at coming in the door, have a daunting task to compete, and the concept of having to have five teams, three teams … that's why you haven't seen a lot of new ownership like a Ray Evernham come into the sport," France said. "That means the opportunities aren't there for young drivers. It means opportunities aren't there to create the next Rick Hendrick and have the success. It ultimately means that we don't field as many competitive cars as we'd like to field. We're going to have to address that."(ESPN.com/RPM)(10-8-2005)
UPDATE: NASCAR last week unveiled plans for setting a cap on the number of teams--early indications are that it would be three--that one owner can operate in a series.(Sporting News)(10-11-2005)
- Confederate flag a 'fading image' in NASCAR: NASCAR CEO Brian France doesn't like fans flying Confederate flags at races as he tries to make auto racing more appealing to minorities and women. "It's not a flag that I look at with anything favorable. That's for sure," he said in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" to be aired Sunday. "I can't tell people what flag to fly. I can tell you the flag we get behind: It's the American flag." France is trying to broaden auto racing's appeal with minorities in places like Los Angeles, where France moved the important Labor Day NASCAR event last year, and New York, soon to have a track. "[Reaching out to minorities] is something I work on every day. I work on it personally," France said. Among those efforts France counts running a NASCAR event in Mexico and establishing a training program for female and minority drivers. And he doesn't believe the racial stereotypes associated with the Confederate flag will affect NASCAR. "I think it's a fading image," France said.(ESPN.com/AP)(10-7-2005)
- NASCAR will issue a new technical bulletin regarding shocks UPDATE: NASCAR officials are changing the rules for rear shock absorbers after the cars of Hendrick Motorsports teammates #48-Jimmie Johnson and #5-Kyle Busch were initially too high after the race last week at Dover. "Everybody passed inspection and all of the shocks, in regard to parts and pieces, were completely legal," Nextel Cup director John Darby said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. "But the build of the shocks that the teams chose to use is a direction that we're not real fond of." Darby said both cars were initially too high, but sank back within the required specifications as the shocks bled out air over a period of about 30 seconds. "We hold a lot of responsibility for policing the sport, but, at the same time, we have to give the competitors the benefit of the doubt if we can, so that's why that process is repeated," Darby said. "Honestly, another reason it's repeated is so we're sure of what we're seeing, not something goofy, not a mistake." No penalties were handed down, but Darby said a technical bulletin precluding the type of shock absorber used at Dover by race winner Johnson and runner-up Busch will be issued to the Cup crew chiefs sometime this weekend. There was no rush to get the bulletin out because NASCAR hands out its own shocks and rear springs to the teams at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway, the only tracks where carburetor restrictor plates are used to slow the cars.(ESPN.com/AP)(10-1-2005)
UPDATE: NASCAR last weekend issued a bulletin tightening gas pressure restrictions on rear shocks for Nextel Cup cars. That was in response to a tactic used at Dover by Hendrick teammates Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch, who finished 1-2 in the race. Their shocks — in conjunction with a softer spring setup — were built to work in reverse by lifting the rear end of the car up while traveling over bumps to create more rear downforce and allow faster lap speeds and more grip in the corners.(Sporting News)(10-3-2005)
- Sunday's Talladega Confiscated Part: Michael Waltrip's #15 NAPA Chevrolet had a steel spacer confiscated by NASCAR at Talladega, measuring 14 inches across which blocked the holes in the wheel/rim. It fit between the wheel and the hub. NASCAR rules make it illegal to block the rim openings, according to [DEI's] Steve Hmiel teams use to tape the openings closed allowing the cars to go faster. NASCAR allows a spacer but only 7 inches in diameter.(Insider Racing News)(10-3-2005)
- Parts confiscated by NASCAR at Talladega: NASCAR officials confiscated unapproved fuel cell foam from the #8 Budweiser Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #89 Dodge of Morgan Shepherd during pre-qualifying inspections. Shepherd failed to make the field. An unapproved window net was also taken from the #25 GMAC Chevy of Brian Vickers.(Alabama Live)(10-1-2005)
- Harvicks time tossed, fails post-qual inspection UPDATE Berrier tossed: #29-Kevin Harvick WAS to start 2nd at Talladega Superspeedway in the UAW-Ford 500 but the overflow tube for the fuel tank was missing along with venting problems and NASCAR disallowed Harvick's run and he will start from the rear of the field on Sunday.(Speed Channel's Trackside show)(9-30-2005)
UPDATE - NASCAR comment on Harvick's qualifying run being disallowed at Talladega: NASCAR spokesman, Jim Hunter, addressed the media following qualifying with the following comment: "The No. 29 car's qualifying time has been disallowed. He (Harvick) will start Sunday's race from the rear. There were a couple of things in the rear area of the car did not comply with post-qualifying inspection. The trunk area was not sealed properly. It was not vented to the outside as prescribed in the rulebook. The shock doors inside the trunk area were opened and not secured. So there were several violations in the trunk area of the car. So there will probably be penalties coming out the first of the week. But that's why."(GM Racing PR)(9-30-2005)
UPDATE 2: hearing that crew chief Todd Berrier, already on probation for the infractions at Las Vegas in March, has been escorted from Talladega Superspeedway and will not be calling the shots for the race on Sunday, no word on who will be the acting crew chief for Harvick.
AND For the second time this year, Kevin Harvick will be without his regular crew chief after NASCAR found violations with the #29 Chevrolet. Crew chief Todd Berrier was removed from the track by NASCAR on Saturday, one day after NASCAR found multiple violations in post-qualifying inspection. Gil Martin, crew chief for Clint Bowyer in the Busch Series, will serve as Harvick's crew chief on Sunday in the UAW-Ford 500. Team owner Richard Childress will be atop the pit box with Martin. Childress declined comment on the situation. In March, Berrier was suspended for four races after NASCAR found an unapproved fuel filler and unapproved fuel cell vent in post-qualifying inspection at Las Vegas.(NASCAR.com)(10-1-2005)
AND II: Crew chief Todd Berrier was suspended for Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway after Kevin Harvick's car failed inspection. Harvick qualified second for the race, but his Chevrolet was disqualified after NASCAR found three violations in the trunk area. Car owner Richard Childress was called into the NASCAR office Saturday morning and informed Berrier was ordered from the track.
It's not clear how long the suspension will last. Berrier sat out four races at the beginning of this season when he was caught rigging Harvick's fuel tank. He also was fined $25,000 and the team was docked points. Childress spent an hour arguing with NASCAR on Berrier's behalf. "If I said what I wanted to say right now I'd probably be in bigger trouble than Todd," Childress said. "All I can say is it's a new era in NASCAR."(ESPN.com/AP)(10-1-2005)
- Restrictor Plates at Lowe's Motor Speedway? UPDATE 2: With less than rave reviews of the ever-changing track surface at Lowe's Motor Speedway from Chasers Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin afer a test last week, NASCAR officials are considering running restrictor plates on the cars in the October 15 race at Charlotte. Stewart and Biffle wrecked two cars apiece during the tests. After plowing his car at 170 mph into the Turn 2 wall, Biffle felt the aftereffects last weekend at Dover. "From the eye, the track looks good," Biffle says. But the tire compound doesn't work well with the track's new surface. NASCAR doesn't expect any relief until the track is repaved after the race.(Sporting News/Lee Spencer)(9-26-2005)
UPDATE:After laser-grinding the Lowes Motor Speedway track to help get another year of wear out of the 1.5-mile layout, track President Humpy Wheeler says the surface will have to be repaved for 2006. Wheeler said “I think what we’ve gotta do though is to study real hard, not just go pave over what we’ve got. I think we probably need to change some of the banking a little bit. Maybe put a different asphalt mix in to make it more stable and get ready for the new car NASCAR is going to bring out. That graduated banking has been around for a long time and it is affective in creating a second groove. What we want to do here is to make sure we have a second groove so you can have passing and lead swapping.” As for a published report concerning the use of restrictor plates after the track is repaved Wheeler said "I'm all for it, let's do it! It just makes better racing. You slow the cars down and you always have better racing. I don't think they're gonna do it...but...keep the rumor going! !"(PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show)(9-28-2005)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR Nextel Cup Director John Darby would neither confirm nor deny rumors that the sanctioning body will mandate the use of restrictor plates at the October Cup race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. #20-Tony Stewart and #16-Greg Biffle each crashed two cars at Lowe’s last week, as two rounds of computer-aided track grinding — a process known as “levigation” — have made the venerable 1.5-mile track extremely fast. “We carry restrictor plates on our truck 38 weeks a year,” Darby said Friday at Talladega. “They’re there for a lot of reasons, and if a situation ever creates itself that starts to look like it’s leading itself towards the direction that we’re going to have a tremendous amount of problems in the race … or something that we can’t predict or didn’t expect to see, that’s why we have the plates. … If we ever get in a situation where we have to use them, we’ll use them.”(Speed Channel)(10-1-2005)
- More on the Shock issue from Dover, expect NASCAR Change: Roush Racing president Geoff Smith said he expects NASCAR officials to issue a technical bulletin as early as Friday outlawing the trick shock absorbers used by Hendrick Motorsports teammates #48-Jimmie Johnson and #5-Kyle Busch in their 1-2 finish Sunday at Dover International Speedway. Instead of soaking up bumps, as shocks normally are designed to do, Smith said the Hendrick cars' shocks were designed almost to work in reverse; every time they hit a bump, the shocks jacked up the car's rear end for about 15 seconds. Because cars encounter frequent bumps at Dover, the shocks apparently kept the Hendrick cars' tails elevated about an inch beyond what NASCAR rules allow for most of the race, directing more air to the cars' rear spoilers and creating extra aerodynamic "downforce" that helped the cars stick to the track. Cheating? Not exactly, Smith said. "It was clearly an ingenious engineering exercise, and they ought to be commended for their ingenuity," he said. Johnson's team declined comment through a spokesperson.
This explains why the two Hendrick cars failed an initial technical inspection by NASCAR officials Sunday night but passed the maximum-height requirement after they "settled," as NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston explained this week. Officials confiscated the Hendrick cars' shocks after the race, along with shocks from four other cars [#'s 2,12,6,16].
Smith expects NASCAR to prohibit all teams from using such shocks beginning with the Oct. 9 race at Kansas Speedway. The Hendrick shocks wouldn't help in this weekend's race because downforce isn't a major concern at Talladega and teams typically try to get their cars as low to the ground as possible without violating NASCAR's minimum height requirements. Smith figures that Busch, a rookie, has been testing the system all season. "That didn't show up for a championship (contender) the day before Dover," Smith said. "That required a lot of effort, a lot of testing." Penske Racing president Don Miller, meanwhile, wondered why the Hendrick cars apparently were given a second chance to pass officials' maximum-height measurement. "All I can say is, if it comes in as too high, it should be black and white," Miller said. Said Poston, via e-mail: "When the (No.) 48 went up on the platform, it was initially high, but in a matter of seconds the car settled and it made the required height. Absolutely no one made an adjustment to the car; however, as often is the case, an inspector was under the car but did not touch it. The 48 only made one trip through inspection."(USA Today)
AND more: There have been questions about whether Jimmie Johnson's winning car at Dover and the runner-up mount of his teammate Kyle Busch initially failed a post-race inspection because the rears of their cars were too high. NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham said Thursday that there were no issues in the technical shed after the race. "All cars passed inspection," he said. Branham added that the shocks from six cars were taken to NASCAR's research center in Concord, N.C. Shocks were taken from the cars driven by Johnson and Busch as well as from the cars of Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace. "We just want to stay up to date with what teams are doing," he said. "It's a fact-finding mission similar to when we took engines at Michigan earlier this year."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(9-30-2005)
- #48/#5 too high in post race inspection at Dover? UPDATE 2: been told that the winning #48 Chevy that Jimmie Johnson drove to victory at Dover didn't meet the height reqiurements in post-race inspection and supposedly the #5 Chevy was too high also. #5-Busch finished a very close 2nd. Hearing the height was over 3/4" off in the rear of the cars. It was mentioned during the race broadcast that the two cars sat higher then other cars on the track. Was told that it was reported to the media that all cars passed inspection, not sure if their is a shock issue or if fines will be handed out, Tuesday is usually the day NASCAR announces such things [except for after New Hampshire last week]. The #5 team was fined back in March for having the quarter panels too high at Las Vegas and the #48 was fined after Vegas for being too low with Johnson winning and Busch finishing 2nd.(9-27-2005)
UPDATE: For the second time this season, a cloud hovers over a 1-2 finish by Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.
The shock absorbers from six cars, including those of Johnson and Busch, were confiscated after Sunday's race at Dover. They were taken for testing to see if they are in compliance with NASCAR rules. Johnson won the event and took the lead in the chase for the Cup championship as Busch finished a close second. Their shocks were taken after their cars had trouble passing post-race inspection.
Johnson and Busch had a 1-2 finish tainted at Las Vegas when the rear of Johnson's car was too low and the right-rear of Busch's car was too high during post-race checks. Shocks were also confiscated at Dover from the cars of Penske Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace; and the Roush Racing cars of Mark Martin and Greg Biffle. Of the six, only Busch is not among drivers in the championship chase.(High Point Enterprise)(9-28-2005)
UPDATE 2a: Spokesman Ramsey Poston said NASCAR, in postrace inspection, removed shocks from Johnson's and Busch's cars, the cars of Penske South teammates Ryan Newman (who finished fifth) and Rusty Wallace (sixth) and the Roush Racing cars of Mark Martin (fourth) and Greg Biffle (13th). All cars passed inspection, Poston said, and he did not expect any penalties from the shock examinations. "We took the shocks from all the cars that went through inspection so that we could make sure that teams are following new shock guidelines we issued last year," he said in an e-mail. "It was a lot like when we took the engines from several cars in Michigan; we just want to take a look to be sure everyone is following the rules."(Florida Today)
UPDATE 2b: NASCAR apparently was listening to the chatter between several drivers and their crews Sunday at Dover. After hearing several teams talk about the unusual setup of Jimmie Johnson's winning Chevrolet, the sanctioning body confiscated the rear shock absorbers from six teams following the MBNA RacePoints 400. Several teams talked on their radios about the height of Johnson's right-rear quarter panel. Radio announcers from the Motor Racing Network even talked about it during the race. NASCAR confirmed Johnson's car originally flunked post-race inspection for being too high, but it later passed once the shock "settled." The second-place car from Kyle Busch, Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, also was too high. If the rear of the car is high, it pushes up the rear spoiler and helps it gain traction in the corners. NASCAR took the rear shocks from Johnson and Busch, as well as those from Ford drivers Mark Martin and Greg Biffle and Dodge drivers Ryan Newman and Rusty Wallace. Busch was fined earlier this year because his car was too high at Las Vegas; Johnson was fined at Las Vegas for being too low. Johnson won that race, too, and Busch finished second.(Augusta Chronicle)(9-29-2005)
- Rocker to have songs featured in The Chase promos: former Creed frontman Scott Stapp has announced a partnership with NASCAR that will see tracks from his solo album, The Great Divide, used in spots for the NASCAR Nextel Cup's Chase for the Championship. The alliance will culminate with Stapp performing the national anthem at the Ford 400 race in Homestead, Florida, on November 20. The Great Divide roars into stores two days later. It's not the first time Stapp has partnered with NASCAR. In December 2004, he sang a version of Creed's "Higher" at the auto-racing juggernaut's end-of-the-year awards show in New York City, a performance that drew the ire of his former bandmates.(MTV.com)(9-27-2005)
- NASCAR to threaten drivers at Dover: Behave or else UPDATE: If NASCAR has its way, the road rage that has erupted in recent Nextel Cup races is over. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Thursday that Mike Helton, the sanctioning organization's president, will tell the drivers before Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway that such behavior will no longer be tolerated and that they will risk being suspended if there is more on-track retaliation. "With what Mike is planning to do at the drivers' meetings on Saturday, prior to the Busch race, and on Sunday is going to sort of give our guys, I don't want to say a final warning, but I think they'll clearly understand that we're going to do what we need to," Hunter said Thursday in a telephone interview. "If we need to suspend people, then, starting at Dover, that's a possibility."(ESPN.com/AP)(9-23-2005)
UPDATE: In the drivers meeting prior to Saturday's Busch Series race, NASCAR president Mike Helton addressed the recent on-track incidents – which have included wrecks, retaliations, confrontations under caution and colorful language and gestures – seen in both Busch and Cup races. Helton warned drivers, crew chiefs and team owners that NASCAR "has had enough" of these on-track activities. He read aloud, word for word, from the official Busch Series rule book, Section 12-2 – the Emergency Action section. It states:
If the act or omission of a member is determined by a NASCAR official or supervisory official to constitute a threat to the orderly conduct of the event, that NASCAR official may take temporary emergency action against the member. Such emergency action may include ejection from the racing premises, suspension of membership and license, or any other action designed to remove the threat created by the member.
Helton then reminded those present that this was not a bulletin or a new rule. It had always been in both series' rule books and that starting immediately NASCAR will enforce the rule to the letter, meaning drivers and teams shouldn't be surprised to see severe penalties handed down in the future. Helton is expected to deliver an identical message during Sunday morning's Nextel Cup drivers meeting.(Yahoo Sports)(9-25-2005)
- NASCAR Threatening stiff penalties for revenge on track: NASCAR was threatening very heavy penalties Sunday after tempers ran hot during the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said after the race that penalties against several drivers involved in incidents Sunday would be announced by Tuesday, at the latest. "We're going to do whatever we need to do, whether it's to park a guy for a week or park a guy for nine weeks," Hunter said. "We're going to do whatever we need to do to prevent retaliation on the racetrack, particularly under the caution [flag], because under the caution they're endangering other people. There are safety vehicles riding around and they don't have rollcages and all the things these drivers have around them, so we'll do whatever we need to do." The race was marred by 10 caution flags, many of them brought out by collisions that sent one or more cars into the wall.
On lap 165 of the 300-lap race, rookie Kyle Busch bumped Kasey Kahne, last year's top rookie, sending him hard into the wall. Kahne restarted his battered car and drove it slowly along the bottom of the track until Busch came by in turn one. Kahne then shot up the track, hitting Busch in the left front. "There are times when things happen and you end up crashing and hitting other cars, but we just got taken out," Kahne said. "If people are going to run over you for no reason and think they're going to get away with it, you just go out there and ruin their day, too. That's the way I feel." NASCAR parked Kahne for the rest of the day and summoned the driver and team owner Ray Evernham to its hauler following the race.
Joe Nemechek and Mike Bliss collided on lap 191, sending Bliss into the wall on turn one. Seconds later, after the yellow flag was displayed, Michael Waltrip hit Robby Gordon, sending Gordon into the wall and spinning out Sterling Marlin. Gordon, his car smashed on both ends, waited until Waltrip came past again and tried to back into him, missing Waltrip and nearly hitting points leader Tony Stewart, who had to stop to avoid Gordon. Gordon then got out of his car, waited for Waltrip, feigned as if he was going to walk in front of the No. 15 and threw his helmet at the car, hitting it just below the driver's window. In a TV interview, Gordon said, "You know, everybody thinks Michael is a good guy. He's not a good guy. The caution was out and he wrecked me." Gordon then called Waltrip a name [something at starts with a S and ends with a T], which will likely cost Gordon a fine and points. Waltrip said he was just defending his position.
"I just stood my ground and he just kept coming and turned himself into the wall," he said. Told about Gordon's comments, Waltrip said, "Probably just heat of the moment stuff. I've never had a problem with Robby. I don't have any idea what he said or why he said it, but I know I didn't do anything wrong." Gordon and Waltrip were also brought to the NASCAR hauler following the race.(ESPN.com/AP)(9-19-2005)
- NASCAR Engineers Help Design New Combat Vehicle: The U.S. military unveiled this week a concept combat vehicle that combines new blast-deflection technology with the safety features of a commercially available truck and NASCAR engineering. Everything from the materials to seating configuration has been rethought. Built on the skeleton of a Ford F-350 truck, the vehicle is called the ULTRA AP (Armored Patrol). Its builders melded some of the latest advancements in vehicle defense with the maneuverability and safety features of an "off-the-shelf" truck to develop a concept vehicle that may one day replace the familiar Humvee in the battlefield. The ULTRA AP was developed at the GTRI, which brought together engineers from the commercial automotive and military worlds. The idea was to save money by marrying advanced armor materials and designs with proven safety designs from the automotive industry. "By bringing together experienced commercial vehicle designers with experts in advanced materials and cutting-edge engineering, we are providing a test bed for evaluating technologies that can help the military develop true 'leap-ahead' concepts," said David Parekh, GTRI's deputy director. "By including persons with high-performance automotive engineering and NASCAR expertise as part of our team, we were able to root this advanced concepts project in real-world vehicle design."(LiveScience)(9-15-2005)
- 12 in the 2006 Chase? A team Cap? There were rumors in the Nextel Cup garage at Richmond International Raceway that the field for the Chase for the Nextel Cup could grow from 10 to 12 next season. The argument is based on the fact that there have been at least 12 drivers in contention for a Chase berth up until the final laps of the final race of the "regular season." And it would be two more chances to get top drawing cards like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon into the run for the title if they struggled at some point during the season as they both have this year. NASCAR president Mike Helton said sanctioning body officials will review the Chase at the end of the season to see if adjustments to the format are warranted. "When it was all said and done last year and the dust had settled, we took a look at things and were pretty pleased," he said. "We'll do the same thing at the end of this year. But I can't see anything major coming along."(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
AND NASCAR is looking at putting a cap on the number of Nextel Cup teams that can be owned by one organization, chairman Brian France said Saturday. France said the consideration was not prompted by the fact Roush Racing has five drivers inside the top 10 heading into Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway. France said he is more concerned new owners won’t be able to break into the sport if they feel it’s impossible to compete without a minimum of three teams. France did not indicate what the cap number might be, but he said existing teams would not be penalized “for operating within the rules.” France doesn’t anticipate significant changes, if any at all, to the points system used to determine the championship chase. He said there are no plans to extend the 400-point cutoff. The only adjustment he could see would be awarding more points for the winner.(The State)(9-11-2005)
- No Points for Pole Planned: Ryan Newman recently said he would like to see NASCAR change the points system next year to award points for qualifying. NASCAR chairman Brian France scoffed at that notion while visiting TMS last month. "If I won 35 poles [actually 32] like he has I would say that too," France said. "No, we're not going to do that. We only want to reward points for competing in the race."(Dallas Morning News)(9-9-2005)
- NASCAR/CASCAR Deals Almost Done: Only the paperwork remains for the Canadian CASCAR stock car racing circuit to be sold in its entirety to U.S.-based giant NASCAR. Negotiations have been ongoing for a year and a half and sources told The Free Press yesterday it's now in the hands of the lawyers. "It's not 'if,' it's 'when,' " one source said. Another said the takeover may lead to Canadians eventually driving in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, the top echelon in stock car racing. CASCAR was founded in 1981 and has maintained an office in Komoka. It's the largest stock car sanctioning body in the country. The national-touring Super Series began in 1988. NASCAR moved into Canada two years ago, establishing its Dodge Weekly Series at three tracks, including Delaware. Canadians have a huge interest in the Nextel Cup Series, and that could see a Busch or Craftsman Truck race in this country as early as next year.
(London Free Press)(9-6-2005)
- No shortening of races planned: During the gasoline-shortage crisis of the 1970s, NASCAR shortened some races to conserve fuel. That won't happen during the current crisis, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Friday. NASCAR cars run on high-octane gasoline that is produced for racing and supplied by Sunoco. About 100,000 gallons are used a year. Shortening races to save some fuel wouldn't make much of a difference "in the global scope," Poston said. The racing industry has been affected by the soaring gas prices "like everybody else," Poston noted. The cost of transporting cars, equipment and people around the country has risen substantially.(Tampa Tribune)(9-3-2005)
- France squashes NFL rumor...again: Brian France denies rumors he is relinquishing his job as NASCAR chief executive officer to start an NFL franchise in Los Angeles. "I'm having a great time, and I have the support of our board and family, and we're having a great year," France said Saturday at Bristol. "We have the car of tomorrow coming up. I want to expand us internationally over the next five or 10 years, and I still want to stay on course with our diversity efforts." France added he's committed to push NASCAR's "big agenda" and won't rest until he makes "NASCAR the most exciting racing in the world."(Sporting News/Lee Spencer)(8-29-2005)
- Helton Says NASCAR Can't Interfere In Driver Contracts: Last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR's president Mike Helton, said that it's not NASCAR's place to get in the middle of driver-owner contract disputes and also has no power to institute a "No Contact" policy, such as the stick and ball sports have to prevent another team contacting a player under contract for purposes of luring that player away. "The way NASCAR is structured, with the independentness of the sanctioning body and the car owner -- there's not a way for us to do that now, even if we desired to," said Helton, "I'm not sure that the drivers and the car owners in particular,
historically, and even today with what's in the headlines, they still don't necessarily want NASCAR in the middle of that relationship right
now. There's not a way of doing it and we're really not pursuing a way to figure out how to do it. The difference between NASCAR and
Football, Baseball and Basketball is that the NASCAR structure is all independent contractors. They're not cohesive like the other stick and ball sports are."(Insider Racing News)(8-25-2005)
- Changes for 2006: NASCAR met with Nextel Cup teams to discuss 2006 testing logistics, templates and impound schedules. Manufacturers will each have six tests where all teams under that brand will be allowed on the track. Those six tracks include Indianapolis, Daytona, Texas, Richmond, Charlotte and Homestead. Template changes include the identity templates on the new Fusion and Monte Carlo. The new Dodge nose has yet to be approved [see story below]. All but five races [both at Texas] - which have existing pole day sponsors - will be impound events. The most dramatic change will be in testing. Not only will multi-car teams be limited to testing at six tracks, but teams must lease tires from Goodyear at each test and return the tires at the end of the session.(Sporting News/Lee Spencer)(8-24-2005)
- Air Pressure Checked: NASCAR told teams at the Michigan drivers' meeting that it would begin recording air pressures on the front tires of all cars before each race, keep the information confidential and use it to evaluate performance and to investigate tire problems.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(8-22-2005)
- 2006 Rules Meeting: NASCAR will meet with teams at NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, N.C., to review new rules and procedures for 2006. Template changes, the tire leasing program and the car of the future will be the lead topics.(Sporting News)(8-22-2005)
- New Camber Rule starting at MIS: NASCAR has finally stepped in to eradicate the excessive tire problems teams have experienced this season--and remove some of the heat from Goodyear in the process. A new camber rule will be in place starting this weekend at Michigan that limits the angle of the front tires to 8 degrees. "We've had tire issues this summer at Pocono and Indy (because of) excessive camber," says Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. "Some teams were on the mark, but others were way off." NASCAR already has a rear camber rule of 2 degrees and checks cars with a camber gauge during inspection.(Sporting News)(8-15-2005)
- No Testing Limit or Tire Leasing? NASCAR may be reconsidering its proposed testing-limit and tire-lease concepts, garage sources said. NASCAR had offered the ideas as ways of reducing cost and travel for the teams. Apparently, however, the recent suit against NASCAR/ISC by Kentucky Speedway has caused NASCAR to back away. Kentucky is a popular testing site for Cup teams.(Speed Channel)(8-6-2005)
- NASCAR eyes own news service: NASCAR Chairman Brian France believes racing is not being adequately covered by the nation's newspapers and wants to create the sport's own news service for newspapers, television and radio stations, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. "You're going to see us get into the content business, very similar in one respect to the NFL channel," France told a cable television industry summit, writer Andy Bernstein reports. "We're going to have to create content that is customized for media outlets." No time table for a launch or other details were reported.(NASCAR Scene Newsletter)(8-2-2005)
- More on possible testing changes: NASCAR is contemplating revamping its testing procedures for 2006. Under the proposal, each manufacturer would receive six two-day tests at tracks that have Nextel Cup races. For example, the Chevrolet drivers would test on the same days at the same six places, the Ford drivers at presumably a slightly different six and the Dodge drivers at six. The tracks would have to be agreed upon by the owners of that brand. The current policy allows teams five two-day tests wherever they want, whenever they want. Daytona still would be mandatory for all teams. The goal of the change is twofold: to cut down on tire costs and to allow teams time to prepare for the car of the future, which is expected to make its debut in 2007. Goodyear would have engineering support on hand and sign out tires at the tests. Teams still would be allowed to test at tracks that don't have Cup races, but current tires would not be available.(Sporting News)(7-25-2005)
- New Nose 'Lip' for 2007?: NASCAR officials are telling crew chiefs that there will be a new nose-lip for all Nextel Cup cars in 2007, perhaps earlier, a new nose valence that would be similar to Trans-Am noses and truck noses - with a lower aerodynamic lip, designed to force teams to limit the wheel-travel of race cars. The new rule would come in response to the radical wheel-travel that teams are using this season to drop the nose of the car and increase speed by literally dragging the nose on the pavement. Wheel-travel is believed to be one reason for the rash of tire problems, with tires taking a fearsome beating. "I think it's a good rule, and they might do it next year," #01 crew chief Ryan Pemberton said. "But it will (make) obsolete all the hundreds of thousands of dollars of expensive special springs each team now has. I've spent more on springs in the past year than I have in my entire career. We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars of springs."(Winston Salem Journal)(7-20-2005)
- Bill France comments: NASCAR's Bill France made a rare public appearance during Busch Series qualifying, taking the opportunity to question Formula One officials and pronounce his own series almost set. France said after tracks near New York City and Seattle are completed and added to the schedule the circuit would be "in pretty good shape." That pronouncement would seem to rule out possible races in Canada and Asia, both rumored to be future NASCAR venues. "(With races in Seattle and New York) we would pretty much have the nation covered," said France, who balked at the idea of possibly expanding the 36-race schedule. Construction has not begun on either track. During his wide-ranging chat, France stopped short of expressing disappointment in the way F1 officials handled a dispute over unsafe tires at the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago, but said, "When you have fans coming from all over and everybody there, you have to run that race."(St Petersburg Times)(7-2-2005)
- France talks about the Chase/NASCAR NEXTEL Teleconference:
Q. Just as a follow, I know you think Jeff Gordon is going to rally, but how detrimental will it be to the Chase if he, or Dale Earnhardt, also have a chance of missing it, don't make it?
BRIAN FRANCE: "Well, this is a performance based sport and you've got to perform. Obviously they have big fan bases and there will be some disappointment in that, but I like no matter what happens, I love the mix of drivers that's shaping up. Rusty Wallace is making his run. He may have a shot at the championship for the first time in a while for him down the stretch. Mark Martin is having another good year on his final year, so he may have a shot, he will have a shot more than likely, who knows. But in the end, you've got to perform. You've got to get in, you've got to earn your way in, and that's what we always said. The events before the Chase didn't mean less importance; it means more importance, and I think you're seeing that now."
Q. NBA and baseball have to deal with things like big market teams and small market teams. Going back to the Chase, obviously for you guy, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are big market teams. They are the big markets in the fans and they are the drivers that fans in the major markets, the Top 10 markets that you guys covet and like to have ratings from, they are the ones that are most recognizable in those markets. Do you feel if neither of those two drivers are in the Chase that it will have a debt mental effect on television ratings?
BRIAN FRANCE: "Obviously the more star power you have, the better you feel. It's no different than the Yankees have to earn their way into the playoffs. So do our drivers. We can't have a system that's based on popularity at the moment. We have a system based on who can perform the best in that given year, and no matter what happens, the mix of drivers that we're likely to have will be terrific. You can argue it would be better if this person were in or out, but we'll have a terrific group of veterans and young drivers, and I hope it comes down to the last lap of the last race just like it did last year."
Q. Your assessment of the Chase or your belief it's going to be a bigger field, is there any consideration to adding fan involvement, like a fan vote, especially this year with the possibility of Jeff and Dale not making the Chase, that the fans might vote one of them in to appease the networks and have that star power?
BRIAN FRANCE: Not at all, because we have to be, and we will be, a performance based series, and you have to perform. You know what, the drivers would not want that either. They don't want to limp in on a fan vote. They want to earn their way in or not earn their way in. I hope we all the drivers that everybody likes, but, you know, sometimes it's time to see drivers have a moment. Greg Biffle is having his moment right now showing people how talented he has been for a long time. The stars are lining up and he's got a lot of confidence. That's a great thing for us. We'd love to see more of Greg Biffles, too. It's not just one driver or another. It's about performance and letting people who are earning it keep going.
Q. Is there anything that would even make you consider changing anything with the points Chase the way it is now? I mean, certainly have asked you if there would be the Earnhardt factor or whatever, but, you know, looking at it as a whole, is there anything down the road that you guys might think of altering?
BRIAN FRANCE: "Well, for this year, the answer would be zero, because we're trying to get, certainly, out of any issues of changing things in midstream. We would never do that. Down the road when we make adjustments, I have always said we would be open to them. But gosh, we had four drivers come down or five, actually, mathematically last year, three with a real, real chance down to the last lap that changed around, I think, seven times. It's hard to say, you know, it's not a great system and the best part of it all is what the drivers how they turn it up, how they step up the level of driving and their talents are showcased differently and that's what I like most."(NASCAR Statistical Service/NASCAR NEXTEL Teleconference Transcript)(6-29-2005)
- New NASCAR Ads: NASCAR will debut two versions of its "Race to the Chase" television ad campaign this week, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. Writer Scott Warfield says the ads, prepared by the Martin Agency of Richmond, Va., will feature Jeremy Mayfield and Mark Martin. One of the ads is scheduled to appear during TNT's airing of Friday night's Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway, and the second will appear in Speed Channel's coverage of Saturday afternoon's Craftsman Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway. Both will also be shown in NBC's coverage of Saturday night's Pepsi 400 Nextel Cup race at Daytona. The ads are scheduled to run through the first week in September.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-28-2005)
- Touring Series? Michel Jourdain [#10 Busch driver] was spotted having lunch with Busch Series director Joe Balash, NASCAR Mexico director Chad Little and Canada director Richard Buck at the Speedway Club at Lowe's Motor Speedway last week. The meeting was to discuss a world touring series that initially would draw stock car drivers from the United States, Mexico and Canada and eventually from abroad. "It would be a good idea to have a world series with those types of cars," says Jourdain, a Busch driver who was born in Mexico. "But I don't know what NASCAR's plans are right now."(Sporting News)(5-30-2005)
- Levi's to sponsor Soap Box Derby, Johnson involved: The Levi Strauss Signature brand has entered into a sponsorship agreement with the All-American Soap Box Derby (AASBD) to become the title sponsor of the premier youth and family oriented racing program in the United States. The AASBD's annual event, held since 1934 in Akron involving boys and girls ages 8-17, will be called the All-American Soap Box Derby presented by Levi Strauss Signature. In addition, the Levi Strauss Signature* brand's spokesperson and current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points leader Jimmie Johnson will serve as the AASBD's national spokesperson. A NASCAR official youth initiative, the AASBD season runs year-round and is comprised of more than 450 races across the United States and overseas, culminating with the 68th AASBD Championship scheduled for July 30, 2005. Each competitor builds his / her own gravity-powered car from kits purchased from the AASBD, typically with assistance from a parent or other adult. By nurturing children to become solid community citizens through the teaching of basic construction skills, teamwork, the spirit of competition, perseverance and family values, the AASBD is highly respected by community leaders, educators, racing enthusiasts and beginners alike. For more information about the Levi Strauss Signature brand and its products visit levistrausssignature.com. To get involved or for more information on the About the All-American Soap Box Derby, call (330-733-8723) or visit www.aasbd.com.(Alan Taylor Communications)(5-20-2005)
- NASCAR opens licensing office in Arkansas: The popularity of NASCAR-branded merchandise with customers of Wal-Mart Stores has prompted the national racing group to open a licensing office in northwest Arkansas. The two-person office will be a satellite of NASCAR's licensing headquarters, which operates out of the organization's office at Charlotte, NC NASCAR's headquarters are at Daytona Beach, but it also has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. Mark Dyer, licensing vice president for NASCAR, said the office here would allow the company to work closely with the retail giant and with Wal-Mart vendors who want to tap the popularity of auto racing. The office will license new products and work closely with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which already sells a variety of NASCAR merchandise. Larry Helton, a former national retail operations manager for the Gillette Co., will head NASCAR's Bentonville office. More than 100 Wal-Mart employees and vendors showed up at the opening on Wednesday, many of them seeking autographs from driver Kurt Busch, the reigning Nextel Cup champion. Dyer said sales of NASCAR-licensed products had declined at small retail operations, but the company has made overall gains through online sellers and big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target.(ESPN.com/AP)(5-12-2005)
- NASCAR Promoting races using NYC radio: NASCAR is promoting the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor
Speedway and two Nextel Cup races at Pocono Raceway on three New York City radio stations, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. WFAN will give listeners the chance to win tickets to a Yankees-Mets baseball game and an all-expense-paid trip to the May 20 all-star race. The Journal says it is the first time NASCAR has used a New York-area station to promote a race in Charlotte. WAXQ will promote a contest offering 20 listeners a bus trip and VIP treatment to the June 12 Pocono race, while WPLJ will offer fans a deal with Bergen Mall to take their dads to the track's July 24 race.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-9-2005)
- What Red Flag? Fox TOLD not to mention it...Why? UPDATE: Fans using scanners have access to transmissions between producers and TV/radio announcers, which means that many of them heard Fox’s announcers instructed not to make any on-air reference to the fact that a red flag immediately came out after the 25-car crash. The information eventually came out — the race was halted for 43 minutes, 21 seconds — but why deprive television viewers of valuable information? Was it some cheap ploy to keep viewers from changing channels?(Gaston Gazette), wondered that myself, the same thing happened at Phonix when the red flag was out for over 6 minutes when power was out, I heard about it on the radio coverage, it was mentioned in passing on TV, AFTER the fact...I was like..what gives....the what happened at Talladega...why does NASCAR wanna hide the fact there is a red flag...makes no sense [or cents].(5-3-2005)
UPDATE: Television viewers can now expect to know promptly when a NASCAR race has been put under the red flag after having that information temporarily withheld on the past two Nextel Cup telecasts on Fox Sports. During last week's Aaron's 499 from Talladega Superspeedway, announcers were told over Fox's internal communications not to mention the term "red flag" through two segments following a 25-car wreck on Lap 133. When The Charlotte Observer this week asked for an explanation of the practice, that request set off an in-house discussion of the practice that went all the way up to David Hill, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Sports. "It was a stupid thing to do," Hill said. "I've never heard anything so ridiculous." Apparently, personnel in the Fox production truck erroneously believed it would make a difference if some of its commercials could be aired before viewers were actually told the red flag was out. "This situation is proof that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing," Hill said. "The time a race goes under a red flag has nothing to do with when a network says it. We can't change the time the red comes out. That would be like us saying the New England Patriots didn't score a touchdown when they did, but they scored three minutes later." Hill said producer Neil Goldberg and his crew now have a clearer understanding of the situation.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-7-2005)
- Car of the Future delay? Under pressure from race teams, NASCAR might delay the debut of the "car of the future" until the end of 2007 and the "common" engine until 2008. Many engine builders fear teams could be crushed financially if they're left with large inventories of obsolete engines. But to even the playing field and prepare for Toyota's expected arrival in the Cup series, NASCAR is looking at controlling cars from the tires up.(Sporting News)(5-2-2005)
- Gambling Internet sites want in: When NASCAR lifted the hard liquor sponsorship embargo, did it open a Pandora's box? The next wave of sponsors pushing to get into the garage are Internet gambling sites, which have approached several teams with big checks but have not yet gotten the green flag from NASCAR.(Sporting News)(5-2-2005)
- Surgery required for official: Pete Babb, NASCAR’s senior official, is scheduled to undergo cardiac surgery on Monday at Birmingham’s Carraway Methodist Medical Center. Babb, who turned 78 on Saturday, works in the Busch Series and has been in the sport for more than 50 years. “People like Pete Babb helped make NASCAR the great sport it is today,” said NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter, who called Babb “a beloved and respected figure.”(Gaston Gazette)(5-1-2005)
- NASCAR named "Best of America" by Reader's Digest: NASCAR has been named "Best of America" by editors of the most widely read magazine in the United States. Reader's Digest has created the "America's 100 Best" award which honors the 100 best people, places, ideas and products this country has to offer. To determine "America's 100 Best" list, the editors of Reader's Digest talked with experts and collected ideas from coast to coast.(NASCAR/Reader's Digest)(4-23-2005)
- Ephedra ruling won't change MLB, NFL, NASCAR policies: Ephedra will remain a banned substance in at least three professional sports, even if a recent court ruling ends up putting the controversial dietary supplement back on store shelves.
Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball's executive vice president of labor relations, confirmed in an e-mail that ephedra will remain on baseball's banned substances list. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed ephedra, which league officials banned in 2002, would remain on the league's banned substances list. The Washington Post quoted NFL Players Association leader Gene Upshaw as saying, "The dangers are still there, as far as we're concerned.. .. We have enough concerns about this. It's still going to be on our banned list."
NASCAR banned ephedra in January 2004 after a USA TODAY report quoted one racing team's trainer as estimating that 80% of crew members had tried supplements containing ephedra. "Based on what I've read about the court ruling, there's no reason for us to change," NASCAR vice president of communications Jim Hunter said Friday. The Food and Drug Administration banned ephedra in April 2004, saying supplements that contained the substance present "an unreasonable risk of illness or injury."(USA Today)(4-16-2005)
- More on Drugs and NASCAR: NASCAR confirmed Wednesday that it has issued 40 to 45 drug tests during the past two years, a figure that includes multiple tests for some individuals. NASCAR only drug tests individuals based on reasonable suspicion that they are abusing a drug. Jim Hunter, NASCAR spokesman, said that Shane Hmiel has been tested 12 to 15 times since he was reinstated in February 2004. NASCAR suspended Hmiel on Sept. 18, 2003, for violation of the series’ substance abuse policy. NASCAR required Hmiel to attend counseling and periodic random testing as part of his reinstatement. The issue of drugs in sports has grown since recent government hearings on steroids in Major League Baseball. The House Committee on Government Reform, which held those hearings, is investigating performance-enhancing drugs in sports. The committee sent letters Tuesday to several sports organizations asking for their drug testing policy. NASCAR has not been asked to submit such information.(News and Record)(4-7-2005)
- Congress not investigating NASCAR about drugs...yet: The House Committee on Government Reform, which is investigating performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, sent letters Tuesday to seven sports organizations requesting information on their testing policies. One sport won't be getting a letter right away: NASCAR. Robert White, spokesman for committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said the committee has not decided whether to ask to review NASCAR's drug testing policy. "We're looking to see whether it makes sense for us to take a closer look at them," White said. "At this point, we don't know if it's something we want to do." The committee sent a letter to the NFL last week requesting its drug testing policy after a report that three Carolina Panthers got steroids from a South Carolina doctor. Tuesday, the committee sent letters to the NBA, NHL, Major League Soccer, U.S. Soccer Federation, U.S. Tennis Association, USA Track and Field and USA Cycling.(News and Record)(4-6-2005)
- Drug Testing to be Expanded? UPDATE: Drug testing for NASCAR drivers could be radically expanded if NASCAR executives follow the strict new Olympics-type anti-doping rules adopted by the FIA, the world governing body of auto racing this week. NASCAR racing has so far been immune to the steroids controversy swirling around the NFL and major-league baseball. But are steroids a problem in NASCAR? What is NASCAR's policy on steroids? And how will NASCAR react to the latest steroid-sports controversy? NASCAR officials say that steroids use is a non-issue in their sport. Nevertheless, several drivers and crew chiefs say they wouldn't be surprised to see NASCAR opening a round of steroidw testing, under its broad drug-use policy, which all NASCAR team members must sign before the start of each season. The FIA just announced that it has agreed to follow the World Anti-Doping Agency's rules for all its races. And all NASCAR drivers and car owners must hold an FIA license in order to compete in the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis and the Talladega 500. That would appear to mean that all Nextel Cup drivers would have to be drug-tested for the full WADA list of prohibited drugs, which includes a litany of anabolic steroids. Jeff Burton said: "No, there is not a steroid problem in NASCAR. However, it's always best to be proactive, and get on the front edge of that thing and make sure nobody is using steroids. "Steroids would help tire changers, jackmen and those kind of guys." "I don't think drivers need steroids for stamina," Jimmy Spencer said. "You don't have to be real strong to drive a race car, but you have to have good stamina. Steroids work against that."(Winston Salem Journal)
UPDATE: Jeff Gordon says he doesn’t know much about steroids, and doesn’t feel a steroid would give a driver any added advantage, “I just think when you’re in a racecar and you’re traveling the speeds you’re traveling, you’re mind doesn’t have a choice but to concentrate. There might be some natural herbs that guys could take to help them with that…I’ve certainly never had to do that or thought about doing that. At a track like this (Bristol) or a road course it’s very physical, muscle endurance is defiantly something that’s important so being in good shape and having a workout that allows you to stay fresh. I would say that the only thing for us is more like a bicycle rider like a Lance Armstrong. It’s more about keeping your body hydrated. We’re not trying to get really strong. You don’t need to be physically really strong.” Asked if he could tell if someone on his team was taking steroids or any illegal substance Gordon said, “I’m not sure what the signs are but we would put that responsibility on our trainers that train the guys and make sure they’re doing what they need to do to stay fit but doing it in a way that’s healthy for their bodies.”(PRN's Bristol Coverage)(4-2-2005)
UPDATE: Steroids in NASCAR? The governing body says performance-enhancing drugs are not an issue in Nextel Cup or its other series, but an expert in the field speaks to the contrary . “There’s a lot of money involved in NASCAR,” said Charles E. Yesalis, a Penn State health policy professor and sports-drug expert who has testified about steroids on Capital Hill. “Anybody that thinks people in one sport are more honest than another sport are just plane naive.” Yesalis said NASCAR, which does not have a mandatory drug testing policy, would be smart to turn its entire testing program over to the World Anti-Doping Agency to avoid the scrutiny other sports are under. “I doubt they have a huge problem, but it would deter one if they did,” he said. Yesalis, who will be at Bristol Motor Speedway for today’s Nextel Cup race, said steroid use in NASCAR likely would come with pit crew members that require strength, speed and agility. He said steroids would have little if no impact on a driver’s performance. Yesalis said he first became wary of possible steroid use in NASCAR when he heard teams were using professional strength and conditioning trainers to work with pit crew members. NASCAR has a drug policy that calls for random testing only as a result of reasonable suspicion of abuse of an illegal substance, including steroids. Yesalis said there aren’t always physical signs with steroids. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said there is no mandatory testing as there is in the NFL and other sports because the sanctioning body doesn’t perceive there to be a problem. “There’s not even a suspicion of a problem in the sport,” said Poston, reminding many teams have their own drug testing policy separate from NASCAR’s. “We think the policy is very sound, that it is effective.” Some in the garage agree with Yesalis that NASCAR is being naive, particularly in light of the recent congressional hearings on steroids in baseball that is being expanded to the NFL after recent allegations of steroid involvement by members of the Carolina Panthers. They say NASCAR should take a more proactive position to avoid unnecessary scrutiny. NASCAR may not have a choice but to get involved in the steroid issue. The House Committee on Government Reform recently sent a letter to the NFL asking the league to submit information on its steroid testing policy.
Only four drivers — Brian Rose in the truck series, Shane Hmiel and Kevin Grubb in Busch, Sammy Potashnick in the Winston Series West — are known to have tested positive during the past three years.(in part from The State)(4-3-2005)
- NASCAR Points Visa Card Plan: NASCAR RacePoints, a new rewards program designed for NASCAR fans who use the products and services of official NASCAR sponsors. With its new MBNA NASCAR RacePoints VISA credit card, MBNA America Bank, N.A. has become the first issuing partner of NASCAR RacePoints. For the first time ever, the MBNA NASCAR RacePoints VISA credit card allows consumers to earn one NASCAR RacePoint for each dollar spent in net retail purchases. NASCAR RacePoints is a free consumer loyalty program designed to allow participants to earn points based on purchases made with participating NASCAR sponsors. Accumulated points can be tracked and redeemed online for exciting race-related rewards in the exclusive NASCAR RacePoints catalog. Free enrollment in NASCAR RacePoints can be found at WWW.NASCAR.COM by clicking on NASCAR RacePoints. The NASCAR RacePoints catalog offers racing fans an exciting array of rewards within four categories: Access & Experiences, Collectibles & Memorabilia, Apparel, and Merchandise. All the products and experiences in the catalog are from official NASCAR licensees including: Action Performance, Richard Petty Driving Experience, Team Caliber, VF Corporation and more. The opportunity to redeem NASCAR RacePoints begins May 31, 2005.(Mullen PR)(3-23-2005)
- NASCAR renews with radio company: NASCAR announced a renewal of its longstanding association with Atlanta-based Diversified Electronics/Racing Radios to provide two-way radio communications for all NASCAR officials and competitors in NASCAR's three national series - the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The renewal runs through the 2013 season - coinciding with the terminus of the current NASCAR-Nextel Communications deal to sponsor
NASCAR's top series - and continues a 30-year relationship. Building on that tradition, Racing Radios, the first and only two-ray
radio provider for NASCAR, is moving ahead boldly by partnering with Nextel Communications to provide state-of-the-art technology. Nextel is in its second year as title sponsor of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.(NASCAR PR)(3-21-2005)
- Impound Rules: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Impound Procedures In 2005
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will impound cars after qualifying in 21 of 36 championship events plus the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. The following are tracks in which NASCAR will implement this procedure: Feb. 27-California; Mar. 20-Atlanta; Apr. 3-Bristol; Apr. 23-Phoenix; May 7-Darlington; May 14; Richmond; May 21-Lowe’s (All-Star Challenge); June 12-Pocono; June 19-Michigan; July 2-Daytona; July 17-New Hampshire; July 24-Pocono; Aug. 14-Watkins Glen; Aug. 21-Michigan; Aug. 27-Bristol; Sept. 10-Richmond; Sept. 18-New Hampshire; Oct. 9-Kansas; Oct. 30-Atlanta; Nov. 20-Homestead.
Following qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event, the cars will be escorted to their respective garage stalls by a NASCAR Official (with the exception of the top five cars, which will be placed in a designated area for post-qualifying inspection).
Once the car is pushed to the garage stall, only two crew members will be allowed to remain in the garage.
The following work list will be allowed:
1. Shut off electrical switches and master power switch;
2. Remove radio;
3. Check air pressure in tires;
4. Cover the car; and,
5. Crewmembers exit garage and garage doors close.
Pit road selection will be immediately after the last car has qualified.
Procedure for race day for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams:
Garage Stall A maximum of two (2) crew members per car, accompanied by a NASCAR Official, will be allowed in the garage stall. Below are the procedures that will be completed in the garage stall:
1. Plug in oil heater (if teams use a generator, it must remain outside the garage);
2. Open hood;
3. Prime oil system;
4. Back car out of garage to start;
5. Turn master switch on;
6. Open oil cooler bypass valve (optional)’
7. Start engine;
8. Close hood;
9. Set tire pressure;
10. Torque wheels;
11. Install radio and water bottle;
12. Remove or repair tape on front of car (i.e. grille, valance, brake ducts.); and
13. If applicable, BST or Pi Research may replace equipment batteries under NASCAR supervision.
Teams May NOT:
1. Enter the garage without a NASCAR Official present;
2. Jack up any part of the car;
3. Add water or pressurize the cooling system;
4. Climb inside the car;
5. Adjust wedge bolts, shocks or sway bars;
6. Add fuel, oil or brake fluid;
7. Remove air box; or
8. Adjust fenders, spoiler or any body components.
Fuel Pumps: A maximum of three (3) crewmembers per car at anytime, escorted by NASCAR Officials, may go to the fuel pumps. For Tracks 1 mile and under, a maximum of two gallons of fuel will be added. For Tracks 1 ½ miles, a maximum of three gallons of fuel will be added. For Tracks above 1 ½ miles, a maximum of four gallons of fuel will be added.
Height Platform A maximum of three (3) crewmembers per car at anytime, accompanied by NASCAR Officials, may escort the respective car to the height platform.
1. Adjust front and rear wedge bolts: A maximum of one (1) turn for front bolts. A maximum of 1 ½ turn for rear bolts.
2. Adjust track bar at frame end adjuster. No maximum on track bar adjustment.
3. Adjust external shock bleeds.
Teams May NOT:
1. Change any components.
2. Add spring inserts.
Scales A maximum of three (3) crewmembers per car at anytime, accompanied by NASCAR Officials, may escort the respective car to the scales. Any car that does not meet required weight specifications may be subject to penalty. After completion, the generator will be reconnected to the car and pushed to pit road. Generators will be permitted out on pit road with the car.(NASCAR)(3-18-2005)
- More Changes? Last week at Las Vegas, Larry McReynolds moderated a roundtable discussion with car manufacturers, Goodyear, NASCAR's tire manufacturer, and NASCAR's vice president of competition, Robin Pemberton, and talked about the state of the sport. You always get the feeling that these manufacturers know another rule change is lurking. You don't always know what it might be. It may be another 1/4 or 1/2 inch off of the rear spoiler down the road, and you get the feeling that they can't and won't quit thinking about it because the potential for change is always out there.(FoxSports)(3-18-2005)
- Team Owners Want Sirius Money: NASCAR's new multimillion-dollar contract with satellite radio provider Sirius has Nextel Cup car owners asking one big question - Where's the money going? Teams get 25% of the TV revenue, track owners get 65 percent and NASCAR gets 10 percent. There has been a push by some car owners the past three years for NASCAR to provide a more equitable distribution of that $400 million a year, but NASCAR has ignored such entreaties. Now Sirius (partly owned by DaimlerChrysler) has signed a deal to pay NASCAR $27 million a year, according to sources, beginning in 2007. That money will likely go straight into NASCAR's coffers. Some car owners aren't amused and would like NASCAR to put some of that radio money in the purse. "These guys are killing us," one car owner said.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-15-2005)
- Car of tomorrow (COT): Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, says the "car of tomorrow" — the next form of stock car — could make its debut as early as 2007. However, the adjustments to the cars will be made gradually so "we're not tearing up everybody's fleet of chassis and bodies" at excessive cost to the owners, Pemberton says. He added that NASCAR is brainstorming with manufacturers and teams along the way. One major move in the next few years will be the use of unleaded fuel, a topic that had been dormant since 1998.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(3-14-2005)
- Rules Package probably to stay all season: NASCAR said on Friday that it would probably leave the current rules package in place for the remainder of the 2005 season. This weekend's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 is the third race under the new rules, which included sweeping changes to tires (softer), gears (shorter), spoiler size (smaller) and pit road speeds (stricter enforcement). Las Vegas' 1.5-mile oval is just the second non-restrictor-plate event of the year, but most Nextel Cup teams already have a thousand miles of data concerning the new rules. Put together, the rules have created cars that are much looser than in years past, and drivers who can adapt to that hang-onto-the-car style are the ones that have succeeded in early downforce tests. NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said he likes the current package and will try to use it all season. "We have to listen to our competitors. We're not going to make mid-year rule changes," Pemberton said. "You always get criticized the first 3-4 races of the year of a rule change and it always takes the competitor 3-4 races. The same guys are going to be happy and the same guys are going to be mad every year, no matter if you have a rules change or not." NASCAR is pushing to reel in costs for already strapped teams, and keeping a rules package for the entire season can save millions. Pemberton also said that NASCAR is trying to phase in the practice of impounding the cars following qualifying. "We hope we get back to common schedule like we have in the past. It is probably a few years away, we hate it goes this way," Pemberton said. "We're pushing towards the impound schedule. It'll help on expenses. We don't race in our backyard like we did every week."(NASCAR.com)(3-12-2005)
- Get the lead out..so a group asks NASCAR UPDATE 2: NASCAR is under fire from environmentalists for using leaded gasoline more than six years after the Environmental Protection Agency asked the stock car racing industry to switch to unleaded. "By permitting the continued use of lead, your organization may be putting millions of spectators and nearby residents at unnecessary risk of suffering serious health effects," the environmental group Clean Air Watch said in a recent letter to NASCAR chairman Brian France. "Because of the clear public health threat, lead is being eliminated from gasoline throughout most of the world," the letter said. "If Kazakhstan can eliminate lead from gasoline, why can't NASCAR?" The elimination of lead in gasoline in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s and in the rest of the world in recent years is considered one of the great public health victories of the 20th century. Lead levels in the blood of U.S. children have dropped dramatically as a result. In 1990, Congress exempted the aviation and racing industries from EPA regulations on the lead content of gasoline. NASCAR has "looked into and will continue to look into making the switch to unleaded," but has not been able to find an alternative additive to lead, which lubricates engine valves, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "Without being able to keep the valves lubed, the engines don't work as well."(Rocky Mountain News)(3-1-2005)
AND Environmentalists have blown a gasket over the NASCAR's continued use of leaded gasoline in its stock car races.
Since NASCAR has science and safety on its side, I hope it has the good sense not to cave in to this eco-harassment. The Clean Air Trust "urged" NASCAR in a Jan. 19 letter to consider the supposedly dire consequences of using leaded fuel: "By permitting the continued use of lead, your organization may be putting millions of spectators and nearby residents at unnecessary risk of suffering serious health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency." Lead was eliminated from most gasoline in the U.S. during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1990, however, Congress exempted the aviation and racing industries from the lead ban. The exemptions made sense since no one wanted airplanes falling from the sky because of stalled engines and auto racing would only add an insignificant amount of lead to the environment. NASCAR engines run on a high performance fuel designed exclusively for competition called 110 Leaded Racing Gasoline. Not only does the "Official Fuel of NASCAR" make stock cars run better, but its components make it resistant to explosion, which naturally makes things safer for drivers in racing accidents.(JunkScience at FoxSports)(3-4-2005)
UPDATE 2: ‘Do-able’? That’s what Jack Roush said in regard to finally making the NASCAR transition from leaded to unleaded fuels. Environmental groups have renewed longstanding demands for NASCAR to make the change recently. “It’s just a matter of when we bite the bullet and decide it’s time,” said Roush. “There will be some ‘hiccups.’ It will cost some money for the development and change in parts, but it’s a definitely a ‘do-able deal.”(Shelby Star)(3-13-2005)
- Fed Up with Jesse Jackson: The man who headed the sports division of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition for more than a decade before being released in January is now organizing former Jackson affiliates into his own minority motor sports division. "A lot of people were fed up with Reverend Jackson so I think this is a clean start," Farrell said of his newly formed group, One Umbrella Motorsports Association. "We have people coming from as far away as California and Missouri." He called his new venture the "start of something big." In what could be another sign of financial woes at Rainbow/PUSH, Jackson's organization has indicated it is scaling back its national minority sports initiatives, according to Farrell. Jackson's Rainbow Sports organization has previously conducted minority sports outreach efforts with such groups as NASCAR, the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA. Farrell directed the Rainbow/PUSH Sports division for some of the eleven years he spent with Jackson's organization. In January, Farrell said, he got word from Jackson that his services were no longer needed. Rainbow/PUSH was scaling back the "national scope it has had" in sports and was closing its New York office, Farrell said he was told. "The departure of Farrell is further evidence that Jesse Jackson is only interested in getting money out of the motor sports industry -- and in particular NASCAR -- and has had very little to do with the advancement of minorities within the sport," said Peter Flaherty, president of the National and Legal Policy Center. In 2003, Flaherty launched a campaign to end NASCAR's support of Jackson because of Jackson's anti-war rhetoric and past financial dealings with corporations.(in part from CNSNews.com)(3-8-2005)
- Speeding Down: looks like drivers are getting used to the new electronic system used to catch speeders on pit road, after 14 drivers were caught at Daytona, only three suffered that fate on Sunday at California Speedway: #12-Ryan Newman [lap 177], #15-Michael Waltrip [lap 164] and #11-Jason Leffler [lap 105].(2-28-2005)
- Inspection Process Not Changed: Insider Racing News spoke with NASCAR's Robin Pemberton and one of the drivers, Kirk Shelmerdine, who didn't make the top-35 in points last year about the way NASCAR inspected the cars. Some of the nine teams that weren't fortunate enough to be in the top-35 were complaining that NASCAR was putting them at a disadvantage with the way the inspection process worked. "NASCAR's not holding anyone up," says Pemberton, "you get inspected according to where you are in points, so it's not any different than it has been for the last ten years. Inspection goes by the order of the garage layout with goes by the points," Shelmerdine said. "That's the way it is. That's only on the initial inspection to get into the garage, when you go through the tech line, it's first come -- first served. That's something that us here at the back have always had to deal with, you're last in line, that's the way it is. You've got to move up the ladder if you want to get more practice time. That's the way it is at this end of the garage and my heart bleeds for them."(Insider Racing News)(2-28-2005)
- Confiscated Parts: Eric McClure's #73, ARC Dehooker/RFA, Chevrolet had a Tioi Transmission confiscated. The tag said 'Transmission Ratio".
Kevin Lepage's #37, R&J Racing Dodge had their interior fire extinguisher confiscated. The tag was marked, "Interior fire bottle may not contain Halon 1211". [Halon 1211 is a fire suppressant agent for critical applications, which has been classified by regulatory authorities as an Ozone Depleting Substance.
Ken Schrader's #49, Schwan's Home Service Dodge had a rear gear pulled. The tag stated, "Incorrect Ratio".(Insider Racing News)(2-27-2005)
- Remember the Roof Hatches: Dale Jarrett's, UPS #88 Ford and Elliott Sadler's, M&M's #38 Ford do not have roof escape hatches at the California Race, only because they are using old cars. All of their new cars have Roof Escape Hatches. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. with his new team will also have Roof Escape Hatches in his new cars. #15-Michael Waltrip in the past has used an escape hatch in his cars, but with the change of crew chiefs that will not happen in 2005, according to Tony Eury Sr.(Insider Racing News)(2-27-2005)
- No More Spoiler Changes in 2005: NASCAR's John Darby told XM Radio's Claire B. Lang that NASCAR has no plans to change the size of the rear spoiler in 2005.(XM Satellite - NASCAR Radio Reports)(2-26-2005)
- NASCAR miffed at 'redneck' dig: Whatever happens, don't mention the word "redneck" around NASCAR officials.
Before yesterday's race, honorary starter actor Ashton Kutcher joked that he was told not to wear jeans for the job. "One of the greatest redneck sports and they tell me I can't wear blue jeans," Kutcher said at a press briefing. "I've never watched a race in khaki pants before." His comment was met with a chorus of moans from NASCAR insiders in the room, causing Kutcher to add he was also a redneck and said he meant the comment in a positive way.(New York Daily News)(2-21-2005)
- New "X-measurement": Nextel Cup teams were given a new "X-measurement" across the roof of the cars that lines up with the original X-measurement that stretches across the rear windows. Before the change, teams could lengthen the right side of the car, which would give the driver an aerodynamic advantage, especially in the corners.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(2-21-2005)
- Nextel NASCAR Strategy for 2005: Nextel Communications unveiled its strategy to support the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, with the wireless communications giant entering its second as sponsor. Nextel will launch three TV spots, via TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York, which support the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series sponsorship and "demonstrate how Nextel products and technology help fans, businesses and teams get things done," per the company. The spots feature a NASCAR family, NASCAR vendors and a NASCAR team. Nextel also produced an overall sponsorship spot to spotlight top on-track moments of its inaugural season. Nextel said it also will introduce a state-of-the-art NASCAR Nextel Cup Series "2-Way Communication Headset," which will be available for purchase for the first time at the 2005 Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach on Feb. 20, when the season officially opens. The yellow NASCAR Nextel Cup Series branded headset features two input jacks, allowing race fans to plug in their radio scanner and mobile phone concurrently. This two-way headset has a built-in noise-canceling microphone that allows fans to talk, on any cell phone, to family and friends from the grandstands of a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event.
In addition, NASCAR fans will have the opportunity to use their Nextel handsets or visit Nextel retail locations to register for a multiple national sweepstakes that will run throughout the course of the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. The first sweeps will launch in April in support of the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge. Race fans will be able to vote an eligible driver into the marquee event. More details about each sweepstakes will be released prior to the start of the activity. Nextel also will create a sweepstakes to support the last 10 races of the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup.(Brandweek.com)(2-11-2005)
- Major NASCAR Announcement - NASCAR Members Club: Hearing there will be an announcement at Daytona today about a new program designed to recognize and reward NASCAR's fans.
UPDATE: guess this is it......NASCAR today announced the launching of the Official NASCAR Members Club and named seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Richard Petty to be its membership chairman. Stoneacre Partners LLC, a developer of affinity
and customer loyalty programs, will operate the program under a long-term license. The $40 annual membership will entitle those who
join to receive a magazine featuring lifestyle stories from top drivers, teams, NASCAR legends and other Club members and
opportunities to participate in behind-the-scenes events and parties. Information is available on the Internet at NASCAR.com.(NASCAR Scene)(2-10-2005)
AND The Official NASCAR Members Club has been created as a member organization that will enable the fans to more closely connect with the sport and the sport to more accurately and efficiently connect with the fans. The Official NASCAR Members Club is the only official membership organization licensed by NASCAR where fans can enjoy VIP insider access to exclusive experiences, information and benefits. The NASCAR Members Club aggregates rewards and assets from the entire sport for the benefit of its members. Fans will be rewarded with special privileges and earn elite status advantages, allowing them to get closer to the sport, their favorite drivers and teams.
How To Join: Annual membership dues for the Club are $40. Race fans can join the NASCAR Members Club through one of the following methods:
By calling 1-877-MY NASCAR (1-877-696-2722), Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 11:00pm/ct and Saturday and Sundays from 8:00am to 9:00pm/ct
Via the Internet at: www.nascar.com.(2-13-2005)
- Template Inspection at Vegas to get to California: Cup teams had to roll through template inspection at Las Vegas to receive a voucher to continue testing at California. In the offseason, NASCAR takes its templates to race shops for early comparisons, but in the past teams would go early to Rockingham, previously the second race of the season, to check for accuracy. "We want the crews to know how we're applying the templates and what the procedures are," NASCAR inspector John Drager says. "This gives teams the opportunity to see the entire template package." Changes include Dodge's 14 identity templates, all spoiler templates because spoiler heights have been decreased an inch to 4.5 inches and the Chevrolet taillight template.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(2-7-2005)
- Car of the future....three years away? The car of the future — NASCAR’s so-called “car of the future” is at least three years away, according to competition official Robin Pemberton. “I could see us starting to implement some of the changes next year,” said Pemberton. “The car of the future isn’t going to be implemented at one time. It will be at least a year away before we make any changes, and it will probably be implemented over at least a three-year period, in which various aspects are implemented partially each year in order to hold down the costs associated with the changes. That’s so that teams don’t have to build new cars all at once and incorporate all the changes at once.” The “car of the future” is a project of NASCAR’s Research and Development Center. The concept involves different methods of construction designed to make racing safer.(Gaston Gazette)(1-26-2005)
- NASCAR's Points System will Remain Unchanged: NASCAR's points system will remain unchanged from last year, when the debut of a 10-race shootout format resulted in the closest championship finish in series history. "We feel like we have a pretty good system and we're set for '05," NASCAR chairman Brian France said Monday. "We did look hard at making any potential adjustments." In 2004, France began his first year as head of NASCAR by overhauling the decades-old points system and creating a playoff structure for 10 drivers over the final 10 events of the Nextel Cup season. In resisting the urge to tinker with the system, NASCAR will begin the season without any major changes for the first time in four years. So, by standing pat, France had nothing to announce when the Nextel Cup media tour made its annual stop at NASCAR's Research and Development Center. Instead, he used his time to give a State of the NASCAR address and denying rumors that he was looking to leave the family-run business to pursue bringing an NFL team to Los Angeles. France said there are no plans to stage a Nextel Cup race in Mexico or Canada anytime soon.(New York Newsday/AP)(1-25-2005)
- No Pension Plan Planned: NASCAR chairman Brian France said Monday he doesn't think a pension fund for retired Nextel Cup drivers is a realistic possibility in the near future. "Compared to many other leagues that allow it, we have differences in how we're structured," France said. "Our drivers are independent contractors with independent teams." France addressed the topic at the NASCAR Research and Development Center, the first stop on the NASCAR media tour. Veteran Cup driver Rusty Wallace, who is retiring after this season, brought up the idea of a pension fund last week.(Dallas Morning News)(1-25-2005)
- NASCAR and Security: The second annual NASCAR security summit took place last week in Orlando. Representatives from all Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck tracks attended. Tim Christine, NASCAR's director of security, headed up the two-day meetings and briefed the officials on potential threats facing the tracks.(Fox Sports/Sporting News)(1-24-2005)
- Pit Road Speed to be electronically timed: Nextel Cup Series director John Darby says hardware for the pit road speeding system is being installed at racetracks and NASCAR hopes to have software perfected in time to use it at the Feb. 20 Daytona 500. NASCAR enforces speed limits on pit road to help protect crewmembers from being hit by cars. Teams have complained that the old monitoring system, which involved officials timing cars by hand with stopwatches, led to inconsistent and inaccurate enforcement. Darby says there wasn't anything wrong with the old system but NASCAR is changing at the teams' request. Under the old system, Darby says, officials had discretion to not penalize drivers who might have sped on pit road, for example, to avoid an accident. But with electronic monitoring, Darby says, officials have no choice but to make speeding penalties black and white, regardless of the circumstances.(USA Today)(1-21-2005)
- More on Honda and NASCAR: Honda racing officials haven't said anything officially about a NASCAR effort, but the company's debut of a pickup truck at last week's Detroit auto show has sparked considerable interest. The Honda Ridgeline truck will be for sale this spring, as a 2006 model, with the company expecting to sell about 50,000 this year. The pickup will be built at Honda's plant in Ontario, Canada, and will have a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. NASCAR's new common-template rules would make it easy for Honda to put the machine in NASCAR's trucks series, if Honda comes up with a NASCAR-legal V-8.(Winston Salem Journal)(1-21-2005)
- Holograms planned thwart counterfeit NASCAR goods: NASCAR has announced plans to put tags with holograms on officially licensed products in a program designed to thwart those who sell counterfeit goods. The program will require all companies producing NASCAR-licensed merchandise to attach the holograms. "With the increasing popularity of NASCAR and the expansion of our licensing business, knock-off goods are a growing problem in our sport," said Mark Dye, vice president of licensing for NASCAR. An advertising campaign using print publications and radio shows to spread the word about the program is scheduled to start this month. NASCAR says 150 licensees have signed on for the program so far.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(1-19-2005)
- 12 Newsmaker of the Half-Century Nominees: Twelve of the greatest names in U.S. motorsports history were announced Saturday night as nominees for the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s Newsmaker of the Half-Century Award, the most important event of AARWBA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. The dozen nominees (in alphabetical order) are: Mario Andretti, Kenny Bernstein, Dale Earnhardt, John Force, A.J. Foyt, the France family, Jeff Gordon, Dan Gurney, the Hulman-George family, Wally Parks, Roger Penske and Richard Petty. The announcement was made at AARWBA’s annual All-America Team dinner at the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel by AARWBA President Dusty Brandel and 50th Anniversary Celebration Chairman Michael Knight. AARWBA is the country’s oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals. The nominees were selected by AARWBA’s Board of Directors from an original list of 50 newsmakers. The full AARWBA membership will now vote for one of the 12 as Newsmaker of the Half-Century and their choice will be revealed at a public ceremony this May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the days leading up to the 89th Indy 500. The winner will receive a specially commissioned painting and AARWBA will make a donation to the recipient’s favorite charity.(AARWBA PR/Speed Channel)(1-18-2005)
- Honda to NASCAR? With the debut of the Honda Ridgeline truck at the Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this month, speculation heated up that the Japanese automaker soon will follow Toyota's lead into the Craftsman Truck Series. Au contraire, says T.E. McHale, manager of motorsports public relations for Honda. "In the three years I've been here, I have heard no discussions in these hallways about getting into the NASCAR series," McHale says. "Honda is in racing to further its technology, and I'm not sure that NASCAR provides the right platform for us." McHale says Honda's emphasis is on winning its second Indy Racing League title.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(1-17-2005)
- New Procedure for Determining Race Line-Ups - No more provisionals [accept the champ]: NASCAR will institute a new procedure for establishing the starting race field in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series effective with the 2005 season, NASCAR officials announced today. NASCAR has revamped the system by simplifying the procedure with teams no longer accruing provisionals throughout the season to gain entry into the starting fields. While starting positions one through 42 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series still will be determined by qualifying speed, the new system will assure the highest-ranked 35 positions of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series owner championship points that have entered the event prior to the entry deadline one of those starting positions in the field, providing they have made an attempt to qualify [which usually means the team at least practiced and made an effort to qualify]. The remaining seven positions will be assigned to those drivers with the fastest qualifying speeds whose car owners are not among the top 35. The final starting position – the champion’s provisional – can be utilized by a car owner whose driver is a current or past NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion who participated as a driver during their 2004 season and was entered in the event for that owner in that car prior to the entry deadline. If there is more than one series champion vying for the position, it will be given to the most recent series champion. If the final provisional starting position – 43rd in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup – is not filled by a current or past series champion, it will be assigned to the next eligible car owner according to qualifying results. Through the first five races of the season for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, the top 35 in the NNCS of the 2004 owner championship points entered in the event prior to the entry deadline will be assured one of the 42 starting positions in the field, provided they have made an attempt to qualify. From the sixth race on, the current owner championship points will be used to determine the top 35 each race week. In the event that conditions prevent qualifying from being run, starting positions will be assigned according to the respective series’ 2005 Rule Book.(NASCAR PR)
so...... the way it reads, the top 42 are lined up by speeds ran. If any of the drivers/teams in the top 35 in owners points are not in, then they would start 42nd...and so on if more are not in the top 42. So someone not in the top 35 can still win the pole. NO WORD on how the Daytona 500 lineup will be set and it is not mentioned in this PR. Last year, the first 2 spots were filled on qualifying day by the two fastest drivers, then 3-30 were filled by Twin 125 [now the Gatorade Duel - 150's], then eight spots by the fastest remining drivers, four using provisionals based on 2003 owners standings, and a champions provisional, which if not used, went to the next team in onners points not in the race.(1-13-2005)
BASICALLY How it Works [how I understand it]:
The drivers/team qualify for the race
the top 42 drivers/teams are lined up based on qualifying speed
any drivers/teams in the top 35 in Owners Points not in at that point, will be placed in spots 42, 41, etc depending on how many there are.
example: #8-Earnhardt Jr. and #24-Gordon qualify outside the 42 spots, they would line up 14st and 42nd, but by their speed, if neither had a time/speed, Gordon would presently start 41st [his team was 3rd in 2004 owners points] and Earnhardt Jr. would start 42nd [his team was 5th in 2004 owners points], the drivers 41st or 42nd would be bumped.
spot 43 is filled by either a past series champ or the next fastest team/driver.(1-14-2005)
- France and the NFL? NASCAR chairman of the board and CEO Brian France has denied recent speculation that he might be in the market for a National Football League team. Speculation during the holidays was that France planned to sell his NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. stock [not public stock] to his sister, Lesa France Kennedy, and his uncle, Jim France. He would then buy outright or be part of a group that moved an existing NFL franchise to Los Angeles, where he once lived. Through a NASCAR spokesman, France said he was not interested in owning a professional football team.(Autoweek.com)(1-12-2005)
- Another series rumor...again: There are reports - as outlandish as they may seem - that some NFL figures are interested in creating a stock-car series of their own, if they can persuade some top NASCAR team owners to sign on. According to sources, there was similar talk around the NFL in the early 1990s, when Joe Gibbs first joined NASCAR, after winning three Super Bowls as coach of the Washington Redskins. Finding enough big-market tracks on which to race would seem to be a problem; unless there is a Bruton Smith angle at play.(Winston Salem Journal)(1-12-2005)
- NASCAR VP Bolts for the NBA: Brett Yormark, NASCAR vice president of corporate marketing, has submitted his resignation to the sanctioning body and will soon be announced as the chief executive officer of the NBA's New Jersey Nets.
Not only did Yormark develop NASCAR's New York marketing office over the last six years, he was instrumental in closing the deal that made Nextel the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier series. Yormark returns to the Nets where he began his sports marketing career as an account executive in 1988.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(1-11-2005)
- NASCAR License Special Truck: NASCAR has signed a multiyear licensing contract giving American Specialty Trucks of Danielsville, Ga., the right to design the officially licensed truck of NASCAR, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports. The company has the rights to customize Ford F-150 trucks, which are the sanctioning body's "official truck," with NASCAR logos and emblems. The company plans to design 5,000 of the trucks, which will be available in black or white and will cost $9,000 to $10,000 more than the dealership ticket price. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(1-11-2005)
- Ferrari and NASCAR? The latest word from Italy is that the NASCAR teams are sitting up and taking notice of some of the engine technology which is available now in Modena, Italy, and that High Performance Engineering, a company run by Piero Ferrari (Enzo's son) is to be developing engines for one of the NASCAR teams in 2005. It is not clear which teams is involved but with engine development largely in the hands of the automobile manufacturers Dodge, Chevrolet and Ford it is likely that the work will be done for one of them. The most likely connection is with Chevrolet as there are links between General Motors and Fiat. HPE is independent of FIAT but works for both Ferrari and Maserati, doing high-performance engine development work.(grandprix.com)(1-8-2005)
- France is #2: The Sporting News Power 100 lists NASCAR chairman and CEO, Brian France #2, with only NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ahead of him. France ranked #17 last year. 3rd is Bud Selig, MLB commissioner. 1st in 2003, George Bodenheimer of ESPN/ABC is 5th this year. NASCAR's vice chairman, Bill France Jr. is 23rd. Also listed: Bruton Smith, chairman, Speedway Motorsports Inc.; Lesa France Kennedy, president, International Speedway Corp. See the story and links to the list at: FoxSports/Sporting News.(1-5-2005)