2006 MISC NASCAR NEWS, RULES CHANGES & INFORMATION
- Staying out of Wrecks Helps Chase Chances: It's Motor Sports 101 that avoiding wrecks keeps a car in the race. But NASCAR teams are learning that staying out of crashes also puts a driver in the Chase. USA TODAY database research of the 2006 season found of the drivers with the five lowest crash percentages, four qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup. #9-Kasey Kahne and #29-Kevin Harvick tied with a series-low accident rate of 13.9% (five wrecks in 36 races) among drivers to compete in 30 or more races. Series champion #48-Jimmie Johnson tied for third at 16.7%, and Chase runner-up #17-Matt Kenseth (19.4%) was tied for sixth. Rookie #11-Denny Hamlin, who finished third in points, had a 16.7% crash rating that tied with Johnson and #22-Dave Blaney, who missed the Chase. #6-Mark Martin, who wrapped his final full Cup season in the Chase, also finished sixth with a rate of 19.4%. Martin, Johnson and Kenseth are the only three drivers to make all three editions of the Chase and also rank in the top 10 in crash avoidance each season since 2004.(USA Today)(12-16-2006), drivers with the highest crash percentage included #18-J.J. Yeley (47.2%), #01-Joe Nemechek (44.4%), #12-Ryan Newman (41.7%), #42-Casey Mears(41.7%), and #7-Robby Gordon(41.7%).
- Canadian Tire Series Teams Waiting for 2007 Information: It has been more than three months since the Sept. 12 announcement that racing giant NASCAR had joined with retailing behemoth Canadian Tire to start a series that would launch [Canada's] stock car racing teams into the big time. But several of those teams are now telling the Sun that they are struggling to put together a financial plan with prospective sponsors because of a lack of information on how the new NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will work, where the races will be held or even how many races there will be in its inaugural season. To be fair NASCAR's international director Robbie Weiss told the Sun that some of the former CASCAR teams may have had unrealistic expectations for the new series. "Certainly Nov. 1 [for the 2007 schedule], and I don't know where that date came from, would be very ambitious for us," Weiss said. "For us getting involved in the first year there is a lot of work to be done."(Ottawa Sun)(12-17-2006)
- NASCAR Announces newest series: NASCAR announced its newest international racing series. Under a licensing agreement with NASCAR, the Desafio Corona Series – the No. 1 stock car racing series in Mexico – will become the NASCAR Mexico Corona Series in 2007. The re-launch of this series expands NASCAR’s presence in Mexico and supports NASCAR’s commitment to Mexico and the international motorsports community. The series was originally founded in 2004, in conjunction with the OCESA and NASCAR partnership to form NASCAR Mexico. NASCAR Mexico is a local base of operations, which oversees sponsorship, licensing and marketing for the NASCAR and NASCAR Mexico brands in Mexico. OCESA, a subsidiary of CIE, the leading live entertainment company in Latin America, also stages the NASCAR Busch Series event in Mexico City. In 2006, the Desafio Corona Series consisted of a 14-race schedule at oval tracks and road courses throughout Mexico, including seven of its largest cities: Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla, Zacatecas, Guadalajara, San Luis Potosi and Queretaro. Several drivers have successfully made the transition from this series into NASCAR racing in the U.S., including the 2005 Desafio Corona Series champion, Jorge Goeters, who claimed the Busch Pole award for the inaugural Busch Series race in Mexico City and made his Nextel Cup Series debut at Watkins Glen International in 2005. The 2007 NASCAR Mexico Corona Series is scheduled to debut at the renowned Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City the weekend of March 2, along with the NASCAR Busch Series and the Rolex Sports Car Series. All NASCAR Mexico Corona Series events are broadcast live in Mexico, on Televisa, and throughout Latin America on SPEED Latin America. Former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Chad Little, who has worked as NASCAR’s director of racing development, Mexico since 2005, will continue to provide competition support for the NASCAR Mexico Corona Series.(NASCAR PR)(12-10-2006)
- Champ Provisional rules may be changed: Watch for NASCAR to limit the number of past-champion's provisionals any driver can take to make Nextel Cup races next season to six, series director John Darby said. Such exemptions - providing the 43rd starting spot to the most recent past champion not to qualify on speed or by car owners' points - were first introduced toward the end of Richard Petty's career. The new rule is most likely to affect 1999 champ Dale Jarrett, who will start the season with Michael Waltrip's new team, and 1988 title-holder Bill Elliott, who can be expected to race part time.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(12-1-2006)
- NASCAR looking to expand: NASCAR is seeking to expand in China and western Europe by marrying its licensing, sponsorship and media expertise with local partners. "We're sizing it up," Brian France, NASCAR's chairman and chief executive, said in an interview with the Financial Times. "We have a couple of people who are looking at that carefully." NASCAR compares opportunities in China to those in the US in the late 1940s when stock-car racing began to take hold. The Formula One group has staged an annual Grand Prix in Shanghai since 2004. But NASCAR believes that Chinese consumers are likely to identify with racing cars that look more like passenger vehicles. "NASCAR appeals to the mass market," said Robbie Weiss, NASCAR's international director. "Our fan is the football fan." See full articles at MSNBC and the Financial Times.(11-27-2006)
- Mike Hampton Wins Chase Tracker Game: Mike Hampton was on the stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway celebrating Jimmie Johnson’s Nextel Cup Series championship when he got news of his own victory. Hampton correctly identified the final position of four drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup – including Johnson – to win the 2006 Nextel Chase Tracker game. Hampton, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, entered the season finale in fifth place out of 20 Chase Tracker celebrities, but accumulated 55 points to pass former Green Bay Packer Aaron Taylor for the win, 138-136. Former Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee finished third with 127 points. San Diego Padres pitcher Jake Peavy was leading the standings heading into Homestead, but only picked two drivers’ final positions in the standings and finished fifth with 121 points. Taylor, who was in third before Homestead, held a three point lead over Hampton and both athletes correctly identified four drivers final position in the standings, including Johnson. Hampton secured his Chase Tracker championship by predicting Greg Biffle’s victory in the Ford 400. Hampton was one of six different athletes to lead the Chase Tracker game. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady led the first two weeks, followed by former Chicago Bulls superstar Scottie Pippen, Carolina Panthers WR Steve Smith, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Peavy. Each contestant filled out the Chase Tracker grid with their Chase predictions prior to the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Each grid contains the predicted order of the Chase drivers after each race as well as a predicted race winner. Points are awarded for each correct pick following each event. One point is awarded for each correct pick in week one, two for each correct pick in week two and so on through the final race on Nov. 19. Each correct pick of the race winner earns the contestant five bonus points. Correctly predicting the 2006 Nextel Cup Series champion is worth 20 points.(NASCAR PR)(11-26-2006)
- Florida Governor Jeb Bush proclaims Nextel Cup Championship Week: With the silver Nextel Cup Series trophy to his left and a signed proclamation before him, Florida Governor Jeb Bush officially declared Nov. 14-20, "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship Week in the State of Florida," on Tuesday. The proclamation, which precedes Sunday's season-finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was issued during the governor's weekly Cabinet Meeting at the state capitol. In attendance were Lesa Kennedy, President, International Speedway Corporation; Steve O'Donnell, Vice President of Racing Operations, NASCAR; Robin Braig, President of Daytona International Speedway, Rusty Wallace, the 1989 Nextel Cup champion, and Kasey Kahne (#9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), one of the 10 drivers in the 2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup and the series leader with six victories this season.(NASCAR PR)(11-15-2006)
- Toyota All-Star Showdown this weekend UPDATE 2: For the fourth consecutive year, the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown returns to Irwindale Speedway. The top 15 drivers from the Busch East Series and the AutoZone West Series will compete head-to-head. Tickets for all Irwindale Speedway events including the October 20-21 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown are available for purchase at the Speedway ticket office, by calling (626) 358-1100 and online at www.irwindalespeedway.com. Speed will air qualifying and the races, see my TV Listings page [or the listings on the right side of this page] for air times of qualifying and the race.(10-20-2006)
UPDATE: Eddy McKean and Ryan Lawler captured NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division qualifying races Friday on opening night of the $500,000 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway, while Brian Ickler and Andrew Myers were victorious in the NASCAR Grand National Division qualifying events. The four Friday night winners will make up the front rows of Saturday night’s feature races. Saturday’s Toyota All-Star Showdown main event begins with the 125-lap AutoZone Elite Division race, followed by the 150-lap Grand National Division feature. The entire program will be telecast live by SPEED, starting at 7:00pm/pt (10:00pm/et)(NASCAR PR).(10-21-2006)
UPDATE 2: Matt Kobyluck shed the bridesmaid tag in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Saturday night, scoring a hard-fought victory in the NASCAR Grand National Division feature event while Tim Schendel scored the win in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division event of the $500,000 “super bowl of short track racing” at Irwindale Speedway. More info and results at nascarregionalracing.com and racingwest.com.(10-22-2006)
- Morris Crowned 2006 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Champ: Philip Morris, of Ruckersville, Va., won the 2006 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national championship by recording his 13th win of the season at Caraway Speedway, a track where he hadn't raced at all before. Morris spent most of the 2006 season at the track he's called home for several years, Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. At Motor Mile, Morris recorded nine wins and 14 top-five finishes to claim the 2006 Late Model track championship - his seventh - along with the $25,000 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Division I title. Morris needed one more victory to have a mathematical chance of winning the national title over veteran Dirt Late Model driver Joe Kosiski, of Omaha, Neb., who held the national points lead before Morris' final, fateful race at Caraway. With his dramatic last-chance victory, Morris reached a NASCAR point total of 1,112, based on his best 16 finishes of the season. Morris edged Kosiski, who won the NDWS Division II championship, by just two
points (1,114-1,112) for the national championship. Morris will receive an additional $50,000 bonus for winning the national championship and he'll be honored at the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards banquet, Nov. 11 in Las Vegas. Morris is the third Virginia driver to win the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national championship in the past four years. Mark McFarland, of Winchester, Va., brought the national title to the Commonwealth for the first time in 2003. Peyton Sellers, of Danville, Va., won it in 2005 and Morris keeps it on Virginia soil for the second consecutive year. The 2006 national championship is the second major NASCAR title for Morris, who won the NDWS Blue Ridge Regional championship in 2001. In addition to his seven track titles at Motor Mile, Morris was the 2003
track champion at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Morris has also raced in the NASCAR Busch Series, making 12 starts during the 1998-2001 seasons. He recorded a career-best finish of fifth place at Rockingham, N.C. in 1998.(NASCAR PR)(10-17-2006)
- NASCAR issues smaller Restrictor Plates at Talladega MORE: NASCAR will issue restrictor plates with smaller holes for the rest of the UAW-Ford 500 weekend as teams scrambled Saturday morning to get their cars ready for qualifying. The new restrictor plates will have four holes of seven-eighths of an inch in diameter, one-64th of an inch smaller than the ones used in practice Friday when #24-Jeff Gordon reached a speed of 198.689 mph in the opening session at Talladega Superspeedway. The change should slow the speeds by 2-5 mph, according to crew chiefs,. Teams were informed of the change Saturday morning. There are no practice sessions left on the schedule and the cars will be impounded after qualifying. NASCAR officials are expected to address the media concerning the change later this morning. The speeds are higher than they have been at Talladega because of the repaved surface, which is much smoother than the old surface.(SceneDaily.com)(10-7-2006)
MORE: NASCAR called a 6:30 a.m. crew chief meeting on Saturday to hand out smaller restrictor plates to push the speeds back down before Sunday's race on the freshly paved Talladega oval. The new plates knocked the speeds from Jeff Gordon's top mark of 198.689 mph in practice to David Gilliland's pole-winning mark of 191.712. "We tried to downplay it and we didn't want to make a knee-jerk reaction," NASCAR competition director Robin Pemberton said in explaining the delay in changing the plates. "We were hoping that the speeds would go the other way." When they didn't after Friday's second practice session, NASCAR officials decided to err on the side of caution by slowing the cars. Despite the change, NASCAR did not work a practice session into the schedule so teams could adjust their cars with the new plates.(Associated Press)(10-8-2006)
- Car Number swaps? sells? There is talk in the garage about the possibility of car number sales, or at least swaps within teams, so as to accommodate as many drivers as possible in the first five races of next season. Several new teams, including the Toyota fleet, will join the battle next year with no guarantee of a starting spot at Daytona. Through the first five races of each year, the top 35 in owner points from the previous year are assured starting positions. After five races, the assurance reverts to same-year points. Next year, there certainly will be more than 35 well-sponsored teams. Some think Robert Yates might profit by selling or loaning one of his car numbers. The 88 and the 38 both are safely in the top 35 as of now. Others consider that unlikely, as the gain for Yates would be negligible and the cost for a buyer likely too high.(SpeedTV.com)(10-2-2006)
- NASCAR Drivers to Perform Top Ten List Wed on Letterman UPDATE: The 10 NASCAR drivers competing in the Chase for the Nextel Cup -- Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin -- will present a special Top Ten List on The Late Show with David Letterman, Wednesday, Sept 13th, the show is broadcast weeknights (11:35pm-12:37am/et/pt) on the CBS Television Network.(NASCAR PR)(9-12-2006)
UPDATE - The List:
The Subject: Things Never Before Said by a NASCAR Driver:
10) Kasey Kahne: "Anyone Know How to Drive a Stick"
9) Jeff Gordon: "Does this gas taste funny to you"
8) Jeff Burton: "I don't care much for country music or beer"
7) Mark Martin: "Switch the "R" and "C" in 'Racing and you get 'Caring'
6) Dale Earnhardt Jr.: "Wow, Letterman Looks so young in person"
5) Denny Hamlin: "Your're looking at a guy who ca driver 500 miles without taking a Leak"
4) Kyle Busch: "A Truely Great Driver doesn't mind asking for directions, am I right, Ladies?"
3) Kevin Harvick: "It would be nice if the guys in the pits occasionally surprised me with a piece of carrot cake or something"
2) Jimmie Johnson: "The Nextel Cup is great, but what I'm really excited for is The Late Show ventriloquist week"
1) Matt Kenseth: "If You think I'm fast in my car, you should see me in the bedroom"
(from watching the Late Show with David Letterman)(9-14-2006)
- NASCAR buying CASCAR UPDATE: [after years of rumors...] NASCAR today will unveil a Canadian-based stock car series that will feature a season-long points battle among the country's best drivers and end with the awarding of the Canadian Tire Cup. The Toronto Sun has learned that a deal to sell CASCAR -- Canada's top stock car racing series -- to the France family business that is NASCAR will be made official at a news conference today in Toronto and that Canadian Tire has signed on as the title sponsor. The deal, which has been two years in the making, will see NASCAR sanction a national stock car racing series in Canada on the foundation that has been laid by Tony Novotny and his wife, Linda, over the past 20 years. "It's finally going to happen," Linda Novotny said yesterday. At the Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal last month CASCAR also became the first stock car series to race on an active Formula One track at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. It is the same track where the NASCAR Busch Series will hold its first-ever Canadian race in 2007. Robbie Weiss, NASCAR's international director, is flying in from his Los Angles office to make the proclamation about his company's future in the Great White North and while his office would not reveal why he is visiting Toronto, it's not likely just another glad-handing affair where Brian France gets his hands on some of that Canadian Tire money.
Speaking of CASCAR, all of a sudden it seems to be the place to be for two of Quebec's top open wheel racing drivers. A week ago Patrick Carpentier, a veteran of both Champ Car and the Indy Racing League, drew high praise for his sixth-place finish after he climbed into the Dave Jacombs Racing #88 Ford for CASCAR's Labour Day Classic at Cayuga Speedway. And this past Saturday at Montreal's Autodrome Ste. Eustache, 19-year-old Andrew Ranger, driver of the #27 MiJack Conquest Racing Lola in Champ Car, drove the same car to a 13th-place finish in his first try in the big sedans. Both Carpentier and Ranger have been paying attention to the NASCAR talk in their home province and both are likely to make bids to be part of the show there next season.(Toronto Sun)
UPDATE: In support of its initiatives across Canada, NASCAR announced the creation of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. Scheduled to launch in May 2007, the series includes a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Canadian Tire – an iconic Canadian brand with strong national presence. The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will operate nationally in Canada with a schedule of 10-12 races (May-October). The series will provide new racing opportunities for teams and drivers from the former CASCAR series. The official NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule, point fund and tracks will be announced at a later date. The series will receive support from NASCAR’s extensive resources, including competition, research and development, marketing, licensing and communications. A dedicated staff will operate the series, with NASCAR Canada providing additional support in sponsorship, licensing, marketing and media initiatives. In addition to becoming title sponsor of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, Canadian Tire, the most-shopped general merchandiser in the country, will become the official automotive retailer of NASCAR in Canada. Canadian Tire will offer exclusive customer promotions, seasonal marketing programs and national advertising and in-store programs in partnership with NASCAR Canada. As part of the partnership agreement and its continued focus on being first-to-market with new and exciting products, Canadian Tire will explore licensing opportunities, including developing a new line of NASCAR products for the automotive aftermarket.
TSN, a NASCAR broadcast partner for more than 20 years, will help market the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and draw new fans to NASCAR and stock car racing in Canada. Among these efforts, TSN is developing a monthly magazine-style show that will showcase the many aspects of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. The program will spotlight the stars of the series, race news, updates and highlights.(NASCAR PR)(9-12-2006)
- Congrats to Brian France: NASCAR chairman Brian France became a father this week - twice over. His wife, Meghan, gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl, on Tuesday in California.(FoxSports.com/AP)(9-10-2006)
- NASCAR sued for racial discrimination UPDATE: A former African-American crewman who once worked on NASCAR's Winston Cup circuit sued the governing body of the U.S. stock car series on Tuesday for race discrimination and breach of contract. David Scott, who worked as a motorcoach driver to one of the racing teams, claimed NASCAR executives deceived him and did not fulfill promises of a job following a well-publicized 1999 racial incident involving white motorcoach drivers, according to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court that seeks unspecified damages. Scott was harassed by at least two white motorcoach drivers from different racing teams, including being called "n-word" and an incident where he was confronted by the pair with one wearing a white pillow case over his head imitating a Ku Klux Klansman, according to the complaint. When the incident was reported in the media, the complaint said, top NASCAR executives flew Scott back home to North Carolina promising him a future job, but while negotiations continued over the next five years, a job never materialized. Scott seeks back pay and compensatory damages for loss of employment benefits and mental suffering. NASCAR was not immediately available for comment.(Reuters)(8-9-2006)
UPDATE: NASCAR has denied allegations of racial discrimination and breach of contract in its court filing Tuesday in response to a lawsuit filed by former race team motorcoach driver David Scott. The allegations stem from a highly publicized 1999 incident at New Hampshire International Speedway in which Scott, who is black, was greeted by a pair of motorcoach drivers, one of whom was wearing a white pillow case over his head as if he were a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The sanctioning body indefinitely suspended the two drivers involved in the incident. In his complaint, Scott said he was promised a job with NASCAR in response to the incident. The offer never materialized, with NASCAR only recommending jobs with NASCAR sponsors, Scott alleges. In its response to the complaint filed in federal court in New York, NASCAR denies the allegations and says Scott "was given several work opportunities which were declined" and "was not qualified" for the racing official job he wanted. NASCAR also claims that all of its actions "were undertaken in good faith, for good cause and legitimate business reasons unrelated to [his] race." NASCAR has denied allegations of racial discrimination and breach of contract in its court filing Tuesday in response to a lawsuit filed by former race team motorcoach driver David Scott.(SceneDaily.com)(9-7-2006)
- Changes to the past champion provisional could be coming: NASCAR is looking at possibly altering the past champion's provisional for next year. There is no limit in the Nextel Cup Series for a past champion's provisional. In the Busch Series, a past champion can use it only once every eight races. "It maybe won't be the same amount of races, but it would be something similar put in place," NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell said Sept. 2. He said NASCAR is still going through its rulebook and discussing any revisions for 2007 As far as a rumor that the top 35 locked-in owners might be decreased to top-30, O'Donnell said, "Nothing is finalized for next year. I think it's fair to say I feel pretty confident we'll be at top 35."(SceneDaily.com)(9-4-2006)
- Pocono Combatants Called in by NASCAR to talk: #20-Tony Stewart, #07-Clint Bowyer and #99-Carl Edwards were called to the NASCAR hauler Saturday for a chat with NASCAR president Mike Helton. Those three drivers were involved in a crash two weeks ago at Pocono when Stewart deliberately turned into Bowyer, causing Bowyer to hit Edwards. No one was saying exactly what was discussed, but no doubt Helton warned the drivers to mind their manners today in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.(Dallas Morning News)(8-6-2006)
- Soap Box Derby Racing and Back to School Shopping at the Brickyard: Back-to-school shopping starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Levi Strauss Signature Fit Pit during the NASCAR race weekend - August 4-6. In 10 seconds, Intellifit's award-winning body scanner sizes a fully-clothed person and produces a personalized recommendation for the perfect pair of Levi Strauss Signature jeans. NASCAR fans can finish their shopping at the provided online kiosks by visiting Target.com and Walmart.com. Children, ages 7 to 14, can race Soap Box Derby cars on a racetrack outside of the Fit Pit. As the title sponsor of the All-American Soap Box Derby, the Levi Strauss Signature brand has incorporated the ultimate family activity into its nationwide Fit Pit tour. The All-American Soap Box Derby is a youth initiative of NASCAR.(Alan Taylor Comm)(8-4-2006)
- Tire Air Pressure Tricks? A number of stock-car crews have been playing with tire tricks the past year, trying to prevent excessive air pressure build-up and improve handling over long runs. Two of the tricks have been installing illegal air-pressure bleeders in the valve stems, and the drilling of very tiny holes in the sidewalls, which is not specifically illegal. So when NASCAR officials confiscated Clint Bowyer's left-front tire at Martinsville after Saturday's Busch race, there were a lot of questions in the Nextel Cup garage at Pocono Speedway. But Mike Dillon, the director of team operations for Bowyer's car owner, Richard Childress, said that it was much ado about nothing. "Our left-front was leaking," Dillon said. "It was a valve stem leaking, but it was leaking at the rim, a bad seal or just not tight. A lot of people have been experimenting with bleeders, and I know there are guys drilling holes in sidewalls, too, to control the air. But if you wanted to use a bleeder at Martinsville, you'd want your left-rear to bleed.I don't think anything will come from it. We've talked with our crew chiefs, and they assured us there wasn't anything going on." Crew chiefs say that some tires have such naturally thin sidewalls that, even without doctoring, if they were submerged in a big vat of water, air would bubble out from a number of areas. "I had a tire at Michigan that actually lost seven pounds of air during a tire run, instead of having an air pressure build-up," one team manager said.(Winston Salem Journal)(7-25-2006)
- NASCAR getting tougher: NASCAR President Mike Helton is telling competitors at this weekend’s NASCAR event at Chicagoland Speedway that he is upping the punishment for those who violate the rules. Case in point: A pair of six-week suspensions handed out this week for violations that occurred at Daytona International Speedway. Helton told the Busch teams during their pre-race meeting, and he is expected to do the same with the Nextel Cup teams prior to Sunday’s race.(Ford Racing)(7-9-2006)
- New Rules to limit owners? In a little-known codicil [supplement or appendix] to the 2006 rules book, NASCAR executives are trying to limit car owners to four teams by precisely pinning down business relationships between various stock-car teams - like the joint engine operation run by Robert Yates and Jack Roush, the engine-and-engineering support provided by Rick Hendrick to MB2 Motorsports and Haas Racing, the engine-and-engineering support provided by Joe Gibbs to new team owners Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. The sport's Daytona bosses are also trying to pin down the roles that carmakers - GM, Ford, Dodge and Toyota - are allowed, in advance of Toyota's step up to Nextel Cup next season. And it appears that NASCAR may want to demand access to tax records to pin down just who owns what and who pays whom how much. The surprising new rules - apparently out since February but not in wide distribution until this week - are generating a lot of head-scratching among the few who are familiar with them. A number of key figures expressed astonishment yesterday when asked about the rules.(full story at the Winston Salem Journal)(6-5-2006)
- Champ Car accusing NASCAR of sabotage: Champ Car is accusing NASCAR of trying to sabotage a proposed race in downtown Phoenix next year in an effort to do away with all street racing in this country. And stock car racing's major sanctioning body claims nothing could be further from the truth. Today in the state legislature a bill will be introduced that calls for a decibel level for any future motor sports events in a city or town in Arizona. "NASCAR and ISC have spent the past few weeks trying to undermine our proposed race in Phoenix and it's my understanding that NASCAR has hired 22 lobbyists to beat us up," said Kevin Kalkhoven, who co-owns Champ Car with Gerald Forsythe. "Why are they afraid of our product? Is big, bad NASCAR afraid of open competition?" Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications, responded to those charges by stating: "Neither NASCAR, nor any of its representatives, agents, or employees, has taken a position on Champ Car's proposed event in Phoenix or participated in any conduct that would impede Champ Car's ability to run an event. Nor is it in NASCAR's best interest to do so. "NASCAR understands that in order to keep motorsports healthy and vibrant in North America, it is imperative that race tracks and race fans have a broad "product list" from which to choose."(read more at Robin Miller's Speed Channel column)(6-2-2006)
- Hawk leaves NASCAR? According to an industry source, Don Hawk and NASCAR have parted ways. Hawk has served as the NASCAR Director of Regional Racing Development — which oversees the touring divisions, including the Busch East and Whelen Modified Series — for the past three seasons. Hawk could not be reached for comment.(The Day)(5-27-2006)
- Fuel Cell Update; 17 gallons in 2007: Drivers say that they don't need the smaller, 14-gallon fuel cell for the races later this month at Lowe's Motor Speedway. NASCAR mandated the smaller fuel cell instead of the regular 22-gallon cell because of concerns about tires on the new surface. A smaller fuel cell will lead to more pit stops and more chances to change tires. This week's test showed the tires are durable enough that they should last what would be a regular fuel run with the larger fuel cell. John Darby, Nextel Cup series director, said more information is needed before deciding to change back to the larger fuel cell. "Until you go through that 600 miles, you don't know what's going to happen," Darby said. Darby said that next year, the fuel cells will be 17 gallons.(Roanoke Times)(5-6-2006)
- New Bumper at 'Dega: Teams will have a new bumper configuration for the Talladega race later this month that is intended to reduce the amount of bump drafting. Drivers complained about bump drafting at Daytona. Bump drafting is where the trailing car rams the rear end of the leading car to help them push forward. It's an accepted practice in the straightaways, but when done in the corners it can lead to an accident. While the new rule reduces the strength of the bumpers, opinion is mixed if the rule change will make a difference. The new rule forces teams to remove steel plates underneath the bumper. NASCAR wanted to maintain the bumper strength for safety but not make it so strong that drivers used it to constantly bump draft.(Roanoke Tines)(4-9-2006)
- NASCAR outraged by 'Dateline' racial story approach UPDATE: NASCAR said it was "outrageous" that "Dateline NBC" targeted one of its race tracks last weekend for a possible segment on anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. NASCAR said NBC confirmed it was sending Muslim-looking men to a race, along with a camera crew to film fans' reactions. The NBC crew was "apparently on site in Martinsville, Va., walked around and no one bothered them," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Wednesday. "It is outrageous that a news organization of NBC's stature would stoop to the level of going out to create news instead of reporting news," Poston said. "Any legitimate journalist in America should be embarrassed by this stunt. The obvious intent by NBC was to evoke reaction, and we are confident our fans won't take the bait," he said. NASCAR is in the final year of a broadcasting agreement with NBC Sports. "'Dateline' is looking into this story," NBC said in a statement. "We were intrigued by the results of a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll and other articles regarding increasing anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States. "It's very early on in our newsgathering process, but be assured we will be visiting a number of locations across the country and are confident that our reporting team is pursuing this story in a fair manner," it said.(ESPN.com/AP)(4-6-2006)
UPDATE: Bruton Smith, theTexas Motor Speedway owner, said the FBI will be here paying attention this weekend to see if NBC follows last weekend's NASCAR sting operation at Martinsville, where the network brought in Muslims for the Nextel Cup race and followed them around with hidden cameras to judge racism in the stock-car racing crowd. NBC has been one of NASCAR's television network partners since 2001, carrying the second half of the Nextel Cup season. But NBC's contract runs out at the end of this season and the network has declined to renew its NASCAR sponsorship, deciding instead to concentrate on NFL games.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-8-2006)
- Too Many Cautions? If you think too many caution flags interrupt NASCAR action these days, you're not alone. #6-Mark Martin believes excess cautions not only diminish the racing on the track but creates more conflict. "We have 10 times more cautions than we used to," Martin said. "If a drink bottle or a spring rubber falls out on the track, we have a caution flag. We used to run over starters and alternators and all kinds of stuff. We'd hit them and knock them out of the way and we could keep racing. But things have changed. We have a lot of debris cautions." As Martin points out, the cautions enable the field to pack in behind the leader, increasing the likelihood of contact — and more cautions. "Every time we pack the cars up, we have another caution," Martin says. "Then the kids get excited, run over one another and we have another one. It seems that 10-15 laps is all we can go, typically. I don't feel like we get a chance to race anymore. We run short little 10-lap bursts for 500 or 400 miles. It's not a chance to really get out there and do your business. And it's tough on the cars. They get wrecked a lot." NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said it all boils down to safety. "Perhaps we look at it a little differently than they did years ago. Perhaps they did run over some things years ago. We don't want to have anything on the racetrack at all that could pose a safety threat to drivers or the spectators." Sunday's race produced 16 cautions (only one for debris on the track) and meant 87 of the 500 laps were run under yellow. That wasn't as disruptive as the 19 cautions last October at Martinsville Speedway.(USA Today)(4-6-2006)
- History of African-American Drivers in the NEXTEL Cup Series:
Charlie Scott: Scott made his NASCAR debut in 1956. … Competed in the 1956 beach/road race in Daytona Beach driving for the famed Kiekhaefer Chrysler team. … Was a successful driver in Georgia during the late 1940s and 1950s. … No relation to Wendell Scott.
Wendell Scott: Scott made 495 starts in NASCAR’s premier series, winning over $180,000 in his 12-year career. … Was the 1959 Virginia State NASCAR Sportsman Division champion. Also won track championship at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Va. in 1959. … Made debut in NASCAR’s premier series in 1961. … Won at Jacksonville (Fla.) Speedway Park on Dec. 1, 1963, making him the only African-American driver to win a race in one of NASCAR’s national divisions. … Finished his career with 147 top 10s. … Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.
George Wiltshire: Wiltshire competed in two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events. … Made debut in 1971 at Islip (N.Y.) Speedway. … Also competed at Pocono International Raceway in 1975. … Raced in the NASCAR Sportsman Division in upstate New York in the 1970s.
Randy Bethea: Bethea competed in one NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1975. … Was a popular driver on tracks around the Nashville, Tenn. area in the 1970s. … Competed in the NASCAR Sportsman Division, finishing 16th in points in the state of Tennessee in 1972.
Willy T. Ribbs: Ribbs competed in three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events in 1986 for the famed DiGard team. … Made debut at North Wilkesboro Speedway. … Won several Trans-Am events for Jack Roush in the mid-1980s. … Competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2001. Finished 16th in the series standings, winning more than $235,000.(NASCAR Media)(3-15-2006)
- NASCAR considers additional points for winning: NASCAR chairman Brian France said that NASCAR is considering changing the points system to allow more points for winning.(Dallas Morning News)(2-18-2006)
- NASCAR HQ Moving to NC? UPDATE Denied: Might NASCAR be moving its headquarters from Daytona Beach, Fla., to Concord? That's the speculation here, with NASCAR buying more land in the Concord area, where it already has a significant presence, with its research-and-development center. Any such NASCAR move could be related to its plans for a Hall of Fame near Charlotte.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-17-2006)
UPDATE: Brian France, CEO of NASCAR, debunked one rumor very quickly this afternoon. France said quite forcefully the rumors suggesting NASCAR would be moving its headquarters to the Charlotte area were unfounded. France did say the sanctioning body was continuing to increase it's presence in the Queen City however, the headquarters would stay in Daytona.(CircleTrackplus)(2-18-2006)
- Orange No Bump Drafting Lines: The Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway provided the first test of NASCAR’s hastily devised rules for “bump drafting.” Bright orange lines were painted to define areas where bump drafting was to be allowed. It was open season on the back straight, but the only other area where cars were allowed to “bump freely” were relatively short strips exiting turn four and entering turn one. Bump drafting in the curved areas of the track — including the tri-oval area and the start-finish line — was supposedly taboo.(Gaston Gazette)(2-17-2006)
- New Bumper for Talladega: NASCAR is working on a new front bumper for its race cars it hopes will be ready by the April race at Talladega. The bumper would be softer and deprive the drivers of the ability to bump or slam draft without harming the bumper and the car's aerodynamics.(Florida Today)(2-17-2006)
- New Scoring System for NASCAR in 2007? NASCAR will likely use an outside vendor for its timing and scoring in 2007.
Swiss watchmaker Tissot entered into a partnership as NASCAR's "official timekeeper" to develop a new timing system that could be implemented in 2007. "We'll test some of their products," NASCAR vice president of corporate marketing Steve Phelps said. "If that works out well, and we think they can improve the timing of NASCAR, they will be our timing and scoring partner starting in 2007." Tissot is currently the official timekeeper of the MotoGP World Championship. And Omega, a corporate cousin to Tissot, does timing for the Olympics. Currently, NASCAR uses software from a Dutch company, AMB i.t., to time qualifying and races.(NASCAR Scene)(2-15-2006)
- Bump Drafting Issue Resurfaces UPDATE NASCAR draws line on bump-drafting: Even though he finished a respectable third in the 72-lap exhibition sprint, defending Nextel Cup champion #20-Tony Stewart was livid afterward. Stewart had just finished a race that saw he and the 20 other contestants narrowly dodge, only by good fortune and luck, major accidents at the sprawling 2½-mile track. The reason for Stewart's ire was the bump drafting, which entails intentionally slamming into the car in front of you. The purpose is actually to push the next car along – and some drivers assert it's a necessary move – but do it at the wrong time or at the wrong angle, and wrecks easily can ensue. And wrecks at restrictor plate tracks have the potential to be especially brutal. Really, bump drafting isn't drafting at all. It's legalized road rage – legal, at least, in NASCAR terms. There are laws prohibiting this obviously unsafe maneuver on highways, so why aren't existing rules in NASCAR's books against unsafe or overaggressive driving being enforced when it comes to bump drafting? NASCAR vice president of communications Jim Hunter said after Sunday's race that the sanctioning body has tried to come up with different ways to, at the very least, control bump drafting. But, Hunter noted, sanctioning body officials have to be cautious to make major changes in one area, lest they unwittingly compromise safety in yet another area. Hunter says NASCAR has explored "softening up" front bumpers on cars so that there will be less resulting impact and damage – and thus less chance for a car being knocked out of control – when bump drafting occurs. Again, laudable, but not entirely realistic. Hunter also said NASCAR is reluctant to simply penalize every driver that bump drafts, as some of the allegedly guilty might actually be victims of circumstance, such as being unable to avoid impact when a car in front suddenly checks up.(Yahoo Sports)(2-13-2006)
UPDATE NASCAR draws line on bump-drafting: NASCAR will post additional officials in the turns at Daytona International Speedway to monitor the act of bump-drafting between cars on the track, according to Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition for the sanctioning body. And left up to make the call, he said Tuesday, officials could penalize drivers for such contact. Pemberton said the officials would begin monitoring the situation beginning with Thursday's Gatorade Duals, twin 150-mile qualifying races that will set the remainder of the field for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500. "I think what we are going to do over the week as the races unfold," Pemberton said, "we may have some zones that we post added officials in where me might be forced to make a call of a bump draft that is unnecessary. The straightaways, obviously, don't appear to be a problem. But we're working on it. We've talked to the competitors about the problem and we may be put in the position that we have to make some calls that we really don't want to make."
The act of bump-drafting occurs when a driver makes contact with his and another vehicle in front of him on the race track with the front bumper of his car. The "hit" is normally used to push the car in front past a car beside it. The practice has become fairly common at Daytona and Talladega, however, following Sunday's Budweiser Shootout, defending series champion Tony Stewart said the act of bump drafting could lead to another death at the 2.5-mile track. As far as penalties are concerned, Pemberton said it could be "a pass through as far as coming down pit road. It could be anything. ... This is a serious matter. "Everybody has to remember, we don't drive these things. The drivers are in control, they have the pedals they can push and the steering wheel they can turn. To leave it in our hands when we're not out there ... they may get a call that they didn't bargain for."(NASCAR Scene)(2-14-2006)
- Countdown #1: Top 5 Daytona 500 Moments Announced: Stymied in so many other attempts, Dale Earnhardt won the 1998 Daytona 500 by beating a pack of pursuers to the finish line after grabbing the lead on the final pit stop with less than 30 laps remaining – a win made sweeter by all the frustration that preceded it. Four times prior to 1998, Earnhardt had led the Daytona 500 with 10 laps remaining only to lose it in some unlucky fashion. When he completed his cool-down lap in ’98 and spun in celebration in the infield grass, crews along pit road swarmed to his famous black #3 Chevrolet as he drove toward Victory Lane, greeting “The Intimidator” with congratulatory shouts and hand slaps. “I cried a little bit in the race car on the way to the checkered flag," Earnhardt said that day. "Well, maybe not cried, but at least my eyes watered up.” Adding to the poignancy was a pre-race meeting with a young fan. A girl in a wheelchair offered Earnhardt a lucky penny to put in his car, and he ran the entire 200 laps with the coin affixed to his dashboard. Said Dale Earnhardt: “That’s pretty special.”(NASCAR Media)(2-14-2006)
- Countdown #2: Top 5 Daytona 500 Moments Announced: The 1976 Daytona 500 began as always, with a full field and the high hopes of each driver. But it wound down to two drivers – Richard Petty and David Pearson – battling for the victory. They traded the lead for 45 of the final 46 laps, racing bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door. On the final lap, Petty and Pearson entered Turn 4 side-by-side; they collided and crashed into the outside wall, bouncing off of it, down the frontstretch. An oft-forgotten fact: after he and Petty collided, Pearson’s car also hit that of Joe Frasson, who had shot down pit road to avoid him. Petty’s #43 Dodge and Pearson’s #21 Mercury finally stopped along the infield grass without crossing the finish line. Both drivers were fine. Their cars were not. Petty – who still holds the record for the most Daytona 500 wins (seven) – could not get his car restarted. The collision had pushed the radiator into the fan blade and kept it from running. Pearson, meanwhile, had pushed in his clutch. He managed to keep his engine running with minimal momentum but it was enough to propel him back onto the frontstretch and across the finish line at approximately 20 mph – enough to claim the checkered flag and the only Daytona 500 victory of his storied career.(NASCAR Media)(2-13-2006)
- Team Limit proposal not happening? Jack Roush won't be the only car owner with five teams on the Nextel Cup circuit this season. Rick Hendrick will have five, too. So where does that leave Brian France's proposal to limit owners to just two or maybe three Cup teams? The stock-car world is still wondering just what France, NASCAR's CEO, was thinking when he announced, rather suddenly last September that he wanted to limit team ownership, ostensibly to open up the sport to more newcomers. But with the multimillion-dollar economic barrier to entry in his sport, France almost appeared to be thinking about an earlier, simpler era in its history. Five weeks after proposing a two- or three-team limit, France reset the number at four. And now it appears that everything has essentially been put on hold, at least until current sponsorship contracts run out, say in 2009. And it has become, in Kyle Petty's words, "a non-story." "If they limited us all to two, that would have made sense," Petty said. "Or three. But with four, it's not even an issue."(Winston Salem Journal)(2-12-2006)
- Countdown #3: Top 5 Daytona 500 Moments Announced: Lee Petty’s 1959 Daytona 500 victory was historic for a variety of reasons. After all, it was a big, new race – at a big, new track. Daytona International Speedway also debuted that Sunday; the high-banked, 2.5-mile surface was unlike any track previously used by NASCAR competitors. Fast and wide, it produced numerous lead changes. Out of a starting field of 59 cars, three had the chance to win in the final laps. Petty and Johnny Beauchamp took the checkered flag seemingly simultaneously – joined at the finish line by the lapped car of Joe Weatherly. Initially declared the winner, Beauchamp went to Victory Lane for the celebration and trophy presentation. Petty asked NASCAR to seek photographic evidence of the finish – not an easy task in the days before real-time technology. Three days later, after viewing photos and video, NASCAR founder and president Bill France Sr. declared Petty the winner of the first Daytona 500. Another note: Lee Petty wasn’t the only family member to compete that day. His son Richard started sixth in the 1959 Daytona 500 – a formative step in the career of the driver who came to be known to all NASCAR fans as “The King.”(NASCAR Media)(2-12-2006)
- Countdown #4: Top 5 Daytona 500 Moments Announced: DW wins, then dances … With the 1981, ’82 and ’85 series championships to his credit, Waltrip was still chasing the elusive Daytona 500 title in the latter half of his career. Coming into the ‘89 event, no one would’ve been surprised if his frustration had continued. The race was dominated by Ken Schrader, who led 114 of 200 laps. Waltrip, then 42, didn’t emerge as a challenger until the end, when he used fuel conservation to notch the win, in the “Tide Machine,” as his Tide-sponsored, Rich Hendrick-owned Chevrolet was called. Staying in the draft rather than pushing for the lead, Waltrip was able to stay on the track when Schrader, the leader, and Dale Earnhardt, running second, were forced to pit for fuel with 10 laps remaining. The move boosted Waltrip – who didn’t pit during the final 80 laps – into second place behind Alan Kulwicki. When Kulwicki slowed on Lap 196, Waltrip took the lead, desperately hoping he had enough fuel to reach the finish line. “Those last four laps, I think I had four heart attacks,” Waltrip said at the time, of he and crew chief Jeff Hammond’s strategy. “One lap I told him I was [out of fuel], then I said “No I’m not … Yes I am … No I’m not.”
“DW” saved the best for last: After repeatedly screaming “I won the Daytona 500!” in Victory Lane, he spiked his helmet and performed his version of the “Icky Shuffle.” “I don’t know if I did the Icky Shuffle right or not, but if I didn’t it was the only thing I did wrong all week,” Waltrip said that day.(NASCAR Media)(2-11-2006)
- Countdown #5: Top 5 Daytona 500 Moments Announced: The Daytona 500 spawns both memories and milestones, and as the countdown begins to the 48th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 19 at Daytona International Speedway, another countdown begins today – to the Best Five Daytona 500 Victories. #5 - With much of the East Coast immobilized by ice and snow, the 1979 Daytona 500 gained an immeasurable number of viewers on Sunday, Feb. 18. The first Daytona 500 carried live on network television [CBS], the event offered thrilling side-by-side racing against the backdrop of sparkling Florida sunshine. As laps wound down, millions watched as Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison dueled to the finish. In their last-lap dash to a win, Yarborough and Allison wrecked each other on the backstretch entering Turn 3. Seven-time series champion Richard Petty swept past them to claim the win. Then, it happened. Furious with each other, Yarborough and Allison climbed from their damaged cars and exchanged words. They were soon joined by Donnie’s brother Bobby and the argument escalated into a three-man tussle, on the grass infield, treating the day’s spectators and untold others on television, to one of the sporting world’s best-known fights. Grimy and sweating from several hours of racing, Allison and Yarborough unwittingly boosted national awareness for the sport, launching it on the first of what would be many popularity surges.(NASCAR Media)(2-10-2006)
- Quit Smoking Program teams up with NASCAR: GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare has launched "QUIT Crew" a smoking cessation program through its 2006 NASCAR sponsorship. The program is designed to help partnering teams within NASCAR to
quit smoking and help reduce the number of smokers throughout the sport. Last season, GSK Consumer Healthcare conducted a pilot program with the Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Racing team [#41 Dodge in Cup]. Sixteen members of the Ganassi Racing Team in
Concord, NC participated in the program last year. Thus far, Hendrick Motorsports, Petty Enterprises and Chip Ganassi Racing have signed up to offer the program to their employees. Other teams are expected to join the program as it's offered more broadly over the next several weeks.
When a group enrolls in the program, interested team members will be invited to an orientation and seminar about quitting smoking presented by Frank Vitale of the University of Pittsburgh Pharmacy School. During orientation, Vitale will explain the process of quitting, the products available to help them and enroll those interested in joining the 10-12 week program.
Program participants will be counseled and monitored closely by GSK Consumer Healthcare smoking cessation counselors on a weekly basis. Vitale will meet with participants privately the afternoon of the seminar and will be available to them by telephone during the program. GSK Consumer Healthcare is providing counselor services free of charge as well as a starter kit of smoking cessation products. In addition, GSK Consumer Healthcare smoking cessation counselors will be available to crew members in the garage areas at 30 NASCAR races this season.
To inspire NASCAR fans to quit, each participating team will be given an opportunity to take a video camera provided by GSK Consumer Healthcare to document their thoughts and experiences during the quit smoking process. The challenges they encounter will be documented on the quit2winracing.com web site to help others understand what the quitting process is really like.(Lighthouse Marketing PR)(1-27-2006)
- Race Purses Won't Drop: NASCAR will attempt to keep race purses in 2007 at the same level as 2006 even though the television contract will be worth approximately $70 million to $100 million less. The new $4.48 billion contract eventually will increase the annual revenues, but the first year of the eight-year deal is less than the final year of the six-year deal signed in 2001. About 25% of the contract goes to the purse. The 2006 deal is worth approximately $575 million, while the 2007 deal is worth $470 million to $500 million, according to International Speedway Corp. estimates. "We're working on that to make sure that there is a smooth bridge," France said Jan. 23. "It is not uncommon - the NFL's deal has the same issue that we had. These contracts sometimes are back loaded. Even though the total amount is higher in the new contract, it could be a slight decrease from one year to the next. "But we'll work on that and to make sure we keep the purses going to the right direction." NASCAR could require tracks to put more money into the purses, NASCAR could put more money into the purse or NASCAR could increase the plan and contingency money to increase the purse.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter), see a race-to-race comparison of 2004 purses vs. 2005 purses on my MISC States page.(1-25-2006)
- NASCAR Teams head to England for help: NASCAR teams raided the Autosport International Racing Car Show in England this week in a quest for new technology to keep them ahead of rivals in Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck competition. Engineers from the Richard Childress Racing, Evernham Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Roush Racing and Robert Yates Racing were combing the 500 booths at Britain’s biggest motorsports show. “With NASCAR closing the box on what teams can do to the cars, we are looking for everything from materials to engineering and products, wind tunnels and aerodynamic resources,” said RCR boss Richard Childress, who was making his first visit to the show. He was accompanied by his new director of engine research and development — former Formula One engine designer Nick Hayes.(National Speed Sport News)(1-13-2006)
- Sporting News - Brian France 5th: NASCAR's Brian France was chosen 5th most powerful in the Sporting News Power 100, behind only: 1. David Stern, commissioner, NBA; 2. George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN and ABC Sports; 3. Paul Tagliabue, commissioner, NFL; 4. Bud Selig, commissioner, MLB. Blurb from the Sporting News reads: As head of a family-run business, NASCAR's Brian France has more freedom than traditional commissioners. And although he didn't do anything as revolutionary in '05 as his implementation of the Chase for the Nextel Cup in '04, he continued expanding NASCAR's presence with a points race in Mexico, changed the rules specifically to clamp down on owner Jack Roush's reach and listened to the pitches of several cities hoping to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Other NASCAR folks in the list: Multi-team owner Jack Roush, 26th; NASCAR's George Pyne, 34th; ISC's Lesa France Kennedy, 65; Driver Jeff Gordon, 73; Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO, Speedway Motorsports, 76. See full column and list at the Sporting News.(1-7-2006)