Media selects top drivers, races of decade in NASCAR’s three national series: With the recently completed 2009 season closing out another decade of NASCAR racing, media members have selected the top drivers and top races of the decade for all three national series as voted upon in a poll on NASCARMedia.com. The listing of drivers and races for the poll was compiled following discussions with the three series directors and other long-time observers in the industry - and also resulted from direct input from NASCAR fans. #48-Jimmie Johnson was selected as the top NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the decade, followed by #14-Tony Stewart and #24-Jeff Gordon. Johnson won an unprecedented fourth consecutive series championship in 2009 and posted 47 NASCAR Sprint Cup victories this decade - most of any driver. He is the only driver to earn a spot in the Chases for the NASCAR Sprint Cup all six years of the format's existence. The March 16, 2003 race at Darlington Raceway was voted the top NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. In what is the closest Margin of Victory - .002 seconds - since the advent of electronic scoring in May 1993, Ricky Craven edged Kurt Busch to the finish line in that thriller. The Oct. 14, 2000 race at Talladega Superspeedway, which marked Dale Earnhardt's final career victory, came in second, followed by the March 11, 2001 event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, with Kevin Harvick getting his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in a narrow defeat of Jeff Gordon.(NASCAR PR), see the results for the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series on those pages.(12-21-2009)
Sports Biz 50 Most Influential: NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France is ranked 16th on Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal’s list of the 50 most influential people in sports business. He was 9th on the list in 2008. The article states, "Jim France, Brian’s uncle, might technically own NASCAR, but Brian still runs it. The son of Bill France Jr., Brian oversees the day-to-day operations and the unit chiefs report directly to him. Brian is still the best-positioned France to dictate the direction of the sport, whether through instituting cost containment measures for teams, tweaking the Chase for the Sprint Cup format or setting the overall agenda. And if he decides to wield his influence on an issue, his voice will be heard above all others." Jim France, Chairman of International Speedway Corporation, returns to the list this year at 45th. NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick, who wasn't ranked in 2008, is on the list in 36th. TV executives on the list include: #3 George Bodenheimer, President of ESPN/ABC Sports (who was first last year) and #8 David Hill, Chairman of Fox Sports. See the complete list at the Sports Business Journal.(12-15-2009)
Aero package for restrictor-plate races being evaluated: NASCAR hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making aerodynamic changes to the Sprint Cup cars for Daytona that could require a test at the track prior to Speedweeks in February, NASCAR President Mike Helton said Monday. Helton talked about changes to the Cup car during a luncheon prior to the NNS/NCWTS Awards Banquet tonight. One piece of the Cup car that could get changed is the aero package for Daytona and Talladega. Cars went airborne in each of the Talladega races this year [#99-Edwards in May and #39-Newman in November]. NASCAR has wind-tunnel tests scheduled in a couple of weeks for the Cup car focused on restrictor-plate tracks. “[We’re] specifically looking at the chemistry of the roof flaps because we have the ability through the camera angles and data collection to learn more about the incidents [at Talladega], particularly the 39 [of Ryan Newman] at Talladega this past October. We can learn more,” Helton said. “We will do things over the offseason and if it is a major change for Daytona, we may have to do something [test] there to take a look at it. We’ll have to wait and see what we find out from the wind tunnel and a complete evaluation.” As far as any rule changes for the car for races not at Daytona and Talladega, Helton said only to anticipate subtle changes. “I don’t see anything glaring that has to be fixed, and there is not an overwhelming consensus of anything major [to change],” Helton said. “I still won’t sit here and tell you there won’t be something. … We always put out a rule book and then we put out a lot of [technical] bulletins along the way."
“I couldn’t sit here and tell you today that the wing is there forever on the Cup side,” Helton said. “I couldn’t tell you that the [front] splitter as we know it on the Cup car will exist forever. I can tell you we are going to learn a lot with the Nationwide car that has a different configuration to it aerodynamically and we’ll learn from that and we’ll see what happens.” Helton said since the first introduction of the Cup car in 2007 there have been at least 25 subtle changes in the rules.(in part from SceneDaily)(11-25-2009)
Brian France fights to keep court documents sealed UPDATE: NASCAR chairman Brian France filed a civil complaint against his ex-wife, Megan France, last year, a few months after the couple divorced in Florida. They married in California in 2005. Lawyers persuaded Mecklenburg [County, NC] Judge Todd Owens to seal the court file from public inspection, an unusual move in a court system that typically allows widespread access to courtrooms and documents. On Friday, France's attorneys petitioned a Mecklenburg judge to bar the public from the courtroom as arguments in the case unfold. It's unclear exactly what the dispute involves, but the matter is being heard in family court and apparently involves domestic issues. France's attorneys argued Friday that a confidentiality agreement is at the heart of the case, and that it shouldn't be breached in open court hearings.(see full story at the Charlotte Observer)(11-14-2009)
UPDATE: NASCAR has asked a federal court to stop lawyers for suspended driver Jeremy Mayfield from collecting information from the ex-wife of chairman Brian France. Mayfield's attorneys subpoenaed Megan France last week requesting documents about a lawsuit filed against her by Brian France. The attorneys also asked for joint tax returns and mail addressed to Brian France. NASCAR filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Monday asking that Megan France be barred from producing the documents. The Frances were divorced in April 2008, and Brian France sued his ex-wife in North Carolina Superior Court in September of that year. All documents relating to that case were sealed in December.(Associated Press)(11-24-2009)
Volkswagen and NASCAR? UPDATE: The head of Volkswagen's motor sports program is at Homestead-Miami Speedway, fueling speculation that automaker is interested in joining Toyota as the second foreign manufacturer in NASCAR. Top NASCAR officials confirmed to The Associated Press that Hans-Joachim Stuck plans to meet with the sanctioning body. The officials requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the meeting. The topic of the meeting was unclear. Earlier this season, NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sanctioning body is open to accepting new manufacturers into the sport. The only requirement is that manufacturers must have production plants in the U.S. Volkswagen has a plant under construction in Tennessee, and the facility is scheduled to build midsize sedans in 2011.(Associated Press)(11-21-2009)
UPDATE: VW says they are not interested in NASCAR. But are looking at bringing their VW, Audi and Lamborghini brands to Grand Am and that is why they were in Homestead talking to NASCAR, which owns and runs Grand Am.(SPEED's Ralph Sheheen)(11-22-2009)
NASCAR Honored: The fans are making their voices heard. NASCAR is listening. And experts in the field of social media now rank NASCAR No. 1. When NASCAR formed a Fan Council for fan input and advice on important topics related to the sport, the last thing anyone expected was an award – let alone two awards. But in recent weeks, this unique “advisory board” of the sport’s most avid fans has earned national acclaim by winning the Forrester Groundswell Award in the Business-to-Consumer Listening category and the Vision Critical 2009 Panel of the Year Award.(NASCAR)(11-3-2009)
NASCAR will crack down on aggressive driving: UPDATE 2: NASCAR plans to crack down on aggressive driving and bump drafting beginning with Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway, particularly regarding two-car breakaways that have become commonplace with the new car. Track officials hope they got the attention of drivers when they parked #55-Michael Waltrip for pushing #48-Jimmie Johnson's car through the corners during Friday's second practice. "It at least sent a good point of conversation out there in the Motorhome 500 lot,'' series director John Darby said after Saturday's qualifying was rained out. The new car has presented a problem because two cars that match up well are able to pull away from the pack.(ESPN.com)(11-1-2009)
UPDATE: At the drivers meeting Sunday morning in Talladega, NASCAR President Mike Helton warned drivers that there would be no pushing or bump drafting allowed in the turns through the entire race, including the last lap. The penalty for a first offense will be a drive through; on the last lap it will be a time or position penalty. Any offenses beyond the first will be NASCAR's discretion. See Helton's quotes at Hampton Roads.(11-1-2009)
UPDATE: NASCAR's change in the rules to forbid bump-drafting in the turns worked as planned for the most part and should not be blamed for the single-file racing fans saw for much of the first half of the Sprint Cup Amp Energy 500 Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. "A lot of 500-mile races, when you listen to the teams, they work on their cars, they get their cars to handle and then they log laps during a small portion or the middle third of the race in order to have their equipment ready for the end of the race," Pemberton said in the garage after the event. "It's not uncommon of any 500-mile race that you see that. … [The accidents that] happened today, we didn't have any major incidents in the corner. "The two wrecks that happened, they happened in the free zone where we weren't monitoring the bump-drafting or anything like that." NASCAR never issued a penalty in Sunday's race. There were times when Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said something to a crew chief. "If it was something that was a warning that was like the final warning, we would have put it out on the main channel and we didn't do that," Pemberton said. "These guys are very good at what they do. It takes them a very short period of time to figure out the best way around these race tracks.(SceneDaily)(11-2-2009)
NASCAR holds "town hall"; plans changes to car in 2011: NASCAR held invitation-only meetings at their Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. this week to discuss the future of the sport. On Tuesday, the meeting focused primarily on competition with drivers Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle joining crew chiefs, engineers and technical directors. A second meeting was held on Wednesday with team owners and principals as a follow-up to the discussions held in May. The primary focus of the meetings: How can NASCAR help the competitors to make the sport stronger? Participation was encouraged according to three principals that spoke on the grounds of anonymity. Some of the high points included:
# How can we make the overall product better?
# While there won't be any sizeable changes in the rules package for 2010, NASCAR wanted to make sure that competitors understood that an open door policy exists.
# What can the sport do to make participation more cost effective for the competitors?
# How do the cars maintain product identification for the manufacturers and remain racy. And once the new Nationwide Series cars come to fruition, how does the sport keep the sportier model from overshadowing the less sexy Cup car.
AND NASCAR will make modifications to the Sprint Cup Series car for the 2011 season. At a meeting on Oct. 19, following the races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, manufacturers were told changes would be made "from the centerline to the bumper on down," a source familiar with the situation told FOXSports.com. The alterations will be made to the front fascia - the upper and lower nose of the car. Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said "there was a good open dialog" with manufacturer representatives to discuss what aesthetic changes could be made to the car to improve brand identity. The current car has come under scrutiny from competitors and fans alike for having less resemblance to a showroom model than previous editions. Pemberton said styling changes are almost anticipated given that the car will soon meet the four-year mark. NASCAR is also concerned the sportiness of the new Nationwide Series Car of Tomorrow will have a tendency to overshadow the current Cup car [see images of the Nationwide COT cars on my 2010 Nationwide paint schemes page]. The new Nationwide Series car will be run in four races starting next season. Certainly, the Nationwide COT will provide ideas for future generations of the Cup car.
NASCAR tweaks wave-around rule for Cup, Nationwide: NASCAR has tweaked its rule on wave-around cars under caution. The new rule now dictates that cars under penalty at the time of the caution are ineligible for the wave around. The change began last week with the Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway after a situation came up in the Nationwide Series race that was new to the double-file restart system instituted in June. In the Nationwide race, Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards was penalized for speeding under green, and then the caution came out. He stayed out and didn't pit and then was among those cars on the end of the lead lap. He then got the "wave around" the caution car (along with the rest of the cars that had stayed out and were on the end of the lead lap) to get to the rear of the line of lead-lap cars. Edwards then went to the end of the line to serve his penalty. That move would not be allowed anymore. The driver would not get the wave around and would start a lap down at the rear of the field on the restart, the penalty for a driver who had a speeding penalty under green but never served it before the caution came out. The new rule in general is any driver under penalty is no longer eligible for the wave around.(SceneDaily)(10-11-2009)
NASCAR shrinks restrictor plates at Talladega: NASCAR will reduce the size of the restrictor plate and allow teams an optional change as a way to slow the cars and try to keep them from getting airborne at Talladega. Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby [said] Friday at Auto Club Speedway that the restrictor plate will be reduced 1/64 of an inch. The new size will be 59/64 of an inch. Darby estimates it will shave 12 horsepower off the engines. Teams also have been given an option on side wickers, something they hadn't been allowed to use before at Talladega. Darby said that teams "will be able to add the same little side wicker to the end plate (on the rear wing) much like they do at the downforce tracks. If you look at all the cars in the garage right now on that end plate, all the way out on the back edge they've got a little half by half piece of aluminum. That's eight inches long. It helps in yaw or when the cars are turned. It kind of settles the back of the car down a little bit."(Virginian Pilot)(10-10-2009)
Federal rules could affect NASCAR endorsements: When #99-Carl Edwards broke his foot playing Frisbee last month there were jokes about how fortunate he was to be sponsored by AFLAC, which sells disability insurance. Edwards even made reference to the obvious irony and talked about filing a claim and getting a check. NASCAR fans are so used to drivers hawking their sponsors' products - and dropping the sponsor's name in every TV interview - that they rarely think twice about it. That's what drivers do when they aren't driving. But pretty soon drivers might have to do something else if they find themselves endorsing a sponsor's product. They might have to disclose that the sponsor is paying them to do it. The Federal Trade Commission this week issued new guidelines for those who endorse products. There is a new requirement that endorsers - whether it's a lowly blogger or a high-profile actor or athlete - must say if they are being paid by that company. So, how would this affect NASCAR, the most blatantly commercial sport around? Depends on the context. So says David Zetoony, an attorney specializing in consumer product-liability cases with the firm Bryan Cave. For instance, when Edwards does a commercial for AFLAC, it is understood by not only NASCAR fans, but also by the public at large that he's being paid to do so or that it's part of his obligation to his sponsor. And when he gives an interview standing in front of his AFLAC Ford, wearing his AFLAC driver suit and says something like "the #99 AFLAC Ford Fusion was awfully fast today," he's also in the clear. That's considered product placement, Zetoony said, and it won't get a driver in hot water with the FTC. What will cause trouble is when an athlete takes it a step further and endorses a product. But again, context is important. So if Tony Stewart gives a TV interview and is asked to name his favorite hamburger and he says "I never eat anything but flame-broiled Burger King Whoppers," he'd be required to disclose his relationship to BK. If he said, "I never eat anything but those juicy Whoppers my sponsor Burger King makes," he'd be OK. Confused? You aren't alone. It's going to take time and probably litigation to sort out where the lines will be drawn.(Alabama Live)
NASCAR not interested in moving chase races to Saturday nights:
From Wednesday's NASCAR teleconference on standardized start times:
Q. We've seen the ratings have dipped a little bit here, and I think the blame, obviously, can be levied against the competition. It's tough to go up against the NFL. We can make great ideas of maybe moving some races during the Chase to this Saturday night. Have you guys talked about that idea? The possibility of more races on Saturday nights into the Chase? And I guess for John [Skipper], the difficulty that that would be for you guys to balance all your other programming?
BRIAN FRANCE: Of course we talked about it. There are lots of issues. Saturday night from a level standpoint, I think it's the lowest night on television. It comes with other issues and you would still have college football which is pretty strong programming. So there's that. Then you have the host track who may not want to run it at night. So David Hill [Fox Sports] said traditions, and we have a lot of traditional things that happen in terms of Sunday afternoons that worked quite well. So we're not, obviously, when the ratings go up or down, you're taking note of that. We are, but we're not going to make any big, rash changes to try to chase that. We'll just keep building our story lines and try to look at good racing.
JOHN SKIPPER [ESPN]: We could find times. We do have some nationwide races Saturday night, the Richmond races. We have multiple networks. But I don't think there are any plans to move to more Saturday night races, but we talk about everything.(NASCAR PR)(10-8-2009)
NASCAR announces uniform start times for 2010: NASCAR will conduct a special teleconference at 3:00pm/et this afternoon with NASCAR CEO Brian France, FOX Sports Chair David Hill, David Levy of Turner, and John Skipper of ESPN. Speculation is that they will announce more uniform race start times for next season.(10-7-2009)
UPDATE: NASCAR and its television broadcast partners announced earlier, uniform start times for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2010. NASCAR worked closely with FOX, Turner, ESPN/ABC and the tracks on this project for the fans. The race start times for NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2010 in the Eastern and Central regions of the country will begin at 1 p.m. ET, West Coast events will begin at 3 p.m. ET, and night races will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. (The one exception is NASCAR’s longest night race, the Coca-Cola 600, which will have the same 5:45 p.m. ET start time.) Following the invocation and national anthem, the green flag will drop at approximately 15-20 minutes past the hour after each listed race start time. A total of 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2010 will be held at an earlier time compared to 2009, with 20 races moved to 1 p.m. ET, including the Daytona 500. Moving up the start of “The Great American Race” two-and-a-half hours will produce the earliest start time for the Daytona 500 since 2003, when the race was also scheduled for 1 p.m. Five races move earlier to a 3 p.m. ET start and three races start earlier at 7:30 p.m. ET. In making the decision for earlier, more uniform start times, NASCAR consulted its Fan Council, comprised of 12,000 avid fans who serve as a sounding board on important topics. Half of NASCAR avid fans said they are often unclear about what time NASCAR races actually start. When given the chance to choose a start time, more than two-thirds of avid NASCAR fans preferred early Sunday afternoon.(NASCAR PR), see the complete list of start times on my 2010 Cup Schedule page.(10-7-2009)
'Regular Season' Award being considered? Jim Hunter, Vice President of Communications for NASCAR was interviewed today on the 'Bubba The Love Sponge Show'. Hunter spoke about the possibility of awarding the 'regular season' champion an award of some sort. Currently, NASCAR does not award points, money, or a trophy to the regular season champ. 'Bubba the Love Sponge' asked Hunter about the lack of recognition for the regular season champ and Hunter said NASCAR is looking in to it. Hunter's did acknowledge that in recent weeks NASCAR has talked about a regular season award of some sort but they have not decided on what that award should be. Hunter said, "That's something we are looking at doing for next year, we just haven't decided what it will be."(Captain Thunder)(10-7-2009)
Four cars taken back to R&D Center...including... As per NASCAR protocol, Tony Stewart's race winning #14 Chevy along with a random car, this week it is Kurt Busch's #2 Dodge ride, were selected for postrace inspection and further analysis back at the Research and Development Center in Concord, NC. But as an added wrinkle, officials also requested that Mark Martin's #5 and Jimmie Johnson's #48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy be added to the inspection list. "When you've won and run well, and Jimmie and Chad are always going to know they are under the microscope - that's (going to be) part of it," said team owner Rick Hendrick. "We actually don't mind that. NASCAR is fair and if they want to check us every week, that's OK. I understand. I really do." No problems were found on the cars during the at-track inspection.(FoxSports)(10-5-2009)
UPDATE: The cars of championship leaders Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson have passed a second NASCAR inspection. NASCAR inspected both the Hendrick Motorsports-owned cars after Sunday's race in Kansas for a thorough inspection after the Chevys squeaked through a week earlier. The teams were warned they had nearly failed and were to not bring the cars to the track again. NASCAR also examined the car of race winner Tony Stewart, as is standard procedure. In addition, Kurt Busch's car was randomly selected for inspection.(Associated Press)(10-6-2009)
Latest on standard times for races: Word is that NASCAR is eyeing two future schedule changes which would affect television viewers and would affect viewers in the grandstands. Grant Lynch, chairman of Talladega Superspeedway and International Speedway Corporation’s vice president of strategic operations, has heard about both and talked about both on Saturday. The first is standardization of the starting times of Sprint Cup races. “From what we’ve been hearing from fans, that move would be real positive,” Lynch said. Currently starting times vary. This year, there have been 16 races starting at 2:00pm, five at 3:25-3:30pm, six from 7:20-7:30pm, two at 8:00pm, as well as other races starting at 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 4:30pm, 5:00pm, 5:45pm, 6:00pm and 8:30pm. The standardized starting time being talked about most for Sunday races is 1 p.m. Eastern.
Also getting attention are reports that NASCAR may try to insert more two-day shows onto the schedule [like was used at Atlanta in Sept]. That is, cut out action on the tracks on Fridays and have the Cup cars qualify on Saturday and race on Sunday.(Racin' Today)(10-4-2009)
NASCAR considering more 2-day weekends: NASCAR is exploring the possibility of more two-day weekends for 2010 in an effort to help organizations save money. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said such scenarios typically are considered every year, but with tough economic times there is more support from organizations than in the past. Pemberton didn't know what the savings would be, but it has been estimated that it costs $300,000 to $600,000 per car for an average three-day weekend. Cutting a small portion of that would result in millions for some organization over the course of a 36-race season. Pemberton said the response from organizations and fans over cutting the Atlanta race on Labor Day weekend from three to two days has been positive. He added that changing the length of the weekend depends on the number of events scheduled at the track. For instance, last weekend's race at New Hampshire would have been tough with the number of smaller series competing in addition to Sprint Cup and Trucks and no lights. NASCAR also is finalizing plans to move to more consistent start times -- 1 p.m. for most East Coast races, 3 or 4 p.m. for West Coast -- as the NFL has. Pemberton said that not only will make it easier for fans, but save money if teams get home earlier on Sunday night and shorten the work week. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the governing body is focused on getting start times finalized before changing the length of the weekend.(ESPN.com)(9-26-2009)
Could be minor tweaks to testing 'ban': UPDATE: At NASCAR's crew chiefs meeting here [NHMS] Saturday morning, Sprint Cup teams were given a few tweaks on the car-of-tomorrow and on testing for 2010, but it's unclear if more might be coming. NASCAR officials are apparently leaning toward okaying Greenville-Pickens Speedway [SC] for Cup testing next season, to give teams a less expensive testing venue – a track closer to their Mooresville, NC, shops. But some teams say they would continue flying/driving down to places like New Smyrna in Florida for testing anyway.
Teams report that Texas World Speedway in College Station, TX, may be ground smoother, to eliminate bumps. And if softwalls are installed there, the track could be a good testing venue too, since it's not on the NASCAR tour. Greg Biffle ran a few laps at Texas World in testing earlier this year, but he said at 218 mph, the bumps and the lack of soft walls, the track was too dangerous.(MikeMulhern.net)(9-21-2009)
UPDATE: NASCAR announced its 2010 testing policy for its three national and two regional touring series. The policy will again prohibit testing at tracks which host NASCAR national series events, by teams in the following series: NASCAR Sprint Cup; NASCAR Nationwide; NASCAR Camping World Truck; NASCAR Camping World East; and NASCAR Camping World West. In 2010, however, testing will be allowed at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks that host a regional touring event but do not host a national series event. Based on this season’s regional tour schedules, the following tracks would be eligible to host tests next year: Greenville-Pickens Speedway; Tri-County Motor Speedway; South Boston Speedway; Thompson International Speedway; Music City Motorplex; Adirondack International Speedway; Lime Rock Park; Thunder Hill Raceway; All American Speedway; Madera Speedway; Douglas County Speedway; Toyota Speedway at Irwindale; Portland International Raceway; Miller Motorsports Park; Colorado National Speedway.(NASCAR PR)(9-23-2009)
NASCAR says no major rules changes for 2010: NASCAR officials told Sprint Cup crew chiefs Saturday morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that the moratorium on testing at sanctioned tracks is expected to extend through the 2010 season. In an attempt to cut costs, NASCAR announced last November that instead of having official NASCAR scheduled tests throughout the year, there would be a one-year moratorium on series-wide testing and teams also would be prohibited from testing at any track that sanctioned a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Camping World Truck and East and West series. Previously, teams could not test on their own at tracks of the series they competed in. In a meeting with crew chiefs Saturday morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, NASCAR officials said teams should not expect any major rule changes for 2010, including no change to the current testing moratorium, sources familiar with the meeting said.(SceneDaily)(9-20-2009)
Morris Claims Third National Championship In Four Years: Every time Philip Morris thinks he’s reached the pinnacle of his racing career, he goes out and tops himself. The Ruckersville, Va., driver did it again this year as he claimed the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship for the third time in four years. The 44-year-old Morris finished the season with his seventh Late Model championship at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Combined with his performance at South Boston Speedway, Morris collected nine wins, 20 top fives and 23 top 10s in 28 starts to outdistance runner-up Keith Rocco of Wallingford, Conn., and Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills, Calif., for NASCAR’s top short-track honor. Morris previously won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship in 2006 and 2008. Morris finished with 841 points, pulling away from Rocco (816 points) and Joanides (813) over the final month of the season. Track, state and province, and the top three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet in Concord, N.C., Friday, Nov. 13. By virtue of his national championship, Morris also earned a secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, to be held at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale Jan. 29-30, 2010. Morris is just the second driver in the history of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, which dates back to 1982, to win multiple championships. The late Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., won five titles between 1989-1996.(NASCAR)(9-18-2009)
NASCAR lowers age for some series: NASCAR announced it was implementing a Learner’s Permit License for its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks beginning in 2010. The license will lower the age-limit for NASCAR-sanctioned tracks’ entry-level division from 16-years-old to 14. The change provides an intermediate step for young drivers looking to make the move from non-NASCAR beginner-level racing series to running at their NASCAR home track. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for its more than 55 sanctioned short tracks across North America. More than 10,000 drivers compete in the series annually.(NASCAR)(9-3-2009)
NASCAR takes engines to R&D Center: NASCAR has taken the engines of 11 cars in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway to test at its Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. NASCAR periodically takes engines so it can see how much horsepower they produce.
The engines taken were from the Chevy's of #24-Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports), #14-Tony Stewart (Hendrick), #33-Clint Bowyer (Earnhardt Childress Racing Technologies), #42-Juan Pablo Montoya (ECRT); Toyota's of: #83-Brian Vickers (Toyota Racing Development), #00-David Reutimann (TRD), #11-Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing); Ford's of #99-Carl Edwards (Roush-Yates Engines), #16-Greg Biffle (Roush-Yates) and Dodge's of: #77-Sam Hornish Jr. (Penske Racing), #19-Elliott Sadler (Richard Petty Motorsports).(SceneDaily)(8-16-2009)
No major changes seen for CoT: NASCAR President Mike Helton said on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway that the governing body is pleased with the progress of the new car and that there is strong support for leaving it alone. "As you talk to the principals in the garage area -- the team owners, the crew chiefs, the car chiefs -- there seems to be in all these conversations a consensus around 'don't make any major changes right now because we don't want to tackle those, we've spent a long time now understanding this car and don't throw a wrench in all of that by making us start over,''' Helton said. His comments came less than 24 hours after Dale Earnhardt Jr. urged the governing body to take a more urgent look at letting the car evolve move freely to improve competition. Helton also indicated he doesn't anticipate a change in the suspension of testing for next season. He said the ban was implemented as a cost-saving measure during tough economic times and there are no indications that those times are over. "The first thing we do is say, 'Why change it right now or do we need to change it right now?''' Helton said. As for the car, Helton believes Earnhardt's comments were more broad-based about improvements that need to be made for the sport in general. He said comments aimed specifically at the car had more to do with "frustration'' over being 25th in points. "So there's a frustration there that I think attributes to his comments and I think people see those,'' Helton said. "When he landed on the car itself being more specific about that, it's more like his dad would comment when he was having a bad stretch. Helton said minor tweaks are being considered, many around weight distribution that teams have complained about. He said NASCAR is less inclined to make tweaks that would give teams more room to adjust the cars. "One of the reasons there is less adjustability on the car, and a lot of it comes from aerodynamic adjustability, is in order to keep control of the cost teams have,'' Helton said. "There is as much support -- actually there is more support -- of keeping it that way than it is to letting it creep back out.''(in part from ESPN)(8-15-2009)
No speedometers planned for NASCAR: Some drivers would like a speedometer added to their cars, or have NASCAR's electronic timing system that records the pit row speeds refined to cut down on possible error. "I have wondered why we don't have speedometers," veteran driver Mark Martin said Friday. "The tachs are not quite as accurate as a speedometer might be. But the system works. It's just really devastating when you have one of the races of your life slip through your fingers." Could NASCAR make the switch from RPM to mph on the dash? Not so fast. Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said the tachometer was the most reliable factor in determining pit row speeds. "They get multiple usages out of a tachometer as an engine meter as well, without having to bother with the expense and the troubles of adding another piece of equipment to the car," Darby said at Pocono Raceway. "The tachometers today are so sophisticated that teams can actually program their pit road speed into the tachometer." Most teams have even added a lighting system to the tachometer. A green light means a driver's speed is in the clear, yellow signifies he is pushing the limit and red means the speed is over the limit. "In NASCAR's defense, the system that they have, you can't dispute it," four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon said. "I would dispute the person that feels like they're in the wrong, because their system is very accurate." There have been 75 speeding violations in 20 Cup races this season, Darby said. NASCAR does not warn teams when they're on the edge of speeding or give them a chance to plead their case. Speed once coming in or out of the pits, and a penalty is instantly assessed. "The teams know exactly where they're supposed to be," Darby said. "They know where the threshold is." Darby also said there are no plans to reveal pit road speeds to fans or the rest of the field during a race. "If you have put your combination together and you're real confident in your driver and you've got him set to where you think he can run 3˝ miles over all day long without getting caught, that's their business," he said. "We shouldn't display that to the other 42 competitors to let them figure out how they did it." NASCAR switched from a stopwatch system to electric timing in 2005 to provide a more legitimate way of assessing pit road speeders.(Associated Press)(8-4-2009)
Brian France talks about many NASCAR things (a Large Post): Monday, July 27th on “Sirius Speedway” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Dave Moody spoke with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, who called in to the show unannounced.
Host, Dave Moody: “Nice surprise. We weren’t expecting you today.”
Brian France: “Well, I listen to you guys, like most of the NASCAR community does, frequently and I love just calling in once in awhile to check in and say hello. And, obviously, we had a lot of exciting things happen over the weekend so it’s good to be with you.”
On Juan Pablo Montoya’s pit road speeding penalty Sunday at Indianapolis:
Brian France: “There’s nothing that dropped our hearts more than to see that speeding violation flash up on the computer which is in the television booth which is in our booth. Everybody has access to it, which they should. And it is what it is. It’s sort of like a team that’s dominated a football game or something and they step out of bounds on the crucial play that would have gotten them in the end zone. That’s just the way it is. Now, that’s the bad news for Juan Pablo and Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates. The good news is they’re going to be a contender, I think as it’s turning out, for the whole thing. I think they’re going to make the Chase. At least that’s how they’re running. But nothing would have made us happier had he earned - and he definitely had the best car and he was driving the wheels off – to have [had Montoya] won that race and made a little history with the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400. But the rules are rules.”
France: “There are some rules, as you know, that have some subjectivity to it. This just happens to be one that there isn’t any subjectivity to it. You either do or you don’t. And he understands that. I’m sure it was disappointing as it could have been but there’s no position that we can take on that. When you get past the frustration of watching somebody that should’ve won the race, earned it and it would have been great for everyone, but didn’t, well sure, there’s frustration that happens.”
On the Jeremy Mayfield situation:
France: “Where we are is we’re going through the process of the legal system, which was not our choice but we will deal with that. And we have not made any comments at all other than, ‘We’re pleased with the ruling,’ or something like that since I went on back around the Coke Zero  and discussed our policy, and I didn’t discuss that particular ruling. The judge has respectfully done what he needed to do and the appellate court has done what they need to do. That’s just really in the hands of the courts. We wish everybody well. As anything, you can appreciate that we have to defend our policy but we’re zeroed in on running great events and that’s where we are.”
Host, Dave Moody: “Is it frustrating that the racing has been so good and the Race for the Chase has been so captivating and yet people like me spend a lot of our time here lately talking about methamphetamine and urine tests and things that we never really had to know that much about before?”
France: “Well, sure, it’s a distraction for everybody. Our preference is to never have anybody test positive for anything and the world would be perfect, right? That would be our best case scenario. But random tests pick up what they pick up and we’ll deal with the rest of it, if there’s ever a rest of it, like we are in this situation. It is unfortunate but on the other hand we understand that it is important. It’s important for the other competitors to recognize that they’re in a safe environment as much as humanly possible. And it’s important to have a policy that works for everyone, not just a few people. So we understand the kind of reviews that go on when these topics hit at a high level but, look, I think at this point we just have to go down the legal process. We’re dealing with that. That’s really not anything that affects anything on the racetrack today. And, actually, we wish, I wish, anybody who has an issue the best. I mean, look, we’re all at the end of the day human so we’re pulling for anybody that has some issue, even somebody who is battling with us. In the end, we want to see people get better, rejoin the program and race clean in front and put their best foot forward. That’s our goal.”
On the new double-file restarts:
France: “The net of it is the drivers - beginning, middle, late in the race - it has really, really put people in contention that would typically, under the old format, would have had a tough time passing lapped cars and battling for the lead. I mean, Chicago was electric [with] what happened in that whole situation, having Denny Hamlin, as an example, who got an opportunity to mix it up. In the old situation he would have been too far back to even be a contender for that race win. You bet. And, look, the fans really, really weighed in before we did that and the drivers, in our town hall meeting, recognized that there were some definite challenges for them and we’ve tried to help them with them with respect to letting them pick a lane and so on. They realized that this as going to create a different dynamic but they’re also very, very supportive and we’re getting a great result. The racing’s never been better in a long time.”
On the Nationwide Series “Car of Tomorrow”:
Moody: “Have you got a line yet on what each of the four manufacturers want to do as far as the look of this car, the body style of this car, and how devoted is NASCAR to making this division look a whole lot different than the Cup car?”
France: “We’re always looking to distinguish one series from another while giving it the obvious flavor of NASCAR, which is close, competitive, reasonable costs for the teams, so that we can field more competitive cars on any given Saturday or Sunday. That remains the case. With the new car potentially, we are certainly talking to the manufacturers but we’re zeroed in also on how do we make sure, from a timing standpoint, that we don’t burden the team owners with an enormous amount of cost into the system that we’ve been talking for quite a while, for good reason, about getting cost out of the system because the teams are going through, as everybody in this economy is, lots of difficulties trying to figure out a new business model in some cases. So we’re having to balance all this along with trying to make some progress. But we’ll get there. We’ve got really, really smart people working on it.”
France: “The other thing we do now – I think we do it better than we ever have and I think we were always pretty good – that’s buy-in from the industry on any significant thing that we would do. And we listen with our fan council, as an example. A lot of our dedicated fans are terrific in responding to our questions every week. We’ve got tens of thousands of fans on our fan council. For all the talk that we kind of cruise along and don’t necessarily think about everything, I understand where that might be a perception but the reality of it is any significant issue that we are going to put forward with NASCAR, we will do a lot of work with anybody that is affected, starting with our fans - which are the most affected with anything we do – all the way down to the drivers, the team owners, the sponsors, manufacturers and the tracks and so on. And that’s a lot to try to get input and a whole bunch of different opinions, to kind of get all that information in a way that really will be good for everyone. That’s one of our biggest tasks but that’s what we do.” “SIRIUS Speedway” airs every weekday (3-7pm/etT) exclusively on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio (SIRIUS channel 128 and XM channel 128 with the “Best of SIRIUS” programming package).(SIRIUS NASCAR Radio)(7-28-2009)
- NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton explains new restart rules: NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton gave an explanation Friday of the new double-file restart rules. Here are excerpts of the conversation with the media and his answers to some questions ask.
SD: What is the procedure for double-file restarts?
Pemberton: “When the caution comes out, the field will be frozen as it is today. The free-pass car will be identified as it is today and it will be the same format. As the cars are gathered behind the pace car, the pit road is opened for leaders, the second time by it will be open for the lap-down cars, and that is how it is today. And when we come to the one [lap]-to-go [until the green drops], the cars that have elected not to pit that are lap-down cars that will be in front of the lead-lap cars that have pitted, will be waved around to join the field at the tail end. The lineup will be on the double-file restart, lead-lap cars to the front, lap-down cars, … then it will be the free-pass car, then it will be the cars that have been waved around and then it will be the penalty cars.
SD: If a guy on the lead lap opts not to pit, he’s the leader?
Pemberton: Correct. Still P1 [the leader].
SD: Is there an option for the lead car to select which lane?
Pemberton: When we give the 1-to-go, the leader throughout the entire race will get lane choice, high or low. He has to make that choice when we come to the 1-to-go at the stripe. One other thing we have added is the free pass will take place from start to finish throughout the entire race.
SD: If a car on the lead lap pits a second time with the lap-down cars, does he restart with the lap-down cars?
Pemberton: He will start in his respective track position how he came off of pit road. If you have a lead-lap car who makes multiple pit stops to work on his car, he is not in that lead-lap group that pitted that first-time by. He’ll be scored where he comes off pit road [with lapped cars]
SD: The lap-down cars that don’t pit and the get the wave around the leader, do they get to come all the way around to rear of the field?
Pemberton: That’s correct but they will not be able to hit pit road for tires and fuel. Pit road won’t be closed but they will forfeit their wave-around status if they hit pit road for tires and fuel.
SD: At tracks like Martinsville and Bristol and you’re waiting for the 1-to-go, are you anticipating that the wave around could be hard to be completed?
Pemberton: There could be issues. Every track has its different set of challenges. We’ll have to address those when we get to them. The whole field will be double file so they won’t be as strung out.
SD: If multiple lead-lap cars stay out, do the lap-down cars that don’t pit still get waved around?
Pemberton: The only way you can be waved around is if you are between the leader and the pace car. As pit stops take place, you need to be in front of the lead-lap cars. You get waved around regardless if you’re one or two or three laps down [or more].
SD: Are you going to use double-file restarts throughout the race for every race?
SD: It was said that Trucks and Nationwide will use it later this year? Any timetable?
Pemberton: It’s just later. We need to work through some of these details here. We’ve got three races in three different states [this weekend]. We want to make sure we concentrate on this [in Cup] and get everything as right as we can.(SceneDaily)(6-7-2009)
- Changes coming to improve the car-of-tomorrow? Drivers says NASCAR officials are telling them now changes are coming with controversial car-of-tomorrow, but no one seems to know what NASCAR might do, or when. "I think they're going to go look into the engines -- to maybe reduce horsepower," Denny Hamlin says. "Maybe do something to the cars…but it's tough to say whether they're going to add downforce or take it all away. But I think they are going to make changes to the car. And I think it's going to be after a lot of meetings with team engineers and finding out what we need to do to make them better." Two of the biggest problems with the new COT is --- that it doesn't want to turn in the corners, so teams are doing really farout things with the chassis to help it turn (once reason apparently for some of the Dover tire issues); and that it has such a high center-of-gravity and so much right-side weight that it eats up right-side tires. Kyle Busch says "I'd like to see NASCAR do something to help these cars – either by taking 100 pounds out of these cars, or taking some right-side weight out. We've all gotten smarter in building these cars, and now we all have maybe 200 pounds of lead, or rather tungsten, in the car (as ballast)."(mikemulhern.net)(6-6-2009)
- NASCAR's Most Valuable Teams: To date, all 13 races have been won by five of the sport's most valuable teams; six have come from Hendrick Motorsports, which tops Forbe's list this year. No. 2: Roush Fenway Racing. Richard Childress Racing is third. Since Forbe's valuations last year, four of the top 15 most valuable teams have disappeared, either through mergers or an exit from the sport, leaving a bigger divide between the haves and have-nots. Forbe's estimate the average top 10 team fell in value by 6% to $148 million in 2009 from $158 million last year. Partly to blame: Sponsors renewing deals with teams now have more leverage than ever to negotiate a better deal. Hendrick Motorsports is ranked #1, worth $350 million followed by Roush Fenway Racing ($270m), Richard Childress Racing ($167m), Joe Gibbs Racing ($144) and Richard Petty Motorsports ($131). See full story and top 10 list at Forbes.com.(6-5-2009)
- NASCAR Announces “Double-File Restarts – Shootout Style”: NASCAR announced a change to its race format with the addition of “Double-File Restarts – Shootout Style” throughout each race. Beginning with this weekend at Pocono Raceway, the first- and second-place drivers will line up side-by-side as the green flag flies for each restart. “We’ve heard the fans loud and clear: ‘double-file restarts – shootout style’ are coming to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “This addition to the race format is good for competition and good for the fans.”
NASCAR recently used the “double-file” format for its non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, which produced an unpredictable finish. The format will be adapted for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the near future. Under the previous format, cars on the lead lap would restart in a single-file line while cars that had been lapped would start in a line next to them.
Under the new format, the race leader will have the option to restart on the inside or outside lane. The second-place driver would then restart next to the leader. Regardless of where the leader starts, drivers in odd number positions (3rd, 5th, 7th places, etc.) will restart on the inside lane, while drivers in even number positions (4th, 6th, 8th places, etc.) will restart on the outside. All restarts will use the same format regardless of the number of laps remaining in the race.
The first-place driver will continue to control the timing of restarts in a designated zone on the track. Likewise, cars are to stay in line until they reach the start/finish line. The first eligible car a lap or more down will continue to earn one lap back following a caution, which is known as the “free pass.” However, a new element beginning this week will be that the “free pass” will remain in effect the entire race [before it was all race until 10 or less laps to go, then none was awarded]. Lapped cars choosing to remain on the track will be “waved around” the caution car and will restart the race in respective track position, thus picking up a lap to the leader provided the leader also pits. This will also remove lapped cars from behind the pace car, allowing the leaders to take the green without interference [so the leader will not restart in the middle of the pack].(NASCAR)(6-4-2009)
- Double-File restarts at Pocono? NASCAR distributed proposals to crew chiefs regarding possible procedures for double-file restarts which could be introduced as early as Pocono Raceway next week. The proposal states all starts will be double file. The race leader will have his choice of which lane to use for the restart. The third-place car will always start in the inside lane. There will be no changes in the free pass or "lucky dog," and cars that are one lap down can choose not to pit, therefore regaining a lap during a caution. The new rule appears to be a work in progress but Pocono is a 2.5-miler with plenty of space and opportunity to figure it out.(FoxSports)(6-1-2009)
- NASCAR DVD's head to space: DVD copies of two of the most important races in NASCAR history will soon be making the journey of a lifetime. Doug Hurley is a huge race fan, and he also happens to be an astronaut. He’ll serve as pilot for the STS-127 mission, which is currently slated to launch on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour on June 13. Going along for the ride with Hurley will be copies of the 1979 and 1998 Daytona 500s for possible inclusion in the permanent library on board the International Space Station. Each DVD comes in a specially designed package honoring Hurley’s first spaceflight. The cover features a view of the Earth’s surface, along with the STS-127 logo. The packaging will not be available to the public. A cousin of Greg Zipadelli’s wife Nan, Hurley attended his first NASCAR event at Watkins Glen International in August 2000. Since then, he’s attended 20 or so events, despite being assigned for some of that time to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.(See full story at Stock Car Histoy Online)(5-28-2009)
- NASCAR opens floor to drivers, owners: NASCAR officials spent more than four hours in two meetings Tuesday discussing with drivers, owners and team management everything from the sport's drug testing policy, to how to improve the new car, to the economy. It was a big change from the days when the governing body made decisions and solved problems by talking to one or two drivers in the back of a hauler at the track. All of those involved described the meetings as positive and expected more to follow in the future. "Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new form of communication," NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said. Chairman Brian France said open lines of communication are needed because "things are more complex."
"One-one-one meetings and trying to cover all the issues of the day either at a shop or at the track, that becomes hard to do," he said. "There are too many complicated issues. It was consistent with where we need to be. And we have a lot of smart people in the industry. We had Roger Penske here. We had a good communication line in the first place. We just want to build on that." Hunter said a lot of good ideas were broached, some that would have to be considered short term. He did not elaborate, but among those under consideration are double-file restarts with all of the leaders up front.
One of the biggest complaints coming in was the new car that many drivers and crew chiefs believe has hurt competition. Series director John Darby consistently has said no changes are planned -- that changes would create more problems. France said the governing body is more open to changes after Tuesday's conversations. "We think the car is putting on a good show," France said, "but clearly if there's some adjustments without changing the financial [structure], we want to be open to that. We heard some ideas that we're going to consider. They heard some reasoning why our thinking was staying put on the new car. It was a good exchange."
The drug policy that has been scrutinized since Jeremy Mayfield was suspended on May 9 was clarified. Drivers "scared" that a prescription drug could cost them their career left assured that was not the case. "I'm very comfortable now," Mark Martin said. "I'm also very comfortable with the way they're handling the list." NASCAR does not provide its drivers with a full list of substances they are tested for, arguing that leaving it open ended gives them more room to catch offenders. "I feel much better now than I did before the meeting," Martin said. France said he was quite certain everybody has a clearer understanding of the policy. "We covered that very carefully," he said. "There were some questions still remaining. Hopefully, we cleared that up."(see full article at ESPN.com)(5-26-2009)
- NASCAR calls mandatory driver meeting UPDATE 2: NASCAR has called a mandatory meeting for all Sprint Cup drivers for Tuesday [May 26th] morning at the Research and Development Center in Concord. Officials would not reveal the nature of the meeting. Speculation in the garage was that it is to clear up the confusion created by Jeremy Mayfield's indefinite suspension for violating the substance-abuse policy.(ESPN)(5-21-2009)
UPDATE: The shape of Tuesday's big meeting between NASCAR officials and Sprint Cup teams is slowly becoming clearer: And it is now sizing up as a day-long series of small meetings, rather than any full townhall scene. Each of NASCAR's top Cup operations will have its own individual face-to-face with NASCAR executives, to discuss ideas and raise suggestions about what NASCAR could do to make Cup racing more compelling – for better TV ratings and for better ticket sales. All Cup team owners and their drivers are expected to attend the sessions at NASCAR's nearby R&D center. No specific agenda items have been listed, but one hot topic is expected to be the car-of-tomorrow, which has become an expensive engineering problem for crews, particularly small teams without the hefty engineering and computer. The Carl Edwards-Brad Keselowski-Ryan Newman crash at Talladega could be another issue. NASCAR has said little about what it might want to do to deal with that issue of flying race cars, though Newman himself has said several times it is a major issue that needs to be attacked.(mikemulhern.net)(5-24-2009)
UPDATE 2: France said the mandatory meeting that NASCAR called for drivers and owners on Tuesday at the Research and Development Center in Concord was scheduled before the [Mayfield] suspension. "It's not related to the drug issue or the substance abuse policy, although we'll take questions on that," he said. France said the meeting will be a town hall atmosphere where a variety of issues will be discussed. "Including what the economy has done, the sponsorship component, what's happening with the manufacturers, the new car on the track ... a lot of different things," he said. France said the goal is to improve the overall quality of the sport. Under consideration will be double-file restarts by the leaders as used in the All-Star race but a part of point races. "There's many things we're going to look at, that being one of them, and see if we can make the sport better," France said. "It's to open up our communication lines with team owners and drivers. "It's just something we've wanted to do for a while."(ESPN)(5-24-2009)
- NASCAR sponsors may face boycott over Confederate flag: The Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP has set its sights on NASCAR, Homestead’s major national attraction, in its fight against the Confederate flag. The civil rights organization will first reach out to officials with NASCAR, seeking to enlist their help in efforts to ban the controversial symbol from city-sponsored events. If that does not work, however, NAACP officials say they will consider a boycott and protest march at the NASCAR events slated for Nov. 20-22 at the Homestead-Miami Motor Speedway. NAACP officials on Wednesday said they are drafting a letter to NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, who has publicly spoken out against the Confederate flag in recent years. If the civil rights organization does not get the racing league’s cooperation and support, officials there said they are prepared to begin contacting NASCAR’s sponsors, and to stage protests during the races.(South Florida Times)(5-23-2009)
- NASCAR..going green? With President Obama making the strong case this week for more fuel-efficient cars out of Detroit, and with the heads of all the car makers there at the White House, what's the take in the NASCAR garage on what this sport should be doing to be more green? NASCAR's John Darby, head of the Sprint Cup series, says it's nice to look at racing more fuel-efficient engines, or using more fuel-efficient fuels, and all that, but he says NASCAR's main point right now is this: "We have been, for the last five years, looking at green – at alternative fuels, at new engine designs. But we feel we can have a huge effect on being environmentally friendly by attacking the biggest group we deal with – our fan base and our competitors in the garage. For example, you have a choice when you rent a car, so rent a hybrid. Or put four people in a car; you don't need four cars. Those kinds of things. Our great initiative right now is in the two new office buildings going up, the Hall of Fame here, and one in Daytona. Both of those are going to be green-certified. We are doing a lot of things internally. Do the race cars matter? Yes. And will some day they come into that loop, yes. But right now we can make more progress and be more effective, in the grand scheme of things, and we can make more progress by working on the big picture and the things around us first.….knowing that, yes, there will be a fuel that's 'right,' that there will be fuel-injection, a lot of changes. Unfortunately they take longer to work through than the simpler things." E-85? That's a highly touted mix of 15 percent gasoline and 85 percent farm-based ethanol. "This is my personal opinion, that that's not the best plan," Darby says. "You don't want to make changes just to make changes. There are better fuels, more practical fuels. You can argue that the (corn-based) alcohol (fuel) program is at the expense of making fuel for cars over the food we eat. Now I don't necessarily support that. But there are better many opportunities for better fuels."(Mikemulhern.net)(5-22-2009)
- Double File Restarts coming? NASCAR officials are looking at whether the double-wide restarts used in the All-Star race with all the leaders up front should be used for regular Sprint Cup races. "We've been talking about it for a year," series director John Darby said on Thursday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "Every time we have an All-Star race the frequency of those talks gets much louder. It's obviously something the fans like a lot. Their interest is our interest. We're looking at it." While most procedural changes are made during the offseason, Darby didn't rule out that a change could be made during the season if the governing body thought it made for better racing.
"We use it in modified and Camping World East/West events," he said. "The only thing it hasn't applied to is the national series. What we have to look at is the downside. We try to apply every scenario that could create more problems. That's what we're working through."
Races currently are started double-filed until 20 laps remain with lapped cars on the inside lane. That means a 15th-place car actually could be starting in the 30th position. All restarts 20 laps in are single file.(ESPN)(5-21-2009)
- Changes coming for Daytona/Talladega? NASCAR officials, in response to #99-Carl Edwards' flip at Daytona, are now studying that slight aerodynamic rear spoiler [wing] change suggested by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, according to one top Sprint Cup team manager privy to the technical debate. In fact that change might have been tested at Daytona within the past few days, during the 10-team Goodyear tire test for the tour's next restrictor plate race, at Daytona July 4th. Despite the high publicity surrounding the Talladega issue, crews here [Darlington] this week have so far been reluctant to discuss any possible NASCAR changes at the tour's two restrictor plate tracks. Goodyear officials said the Daytona tire testing was to improve stability in the draft.(mikemulhern.net)(5-9-2009)
- NASCAR not policing start and park; full fields not required: When it comes to start-and-park, the bottom line appears to be that it's not a major issue to NASCAR, which is usually keenly tuned to the public's perception of the sport. "NASCAR doesn't perceive this to be an issue," a statement released this week by the sanctioning body said. "It doesn't impact the quality of competition whatsoever. NASCAR has always been about teams having the opportunity to participate in our sport; some teams might not have the full complement of resources to compete at the same level as others, but it's all about having an opportunity." Virtually to a man, the owners who seem to be in the middle of the situation see it in the same way, as racers. And NASCAR said it has had no conversations with owners specific to what their intentions are once they qualify for races. Staying in line with its take that the situation is not one of concern, NASCAR said it would not monitor any closer the reasons teams give for the their cars' dropping out of races, which range from a variety of mechanical reasons such as "engine," "transmission" and "rear end" to more nebulous causes including "handling," "vibration" or "electrical."
AND One thing NASCAR did dispel is the misconception that there is language in the current TV contracts for the three national tours that demands 43-car fields in Cup and Nationwide, and a 36-truck field in the Truck Series, with penalties resulting if full fields aren't provided. "It is NASCAR's responsibility to have a reasonable field of cars for each of its events," NASCAR said in a statement. "However, there is no language in the TV contracts that demands what the size of the fields must be."(NASCAR.com)(4-16-2009)
- Jim France stepping down as CEO of ISC: Jim France will step down as chief executive officer of International Speedway Corporation effective June 1 with Lesa Kennedy succeeding him in that role. Jim France is the son of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., brother of former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. and uncle of current NASCAR chairman Brian France. Brian France is Lesa Kennedy’s brother. Jim France will retain his role as chairman of ISC’s board of directors. Lesa Kennedy will remain vice chair of the ISC board. John Saunders, currently the executive vice president and chief operating officer of ISC, will take over as ISC president – the title previously held by Lesa Kennedy.(Charlotte Observer)(4-14-2009)
- NASCAR to host Touring and Weekly Series banquets in Charlotte: NASCAR announced that its "stars of tomorrow" and short track veterans will gather in the greater Charlotte area for two special year-end celebrations. NASCAR will host a special week of activities culminating in the 2009 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) Awards Banquet on Friday, November 13, and the new NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Saturday, November 14. Both season-end awards banquets will be held in the recently-completed Embassy Suites Hotel Concord Convention Center which is located near the NASCAR Research & Development Center, in proximity to the future NASCAR Hall of Fame complex, as well as the home bases of many of today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams. Moving the banquets to the Charlotte area compliments the commitment the community has made to the business of NASCAR and the development of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The NWAAS Awards Banquet will feature weekly racing drivers from top short tracks across the United States and Canada. Invited attendees will include the 2009 NWAAS National Champion, NWAAS State and Provincial Champions, all 58 track champions, the national/ state/provincial Rookies of the Year, the 2009 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award winner, and many others. The NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Gala will feature the champions and top drivers from all of NASCAR's North American regional touring series including invitees from the NASCAR Camping World Series East, the NASCAR Camping World Series West, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.(NASCAR PR)(4-9-2009)
- NASCAR no plans on keeping radio chatter from fans: Radio transmissions between drivers, owners, spotters and crew chiefs will continue to be available to NASCAR, media and fans. Flak over a torrid exchange between #2-Kurt Busch and car owner Roger Penske last Sunday at Martinsville -- in which Busch called his owner "dude" -- evoked a familiar refrain on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "The radio, I always thought, has been a team tool that should be utilized just by the teams," Busch said. "We don't get to hear what the coach says to his offensive and defensive coordinators in the NFL. I don't think that we get to hear what they do in baseball when they call to the bullpen. You don't get to hear what they say in the huddle, and what they say in the huddle is pretty animated. Roger and I are on the same page. Martinsville is behind us." That may be, but NASCAR isn't about to budge when it comes to keeping the airwaves open.
"The more access we can give the fans, that's a part of what made NASCAR what it is, the accessibility of the drivers," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications. "In my opinion, drivers -- even in the heat of battle -- need to be able to control their emotions. They're driving a racecar around at 200 miles an hour with a bunch of other people. NASCAR needs to be able to hear what's going on with the teams during a race, and we've extended that to the fans."(Sporting News)(4-5-2009)
- National Science Foundation Teams With NASCAR: As science educators continue to explore ways to improve science scores among students grades 8-12, they now can turn to NASCAR. A new online series of videos called The Science of Speed, announced Friday at the Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) in Fort Worth, reveals the sophisticated science and engineering behind NASCAR racing to teach science. To bring the 12-module science video series to computer screens, NSF teamed with NASCAR, the largest sanctioning body of motorsports in the United States, University of Texas at Dallas physics professor Diandra Leslie-Pelecky—author of the book The Physics of NASCAR and Santa Fe Productions, Albuquerque, N.M. In a series of high-quality, easy-to-understand videos, fast cars double as science experiments that illustrate basic concepts of friction, safety, sound and other elements of racing at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. Deftly guided onscreen by Leslie-Pelecky, viewers glimpse the intricacies of a rarely seen side of NASCAR—the science. Segments feature drivers, crew chiefs and engineers from numerous NASCAR garages including Jeff Gordon, Steve Letarte and Lisa Smokstad of Hendrick Motor Sports; Nick Hughes of Michael Waltrip Racing; Carl Edwards and Chris Andrews of Roush Fenway Racing; Josh Browne and John Probst of Red Bull Racing; Andy Randolph of Earnhardt Childress Racing and many others. Teachers and students can download the videos for free from NSF’s new website, Science360.gov. Science360.gov was created to be the preferred on-line destination for obtaining cutting-edge science information.(NASCAR PR), see a video at ESPN.com and more info at stockcarscience.com.(4-4-2009)
- F1 champion to be determined by race wins, NASCAR?: Formula One's championship will be decided by the number of race wins and not accumulated points. Governing body FIA decided Tuesday that the current points system will remain in effect only to determine the driver's title in the case of a tie, with points also determining the order of finish behind the overall champion. Under the new scoring system, Ferrari's Felipe Massa would have won the 2008 championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton of McLaren. The Brazilian driver won six grand prix races to Hamilton's five, but the British racer took the title by one point, 98-97, after finishing fifth in the season-ending Brazilian GP.(Associated Press)
so...NASCAR? If NASCAR would have had this system since 2000, how would the champs look for those season?
Year: Most Wins, Actual Champ
2008: Edwards [9 wins], Johnson 
2007: Johnson , Johnson
2006: Kahne , Johnson 
2005: Biffle , Stewart 
2004: Johnson , Kurt Busch 
(2004-2008 have used the Chase format)
2003: Newman , Kenseth 
2002: Kenseth , Stewart 
2001: Gordon , Gordon
2000: Stewart , Bobby Labonte 
(stats from ESPN.com/Ed Hinton)(3-18-2009)
- Two NASCAR moguls off the Billionaire's List: NASCAR Team Owner, Roger Penske and Bruton Smith, the chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc. have both fallen off the Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires. Other NASCAR related still on the list include: Roush Fenway Racing co-owner John Henry, John Menard who sponsors the #98 Ford of son Paul and Red Bull Racing owner Dietrich Mateschitz. See the full story/list at forbes.com.(3-15-2009)
- ISC issues smaller bonuses to top two execs: International Speedway Corp. issued smaller bonuses to its two top executives in 2008 than it did in 2007. According to its 2009 proxy statement filed Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, ISC Chairman Jim France's total compensation was $1.04 million in 2008 - $48,000 less than what he made in 2007 with his bonus about $28,000 less than a year ago. ISC President Lesa France Kennedy's bonus was more than $25,000 less than a year ago, and her total compensation was $768,454, down from $814,159 in 2007. Executive Vice President John Saunders and Senior Vice President Roger VanDerSnick did receive higher bonuses and overall compensation. Saunders' total compensation was $639,450 in 2008 compared with $632,944 in 2007, while VanDerSnick made $507,345 in 2008 compared with $457,002 in 207. As of March 9, the France Family Group owned 68.91 percent of the voting stock in the company. Jim France, brother of the late Bill France Jr., is listed as owning 46.23 percent of the voting stock, while Betty Jane France, Bill France Jr.'s widow, owns 20.57 percent. Lesa France Kennedy, Bill France Jr.'s daughter, owns 2.66 percent, and Brian France, Bill France Jr.'s son, owns 0.23 percent. All are members of the France Family Group, which also includes their children.(Scene Daily)(3-13-2009)
- More on the "Start and Park": How closely will NASCAR watch for "start and park" teams in this time of less than fully funded fields in Cup races? And how harshly will NASCAR deal with them? That depends on who you talk to within NASCAR. Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton largely confirms what scenedaily.com began reporting Friday: that NASCAR is watching closely. But two officials with higher seniority are taking a more benign posture.
Jim Hunter, NASCAR's veteran vice president for corporate communications, wonders how and why NASCAR could enforce start and park.
And NASCAR president Mike Helton doesn't even like to use the term "start and park" anyway. Could NASCAR actually prove a driver has parked, not for mechanical reasons stated, but to save money and still collect the minimum prize to start? "Sure we can," Pemberton said Sunday. "If somebody says the motor was sputtering due to a fuel-pump problem, we can take it apart and look at it." Bottom line, "We're encouraging people to come in and race," Pemberton said.
But, said Hunter, "It's not an issue that's paramount to the success or failure of an event, so why is it an issue [at all]." Said Helton, "I don't look at them as start and parks. I look at them as teams and drivers that are trying to figure out how to get into the sport, and that's a good thing. People talk about start and park as a negative thing, so I don?t like to use that term. "I think of it more as people who have an opportunity," Helton said. "Maybe they're not up to speed yet. Maybe they're not quite capable of doing things that they want to do one day. And this is the way they get started." Helton agrees that "What Robin was referring to, we're watching to be sure that that [getting started] is the intent of these owners."
"If you were going to label somebody a start-and-parker, you would have to understand his financial situation," Hunter says. "Does the guy who might do it this week and not do it next week? Does he have the money to buy tires to really race?" It's race by race, case by case, so that there are so many factors that I don't think it's an issue," Hunter said.(ESPN Insider)(3-12-2009)
- NASCAR scrutinizing start and park team reasons UPDATE: NASCAR won’t create a hard-line rule prohibiting Sprint Cup teams from starting a race and then parking their car a few laps later, but NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Friday there is an increased emphasis on making sure that the reason a team gives for falling out of the race is legitimate. Although there are only 36 cars that have the funding to run the entire season, several teams are trying to make races each week. In past years, when there haven’t been 43 fully funded cars, some drivers started the race, parked in the opening laps and pocketed the last-place money. “We owe it to the garage area [to make sure] that everybody is on the up-and-up,” Pemberton said in the Atlanta Motor Speedway garage Friday. “When they call [they’re] out, we will continue to look at what put those cars at. What we’re going to encourage at this level here is that people participate and do what they can do to race. What we want to prevent is someone legitimately trying to do a race setup and getting bumped out by somebody that may have gone above and beyond what the spirit of the rules are.” Pemberton said NASCAR doesn’t expect every team to be able to run up front, but those that make the final 43 need to be on the track racing someone. “There’s people that aren’t top-10 cars but they compete against other people that are 25th through 35th,” Pemberton said. “We need to encourage those guys to race each other.” As far as the Nationwide and Truck events, where there have traditionally been start-and-park racers over the last few years, Pemberton said there could be a little more leniency. “There’s more at stake with the purses and whatever else that goes on [in Cup], but we are going to encourage the level of competition throughout the ranks the best that we can,” Pemberton said.(SceneDaily)(3-6-2009)
UPDATE: That panic attack – combined with the weakness implied by having a less than full field – forced NASCAR to do whatever it could simply to bring teams to the race track. At Atlanta, an anonymous Truck Series driver also told Frontstretch that NASCAR had contacted them personally about running a Fontana start and park – a choice they decided not to make after NASCAR figured out they’d have enough trucks without them making an unscheduled trip to California. “NASCAR came to me and said they wanted more cars, they wanted to park,” said the owner/driver. “[So] we were going to go out there [Fontana] and do a start and park…for NASCAR.”(Frontstretch)(3-11-2009)
- NASCAR creates formula for setting restart zone: NASCAR has established a formula for determining the length of the restart zone on the track. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway that officials will take the pit-road speed limit, double that figure and then set that as the distance in feet of the restart zone. At the start of this season, NASCAR created a zone where the leader must restart the race instead of giving the leader discretion from a certain area coming out of Turn 4 up to the starting line to restart the race. The rule is designed to create a more consistent restart at each track. Pit-road speeds typically range from 30 to 55 mph, depending on the length of the track. That means the restart zone will vary from 60-110 feet, depending on the track. "It will be twice the pit-road speed," Pemberton said. "It's a means to get variable lengths in there for the race track itself. It's something the garage area asked us to do. Is it perfect; maybe, maybe not. But, it's a start."(NASCAR Official Release)(3-7-2009)
- Restart Line changes again: NASCAR is still experimenting with new distances for the restart zone. This weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it’s 90 feet. The zone two weeks ago was 50 feet at Daytona. Last week, it was 110 feet at Auto Club Speedway in California. NASCAR has created the restart zone to limit the area where the leader may restart the event. Nationwide Series drivers were told of the change during their prerace drivers meeting Saturday.(SceneDaily)(2-28-2009)
- Get well UPDATE 2: NASCAR vice president for broadcasting Robbie Weiss remains hospitalized in Charlotte for treatment of a brain aneurysm suffered last Thursday. Weiss, 38, is in the intensive care unit at Presbyterian Hospital.(Charlotte Observer)(1-29-2009)
UPDATE: When NASCAR executive Robbie Weiss recently suffered a life-threatening aneurysm, France dispatched a company plane to bring Weiss' parents and family to him.(ESPN)
UPDATE 2: Robbie Weiss, NASCAR's Vice President of Broadcasting, will be discharged today from a rehabilitation facility after less than two weeks of treatment. He will now be allowed to recuperate from his brain aneurysm as an out patient. Weiss suffered the aneurysm in late January and has been recovering since. Weiss is looking forward to regaining his normal life away from any and all institutions.(CaptainThunderRacing.com)(2-24-2009)
- NASCAR does not check video on rainout finishes: Jeff Gordon told his team last week after the Daytona 500 that he believed he could have been scored 12th instead of 13th in that Sprint Cup race, depending on the interpretation of NASCAR rules and policies. The final verdict: He was 13th. Here's why Gordon was confused: When the caution comes out during a race, the field is frozen and reset to the previous scoring line. Depending on the track, there are a dozen or so scoring lines spread throughout the oval. But NASCAR policy is that on the last lap, it uses video in addition to the scoring lines to determine the final position. Gordon believed he had passed David Reutimann after passing the scoring line, but before the caution came out for rain in the Daytona 500. NASCAR later called the race because of rain. Gordon crew chief Steve Letarte discussed the situation with NASCAR officials after the race to learn about the interpretation, which was that NASCAR will only use video on the final scheduled lap or green-white-checkered situation. "We use the [non-video freezing] of the field because we didn't know that we weren't going to go back [racing]," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Friday at Auto Club Speedway.(Scene Daily)(2-23-2009)
- NASCAR evaluating new restart rule: UPDATE: NASCAR is evaluating the 50-foot distance announced at the Budweiser Shootout as the new standard for the leader to restart an event. It could decrease from track to track based on driver input, officials said. Under the new rule, the leader has between the double-red line 50 feet from the start-finish line and single-red line at the start-finish line to start the race. Otherwise, the starter on the flag stand will start the field.(ESPN.com)(2-14-2009)
UPDATE: NASCAR has increased the restart zone for the leader to restart the race from 50 feet to 110 feet. Prior to this season, drivers had the entire distance from the restart line (typically coming out of Turn 4) to the starting line in order to mash the gas and restart the event. NASCAR created a 50-foot restart zone last week at Daytona International Speedway. If a driver didn’t restart the race by the end of the zone, the flagman would wave the green and restart the event. That distance apparently was too small. NASCAR has increased the length to 110 feet for the races at Auto Club Speedway in California this weekend.(Scene Daily)(2-22-2009)
- NASCAR comments on quick Daytona 500 call: Here's Robin Pemberton, NASCAR VP of Competition on the issue of if the Daytona 500 should be run to completion: "That's fine if we didn't have other obligations further on down the road. Teams had to start traveling out here Monday evening or Tuesday at some time. It is a great race. There's a lot of prestige that goes along with it but it is just one of our many, many races that we conduct during the season and all of our races basically have the same guidelines whether its rain-shortened and what we try to do for the fans and out of respect for the people who are sitting in the stands.(Roanoke Times)(2-21-2009)
- Single File Restarts with 20 laps to go: NASCAR will use single-file lineups for restarts with 20 laps remaining in all three national series this year, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said today. The previous rule called for single-file restarts with only 10 laps remaining. All other restarts had lapped cars on the inside lane. NASCAR is still allowing for the first driver one-lap down [Lucky Dog] to get back on the lead lap until there are 10 laps left in the race. Pemberton said the rule was to allow the leaders more room to race following a caution in the waning laps. “We’ve been talking to the crews, teams and drivers and we felt like it was a time to make a change,” Pemberton said. “We haven’t taken away the lucky dog and haven’t hurt anybody from getting a lap back.”(SceneDaily)(2-22-2009)
- NASCAR: Drivers pass preseason drug tests UPDATE but...: NASCAR does not anticipate suspending any drivers who took their preseason drug tests last week in North Carolina, sanctioning body spokesman Ramsey Poston said. “We are proud of how the process worked so far,” Poston said in a statement. “All drivers, crew members and officials will have passed the substance-abuse test going into the season.” Drivers in NASCAR’s three national series must pass a drug test during the preseason, and most drivers took their test last week at the NASCAR Research and Development Center. This is the first season that NASCAR is requiring its drivers to pass a preseason drug test. Its previous policy allowed NASCAR to test at any time for reasonable suspicion – which is still the policy today – but did not require the passing of a preseason test. Teams had to submit crew rosters and list those who had passed a drug test in order to have them licensed to work on the cars. “We will continue to randomly test throughout the season,” Poston said, “and our reasonable suspicion remains in place, making NASCAR’s substance abuse policy one of the most comprehensive in sports.”(SceneDaily)(1-31-2009)
UPDATE: All drivers in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Nationwide Truck Series passed the first round of drug testing under NASCAR's new policy, officials said on Thursday, but that wasn't the case for crew members. Kevin Harvick said two pit crew members for his Truck Series team were released after failed tests and he expects there are others throughout all three series. "There's definitely more out there,'' Harvick said during media day at Daytona International Speedway. "There's a lot of people that are looking for jobs right now that are straight-up people. It couldn't have come at a better time.'' NASCAR implemented a policy that calls for mandatory preseason testing for all drivers and crew members and random testing throughout the season by an independent laboratory after former Truck Series driver Aaron Fike admitted last season he competed under the influence of heroin. The tests are focused on narcotics, beta blockers and steroids. Random testing will be done at the track almost every race weekend, beginning at Daytona next week. Anywhere from 12 to 14 crew members and two drivers per series will be tested each weekend. A failed test by a driver will be made public, but not those by crew members. Three failed tests will result in an automatic lifetime ban. In the past, testing was done only on "reasonable suspicion.''(ESPN.com)(2-6-2009)
- Newman questions timeline of drug testing: Ryan Newman supports NASCAR's new drug-testing policy for 2009 but says he was surprised that the sanctioning body so clearly defined a designated time frame for the tests. "I might be opening up a can of worms when I say this, but why would you announce you're going to have a drug-testing time?" Newman said during the Stewart-Haas Racing portion of the Sprint Media Tour hosted by Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I mean the whole idea of announcing it kind of takes away from the people that know how to cheat the system. Obviously, I know there's probably going to be some follow-ups with certain people ... but it just seems to me that you're only eliminating the really, really naďve people in the first testing or in the first screening like this." The sanctioning body issued a memo to teams in December, requiring they submit drug-testing results from all crew members, spotters and race-day support personnel, including engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists, by Jan. 16. NASCAR was to oversee drug testing for all drivers beginning the week of Jan. 20.(Scene Daily)(1-30-2009)
- Feds say NASCAR violated rules in plane crash: NASCAR violated federal regulations when it allowed a plane involved in a deadly 2007 crash outside Orlando, Fla., to return to the air without maintenance after a pilot reported an electrical malfunction the previous day, federal investigators said Wednesday. The crash -- which killed five people, including two children and an adult on the ground -- was partly a result of sloppy maintenance record-keeping at NASCAR's aviation unit, staff investigators told the National Transportation Safety Board Wednesday. NASCAR has a fleet comparable to a small charter operation or a tiny airline. The board was set to vote later in the day on determining the official cause of the July 10, 2007, crash in Sanford. Investigators said the pilot flying the plane the day before the crash deactivated the plane's radar system in mid-flight when it began producing a burning smell. The pilot submitted an incident report to the maintenance division, but the problem was not inspected before the plane was allowed back in the air the next day. Instead, the radar system was kept off. The pilot in charge on the day of the crash was told of the incident before he took off, investigators said, but may have believed the radar system was simply broken. Instead, an electrical problem reoccurred, this time tragically, as the plane was making a 100-mile trip from Daytona Beach to Lakeland. "I think we're going to find that this accident started before the airplane even left the ground," said NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt. "We're going to see that the organization ... enabled this tragic, unnecessary crash." Investigators said they found that NASCAR kept poor records of maintenance problems with its planes and had no system for ensuring that reports were addressed.
NASCAR couldn't provide a copy of the maintenance report that the pilot submitted the day before the crash, for example. The accident killed a woman and her and 6-month-old son when their home was hit by the plane, as well as a 4-year-old child in a second house that was hit. NASCAR pilot Michael Klemm and the husband of a NASCAR executive, Bruce Kennedy, also died in the accident. Board members expressed frustration that corporate flight divisions aren't subject to greater oversight.(AP/ESPN.com.(1-28-2009)
- NASCAR works with teams to improve business models: NASCAR chairman Brian France has ordered a companywide hiring freeze and suspended executive bonuses as the sanctioning body adjusts to the economic crisis. Although many teams went through offseason layoffs - it's estimated at least 600 people from various organizations have lost their jobs since November's season-ending race - NASCAR itself has been immune to staff reductions so far. But France said Thursday that open positions will not immediately be filled as NASCAR tightens its belt the same way most of corporate America has done since the economy began to falter last fall. "We're trying to do more with less. That's the difficult part of this economy," France said following his state-of-the-sport address to media at NASCAR's Research and Development Center. "It's internal, but we've instituted some things that we're trying to be responsible with our financial issues." France said he's also directed his management group to work with NASCAR teams in developing new business models that can help them withstand the current economic crisis. A sport heavily dependent on corporate sponsorship, NASCAR is increasing its involvement in helping teams locate and secure partners at a time when funding can be difficult to find. The initiative is run by its Charlotte-based "industry marketing" arm, a four-person department that works closely with teams to find sponsorship. "They're out in the marketplace trying to help the teams secure sponsorship," chief marketing officer Steve Phelps said. "They're out trying to help the teams create packages that will be meaningful for sponsors that are looking to get into our sport. And they try to create meaningful points of difference from team to team, driver to driver, that create something special that that sponsor might look for. It's more important what they do now more so than any time in its history based on the difficulty in the economy." Sponsorship woes have dramatically - and quickly - altered the landscape of NASCAR's top three series over the past several months.(Associated Press)(1-24-2009)
- Deadline for team drug testing nears: NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck teams have one more week to file an initial list of crew members who have passed a drug test and are eligible for a NASCAR license. NASCAR issued a memo to teams last month, setting a Jan. 16 deadline for crew members, which includes all over-the-wall pit crew members, the crew chief, car chief, pit crew support, including team members that are responsible for tires, fuel, and pit crew operation, as well as spotters and race day support, including engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists, to have the test results. All tests must be conducted by a laboratory certified by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Teams do not need to submit the names of crewmen who don’t pass. NASCAR plans to oversee the testing of drivers itself, beginning the week of Jan. 20, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Thursday. According to NASCAR policy, any driver who fails a test will be indefinitely suspended.(Scene Daily)(1-12-2009)