- Montoya wins pole at Talladega: #42-Juan Pablo Montoya won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway with a lap of 188.171mph for his 1st career pole. #16-Biffle will start 2nd, followed by #1-Truex Jr., #77-Hornish Jr., #33-Bowyer, #78-Smith, #5-Martin, #82-Speed, #09-Keselowski and #6-Ragan.
Times disallowed: two teams have had their qualifying times disallowed, #7-Gordon and #43-Sorenson. Supposedly the cars didn’t meet height requirements, so both will start at the rear of the field and penalties could be announced next week. Sorenson was set to start 34 and Gordon 38th
The non Top-35 drivers who made the race: #78-Smith, #82-Speed, #09-Keselowski, #87-Nemechek, #36-Riggs, #71-Gilliland, #41-Mayfield and #13-Papis
Two drivers failed to qualify: #66-McDowell and #4-McClure.
See qualifying results, order, pole progression and starting lineup on my Talladega Qualifying/Starting Lineup page.(4-25-2009)
- Mikey undecided about future plans: #55-Michael Waltrip says it is too early to decide if he will retire at the end of this season or return in 2010. Waltrip has not won a race since 2003 and enters Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway 25th in the Sprint Cup standings. He could retire and devote his full energy to running Michael Waltrip Racing, which also fields entries for #00-David Reutimann and #47-Marcos Ambrose. Waltrip opened the season with a seventh-place finish in the Daytona 500, but has finished 24th or worse in five other Cup races. Waltrip said on Saturday that he still wants to race, believes he can win again in the #55 and wants to win a championship for his longtime sponsor (NAPA).(Associated Press)(4-25-2009)
- RCR Kicks off 40th Anniversary Celebration Where it All Began: What began in September 1969 as a stroke of good fortune for a young driver with a dream has become one of the more storied franchises in sports history. Richard Childress Racing launched its 40th anniversary celebration today at Talladega Superspeedway, the track where Richard Childress made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut and where good fortune shined on his racing destiny. The RCR 40th Anniversary Celebration will continue through Nov. 1, 2009, the length of time between the two Sprint Cup Series races at Talladega. The cornerstone of the program will include the Pick the Greatest RCR Moment contest on RCR’s website, where fans will vote on one of a dozen great moments in RCR history, with one lucky fan winning RCR’s VIP prize package for two to the Oct. 30-Nov. 1 AMP Energy 500 weekend. "I’ve been very fortunate in my racing career and I look forward to giving something back to the fans and sharing with them some of the great stories from the past 40 years," explained Childress. "Talladega has always been a special place to me, from Mr. France (Bill France Sr.) allowing me to get my first Cup Series start there to some of the great runs Dale (Earnhardt) had to trying to win the race here this weekend. It just made sense to kick things off at Talladega. I’m looking forward to spending time with the winner of the Pick the Greatest RCR Moment contest in October." Additional activities during the RCR 40th Anniversary Celebration will include a monthly breakdown of RCR highlights, from Childress’ driving career to the halcyon days with the legendary Dale Earnhardt and the famed black #3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolets to the current six-team operation with drivers Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Casey Mears, Stephen Leicht and Austin Dillon. The Winston-Salem, N.C., native started 26th and finished 23rd in that first Talladega race. Childress drove a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro after competing in the same car the day before in a support race for the inaugural event at what was then known as Alabama International Motor Speedway. He only competed in the race when NASCAR founder Bill France asked him to help fill the field after the regular series drivers refused to drive on the brand new 2.66-mile high-banked facility. Childress invested the money he made that weekend in a small piece of land where he built a race shop and, as is so often said, the rest is history.(RCR PR)(4-25-2009)
- some schemes added: #33 The Hartford, #41 Big Red and #42 Tums
- Chase Notes going into Talladega: #5-Mark Martin left Las Vegas five races ago with a blown engine and a season already in jeopardy. Saturday night’s win at Phoenix capped an amazing five-race run since, moving up 21 spots in the standings over that span. Martin is now breathing down the neck of #17-Matt Kenseth in 12th place, just nine points out. Matt Kenseth shocked the NASCAR world by winning the first two races of the season. His #17 team has hit hard times since, and is now in jeopardy of dropping out of the Top 12. #00-David Reutimann served notice last season that Michael Waltrip Racing had arrived and he is the leader of that effort. Another solid top 10 at Phoenix has him as the biggest surprise in the Top 12 so far. See more stats on the Chase Stats after Phoenix.(4-25-2009)
- Truex Jr. unsure of future plans: #1-Martin Truex Jr. said he’ll make a decision soon on where he’ll drive in 2010 and beyond. The two-time Nationwide champion signed a one-year deal last August to stay with Dale Earnhardt Inc., which merged with Chip Ganassi Racing in the offseason. Though Truex says he’s "100 percent committed" to Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and enjoys his crew, the timing and ambiguity caused by the merger – which moved Truex’s #1 Chevrolet into Ganassi’s shop in late December – left the team in disarray. "We just lost our way and needed time to regroup and that’s why we started out slow," he said. "We sat on our hands all winter, not because we wanted to but because we were forced into doing it, and it hurt us." Truex wouldn’t put a timetable on a career decision but said he has begun "laying the groundwork" for signing a long-term deal. "There’s a lot of things that go into this with the economy the way it is," he said. "I need to put myself in a happy home for the next three to five years. A lot of things will drive that decision."(USA Today)(4-25-2009)
- Bye-Bye Pontiac? General Motors Corp., surviving on $15.4 billion in federal loans, is expected to announce Monday that it will kill the Pontiac brand but keep GMC as part of a tougher restructuring plan being overseen by the government, sources familiar with the automaker’s plan said Friday. GM has started reaching out to Pontiac dealers ahead of a public announcement about the brand’s future, when the automaker likely will also outline permanent plant closures, more job cuts and a tougher offer to bondholders to slash the automaker’s $28 billion in unsecured debt.(Detroit News)
BUT: As General Motors Corp. races to come up with another turnaround plan, there has been growing speculation that the Detroit automaker will drop its Pontiac brand. The company tried to pat down those reports Friday with a statement saying it has not yet announced any changes to its long-term viability plan. "GM is continuing to review its restructuring plan to go further and faster and best ensure its future success," the company said in a statement. "Additional information will be released as any decisions are finalized."(Detorit Free Press), Pontiac ran in many Sprint Cup races, winning 155 races before leaving the sport after the 2003 season. See past news on my Pontiac News Page.(4-25-2009)
- Owner-Driver Breakthrough Victory could be at Hand for Stewart: You have to go all the way back to Sept. 27, 1998 to find the last time a driver-owner won an event in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Ricky Rudd raced to victory that day at Martinsville Speedway. After eight races this season, #14-Tony Stewart appears poised to end that drought. Stewart comes into Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway fourth in the series points – and comes off a season-best second-place finish at Phoenix. Stewart, in his first year heading up the new Stewart-Haas Racing operation, has accelerated the progress of his team and now, he comes to one of NASCAR’s fastest tracks, the 2.66-mile Talladega tri-oval. The high-banked layout also happens to be the place where Stewart’s last previous NASCAR Sprint Cup win occurred. Last October, Stewart captured Talladega’s fall race – his final victory for his former team at Joe Gibbs Racing. Although he’s still after his first win as a driver-owner, Stewart has quickly developed a championship style consistency. Which means, for the first time since Alan Kulwicki’s magical march to the series title in 1992, the words "driver-owner" and "championship" are compatible when used in the same sentence. "This is the best start to the season that I’ve ever had in my career," Stewart said. "The last three weeks have just been amazing. I mean, it’s been so much fun. We’ve been in contention. We’ve led laps. We’re doing everything right. It’s just a matter of time. We are consistent now and that’s the way you’ve got to be. We’re just clicking them off one at a time here. I don’t think any of us would have predicted we would be in the top five in points."(NASCAR PR)(4-25-2009)
- Edwards part of drivers group to run Ford Fusion Hybrid a 1,000 miles: This weekend, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is being put to the ultimate fuel-efficiency test. A team of drivers, including NASCAR star Carl Edwards and world-record breaking hypermiler Wayne Gerdes, will attempt to drive more than 1,000 miles on a single tank of gas, raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in the process. The 1,000-Mile Challenge starts at around 8:00am on Saturday, April 25, from Mount Vernon, VA, and ends the morning of Monday, April 27, in Washington, D.C. The team will drive for more than 43 hours continuously to reach the 1,000-mile goal. The drivers will do stints of between two and three hours each and will have regular breaks to ensure safe driving is maintained.(ford.com)(4-25-2009)
- Gordon’s back still hurtin’: from a GM Racing Jeff Gordon Press Conference Transcript:
LAST WEEK YOU WEREN’T FEELING THAT GREAT AND YOUR BACK WAS HURTING YOU, IS IT BETTER NOW? "There are certainly tracks that are definitely harder on my back and Phoenix is one of them. Richmond coming up will be another one. Martinsville, Bristol and road courses. The pain has not subsided any, the way that the muscle reacts and spasms is not getting any better but I’m getting stronger and I don’t expect it to happen overnight and go away. It’s going to take time. Last week my back wasn’t what was preventing us from being more competitive, I think it was a combination of things. I was sick. I didn’t feel like I gave good feedback to the team throughout the whole weekend. We qualified good and we picked the number two pit stall and it didn’t seem to work out as good for us as it had. We had some trouble there. All the way around it seemed like we under-performed and it’s a good wake-up call for us. I mean this is a totally different type of race this weekend but I expect us to be strong and have fun this weekend especially with the Pepsi throw back paint scheme. We’re looking forward to going to Richmond next weekend and getting our short-track program where it can be."(GM Racing PR)(4-25-2009)
- Kahne set at RPM thru 2010 UPDATE: #9-Kasey Kahne Open Interview – Dodge Motorsports Transcript:
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS ARE RIGHT NOW AT RICHARD PETTY MOTORSPORTS? ARE YOU HAPPY? ARE YOU EXPLORING OTHER OPTIONS? [Kahne] "I’m definitely not exploring other options. I have another year with Richard Petty Motorsports. The Gillett’s have been good to me since I came here. I made a commitment to them to race thru 2010, so I’ll do that for sure. I’ve told them from the start that if we can get our cars to where they’re right and we’re competitive with the best teams out here, then I don’t know why I’d ever want to move from that company. I like the people (at RPM). From the guys building the race cars in the shop, the engine guys to the guys painting the cars, I have a good relationship with everybody. For me to leave, I wouldn’t want to, but at the same time, I want to get a chance in some really good equipment too. I think that we’re working on that. If we get there, I’ll stay with RPM for a long time."
WOULD YOU SAY THAT WOULD BE THE DECIDING FACTOR?
"Yeah, that’s my only factor. At the end of the day, I grew up racing Sprint cars and driving for my dad. When I had a chance to drive for Steve Lewis, it was a no-brainer. He had the best equipment that there was and I took it and we won a ton of races and basically nobody’s done that since in USAC as far as the Midget series goes or before. I just feel like that at some point, I want that opportunity and hopefully it can be right where we are at."(Dodge Motorsports PR)(4-17-2009)
UPDATE: Rumors persist that #9-Kasey Kahne is exploring options outside of Richard Petty Motorsports even though he has one year left on his contract. It began with rumors that his primary sponsor, Budweiser, was stepping away after this season. The beer company knocked that one down in a hurry. Kahne did his best to dispel speculation that he is looking last weekend at Phoenix. "I’m definitely not exploring other options," he said. "I have another year with Richard Petty Motorsports. The Gilletts have been good to me since I came here. I made a commitment to them to race through 2010, so I’ll do that for sure." Beyond that? "I’ve told them from the start that if we can get our cars to where they’re right and we’re competitive with the best teams out here then I don’t know why I’d ever want to move from that company," Kahne said. "For me to leave, I wouldn’t want to, but at the same time I want to get a chance in some really good equipment too. We’re working on that. If we get there, I’ll stay with RPM for a long time."(ESPN)(4-25-2009)
- Dale Jr. and Mears are ‘cool’: from a GM Racing Dale Earnhardt Jr. Press Conference Transcript:
TALK ABOUT YOUR OPINION ON THE PROBATION AND WHAT HAPPENED AFTER LAST WEEKEND’S RACE. "I don’t really have one. Me and (Casey) Mears are cool. We’ve been buddies. What happens on the track stays on the track. It’s good to be on probation every once in a while I guess."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO CASEY ABOUT IT? "Yeah, me and Casey are real good friends so we definitely wouldn’t go the week without having a discussion about it. He’s having a better season this year but is still not satisfied and I’m definitely in the same position he is and we’re just trying to run better. It’s just frustrating. I knew that he had made a mistake because Casey doesn’t run over people but I just lost my cool. It happens."
WAS SOME OF THAT YOUR FRUSTRATION COMING OUT? "Well not really. I just hated leading the race and running good and then getting wrecked running 20th. That’s all that was."(GM Racing PR)(4-25-2009)
- Dale Jr. doesn’t comment on rumors: asked about the rumor about swapping Hendrick Motorsports swapping crew chiefs between the #88 and #5 teams, all Dale Earnhardt Jr. would say: "I don’t comment on rumors…that’s all it is. A rumor is a rumor and I don’t wanna get in the middle of that. I’ve got a job to do and I do it and shouldn’t listen to rumors."(http://www.goprn.com>PRN’s Garage Pass Radio show)(4-25-2009)
- Ward’s son to race at VIR in SCCA: Jeb Burton, 17-year old son of former NASCAR driver and Daytona 500 winner, Ward Burton, has been chosen as a guest driver for the season opener of Volkswagen of America, Inc.’s SCCA Pro Racing Jetta TDI Cup series, hosted by VIRginia International Raceway. Burton will also participate in all of the weekend’s on and off-track events, including practice and qualifying and compete in the series’ second race at VIRginia International Raceway at 2:00pm on April 26. The 2009 season marks the second year of competition for the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup. During the season, young, up and coming drivers between ages 16-26 compete in 10 events on eight road courses around North America. Each driver competing in the series will earn a Pro Racing license from SCCA at the conclusion of the season and the series champion will win $100,000. While Burton will be a full participant in the race at VIR, he is ineligible for driver points or prize money. Currently, Burton drives the No.27 State Water Heaters Chevy Impala in the Limited Sportsman Division at South Boston Speedway. He has participated in two races so far this season and finished in the top three at both.(Wardburton,com)(4-25-2009)
- Prelude to the Dream announced: On Wednesday, June 3, the Field of Dreams that is Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio will once again play host to the Prelude to the Dream. The all-star dirt Late Model race featuring 25 world renowned drivers as they battle for dirt supremacy will be presented live to the entire nation on HBO Pay-Per-View, with proceeds from the telecast going to support four military-themed charities. The fifth annual event will feature such racing icons as Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and more. All will pilot 2,300-pound dirt Late Model stock cars capable of putting out over 800 horsepower. More info on my Racing Charities page.(4-25-2009)
- Fan to ride with Harvick in Pennzoil Victory Challenge: Pennzoil is taking the excitement around the 2009 Pennzoil Victory Challenge to an even higher level by allowing one lucky fan the chance of a lifetime to ride shotgun with Kevin Harvick in the 2009 Pennzoil Victory Challenge. The second annual event is set for May 16, 2009 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway (LMS) as part of the Sprint All-Star Race pre-event festivities. The Pennzoil Victory Challenge is NASCAR’s version of a "slam dunk contest" however this contest features the sport’s top talent showing off their abilities in post-race-win celebrations in classic NASCAR smoking donut style. The driver lineup has been expanded from five drivers to seven, and like in 2008, each driver will compete in identically prepared stock cars. However, this year the new format allows each driver a longer freestyle demonstration and the panel of judges will score their creativity. The driver with the highest score from the panel will be declared the winner, with $10,000 awarded to their designated charity and a reserved spot in the 2010 Pennzoil Victory Challenge. Joining the first driver announced, #29-Kevin Harvick, will be #16-Greg Biffle (winner of the 2008 Pennzoil Victory Challenge), #24-Jeff Gordon, #33-Clint Bowyer, #18-Kyle Busch and #9-Kasey Kahne. The Pennzoil Victory Challenge will be televised live during SPEED’s pre-race coverage on Saturday, May 16th prior to the NASCAR Sprint Showdown and NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. For more info on this contest and many other racing contests, see my Racing Contest page.(4-25-2009)
- NASCAR Day ‘Goes Pink’ for Susan G. Komen for the Cure: The NASCAR Foundation has announced that NASCAR Day will "Go Pink" through a joint partnership with FOX Sports Supports and Susan G. Komen for the Cure April 24-26. Celebrated on May 15, NASCAR Day is an opportunity for fans, corporations, schools and organizations across the country to donate to The NASCAR Foundation to raise funds to help thousands of children live better lives. Through the partnership between The NASCAR Foundation, FOX Sports Supports and Komen for the Cure, a portion of the net proceeds raised through the program will benefit Komen for the Cure, supporting its promise to save lives end breast cancer forever. Specifically, the money raised will support the Susan G. Komen Scholarship Fund – a fund specifically designed for children whose mothers have lost their battle against cancer.(NASCAR PR)(4-16/25-2009)
- Crafton & crew to help Menard at Toledo ARCA race: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Paul Menard has filed an entry to compete in the ARCA RE/MAX Series "Menards 200" on Sunday, May 17 at Toledo Speedway. Due to his commitments in Charlotte on Saturday, Menard has looked to Matt Crafton, driver of the Menards entry in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to practice and qualify the car. In addition, the #98 team will be run under the direction of Crafton’s Truck Series Crew Chief Bud Haefle with assistance from Jeriod Prince both representing Sandusky, Ohio based ThorSport Racing. Crafton, Haefle and Prince will travel to Toledo following the Camping World Truck Series event in Charlotte on Friday night. They will be joined by the #88 ThorSport over-the-wall crew, who will pit for Menard during Sunday’s race.(Menards Racing PR)(4-25-2009)
- Kansas City Royals Manager visits speedway for first time: Kansas City Royals Manager Trey Hillman experienced the thrill of IndyCar Series racing in an Indy car two-seater at Kansas Speedway today. Hillman also toured the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garages and met with Mike Skinner, driver of the Randy Moss Motorsports #5. Hillman and Skinner discussed comparisons between racing and baseball, as well as their mutual respect for each other’s sport. Hillman said he follows NASCAR when he has time, but really appreciates how the sport treats its fans. "One of the things I’ve always been impressed with is how NASCAR has marketed the sport and how you guys have done an unbelievable job of catering to the fans," said Hillman.(Kansas Speedway PR)(4-25-2009)