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CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 25: Dale Earnhardt Jr. gives a statement announcing his retirement from NASCAR after the 2017 season at the Hendrick Motorsports Team Center on April 25, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) | Getty Images

April 25 – Today in Jayski’s NASCAR history

April 25, 2003

  • Steve Park wins the pole at California: #1-Steve Park wins the pole for the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway with a speed of 186.838, his 3rd pole of his career and first since Homestead in Nov 2000. Nice to see with all the rumors floating around. #9-Bill Elliott was the first to go out in qualifying and held the pole until Park went out 37th, Elliott hangs on to the outside pole, 2nd. #20-Tony Stewart starts 3rd, his best starting spot of 2003. Missing the race are #66-Hideo Fukuyama and #83-Kerry Earnhardt. See Jayski’s California Qualifying Page for the results, lineup links, who takes provisionals and who missed the race, along with notes and other jayski oddities.(4-25-2003)
  • Some California Qualifying Notes: #29-Kevin Harvick had a very slow 1st lap and pulled off the track after the first lap, when he exited the car, Harvick said the car was so loose he couldn’t drive it. #22-Ward Burton went out and pulled the car back in with an engine problem, a left engine head head gasket, NASCAR went out and inspected the track.(4-25-2003)
  • The Big Mac [a jayski fave] Cup? McDonald’s is negotiating with NASCAR for naming rights to the Winston Cup Series, according to a Bloomberg News report. McDonald’s has always been among the companies considered as possible replacements for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco as the series’ title sponsor, a deal said to be worth between $40 million and $60 million. "Are we interested? Sure," John Lewicki, head of sports marketing for McDonald’s, told Bloomberg. "If it makes sense for us, we’ll absolutely look at it." NASCAR vice president for communications Jim Hunter said Friday the sanctioning body is having discussions with several companies about title sponsorship of its top series, but would not comment on any specific companies involved.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-25-2003)
  • Robby Gordon to run Indy? UPDATE: hearing there will be an announcement soon regarding #31-Robby Gordon’s attempt to run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on May 25th, no word on the team or sponsor…yet.(4-25-2003)
    UPDATE: Indianapolis 500 veteran Robby Gordon will replace Dario Franchitti in the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola/Budweiser Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Andretti Green Racing during the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500. Gordon, who has eight career Indianapolis 500 starts, will run both the ‘500’ and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, marking the fourth time in his career he has attempted to run both events in one day. Last season Gordon successfully completed "the Memorial Day double," finishing eighth in the Indianapolis 500 and 16th in the 600-mile Winston Cup event held annually at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. "I’m thrilled to have the chance to attempt one of the ultimate racing challenges again this year and hopefully win both races," said Gordon. "I’ve run the Indy 500 eight times and been competitive and run near the front each year. I certainly haven’t given up on the goal of winning both races and hope 2003 will be my year to do it. Running in an Andretti Green prepared-car will no doubt give me a good shot at having one win down and one to go when I head to Charlotte that afternoon." Gordon, who drives the #31 Cingular Wireless entry for Richard Childress Racing, is currently in 14th place in the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup point standings and finished sixth at the season-opening Daytona 500. He won the 2001 season-ending Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway. "I want to thank Richard, all of the guys on the Cingular Wireless team, and everyone at RCR for letting me chase one of my dreams," said Gordon. Gordon owns five top-10 finishes in his eight Indianapolis 500 starts, one of which was a fourth place run in 1999 when he ran out of fuel while leading with less than two laps to go. Gordon’s entry is part of a four-car Indianapolis 500 effort by Andretti Green Racing which is owned by Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree. Andretti is seeking to qualify for his 14th Indy 500 and make the final start of his racing career behind the wheel of the #7 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Tony Kanaan, who is nursing a broken left arm sustained in a crash during the Indy Japan, plans to qualify the #11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Rookie Dan Wheldon, who passed rookie orientation last week in the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, is looking to become the first British driver since Nigel Mansell to start the Indy 500. "Having Robby in our car for the month of May gives us a great shot to win the Indy 500, although we expect all four of our cars to compete for the win," said Michael Andretti. "It’s just peace of mind for us, knowing we’ve added another veteran in our lineup who knows his way around the Speedway and knows how to prepare for the biggest race of the year."
    Indy 500 Career Summary
    Starts – 8
    Total Laps – 1,367
    Best Start – 3rd (2001)
    Best Finish – 4th (1999)
    Top 5 – 3
    Top 10 – 5
    Races Led – 5
    Laps Led – 53
    Winnings $1,615,283(RCR PR)(4-25-2003)
  • Gordon’s near miss: Jeff Gordon’s victory in the Virginia 500 would have been a lot harder to pull off if NASCAR officials hadn’t been gracious. They called for Gordon’s crew chief, Robbie Loomis, twice at the start of the drivers’ meeting before Loomis finally materialized, barking "Here" as he stormed into the meeting and took a seat. The rest of the drivers and crew chiefs joined in a chorus of "Oooooooh" and laughed at the near miss. NASCAR could have sent Gordon to the back of the field if Loomis had been late for the mandatory meeting. "I was getting a little nervous," Gordon said. "Usually it’s the other way around – he’s looking for me, going `Where’s Jeff?’ – and I show up just in the nick of time. He was just getting me back."(Mercury News)(4-25-2003)
  • Earnhardt Car Cruise Saturday: Organizers say they are expecting thousands to show up Saturday for Kannapolis’ [NC] ‘Remembering Dale Cool Car Cruise and Show.’ The celebration falls on the birthday of Kannapolis native and racing legend Dale Earnhardt. The show opens at 8:00am at Cannon Village with entertainment beginning at 10:00am. More than 200 cars, trucks and motorcycles will be on display from all across the region, said Patti Rader of the Kannapolis Business Council. The business council is promoting the event to raise money for the Dale Earnhardt Tribute site.(Independent Tribune)(4-25-2003)
  • Rudd, Elliott to be honored: On Sunday, Ricky Rudd and Bill Elliott will be presented with personalized belt buckles commemorating their first Winston Cup victory 20 years ago at Riverside International Raceway. California Speedway executive Les Richter was general manager at RIR at the time before joining NASCAR.(Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)(4-25-2003)
  • More on a potential tire war: adding another tire maker to the Winston Cup garage, a development that may be in NASCAR’s future, could be a nightmare for teams, although it would certainly add unexpected elements to each race. At the height of the last NASCAR tire war, with Hoosier eight years ago, Goodyear was custom-designing tires for each track in the Winston Cup series. That meant that teams had to keep up with more than 50 tire designs, an expensive prospect for team owners and a major headache for crew chiefs. And tire designs frequently changed even for the same track from race to race. But during the past two years, Goodyear has trimmed the number of tire codes to just 18, mixed and matched for the 23 tracks. However Goodyear has cut back on its NASCAR testing during the past six months, which some Winston Cup teams are questioning.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-25-2003)
  • Rock n’ Roll at Richmond in Sept: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. featuring the band Staind; #33 [Truck]-Tony Stewart featuring the band Diamond Rio; #15 or #99 Busch -Michael Waltrip featuring the band Hootie & The Blow Fish; will run at Richmond in Sept. Supposedly the "Chevy Rocks" program is said to be similar to the Looney Tunes program ran at Richmond the last couple of years in that it will include many Chevy teams from Cup and maybe some Busch and Truck Series.(4-25-2003)
  • Robby Gordon scheme: #31-Robby Gordon will run a special Cingular FDNY paint scheme in August at Watkins Glen.(4-25-2003)
  • Elliott Scheme at the Brickyard: 2002 Brickyard 400 winner, #9-Bill Elliott will run a speical 10th Running of the Brickyard scheme at Indianapolis in August. See my Paint Schemes Gallery – Car #’s 0-23 for the image.(4-25-2003)
  • Charity Auction News: NASCAR.com will partner with The Hendrick Marrow Program to host a charity auction featuring NASCAR memorabilia. For five days, beginning April 24, participants will be able to bid on eBay for NASCAR memorabilia such as an autographed Jeff Gordon Race-Run Bumper, an autographed Jimmie Johnson Race-Run Hood and an autographed Lithograph from seven-time Winston Cup Champion, Dale Earnhardt. For the full list and links, see my Racing Charities page.(4-25-2003)
  • Bass off to Chicago: Sharpie, the world’s most popular family of permanent markers made by Sanford, is proud to welcome Sam Bass, the first officially licensed artist of NASCAR, as its guest on May 2 from 10:00am to 12:00noon (Booth No. 1808) at the National Art Materials Trade Association (NAMTA) annual convention held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago May 1 – May 3. Bass will be showcasing his works and autographing fine art posters of his latest creation, a piece depicting one of NASCAR’s "young guns" – Sharpie sponsored driver, Kurt Busch (#97 Ford). For more than 20 years, Bass has been immortalizing the legends of NASCAR with his realistic illustrations using Sharpie markers and his watercolor originals. From the late Dale Earnhardt to Jeff Gordon to Kurt Busch, Bass has captured the personalities that catapulted NASCAR into the fastest growing spectator sport in the United States.(Sam Bass PR), see full PR on my Collectibles Links and News page.(4-25-2003)
  • Looney Tunes for Gordon and others at Phoenix: Jeff Gordon will take time from racing today to go Hollywood. At Warner Bros. Studios, the "Looney Tunes – Back in Action" movie will be formally introduced to the entertainment media at a press conference that will include an appearance by Gordon and the unveiling of the DuPont #24 Fire & Flames show car decked out with Looney Tunes images. Last year Gordon and the #24 car filmed a cameo scene in the movie, playing opposite animated Looney Tunes characters Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and others. The picture will debut nationally for holiday audiences in November. To promote the release of this new WB show, with the Looney Tunes gang, the graphic design of the DuPont Fire & Flames #24 Monte Carlo and Jeff’s Fire & Flames uniform will carry images of Looney Tunes characters during the Sunday, November 2 Winston Cup race at Phoenix. In addition, a DuPont Motorsports Network Sponsor brand, Zodiaq quartz surfaces, appears on the #24 car TV panel for this special theme race at Phoenix.(DuPont Site – thanks to many readers for the heads up)(4-24-2003)
    UPDATE: In the Looney Tunes: Back In Action NASCAR Winston Cup race, #24-Jeff Gordon will team up with Yosemite Sam on his Looney Tunes-branded Chevrolet, along with driver #25-Joe Nemechek who will feature graphics of Bugs Bunny on his #25 UAW-Delphi Chevrolet. Kerry Earnhardt will join forces once again with Yosemite Sam in the NASCAR Busch Series race where he will drive his #12 Supercuts Chevrolet, and for the first time ever, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck event will be even more animated when Kevin Harvick hooks up with his favorite Looney Tunes teammate, the Tasmanian Devil on his #6 Chevrolet truck.(Action PR), see an image of Gordon’s car on my 2003 Winston Cup Paint Schemes Gallery – Cars #’s 24-99.(4-25-2003)
  • Some Politics – Jesse Jackson and NASCAR UPDATE: getting more questions on this [since is was mentioned last Thursday night on the Fox News O’Reilly Factor show], have something that was posted back on April 3rd, see my Past NASCAR News/Rumors page.
    AND MORE NLPC vs. NASCAR: The National League and Policy Center pushed its protest of NASCAR’s contributions to Jesse Jackson to television last week. Peter Flaherty, president of the NLPC, contends Jackson abuses his nonprofit privileges and that NASCAR has made $250,000 in donations in the last two years to his organizations to create the guise of diversity. "Our message to NASCAR is you don’t take short cuts to diversity by paying off Jesse Jackson," Flaherty told The O’Reilly Factor host Bill O’Reilly. "This whole thing started in 1999, when Jesse Jackson complained to NASCAR that they had no black drivers at the Winston Cup level, which is the major league of stock car racing." Flaherty said IRS records show NASCAR is Jackson’s top contributor among professional sport organizations. "I think what (NASCAR) is trying to do is insulate themselves from charges of racism," Flaherty said. "I think it is an insult to the NASCAR fan." O’Reilly, who said if Jackson is "shaking down" NASCAR it’s an insult to "every American," asked NASCAR to participate in the show, but the racing organization declined.(Augusta Chronicle)(4-24-2003)
    UPDATE see NASCAR’s response and an excellent column at NASCAR.com: A reluctant foray into political writing by Marty Smith; and NASCAR statement on Rainbow/PUSH Conference.(4-25-2003)
  • Harvick on the pole at California: the Buschwackers continiue to have sucess in the Busch Series, as Winston Cup driver, #21-Kevin Harvick won the pole for the 1-800-PITSHOP.COM 300 at California Speedway, with a speed of 183.941 (2mph fastest then the 2nd fastest). Starting 2nd is #99-Michael Waltrip at 181.745, followed by #2-Ron Hornaday at 181.479, #87-David Reutimann at 181.077, and #59-Stacy Compton at 181.046.
    For results/lineup, see BGNRacing.com and NASCAR.com.(4-25-2003)
  • Fans to help out Wallace: Through Gearhead Racing Fans, NASCAR enthusiasts now have the opportunity to become involved with top notch teams in the NASCAR Busch Series. In an effort to raise awareness for the need of sponsorship in the Busch Series, Gearhead Racing Fans has joined Biagi Bros. Racing as an associate sponsor of the No. 4 GEICO Racing Chevrolet of Mike Wallace for Saturday’s running of the 1-800-Pit-Shop.com 300 from California Speedway. "Gearhead Racing Fans is a growing group of NASCAR fans dedicated to helping Busch Series teams financially through sponsorship," said team owner, Fred Biagi. "We are thankful that the fans have come together to support our team. NASCAR fans have made this sport what it is today and the fans are what this sport is all about." Gearhead Racing Fans is a membership organization from which fees are pooled and used to sponsor select race teams. Sponsor benefits are then passed through to the members allowing the opportunity to receive autographed merchandise, V.I.P. access to Busch Series events and the chance to meet the drivers. "The sponsorship of Mike Wallace at California continues our support of top quality Busch Series drivers in 2003. Mike is a fan favorite and this show of support from NASCAR fans is well deserved," said Tom Myers, president and founder of Gearhead Racing Fans. "Mike and the Biagi Bros. Racing team have made great strides with their program in 2003 and Gearhead recognizes their potential. We anticipate a long relationship with Mike and Biagi Bros. and hope to build on our relationship as the year goes on." For more information on Gearhead Racing Fans, please visit www.gearheadfans.com or e-mail Tom Myers at tom@gearheadfans.com.(PR)(4-25-2003)

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