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LOUDON, NH - JULY 20:  Jason Leffler leads a pack of trucks in his #2 Carquest Racing Dodge Ram during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Series New England 200 on July 20, 2002 at the New Hampshire International Speedway, in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

May 5 – Today in Jayski’s NASCAR history

May 5, 2004

  • Sad News: Don DeCecco, a race-day member of the #01 U.S. Army/MB2 Motorsports pit crew, passed away Tuesday (May 4) from esophageal cancer at his home in Spartanburg, S.C. He is survived by his wife Linda. A memorial service will be held Friday (May 7), 11 a.m. at Eggers Funeral Home in Spartanburg. For directions, call: 864-578-3838. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials be sent to:
    Spartanburg Humane Society
    150 Dexter Road
    Spartanburg, S.C. 29303
    Spartanburg Children’s Shelter
    P.O. Box 2663
    Spartanburg, S.C. 29304
    DeCecco, 57, was the Gas Man on the Army/MB2 pit crew. He had been associated with MB2 since the team’s first season in 1997. Prior to his MB2 involvement, DeCecco was a crew member for Hendrick Motorsports and David Pearson Racing, including Larry Pearson’s 1986 and 1987 Busch Series championship teams. "We lost an outstanding member of our MB2 family," said Jay Frye, general manager of MB2 Motorsports. "Don was a true professional who had a deep passion for motorsports. He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues at MB2. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family." DeCecco was employed at BICO South, a steel manufacturing company in Spartanburg.(5-5-2004)
  • North Carolina Test Facility Planned: The Charlotte Regional Partnership is spearheading plans to seek state money to help build a $50 million motorsports test-track complex near Charlotte, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. The group hopes the facility will cement the area’s status as the home of most of NASCAR’s top-tier teams in the wake of new and expanded programs in Virginia and South Carolina. Reporter Ken Elkins writes that organizers are looking for up to 150 acres within 30 miles of Lowe’s Motor Speedway for a facility that would include super speedway, mid-length oval and road-course tracks. No grandstands would be built. Teams could save money, the story says, by not having to travel to facilities such as Kentucky Speedway to conduct non-sanctioned tests.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-30-2004)
    AND An effort is gearing up to build a state-funded motorsports test-track complex near Charlotte, with organizers saying the $50 million facility would help attract more Nextel Cup teams to the area. The Charlotte Regional Partnership is spearheading the idea, seeking up to 150 acres within 30 miles of Lowe’s Motor Speedway for a facility that would include super speedway, mid-length oval and road-course tracks. "It could be configured to represent 75% of the types of tracks on the NASCAR circuit," says Michael Almond, chief executive of the regional partnership, a 16-county, public-private economic development agency. The complex, tentatively dubbed the N.C. Motorsports Testing and Research Complex, would include garages, administrative space and about $5 million in testing equipment but no grandstands. No site has been selected. The proposal faces two key challenges: Organizers are seeking state funds to pay for construction, and they want the land to be donated. "We are assuming that the land would be contributed as a way of having skin in the game," Almond says. Such property may already be available. Sources familiar with the test-track proposal say officials in Cabarrus, Iredell and Stanly counties have expressed interest in the project, suggesting sites that would be available at little or no cost. Also, Humpy Wheeler, president of Speedway Motorsports Inc., has offered 100 acres at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the complex. Presumably, that Cabarrus site would have to be supplemented by 50 acres. Some have suggested using North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham for the testing complex, especially if that track loses its last NASCAR-sanctioned race.(Charlotte Business Journal)(5-5-2004)
  • #94 Picks Up a sponsor for the month of May: Husqvarna Forest and Garden Co. has agreed to a three-race sponsorship with WW Motorsports [#94 Chevy with driver Stanton Barrett], which is competing in this year’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The WW Motorsports car will feature Husqvarna logos, and the pit crew will wear branded shirts for the Chevy American Revolution 400, held in Richmond, Va., May 15; the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, held in Charlotte May 22; and the Coca-Cola 600, held in Charlotte May 30. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Charlotte-based Husqvarna, a member of the Electrolux Group, makes forest, lawn and garden equipment.(Charlotte Business Journal)(5-5-2004)
  • Crew Chiefs Fined: NASCAR today announced fines for three Nextel Cup crew chiefs for rules violations at Talladega. Ted Brown, crew chief of Shepherd Racing’s #89 Dodge for Morgan Shepherd, was fined $2,000 because crew member Scott Cianci entered the car servicing area without a helmet during the Aaron’s 499. Mike Ford, crew chief of Robert Yates Racing’s #88 Ford for Dale Jarrett, and Terry Wooten, crew chief of Michael Waltrip Racing’s #00 Chevrolet for Kenny Wallace, were fined $1,000 each for unapproved underpans found on their cars during pre-qualifying inspection.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-5-2004)
  • NASCAR OK with Stewart: after the incidents this past race at the California Speedway Cup race between Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon and Rusty Wallace, few have asked what would happen to Stewart, saw this……..But NASCAR on Monday said, no harm, no foul. Well, at least no foul. "We addressed Tony Stewart’s driving before [Friday’s] practice started at California and there was nothing that happened on the race track [Sunday] that we would term anything other than a racing incident," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of communications. I don’t know if Rusty’s had a chance to review film or video of the race, but it was just a racing accident. [Stewart] got loose. That happens. It just happened to be Tony Stewart." Stewart, who underwent anger-management counseling at the direction of his Home Depot sponsor two years ago, has been remarkably proficient at finding controversy on the track recently. He also banged doors with eventual winner Jeff Gordon, and drove behind Ricky Rudd and briefly lifted Rudd’s Ford off the pavement with the nose of his Chevrolet. "Tony has a way of picking up the bull’s-eye," Hunter said. "When stuff happens with Tony, he becomes an obvious target. He’s a hard charger, there’s no doubt about that. But so is Rusty and a lot of other drivers, and that’s one of the things that makes our sport so great." Hunter also said NASCAR was not going to reprimand Wallace for his on-air comments.(Los Angeles Times)(5-5-2004)
  • American Thunder: a column in today’s New York Times about the new magazine, American Thunder [which Jayski does a column for], a monthly magazine for "the NASCAR lifestyle," check it out at: Where the Reader and the Rubber Meet the Road by David Carr [Note; need to register to read] and see the magazine’s website: www.getthunder.com.(5-5-2004)
  • Special D-Day Scheme for Labonte at Dover UPDATE: hearing that #18-Bobby Labonte wil run a D-Day scheme as this year marks the 60th Anniversary of D-Day, Labonte and Dover race sponsor MBNA will re-paint the Joe Gibbs NEXTEL Cup #18 with a vintage war plane design. The car will carry the decals and the insignias of this war-time in America. June 6 Dover.(3-5-2004)
    UPDATE: Bobby Labonte came to town to talk a little NASCAR yesterday, but it was his race car that got the most attention. Draped in camouflage netting, the #18 Chevrolet was parked on a pier next to Dave & Buster’s. A crowd of on-lookers gathered around, apparently oblivious to the traffic whizzing past on Columbus Boulevard or the dozens of yachts gently bobbing nearby in the Delaware River. Polite applause gave way to cheers when the cover was removed, revealing a special paint-job commemorating the World War II invasion of Normandy. Sporting an olive-green body with red and yellow accents on the nose and gray "rivets" painted on, the Monte Carlo carried a poignant message on its hood: "We will accept nothing less than full victory." Labonte will pilot the car at Dover International Speedway on June 6, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, in a Nextel Cup race that has been renamed the MBNA 400: A Tribute to Heroes. MBNA, which is also sponsoring Labonte’s racer, will donate a portion of the sales of die-cast replicas of the car to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and to the Armed Forces Family Scholarship and Assistance Fund, which is administered by the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. "It’s a great honor to be a part of this, and I really like the fact that we’re doing it at one of my favorite tracks," Labonte said. "We would really like to stick this car in Victory Lane, not just to help us in the points standings, but also because it would make the die-cast a hotter item to sell." With an open date in the Nextel Cup schedule this weekend, Labonte was accompanied yesterday by his wife Donna and their two children, son Tyler, 10, and daughter Madison, 6. Soon after the event ended, the family headed to the Phillies game, where Labonte threw out the first pitch and his car was put on display.[boo…the Phils lost 6-5]
    AND Ron Hornaday Jr., [South NJ’s] Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer have been tabbed to throw out the first pitch at tonight’s NASCAR Night at the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia [home of Jaysli’s beloved Phillies]. After spending the morning and early afternoon testing at Nazareth Speedway, the trio of Busch Series competitors will head to the sports complex for the Phillies game against the St. Louis Cardinals, which is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm/et. Each driver will take part in events throughout the evening, including an autograph session inside the first-base gate. "I’ve been a Phillies fan all of my life," said Truex, who was born and raised in Mayetta, N.J. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." For ticket information on the race, visit the track Web site at www.nazarethspeedway.com or call 888-629-7223.(Philadelphia Inquirer), see an image of the #18 D-Day scheme on my #18 Team Paint Schemes page (5-5-2004)
  • Golf Tips Exchanged at LMS: Professional golfers and NASCAR racers traded driving tips Tuesday morning at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. About 20 PGA Tour players arrived by helicopter at the speedway for a crash course in NASCAR. Each player suited up and drove the 600-horsepower stock cars for 18 laps around the track to get a feel for racing. And some golfers said that driving stock cars is not such a stretch for golf professionals who also have to deal with a lot of stress. "This is really a stressful environment being in a car – heat, stress, a lot of quick decision making," said professional golfer Stuart Appleby. "Golf is much slower. I guess it’s more a self-induced stress. Very different, very different, but at the same time they share some similar qualities." In return for driving lessons, the racing pros [one was Jeff Burton] teed up on the speedway’s grass infield for some pointers from the PGA players.(News 14 Carolina)(5-5-2004)
  • Fans Succumb to heat at California: …Nearly 1,000 people were treated by on-site medical facilities, almost all for heat-related issues. The speedway has eight permanent first-aid buildings and the infield care center. There were 92,000 fans in the grandstands, and about 20,000 in the infield. The reported temperature at the speedway Sunday was 98.6 degrees with a track temperature of 139.7. Speedway spokesman Dennis Bickmeier said the speedway used 18 misting machines, six behind the terrace suites in the garage area, and 12 spread behind the grandstands and midway. The public address system advised fans to hydrate themselves. Bottled water sold for $3, but the track has more than 25 drinking fountains. Concessionaires were still doing inventory on Monday, but Bickmeier said more than 70,000 bottles of soda and lemonade were consumed, and at least 80,000 bottles of water.(Los Angeles Times)(5-5-2004)
  • SMI Offers Mixed Report: Speedway Motorsports Inc. today reported lower first-quarter revenues and earnings because this year’s Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR races fell in the second quarter but said its figures were up for comparable events. The Charlotte-based track operator reported first-quarter revenues of $122.2 million, down 16 percent or $23.9 million; net income of $24.7 million, down 29 percent or $10.1 million; and diluted earnings per share of 57 cents, down 30 percent or 25 cents. But when comparing similar race schedules in 2003 and 2004, which exclude the Texas NASCAR events, using other than generally accepted accounting principles, the company said results reflect increases in revenues of $17.2 million or 16 percent, net income of $5.6 million or 29 percent and diluted earnings per share of 12 cents or 27 percent, over last year. The company said it had record attendance for its spring Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and for its Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, along with sellouts for Cup.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-5-2004)
  • Update on the car of the future: NASCAR may be stepping up plans for its "car of the future."
    "The first iteration of the car is going together right now," said John Darby, NASCAR’s competition director. "Once it’s completed it will take quite some time to smash it and crash it (testing for crash-worthiness) to see what works and what doesn’t. So we’re a ways out with it. There is another debate, too, about where to introduce the car. At Daytona and Talladega, for example, aerodynamics is so critical that if we’re a little off it shows up a whole bunch. So let’s maybe roll it out at Martinsville, so if the aero isn’t exactly right, we’ll at least be able to get through the weekend." There is talk, however, that the project may be doomed. Darby dismisses such talk: "It’s far from dead. Typically what happens is the ideas keep getting better as we go through the process. You get something engineered and apply it to the car, and then 30 days down the road somebody comes up with a better idea. So there’s a lot of leap-frogging. The teams have helped a lot; their engineers have given us a ton of input. It is an intricate process. "It could probably be run in late ’05 somewhere. But ’06 is probably a better date."(Winston Salem Journal)(5-5-2004)
  • Lynch the last Hungry Driver: Scott Lynch, the reigning champion in NASCAR’s Grand National Division, West Series champion, has been named as the final driver in the "Hungry Drivers" program run by the Busch #6 team of Tommy Baldwin, who serves as crew chief for Cup driver Kasey Kahne. Lynch joins Tracy Hines, Mark McFarland and Paul Wolfe in the program in which each gets three races in the Busch series in Baldwin’s #6 Dodges. Lynch will debut May 14 at Richmond. "I’m really exciting about trying to make the field at Richmond. While I always want to win, my realistic goal is to qualify in the top 20 and finish in the top 20," Lynch said.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-5-2004)

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