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December 2005 News Archives


  • News from December 31, 2005

  • President Bush appoints Kahne: President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate three individuals and appoint seventeen individuals to serve in his Administration: The President intends to nominate Alexander A. Karsner, of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of Energy (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy). Mr. Karsner currently serves as Managing Director for Enercorp, LLC. Prior to this, he served as Director of Development & Senior Development Manager for Wartsila Power Development & Wartsila Diesel Development Ltd. He also served as Chief of Staff for the Honorable Moses Cheng Mo-Chi, former Member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Earlier in his career, Mr. Karsner served as International Project Director for Tondu Energy Systems. Mr. Karsner received his bachelor’s degree from Rice University and his master’s degree from Hong Kong University. The President intends to nominate Donald R. DePriest, of Mississippi, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, for a term to expire on May 18, 2009. The President intends to nominate Vince J. Juaristi, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, for the remainder of a five year term expiring February 8, 2009. The President intends to appoint seventeen individuals to be Members of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, for two-year terms, including Kasey Kahne, driver of the #9 Dodge for Evernham Motorsports.(White House site)(12-31-2005)
  • Another NASCAR Movie in the works: Producer Barry Kemp has bought a screenplay set in the world of NASCAR racing. The film will be developed by Kemp’s production company, Bungalow 78 Productions, from the script by Jason Jordan and Matthew Lawton (National Lampoon’s Pledge This!, Blue Collar TV). The story will centre on an up-and-coming young driver who’s been dropped by his sponsor; he must team up with a female cosmetics executive to get back on top of the game.(Empire), Will Ferrell is filming a NASCAR movie which is expected to be in theatres in 2006.(12-31-2005)
  • Stewart’s Indy win voted #1: Motorsports media from around the world have voted Tony Stewart’s victory in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard as NASCAR’s top story of the 2005 season, via several weeks of on-line voting on NASCAR’s media site. Stewart also produced the season’s third-best story, according to the vote – his capturing the NEXTEL Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, in the season’s final race. In between those Stewart stories, at No. 2, was Carl Edwards’ March weekend sweep of both the Busch Series race and the NEXTEL Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1-2 punch that propelled Edwards into championship contention in both series. Media members were given a list of 10 stories and asked to rank that list. Ten points were awarded for a first-place vote, nine for a second-place vote, etc. The Stewart win at Indy accumulated a total of 873 points, 560 coming from 56 first-place votes. Edwards’ sweep added up to 679. (A total of 99 media members participated.) Following are the rest of the top 10 stories, according to the final vote tally.
    No. 4 – Greg Biffle finishing second in NEXTEL Cup points, and having the most series wins. No. 5 – Jeff Gordon winning the Daytona 500 for the third time. No. 6 – The Busch Series hosting its historic first race in Mexico City. No. 7 – Ted Musgrave winning his first Craftsman Truck Series championship and becoming the oldest national series champion in NASCAR history. No. 8 – Martin Truex Jr. repeating as Busch Serie champion. No. 9 – Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch winning two NEXTEL Cup events. No. 10 – Kasey Kahne finally getting his elusive first NEXTEL Cup victory at Richmond in May. (NASCAR)(12-31-2005)
  • Stewart wins at Fort Wayne: Tony Stewart won the USAC midget competition at Fort Wayne’s Allen County Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. Dave Darland was second across the finish line, followed by Matt Estep. Stewart, who finished 11th in Thursday’s race, was the fast qualifier in both races.(Indianapolis Star)
    AND NASCAR star Tony Stewart closed the U.S. Auto Club’s 50th season of racing with a victory in a 60-lap midget feature race at the “Rumble in Fort Wayne.” Stewart, the reigning Nextel Cup champion, started eighth and took the lead on the seventh lap, staying in front until the end. He has won at least one USAC race each year since 1991 except in 1999, when he was the NASCAR Cup rookie of the year. “I’m going to say this because I know my fans like my brutal honesty,” Stewart told the crowd after his victory. “Every year, all the competitors go out to the bar and try to get me drunk so I can’t run the next day. It didn’t work this time.” Stewart also raced in Fort Wayne on Thursday night, finishing 11th in a 60-lap feature race after crashing.(ESPN.com/AP)(12-31-2005)


    News from December 30, 2005

  • EMPA names HOF and Drivers of the Year: When the Eastern Motorsport Press Association holds its annual convention at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Trevose, PA at the end of January seven new names will be entered inthe EMPA Hall of Fame. During the same convention, attended by more than 100 professional media that cover the sport on a regular basis, NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart will receive the Al Holbert Memorial/EMPA Driver of the Year award for the third time and sprint car racing star Fred Rahmer will accept the Richie Evans Memorial/EMPA Northeast Driver of the Year award. Bobby Allen, winner of more than 251 sprint car races at more than 15 different speedways with a variety of organizations, will top the list of racers being inducted into the Hall of Fame. One of the all-time greats of Modified stock car racing Buzzie Reutimann [David’s father] will be inducted along with one of the all-time great Modified car owners Dick Cozze; outstanding Dirt Modified car owner Joe Bullock; ten-time NHRA Pro Stock World Champion Bob Glidden; three time Cup champion Darrell Waltrip and Al Hamilton who has owned sprint cars that have won more than 400 features driven by numerous drivers. Special awards presented during the three day convention set for January 27-29th include a President’s Award to six time American Racing Drivers Club champion Ray Bull; a one time EMPA Outstanding Achievement Award to former head of N.J. Motor Vehicles Motorsports Division Capt. John Wyckoff plus the T.Wayne Robertson Newsmaker of the Year Award to Indy Racing League star Danica Patrick and veteran Nextel Cup racer Morgan Shepherd will receive the Junie Donlavey Spirit of the Sport Award. Other awards, to be announced at the convention, will include the Frank Blunk Memorial Award to an outstanding journalist, the Ace Lane Memorial Award to an outstanding photographer and the Art McHugh Memorial Award presented to an individual who works behind the scenes for the good of the EMPA organization. Those planning to attend must make their intentions known before January 15th to Ernie Saxton at 215.752.7797.(Motorsports Sponsorship Marketing News)(12-30-2005)
  • Isaac Surpasses SFI Performance Specs for Head and Neck Loads: Isaac, LLC announces record setting performance for its damper-based, Intermediate model head and neck restraint. Testing to the SFI Spec 38.1 offset protocol, the Isaac system not only was at least as effective as competing models in classic measures such as neck tension, it was over four times more effective in reducing lateral head torque caused by side impacts. Isaac, LLC is based in Orlando, Florida. It specializes in protection from head and neck injuries. More info at isaacdirect.com and news on other devices on my Restraints page and other safety news/links on my Racing Safety Page.(12-30-2005)


    News from December 29, 2005

  • TV Deal…low? While NASCAR continues to celebrate its new eight-year, $4.48 billion television contract, investors aren’t so sure it’s a good deal. The new agreement represents nearly a 40% increase over the current contract, but some wonder whether NASCAR got enough. Even NASCAR chairman Brian France admits NASCAR will never catch the National Football League as the most popular sport on television. But at No. 2, stock-car racing could have demanded more, said one financial analyst. “We believe the announced contract is on the low end of the expectations,” said Joseph Hovorka of Raymond James Financial. NASCAR will get about $400 million a year once the new contract starts in 2007. That’s well short of the projected $573 figure Wall Street expected. Once the contract was signed, some Wall Street companies recommend its clients sell shares of International Speedway Corp., the company that owns half the race tracks in NASCAR. ISC dropped $5.70 a share when the contract was announced two weeks ago and hasn’t recovered.(Augusta Chronicle)(12-29-2005)
  • Another Waltrip – BW: The voice that comes from the speakers at the Dirt Track Championships at Municipal Stadium [FL] may seem a bit familiar to race fans. That’s because that voice is related to some of the more vocal figures in motorsports. Bobby Waltrip, brother of NASCAR’s Darrell and Michael, has been announcing kart races for nearly seven years, including the dirt track races at Municipal Stadium for five years. “I found a little niche in this sport,” Waltrip said. “I raced karts most of my life and now I get to make a living out of it.” Waltrip, 51, started racing karts when he was 12 years old. Unlike his brothers, he never left the sport to pursue racing at a higher level. “I found something about it that kept me here,” Waltrip said. “I raced for years and years until I quit for a couple of years to help Darrell with the construction of his Winston Cup team.”(Daytona Beach News Journal)(12-29-2005)


    News from December 28, 2005

  • Carter to Bill Davis Racing: although it was announced at Penske Racing that former #2 crew chief Larry Carter was staying there in another capacity, saw this reported on FoxSports.comin a Darrell Waltip article: “With my brother Michael being over at Bill Davis Racing, he’s bringing NAPA and some resources. Davis brought back Dave Blaney, who is one of those consistent guys. If you put Blaney in a good car next year, Michael and Blaney could work well together next year. They brought in Larry Carter from the #2 car to help them. That’s going to be a big plus. Derrick Finley has a few years under his belt as a crew chief. I see good things happening at Bill Davis Racing. But Michael has to stay out of trouble and finish races — that’s got to be his number 1 priority.(FoxSports)(12-28-2005)
  • Prilosecotc to #31? hearing Prilosecotc will become an associate sponsor for #31 Jeff Burton and that a Prilosecotc paint scheme will run in 2006, Cingular Wireless is the primary sponsor for Burton and the #31 team. Prilosecotc had been with the #40 Ganassi Racing team and ran a scheme once a year with Sterling Marlin..now with the #14 team. See image of scheme on my #31 Team Schemes page.(12-28-2005)
  • NASCAR Restructures Regional Series in 2007: NASCAR announced it will restructure its regional touring series divisions beginning in 2007. Citing declining support for the Elite Division style of racing at all levels, NASCAR said it will focus its resources and efforts on those Divisions that will help build and sustain a better developmental program for the future. Following the 2006 season, the four current Late Model Elite Division Tours will be discontinued. The Elite Division tours were formed nearly 20 years ago, in the Southeast, Midwest, Southwest and Northwest regions of the country. Beginning in 2006 and continuing in 2007, NASCAR will implement several Grand National Division changes in an effort to reduce the cost of competing in the Busch North Series (which will be re-named the Busch East Series) and the AutoZone West Series. These changes include a less-costly “spec” engine, as well as composite bodies.(NASCAR PR)(12-28-2005)


    News from December 26-27, 2005

  • nothing to report….happy holidays

News from December 25, 2005

  • nothing to report, have a nice holiday…..


    News from December 24, 2005

  • Busch court date postponed: #2-Kurt Busch has a January court date to face a criminal reckless driving citation he received while in the Valley for the Nextel Cup race last month. Busch was scheduled to appear in Tolleson Justice Court on Thursday but changed the court date to 9:00am on Jan. 27, according to court officials. The 2004 Nextel Cup champion was belligerent and uncooperative when he was pulled over by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies on Nov. 11 near Phoenix International Raceway, according to sheriff’s reports. A breath test and field sobriety tests confirmed Busch wasn’t drunk, but deputies issued a criminal traffic citation for reckless driving. Busch’s 2005 team, #97 Roush Racing [now #26 team, Busch to drive #2 Dodge in 2006], suspended him for the final two races of the season.(East Valley Tribune)(12-24-2005)
  • Paul Tracy to race in Busch Series in 2006 UPDATE Full-time in 2007: Paul Tracy will make the jump to the NASCAR Busch Series in selected races in 2006. Tracy, who was in Daytona testing an ARCA car for Andy HIllenburg, told MRN Radio’s “NASCAR Today” that he will run a second Busch car for Biagi Brothers [#4 team with Mark Green driving] racing next year. “I will be doing the 24 hours again and trying to get some experience in stock cars and make the transition into stock cars in the future. Andy Hillenburg, who I am driving for here, has been really helpful with trying to help me out make the transition. We’ve got a deal 99% done to run 4 or 5 Busch Series racing for Fred Biagi. We’ve got a sponsor package put together to run a second car. Really my timetable is to be up and running by 2007… maybe run 10 or 11 races and a Cup race or 2 next year.” MRN Radio’s “NASCAR Today” can be heard on 505 radio stations and XM Satellite Radio.(MRN’s NASCAR Today)(12-17-2005)
    UPDATE: After testing a stock car last week at Daytona International Speedway, Paul Tracy told reporters he expects 2006 to be his final Champ Car season. “My game plan was to make the transition in ’06, but it didn’t come together,” the Canadian said. Tracy, 37, the 2003 Champ Car titlist, said he hopes to run 10 Busch Series races and a couple of Nextel Cup races in 2006 ahead of a full-time move to NASCAR in 2007.(Indianapolis Star)(12-24-2005)
  • RYR signs new driver: Two-time defending NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Midwest point series champion, Justin Diercks, will sign a contract with Robert Yates Racing in the coming days, Yates team general manager Eddie D’Hondt said Thursday. The Yates team has three Nextel Cup cars [? three? #38, #88 and ?], but D’Hondt said Diercks likely would spend the coming year driving on the ARCA circuit. D’Hondt said Diercks also could earn some starts in the Busch Series, which is raced at NASCAR tracks in conjunction with Nextel Cup events. Diercks could not be reached for comment, but D’Hondt confirmed that the 26-year-old Quad-Citian tested twice at different tracks for RYR, driving Dale Jarrett’s #88 UPS Ford Taurus once and Elliott Sadler’s M&Ms Ford on another occasion. “He did a really good job both times and on different-sized racetracks,’’ said D’Hondt, who is entering his third year with RYR and previously worked for Bill Elliott Racing and Evernham Motorsports. “We plan on making him part of our family in the near future.’’ Diercks has been racing on asphalt tracks for almost a decade and won his first feature at the age of 17. D’Hondt said a Diercks representative made the Yates team aware of Diercks a year ago, and he said RYR closely followed Diercks’ second straight Midwest Series points win last summer and fall. Diercks interviewed with D’Hondt and RYR engine builder Doug Yates twice and impressed them, D’Hondt said. “He is just a good kid,’’ the general manager said. “He’s a racer, and he’s a worker. He has a very good background, and what he has accomplished to date is strong. Marketability-wise, he will do a good job for any sponsor. We just have to get behind him.’’ D’Hondt said Diercks would be one of three young racers RYR planned to groom for a possible Nextel Cup future, joining racers Steve Leicht and Matt McCall. Diercks will continue to test in RYR’s Nextel Cup cars throughout the year, D’Hondt said. As for getting to drive in a Nextel Cup race, “Not until he earns it,’’ the GM said. “But he’ll get to that eventually.’’(Quad-City Times)(12-24-2005)


    News from December 23, 2005

  • Hamilton Jr. released from #32 ride UPDATE: PPI Motorsports (PPIM) announced that Bobby Hamilton Jr. will no longer be the driver of the #32 Tide/Downy Chevrolet. “I want to thank Bobby for his efforts over the past year and a half,” said Cal Wells III, owner of PPI Motorsports. In 44 starts for PPIM, Hamilton Jr. has produced three top-15 and 13 top-25 finishes. “I wish Bobby nothing but the best as he pursues his options for next season,” stated Wells. PPI Motorsports, based in Hickory, N.C., fields the #32 Tide/Downy Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Since joining the series in 2000, the team has earned two wins, three pole positions, ten top fives and 26 top tens. The team also owns multiple titles and victories in off-road and open-wheel racing and celebrates its 25th year in racing this season.(PPI Motorsports)(12-22-2005)
    STATEMENT: the official statement from Bobby Hamilton Jr. regarding his release from PPI: “Today [Thurs] PPI notified me that I was terminated. I’m looking forward to talking to teams about the opportunities that are still out there for next year and beyond. I’ve been a full time driver in Busch or Cup for five years, I’ve won races, I’m still just 27, and I know I can drive. While I don’t agree with PPI’s decision, I have only best wishes for Cal and the whole team as they prepare for next season.(Motorsports Management PR)(12-23-2005)
  • Budweiser gets the most in-broadcast TV exposure value; Lowe’s gets hood time: The streak continues. For the 21st consecutive season, the primary team sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series champion (The Home Depot/Tony Stewart) did not earn the most in-broadcast exposure value for the season. The 2005 team sponsor top-five ranked as follows: Budweiser ($149.0 million), Lowe’s ($140.2 million), The Home Depot ($125.0 million), NAPA Auto Parts ($105.5 million) and DuPont ($84.7 million). The hood of a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series car is some of the most valuable real estate in all of sports. The following is the top-3 of the top hoods in terms of generating on-screen time during the race telecasts: 1) Lowe’s/#48-Johnson, 7:16:32; 22.0%; 2) DuPont/#24-Gordon, 5:40:24 (exposure time), 28.3% (% of Brand’s Exp); 3) The Home Depot/#20-Stewart, 5:39:27; 19.7%.(Joyce Julius PR)(12-23-2005)
  • Hamlin goes to work at FedEx: Rolling up his sleeves during FedEx’s Peak Week, which are the busiest holiday shipping days, #11 FedEx NEXTEL Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin toursedthe FedEx hub in Memphis, Tenn. Hamlin sorted packages, met with hub employees and signed autographs. On Monday, Dec. 19, 2005, FedEx shipped 8.9 million packages around the world, the busiest night in the company’s history.(Weber Shandwick PR)(12-23-2005)
  • Urban Wheel Awards honor NASCAR: On Wheels Inc., publisher of African Americans On Wheels, Latinos On Wheels and the soon-to-be-launched Asians On Wheels, says it will honor NASCAR at the 10th Annual Urban Wheel Awards next month. The sanctioning body will receive the Diversity in Motorsports award, and NASCAR President Mike Helton is scheduled to attend the Jan. 10 ceremony in Detroit to accept the honor.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-23-2005)


    News from December 22, 2005

  • Kvapil to PPI? UPDATE 4 Official: Travis Kvapil recently received his release from #77 Penske Racing, but he is not expected to be out of work for long. Kvapil, 29, is the latest candidate for the #32 PPI Motorsports ride. Bobby Hamilton Jr. has not been re-signed.(Sporting News), Ricky Craven has also been rumored to be going back to the #32, but that seems like a slim chance.(12-12-2005)
    UPDATE: been told that Hamilton Jr. is signed thru 2006 with PPI Motorsports and has not been released from his contract.(12-13-2005)
    UPDATE 2: Bobby Hamilton, Jr. will return to the #32 Tide Chevrolet in 2006. He is still under contract to Cal Wells, who can’t find an upgrade in talent on the current NEXTEL Cup unemployment line and will most likely stay with the second generation driver.(RacingOne)(12-14-2005)
    UPDATE 3: hearing Kvapil will be named the new driver of the #32 Tide ride, could be as soon as today [Wed].(12-21-2005)
    UPDATE 4: Cal Wells made a move on Thursday that should stop the #32 from spinning out. Wells announced that Travis Kvapil is replacing Bobby Hamilton Jr. in the #32 PPI Motorsports Chevrolet in 2006. Kvapil, 29, was released from the #77 Penske Racing Dodge at the end of last season. Although he finished 33rd in the Nextel Cup standings, that was three positions higher than Hamilton Jr., who failed to qualify at Charlotte and was replaced on the road course races. Regardless, Hamilton had an average finish of 32nd. In Hamilton’s defense, his engines were inconsistent at the start of the season. Wells did his best through a lease program with Richard Childress Racing but engine failures led to two DNFs. Secondly, Hamilton lost crew chief Harold Holly midseason. Danny Gill filled in until after the first race of the Chase, when Hamilton gained the ever-so-savvy James Ince. But the relationship never took off, as the driver appeared to be mailing it in towards season’s end. The stark comparison must be made between Hamilton and Ricky Craven, Hamilton’s predecessor in the #32. Craven ran only 26 races in 2004 and finished 34th — two positions ahead of Hamilton, who competed in 33 events. Craven finished 27th in 2003 and a PPI career-high 15th in the 2002 standings. Wells simply couldn’t afford to let the downward spiral continue. Although Kvapil’s rookie season was a struggle, his championship in the Craftsman Truck Series is proof of his ability to win and points race. His demeanor on and off the track has been compared to fellow Wisconsinite Matt Kenseth. Kvapil’s desire to succeed combined with Ince’s strong work ethic will help overcome the obstacles facing a single car team until Wells can find the funding to expand his operation.(Sporting News)
    AND PPI Motorsports (PPIM) announced that 2003 Truck Series Champ Travis Kvapil will be behind the wheel of the #32 Tide/Downy Chevy for the upcoming 2006 Nextel Cup season. “PPI Motorsports is excited to have Travis join the Tide Racing team,” said Cal Wells III, owner of PPI Motorsports. “I believe he will be a strong addition to our organization especially under the tutelage of crew chief James Ince. The two of them, along with the new crew we have assembled, have the ability to reach the goals set forth by this organization. We have experienced some unfortunate setbacks over the last two seasons and I am determined to get PPI Motorsports back in contention for race victories in 2006. I believe Travis can certainly make that happen for us and I am proud to have him on board.” Kvapil, a native of Janesville, Wis., will embark on his second full season in NASCAR’s premiere series after competing last year for Penske-Jasper Racing where he recorded two top-10 and 18 top-25 finishes. He was able to join PPIM when Penske-Jasper Racing released him after a joint decision was made by Penske and sponsor Kodak not to field the #77 car in 2006. “As the saying goes, when one door closes another will open,” said Kvapil. “I feel fortunate that the door to PPI Motorsports has opened to me. I want to thank Cal for giving me the chance to drive one of the most recognizable race cars in NASCAR. Tide has been in the sport for a long time and has experienced a lot of success in the past. I am honored and will do everything I can to become a part of the Tide winning tradition. All of the resources to succeed are in place here at PPI Motorsports so I am excited to get the season started.”(PPI Motorsports)(12-22-2005)
  • Army no longer NASCAR sponsor BUT will sponsor #01 team: The U.S. Army will no longer sponsor NASCAR [be an official NASCAR sponsor], Street & Smith¹s SportsBusiness Journal reports, but it will continue as sponsor of MB2 Motorsports’ #01 Chevrolet driven by Joe Nemechek in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Series. The publication reports that the decision was based on price and says the Army will spend the money it would have used in NASCAR for “grassroots programs supporting the Army’s primary sponsorship objective of generating recruiting leads.” The story says NASCAR will leave representation of the armed forces with individual teams.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-22-2005)
  • #66 changes to #61: hearing the Peak Performance Motorsports #66 Nextel Cup Team will run the #61 in 2006. The #66 has been released and the new #61 has been assigned by NASCAR. Kevin Lepage will drive the #61 Ford in 2006 nd finished up the 2005 season with the team [when it was #66] after Hermie Sadler and Mike Garvey drove the car. No word on a 2006 sponsor.(12-22-2005)
  • Lepage to new #64 team? hearing Kevin Lepage, who ened up the 2005 season driving for the #66 Peak Performance Motorsports team [now #61] could be headed to the new #64 Premier Motorsports team as their driver.(12-22-2005)
    UPDATE: been told that while the team is down to three choices for their driver, Lepage is not one of those drivers and he will run full time in the #61 Peak Performance Motorsports team [was #66] in 2006.(12-22-2005)
  • Rusty and Dale Jr. well liked in poll – Genius Insight’s 25 Most-Liked Athletes Of ’05: The following presents recently released data from Genius Insight report, detailing the top 25 most-liked active athletes in ’05. The report includes 1,988 stars, approximately 400 of which are athletes, rated by U.S. respondents aged 13-49. Stars are ranked by the percentage of people who say they “like the star a lot.” Data was compiled during a six-month period, ending October 1. Fan base figures are rounded to the nearest whole (Genius Insight StarPower Report). The top five most well-liked were: Lance Armstrong (27%), Tiger Woods (15%), Shaquille O’Neal (14%), Brett Favre (14%), Serena Williams (14%). NASCAR’s Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Jr were 8th with 12%, no other drivers were mentioned in the top 25.(Sports Business Daily(need sub/or Rustywallace.com)(12-22-2005)
  • McMurray to run Smirnoff in a few races: Jamie McMurray will drive the #26 Smirnoff Ice Ford at Lowe’s Motor Speedway (May), Daytona (July) and Fontana (Sept).(Racing One) or see images on my #26 Team Schemes page.(12-22-2005)
  • Rusty Wallace Shakes Down Daytona Prototype At DIS: Rusty Wallace has retired from Nxtel Cup Series competition, but he’s still got one more race on his to-do list – the 44th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29. Wallace flew down to Daytona International Speedway for the day to shake down a Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford on the historic 3.56-mile road course as he considers competing in the upcoming prestigious twice-around-the-clock race. “This 24 Hours of Daytona has been on my plans for over a year and a half,” Wallace said. “I’ve been on again, off again with it but the last couple of weeks I’ve really gotten on it again. Jim France gave me a call and said I ought to reconsider and go back down and try it out.” Wallace says that the Howard-Boss Motorsports team hopes to have a driving team finalized within the week that will include him and a couple of sports car specialists. Sports car aces and former Rolex 24 champions Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson have been giving Wallace tips on the twists and turns of the road course as well as the Daytona Prototype. Wednesday’s test was a star-studded one with several major drivers getting shake downs in Daytona Prototypes. Among the teams participating include Cheever Racing (Eddie Cheever, Christian Fittipaldi, Bill Lester, Paul Menard and Patrick Carpentier), Finlay Motorsports (Memo Gidley), Alex Job Racing (Patrick Long) and Brumos Racing (Hurley Haywood, David Donohue, Ted Christopher, JC France and Darren Law).(DIS PR)(12-22-2005)


    News from December 21, 2005

  • Mike Wallace plans to run Daytona 500: Mike Wallace plans to attempt 2006 Daytona 500, looking for other Daytona rides and a full season seat. “I will be down in Daytona for speedweeks, and I will be with a team attempting to make the field for the 2006 Daytona 500,” said Wallace. “I am also looking for opportunities to race in the Craftsman Truck Series race and the Busch Series race there in Daytona.” The car and team Wallace will attempt to make the 2006 Daytona 500 field in will be named in the future. Wallace also said he is looking at running the full 2006 Nextel Cup Series season. “We are working on some opportunities to run the full 2006 Nextel Cup season. Hopefully in the near future we will have something to announce.”(Motorsports Lounge)(12-21-2005)
  • Kentucky Testing: #43-Bobby Labonte was scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway, Thursday, Dec 15th, but weather cancelled the test session, Labonte is now scheduled to test on Tuesday, Dec 20th, with #18-J.J. Yeley and #5-Kyle Busch scheduled to test next Wednesday [12/21] and Thursday [12/22]. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway)(12-15-205)
    UPDATE: Crew chief Todd Parrott and driver Bobby Labonte ushered in a new era for the storied Petty Enterprises #43 Nextel Cup Series car with a test at Kentucky Speedway today. Labonte, the 2000 series champion who finished 24th in the 2005 standings with Joe Gibbs Racing, and Parrott, who helped Dale Jarrett win the 1999 series title with Robert Yates Racing, will join new Exec. VP of Operations Robbie Loomis, who guided Jeff Gordon to 23 wins and the 2001 championship with Hendrick Motorsports, in an attempt to rejuvenate a Petty program that hasn’t scored a series race win since Loomis last worked there in 1999. Temperatures in the low to mid 20s didn’t curb the enthusiasm both crew chief and driver expressed for their new project during their first test together. The new team agreed that the focus of the one-day test was to begin to establish solid team communications. “It’s different,” Labonte said. “I was kind of jittery at first because it’s been 11 years since I’ve had anything like this go on. It’s a little too cold here for me, but, so far, so good. I’m just real excited to work with Todd and all these guys. Hopefully, I understand Todd and when I talk, he can understand the language I’m talking. For us, today is about getting a feel for everybody and everybody getting a feel for Todd. He’s the main character here that everyone will have to look up to. When I’m on the racetrack, they’ve got to know what to do next and he’s the guy leading them.”
    Robert Yates Racing joined the test. Drivers Matt McCall, Steven Leicht, and Justin Diercks split time in a research and development car. Testing is scheduled to continue Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 when Kyle Busch and his #5 Hendrick Motorsports machine share track time with J.J. Yeley and his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing ride.(Kentucky Speedway)(12-21-205)



    News from December 20, 2005

  • Impound Changes: NASCAR will impound the Nextel Cup cars at five races in 2006: Both Talladega events, both Richmond events, and the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, according to a memo sent to teams last week. NASCAR used the impound rule at 21 of the 36 races in 2005. Neither of the Talladega events was an impound race last year. The rule was consistently criticized throughout the year as vastly different weekend schedules led to confusion and large amounts of downtime. An impound race usually featured two Friday practices and Saturday Bud Pole Qualifying instead of the traditional Friday Bud Pole Qualifying and Saturday practices.(NASCAR.com), see past reules on my Impound Rules page.(12-20-2005)
  • Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper back with Evernham Motorsports: Moving into their second year of partnership, aftermarket auto parts giant Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper and Evernham Motorsports have turned up the heat for what is sure to be another great season. As a NASCAR sponsor of Evernham Motorsports, Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, parent company of Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper, will receive primary status on the #10 Dodge in the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and on the #9 Dodge in the Busch Series. The #10 Dodge will be showcased by driver Scott Riggs for Nextel Cup races at New Hampshire on July 16, 2006 and at Richmond on September 9, 2006.
    The Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper brands take the lead with the primary sponsorship of the Busch Series#9 Dodge driven by Jeremy Mayfield at California on February 25, 2006. Not to be called a rookie any longer, Kasey Kahne will be behind the wheel of the Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper #9 Dodge for the Busch Series race at Bristol on August 25, 2006. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper’s multi-year sponsorship of Evernham Motorsports will build their brand across a broad audience whose love affair with cars starts in their own garage and culminates with high performance racing. NASCAR brand research shows that NASCAR fans are more likely to have more than one vehicle. NASCAR fans are also more likely to buy used vehicles, which are typically older and require additional maintenance and auto parts. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper’s association with Evernham also will be used in key customer outreach efforts, retail marketing efforts and internal promotions. For more information about Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper visit www.800autotalk.com.(PR), see an image of the #10 car on my #10 Team Schemes page.(12-20-2005)
  • Wimmer to #4? UPDATE Official: hearing that Scott Wimmer, former driver of the #22 Caterpillar Dodge, will be the new driver of the #4 Morgan-McClure Chevy in 2006. No word on the status of the alliance with Victory Motorsports Racing that Morgan-McClure announced a few months ago.(12-2-2005)
    UPDATE: Morgan-McClure Motorsports President and Team Manager Larry McClure has announced the signing of a contract with AERO Exhaust as the primary sponsor and with Scott Wimmer as driver of the # 4 AERO Exhaust Chevy for the 2006 season. “We are very pleased to have AERO Exhaust partner with us going into the 2006 season. AERO has experience in racing with both the Grand Am series and NASCAR’s AutoZone Elite Division series and we are happy to extend their involvement into the NASCAR Nextel Cup series level. We are looking forward to a long-term relationship with AERO that will bring success to their business and to this race team. We have won three Daytona 500’s, something no other single car team can say, and we are ready to be that winning team again. I believe we are on the right track to make that happen,” said McClure at the Abingdon, VA based race shop on Monday morning.
    McClure continued, “At the same time, I am very excited to have a young, aggressive, knowledgeable driver like Scott Wimmer join our team. Scott brings a history of building his own race cars along with a winning career to our team and I believe we have a great combination of talents that will put us back in the winner’s circle. We are very happy to have Scott and his family become a part of our racing ‘family’ here at Morgan-McClure.”
    When Wimmer spoke with his new team at the race shop, he found support from everyone including the team member who brought all three Daytona 500 rings in for him to see. “I’m very happy to be a part of the Morgan-McClure team. This team has won the Daytona 500 three times and I believe we can win again. I’m excited to be in a position where I can be more hands on with the cars and I know we can be successful if we all work together. I want everyone on the team to talk to us about their ideas so we can bring out the best each of us has to offer. I’m excited to get in the cars and start testing. . .how long is it before we go to Daytona? I really appreciate the opportunity to continue my Nextel Cup career with this team.” The team will be testing at Daytona International Speedway the second week in January.(Morgan-McClure Motorsports PR), no word if Lucas Oil will be back as a sponsor, supposedly it was a multi-year deal.(12-20-2005)
  • Three from NASCAR make list of influential people in Sports Biz: Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal’s Dec. 19 issue features the 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business, and three men from NASCAR are ranked. NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France is ranked seventh on the 2005 list, up three spots from 10th in 2004. The publication cites France’s successful and continuing expansion of the sport. Also to make the list are newcomers George Pyne, NASCAR’s chief operating officer, and Jim France, CEO of International Speedway Corp. The publication ranked Pyne 47th, saying he deserves much of the credit for NASCAR’s maturation. Jim France was ranked 50th, and the publication says his impact on the sport is “immeasurable and underrated.”(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-20-2005)


    News from December 19, 2005

  • DEI gearing up for 2006: It’s full steam ahead for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the improved #8 brew crew. The team’s fabrication shop is refurbishing the stable and has two intermediate cars, a new Bristol car and two speedway rides ready to roll. The engine department tested earlier this month at Nashville and tested restrictor-plate engines with ARCA journeyman Mark Gibson last week at Daytona. #15-Paul Menard will test at Daytona the next week to prepare for his first of seven Cup races. Dan Stillman will be his crew chief.(Sporting News)(12-19-2005)
  • #88 Team picks up some crew people: Robert Yates Racing [RYR] picked up two new pit crew members for Dale Jarrett’s #88 team: Cory Quick, previously a tire changer for Jimmie Johnson, and jackman Tim Boatwright, who joins the squad after the dismantling of the #77 Penske Cup team. Former Dale Earnhardt Inc. crew member Shannon Myers, a former Dolphins draft pick, will move to the #90 RYR Busch program.(Sporting News)(12-19-2005)
  • Knaus leaving Hendrick? denied UPDATE 2 more: hearing [or have leaned] that #48 Hendrick Motorsports crew chief, Chad Knaus will leave the team and driver Jimmie Johnson and go back to Evernham Motorsports [was one of Evernham’s first hires, until moving to #92 Melling team in 2001], then Hendrick Motorsports in 2002 to crew chief Johnson.
    UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports says Knaus has no plans to leave Hendrick Motorsports and has multiple years remaining on his contract.(12-2-2005)
    UPDATE 2: hearing some crew members from the #48 Lowe’s Hendrick Motorsports team have left andf gone to Evernham Motorsports recently and that one of the Evernham’s engineers could be headed over to be the crew chief on the #48.(12-19-2005)
  • Toyota leaves IRL…for NASCAR? Toyota’s withdrawal from the Indy Racing League before the 2006 season–it had previously announced it would stick around in the IRL for one more year–is designed to give it plenty of time and resources to prepare for its 2007 entry into the Nextel Cup Series. Bill Davis and Michael Waltrip are expected to field teams. Penske Racing also has been mentioned [and denied] as a candidate.(Sporting News)
    AND It’s a matter of when, not if, Toyota announces its intentions to expand its NASCAR entry beyond the Truck Series to the Nextel Cup and Busch circuits. Another sign that “when” could be soon came this week when the IndyCar Series confirmed Toyota’s exit a year earlier than had been planned. Honda will provide all of the engines for the IndyCar Series in 2007. That frees up a lot of money in Toyota’s racing budget, and it has been clear for some time that the manufacturer was heading this way. ThatsRacin’s David Poole is hearing that the NASCAR world could get first word of Toyota’s timetable before the 2006 season begins, perhaps in late January on the preseason media tour hosted by Lowe’s Motor Speedway.(ThatsRacin)(12-19-2005)
  • Chili Bowl coming up: The Chili Bowl midget race runs Jan. 11-14 in Tulsa, OK. Among entrants this year are NASCAR drivers Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, J.J. Yeley, Jason Leffler, A.J. and Aaron Fike, and Justin Allgaier; and drag racers Morgan Lucas, Cruz Pedregon and Frank Pedregon. More info at chilibowl.com.(12-19-2005)
  • Sad News: Gene Harper, 58, of Newnan, Ga., passed away on Dec. 18, 2005. Surviving are his wife, Patricia D. Harper, Newnan, Ga.; son Michael D. Harper, Ft. Worth, Tx; daughter and son-in-law Bennie and Christi (Harper) Hurt, Carrollton, Ga. Owner of Harper Motorsports Carolina Crusher Monster Truck team and son Michael’s legends cars have won 100’s of races over the years, and several national champonships. His drivers have included, David Ragan, Chase Miller, Stuart Kirby, Robert Richardson, Chris Buescher. Flowers, Card’s, and letters can be sent to: Harper Family, 80 Newnan Lakes Blvd #812, Newnan, Georgia 30263. Services to be held at: Higgins Hillcrest Chapel, Monday, Dec 19th from 5-8pm, 1 Bullsboro Dr, Newnan, GA 30265.(12-19-2005)
  • Tragedy at Racing event: James Avink Jr., who supplemented his income with a part-time job at DK Security, which provides guards for events in DeVos Place convention center. Avink was standing watch about 1:00am/et Saturday when one the center’s loading-bay doors fell on him. The door was open to provide ventilation for the Mason Dixon/Dixieland Challenge indoor sprint-car races. The ambulance company standing by at the event said Avink died at the scene of major head and back injuries. Event promoter Gerry Olson said a cable connecting four sections of the 16-foot-tall door snapped, allowing part of it to fall on Avink. The section of the door that struck Avink could be seen Saturday resting diagonally across the still open doorway on the building’s Bridge Street NW side. Avink is survived by his wife, Lindy, and daughters Kahli, 7, and Kendal, 1. Convention center spokeswoman Lynn Ike said while Saturday’s race was canceled, the incident would likely not affect similar events at DeVos in the future. “It had nothing to do with the race itself,” Ike said. “If this promoter wanted to come back next year, he’d be welcome.” Ike said the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating.(Michigan Live)(12-19-2005)

News from December 18, 2005

  • Stats Book Available: Produced by NASCAR Statistical Services, the “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Weekly Media Updates” – is the primary source of information for television, radio and print media providing week-to-week coverage of America’s fastest-growing spectator sport. This is the ultimate in statistical information on NASCAR’s premier series. Now you can have access to the same information the pros use. “A Statistical Review of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Season” is the season-long cumulative of statistics on the 2005 season and compilation of the most pertinent information contained in the weekly updates. Whether used to track your favorite driver, manage your fantasy league racing entry or simply to ‘settle a bar room bet’, this book will provide invaluable information. If it was relevant to the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season it is in this book. Season records and statistics, comprehensive race reviews, driver biographies, historical data and complete race-by-race official NASCAR Race Reports –all are in the more than 300 pages of “A Statistical Review of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Season.” Order your copy now – A great gift – ANYTIME!
    Send $29.95 (includes shipping and handling) to:
    NASCAR Statistical Services
    PO Box 1224
    Dumfries, VA 22026 Or Use you credit card by calling: 1-888-STATSBK (Monday-Friday between 10AM and 3PM)(12-18-2005)


    News from December 17, 2005

  • Paul Tracy to race in Busch Series in 2006: Paul Tracy will make the jump to the NASCAR Busch Series in selected races in 2006. Tracy, who was in Daytona testing an ARCA car for Andy HIllenburg, told MRN Radio’s “NASCAR Today” that he will run a second Busch car for Biagi Brothers [#4 team with Mark Green driving] racing next year. “I will be doing the 24 hours again and trying to get some experience in stock cars and make the transition into stock cars in the future. Andy Hillenburg, who I am driving for here, has been really helpful with trying to help me out make the transition. We’ve got a deal 99% done to run 4 or 5 Busch Series racing for Fred Biagi. We’ve got a sponsor package put together to run a second car. Really my timetable is to be up and running by 2007… maybe run 10 or 11 races and a Cup race or 2 next year.” MRN Radio’s “NASCAR Today” can be heard on 505 radio stations and XM Satellite Radio.(MRN’s NASCAR Today)(12-17-2005)
  • Gordon getting ready for Dakar race: The Dakar Rally, easily the world’s most grueling and logistically challenging auto race, will start on Dec. 31 in Lison, Portugal and head approximately 6,500 miles south through Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar and into Morocco. From there, the race turns rugged as the field of more than 500 vehicles makes the incredible journey through Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Senegal. Robby Gordon, driver of the #7 Jim Beam/Harrah’s/Menards Chevy in the Nextel Cup Series, will spend his New Year’s Eve behind the wheel of a race car for the first of 16 days of competition in the Dakar with hopes of being the first to pull into Dakar, Senegal on Jan. 15.
    Gordon, a six-time SCORE Off-Road Champion and a two-time winner of the famed Baja 1000 in addition to countless other off-road races in North America, will drive a specially prepared Hummer H3 on Toyo Tires with sponsorship from Jim Beam in his quest to become the first American to win the famed Dakar Rally in its 28-year history. Last year, driving for the German Volkswagen team, Gordon became the first American to ever win a stage in the race, eventually winning two of the 16 stages en route to an 12th-place overall finish.
    Gordon’s participation in the 2005 Dakar brought the race much needed recognition in the United States and Canada, and exposure to North American race fans will grow again in 2006 with OLN’s daily coverage of the race and the network’s four recap shows that will air after the completion of the race.
    This year, 508 cars, trucks and motorcycles, representing 40 countries, will leave the starting line in Lisbon with their eyes fixed on a finish line 16 days and 6,500 miles away. While many will consider just finishing a victory, Gordon’s goals are clearly stated: “I will be disappointed with anything other than a win. Our people have given so much of themselves over the last few months to get us ready to compete, and our sole focus is to become the first American’s to win Dakar. We finished the race last year, this year we’re going there to win.”(in part from a Robby Gordon Motorsports PR) and more info about the race at dakar.com.(12-17-2005)
  • Kenny Wallace to run some Cup races in 2006: Kenny Wallace says that he will run several Nextel Cup races in 2006. “I am going to run for sure the first five races of year in the #78 Furniture Row Racing Cup car. (Team owner) Joe Garone has asked me to run as many Cup races as I can this year. Furniture Row Racing had decided to quit running in the NASCAR Busch Series, and they will put all their effort into a Cup team. It is their decision to do this.”(Kenny Wallace site)(12-17-2005)
  • Testing at Nashville: Clint Boyer and Jeff Burton are scheduled to be testing Monday, December 19 (weather permitting) at the Nashville Superspeedway. No sure if it is Nextel Cup or Busch Series.(PR)(12-17-2005)


    News from December 16, 2005

  • ‘3’ Lawsuit Settled: Richard Childress Racing and ESPN traded paint back in March over the use of the late Dale Earnhardt’s famous No. 3. That contest is over — and you’ll have as much chance of learning the winner as you would of finding out how a NASCAR team squeezes more horsepower from its engines. The two parties have settled the suit that RCR filed in federal court in Greensboro. The terms of their deal, like those in most out-of-court settlements, aren’t public. “The matter has been resolved to our satisfaction, and the exact terms are confidential,” Heather Adams, an attorney for ESPN, told the Winston-Salem Journal. An RCR spokesman also told the newspaper that his company is pleased as well. At issue was the stylized “3.” The trademarked number appeared on the sides and roof of Earnhardt’s black Chevrolet for much of his career. It still shows up on jackets, hats and stickers that fans still buy five years after his death. Earnhardt drove for RCR, which is based in Welcome, NC, until he was killed during the 2001 Daytona 500. ESPN used a variation of the number in the marketing efforts for its 2004 made-for-TV film “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story.” RCR called the ESPN “3” a knockoff and sued for trademark infringement and unfair competition.(News and Record)(12-16-2005)
      vs.  
    The same?

  • Sleigh Ride preferred over Dale Jr. Hoping to help “drive home” the message of responsible celebrating this holiday season, Anheuser-Busch today released the results of its annual Designated Driver survey to kick off National Designated Driver Awareness Week. The survey found that most Americans (41%) would prefer to be driven home in a Hummer by their designated drivers of choice Katie Couric and George Clooney. In addition, according to the poll, respondents favor a sleigh ride (45%) over a speedy ride in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #8 Chevrolet (27%) as their favorite mode of transportation. For the last 20 years, Anheuser-Busch has made it a goal to educate the public about its Designated Driver program through advertising, server training programs and its ‘free cab ride home’ offer, which since 1989 has provided more than half a million rides home. For more information on designated drivers and responsible drinking programs visit www.designateddriver.com.(G.S. Schwartz PR)(12-16-2005)
  • Another New Cup Team? UPDATE: not much info on this team, but their site states: The Premier Motorsports is expanding to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in 2006. The team looks to be based in Kentucky and shows a car #85 but lists the Cup team as #64 on the Partners page. No drivers listed and most of the site states ‘coming soon’.(thepremiermotorsports.com.(12-13-2005)
    UPDATE: The Premier Motorpsorts is owned by Daniel Kinney and located in Owensboro, KY. Kinney developed his #85 Busch team in 2000 and ran selected races for five years. The team is developing a cup team #64 for the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup season and planning to run a full season. The team has a partial sponsorship “Speedway Fuel” for the 2006 season and is looking for additional sponsors. The team also plans to run selected Busch races as well in the 2006 season but will consider a full season if full sponsorship is obtained. They are expanding their race shop and should be completed by mid January 2006. The team is also looking to hire personnel and crew chiefs. More info at their site or on my Racing Schools/Jobs page.(12-16-2005)


    News from December 15, 2005

  • Wrecks in 2005: USA Today has some stats and articles about wrecks in 2005 Nextel Cup races, the drivers with the most wrecks:
    Drivers with the highest accident rate (minimum of 30 races)
    Name %.
    #15-Michael Waltrip 52.8% [#55 in 2006]
    #97-Kurt Busch 50.0% [#2 in 2006]
    #43-Jeff Green 47.2% [#0 in 2006]
    #9-Kasey Kahne 44.4%
    #10-Scott Riggs 41.7% [#10 Evernahm in 2006]
    #07-Dave Blaney 38.9% [#22 in 2006]
    #88-Dale Jarrett 38.9%
    #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 38.9%
    #22-Scott Wimmer 38.9% {?#4 in 2006?]
    #38-Elliott Sadler 36.1%
    (with 6 of the top 10 changing teams in 2006…)
    See more at USA Today.(12-15-2005)
  • Earnhardt Jr. OK to test: Dale Earnhardt Jr. says the Dec. 9 surgery he had on his left wrist will not keep him from preseason testing at Daytona. This week’s edition of NASCAR Scene reports that Earnhardt Jr. said he would be able test a car approximately 10 days after the surgery, if necessary.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(12-15-2005)
  • Kvapil to #4 ride? this weeks NASCAR Scene [12-15 issue] reports that Travis Kvapil, recently released from the #77 Penske Racing team that is taking the year off, is rumored to be a candidate for the #4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports Lucas Oil Chevy ride.(NASCAR Scene Print), it was reported here last week that Scott Wimmer is the leading candiate for the #4 ride.(12-15-2005)
  • Bodine turns down #4 team: Todd Bodine competed in only one Nextel Cup race in 2005, driving the #4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports car at the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale. He finished 20th in the Ford 400. Bodine said he turned down a full-time Nextel Cup ride with Morgan-McClure for 2006 because of commitments with Germain Racing [#30 Truck Series Toyota team]. “They want me to run full time for them next year,” Bodine said. “Obviously, I can’t do that. It’s a great group there. Morgan-McClure has been very important to NASCAR and has got a lot of history. If we didn’t have such a good Truck team, I probably would have considered it.” Mike Wallace was Morgan-McClure’s regular driver in 2005. Bodine said he could run some Nextel Cup races in 2006 but did not mention a specific team. “We’re probably going to run some Cup races next year, we don’t know what for sure,” Bodine said. “We just have to see what happens. I’ve got a lot going on with Germain Racing and a lot to look forward to.”(Elmira Star Gazette)(12-15-2005)
  • Stewart honored by U.S. House of Representatives: on Wednesday [12/14], the U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution from U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel of Indiana recognizing #20-Tony Stewart for his 2005 Nextel Cup championship. Sodrel, who sponsored the resolution, was joined by other members of the Indiana delegation – Reps. Mike Pence, Dan Burton, Mark Soder, John Hostettler and Julia Carson – as co-sponsors. House Resolution 587 passed unanimously. Sodrel represents Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, which includes Stewart’s hometown – and current residence – of Columbus. “I am proud to honor Mr. Tony Stewart for all of his accomplishments in NASCAR and the world of motorsports by bringing this resolution to the floor of the House of Representatives,” Sodrel said. “Hoosiers and racing fans around the world are proud of Tony and his team and we look forward to his continued success.” The resolution cites Stewart for his five 2005 wins, his two series titles in seven seasons, his eight other auto racing championships, his top-10 ranking in each of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup seasons and particularly his Aug. 7 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard). Following that win, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels awarded Stewart the state’s highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash, on Aug. 29.(NASCAR PR)(12-15-2005)


    News from December 14, 2005

  • 2006 Fox Broadcast Schedule Announced [times] On the heels of last week’s landmark rights agreement that establishes FOX Sports as the official television home of the Daytona 500 from 2007-2014, NASCAR on FOX announces its 2006 broadcast schedule. FOX Sports hits the gas on its sixth season of Emmy Award-winning coverage with the Auto Club 500 live from California Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 26 (3:30pm/et). Darrell Waltrip and former champion crew chief Larry McReynolds return to provide race analysis for all NASCAR on FOX Nextel Cup and Busch Series events, and Mike Joy returns as race announcer. Prerace coverage is again hosted by Chris Myers with analyst Jeff Hammond, and returning to cover pit road are reporters Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Jeanne Zelasko. In all, FOX Sports airs 14 NASCAR Nextel Cup races [FX will broadcast Richmond in May and Dover in June as well as the Nextel All-Star Challenge in May]. (FoxSports), see my 2006 Nextel Cup Scheule Page for the times, more info and links.(12-14-2005)
  • #4 team gets a guaranteed spot first five races: have been asked and have been telling folks the wrong thing, since the #77 team will not field a car/team in 2006, what happens to the 34th spot the team occupies in 2005 Owners Points? A team in the top 35 in the previous season’s Owners Points are guaranteed to make the first five races, after the 5th race, 2006 Owners Points take over. I had assumed [not a good thing] that the spot would go unfilled and one of the teams outside the top-35 would get an extra shot of making the race per speed [except for the Daytona 500 with it’s unique qualifying format, however, saw this on NASCAR.com from Marty Smith and it has been verified by NASCAR:
    By dissolving its #77 team, it seems Penske Racing indirectly sent owner #4-Larry McClure a priceless early Christmas present – a guaranteed starting position in the 2006 Daytona 500. During the first five races of a new season, NASCAR reverts to the previous season’s final championship owner points to determine which teams will benefit from the top-35 rule. To receive a guaranteed starting assignment at Daytona, California, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol, a team must be among the 35 highest-ranked teams present from the previous season’s owner points standings, must have entered the event prior to the entrance deadline and must make an attempt to qualify for the event. Therefore, by virtue of the #77’s absence, McClure’s 36th-ranked team inherits the final guaranteed starting position for the first five races of the 2006 season. Remember, though, if Penske does opt to enter the #77 in the race, McClure is out. And, considering that making the Daytona 500 field guarantees a quarter-million dollar payday (roughly), that very well may happen. Had Penske not shut down the #77 operation, which held the 34th position in ’05 owner points, McClure would have entered ’06 faced with having to qualify for each of the first five events on speed.(NASCAR.com). Next question would be: who will be the driver?(12-14-2005)
  • Kvapil to PPI? UPDATE: Travis Kvapil recently received his release from #77 Penske Racing, but he is not expected to be out of work for long. Kvapil, 29, is the latest candidate for the #32 PPI Motorsports ride. Bobby Hamilton Jr. has not been re-signed.(Sporting News), Ricky Craven has also been rumored to be going back to the #32, but that seems like a slim chance.(12-12-2005)
    UPDATE: been told that Hamilton Jr. is signed thru 2006 with PPI Motorsports and has not been released from his contract.(12-13-2005)
    UPDATE 2: Bobby Hamilton, Jr. will return to the #32 Tide Chevrolet in 2006. He is still under contract to Cal Wells, who can’t find an upgrade in talent on the current NEXTEL Cup unemployment line and will most likely stay with the second generation driver.(RacingOne)(12-14-2005)
  • Daytona Testing dates and teams: The 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will kick off with a pair of much anticipated test sessions at historic Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the prestigious season-opening 48th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 19. Testing will be held in two-session, Jan. 9-11 and Jan. 16-18. For the driver/team lists, The Fan Fest events infor, see my Testing page.(12-14-2005)
  • Stewart to drive midget car race: Tony Stewart will drive in a pair of U.S. Auto Club indoor midget car races at Fort Wayne, IN, where he won a 60-lap feature a year ago under an assumed name in an old junker he bought during a poker game the night before. It wasn’t until Stewart pulled into Victory Lane and took off his helmet that the race announcer and fans recognized him — and became extremely excited. “It was just a kind of a joke,” USAC spokesman Dick Jordan said Tuesday. “They didn’t do any advance publicity on him, because he wasn’t sure he was going to run. … This time he’s allowing the promoter to advertise the fact he’s coming.” The Dec. 29-30 “Rumble in Fort Wayne” will be USAC’s final races of the year. Stewart has won 52 USAC features and in 1995 swept all three series championships — Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown. He also has won at least one USAC race each year since 1991 except 1999, when he was the NASCAR Cup rookie of the year.(ESPN.com/AP)(12-14-2005)
  • Urban Youth Racing School looking for stolen rig and cars: The Urban Youth Racing School celebrated the holidays with a festive bash Thursday night. But the forunder of the Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization – which introduces inner-city children to career opportunities in motor sports – was feeling anything but joyous when he returned to the office Monday morning. When Anthony Martin arrived at the school’s modest facility, on a hardscrabble stretch of North Front Street in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge, he noticed that the trailer used to transport the school’s five mini race cars was missing. “I couldn’t believe it,” Martin said. “We had a 30-forot trailer parked in a lot across the street from the school. We even had a special lock on it that would prevent someone from hitching it to a vehicle. There was some graffiti on it and our kids were excited about cleaning it up and painting it, but somebody stole it. And nobody in the area saw or heard anything.” Martin, who has seen nearly 1,000 children graduate from the racing school and its “Build A Dream Program” that he forunded in 1998, asked that anyone with information about the trailer contact him at 215-923-2532.(Philadelphia Inquirer)(12-14-2005)
  • Shepherd wins Spirit Award: #89-Morgan Shepherd has been named the forurth quarter recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association/Pocono Spirit Award. Shepherd, who made his first Cup start in 1970, has forur career victories in 511 Cup starts, and has competed for the past several seasons with much less financial backing than most Cup teams. But it is his efforts off the race track that have earned the 64-year-old Shepherd recognition among the membership of the NMPA. The Morgan Shepherd Charitable Fund, now in its 19th season, began as a program to assist the needy and handicapped living in the Virginia mountains. Each year Shepherd headlines a trip throughout that region that includes stops to assist more than 300 people. That trip often includes several prominent NASCAR figures taking part along with Shepherd. “We’re carrying friends, presents and hope for these people,” Shepherd said. “Besides a donation, hopefully a large donation, to the PARC Workshop (a non-profit organization that teaches job skills to the handicapped), we are delighted to have a chance to meet with old and new friends, and to show the love of Christ to these forlks.” Other forurth-quarter nominees for the award included the Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports and Nextel Cup driver Kasey Kahne. The NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award recognizes character and achievement in the face of adversity as well as sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each quarter during the year the NMPA names a winner of the Spirit Award. And in January, the NMPA and Pocono International Raceway honor the forur winners and select a national winner at the annual NMPA convention. Michael and Buffy Waltrip won the 2005 first-quarter award, Jeff Gordon was named the second-quarter winner and the NASCAR community as a whole was named the third-quarter recipient.(ThatsRacin)(12-14-2005)
  • Stewart visits GM Plant: Tony Stewart, the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, visited the GM Arlington Assembly Plant this afternoon to help build a 2007 Chevy Tahoe. Stewart visited the Texas plant to perform several jobs in the general assembly process and meet with GM employees that work on the various lines. Plans are in development for the final Tahoe that Stewart drives off the line be used at several promotional events and eventually be auctioned off for charity. Stewart’s visit to the plant today helped kick off Arlington production of the 2007 Chevy Tahoe. The new Tahoe will be available in dealer showrooms beginning in January.(GM Racing PR)(12-14-2005)


    News from December 13, 2005

  • New Head and Neck Restraint Device: Safety Solutions, Inc. a Mooresville, NC Corporation has released a new Head and Neck restraint system for the Racing Industry. The developer of the Hutchens device, and the only strap Head and Neck Safety System used in Nascar has developed a new series of Safety Solutions for all Racers. Mr. Trevor Ashline President of Safety Solutions, Inc. comments, “We have added new top performing devices for this upcoming racing season. With the competitive nature of racing, drivers cannot afford to risk injury. With over two hundred-sled tests, we learned what it really takes to keep a driver safe in a single or Multiple Impact Crash from all angle of impact. There is a lot to be learned from the Crashes in racing accidents; so we applied the Data along with Hundreds of sled test data to develop this new device. The Hutchens Device II Pro was the next natural step from the Original Hutchens Device. We were able to apply what we had learned from thousands of races and developed a comfortable device that will protect the driver without standing in the way of the Racers ability to Race.All of our Head and Neck Safety Devices are SFI 38.1 rated and tested at 70 G’s.” The Hutchens Device II Pro is a patented Carbon Fiber Head and Shoulder restraint system designed to keep the driver safe in frontal and multiple impact crashes. “On the racetrack anything can happen when drivers are this competitive,” says Ashline”. For more information on these and other Safety solutions designed for all ages you can call 1 (800) 731-4404 or go to www.HutchensDevice.com.(Yahoo News)(12-13-2005)
  • Do Reliable Predictors Exist for the Outcomes of NASCAR Races? from The Sport Journal: “This research attempts to ascertain whether factors known prior to a NASCAR race can help to predict the order of finish of that race. We provide evidence in the form of correlation analysis of the order of finish with available quantitative and categorical information collected, and a simple test for the effect of teams (regressions for each races are also available from the authors). Data were collected on 14 races from the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup (now Nextel Cup Series) schedule.” See the full article, data and research at The Sport Journal, any comments or email to The Sport Journal please.(12-13-2005)
  • Neuenberger plans to attempt 8 Cup races in 2006: Donnie Neuenberger and Austin Cox, Jr. announce the creation of their new company AD Motorsports, Inc. AD Motorsports is based in Salisbury Maryland. Donnie Neuenberger takes his Maryland base operations to join those of Austin Cox to form AD Motorsports. Donnie has managed his 13 year race career from Maryland and will continue to do so in this next chapter of NASCAR racing. In 2000 Neuenberger stepped up to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series working with Rick Ware of Ware Racing of Thomasville, NC. 2006 has Neuenberger and Ware together again in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Cup Series. Ware Racing has been participating in the Nextel Cup level racing over the past two years [#52 car, 4 attempts failed to qualify and in 2004 made a race]. Neuenberger will begin the 2006 schedule participating in the Daytona speed weeks activities including the Twin 150’s as part of the Daytona 500 race events. An eight (8) race schedule in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series will include 2 races at Daytona, Dover, Texas and Talladega. Super speedways are where Neuenberger has had his best results while participating in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck series and most recently the NASCAR Busch series. Neuenberger has competed in the NASCAR Busch series the past three (3) years. Stepping up into the Nextel Cup series will include three long time sponsors of Neuenberger’s. Bay Area Goodyear Tires owned by Craig Arch will continue support. BG Products Maryland distributor owned by Corky Crovato will also continue to support the Nextel Cup team as an associate. Plan B Technologies owned by Donnie Downs and Curtis Eshelman continue associate sponsorship. For more information about Donnie Neuenberger and AD Motorsports visit their website www.ad-motorsports.com[coming soon, just contact infor].(DGNRacing.com)(12-13-2005)


    News from December 12, 2005

  • Dale Jr. has minor surgery: Despite some panicked e-mails claiming otherwise, Dale Earnhardt Jr. does not have any fractures of his right or left arm. He had a minor procedure done to remove calcium build-up in his wrist. It’s a chronic condition he’s had for several years, and apparently decided to have it taken care of Friday morning. That is why forlks are seeing picturs of Dale Jr. at the Busch Series banquet wearing a cast in a sling on his left arm.(fingerprint inc)(12-12-2005)
  • STAR Motorsports signs Austin: STAR Motorsports [owned by Sean Holley, along with some pro athletes and entertainers, including the Wayans brothers from In Living Color among other TV Shows / Moives], Austin Racing Enterprises, and 16 year old Chase Austin proudly announce the formation STAR-TEAM CHASE race team. STAR Motorsports, with a race shop based in Mooresville, NC, is a dynamic new player on the NASCAR scene. A unique blend of motorsports veterans, sports and entertainment executives, MLB, MLS, NBA and NFL athletes, and stars from the music and film industries, STAR will field competitive teams in NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, Busch Series and Truck Series as wlll as Hooters Pro Cup and ASA Late Models. Sean Holley, President/CEO of STAR Motorsports, describes his excitement over partnering with Chase: “We are building this team to be competitive in the long run. To do that, we need a strong forundation. In addition to veteran drivers, STAR wants to secure young drivers with the potential to win at the highest levels for years to come. After extensive scouting, we were able get our top choice; Chase Austin. Some team info at their website, STAR-motorsports.com. Austin of couese will not run in any of the top-three NASCAR Series until he turns 18 years old, no word on who will drive for any of the NASCAR teams in 2006, no car number mentioned or mention of crew chiefs.(12-12-2005)

News from December 11, 2005

  • Sad News: Blaine Blessing, 44, died suddenly of a heart attack on December 6, 2005 at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, IA. Blessing won numerous NASCAR/IMCA championship titles, and sponsored numerous NASCAR/IMCA championship title winners. Blaine was survived by his loving wife, Kristine of West Des Moines; he was a loving father to his five children: Ashley Johnson and her fiancé Nick Dreeszen of Cedar Rapids, Trent Blessing of Solon, Derek McNerney of West Des Moines, Trevor Blessing of Solon, and Colin McNerney of West Des Moines; his father, Harold Blessing of West Union; his mother, Diane (Meyer) Yarcho of Shell Rock. Memorial contributions may be made to Blaine’s family who will donate to Feed the Children, and other organizations.(Des Moines Register)(12-11-2005)
  • New Crew Chief for the #21? UPDATE: hearing that David Hyder will be the new crew chief for the #21 Wood Brothers team and driver Ken Schrader. Hyder comes over from the #49 BAM Racing team which Scrader drove for in 2005. Ron Otto was recently named the crew chief for the #49 car. Former #21 crew chief, Michael ‘Fatback’ McSwain will take on a Team Manager/General Manager type role.(12-10-2005)
    UPDATE: Former crew chief Michael “Fatback” McSwain has been promoted to the position of Race Director for all of the teams under the Wood Brothers Racing/ST Motorsports/Wood Brothers/JTG Racing umbrella. And, David Hyder has been hired as crew chief for the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Fusion and driver Kenny Schrader. The announcement was made by WBR co-owner Eddie Wood. “This was just the logical progression of events,” said Wood. “Hyder was Kenny Schrader’s crew chief in 2004, and they had a good thing going there. We wanted to keep the relationship between Kenny and David in tact. And at the same time, we are giving Fatback the title that goes with the work he has been doing in getting the Truck, Busch and Cup teams under one roof and ready for competition next year. He has coordinated the move to our new location while maintaining a leadership role in the fabrication and engineering of all of our racecars and trucks. These changes will just strengthen our Little Debbie/Motorcraft/US Air Force team in 2006.”
    David Hyder comes to the Wood Brothers operation after working with Schrader as crew chief at Bam Racing for over a year. Before that he was with the Petty Enterprises where he served as car chief for both the #43 and #45 Nextel Cup cars. The High Point, North Carolina native has a history in racing that spans close to 25 years. For 17 years he raced late model stock cars including stints in Hooters Pro Cup and the All Pro Series. “I am so pleased to be able to continue the working relationship Kenny and I started at BAM,” stated Hyder. And, I’m looking forward to working Eddie, Len, Fatback and everybody at Wood Brothers Racing. This is really a win, win situation for me.” McSwain added, “I’m glad that Eddie and Len decided to hire David. I already know he and Kenny work well together, and this will give me the freedom to work with the five teams we now have in place. It would have been very difficult to work with all the teams and remain as crew chief for the 21, so this is a great solution.”
    McSwain has been with Wood Brothers Racing as crew chief for the #21 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team since August of 2004. The racing veteran has been on the Cup circuit since 1992. His first position was as a fabricator for Lake Speed. Since that time he has served as crew chief for various teams including those owned by Jasper Motorsports, Ricky Rudd, Robert Yates and Joe Gibbs. McSwain was born in Lattimore, North Carolina and is a 1986 graduate of Nashville Auto Diesel College.
    Driver Kenny Schrader also gave his stamp of approval to the news. “This is wonderful. David and I had something really good coming together at the end of the season, and now we will be able to work together here. I couldn’t be happier with the way things are starting out for the new year.” The multi team operation has recently been moved into a new shop in Harrisburg, NC.(Wood Brothers Racing site)(12-11-2005)
  • Motorsports Authentics Completes Merger w/ Action: International Speedway Corporation and Speedway Motorsports Incorporated today announced their 50/50 joint venture, which conducts business under the name Motorsports Authentics, has completed a merger with Action Performance Companies. The transaction, first announced on August 30, 2005, was approved by Action’s shareholders on December 1, 2005. The acquisition was structured as a merger of a wholly-owned subsidiary of Motorsports Authentics LLC into Action. Combined with the September 8, 2005 acquisition of the net assets of Team Caliber, Motorsports Authentics is now the leader in design, promotion, marketing and distribution of motorsports licensed merchandise. Motorsports Authentics has licenses for exclusive and non-exclusive distribution with the top teams competing in NASCAR and other major motorsports series. Its products include a broad range of motorsports-related die-cast replica collectibles, apparel, gifts and other memorabilia, which are marketed through a combination of mass retail, domestic wholesale, trackside, international and collector’s club distribution channels.(Yahoo Finace)(12-11-2005)


    News from December 10, 2005

  • No shows at banquet disappoint NASCAR UPDATE Gordon excused: NASCAR officials are “extremely disappointed” in Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other drivers who failed to attend the season-ending awards ceremonies. “It was very disappointing to NASCAR and the entire industry that drivers did not show up for various awards,” spokesman Jim Hunter said Tuesday. “It shows a lack of respect for the history and tradition of the sport.” NASCAR president Mike Helton plans to speak with the drivers who failed to attend last week’s ceremonies in New York, Hunter said. The sanctioning body also is considering ways to ensure future attendance. Gordon, who finished 11th in the standings, skipped the banquet because he was in Paris preparing to compete in the Race of Champions all-star event. Actor Will Ferrell, pretending to be Gordon, accepted the $1,075,386 payout — which included a $250,000 bonus for finishing 11th — on Gordon’s behalf. Gordon’s absence was glaring because under NASCAR’s new points system the 11th-place driver is awarded a spot at the banquet as a reward for being the highest finishing driver outside of the Chase for the championship. Earnhardt, selected as NASCAR’s most popular driver for the third straight season, didn’t travel to New York to pick up his award. Also absent were Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne, who earned a combined $175,000 in secondary awards. It’s not clear what NASCAR can do to force drivers to attend the ceremonies. Among the things being considered is revoking the contingency awards that Kahne and Sadler received and giving the money to the runner-ups.(ESPN.com/AP)(12-7-2005)
    UPDATE: In his first public comments since being criticized by NASCAR for failing to attend the year-ending Awards Gala, four-time Cup champ Jeff Gordon fired back Friday, saying NASCAR gave its blessing for Gordon to skip the dinner at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria so he could compete in an all-star race in Paris the following day. Gordon—who was in the Big Apple Friday for a promotional appearance—said that NASCAR initially had no problem with him missing the Champions Week festivities. “I was in a unique situation where I was 13th or 14th in points, got invited to go over to Paris for that event [the Race of Champions], which I missed out on last year,” Gordon told the Press in an exclusive interview. “I agreed to go, not expecting to be at the banquet for 11th or any other position. And when the conflict came up, I talked to the higher-ups in NASCAR, and they told me, ‘Hey, we understand. You’ve got a commitment and you can’t be here this year.’ I’m pretty disappointed in some of the things that were said,” Gordon said. “I understand that they want to get as many drivers there [as possible], and being a past champion, I want to be there as the champion. But I also want to be there to accept any award that I can.”(Long Island Press)(12-10-2005)


    News from December 9, 2005

  • Summer Shootout Highlights To Air on Speed: Racing’s stars of tomorrow will be in the spotlight during December and January as Speed Channel presents 10 one-hour telecasts featuring highlights of the 12th annual Hardee’s Summer Shootout. Run on the frontstretch quarter-mile oval at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the 10-week series has served as a training ground for such NASCAR stars as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Reed Sorenson. The programs will be presented in back-to-back one-hour blocks on five Saturday afternoons. The first two rounds will air at 3:00 – 4:00pm/et on Saturday, Dec. 10, with subsequent rounds following at the same times on Dec. 17, Dec. 24, Jan. 7 and Jan. 14. Veteran broadcaster Brian Drebber will anchor the telecasts with former NASCAR driver “Tiger Tom” Pistone providing color commentary. Natalie Taylor will report from the garage area and victory lane. The 12th annual Hardee’s Summer Shootout featured three divisions of Legends Cars, three classes of Bandoleros and the Thunder Roadsters. School Bus races were run three times and the wild-and-wacky CRASHCars were in action on seven nights. Several Hardee’s Summer Shootout competitors have close ties to the NASCAR community including: Mike Wallace’s daughter Chrissy and son Matt; Richard Childress’ grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon; Dave Blaney’s son Ryan; Randy LaJoie’s sons Corey and Casey; Gary Nelson’s sons John and William; Mark Green’s son Tyler; and Larry McReynolds’ son Brandon who was involved in the series’ most fierce championship battle. Not to metion Jason Haynes who drove the #19 Jayski car in the Bandolero series. Speed Channel’s complete schedule is available at www.speedtv.com. Information about Legends Car, Bandolero or Thunder Roadster racing can be obtained by contacting 600 Racing by visiting 600racing.com.(LMS PR)(12-9-2005)
  • Carter out at Penske? UPDATE changes: hearing #2 Miller Lite crew chief, Larry Carter has been released from his duties as crew chief at Penske Racing and is looking for work, supposedly Roy McCauley, an engineer for Penske Racingand crew chief for #39 Busch team of Ryan Newman will supposedly be Kurt Busch’s crew chief.(12-7-2005)
    UPDATE: Penske Racing South announced today that Roy McCauley will become the crew chief of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge effective immediately. McCauley replaces Larry Carter who will move to a management role within Penske Racing South’s operations division. “I am pleased to announce these changes to our racing organization,” Roger Penske said. “Roy brings a wealth of technical and engineering experience to the #2 team. Roy and Kurt will be a great team and when you combine them with Ryan Newman and Matt Borland, we are looking forward to building on our recent successes. I want to thank Larry Carter for his contributions as crew chief with the #2 team. His leadership was instrumental in guiding Rusty into ‘The Chase’ this season. Whereas Matt and Roy will focus on the competition side of our business, Larry will bring a wealth of experience to an important management role within the operations of Penske Racing.” The moves of Carter and McCauley were made along with other personnel changes at Penske Racing South as the company prepares its two NEXTEL Cup teams for the 2006 season.(Penske Racing PR)(12-9-2005)


    News from December 8, 2005

  • #77 Team will not run in 2006, Kodak to #2 UPDATE 7 Penske Release: hearing [have learned…like 3 weeks ago] Penske Racing South with dissolve the #77 Kodak team at the end of the 2005 season as Kodak is leaving as sponsor. No word on where Kodak will go or where Travis Kvapil will drive. Supposedly Penske will not be a two car [#2-Kurt Busch and #12-Ryan Newman] team for long they are going to develop another young driver in the same ABC [ARCA, Busch, Cup] format that was successful with Newman.(11-16-2005)
    UPDATE: been told this is NOT true..and that Penske Racing worked things out to keep Kodak and that Travis Kvapil will drive the #77 Kodak Dodge in 2006.(11-17-2005)
    UPDATE 2: Kodak has reached an agreement to extend its sponsorship of the Penske-Jasper Racing Nextel Cup team, and Travis Kvapil, a Janesville native, will return as the driver, a team representative said Thursday. A rumor had surfaced one day earlier speculating that the team could be disbanded.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(11-18-2005)
    UPDATE 3: have learned that the #77 team has been shut down…today, after Kodak decided not to re-up with the team. No word on Kvapil’s plans or if Kodak will remain in the sport.(sources and PRN’s Garage Pass Radio show)(11-29-2005)
    AND from a story at Janesville [Wisc] Gazette on 11/18: Deb Williams, director of public/media relations for Penske Racing South, has confirmed that Wednesday’s rumor is completely untrue. Meanwhile, Tom Page, the manager of NASCAR marketing for Eastman Kodak, also denied the report. “I have no idea where that came from or how it got started,” Page said. “Travis has done a very good job representing Kodak. He is an honest, hard-working driver. We signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Penske Racing in 2004. That’s common knowledge.”(Janesville [Wisc] Gazette)
    STATEMENT: from Penske Racing: “Penske-Jasper Racing and Kodak are currently working on their 2006 Nextel Cup plans which will be announced in the near future.”
    of note: last year is was denied that Brendan Gaughan was being let go, denied that Rusty was retiring after 2005 and a few years ago denied for months that Penske Racing would switch to Dodge,….sooooo.
    UPDATE 4: hearing Kodak will stay with Penske Racing as a major associate for the #2 Dodge driven by Kurt Busch in 2006.(12-1-2005)
    UPDATE 5: Despite repeated denials from Penske Racing, Kodak is pulling its sponsorship, and the #77 team is being dismantled. This is a sticky situation because Doug Bawel entered into a partnership with Penske Racing two seasons ago, and now he’s on the outside looking in. The move comes on the heels of a major restructuring at Penske’s Mooresville, N.C.-based campus.(Sporting News)(12-5-2005)
    UPDATE 6: Travis Kvapil and the #77 Kodak/Jasper Engines & Transmissions race team will not be part of the NASCAR Nextel Cup scene for the 2006 season. “Penske (Racing South) and Kodak have agreed not to field the 77 Dodge in Nextel Cup racing in 2006,” said David Kassnoff, Kodak’s manager of communications and publications. “We expect a return in 2007 with a more competitive race team. We are looking to Penske to develop a team that can perform at a high level consistently in 2007.” Kvapil could not be reached for comment. Kodak, the longest continuous primary team sponsor in NASCAR, will be reduced to associate sponsorship status for 2006. Kodak’s associate sponsorship will appear on the #2 Miller Lite Dodge. Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion, will replace [retiring] Rusty Wallace in the #2 car next season. Internet rumors last month said that Kvapil’s team would be dissolved. One Kodak spokesman and another for Penske strongly denied those rumors. Despite the denials, the whispers continued. Penske Racing South has not made a public statement regarding the status of Kvapil’s team. Kassnoff said an announcement should come later today or tomorrow.(Janesville [WI] Gazette)(12-8-2005)
    UPDATE 8 – Penske Release: With the recent decision by Penske-Jasper Racing and Eastman Kodak Company to not field the #77 Kodak Dodge in the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, 2005 rookie Travis Kvapil is permitted to seek other driving opportunities. “I want to thank Travis for what he has provided to Penske-Jasper Racing during this year,” said Roger Penske. “Travis is a talented driver and an excellent ambassador for our team and our sponsors. While it is unfortunate that we will not field the Kodak Dodge in 2006, I am confident that Travis will find the opportunity to drive another car next year.” Kodak, which will continue as an associate sponsor with the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, intends to re-enter the #77 Kodak Dodge in the 2007 NEXTEL Cup season.(Penske Racing)(12-8-2005)
  • #92 to Dodge?…as reported Chaffin returns: Chad Chaffin, who landed a part-time job in the Nextel Cup Series in 2005 with #92 Front Row Motorsports of Denver, N.C., has hired Chaffin to run the full Nextel Cup schedule in 2006. Front Row has yet to land a sponsor, but owner Bob Jenkins said he is committed to running all 36 races without one if necessary. “We may not be in the top 20,” Jenkins said of his fledgling race team, “but we plan to grow and progress.” Jenkins owns two North Carolina companies, one that manufactures vinyl gloves, the other a food franchise. He chose Chaffin for the full-time job next season “because Chad’s a good driver and he knows how to communicate with the pit crew. That’s very important.” The team raced Chevrolets this season and is debating going to Dodges next year. In addition to his full Cup schedule, Chaffin also will compete in the NASCAR Busch Series for Goodlettsville-based Wayne Day Enterprises. While Front Row plans to run all 36 Cup races, Chaffin said he may turn the car over to a substitute driver for the two annual road-course events.(Tennessean)(12-8-2005)
  • Jasper’s 2006 Plans…no #77: been told that an announcement was made at Jasper Engines on Wednesday detailing their 2006 plans in which Jasper will supply the transmissions and differentials to Ryan Newman’s #12 car and Kurt Busch’s #2 car in the NEXTEL Cup Series; the Rusty Wallace owned Busch Series #64 car and the Penske Busch Series ]#39] team, as well as the #77 truck owned and driven by Brendan Gaughan in the Craftsman Truck Series. Penske Jasper Engines will build the power plants for all these teams with the exception of Gaughan’s truck team which owns its engine program. Jasper also plans to add an expanded R&D area that will house the NASCAR transmissions and differentials operations. Jasper will not return as a sponsor of the #77 Penske Racing Dodge in Nextel Cup racing.(12-8-2005)
  • NASCAR Teams Looking at Indy to relocate? The motor sports development director for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels confirmed Wednesday one Nextel Cup team considering relocation recently visited Indianapolis, and a second, whose driver finished in the top 10 [Gibbs, Roush, Penske, Evernham, Hendrick], will do so Dec. 15. “We’re concentrating on all types of motor sports,” said Matt Steward, who in January became the state’s first director of motor sports development. “But when you’re talking about getting a big hitter, you’re talking about a Cup team. We want one.” Most of the top NASCAR teams are deeply rooted in North Carolina. But Steward said Daniels, a first-term governor, is committed to attracting a Cup team. “If the deal is right, we will be very aggressive with tax incentives,” Steward said. Financial breaks could provide the impetus for a team to move north. Roger Penske’s 300,000-square-foot shop is so large, it will be housing the company’s Indy-car team, too, by 2007. Rick Hendrick’s team is entrenched on family property near Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Jack Roush’s five-car operation is likely too big to move from its impressive new facility. Ray Evernham’s operation, which has an open-wheel background and a history of operating differently than other NASCAR teams, is based in Statesville, N.C. The team recently expanded its existing complex and a spokeswoman said Wednesday she knew of no relocation considerations. A NASCAR team would be a first for Indiana, although a small stock car team based in Warsaw — ML Motorsports — recently moved into the Busch Series.(Indianapolis Star)(12-8-2005)


    News from December 7, 2005

  • NASCAR TV deal near? UPDATE 4 OFFICIAL: NASCAR could announce as early as this week a TV rights deal that would see Fox broadcast the first half of the Nextel Cup season and TNT and ESPN/ABC sharing the back half starting in 2007, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. The sanctioning body could get as much as $550 million a year from TV rights, a 38% increase over the estimated $400 million a year it gets under the current arrangement with Fox, NBC and TNT. The story says industry insiders say the ABC/ESPN commitment alone is expected to be about $270 million a year. TNT and ESPN are expected to air six races each, reporter Scott Warfield writes, and ABC will air the final 11 races, including all 10 events [and Indy] in the Chase For The Nextel Cup.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter), so that would be 36 total races: ESPN gets 6, TNT gets 6, ABC gets 11, so Fox/FX would get 13 [plus Bud Shootout and Nextel Challenge].(11-29-2005)
    UPDATE: look for an announcement Thursday, Dec 1st in NYC.(12-1-2005)
    UPDATE 2: NASCAR CEO Brian France said Thursday that NASCAR was on the “final lap” of its TV deal, in which ESPN is expected to replace NBC for 2007 and beyond. An announcement is expected before the end of the year.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(12-2-2005)

    UPDATE 3: Big Apple buzz included the TV partnerships for 2007. Apparently, NASCAR has signed an eight-year deal across the board that will include FOX Sports, TNT and a reunion with ESPN/ABC. FOX will get the rights to the first half of the season, including the Daytona 500. TNT, a NASCAR partner for more than two decades, inherits the next part of the schedule, and ESPN/ABC picks up the final portion of the season, including the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup. ESPN2 will cover the entire Busch Series schedule, providing much-needed continuity. The return of ESPN promises fans a wide range of programming that was limited to Speed Channel under the current deal. We probably won’t know for a while which announcers and analysts will end up where. For example, the NBC regulars can’t discuss future opportunities until their contracts expire. Expect Rusty Wallace, who has lent his experience to TNT in the past, to find a role somewhere.(Sporting News)(12-6-2005)

    UPDATE 4 – OFFICIAL Announcement: NASCAR announced the completion of comprehensive broadcast agreements that will benefit the industry and its fans for years to come. Under the new eight year agreements NASCAR races will be broadcast on a combination of networks that includes FOX, SPEED, Turner’s TNT and ABC/ESPN beginning in 2007. “NASCAR’s new network agreements mark a historic moment for the entire NASCAR community,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “This is a major accomplishment for the NASCAR drivers, teams and track operators that have made this sport what it is today. It represents a significant reward for the competitive side-by-side racing our fans have come to expect. It also validates the marketing and production enhancements our current media partners have brought to the sport. The new broadcast partnership is also good for the fans because they will have so much more NASCAR content from a variety of media and new media sources.”
    .
    “NASCAR is proud to continue its relationship with FOX, SPEED and TNT, while welcoming back ABC/ESPN into the family of broadcasters,” said NASCAR Vice President Dick Glover. “By signing deals with three of the largest and best media companies in the world, NASCAR will meet the growing nationwide fan demand for more NASCAR content into the next decade,” Glover said.

    NASCAR expands its relationship with News Corp as FOX becomes the official home of the Daytona 500. FOX’s broadcast agreements for the NFL Playoffs, the Super Bowl, the Bowl Championship Series and American Idol provide an excellent opportunity for cross promotion around the Daytona 500 held each year in mid-February. The deal also includes a brand-new comprehensive multi-media distribution program which includes Internet, wireless and broadband platforms. “FOX is extremely excited to extend its relationship with NASCAR for another eight years, and come 2007 be known as the official television home of the Daytona 500, by far the most watched auto race in this country,” said FOX Sports President Ed Goren. “Our production team has done an amazing job over the last five years to put NASCAR broadcasts on par with America’s most popular sports, and we look forward to pushing the production envelope further as we move forward.”

    SPEED will increase NASCAR programming as the continuing exclusive home for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as well as the new home for the Gatorade Duels, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Pit Crew Challenge and NASCAR Nextel Cup Series All-Star Challenge.

    NASCAR looks forward to continued great exposure and coverage of the sport from TNT, which will be entering its 22nd year with NASCAR, the longest continuous relationship of any media company with the sport. TNT will broadcast six consecutive races in the middle of the season including the July 4th weekend extravaganza, the Pepsi 400 from Daytona.

    ABC and ESPN will provide comprehensive coverage of NASCAR on their numerous outlets. The final 17 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events will be broadcast on ABC or ESPN with the last 10, the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, on ABC. All NASCAR Busch Series races will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN or ESPN 2. In addition, ESPN will bring NASCAR coverage to its full suite of media including its cable TV networks, ESPN360, Mobile ESPN, ESPN.com and affiliated international networks throughout the world. “This agreement totally embraces NASCAR’s multimedia future,” said George Bodenheimer, ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. “NASCAR is a strong and growing property, and the ESPN of the 21st century – an array of new media platforms and content outlets reaching fans wherever and however they consume sports – will take the sport to even higher levels of exposure and growth. ABC Sports first exposed sports fans to the racing excitement of NASCAR in the 1960s, and ESPN and the sport grew up together in the 1980s and ‘90s. Our tradition is rich, and our future is bright. To NASCAR, its drivers and fans we say, ‘Welcome back.”
    “NASCAR thanks NBC for its stellar coverage and commitment to the sport for the past five years and looks forward to another great year in 2006,” Glover concluded.

    About the agreements:

    Beginning in 2007, each NASCAR season will be launched on FOX with the telecast of the Daytona 500. FOX will also carry NASCAR “Speedweeks” events including the Budweiser Shootout and Daytona Pole Qualifying. FOX will also broadcast the 12 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races forllowing the Daytona 500.

    TNT will broadcast six consecutive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races (races 14 through 19).

    The final 17 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points races will be broadcast on ABC or ESPN. The final 10 races, the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, will be broadcast on ABC. The NASCAR Busch Series will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN or ESPN 2, with no less than forur events on ABC.

    SPEED will be home to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with the exception of two events, which will be broadcast by FOX.

    NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying practice and “happy hours” will be broadcast on a combination of SPEED Channel, ESPN and ESPN2.

    SPEED will broadcast the Gatorade Duels held each year during “Speedweeks” to determine part of the Daytona 500 starting order.

    SPEED will also broadcast the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series All-Star Challenge and its companion all-star event, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Pit Crew Challenge.
    ESPN will launch specially NASCAR-branded news and information programming.

    All broadcast partners will have new interactive rights, special “season preview” and “season end review” programming rights and other ancillary content. NASCAR fans will be able to receive NASCAR coverage from an expanded range of outlets including highlights and live streaming, content from and on each network’s Web pages, datacasts and newly-developed multimedia programming.(NASCAR PR)(12-7-2005)


  • New #49 Crew Chief: Ron Otto has been named crew chief for the #49 BAM Racing Dodge of rookie driver Brent Sherman. Otto was promoted from car chief. “We are very excited that Ron Otto will be leading our race team in 2006, and working with Brent Sherman,” said Beth Ann Morgenthau, who owns BAM Racing along with her husband, Tony. “Brent’s potential as a driver and Ron’s experience in working with rookie drivers, not to mention his talents and skills mechanically and as an organizational leader, will lead to a great year for our race team,” Ms. Morgenthau said. The 41-year-old Otto is a native of Gahanna, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, but has been working in NASCAR racing since he began has a fabricator for Bobby Dotter. Otto is a former car chief for Richard Childress Racing, where he worked with Dale Earnhardt, and has worked with Terry Labonte and Mike Skinner in the past. As crew chief for the startup of Tommy Baldwin Racing in the 2004 Busch Series, Otto began a team with just four people, competed with seven different drivers – including two rookies who had never been in a Busch car – in a single season. “Yeah, that was an experience,” Otto laughed, “but one that could help in working with Brent this year. If nothing else, I have an idea of what to expect and areas where I can be the most help. All indications are he has a tremendous amount of potential, and I like the fact he wants to race hard. This is a great opportunity for me and I really appreciate Beth Ann, Tony and (General Manager) Eddie Jones having the faith in me to do this,” he continued. “I’ve watched this team grow and improve over the years, and I know they are solid and headed in the right direction. I know I am not the only one here looking forward to a really bright future.” Otto is engaged to Renee Sanders, and has two sons, R.J. and Kacey.(Williams Company), no word on former crew chief David Hyder plans or if he is still with BAM Racing.(12-7-2005)
  • Craven back at PPI #32? Already having turned down what he termed “intriguing offers” to fill full-time rides in Busch and Truck, Ricky Craven’s plan is essentially to sit on the sidelines and wait for temporary openings to appear in the Nextel Cup circuit next season. The goal is to impress owners in whatever limited opportunities he has, thereby putting himself in position to secure a permanent seat in 2007. There’s an outside chance Craven could return to the Nextel Cup circuit with former boss Cal Wells for the coming season. Talks with the PPI Motorsports team continue, though it’s getting late in Silly Season and circumstances would need to change for that offer to be acceptable. Craven is interested in signing a one-year deal with a competitive, multi-car operation that will give him a crack at achieving the coveted win that drives his determination to this day: victory at New Hampshire International Speedway. And he’s confident that opportunity will come along. “I absolutely believe I’ll be racing again, and I expect to race Nextel Cup,” Craven said. “I just don’t know where, or when, or who it will be with. At this time it doesn’t appear it’s going to be full-time in 2006, and I’m okay with that.”
    Wells and Craven parted ways prior to the finish of 2004, but the driver would not deny that it is Wells with whom he is currently negotiating his Cup return. As the only driver in the past five years to win as part of a single-car team, Craven said after the split he would return only to a multi-car outfit. He intends to honor that statement -and it could be part of a PPI expansion. “The fact is, Cal and I have had discussions,” said Craven, who has raced for eight owners in parts of 11 Cup seasons. “Cal is a friend, and although the circumstances in 2004 were uncomfortable for both of us, we’d certainly entertain racing together again. Part of my criteria is that he become a bigger company, because that is key in all of us having success together. He certainly is headed in that direction. He’s working hard to build his race team and his company, and I’m not sure that’s going to happen, but I wouldn’t rule out racing with the Tide team again. We’ve had discussions, but we’re not there. I think it’s a stretch to think that could happen right now.” It is expected that Bobby Hamilton Jr., who replaced Craven, will be out of the #32 Tide car next season after he finished 36th, but the point is fast approaching when it will be too tough to start a second team in time for the season opener at Daytona in February.(Concord Monitor)(12-7-2005)
  • Robby sticks with DEI? hearing that Robby Gordon will start the 2006 Nextel Cup season with DEI [Dale Earnhardt Inc.] engines after running well in the final two races. Once Menards engines are ready, he will then go back to those engines.(12-7-2005)
  • #88 for Lopez: The ABC hit show, “George Lopez” will mark its 88th episode on Wednesday, December 7. As part of the tie-in with the number 88, George Lopez will wear a Dale Jarrett jersey on the show and the crew signed a “88” sign patterned after Jarrett’s car number.(PR)(12-7-2005)


    News from December 6, 2005

  • Parrott close to a new gig? UPDATE to #43 Petty: Todd Parrott [former RYR crew chief] won’t be unemployed for long–he’s weighing the options on two crew chief offers and a Toyota research and development role.(Sporting News)(12-5-2005)
    UPDATE: [1999] Nextel Cup Series champion Todd Parrott has been named crew chief for the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team and driver Bobby Labonte. Robbie Loomis, Executive Vice President of Operations and a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion himself, made the announcement. “While few can match him in knowledge and strategy, no one can match Todd Parrott when it comes to the desire to win,” Loomis said. “Working together with Paul Andrews (crew chief for Kyle Petty’s #45 Dodge and a former NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion) and the talent we have here, we feel we have the ingredients to return Petty Enterprises to victory lane.” Greg Steadman, who had been serving as crew chief for the #43, has been named Competition Director for Petty Enterprises and is involved with both race teams. “I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of Petty Enterprises,” Parrott said. “I’ve been a fan of Richard Petty since I could talk, and one of the most exciting times of my life is when my dad (Buddy Parrott) was crew chief for Richard. When I see the people who are coming into the organization and how hard everyone is working to get Petty Enterprises back to the top, I can’t help but be excited to be a part of that,” Parrott continued. “Robbie Loomis, Bobby Labonte . . . these guys are coming here for one reason, and that’s to win.” Parrott, 41, is a native of Charlotte, N.C. Winner of the 1999 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship with driver Dale Jarrett, Parrott begins his 12th year as a leader of NASCAR race teams in 2006. He grew up in the sport and began working on race cars when just 14 years old, developing into one of the top mechanical and strategy-minded names in motorsports.(Williams Company PR)(12-6-2005)
  • Hamlin leaves RCR for BDR? UPDATE Official – Hamlin, Finley to #55 Waltrip: hearing [or have learned] that crew chief Kevin Hamlin has left Richard Childress Racing and will be the new crew chief at Bill Davis Racing for Dave Blaney and the #22 Caterpillar Dodge with former #22 crew chief Derrick Finley moving over to the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge that Michael Waltrip will drive in 2006.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio show/Sporting News)(11-29-2005)
    UPDATE: Following up on last week’s news regarding its recent changes to the #22 CAT Racing team, Bill Davis Racing released more details Tuesday about its 2006 plans for the #55 car, confirming Derrick Finley will serve as crew chief for Michael Waltrip and the #55 Napa Auto Parts crew. Along with Finley, the majority of the crew members who worked on the #22 car this 2005 season will move to the #55 team. “Derrick has done a good job with the #22 car this year. Putting him and his experienced group of guys with Michael is going to make the entire transition back into a two-car team easier for all of us,” said Bill Davis, team owner and president of Bill Davis Racing. “Derrick is a very intelligent individual and a hard worker. I am confident he, Michael and the rest of the guys have what it takes to get the #55 NAPA car up front.”
    “I’m really looking forward to having two teams. Having Blaney and Hamlin’s input is going to be valuable. I’ve known Hamlin for a long time. We’ll work well together,” Finley said. “It’s a big help to be able to take most of my guys with me. We’ll have our core group together with a new driver, which should help speed everything up as far as comfort level for all of us.”(BDR PR)(12-6-2005)
  • Kansas to get the NASCAR Hall of Fame? UPDATE 2: 610 Sports racing show Inside Motorsports in Kansas City Saturday, December 3rd at 12:30pm/cst was the first nationally to break the story that Kansas City, Kansas would reportedly get the NASCAR hall of fame. Co-Hosts Mark Merrell and Ryck Sanders stated that a source had reportedly told them of a meeting in New York this week between NASCAR officials, International Speedway, and Speedway Motorsports Incorporated. Reportedly in that meeting, Brian France, relenting to pressure from SMI president Bruton Smith, reportedly told Smith that NASCAR would award the NASCAR Hall of Fame to Atlanta (an SMI owned track), but that the track would have to give up a race date, and that that race date (Nextel Cup) would go to Kansas Speedway (an ISC owned track) (creating two NEXTEL Cup races at Kansas). Smith at first reportedly agreed to the deal, but days latter reportedly re-approached NASCAR with the idea to take a NEXTEL CUP race date from the Texas Motor Speedway, and move it to Atlanta, leaving Texas Motorspeedway with one date, and Atlanta with the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and two NEXTEL Cup race dates, and Kansas Speedway with two NEXTEL Cup race dates. NASCAR officials, reportedly tired from Smith, pulled the deal, and reportedly will award Kansas Speedway with the NASCAR hall of fame, all according to an unnamed source. The story was related to race fans live on Inside Motorsports, a weekly comprehensive racing show hosted by Mark Merrell and Ryck Sanders Saturday, December 3rd at 12:30pm central. A subsequent story was posted on their web site, insidemotorsportskc.com [don’t see it there], and also presented on KCPT, TV-19, a PBS station in Kansas City during a pledge break by Merrell while co-hosting show featuring the 25th anniversary of Motorweek latter that same day. The show aired live in Kansas City at 2:30pm/cst. The story is unconfirmed by NASCAR and ISC officials as of today’s date. They also report that the Sprint Nextel Challenge date would go to Kansas Speedway now as well as the NASCAR Hall of Fame, as the Sprint Nextel All Star Challenge Hall of Fame race (previously the Nextel All Star Challenge at Lowes Motor Speedway) with induction ceremonies, etc as a May date.(Mark Merrell/Inside Motorsports/The Race Report/610 Sports KCSP)
    UPDATE: haven’t heard from Kansas Speedway but have heard Kansas Speedway says the story is untrue, and are very upset. They (Kansas Speedway) hope this doesn’t hurt their chances of getting the HOF.(12-5-2005)
    UPDATE 2: and a David Poole article refutes most of the above story: Smith says no such meeting happened. “I hope people who know both Brian and I know that we wouldn’t talk about junk like that,” Smith said Monday. “That’s just idiotic reporting. Maybe they won the award for the week where facts do not interfere with a story.” But just to make sure, calls were placed Monday to the principal figures involved in the Hall of Fame process. One NASCAR official called the story “nonsense.” Another said it “has no validity.” See the ull article/report at: Yep, they sure ‘broke’ that NASCAR Hall story.(12-6-2005)
  • Waltrip and Toyota…meeting with sponsors: Michael Waltrip plans to be a Toyota team owner down the road, and he had productive meetings in New York with prospective sponsors and NASCAR’s Jim France. Next year #55 Waltrip will race out of Bill Davis’ High Point, N.C., shop with Derrick Finley as his crew chief.(Sporting News)(12-6-2005)
  • FL License Tag NASCAR Hall of Fame News UPDATE: Florida lawmakers are moving forward with a plan aimed at creating a NASCAR license tag to help pay for a stock-car hall of fame in Daytona Beach. Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand, and Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, filed bills Thursday to create the tag and will seek to take up the issue during a special legislative session next week. Supporters hope to use money from sales of the tag — estimated at as much as $1.5 million a year — to help finance the hall of fame and bolster Daytona Beach’s effort to outbid four other cities for the tourism draw. Daytona Beach also proposed the sale of NASCAR license tags during this year’s regular legislative session, but the proposal died after it became tangled in a broader dispute about whether the state should subsidize stadium projects for the Florida Marlins and Orlando Magic.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(12-4-2005)
    UPDATE: Florida lawmakers agreed Monday to consider creating a NASCAR license tag, a crucial step as Daytona Beach makes a last-ditch plea for state help in financing a stock-car hall of fame. The House and Senate quickly voted to add the NASCAR proposal to a special legislative session that began Monday to deal with issues such as overhauling the state’s Medicaid system. Hall-of-fame supporters now will have to maneuver the proposal through committees and come back for final votes in the House and Senate before the session ends Friday. A similar proposal died at the end of the regular legislative session in May. Sales of the NASCAR license tag would bring in money — estimated at as much as $1.5 million a year — that could be used to help pay for the hall of fame. Daytona Beach is competing with four other cities for the tourist draw and has sought state help as part of its financial package.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(12-6-2005)


    News from December 5, 2005

  • Snowball Deby Winner: Years of near-misses and frustration ended in a satisfying way for driver Eddie Mercer at the 38th Snowball Derby on Sunday at Five Flags Speedway. The Pensacola driver had always expressed that winning the race was his ultimate goal. He completed it with a dominating victory, leading three times for 66 laps, including the final 35. It was Mercer’s 17th attempt to win the Snowball Derby and he claimed the Tom Dawson Trophy. Mercer also became the first driver to win from the pole position since Butch Miller did it in 1987. Last years winner, Steve Wallace [son of Rusty] finished 2nd, followed by Clay Rogers, Augie Grill, Bobby Gill, St. Amant, Ryan Crane, Cale Gale, Scott Carlson and Ronnie Sanders. For more info an results, see snowballderby.com.(12-5-2005)
  • Terry Labonte not to run the Bud Shootout: Crew chief Philippe Lopez was thrilled with his new #96 Hall of Fame Racing pit crew’s first practice. But Lopez says Terry Labonte will not drive in the Bud Shootout for HOFR, and that’s different from what has been in some reports.(Sporting News), maybe in yhe #44 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy?(12-5-2005)
  • Short Lived Sprint Car Series goes poof: Without ever having run a race, the fledgling National SprintCar League has ceased operations permanently and its 13 drivers and teams are scrambling to make decisions for the new season. One week after the Petty family and the Richard Petty Driving Experience withdrew its support from the organization, the decision was made to scrap the plan for a rival tour to the long-running World of Outlaws Sprint Series, which is owned and operated by DIRT MotorSports.(National Speed Sports News)(12-5-2005)

News from December 4, 2005

  • Edwards wins 4th Qtr DOTY: In a tight race Carl Edwards, a breakout driver NASCAR Nextel Cup series, was voted Speed Channel Driver of the Year presented by Gillette M3 Power Nitro fourth quarter 2005 by a panel of experts and one combined fan ballot. “The neatest thing about the Speed Channel Driver of the Year is that I’ve been nominated twice,” said Edwards in New York for the Annual NASCAR Awards Banquet. “Just to see those commercials, seeing my name on the television with all those drivers from all different series, it’s so amazing to be considered for it.” In his first full season in the #99 Office Depot Ford Edwards scored one pole and two straight victories, in the final quarter, during the intense Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and included a win from the pole in the #60 World Financial Ford in the Busch Series. Edwards took four first-place votes and tallied 81 points. While NHRA’s Tony Schumacher earned five first-place votes, including and totaled 79 points. Tony Stewart also scored five first-place votes and finished third with 69 points. Schumacher, “Sarge” had a perfect quarter winning all five of his events, resulting in his second-straight POWERade Series title driving U.S, Army Top Fuel dragster. Third place Stewart, winner of the third quarter 2005 Driver of the Year, wrapped up his second Nextel Cup title with consistent finishes in the top ten. Also taking first place votes France’s Sebastien Bourdais in the Champ Car World Series, Greg Biffle in NASCAR, and World of Outlaws Steve Kinser. Bourdais clinched his second-straight title and totaled 51 points fourth in the ballot. Biffle was runner-up in the Chase to the Cup and was fifth in the vote with 31 points. A total of 20 drivers scored points in the fourth quarter voting. Noteworthy, NASCAR’s Mark Martin took third place in the fan vote behind Stewart and Edwards on the www.speedtv.com website. In its’ 39th year, the Speed Channel Driver of the Year presented by Gillette M# Power Nitro title is unique because it is the only award that encompasses all of the racing series in the United States and fan participation. A panel of 18 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. and a fan vote on Speedtv.com determine the winner. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9,6,4,3,2,1 basis. Edwaards will receive a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix, wristwatch at a date to be announced.(DOTY PR)(12-4-2005)
  • Scandinavia Conquers Race of Champions’ “Nations Cup”: The Scandinavian team of seven-time Le Mans winner Tom Christensen (Denmark) and former DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom (Sweden) went unbeaten all the way to the title in the Race of Champions’ “Nations Cup” competition, edging the Playstation/France entry of double Champ Car titlist Sebastien Bourdais and multiple Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel in the final. Jeff Gordon made it to the semi-finals round in both the Nation’s Cup team event and the individual Race of Champions in Paris on December 3. In the Nation’s Cup event with Gordon and Travis Pastrana representing the United States, Gordon won both heats against Nelson Piquet Jr of Brazil to give the U.S. a 2-1 victory in the best-of-three. However, in the next round, Gordon was bested by Tom Kristensen of Scandinavia by a tenth of a second, and Pastrana was defeated by Ekstrom. The Scandinavian team went on to capture the Nation’s Cup. Gordon represented the U.S. in 2002 when the event was held in Gran Canaria off the coast of Africa. Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Colin Edwards captured the Nation’s Cup team event.(Speed Channel and Gordonline.com)(12-4-2005)
  • AARWBA Titus Trophy Goes to Wheldon: NASCAR President Mike Helton was the featured speaker and Dan Wheldon, the Indy 500 winner and IRL series champion, was announced as recipient of the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy at Saturday night’s 36th annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s All-America Team dinner presented by Sprint Nextel. The sold-out event marked the official conclusion of AARWBA’s year-long 50th Anniversary Celebration. Approximately 250 members, guests and VIPs were in attendance at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis for the ceremonies. Members of AARWBA, the country’s oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals, annually elect drivers to the Team from seven categories: Stock car, open-wheel, drag racing, road racing, short track, touring series and at-large. The Titus is named in honor of the late AARWBA member journalist and professional racer and the unique trophy features his typewriter and helmet. Wheldon was not in attendance and AARWBA President Dusty Brandel accepted. NASCAR drivers elected to the Team were: Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson (stock car); and Martin Truex Jr. (touring); Special AARWBA membership cards went to NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. Executive Vice President of Communications Fred Nation.(see full awards breakdown at the AARWBA site)(12-4-2005)
  • Ford’s Nowland Honored for Half Century of Service: Mose Nowland, an engineer with Ford Motor Co. for the past 50 years, was the surprise recipient of the Spirit of Ford Award, the company’s highest motorsports recognition. Nowland was presented the award—a Steuben Eagle—Friday night by Edsel Ford II in a private ceremony prior to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Awards Banquet in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria. In the racing world, Nowland’s resume is legendary. He worked on the Lotus-Ford that Jim Clark drove to victory in the 1965 Indianapolis 500 and on the Le Mans-winning Ford GT-40 one year later, when the underdog Fords upset the heavily favored Ferrari juggernaut. During that same decade, Nowland was a driving force in Ford’s Kar Kraft high-performance operation. Nowland also has extensive experience in stock cars and helped develop the D3 cylinder head used in NASCAR Nextel Cup cars today.(Ford Racing)(12-4-2005)


    News from December 3, 2005

  • Rusty Honored: Friday morning’s edition of the annual National Motorsports Press Club/Myers Brothers Awards Breakfast was notable for recognition received by Rusty Wallace and the absence of many of his peers. Wallace, the 1989 NASCAR Cup champion who won 55 career races, was named the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s 2005 Myers Brothers Award. The veteran driver, who said farewell to his fans with his “Rusty’s Last Call Tour” this season, started 706 Cup races, amassing 202 top-five and 349 top-10 finishes in addition to his 55 victories. He also won rookie of the year honors in 1984. In his final season this year, Wallace qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup and ended the year eighth in points. “We started the team back in 1991,” said Wallace of the team he co-founded with Roger Penske. “We won a lot of races, won our share, won our share of poles, accolades and all the cool things that comes with it. When get an award like this, it’s something that really sticks. That’s a great award. I’ve won the yearly awards and really treasured them, got the big checks … but this one here will go high on my mantle,” Wallace said. “It’ll be something I’ll be really proud of, so thank you very much.” Voted on each year by members of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA), the Myers Brothers award recognizes individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. It is named in honor of Billy and Bob Myers.(Speed Channel)(12-3-2005)
  • USA Bobsled Team early season success: After the first two stops on the FIBT World Cup bobsled season in Calgary, Canada and Lake Placid, N.Y., the United States bobsled teams have achieved startling results with help from NASCAR. In six total races spanning women’s bobsled as well as two and four-man bobsled events, the United States has captured one gold, four silver and two bronze medals. That’s seven medals out of 18 that have been distributed to date. Another startling factor is that four different American drivers have won those medals. In addition, never before has the U.S. had two different men on the podium at one time in a World Cup until recently at the Verizon Sports Complex in Lake Placid when the men took silver and bronze medals in the two-man race. The United States has three women’s bobsled athletes in the top five of the World Cup standings and three U.S. men’s sleds in the top 10 of the World Cup. As a result, the team has moved to the head of the leaderboard in Nations points.
    This early success is being impacted by a combination of factors. “We have superior athletes who are peaking for the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy,” said Geoff Bodine, a former NASCAR driver who started building Made In America U.S. team sleds in 1992. “And on top of that, my sled design guys, Chassis Dynamics, have built some great sleds. The guys at Chassis Dynamics knew this new design was going to be fast even before it hit the ice during the national team trials in October.” To continue America’s drive to the podium, Bodine is hosting a fundraiser for his Bodine Bobsled Project. This event will involve 10 NASCAR drivers piloting specially-made bobsleds in Lake Placid January 5-7, 2006 at the Verizon Sports Complex, site of the 2003 and 2009 FIBT World Bobsled Championships. According to Bodine, “The sleds my colleagues will be driving will look exactly like our Bodine-designed sleds on the FIBT World Cup tour. After testing a sled on November 8 in Lake Placid, the guys are going to love the speed and thrill of the bobsled.”
    Many drivers have lent their name to the event, but it is still to be determined who will compete. Boris Said is one driver who has roots in bobsledding and is confirmed in Lake Placid. His father, Bob Said, was a bobsled driver in the 1968 and 1972 Winter Games. Said describes bobsledding as, “the greatest thrill I have ever had without an engine.” Other drivers who have indicated to Bodine their desire to attend if their schedules permit are Cup winner Stewart, Todd Bodine, Ken Schrader, Kyle Petty, Randy LaJoie, Kevin Lepage, Debra Renshaw and Steve Park. For more information on the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, go to the www.bodinebobsled.com. The next FIBT World Cup event on the circuit takes place Dec. 9-11 in Innsbruck, Austria, site of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Games. All events are covered on Speed Channel.(12-3-2005)
  • Quiet Earphones: The buzz of cars speeding around the track is one of the most exciting sounds in car racing. It’s also the most uncomfortable – and potentially damaging. To protect the comfort and hearing of race fans, Pineville, NC-based Outside the Box, Inc. introduces the new RaceQuietT Earphones. The new RaceQuiet Earphones allow fans to enjoy their race experience to the fullest, without being distracted by the discomfort and pain that sometimes accompanies such an exceptionally loud environment. Using the earphones’ patented noise reduction technology, race fans can not only enjoy a quieter race, but they also have the option to listen to race scanners, radio commentary or music on a portable electronic device.
    The RaceQuiet Earphones feature an Acoustic Isolation SystemT (AIS) which provides 42 decibels of noise reduction across the entire sound spectrum, allowing race fans to enjoy maximum comfort in extreme noise environments. The AIS utilizes state-of-the-art electronics and miniaturization processes based on the same patented technology used by the U.S. military.
    In addition to noise reduction, the earphones feature high quality audio reproduction and are compatible with scanners and other portable electronic devices, including iPodsR. The earphones have a nearly four foot long cord for easy input. Replaceable memory foam ear canal tips ensure a cozy, snug fit, and at a weight of only 1.5 ounces, the RaceQuiet Earphones can be comfortably worn for extended periods of time.
    The RaceQuiet Earphones are available for $39.95. Included with the earphones are a carrying tin and replacement tips. The RaceQuiet Earphones are available at all NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series races. For more information or to purchase the earphones, visit racequiet.com.(12-3-2005)
  • Snowball Derby this weekend: The racing season is winding down but a number of NASCAR hopefuls aren’t ready to hang up their firesuits until next year just yet. The 38th Annual Snowball Derby at the half-mile Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL is set for Dec. 1-4 and over 100 entries have been received for both the prestigious 300-lap late model race and its companion event, The Snowflake 100. Steve Wallace [Rusty’s son], the 2004 winner and the youngest in Snowball history to take home the trophy, returns to defend his title but he will face what is arguably the most competitive Snowball field ever. Competitors include Darrell Waltrip Motorsports’ Joey Miller, Driver X contestants Jeff Choquette, Chuck Barnes Jr., Travis Kittleson, and Bubba Pollard, young guns Matt Hawkins, Cale Gale, Charlie Bradberry, Josh Hamner, and Casey Smith, in addtion to short track veterans Gary St. Amant, Kevin Cywinski, Hal Goodson, Ricky Turner, Eddie Mercer, Freddie Query, and Wayne Anderson. The Snowflake 100 includes Hendrick Motorsports development driver Chase Austin, upcoming talent Keeton Hanks, plus double dippers Choquette, Hamner, and Hawkins.(BGNRacing.com), more info at snowballderby.com(11-25/12-3-2005)
  • Champion’s Week Day Five Review: After a long and eventful week in the nation’s biggest city, “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion’s Week presented by Sprint” culminates tonight, with two of NASCAR’s traditional year-end celebrations. This morning, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 drivers and their crew chiefs gathered for the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers breakfast presented by Sunoco. The annual get-together, held in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s Starlight Room, was highlighted by several special award presentations.
    NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (#20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) and sixth-place Ryan Newman (#12 ALLTEL Dodge) took home the lion’s share of the post-season prizes, with Stewart and his #20 team hauling in over $500,000 in special awards from MBNA, Clevite, WIX Filters, Sunoco, Goodyear Gatorback Belts, Goodyear Tires and Mechanix Wear.
    Among Newman’s accolades was his fourth consecutive annual Budweiser Pole Award, worth $100,000. Since debuting in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2000, Newman has won 35 poles in 152 races – sitting on the pole position for nearly 25 percent of his career. He won eight poles in 2005 and set two new track records.
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#8 Budweiser Chevrolet) was awarded the Chex Most Popular Driver Award for the fourth consecutive year.
    The Myers Brothers breakfast is named in honor of the Billy and Bobby Myers, pioneers of NASCAR’s early era whose family is still active in motorsports today. The third generation of the family’s racers, Burt and Jason Myers, compete on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and represented the family on Friday morning, along with Karen and Danny “Chocolate” Myers.
    Stewart posed for one more formal photo op, on Park Avenue outside the Waldorf-Astoria, before heading in for the season’s final act: the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards ceremony. The gala event features musical performances by singers Gavin DeGraw, Toni Braxton and jazz pianist Eric Lewis. Comedian Jay Mohr also returns to the event for the second year.
    In addition to honoring Tony Stewart and the rest of the top-10 drivers, the ceremony includes presentations for Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch (#5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet), NASCAR’s Most Dramatic Moment Award (determined by fans through a vote on NASCAR.com), the annual Marketing Achievement Award and the Manufacturer’s Championship Award, which went to Chevrolet for the 25th time since 1972.
    25 years and counting … Participation in Champion’s Week and the awards ceremony is a privilege reserved for the top 10 drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. This year’s event marked NASCAR’s 25th annual visit to New York, a tradition which began with Darrell Waltrip’s 1981 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. Many of this year’s honorees have played important roles in NASCAR’s history in New York. Rusty Wallace (#2 Miller Lite Dodge) has attended 17 of NASCAR’s 25 New York banquets while Mark Martin (#6 Viagra Ford) has attended 14 times.
    For Tony Stewart, this year’s visit to New York was another chapter in his incredible racing career. He hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in the point standings since coming to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 1999.
    Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) and Matt Kenseth (#17 DeWALT Tools Ford) have enjoyed similar streaks in their NASCAR NEXTEL Cup careers, as each made their fourth straight appearances in New York since 2002. Kurt Busch (#97 IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford) and Jeremy Mayfield (#19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) made their third visits, while Greg Biffle (#16 National Guard Ford) and Carl Edwards (#99 Office Depot Ford) were in town for the first time.
    Celebrity sightings … NASCAR’s top drivers and entertainers Jay Mohr, Toni Braxton and Gavin DeGraw weren’t the only celebrities to grace the red carpet at Friday night’s event. Comedian and actor Will Ferrell, who will star in a NASCAR-themed comedy premiering in summer 2006, was also in attendance at the awards banquet.
    New season not far away … Not long after the awards ceremony is concluded and the teams and drivers have celebrated the holidays with their families, preparations begin for the 2006 season. Daytona International Speedway will host its first NASCAR Preseason test session Jan. 9-11.(PR)(12-3-2005)
  • HDNet Presents Telecast of Race of Champions – Nations Cup, Live from Paris: HDNet will give U.S. racing fans an exclusive front-row seat December 3 as NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon and X-Games champ Travis Pastrana compete in the 2005 Race of Champions – Nations Cup, live from the famous Stade de France in Paris. The entire event will be available for the second year in a row to U.S. television viewers in the highest quality 1080i high-definition television (HDTV), only on HDNet, Saturday, December 3 at 11:00am/et, followed by a prime-time encore presentation at 9:30pm/et. The 18th annual Race of Champions – Nations Cup is an end-of-season international racing showdown featuring two exciting competitions. First, in the Nations Cup, the world’s best drivers compete in national teams of two in a bid to determine “The World’s Fastest Nation.” Then, in the Race of Champions, the same drivers compete in a series of head-to-head heats in identical cars to determine the individual “Champion of Champions.” Team USA is sponsored by Centrix Financial, who has chosen four-time NASCAR champ Gordon and five-time X-Games Motocross champ Pastrana to compete against top drivers from all the major world class championships. More info about HDNet at hd.net.(11-30/12-3-2005)


    News from December 2, 2005

  • NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion sets single season winnings record: NEW YORK (Dec. 2, 2005) – NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (#20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) will collect $6,173,633 in point fund awards – a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point fund award record – along with special awards totaling $517,000. The post-season payouts bring his 2005 season total to $13,578,168, the largest single-season total in NASCAR history. Stewart’s take exceeds the previous single-season record, $10,979,757, set by Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevrolet) in 2001. Stewart’s career winnings now total $48,467,449, making him the fifth-highest money winner on NASCAR’s all-time list. Over $25 million in point fund awards will be distributed to the top 25 drivers in the final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings. Runner-up Greg Biffle (#16 National Guard Ford) will receive over $2.62 million in point fund awards, bringing his season total to over $8.35 million. With over $6.7 million in race winnings this season, fifth-place Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) was the season’s next-highest money winner. Johnson will receive $20,000 in post-season special awards and more than $1.7 million from the point fund, for a 2005 season total of over $8.33 million.(NASCAR PR), see full winnings for top-25 on my 2005 Nextel Cup Banquet, News, Winnings page.(12-2-2005)
  • Knaus leaving Hendrick? UPDATE denied: hearing [or have leaned] that #48 Hendrick Motorsports crew chief, Chad Knaus will leave the team and driver Jimmie Johnson and go back to Evernham Motorsports [was one of Evernham’s first hires, until moving to #92 Melling team in 2001], then Hendrick Motorsports in 2002 to crew chief Johnson.
    UPDATE: Hendrick Motorsports says Knaus has no plans to leave Hendrick Motorsports and has multiple years remaining on his contract.(12-2-2005)
  • Wimmer to #4? hearing that Scott Wimmer, former driver of the #22 Caterpillar Dodge, will be the new driver of the #4 Morgan-McClure Chevy in 2006. No word on the status of the alliance with Victory Motorsports Racing that Morgan-McClure announced a few months ago.(12-2-2005)
  • NASCAR TV deal near? UPDATE 2: NASCAR could announce as early as this week a TV rights deal that would see Fox broadcast the first half of the Nextel Cup season and TNT and ESPN/ABC sharing the back half starting in 2007, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. The sanctioning body could get as much as $550 million a year from TV rights, a 38% increase over the estimated $400 million a year it gets under the current arrangement with Fox, NBC and TNT. The story says industry insiders say the ABC/ESPN commitment alone is expected to be about $270 million a year. TNT and ESPN are expected to air six races each, reporter Scott Warfield writes, and ABC will air the final 11 races, including all 10 events [and Indy] in the Chase For The Nextel Cup.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter), so that would be 36 total races: ESPN gets 6, TNT gets 6, ABC gets 11, so Fox/FX would get 13 [plus Bud Shootout and Nextel Challenge].(11-29-2005)
    UPDATE: look for an announcement Thursday, Dec 1st in NYC.(12-1-2005)
    UPDATE 2: NASCAR CEO Brian France said Thursday that NASCAR was on the “final lap” of its TV deal, in which ESPN is expected to replace NBC for 2007 and beyond. An announcement is expected before the end of the year.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(12-2-2005)
  • Three Straight For Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his third straight Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award. The announcement was made today during the National Motorsports Press Association’s (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City that a record number of fans nationwide have again voted the North Carolinian as the most popular driver in the most popular form of motorsports in the United States. “It’s a huge honor to win the Most Popular Driver award just one time, but to win it three times in a row is pretty overwhelming. I just want to thank the fans, and I want to thank Chex and the National Motorsports Press Association for the award,” Earnhardt said.
    “This one probably means more to me than the others because of the kind of year we had. It’s one thing to have fan support when you’re riding high and winning races. It’s another thing to have it during the rough times,” he continued. “No matter what we went through this year, I never once felt like my fans were turning on me and the Budweiser team. It’s amazing to have that kind of support. It makes the team want to work that much harder and me drive that much faster. I can’t thank the fans enough for what they’ve meant to me in my career.”
    A record 4,157,443 votes were cast in 2005, a huge jump for an award which never had more than 400,000 votes in a year prior to General Mills sponsorship. Chex began sponsorship of the award this season, replacing Grands! Biscuits, which had sponsored it since the beginning of the 2002 season. Earnhardt, Jr. has led the voting since the start of the 2003 season, and easily captured enough votes in the record-setting 2005 year to again win the award. He finished with 1,403,544 votes, which is also an all-time record.
    “The fans have pretty well made a statement in regards to their favorite driver in this era,” said Kenny Bruce, president of the NMPA. “They have also made a statement as to the importance of this award. We appreciate every fan who voted, and we really appreciate Chex for its sponsorship.”
    “On behalf of Chex and General Mills, I want to congratulate Dale Earnhardt Jr. on winning this award for the third straight year,” said Chex Marketing Manager Trevor Bynum. “We also want to thank the millions of fans who voted and made this award possible with their continued strong support.”
    Jeff Gordon finished second in the voting at www.mostpopulardriver.com with 594,434 votes. Kasey Kahne was third with 343,154; 2005 Champion Tony Stewart fourth with 246,026; and retiring Rusty Wallace fifth with 214,026. Rounding out the top 10 were Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson.
    The NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award dates back to 1956, making it one of the oldest and most traditional awards in NASCAR racing. It began as a simple poll of the drivers and later grew to incorporate all NASCAR Nextel Cup competitors. Later, it included all NASCAR members. Today, it is a prestigious award voted on by racing fans throughout the world. Through the years, voters’ choices have ranged from the obvious to the surprising. Bill Elliott’s 16 most popular wins tops all drivers. He is followed by Richard Petty, who has won nine times. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win last year made him the fifth driver in NASCAR history to win the award in consecutive seasons, while his win in 2003 made him and his father, the late Dale Earnhardt, the only father-son combination to have won. Other past winners have included such notables as Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.(Williams Company PR)(12-2-2005)
  • New NASCAR History Book/DVD coming: Richard Petty’s record setting 200th career win. Dale Earnhardt’s triumphant Daytona 500 victory. Carl Edwards’ back-to-back NASCAR Busch and NEXTEL Cup victories. These are just a few of the one-hundred landmark moments chronicled in the upcoming book and DVD collection titled Speed Guts & Glory by New York Times bestselling author Joe Garner. The Fall 2006 release, published by Warner Books, also includes an interactive DVD containing the actual race footage of the historical NASCAR moments hosted by four-time NASCAR Cup champion and driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet Jeff Gordon. From broadcast news to famous films, sports to comedy, Joe Garner, whose seminal multimedia works We Interrupt This Broadcast, And The Crowd Goes Wild, and Stay Tuned have sold nearly two million copies, has sought to capture and chronicle the times we live in. In addition, he explores our collective past with passion and commitment few contemporary authors can match. More at garnermedia.com.(12-2-2005)
  • Busch eager to win back peers, fans: 2004 Nextel Cup Champions Kurt Busch was a full participant in Thursday’s season-ending activities, dismissing all speculation that he would be excluded from NASCAR’s festivities following the controversial close to his championship reign. He was suspended by his former team for the final two races of the year after a run-in with Phoenix police. Although he was only charged with reckless driving — reports that he was drunk were proven false when police said his blood alcohol limit was well below the legal limit — Busch was lambasted for his belligerent attitude toward the officers. It cost him his reputation and much of the respect he had been working hard to earn across the garage. Clearly contrite, Busch says he’s eager to move on.
    “Everybody has a circumstance that comes up in life where you want to press the reset button and this is one of those,” he said. “What has to happen is the real me has to come out. The fans have to get to know the real Kurt Busch better. I think you will see a difference, it’s just going to take time, like everything does.” Busch chose to take the high road Thursday when asked about [former owner Jack] Roush, and indicated he would reflect upon his accomplishments with the team in his Friday night speech. “I think we’ve had a great career together,” he said. “I’ll leave with my head high and pride that I developed in that #97. Once we get through all this, it’s going to be a lesson learned for me,” he said. “It will be great to turn over a new leaf next season.”(ESPN.com/AP)(12-2-2005)
  • Action’s acquisition approved: Shareholders of Action Performance Cos. have approved the company’s acquisition by Motorsports Authentics, a joint venture between Speedway Motorsports Inc. and International Speedway Corp. The transaction is slated to close Dec. 9.(Charlotte Business Journal), past info on this on my Collectible Links page.(12-2-2005)
  • Champion’s Week Day Four Review: With only one day remaining before the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony, the flurry of New York City activities picked up for the series’ Top 10 drivers. Champion Tony Stewart (#20 Home Depot Chevrolet) opened the day with his fellow Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competitors at the New York Stock Exchange. The group, along with NASCAR President Mike Helton and Sprint Nextel Chief Marketing Officer Mark Schweitzer were guests of honor and helped kick off the day by ringing the opening bell. Activities continued at an afternoon luncheon and press conference at Cipriani. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France addressed the group with a ‘State of the Sport’ speech highlighting the 2005 season. In his speech, France congratulated Stewart and the Home Depot Team for its championship. France also pointed out the importance of keeping competition close on the track. “The close competition we had this year in the three national series is precisely what keeps our fans coming back for more,” France said. “Preserving the competitive balance for every team that competes in NASCAR is one of the most important jobs we have.” France also mentioned the long history of having the Champions Awards Ceremony in New York. “New York is the media capital of the world, we love being here. Tomorrow night, at the Waldorf-Astoria, we’ll celebrate our 25th year in New York.” Donahue also spoke at the event, sharing Sprint Nextel’s overview of their second season as title sponsor of NASCAR’s top division. Stewart was not the only champion recognized at the event. A special photo was arranged for the champions of each of NASCAR’s 12 divisions, including the national touring series, regional touring series and the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series. It is the only time during the year that all of the champions are brought together.
    Afterwards Stewart was taken to Times Square where he posed for a championship picture with his show car and trophy on Military Island. While there, a plaque from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declaring Thursday “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Day” in the city was presented to Sprint Nextel Vice President of Sports Marketing Michael Robichaud. The night will conclude for Stewart with the Sprint Champion’s Celebration. Stewart and his team will be honored by Sprint Nextel at the Marriot Marquee. “Its been awesome and we’ve had great weather,” Stewart said about his week in the city. “I definitely think it’s a great place to celebrate the championship.”
    Champions of NASCAR Dinner … A special dinner celebration will be held Thursday night to honor all of the NASCAR champions. The champions, including Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR Busch Series), Ted Musgrave (NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series), Andy Santerre (Busch North Series), Mike Duncan (West Series), Tony Hirschman (Whelen Modified Tour), Junior Miller (Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Justin Diercks (Midwest Series), Jeff Jefferson (Northwest Series), Jeff Fultz (Southeast Series), Jim Pettit II (Southwest Series) and Peyton Sellers (NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series) will be joined by NASCAR executives and various media members in the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria. Each champion will be presented with a commemorative champion’s helmet, specially designed in recognition of their 2005 championship.
    Ronald McDonald House Visit … Several of the Top 10 drivers will make a special trip to the Ronald McDonald House of New York. The Ronald McDonald House is a temporary home for children undergoing cancer treatment. Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch (#97 IRWIN/Sharpie Ford), Ryan Newman (#12 ALLTEL Dodge), Carl Edwards (#99 Office Depot Ford) and Kyle Busch (#5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet) will have a private visit with the children and their families.
    Breakfast of Champions … Friday’s schedule begins with the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers Breakfast, in the Starlight Room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The event kicks off the final day of Champion’s Week with several special award presentations – which altogether represent over $750,000 in prize money. The awards include: Budweiser Pole Award (Ryan Newman), Clevite Engine Builder Award (Mark Cronquist, Joe Gibbs Racing), Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge Award (Ryan Newman), Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award (Tony Stewart), MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award (Tony Stewart), Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Year Award (#20 The Home Depot Chevrolet crew), Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Year Award (Ryan Newman), Commit Lozenges Commit to Win Award (Kasey Kahne, #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), WIX Filters Lap Leader Award (Tony Stewart), USG Improving the Finish Award (Elliott Sadler, #38 M&M’s Ford) and the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award (Tony Stewart). Two awards have yet to be announced and the winners will be named on Friday morning: the Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award and the NMPA’s Myers Brothers Award.(PR)(12-2-2005)
  • #92 Team retains crew and chiefs, Chaffin to drive UPDATE: Veteran crew chief Ted Kennedy announced Friday afternoon that his plans are to continue to serve as the car chief on the #92 Front Row Motorsports Nextel Cup Series team for the 2006 season with driver Chad Chaffin despite rumors flowing that Kennedy will join Michael Waltrip Racing in association with FitzBradshaw Racing next year in the Busch Series. “I’m not sure how the rumor was started, but I plan on staying with Front Row Motorsports and driver Chad Chaffin as we intend to put together a competitive package for the Nextel Cup Series in 2006.” Kennedy, who spent the latter part of the 2005 Nextel Cup Series season with Front Row Motorsports, owned by Bob Jenkins also stated “At this time, I don’t forsee me heading to another organization.”(Ted Kennedy Enterprises PR/Catchfence)
    UPDATE: been told a rep at Front Row Motorsports that Mike Steurer is the crew chief of the #92 team and will be in 2006 also.(12-2-2005)


    News from December 1, 2005

  • Sad News – Humpy’s Mom: A funeral service for Kathleen Wheeler, mother of H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and David Wheeler, the track’s director of interior maintenance, will be held at 11:00am/et Saturday, Dec. 3, at The Basilica at Belmont Abbey in Belmont, NC. Wheeler, 95, a Belmont native, passed away Wednesday night, Nov. 30, at the Courtland Terrace assisted living center in Gastonia, NC. A visitation and rosary for Wheeler will be conducted at 7:00pm/et, Friday, Dec. 2, at McLean & Sons Funeral Home, 515 N. Central Ave., in Belmont, NC. Wheeler is survived by four children, H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, David Wheeler, Mary Plexico and Angela Wheeler; nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Her husband, Howard A. Wheeler, passed away in 1968. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations in memory of Kathleen Wheeler be made to the Wheeler Center c/o Belmont Abbey College, 100 Belmont-Mt. Holly Road, Belmont, N.C. 28012.(LMS)(12-1-2005)
  • Hamlin leaves RCR for BDR? UPDATE Official – Blaney and Hamlin: hearing [or have learned] that crew chief Kevin Hamlin has left Richard Childress Racing and will be the new crew chief at Bill Davis Racing for Dave Blaney and the #22 Caterpillar Dodge with former #22 crew chief Derrick Finley moving over to the #55 NAPA Auto Parts Dodge that Michael Waltrip will drive in 2006.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio show/Sporting News)(11-29-2005)
    UPDATE: Blaney Rejoins BDR, Hamlin Assumes Crew Chief Duties: Bill Davis Racing confirmed its future plans for the #22 team Thursday, announcing that Dave Blaney has returned to the racing organization to drive the #22 Caterpillar car in the Nextel Cup Series, with Kevin Hamlin joining him as crew chief.
    “In the last couple of years, we just haven’t seen the performance we know the #22 CAT Racing team is capable of, so change was not a choice—it was a necessity,” said Bill Davis, team owner and president of Bill Davis Racing. “Dave is not only a talented and consistent driver, but he is someone I respect and have always enjoyed working with in the past. This will be my first time working with Kevin Hamlin, but I have long admired his work and accomplishments in this sport.”
    Blaney, a Hartford, Ohio, native, first drove for Bill Davis in 1998 and 1999, when he piloted the #93 Pontiac in the NASCAR Busch Series. After running a part-time NASCAR Cup schedule in 1999, the team decided to turn its focus to running full-time in the Cup Series in 2000 and continued the effort through 2001. Sponsorship changes and the development of other opportunities led to Blaney’s first departure from BDR in 2002. “I have always understood Dave’s need to pursue other avenues in this business, but it also was understood there were never any bridges burned between us,” Davis said. Blaney returned to Davis’ High Point operation in 2004 to drive part-time in the Nextel Cup Series, along with a Craftsman Truck Series start at Dover in early June. However, the partnership was interrupted once again in late June 2004 when Blaney received an offer to drive full time for Richard Childress Racing, which also marked the first time he drove under the direction of Hamlin. Later that same year, Blaney was named the driver of Childress’ #07 Nextel Cup team for the 2005 season.
    “I have been very fortunate to have driven for and with some of the best in this business,” Blaney said. “I enjoyed racing for the Davis’. Bill and Gail have not only been business partners, but they’ve been good friends to me. I’ve spent the majority of my NASCAR career as a BDR driver, so it’s always nice to be able to return to your roots.”
    Hamlin joins BDR following a long and successful career at Richard Childress Racing, where he served as crew chief for various drivers including Mike Skinner, Dale Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon, Jeff Burton, and most recently, Blaney, after RCR revised its crew chief assignments in early November.(Bill Davis Racing PR)(12-1-2005)
  • Cousin of Earnhardt dies: Orange County [FL] Deputies tased a man on the West side, who later died. They say he was likely high on drugs and running into traffic early this morning. Barbara Miller with the Sheriff’s Office says the first deputy on scene couldn’t calm him down, so he tased Jeff Dean Eanhardt. “He tried it a second time and again it had no effect on the subject. Unfortunately when more deputies arrived, they were able to restrain the subject and he was taken to the hospital by ambulance, but he died at around 7:25 this morning.” WDBO confirmed Jeff is the first cousin of Dale Earnhardt.(580wdbo.com)(12-1-2005)
  • Stewart to get in shape: Tony Stewart went on a shopping spree last week that he hopes will lead to a new and improved Nextel Cup champion. “I went out and bought $17,000 worth of exercise equipment for my house,” Stewart said Wednesday as he prepared for yet another of the dozens of media events this week in New York, leading up to Friday night’s NASCAR awards ceremony at which he will collect checks for more than $5.8 million. The 5-foot-9 Stewart, who probably weighs at least 20 pounds more than the 185 listed in the NASCAR media guide, admittedly loves fast food and has often made himself the brunt of his own jokes about how out of shape he is. “I’m going to get in shape for next year,” Stewart said Wednesday. “I’ve got to. As you get older, your body changes and I can’t do the kind of things I used to do, like eat three cheeseburgers on my way home and then eat dinner an hour later. I’m tired of puffing and panting when I climb up two flights of stairs. I’ve got to start taking better care of myself.” The first step, he said, will be getting together with a nutritionist to talk about diet. “Then all I need to do is stay away from the McDonald’s drive-up window and not use all that new equipment to hang my clothes on,” Stewart said, grinning.(ESPN.com/AP)(12-1-2005)
  • Waltrip to Fitzbradshaw? hearing that Michael Waltrip’s Busch team will be associated with Fitz-Bradshaw Racing with the #40 team in 2006, not sure if he and his drivers would still run #99 and if Aaron’s / State Fair Corn Dogs would still be sponsors. Supposedly Ted Kennedy would be the crew chief. Micheal Waltrip Racing crew chief Butch Hylton will be the crew chief for the #12 FitzBradshaw team, no word on the fate of the #00 Nextel Cup team.(12-1-2005)
  • Baldwin leaving Evernham? to Yates? UPDATE OFFICIAL RYR 2006 lineup announced: hearing that #9 crew chief, Tommy Baldwin could be leaving Evernham Motorsports and driver Kasey Kahne.(9-18-2005)
    UPDATE: hearing Baldwin could end up at the #38 M&M’s/Robert Yates Racing team as Elliott Sadler’s crew chief.(9-19-2005)
    UPDATE: Look for some organizational changes at Robert Yates Racing. Slugger Labbe will take over as crew chief of the #88, which is driven by Dale Jarrett, and Tommy Baldwin will lead the #38 crew and Elliott Sadler. Yates ended rumors that he will start a third team; he says he first wants to make the 88 and 38 teams stronger. But there still are plans for additional buildings on Yates’ property in Mooresville, N.C.(Sporting News)(11-21-2005)
    UPDATE RYR Announces 2006 Lineup: Robert Yates Racing (RYR) announced its lineup for the 2006 NASCAR season. The lineup includes the addition and reassignment of key team members for both the #88 UPS and #38 M&M’S Chocolate Candies NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams, as well as the #90 CitiFinancial Busch Series team.
    Effective immediately, Richard “Slugger” Labbe is the crew chief for the #88 UPS Racing Team and driver Dale Jarrett while Tommy Baldwin, Jr., becomes the crew chief for the #38 M&M’S Chocolate Candies Team and driver Elliott Sadler. Both Labbe and Baldwin bring with them experience and success that includes wins in the Daytona 500 (Labbe with driver Michael Waltrip in 2003 and Baldwin with driver Ward Burton in 2002).
    “Both Slugger and Tommy have had success in their past endeavors with other teams in the NEXTEL Cup Series,” said Eddie D’Hondt, general manager for RYR. “We’ve been aggressive in the off season. It is our goal to get both of our teams in the Chase for the Championship in 2006. We are really pleased with the staff we’ve put together and delighted to have Slugger and Tommy on board.”
    Labbe, a former RYR employee, returns after spending time serving in the crew chief role during the last few seasons for Michael Waltrip at Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and most recently for Jeremy Mayfield at Evernham Motorsports. Baldwin also joins RYR from Evernham Motorsports where he led the team efforts for young driver Kasey Kahne since 2004.
    “This is a great opportunity for me to be able to come back here in this capacity,” Labbe said. “Robert (Yates) has been an incredible person to know and work with. I’ve known him and Dale (Jarrett) for a long time, and to have this opportunity is an important one for me personally. I am really looking forward to 2006.”
    “There is potential for great success next season at RYR,” said Baldwin. “Robert has built a strong foundation here and it’s exciting to be able to step in and work with Elliott and the #38 Team. I think we’ve only seen the beginning of what Elliott can accomplish behind the wheel and I look forward to the task of leading this team to the next level.”
    Kevin Buskirk, who has been serving in an interim crew chief role for the #38 M&M’S team, will become the Technical and Performance Director for all of RYR. Additionally, the team has added Ed Guzzo to the organization and he will serve as the Production and Operational Director.
    Busch Series: In addition to the personnel changes with the NEXTEL Cup Series programs, RYR announced its driver lineup for the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series season and plans to compete in all 35 events. Sadler will drive the #90 CitiFinancial Ford for 16 events in 2006 while drivers Stephen Leicht and Matt McCall will share the driving duties during 17 events as part of the RYR Driver Development program. In addition to Leicht and McCall, Belgium driver Marc Goosens will compete in both the Busch Series road course races in 2006 as part of a joint effort between RYR and Rile Technologies, the championship team in the Rolex Series.
    RYR will continue to prepare for 2006 and beyond, looking for the right opportunity to grow the organization into a four-team organization that competes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.(Elevation Group/RYR PR)(11-28-2005)
    Todd Parrott? have learned that Todd Parrott has left RYR, no word on his 2006 plans. Parrott finished up the 2005 season as Jarrett’s crew chief on the #88 team after starting the season as the crew chief of the #38 team.(sources and PRN’s Garage Pass Radio show)(11-29-2005)
    AND Robert Yates Racing GM Eddie D’Hondt told Sirius Satellite Radio’s “Sirius Speedway” that Todd Parrott is no longer with RYR. D’Hondt said, “It was a very diffcult decision to make, and it was made with a heavy heart, but we can’t be sitting on our hands. We need to get both cars in the Chase next season, and to do tht, some changes had to be made.” D’Hondt said new crewchiefs “Slugger” Labbe and Tommy Baldwin are already on the job, and that the team has a full testing schedule between now and the end of the year.
    AND II: heard that many of the engineering staff was released in this reorganization.(12-1-2005)
  • Champion’s Week Day Three Review: Midtown Manhattan traffic got a new look on Wednesday morning, when 10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series cars rumbled through the streets for the “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Victory Lap presented by Sprint.” The promotion featured a parade of the top 10 cars, with their drivers in full uniforms. The Victory Lap began at Rockefeller Center, where the drivers were interviewed on NBC’s The Today Show. The drivers passed through Times Square and a few side streets before finishing at 375 Park Avenue, the site of NASCAR’s New York office. The Victory Lap was a highlight of “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion’s Week presented by Sprint”, which celebrates the 2005 season and concludes Friday with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards banquet at the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. With a police escort, the drivers navigated the route in about 20 minutes. Fan viewing areas were staged along the streets and the drivers were welcomed at the finish by a large gathering of fans and media.
    Among the top 10 drivers was veteran Rusty Wallace (#2 Miller Lite Dodge), who finished eighth in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings for his best finish in the point standings since 2002. When Wallace won the 1989 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title, the banquet was held in New York – but a procession of race cars through the streets was unheard of. “It’s the last awards banquet for me as a driver,” said Wallace “It’s kind of bittersweet. It feels good to be in the top 10 in the last year I’m going to run. It’s been a great career.” According to NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Marketing Steve Phelps, who oversees the sanctioning body’s New York office, the event signified NASCAR’s ever-growing presence in New York. “NASCAR has been celebrating our champion in New York City for 25 years,” said Phelps. “We’ve had our corporate marketing headquarters here since 1998. On any given weekend, New York is one of NASCAR’s biggest markets, with fans as passionate as anywhere. The sport’s fans in New York deserve a special treat and we’re grateful to Sprint Nextel and our top 10 ‘Chasers,’ the New York City Sports Commission, the City’s Department of Transportation, and New York’s Finest for helping to bring these loyal fans another unforgettable Victory Lap.” NOTE: Kurt Busch drove the #97 Irwin Tools Ford and was in an Irwin Tools drivers suit.(PR)(12-1-2005)