Cup Testing at Lowe’s – Tues/Wed: testing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway was scheduled to start Monday, May 1st thru Wednesday, May 3rd. The drivers will not test Monday of course since the race at Talladega was postponed Sunday until Monday, May 1st, PLUS next weeks race is at Richmond…on Saturday, so this will be quite a short turn-a-round week for the teams, at least testing is close to home for most of the teams and the race in Richmond is not too far away. Any news or updated schedules will be reported when I fear about them. UPDATE: This week’s test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway will now be two days instead of three. Cars will hit the newly repaved 1.5-mile speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday from 1:00-9:00pm/et each day.(RacingOne/NASCAR.com) UPDATE 2: With rain postponing the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway until Monday, the testing session scheduled for Lowe’s Motor Speedway has been cut from three days to two. NEXTEL Cup teams will now test the track’s new asphalt on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for the May 20 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 28 Coca-Cola 600. Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s frontstretch grandstand will be open free of charge and fans should enter through Gate 5A, located next to the main ticket office.(Lowe’s Motor Speedway PR)(4-30-2006)
Ernie Irvan Announces LAPS Walk 2006 Schedule: On the heels of last August’s successful inaugural walkathon event at Michigan International Speedway (MIS), NASCAR racing legend Ernie Irvan and the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) have today announced the 2006 dates for Irvan’s LAPS Walk, and have added the Pocono Raceway in Pocono, PA as an additional location. The event, which allows participants to walk the racetrack alongside Irvan and other current and former NASCAR drivers to raise awareness and funding for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) prevention and treatment, will occur on Friday, July 21 at Pocono (after Cup qualifying,) and Wednesday, August 16 at MIS in Brooklyn, MI. Irvan and the BIAA are also working on additional track locations for LAPS Walk and are expected to announce them soon. For a minimum $100 entry fee, anyone is able to participate and walk side-by-side with Irvan, as well as other current and former NASCAR drivers to raise money for TBI education, awareness and prevention. Registration for each event will begin on Friday, April 21, 2006. Interested individuals can register online at www.lapswalk.org. There are only a limited amount of walker positions available for each event and it is expected that registration will fill very quickly. In February of 2004, Irvan formed a non-profit organization called Race2Safety in order to educate the public about TBI and spearhead development of next-generation transportation head protection safety equipment for adults and children. Race2Safety is now a part of the Brain Injury Association of America, providing Ernie with the ability to spread his message across the country.(Marketwire.com)(4-30-2006)
Mayfield expects no changes: Despite a disastrous season to date, #19-Jeremy Mayfield said he foresees no major shakeup to his Evernham Motorsports team, which was reorganized late last year. “I don’t expect any changes other than we might add a few people. Chris (team director Andrews) and I have started to come together,” Mayfield said Saturday. “It hasn’t showed up yet, but it’s better than it was a couple of weeks ago as far as him understanding what I like and me understanding how he does things on the car. It’s just like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip when they switched up (prior to the start of the 2005 season). You saw what happened on that deal. Dale Jr. couldn’t hit his butt and Michael took off running good. That’s just part of what we’re going through right now.”(Speed Channel)(4-30-2006)
No Agressive Driving allowed at Talladega: NASCAR race director David Hoots told drivers before the Aaron’s 499 that the entire track – not just the turns – will be monitored for aggressive driving during Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR had extra officials in the turns at the season-opening race at Daytona to watch for aggressive driving after criticism that bump-drafting had escalated to an unacceptable level. “The aggressive driving zone has been expanded,” Hoots said during the pre-race drivers meeting. “It will start at the start of the race as soon as you go across the start-finish line and will conclude when you complete the race – for all 2.66 miles around this race track and all 188 laps of the race. It will be considered all the way around the track.” Hoots asked the drivers to err on the side of caution. “Remember drivers, it doesn’t mean that you’re given more latitude on the straightaway,” Hoots said. “If you think you’re getting ready to be too close to or crossing over that line, you need to throttle back and be on the conservative side and don’t place yourself in the position of opening it up to our judgment of aggressive driving.”(SceneDaily.com)(4-30-2006)
Sunday at Talladega…moves to Monday: cars were on their pace laps at Talladega on Sunday, with one lap to go before green when it started raining, the cars we taken to pit road to wait it out as of 2:11pm/et, then…as of 3:46pm/et the rain is still off and on and the track is still wet, supposedly NASCAR will make a decision by 4:30pm/et on plans as the track takes about two hours to dry and their are no lights at the track. The radar looks bad for another couple hours. Just about 4:00pm/et NASCAR announced the race was postponed until Monday, May 1st at 12:00noon/et [11am local Talladega time] and the race will be covered on TV via FX and some FOX affiliates, plus live on MRN Radio and XM Satellite radio, plus the race can be followed via my Racepage and updates on Jayski’s Cingular Alerts. The weather forecast for Monday at Talladega calls for sunshine and 77 degrees.(4-30-2006)
WVa Miracle Miner Special Guest at Talladega: Aaron Rents, Inc. announced that West Virginia miner Randal McCloy Jr. and seven members of his family are attending the Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway as special guests of Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership President Ken Butler. Butler extended the invitation to the McCloy family a month earlier when he learned they were NASCAR fans. Aaron’s is the entitlement sponsor of this weekend’s races, and as such is able to provide Randy and his family with access to events such as the Victory Lane Celebration, the Driver Meeting, Driver Introductions and more. As part of his ongoing recovery process, McCloy’s doctors have encouraged him to spend as much time with his family as possible and to enjoy as much rest and relaxation as he can.(Aaron’s PR)(4-30-2006)
News from April 29, 2006
Jarrett hopes to make decision for 2007 soon: #88-Dale Jarrett said he has talked to quite a few people about driving for them next season but would not say whether he has signed with Michael Waltrip Racing. Waltrip said Friday that he had talked with the Robert Yates Racing driver but had not signed him to run a second Toyota out of the Michael Waltrip Racing stable in 2007. “People know when the last year of your contract is, so they start talking and seeing what your interests are, especially in my case,” Jarrett said Saturday following qualifying for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. Jarrett said that he probably would make a decision in the next two or three weeks and that sponsor UPS is not necessarily tied to him. “That’s Robert’s sponsor,” said Jarrett, referring to his current owner. “They came here because of what we accomplished at Robert Yates Racing, and that hasn’t been a factor in determining what I’m going to do. The offers that I have had from everybody else aren’t contingent upon bringing a sponsor.”(SceneDaily.com)(4-29-2006)
Elliott Sadler looking for new gig? UPDATE 2 thru 2008: ….When Sadler arrived at Yates, he said it was a dream job, perhaps a lifetime job. And now? He’s not so sure. Sources say Sadler is talking to other team owners looking for a deal. He’ll be 31 on Sunday, and in a tight market for experienced, winning Cup drivers with plenty of years left, somebody likely will be interested. Sadler has a year remaining on his contract, and he may just be testing the waters in case things don’t improve. Or he may be trying to create a situation like Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray did last year by signing a year in advance and then letting the car owners work out a deal for an early release.(in part from CNNSI column)(4-28-2006) UPDATE: been told that Sadler is signed thru 2008 with Robert Yates Racing, not just one more year.(4-28-2006) UPDATE 2: A report states that Jarrett’s teammate, Elliott Sadler, is frustrated and looking to join another team. One destination could be the Red Bull Racing Toyota team. Sadler admits he’s frustrated with how this season has gone _ he’s 14th in points _ but remains committed to Robert Yates Racing. Last June, Sadler signed a contract extension, along with sponsor M&M’s, to remain with the team through the 2008 season. “You just can’t change a team overnight,’’ Sadler said. “It’s going to be a long process. I’m here to stay at Robert Yates. I can’t see myself going anywhere.’’(Roanoke Times)(4-29-2006)
Waltrip talked to Jarrett…no 2nd driver yet: #55-Michael Waltrip said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway that he has personally offered #88-Dale Jarrett a contract to drive a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry Nextel Cup car in 2007. Toyota and Waltrip are also said to be wooing Jarrett’s sponsor, UPS, which is in the final year of its contract with Robert Yates Racing. Waltrip said he hopes to have a driver signed for 2007 in short order. “We want to get the driver lineup as soon as possible,” said Waltrip. “We want to hire the best driver we can get, and not be controversial about it. We’re going to try and get the biggest, best guy we can. The list was top guys for a while, then the list was top guys and medium guys and now it’s who do you think we can get? It might be a top guy, it might not be. It’s just a matter of what we can work out. It’s more important to my sponsors who we get than it is to Toyota.” Make no mistake about it, Toyota and its race teams are serious about spending money to hire talent: One team principal, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one of his managers received a $100,000 raise when he jumped ship and moved to a Toyota team recently. (Speed Channel) AND: Waltrip, who has sponsorship from NAPA for his Cup effort next year, did say he has sponsorship settled for two Nextel Cup teams but won’t announce the other sponsor until he settles on a driver. Waltrip said he had talked with recently retired Ricky Rudd but only about possibly doing what Bill Elliott was eventually signed to do – run a partial schedule this year for MWR as it gets ready for the full-time effort. Larry Carter and Bobby Kennedy are building the Chevys for Bill Elliott to run this season with Burger King sponsorship. He said that should help build the team in getting ready for the Toyota debut next season. He also said he has sponsorship for one of his two Busch Series teams. He said he would like David Reutimann, the driver for Darrell Waltrip Motorsports in the trucks, drive one of those Busch cars. He also said that Reutimann’s teammate, Joey Miller, is a possibility for the other Busch car.(SceneDaily.com) AND II: Michael Waltrip revealed on Friday that Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd have been asked about driving a Toyota next season — and he was emphatic about who was doing the wooing. Waltrip, who will field two Camrys in both the Cup and Busch series next season, said his team is handling all negotiations on incoming personnel without any help from the Japanese manufacturer.(USA Today)(4-29-2006)
Petty needs sponsor for 6-8 races: #45-Kyle Petty is looking for a sponsor for six to eight races to complete the sponsorship program for the #45 Petty Enterprises Dodge he drives in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. Petty said Friday that a company he had a signed contract with fell through, but he would not name the company. He said he would still drive his car in the unsponsored races. “Whether we have a sponsor or not, we’re going to go to the race track,” Petty said. “We have to do that, obviously. But at the same time, it puts you in a little bit different position than what we thought we were in January and where we thought we were last week.” Petty said not having sponsorship for six to eight races would be “a burden,” but he feels confident he can fill the gap. Petty has sponsorship from Wells Fargo, Schwan’s, Tire Kingdom and Coca-Cola for various races throughout the season. He said losing the sponsor had nothing to do with performance.(SceneDaily.com)(4-29-2006)
Talladega Nights on sale at Talladega: NASCAR and Sony Pictures will begin selling merchandise this week online and at-track for one of the most anticipated comedies of the year – “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” While “Talladega Nights”, starring television and movie star Will Ferrell, hits theatres August 4, merchandise for the movie goes on sale this Thursday. In addition to being available online at NASCAR.com, NASCAR-licensed film merchandise will be available at track for the first time at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. Ferrell, who will be playing NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby, will be the grand marshal for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. Close to 10 different licensees will be selling movie merchandise either on NASCAR.com and/or in a “Talladega Nights”-specific hauler, with Motorsports Authentics, J.H. Design Group, Checkered Flag Sports and Gametime LLC leading the way with several different lines of shirts, jackets, watches and more. As part of this weekend’s merchandise launch, Motorsports Authentics will be running a promotion awarding fans with an opportunity to meet Ferrell and get their movie merchandise signed by the former “Saturday Night Live” star turned mega-movie star and NASCAR fan. All fans purchasing movie merchandise at-track between Thursday and Saturday at 1 p.m. will be entered into a drawing that will ultimately reward 50 lucky fans with a Sunday autograph session with Ferrell.(NASCAR PR)(4-29-2006)
Yeley to run ACT scheme at Talladega: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will display a unique paint scheme on the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet to be driven by rookie J.J. Yeley during the April 30 Aaron’s 499 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. The sponsorship aims to help raise awareness about the need for improved asthma control and motivate patients with asthma to take the Asthma Control TestT (ACT), and share the results with their doctor. The ACT consists of five simple questions that help patients understand how their asthma affects them. GlaxoSmithKline also will bring its AsthmaControl.com mobile exhibit to the Talladega Superspeedway on April 30 to allow race fans with asthma to take the ACT, learn their asthma scores on site and receive racing souvenirs.(Joe Gibbs Racing PR)(4-27-2006) IMAGE: see an image of the car on my #18 Team Schemes page.(4-29-2006)
Sadler wins pole at Talladega: #38-Elliott Sadler won the Budweiser pole for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway with a lap of 188.511mph, for his 2nd straight pole at Talladega, 1st of 2006 and 7th of his career. #20-Stewart will start 2nd, followed by #99-Carl Edwards, #88-Dale Jarrett and #2-Kurt Busch. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts 27th in the black Chevy, points leader, #17-Matt Kenseth starts 12th. #40-David Stremme was the fastest of the non top-35 drivers and will start 17th, #55-Michael Waltrip, also no longer in the top-35 in owners points, had to race in and did so, starting 21st. #27-Kirk Shelmerdine made the race and #4-Scott Wimmer gets the final starting spot. Missing the race were: #78-Wallace, #95-Barrett, #49-Sherman, #92-Blount, #09-MWallace and #89-Shepherd. For qualifying speeds, starting lineup, pole progression, non top-35 qualifiers on my Talladega Starting Grid/Qualifying Page.(4-29-2006)
Talladega Qualifying Notes:
• Elliott Sadler won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the Aaron’s 499, lapping Talladega Superspeedway in 50.798 seconds at 188.511 mph. Bill Elliott holds the track-qualifying record of 44.998 seconds, 212.809 mph, set April 30, 1987 – prior to the advent of restrictor-plate racing. Elliott also holds the Talladega restrictor-plate record of 48.128 seconds, 199.388 mph, set May 4, 1990.
• This is Sadler’s seventh career Bud Pole in 258 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
• This is his first Bud Pole and third top-10 start in 2006. He became the seventh different Bud Pole winner this season.
• This is Sadler’s third Bud Pole and sixth top-10 start in 14 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, all in the past seven races here.
• Tony Stewart posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 51.029 seconds, 187.658 mph – and will join Sadler on the front row for the Aaron’s 499. It is his fifth top-10 start in 2006, all third or better. Stewart’s career-best Talladega start is his seventh top-10 start in 15 races here.
• This is the second Bud Pole for Ford in 2006. Chevrolet and Dodge each have three Bud Poles this season. Qualifying was canceled at Bristol.
• Carl Edwards (third) posted his fourth top-10 start in 2006 – all top-fives. He has qualified in the top-10 in two of his four Talladega races.
• Dale Jarrett (fourth) posted his first start better than 15th this season. Jarrett scored his 17th top-10 start in 39 races at Talladega, including five of the past six.
• Kurt Busch (fifth) posted his eighth straight top-10 start of 2006. His only non-top 10 start came in the Daytona 500, when he started 13th. Busch posted his third top- 10 start in 11 races at Talladega.
• Kirk Shelmerdine (22nd), who posted his career-best finish in the Daytona 500 this past February, posted his career-best start. His best start in his previous 24 races was 32nd in his career-first start set at Texas World Speedway in June 1981.
• Hermie Sadler (24th) posted his best start since he started 21st in the 2005 Pepsi 500 at Daytona. This will be his 55th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race.(NASCAR Statisical Services)(4-29-2006)
Ramblings – Talladega:
In a sport where qualifying is separated by mere thousandths of a second, Elliott Sadler blew ’em away today at Talladega Superspeedway Sadler took the Bud Pole for tomorrow’s Aaron’s 499 with a time of 50.798 seconds (188.511 mph). His margin over outside pole man Tony Stewart was over 2/10th of a second! To put that in perspective, 2nd thru 9th is separated by that same margin. Somebody check to see if he got a tow! This is Elliot’s 7th career pole (tho his first since Lowe’s last October), and he becomes the 7th different qualifier for next February’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.
Teammate Dale Jarrett (4th) has his best starting spot since he had the outside pole when we were here last October.
Joe Nemechek (6th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 4th at Texas last November.
David Stremme (17th) has his career best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 22nd at Homestead last November.
Robby Gordon (19th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 12th at Phoenix last November.
Michael Waltrip (21st) has his best starting spot since he qualified 19th at California last September…..all it takes is a little pressure, eh Mikey?
Kirk Shelmerdine (22nd) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 32nd at Texas World Speedway in June of 1981! We dig however deep it takes…..
Hermie Sadler (24th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 21st at Daytona last July (only 7 races).
Travis Kvapil (26th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 12th at Martinsville last October.
STREAKIN….Kurt Busch has 8 Top-10 starts in a row.
Greg Biffle has 8 Top-10 starts in a row.
Tony Stewart has 4 Top-10 starts in the last 5 races.(Stock Car Fans)(4-29-2006)
Waltrip says he must race Sunday: Michael Waltrip, who will have to qualify his #55 NAPA Dodge on speed for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, will celebrate his 43rd birthday on Sunday and hopes to have more cause to celebrate with a starting spot: “If we have a problem getting in I’ll probably have to nose around to find another ride to race on Sunday. It’s my birthday and I can’t miss the race.”(Talladega Superspeey Pit Notes)(4-29-2006)
News from April 28, 2006
Fifth Annual Dale Earnhardt Day Celebration April 29th: Organizers at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. have confirmed that celebrations honoring the life and legacy of Dale Earnhardt will take place at Dale Earnhardt, Inc., on Saturday, April 29, 2006 from 9:00am – 4:00pm. Dale Earnhardt will be honored and inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 27 in Talladega, Ala. The Busch Series race will be held on Dale’s birthday, April 29th. In honor of both events, this year’s theme will highlight Dale’s incredible track record at Talladega International Speedway. Dale Earnhardt is the winningest driver at Talladega with 10 trips to Victory Lane during his illustrious career. His 76th, and final, victory occurred at the 2.66-mile superspeedway on October 15, 2000 when he roared from 17th to first in the final laps.
Fans attending the Dale Earnhardt Day festivities at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. on Saturday, April 29 are in for a special day. Aside from all the functions and activities that surround the birthday of our co-founder and seven-time NASCAR champion, they will also get to hear from a major network news anchor. Brian Williams, lead anchor of NBC Nightly News, will be the Grand Marshall. A fan of NASCAR and friend of Dale Earnhardt, Williams will preside over the 3:00pm/et ceremony to officially mark Dale’s birthday. He will share stories of his relationship with Dale and assist the Dale Earnhardt Foundation in recognizing achievements from the past year. He will join Teresa Earnhardt, President and CEO of DEI, at the 3:00pm/et. ceremony, as well. They will sign a special Dale Earnhardt Day flag which will be auctioned during the day. Later in the afternoon, Williams will be honored during a VIP guest reception. And, just like last year, there will be some autographed sheet metal and other exclusive items up for auction throughout the day. The first silent auction is from 9:00am – 12:00pm/et and the second one will run from 1:00 – 3:00pm/et. The main silent auction will begin at 9:00pm/et and end at 3:00pm/et featuring 10 items of very exclusive nature. For more information of times and events, activities, places to stay and things to do while in town for Dale Earnhardt Day, check out www.DaleEarnhardtInc.com under the Legacy Section..(4-24/28-2006)
#09 Now a Ford: it was noted on the Talladega Qualifying Order that the #09 Miccosukee Resort Dodge was changed to the Miccosukee Resort Ford, no word if this is permanent or just for Talladega. Speed Channel Happy Hour practice reported the #09 Ford Taurus was purchased from RYR and has a leased Roush-Yates engine.(4-28-2006)
Final TV ratings down for Phoenix: Final Nielsen Media Research ratings for last Saturday night’s Subway Fresh 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway were down 5.8 percent from last year’s race, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. This year’s race earned a 4.8 rating and a 9 market share, down from 5.1/10 last year, but it was still the weekend’s highest rated sports event.(SceneDaily.com), see my TV Ratings page for the 206 Ratings Chart.(4-28-2006)
Talladega Tire Notes: This is the first time Goodyear has brought this combination of left- and right-side tires to the track . . . both Nextel Cup and Busch Series teams will run the same tire set-up this weekend . . . while this combination is part of the superspeedway group for 2006, Talladega is the only track at which teams will run these codes . . . this set-up is slightly different than the one run at NASCAR’s other restrictor plate track at Daytona . . . as on all ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Talladega . . . the inflation of the inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. Estimated Pit Window: Every 34-36 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see more on my Talladega Race Info/Rundown Page.(4-28-2006)
Rookie News and Notes: Clint Bowyer was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the April 22 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Bowyer finished fifth, his first top-five in nine career NEXTEL Cup Series starts. He led for the first time in his NEXTEL Cup Series career, holding the top spot three times for 21 laps. Bowyer took top rookie honors for the second time this season. Bowyer qualified eighth at Phoenix, the best qualifying effort of his NEXTEL Cup career. Bowyer took the lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings over Denny Hamlin at Phoenix. He enjoys an eight-point lead (85-77) over Hamlin entering the April 30 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, The Subway Fresh 500 is the second consecutive race where TWO or more Raybestos Rookies led at least one lap: Bowyer and J.J. Yeley, who led once for one lap. The 2002 Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway is most recent NEXTEL Cup Series race where TWO Raybestos Rookies finished inside the top five. Jimmie Johnson finished fourth ahead of Ryan Newman, who placed fifth. The late Davey Allison is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. He won the 1987 event by .78 second over Terry Labonte. Allison also led the most laps in the race, holding the top spot six times for 108 of the 178 laps (the event was shortened by 10 laps due to darkness). Allison remains the only Raybestos Rookie to lead the most laps in the Aaron’s 499 and holds the record for most laps led by a rookie in the spring race at Talladega. Since Allison’s win in 1987, a Raybestos Rookie has finished in the top-five in the Aaron’s 499 just twice: Tony Stewart (fifth in 1999) and Kurt Busch (third in 2001). Only one Raybestos Rookie has won the pole position in 35 previous Aaron’s 499 races at Talladega Superspeedway: Jimmie Johnson (2002).(Raybestos PR), for many more notes, standings and more, see my Rookie Page.(4-28-2006)
#61 gets Talladega sponsor: Front Row Motorsports announced that State Water Heaters will be the Primary Sponsor on the #61 Ford for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. State has an impressive heritage and market leading products.State Industries was founded in 1946, as a small entrepreneurial company in Nashville, TN. In the years that followed, State expanded and became a leader in the water heating industry, through steadfast commitments to providing water heater solutions for years of dependable service.(Front Row Motorsports PR)(4-28-2006)
Penske News: #2 crew chief back; Window Net problem looked at: #2-Kurt Busch crew chief Roy McCauley was back on the job at Penske Racing South early Monday after missing the race weekend at Phoenix. McCauley missed the Nextel Cup race after undergoing a minor heart procedure during the week. He is already at Talladega Superspeedway with his NASCAR team for this weekend’s Aaron’s 499. “I told them that I’d take it easy over the weekend last week, and I did just that,” McCauley said. “But I also told them that at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, we were going back to my normal schedule.”(SceneDaily.com) AND: Penske Racing South crew members are intent on making sure that a window net problem never costs one of their drivers points again. At Phoenix, #2-Kurt Busch’s window net came loose, and he lost laps pitting to fix it. NASCAR requires window nets be secure anytime a driver is on the track.(SceneDaily.com)(4-28-2006)
#74 appeals NASCAR fine and penalties UPDATE: #74-McGlynn Racing announced today that the have formally requested a hearing with the National Stock Car Racing Commission for the [25 point] penalties issued to owner, Raynard McGlynn, driver Derrike Cope as well as the $50,000 fine issued to crew chief, Domenic Turse.(McGlynn Racing PR)(4-23-2006) UPDATE: Derrike Cope says McGlynn Motorsports’ appeal of a $50,000 fine and 25 points for an illegal intake manifold at Texas is scheduled for next Tuesday. Cope, the driver of the team’s #74 Dodge in the Nextel Cup Series, said the team was using a new intake manifold, and when a NASCAR official saw them putting it on the car, they were told it was probably illegal. The car never actually went through inspection with the illegal manifold. “We’re going to go through the appeal … and see if there is some type of situation that could reduce the fine,” Cope said. The team sat out the Phoenix race and will sit out the Talladega race with hopes of returning at Richmond.(SceneDaily.com)(4-28-2006)
NCMA Appoints Andy Papathanassiou Executive Director: The board of the North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA) today named Andy Papathanassiou as the executive director of the organization. He will also serve as the executive director of the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation, the educational and charitable arm of the industry in the state. The NCMA is the voice of the motorsports’ industry in North Carolina representing businesses in the state that support more than 26,000 jobs. In addition to his role with NCMA, Papathanassiou began his career in the motorsports’ industry in 1992. As a crew member and pit-crew coach, he won four championships (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001) with the #24 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team of driver Jeff Gordon before assuming his current role in which he oversees crew training and employee development. Papathanassiou will continue the work of retiring NCMA and NCMF executive director Ed McLean. For information on the NCMA go to ncmotorsportsassociation.org.(4-28-2006)
News from April 27, 2006
Toyota looking at Rudd? Ricky Rudd confirmed Wednesday that Toyota is courting him. He’s honored, but to date has politely declined. This retirement thing ain’t so bad. “I’ve had a few conversations with different folks, and that’s one group,” Rudd said. “It’s a two-way conversation. I’m not ready to come back right now, but there has been conversation. They’ve got to move on with their program, and their timeline and mine are not the same. I wanted to take a year off.” That’s not to say he’s ruled it out completely, however. Rudd has pinpointed a September commitment time regarding his racing future. Might he come back? “I enjoy race day a lot, but not the grind of the schedule,” Rudd said. “I’m liable to get bored and restless, though, but haven’t yet.”(NASCAR.com)(4-27-2006)
4th RCR team,,,with Mears? denied: RCR team sources tell [Marty Smith – NASCAR.com] the organization would like to add a fourth team with [Casey] Mears [current driver of Ganassi’s #42 Dodge] as driver, but RCR spokesman David Hart discounted the speculation Wednesday. “No decisions have been made to add a fourth team with Casey Mears or any other driver,” Hart said.(NASCAR.com)(4-27-2006)
Manufacturers title up for grabs: While NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers battle each other on the track and in the series standings, the automotive manufacturers they represent are locked in a season-long title hunt all their own. Three manufacturers – Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford – vie each year for the Manufacturers’ Championship, and those standings are tightly locked through eight of 36 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup events. Heading into Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, Chevrolet leads with 56 points and four wins. Dodge is second with 49 points and three wins. Ford is third with 47 points and one win. While second-place Dodge trails Chevrolet by only five points, the margin is even tighter between Dodge and Ford – only two points prevent a tie for second place [highest gets 9 points, then next 6, then 4, next year with Toyota, 4th place gets 3]. Dodge has held the runner-up spot for the last four races. Dodge seeks its first Talladega win since August 1976, when Dave Marcis won the Talladega 500.(NASCAR PR), see my Manufacturers Championship page for the standings, which drive was highest at each race, which driver have scored the most points, manufacturers all time wins, and more.(4-27-2006)
#61 Team Sold? UPDATE: hearing that #61 team owner, Jeff Stec has sold the #61 Peak Fitness Motorsports team that Kevin Lepage drivers for the Furniture Row Motorsports, the team that #78-Kenny Wallace drives for. Unclear if it will become a two-car team or merged into the current one car operation. The #61 runs Fords while the #78 runs Chevy’s. UPDATE: looks like my sources were a little confused as to what team, it is Front Row Motorsports [not Furniture Row Motorsports]…….Front Row Motor Sports owner Bob Jenkins, and Jeff Stec have formed a limited partnership to campaign the #61 Ford Fusion for the remainder of the 2006 NASCAR season. Greg Conner and the balance of the #61 team members will be integrated into the Front Row Motorsports organization beginning this week with the running of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. Kevin Lepage will continue to drive the #61 car. “The #61 team has gotten off to a good start this year by making 6 of the first 8 races. By combining resources and sharing knowledge, we are confident that we can improve each of our teams,” states Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins. “We are looking to upgrade both our qualifying and race day efforts. We are excited about the opportunities this presents our team and the advantages we can gain by working together.”(Front Row Motorsports PR)(4-27-2006)
Sunoco wins Pocono award: Sunoco, Inc. one of the leading manufacturers and marketers of petroleum and petrochemical products has been named the 2006 recipient of Pocono Raceway’s Bill France Award of Excellence. The Pocono Raceway Bill France Award of Excellence has been presented annually to the person, corporation or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the sport of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Racing. This prestigious award, first presented in 1977, is dedicated to the inspiration of Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR. Sunoco, the world’s largest manufacturer of premium racing gasoline, became the “Official Fuel of NASCAR” in 2004. Under a 10 year agreement, Sunoco provides racing gasoline for NASCAR’s three national series – the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as well as NASCAR’s Dodge Weekly Series. With over 4,800 retail locations, Sunoco provides NASCAR with the opportunity for numerous marketing and cross-promotions. Sunoco’s product quality and proven distribution network combined with the rich Sunoco racing heritage “made the grade” when NASCAR selected Sunoco as the fuel of choice. Sunoco is the best in class in the race fuel industry. Even before their sponsorship agreement with NASCAR, Sunoco distributed racing gasoline to more than 400 racetracks and over 40 other race sanctioning associations in the United States. “Because NASCAR literally runs on fuel, Sunoco has become a vital partner in NASCAR’s recent success,” stated Pocono Raceway C.E.O Dr. Joseph Mattioli. “We are proud to announce that Sunoco, a Pennsylvania corporation, has been named the recipient of Pocono Raceway’s 2006 Bill France Award of Excellence,” concluded Dr. Mattioli. “On behalf of Sunoco employees, dealers and distributors, I am pleased to accept this prestigious award,” stated Bob Owens, Sunoco’s Senior Vice President. “We are all honored to be recognized by our home state’s premier track. As you know, our involvement in NASCAR has been a source of great pride for the whole Sunoco team.” The Pocono Raceway Bill France Award of Excellence, a beautifully sculptured and highly polished piece of anthracite coal mined in Pennsylvania, will be presented to Sunoco at an award ceremony on Saturday, June 10, 2006. This ceremony is part of the festivities leading up to the June 11, 2006 Pocono 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway.(Pocono Raceway PR)(4-27-2006)
Earnhardt, Gant, Guthrie, Roush and Wheeler to be inducted in IMHOF UPDATE 2 TV: While most everyone expected Dale Earnhardt to be among the five individuals that will be honored next April with induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, very few would have anticipated the overall strength of the Class of 2006 being what it is. “This is one heck of a class for 2006,” declared IMHOF Executive Director Jim Freeman. “We are pleased to announce that we will induct Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Janet Guthrie, Jack Roush and Humpy Wheeler next April 27th.” Earnhardt, of course, is the seven-time Winston Cup champion and Gant is one of the all-time greats in both Cup and Busch racing. Guthrie is the first female to race in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. Roush’s race teams have won titles in drag racing, sports cars, Craftsman trucks, Busch Series and Nextel Cup Series. Wheeler is the long-time innovative promoter at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte. While the quintet has a definite NASCAR flavor, three of the future inductees also have made names for themselves outside of the stock car world. Guthrie, and Wheeler have been involved in sports cars and Indy cars during their careers, while Roush has been successful in several different racing series.
Tickets will go on sale on November 7th for the 16th annual induction ceremony that will take place on the Thursday evening of the first race weekend of 2006 at Talladega. The induction will be held in the Speed Channel Dome at the Hall of Fame. In addition to the five inductees, the 2005 Driver of the Year will also be honored that evening.(IMHOF PR)(11-3-2005/4-24-2006) UPDATE SPEED will air a one-hour special from the 16th Annual International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 1 at 10:00pm/et from the SPEED Dome in Talladega. This year’s inductees include Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Janet Guthrie, Jack Roush and Humpy Wheeler. The special will re-air at May 6 at 1:00pm/et.(Speed Channel)(4-25-2006) UPDATE 2: hearing Darrell Waltrip will be inducting Janet Guthrie, no word on the others.(4-27-2006)
News from April 26, 2006
Tragic News UPDATE new track rule: Talladega County Coroner Jerry Castleberry says two men were killed today after being electrocuted at the Talladega Superspeedway. Castleberry says 39-year-old Keith Stell of Birmingham and 42-year-old Ronny Wright of Remlap died instantly. The men were camping at the speedway and were electrocuted after the flagpole they were trying to erect fell into some power lines. Castleberry said witnesses at the scene said gusts of wind caused the flagpole to fall. He said the men had still been holding on to the pole when it touched the power lines and they –quote– “didn’t have a chance.”(wtvm.com/AP)(4-24-2006) UPDATE Track Director of Public Relations Kristi King told Claire B. Lang XM Satellite NASCAR Radio that Talladega Superspeedway will implement a new rule this weekend following the tragic death of two campers there…”What our new policy is that we put in place today…no metal flag poles of any kind will be allowed on speedway property. That does include the infield and all of the overnight parks beginning this weekend and that goes for all future talladega superspeedway events.”(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio)(4-26-2006)
Event in Mooresville: TNA Wrestling has a live event scheduled for Friday, May 26 at Lake Norman High School in Mooresville, NC during race week at Lowes Motor Speedway. For information on the event, as well as information on how to purchase the DVD of the Martinsville TNA show held April 1st. featuring NASCAR personalities Darrell Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, Kyle Petty, Scott Riggs, Jeff Hammond, and others, visit www.uwfusa.com.(4-26-2006)
What is up with Casey Atwood? former #19 Evernham Motorsports driver Casey Atwood, 25, is sitting home, out of sport, without a ride. Atwood has been unavailable for comment on his future, but last week his father Terry said “as far as I know nothing is happening. The last time I talked to Casey he said he hadn’t found anything.” After leaving the Nextel Cup Series Atwood hoped to start over in the second-tier Busch Series, but so far that hasn’t happened. “Part of the problem is that so many Cup drivers are running Busch now that it cuts down on opportunities for young drivers,” Terry Atwood said. Atwood signed with Ray Evernham in 2000 and made his first Cup start that September at Richmond, Va. He ran his first full season in 2001, winning a pole at Phoenix and finishing third at Homestead. Despite that strong rookie season, the next year Evernham made a major shakeup. He put Jeremy Mayfield in Atwood’s Dodge and moved Atwood into a [#7] car co-owned by Jim Smith. Evernham at the time was spearheading Dodge’s return to NASCAR and explained that he wanted a more experienced driver in his primary car. Atwood’s new car was not competitive. After struggling through a disappointing season, he and Evernham parted company. Atwood at one time was considered to have Jeff Gordon-type potential. Now his career may be over. Atwood has said he is “disappointed” by the turn of events but refused to blame Evernham. “Ray did what he thought he needed to do for the sake of his team,” Atwood said. “I don’t have any hard feelings toward him.” “Ray gave up too quick on Casey,” Terry Atwood said. “I don’t know if he was feeling pressure from the Dodge people or what. Casey had some good races and everybody thought he was progressing well. Then one day it was all over. To my knowledge Ray has never given anybody an explanation about what happened. All I know is that it was a big setback for Casey and he has yet to recover from it.” (in part from the Tennessean)(4-26-2006)
Elledge Extends Contract with Ganassi: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today Crew Chief Jimmy Elledge has signed a multi-year contract extension with the organization. Elledge is currently the crew chief for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rookie Reed Sorenson and the #41 Target team. “Jimmy has been instrumental in the development of our young drivers,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “He has incredible patience and leadership skills which are an asset to any organization. I’m pleased to have him as part of the present and future at Chip Ganassi Racing.”
“I’m excited about extending my relationship with Chip and Felix (Sabates),” said Elledge. “There are a lot of good people here committed to seeing this team succeed, and if we continue to keep building and working together as one team we’ll get there. I’m very pleased with the direction this organization is heading and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. Also, the relationship between Reed and I, and everyone on this team is developing at a rapid pace. We’re right on the verge of something very special.” Over the past three seasons Elledge worked with CGRFS driver Casey Mears who piloted the red and white Dodge from 2003 to 2005. Elledge led Mears to consecutive pole positions in 2004 at Pocono and Indianapolis, and to five top-10 finishes over the final nine races of 2005.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(4-26-2006)
#07 Team Takes PIt Crew Honors at Phoenix: Clint Bowyer’s pit crew captured the Checkers / Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition in Saturday night’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, helping propel its rookie driver to a Nextel Cup career-high fifth-place finish. The program awards $10,500 per week to the [eligible] pit crew of the car spending the least amount of time on pit road. In addition, the pit crew with the most wins will be awarded a $105,000 bonus at the completion of the 36-race schedule. “The guys did a good job on pit road,” said Gil Martin, crew chief of Bowyer’s #07 Chevrolet. “They stayed in sync pretty well and Clint did a good job getting on and off pit road. The guys were consistent and we did what we needed to do. They beat everybody off of pit road towards the end of the race, so that shows how well they kept their composure. All-in-all, it was a very good night.” Bowyer’s Jack Daniel’s machine spent 266.258 seconds on pit road during the 312-lap race. Bowyer’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Carey Wimbish (jackman), Dail Long (front-tire carrier), Shane Westerberg (front-tire changer), Dustin Stanley (rear-tire carrier), Tommy Wallace (rear-tire changer), Ron Liddell (gasman), Clint Almquist (catch can) and Troy Welty (windshield). The team’s pit stop coordinator is Corinne Mauldin. Bowyer’s crew, part of the Richard Childress Racing stable, becomes the sixth different team to win the Checkers/Rally’s weekly competition. Pit crews for Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler, and Denny Hamlin have also scored wins. The Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge is in its second season with the Nextel Cup Series.
Checkers/Rally’s is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at checkers.com. 2006 Nextel Cup Winners
Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge
Daytona (2/19) Jimmie Johnson Team
California (2/26) Jimmie Johnson Team
Las Vegas (3/12) Kyle Busch Team
Atlanta (3/20) Tony Stewart Team
Bristol (3/26) Tony Stewart Team
Martinsville (4/2) Elliott Sadler Team
Texas (4/9) Denny Hamlin Team
Phoenix (4/22) Clint Bowyer Team
(DMF Communications PR)(4-26-2006)
Berrier Wins WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race: Team owner Richard Childress may have been the one on a hunting trip this weekend, but it was his driver Kevin Harvick who came home with the trophies. Harvick won both the Busch Series and Nextel Cup Series races at Phoenix International Raceway, bringing each of his crew chiefs, Shane Wilson and Todd Berrier, the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award. Following each race, a panel of voters; including Tony Eury Sr., Robbie Reiser, a member of the local media and a WypAll Wipers representative; cast their vote for the crew chief they thought made the biggest impact on his team. Wilson and Berrier were voted the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race for their solid runs. In the Subway Fresh 500 on Saturday, it wasn’t until lap 304 that Harvick cruised into the lead, putting him at the point for the final nine laps. For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WypAll Wipers gave Berrier $1,000. At the end of the season, the Nextel Cup crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. This was Berrier’s first Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him with Darian Grubb and Roy McCauley for second-place in the standings. Robbie Reiser and Kenny Francis are tied for the lead, each with two wins.(Wypall PR)(4-26-2006)
Kenny Wallace to Drive National Day of Prayer Car Talladega: Kenny Wallace is scheduled to drive the National Day of Prayer car #78 sponsored by Furniture Row for the Nextel Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. The National Day of Prayer tradition predates the founding of the United States of America when the Continental Congress issued a proclamation setting aside a day of prayer in 1775. In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer and, in 1988, that law was amended, designating the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May. For more information visit www.nationaldayofprayer.org. In commemoration of the day, which falls on Thursday, May 4th, the #78 Furniture Row Chevy Monte Carlo CUP car will feature a new red, white and blue paint scheme showcasing the National Day of Prayer logo for Talladega on April 30. For more information on the team, please visit furniturerowracing.com or for Wallace, see Kennywallace.com.(PR), see an image of the scheme on my #78 Team Schemes page.(4-26-2006)
New spotter for Bowyer: Fedawa: Busch Series veteran driver Tim Fedewa has joined Richard Childress Racing (RCR) as the spotter for Clint Bowyer’s #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevy in the Nextel Cup Series and the #2 ACDelco Chevy in the Busch Series. “It’s pretty exciting to be part of a championship organization like RCR,” said Fedewa. “Up until just a few weeks ago, I was spotting some Busch races on Saturday’s but I knew I wanted to work on Sunday’s too. (Mike) Dillon saw me on the spotter’s stand and asked me who I was spotting for and I told him who it was, but that it was only on a temporary basis. He asked me if would consider spotting for Clint on both days. It was too good of an offer to turn down. We’ve got a couple races under our belts already and it seems to be working out pretty well.”(RCR PR)(4-26-2006)
Shelmerdine back at Talladgea: #27 Kirk Shelmerdine is back on the track! After an impressive 20th place finish in the 2006 Daytona 500, Shelmerdine plans to compete in Talladega’s upcoming race on April 30, 2006: The Aaron’s 499. Shelmerdine retreated from the spotlight after Daytona to work on the #27 and scout potential sponsors. KSR continues to offer unique sponsorship opportunities that cater to the needs and budget of each and every potential sponsor. Contact info and team/driver info at www.kirkshelmerdine.com.(MLF Sports PR)(4-26-2006)
#31 jackman returns to Talladega: #31 Team Cingular jackman Josh Yost will return to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the first time since he was hit on pit road during last season’s Aaron’s 499, severely injuring his right foot and ankle. Following multiple surgeries to repair damage to the tendons in his ankle, Yost started walking in mid-July, began physical therapy in August, returned to work in the shop at RCR in November and then resumed his role as Team Cingular jackman in the 2006 season opening Daytona 500.(RCR PR)(4-26-2006)
STP back on #43 at Talladega: This weekend, Bobby Labonte and the #43 STP Dodge team head to the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. The #43 Dodge will carry a retro STP paint scheme designed to pay tribute to one of the longest sponsorships in history of motorsports. It will be the first time in six years that STP has been the primary sponsor. They will commemorate the event by donating $43 for each lap completed to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.(Petty Racing PR), see image of the #43 STP car on my #43 Team Schemes page.(4-26-2006)
Reese’s back on the #29: The #29 Reese’s Chevy that Kevin Harvick will drive is sporting Reese’s Caramel Cups once again this weekend in Talladega. Last time Reese’s Caramel Cups were on the #29 Chevy, Reese’s Caramel Cups is one of six special paint schemes Reese’s will run throughout the 2006 season. Harvick teamed up with 2004 IRL Champion and Hershey’s driver Tony Kanaan to film a commercial promoting the new Reese’s Caramel Cups. Race fans can see what is going on with the #29 Reese’s Racing team at www.reesesracing.com.(RCR PR)(4-26-2006)
Home Depot Store Represented at Talladega: Home Depot store #6901, located in East Brunswick, N.J., will be represented on the lower rear quarterpanel of the #20 Home Depot Chevy that Tony Stewart will drive during the Aaron’s 499. Store #6901 was judged to be the outstanding store of the past week, thereby earning its place on the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing machine.[wich is done each week](True Speed Communications PR)(4-26-2006)
NASCAR Art at Hickory Museum of Art: NASCAR Inspired will engage and surprise with its variety and complexity of art forms at the Hickory Museum of Art in Hickory, NC, showing viewers that there is more depth, fore-thought and spirit behind this sport than just Sunday Racin’! This exhibition, organized and curated in-house features over 100 artists from across the country, including England. Not often is racing and art combined in such a way to provide viewers with a connection between the two. Through film, paintings, sculpture, folk art and a variety of media, the artists in this show define a new way of interpreting this genre and will challenge the viewer to look at NASCAR in a completely different way. The exhibit runs from April 29 – September 17, 2006.
and….Through a collaboration between Hickory Museum of Art and the Piedmont Council of the Boy Scouts of America, an ART CAR exhibition and competition will be installed in the Coe Gallery as part of the NASCAR Inspired exhibition. With a focus on creativity and imagination, Cub Scouts will begin with a small pine box generally used for Pinewood Derby Racing, to create ART CARS with categories such as: most colorful, strangest shape, funniest, most NASCAR Inspired and many more! The installation will run from May 16 to August 1st, 2006. The awards ceremony will be May 20, at 2 PM concluding our NASCAR Inspired Art Fest. All ART CAR winners will receive awards graciously donated by Dale Jarrett, Inc. More info at hickorymuseumofart.org.(4-26-2006)
News from April 25, 2006
Dale Jr. scheme at Talladega? UPDATE OFFICIAL, IMAGES #1 also: hearing Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a black #8 Budweiser Chevy at Talladega in the Aaron’s 499 in honor of Dale Earnhardt’s induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame this week.(4-23-2006) UPDATE: ESPN’s Mike Massaro reported on ESPNEWS 4Qtrs tonight that DEI is expected to make an announcement later this week that Dale Jr. will run a black #8 Budweiser Chevy in honor of his father, 10 time Talladega winner, Dale Earnhardt. There is also a rumor that Dale Jr. would run the #3 also, but have not heard that and the image clearly shows the #8.(4-24-2006) UPDATE 2: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is expected to announce that he will pilot a black Budweiser Chevy during the “three days” of on track action this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway in honor of his father’s induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. More details of this special paint scheme that will resemble the famous #3 could come in Tuesday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Teleconference where Earnhardt Jr. will be the guest. Earnhardt Jr. is also scheduled to appear live on QVC’s For Race Fans Only from Talladega on Friday at 8:00pm/et. This could be the first time we see a die-cast version of the car.(RacingOne)(4-25-2006) UPDATE 3: In a unified effort, the primary sponsors of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will pay tribute to Dale Earnhardt with special paint schemes at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. The schemes will salute Dale Earnhardt Day (April 29th), his induction into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and his accomplishments at Talladega. Earnhardt, a seven-time NASCAR champion is the winningest driver at Talladega with 10 trips to Victory Lane. Fittingly, his 76th Nextel Cup victory occurred at the track in October of 2000. And, he did it in Earnhardt fashion by coming from 17th to first in the closing laps. The #1 Bass Pro Shops, #8 Budweiser and #11 Menards Chevys will carry paint schemes reminiscent of the familiar black theme Dale Earnhardt ran while driving for DEI in the Busch Series. Additionally, Bass Pro Shops will sponsor Martin Truex, Jr. in Saturday’s Busch Series race. Truex, a two-time Busch Series champion and two-time winner of the NBS race at Talladega, will drive the #8 black Bass Pro Shops Chevy.
“I think this is a great tribute to Dale on such a special weekend,” said Teresa Earnhardt, President and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. “To have all of our sponsors come together with this tribute and want to be a part of it says a lot about the respect they have for Dale’s accomplishments.” In addition to the black paint schemes, Dale Earnhardt Day and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame induction, all Busch Series teams are being asked to carry a Dale Earnhardt Legacy Logo on their cars. Fans are asked to participate from the grandstands, or wherever they are watching the race, by raising three fingers in the air on Lap 3 of Saturday’s Busch Series race.(DEI PR / fingerprintinc PR), see images on the #8 Team Schemes pageand the #1 Team Schemes page and see the two Busch cars on my 2006 Busch Series Schemes page.(4-25-2006)
Fennig to Ganassi? Denied: hearing former #26/97/6 Rosuh Racing crew chief, Jimmy Fennig is the new team manager at Chip Ganassi Racing. UPDATE: been to by folks at Ganassi that the hiring of Jimmy Fennig is not true.(4-25-2006)
NASCAR Looking at Kyle Busch – Mears incident UPDATE no penalties: #5-Kyle Busch didn’t have much to say and #42-Casey Mears probably didn’t feel there was much to say about Busch’s running into Mears under the red flag following their accident on lap 100 of the Nextel Cup race Saturday. Busch was mad at Mears over the accident in the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway and showed his displeasure with the light tap. Busch was about 45 laps down when he returned to the race and NASCAR held him five laps for rough driving, but Busch would have finished in the same position with or without the five-lap penalty. NASCAR will revisit the issue this week to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted. After meeting with NASCAR officials in the hauler following the race, Busch left the track without commenting to reporters, and Mears, frustrated with his car even before the Busch tap, was atypically terse. “I’m not really worried about Kyle,” Mears said. When asked if he was surprised Busch hit him during the red flag, Mears replied: “I’m not surprised with anything he does.”(SceneDaily.com)(4-24-2006) UPDATE: NASCAR has decided it will neither fine nor take points away from #5-Kyle Busch for running into the back of #42-Casey Mears during the red flag period of last Saturday’s Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, according to NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp. NASCAR officials met with Busch following the race and Tharp indicated on Tuesday that NASCAR now considers the issue closed. After leaving the hauler, Alan Gustafson, Busch’s crew chief, said he hoped the team would not get a penalty. “[NASCAR said] just that we need to respect the red flag, and I agree with them,” Busch’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, said after leaving the hauler. “he No. 1 priority in that situation is the safety of other people and that’s what we’ve got to worry about.”(SceneDaily.com)(4-25-2006)
GM looking for Penske to lead? on Sunday’s Wind Tunnel [Speed Channel on Sunday’s at 9:00pm/et], Robin Miller said he heard from someone a little bit connected in Detroit [home of Chevy/Ford] that General Motors is thinking about pursuing Roger Penske to take over General Motors [Chevy]. Not much more to it and have to wonder since Dodge is signed with Penske Racing in NASCAR thru at least 2007.(4-25-2006)
Phoenix overnight TV Ratings down: Fox’s broadcast of Saturday night’s Subway Fresh 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway earned a 4.1 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 7 market share, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 8.9% lower than the 4.5/8 Fox earned overnight in 2005, but the race still recorded the highest figures of any weekend sports event. ABC’s broadcast of Sunday’s NBA playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns was second with a 4.0 overnight rating.(SceneDaily.com)(4-25-2006)
Stewart to the back…tire change UPDATE why?: #20-Stewart’s team changed tires on his car, if you qualify in the top-10, you MUST start the race on the tires you qualified with, so Stewart goes to the back of the field before the start of the race at Phoenix.[MRN Radio](4-22-2006) UPDATE: Stewart qualified his #20 Home Depot Chevrolet third, but due to a miscommunication amongst the team, the tires with which Stewart posted that third-place qualifying time were taken to Goodyear and destroyed. Those tires needed to be on the car when Stewart began Saturday night’s 312-lap affair, as NASCAR mandates that the top-10 qualifiers start the race on the tires with which they qualified. Since those tires weren’t available to Stewart, NASCAR had no choice but to send Stewart to last-place in the 43-car field. Why were the tires destroyed? Due to the new-for-2006 tire leasing policy implemented by NASCAR and Goodyear, used tires from practice must be turned back into Goodyear. Those tires are then destroyed and later recycled so that teams can’t stockpile used tires for future testing purposes. Stewart’s qualifying tires were confused for a set of Stewart’s practice tires, hence the reason his qualifying tires were unavailable and the subsequent penalty by NASCAR. “It was a fair judgment because we didn’t start on the stuff that we qualified,” said Stewart. “So we just didn’t think about it much. We had to start 43rd and just be patient.” Stewart finished 2nd at Phoenix.(JGR/True Speed Communication PR)(4-25-2006)
Robby donates to college: Robby Gordon Motorsports donated $20,000 to Arizona State University to fund The Century Council’s Alcohol 101 Plus program, which encourages responsible drinking. Gordon, team owner and driver of the #7 Jim Beam Chevy, presented a check to school officials prior to the NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend. The grant is part of a larger donation given to RGM by Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc. and its Jim Beam bourbon brand in support of the company’s drink smart responsibility platform to educate consumers on how to make responsible decisions about alcohol.(Business Journal of Phoenix)(4-25-2006)
Special Irwin scheme for #26 at three races: #26-Jamie McMurray is scheduled to drive a white Lennox Industrial Tools paint scheme at Chicagoland, New Hampshire [doesn’t say which NHIS] and Kansas City.(RacingOne) see image on my #26 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2006)
Tire Testing at Indy Monday & Tuesday UPDATE: Sources in the NASCAR garage said that Goodyear would use #20-Tony Stewart, #9-Kasey Kahne and #38-Elliott Sadler to test tires at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday and Tuesday. It is the fourth such test for Goodyear this season. The tire manufacturer also had closed tests at Atlanta, Texas and Charlotte. Being picked for tire tests is becoming increasingly competitive, as NASCAR rules limit testing to just six tracks.(more at NASCAR.com)(4-22-2006) UPDATE: NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler took part in a private Goodyear test April 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, helping the tire company prepare for the 13th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Each driver was picked to represent the three manufacturers in NEXTEL Cup: Chevrolet (Stewart), Dodge (Kahne) and Ford (Sadler). The trio will test again April 25. The drivers focused on assisting Goodyear in finding the right combination of tires to bring back for the race on Sunday, Aug. 6. “We just tested like we always do every week,” Stewart said. “It’s no different than anywhere we go every week, you’ve just got to go do work. It’s awesome to be here in the spring and not be sweating like crazy, and be able to do a tire test before it gets busy in the month of May here.” Asked if the test gives him an advantage toward defending his Allstate 400 victory, Stewart said: “We spent all day running sets of tires that they wanted us (Goodyear) to run. We didn’t really get a chance to work on the car like the open test session (in July) would be. We just go out and do consistent 10-lap runs, give them feedback.”
Kahne said the test is crucial for his Evernham Motorsports team. “We can get a lot (of information),” he said. “We don’t know which tire we’ll choose (at the race) so we’re not sure there, but we have a new team and to throw different setups at it in the morning, use it through out the day, it’s been a good test for us.”
Sadler, who has frequently expressed his love of IMS and desire to win the race over the years, was excited about the possibilities for the 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. “We had a good time today,” Sadler said. “I think Goodyear has brought us a lot of good possibilities to come back with, something fun to race with. We tried a lot of different constructions, a lot of different compounds. All in all, we saw great tire wear. Goodyear was happy what they saw, and we’re happy what we saw. It was a great day at Indy. Indy is such a big race for us. Other than the Daytona 500, it’s the biggest race for the drivers, and everybody wants to kiss the bricks. It’s a big race for our sponsors, and we have so many fans here and so much heritage here – we’re concentrating on this race a lot. To be able to bring a car that we’re probably going to race here, a couple months early get some laps, take it home and fine-tune it and test it again, I think it’s kind of an advantage for the three teams here today.”(IMS PR)(4-25-2006)
News from April 24, 2006
Why Truex Jr. 22nd and not 12th? been asked why…here is the answer: Truex given 22nd place instead of 12th after last lap, pit-road speeding penalty. When the Nextel Cup race ended at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, it appeared Martin Truex, Jr. and the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy team finished 12th. NASCAR, however, ruled that Truex sped coming down pit road after running out of fuel with two laps remaining. Thus, they assessed a penalty that relegated him to 22nd place as the last car one lap down.(DEI PR)(4-24-2006)
More on the possible Busch Series car change: The Busch Series eventually will have a new car, but not before NASCAR debuts the Nextel Cup “car of tomorrow.” The car of tomorrow debuts next season with a 16-race schedule. Full implementation at all track is scheduled for 2009. Any plans for the Busch Series to have a new car won’t be decided on until NASCAR evaluates the Cup car. “The main thing is that we take things we’ve learned from this car of tomorrow project, safety and things like that, and continue to integrate that into the other series,” NASCAR Vice President for Pemberton%22″>Competition Robin Pemberton said April 20. “But as far as a total tearup of chassis and bodies, we haven’t come to a timeline on any of that.” There has been talk about the Busch Series using totally different cars, such as Mustangs. “It’s in the talking stages right now,” Pemberton said April 21. “A couple of the manufacturers have come to us and expressed a desire to look at running maybe different makes in the Busch Series versus the Cup series. I think that’s a pretty good idea and we’re looking at it.”(SceneDaily.com), past news about this on the Busch Series site.(4-24-2006)
Horseshoe works for Edwards: #99-Carl Edwards’ fourth-place finish gave him a boost, as did his fan club. “My fan club gave us a horseshoe,” he said, “and we mounted it on the tool box. I think that really helped a lot.”(Gaston Gazette)(4-24-2006)
News from April 23, 2006
Toyota to buy out Robby? Harvick? Jarrett AND UPS? UPDATE: #7-Robby Gordon declined to comment on the latest reports that Toyota and sponsor Red Bull are making an offer to buy him and his entire team. General Motors executives are still hopeful of keeping Gordon in their fold and point to the extensive work they’ve done to help Gordon become more competitive as an independent owner-driver. #29-Kevin Harvick, also said to be on Toyota’s wish list, is still negotiating with GM and owner Richard Childress for a contract renewal, and the yes or no could come in the next few days. Harvick has set a package and price, and the ball is in Childress’ court. But team sources indicate that Childress isn’t willing to meet Harvick’s demands. Childress has been unavailable for comment, and Harvick has declined to comment. According to sources, Dodge owner Ray Evernham may be interested in hiring Harvick.
And Toyota apparently wants not only Dale Jarrett but also his sponsor, UPS. That situation is unclear, but it appears to mean that if car owner Robert Yates wants to keep UPS on his quarterpanels, he would also have to re-sign Jarrett for two more years.(Winston Salem Journal), note: supposedly UPS is signed thru 2007 with Yates and Jarrett is signed thru 2006.(4-22-206) UPDATE – more Jarrett: It would appear Dale Jarrett is in the driver’s seat when it comes to where he will drive in 2007. UPS has not renewed with car owner Robert Yates and will not until they are assured Jarrett’s services have been secured. Jarrett, on the other hand, is being wooed by Toyota, with the full knowledge wherever Jarrett goes, UPS goes.(CircleTrackPlus.com)(4-23-2006)
Spencer to run #78 at Pocono: on Speed Channel’s Victory Lane, Kenny Wallace said that Jimmy Spencer will drive the #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy at Pocono in June, as Wallace will be driving the Busch race in Nashville.(4-23-2006)
Four Tracks Jeff Gordon has never won at: There are four current race tracks the Nextel Cup Series runs on that #24-Jeff Gordon has not won at, Texas 0 for 11 with a best of 2nd in 2002, Phoenix International Raceway 0 for 15 with a best of 3rd in 2002 and 2004; Chicago 0 for 5 with a 2nd in 2003 being his best; Homestead 0 for 7 with a best finish of 3rd 2004. Gordon has won at 20 [18 active] of 24 tracks he has raced on including two not on the circuit any longer, North Wilkesboro and Rockingham.(4-23-2006)
News from April 22, 2006
One of the Manufacturers pulling out of NASCAR? UPDATE 2 comments from all: an autoextremeist.com column is reporting that: It has come to our attention that serious discussions are taking place for the first time in the conference rooms of one domestic manufacturer in particular on a subject heretofore unthinkable in Detroit. The subject? Pulling out of NASCAR. Yes, it has been mentioned before, and I have predicted it for months now – ever since the announcement was made that Toyota would be buying its way into the France family circus – but we have confirmation that not only are the discussions taking place, they’re so far down the road that a timetable for a pullout has been created, taking into account the end dates of existing contracts with individual racing teams currently aligned with this particular manufacturer. This Detroit manufacturer has decided that if it competes in motorsports in the future, it will only compete in three basic areas: 1. In production-based racing series that by rule and specification retain more than a passing resemblance to the cars they sell and the competitors they compete against in showrooms. 2. “Technical” efforts, in other words, engine programs for open-wheel and prototype racing series, but stopping short of Formula 1. And 3. Developing an effort to compete for the overall victory at Le Mans. Any other efforts, grass-roots racing, drag racing, etc., would be covered as the need and budget allow.(in part….see full article at autoextremeist.com, note: thr article doesn’t say which manufacturer COULD be leaving [Chevy, Dodge, Ford] and this column will only be up a few days), Peter M. DeLorenzo, who owns and writes for the site has been on Speed Channel’s Wind Tunnel a few times and tends to be controversal and a bit anti-NASCAR, however doesn’t tend to just post stuff for the sake of posting it and has a lot of sources.(4-20-2006) UPDATE: A report on the website www.autoextremist.com suggested this week that one of Detroit’s big three automakers could pull out of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series some time after NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow” debuts next year. Speculation has centered on Chevrolet, given the Draconian financial state of its parent company, General Motors, which lost $10.6 billion in 2005 and $323 million in the first quarter of ’06. Alba Colon, Chevrolet’s Nextel Cup program manager, said Thursday that if there have been discussions about GM leaving Nextel Cup, she hasn’t been part of them. “I will be honest with you, I just learned about that (the autoextremist.com report) last night,” Colon said Thursday morning at Phoenix International Raceway. “I have never been in a meeting where anything like that has ever been discussed, at least not with me or anyone in my office. We have a commitment with all our teams, a long-term commitment. I can’t comment on the contract we have with our teams, but it’s longer than a year, I can tell you that. It’s more than the end of this year, and it’s not GM’s philosophy to break contracts like that.”(Speed Channel)(4-21-2006) UPDATE 2 – Comments from all 3: Reports that one of Detroit’s Big Three auto manufacturersmay be considering dropping out of NASCAR racing swirled through the Cup garage, possibly stemming from the report that Ford’s SVT (Special Vehicle Team) program may be shut down in October. But Ford’s Kevin Kennedy, the company’s public-affairs manager for racing, said that there are no plans to get out of NASCAR: “We’ve seen that story, and I can assure you Ford does not plan on getting out of NASCAR. Our racing program has support at the highest levels of the company, and our research and data has shown conclusively that there’s a viable business case for us being involved in the sport in terms of our market share and purchase consideration among race fans. Racing is part of the Ford DNA and has been since Henry Ford raced back in 1901.” General Motors’ Pat Suhy, the company’s NASCAR director, said that GM isn’t leaving, either: “We’re here in NASCAR and we’re here to stay. It makes good business sense for us to be here. We get a great return on our investment. We have a lot of activation around this around the country with our dealers and our regional dealer groups. And we have great sponsorship partners with our teams. So if there is any truth to that, I don’t know about it, and it certainly isn’t us.”
Ray Evernham, owner of the season’s winningest operation, which is sponsored by Dodge dealers, said: “I can’t speak for Dodge, but I can tell you I know they’re happy. If you look at their stock, it’s up. And they’re the only American manufacturer with an increase in market share. I’ve got a really long-term contract with them, and if I were a betting man, I’d bet it’s not Daimler.”(Winston Salem Journal)(4-22-2006)
Dodge Comments on rumor: COMMENT ON WEB SITE REPORT THAT ONE OF THE BIG THREE MANUFACTURERS IS GOING TO LEAVE NASCAR
John Fernandez, Director of Dodge Motorsports Operations: “I’ve heard the rumor, but obviously we’re not involved in it. I haven’t heard anything from General Motors or Ford that indicates they’re in any jeopardy. Obviously their total companies right now are having a tough time in the marketplace, but that’s happened before and it’ll happen again I’m sure. As far as I know, GM and Ford are still committed to NASCAR and committed to racing in the Cup Series. As far as I know right now it’s only a rumor.”(Clear!Blue/Dodge PR)(4-22-2006)
Harvick Wants to Stay at Childress: #29-Kevin Harvick is certain he wants to extend his contract at Richard Childress Racing. “We have talked,” Harvick said Friday before practice at Phoenix International Raceway. “I know the ball is pretty much on that side.” Harvick is considered this year’s top free agent, and the one driver on almost every car owner’s wish list. His contract is up at the end of the year, and before Friday, neither he or Childress had been very committal on their future together. All either said was that they had planned to discuss 2007 and beyond sometime this month. Harvick said the meeting has now happened, and he’s told the car owner he wants to stay put. Childress was on an African safari and unavailable for comment. “There is a seven-year relationship here that first and foremost is the main priority,” Harvick said. “I have a lot of friends here … it’s something that we’ll – it will be the first thing we try to work out.”(in part from the Associated Press)(4-22-2006)
COT to test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway: Lowe’s Motor Speedway will play host to a test of NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow” [COT] May 30 and 31, the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Coca-Cola 600 is run at the track. NASCAR officials said eight to 12 cars are expected at the next test.(Speed Channel)(4-22-2006)
Toyota looking at Fennig? 5 hired from Penske..more: former #26/97/6 Roush crew chief Jimmy Fennig [recently replaced on the #26 and now with Roush in the Busch Series], a highly respected, no-nonsense guy who gained his credentials with Bobby Allison and Mark Martin, is suddenly the hottest item in the stock-car racing garage, with Toyota officials and Dodge’s Chip Ganassi expected to make calls. Ganassi is looking for a new team manager for his three-car operation after Andy Graves’ resignation. And Fennig could be just the guy to fill the void, with instant credibility. Toyota could be an option. Toyota executives are wide open in building their Nextel Cup tour operations, and now they’re raiding teams right and left, according to car owners. Don Miller, of the Roger Penske team, said that Toyota has picked up five Penske men already: “They just offer them $20,000 more than they’re currently making, and get them.” Ganassi has been so upset at losing crewmen to Toyota that he has sent the company a “cease-and-desist” letter. That move has many here writing off Ganassi for any Toyota-NASCAR deal.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-22-206)
Harvick wins at Phoenix: #29-Kevin Harvick won the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, leading the final 10 laps [of 312], blowing by #16-Greg Biffle [who was saving fuel and eventually ran out, finishing 16th] on lap 303 to win his first race of 2006, first since Bristol last April and 6th career win. Harvick swept the Nextel Cup and Busch Series races at Phoenix. #20-Tony Stewart, who was to start 3rd, but had to start last due to a tire infraction [drivers qualifying in the top-10 must start the race on the tires they qualified with] finished 2nd, followed by #17-Kenseth, #99-Edwards and #07-Clint Bowyer [his first career top-5]. The rest of the top-10 were #9-Kasey Kahne, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #43-Bobby Labonte, #31-Jeff Burton and #24-Jeff Gordon. Only ten drivers finished on the lead lap with #6-Martin, #16-Biffle, #1-Truex Jr. among the lead lap cars who ran out of fuel. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. hung around the top-10 all day until a late accident [he admitted it was his fault] relegated Earnhardt to a 23rd finish, 2 laps down. #5-Kyle Busch, the pole sitter, sped entering pit road while leading early in the race, got sent to the end of the longest line. Busch then got into #42-Mears then spun and with another wreck behind them which caused a 9 minute red flag. Busch then rammed Mears car and headed to the garage for repairs and refused interview requests from FOX or MRN. When Busch’s team fixed the car and he went back on the track, Busch was black flagged and penalized five laps for ramming Mears, he finished 36th. #17-Kenseth takes over the points lead by 9 points over former leader #48-Johnson. There were 7 cautions for 29 laps and 11 leaders with 20 lead changes. Race Results on my Phoenix Race Results/Awards Page. Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Phoenix page. Race Rundown: see my Phoenix Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(4-22-2006)
Phoenix Race Notes:
• Kevin Harvick won the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, scoring his sixth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 186th career start. He also won the NASCAR Busch Series race at Phoenix. Harvick’s last victory came at Bristol in April 2005, 39 races ago where he also swept the weekend winning both the Cup and Busch races. This is the second time a driver has swept both races in a weekend at Phoenix. The last time a driver swept both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series races at Phoenix was Jeff Burton races in 2000.
• Five of Harvick’s six victories have come on a superspeedway.
• Harvick became the sixth different race winner in eight races in 2006 and the 17th different race winner in 20 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Phoenix.
• Harvick scored his fourth top-10 finish in eight races this season, all in the last four races. The last time Harvick scored four straight top-10 finishes was when he scored five straight in September-October 2003 (Dover, Talladega, Kansas, Charlotte and Martinsville).
• Harvick climbed from ninth to eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. After eight races in 2005, he ranked 11th in the point standings.
• Harvick led one time, leading the final 10 laps.
• This was team owner Richard Chidress’s 78th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory. Childress has scored two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories at Phoenix. His other Phoenix victory was by Dale Earnhardt in 1990. Notebook Items
• Greg Biffle led 151 laps, leading the most laps for the third time in 2006. He also led the most at California and Atlanta.
• Tony Stewart (second) posted his sixth top-10 finish in nine races at Phoenix. He scored his fifth top-10 finish of the season, all top-fives and remained fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago he ranked 14th after eight races.
• Matt Kenseth (third) scored his fourth top-10 finish in eight races at Phoenix International Raceway and climbed from second to first in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
• Carl Edwards (fourth) scored his third top-10 finish in four races at Phoenix International Raceway. It marked his best finish at Phoenix and his third top-10 finish in 2006, all top fives.
• Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender Clint Bowyer (fifth) scored his first top-10 finish in two races at Phoenix. It was his second top-10 finish in 2006 and marked his career-first top-five finish. Bowyer led 21 laps, the first laps of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career. He became the 31st different lap leader of the 2006 season.
• Bowyer was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender at Phoenix.
• At least one of the 2006 Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders has scored a top-15 finish in every race this season.
• Bobby Labonte (eighth) scored his eighth top-10 finish in 15 races at Phoenix. It was his third top-10 finish in eight races in 2006.
• Joe Nemechek (35th) has been running at the finish in the last 40 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April – the longest current streak.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-22-2006)
Rumblings – Race Notes – Phoenix: It what turned out to be a “fuelish” event tonight at Phoenix International Raceway, Kevin Harvick passed Greg Biffle on lap 303 and led the final 10 circuits to capture the Subway Fresh 500….with probably only a little gas to spare. Harvick got the weekend sweep as numerous cars ran out near the end with most teams trying to stretch it and quite a few failing in that attempt. This was win #6 for Happy Harvick (he’s solo in 61st on the all-time win list) and the 78th for RCR. They may send RC packing more often…..I seem to remember when Dale Earnhardt got his first ever road course win at Sears Point back in 1995 that Childress was off hunting that weekend as well. Harvick’s take from the over $4.8M in posted awards was $228,486.
Tony Stewart finished as the runner-up in the final shake out as Greg Biffle had to pit for fuel with just a handful of laps left.
Clint Bowyer (5th) had his career-best finish tonight. His previous best was 6th at Daytona in February.
Sterling Marlin (12th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Talladega last October.
Tony Raines (17th) had his best finish since he was 13th at Homestead in November of 2003! (only 15 races)
Travis Kvapil (21st) had his best finish since he was 10th when we were here last November.
Kenny Wallace (25th) had his best finish since he was 21st at Homestead last November. (only 3 races)
Stanton Barrett (33rd) had his best finish since he was 31st at Darlington last May. (only 9 races)
STREAKIN….Kevin Harvick has 4 Top-10’s in a row.
Kasey Kahne has 6 Top-10’s in the last 7 races.
Tony Stewart has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the week is a lonely Jeff Burton (+28 ). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Kyle Busch (-35), followed by Denny Hamlin (-28 ), and Ryan Newman (-26). As longtime “Shaft” watchers will know (and we’ve been doing this since waaaaay before TV thought it was cool), Tony Stewart’s official starting spot is listed as 3rd, so he’s not eligible for this week’s prestigious Op Award.
Clint Bowyer led three times tonight for 21 laps….the first time he’s ever led a NEXTEL Cup event. Dave Blaney led once for two laps tonight, the first time he’s led since Homestead last November. And, Brandon Ash led a lap tonight for the first time in his Cup career. That gives us 33 drivers to lead a lap this season…..a far cry from the 51 we had last year, but the season is still young.
We’ve got a new points leader after tonight. Matt Kenseth takes over the top spot for the second time this season (he led for one week after Bristol), this time by 9 markers. Our “Stayin’ Alive” line is all the way up to 16th…..at this point last season we had 18 drivers eligible. Carl Edwards (22nd to 16th….and jumping ahead of the “Line”) made the best move forward this week while Reed Sorenson (19th to 24th) fell the most spots.(see much more at Stock Car Fans)(4-22-2006)
NASCAR Softball Returns: Sixteen teams will compete in Bob Hubner’s Totally Racin’ Softball League beginning April 25th 2006. Games will be played on Tuesday & Wednesday nights 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 at Walter Safrit Park in Kannapolis, NC. The Teams are: Defending 2005 Champions Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Racing (Cup), Speed Channel, Hendrick Motorsports, Champion Tire & Wheel, NASCAR Media, Race City Marketing, Stock Car Steel, Waltrip Racing, Evernham Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, HRE Engines, Roush/Yates Racing Engines, Richard Childress Racing, Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Wood Brothers/JTG Racing. More info at racecitymarketing.com.(4-22-2006)
Fans Get Chance to Vote in Driver for NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge: For the third straight year, NASCAR fans will choose an at-large driver for the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Saturday, May 20 (FX, 7:00pm/et). Fans will have the opportunity to vote in one driver among the top 50 in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points who is not already on the list of eligible drivers for this year’s all-star event. Voting is now available through the following channels:
• On-line at www.NASCAR.Com
• Trackside at the Nextel Experience
• Bass Pro Shop retail locations
In 2005, nearly 440,000 votes were cast, with Martin Truex, Jr. topping the fan vote to secure a position in the field. The 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge kicks off May 20 at 7:30pm/et with the running of the NEXTEL Open, a 30-lap race divided into two segments featuring drivers who rank in the top 50 in the points standings, but have not yet qualified to run in the All-Star Challenge. The winner of the Open advances to the All-Star Challenge, which begins at 9 p.m. and is a 90-lap competition, divided into three segments. The race winner will receive prize money in excess of $1 million. Tickets for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge can be purchased online at Lowesmotorspeedway.com, at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway Ticket Office or by calling (800) 455-FANS.(NASCAR PR)(4-22-2006)
News from April 21, 2006
Lots of racing for Schrader this weekend: #21-Ken Schrader raced in Thursday’s NASCAR Grand National West Series Casino Arizona 150 [finished 10th, won by Andrew Myers], will race in Friday’s Bashas Supermarkets 200 Busch Series race and Saturday’s Subway Fresh 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race, all at Phoenix International Raceway. On Sunday afternoon, Schrader will run the ARCA event at Salem (Ind.) Speedway before heading to Sunday night’s dirt late-model event at Vermilion County Speedway in Danville, Ill.(Speed Channel)(4-21-2006)
Unleaded fuel sooner for Busch & Trucks? Before the end of the 2006 racing season, NASCAR officials hope to have both Busch and truck series teams using unleaded fuel. And if all goes well, it’s likely that unleaded gas will be used in the Nextel Cup Series beginning in 2007. “We don’t know where we’re going to be with [unleaded fuel for the Cup series],” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, said April 20. “We said by ’08. … If the tests look promising, we will re-evaluate the timeline. We are going to, before the end of the year, run unleaded fuel in some select races, probably in the Busch and truck series. Some of their races are stand-alones, [on] short tracks and things of that nature. You’re looking at less mileage, smaller carburetors, less horsepower.” NASCAR teams have always used leaded fuel, and is exempt from the Clean Air Act of 1970 requiring unleaded fuel be used in all automobiles. Pemberton said testing with the new fuel has been “on-going” since the 2005 season, both at the NASCAR Research and Development facility in Concord, N.C. and among a number of individual teams.(SceneDaily.com)(4-21-2006)
Final Texas TV Ratings mixed: took a while for Texas TV Ratings —- Final Nielsen Media Research numbers show that Fox’s broadcast of the April 9 Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway earned a 5.4 rating and a 13 share. The rating is 5.3% lower than the 5.7/15 Fox earned for the Texas race in 2005, but that race was on a different weekend from the Masters, one of golf’s four major events. The Masters traditionally draws strong television ratings. The 5.4 rating is 5.9 percent higher than Fox’s 5.1/13 for its coverage of the 2005 Martinsville race, which aired opposite the Masters.(SceneDaily.com)(4-21-2006)
News about Jenkins: Veteran broadcaster Bob Jenkins [former ESPN NASCAR Anchor and current Speed broadcaster] joined the new Premier Racing Association as director of communications. PRA will use what once were known as USAC’s dirt Silver Crown cars.(Indianpolis Star)(4-21-2006)
#74 appeals NASCAR fine and penalties: #74-McGlynn Racing announced today that the have formally requested a hearing with the National Stock Car Racing Commission for the [25 point] penalties issued to owner, Raynard McGlynn, driver Derrike Cope as well as the $50,000 fine issued to crew chief, Domenic Turse.(McGlynn Racing PR)(4-21-2006)
Biffle: Girlfriend’s spat “out of proportion”: NASCAR officials have yet to speak with Greg Biffle’s girlfriend about her confrontation with Kurt Busch’s fiancee following a wreck between the two drivers. But Biffle did. Nicole Lunders has been embarrassed by the attention her spat with Eva Bryan received, and Biffle said Thursday that two much has been made about the words exchanged on pit road two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway. “It certainly got way out of proportion because there wasn’t any big news that week,” Biffle said. “Nobody got out of the car and shoved somebody. It was kind of an uneventful weekend in sports, so it was a highlight. She didn’t want it to be and we didn’t want it to be. I think it’s over.” Lunders was upset after Busch hit the back of Biffle’s car, sending him into the wall and ending his race. The accident caused a hard impact for Biffle, and Lunders was angry because Busch had been involved in several recent wrecks. So Lunders climbed off of Biffle’s pit box, walked down pit road to find Bryan and had a brief exchange with her that was caught on national TV. NASCAR officials said they planned to speak with Lunders about it. “She was just upset about it and really felt like Kurt was going to end up hurting somebody, and that’s what she conveyed to Eva,” Biffle said. “She wasn’t mad at Eva one bit. They’re friends and they talk and they do stuff.”(Associated Press)(4-21-2006)
Special Look for the pole winning car at Phoenix: To commemorate Kyle Busch’s 50th Nextel Cup start, the #5 Hensdrick Motorsports Chevy will sport a new color combination at Phoenix. The car, a joint venture between Hendrick Motorsports sponsors Kellogg’s, CARQUEST Auto Parts and Delphi, will feature primary colors of blue, yellow and red. The CARQUEST shield will adorn the hood, with the Kellogg’s logo on the quarter panels and Delphi oval on the deck-lid. The familiar Kellogg’s paint scheme will return next week at Talladega.(Hendrick Motorsports PR), see image on my #5 Team Schemes page.(4-21-2006)
#12 to run blue and purple scheme? UPDATE 4: got images from Penske Racing in Mooresville, NC from a reader in which the nose and smaller parts of the #12 Alltel Dodge of Ryan Newman is painted purple. See my #12 Team Schemes page.(4-6-2006) UPDATE: hearing this scheme could run at Phoenix on April 22.(4-7-2006) UPDATE 2: #12-Ryan Newman will make his eighth Phoenix International Raceway start and his 160th in NASCAR’s Cup Series this Saturday. The new paint scheme on the Alltel Dodge this weekend will be hard to miss. The paint [purple] scheme highlights a new feature that Alltel will launch soon. The team plans on showcasing the paint scheme in several upcoming NEXTEL Cup Series races.(Penske Racing PR). UPDATE 3: have another image of the car, looks like the program will be MyCircle as is noted on the purple hood, see images of the scheme on my #12 Team Schemes page.(4-18-2006) UPDATE 4: Alltel announced that Ryan Newman’s #12 Alltel Dodge, traditionally royal blue and black, will display a special paint scheme at various races throughout the 2006 season. Set to debut on April 22 at the Subway Fresh 500 in Phoenix, a new purple and black color design will hit the track in support of Alltel’s exclusive wireless feature “My Circle.” The new paint scheme will be featured during a total of five races, which include Talladega, Richmond, Darlington and the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge.(Alltel Racing PR)(4-21-2006)
News from April 20, 2006
Sad News – Bill Ellis: Bill Ellis, 42, of Mooresville, NC, passed away on Tuesday, April 18, 2006, at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center, Mooresville. Born August 20, 1963 in Danbury, CT, he was a son of William and Barbara Ellis, of Bethel, CT. Mr. Ellis was a metal fabricator for Chip Ganassi Racing. He was a member of St. Therese Catholic Church, Mooresville, and a former baseball coach for the Lake Norman Youth Athletic Association. In addition to his parents, Bill is survived by his wife, Karen Joan Reilly Ellis; children, Brianna Ellis, of Danbury, CT, Alec and Raymond Ellis, of the home. The family will receive friends from 6 – 8 PM, Thursday, April 20, 2006, at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville. Funeral and burial will take place at a future date in Danbury, CT. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, P.O. Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA 01202 or the Christopher Reeve Foundation, 636 Morris Turnpike Suite 3A, Short Hills, NJ 07078.(Charlotte.com)(4-20-2006)
New Burton/Cingular Commercial: Cingular Wireless, primary sponsor on Jeff Burton’s #31 Chevy, will debut a new commercial during the Subway Fresh 500. The new spot titled ‘Golf Cart’ features Burton and was shot earlier this season in Las Vegas. It highlights Media Net, a new service which provides Cingular subscribers access to all things racing like insider info, driver stats and racing updates. Burton rides in on a customized high-speed golf cart carrying the same paint scheme as his Cingular Chevy.(RCR PR)(4-20-2006)
Kurt Busch makes amends for traffic violations: #2-Kurt Busch, cited last year by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies for reckless driving, offers a word of advice: Dangerous driving belongs on racetracks, not public roadways. That’s the gist of a public-service announcement that Busch did Wednesday with Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, south of Phoenix. The PSA is expected to air on Valley television stations in May or June. The NASCAR driver was stopped Nov. 11. He was fined $580 and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty Feb. 10 to a reduced charge of speeding, a misdemeanor, and admitting responsibility for following too closely and passing in a no-passing zone. The time spent on the PSA is expected to count toward the 50 hours. Arpaio said that he was “pleasantly surprised” Wednesday “at how gracious this man was” despite the controversy.(Arizona Republic)(4-20-2006)
#2 Crew Chief to miss Phoenix race: Roy McCauley, crew chief for driver Kurt Busch and the #2 Miller Lite Dodge team out of the Penske Racing stable, will not be making the trip out West for this weekend’s Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. He will be absent per doctor’s orders. McCauley experienced some mild chest pains and went to the hospital Monday for diagnostic tests. He successfully underwent minor surgery yesterday (Tuesday) to treat a small blockage. “The procedure was 100 percent effective in alleviating the problem, but my doctor advised me to take it easy and spend this weekend relaxing at home,” said McCauley, who will return to work – and Talladega – next week.(Tom Roberts PR)(4-20-2006)
Red Bull Hire: Red Bull Racing has hired John Probst from Ford Racing Technology, a team spokesman confirmed Tuesday night. Probst will serve as the new team’s technical director. A mechanical engineer with a degree from Penn State, Probst was the vehicle systems supervisor for Ford. The Red Bull operation, owned by the energy drink company, will field two Toyota teams in Nextel Cup in 2007. Probst joins a management team that includes recently hired Elton Sawyer as director of competition, Marty Gaunt as general manager and Guenther Steiner as a technical advisor. Steiner comes over from Red Bull Racing’s Formula 1 team.(SceneDaily.com)(4-20-2006)
Phoenix Qualifying Notes:
• Kyle Busch won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the Subway Fresh 500, lapping Phoenix International Raceway in 26.917 seconds at 133.744 mph. Ryan Newman holds the track-qualifying record of 26.499 seconds, 135.854 mph – set Nov. 5, 2004.
• This is Busch’s second career Bud Pole and came in his 50th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.
• This is Busch’s fourth top-10 start this season – all in the past four races. It is his first start better than 15th in three races at Phoenix.
• Busch became the 13th different driver to post a Bud Pole at Phoenix – the fourth different one in the past four races.
• Greg Biffle posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 26.990 seconds, 133.383 mph – and will join Kyle Busch on the front row for the Subway Fresh 500. Biffle has posted seven top-10 starts this season – failing to start in the top-10 in only the season-opening Dayton 500. It is his third top-10 start in five races at Phoenix – all in the past three races here.
• This is the third Bud Pole for Chevrolet in 2006. Dodge also has three Bud Poles and Ford has one. Qualifying was canceled at Bristol.
• Tony Stewart (third) posted his fourth top-10 start of the season – all third or better. It is his best start in nine races at Phoenix – bettering his previous best of sixth, which he had posted three times.
• Matt Kenseth (fourth) posted his best start of 2006 in posting his fourth top-10 start this season. It is his career-best start at Phoenix and first start better than 12th in his eight races here.
• Carl Edwards (fifth) posted his third top-10 start this season and his second in four races at Phoenix.
• Three Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidates qualified in the top-10 for the second straight race this season: Denny Hamlin (sixth), Clint Bowyer (eighth) and Martin Truex Jr. (ninth). Last race (Texas) J.J. Yeley joined Hamlin and Truex in starting in the top-10. This is the career-best start for Bowyer.
• Brandon Ash (40th) became the 55th driver to make the field for at least one race this season.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-20-2006)
Ramblings – Phoenix: Kyle Busch sped around the one mile oval that is Phoenix International Raceway tonight in 26.917 (133.744 mph) to grab his second ever Bud Pole for Saturday Night’s Subway Fresh 500. The only other driver under 27 seconds was Greg Biffle and they’ll lead ’em to the green two nights hence. Kyle Busch also becomes the 6th qualifier for next February’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. His only other career top-spot came at California in February of 2005.
Matt Kenseth (4th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 3rd at Texas last November.
Clint Bowyer (8th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 12th two weeks ago at Texas.
Kenny Wallace (31st) has his best starting spot since he qualified 17th when we were here last November (he was subbing for Kurt Busch in the #97 that day).
Scott Wimmer (33rd) has his best starting spot since he lined up 27th at Homestead last November.
Welcome Back Brandon Ash (40th). He’ll make his first start since Kansas last October when he qualified 18th and finished 42nd.
STREAKIN….Greg Biffle has 7 Top-10 starts in a row.
Kurt Busch has 7 Top-10 starts in a row.
Hard to believe we’ve had 19 races here already….seems like just a couple years ago we started coming out here (a sure sign of old-age). Anyway, this place has pretty much been a Ford track (they’ve won 12 with Chevy only 5 and Pontiac with 2). We’ve had 16 different winners in those 19 races with Davey Allison, Jeff Burton, and Dale Earnhardt Jr as the only repeaters.(more at Stock Car Fans)(4-20-2006)
News from April 19, 2006
Sad News – Chuck Warren: Chuck Warren died on Monday April 17 after a valiant fight against cancer at the age of 78. He left behind a son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter and countless friends from the racing community. Although Warren is not a household name among today’s racing fans, he was well known and well respected by the NASCAR community in his day. Warren got his start in auto racing working as a crew member for a local Ashtabula, Ohio short track racer in the late 1940s. He moved to Florida in the early 1950s and took a job as body shop foreman for Stephens Pontiac in Daytona Beach, a new-car dealership known for its sponsorship of race cars. While in that position, Warren worked with the original factory-backed Pontiac racing team of Ray Nichels with driver Cotton Owens in their 1957 win on the beach at Daytona. It was the first NASCAR victory for Pontiac. Warren formed a working relationship with Daytona’s own Smokey Yunick through the Stephens body shop. He became the paint and body man for the Yunick team, applying the famous black and gold colors to the legendary Pontiacs for several seasons. After leaving the Yunick team and the Stephens dealership, Warren secured a position with the Champion Spark Plug Co., where he served on the team which represented the product on the NASCAR circuit. During the off season, part of Warren’s job was to visit all the race shops and install the electrical wiring in the race cars. He also implemented a plan to provide lunches for race team crew members at the track. Warren later moved to the Prestolite Company where he instituted the first pit crew competition, later adopted by the Unocal Co.(NASCAR Media)(4-19-2006)
Sad News – King Hodges: King Hodges, the Vice President and General Manager of Langley Speedway passed away. Thurs. [Apr 20] night practice is cancelled due to visitation that will be held in his honor from 6:30 – 8:30 at Amory Funeral Home in Grafton, Va. The track will be closed on Friday for his funeral which will be held at 1:00 pm at Williamsburg Baptist Church, Richmond Road in Williamsburg. Amory Funeral Home in Grafton, Virginia is handling the arrangements. Anyone wishing to send cards, flowers or food may contact the track.(4-19-2006)
Martin part-time Cup in 2007? UPDATE denies part-time Cup sched rumor: #6-Mark Martin is hedging on his vow to not return to Nextel Cup in any part-time capacity after moving to a full-time Craftsman Truck Series ride next year. He now says if the right opportunity presents itself, he might consider doing Cup races that run in conjunction with truck events.(Tampa Tribune)(4-14-2006) UPDATE: #6-Mark Martin, who was at Lowe’s Motor Speedway to help promote the upcoming NASCAR All-Star race at the 1.5-mile track, said Tuesday that he has no plans to run a partial Nextel Cup schedule in 2007 and that he’d likely only drive a Cup car if a Roush Racing teammate is injured and unable to drive. “I’ve got to be careful about saying ‘never,’ but there may be a situation where I fill-in or whatever,” said Martin. “I’m just not going to say it couldn’t happen. … There is some wiggle room and I just can’t say ‘never,’ but there’s no plans.”(Speed Channel)(4-19-2006)
Special Stanley Scheme at Talladega: Scott Riggs will run a special Stanley Tools scheme on the #10 Evernham Motorsports Dodge at Talladega Superspeedway on April 30th, Stanley FatMax Xtreme Tools, which is part of the ten race primary sponsorship with Stanley Tools. See an image of the scheme on my #10 Team Schemes page.(4-19-2006)
650 for Mikey: #55 NAPA Auto Parts driver Michael Waltrip will make his 650th career NASCAR Cup Series start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) this weekend. Waltrip sits 15th overall in career NASCAR Cup Series starts and is fourth among full-time active NEXTEL Cup Series drivers.(Wasserman Media Group/NAPA PR)(4-19-2006)
France backing all-star race locale: NASCAR Chairman Brian France offered his strongest endorsement yet for keeping the all-star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway during a speech Tuesday at the Charlotte Business Journal’s annual Power Breakfast, the Business Journal reports. France, who has flirted with the notion of relocating the Nextel All-Star Challenge in recent years, said reinvigorated corporate and community support for the race has put it on more solid ground. The all-star race has attracted crowds of 120,000 to 140,000 in recent years. This year’s race is May 20. “I think the all-star race has done very, very well here,” France said during the speech in front of more than 1,000 civic and business leaders gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center. “Historically, big events tend not to move around much unless they’re not working well. [Charlotte civic leaders] have started to rally around the [motorsports] industry and the all-star race. Community leaders have sorted [an earlier lack of attention] out.” The NASCAR chairman also said the uncertainty of moving events around on the schedule is a “bad business model” because it discourages track operators from investing in their events and venues. A recent higher profile for the all-star race and related events has made France more bullish on having it in Charlotte: “I hope we’ll be able to keep it here.” Even France’s endorsement included a bit of wiggle room. He reiterated his stance that every race is subject to re-evaluation on a yearly basis. Still, the positive comments on the all-star race in Charlotte represent France’s strongest public backing of keeping it in place. Corporate and political leaders began rallying around the all-star race when NASCAR officials began discussing a possible relocation of the event in 2004. Since then, a local organizing committee has been formed with state and local government agencies contributing money to create ancillary events tied to the race.(SceneDaily.com)(4-19-2006)
#74 withdraws from Phoenix and skip Talladega: McGlynn Racing announced that Derrike Cope and the #74 Dodge will withdraw from this weekend’s Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Speedway. The team will also skip the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. During this period, Derrike and the team will be conducting testing for upcoming race events that are important to team sponsors. Having 35 spots guaranteed to the larger teams presents a significant challenge to the smaller, less funded teams. Since the team is not in a position to challenge for the top 35 points position at this time the team feels the best course of action is to skip select races to concentrate more effort on those they do enter. McGlynn Racing and Derrike continue to receive great support from of each of our current sponsors and are always searching for additional sponsors to improve upon equipment and hire personnel to make us even better,” said Ryan McGlynn, General Manager for the team. For more information on McGlynn Racing, visit www.McGlynnRacing.com.(McGlynn Racing PR) AND hearing that McGlynn Racing/Cope are conducting a private test session with a European driver and sponsor next week at an undisclosed location. The purpose of the test is to audition the driver for a possible second McGlynn car later this season. If the driver is hired by McGlynn Racing, Cope will mentor the driver as he learns the ropes in ARCA and the Busch Series then onto Cup competition late in 2006 and full time Cup Series in 2007. Cope will remain the primary driver of the #74 car. The visiting driver and representatives of the major sponsor will be visiting the team to finalize the proposed partnership. An announcement is expected soon after the testing is complete.(4-19-2006)
Pennzoil to sponsor Kluever at Texas in Nov.: Pennzoil and Roush Racing announced that Pennzoil Platinum will be the primary sponsor for the #06 Ford Fusion entry driven by Todd Kluever in the NEXTEL Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5. Kluever’s seven-race schedule will consist of Chicagoland, July 9; Michigan, August 20; California, September 3; Kansas, October 1; Lowe’s Motor Speedway, October 14; Texas, November 5 and Phoenix, November 12. The other six races will be sponsored by his current Busch Series primary sponsor, 3M.(Roush Racing PR)(4-19-2006)
Rookie News and Notes – Pre-Phoenix, Post Texas: Denny Hamlin was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the April 9 Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Hamlin finished fourth, his best finish in 14 career NEXTEL Cup Series starts. He led the race three times for 41 laps, and took top rookie honors for the third time this season and for the second time in the last three races.
For the first time this season, Hamlin grabbed the lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings. He leads Clint Bowyer by three points (71-68) entering the April 22 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Martin Truex Jr. finished eighth at Texas, his first top-10 finish of the 2006 season. The Samsung/RadioShack 500 was the first race this season where TWO or more Raybestos Rookies have finished inside the top 10.
The Samsung/RadioShack 500 is the only race this season where THREE or more Raybestos Rookies led at least one lap in the same race: Hamlin, Truex Jr. (once for two laps) and J.J. Yeley (once for two laps). See more Rookie Notes and Standings on my Rookies page.(Raybestos PR)(4-19-2006)
News from April 18, 2006
Sad News – Barbara Cleveland: Services for Barbara Cleveland, 49, of Pahrump, who died April 15 in Pahrump, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Pahrump Winery. Barbara is the wife of former Pahrump Valley Times NASCAR columnist Davve Cleveland [NASCAR Junky]. She was born July 22, 1956 in Queens, N.Y. She moved to Nevada in 1982 and to Pahrump in the early 1990s, with her husband David, who with his wife owned Valley Homes in Pahrump. Barbara was trained in classical ballet and acting, she loved camping, fishing, gardening, and photography, NASCAR and worked for many organizations engaged in the battle against pancreatic and other cancers. She is survived by her husband, David, of Pahrump; father Jerry Padell of Pahrump; Sister Linda of Connecticut; a niece and nephew, Amanda and Glenn Greenberg; and many loving friends.(Pahrump Valley Times)(4-18-2006)
NASCAR, ESPN International announce venture: ESPN International will become the exclusive worldwide syndication agent for NASCAR outside of North America, officials for both groups announced. Beginning in 2007, ESPN International will handle the worldwide television syndication for NASCAR and will also help find broadcast partners on a country-by-country basis. Therefore, both companies will expand the scope of their operations. ESPN and ABC take over broadcasting of the portion of the NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule currently carried on NBC beginning next season. The group also has the rights to the Busch Series broadcasts as of 2007. “This agreement is an important step in the continued growth of NASCAR beyond the U.S.,” Robbie Weiss, international managing director for NASCAR, said in a news release. “We are excited to partner with ESPN International and their worldwide syndication team to help strengthen NASCAR’s reach and bring NASCAR to audiences all over the world.”(SceneDaily.com)(4-18-2006)
Different Car Models the answer in Busch Series? NASCAR continues to look for a way to differentiate the Busch Series from the premiere Nextel Cup Series, in answer to critics who suggest Busch has become Cup Lite, with near-identical cars and a plethora of invading Nextel Cup drivers. One possible way: Change the Busch Series cars from sedans to the manufacturers’ “pony” cars—the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Toyota Solara. Sound farfetched? It isn’t. “It’s under discussion with NASCAR,” said John Fernandez, director of Dodge’s racing operation. “It isn’t to what I’d consider the serious stage, but it is under discussion.” Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology, said, “We’ve discussed it. And I’d like to see it. We need to do something about the Busch Series.” Given the production schedule of the Camaro and Challenger, it is unlikely those cars would be able to enter the Busch Series before the 2008 season, with 2009 a more likely scenario. By then Nextel Cup’s Car of Tomorrow redesign should be in place. One scenario would have the Busch pony cars built on modified platforms from the Nextel Cup cars used now, thus helping team owners who say the Car of Tomorrow seriously reduces the value of the old cars. Manufacturers are hoping that if it happens, NASCAR will allow the pony car racers.(AutoNews.com)(4-18-2006)
#12 to run blue and purple scheme? UPDATE 3 – “MyCircle” and? got images from Penske Racing in Mooresville, NC from a reader in which the nose and smaller parts of the #12 Alltel Dodge of Ryan Newman is painted purple. See my #12 Team Schemes page.(4-6-2006) UPDATE: hearing this scheme could run at Phoenix on April 22.(4-7-2006) UPDATE 2: #12-Ryan Newman will make his eighth Phoenix International Raceway start and his 160th in NASCAR’s Cup Series this Saturday. The new paint scheme on the Alltel Dodge this weekend will be hard to miss. The paint [purple] scheme highlights a new feature that Alltel will launch soon. The team plans on showcasing the paint scheme in several upcoming NEXTEL Cup Series races.(Penske Racing PR). UPDATE 3: have another image of the car, looks like the program will be MyCircle as is noted on the purple hood, see images of the scheme on my #12 Team Schemes page.(4-18-2006)
Special Scheme for #24 at All-Star race and other races: Jeff Gordon’s #24 DuPont car will once again carry the DuPont Performance Alliance colors at the Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge on May 20, 2006. Like last year, the car’s color scheme was designed by renowned NASCAR graphic artist Sam Bass. This special version of the #24 Chevy celebrates DuPont’s all-star collision repair centers and auto body shops throughout the United States. The paint scheme reverses the primary colors of the Fire and Flames design, and the Performance Alliance logo and name will be featured on the hood, side panels and TV panel. Gordon will also be wearing a matching Performance Alliance-themed uniform for the special event. The Performance Alliance logo will appear on the cars decklid or tv panel at Richmond [May]. Dover [June], Loudon [July], Pocono [July], Watkins Glen, LMS [Oct], Martinsville and Texas. See images of the three schemes on my #24 Team Schemes page.(4-18-2006)
Sylvania scheme on #07 at Phoenix: Clint Bowyer’s #07 Richard Childress Racing Chevy will sport an orange and white Sylvania paint scheme this weekend at Phoenix. Headquartered in Danvers, Mass., OSRAM SYLVANIA is the North American lighting operation of OSRAM GmbH. Together they are the second-largest lighting and materials enterprise in the world, serving customers in more than 140 countries. Bowyer’s standard primary sponsor, Jack Daniel’s, is featured on the car’s lower-rear quarter panel and on the trunk lid this week.(RCR PR), no image yet, but Bowyer ran a Sylvania scheme on RCR’s #33 Chevy last year in this race.(4-18-2006)
Graves Steps Down as Ganassi Team Manager: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today that Andy Graves has resigned his position as team manager and will be reassigned to a different position within the company. “Andy Graves has been a passionate and valued member of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for the past seven years,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “I have an extremely high regard for him both professionally and personally and look forward to his continued contributions here at Chip Ganassi Racing.”
“It has been a privilege to work with Chip, Felix and the whole team over the last seven seasons,” said Graves. “These years with the team have been a part of my life that I will never forget and for that I am truly grateful. I am now just looking forward to the next chapter of my career here at Chip Ganassi Racing.” Graves was in his sixth season as team manager for CGRFS. He joined CGRFS in 2000 as one of its first employees and was promptly named team manager for the Indianapolis 500 team that would go on to capture the 2000 Indianapolis 500 crown. Graves was also instrumental in the transition from SABCO to CGRFS. On an interim basis the duties of team manager will be absorbed by the current management staff that is in place.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(4-18-2006)
Portenga to attempt Phoneix: former Truck Series driver Steve Potenga will attempt to make the Subwy Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway in the #52 Ware Racing Dodge.(4-18-2006)
News from April 17, 2006
#40 Crew Chief change? UPDATE: hearing that Steve Lane has taken over crew chiefing the #40 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge for rookie driver David Stremme, no word on plans to crew chief Jeff Vandermoss who was the crew chief. Vandermoss moves over to the #41 Target team and driver Reed Sorenson as the car chief. Lane was the car chief there. UPDATE: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today that Steven Lane will take over crew chief duties on the #40 Coors Light/Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon Dodge starting this weekend in Phoenix. “Everyone is excited about the experience that Steve will bring to the #40 team,” Team Manager Andy Graves said. “This is Steve’s third year with the organization and has been instrumental in the success of this year’s #41 car. We are committed to getting all three teams running up front and Steve brings with him the necessary experience to help both David Stremme and the entire team. This is a great opportunity for him and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.” Lane has been the car chief on the #41 Dodge since joining the CGRFS team in 2004. Before coming on board at CGRFS, Lane was crew chief of the #45 Petty Enterprises Dodge for two seasons. He also served as Jeremy Mayfield’s car chief at Penske from 1997 through 2001. Jeff Vandermoss will assume the car chief duties on the #41 Dodge. Vandermoss began the season as crew chief on the #40 car after a successful seven-year career at Roush Racing, four of those years as the car chief for Matt Kenseth.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(4-17-2006)
Sad News: Louise Smith: Louise Smith [obit link], Greenville’s stock car racing pioneer whose fearless passion for speed made her the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999, died Saturday. She was 89. Smith battled cancer and had been under hospice care in Anderson, but she remained fiercely independent well into her ninth decade, according to Dora E. Owens, one of her nieces. A native of Barnesville, Ga., Smith lived in Greenville from age 4. Her father and brothers were mechanics. One of her early memories was of driving her daddy’s Model T –straight into the chickenhouse. Services for Smith will be today at 2 p.m. in the chapel of Westville Funeral Home, 6010 White Horse Road. The family will receive friends from 12:30-1:30pm/et before the services. Interment will be in Graceland West in Greenville.(Greenville News), Smith raced in 11 Grand National [now Nextel Cup] races in 1949, 1950 and 1952. Her best finish was 16th at Langhorne in 1950, her last race was in 1952 at Morristown, NJ.(4-17-2006)
Kurt Busch tests at the Rock: #2-Kurt Busch is testing at North Carolina Speedway [Rockingham] in preparation for the upcoming race at Darlington. Busch and the team are testing there as the track surfaces are worn and similar.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(4-17-2006)
News from April 16, 2006
Harvick says no excuse DeLana Harvick, who takes an active role in the career of husband Kevin and heads up his race team, tried to be understanding when asked about the recent confrontation between Nicole Lunders, Greg Biffle’s girlfriend, and Eva Bryan, Kurt Busch’s fiancée, at Texas Motor Speedway. But Mrs. Harvick, who grew up in a racing family, stressed that disputes between wives and girlfriends are indefensible. “The thing is, we as wives or girlfriends hear a lot of things in the motor-home lot that you guys, the media, never see,” she said. “Because of that, I think there are things on the race track that you see in a different light. “However, there’s absolutely no reason to confront another spouse. They absolutely have nothing to do with what happened on the track, period. It’s inappropriate and it’s unacceptable. It’s a double-edged sword. You’re so emotionally attached to everything that happens. Someone’s safety is at stake. However, there are people there. There are cameras. That’s not acceptable.”(Gaston Gazette)(4-16-2006)
News from April 15, 2006
DIRECTV Unveils Award Program to Honor Crew Chiefs: DIRECTV, Inc. the official satellite television service provider of NASCAR, which provides outstanding service for race teams up and down pit row, will begin recognizing the invaluable contributions crew chiefs make to the sport with two new awards throughout the 2006 NEXTEL Cup season. DIRECTV’s program will name a “NASCAR DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race” after each NEXTEL Cup race and crown a “NASCAR DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Year,” who will be honored during NASCAR Champions Week in New York City following the season. The “NASCAR DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race” will be awarded to the crew chief of the driver who has demonstrated the best qualifying and race effort based on finishing times during the weekend. Following each race, each participating crew chief’s car’s start and finishing positions will be combined, with points equally given to qualifying and finishing positions. The lowest combined score of start and finish positions will earn “Crew Chief of the Race.” (For example, a first place finish nets one point, as does a pole position; a tenth place start position or finish nets ten points). If a tie should result from the tally of these positions, the award will go to the race’s higher-finishing car. Each winning crew chief will be honored with a $5,600 cash award that will be presented during pre-race ceremonies at the following NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race. In addition, the crew chief who accrues the most “NASCAR DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race” awards throughout the season will be named the “NASCAR DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Year.” This honor, along with a $102,400 cash award, will be presented to the winner during NASCAR Champion’s Week in New York City. As part of the program, race fans will be able to enter the “NASCAR DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Year Sweepstakes” by logging onto www.DIRECTV.com/racing or visiting in-store displays at consumer electronic and independent retail locations for a chance to win a variety of DIRECTV and NASCAR related prizes. The grand prize winner will receive the opportunity to act as an honorary crew member with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) during a NEXTEL Cup Series race in 2007. Second place prize is a trip to New York City during the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champions Week and the third place prize is a VIP, behind-the-scenes experience with RCR in Charlotte, North Carolina during the 2007 season.(PR)(4-15-2006)
Crew Chief Changes at Roush UPDATE Edwards comments: Roush Racing sources told NASCAR.com on Thursday that two of its Nextel Cup teams will have new crew chiefs at Phoenix next week. Bob Osborne will assume crew chief duties for the #26 team and driver Jamie McMurray. Osborne moves from the #99 car, where he helped Carl Edwards to a third-place finish in the point standings last year. Roush Racing’s lead engineer, Wally Brown [not Rogers], will take over the #99 team. Brown also has been a crew chief in the Busch Series with Kevin Harvick Inc. Jimmy Fennig, who was the crew chief for McMurray, now will head Roush’s Busch Series program. Fennig was the crew chief for Kurt Busch when he won the 2004 Nextel Cup championship.(NASCAR.com) MORE: In an effort to help strengthen overall racing operations and position the organization for continued success, Roush Racing announced several personnel changes today. The crew chief and engineering changes will take effect immediately. Veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig will oversee Roush Racing’s Busch program in it entirety taking on the job of senior crew chief. Fennig will also assume crew chief duties for the #17 Ameriquest/Pennzoil Ford driven by Matt Kenseth. Fennig brings 36 years of racing experience to Roush’s Busch programs. He has led teams and drivers to victory lane numerous times, and in 2004 that experience culminated in a NEXTEL Cup Championship with the #97 team.
Bob Osborne will assume the crew chief position for the #26 Crown Royal/Irwin Industrial Tools team with Jamie McMurray behind the wheel. Osborne has been with Roush Racing since 1998 working as the engineer for the #6 Ford piloted by Mark Martin. Osborne then moved to head of engineering before taking over as crew chief of the #99 Office Depot Ford in 2004.
Wally Brown will take over as crew chief of the #99 Office Depot Ford driven by Carl Edwards. Brown began his career at Roush Racing as the engineer on the #6 team then moved into the role of head engineer when Osborne moved to the #99 crew chief position. Jim Ryder will replace Brown as head engineer. Mark Catania moves to head engineer for the Busch and Truck teams replacing Ryder. Alex Lenxmeier will assume the engineering role for the #26 team under Osborne. Chad Norris is currently serving his four week NASCAR suspension and will assume set-up duties overseeing all the Busch cars.(Roush Racing)(4-13-2006) UPDATE – Edwards comments on crew chief change: #99-Carl Edwards sees Jack Roush’s decision to shift crew chief Bob Osborne to Jamie McMurray’s #26 car as a move to spark McMurray’s season, not his own. Edwards said Friday that he was told by Roush that if the switch did not work Osborne would be back. Another meeting was scheduled in 90 days to “discuss how it’s going.”
“It has to do with getting Jamie going,” Edwards said while practicing at the Nashville Superspeedway for Saturday’s Busch Series Pepsi 300. “That’s all this is. That’s something I want to make real clear because Bob is doing an unbelievable job. … This is a compliment to Bob, if anything.” He said the change has “nothing to do with” either Osborne or the team’s performance. Edwards is 22nd in points after seven starts this season, averaging a 24th-place finish with two top-five finishes.(Associated Press)(4-15-2006)
Checkers/Rally’s Joins Drive For Diversity Program:Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. announced that the Company will have an active role in the 2006 Drive for Diversity program with Checkers supporting Brianne Cronrath as a primary sponsor in nine NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series races. Cronrath, a 21-year-old dean’s list senior — majoring in elementary education at Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University — will debut the sponsorship Saturday at Caraway (N.C.) Speedway, driving the #63 Checkers Chevy late model stock car for Spraker Racing. This will be Cronrath’s first full season in the Drive for Diversity program. She joined the program last year at mid-season. Since joining NASCAR in 2005 as the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant, Checkers/Rally’s has been a proponent of diversity as a sponsor with Bill Lester’s Craftsman Truck team. For more information, please visit www.drivefordiversity.com.(DMF Communications PR)(4-15-2006)
Kyle Busch gets a ticket UPDATE 3: CBS 6 [Richmond VA] has learned NASCAR driver Kyle Busch was pulled over Wednesday night in Henrico County [Richmond VA] for reckless driving. The incident happened around 10 o’clock at Laburnum and Route 60 in the East End. Ironically, Busch just talked to the media Tuesday at RIR about NASCAR’s new “Focus on Driving Campaign,” which is aimed at limiting distractions for teens behind the wheel. Busch was in Richmond taking part in a nextel cup testing session this week. Busch is just 20 years old himself [turns 21 on May 2nd] and the defending Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year. Police won’t go into specifics about the incident bu say that alcohol was not involved and there was no property damage. Busch is scheduled to appear in court on May 23rd.(wtvr.com)(4-13-2006) UPDATE: The misdemeanor charge carries up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine and a driver’s license suspension, said Sgt. Don Lambert, with Henrico County police. The charge also calls for a mandatory court appearance; Busch will appear in Henrico County General District Court on May 23. Lambert said the incident happened at 10 p.m. near Richmond International Airport, a few minutes outside the city. Neither speed nor alcohol was a factor, though Lambert would not provide further details. Henrico County authorities said Busch, who lives in Mooresville, N.C., was cooperative.(ESPN.com/AP) UPDATE 2: Busch and two other crew members were in a rental car on their way to the airport. They were near the airport when Kyle squealed the tires. They then pulled into a KFC to get something to eat when a cop pulled them over and told him squealing the tires wasn’t a good thing to do and Busch agreed. He was very cooperative. There is no police report. He received a citation. There was no burnout and no donuts in a parking lot. Busch is scheduled to address the situation in the media center at Nashville at 4:30pm central time.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(4-14-2006) UPDATE 3 – Busch’s comment’s: #5-Kyle Busch said Friday that he was charged with reckless driving Wednesday in Richmond, Va., after he “chirped” the tires of his rental car while leaving a gas station. He said he then went about 20 feet and turned into a fast-food restaurant to order food to go. He was in the drive-through lane when he first noticed the blue lights in his mirror. “It could happen to anybody,” he said, adding that he’s unsure whether he’ll appeal his case in court. Busch, 20, said he held no ill will toward the officer who stopped him. “I have the utmost respect for law enforcement in general,” he said. “They’re just trying to do their job.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution and see more at the Richmond Times-Dispatch)(4-15-2006)
Church Woos NASCAR Faithful: A church in Manatee County [Tampa FL area] is hoping the presence of a legendary NASCAR driver’s car will have people racing to its Easter Sunday service. Bayside Community Church plans to have the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s black #3 Chevy available for viewing and photos [a showcar]. There’s a catch. People have to sit through a service to get a ticket to be photographed with the race car. To get the free 4-by-6-inch picture, they have to return the next weekend and sit through another service. The nondenominational church expects to more than double its normal attendance of about 1,100. It has mailed 40,000 fliers, sent out news releases and advertised on a country radio station and at the DeSoto Speedway. Lead pastor Randy Bezet is tying the Earnhardt car into Sunday’s service. The theme: “Finishing the race of life.”(Tampa Tribune)(4-15-2006)
News from April 14, 2006
Martin part-time Cup in 2007? #6-Mark Martin is hedging on his vow to not return to Nextel Cup in any part-time capacity after moving to a full-time Craftsman Truck Series ride next year. He now says if the right opportunity presents itself, he might consider doing Cup races that run in conjunction with truck events.(Tampa Tribune)(4-14-2006)
DE Foundation logo to appear on all DEI cars: The logo of The Dale Earnhardt Foundation is making the rounds, literally, at NASCAR races this season one lap at a time. The familiar “victory” silhouette of racing legend Dale Earnhardt is now part of the official paint scheme on all Dale Earnhardt, Inc. race cars in both the Busch and Nextel Cup series races. The logo made its debut this past week during races at Texas Motor Speedway. The Dale Earnhardt Foundation logo will be visible on the right rear “taillight” of all DEI cars, just above the car number decal. “We’re very pleased that the DEI race teams are showing their support for the Foundation and its charitable efforts in such a visible manner,” said Dick Baker, Executive Director of The Dale Earnhardt Foundation. “This is a creative idea that will help us to expand awareness and recognition for the Foundation with race fans and the general public alike.” Dale Earnhardt, Inc. races the #11 Menard’s Chevrolet driven by Paul Menard in the Busch Series. In the Nextel Cup Series, the team races the #1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet driven by Martin Truex, Jr. and the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Founded in 2002 by Teresa Earnhardt, The Dale Earnhardt Foundation was established to carry on Dale’s name and good works through charitable causes that support Children, Education and Wildlife Preservation. For more information please visit www.thedaleearnhardtfoundation.org.(DEI PR)(4-14-2006)
NASCAR’s Hendrick family places cross on plane crash site: Members of NASCAR’s Hendrick family have erected a 14-foot cross on Bull Mountain in memory of the 10 people who died when a team plane crashed there in 2004. The 8-foot-wide polished metal cross was placed at the private site about two weeks ago, according to Jesse Essex, manager of media relations for Hendrick Motorsports. He did not know what company completed the project. The cross replaces smaller versions placed at the site soon after the Oct. 25, 2004, crash, which occurred as the group was en route to a Nextel Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.(AP)(4-14-2006)
Airline Hires NASCAR Crews to teach: UAL Corp., which emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year, plans to schedule more flights with fewer aircraft in a move to lift United Airlines “out of the ditch,” according to a top executive. Chief Operating Officer Peter McDonald said in a speech Tuesday evening at Northwestern University that the company has hired NASCAR pit crews to train ramp workers in order to reduce turnaround time at airports. McDonald said improving aircraft turns, refueling, cleaning and loading and unloading planes on layover will add 125 flights to United’s schedule without putting more planes in the air. Increasing efficiency is part of the company’s plan to return to profitability after being forced into bankruptcy by a surge of low-cost carriers, high labor costs, and ever-rising fuel prices. The key to its strategy, McDonald said, is United’s “most important asset”–its people.(cbs2chicago.com), doesn’t say what diviion of NASCAR or what teams the pit crews are from.(4-14-2006)
Biffle and a bank: Aquesta Bank officials say Nextel Cup driver Greg Biffle has joined the board of the proposed financial institution in Cornelius, N.C. Biffle was introduced to officials of the proposed Aquesta Bank by his business manager, who is an investor in the project, according to The Charlotte Business Journal, and both sides hit it off.(SceneDaily.com)(4-14-2006)
News from April 13, 2006
Richmond Testing Day 3 OVER: only six drivers in seven cars [Wimmer had 2] made runs in the AM session on Day three, with #4b-Scott Wimmer being the fastest at 125.974 [is 6th overall fastest], followed by [Wimmer was 2nd in #4] #78-KWallace, #34-Chaffin, #32-Kvapil, #92-Blount and #49-Sherman [121.583]. Afternoon: seven drivers made runs, the fastest being #92-Chad Blount at 123.893mph, followed by #78-KWallace, #43-Labonte, #34-Chaffin, #32-Kvapil, #4b-Wimmer and #49-Sherman [121.022]. Night session: #32-Travis Kvapil recorded the fastest lap during the final session of the third and final day of NEXTEL Cup Series testing at Richmond International Raceway on Thursday, April 13, followed by #78-KWallace, #49-Brent Sherman and #43-Labonte.(RIR Site) OVERALL: 46 drivers tested during the three day session.
See my 2006 Richmond Testing Page for all the speeds, for each session and overall, with each drivers best speed and rank.(PR’s)(4-13-2006)
Pit Crew Challenge:The second NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman will take place in a new venue in 2006, moving to the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena in uptown Charlotte. The event, taking place at 7:00pm/et, Wednesday, May 17, is the only event of its kind officially sanctioned by NASCAR and pits the sport’s favorite over-the-wall athletes against each other in several skills competitions to showcase their considerable talents. General admission tickets for the event are available April 17 for $10. Fans can purchase at the Bobcats Arena Box Office at CharlotteBobcatsArena.com or by calling (800) 495-2295. Participating teams will partake in open practice at Cabarrus Arena and Events Center throughout the month of May. The practices, which are open to the public, are May 8 from 2-6 p.m., and May 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.(LMS PR)(4-13-2006)
Steve Waid joins Rowdy as a contributor: Longtime racing reporter Steve Waid, vice-president for editorial development at top weekly publication NASCAR Scene (www.scenedaily.com), has joined Rowdy, the racing radio show you get on your cell phone, as a weekly contributor. “Waid’s World” takes fans behind the scenes to find out about the personal stories and interests of their favorite drivers–today on the show Waid talks to Michael Waltrip. Fans can hear “Waid’s World” every week on Rowdy, as Steve joins a lineup of regular contributors that includes former Cup driver Rick Mast, champion crew chief Barry Dodson, award-winning reporters Mark Garrow and David Poole, and internet sage Jayski. To check out Rowdy for yourself, and get all the latest racing news every day, just dial 1-800-95-ROWDY, visitwww.rowdy.com, or download the Rowdy podcast via itunes or at www.podnova.com.(4-13-2006)
Edwards named an Ambassador for Youth for National PTA: National PTA has teamed up with Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Office Depot Ford, to boost family nutrition and wellness and help kids excel in school. Edwards, a former substitute teacher, has been named an Ambassador for Youth for National PTA. He joins businesswoman and designer Kathy Ireland in encouraging parents to make time and get involved in their kid’s school and PTA. Office Depot is Edwards’ primary sponsor in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and a Proud Community Partner of National PTA. Edwards is committed to helping parents create healthy lifestyles for their children both at home and in school. Leading by example, Edwards exercises everyday, doesn’t drink or smoke, and eats healthy. Edwards and the National PTA note that children are more likely to excel in the classroom with meaningful parent involvement and that healthy kids consistently outperform their peers. In his new role as a National Ambassador for Youth, Edwards will join millions of parents and educators to work toward improving the lives of children, as well as urging parents and families to be more involved. Edwards follows in the footsteps of dozens of community leaders, celebrities, legislators, and U.S. Presidents, all of whom have lent their voices and support to National PTA to make a difference in the lives of children. Edwards, who is in front of millions of fans each week on the racetrack, will also lend his support by speaking directly with kids, working with National PTA to provide relevant information to parents, and being a strong advocate for public education. Edwards, whose mother is a former president of her local PTA, began working with National PTA when he donated a portion of his winnings from the 2005 Ameriquest 300 race at the California Speedway to the Kids of Katrina fund, a special relief effort created by National PTA and Office Depot to assist those schools impacted by Hurricane Katrina. For more information about National PTA, visit www.pta.org.(Roush Racing PR)(4-13-2006)
Kurt Busch trying to mend fences: Kurt Busch says he has tried to talk with Greg Biffle about their accident Sunday during the Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Biffle was angry that Busch ran into the back of him after Biffle slowed slightly on the straightaway. “I tried to reach out for [Biffle] and left a message on his phone, and I’m sure I’ll see him this afternoon,” Busch said Tuesday while teams were testing at Richmond International Raceway. “Biffle and I are both very competitive racers, and we both looked for the same real estate at the same time, yet I was trying to yield as a lapped car on the track. Things like that happen, and we’ll definitely try to smooth everything out and move on to the next race.” Busch and Biffle were teammates at Roush Racing until this year, when Busch moved to Penske Racing South. “With the old teammates, we definitely had some great times together,” Busch said. “Biffle and I grew up running trucks together, and when I moved to Cup he shortly followed. We have some great relationships, and it’s not just one race that will tear it apart.”(SceneDaily.com)(4-13-2006)
Martin’s Museum Grand Opening Apr 14-15: Mark Martin will hold the grand opening for his all new Ford dealership, Mark Martin Ford-Mercury, and museum this weekend (Friday and Saturday) in Batesville, Arkansas. The dealership and museum officially opened on Feb. 27th. The grand opening is being officially presented by Coke. In addition to the normal artifacts on display in the museum, other items of interest that will be on display at this weekend’s grand opening are the Nextel Experience that travels to each NASCAR Nextel Cup race, The winning Scotts Ford F-150 from the Daytona Truck race direct from Victory Lane, the #6 AAA Nextel Cup Ford, AAA simulators where fans can race each other, the AAA booth and tent display and Coca-Cola booths as well. Martin’s #6 Ameriquest Busch car and hauler will also be on display and there will be live remotes with radio stations as well. The state-of-the art museum features several of Martin’s past cars, including the #6 Viagra Coca-Cola 600 win car, the ’90 Folgers Thunderbird, the #60 Win Dixie Busch car, Martin’s 2005 IROC car that he used to win his record fifth championship, and the ’89 Strohs Thunderbird. Each car is a part of a display that includes hi-tech mantrons that tell the story of each piece of history.(Roush Racing)(4-13-2006)
Richmond testing – Day 2: #29-Kevin Harvick was fastest in the morning session on Day 2 of testing at Richmond International Raceway testing, with a lap of 126.505mph, followed by #21-Ken Schrader, #5b-Kyle Busch, #6b-Mark Martin and #42-Casey Mears. Afternoon: #5b-Kyle Busch was the fastest in the afternoon session with a speed of 126.576, followe by #6b-Mark Martin, #21-Ken Schrader, #16-Greg Biffle and #17-Matt Kenseth. Evening: #42-Casey Mears was the fastest in the evening session with a speed of 126.802mph [fastest overall so far], followed by #12b-Ryan Newman, #66-Jeff Green, #40-David Stemme and #1b-Martin Truex Jr.
Some incidents: #25-Vickers wrecked Day 1, #8-Earnhardt Jr. and #00-Sadler scraped the wall.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)
See my 2006 Richmond Testing Page for all the speeds, for each session and overall, with each drivers best speed and rank.(PR’s)(4-12/13-2006)
News from April 12, 2006
Get Well: #21 Team Owner Glen Wood had his scheduled hip replacement surgery this morning. Everything went good. Only in surgery less than an hour. The plan is to try to get him up today or tomorrow at the latest and be home probably Friday. Send cards to: Glen Wood, 21 Performance Drive, Stuart,VA 24171.(4-12-2006)
ESPN set for racing’s return – some Q&A’s: NASCAR will have a new look next season as ESPN/ABC replaces NBC in broadcasting the second half of the Nextel Cup series. ESPN/ABC signed an eight-year agreement with NASCAR. ABC will broadcast all 10 races in the title chase next year and at least 11 of the final 17 races. ESPN will broadcast the rest. Also, ESPN2 will be the home for the Busch series. With all the work to be done, George Bodenheimer, president of ABC Sports/ESPN, attended last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway along with a group of executives. He spoke with reporters before the race. Here is some of what he had to say. Q: What will the broadcasts be like next year?
A: It’s a little bit premature for us to answer that question. We’re working hard on developing some innovative moves forward. ESPN takes a lot of pride in distinguishing its productions from other networks. We have our best people here studying the latest technology and other devices to bring to the sport. We know that fans look for that, and we know that they look for that from ESPN and ABC. Q: Have you decided if you will have two or three people in the booth to call races?
A: We have not. We’re delighted to have Rusty Wallace on. Jerry Punch obviously is going to play a big role in what we do. Beyond that, we have not made any decisions but there should be some forthcoming shortly. Q: How will you address the criticism NBC and Fox get about too many commercials and missing restarts?
A: We’ve certainly thought about it. We will be working hard to keep an eye on those factors. Advertising sales are how the cash register is rung, so, obviously, it has to play a part in what we’re doing. ESPN has grown since we were last in the sport, we now consider ourselves a multimedia company with ESPN.com, Mobile ESPN on the phone, multiple networks. We’re looking to take this wonderful property and blow it out across all our mediums. It is really well beyond ‘what does a three-hour telecast look like?’ We will be serving fans seven days a week. Q: Will you have a daily NASCAR show?
A: Yes. We will have a daily show. We have not fixed on an exact schedule or the name of the show. We will have a daily presence. Q: How important are later afternoon starting times and night races?
A: It’s important. Generally, we’re looking to attract the highest ratings that we can, obviously, later in the day bodes well. NASCAR, as all leagues, has to balance those issues with fan support and logistical issues. If NASCAR wants to continue to grow, and being affiliated with ESPN and ABC will help them grow, they’re going to have to look at all those kinds of issues to make that happen.(Roanoke Times)(4-12-2006)
Biffle’s girlfriend faces a reprimand: #16-Greg Biffle’s girlfriend faces a reprimand from NASCAR about her pit-road confrontation with #2-Kurt Busch’s fiance after the two drivers wrecked at Texas Motor Speedway. Busch hit the back of Biffle’s car early in Sunday’s race, causing an accident that ended Biffle’s day. Biffle, the defending race winner, had led 49 of the first 82 laps before the crash and wound up 42nd. Moments after the wreck, TV cameras caught girlfriend Nicole Lunders slamming a water bottle on Biffle’s pit box. She then marched down pit road and climbed halfway up Busch’s box and had a heated exchange with Eva Bryan. The brief confrontation created a buzz in NASCAR, and the sanctioning body wants to cool down the emotions. “There will be some conversations that will be had with the people that participated, and we’ll make sure that this doesn’t carry on and into the garage or anywhere else,” Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition, said Wednesday. “You’ve got to remember, most everybody in the garage area is friends, and those two girls in particular have a close relationship. Tempers flare, and we’ll look at that and we’ll make sure it doesn’t carry on any further than that.” NASCAR does not have a steadfast rule against team members entering other pit boxes, but generally frowns upon it if the reason for approaching the area stems from something that happened in race. “When altercations and things like that happen, we recommend that you stay in your own area,” Pemberton said. “You can go have a conversation, but it can’t be heated per se.” Family members are typically given entrance to the track on a “license” that recognizes them as a team member, meaning their actions can be policed by NASCAR and the sanctioning body reserves the right to revoke their pass at any time.(Associated Press)(4-12-2006)
Sad News: Condolences to former Cup Team Owner and 2-time Cup Champion crew chief, Andy Petree on the passing of his father Joe Petree Jr., who passed away Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at Frye Regional Medical Center. A Service of Remembrance will be held at 11:00am/et, Thursday, April 13, 2006 at First United Methodist Church in Newton. Revs. Daniel G. Martin and Amy Foley will officiate. The family will receive friends following the service. Memorials may be made to: First United Methodist Church, Renovation Fund, P.O. Box 926, Newton, NC 28658 or to the Humane Society, P.O. Box 63, Hickory, NC 28603. Condolences may be sent to the Petree family at willisreynoldsfuneralhome.com..(4-12-2006)
Richmond Testing – Day 1: A pair of Dodges topped the charts following Tuesday’s morning session. #2-Kurt Busch led all drivers with a top speed of 125.360mph (21.538 seconds). #42-Casey Mears was second at 125.302 followed by #16b-Biffle 125.267, #6b-Martin and #5-Busch 125.029. In the Afternoon session: fastest was #6b-Martin at 124.395, #16-Biffle 124.390, #2b-Busch 124.287, #8-Earnhardt Jr. 124.212 and #26b-McMurray 124.201. In the PM/Night session: quickest was #6b-Mark Martin 125.552mph, then #16b-Biffle, #17b-Kenseth, #2b-Busch and #5-Busch.
See my 2006 Richmond Testing Page for all the speeds.(PR’s)(4-11/12-2006)
#11 Team Takes PIt Crew Honors at Texas: Denny Hamlin’s pit crew became the fifth team of the season to secure the weekly Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition by spending the least amount of time on pit road in Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. “The #11 FedEx Racing crew was unbelievable and those guys deserve all the credit in the world for the finish we had,” said Hamlin, who posted a career best fourth-place result. “From the start of the race they were pulling off quick stops and making good changes. It seemed that every time we needed a lift the guys stepped it up.” Hamlin’s pit crew, part of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, spent 253.611 seconds on pit lane during the Samsung/RadioShack 500. The team earned $10,500 for the win. The #11 over-the-wall team consists of: Chris Webb (jackman), Blake Haughland (front-tire carrier), Donnie Brown (front-tire changer), Heath Cherry (rear-tire carrier), Barry Cook (rear-tire changer), Scott Wood (gasman), John Eicher (catch can), Bobby “Spike” Christenson (windshield) and John Furino (pit support). The team’s crew chief is Mike Ford and the pit crew coordinator is Paul Alepa. Along with the #11 team win, the pit crews of Kyle Busch and Elliott Sadler have one win apiece in the Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge, while Jimmie Johnson’s and Tony Stewart’s pit crews are tied for first in the standings with two victories each. The season champion will receive a $105,000 bonus. The Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge is in its second season with the Nextel Cup Series. Checkers/Rally’s is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at checkers.com.(DMF Communications PR)(4-12-2006)
News from April 11, 2006
Rule Violations Result in Penalties for #74 team: NASCAR announced today that one fine and two penalties have been issued to the #74 Dodge team competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, as a result of rule violations last week at Texas Motor Speedway. Due to violations of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing), 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules) and 20-5.9G(1) (external modifications to the intake manifold deemed impermissible unless authorized by the Series Director) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book, crew chief Domenick Turse was fined $50,000; driver Derrike Cope was penalized with the loss of 25 driver championship points; and car owner Ray McGlynn was penalized 25 owner championship points. The infraction was discovered during opening day inspection.(NASCAR PR)(4-11-2006)
Long to attempt Darlington in #37 car: Carl Long will be driving the #37 R&J Racing Dodge in the NEXTEL Cup Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 13th. The team is looking for sponsorship, but will be racing regardless. Carl Long qualified an impressive 21st fastest last time the Cup cars raced at Darlington. Long has also put up for sale a number of his vehicles and chassis. Long needs to sell these items immediately in order to repair and prepare his NEXTEL Cup car to run at New Hampshire International Speedway in July.(more at Carl Long site)(4-11-2006)
NASCAR PR Dude to run Boston Marathon: The 110th Boston Marathon is set for April 17 with the event’s massive starting grid including Jeremy Davidson, an Amherst, Mass. native who handles public relations outreach for NASCAR’s weekly and touring competition levels. It will have approximately 500,000 spectators spread out along a race course of 26.2 miles. There will be approximately 20,000 competitors and more than 1,000 media members reporting on it all. Boston will be the fourth marathon for Davidson, 30. But he equates this run as something akin to a young driver making their first start at Daytona (because of the prestige) or Darlington (because of the history). As in auto racing, an entrant must qualify for the Boston Marathon. You don’t just show up on race day with your gym bag. To qualify for entry to the Boston event, one must provide the Boston Athletic Association proof of completion of a prior marathon in a time of less than 3 hours, 10 minutes. Davidson qualified with a time of three hours and seven minutes in the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando, Fla., in January. That time was 44 minutes quicker than Davidson’s first marathon time of 3:51 in the Disney event in 2004. Davidson began training for the Boston event shortly after he qualified for it, consuming 100 ounces of water a day, maintaining a diet of 70 percent carbohydrates, and daily running distances of 10 to 15 miles or more. “I’m on pins and needles waiting for the event to start,” Davidson said. “The Boston Marathon is an American sporting tradition like the Daytona 500. As a race course, Boston is really the “Darlington” of marathons. At 110 years, Boston is the oldest marathon like Darlington is NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway. The Boston Marathon course is extremely difficult, just like Darlington Raceway.”(NASCAR PR)(4-11-2006)
News from April 10, 2006
Big Plans by ESPN MORE later times: ESPN plans to pull out all the bells and whistles when NASCAR returns to the cable sports network in 2007. “ESPN has really morphed or grown since we were last in the sport,” said ESPN president George Bodenheimer, who was at Texas on Sunday. “We’re really considered a multimedia network now. We’re looking to take this property and blow it out, if you will.” The network will offer plenty of coverage in studio shows, analysis and a heavy online presence. Much of it has yet to be formalized, said Bodenheimer, also president of ABC Sports. ESPN and ABC will broadcast 17 Cup races beginning in 2007, the first year of an eight-year contract the networks signed with NASCAR. ABC was one of the first networks to televise stock car racing in the 1960s, and ESPN introduced flag-to-flag race telecasts in the 1980s. The network was NASCAR’s leading carrier through the 1990s, but has not aired a race since 2000, when it lost the rights to NBC and Fox. Bodenheimer said the return of NASCAR to ESPN marks an emotional reunion after both grew to national prominence.(ESPN.com/AP) AND ABC Sports/ ESPN president George Bodenheimer, whose networks return to the mix of televising NASCAR events for the first time in six years next season, said he prefers late afternoon starting times for Sunday Nextel Cup events in 2007. “Generally we’re looking to televise the sport when we can attract the highest ratings that we can,” Bodenheimer said.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(4-10-2006)
Texas Overnight TV Ratings Mixed: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway earned an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 4.8 and an 11 market share, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 4% lower than the 5.0/11 Fox earned for the 2005 Texas race, but last year’s race was a week later and was not broadcast opposite the Masters golf tournament, which typically draws strong ratings. This year’s overnight rating for Texas was 4.3% higher than the 4.6 Fox earned for the 2005 spring Martinsville race, which aired at the same time as the final round of the Masters. CBS earned a 9.0/19 overnight for this year’s final round of the Masters, making it the weekend’s highest-rated sports event.(SceneDaily.com)(4-10-2006)
Said helping Evernham: Evernham Motorsports owner Ray Evernham has an ace in the hole to get red-hot Kasey Kahne ready for the upcoming NASCAR Nextel Cup road course races: Boris Said. Said, a veteran road racer and occasional NASCAR Cup competitor, is working as a consultant to help Evernham’s drivers – Kahne, Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs – get ready for those winding tracks that can be tough on younger drivers.(SceneDaily.com)(4-10-2006)
Francis Wins WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award: Kenny Francis and Kasey Kahne teamed up to capture another win this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. For the second time this season, Kahne started on the pole and held on to take the checkers, this time out-dueling Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth in the final stages of the Samsung / Radio Shack 500. Francis’ dominant weekend earned him the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. A panel of voters; including Tony Eury Sr., a member of the local media and a WypAll Wipers representative; all cast their vote for Francis as the Crew Chief of the Race. For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WypAll Wipers gave Francis $1,000. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. This was Francis’ second Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him with Robbie Reiser for the lead. Darian Grubb and Roy McCauley are tied for second-place in the standings, each with one win.(Wypall PR)(4-10-2006)
Toyota and…Jarrett? UPDATE 3 Allmendinger? Gibbs?: The new NASCAR Nextel Cup Toyota operation that is being backed by Red Bull “has opened the checkbook,” according to one top Ford man, who points to Red Bull’s hiring of John Propst, a top Ford Motor Company vehicle dynamics specialist, and the hiring of a top Dodge engineer from the Ray Evernham camp for its new stock-car racing team. General Motors executives are anxiously watching their own key engineers for any similar defections. Elsewhere on the Toyota-NASCAR front, Toyota has made a bid to sign a two-year contract with Dale Jarrett, the tour’s 1999 champion and a three-time Daytona 500 winner. Jarrett’s contract with car owner Robert Yates is up at the end of this season. While it has been unclear for several months if Yates and Jarrett could come to new terms, Ford officials said Yates is offering Jarrett a contract similar to the Toyota deal.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-8-2006) UPDATE – Red Bull Drivers? When Red Bull Racing debuts their two Toyota teams at Daytona in February of 2007, rumor has it the organization is looking to pair a rookie with a veteran, taking an approached used by Evernham Motorsports with Dodge. Veterans on the Red Bull list are said to be Kevin Harvick and Dale Jarrett. No word on a rookie, but it could easily be an accomplished veteran from another of the Motorsports arenas.(CircleTrackPlus)(4-9-2006) UPDATE 2 Allmendinger? Murmurs in Champ Car circles say Red Bull, which carries a personal services contract with AJ Allmendinger, might like to see the young American in Nextel Cup, where it hopes to strike big in 2007 in partnership with Toyota. With so much money and fame up for grabs in NASCAR, it has become a challenge to keep promising open-wheel drivers away from the France family circus. It could prove difficult for Owner Carl Russo and Champ Car to hold onto Allmendinger, especially if he starts winning.(Autoweek)(4-9-2006) UPDATE 3 Gibbs? There is still no word on which drivers Toyota might back, but Toyota may be making a run at car owner Joe Gibbs, with hopes of persuading the veteran Chevy man, and his three-man team of #20-Tony Stewart, #11-Denny Hamlin and #18-J. J. Yeley, to jump to the Camry brigade, according to sources. Chevy’s Kevin Harvick continues to be a focal point of Toyota speculation. However, there is word that Harvick may be under consideration by Ford’s Jack Roush for a driving job next season, though Harvick insists “I’ve not talked with Jack Roush, and I don’t know Geoff Smith (Roush’s contract attorney).” Smith was not here to discuss the situation, and Roush demurred: “I hear Toyota goes with Kevin Harvick, and there’s not a Toyota in my future. What I do know, is Toyota just hired (engineer) John Propst from Ford, and that gives Toyota access to everything all the Ford teams have known about the engineering of the cars, and that’s a cheeky move by Toyota, and it’s certainly a coup for Toyota. The thing that is more distressing is Toyota is in position to make their own tires, with its relationship with Bridgestone….And I’ve heard Toyota has acquired 100 acres of land in Charlotte to put together a test track.”(Winston Salem Journal)(4-10-2006)
Sad News – Jack Bowsher: Three-time ARCA national driving champion and six-time car owner champion Jack Bowsher died Saturday, April 8th. He was 75. Bowsher had 80 victories as a car owner (#1 in ARCA competition) and 48 as a driver (#2 in ARCA competition). Bowsher’s car sat on the pole and won the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race at the road course in Riverside, California in 1970 with A.J. Foyt behind the wheel. Bowsher finished 1st in the 24 Hours of Daytona as a car owner in 1976 with drivers David and Larry Pearson, and sons Jim & Gary. He is survived by wife Julie Bowsher, sons’ Jack Bowsher Jr., Gary Bowsher, Jim Bowsher, Bobby Bowsher and Todd Bowsher, and daughter Jodie Bowsher. As per Jack’s wishes, there will be no funeral home viewing. Graveside Services open to the public will be Tuesday April 11 at 1:00pm at Fletcher Chapel Cemetary, 5920 Fletcher Pike, Harmony Township, Springfield, Ohio 45505
There will be a memorial gathering open for family and friends immediately following the graveside service from 3:00pm to 7:00pm at: VFW Post 8673, 2825 East Leffel Lane, Springfield, Ohio 45505. In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Jack’s name to: Focus Motorsports Ministries, Bill Krick, Chaplain, 2497 Governors Pointe, Concord, NC 28025-2425.(ARCARacing.com and toddbowsher.com)(4-10-2006)
Richmond NEXTEL Cup Series Testing, April 11-13: the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers will take their turn for three consecutive days of testing starting Tuesday, April 11. Below is the tentative schedule of when the drivers expect to test at Richmond International Raceway. Testing each day will run from 9:00am to 9:00pm/et and the grandstands will be open for fans each day. Admission and parking are free and concessions will be available from 9:00am to 8:30pm/et each day. Scheduled to test April 11-12:
#01-Joe Nemechek, #09-Mike Wallace, #1-Martin Truex, Jr., #2-Kurt Busch, #6-Mark Martin, #7-Robby Gordon, #8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #9-Kasey Kahne, #11-Denny Hamlin, #12-Ryan Newman, #14-Sterling Marlin, #16-Greg Biffle, #17-Matt Kenseth, #18-J.J. Yeley, #19-Jeremy Mayfield, #20-Tony Stewart, #21-Ken Schrader, #22-Dave Blaney, #24-Jeff Gordon, #26-Jamie McMurray, #40-David Stremme, #41-Reed Sorenson, #42-Casey Mears, #45-Kyle Petty, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #66-Jeff Green, #89-Morgan Shepherd, #96-Tony Raines, #99-Carl Edwards; Scheduled to test April 12-13:
#07-Clint Bowyer, #4-Scott Wimmer, #5-Kyle Busch, #10-Scott Riggs, #25-Brian Vickers, #29-Kevin Harvick, #31-Jeff Burton, #38-Elliott Sadler, #43-Bobby Labonte, #49-Brent Sherman, #51-Mike Garvey, #61-Kevin Lepage, #78-Kenny Wallace, #88-Dale Jarrett, #92-Chad Blount.(RIR PR)(4-10-2006)
News from April 9, 2006
Kahne wins at Texas: #9-Kasey Kahne won the Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, leading 63 of 334 laps for his 2nd win of 2006 and 3rd of his career. #17-Matt Kenseth passed #20-Tony Stewart late and held on to 2nd place, with Stewart finishing 3rd after leading the most laps , #11-Denny Hamlin was 4th for his 1st top-5 of the year then #29-Kevin Harvick. #31-Burton was 6th, followed by #10-Riggs, #1-Truex Jr., #6-Martin and #43-Labonte. Points leader #48-Jimmie Johnson holds on to the points lead by 15 over #17-Kenseth, finishing 11th after being down two laps. Points leader #48-Jimmie Johnson holds on to the points lead by 15 over #17-Kenseth, finishing 11th after being down two laps. There 9 cautions for 43 laps and 12 leaders with 22 lead changes. Race Results on my Texas Race Results/Awards Page. Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Texas page. Race Rundown: see my Texas Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(4-9-2006)
Four Tracks Jeff Gordon has never won at: There are four current race tracks the Nextel Cup Series runs on that #24-Jeff Gordon has not won at, Texas 0 for 11 with a best of 2nd in 2002, Phoenix International Raceway 0 for 14 with a best of 3rd in 2002 and 2004; Chicago 0 for 5 with a 2nd in 2003 being his best; Homestead 0 for 7 with a best finish of 3rd 2004. Gordon has won at 20 [18 active] of 24 tracks he has raced on including two not on the circuit any longer, North Wilkesboro and Rockingham.(4-9-2006)
PE: #74-Derrike Cope’s team was a PE [Post Entry] for the race at Texas and did’t get credited Drivers/Owners Points. Teams need to have the entry blank into NASCAR 13 days before the race.(4-9-2006)
New Bumper at ‘Dega: Teams will have a new bumper configuration for the Talladega race later this month that is intended to reduce the amount of bump drafting. Drivers complained about bump drafting at Daytona. Bump drafting is where the trailing car rams the rear end of the leading car to help them push forward. It’s an accepted practice in the straightaways, but when done in the corners it can lead to an accident. While the new rule reduces the strength of the bumpers, opinion is mixed if the rule change will make a difference. The new rule forces teams to remove steel plates underneath the bumper. NASCAR wanted to maintain the bumper strength for safety but not make it so strong that drivers used it to constantly bump draft.(Roanoke Tines)(4-9-2006)
Sadler’s old crew chief leaves RYR: Kevin Buskirk, formerly head engineer at Robert Yates Racing and Elliott Sadler’s interim crew chief at the end of 2005, has gone to work at Richard Childress Racing as the engineer for driver Kevin Harvick’s #29 GM Goodwrench/Reeses Chevy. “Kevin joined the organization a couple of weeks ago, and he’s a great talent and a great find,” Richard Childress said Saturday. “Him and [crew chief] Todd Berrier think and work a lot alike, and I think he’ll do a lot of things. I’m excited to see how that will work out.”(NASCAR.com)(4-9-2006)
Manifold Problem with the #74: Sitting side by side, for anyone in the garage interested in looking, an intake manifold submitted by Dodge and approved by NASCAR and an illegal manifold taken from the #74 MyGuardian911.com Dodge of McGlynn Racing and driven by Derrike Cope [who will make his 400th career start at Texas on Sunday]. Raynard McGlynn of Wilkes Barrie, PA owns McGlynn Racing. John Darby, NEXTEL Cup Series Director of Competition, jokingly commented the infraction, exterior illegal modifications, was “too cool” to warrant a penalty. On the serious side, Darby commented it wasn’t “Tuesday” the day NASCAR typically issues penalties for infractions from the previous weekend. Specifically, the illegal manifold violated rule 20-5.9G, which states external modifications are not permitted unless specifically approved by the Series Director. Darby did clearly not approve the modifications to the confiscated manifold. Tom Durse, crew chief on the #74, hopes NASCAR is lenient with what he describes as a “young team,” despite his admittance, “Once we bolt a part onto the car and present it to NASCAR we own it and we’re responsible for it.” Should a penalty be issued Durse is also hoping NASCAR concentrates on points versus money. “Right now the points are not nearly as important to us as the money. We’re a struggling operation that has is running the full season for the first time after two years of running a limited schedule.”(CircleTrackPlus), with the #74 probably being a post-entry [not entered before the deadline] and not getting any points, it may end up being a money fine and taking away some of the team’s existing points.(4-9-2006)
Martin/Hamlin make up: After the race a week ago in Martinsville, rookie #11-Denny Hamlin blamed #6-Mark Martin for a wreck and claimed basically that the 47-year-old veteran had been wrecking him all year. It all seemed rather shocking since Martin is almost universally praised by fellow drivers for his clean driving style. “We talked on Tuesday,” said Hamlin. “It kind of settles our differences, I guess you could say. I asked him what I could do differently to avoid that from happening, and I basically told him where he did me wrong. We agreed on everything when it was all said and done. I’m glad it’s over with and we can move on. He admitted to things that he did and I admitted to things that I did in the past. It’s just one of those things where you learn. We haven’t raced with each other that much. With time it’s going to fix itself. We’ve got to learn each other’s driving styles and move on. I’m the last driver that wants to start anything with anybody. I spent all last year just trying to get respect from these guys and let them know that I can race with them without controversy, without getting into them. I felt like it was time to stand up for what I thought was right and wrong. I felt good after talking to him because I felt like he understood where I was coming from …”
Martin was predictably magnanimous. “It shouldn’t matter if you’re a rookie or not,” he said, “and Denny shouldn’t be treated on the race track differently from me. Denny and I have had a conversation since, and I made it clear to Denny that everything that I’ve done to him on the race track I would have done to Rusty Wallace, who I respect as much or more than anyone in the garage, or Dale Jarrett. My point was, ‘Don’t bring up the rookie thing again,’ because he’s done a fabulous job. He’s been incredibly competitive and respectful and fair on the race track, and the rub that we have had came from he and I not knowing each other’s style.”(Gaston Gazette)(4-9-2006)
Rumblings – Texas: Kasey Kahne passed Tony Stewart on lap 308 today at Texas Motor Speedway and drove off into the sunset to capture the Samsung/RadioShack 500 by a margin of over five seconds….giving himself an early birthday present (it’s Monday). This was Kasey’s second win of the season (he took down Atlanta three weeks ago) and the third of his career (all three of his wins have come from the pole, btw) moving him into a tie for 85th on the all-time win list.
Kasey’s the 11th different winner in 11 races at TMS, and this was victory #9 for Ray Evernham…..and it was worth a handsome $530,164 to boot!
Denny Hamlin (4th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 7th when we were here last November.
Scott Riggs (7th) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Michigan last August.
Martin Truex Jr (8th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Lowe’s last May.
David Stremme (21st) had his best finish since he was 16th at Chicagoland last July.
STREAKIN….Kasey Kahne has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races.
Mark Martin has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races.
This Week’s Elevator…UP: Operator of the week is a lonely Tony Stewart (+37). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Greg Biffle (-37), J. J. Yeley (-33), Kurt Busch (-27), Ryan Newman (-26), and Kyle Petty (-20). With the way this season has gone for Biffle, it should come as no surprise that his is his 2nd BD of the season all ready.
We had three drivers lead a lap today for the first time this season. Martin Truex Jr, Jeff Green, and Carl Edwards give us 30 different drivers to lead a lap already this year…..last year we had a total of 51 different leaders.
No change at the top of the standings this week….Jimmie Johnson’s lead is now only 15 markers over new #2 man Matt Kenseth. Denny Hamlin (23rd to 14th) made the best move forward while Kyle Petty (26th to 32nd) fell the most spots.(Stock Car Fans)(4-9-2006)
Texas Race Notes:
• Kasey Kahne won the 2006 Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, scoring his third NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 79th career start. Kahne’s last victory came at Atlanta, three races ago. It was his second victory on a superspeedway. His career-first victory came at Richmond in May 2005.
• Kahne scored his first victory and second top-10 finish – both top-fives – in four races at Texas Motor Speedway.
• He became the 11th different race winner in 11 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Texas.
• Kahne scored his fifth top-10 finish in seven races this season.
• Kahne climbed from fourth to third in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. After seven races in 2005, he ranked 23rd in the point standings.
• Kahne led the final 27 laps in today’s race.
• Evernham Motorsports has won at least one race each season 2001– 2006, six consecutive years.
• This was team owner Ray Evernham’s ninth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory and first at Texas Motor Speedway. Notebook Items
• Tony Stewart led the most laps (99) in the Samsung/RadioShack 500 – the third time in 2006 that Stewart led the most laps in a race – all in the past three races.
• Matt Kenseth (second) posted his fourth top-10 finish in eight races at Texas Motor Speedway. He scored his fourth top-10 finish of the season, all top-fives and climbed from third to second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago he ranked 21st after seven races.
• Tony Stewart (third) scored his sixth top-10 finish in nine races at Texas and climbed from eighth to fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
• Denny Hamlin (fourth) scored his second top-10 finish in two races at Texas Motor Speedway. It is his career-best finish and the highest finish by a rookie in 2006. It was Hamlin’s second top-10 finish in 2006 and his second in as many races at Texas.
• Kevin Harvick (fifth) scored his second top-10 finish in seven races at Texas. It was his third top-10 finish in 2006.
• Scott Riggs (seventh) scored his first top-10 finish in four races at Texas Motor Speedway. This is his second top-10 finish in six races this season after he failed to qualify for the 2006 Daytona 500.
• Denny Hamlin was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender at Texas Motor Speedway.
• At least one of the 2006 Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders has scored a top-15 finish in every race this season.
• Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contenders Denny Hamlin (fourth) and Martin Truex Jr, (eighth) both finished in the top 10. The last time two rookies finished in the top 10 came at Phoenix in November 2005 when Kyle Busch finished first and Travis Kvapil finished 10th.
• Joe Nemechek (23rd) has been running at the finish in the last 39 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April, the longest current streak.
• Greg Biffle (42nd) has finished 31st or worse in four of the seven races this season. Biffle dropped from 18th to 23rd in the point standings. One year ago, after seven races, he ranked second in the point standings.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-9-2006)
News from April 8, 2006
NASCAR outraged by ‘Dateline’ racial story approach UPDATE: NASCAR said it was “outrageous” that “Dateline NBC” targeted one of its race tracks last weekend for a possible segment on anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. NASCAR said NBC confirmed it was sending Muslim-looking men to a race, along with a camera crew to film fans’ reactions. The NBC crew was “apparently on site in Martinsville, Va., walked around and no one bothered them,” NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Wednesday. “It is outrageous that a news organization of NBC’s stature would stoop to the level of going out to create news instead of reporting news,” Poston said. “Any legitimate journalist in America should be embarrassed by this stunt. The obvious intent by NBC was to evoke reaction, and we are confident our fans won’t take the bait,” he said. NASCAR is in the final year of a broadcasting agreement with NBC Sports. “‘Dateline’ is looking into this story,” NBC said in a statement. “We were intrigued by the results of a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll and other articles regarding increasing anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States. “It’s very early on in our newsgathering process, but be assured we will be visiting a number of locations across the country and are confident that our reporting team is pursuing this story in a fair manner,” it said.(ESPN.com/AP)(4-6-2006) UPDATE: Bruton Smith, theTexas Motor Speedway owner, said the FBI will be here paying attention this weekend to see if NBC follows last weekend’s NASCAR sting operation at Martinsville, where the network brought in Muslims for the Nextel Cup race and followed them around with hidden cameras to judge racism in the stock-car racing crowd. NBC has been one of NASCAR’s television network partners since 2001, carrying the second half of the Nextel Cup season. But NBC’s contract runs out at the end of this season and the network has declined to renew its NASCAR sponsorship, deciding instead to concentrate on NFL games.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-8-2006)
Goodyear Tire Update for LMS: A successful second Goodyear race tire test was held Tuesday, April 4, on the new track surface at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in preparation for the May NASCAR races, according to Goodyear race tire engineers. Data collection and driver input confirmed the choice of tougher, more durable tire compounds on the right and left sides which reduced grip, slowed lap times, reduced tire temperatures and wear, noted Rick Campbell, team leader for NASCAR tire development. The new tire construction is exclusive to the Lowe’s track. Drivers Kevin Harvick and Dale Jarrett both were pleased with the tire performance. Lap times indicated there could be a slower race pace than anticipated, as compared to a week-earlier test held with Harvick, Bobby Labonte, Scott Riggs, Jimmie Johnson and Bobby Hamilton Jr. The tires ran cool and the rate of tire wear indicated by the test is expected to exceed a normal fuel stop, as evidenced by Jarrett’s test run of more than 80 laps on one set, which could have gone farther. NASCAR Nextel Cup open team testing with the new tires is scheduled for May 1-3.(Goodyear PR)(4-8-2006)
STP back with Petty? UPDATE 2 races: One of the most famous car designs in all of NASCAR history was the #43 STP design driven to victory lane all over the country by Richard Petty. It appears the STP name will once again grace a Petty-owned car as a primary sponsor, this time with another NASCAR champion at the wheel, Bobby Labonte.(CircleTrackPlus) UPDATE: the makers of STP products announced a return to the hood of the legendary #43 car being driven by former Nextel Cup champion, Bobby Labonte. The familiar red, white and blue STP logo will highlight a retro paint scheme designed to pay tribute to one of the longest running sponsorships in the history of stockcar racing and to launch the new STP Oil Stabilizer. STP will be the primary hood sponsor of Labonte’s #43 Dodge for the Aaron’s 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway on April 30 and the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at the Richmond International Raceway on September 9. To commemorate the occasion, the makers of STP products will donate $43 for each lap raced during these two events to the Petty family’s charity, Victory Junction Gang Camp (VJGC).(PRN Newswire)(4-7-2006) IMAGE see an image of the car on my #43 Team Schemes page.(4-8-2006)
#66 to have SanDisk scheme at Texas IMAGE: Jeff Green’s #66 Chevy will carry a special black paint design this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, featuring the logo of SanDisk Corporation on the hood of the Haas CNC Racing entry. SanDisk, the world’s largest supplier of flash memory data storage products, is an associate sponsor of the #66 Chevy this season. SanDisk joins Best Buy, the consumer electronics, home-office products, entertainment software, appliances and related services retail chain as a sponsor of the Haas CNC Racing entry.(GMR Marketing PR)(4-6-2006) IMAGE: see an image of the scheme on my #66 Team Schemes page.(4-8-2006)
Scoring tower will count the laps ‘down’ and ‘up’: Texas Motor Speedway received approval from NASCAR for a scoring tower innovation. Traditionally, tracks have counted “up” on the lap total. Gossage wanted to count down to zero – like NFL, NBA and NHL scoreboards. “[NASCAR] had competition reasons for the scoreboard to count up,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “We had fan reasons to count down.” A fan suggestion solved the problem. The scoring tower has room for six numbers, so why not do both? NASCAR president Mike Helton approved the change for the Samsung/RadioShack 500.(Dallas Morning News)(4-8-2006)
Shamu To Join Johnson At Daytona In July: Lowe’s and SeaWorld announced today that Jimmie Johnson will feature a Shamu paint scheme on his Chevrolet when the Daytona 500 champion returns to the superspeedway on July 1. Lowe’s is the official Home Improvement Store of all the Busch Entertainment Corp. theme parks, including SeaWorld. The paint scheme is part of SeaWorld’s introduction of its all new Shamu show, called “Believe” at each of the SeaWorld parks this year. In addition to the Shamu paint scheme, a lucky race fan will have the opportunity to see the new show and watch as Jimmie Johnson races the Shamu #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. Fans can log on to www.lowesracing.com, sign up for a free Team Lowe’s Racing fan club membership, then race the specially designed #48 Chevrolet online. The fan with the fastest time will win a trip to Orlando to visit SeaWorld and Discovery Cove as well as the opportunity to watch Jimmie race. The Contest will run from April 7 to May 12.(GMR Marketing PR), see an image of the car on my #48 Team Schemes page.(4-8-2006)
News from April 7, 2006
Stewart wins IROC Race at Texas: #20-Tony Stewart won the Crown Royal IROC Race at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, with Ryan Newman finishing 2nd, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth. Stewart climed the flag stand after his first ever win in any series at Texas Motor Speedway. It is Stewart’s third career IROC win. More info later. Kenseth’s points lead is now 9 over Stewart [43-34], then Newman, Truex Jr. and Kimmel. See more and results on my IROC page.(4-7-2006)
Smaller fuel cells at LMS and road courses? UPDATE 2: hearing that NASCAR is looking at putting the smaller fuel cells in the cars at Lowe’s Motor Speedway to force cars to pit somewhere between 35-40 laps, due to the tire wear with the new surface. NASCAR may also due this in the future at all road races to break up the pit strategies and could also use the smaller fuel cells when they return to Atlanta in the Fall.(4-1-2006) UPDATE: Smaller fuel tanks might be a way to deal with excessive tire wear at tracks like Atlanta Motor Speedway and the newly paved Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The idea is that if drivers ran out of fuel after 30 laps or so, they’d make pit stops before tires could wear to a dangerous point. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said it’s too soon to tell whether the smaller tanks, which are used at Daytona and Talladega to add pit stops and therefore break up big packs of cars, will be used elsewhere. “Our primary focus in preparing for the upcoming races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May is testing the tires and getting them right,” he said.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(4-2-2006) UPDATE 2: NASCAR will require cars to use a smaller fuel cell at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May, NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton said April 7. The move is designed to make teams pit more frequently and give them a chance to check tire wear on the newly repaved surface on the 1.5-mile track outside Charlotte. Pemberton said the tire Goodyear has decided to use “is a great tire,” but NASCAR wanted to enter the first weekend on the new surface cautiously. The fuel cell will be about 13 gallons, compared to the usual 22-gallon cell. Teams will be able to go about 35-40 laps on fuel instead of 60-70 with the bigger cell. Nextel Cup teams will test at the track May 1-3, and Busch Series teams will test there May 8-10.(SceneDaily.com)(4-7-2006)
Little League Baseball scheme for #16 IMAGE: This weekend the #16 National Guard Ford of Greg Biffle will run a special Subway/Little League Baseball paint scheme. Subway is a proud sponsor of Little League Baseball.(Roush Racing)(4-5-2006) IMAGE: see an image of the scheme on my #16 Team Schemes page.(4-7-2006)
Kahne wins pole at Texas: #9-Kasey Kahne won the Budweiser Pole for the Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway for his 2nd lap of 2006 and 8th of his career. He won the pole and race at Atlanta a few weeks ago. Kahne ran a lap of 190.315mph, the only driver over 190. Starting 2nd is #18-J.J. Yeley, then #6-Mark Martin, #66-David Green and #16-Greg Biffle. The fastest of the non-top 35 teams/driver is #43-Bobby Labonte, who will start 10th. Missing the race were: #49-Sherman, #92-Blount, #78-Wallace, #34-Chaffin and #95-Barrett. #74-Derrike Cope make his first start of 2006. See the qualifying results below.
For qualifying speed, starting lineup, pole progression and more, see my Texas Starting Grid/Qualifying Page.(4-7-2006)
Rookie News and Notes – Post-Martinsville/Pre-Texas: Reed Sorenson was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the April 2 DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Sorenson finished 12th and took top Raybestos Rookie honors for the second time this season and twice in the last three races. J.J. Yeley led the Martinsville race once for one lap. He is first Raybestos Rookie to lead a lap in the spring race at Martinsville since Kasey Kahne in 2004. Yeley is the only first-year driver to lead a lap in two short-track races this season. Clint Bowyer holds a five-point advantage over Yeley (60-55) in the Raybestos Rookie standings. Only once in 10 races at Texas has a Raybestos Rookie won the race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his first career NEXTEL Cup Series win by 5.920 seconds over Jeff Burton in 2000. Earnhardt Jr. led six times for 106 laps, more than any other driver. Two or more Raybestos Rookies have led the same Texas race just once: (Earnhardt Jr. and Scott Pruett in 2000). The best start by a Raybestos Rookie at Texas is third by Kahne in 2004.(Raybestos PR), see more and standings on my Rookies Page.(4-7-2006)
Goodyear Tire Notes: This is the first time Goodyear has brought this right-side tire code (D-4014) to the track, and Texas is the only track at which it is scheduled to be run in 2006 . . . this left-side code (D-4008) was run previously at California and will be run again at Dover, Michigan and Chicagoland . . . Nextel Cup and Busch Series teams will run the same tire set-up this weekend . . . as on all ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Texas . . . the inflation in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. Estimated Pit Window: Every 60-65 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see the full facts report on my Texas Race Info/Rundown Page. (4-7-2006)
Food Lion AutoFair at LMS: The Food Lion AutoFair runs Thursday, April 6 through Sunday, April 9 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The Food Lion Pavilion features several unusual vehicles with land, sea, and air capabilities, including The Flying Red Baron from “Monster Garage,” Steve Green’s Tornado Attacker and an amphicar. Other attractions include unique cars from the Lane Motor Museum, the “Globe of Death” motorcycle stunt show, a tribute to the Turbocharger, collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack Classics on Friday and Saturday and a concert by The Marshall Tucker Band on Sunday.
Garry Hill Automotive Fine Art, Inc. will be exhibiting at the Food Lion Auto Fair at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the Busch Garage April 6th-9th. The show will feature many driver autographed art prints documenting the greatest races and greatest driver moments with a focus on the history of stock car racing. For a complete overview of the Food Lion AutoFair click here.(4-7-2006)
Texas Qualifying Notes:
* Kasey Kahne won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the Samsung/RadioShack 500, lapping Texas Motor Speedway in 28.374 seconds at 190.315 mph. Bill Elliott holds the track-qualifying record of 27.803 seconds, 194.224 mph, set in April 2002.
* This is Kahne’s eighth career Bud Pole in 79 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
* This is his second Bud Pole and fifth top-10 start in 2006.
* This is Kahne’s first Bud Pole and third top-10 start, all top-threes – in four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. He became the eighth different Bud Pole winner at Texas.
* J.J. Yeley posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 28.515 seconds, 189.374 mph and will join Kahne on the front row for the Samsung/RadioShack 500. Yeley posted his career-best start in his 13th race. It is his fourth career top-10 start and his third in 2006.
* This is the third Bud Pole for Dodge in 2006. Chevrolet has two Bud Poles and Ford has one. Qualifying was canceled at Bristol.
* Mark Martin (third) posted his fourth top-10 starts in 2006 and his eighth in 11 races at Texas. This is his best starting position since he started second at California in September 2005.
* Jeff Green (fourth) posted his first start better than 14th this season and also his first better than 14th in six races at Texas. It is his best since he started third at Richmond in May 2004.
* Greg Biffle (fifth) posted his sixth top-10 start of the 2006 season, more than any other driver. It is his fourth top-10 start in five races at Texas.
* Ryan Newman (14th) has gone nine races without a Bud Pole, just the fourth time in his career that he has gone more than eight races without a Bud Pole.
* Brothers Bobby (10th) and Terry Labonte (30th), both had the possibility of using the past champion provisional but made the question moot when both made the race on time.
* Derrike Cope (38th) qualified for his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race since Martinsville in October 2005, and just his second since 2004. He will be the 54th driver to compete in at least one race this season.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-7-2006)
Ramblings – Texas: Kasey Kahne went out late today and snatched the Bud Pole away from J. J. Yeley for Sunday’s Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Kasey blistered a lap of 28.374 (190.315 mph) to become our first two-timer of the season (pole-wise) and take down his 8th career NEXTEL Cup top-spot.
J. J. Yeley (2nd) grabbed his career-best starting spot today. His previous best was 4th at California this past February.
Mark Martin (3rd) has his best starting spot since he had the outside pole at California last September.
Jeff Green (4th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 3rd at Richmond in May of 2004!
Matt Kenseth (6th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 3rd when we were here last November.
Martin Truex Jr (9th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 8th at Atlanta last October.
Clint Bowyer(12th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 16th at Atlanta last month.
Reed Sorenson (13th) also has his career-best starting spot for Sunday. His previous best starts were 15th at Atlanta last month and at Homestead last November.
Mike Garvey (23rd) has his career-best starting spot this weekend as well. His previous best was 32nd at Pocono last July.
Terry Labonte (30th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 20th at Michigan last August.
Welcome Back Derrike Cope (38th). This is Derrike’s first start since Martinsville last October…..the only Cup race he qualified for last year.
STREAKIN…..Greg Biffle has 6 Top-10 starts in a row.
Kurt Busch has 6 Top-10 starts in a row.
Kasey Kahne has 4 Top-5 starts in the last 5 races.
In 10 races at Bruton’s “Palace on the Prairie” we’ve had no repeat winners, but you can look for that to end on Sunday. With the Roush Fords running so good and with 7 of the previous wins here belonging to the Blue Oval guys, they’ve gotta be considered your favorite going in.(Stock Car Fans)(4-7-2006)
Nemechek to a backup car: On the first lap of today’s practice session at Texas Motor Speedway, Joe Nemechek spun and hit the concrete wall, forcing the #01 U.S. Army team to go with a backup Chevrolet for the rest of the weekend, including today’s qualifying session. Nemechek did manage to make a few practice laps in the backup car and was 29th fastest out of the 48 cars entered for Sunday’s Samsung/RadioShack 500. After the practice session, the #01 team put the engine from the primary car into the backup car. “Once we get the primary engine in the backup (car), we should be fast,” said Nemechek, who has qualified in the top 10 at the last four Texas races. “I am not really sure why the (primary) car did what it did. I was down low and the car was sticking, and then all of a sudden it was headed to the wall.”(MB2 Motorsports PR)(4-7-2006)
Martinsville final TV Ratings up 21%: Fox’s broadcast of last Sunday’s DirectTV 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race from Martinsville Speedway earned a final 6.2 Nielsen Media Research rating and a 15 share, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 21.6% higher than the 5.1 the race drew last year, when it was aired on the same weekend as the Masters, one of professional golf’s four major tournaments.(SceneDaily.com)(4-7-2006)
Texas Terry back in the #44: Driving a #44 Chevy with a familiar Kellogg’s Corn Flakes paint scheme, Terry Labonte will make his 2006 Hendrick Motorsports debut Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. The event will mark the first of 10 NEXTEL Cup races the two-time champion will run for Hendrick in his final season of competition.(Hendrick Motorsports)(4-7-2006)
Red Bull hires Elton Sawyer: Elton Sawyer, who was working with Evernham Motorsports in its driver development program, has been hired by Red Bull Racing as its Director of Competition, a team spokesman confirmed Thursday. Sawyer is third all-time in Busch Series starts with 392. He finished fifth in points three times in the series. He also had 29 Cup starts. Red Bull Racing will field two teams as part of Toyota’s Nextel Cup effort next season. The team is owned by the energy drink company.(SceneDaily.com)(4-7-2006)
McLean Retiring as Executive Director of NCMA and NCMF: In a joint announcement the North Carolina Motorsports Association (NCMA) and the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation (NCMF) today announced that Ed McLean, their founding executive director, is retiring from management of the organizations and will resume management of his McLean Marketing Group. McLean shepherded the organizations through their first four years of growth and directed their efforts to bring the business of motorsports in the North Carolina to the attention of the citizens of the state, the government and the business community. “Ed has contributed greatly to the entire North Carolina motorsports community during his tenure as director,” said NCMA chairman Richard Petty. McLean will be available to both the NCMA and NCMF to assist in the transition to a new executive director for the organizations. Ed has been awarded a lifetime membership in the NCMA through his McLean Marketing Group and will continue to be a part of the NCMA.(NCMA PR)(4-7-2006)
Dodson Grant at over $40k: Friends and colleagues of Barry Dodson, a Mooresville resident and a familiar figure in NASCAR, have given more than $40,000 to establish athletic scholarships at Wake Forest University in honor of his children, Trey and Tia, who were killed in 1994. “Losing a son and daughter is like a free fall; you never get settled back,” Dodson said. “I donít think you ever learn to deal with it. But this has made it easier when I thought nothing ever would. It has put life back into the entire family.” Trey, Tia and one of their high school friends were killed in a car accident near Darlington, S.C., where they lived with their mother, Jan. Trey was 17 and Tia was 16. Dodson has supported Wake Forest’s athletic program for years and attended many events with his children. For more info, see my Racing Charities page.(4-7-2006)
#12 to run blue and purple scheme? got images from Penske Racing in Mooresville, NC from a reader in which the nose and smaller parts of the #12 Alltel Dodge of Ryan Newman is painted purple. See my #12 Team Schemes page.(4-6-2006) UPDATE: hearing this scheme could run at Phoenix on April 22.(4-7-2006)
IROC at Texas: The Crown Royal International Race of Champions team hit the pavement at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday in preparation for round-two of the 30th Anniversary season of Crown Royal IROC racing. For the third-consecutive year “The Great American Speedway” will host the second race of the Crown Royal IROC season, which will take place on Friday, April 7 at 7:00pm/et, broadcast live on SPEED Channel and PRN Radio. Crown Royal IROC test drivers, Dave Marcis, David Donohue, Jim and Jay Sauter recently tested the cars, collecting initial test data on all of the Crown Royal IROC race cars. IROC President, Jay Signore said, “We’re off to a good start here at Texas Motor Speedway. We’re all getting re-acclimated to the racetrack and to the Goodyear Eagle Radial race tires, which is a different compound for us this year. The tires seem to have a lot of grip, especially with the track being as green as it is and out of the box the feedback on the race cars is all good. “ David Donohue is new to the IROC test team this year, and the IROC experience at Texas Motor Speedway is completely new to him. “This is my first time in the IROC cars at Texas Motor Speedway and I didn’t have any problem getting comfortable, so I would have to say it should be a comfortable situation for the drivers who don’t do this everyday.” Although new to the test team, Donohue is not new to IROC as his father, the late Mark Donohue was an integral part of the development team that created the series and also the inaugural IROC champion in 1974. For race ticket information, call the Texas Motor Speedway ticket hotline at (817) 215-8500 or log on to texasmotorspeedway.com.(IROCRacing.com and see my IROC page for more)(4-7-2006)
Matt Kenseth Educates, Paints with Dallas Area Kids: #17-Matt Kenseth took time out of his work schedule on Thursday morning at Texas Motor Speedway to visit with teenagers from Dallas / Ft. Worth area middle schools and after-school programs to teach them about teamwork, achievement, and the importance of making a difference in their community. The national educational initiative called ‘Ameriquest Soaring Dreams Youth Program’ is a partnership between Ameriquest Mortgage Company, non-profit organization Portraits of Hope and Roush Racing that bring together youth from schools, hospitals and after-school programs to explore personal goals and societal issues through education and art. Portraits of Hope is an organization that develops creative projects merging the healing arts with inspirational public art. Middle schoolers from Boles Jr. High School (Arlington), Dunbar 6th Grade Middle School (Ft. Worth) and Girl’s Inc., a non-profit youth organization based in Arlington, participated in the program. As part of the interactive workshop, teens and Kenseth shared their creative expressions by creating murals replicating the shapes and colors depicted on Kenseth’s #17 Ameriquest Soaring Dreams race car that he will drive in Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. This is the second of four Ameriquest Soaring Dreams workshops and paint schemes this year. Last month in Bristol, Kenseth’s teammate, Carl Edwards, participated in the Ameriquest Soaring Dreams workshop with a local high school. Mark Martin will do so later this month in Phoenix (Apr. 20) and Greg Biffle at Dover (May 30). Ameriquest Mortgage Company is the primary sponsor of four of Roush Racing’s NBS teams in 2006, which includes Kenseth, Edwards, Martin and Biffle.(Alan Taylor Communications)(4-7-2006)
News from April 6, 2006
Mikey in Stars and Stripes again at Daytona: #55-Michael Waltrip will run his annual Stars and Stripes NAPA scheme for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona, this year on his #55 Dodge. See an image on the #55 Team Schemes page.(4-6-2006)
Too Many Cautions? If you think too many caution flags interrupt NASCAR action these days, you’re not alone. #6-Mark Martin believes excess cautions not only diminish the racing on the track but creates more conflict. “We have 10 times more cautions than we used to,” Martin said. “If a drink bottle or a spring rubber falls out on the track, we have a caution flag. We used to run over starters and alternators and all kinds of stuff. We’d hit them and knock them out of the way and we could keep racing. But things have changed. We have a lot of debris cautions.” As Martin points out, the cautions enable the field to pack in behind the leader, increasing the likelihood of contact — and more cautions. “Every time we pack the cars up, we have another caution,” Martin says. “Then the kids get excited, run over one another and we have another one. It seems that 10-15 laps is all we can go, typically. I don’t feel like we get a chance to race anymore. We run short little 10-lap bursts for 500 or 400 miles. It’s not a chance to really get out there and do your business. And it’s tough on the cars. They get wrecked a lot.” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said it all boils down to safety. “Perhaps we look at it a little differently than they did years ago. Perhaps they did run over some things years ago. We don’t want to have anything on the racetrack at all that could pose a safety threat to drivers or the spectators.” Sunday’s race produced 16 cautions (only one for debris on the track) and meant 87 of the 500 laps were run under yellow. That wasn’t as disruptive as the 19 cautions last October at Martinsville Speedway.(USA Today)(4-6-2006)
Last Race for Intrepid at Texas: NASCAR’s last glimpse of the Intrepid — a car that Dodge no longer produces — is expected to come this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. #12-Ryan Newman, the final Intrepid holdout, will run the car one more time before the Penske South team switches to the Charger full time. Matt Borland, Newman’s crew chief, said he expects the transition to go a little easier than last year when Newman found the Charger wanting on intermediate and larger ovals. Roger Penske said recently that he’s pleased with the strides the Charger has made of late, noting Kasey Kahne’s victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 27. “It’s good to see those cars run well,” Penske said. “They had a good car in Atlanta, and we were not where we wanted to be with the Intrepid.” Penske Racing’s other driver, Kurt Busch, also has run the Intrepid at times this season, as has Petty Enterprises’ Bobby Labonte. All the Dodge [supported] teams have run the Charger exclusively at the smaller ovals this season.
“We’re going to run (the Intrepid) in the Texas race. That will probably be the final race for us,” said Robbie Loomis, director of operations for Petty Enterprises. “If we went to Texas, led the most laps and won the race, it would be hard to do something different for Charlotte. But right now we’re 99.9% (sure) it’s going to be Chargers the rest of the year. Dodge re-entered Nextel Cup in 2001 with the Intrepid after a 24-year absence. The Charger has four wins since its debut in the 2005 Daytona 500.(USA Today)(4-6-2006)
#31 Crew Chief to throw out 1st pitch: As part of a promotion for Cingular Wireless, #31 Cingular Chevy crew chief Scott Miller will throw out the first pitch at Ameriquest Field for the Texas Rangers game Thursday, April 7 vs. the Detroit Tigers.(RCR)(4-6-2006)
News from April 5, 2006
Robby back in Black: Jim Beam Black will take the spotlight for the first time this year with the #7 Chevy at Texas Motor Speedway. Race fans can also enjoy the limelight for a day by entering the inaugural Jim Beam 1100 sweepstakes. The ultimate racing adventure includes an all expense paid trip to see the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 – all on the same day, more info at jimbeam.com. Menards, Harrah’s and CarLoan.com will serve as associate sponsors.(RGM PR), see image of the scheme on my #7 Team Schemes page.(4-5-2006)
Boris and Stoddard to Roush? UPDATE: hearing #36 MB2 Motorsports crew chief, Frank Stoddard has left MC2 Motorsports and gone back to Roush Racing [where is was the crew chief of the #99 and Jeff Burton for years] and that driver Boris Said also signed with Roush Racing. Not sure of the details or specifics yet but hearing the races planned are Infineon Raceway, Pepsi 400 at Daytona, Brickyard 400 and Watkins Glen. Could be in the #06 the Todd Kleuver is supposed to run 6 races in later this year as these four races are not on Kleuver’s Cup schedule. Stoddard mentioned this on the radio show, The Morning Buzz, which Stoddard calls in to give NASCAR reports on Tuesday mornings.(4-4-2006) UPDATE: Boris Said and veteran crew chief Frank Stoddard have formed their own Nextel Cup team, Yahoo! Sports has learned. They are partnering with long-time Said associate and former driver and team owner Mark Simo. The team, which is slated to run four or five races this season, will work with Roush Racing, which has offered to supply the team with cars, engines and technical expertise. Stoddard recently left MB2 Motorsports and speculation was that he was set to rejoin Roush. But Stoddard, who used to be crew chief for Roush’s #99 car when Jeff Burton was behind the wheel, instead has been working with Roush officials on forming the new team. Said has been frustrated with his inability to find a regular Cup ride this season after running nine races with MB2 in 2005 with Stoddard as his crew chief. After Simo’s No Fear clothing company purchased a building adjacent to Roush Racing headquarters in Concord, N.C., for a planned East Coast distribution center, Said, who has been working as a consultant for Roush’s teams, began talking with Roush about possibly starting a team. The current plan is for the new team to run the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway road course in June, the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July, the Brickyard in August and the Watkins Glen road course, also in August. The team has secured sponsorship for at least four races, with an announcement regarding sponsorship details to come.(Yahoo Sports)(4-5-2006)
Rule Violations Result in Suspension, Fine for #07 Team: NASCAR has announced that one member of the #07 Jack Daniel’s/DirecTV Chevy team has been suspended and another has been fined, as a result of rule violations during this past Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Martinsville Speedway. Crew member Clint Almquist has been suspended from NASCAR until April 19, 2006 [misses Texas] and placed on probation until June 7, 2006 for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rule book. During Sunday’s race, Almquist on one occasion did not place racing fuel in the designated collection area. Crew chief Gil Martin was fined $2,500 for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 9-4-A (crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his team members).(NASCAR PR)(4-5-2006)
Goodyear to test again at Charlotte UPDATE 2 testing goes better: Goodyear officials confirmed Thursday that it will conduct another tire test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway next Tuesday, a week after a two-day test on the newly resurfaced 1.5-mile oval. Rick Heinrich, project manager for Goodyear, said Wednesday that the tires showed a little more wear than Goodyear would have liked, but that could be expected as Goodyear attempts to create a compound that will work on the track. Lowe’s Motor Speedway underwent a $3.5 million repaving job after tire problems plagued races there last season. Track president H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler said it is too early to predict whether tire wear will be an issue during the May races. All of the Nextel Cup teams are scheduled to test May 1-3 and then Busch Series teams will test May 8-10. “It’s going to be a challenge, and I’m not sure that we really are going to now exactly what we’ve got as far as the track is concerned until we have all of the cars come in here in early May,” Wheeler said. “We have no idea right now about a second groove because everybody is staying down low.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-31-2006) UPDATE: Goodyear is planning to do a second tire test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Dale Jarrett and Kevin Harvick will test there Tuesday.(Roanoke Times)(4-1-2006) UPDATE 2: Officials from NASCAR, Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Goodyear met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the results of a second tire test at the newly paved 1.5-mile track, with everyone apparently feeling better than they did after last week’s initial test. “Goodyear officials were a lot more optimistic,” said Jerry Gappens, the track’s senior vice president. “They brought a completely new tire and they did not encounter the challenges they had last week with the higher speeds, excessive wear and higher tire temperatures.” Kevin Harvick and Dale Jarrett participated in Tuesday’s test. Goodyear built a totally different tire, with new construction and a harder compound, and Gappens said cars were about one second per lap slower than last week, a drop of about 6 mph. There were no apparent issues with excessive wear or high temperatures. Goodyear plans to bring the tire tested Tuesday back for the Nextel Cup test scheduled at the track May 1-3. It also the one Goodyear plans to supply to Busch and Truck series teams for their races here in May. It appears now that carburetor restrictor plates like those used at Daytona and Talladega will not be needed for the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge and the Coca-Cola 600. It however remains possible that smaller fuel cells used at those tracks might be employed for May’s races here.(full column at ThatsRacin)(4-5-2006)
Robby to deliever Meals On Wheels: Robby Gordon will make a special delivery to a homebound person on Thursday, April 6 in Ft. Worth, TX in his #7 Harrah’s Chevy via police escort. He will assist Carla Jutson in delivering the 10 millionth meal served in Tarrant County since Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County began meal deliveries in 1973. In 2002, Harrah’s became a national prime sponsor of the Meals On Wheels Association of America’s “March For Meals” campaign, committing $1 million over three years and an additional $1 million from 2005 to 2009. Since 2004, Harrah’s Entertainment and Gordon have teamed up to aid Harrah’s nationwide efforts to drive public awareness for the association’s campaign. This is the first of six deliveries in race markets this season.(RGM PR)(4-5-2006)
#92 gets a sponsor for Texas: Front Row Motorsports announced that FOX Collision Center will sponsor the Front Row Motorsports #92 Chevy driven by Chad Blount at Texas Motor Speedway, for the Samsung/RadioShack 500. FOX Collision Center, Inc., with 11 full service body shops is owned and operated by Kansas native Todd Fox, an industry veteran with over 20 years experience in collision repair. He began his collision repair business in Wichita and operated four facilities before moving onto Tulsa, Oklahoma in spring of 2001. After just a few short months, FOX quickly became Tulsa’s premier Collision Center. There are currently four FOX Collision Centers in Wichita, one in Kansas City, Kansas; four in Tulsa and one in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. FOX Collision launched in Arkansas last week with the opening of their newest shop in Springdale. For more information about Fox Collision please visit www.foxcollision.com.(FRM PR)(4-5-2006)
Sadler’s Team Earns Pit Crew Challenge Win: Elliott Sadler’s #38 M&M’s pit crew claimed its first win of the season in the weekly Checkers / Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition, helping boost the Robert Yates Racing driver to a sixth-place finish in Sunday’s (April 2) Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. Sadler’s over-the-wall team edged out other participating crews by spending the least amount of time in the pits during the DIRECTV 500. Sadler’s #38 Ford spent 279.774 seconds on pit lane. “You’ve got to have good pit stops and my guys were definitely on it on Sunday,” continued Sadler, whose crew earned $10,500 for the win. “This M&M’s team needed a good run. I think we are definitely back on track.” Sadler’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Rodney Fetters (jackman), Ryan McCray (front-tire carrier), Mike Lingerfelt (front-tire changer), Lance Hanna (rear-tire carrier), Dave Smith (rear-tire changer), Brian Dunaway (gasman), Frankie Good (catch can) and Toby Mellott (windshield). The team’s crew chief is Tommy Baldwin Jr. and the pit crew coach is Andy Ward. After the sixth race of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, Jimmie Johnson’s and Tony Stewart’s pit crew are tied in the Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge standings with two victories each. The season champion will receive a $105,000 bonus. Checkers/Rally’s is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at checkers.com.(DMF Communications PR)(4-5-2006)
Eury Jr. Wins WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award: Martinsville Speedway delivered 500 laps of incensed racing excitement in this weekend’s DIRECTV 500. Pushing, bumping and shoving were the norm at the half-mile bull ring, leaving the garage littered with numerous torn up vehicles by the event’s end. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. weren’t exempt from the action, as the #8 Budweiser Chevy was involved in two separate incidents on the race track, forcing lengthy pit stops to fix the damage after each episode. Still, with Eury Jr.’s guidance, Earnhardt Jr. was able to climb back and finish inside the top-five. Eury Jr.’s comeback earned him the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. Earnhardt Jr. suffered extensive damage to the right side of his Monte Carlo after getting collected in a multi-car accident during the opening stages of the DIRECTV 500. Eury Jr. ordered vast repairs to the #8 Chevy and worked his driver inside the top-10 following the maintenance, but contact wit the #12 car on lap 318 forced another unscheduled stop. Despite the two setbacks, the Earnhardt Jr. and Eury Jr. combination fought to a fourth-place finish. A panel of voters; including Robbie Reiser, Mike Mulhern of the Winston-Salem Journal and a WypAll Wipers representative; unanimously agreed that Eury Jr.’s comeback deserved Crew Chief of the Race accolades. For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WypAll Wipers gave Eury Jr. $1,000. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. This was Eury Jr.’s first Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him with Darian Grubb, Kenny Francis and Roy McCauley for second-place in the standings. Robbie Reiser is in the lead with two wins.(Wypall PR)(4-5-2006)
Cope plans to attempt Texas: Derrike Cope and the #74 Dodge are heading to Texas. Cope told derrikecope.com: “It looks as if we will have the My Guardian/Sundance Vacations/YRA Dodge at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend! I am looking forward to this opportunity after last weekend. I really enjoy The Texas race track. It is very fast and always produces a great race. I have had some very good runs there as of late, both in the Busch Series as well as the Cup series.” The team is not listed on mine or nascar.com’s entry list as of yet.(4-5-2006)
News from April 4, 2006
Ince and #32 PPI part ways UPDATE: been told that the #32 PPI Motorsports / Tide team and crew chief James Ince have parted way. No word on the new crew chief. Ince is actively seeking a new position in the sport.(4-3-2006) UPDATE: PPI Motorsports officials say Gary Putnam will take over as crew chief of the #32 Chevy driven by Travis Kvapil in the Nextel Cup Series. Putnam, who was the team’s competition director, will immediately assume the duties of James Ince. Officials say Ince, who also served as team manager, has been released to pursue other opportunities.(SceneDaily.com)(4-4-2006)
Changes with Nextel/Sprint? UPDATE: A major shakeup appears under way in the Sprint-Nextel sports department with two top players leaving, and that has the NASCAR garage abuzz with questions about the company’s future in NASCAR stock-car racing. Jill Gregory, the director of NASCAR Nextel Series marketing since 2004, is leaving to join Bank of America’s new NASCAR marketing operation. And Michael Robichaud, vice-president of sports marketing for Sprint-Nextel, and formerly Nextel’s director of sports and entertainment marketing, is also leaving, though his next job is up in the air. And there is intense speculation here that Sprint-Nextel’s chairman, Tim Donahue, who made the original deal with NASCAR before last year’s merger, may be leaving, too. All that increases speculation that officials on the Sprint side of the company are taking control from all the key Nextel people. Sources here say that might not be good for NASCAR, because they say Sprint executives generally aren’t fond of NASCAR and might try to unload the $70 million a year, 10-year sponsorship, perhaps by selling it to another company.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-3-2006) UPDATE: Sprint Nextel officials Tuesday reiterated the company’s commitment to NASCAR despite the recent merger of the two companies and the pending departure of two marketing executives who handled Sprint Nextel’s management of its Nextel Cup sponsorship. Mark Schweitzer, the chief marketing officer from Sprint Nextel, said the company has no plans to back away from its 10-year deal (reportedly $75 million per year) that began in 2004 to sponsor the Nextel Cup Series. Schweitzer said there are not many outs in the contract and added that the sponsorship cannot be transferred and it cannot be sold. Sprint Nextel also has contracts with the tracks and is also committed to spend an undisclosed amount of advertising in conjunction with the sponsorship. Sprint and Nextel completed their merger in 2005, and the series name is expected to change. Schweitzer said original plans called for a decision on whether to make a name change by last February, but that decision has been delayed until “the middle of this year. We want to make sure that, if we were to make a change, it isn’t detrimental to the equity that we’ve built up, particularly in support of our Nextel product,” Schweitzer said. Schweitzer was speaking an attempt to dispel questions about the company’s commitment to the sport with the pending departure of Michael Robichaud, vice president for sports marketing and Nextel Cup program marketing manager Jill Gregory. Gregory is going to Bank of America to help activate its NASCAR sponsorships, while Robichaud plans to pursue other opportunities.(SceneDaily.com)(4-4-2006)
McMurray to drive Taxi in Fort Worth: Everyone wants a reliable designated driver and you would be hard pressed to find a better driver than a NASCAR star. Some lucky bar patrons will experience that very scenario on Thursday night, April 6, leading up to the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. That’s when NASCAR’s Jamie McMurray will lead a fleet of 10 #26 Crown Royal Ford Fusions as they provide free, safe, rides home to Dallas / Ft. Worth area nightlife revelers. Crown Royal’s annual “Safe Rides Home” initiative to help promote responsible decision making has provided rides for hundreds of patrons and NASCAR fans since its inception in 2003. Bar patrons can sign up for free rides home at a specially decorated taxi kiosk at Rodeo Plaza in downtown Fort Worth as part of Crown Royal’s “Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly.” program that promotes responsible drinking. Crown Royal is the primary sponsor of McMurray’s #26 Ford, and the purple and gold colors will run again in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.(Alan Taylor Communications)(4-4-2006)
Sad News – Jack Arute, Sr.: One of the best known and most progressive track operators in the country has passed away. Jack Arute, Sr. of Stafford Motor Speedway fame died Monday morning in Connecticut. Arute was in the construction business and co-owned Eddie Flemke’s racecars in 1969 when he was approached about buying the track from former driver Bill Slater. At that time, the track was almost ready to shut down. Arute came in and made several improvements to the facility, including building new grandstands. Through the years, he aligned the track closely with NASCAR, started the SK Modified division and created a weekly racing card that attracted national short track stars on a regular basis. Drivers like Ron Bouchard and Richie Evans raced there regularly in the 1970’s and well known touring competitors like Ted Christopher and Zach Sylvester compete there on Friday nights to this day.(speed51.com and modseriesscene.com. from NASCAR: “Racing has lost one of its best friends. Jack Arute Sr. certainly helped build our sport and helped make NASCAR what it is today. He was a ‘man’s man,’ a personal friend, and he will be greatly missed. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Arute family,” NASCAR Vice Chairman Bill France said.(4-4-2006) AND see another column at the Hartford Courant: A Long Track Record: Arute Helped Change Perception Of Local Auto Racing.(4-4-2006)
Former Hendrick Development team signs Munter: SS Racing has signed race car driver Leilani Münter for the 2006 racing season. Leilani will run a combination of ASA, USRA Super Late Model Series and NASCAR Elite division along with an extensive testing program. Three time ASA Champion and Winston Cup veteran driver Butch Miller will serve as Leilani’s mentor and coach. Münter and SS Racing plan to run approximately 30 races this season including events in the ASA Southern Division, ASA Northern Division, and ASA Challenge Series. Leilani and SS Racing will race in the USRA Super Late Model event on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway during the race weekend with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the Indy Racing League. Her last race of the season will be on November 9 at Phoenix International Raceway in the NASCAR Elite Southeast Series during the NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend which also features the NASCAR Busch and Craftsman Truck Series. Leilani will carry the colors of Konica Minolta as her primary sponsor in 2006. In addition to racing in the NASCAR Elite Division and ASA, she is a race instructor at Fast Track High Performance Driving School and a special correspondent for NASCAR.com. She is a Hostess “Race Diva” alongside IRL’s Danica Patrick and NHRA’s Melanie Troxel.(leilanimunter.com)(4-4-2006)
NASCAR Day at 36,000: NASCAR Foundation officials say more than 36,000 NASCAR Day pins have been sold and more than 1,000 companies have signed up to take part in this year’s May 19 observance. For a $5 donation, participants receive an official commemorative lapel pin and are encouraged to wear them on May 19 to show their pride in the sport on NASCAR Day. (SceneDaily.com), more info on NASCAR Day, see my Racing Charity page.(4-4-2006)
Tony will keep climbling: #20-Tony Stewart says he plans to continue his fence-climbing ways when he wins races. When he first scaled a catchfence after winning at Daytona in July 2005, the fans went wild. Since then, Stewart has turned the impulsive move into his own victory signature, pulling himself up some difficult wiring at tracks such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway. When he won at Martinsville Speedway Sunday, Stewart once more worked his way up the fencing onto the flagstand to the delight of the sellout crowd. “I wish everybody had the opportunity to be up there during something like that, because that is the coolest view to see people,” he said. “No matter what kind of driver they’re supporting, they’re still cheering because they know that before you even celebrate with your race team, you’re celebrating with them.” So look for more of the Nextel Cup defending champion’s flag-grabbing ways during future wins. “The response every time we’ve done that has been so overwhelming that that is part of [the] victory celebration,” he said. “When I get that checkered flag first, that’s part of what I look forward about winning races, celebrating with the fans like that.”(SceneDaily.com)(4-4-2006)
DEI Graphic Artist’s work wins EVIE Award: In a recent competition, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. was nominated in four categories at the EVIE Award ceremony in nearby Charlotte. Kellie A. Schmidlin, our Graphic Artist, created the only award winner for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. when her work won Best Invitation. The award-winning creation was used for the 2005 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Holiday Party last December. Schmidlin, 27, has been with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. since June of 2001 as a graphic artist. Originally from Bristol, Va., she’s a 2000 graduate of Emory & Henry College in Emory, Va. where she studied Mass Communications and Art. This was the second nomination in this category, but first award for her work from EVIE (Events in Excellence). The award and invitation are currently on display in the company’s Trophy Room where employees dine.(DEI)(44-2006)
News from April 3, 2006
COT to test at Martinsville UPDATE 2: NASCAR, which tested its “Car of Tomorrow” on Monday at Bristol, will test it again next Monday at Martinsville. The car will debut next spring at Bristol and be phased in over three years.(Speed Channel), no word who will be testing a COT, but last week Rusty Wallace said he would test there for NASCAR.(4-1-2006) UPDATE: NASCAR’s testing of its car of the future continues today at Martinsville Speedway. The car, which will debut next year at the Bristol spring race, also will run at Martinsville as the car is phased in over a three-year period. Richard Childress Racing and NASCAR are each scheduled to test the car today. Kevin Harvick is expected to drive for Childress with Brett Bodine driving the NASCAR vehicle. The test will be open to the public.(Roanoke Times)(4-3-2006) UPDATE 2: For the second straight week, NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow tested on a short track as preparations continue for next season’s debut of a safer, more competitive and cost-efficient stock car. On Monday at Martinsville Speedway, #29-Kevin Harvick of the Richard Childress Racing team, along with NASCAR’s Brett Bodine, tested the new car. While early morning rain delayed the start of the test, the results were extremely positive. “We went through our normal aero changes here today, just to back up what the wind tunnel has been telling us, and were able to get some quality laps on the track,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition. “The wing continues to give us positive results. It is going to provide the teams with a lot of advantages when it comes to competition. We’ll even get more evidence of that when we test the Car of Tomorrow next month at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.”
For Harvick, it was his first time driving the Car of Tomorrow and he was encouraged with his initial test run. “When you get in the driver’s seat, it feels like just another race car,” said Harvick. “We got a lot out of today’s test, because it helps us determine what kind of package we will need when we run the car next season. From everything I’ve heard about the wing, it should be a big help in helping the car behind you get some air on its nose. That seems to be what we’re fighting all the time; the aero push on the bigger race tracks.” Monday marked the second straight week for RCR to test its Car of Tomorrow, as #31-Jeff Burton participated in the session a week ago at Bristol. Harvick says that the RCR team has made a commitment to develop its Car of Tomorrow program. “We didn’t go to the Car of Tomorrow test at Daytona (held in January), so we came out of there saying that since we had a clean sheet of paper, we needed to work to get ahead of the game and come out of the gate strong with this car next season,” said Harvick. “Richard (Childress) has made a commitment to do that and we’ve assembled a team to take this car around and we should have a couple of more cars done by Charlotte.” The next NASCAR Car of Tomorrow test is scheduled for May 30-31 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord.(NASCAR PR), no mention of Rusty Wallace testing.(4-3-2006)
Overnight Martinsville TV ratings up: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s DirectTV 500 Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway earned a 5.1 overnight Nielsen Media Research rating and a 12 market share, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Daily reports. The daily says two markets – Indianapolis and St. Louis – were not included because of weather problems, but the rating was still 10.9% higher than the 4.6/11 last year’s Martinsville race earned. The 2005 race, however, was a week later and aired opposite one of golf’s major events, the Masters.(SceneDaily.com)(4-3-2006)
Who’s Hot – Texas Motor Speedway:
• Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to score four top-five and five top-10 finishes in the first six races in 2006.
• Mark Martin is the only driver to score top-15 finishes in each of the six races in 2006.
• Mark Martin has scored 10 straight top-15 finishes; extending a streak that began at Atlanta last October.
• Tony Stewart is the only driver to lead at least one lap in all six races this season.
• Carl Edwards has moved from 43rd to 19th in the point standings since Daytona.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-3-2006)
Ricky Remembered: Sunday would have been the late Ricky Hendrick’s birthday. Hendrick and ninth others perished in the crash of a team plane near Martinsville in October 2004 and the accident is always on the minds of racers whenever the circuit returns here. “This is Ricky Hendrick’s birthday today and I know I’m not part of the Hendrick organization, but every time we come to Martinsville, we think of the Hendrick family and the tragedy and (pilot) Scott Lathram and his family,” race-winner #20-Tony Stewart said. “I just want everyone to know we’re thinking about them.”(Speed Channel)(4-3-2006)
News from April 2, 2006
Stewart wins at Martinsville: #20-Tony Stewart won the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway, leading 288 or 500 laps for his first win of 2006, 25th of his career and first since Watkins Glen last August. #24-Jeff Gordon held on for 2nd, with #48-Jimmie Johnson 3rd, then #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a very beat up car and #5-Kyle Busch. The rest of the top-10 were #38-Sadler, #29-Harvick, #25-Vickers, #26-McMurray and #10-Riggs. Points leader #17-Matt Kenseth was 7th as late as lap 493 when he lost his brakes on a restart and smacked the wall, finishing 24th and dropping to 3rd in points with #48-Johnson taking over the lead, leading #6-Martin by 59 points going into Texas next week. There were 16 cautions for 87 laps and 6 leaders with 12 lead changes. The race will re-air on Speed Channel, Thursday, April 6th at 4:00pm/et. Race Results on my Martinsville Race Results/Awards Page. Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Martinsville page. Race Rundown: see my Martinsville Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(4-2-2006)
Smaller fuel cells at LMS and road courses? UPDATE: hearing that NASCAR is looking at putting the smaller fuel cells in the cars at Lowe’s Motor Speedway to force cars to pit somewhere between 35-40 laps, due to the tire wear with the new surface. NASCAR may also due this in the future at all road races to break up the pit strategies and could also use the smaller fuel cells when they return to Atlanta in the Fall.(4-1-2006) UPDATE: Smaller fuel tanks might be a way to deal with excessive tire wear at tracks like Atlanta Motor Speedway and the newly paved Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The idea is that if drivers ran out of fuel after 30 laps or so, they’d make pit stops before tires could wear to a dangerous point. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said it’s too soon to tell whether the smaller tanks, which are used at Daytona and Talladega to add pit stops and therefore break up big packs of cars, will be used elsewhere. “Our primary focus in preparing for the upcoming races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May is testing the tires and getting them right,” he said.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(4-2-2006)
Robby and Andretti in Jim Beam PSA commercial: Jim Beam bourbon announced the launch of its 2006 Public Service Announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of the company’s drink smart social responsibility platform. Through drink smart, the company reminds consumers of the basic principles for making responsible decisions concerning alcohol: 1) if you’re under 21, don’t drink; 2) if you’re of legal purchase age and choose to drink, do so in moderation; 3) and never drive drunk. The television PSA, featuring NASCAR Nextel Cup driver and owner Robby Gordon of Robby Gordon Motorsports and Indy Racing League (IRL) driver and co-owner Michael Andretti of Andretti Green Racing, reinforces the drink smart messages and the importance of making smart decisions about alcohol. Using a victory lane backdrop, both Gordon and Andretti reinforce the Jim Beam drink smart messages of making smart choices “on and off the track.”
“As professional racecar drivers and team owners, Michael and I are in a great position to encourage fans to make the right decisions when it comes to consuming alcohol responsibly,” said Gordon. “We’re very committed to helping spread the drink smart messages.” For more information on drink smart, please visit www.drinksmart.com. Jim Beam is a primary sponsor of the #7 Chevy driven by team owner Robby Gordon of Robby Gordon Motorsports for a designated number of races in the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. Jim Beam is an associate sponsor for an additional number of races. In addition to the Jim Beam logo, the company’s drink smart logo is displayed on the car and Gordon’s firesuit to communicate the importance of responsible drinking.(Jim Beam PR)(4-2-2006)
Drive for Diversity driver wins: In his debut race with the Drive for Diversity program and Joe Gibbs Racing, 15 year-old Marc Davis won the Limited Late Model stock car race at Hickory (NC) Motor Speedway last Saturday night. In doing so, he became just the second African-American to win a stock car race at Hickory, joining former Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Chris Bristol who won at the famed short track last April. After starting third, Davis took the lead during the final lap and piloted the #92 Levi Strauss Signature Chevy to victory, making him the first Drive for Diversity driver to win in 2006. Hickory’s Limited Late Model division is one of six support classes at the historic speedway, one step below the premier NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model Stock Cars.(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(4-2-2006)
Martinsville Race Notes:
• Tony Stewart won the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway, scoring his 25th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 254th career start.
• Stewart’s last victory came at Watkins Glen last August, 20 races ago.
• Stewart scored his second Martinsville victory. His other victory here came in October 2000.
• Stewart scored his eighth top-10 finish in 15 races at Martinsville.
• Stewart moved into 22nd on NASCAR’s all-time winners list, tied with Jim Paschal and Joe Weatherly.
• It is his sixth short-track victory. He has 14 superspeedway victories and five on road courses.
• Stewart scored his third top-10 finish in six races this season.
• Stewart climbed from ninth to eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago after six races he ranked 11th in the point standings.
• Stewart led the most laps (288) – including the final 27, the second time this season that he led the most laps. He also led the most laps last week at Bristol. The last time he led the most laps and won the race was at Watkins Glen last August.
• Stewart has led the most laps in the last three races at Martinsville. He led 247 of the 500 laps in the spring of 2005 and 283 of the 500 in the fall race. Stewart became the fourth driver in Martinsville history to lead the most laps in three straight races. He joined Cale Yarborough (fall 1976 and both races in 1977), Rusty Wallace (both races in 1994 and spring 1995) and Dale Earnhardt (both races in 1987 and spring 1988). Yarborough won all three, Wallace won all three and Earnhardt won two of the three and finished second in the September 1987 event. Ironically, Stewart won only one of the three races, posting finishes of 26th, 2nd and first.
• This was team owner Joe Gibbs’ 48th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory. Gibbs has scored three victories at Martinsville. Joe Gibbs Racing has won at least one race each season 1993-2006, 14 consecutive years.
• Tony Stewart has won at least one race each season 1999-2006, eight consecutive years. Notebook Items
• Jeff Gordon (second) has finished in the top-10 in his last six races at Martinsville Speedway. Four of those finishes were victories He scored his third top-10 finish of the season and best finish in 2006. Gordon remained seventh in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago he ranked sixth after six races.
• Jimmie Johnson (third) scored his eighth top-10 finish in nine races at Martinsville Speedway. He climbed from third to first in the NASCAR NEXTEL cup standings. Johnson is the only driver to score four top-five finishes in the first six races of the season.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth) scored his sixth top-10 finish in 13 races at Martinsville and his third top10 finish in 2006.
• Kyle Busch (fifth) scored his second top-10 finish in three races at Martinsville and his fourth top-10 finish in 2006.
• Brian Vickers (eighth) was the fourth Hendrick Motorsports driver to finish among the top-10 in the DIRECTV 500. It was Vicker’s first top-10 finish in five races at Martinsville.
• Reed Sorenson (12th) was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender. At least one of the Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders has scored a top-15 finish in every race this season.
• Joe Nemechek (23rd) has been running at the finish in the last 38 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April, the longest current streak.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(4-2-2006)
Rumblings – Martinsville:
Tony Stewart led the most laps (five times for 288 circuits), then held off Jeff Gordon for a three lap sprint (after a late red flag) to take today’s DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. In a caution filled race (we had 16 of ’em) Stewart grabs his second win at this half-miler, the 25th of his career (he’s tied for 22nd on the all-time win list with Jim Paschal & Joe Weatherly), and the 48th for Joe Gibbs Racing. The win was worth $220,786 from the over $5.4M in posted awards.
The Chevy domination was certainly a story today. The Top-5 spots and seven of the top eight were members of the bow-tie brigade.
Jeff Gordon (2nd) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Atlanta last October.
Scott Riggs (10th) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Michigan last August.
Sterling Marlin (14th) had his best finish since he was 13th at Kansas last October.
Tony Raines (21st) had his best finish since he was 13th at Homestead in November of 2003 (only 13 races).
Chad Chaffin (36th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 39th when we were here in October of 2004.
STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races.
Kyle Busch has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
The Rookie Report: Reed Sorenson (12th) is the top-finishing first year driver for the second time this season. He was followed by Martin Truex Jr (19th), J. J. Yeley (20th), Clint Bowyer (22nd), Denny Hamlin (37th), and David Stremme (38th). Sorenson & Hamlin have each topped this category twice this season….Brent Sherman was replaced by Jimmy Spencer for this event and that team was a dnq this weekend.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is Dale Earnhardt Jr (+25) followed by Clint Bowyer (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Kasey Kahne (-30), followed by Greg Biffle (-21) and Ken Schrader (-21).
In that ever shifting battle to gain an exempt spot in the Top-35 in Owner Points, Sterling Marlin in now in and Bobby Labonte may have to rely on the Champions Provisional (if needed) next week. Jimmie Johnson regains the points lead today (he’s led five of the six weeks) as Matt Kenseth’s late race problem dropped him to third in the standings. Jamie McMurray (24th to 17th) made the best move forward today while Robby Gordon (20th to 27th) fell the same number of spots.(Stock Car Fans)(4-2-2006)
Makoto Dressing on #34 and #92 at Martinsville: Front Row Motorsports placed both of their entries into the starting lineup at Martinsville for the DirecTV 500. The #34 Oak Gloves car driven by Chad Chaffin will start 31st and the Makoto Dressing #92 driven by Chad Blount will start 43rd. Makoto Dressing will be a sponsor on both cars. They will be on the hood of the #92 and on the quarter panels and TV panel of the #34. Makoto Ginger Dressing, which was developed at one of their two Japanese Steakhouses in Florida, is available in refrigerated sections of grocery stores across the United States. For more information, please visit www.makotogingerdressing.com.(Front Row Motorsports PR)(4-2-2006)
News from April 1, 2006
Ward looking to race again: Ward Burton was back in the garage at Martinsville Speedway on Friday wishing he were wearing a driving suit instead of jeans. “I’ve been carrying on some communication, seeing what kind of dominoes need to fall to get back in,” he said, adding that he no longer is as insistent on getting a Nextel Cup ride as he was last year. “I’m getting a little more open-minded to the possibility of another series,” he said, indicating that he’d be willing to make a comeback in the Craftsman Truck or Busch series. Burton, a five-time Cup winner who hasn’t raced since the fall race at Phoenix in 2004, said he enjoyed his year layoff, but he’s ready for it to end. “I had a whole year to get a good breather, and I probably needed it,” he said. “But when it got close to Daytona and I wasn’t testing and doing appearances, I started having a longing, like I had lost a friend in my heart.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(4-1-2006)
Been Asked…about Steve Byrnes UPDATE: As you may have noticed, NASCAR on FOX pit reporter Steve Byrnes’ left eye has been swollen, and he was not part of the Nextel Cup broadcast from Bristol. On Sunday, he was hospitalized with a viral infection in his left sinus cavity that will not respond to oral antibiotics. In the past three weeks, Steve has visited five different doctors and has been placed on four different oral antibiotics, none of which improved the situation. Dr. Jerry Petty, a trusted physician in the NASCAR community, insisted that Steve depart Bristol Sunday morning and go to Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte for an office visit that Dr. Petty had arranged with a specialist. Doctors have run a CT scan to see how far the infection has spread, and he has been put on “gorilla-strength” I.V. antibiotics. Steve and his family thank you for your notes of concern and will try to keep you posted as his recovery continues.(FoxSports)(3-28-2006) UPDATE: on Speed Channel’s NASCAR Live, John Robert’s mentioned that Byrnes’ is out of the hospital, responding to the medication and hopes to be back at the track in Texas.(Speed Channel’s NASCAR Live)(3-31-2006) COLUMN: Check out Steve Brynes’ column on FoxSports: ‘Family’ support helped through eye ordeal which explains what he went thru and his plans.(4-1-2006)
‘Craftsman For A Cure’ Announced at Martinsville: Craftsman Motorsports in conjunction with Bobby Hamilton Racing will host the ‘Craftsman For A Cure’ charity event which will support the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the Victory Junction Gang Camp. ‘Craftsman For A Cure’ will give race fans the opportunity to live their racing dream, to meet and race fender-to-fender with some of their favorite NASCAR drivers at NASCAR SpeedPark in Concord, N.C., while also helping out two very important charities on May 23rd. More info on my Racing Charities Page.(4-1-2006)
Schrader Book Released: Motorsports publisher Coastal 181 has announced the release of GOTTA RACE!, the autobiography of popular Nextel Cup driver Ken Schrader. The book was written with Joyce Standridge and includes forewords by Rick Hendrick and Bones Bourcier. GOTTA RACE! is the latest in Coastal 181’s series of race driver biographies, which has included RICHIE! (Richie Evans), BUGSY! (Bugsy Stevens), They Called Me ‘The Shoe’ (Ken Shoemaker), and Life Wide Open (Dave Dion). More info on my Bookstore Page.(4-1-2006)
15 Minute Penalties dished out: #01-Nemechek, #5-Busch and #43-Labonte were all penalized 15 minutes of practice time at Martinsville Speedway on Friday as the teams were amonished for being late for inspection last week at Bristol.(MRN Radio Qualifying Coverage)(4-1-2006)
Kenseth: My Fault: Matt Kenseth disagreed with NASCAR’s decision to fine Gordon $10,000 and place him on probation for shoving Kenseth at Bristol. “The deal was my fault,” Kenseth said. “I made a mistake and I should have known better than to go over there and try to apologize.”(Dallas Morning News)(4-1-2006)