Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer…on the #43 IMAGES added: This weekend at Richmond, the #43 Petty Enterprises Dodge of Bobby Labonte will sport a special paint scheme to promote the new movie, Speed Racer, which opens across the country May 9. The paint scheme is reflective of Speed Racer’s Mach 5, the car driven by the character in both the classic 1960s animated series and the new live action family film. Labonte: “I appreciate NASCAR allowing us to have a little extra ‘speed’ this weekend. It’s really cool to have the new Speed Racer movie on the side of the #43 Dodge for Richmond. Any young boy that grew up in the ’70s watched Speed Racer. I know I did. To a kid that dreamed of growing up to be a racecar driver, that was the coolest show on television. They haven’t given me a sneak preview yet, but I’m sure I’ll check it out in the theaters.”(Petty Racing/MCG Sports), add some cool images of the scheme to my Paint Scheme Gallery.(4-30-2008) Comment here
Kvapil gets sponsor for Richmond: Yates Racing announced that Discount Tire, America’s largest independent tire retailer, will sponsor the #28 entry with driver Travis Kvapil for this weekend’s Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, May 3rd. “This has been such a tremendous week for our #28 team,” stated Kvapil. “We just left Talladega with our best finish of the season so far, and now we have Discount Tire as our sponsor for Richmond this weekend. There’s a lot of momentum right now at Yates Racing, and thanks to all the wonderful sponsors we’ve enjoyed partnerships with already this year, we’re very grateful that companies recognize our increased performance both on and off the track. Discount Tire is a fantastic company and I am proud that they chose to partner with our #28 team at Richmond.” Saturday night’s race will mark the first time Discount Tire has been a primary sponsor in Sprint Cup Series. Discount Tire has been a sponsor in the Nationwide Series since 2004. Discount Tire provides sales of tires, wheels and related accessories and services through mail order, Internet and retail stores. They currently operate more than 650 stores across the country.(Yates Racing)(4-30-2008) Comment here
No #21 driver named yet for RIR UPDATE Jon Wood in: The Wood Brothers have not announced who will drive for its [#21 Ford] car this week at Richmond, but Bill Elliott is scheduled to drive for the team at Darlington Raceway the following weekend.(Roanoke Times), Schrader?(4-28-2008) UPDATE: Jon Wood will drive the #21 Air Force Ford Fusion at this weekend’s Sprint Cup event at the Richmond International Raceway. The 26 year old driver will be attempting to qualify for his second start of the 2008 season, after qualifying 12th at Talladega Superspeedway last week.(Wood Brothers Racing)(4-30-2008) Comment here
BB&T colors return on the #07: After showcasing a DIRECTV paint scheme the last two races, Clint Bowyer’s #07 Chevy will be wrapped in burgundy and gold BB&T colors this weekend in Richmond. Jack Daniel’s, Bowyer’s mainstay primary sponsor, will be featured on the car’s lower-rear quarter panels and deck lid. BB&T is the primary sponsor of Bowyer’s #2 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS in the Nationwide Series and also sponsored the #07 at Martinsville in March.(RCR), see images of the scheme on my #07 Team Schemes page.(4-30-2008)
Stewart/Yocum to help Shephard at Richmond: Morgan Shepherd’s Faith Motorsports Dodge will hopefully be making a lot more trips around the Richmond International Raceway this weekend, thanks to the generosity of two of the veteran driver’s modern-day heroes. Two-time Sprint Cup Champion #20-Tony Stewart and broadcaster Matt Yocum will provide tire sponsorship to the #89 team this weekend in an effort to help Shepherd build on last week’s 13th place run at Talladega. Shepherd was a surprise call-in guest to the Tony Stewart Live radio show on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio on Monday evening, and before the conversation between Shepherd and the two hosts was over the duo had come aboard as tire sponsors for Friday night’s Lipton Tea 250 at Richmond. “You say you need some tires for this weekend,” Yocum said during the interview. “How about if Smoke and I each buy you a set of tires.” Stewart and Yocum said they would each set Shepherd up with a set of tires for this weekend’s 250-lap event at the .75-mile track at the Virginia State Fairgrounds. Stewart followed up by saying he would provide as many tires as Shepherd might need this weekend. Stewart went on to talk about how many modern-day fans of NASCAR don’t appreciate the personal dedication that Shepherd and many other racers from his era put into the sport. “I know how much you put into it personally and I can appreciate it,” Stewart said. “We’ll make sure you have plenty of tires for this weekend.”(PR)(4-30-2008) Comment here
Dale Earnhardt honored at Dale Earnhardt Day: The Hershey Company honored the life and career of racing legend Dale Earnhardt with the unveiling of a replica of a large fan photo mosaic during the Dale Earnhardt Day celebration in Mooresville, N.C. on Tuesday. Bearing Earnhardt’s likeness, the 6-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide mosaic is comprised of approximately 1,400 photos from fans across the country, including actress Carmen Electra, racing team owner Richard Childress and drivers Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. The mosaic, previewed to fans, will serve as a permanent tribute to “The Intimidator” at Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) headquarters in Mooresville when completed later this year. In recognition of Earnhardt’s impact on the racing world, Hershey is paying tribute to Dale Earnhardt by producing a series of Collector Edition Dale Earnhardt Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate with Almonds Bars and Kit Kat Wafer Bars. The specially moulded bars feature a distinctive on-bar design, including Earnhardt?s signature and stylized #3. The Collector Edition bars will be available at select retail outlets nationwide while supplies last. Hershey is also encouraging fans to honor the racing legend by inviting them to visit www.hersheys.com/dale to upload a photo for inclusion in the permanent mosaic and to make a donation to The Dale Earnhardt Foundation. Fans can still upload their photos and tribute messages through June 3 for inclusion in the final mosaic.(PR)(4-30-2008) Comment here
Kvapil gets sponsor for Darlington: Fayetteville’s [NC] Lafayette Ford will sponsor driver #28-Travis Kvapil in the May 10 Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway. Lafayette Ford and the #28 car have a vaunted history. Fred Lorenzen, NASCAR’s “Golden Boy” of the 1960s, scored virtually all of his wins with sponsorship from the dealership while driving for the Holman-Moody team. In 1964, he won five consecutive starts, with the last being the Rebel 300 at Darlington.(Fayetteville Observer) AND: Yates Racing announced that LaFayette Ford, who sponsored the #28 with driver Fred Lorenzen from 1962-1967, will again sponsor the #28 entry but this time with driver Travis Kvapil for the Sprint Cup series race at Darlington Raceway on May 10th. Kvapil’s #28 will sport a paint scheme reminiscent to that of Fred Lorenzen’s during the 60’s when LaFayette Ford sponsored Lorenzen’s #28 machine. The Darlington 500 will mark the first time LaFayette Ford has served as a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series since the dealership was associated with Lorenzen. LaFayette Ford is proud to be Fayetteville, North Carolina’s only family-owned and operated Ford dealer. They have been serving the Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, and surrounding areas since 1949.(Yates Racing)(4-30-2008) Comment here
PRN-MRN dispute over New Hampshire continues: With fewer than two months before Sprint Cup cars take to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway oval, there is no resolution on the question of which radio network will broadcast the events. The dispute between Motor Racing Network and Performance Racing Network for the radio rights for New Hampshire races will remain in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire for the time being. Both sides had filed lawsuits over the rights, which stem from the sale of the track from the Bahre family to Speedway Motorsports Inc. earlier this year. The track has a contract with MRN, which is owned by International Speedway Corp, a track-operating rival of Speedway Motorsports. Speedway Motorsports owns PRN and wants PRN to broadcast its events. PRN filed suit in New Hampshire a day before MRN sued PRN in Florida in March. PRN claims the contract is unenforceable. An injunction hearing was scheduled for today in Florida state court, but it has been postponed because the New Hampshire case was filed first. MRN has now asked for the U.S. District Court in New Hampshire to issue an injunction to allow it to broadcast the events this year. No hearing date has been set. The NASCAR race weekends are June 27-29 and Sept. 12-14. MRN’s contract with NHIS requires it to give the track 25 percent of all advertising revenues. That has resulted in revenues of more than $750,000 for the track in the last seven years, according to court records. That would mean that MRN has taken in approximately $3 million in advertising revenue for New Hampshire events the last seven years, averaging approximately $429,000 a year.(SceneDaily)(4-30-2008)Comment here
ESPN Wins Seven Sports Emmy Awards AND Fox: ESPN won seven Sports Emmy Awards, presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences last night in New York, including ESPN.com taking all three of the “New Approaches” categories for online and broadband entries. “The Sports Emmys we received reflect the rich diversity of offerings across ESPN and our ability to not only cover and report on sports, but to inform, entertain and inspire, both on television and online,” said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN and ABC Sports. ESPN.com was honored for “Ray of Hope” (Long Form), Fantasy Football Now (Coverage) and “Death Race 2007” (General Interest). NASCAR returned to ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 last year, and the three networks shared the Emmy for Technical Team Remote. ESPN won 17 Sports Emmys for its NASCAR coverage in the 1990s. Also, College GameDay was cited in the Studio Show Weekly category, Sunday NFL Countdown’s “Fear” took top honors among Short Features and Ali’s 65 won in Editing. ESPN has now won 14 Sports Emmys in the Feature category, including seven in the last six years. Overall, ABC has now won 160 Sports Emmy Awards since they were first given in 1980, while ESPN has won 123 in 21 years of eligibility.(ESPN)(4-29-2008) AND FOX Sports led all broadcast networks with five Sports Emmy Awards, including two major honors for outstanding sports series and sports special. The winners were announced last night [4/28] during the 29th Annual Sports Emmy Awards by The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at ceremonies held in New York. NASCAR on FOX won two statuettes, one for Outstanding Live Sports Series and one for Outstanding Technical Team Remote. In its seven seasons of coverage, NASCAR on FOX has been recognized for Outstanding Sports Series three times and this year’s recognition brings the series Emmy total to 12. Since its inception in 1994, FOX Sports’ has won 76 Emmy Awards.(Fox PR)(4-30-2008)
News from April 29, 2008
Marlin back in the #40 at Darlington? Schrader at Richmond UPDATE 2: Sterling Marlin may drive again for Chip Ganassi Racing as a substitute for the injured Dario Franchitti in the May 10 Sprint Cup race at Darlington. Marlin drove eight seasons for Ganassi in the #40 Dodge before being replaced prior to the 2006 season. Marlin said nothing had been made official. “They’ve mentioned Darlington,” Marlin said. “I told them it’s whatever they want to do.” Marlin is committed to driving for Phoenix Racing in Richmond in Saturday night’s Cup race. He said his remaining schedule with the race team is not set. He signed a 10-race deal with Phoenix Racing prior to the season. Marlin finished 22nd in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 — the first Cup race he qualified for this season. Marlin also is scheduled to compete in six Late Model races at Music City Motorplex beginning on May 10, but he said a Cup ride would take priority. Franchitti broke his left ankle in a crash on the 11th lap of Saturday’s Nationwide race at Talladega. It has not been determined how many races Franchitti will miss.(Tennessean), the #09 is not listed on the Richmond entry list…yet. Other drivers I have heard under consider for the #40 ride at Richmond include Ricky Rudd, Tony Raines, Mike Bliss, Dennis Setzer and Ken Schrader. Hearing Franchitti is having a carbon fiber cast put on Tuesday and the plan is for him to be back at Charlotte [All Star race May 17th].(4-29-2008) UPDATE: hearing that Ken Schrader will driver the #40 Dodge at Richmond, subbing for the injured Dario Franchitti.(4-29-2008) UPDATE 2: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) driver Dario Franchitti was re-evaluated this week by his doctors and will sit out this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race at Richmond International Raceway (RIR). NASCAR veteran Ken Schrader will drive the #40 Kennametal Dodge on Saturday for the 400-lap event. Franchitti was seen by Dr. Terry Trammel and Dr. Kevin Scheid in Indianapolis, Ind. on Monday. The doctors confirmed the slight fracture in Franchitti’s left ankle. Franchitti will be fitted for a carbon fiber brace later this week. His status behind the wheel of the #40 Dodge will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. Schrader is confirmed to race for CGRFS in Richmond only. Franchitti will also be in Richmond with the #40 team.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates).(4-29-2008) Comment here
Wimmer to run 4th RCR car ar Richmond: Scott Wimmer will attempt to qualify for his first Cup Series race of the season this weekend at RIR driving the #33 Camping World Impala SS, giving RCR four entries in the Crown Royal 400. Wimmer was behind the wheel of the #33 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November 2006 (St. 24 Fn. 12) and most recently at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (St. 21, Fn. 31) in July 2007.(RCR)(4-29-2008) Comment here
Randy Moss starting truck team? UPDATE: During the prerace report on SPEED at Kansas Speedway, Rick Allen reported that New England Patriot wide-receiver Randy Moss is starting a new truck team with plans to race toward the end of the year. A formal announcement is expected some time next week.(4-27-2008) UPDATE NFL All-Pro Randy Moss Forms NASCAR Program: New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss announced the formation of Moss Motorsports, LLC with its intended participation to begin in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Moss anticipates that the team will debut at some point in the second half of the 2008 season and run selected races through the conclusion of the year. The partial schedule is a prelude to a full-time campaign in 2009. Sponsors and manufacturer alignments will be announced at a later date. “We don’t have all of the details in place just yet, but I am very excited about Moss Motorsports becoming a part of NASCAR,” Moss said. “I am by nature a very competitive person and this is an outlet for me to compete at another level. There are some pretty awesome challenges in building a program like this from the ground up, but I am looking forward to it. That’s just another aspect of the competition – you want to find the best people available and you’re competing with all the other teams out there. We’re starting to look at who the best people are and working on getting them to be a part of our team.” Moss is a ten year veteran in the National Football League and was a first-round draft pick in the 1998 draft out of Marshall University. He has been a NASCAR fan for several years including sponsorship of a local dirt track program and recently made the decision to get involved with the ownership of a NASCAR team. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the Urban Youth Racing School and furthers his youth advocacy while holding the same honor with American Youth Football. A major component of the Moss Motorsports program will be the continued involvement and support of youth programs. “There are a lot of NASCAR fans in the locker room,” Moss said. “We’ve seen a lot of football players get involved – guys like Dan Marino and Troy Aikman to name a couple. I think it’s a good fit and gives some of the companies I am already working with an additional outlet. It’s a smart move on the marketing side of things but on the personal side of things I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Moss has kick started his efforts by contracting with Integrity Sports Marketing, LLC – a leading motorsports marketing company in NASCAR. “We know it takes time to build a team from the ground up, and we have some good people working with us to get that process started,” Moss said. “We are talking to the manufacturers, and we’re already evaluating some drivers. Eventually I’d like to be able to have our team work with some of the young guys that are working hard to make it up the ladder, but right now it might make more sense to find a driver with a lot of experience to get us started. But we really don’t have anyone in mind. We’ll look at who is available and find someone that can help us compete and win as quickly as we can.” Moss believes Moss Motorsports will give his current marketing partners another avenue to gain exposure and will open doors for new companies that want to work with him. “The companies I already work with now have a chance to get some exposure to another group of dedicated sports fans,” Moss said. “And we’ll have an opportunity to build some relationships with an entirely new group of companies as well. We’ll have a chance to do some pretty cool things between the football side and the racing side. That’s a part of the equation that most of the other teams don’t have, so we already have a competitive advantage over them. Once we get everything in place we look forward to competing on the race track too.”(Moss Motorsports/Integrity Sports Marketing), no drivers or sponsors have been named or announced.(4-29-2008) Comment here
Elledge named the Wypall Wipers’ “Crew Chief of the Race” in Talladega: Jimmy Elledge, in his first race as crew chief of the #42 Juicyfruit Gum/Wrigley Dodge Charger driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, has been named Wypall Wipers’ “Crew Chief of the Race” in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. In an effort to improve the team’s performance this season, Chip Ganassi, owner of the #42 team, assigned Elledge to assume crew chief duties for Montoya beginning in Talladega. After starting 26th and even falling as far back as 32nd, Elledge and his team still managed to finish second, earning Montoya his first top-10 finish in 2008. Elledge and Montoya showed instant chemistry it takes to produce impressive results after only one race together in the Sprint Cup series. The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to Victory Lane, but the crew chief that makes the biggest difference for his team. Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with FOX/SPEED television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent Wypall, including Todd Berrier of Richard Childress Racing’s #29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of Roush Fenway Racing’s #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of Gillett Evernham Motorsports’ #9 Budweiser Dodge team, make up the panel of judges. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, Fla. The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2008 season and spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(4-29-2008)
Edwards gets his crew chief back: This weekend’s race at Richmond marks the return to the racetrack for Bob Osborne, crew chief of the #99 Office Depot team. Following a rule infraction at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2, Osborne was placed on a six-week suspension from NASCAR. In the time that Osborne was away from the track, interim co-crew chiefs Chris Andrews and Robbie Reiser accumulated one win, two top-five and three top-10 finishes. Had it not been for an engine failure in Atlanta, the win total may have been two. Edwards was leading the race when he was forced to retire from the event early.(Roush Fenway Racing)(4-29-2008) Comment here
Talladega’s overnight TV ratings up from 2007: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway earned a 5.2 overnight Nielsen Media Research rating and an 11 share in the nation’s largest television markets, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 2% higher than the 5.1 Fox earned overnight for the race in 2007. ABC’s broadcast of Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series race earned a 2.3 overnight rating, the Daily said, up 9.5% from the 2.1 the race earned in 2007.(SceneDaily)(4-29-2008)Comment here
Andrews leaves MWR? hearing former crew chief Paul Andrews has parted ways with Michael Waltrip Racing. Andrews had been the crew chief of the #55 NAPA Toyota of Michael Waltrip until March then took on the role as a manager at MWR.(4-29-2008)
Harvick Visits Shell Oil Company Off-shore Platform “Brutus”: #29-Kevin Harvick made a unique stop in route to this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway. Harvick visited the Shell off-shore oil and gas production platform, Brutus, on Thursday [April 24th]. Brutus, the largest of five Shell signature deepwater tension lake platforms, is located 160 miles off the shore of New Orleans, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. The 35,000 ton platform is home to as many as 150 Shell staff members who spend two weeks at a time at the facility. Located in over 3,000 feet of water, the platform is used for the initial processing and transportation of oil and gas to shore. “After today’s visit I have a whole new appreciation for the Gulf of Mexico and “America’s Energy Coast (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama) and the importance this Region plays to our US Energy Supply”, commented Harvick. During his visit Harvick had the opportunity to meet and greet the staff of Brutus and joined them for lunch in the galley. A comprehensive tour of the facility followed before heading back to New Orleans. “I was impressed with the focus and attention to safety that is part of the Shell culture”, continued Harvick. “The staff has great pride in their facility and what they do. These are very focused employees that use extremely advanced technology to get energy out of the ground and deliver it to people across the country every day. ” Harvick was joined by Shell executives along with local radio sports talk show host, Bobby Hebert, former NFL/Saints QB.(PR)(4-29-2008)
The Wrigley Company Agrees to Merger with Mars: The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company announced that it had reached an agreement to merge with Mars, Incorporated, one of the world’s leading confectionery and consumer goods companies. As a result of this transaction, Wrigley will become a private company and part of one of the world’s premier family-owned companies. The combined organization will have a product portfolio containing some of the world’s most recognizable and well-loved confectionery brands — including Orbit, Extra, Doublemint, M&M’s, Snickers and Mars — as well as leading food, beverage and pet care brands, totaling over $27 billion in global sales. Mars, Incorporated, will acquire 100% of Wrigley’s outstanding shares and all of its outstanding options will be cashed out. The Wrigley Company will operate as a separate, stand-alone subsidiary, keeping its headquarters in Chicago and continuing its civic and philanthropic involvement, both locally and in its communities around the world. Additionally, Bill Wrigley, Jr. will continue serving as the Company’s Executive Chairman. The proposed transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including stockholder approval and certain governmental regulatory clearances. Both parties are committed to working to close the transaction as soon as possible, with the merger expected to be completed within six to twelve months.(MSN Money Central), NO WORD how or if this merger will effect M&M’s sponsorship of the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch and the #42 Dodge of Juan Pablo Montoya.(4-29-2008) Comment here
7th Annual Dale Earnhardt Day Set for Tuesday, April 29 TODAY:Dale Earnhardt Inc. will host the seventh annual Dale Earnhardt Day at its corporate headquarters in Mooresville, N.C. on Tuesday, April 29th. The event, which celebrates the birth date of the seven-time NASCAR Champion, also serves as a major benefit for the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, with a percentage of the event’s merchandise sales being donated to the Foundation. The event, which is themed “Behind the Legend, He was One of Us,” will run from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and will feature a variety of activities and displays for the entire family. Personal photos, mementoes and trophies highlighting Dale’s personal & professional life through the decades of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, will be on hand at the event.(DEI) more info on my Racing Charities page.(4-17-2008) ESPN’s “NASCAR Now” To Broadcast Live from Dale Earnhardt Day:ESPN’s “NASCAR Now” will broadcast a special one-hour show live from Dale Earnhardt Inc. on Tuesday, April 29 from 6-7pm/et. The show will highlight Tuesday’s annual Dale Earnhardt Day event that honors the birthday of the seven-time NASCAR Champion and serves as a major benefit for the Dale Earnhardt Foundation. The show will be on hand for the event, which runs from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and will feature a variety of activities and displays for the entire family, and will originate live from the location at 6 p.m. There will be an official ceremony at 3 p.m. with ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch serving as the event’s official emcee. In addition, Dale Earnhardt Inc drivers will be on hand to sign autographs at different times during the event. In addition to ESPN, Tanner in the Morning of Charlotte, N.C.’s WSOC-FM 103.7 will host a live radio broadcast from 6-10 a.m., Sirius Satellite Radio will be on hand in the afternoon and Primetime with the Packman from Charlotte’s WFNZ-AM 610 will broadcast live from the event from 3-7 p.m.(DEI) Comment here
Richard and Kyle Petty Make ‘Pit Stop’ to Meet Paralyzed Veterans at Richmond VA Hospital: Richard and Kyle Petty, in advance of the Crown Royal Presents Dan Lowry 400, May 3 at the Richmond International Raceway, will drop by to meet paralyzed veterans at Richmond’s Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center on May 1, 2008. The legendary duo will visit with seriously wounded troops and meet leaders and members of Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) Virginia Mid-Atlantic Chapter. The Pettys are longtime supporters of Paralyzed Veterans’ work to ensure that those who have served and sacrificed have everything they need to thrive. Petty Enterprises recently donated the primary sponsorship of their No. 45 Dodge at the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway to Paralyzed Veterans. Petty Enterprises announced in November 2007 that Paralyzed Veterans will serve as a primary sponsor on the #45 Dodge Avenger for two races during the 2008 Sprint Cup season. The events will be the Crown Royal Presents Dan Lowry 400, May 3 at the Richmond International Raceway and the Pocono 500, June 8 at the Pocono Raceway. The organization will be an associate sponsor on the #45 Dodge for the remaining 34 races of the season. For more information, visit www.pva.org/petty.(Petty Racing), see images of the scheme on my #45 Team Schemes page.(4-29-2008) Comment here
News from April 28, 2008
DEI picks up option on Truex, good thru 2009: When there’s been talk about potential free agents for 2009, #1-Martin Truex, Jr. has had his name passed around in more than one story or conversation. There’s one hitch. His current deal with Dale Earnhardt Inc is good through next season according to team president Max Siegel. “We have an option that we’ve picked up for 2009, so that’s always reported in a confusing way. We love Martin and we’re having discussions about extending it for a long-term deal, but we’re good through 2009. He’s important to our organization…we’re giving him everything we possibly can and what he needs to win and be happy here long term.” Siegel also thinks the on track performance of all four DEI cars is on the upswing. “I think we’re making significant progress. The #15 team’s performance on a weekly basis is indicative of how we’ve elevated the program. We’ve got to stay very patient and focused. If you look at the #1 team and the #8…we’re doing great…got some consistency with our engines and the energy is just fantastic.”(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(4-28-2008) Comment here
More testing at Nashville this week: Arriving just days after Talladega, big name teams will be at the Nashville Superspeedway for two days of testing, Tuesday, April 29 and Wednesday, April 30. Scheduled to test are Hendrick Motorsports (Chevy) with four cars, drivers TBD; #22-Dave Blaney of Bill Davis Racing (Toyota); #01-Reagan Smith of Dale Earnhardt Inc (Chevy); Haas CNC Racing (Chevy) one car driver TBD; #96-Hall of Fame Racing (Toyota) driver TBD; Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) with one car, driver TBD; and David Stremme testing for Penske Racing (Dodge).(Nashville Superspeedway)(4-28-2008) Comment here
Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Aaron’s 499
Total number of commercials: 135
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 75
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:00 PM
End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:31 PM
Total minutes: 211
Minutes of race broadcast: 154
Minutes of commercials: 57
Number of missed restarts: 0
‘Mystery Debris’ cautions: 0
Total race brdcst time 154 Total comm. brdcst time 57
See full post and commercial stats at CawsnJaws.com.(4-28-2008)Comment here
Eight drivers each led their first laps in ’08 in Paul Menard, Ken Schrader, Juan Pablo Montoya, Regan Smith, David Stremme, David Gilliland, A.J. Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler.(ESPN Research)(4-28-2008)
Restrictor Plate Competition Up…Again: The new car matched – and exceeded – the boom in competition from the last visit to a restrictor plate track (February’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway). There were 52 lead changes among 20 drivers during Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. The Daytona 500 saw similar numbers – 42 lead changes among 16 drivers. Sunday’s 20 different leaders is tied for eighth all-time in Sprint Cup Series competition. The 52 lead changes topped both Talladega races from last season. In the 2007 spring race, there were 42 lead changes; in the fall contest, there were 41. There was also a jump in Green Flag Passes for the Lead, a Loop Data statistic that accounts for lead changes all around the track (not only at the start/finish line). Sunday’s race saw 84 Green Flag Passes for the Lead, compared to 67 during the last race held at Talladega.(NASCAR)(4-28-2008)Comment here
Roush-Yates Engines to Support USAC Series: Roush-Yates Engines will be the new sole authorized engine rebuilder for the USAC Ford Focus Midget Series. Instituting Roush-Yates Racing Engines as the authorized rebuilder for the Ford engines powering the series reinforces Ford Racing’s commitment to the series and to providing competitors world-class quality and service. “When we approached Doug Yates and his team at Roush-Yates Racing Engines with this opportunity they jumped at the chance to get involved,” said Dan Davis, director, Ford Racing Technology. “It was an easy decision for us – they are the best in the business and have the resources to provide the best possible product to the series, and together, this puts us in a great position to manage the growth of the series.”
“This will give us a tremendous opportunity to expand as well as further our involvement in racing,” said Jon Giles, general manager of special projects for Roush-Yates Engines. “It puts us a step closer to becoming the complete source for Ford Racing engines.” Roush-Yates Engines has been working hard to understand the needs of the USAC Focus Midget Series competitors and will first focus on ensuring the engine rebuild service is available to competitors. Rebuilds on the 2.0L Ford ZETEC engines used in the series will consist of a long block swap during the first phase of the program and cost $3995.00. Roush-Yates Engines currently develops and builds Ford Racing engines for NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck competition. In addition, it is now developing and building the powerplants for Ford entries in the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype and KONI Challenge sports car series.(Ford Racing)(4-28-2008)
News from April 27, 2008
Sad News: Condolences to ESPN NASCAR analyst Marty Smith on the death of his father Leo. Thoughts go out to Marty and his family. AND Leo Harvey (Butch) Smith II, 60, of Pearisburg, died on Friday, April 25, 2008. In death, Leo regained life, reuniting with his everything, his beloved wife, Joy, in the arms of the Lord after 10 heartbroken years apart. He yearned for nothing but to see her sweet face again. He said so every day. In life, Leo impacted many through anonymous generosity. Few kids contemplate where those Big Macs come from as the athletic bus meanders down the mountain on fall Friday evenings, or how those sparkling new bats appear in the Little League dugout. He was that kind of man. A lifelong resident of the New River Valley, Leo was raised an only child in Christiansburg by a pair of hardworking educators, Leo H. Smith and Eunice Martin Smith. Following brief stints in Culpeper, Va., and Salem, W.Va., during which he worked tirelessly to provide for a young family while earning a college degree, Leo eventually settled his family in Giles Co., in close proximity to his widowed mother and the Virginia Tech Hokies. A loving son, he called his mother daily to ensure her well-being. She once broke a hip and he didn’t just visit sporadically. He was there every day and literally taught her to walk again, tracking every step with an elaborate Excel spreadsheet that spoke well to his meticulous nature. A loving father, he attended ballgames and high school chorus concerts, leaving little doubt to the assemblage which children were his. He was the proudest of papas, and until his dying day instilled in others the value of determination. He cared not if you were the best, he cared that you strove to be. Leo was preceded in death by his father, Leo H. Smith and his wife, Joy Massey Smith. He is survived by his mother, Eunice Martin Smith, 93, of Christiansburg; his daughter, Stacy Smith Moyer and her husband, Chris, of Suffolk, Va.; his son, Marty and his wife, Lainie, of Huntersville, N.C.; and one grandson, Cambron Reed Smith. Visitation will be held Tuesday, April 29, 2008 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Givens Funeral Home, in Pearisburg. Funeral services will be held April 30, 2008, at 2 p.m. at Angel’s Rest Baptist Fellowship, in Pearisburg, with the Rev. Lee Ellison officiating. The interment will follow at Birchlawn Cemetery. Flowers are appreciated and donations made in his honor may be sent to the American Breast Cancer Foundation or Angel’s Rest Baptist Fellowship.(Roanoke Times)(4-27-2008)
Ownership not an option at JGR for Stewart: If #20-Tony Stewart wants to become a NASCAR team owner, he’ll have to do it somewhere other than Joe Gibbs Racing. J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, said Sunday that co-ownership at Gibbs is not an option for Tony Stewart, but other options are available. “Our [ownership] deal is set the way it is,” Gibbs said. “But we could do some stuff to help him get started with his own team if that’s what he really wanted.” Stewart said earlier in the week that he is interest in becoming a Sprint Cup team owner. He also said Haas/CNC Racing has offered that option while allowing him to drive for them. But Stewart is under contact with JGR through the 2009 season. Gibbs said they have no intention of ending the relationship with Stewart before the contract expires. The deal with Home Depot, the primary sponsor of the #20 Toyota Stewart drives, also goes through 2009.(ESPN.com)(4-27-2008) Comment here
Franchitti injured in Nationwide race, Stremme to run #40 UPDATE:#40-Dario Franchitti has fractured his left ankle in the Nationwide Series race at Talladega on Saturday and will not be able to race in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. David Stremme, former driver of the #40 Dodge for Ganassi Racing, has been asked to sub for Franchitti and got permission from Roger Penske [he is their test driver] and Rusty Wallace [who Stremme drives for in the Nationwide Series] to start and run the race Sunday.(PRN’s Garage Pass)(4-26-2008) UPDATE: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) driver Dario Franchitti will not compete in the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway after suffering a slight fracture in his left ankle as a result of a collision on lap 11 in Saturday’s Nationwide Series (NNS) event. Franchitti will be reevaluated early next week. On lap 11, Franchitti’s #40 Fastenal Dodge blew a right-rear tire which caused the on-track incident. Franchitti was treated at the Talladega Superspeedway infield care center and then driven to Physicians Medical Center Carraway in Birmingham, Ala., where he was further evaluated, treated and released.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)(4-27-2008) UPDATE 2: Stremme will replace the injured Dario Franchitti today in the #40 for Chip Ganassi Racing. Franchitti broke his ankle in a hard wreck Saturday in the Nationwide race. Stremme drove the #40 full time last year but was released to make way for Franchitti. Stremme stressed that it’s just a one-race deal and the team has yet to decide what to do for the race at Richmond next week. Ganassi Manager of Competition Steve Hmiel said no plans have been made yet for Richmond or beyond, depending on how quickly Franchitti can return. “Hopefully Dario will be back sooner rather than later, but it’s very unclear at this point,” he said.(Alabama Live)(4-27-2008) Comment here
Kyle Busch wins at Talladega: #18-Kyle Busch won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, for his 2nd win of 2008 and 6th of his career. The race ended under caution when there was a semi-big wreck on the last lap [once the white flag is thrown, NASCAR does not do a Green-White-Checker]. It is the 8th time since the ‘Lucky Dog’ rule went into effect at Dover in Sept 2003 that a driver who has received the Lucky Dog/Lap Back pass has gone on to win the Cup race. Busch now has seven NASCAR victories this season: two in Sprint Cup, three Nationwide and two in the Craftsman Truck Series. Finishing 2nd was #42-Montoya [his best oval finish] followed by #11-Hamlin, #6-Ragan, #83-Vickers, #28-Kvapil, #5-Mears, #12-Newman, #07-Bowyer and #88-Earnhardt Jr. #7-Robby Gordon finished 11th. #20-Stewart wrecked late and ended up 38th, #99-Edwards lost a tire and smacked the wall, finishing 40th. There were 8 caution flags for 23 laps and there were 52 lead changes among 20 drivers.
See race results and awards on my Talladega Race Results page.(4-27-2008)
REVISED UNOFFICAL Drivers Points Standings [after Talladega race 9 of 36]:
1) #31-Jeff Burton 1347 [1 win]
2) #18-Kyle Busch 1325 -22 [2 wins]
3) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1268 -79
4) #11-Denny Hamlin 1248 -84 [1 win]
5) #48-Jimmie Johnson 1245 -102 [1 win]
6) #29-Kevin Harvick 1208 -139
7) #07-Clint Bowyer 1182 -165
8) #16-Greg Biffle 1148 -199
9) #20-Tony Stewart 1137 -210
10) #99-Carl Edwards 1084 -263 [would be 7th if no 100pt penalty][3 wins]
11) #12-Ryan Newman 1062 -285 [1 win]
12) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya 1029 -318 other chase contenders
13) #9-Kasey Kahne 1028 -1pt out of 12th
14) #24-Jeff Gordon 1018 -11
15) #6-David Ragan 994 -35
15) #83-Vickers 994 -35 Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Talladega page.(4-27-2008)
Talladega Superspeedway Fast Facts
.. Kyle Busch won the Aaron’s 499, his sixth victory in 123 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
.. This is his second victory and sixth top-10 finish in 2008.
.. This is his first victory and first top-10 finish in seven races at Talladega Superspeedway.
.. Juan Pablo Montoya (second) posted his first top-10 finish in 2008 and his first finish better than 15th in three races at Talladega.
.. Denny Hamlin (third) posted his sixth top-10 finish of 2008. This is his second top-10 finish in five races at Talladega. He eclipsed his previous best finish of fourth set in October 2007.(NASCAR Statistics)(4-27-2008)
Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Richmond
no changes in who is in or out, the order got changed a bit and the points between 35th and 36th is now 61
The teams are NOT locked in past the next race as the owners points change after each race.
31) #55-Waltrip/Waltrip Racing 708 +110
32) #41-Sorenson/Ganassi Racing 678 +80
33) #44-Reutimann/Waltrip Racing 670 +72
34) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing 663 +65
35) #01-Smith/Dale Earnhardt Inc 659, 61 points ahead of 36th these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed:
36) #40-Franchitti/Ganassi Racing 598, 61 points out of 35th
37) #70-Sauter/Haas CNC Racing 584 -75
38) #96-Yeley/Hall of Fame Racing 579 -80
39) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis 577 -82
40) #84-Allmendinger/Red Bull Racing 521 -138
For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(4-27-2008)
Talladega Superspeedway Penalty Report: Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
1 #17 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 20
2 #8 Excessive speed – Exiting pits PT 53
3 #17 Excessive speed – Exiting pits PT 54
4 #5 Excessive speed – Exiting pits TE 117
5 #09 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 117
6 #17 Excessive speed – Exiting pits TE 119
7 #20 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 144
8 #70 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 144
9 #10 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 144
10 #2 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 174
11 #20 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 174
12 #43 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 174
13 #43 Pitting before Pit Road is Open TE 181
PT – Pass through
TE – Tail end of the longest line
SG – Stop and Go
OL – One lap
ND – NASCAR discretion
MCI – Must come into pits.(NASCAR Statistics)(4-27-2008)
Who got a lap back on each caution at Talladega: (and their finish)
Caution 1: #21-Wood, still 7 laps down, 36th
Caution 2: #18-Busch, back on lead lap, WON
Caution 3: #2-Busch, back on lead lap, 39th
Caution 4: #7-Gordon, back on lead lap, 11th
Caution 5: #66-Riggs, back on lead lap, 16th
Caution 6: #09-Marlin, back on lead lap, 21st
Caution 7: none awarded with 10 or less laps to go
Caution 8: none awarded with 10 or less laps to go
Raines to run the #08 at LMS: EM Motorsports owner John Carter announced that Tony Raines would pilot the Rhino’s Energy Drink Dodge Charger in both the Sprint Showdown and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Fans will have the opportunity to vote a driver from the Sprint Showdown race into the field for the Sprint All-Star Race. EM Motorsports driver Tony Raines is eligible for the fan vote based on his finishing position in the 2007 Nextel Cup Series point standings had to be in the top 50, was 29th in drivers pts while driving ther #96). Based in Toccoa, GA, EM Motorsports presently has three race-ready COTs for Sprint Cup Series competition. EM Motorsports is led by owner John Carter, Crew Chief Charles Swing, Marketing VP Doug Barron and NASCAR Consultant James Hylton.(Tonyraines.com)(4-27-2008) Comment here
Sauter back in #70 at RIR; Schrader could run more races: from a Team Chevy PR:
KEN SCHRADER, #70 HUNT BROTHERS PIZZA IMPALA SS – Qualified 3rd: HOW DID YOU MAKE THAT CAR GO THAT FAST AS THE LAST QUALIFIER OUT? “It was desperation. When you aren’t locked in to the top-35, you do what you have to do. We definitely concentrated more on qualifying for today. We will probably have to undo a little bit of that tomorrow. The Haas/CNC grout built us a heck of a little car. It is brand new with a brand new sponsor, Hunt Brothers Pizza. The Hendrick Motors, they did their job for sure. You work on qualifying differently when you are one of those cars that is not locked in the top-35 because if you don’t go fast enough, you go home. It brings a out desperation. There are a lot of things you have to do. We are going to have a good little race car.”
IS THIS A ONE-SHOT DEAL? “No, we’re going to run it some more. We’re definitely going to run it some more. We’re working on the schedule, but we are going to run the car some more this year. I know that Jay [actually Johnny, not Jay] Sauter is going to run it next week and we’re working on that stuff now. That’s the only real good advantage I’ve found to being old so far. I told them to just let me know if I need to be there.”
YOU WERE SCHEDULED TO BE IN THE BAM CAR FOR TALLADEGA. DO YOU STILL HAVE ANY TIES WITH THEM? COULD YOU UPDATE THAT STATUS?
“I can’t speak for them. I’ve driven for those people two full years and then drove one race last year. We started of the year this year and they love the sport a lot and they’ve invested a lot of their own money on that team. I know they’re working hard to get funding to run it. I’ll always be indebted to them because I’ve been working for them for a while and they’re just good people that love this sport. But I don’t have any ties to them.”(Team Chevy)(4-27-2008) Comment here
Danica Patrick talked to Roush Fenway recently UPDATE: Officials from Roush Fenway Racing “had a conversation” with IndyCar driver Danica Patrick as recently as two weeks ago when the Sprint Cup Series was in Phoenix for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. And while Jack Roush, the founder and co-owner of the organization, said that he was not part of the conversation, he also said Friday from Talladega Superspeedway that he believes Patrick has an interest in eventually pursuing a future that would include at least some stock-car racing. He even offered to lay out a program for her indoctrination into NASCAR. “I think Danica, from what I understand, has got an interest in stock-car racing,” Roush said. “Any sponsor, any team owner that felt the need to have more of a diverse situation in their driving lineup would look at Danica very favorably.”(more at NASCAR.com)(4-26-2008) UPDATE: Danica Patrick’s visit to the Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway two weeks ago was more about seeing friends than putting out feelers. But aside from renewing ties with former Indy Racing League peers Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr., Patrick’s Phoenix appearance as a guest of Roush Fenway Racing also could mark a step toward establishing new relationships in stock-car racing — perhaps with Jack Roush, who admitted officials from his powerhouse Cup team spoke to Patrick at Phoenix. NASCAR still remains a possibility for Patrick in the wake of becoming the first woman to win a major-league open-wheel event. “The door has never been shut,” she said Friday at Kansas Speedway. “I’ve learned too well over the last six to eight years, you can’t say anything is a never. Saying never is a very strong word, and if you do enough interviews and say that word, it really lives.” Patrick, 26, had a brief flirtation with leaving Indy cars to race NASCAR in the summer of 2006 while in the final season of her contract with Rahal Letterman Racing. She signed with Andretti Green Racing for the 2007 season in a multiyear deal whose terms weren’t disclosed. But SPEEDTV.com reported that Patrick’s primary sponsor, Motorola, signed a contract for 2007-09, and driver contracts often run concurrently with their sponsors. That could put the IRL’s most popular star up for bidding again in 2010, and Patrick won’t rule out considering NASCAR again. “Yes, I’m knee deep in Indy car,” she said. “But when your contract time comes, anyone would be foolish not to explore options that are relevant. You have to go where you feel you have the best chance to win and the most opportunities and where you feel your heart is.” Patrick tested a Ford for a now-defunct team in the Nationwide series several years ago, and she now is drawing interest from Ford’s top team owner in NASCAR.(USA Today)(4-27-2008) Comment here
Executive to lead Petty Kansas camp for ill children: Mike Lepore, a former executive with Wells Fargo Financial, was introduced on Friday as the president of the new Victory Junction Gang Camp for children scheduled to open in Wyandotte County [KS]. The original Victory Junction camp in North Carolina, founded by NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie, in honor of their late son, Adam, provides free, year-round, activities for chronically ill children. The Pettys announced earlier this year they would open a camp in Wyandotte County, and on Friday, Lepore said the search has been narrowed to one of three sites in Wyandotte County. A final decision could be announced as soon as the July 5 Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway, home of International Speedway Corp., owner of Kansas’ Speedway. A ground-breaking is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 27-28, when NASCAR Sprint Cup stages the Kansas 400 at Kansas Speedway. The hope is the $40 million facility, funded totally by donations, will open in 2010 or 2011 at the latest. Lepore already has set up office space at Kansas Speedway. ‘”We see 26 disease groups in North Carolina, and I foresee seeing that many at the camp here, maybe many more,” Pattie Petty said of the original Victory Junction Camp, opened in 2004 on 72 acres outside Randleman, N.C., that were generously donated by NASCAR legend Richard “The King” Petty. ”Maybe we’ll build it bigger, better, faster stronger. With all the people who have come on board, I can’t imagine we won’t. “I’ve never been to an area where the people are so community oriented as they are in this Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska … Midwest area.”(Kansas City Star)(4-27-2008) Comment here
Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop Using GEM Drivers to Reach Parents and Teens: Allstate Insurance Company is using a group of athletes who drive fast for a living to caution parents and teens to slow down when making decisions behind the wheel. By partnering with Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM), Allstate has created the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop, an interactive, racing-focused program that will promote teen safe driving in key NASCAR markets throughout the year. The goal of the initiative is to facilitate communication between parents and teens about the importance of teen safe driving and provide tools to spark these conversations, including Allstate’s interactive Parent-Teen Driving Contract, available at www.allstate.com/teen. Allstate is the official insurance provider of GEM. GEM NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Patrick Carpentier, as well as team owner Ray Evernham, will headline the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stops at high schools across the country prior to the Sprint Cup Series races in select markets. Joining them will be SPEED personality John Roberts, who will serve as emcee at all of the events. Events are being scheduled for Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., and Richmond, Va., with other markets to be announced throughout the year. Highlights of the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop will include an interactive discussion with GEM drivers and Evernham and an open forum and question and answer session between the drivers, parents and teens. The Allstate Safety Zone, an interactive safe driving mobile display, will also visit the high schools and provide illustrations of important safety components in NASCAR stock cars. Computer kiosks will be available for parents and teens to complete Allstate’s Interactive Parent-Teen Driving Contract at www.allstate.com/teen.(Allstate)(4-27-2008)
Montoya named to People en Español’s 50 Most Beautiful: #42-Juan Pablo Montoya will make his first appearance in People en Español’sspecial-edition magazine as one of its 50 Most Beautiful of 2008. Montoya earned a spot beside singer Christina Aguilera, designer Daisy Fuentes and actor and current participant on “Dancing with the Stars” Christián de la Fuente on the exclusive list. Montoya is one of just four athletes whose photos will appear in the magazine along with NFL quarterback Tony Romo, NHL center Scott Gómez and basketball player Alexis Castro. Montoya participated in a special photo shoot on location in Miami for the magazine in February before heading out to the NASCAR race at California Speedway. Aside from an interview for the magazine, Montoya made a few wardrobe changes and even spent a few minutes in the make-up chair in preparation for the shoot.(Ganassi Racing)(4-27-2008) Comment here
News from April 26, 2008
Robby Gordon and Team Dakar USA Closes out the Central Europe Rally: The final stage of the Central Europe Rally concluded today with Robby Gordon experiencing more bad luck. Gordon lost a handful of minutes on the stage when his rear wheel came off but still managed an eight place finish. The result was good enough for Gordon to move the Monster Energy Hummer up into the 10th position. BJ Baldwin had another solid day, scoring a fifth place finish on the stage which allowed him to maintain his seventh place in the overall classification. After seven days of racing in Hungary and Romania, Team Dakar USA heads back to the United States with a strong sense of accomplishment. “We did not meet our overall objective but this team was strong,” remarked Gordon “I think the international off-road community know we were here. These are the best race teams in the world and to go door to door with them says a lot about our program. BJ did such a fantastic job of representing Team Dakar USA and Ronn Bailey’s Vanguard. I think he really made a name for himself.” The team will now load up and make the drive back to Paris to organize the vehicles and equipment for shipping back to the United States. For Robby Gordon there is one more stage – he will fly overnight to Alabama for the NASCAR race in Talladega. In 2009 Team Dakar USA will race the first ever Dakar Rally in South America.(Robby Gordon PR) For additional rally coverage please visit robbygordon.com and robbysuprising.com where Team Dakar USA will have daily updates, the twitter micro blog feed, and videos.(4-26-2008) Comment here
Red Bull’s Speed gets ARCA win: ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Scott Speed, with an assist from the Aaron’s Lucky Dog, won the Kansas Lottery $150 Grand Friday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. Speed, in the #2 Red Bull Toyota, battled back from a lap down, blew by rookie Jesse Smith on a late-race restart with six laps remaining, and then kept Roush Fenway Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at bay to claim his career-first victory in his fifth career series start.(ARCA Racing)(4-26-2008) Comment here
Nemechek wins pole at Talladega: #78-“Front Row” Joe Nemechek lived up to his nickname, winning the Coors Light Pole for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway with a late run of 187.386mph, for his first pole of 2008, first since 2005 and 10th of his career. It is the slowest pole speed at Talladega since April 2003 when Jeremy Mayfield won the pole with a speed of 186.489mph. The pole was the first ever for the Furniture Row Racing team. #20-Stewart will start 2nd, followed by #70-Schrader, #84-Allmendinger, #18-Busch, #6-Ragan, #11-Hamlin, #83-Vickers, #88-Earnhardt Jr. and #48-Johnson. Points leader, #31-Burton will start 38th. The go-or-go homers to make the race were: #78-Nemechek, #70-Schrader, #84-Allmendinger, #21-Wood, #45-Petty, #09-Marlin, #10-Carpentier and #40-Franchitti [who will start 43rd, as 8th fastest gets the spot unless a past champ needs it]. Missing the race were: #22-Blaney, #96-Yeley [the first time Hall of Fame Racing has missed a race] and #34-Andretti.
See qualifying results, pole progression and starting lineup on my Qualifying Results/Order Page.(4-26-2008)
Kyle Busch looks to tie NNS record: Kyle Busch will attempt to accomplish something that has happened only once in the 27-season history of the Nationwide Series, when the Aaron’s 312 takes place Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway. Busch has won the past three Nationwide races, at Texas, Phoenix and Mexico City. The series record for consecutive victories is four, set by Sam Ard in 1983 during the circuit’s second season. Making it four in a row could prove to be a challenge for Busch. He has never won a race at Talladega and has failed to finish in the top-10 in any of his past six NASCAR starts at the track (including the Cup and Truck Series). In 12 career Talladega starts, Busch has finished outside the top-30 seven times.(TSS)(4-26-2008)
Newman talks contract: #12-Ryan Newman….WHAT IS YOUR STATUS AS A ‘FREE AGENT’? “I haven’t signed my contact yet. We haven’t really even talked about it yet. There are some options out there. Obviously, team wise – people who have gone public about wanting to start a fourth teams and other teams that are changing things – changing driver’s and crew chiefs and things like that. It seems to be starting earlier than it ever has – at least in the last couple years. I’m sitting happy in my seat right now, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy some place else. Whatever happens with Tony (Stewart), he’s a friend of mine, and I haven’t talked to him about it. I read it on Jayski. I haven’t event gotten a phone call. Being the top of the free agent list hasn’t gotten me anywhere yet.” HAVE YOU TALKED TO OTHER TEAMS YET? “I know that there are other options out there besides my retaining my position at Penske Racing.” DO YOU HAVE AN AGENT? “I’m my agent. I went to college for four years; it’s got to pay for something.”(Dodge Motorsports)(4-26-2008)Comment here
Kevin Harvick Inc. implementing drug testing: Kevin Harvick Inc. has implemented a different type of testing the past couple of weeks. The racing team has started a random drug testing program since recent revelations that former Nationwide and Craftsman Trucks driver Aaron Fike had used heroin on some race days. “The whole company will be tested within the next week,” Harvick said. “We’ve got most of them done. We haven’t had any failures yet, so that’s a good thing.” An outside company was hired to administer the tests, and he said all the drivers and crew chiefs volunteered to go to the drug-testing facility. Harvick is hoping NASCAR will adopt a similar policy to help keep the sport clean. He initially approached officials pushing that idea last season. NASCAR’s substance abuse policy is based on “reasonable suspicion” and allows drug tests anytime.(Associated Press)(4-26-2008) Comment here
Edwards talks contract: #99-Carl Edwards ON CONTRACTS AND NEGOTIATIONS. “For me, personally, just out of respect to everyone and sponsors, and the teams and the way we do business, for me it’s always my mission to get that stuff out of the way and get it done as early as I can. That’s how I’ve always tried to do it.” WHERE DO YOU STAND ON YOUR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS? “I don’t want to say anything.” MORE ON CURRENT NEGOTIATIONS. “I’m working really hard to get my stuff, just because I think it’s fair to get it done early, and once I get it done I’ll let everyone know what I’ve done. But, we’re working on it.”(Ford Racing)(4-26-2008) Comment here
Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills: Some of the nation’s best young automotive technicians, as identified during the 59th annual Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, will spend a week with Roush Fenway Racing, learning about the team at the shop and at the track. David Ragan, driver of the #6 AAA Ford Fusion, and Jack Roush, Roush Fenway Racing team owner, were among those participating in a press conference about the program at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday. The competition is the largest competition for high school automotive technology students in the country. The 2008 National Finals will be held at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., on June 24. The grand prize is going to be to a two-person team. The prize will include an opportunity to job shadow David Ragan’s pit crew in Concord, North Carolina, and then to fly with the team to the Joliet Sprint Cup race on the weekend on July 12th.(Ford Racing)(4-26-2008) Comment here
Biffle talks contract/ownership: #16-Greg Biffle ON ALL THE TALK THIS WEEKEND OF TONY STEWART AND HIS CONTRACT SITUATION. “Obviously, he’s let the world know that he was unhappy about something at Gibbs. I think we’ve all been in that situation before. There’s certain ways to go about it, I guess, and he’s made it known that he wants to get out of his current contract at the end of the season, I guess, or whatever. We all go through that, we all go through contract periods and wanting to get out of contract early to go do something else is part of the sport, I guess.”
IS ANYTHING THAT HE’S DOING HAVE ANY EFFECT ON WHAT YOU’RE DOING REGARDING YOUR NEGOTIATIONS? “I don’t think so. It may open up a ride at the 20 car, I guess, at Gibbs Racing. It may be another option, but I don’t know. I don’t think it affects what I’m doing. I’m negotiating with Roush Fenway for an extension on my current contract, so I don’t think what he’s trying to do or going to do makes a difference.”
WHERE ARE YOU WITH YOUR CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS? “Sort of in a holding pattern. We’re not in a big hurry to get it done, I think. We’re in that negotiation period, and like I said, I’m pretty confident that we’re going to be able to get to common ground on what I want and what they want.”
IF SOMEBODY THREW OWNERSHIP AT YOU, EVEN A PARTIAL OWNERSHIP, WOULD THAT SUDDENLY CHANGE THE WAY YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT THINGS? “They have. I have had offers of ownership of more than one team in the garage, and it’s definitely an intriguing offer. There’s a lot of things to consider when you’re an athlete in you’re in the position that we are in. Both Tony and I are, let’s say, we’re at the 60-percent point in our career. We’re not Kyle Busch, you know, 21 or 22 years olds. So, at some point we need to start thinking about how long we want to be involved in this sport and what we want to do in the future. So, those ideas to stay involved in the sport are very intriguing to us. And I’m sure that’s part of Tony’s thinking is, when I’m done driving the 20 car, or whatever car, what am I going to do in the future? And he’s probably watching out for himself, thinking ahead, and somebody’s made an offer or whatnot, and he’s considering it.”(Ford Racing)(4-26-2008) Comment here
Talladega Qualifying Fast Facts:
.. Joe Nemechek won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Aaron’s 499 with a lap of 51.103 seconds, 187.386 mph.
.. This is his 10th pole in 465 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. This is his first top-10 start in 2008.
.. This is Nemechek’s fourth pole and 11th top-10 start in 27 races at Talladega Superspeedway.
.. Tony Stewart (second) posted his fifth top-10 start in 2008 and his eighth top-10 start in 19 Talladega races. He tied his career-best start here set in May 2006.
.. Ken Schrader (third) posted his 14th top-10 start in 45 races at Talladega, but his first since September 2003. He also was the 2nd fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
.. Kyle Busch (third) posted his sixth top-10 start in 2008 and his second in seven Talladega races.
.. Jon Wood (12th) qualified for his second Sprint Cup race. He started 41st and finished 29th at Las Vegas in 2007
.. Sterling Marlin (16th) qualified for his first race since Homestead in 2007.
.. Patrick Carpentier (17th) was the fastest qualifying rookie and all five rookie candidates made the field.(NASCAR Statistics)(4-26-2008)
Old School Racing Postpones Inaugural Season: Old School Racing announced today a new plan for the series. Under the new plan The Old School Racing (OSR) Series will launch its inaugural season in the spring of 2009 and not in the spring of 2008 as originally planned. The postponement of the inaugural season of the OSR will allow a partnership to form that will make the OSR bigger and better for the drivers, crews and fans. The new partnership between OSR and the soon to be named partner has not been completed, but plans have already begun to move forward for the 2009 debut of the redesigned OSR program. The Old School Racing Series is based in Mooresville, NC and is scheduled to field cars for such drivers as David Pearson, Harry Gant, James Hylton, Geoff Bodine and more.(OSR)(4-26-2008) Comment here
Road Racer looking for Cup Options: In the midst of a hectic stretch of sports car races in both the American Le Mans Series and the Rolex Series, Atlanta-area race car driver David Murry is also beginning to cast his NASCAR line out in an effort to land a Sprint Cup ride for the road course races at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen. “The timing is right to look at those teams that might be able to use my help,” said Murry. “Specifically, those teams that aren’t in the Top 35 in points and who don’t have an experienced road course driver might just need to look elsewhere to get them in the show. I’m hoping they look my way. I’m ready, willing and able.” Murry is no stranger to Sprint Cup road course events. He’s recorded numerous qualifying attempts at both venues and even made a start at Watkins Glen with the defunct Phoenix Air Racing Team.(PR)(4-26-2008) Comment here
News from April 25, 2008
Movie to film at Alabama speedway: The latest installment of New Line Cinema’s popular horror/thriller franchise, Final Destination 4, will film racing sequences at Mobile International Speedway [AL] from Monday, May 26th to Saturday, May 31st. The Ronald McDonald House Night race, scheduled for 8:00pm on May 31st, has been moved to a 3:00pm start to accommodate filming. The film crew will be shooting crowd scenes and reactions during the racing program on Saturday, May 31st. Final Destination 4 stars a fresh ensemble cast that includes Bobby Campo, Shantel Van Santen, Haley Webb, Nick Zano, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella and Mykelti Williamson. Final Destination 4 is being shot in High Definition with the most advanced form of stereoscopic image capture yet invented – Fusion 3D. It utilizes the dynamic PACE camera system to ensure a rich visual experience matched only by reality.(MIS)(4-25-2008)
Smaller Restrictor Plate at Talladega: For the third time in the past four Talladega Cup races, crew chiefs will deal with a new size for the four holes on the restrictor plates required at the track by NASCAR. Sunday’s holes will be 15/16ths of an inch in diameter, 1/32nd of an inch smaller than the holes for the fall race, the first plate race for the Car of Tomorrow. The change will cut about 25 horsepower. In last’s year spring race and the 2006 fall race, the holes were 7/8ths of an inch in diameter. The holes were enlarged for the Car of Tomorrow because the taller, boxier vehicle required more horsepower to go the same speed as the old ride. Two years ago, the holes were 57/64ths of an inch, but NASCAR cut the size because of the faster speeds produced by Talladega’s smooth new pavement. The restrictor plate reduces the flow of air into the engine’s carburetor. NASCAR has required the plates at its races at Talladega and Daytona to slow the cars at the giant, high-banked tracks.(Alabama Live)(4-25-2008) Comment here
Dale Jr. Recruiting Men and Women for the U.S. Navy: The U.S. Navy and Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced the formation of the Dale Jr. Division, an 88-person boot camp division at Recruit Training Command. Potential sailors will be able to start signing up for the division on May 24 at their local recruiting station. To officially launch the division, Earnhardt Jr. will drive the JR Motorsports #83 Navy Dale Jr. Chevy in the Nationwide Series CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 24. The national recruiting effort is the first of its kind for the Navy, and will be supported by a national advertising and marketing campaign.(JR Motorsports PR), see an image of the car on my #83 NNS Team Paint Scheme Page.(4-25-2008)
Microsoft Small Business joines up with MWR: Microsoft expanded its motorsports reach today in an effort to increase visibility of its growing Small Business Specialist Community of Partners and solutions for small businesses by announcing it has formed a unique sponsorship with Michael Waltrip Racing. Microsoft will serve as an associate sponsor on MWR’s #00 Toyota Camry entry driven by rookie Michael McDowell for the remainder of the 2008 season, beginning this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. The sponsorship, in conjunction with California-based advertising agency RainMakers International [this was the company and the sponsorship deal with #49 BAM Racing at 49team.com], offers a motorsports marketing platform to Microsoft’s Partners, a growing group which supports businesses everywhere in the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community. Each participating partner will receive a structured marketing package which utilizes Michael Waltrip Racing marks, images of the #00 race car with their logo on it, tickets, likeness of Michael McDowell in his driver’s suit, and the usage of Waltrip’s race facility for contest winners. Additionally, each partner will have the ability to utilize the discounted media buying services offered by RainMakers, and more.(MWR)(4-25-2008) Comment here
Polaroid on the #41: Reed Sorenson will document his Talladega weekend through a Polaroid Photo Diary. Polaroid will be making its NSCS debut on the #41 Dodge this weekend in the Aaron’s 499. Sorenson’s diary will be showcased on Polaroid.com.(CGRFS), see images of the scheme on my #41 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2008)
Burton is it: #31-Jeff Burton is the lone driver who has completed every lap of competition this season in the Sprint Cup Series. Burton also has completed 82.8% of the total laps (2,235 of 2,699) running in the top 15 and leads all drivers with the most runs on the lead lap (2,694 of 2,699). Burton has finished 14 straight races on the lead lap.(RCR)(4-25-2008)
Juicy Fruit colors for Montoya: The Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit brand will adorn the hood of the #42 Dodge this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway with Juan Pablo Montoya.(CGRFS), see images of the scheme on my #42 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2008)
DIRECTV returns to the #07: For the second race in a row, Clint Bowyer’s #07 Chevy will feature a blue and white DIRECTV paint scheme. Jack Daniel’s, Bowyer’s traditional primary sponsor, will be featured on the car’s deck lid and lower-rear quarter panels.(RCR), see images of the scheme on my #07 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2008)
Tums scheme for Franchitti at ‘dega: This weekend the all-new TUMS QuikPak instant dissolve powder will serve as the primary sponsor of the #40 CGRFS Dodge Charger at Talladega Superspeedway fro Dario Franchitti. TUMS first became a CGRFS partner in 2007, as an associate sponsor of the #40 and #41 cars. This will be Franchitti’s first time representing the TUMS brand. The #40 TUMS QuikPak Dodge team is taking on the identity of its primary sponsor by renaming the pit crew “The TUMS QuikPak” for this weekend’s Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup series race.(CGRFS), see images of the scheme on my #40 Team Schemes page.(4-25-2008)
Stewart to leave JGR? UPDATE 3 statements Gibbs and Stewart:Sources tell Sports Illustrated that #20-Tony Stewart is working on the final stages of a deal to move from Joe Gibbs Racing to Haas CNC next season. Considering the ramifications of such a move, no one’s admitting anything quite yet, as you’d expect. When reached for comment, Haas CNC Racing spokesman Ron Mench claims there’s been no communication between Stewart and the organization. Stewart’s PR spokesman Mike Arning was noncommittal (“I’ve heard what you’ve heard,” when asked about Haas CNC) but he reminded SI [Sports Illustrated] that Stewart’s contract with Gibbs runs through the 2009 season. “He’s there this year and he’s there next year,” claimed Arning. “And I know for a fact that JGR is interested in retaining Tony for ’10 and beyond. They’d like him to retire at Joe Gibbs Racing. As Tony’s said many times, ‘Nothing’s broke. Why change it?’ Tony’s going to have a lot of options in front of him; why wouldn’t he? But I don’t see [an early out happening] … everyone is going to live up to the terms of the contract that runs through ’09.” However, sources are adamant that not just the talking, but deal-making is already taking place for Stewart to go elsewhere. And, while sometimes a formidable opponent, contracts can be easily bought out, as Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch have shown us in recent years.(Sports Illustrated)(4-23-2008) UPDATE: Tony Stewart has begun discussion with Joe Gibbs Racing officials about his future with the company, ESPN.com has learned. And that future, sources say, is questionable. Multiple sources close to the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity said Stewart told Gibbs officials that he’d like to be released from the final year of his current driving contract, which expires at the conclusion of the 2009 season. “He definitely has some options,” JGR president J.D. Gibbs said. “To me it’s no different than any of the the options he’s had before. The reality is he’s racing here through 2009. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about that one. Our stance is he’s racing for us through 2009.” Stewart’s publicist, Mike Arning, said “Tony’s contract is through the 2009 season. When that is up he’ll have a lot of options for 2010 and beyond. But in terms of what he’s going to do, or might do, for now and in between, as far as JGR is concerned he’s their driver for 2009.” Sources said Stewart is intrigued by the thought of team ownership. One potential scenario mentioned was a partnership with Haas/CNC Racing, under which Stewart would own as much as a 50% stake in the race team that currently fields the #66 and #70 Chevys. Under that scenario he would drive one of those two machines. Haas GM Joe Custer said he has spoken with several people about the future status of his team, including Stewart’s group. He was adamant that his team has reached no deal with Stewart, but would “by all means be interested in discussing a partnership with a driver of his caliber.” Such a move would reunite Stewart with Chevrolet, which sources said was of the utmost importance to the driver, given that he’s driven for General Motors for most of his career, and that GM sponsors Stewart’s open wheel sprint car program. Gibbs switched to Toyotas from Chevrolets in 2008. Haas/CNC Racing currently fields cars built and powered by Hendrick Motorsports, the organization that has won four Cup championships in the past 10 years, including the past two.(ESPN.com) UPDATE 2: The following is a statement from J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, regarding the contract status of driver Tony Stewart: “There has been much speculation regarding the future of our driver, Tony Stewart. Tony is currently here through 2009, and from a Joe Gibbs Racing standpoint, we hope he drives for us longer than that and retires here. Tony is a great partner and a huge asset to Joe Gibbs Racing. Right now, we are focused on winning races and winning the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships under his current contract.”(Joe Gibbs Racing/True Speed Communication)(4-24-2008) UPDATE Stewart speaks: Tony Stewart has several different offers to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, and he is considering every option – including ones that could make him the owner of his own NASCAR team. “We’ve got multiple offers on the table right now, and there’s a couple in particular that really have caught our interest,” Stewart told reporters Thursday after Nationwide Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway. “We haven’t made a 100% decision yet on what we’re going to do, but we’re going to look at all the options. And the options are exciting, all the way around.” Stewart’s deal with JGR runs through 2009, and he said last summer he was interested in signing an extension with the team he’s driven for since 1998. But contract talks moved slowly, with Stewart saying in January he was in no rush to get a deal done. Stewart said Thursday he has not ruled out staying with JGR, but when he began negotiating a new contract, other teams approached him with new opportunities. The same thing happened back in 2003, when Stewart was able to leverage several deals – including one from Chip Ganassi – to secure a more lucrative contract with Gibbs. “A wise person told me it never cost a dime to listen, so right now we’re all ears,” Stewart said of the latest offers. “Right now it’s just a matter of figuring out what we want to do, and being smart. We’ve had a great run at Joe Gibbs Racing. It doesn’t mean it’s over. We’re just going to look at everything that’s out there.” Stewart said Thursday he has informed Gibbs officials of his offers, and there were discussions of potentially leaving the team early depending on what deal he agreed to. But he said “a couple offers” included ownership, and the thought of running his own team excited him. Stewart said he has not discussed owning a portion of JGR with owner Joe Gibbs. “Right now we’ve not asked to be released out of our contract,” he said. “They know there are other offers on the table and we’ve said, `What if this is the case? And what if this is presented to us? Is there a possibility we could be released from our contract early?’ But we have not asked to be released from our contract.” Cary Agajanian, who represents Stewart through the Motorsports Management Int. agency, cited the sensitivity of contract talks in declining to comment. “His contract is through 2009 with Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Agajanian, “that’s about all we know, and all we can say.”(Associated Press)(4-25-2008)
am sure this will be much discussed about over the weekend at Talladega, there are already many articles posted on the Article Links page about the subject. Comment here
Talladega Goodyear Tire Notes: This weekend will be the first time that Goodyear has run a race on these tire codes . . . compared to last year at Talladega, there are two changes of note on this tire set-up . . . first, this left-side code (D-4138) is slightly taller to adjust the stagger and align this set-up with what was run at Daytona in February . . . second, this right-side code (D-4140) has a slight design modification to help reduce the operating temperature of the tire. . the compounds on both sides of the car are the same as in 2007 . . . this is the only track at which these tire codes will be run this season . . .teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup will run different tire codes than those in the Nationwide Series at Talladega this weekend . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Talladega . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.(Goodyear), see full report, pressures, codes and more on my Talladega Race Info page.(4-25-2008)
Team Dakar USA/Robby Gordon Update in the Central Europe Rally:On the familiar tracks of Veszprem, Robby Gordon claimed his second special win on the sixth stage of the Central Europe Rally. Gordon, who yesterday suffered a major setback in the overall classification yesterday when he broke the rear hub of his Hummer was determined to showcase his teams talents. Before the start of the second special of the day he and BJ Baldwin wagered dinner on the outcome. The bet was to see if BJ could stay within 45 seconds of Gordon’s time. While the chance to win the rally overall is all but gone, the two drivers served notice that the Hummers are for real. Both drivers attacked the course and in the end Gordon finished first, one second over Carlos Sainz of Spain. Baldwin was not far behind, in fact just 19 seconds. Gordon got the victory and Baldwin gets dinner. Team Dakar USA also had a strong showing in the first 157km special in the morning. Gordon and Baldwin claimed the sixth and seventh spots respectively. The Vanguard Hummer has now moved up into the seventh spot while Gordon’s Monster Energy Toyo Tire Hummer is in 11th. Tomorrow the Central Europe Rally wraps with a 155km special on the Veszprem tracks and then heads to Balaton Lake for the final festivities. Instead of participating in the festivities Gordon will board a plane and deadhead for Talladega for Sundays NASCAR race.(Robby Gordon PR), earlier updates about the rally are available on the #7 Team Page.(4-25-2008) Comment here
News from April 24, 2008
Sad News: Cameron Argetsinger: Cameron Argetsinger, the founder of racing at Watkins Glen, died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 87. Argetsinger’s death comes at a time when the Watkins Glen community is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the first road race through the streets of the village, organized by Argetsinger, in 1948. That event eventually led to the construction of the Watkins Glen Racetrack and the community became world famous after Argetsinger succeeded in attracting Formula 1 races to the track in 1961. Argetsinger, a lawyer by profession, left Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corp. in 1970 to head up other racing organizations. He returned to the area in 1977 and became a partner in a local law firm. He remained passionate about all types of auto racing right until the end, said longtime track historian Bill Green. Argetsinger was a driver, a race promoter and organizer who did more than anyone to put Watkins Glen on the map with his vision for the future, Green said.(Elmira Star-Gazette)(4-24-2008)
Northern Tool + Equipment to Sponsor Travis Kvapil at Talladega IMAGE: Yates Racing announced that Northern Tool + Equipment, a leading supplier of high-quality tools and equipment for more than 27 years, will sponsor the #28 entry with driver Travis Kvapil for this weekend’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27th. Sunday’s race will mark the first time Northern Tool + Equipment has been a primary sponsor in NASCAR’s most elite division, the Sprint Cup Series. Northern Tool + Equipment has been a sponsor in the Craftsman Truck Series since 2006.(Yates Racing)(4-22-2008)
added an image of the scheme to the Paint Schemes gallery.(4-24-2008) Comment here
Career start #300 for Dale Jr: #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to make his 300th career start in the Sprint Cup Series this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. In 10 years at NASCAR’s elite level, Earnhardt has recorded 17 wins, eight pole positions, 79 top-five finishes and 127 top-10s. He has completed 85,378 laps, and his 5,842 laps led is fourth among all drivers since 1999. In 16 starts at Talladega, Earnhardt has five wins, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He has led 21.23 percent of the laps he’s run on the 2.66-mile superspeedway (570 of 2,684 laps).(HMS)(4-24-2008) Comment here
Talladega Rookie Notes: #77-Sam Hornish Jr. was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race at Phoenix. Hornish Jr. scored a 20th-place finish and took top rookie honors for the third time this season. Hornish Jr. leads #01-Regan Smith by three points (78-75) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the April 27 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Hornish Jr., Smith and #00-Michael McDowell are the only members of the Raybestos Rookie class with a guaranteed starting spot at Talladega. Two Raybestos Rookies entered in this weekend’s race at Talladega do not have a guaranteed starting positions: #40-Dario Franchitti and #10-Patrick Carpentier. The late Davey Allison is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. 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 38 previous spring races at Talladega: Jimmie Johnson (2002). Johnson won the second pole of his career and posted a seventh place finish in the race. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to win a Sprint Cup Series race is Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya captured the 2007 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon (Sonoma, Calif.) Raceway, crossing the finish line 4.097 seconds ahead of second-place Kevin Harvick (28 races).(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos), for more notes, standings and history, see my 2008 Rookies page.(4-24-2008)
Edwards Tests in Iowa: Carl Edwards already owns three Sprint Cup Series wins this season, but continues to look beyond the immediate horizon. This weekend, Talladega. Next weekend, Richmond. So it made sense for the #99-Roush Fenway Racing driver to conduct a closed test today [Wednesday, April 23rd] at Iowa Speedway in Newton, a 7/8-mile asphalt track similar in terms of specifications to Richmond.(Des Moines Register)(4-24-2008) Comment here
Team Dakar USA/Robby Gordon Update in the Central Europe Rally:The course was once again centered around the ex-military base outside of Veszprem, which provided an emotional rollercoaster ride for Robby Gordon and Andy Grider’s. Stage five started out strong with the Monster Energy Hummer taking its first special win in the Central Europe Rally. With that strong performance the team moved to within three minutes of the top spot held by Carlos Sainz. Fortunes turned quickly on the second special for Gordon and Grider when they experienced mechanical problems with the rear wheel assembly of the Hummer. “After the special win we were pumped up because we had fought our way back into this thing. The only thing left to do was to go hard and keep pace with the leaders. I’m very disappointed after the second special. We flew a decent size jump and the truck just came down wrong on the rear and damaged the rear hub. We finally managed to get it fixed but at that point it was too late. Our chances on this rally are over but I’m really proud of this effort.” The bright spot for Team Dakar USA was another couple of strong specials for BJ Baldwin. Baldwin managed ninth in the first special, fifth in the second and seventh on the day. His showing has earned the Ronn Bailey Vanguard Hummer a spot in the top-ten in the overall classification. Once again tomorrows tracks can be found in Veszprem where there will be two specials. The first special in the morning will be 157km while the afternoon special will be 54km. From there the rally goes to Balaton Lake for the final stage in the 2008 Central Europe Rally. Coverage of the rally can be seen in the United States on DirecTV. The half hour show will be aired twice – first at 7p.m. EST and then again at 12:30a.m.(Robby Gordon PR), earlier updates about the rally are available on the #7 Team Page.(4-24-2008) Comment here
Checkers/Rally’s no longer official burger of NASCAR:Checkers/Rally’s has been released from its position as the official burger of NASCAR, creating an opening in the quick-service restaurant category. NASCAR called the separation a mutual decision. Checkers/Rally’s, based in Tampa, also has exited its sponsorships of the Indianapolis 500, Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. All of the motorsports deals were scheduled to run through the 2009 season. Checkers/Rally’s confirmed the end of the sponsorships, but its chief marketing officer, Terri Snyder, could not be reached for comment. NASCAR now has turned its attention to filling the QSR category. Brian Corcoran, managing director of corporate marketing in NASCAR’s New York office, is spearheading the effort to find a brand with a national footprint. (Sports Business Daily/SceneDaily.com)(4-24-2008) Comment here
Reutimann To Be Featured in Talladega Nationwide Series Telecast:David Reutimann will be featured as the “In-Race-Reporter” in ESPN on ABC’s telecast of Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Aarons 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. Reutimann will speak with ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett on the parade laps and during caution periods, giving viewers a unique perspective. The telecast on ABC begins at 2:30pm/et.(4-24-2008)
Hall of Fame induction tonight: The International Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be top-heavy with NASCAR characters. Tonight’s program includes three stock-car men who helped push their sport into major-league status. The NASCAR banner will be carried into the Hall of Fame by Robert “Red” Byron, Everett “Cotton” Owens and Ralph Seagraves. On the other half of the program are Art Arfons, Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins and Frank Kurtis.
The following men will be inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame tonight in Talladega, Ala.:
Art Arfons (1926-2007): Set the unlimited Land Speed Record three times in the infamous Green Monster.
Robert “Red” Byron (1926-60): Won the first NASCAR-sanctioned race on the Daytona Beach & Road Course in 1948.
Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins (1930- ): Built engines for 61 NHRA eliminators, producing five titles and three ARHA crowns.
Frank Kurtis (1908-87): Built five Indy 500-winning cars, and his midget-car package dominated the sport for 20 years.
Everett “Cotton” Owens (1924- ): Scored 41 NASCAR wins and 38 poles as driver and car owner.
Ralph Seagraves (1929-98): Helped initiate R.J. Reynolds’ sponsorship of motorsports, including NASCAR, in the 1970s.
(Daytona Beach News Journal), for more info, see the International Motorsports Hall of Fame site.(4-24-2008)
Johnson and Montoya on QVC TONIGHT: Sprint Cup drivers #48-Jimmie Johnson and #42-Juan Pablo Montoya are scheduled to appear live on QVC For Race Fans Only with QVC on-air host and NASCAR enthusiast Dan Hughes, live from Talladega, Ala. For Race Fans Only will be broadcast Friday, April 25, 2008 from 8-10 pm/et.(QVC PR)(4-24-2008) Comment here
Stewart going for ‘a record’: Tony Stewart, the driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota, has finished second six times but never won in 18 Cup races at Talladega. He’s tied with Bobby Allison at Martinsville and Mark Martin at Pocono for NASCAR’s record for single-track second-place finishes without a victory.(Alabama Live), Talladega is one of four Cup tracks that Stewart has never won a CUP race at: California, Las Vegas and Darlington.(4-24-2008)
News from April 23, 2008
Fans Can ‘Ride with Dale Jr.’ in the AMP Energy 500: If #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. goes to Victory Lane in the Oct. 5 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, he will bring the names of more than 70,000 members of JR Nation with him. To become one of the many people who will catch a “Ride with Dale Jr.,” all consumers need is one can of AMP Energy drink and a computer. Beginning April 22, Earnhardt fans can simply take the code found on the bottom of any AMP Energy can, log onto www.AMPEnergy.com and register. The first 70,000 will have their names featured on the special #88 AMP Energy “Ride with Dale Jr.”/National Guard Chevy paint scheme.(Hendrick Motorsports PR), see more details on my Contests Page.(4-23-2008) Comment here
Tire test scheduled at Indy: UPDATE: Goodyear has scheduled a NASCAR tire test at IMS for April 22-23. Data learned from #48-Jimmie Johnson (Chevrolet), #2-Kurt Busch (Dodge) and #83-Brian Vickers (Toyota) will be used by Goodyear to select the tires it brings to the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 27.(Indianapolis Star)(4-11-2008) UPDATE:Given the opportunity to replace Hendrick Motorsports teammate #48-Jimmie Johnson for a two-day tire test this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t have to be asked twice. With tires being an issue at several tracks this season as the teams and Goodyear struggle to learn the nuances of NASCAR’s new-generation car, every day on the racetrack is a learning experience. “I want to tire test as much as possible under the circumstances that we have this season,” Earnhardt said on a teleconference during a break in testing Tuesday. “I want to be the guy they call first.” Earnhardt, representing Chevy, is joined by Kurt Busch (Dodge) and Brian Vickers (Toyota) for the test, which concludes today. Data from the test will be used by Goodyear to select the tires it will supply for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 27.(Indianapolis Star)(4-23-2008) Comment here
Burnouts and Donuts Highlight Pre-Race Show For Sprint All-Star Race: Top Sprint Cup Series drivers will prove who can execute the best burnout and donuts during the inaugural Pennzoil Victory Challenge prior to the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night, May 17, at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The timed-competition will include five drivers who must demonstrate four essential skills of any victory celebration: a tire-smoking burnout; spectacular donuts; precision driving into “Victory Lane;” and, as with anything in racing, speed. Clint Bowyer, a first-time Sprint All-Star Race participant and driver of the #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevy, is the first official entry for the inaugural event. Other participants will be announced at a later date. The Pennzoil Victory Challenge will take place on the frontstretch of the 1.5-mile superspeedway at 6:15 p.m., just prior to the start of the Sprint Showdown. Each driver will be in similarly prepared Richard Petty Driving Experience cars wrapped with Sprint All-Star Race decals. A $10,000 donation will be made to the winner’s designated charity. The inaugural Pennzoil Victory Challenge will be televised live during SPEED Channel’s pre-race coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.(LMS PR)(4-23-2008) Comment here
Max Papis in the #70?: UPDATE: Hearing that Haas CNC Racing has talked to Max Papis about running the two Sprint Cup road course races in the #70 car. Papis’ agent confirmed talks and said he “feels as though they are close to a deal”. Papis was originally planning to drive the Phoenix Racing #09 at both road course events.(4-21-2008) UPDATE: Max Papis will drive the #70 Haas Automation Chevy during the two road-course races on the 2008 Sprint Cup Series schedule.(Haas CNC Racing PR)(4-23-2008) Comment here
Important two months ahead for Truex: If free agent-to-be #1-Martin Truex Jr. is considering employment with another team, the next two months should help him make up his mind. Starting with last year’s spring race at Talladega, Truex shrugged off a slow start with finishes of 11th or better in six of nine races — including a dominant win at Dover. During that stretch, Truex rose from 20th in the standings to ninth. But Truex’s situation is much different this season. He’s feeling the pressure to duplicate last year’s performance and is unable to sneak up on competitors. The good news is that Truex may not have to worry about finding a new employer. His performance to date has been much better than in the first eight races of last year. If Truex decides to bolt, Richard Childress Racing’s new fourth car would be a step up. Truex is a good qualifier and probably wouldn’t sweat too much over the first five races of next season, when he would have to qualify solely on time. Also, Truex would be joining an organization whose current drivers rank among the top eight in points. If Truex’s cars don’t measure up to his expectations during these next two months, the decision to leave will become that much easier. And it would leave DEI without any full-time premier drivers.(NASCAR.com)(4-23-2008) Comment here
“Tri Primary” Scheme for Kyle Petty at Talladega: Kyle Petty: “Petty Enterprises is truly fortunate in that we have three great primary sponsors on my #45 Dodge. So this weekend we are going to show our appreciation by sporting a tri-primary paint scheme. Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil, Wells Fargo and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) will all get primary treatment.”(Petty Racing PR)(4-23-2008) Comment here
Turtle Wax on the #15 at Talladega: In addition to his on track competition, #15-Paul Menard will have car care on his mind this weekend as he sports the colors of Turtle Wax on the hood of his Chevy.(Co-Pilott Motorsports Marketing)(4-23-2008) Comment here
Up and Down Day for Team Dakar USA in the Central Europe Rally: It was a seesaw day for Team Dakar USA. Over the past three stages when things have gone well for Robby Gordon and his Monster Hummer, BJ Baldwin and the Vanguard Hummer has had its set of challenges. Today the roles were reversed. The Central Europe Rally shifted back to Hungary and revisited the site of the first special in Dubras, just outside Budapest. Gordon impressed on the first special of the day, finishing third in the opening segment. BJ Baldwin was in full attack mode as well but managed to tangle with a tree. That episode relegated him to seventh on the first special. Team Dakar USA then travelled 201km to the start of the second special in Veszprem where the rally will be for the next two days. There was no holding back for either of the two hummer teams. Gordon and Grider were flying when a rock managed to sever the rear brake line. The duo acted quickly to cap of the line and continue with only front brakes. Navigation errors by some of the top rivals allowed them to close up the gap only to give it back when the Hummer H3 went off the track just a few kilometers from the end of the special. The second special was the best moment yet for BJ Baldwin and navigator Kevin Heath. Coming from the back the team scored an impressive 5th place finish which vaulted them up to 15th in the overall classifications. With Gordon’s mechanical luck he dropped back to eight in the standings, 7:05 adrift.(Robby Gordon PR), earlier updates about the rally are available on the #7 Team Page.(4-23-2008) Comment here
News from April 22, 2008
American Red Cross Launches Campaign to Connect Fans With Blood Donations: The American Red Cross announced the launch of Red Cross Racing, a new national campaign to recruit NASCAR fans as blood donors and raise awareness of the need to give blood. Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood. Through the support of 3M and Roush Fenway Racing the #16 Ford will race this Sunday at the Aaron’s 499 in Talladega, Ala. in a full paint scheme featuring the Red Cross logo. The car will be driven by Red Cross Celebrity Cabinet member and blood donor Greg Biffle. Race fans will be able to join a Donor Rewards Program by visiting redcrossracing.com beginning on April 24. This new Web site makes it easy to schedule blood donation appointments online and offers frequent donors the chance to get points, which can be exchanged for Red Cross Racing gear, including caps, t-shirts, jackets and limited edition die-cast cars. Race fans can also join Red Cross Racing at one of the nine NASCAR races where a Red Cross trailer will be on the midway. All participants who sign up between April 24 and October 1 are automatically entered into a sweepstakes for an all-expense paid trip for two to the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Speedway on November 9, 2008. The Red Cross will be highly visible at NASCAR races, thanks to a nearly $2 million donation by 3M. The #16 Ford Fusion will also feature the full Red Cross paint scheme on November 9, 2008 during the Phoenix race. In both races Biffle will wear a Red Cross-branded fire suit. In addition, the Red Cross logo will be seen on the #16 Ford Fusion in eight other races this season: New Hampshire, Chicago, Michigan, Richmond (September), Kansas, Charlotte (October), Texas and Phoenix.(Red Cross PR), see image of the scheme on my #16 Team Schemes page.(4-22-2008) Comment here
Office Depot negotiating with Roush; if not UPS could replace: MORE Office Depot is in the midst of an exclusive 60-day negotiating period to extend its sponsorship of Carl Edwards’ #99 Ford, but industry sources say that UPS is waiting in the wings to make a run at the hot Roush Fenway Racing driver.(SportsBusinessJournal.com-sub)(4-21-2008) UPDATE: Office Depot is in the final year of its three-year deal with the #99 team. Edwards and Roush Fenway appear to be in position to push the first of many sponsor dominoes in the coming four to six weeks. If Office Depot, which has used Edwards out front for its annual “Official Small Business of NASCAR” promotion, doesn’t have a deal done by mid-May, industry sources say UPS will pursue sponsorship of Edwards’ car. UPS has been considering several options, from staying at Michael Waltrip Racing to Edwards to Jeff Burton’s #31, which is scheduled to lose AT&T as its primary sponsor at the end of this season, but sources said Edwards has emerged as the top option. The issue between Office Depot and Roush Fenway, sources said, is the price tag for the #99 car has increased significantly from three years ago when Edwards was considered more of an up-and-comer than a bona fide star. If Edwards stays in the # 99 as expected, Roush Fenway hopes to extract $22 million to $24 million a year in the next contract, sources said, a significant step up from the deal Office Depot signed three years ago in the $14 million to $15 million range annually. It’s uncertain how aggressively Office Depot will pursue another three years on the #99 at the higher price. The office supply retailer is embroiled in a proxy fight with a shareholder group that is attempting to oust CEO Steve Odland from the company’s board after an 85 percent drop in fourth-quarter net earnings year-over-year. Office Depot’s stock price has dropped from a high of $37.05 nearly a year ago to $11.51 at Monday’s close, which has prompted questions about its ability to win a bidding war for the #99 car. John Miller, a former Roush marketing executive who now owns his own agency, Xceed Sports Marketing, is representing Office Depot in these negotiations.(Sports Business Journal/SceneDaily.com)(4-22-2008) Comment here
Silver scheme for Allmendinger at ‘dega: The silver #84 that’s been shining in Red Bull Racing Team’s shop unloads for the first time Friday at Talladega, and AJ Allmendinger, who returns after a five-race layoff, can’t wait to show off his car’s new look. “I think it’s sweet,” Allmendinger said. “Our blue has been good, but it’s one of those things that says, ‘I’m back!’ It’s silver. It’s going to stand out. It’s going to look fast, and it’s going to be fast.” In 2007, Red Bull’s motorsports branding featured dynamic bulls, suns and custom deep blue color. More than a year later, the design is expanding with the silver #84. The car maintains the same styling cues as the #83 to ensure close affiliation but carries a metallic silver pearl base and blue number to create its own identity and personality.(Team Red Bull Blog), see image of the scheme on my #84 Team Schemes page.(4-22-2008)
Testing at Nashville: Nashville Superspeedway is scheduled to host two days of testing on Tuesday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 23. Tentative teams and drivers scheduled: Chip Ganassi Racing [two cars, no drivers named]; #12-Ryan Newman/Penske Racing; #24-Jeff Gordon; Richard Childress Racing with #31-Jeff Burton and a test team; #20-Joe Gibbs Racing [driver TBD]; DEI with #01-Regan Smith (Tuesday Only); #43-Bobby Labonte of Petty Enterprises; Haas/CNC Racing with #66-Scott Riggs and #70 driver TBD. The test is not open to the public.(Nashville Superspeedway)(4-22-2008) Comment here
National Day of Prayer on the #78 at Talladega: The #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy, driven by Joe Nemechek, will once again showcase a unique paint scheme at Talladega Superspeedway, site of this weekend’s Sprint Cup race. For the third year in a row at the Talladega spring event, Furniture Row, the Denver-based company which owns the #78 Chevy, is devoting its entire space on the car to the National Day of Prayer. The red, white and blue patriotic paint scheme will include the National Day of Prayer logo on the hood, the rear quarter panels, trunk-lid and the rear bumper (TV) panel of the #78 car.(Furniture Row Racing PR)(4-22-2008) Comment here
Robby Godon Survives the Mountains in the Central Europe Rally:The damage was contained for Robby Gordon on stage three of the Central Europe Rally. The rock course that provided the four-wheel drive vehicles an advantage the day before was now in rough shape and Gordon and his Monster Energy Hummer managed a stronger than expected performance. Gordon began the day in seventh position overall and after the two specials managed to move up to sixth in the overall classification just 5:33 back of Stephan Peterhansel. Despite running the final portion of the second special on a deflated tire Gordon claimed the fourth best time of the day. Once again Bj Baldwin was not so lucky. A navigation error sent them into a snow bank which cost the Vanguard team over 20 minutes after getting stuck. Baldwin and navigator Kevin Heath are now in 20th place. The Rally now heads back to Debrecen, Hungary and the site of the first stage where the team can look forward to running the course in reverse. Again the stage will feature two specials, 62km and 88km. The rough terrain should be better suited for the Hummer than the tight tracks of Romania.(Robby Gordon PR)(4-22-2008) (Robby Gordon PR).(4-22-2008) Comment here
News from April 21, 2008
Jon Wood in the #21 at Talladega: Jon Wood will make his 2008 Sprint Cup Series debut in the Wood Brothers Racing #21 Honey Buns Ford in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 27th. Since the race was not a scheduled event for Bill Elliott, the team felt that Jon was a logical choice given his experience in the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series on superspeedways. Jon has a busy schedule this week as he is also entered to drive the #21 Air Force Ford in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 CTS race at the Kansas Speedway on April 26th. The team is making every effort to make sure Jon participates in both events. An alternative driver is being considered to practice, qualify and possibly race the truck if arrangements cannot be made to get Jon to the Kansas Speedway.(Wood Brothers PR)(4-21-2008) Comment here
No Blank Car For Sponsor-Seeking #01: The #01 DEI Chevy of Regan Smith may be short on sponsorship, but don’t expect a blank car to show up at the track resembling Yates Racing entries. Instead of running a plain scheme to highlight the need to find more sponsorship, DEI Vice President of Motorsports Operations John Story said the team has decided instead to “sweeten” its deal with Principal Financial Group, who initially just signed as a full-season associate sponsor with a handful of races as the primary. “We’ve discussed, do you leave the car blank, do you do what Yates has done and say, ‘SponsorYates.com and call us,’ and we believe it can actually work against you in many ways,” Story told the Press. “If you left the car white, a sponsor may in fact say, ‘Hey, that’s a great car and they’ve got space available, let’s call.’ Or they may say, ‘Nobody else is sponsoring that car. Why should we? Is there something wrong with them?'” Recently, the car has run with the DEI logo on the hood, but with the Principal signage on the rear quarterpanels and back. In addition, Smith has worn the Principal firesuit and referred to the company in interviews as if it’s any other primary sponsor. Story doesn’t believe that DEI is devaluing the sponsorship long-term by giving Principal more than it’s paying for. He also doesn’t think the No. 01 is missing out on the opportunity to attract new sponsors by not running a blank car, saying that DEI is in discussions with companies about sponsorship for this year and beyond.(Long Island Press)(4-21-2008) Comment here
Jamie Little wins Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race: ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little held off Craftsman Truck Series driver Mike Skinner by .324 seconds in race-modified Scion tCs to win the 32nd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race on Saturday. “When you interview a winning driver after the race, they always tell you how they just try to get through that last lap,” said Little after beating Skinner, a repeat winner in the Pro Category. “Well, now I know exactly what they’re talking about.” In a last-lap duel, Skinner made contact with Little coming out of the hairpin turn on the 1.97-mile street circuit through the downtown streets of Long Beach to pull side-by-side, Little was able to get back on the gas and pull in front of Skinner as the two came to the finish line. “You go into the event with everyone out here wanting to help raise money for charity and have fun,” said Little, who will give the $5,000 from Toyota to UCI Reeve/Irvine Center in California for spinal cord injury research. In the Professional category, Skinner never gave up the lead. After starting 30 seconds behind, he quickly made up ground and caught up with the tail end of the celebrities by lap 3. He then maneuvered through traffic, catching the leaders with just two laps remaining.(SceneDaily.com)(4-21-2008) Comment here
Second Day of Central European Rally Tougher for Robby Gordon:The second stage of the Central Europe Rally proved to be quite the challenge for Team Dakar USA. The mountainous tracks on the outskirts of Baia Mare proved to favor the four-wheel drive vehicles today. Recent snow storms left the tracks muddy in places and made the rocky course very slippery. Approaching the stage the Hummer team conceded the disadvantage and vowed to fight back on the upcoming specials but for today and possibly tomorrow they will take their lumps. The day was to be comprised of two identical specials each 76km in length. After the first special Robby Gordon found himself 4:43 back from special winner Stephan Peterhansel. He posted the 11th fastest time. BJ Baldwin lost 8:14 and finished 15th on the special. After the motorbikes, cars and trucks grooved up the course the organizers decided to shorten the second special to just 34km. The shortened special allowed Gordon to limit the damage on the second special. He finished just 39 seconds back of winner Al Attiyah, which secured a fourth place finish on the special. BJ Baldwin was not so lucky. A small rock managed to work its way up into the throttle cable housing and prevented Baldwin from getting full power. The freak occurrence cost Baldwin 6:22 and relegated him to a 30th place finish. At the end of the day Robby Gordon is 7th in the overall classification, 4:03 back while Baldwin’s Vanguard Hummer is 18th overall, 22:17 back. Tomorrow’s stage will be a repeat of today’s events and then the rally returns to the site of the first stage, which was more suited for the Hummers.(Robby Gordon PR), earlier updates about the rally are available on the #7 Team Page.(4-21-2008) Comment here
News from April 20, 2008
Ragan has blood type on his uniform: David Ragan has an “O+” by the name on his uniform, designating his blood type. Drivers occasionally put their blood type on their firesuits in case they are in an accident and are rushed to a hospital. Ragan said his suit maker Sabelt asked him for his blood type before it started making suits for him this year. The Roush Fenway Racing driver isn’t the first driver in NASCAR to have his blood type on the uniform but it is fairly rare to have that.(SceneDaily.com)(4-20-2008) Comment here
Schrader, other notables, planning to run Rockingham ARCA race:The Carolina 500, ARCA’s May 4 race at Rockingham Speedway, has drawn the attention of several drivers who don’t typically participate in the ruling body’s races. Bobby Hamilton Jr. and Ken Schrader have recently joined the list of entrants. Schrader has won 15 ARCA races during his career. Other notable entries have been filed in the names of drivers Joey Logano by Joe Gibbs Racing, Austin Dillon by Richard Childress Racing, Scott Speed by Eddie Sharp Racing, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by Roush Fenway Racing, Michael Annett by Bill Davis Racing, Chad McCumbee, Bobby Gerhart and Matt Carter. Dillon is Childress’s grandson. Speed is a former Formula One driver. Carter is the son of famed NASCAR mechanic Travis Carter.(Gaston Gazette)(4-20-2008) Comment here
Robby Gordon Second in first stage of Central European Rally:ARobby Gordon and his Monster Energy Toyo Tire blazed to a second place finish in the first stage of the inaugural Central European Rally. The stage began before a large crowd at Hero’s Square in Budapest where the teams were introduced to the spectators. The competitors then drove to beginning of the special 58km away in Dabas. More like a WRC style rally course rather than the marathon wide open stages of the Dakar, Gordon and navigator Andy Grider laid siege to the tight twisty tree lined narrow track. The rally now heads for Baia Mare in Romania for the second stage which will feature two specials – both 76km. The terrain is reported to be muddy and rocky. Coverage of the Central Europe Rally can be seen in the United States on DirecTV. The half hour show will be aired twice – first at 7p.m. est and then again at 12:30a.m. Additional rally coverage can also be found on robbygordon.com and robbysuprising.comwhere Team Dakar USA will have daily updates, the twitter micro blog feed, and videos.(Robby Gordon PR)(4-20-2008) Comment here
News from April 19, 2008
Ford improving over 2007: Ford had only one victory in 2007’s first eight events, that by #17-Matt Kenseth in Week 2. In three races with the Car of Tomorrow, the manufacturer was winless with only four top-10s, none better than fifth. Rival Chevy had seven wins, including all three races in the COT and 23 top-10s in the new car. Hendrick Motorsports, the top Chevy team, had five wins and was so dominant in the COT the rest of the competition looked clueless. These are much happier times for team owner Jack Roush and Ford exec Dan Davis. “I really felt like we didn’t have the engineering base that they had at Hendricks,” Davis said. “I felt like, ‘OK, it’s going to be a struggle all year, and we’ve got to work really hard to catch up.'” That they did. Two-thirds through the 2007 season, Ford — specifically Roush Fenway — had all but eliminated the deficit it faced in the new car. And eight races into the 2008 season, despite Jimmie Johnson’s win last weekend at Phoenix to give HMS its first win, one could even argue Ford has taken over the top spot. Edwards’ victory at Texas was Ford’s third in seven races. Two top-10s at Phoenix gave the manufacturer 18, including eight top-5s, in the new car, which was fully implemented for this season.(ESPN.com)(4-19-2008) Comment here
Phoenix TV ratings share match 2007: Fox’s broadcast of last Saturday night’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway earned a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 4.4 and an 8 market share, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating matches the 4.4 Fox earned last year, while the market share dropped from a 9 in 2007.(SceneDaily), for more info on TV Ratings, see my 2008 TV Ratings page.(4-19-2008)
Pocono test sched revised again: Pocono Raceway officials, at the direction of NASCAR, announced a second revision to the on track schedule for the two day Sprint Cup Series test at Pocono Raceway on May 27-28, 2008. The test, which is open to the public, is now scheduled to be run on Tuesday May 27 from 12:30 PM to 7:00 PM and Wednesday May 28 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Grandstand gates will be open to spectators one hour prior to the start time of the test each day. This important test will be the first opportunity NASCAR teams will have to test the new Sprint Cup Series race car at Pocono Raceway. Approximately 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams are expected to attend. 2008 Pocono NASCAR ticket holders will be eligible to receive up to four (4) FREE tickets to the test session. A mail-in coupon for the test and additional information will be sent to all ticket holders who purchase their NASCAR race tickets prior to May 9, 2008. Fans who are not current ticket holders for either of Pocono Raceway’s 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series or ARCA Re/Max Series events will be able to purchase test tickets for $5.00 each by calling the Pocono Raceway Ticket Office at 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929), online at poconoraceway.com or tickets can be purchased at the Pocono Raceway Gate 8 Ticket Booth each day of the testing. Tickets for the Pocono 500 weekend, June 6-8, 2008 and the Pennsylvania 500 weekend, August 1-3, 2008 are still available but are selling fast. For more test day information or to order race tickets, call the Raceway ticket office toll-free at 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929) or online at www.poconoraceway.com.(4-19-2008)Comment here
Robby Gordon’s sister to run race: #7-Robby Gordon’s sister, off-road racer Beccy Gordon is scheduled to race in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race April 19, one of six events to be run in conjunction with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Despite it being her first pavement start, Gordon will participate as one of six racers in the professional category that start the race 30 seconds behind the celebrity division. She will compete against the likes of NFL Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson, basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, “That 70’s Show” star Wilmer Valderrama, “Dancing With the Stars” winner Drew Lachey, former NBA star John Salley, ESPN NASCAR reporter Jamie Little and fellow pro’s NASCAR driver Mike Skinner, Tony Pedregon and Whit Bazemore, both NHRA Funny Car champions, as well as former Olympic gold medal cyclist Marty Nothstein. In addition to the on-track competition, Gordon also will be helping to raise money for “Racing For Kids.”(Toyota Motorsports PR)(4-19-2008)
News from April 18, 2008
Dickies to be associate sponsor of #29 Team: Dickies, the leading global workwear brand, and Richard Childress Racing (RCR), are expanding their partnership to include an associate sponsorship position on the #29 Shell-Pennzoil team with driver Kevin Harvick in the Cup Series. Dickies and RCR began their partnership in 2006 as the official provider of work apparel for RCR. The opportunity to increase their involvement into team partnership with RCR was the next logical step in a successful relationship.(RCR PR)(4-18-2008) Comment here
NASCAR Sued for Contract Breach: NASCAR was sued by a maker of automotive wet wipes for breach of a license agreement. Sellars Absorbent Materials Inc., a manufacturer of automotive car products, said NASCAR refused to approve packaging and marketing materials in connection with its automotive disposable wet wipes. The company paid NASCAR $1.5 million for the exclusive right to use the NASCAR logo to market its products, including wipes that will protect the surface and interior of cars, according to a lawsuit filed April 11 in federal court in Orlando, Florida. NASCAR contends that Sellars can’t market the wipes as a protectant due to an exclusive license agreement it has with 3M for “protectants,” according to the complaint. Sellars alleges that NASCAR granted it the exclusive right to use its logo for the wipes and is now attempting to “retroactively limit the scope of the license rights.” “Although Nascar identified certain limitations and exceptions in the license agreement and amendments,” Sellars said in court papers. “NASCAR did not create an exception for ‘protectants.'”(Bloomberg News)(4-18-2008) Comment here
Hornish, Franchitti will not run Indy 500: Sprint Cup rookies Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish Jr., the men who won the last two Indianapolis 500s, will not compete in the race next month. Their NASCAR team owners — Chip Ganassi for the #40 Dodge Franchitti drives and Roger Penske for the # 77 Dodge Hornish drives — both said the Indy 500 is not part of the plan this season. The two Cup rookies will concentrate on the Coca-Cola 600 Cup race that day (May 25) at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Penske, who is traveling in Europe this week, called Rusty Wallace on Tuesday from England to tell him Hornish would not race at Indy this year. Penske wanted to end the speculation that David Stremme would replace Hornish in the Coca-Cola 600 so Hornish could race at Indy. The speculation about Hornish also brought rumors about Franchitti possibly returning to the Indy 500 next month to defend his victory from last season. But Ganassi made his feelings clear: “No way we’re doing that,” Ganassi said. Ganassi also said that Franchitti is totally committed to his move to NASCAR.(ESPN.com), see previous rumors about Hornish on my #77 Team News page.(4-18-2008) Comment here
Fans To Decide One Driver’s Entry Into The Sprint All-Star Race:Sprint announced the return of the Sprint Fan Vote, a voting competition powered by fans to award one team a starting spot in the May 17 Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Voting began April 17 and closes at 7 p.m. EDT May 17. Race fans may vote multiple times. New this year, as a bonus to Sprint customers, votes placed on Sprint phones will count twice. Voting is available through the following channels:
*On Sprint phones text “NASCAR” to 7777 and follow the received directions (standard text messaging and data rates apply)
*At participating Sprint stores
*Trackside at the Sprint Experience
Past Fan Vote winners include Ken Schrader (2004), Martin Truex Jr. (2005), Kyle Petty (2006) and Kenny Wallace (2007).
To be eligible for the Sprint Fan Vote, drivers must have been in the top 50 in Sprint Cup Series driver point standings in 2007 or have attempted to qualify for a 2008 Sprint Cup Series race prior to March 10. The driver with the most votes who finishes the Sprint Showdown on the lead lap will transfer to the prestigious field. The Sprint Fan Vote winner will be announced following the completion of the Sprint Showdown. Tune in to SPEED May 17 at 7 p.m. EDT to see who will win the 2008 Sprint Fan Vote.(Sprint PR)(4-18-2008) Comment here
Marlin Running at Music City Motorplex: Sterling Marlin has no plans to compete for a Music City Motorplex Late Model points championship this season. He will race for a cause. Marlin said he will split his winnings from his six Motorplex races between Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University and the Nashville Rescue Mission. First place pays between $1,100 and $3,000, depending on the race. “My grandson was in (the children’s hospital) and they took really good care of him,” said Marlin, a Columbia resident and two-time Daytona 500 champ. “I wanted to try and take care of some kids and some people that have had misfortune. We eat well at Thanksgiving and Christmas and I know some of those people at the mission may not know where their next meal is coming from. I figured I’d try and help them out a little bit.” Marlin will race May 10, June 14, Aug. 8, Aug. 30, Sept. 20 and Oct. 11. Marlin also is racing a partial Sprint Cup schedule with Phoenix Racing. He will attempt to qualify for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega next week and Richmond the following week.(Tennessean)(4-18-2008) Comment here
NASCAR Revs Up New York: a FREE outdoor fan event celebrating NASCAR Sprint All-Star weekend featuring: Live Race Coverage, Race Simulators, NASCAR Stock Cars, Tire Changing Competitions, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Trophy, Games and Prizes for all ages, Pocono Raceway Ticket Package Giveaways and much, much more! More info on my 2008 All-Star Race page.(4-18-2008)
News from April 17, 2008
Mayfield wants to be in ride that can win, in any series: Jeremy Mayfield’s not sure what’s next, though as a racer he wants to race. But his choice, whether it’s in Sprint Cup, Nationwide or the Craftsman Truck Series, is going to be something that can win. He’s been there and knows he can get it done again. Right now, he’s not sure how much time he’ll be spending at racetracks in the short term. The conversations on future possibilities have been flowing in both directions, he said. But he won’t be sitting still, either. When the Sprint Cup Series is at Richmond and Darlington, Mayfield will be part of an entourage touring United States military installations in Iraq and supporting the troops.(NASCAR.com)(4-17-2008) Comment here
Chevy pushing for alternative fuels in NASCAR: Chevrolet is continuing its effort to have NASCAR make alternative fuels a priority. “We’re pushing hard – we probably are the instigators a little bit,” Chevrolet Vice President Brett Dewar said during the Texas race weekend. “We believe in green racing, and we believe it is very appropriate to do that … We believe it’s time. We think racing can also be green, and we would like it to be biofuels.” NASCAR executives have indicated that alternative fuels are a priority. “They’re definitely receptive,” Dewar said about NASCAR. “They’ve got fuel providers, and it’s a transition, and I don’t want to mitigate the fact that some work has to get done. There’s modifications to the engines, but we do it to our vehicles today. … We have to reduce our dependency on petroleum products. We just have to. Economically we need to do it, and we’re willing to do it.” General Motors is building cars that can be run on alternative fuels as well as electric vehicles. Dewar said the chairman of General Motors has been among those who has talked with NASCAR officials about alternative fuels. Could that happen in two or three years? “It could be sooner if we all rode together and worked together,” Dewar said. “It’s just a matter of bringing each other [together]. We’re going to meet with them soon to see how their development is coming. but we’re invited to this party. We’re proud to be a member with them from the beginning, General Motors with NASCAR, and we’re very supportive of that. We have to make good decisions.”(SceneDaily)(4-17-2008) Comment here
Water closes Kentucky Speedway: Soggy conditions below ground, however, left Kentucky Speedway track workers dealing with water seeping onto portions of the 1.5-mile track that led to the cancellation Tuesday of a scheduled ARCA RE/MAX Series test session. Track officials reacted swiftly and announced that the track will be closed to any on-track testing for at least the next two weeks. “We want to make sure it’s safe for the race car drivers and the teams,” Kentucky Speedway spokesman Tim Bray said. “We’re taking a proactive approach to it. We have everybody’s interests in mind. The track is fine. There’s just been so much water that we just need to make sure that what’s under the track is dried out.” The snow and rain that have flooded parts of the region since February is being blamed. Track workers spent several hours Tuesday trying to dry the surface and concentrated their efforts on problem spots in Turns 3 and 4. Thirteen ARCA RE/MAX Series drivers were at the track Tuesday. The speedway will open its 2008 season with the ARCA RE/MAX Series May 10. “The test session will not be rescheduled, based on our schedule, what we’re looking at ahead here,” ARCA RE/MAX Series spokesman Don Radebaugh said. The temporary shutdown comes as nine Sprint Cup teams were scheduled to spend today [Wednesday] testing their cars at the speedway. Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Gillett Evernham Motorsports, which tried to test last week at the track but could not because of the seepage, were among those scheduled. “We’re monitoring it and want to make sure we’re ready when the bell rings,” Bray said. “Today was just unfortunate. It’s not a huge deal because we’re aware of it, and we are taking every step to make sure it’s ready to go when we go racing.”(Cincinnati Enquirer)(4-16-2008) Comment here
Schrader to the #70 at Talladega? hearing Ken Schrader may drive the #70 Haas CNC Racing Chevy at Talladega. #49 BAM Racing is skipping Talladega and moving to a part-time schedule.(4-15-2008) UPDATE: Haas CNC Racing is pleased to announce that Ken Schrader will drive the #70 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy during the upcoming race weekend at Talladega. “I’m definitely very excited about the opportunity to drive for Haas CNC Racing,” Schrader said. “It is a younger team that is going through the growing process but yet has all of the elements in place. The team has an outstanding relationship with Hendrick Motorsports, and we know they have a proven engine program,” he added. “We certainly don’t have to second guess the equipment.”(Haas CNC Racing)(4-16-2008) Comment here
Joe Gibbs Racing Test at Rockingham: The Joe Gibbs Racing test team spent all day on Wednesday April 16th at the Rockingham Speedway gathering information for all of their Sprint Cup Series race teams. The Joe Gibbs Racing Test team used JGR developmental driver Joey Logano throughout the comprehensive test day.(Rockingham Speedway PR)(4-16-2008) Comment here
Stanton Barrett Hires His Dad to Drive at Mexico: In an apparently unprecedented move, Stanton Barrett has hired his 65-year-old father, Stan Barrett, to drive the SBM Motorsports #31 in this weekend’s Nationwide Series event in Mexico City. Stan Barrett, a former driver and Hollywood stuntman, will attempt to make the field for Sunday’s Corono Mexico 200 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. The first man to break the speed of sound on the ground in 1979, will pilot the Stanton Barrett Motorsports #31 Chevy while his son, Stanton, will drive the team’s #30 entry.(SceneDaily.com), Stan Barrett has made 19 Cup starts with 2 top 10 finishes, his best being a 9th at Talladega in 1981, this will be Barrett’s Nationwide Series debut.(4-16-2008) Comment here
The King’s Hat Makes Visit to Troops in Iraq: With 200 wins and seven championship in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, “The King” Richard Petty is firmly woven into the fabric of Americana as a true icon. While those numbers place him at the top of his profession, “The King” is dually noted for his generous giving of time and energy in support of others. As a member of the Dodge Motorsports family, Petty routinely takes part in Dodge’s satellite conference calls over the Freedom Calls Satellite network. The video conference calls connect men and women on the front lines of Iraq with their favorite Dodge NASCAR drivers before certain races. While at the Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway in March, Petty was involved in one such call with a group of United States Army engineers from the Coalition Network Operations and Security Center (CNOSC). When the group commented on Petty’s signature cowboy hat, he made sure that the group had one of their own. “Our soldiers sacrifice so much to allow us to live in a free country,” said Petty. “When they asked me to send them one of my Charley One Horse hats I thought that was the least I could do. It meant the world to me that one of my hats could provide them with a little relief from what they deal with on a daily basis.”
Petty is also heavily involved with the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). The PVA works to maximize the quality of life for its members and all people with spinal cord injury and dysfunction (SCI/D) as a leading advocate for health care, SCI/D research and education, veterans’ benefits and rights, accessibility and the removal of architectural barriers, sports programs, and disability rights. “Race car drivers are often called heroes, but the men and women of our military are the real heroes,” continued Petty. “Not only do they need our support when overseas, but also when they return to their lives back home.”(MCG Sports/Petty Enterprises)(4-16-2008) Comment here
Special Tribute For NASCAR’s 60th Anniversary Honors Champions Past and Present: The past and present of NASCAR will converge on stage during the International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 24. Standing side-by-side will be Raymond Parks, owner of the car driven by Robert “Red” Byron to the first NASCAR championship in 1949, and Jimmie Johnson, the driver who won the most recent NASCAR Cup title in 2007. Both Parks and Johnson will have their championship trophies with them during the presentation. The moment will be the highlight of a special tribute honoring the 60th anniversary of NASCAR’s formation. After a short video tribute, all of the past champions who are members of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame – both drivers and car owners – will be recognized. Those who will be present for the ceremony include NASCAR legends Ned Jarrett, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson, Ray Fox, Red Farmer and Everett “Cotton” Owens, who is also being inducted into the IMHoF that night as a member of the Class of 2008. Past Inductees that will also be in attendance include Carroll Shelby, Johnny Rutherford and Mel Kenyon. Parks was an active car owner from 1938 to 1955 and one of the most successful owners during the early days of NASCAR. Parks’ teams won all five beach races held at Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1945 and 1946, as well as the first NASCAR-sanctioned race in 1948. A native of Georgia, Parks teamed up with a number of stock-car racing’s driving pioneers, including Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Bob Flock, Fonty Flock, Ed Samples, Jack Smith, and Gober Sosebee. But it was Parks’ relationship with Byron that proved to be the most successful. In 1949, Byron competed in six of the eight official NASCAR races held that year, winning two and finishing in the top-five in two others. He won $5,800, earned 842½ points and went into the record books as the first NASCAR champion, beating out eventual three-time champ Lee Petty. Ironically, Byron is one of the six people being inducted into the IMHoF this year. He and Owens are joined in the Class of 2008 by land speed record breaker Art Arfons, drag racing guru Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, car fabricator Frank Kurtis and Winston promoter Ralph Seagraves. Opened in April of 1983, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports. Each year, the annual International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held on the grounds of the museum to honor those men and women chosen for induction from among the greatest names in all of motorsports. The 2008 ceremony will be held April 24, at the SPEED Channel Dome, adjacent to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Individual tickets for the evening are $125 and a table of eight may be reserved for $1,000. Tickets and tables are available by calling 1-256-362-5002. For more information on tickets for the upcoming Aaron’s Dream Weekend, guests should call the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office at 1-877-Go2-DEGA, (1-877-462-3342) or visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.(TSS)(4-16-2008)
Penske hires Stremme as test driver; Hornish rumors? UPDATE: In an effort to enhance its NASCAR Sprint Cup testing program, Penske Racing announced that David Stremme has joined the team as a test driver, effective immediately. In this role, Stremme will participate in Penske Racing’s comprehensive testing program in an effort to accelerate the understanding of the new Sprint Cup Series Dodge Charger that made its full-season debut in 2008. “It’s a rare opportunity to have someone of David’s caliber to work with Kurt, Ryan and Sam to help us improve our NASCAR Sprint Cup program,” said Tim Cindric, president, Penske Performance, Inc. “David raced the new car and understands what it takes to compete at the highest levels.” Stremme, 30, grew up in a racing family in South Bend, Indiana. After competing successfully in local and regional events throughout the Midwest, he moved to national NASCAR competition in 2003. Stremme has made 74 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2005. In 2008, Stremme has made seven starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, posting two top-five and three top-ten finishes. “It’s an honor to be working with an organization with as much history and heritage as Penske Racing,” said Stremme. “I look forward to a lot of productive testing so I can assist their NASCAR teams to run up front, make the Chase and hopefully win many Championships in the future.” Stremme will continue his role as a driver for Rusty Wallace, Inc. where he will be running the majority of the NASCAR Nationwide Series races during the 2008 season.(Penske Racing) AND: And there have been hints that Penske’s newest driver, Indy star #77-Sam Hornish Jr. may not be having all that much fun on the NASCAR tour. Hornish is 33rd in the standings and has yet to have a really decent run. Speculation is that if Hornish decides to return to Indy-car racing, then Penske would have Stremme standing by to fill the ride.(Winston Salem Journal) AND MORE: Sam Hornish Jr. back to the IRL? That was the wild story floating amongst the media at Phoenix last weekend. And the announcement that Penske Racing had hired David Stremme as a test driver only added fuel to the fire. Listen up, conspiracy theorists. Here’s the real deal: Hornish is doing just fine in NASCAR. As a rookie, he’s been able to keep his car in the top 35, keep his nose clean and gain the respect of his fellow drivers. NASCAR is where both he and boss Roger Penske want him to be. Back in February, Hornish told me [Yahoo’s Bob Margolis] that if he could get back behind the wheel of an Indy car it would only be for the Indy 500 – the race – as far as both himself and team owner Penske are concerned.(more at Yahoo Sports)(4-16-2008) UPDATE: David Stremme told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius SpeedwayTuesday that he has not discussed anything but testing with Penske Racing. Asked about rumors of Sam Hornish, Jr., returning to the Indy 500, Stremme said, “I don’t know anything about that. I think Sam is doing a heck of a job (in the Sprint Cup Car), and nobody has talked to me about filling in for him; at Lowe’s Motor Speedway or anywhere else.”(4-16-2008) Comment here
News from April 15, 2008
Sprint Cup Series Test Session Added for Lowe’s Motor Speedway:
NASCAR announced the addition of a Sprint Cup Series test session May 5-6 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. On May 5 practice times are set from 9am – 12 noon; 1pm – 5pm; and 6pm – 9pm. On May 6 practice times are set from 9am – 12 noon and 1pm – 5pm. Teams may test a maximum of four of those five practice segments. NASCAR visited with the teams this past weekend at Phoenix about the possibility of adding a test to further prepare for the remaining 17 events the series has at intermediate tracks the rest of the season, including next month’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The extra test gives the series seven sanctioned test sessions this year, the same number the teams had in 2007. “We received input from the teams last weekend at Phoenix and a vast majority of them were receptive to adding a test next month at Lowe’s,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition. “We always strive to work with the teams and do what is in the best interest of the competitors. We have 17 events ahead of us on intermediate tracks and the additional test allows the teams the opportunity to learn more about the new car, work on their setups and adjustments, and apply that information to these future races.”(NASCAR PR)(4-15-2008) Comment here
#41 and #42 crew chief swap: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced that Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) crew chiefs Donnie Wingo and Jimmy Elledge will change roles, with Wingo assuming duties on the #41 Target Dodge driven by Reed Sorenson and Elledge on the #42 Texaco/Havoline/Juicy Fruit Dodge driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, respectively. “I really feel that these changes can be instrumental in moving Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates to the next level,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “I have a lot of respect for both Donnie and Jimmy and the jobs that they do and they both agree that this move can be very beneficial to the entire organization. I have said all along that I believe us to be a championship organization and that Felix and I will do whatever we can to make us better. This is toward that end.” Wingo will call his first race for the #41 team with Sorenson, and Elledge with the No.42 team and Montoya, following the NSCS off weekend in Round 9 of the season at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27.(Chip Ganassi Racing)(4-15-2008) Comment here
BAM goes to a part time schedule: Open letter from BAM Racing owner, Beth Ann Morgenthau: “Our recent switch to Toyota is a strong testament to our focus andcommitment to become more competitive. Even though we were disappointed it became necessary to miss two races to complete the transition to Toyota. We were excited about the potential for the balance of the 2008 season. That excitement was abruptly interrupted this past week by news that a primary sponsorship deal once planned for the majority of the 2008 season had been reduced to a fraction of a season and that fraction will likely be in the fall. The private company has been in the process of raising funds in the equity market for working capital which included a portion going to a product launch using the #49 race car. Due to the uncertainty of the stock market raising the capital is taking longer than expected. With no other primary sponsor currently in place to fill the void the harsh reality of this most recent news is that we are forced to reduce our 2008 participation to a partial season. Our marketing groups are working hard to fill the sponsorship void so we can get back on the track sooner than later. When new primary sponsorship is secured you will be one of the first to know! It is of little consolation that we are not alone in this plight. The uncertain economic times affecting our sponsor are affecting sponsorships throughout NASCAR and are having a winnowing affect on the number of teams showing up each week to compete. We’re confident that with the decreasing numbers of teams, with the competitive cars we produce and with the horsepower Toyota engines provide, we will be able to step back into competition effectively and successfully on short notice–and we are making every effort to make our sabbatical as short as possible.(BAM Racing)(4-15-2008) Comment here
New BDR VP hopes to keep CAT as sponsor and get #22 back in Top 35: Marty Gaunt’s first priority as the new vice president of Bill Davis Racing is to try to get the #22 team back in the top 35 in owners points. “There’s a lot of good people and resources at Bill Davis Racing,” said Gaunt, who was with Red Bull Racing last year. “If you look down the road at [BDR affiliate] Triad and their capabilities [with Toyota], everything is there. It’s just going over there and trying to get the puzzle all back together.” While the #22 team is the top priority and obviously Gaunt wants the successful truck programs to continue to thrive, he also wants to get a second Cup car eventually back on the track. BDR had hoped to field a second car this season for Jacques Villeneuve but that project fell through when sponsorship fell through. Stabilizing the BDR program is important as it tries to convince long-time sponsor Caterpillar to remain with the team. Not only was Gaunt brought in as vice president, but BDR has shuffled its management team with Mark Chambers moving from his role as the truck series program manager to team general manager and the hiring of a director of marketing in Jim Thomas. “It’s all of our responsibilities is to make sure we keep all of our partners in-house and keep them happy, but I think with the restructure going on we have at Bill Davis Racing and with the top priority getting performance back up, we can squash all those rumors [about Caterpillar leaving],” Gaunt said.(SceneDaily)(4-15-2008) Comment here
Mattioli makes ARCA debut: 18 year-old Chase Mattioli, the grandson of Pocono Raceway patriarchs, Dr. Joe and Dr. Rose Mattioli, finished 12th in his very first ARCA RE/MAX event, Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 at Salem Speedway. He was able to dodge a number of wrecks, with the aid of his crew chief, Dave McClure, and spotter Charlie Vest, part of Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing Team. This spring Mattioli, an honor student, will graduate from Scranton Preparatory High School and plans to attend Fordham University this fall. In the meantime he plans to attempt to qualify for 9 other events this season, including 4 more ARCA RE/MAX races. ARCA RE/MAX Series veteran Justin Allgaier fought off Sprint Cup Series veteran Ken Schrader in the final laps Sunday to claim the win.(PR)(4-15-2008) Comment here
Racing Resources Says…..
* Jimmie Johnson won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the 24th Sprint Cup race at Phoenix.
* Johnson scored the first victory for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.
* This was the third straight Hendrick Motorsports victory at Phoenix.
* A Chevrolet has won eight of the past nine races at Phoenix.
* Johnson has scored 10 straight top-15 finishes in his 10 races at Phoenix.
* Johnson has scored six straight top-10 finishes at Phoenix.
* Johnson scored his 34th career victory in 227 career races.
* Johnson posted his fourth top-10 finish this season, all top-5s.
* Johnson climbed from sixth to fourth in the points standings.
* Johnson led 120 of the 312 laps raced, including the final 11.
* The 120 laps that Johnson led were the most laps that he has led in his 10 races at Phoenix.
* Two drivers have scored top-10 finishes in six of the eight races this season: Jeff Burton (finished sixth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished seventh).
* Burton is the only driver to score top-15 finishes in all eight races this season.
* Burton has scored six straight top-10 finishes.
* Burton has scored 15 straight top-15 finishes at Phoenix.
* Jeff Gordon (finished 13th) has scored 14 straight top-15 finishes at Phoenix.
* Clint Bowyer (finished second) has scored five straight top-10 finishes this season.
* Earnhardt has scored seven top-15 finishes in eight races this season.
* Denny Hamlin (finished third) has scored six straight top-15 finishes.
* Hendrick Motorsports tied Roush Fenway Racing for first in owner wins at Phoenix, with five victories (Johnson with, and Terry Labonte, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon with one each).
* Matt Kenseth (finished 38th) made his 300th Sprint Cup Series start.(ESPN/Racing Resources)(4-15-2008)
Dunkin’ Donuts teams up with Fenway Sports: As it expands nationally, Dunkin’ Donuts is teaming up with a high-powered group of local sports marketers to bring in new customers. Dunkin’ now has 5,500 stores, but plans to triple that number over the next two decades, targeting markets like Dallas, Cleveland and Nashville that are outside its Northeast base. The Canton-based chain has hired Fenway Sports Group to help devise a national sports marketing campaign. That could mean rolling out Dunkin’ ads featuring sports stars in some of its new markets across the country, said Mark Lev, executive vice president at Fenway Sports Group. The Dunkin’ deal is a major coup for FSG, which has been building a broad portfolio of deals ranging from a 50% stake in a top NASCAR race team to consulting deals with a range of companies.(Boston Herald)(4-15-2008) Comment here
Pedestrian, driver ID’d in fatal accident at PIR: The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating how a suspected drunken driver fatally struck a 39-year-old Milwaukee woman Friday outside Phoenix International Raceway. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Heidi McCallister was crossing Avondale Boulevard south of Southern Avenue on foot with her boyfriend about 9:36 p.m. when a northbound 2007 Chevy pickup truck struck her. McCallister was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where she died. Deputies arrested Michael William Nagle, 48, of Phoenix, on suspicion of DUI. No other citation was issued because the woman was crossing mid-block, said Capt. Paul Chagolla, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman. NASCAR races were held Thursday through Saturday at PIR in Avondale. A DUI patrol working in the city on Saturday arrested 11 people on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Avondale police said the West Valley DUI Task Force arrested eight people on suspicion of DUI. Three were arrested for extreme DUI, or having a blood-alcohol content of more than 0.15 percent.(Arizona Republic)(4-15-2008)
News from April 14, 2008
Gil Martin named the Wypall Wipers’ Crew Chief of the Race in Phoenix: Gil Martin, crew chief of the #07 Jack Daniels Chevy driven by Clint Bowyer, was named Wypall Wipers’ “Crew Chief of the Race” for his team’s second place finish in Saturday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team. Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent Wypall, including Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team, make up the panel of judges. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, FL. The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2008 season and spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(Wypall PR)(4-14-2008)
Harvick exploring options in drag racing as an owner: #29-Kevin Harvick and his wife DeLana have teamed with NHRA drag racing veteran Bob Vandergriff Jr. to explore the option of fielding a Top Fuel dragster in NHRA competition. The proposed Harvick-Vandergriff Motorsports will specialize in offering its sponsors marketing opportunities in NHRA, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Craftsman Truck, and the Nationwide Series. “I think we have a unique opportunity to provide unprecedented reach for companies looking to achieve their objectives through motorsports,” Vandergriff said. “As this deal evolves, we want to offer the companies aligned with Harvick-Vandergriff Motorsports the chance to use the best of NHRA and NASCAR through the same program. We’ll have the capabilities to provide something no other team can offer.” Vandergriff and Harvick plan to begin assembling a race team and all of the necessary components and people within the next two months as they prepare for a 2009 debut. Announcements regarding the driver and sponsors will be forthcoming. See full story at NHRA.com.(4-14-2008)Comment here
Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Subway Fresh Fit 500
Total number of commercials: 106
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 69
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 41
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 8:55 PM
End time to record race/commercial periods: 12:06 AM
Total minutes: 191
Minutes of race broadcast: 139
Minutes of commercials: 52
Number of missed restarts: 0
Number of ‘mystery debris cautions’: 1
Total race brdcst time 139 Total comm. brdcst time 52
See full report and more at CawsnJaws.com.(4-14-2008) Comment here
Pressley adds page to family’s GPS legacy: Asheville’s [NC] Coleman Pressley became the first third-generation driver to see the checkered flag at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. “This is my biggest win, ever,” Pressley said. “I have been trying so hard here. My grandfather won here, and my dad [former Busch and Cup driver Robert] won here, and this is just terrific. We got flames (on his car) this week, and maybe they made the difference. I’ve been trying so hard and we finally got it all together.” Richard Childress’s grandson, Austin Dillon was third. See full story at the Greenville Pickens Speedway site.(4-14-2008)
Childress Vineyards named one of America’s Top 25: Wine Enthusiast magazine has selected Childress Vineyards as one of America’s Top 25 Tasting Rooms. In the May issue, the magazine asked its editors and contributors to suggest tasting rooms that were memorable to them for a number of reasons. Wine quality was the top criteria considered, followed by décor, staff savvy, amenities and overall uniqueness. Reporter Lynn Seldon wrote that Childress Vineyards, founded by NASCAR team owner Richard Childress in 2004, has “quickly become a stand-alone destination in the Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area.” The write up encourages readers to “go for the Signature Tasting to reveal winemaker Mark Friszolowski’s best work to date. The Reserve Syrah and the Signature Meritage are both sublime, as is the setting – a stone and stucco building, terra-cotta style roof and large tasting room, shop and The Bistro restaurant, all reminiscent of Tuscany.” Childress Vineyards is open daily for tours, tastings and lunch at The Bistro. Tastings range in price from $10 to $15 and include a souvenir glass. Free tours are conducted at Noon, 2 and 4 p.m. each day.(RCR)(4-14-2008) Comment here
News from April 13, 2008
Robby Gordon and Central Europe Rally on DIRECTV’s The 101:Team Dakar USA announced the acquisition of the United States broadcast rights for the Central Dakar Rally. DIRECTV will air a daily half-hour show on channel 101, the in-house channel available throughout the United States on the satellite television service. The show airs April 19-26 featuring 13 minutes of overall rally coverage plus nine minutes dedicated to the American efforts of Team Dakar USA. The program airs at 7 pm then re-broadcast at 12:30 am/et. When terrorist threats cancelled the 2008 Dakar Rally in January, the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) moved quickly to schedule the Central Europe Rally as a replacement event for all the teams, fans and sponsors of the legendary Dakar Rally. The Central Europe Rally was already in the works as part of the Dakar Series set to debut in 2009. Beginning in Budapest, Hungary, the varied and technical route covers 2,972 kilometers, about 1,846 miles, in seven days. The route includes a stint in Romania before concluding at Balaton Lake in Hungary. Team Dakar USA Owner and driver Robby Gordon is no stranger to logistical challenges, but the Central Europe Rally may prove to be the greatest challenge yet. Gordon, a fulltime Sprint Cup driver, plans to fly to Paris after Saturday’s Sprint Cup race in Phoenix. In Paris he’ll join members of Team Dakar USA program then drive the race and support vehicles over 1,300 kilometers to Budapest for the rally’s start. At the rally’s conclusion on April 26, Gordon will fly back to the United States to compete in the Sprint Cup race at Talladega on April 27th.
“Timing is everything with this event. First, I’m very grateful to the ASO for coming up with a solution for all the fans and sponsors. The schedule that they selected has made it possible for us to compete. I also have to thank Chris Long at DIRECTV for helping televise this event. He and The 101 team have mobilized quickly, and I think motorsports fans everywhere will have something to get excited about,” said Gordon. Team Dakar USA fields two identically prepared purpose-built race Hummers in the Central Europe Rally. In the 2007 Dakar Rally, Gordon in his same Monster Energy/Toyo Tires Hummer H3 finished first in the open class, eighth overall and scored a stage win. It was Gordon’s third stage win in three years and allowed Hummer to become the first American manufacturer to win a Dakar Rally stage. For additional rally coverage please visit robbygordon.com and robbysuprising.com where Team Dakar USA will have daily updates, the twitter micro blog feed, and videos.(RGM) AND P.J. Jones will sub in Robby Gordon’s #7 Dodge during practice and qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway in two weeks. Gordon will be competing in the postponed Central Dakar Rally. Jones could race if Gordon’s return from Hungary is delayed.(Arizona Republic)(4-13-2008)Comment here
NASCAR President defends NASCAR Drug Testing Policy: The call earlier this week for regular random drug testing by some of NASCAR’s biggest stars apparently will not change the sanctioning organization’s current policy of testing only for “reasonable suspicion.” But NASCAR president Mike Helton said the reaction by the drivers to the published report that former truck and Nationwide driver Aaron Fike used heroin the same day he drove in some races is a positive sign for the stock car sport. Referring to the story in the April 21 edition of ESPN The Magazine, Helton said, “When you have a headline like that and the other athletes rare up on it and react like they did, that’s a positive thing. The [NASCAR] community polices the community,” Helton added in an interview with The Associated Press on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway. “The positiveness of all the drivers talking and everything, I think, echoes the responsibility that exists in this sport to avoid all that and to police all that. That’s why we think that the reasonable suspicion policy works as an umbrella from a NASCAR perspective.” Helton said he does not know of any policy that can guarantee that no driver will ever race while under the influence of some substance any more than anyone could guarantee that an athlete in another sport will not abuse something on game day. The other part though is the fact that when we do find a situation and we do authenticate the abuse of a substance, it is a severe reaction,” Helton said. “It’s not just a couple of weeks off, it’s a very severe, career-changing reaction from us that I think speaks loudly.” Helton added the substance-abuse policy that NASCAR has had in place for more than two decades has worked very well, with the help of the teams and the drivers. “There are a lot of random drug testing policies or substance-abuse policies in our sport and they come through the car owners,” he said. “We’re different than other sports where we have multiple layers of independence. That’s why we feel like the reasonable suspicion element that NASCAR implements has served its purpose and works well. But we know of car owners that have random testing programs with their employees. So those elements are already there. … There’s a lot of ways to attack this animal and a lot of ways to do it, but the shared responsibility between the competitors, the car owners and NASCAR, I think, works.”(Associated Press/ESPN.com)(4-13-2008)Comment here
NASCAR still evaluating McDowell’s car and data: G-force readings [no number given] from #00-Michael McDowell’s grinding crash at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend were lower than other major wrecks in NASCAR, but Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said the nature of severe crashes in the new car has changed so much that G-force readings don’t mean as much as they once did. NASCAR has begun the process of thoroughly examining McDowell’s battered Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in its Research & Development Center, Darby said, adding that the G-force numbers were “pretty low.” But that wasn’t totally unexpected, because the design of the new car and the SAFER barrier has changed crash dynamics. “G-forces overall have been reduced,” Darby said. “But when you look at the big picture, the G-force is the least significant number anyway.” The significant number is the change in velocity, which Darby said was “substantial” with McDowell’s car. “They weren’t the worst we’ve ever seen by any means,” Darby said. “But part of the process of building a safer race car is to reduce all those numbers as best we can. Even when we understand completely the final numbers – which ultimately will be lower than what we’ve seen in the past – that’s what we’re looking for.” McDowell’s crash, dramatic as it was, wasn’t as severe as the wreck suffered by Jeff Gordon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet slammed the inside wall along the track’s backstretch. “It wasn’t as big a hit as the 24 took,” said Cal Wells, executive vice president for business operations for MWR. “The 24 hit a concrete wall and it jerked the motor and the transmission. … Everything [on McDowell’s car] performed extraordinarily close to design.”(SceneDaily)(4-13-2008) Comment here
Stremme expected to be named Penske test driver: Expect an announcement this coming week that David Stremme has agreed to join Penske Racing as a test driver for the organization’s Sprint Cup program. Team owner Roger Penske has a seat open in one of his Indianapolis 500 entries, and if Penske and current Cup rookie Sam Hornish Jr. agree that Hornish should compete at Indy, where he won the 500 in 2006, that opens up the seat of Penske’s #77 Sprint Cup Dodge, which is currently 33rd in owner points through eight races with Hornish behind the wheel. Penske’s entry blank for the Indy 500 reportedly lists Helio Castroneves in the #3 car and Ryan Briscoe in the #6, but there’s a “TBA” beside the #77. It’s all speculation at this point, but if Hornish should decide he’d rather run up front in the reunified IndyCar Series (he’s a three-time IndyCar champion) than fight to stay on the lead lap in a stock car, Penske would have a test driver — Stremme — ready to fill the void. Stremme, who finished 10th in Friday night’s Nationwide Series race at Phoenix, already has turned down at least two offers to drive for current Cup teams.(NASCAR.com)(4-13-2008) Comment here
News from April 12, 2008
Special Helmet for Sadler: For the month of April, Elliott Sadler is wearing a specially-designed Autism Awareness helmet in every race. In May, that very same helmet will belong to whoever wants it most. To raise funds and awareness, Sadler had the helmet designed with the colorful, jigsaw Autism puzzle pieces. During the Texas, Phoenix and Talladega races in April, the driver of the #19 Dodge will be wearing the colorful concoction in competition. See more info on my Racing Charities page.(4-12-2008) Comment here
NASCAR again…NO Changes to the COT planned: For drivers hoping for a change to the new Sprint Cup model car, series director John Darby burst their bubble Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. Darby said NASCAR doesn’t plan on making any alterations to the car, though some drivers, notably defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, called for changes after last week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Darby noted that this is only the second year with the new model and Texas was only the third race on a high-banked, 1.5-mile track. “We still call it the new car, right?” Darby said. “But it’s looked at as an old car, one that’s been around forever, and that’s not the case. There’s nothing broken, there’s nothing that we need to jump in and fix. It’s just a matter of continuing to race them and let the teams do what they do best.” Darby said he was open to adding an additional test to the NASCAR test schedule this year if the garage area wanted one. But he doesn’t think adding a day to existing races would be of any benefit to teams. “I would rather just go test somewhere rather than tack a day on to an event because you can’t test properly when it’s attached to an event,” Darby said. “If you’re the crew chief or the driver, you know you’re testing in the car you’ve got to race the next day. You’re always fearful of trying something new, damaging the car, losing an engine that would affect the event because it’s the next day.”(SceneDaily)(4-12-2008) Comment here
Johnson wins at Phoenix: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the Subway Fresh Fit at Phoenix International Raceway for his 1st win of the 2008 season and 34th of his career [is now alone in 16th in all time wins]. #07-Clint Bowyer finished 2nd [Bowyer and Johnson stayed out and didn’t get a late splash of fuel and made it…barely] then #11-Hamlin, #99-Edwards, #8-Martin, #31-Burton, #88-Earnhardt Jr., #1-Truex Jr., #16-Biffle and #18-Busch. The pole sitter, #12-Ryan Newman lost an engine early and finsihed last/43rd. There were only 10 lead changes among 4 drivers [Johnson, Martin, Earnhardt and Newman] and there were 8 caution flags for 42 laps.
For race results, awards and more, see my Phoenix Race Results page.(4-12-2008)
Unofficial Drivers Points Standings [after Phoenix race 8 of 36]:
1) #31-Jeff Burton 1215 [1 win]
2) #18-Kyle Busch 1135 -80
3) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1129 -86
4) #48-Jimmie Johnson 1116 -99 [1 win]
5) #29-Kevin Harvick 1115 -100
6) #11-Denny Hamlin 1078 -137 [1 win]
7) #20-Tony Stewart 1057 -158
8) #07-Clint Bowyer 1044 -171
9) #99-Carl Edwards 1041 -174 [would be 2nd if no 100pt penalty][3 wins]
10) #16-Greg Biffle 1039 -176
11) #9-Kasey Kahne 929 -286
12) #12-Ryan Newman 915 -300 [1 win] other chase contenders
13) #24-Jeff Gordon 907 8 pts out of 12th
14) #1-Martin Truex Jr. 897 -18
15) #17-Matt Kenseth 869 -46 Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Phoenix page.(4-12-2008)
Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Talladega
A couple changes, #44-Reutimann is back in and #96-Yeley falls out and must qualify by speed at Talladega.
The teams are NOT locked in past the next race as the owners points change after each race.
31) #41-Sorenson/Ganassi Racing 644 +93
32) #55-Waltrip/Waltrip Racing 621 +70
33) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing 605 +54
34) #44-Reutimann/Waltrip Racing 567 -16
35) #01-Smith/Dale Earnhardt Inc 554, 3 points ahead of 36th these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed:
36) #96-Yeley/Hall of Fame Racing 551, 3 points out of 35th
37) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis 546 -8
38) #70-Mayfield/Haas CNC Racing 542 +12
39) #40-Franchitti/Ganassi Racing 514 -40
40) #84-Skinner/Red Bull Racing 443 -111
For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(4-12-2008)
Phoenix Fast Facts
.. Jimmie Johnson won the Subway Fresh Fit 500, his 34th victory in 227 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
.. This is his first victory and fourth top-10 finish in 2008.
.. This is his second victory and eighth top-10 finish in 10 races at Phoenix International Raceway. He also won at Phoenix last fall and became the fifth driver to score repeat victories at Phoenix. All five scored back-to-back wins.
.. Clint Bowyer (second) posted his second top-10 and career-best finish in six races at Phoenix.
.. Denny Hamlin (third) posted his third top-10 finish in six races at Phoenix and tied his career-best for the second time.
.. Sam Hornish Jr. (20th) was the highest finishing rookie.(NASCAR Statistics)(4-12-2008)
Who got a lap back on each caution at Phoenix: (and their finish)
Caution 1: no cars a lap down
Caution 2: no cars a lap down
Caution 3: #5-Mears, 11th
Caution 4: #43-Labonte, 12th
Caution 5: #24-Gordon, 13th
Caution 6: #99-Edwards, 4th
Caution 7: #38-Gilliland, 15th
Caution 8: #2-Busch, 23rd
Jeff Gordon celebrates 200 wishes granted: In 1995, a young driver named Jeff Gordon won his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. That same year, he also granted his first wish to a child with a life-threatening medical condition in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Now 13 years later, Gordon is still collecting wins and still bringing smiles to Make-A-Wish kids through his strong commitment to wish granting – he passed the 200-wish mark earlier this season. The Make-A-Wish Foundation will celebrate his efforts when Joshua, 15, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., meets Gordon at Phoenix International Raceway for his wish before Saturday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500. Joshua will receive VIP treatment during the race weekend: In addition to his wish meeting Friday, he will take part in some of the pre-race activities with his favorite driver Saturday and then watch Gordon race for the checkered flag in the #24 car. Gordon will also present Joshua with special mementos of his wish. While he has fulfilled so many wishes, Gordon says that the number doesn’t matter. He works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant kids’ heartfelt wishes nearly every weekend during the race season because of the profound effect these kids have on his life. Those who would like to support these efforts may donate in honor of Gordon’s 200-plus wishes by visiting The Jeff Gordon Foundation Web site at www.jeffgordonfoundation.org or the Make-A-Wish Foundation Web site at www.wish.org. The NASCAR Foundation is also recognizing Gordon’s wish-granting commitment by designating proceeds from the online sale of NASCAR Day pins this weekend to help fulfill future wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Visit www.NASCAR.com/NASCARDay to learn more.(4-12-2008) Comment here
Logo added to #21 Hood: The #21 Motorcraft Ford Fusion of Bill Elliott will be sporting an additional logo on its hood in Phoenix. Ford Motor Company held a contest for the dealerships in its West Division. Landmark Ford of Tigard, Oregon won the grand prize of placing their company name on the hood of the #21 race car for this weekend’s race event. The greater Portland area dealership also won two additional prizes for second and third which awarded race tickets and garage passes. The landslide win is recognized by Ford Motor Company as a great accomplishment. Ford Motor Company’s Sales and Marketing Manager for the West Hub, John Ulrich, commented on the dealership’s contest sweep. Ulrich said, “Landmark Ford was the highest performer out of eight dealerships who participated in the contest. They exceeded their objectives in parts and retail service excellence. Ford Motor Company is very proud of the dealership and we are very excited that they used a Ford Motor Company contest to motivate their people.”(Wood Bros Racing)(4-12-2008) Comment here
“The Greatest” at the track: Muhammad Ali watched Friday’s action from Octane, PIR’s turn-one hospitality club.(Arizona Republic)(4-12-2008) Comment here
News from April 11, 2008
Tire test scheduled at Indy: Goodyear has scheduled a NASCAR tire test at IMS for April 22-23. Data learned from #48-Jimmie Johnson (Chevrolet), #2-Kurt Busch (Dodge) and #83-Brian Vickers (Toyota) will be used by Goodyear to select the tires it brings to the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 27.(Indianapolis Star)(4-11-2008) Comment here
Yellow car for Stewart at Phoenix UPDATE: #20-Tony Stewart will run a Subway sponsor #20 Toyota in the Subway Fit Fresh 500(k) at Phoenix International Raceway this weekend, the car will be yellow with green strips, Subway logo on hood and Home Depot on the 1/4 panels, see images of the scheme on my #20 Team Schemes page.(4-9-2008) UPDATE:UPDATE: Furthering its relationship with Tony Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing, SUBWAY Restaurants will serve as primary sponsor of the #20 Toyota Camry in the Sprint Cup Series for three races in 2008. Longtime sponsor The Home Depot will adorn the quarterpanels of the #20 Toyota, while SUBWAY will have signage on the rest of the car. The #20 SUBWAY/Home Depot Toyota will make its debut April 10-12 during the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway, and will return to the track Aug. 29-31 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and again Oct. 3-5 at Talladega Superspeedway. SUBWAY Restaurants has a yearlong associate sponsorship of the #20 Home Depot Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series and a personal services agreement with Stewart.(True Speed Communication/Joe GibbsRacing)(4-11-2008) Comment here
Goodyear still has rain tires: Rain (tires) won’t go away: Fans looking for something different during the Nationwide Series events in Mexico City and Canada should pray for rain. Greg Stucker, Goodyear Racing’s director of race tire sales, said the manufacturer has not abandoned its rain-tire program. “We’ve had it for road-racing since the mid-1990s,” Stucker reminded. “It’s just never happened that NASCAR wanted to utilize it in a race condition. But we have had it available and conducted race sessions with it. And we’ll continue to have it available. If you look at the Nationwide Series now, they go to Mexico City and to Canada. We don’t have a lot of versatility in our dates there. If we get rain, we want to make sure we can put on a show for those folks.”(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(4-11-2008) Comment here
Triad Racing Development did its job on McDowells Texas car: The chassis that Michael Waltrip Racing driver #00-Michael McDowell wrecked during Friday’s qualifying session at Texas Motor Speedway was built by Triad Racing Development, in High Point NC. Even with McDowell’s wreck resulting in the car being completely destroyed, the safety innovations Triad Racing Development implemented in the chassis enabled McDowell to walk away from the incident under his own power. Triad Racing Development specializes in putting together a product that is not only efficient on the track but also uses the latest technology to protect the driver within the car. Triad Racing Development has been in business since 2003, and is led by Todd Holbert, son of legendary sports car racer Al Holbert. Todd and his staff specialize in chassis development, as well as component construction innovation.(BDR)(4-11-2008)Comment here
Kenseth’s son racing: Ross Kenseth, Matt’s 14-year-old son, plans to race regularly this season in the Big 8 Series for limited late models, beginning Sunday at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway. “I was in La Crosse when he ran up there (last fall), and he did a really good job up there,” Matt said. “So we’ll see.”(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(4-11-2008) Comment here
News from April 10, 2008
NASCAR official killed in car accident MORE: Brienne Davis, one of NASCAR’s few full-time female inspectors, was killed in a car accident Tuesday night. She was 28. Davis joined NASCAR in 2004 and traveled every weekend to inspect carburetors and manifolds. She was scheduled to work this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. A Louisiana native, Davis relocated to North Carolina in 2002 as an engine builder for Dale Earnhardt Inc. She took the job after spending a year in Houston participating in an automotive technology training program that included six weeks of a NASCAR-approved curriculum on racing.(ESPN.com/AP) NASCAR Statement: “We are deeply saddened at the loss of NASCAR Sprint Cup official Brienne Davis. She was a key member of our team of inspectors and will be missed by the NASCAR community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.”(4-9-2008) MORE: The Transport Drivers of Motorsports Association plans on raising money in honor of NASCAR engine inspector Brienne Davis, who was killed in a traffic accident near Huntersville, N.C. on Tuesday. The funds will go to her alma mater in Jonesville, La. The organization wants to raise enough money to donate at least five computers and plant a tree in her name at the school. For information on how to donate, contact Shelia Lumpkin (404.484.9097) secretary for TDMA or TDMA President Robby Maschhaupt at 704-746-7945.(SPEEDtv)(4-10-2008) SERVICES: Brienne Nicole Davis, 28, of Mooresville, NC died April 8, 2008 as result of an automobile accident. She was born on June 4, 1979 in Natchez, MS to Terri Emrick Bridges. Brienne was a graduate of the Automotive Technical Institute in Houston, TX and worked four years with the Dale Earnhardt Enterprise. Over the last four years, she has been an engine inspector for NASCAR; the love of her life was working on cars. She will be missed by all of her friends and her NASCAR family. She loved cars and she loved her cat, Floyd. She is survived by her parents, Mark and Terri Bridges of Newport News, VA; grandmother, Sandra Emrick; Uncle Keith Emrick and his family Michelle, Heith and Harleigh of Baton Rouge; and Aunt Pamela Emrick of Anchorage, AK. She is preceded in death by her grandfather, Louie Emrick.
The family will receive friends at Raymer Funeral Home from 5:30-7 PM Tuesday, April 15, 2008, and a service will follow in the chapel at 7 PM with Rev. Lonnie Clouse officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Victory Junction, 4500 Adam’s Way, Randleman, NC 27317. Raymer Funeral Home is serving the family.(4-10-2008)
Target leaving Ganassi at end of 2008? There are persistent rumors that Chip Ganassi may be in financial deep water, with his long-time sponsor Target [sponsor of #41-Reed Sorenson and sometime sponsor of #40-Dario Franchitti] likely announcing by the end of the year it will be ending its association with the race team.(Yahoo!Sports – NOTE, it seems this part of the ‘blog’ was removed for some reason, no idea why. It was there when originally posted)(4-10-2008) UPDATE: Steve Eastman, Target Vice President: “The 19-year partnership between Target and Chip Ganassi Racing is one of the longest consecutive partnerships in motor sports. Our race program has proven successful and we in fact have a solid base of sponsors in place. We continue to build on the excitement and momentum around the program and look forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary next year… Any rumors regarding an end to the partnership are simply without merit.”(Target Communications)(4-10-2008) Comment here
Drivers upset over lack of drug testing: Sprint Cup drivers Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne say they never have undergone a drug test as NASCAR competitors. “In the 10 years that I’ve raced, I’ve never been drug-tested,” Harvick said. “To me, that’s not a proper drug policy for a professional sport. We haven’t made any headway whatsoever on the drug-testing policy.” Harvick and Stewart were reacting to an ESPN The Magazine story this week in which former driver Aaron Fike said he competed in Craftsman Truck Series races while he was on heroin. “I have been in a race with him and I know for a fact that he’s not the only one,” Harvick said. “There’s another driver that was suspended that I can almost guarantee you was in the race car while he was under the influence, and that pisses me off. I’m sure I’ll be blasted for saying what I feel, but I don’t want to be on a race track with people like that. It’s irresponsible more than anything.” All four Cup drivers said they are in favor of regular testing.
“I would love it,” Stewart said. “I’ve never been asked to take one yet. I think it should be mandatory to have random drug testing. I think it’s a great idea. The Fike situation shows that as an organization, we’re not doing a good job of seeing this before it happens.” NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy includes the right to test any driver at any time, but officials only do so if they believe a competitor might have a problem. “The responsibility here rests across the board — with the drivers and competitors, owners, teams and NASCAR,” said Kerry Tharp, NASCAR’s director of communication. “We test an individual when we have reasonable suspicion. A positive test results in severe consequences and is a career-changing moment for that person. NASCAR’s policy is also supported by the various policies that the teams have in place that are required under the driver/owner agreements. No system is flawless, but we believe our zero tolerant policy that is in place has served the sport well.”
Fike was arrested last year in Ohio for possession of heroin.
“I had a long talk with NASCAR about this last year,” Harvick said. “It almost seems like it fell on deaf ears. They were more mad that I had a reaction to the situation than they were about trying to move forward. They heard what I said, but my name’s not Jeff Gordon. I’m disappointed that we have to react and answer all these questions again.”
Tharp said NASCAR officials always take it seriously when drivers come to them with questions or complaints. “Let me assure you that no issue or conversation that we have with a driver, owner or team member ever falls on deaf ears,” Tharp said. “Now, they might not always come out of the meeting with the answer they’re looking for, but we listen.” Harvick wants to see NASCAR test drivers and crew members several times a year. “I’m sure I’ll have to do it for speaking my mind,” Harvick said. “But if I have to pee in a cup 15 times a year, I’m happy to do it. The bad part is it isn’t fair to the 95 percent of his garage that is clean. But I want everybody in the world to know our sport is clean. I want fans and sponsors to know this garage is clean.” Harvick and his wife, DeLana, own truck series and Nationwide Series teams at Kevin Harvick Inc. Harvick does not conduct drug tests for his employees. “I don’t right now and maybe we need to change the way we look at it, too,” he said. “But in the end, it’s the responsibility of [NASCAR] to make sure all the drivers are clean.” Harvick said Fike drove a couple of races for KHI several years ago. “There was no reason to think something was wrong,” Harvick said. “I don’t know about drugs, to tell you the truth. But I want to know about the guy racing next to me and not have to wonder if he was out the night before and isn’t clean.”
Kahne said he had suspicions about Fike. “I definitely wondered about Aaron, so I’m sure others did,” Kahne said. “When he said he did heroin before a race, that’s incredible that no one knew. As much money as there is in this sport, I think we should take a little more effort to make sure every driver is clean.” Harvick believes NASCAR should have changed its substance-abuse policy long ago. “You can tell I’m a little bit frustrated about the situation,” he said. “As someone who respects the sport and respects my sponsors, I’m upset that I have to answer questions about Aaron Fike. It really ticks me off, because every driver in this garage should be taking random drug tests.” Harvick believes NASCAR needs to do a better job of staying ahead of the curve. “It’s just like the safety thing back in 2001,” he said. “We didn’t react until that situation happened [with Dale Earnhardt’s death]. With drug-testing, there’s no reason in the world today not to be proactive. “This is about forward thinking about how the drivers are perceived from a public standpoint. If I’m a fan, I don’t want to think, ‘Are they really clean?’ This always has been perceived as a clean sport. Let’s not let that change now, because it is. But let’s prove it.”(ESPN.com)
See my article link page for many other opinions and articles on the drug subject.(4-10-2008)
Texas TV Ratings down: NASCAR on Fox earned a 5.4/12 (8.6 million viewers) this weekend for racing from Texas, down -4% from last year’s 5.6/12. This marks the first time this season that a regularly scheduled Fox NASCAR event has declined from last year’s rating. The primary factor in this weekend’s NASCAR decline was competition from the season’s first full Sunday afternoon MLB schedule. There are 25 MLB home markets in the U.S., and Sunday’s NASCAR race was down in 19 of them. Despite being down year-to-year, Sunday’s Texas race was still easily the highest-rated event for the day on any broadcast network. Season-to-date, NASCAR on FOX is averaging a 6.6/14 (11.1 mllion viewers), up +3% over last year’s 6.4/14.(Fox PR), see the other races ratings and more on my TV Ratings page(4-10-2008) Comment here
Community college hires a Motorsports Coordinator: The huge presence of motorsports in Iredell County [NC] is impacting Mitchell Community College, too. The college has hired Hope Smith as Motorsports Coordinator for the Small Business Center, based in Mooresville, NC. Smith will focus on assessing the motorsports community’s needs, such as training, and implementing programs and seminars in conjunction with local organizations and those within the motorsports industry, which is one of the fastest growing industries in Iredell County. Smith will also work with small business owners on networking and developing business plans. She was formerly a manager with Lowe’s Companies, Inc. in Mooresville.(Mooresville Tribune)(4-10-2008)
Ford to sponsor Kvapil at Phoenix: Yates Racing, which has soldiered on for most of 2008 with no sponsorship for Travis Kvapil, got some good news this week as Ford Motor Co. has stepped up to sponsor Kvapil’s #28 Fusion. Full details are expected later today from Phoenix.(SPEEDtv) AND: This weekend, racing fans across the country will see and hear many of Ford Racing’s stars talking about Drive one, Ford’s new and far-reaching message about improved vehicle quality, fuel economy, safety advances and smart technology. Ford Racing cars will sport a variety of Drive one logos starting with this weekend’s events in Avondale, Ariz. (NASCAR), and Las Vegas (NHRA), highlighted by the #28 Drive one Ford Fusion, driven by Yates Racing’s Travis Kvapil. Yates Racing, which is still searching for a full-time sponsor for its cars, is helping Ford with the Drive one launch by offering up Kvapil’s car, which will be seen by millions of viewers this weekend on Speed and Fox. “Yates Racing is honored to have the opportunity to run the Drive one paint scheme on the #28 Ford Fusion this weekend,” said team owner Doug Yates. “We have a great driver in Travis, along with top-of-the-line equipment and technology courtesy of Ford. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to participate in the development of Ford cars and engines from the racing side and I can’t think of a better manufacturer to be affiliated with,” he said. Drive one is the inside story of Ford, chronicling in television, print and digital media how Ford employees have closed the gap with Asian competitors regarding quality, advanced vehicle safety, made vehicles more fuel efficient and led the industry in developing in-car connectivity. People are also invited to drive a Ford vehicle and experience for themselves the company’s vehicles’ performance. “I’m really thrilled to drive the #28 Drive one Ford Fusion this weekend at Phoenix,” said Kvapil. “Being a Ford driver myself, I can tell you that they are committed to the four key points of this campaign: quality, fuel-efficiency, safety, and technologically-advanced vehicles. Ford is integrating Drive one into Ford’s racing program to reach out to Ford loyalists, so they can help spread the word about the company’s gains in areas that matter most to customers. In addition to the primary sponsorship logos on the #28 Fusion this weekend, Drive one logos will be featured on the b-pillar of each of Ford NASCAR Sprint Cup cars. In addition, in- car camera and roll cage shots will feature the new logos, and both Yates Racing and Wood Brothers Racing drivers and crew members will wear special Drive one baseball caps. The Fox Fusion 360 car, an important part of every NASCAR on Fox broadcast, will also feature Drive one logos. Additionally, the special NASCAR Ford Fusion that analyst Darrell Waltrip drives in Fox pre-race features will also switch to the Drive one logos.(Ford Racing), see an image of the scheme on my #28 Team Schemes page.(4-10-2008)
Wheeler Encourages NASCAR to Schedule an Open Sprint Cup Test at LMS: Looking to increase competition, H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, is encouraging NASCAR to host an open Sprint Cup Series test at the 1.5-mile superspeedway prior to the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race . “It’s our intention to have the best racing possible here during the month of May and I have always believed that preparation is the key to great racing,” Wheeler said. “You can compute, work the post machine and microscope the car until your tools bleed, but nothing, absolutely nothing, is as valuable as track time. So, we have offered NASCAR at least two days, May 5-6, to bring the teams in so they can test the new car. We’ll have the track open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. so they can experiment with chassis set-ups during both daytime and nighttime conditions,” Wheeler added. “Then, if further testing is needed, dates closer to the May 17 Sprint All-Star Race can be provided.” If NASCAR accepts Wheeler’s offer, the test session would take place on Monday and Tuesday following the Saturday night race at Richmond International Raceway and prior to teams heading to nearby Darlington Raceway for another Saturday night event. Tickets for all May events at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, including the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the May 25 Coca-Cola 600, can be purchased by calling the track ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.(LMS)(4-10-2008)
Phoenix Goodyear Tire Notes: The tire set-up for this weekend’s races at Phoenix is very similar to that raced at the track in 2007 . . . the tread compounds are identical to last year’s combination, but an incremental improvement in durability has been incorporated into the right side construction . . . Sprint Cup teams ran this set-up during an open test session at Phoenix on March 3-4 . . . other NASCAR tracks at which this exact combination of left- and right-side tires are scheduled to be run are Richmond, New Hampshire, Milwaukee and Memphis . . . as on most NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Phoenix. the estimated pit window is every 75-80 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear), see the full notes, codes, pressures on my Phoenix Race Info page, Goodyear section.(4-10-2008)
McDowell Takes Off in F-16 Falcon before Phoenix Race: This week is a special homecoming for #00-Michael McDowell as he received a once in a lifetime opportunity to take flight in an F-16 Falcon on Wednesday thanks to the 56th Fighter Wing and Phoenix International Raceway at Luke Air Force Base. McDowell went through Egress training and participated in a media event at Luke Air Force Base before taking off with Capt. Thomas “Wild Bill” Juntunen, 310th FS instructor pilot.(MWR)(4-10-2008)
Kurt Busch and team keeping busy: #2-Kurt Busch, crew chief Pat Tryson and team will be busy testing during the next few weeks. “We know that test time is extremely important in our effort to get better with this car and we’re committed to doing what it takes to be competing up front,” said Tryson. “We’ve already scheduled a test at Nashville (Nashville Superspeedway, the 1.33-mile D-shaped concrete track near Lebanon, Tenn.) next Tuesday (April 15) and are set to test for Goodyear at Indy (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) on April 22nd and 23rd.(TRPR)(4-10-2008)
Phoenix Rookie Notes: #10-Patrick Carpentier was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the April 6 Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the first time he has taken the honor in 2008. Carpentier scored a 28th-place finish, his best on an oval in his seven-race Sprint Cup Series career. #01-Regan Smith holds a one-point lead (68-67) over #77-Sam Hornish Jr. in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the April 12 Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix. Four different drivers have claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors in seven races this season. Smith, Hornish, Jr., and McDowell are the only members of the Raybestos Rookie class with a guaranteed starting spot at Phoenix. Two Raybestos Rookies entered in this weekend’s race at Phoenix do not have a guaranteed starting positions: Franchitti and Carpentier. Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart are the only Raybestos Rookies to win in 23 Sprint Cup races at Phoenix. Stewart won the 1999 fall race from the pole, beating Mark Martin to the checkered flag by 2.081 seconds. Busch captured the 2005 fall race by .609 seconds over Greg Biffle. The best finish by a Raybestos Rookie in three spring races at Phoenix is fifth by Clint Bowyer in 2006. The best qualifying effort by a Raybestos Rookie in three previous spring races at Phoenix is sixth by Denny Hamlin in 2006. Stewart is the only Raybestos Rookie to lead the most laps at Phoenix, leading three times for 150 laps in 1999. Three Raybestos Rookies have won pole positions at Phoenix, all coming in the fall race: Stewart, Casey Atwood (2001) and Ryan Newman (2002). Ryan Newman holds the all-time Raybestos Rookie record for most poles (6), most top-fives (14) and most top-10s (22). Denny Hamlin is the only Raybestos Rookie to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup since the program was created in 2004.(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos)(4-10-2008), see full notes, standings, history on my 2008 Rookies page.
Thursday practice for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway is over, the top five were:
the slowest: #21-Elliott 128.064 and #34-Andretti 128.132
most laps run: #6-Ragan 41; #2-Busch 38
See all the speed on my Phoenix Practice Page.(4-10-2008)
Almirola, Menard, Smith Test at Infineon Raceway: Three DEI drivers visited Infineon Raceway on Wednesday to hone their skills on the challenging 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. #8-Aric Almirola, #01-Regan Smith and #15-Paul Menard came to the track for a one-day test session before the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sprint Cup Series event in the Sonoma Valley, June 20-22. The drivers piloted GT America stock cars supplied by Pioneer Motorsports out of Lake Oroville. They were coached by road-course veteran Chris Cook and completed approximately 100 laps combined in the full-day test. Smith is the only driver among the three with any Cup Series race experience at Infineon Raceway. He finished 30th in last year’s event. Almirola, who shares driving duties with veteran Mark Martin in the #8 U.S. Army Chevy, is currently in his second partial season of Sprint Cup Series competition. This marked his first visit to the Sonoma Valley road course. “This track is tough, but it’s fun,” said Almirola. “The elevation changes and blind turns make it really difficult. It’s definitely something different.” Cook said all of the drivers took well to the road course, and he enjoyed working with all three teammates. “I think Aric was most focused being his first time here, and he made big gains by the end of the day,” said Cook. “Paul and Regan were a lot more disciplined with the track, and we worked on shifting points and braking points.” For ticket information on the Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 20-22, call 800-870-RACE or visit www.infineonraceway.com.(Infineon Raceway)(4-10-2008) Comment here
Special schemes for two Ganassi cars at Phoenix: This weekend the bright and fun yellow color of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit will adorn the #40 CGRFS Dodge driven by Dario Franchitti. This year Wrigley has been serving as a primary partner sponsoring Juan Pablo Montoya and the #42 CGRFS NSCS team. This will be Franchitti’s first time representing the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company which is the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum. The Wrigley’s Big Red brand will adorn the hood of the #42 Dodge this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway for the eighth race of the 2008 season. This will be the third time this season the driver and team will wear the signature bold colors of Big Red.(CGRFS), see images of the #42 on my #42 Team Schemes page.(4-10-2008)
some Dale Jr. off track news: The public grand opening for #88-Dale Earnhardt’s newest business venture — a nightclub, Whiskey River — will be held April 18. The club is located at 210 East Trade Street in Charlotte’s EpiCenter. Patrons can eat, drink, listen to a mixture of rock and country music and even ride a mechanical bull. Log onto www.whiskyrivercharlotte.com for more information.
In an effort to enlighten himself and his fans, Earnhardt has decided to forego the role of interviewee to play reporter for his official Web site. The interviews will be conducted monthly and featured exclusively on www.dalejr.com. Earnhardt’s first interview was with crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and is available now. Look for his next installment — an interview with Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick — to be posted soon.(HMS)(4-10-2008) Comment here
New sponsor for BAM Racing: BAM Racing announced MetaLogix, Inc as an official Diamond Sponsor of the #49 Sprint Cup Series team for the 2008 season. “We’re excited to welcome MetaLogix, Inc as a Diamond Sponsor for 2008,” commented team owner Beth Ann Morgenthau. “In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, it is the support from sponsors that makes it possible for teams to compete every week. We are excited to share the excitement of Sprint Cup racing with MetaLogix, Inc.” The Diamond Sponsorship Program is an associate sponsorship program exclusive to BAM Racing.(Centre Daily Times)(4-10-2008) Comment here
News from April 9, 2008
Firestone interested in NASCAR: If Goodyear were to leave NASCAR, the executive director of Firestone Racing says his company would be interested. Goodyear is NASCAR’s exclusive supplier through 2012. “There’s a lot of people in our organization that would love to be running NASCAR,” Firestone’s Al Speyer says. “Our engineers can do a very good job there.” Although Firestone has been the exclusive supplier of Indy car racing for several years, stock cars are part of its history. Speyer says the company won many races in NASCAR’s first decade (1948-58) before leaving the sport in the late 1960s.(USA Today)(4-9-2008)Comment here
Season In Review – Week 8: Five different drivers have posted victories in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008, led by #99-Carl Edwards with three (California, Las Vegas and Texas). #12-Ryan Newman (Daytona), #18-Kyle Busch (Atlanta), 331-Jeff Burton (Bristol) and #11-Denny Hamlin (Martinsville) are the other race winners. Three drivers lead all others with five top-10 finishes: Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart. 27 different drivers have posted at least one top-10 finish in 2008. Jeff Gordon leads all other drivers with three DNFs in seven races in 2008. 61 drivers have attempted to qualify for at least one Sprint Cup Series race this season. 49 drivers have qualified for at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this season. There have been four different pole winners in 2008: Jeff Gordon (two), Jimmie Johnson (one), Kyle Busch (one) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (one). Qualifying was canceled due to weather at the Auto Club Speedway and Bristol. Jeff Gordon won the pole at Atlanta – making this his 16th consecutive year with a pole. Gordon is third on the all-time list for consecutive years with a pole, behind David Pearson (20) and Richard Petty (17). 30 different drivers have posted at least one top-10 start. Jeff Gordon is the only driver to start from the top 10 in six of the seven races. Only one driver has completed every lap raced this season: Jeff Burton. 29 drivers have led at least one lap this season. No one has led in every race. Ford leads the manufacturer point standings with 44 points. Chevrolet has 43, Toyota 39 and Dodge has 28. Ford has three victories this season. Toyota has two while Chevrolet and Dodge each have one.(NASCAR PR)(4-9-2008)
#8 scheme to pay tribute to U.S. Army Reserve at Phoenix: Mark Martin’s #8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevy will pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of the United States Army Reserve in this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway. The hood on Martin’s Impala SS will be covered with the Army Reserve’s 100th anniversary logo and tag line — Army Reserve, 100 Years Strong. The history of the Army Reserve dates back to April 23, 1908 when Congress established the Army’s first federal reserve force. The Army Reserve began as a small force of approximately 160 medical professionals. Today, the Army Reserve consists of 205,000 soldiers and is an operational, expeditionary and domestic force that is an essential piece of the U.S. Army. Joining the Army Reserve contingent for Saturday night’s Cup race will be a local hero — Staff Sgt. Christopher Cruse, a Phoenix native who received multiple honors for his service in Iraq, including the Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge and the Army Commendation Medal. Cruse was severely injured when his humvee was struck by an anti-tank mine on July 25, 2004. He is currently back in Phoenix, serving as an Army Recruiter in the Glendale area. Taking into account how Martin has performed in Phoenix, there’s a good chance the Army Reserve car will run up front. In 22 races at the one-mile oval, Martin has one win, eight top fives and 14 top 10s. In addition, the veteran has led a track-high 608 laps, including 137 in the last three races.(DEI), see an image of the scheme on my #8 Team Schemes page.(4-9-2008) Comment here
Bill France Sr. To Be Inducted Into U.S. Business Hall of Fame:NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. will be inducted posthumously into the U.S. Business Hall of Fame on Wednesday night in Nashville, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. France, who died in 1992, founded NASCAR in 1947 and was the sanctioning body’s first president, serving in that capacity until 1972 when he was followed by his son Bill France Jr. France is part of an illustrious 2008 class of inductees that also includes: USA Today founder Al Neuharth; Thomas Frist, Jr., M.D. Chairman Emeritus, Hospital Corporation of America; Robert L. Johnson, founder and chairman of the RLJ Companies and the Black Entertainment Network; John E. Pepper Jr., retired chairman and CEO of Procter & Gamble; and Meg Whitman, president and CEO of eBay. France’s grandson, J.C. France – who races Daytona Prototypes in the Rolex Sports Car Series – will accept the induction honor on behalf of the France family. J.C. France is the son of NASCAR vice chairman and executive vice president Jim France.(NASCAR PR)(4-9-2008) Comment here
Mayfield out of the #70 ride UPDATE 2:Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway is reporting that Jeremy Mayfield is out as driver of the #70 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet, and will be replaced by former Haas CNC driver Johnny Sauter, effective immediately.(4-7-2008) UPDATE: Haas CNC Racing announced today that the team and Jeremy Mayfield have mutually agreed to part ways. The team is exploring several scenarios regarding a replacement driver. “Jeremy’s proven resume behind the wheel of a Cup car was a real benefit to our team,” team general manager Joe Custer said. “He stepped into the seat and did everything we asked him to and more. Ultimately, we were unable to provide him with the right balance, handling and speed he needed to be successful,” he added. “We wish Jeremy nothing but the best for his future.”(Haas CNC Racing)(4-8-2008) UPDATE 2: Johnny Sauter told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway Tuesday that he is signed to drive the #70 only this weekend in Phoenix, but hopes to land the ride full-time. “We’ve got a week off after Phoenix,” said Sauter, “so they’ve got a little time to look around and figure out what they want to do down the road.”(4-9-2008) Comment here
Special FedEx Kinko’s/March of Dimes for Hamlin at Phoenix: Denny Hamlin, FedEx Kinko’s and the March of Dimes will race a very special FedEx Kinko’s/March of Dimes #11 Toyota Camry in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. The car focuses attention on the March of Dimes and the annual March for Babies walk – an organization and event FedEx has long supported at both the local and national level. As part of the car unveiling event, Hamlin was presented with a specially designed helmet by five year-old Dallas native Tiffany Bell-Nunez. Bell-Nunez was born eleven weeks premature and weighed only 2 lbs 13 oz. and much of the care that led to a successful recovery for Tiffany was aided by research funded by March of Dimes. Tiffany is now a very healthy five year-old and her mother Vicki, a FedEx Kinko’s employee, remains an active advocate for March for Dimes. In an additional show of support, FedEx has set up a special portal on fedexracing.com for those interested in supporting the charity and FedEx Racing in the upcoming March for Babies.(FedEx Racing/Weber Shandwick), see an image of the scheme on my #11 Team Schemes page.(4-9-2008) Comment here
Newman’s car too high UPDATE 2: Penske Racing’s #12-Ryan Newman finished fourth in Sunday’s Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, but his Dodge did not clear postrace inspection. According to Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby, the right rear of the car was too high following the Sprint Cup Series race. The car was one-eighth of an inch beyond the allotted half-inch tolerance. Any potential penalties will be announced Tuesday.(SceneDaily.com)(4-6-2008) UPDATE – Penalty: NASCAR has issued penalties and fines to the #12 team that competes in the Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rule infractions found last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. The #12 car driven by Ryan Newman was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 12.8.1C (right rear quarter panel height did not meet the required specification; too high in post race inspection) of the 2008 NASCAR rule book. As a result, Newman and car owner Roger Penske have been penalized 25 championship driver and 25 championship owner points, respectively. Crew chief Roy McCauley has been fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.(NASCAR PR)(4-8-2008) STATEMENT: Michael Nelson’s, Vice President of Operations for Penske Racing South, statement on the penalty given to the #12 team following Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Texas. “We had an issue in post-race inspection on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. It is always our intention to follow NASCAR’s rules, and we regret this mistake. We look forward to getting back to the track this week and are focused on having a strong run in the #12 Alltel Dodge at Phoenix International Raceway.”(Penske Racing)(4-9-2008) Comment here
BDR sues former sponsor: Bill Davis Racing alleges that Rockford-Montgomery Labs has paid only $25,000 of the $14 million it was supposed to pay for sponsorship of the #36 Cup entry last season, according to a lawsuit filed April 2 in North Carolina Superior Court in Winston Salem, N.C. RML is the maker of 360 OTC, a line of hangover and headache medicine. The sponsorship was a three-year deal that was scheduled to increase to $14.5 million in 2008 and $15 million in 2009. There was a sponsor’s option for 2010 for $15.5 million. According to the lawsuit, RML also did not pay any of the $3 million it owed as a primary sponsor for the #36 truck and $1 million it owed to be primary sponsor for 10 races of the #23 truck. This is the latest in a series of lawsuits against RML, which has been sued by Just Marketing, which was handling the NASCAR sponsorship, as well as by the World of Outlaws and World Wrestling Entertainment. An attorney who represents RML in the World of Outlaws and the WWE case did not immediately return a request for comment.(see full story at SceneDaily)(4-9-2008) Comment here
Orange colors for Harvick at Phoenix: Reese’s, a major associate sponsor of RCR’s #29 Chevy, kicks into high gear this weekend in Phoenix as Harvick and the #29 team transform their bright yellow-and-red Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet into a bright orange Reese’s racing machine for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are peanut butter-filled chocolate cups. They were created in 1928 by H.B. Reese, a former dairy farmer and foreman for Milton S. Hershey. The H.B. Reese Candy Co., established in the basement of Reese’s house in Hershey, Pa., went on to merge with The Hershey Company in 1963 due to the popularity of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Today, Reese’s has become the No. 1 selling candy bar in the United States and the Reese’s brand is the most successful brand owned by The Hershey Company.(RCR), see an image of the scheme on my #29 Team Schemes page.(4-9-2008)Comment here
DIRECTV colors for Bowyer at Phoenix: Clint Bowyer’s #07 Chevy will feature a blue and white DIRECTV paint scheme this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). Jack Daniel’s, Bowyer’s traditional primary sponsor, will be featured on the car’s deck lid and lower-rear quarter panels. DIRECTV will strategically place four Mobile Pit Boxes throughout the PIR concourse and display area for fans to enjoy a free preview of NASCAR HotPass Only on DIRECTV. At the Mobile Pit Boxes, fans also have the opportunity to play DIRECTV’s Spin to Win game. With one spin of the prize wheel, fans will win one of five great prizes: a DIRECTV Hat, a DIRECTV Diecast Replica Car, a free Fanview rental for the weekend – an exclusive DIRECTV offer, or the chance for an instant seat upgrade to the DIRECTV Zone. Winner’s who are upgraded to the DIRECTV Zone will enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the track from outside turn three, complete with catering, the chance to meet Bowyer, and watch NASCAR HotPass Only on DIRECTV on one of nine flat screen High Definition TVs at the Zone.(RCR), see images of the scheme on my #07 Team Schemes page.(4-9-2008) Comment here
News from April 8, 2008
New crew chief for Petty: The #45 team welcomes new crew chief Stewart Cooper onboard this week. Cooper comes to Petty Enterprises from the #38 NASCAR Nationwide Series team. Billy Wilburn, former crew chief for the #45, is now heading up the test team for Petty. Wells Fargo will adorn the hood and sides of the #45 this weekend for the fourth time this season. Quotes from Kyle Petty: “Stewart Cooper is going to take over as my crew chief on the #45 Wells Fargo Dodge this weekend. Stewart is that new breed of crew chief that couples a mechanical engineering education with a lot of practical at track experience. With the success he has had as a crew chief in the Nationwide Series, I know Robbie (Loomis) has been trying to get him in the organization for some time. The 45 team is a talented race team and we’ll benefit from having a guy like Stewart at the helm. Something that should not be lost in the crew chief change is the fact that Billy Wilburn will remain with Petty Enterprises. Billy’s going to take over as crew chief of our test team and he will be a huge part of improving the product that we take to the race track. With the addition of Derrick Finley in the off season as our technical director, and the addition of several other talented people in our engineering department, we really have a lot of great information coming out of this group. Billy’s experience will help validate new ideas at the track and give our crew chiefs more options for the races. To really learn this new car you need to be on-track as much as possible and we have devoted more resources to track testing this year. It is great to have somebody of Billy’s experience level to lead this team.”
Quotes from Stewart Cooper: “It’s an honor to come onboard a race team like Petty Enterprises. Everyone here is committed to making this #45 Wells Fargo Dodge competitive on a weekly basis. If we do that, the points thing will take care of itself. Petty Enterprises has the pieces and they are all in place, we just have to put the pieces to work. Our first priority is to qualify Kyle into the show this weekend and then perform well on Saturday evening. Kyle, Billy and the team participated in the test at Phoenix last month so we have a nice book of notes to help us accomplish that. Billy Wilburn and Robbie (Loomis) have assembled a good team here and I’m looking forward to working with these guys.”(MCG Sports/Petty Racing PR)(4-8-2008) Comment here
PRN and MRN fighting over NHMS rights: Speedway Motorsports Inc. and International Speedway Corp. are suing each other over the radio broadcast rights at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. ISC has had a long-standing contract with the track to broadcast the races on its Motor Racing Network. SMI, which bought the track in January, wants the races on its own Performance Racing Network. The current contract awarding MRN the option to broadcast races at the track was signed in 2000 and required a three-year notice of termination. MRN agreed to give the track 25 percent of its advertising revenues from the events it broadcasts, and in the last seven years, MRN has paid the track more than $750,000, according to court documents. According to court records, SMI claims the contract is not enforceable and that MRN didn’t exercise its option in time to broadcast the Nationwide-Cup weekend June 28-29 and the Cup race Sept. 14. “MRN purportedly took the ‘exclusive’ right to broadcast all NASCAR events held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway,” SMI Chairman Burton Smith wrote in a Feb. 7 letter to ISC that is part of the court file. “However, in this very same document, MRN left it open for itself to choose whether or not it would, in fact, broadcast any such events. As a result, there is no mutuality in the Agreement, and, the Agreement is … unenforceable and void. I cannot in good faith allow New Hampshire Motor Speedway or SMI to be subjected to this one-sided document which leaves them in limbo, subject to the whims of MRN.” An ISC letter in response to Smith, written by NASCAR Chairman Brian France as part of his role as a member of the ISC board of directors, states: “MRN has a three-year binding contract to produce those events, and it is impossible for them to simply walk away. Additionally, they have already started packaging and selling advertisements to these events.” MRN claims it has contracts with advertisers from at least 11 major companies for New Hampshire broadcasts, according to court documents. ISC spokesman Wes Harris said Monday that “Just because the facility has changed hands doesn’t mean that agreements are not supposed to be honored” and that time is of the essence. MRN has more than 500 affiliates for some of its Cup races, while PRN has more than 750 affiliates. “There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace, with these sponsors and affiliates,” Harris said. “We need to get it resolved ASAP. … It¹s not just impacting MRN and New Hampshire Speedway, it’s impacting all these affiliates, it’s impacting the various sponsors and advertisers. It’s definitely a challenging situation.” The lawsuit PRN filed is pending in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire with no hearings currently scheduled. The lawsuit MRN has filed is pending in Florida state court in Orlando, with a hearing for a temporary injunction scheduled for Wednesday.(SceneDaily)(4-8-2008) Comment here
Kenseth set to make 300th start at Phoenix: Matt Kenseth, 2003 NASCAR Cup Series Champion and driver of Roush Fenway Racing’s #17 Ford Fusion will make his 300th Sprint Cup Series start this weekend, under the lights, at Phoenix International Speedway. Sporting the black DEWALT NANO Technology paint scheme, Kenseth will reach the impressive milestone this Saturday evening in the Subway Fresh Fit 500. “It’s hard to believe I’ll be making my 300th start,” said Kenseth. “It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was racing for the Reiser family in the Busch Series, with no sponsor, just hoping I could have the opportunity to race in this series some day. I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career. It’s pretty cool to have lasted this long in such a competitive series, but I could not have done it without the support of a lot of great people and a great sponsor like DEWALT.” Since his 1998 Cup Series debut, Kenseth has accumulated three poles, 16 wins, 80 top-five and 146 top-10 finishes. The Cambridge, Wis., native has logged 113,328.6 miles on NASCAR tracks and led a total of 4,973 laps.(Roush Fenway Racing)(4-8-2008) Comment here.
Reiser & Andrews named the Wypall Wipers “Co-Crew Chiefs of the Race” in Texas: For the first time in its history, the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief award will go to two men, Roush Fenway Racing’s Robbie Reiser and Chris Andrews. The tandem showed the power of teamwork Sunday as they helped Carl Edwards and his #99 Aflac Ford score the win in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday. The Crew Chief team made the right pit calls and set up Carl Edwards’ car perfectly as he dominated the 500-mile race Sunday in Fort Worth, TX, his third win of the season. Reiser and Andrews will receive a $1,000 check as a result of their leadership and teamwork. Reiser, the General Manager of Roush Fenway Racing and Andrews, head of the engineering department at RFR, are sharing Crew Chief duties while Bob Osborne, Crew Chief of the #99 Ford Fusion, is on suspension from NASCAR. Osborne returns to the helm of the #99 team in three weeks at Richmond [May 3rd]. The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team. Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent Wypall, including Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team, make up the panel of judges. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, FL. The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2008 season and spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(PR)(4-8-2008)
Special Salute the troops schemes at LMS in May: Memorial Day Weekend is always thrilling for race fans at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. This year, a special celebration of America’s military personnel takes place with the Salute the Troops program. Dale Earnhardt Jr and Hendrick Motorsports join the celebration of America’s heroes with a special National Guard paint scheme on the #88 Chevy. This special paint scheme features the Salute the Troops logo on the hood, as well as the lower side panels. Salute the Troops will be an on-track program based around strength, patriotism and philanthropy. By positioning this program around Memorial Day, Motorsports Authentics and the teams involved will look to celebrate and honor one of the greatest federal holidays for Americans all year long. The program calls for teams to carry the “Salute the Troops” insignia and/or showcase a special paint out featuring a branch of the United States military. The Salute the Troops program will be on track in May for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. This program will celebrate the history and tradition of the military branches on this Memorial Day weekend. The pre-race show for Memorial Day will include a military demonstration for the fans and then followed by a concert for the troops. In support of this program, Motorsports Authentics will create a unique and collectible line of Salute the Troops merchandise. Motorsports Authentics will create a line of Salute the Troops die-cast and collectables that will raise money for military families. In addition, MA will work with corporate sponsors to raise money and awareness for the men and women of the armed forces.
Scheduled Participating Sprint Cup Drivers:
#88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Carrying the logo on hood and rear quarter panels
#24-Jeff Gordon – Carrying the logo on the decklid
#8-Mark Martin – Full military paint out with program logos
#21-Jon Wood – Full military paint out with program logos
#07-Clint Bowyer – Carrying the logo on the rear spoiler, along with Toast the Troops logo on the deck lid
Scheduled Participating Nationwide Seires Drivers:
#88-Brad Keselowski – Full military paint out
See the schemes on my Paint Scheme Gallery.(4-8-2008)
Special Pepsi scheme for Gordon at Talladega: #24-Jeff Gordon is scheduled to run a special Pepsi Stuff decorated paint scheme in the Aaron’s 499 at the Talladega Superspeedway. This special paint scheme features a black and equalizer blue flame design with the Pepsi Stuff logo on the hood. See an image on my #24 Team Schemes page.(4-8-2008)Comment here
McDowell Feeling Fine Following Race at Texas: Michael McDowell was in New York all day fulfilling national media obligations to talk about Friday’s terrifying accident during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Texas Motor Speedway. Before departing for the city Sunday night, McDowell handled 500 miles like a pro at the 1.5-mile track. He posted a 33rd place finish in his #00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry. “I started out the race sore and in a little pain, but it wasn’t too bad,” McDowell said. “It didn’t take very long until I felt it. I really want to thank my crew for absolutely everything. They did a great job with what they were faced with on Friday. This is only our second race and we are only in the beginning stages. We are just going to keep plugging away to make our cars better at the 1.5-mile tracks.” Following the Samsung 500 Sunday, McDowell departed to Statesville (N.C.) with all of Michael Waltrip Racing’s Cup teams to board Michael Waltrip’s King Air for New York. Because McDowell’s accident garnered national attention, he and his wife were invited to the set of The Today Show for an interview with Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira this morning. Afterwards, McDowell went in studio at MSNBC and Inside Edition. Tomorrow [Tues], he will travel to Burbank, Calif. to be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.(MWR)(4-8-2008)Comment here
News from April 7, 2008
Management Reorganization at BDR: Bill Davis, President of Bill Davis Racing (BDR), announced a reorganization of the company’s management team. Davis, who with wife Gail has fielded teams in NASCAR for over 20 years, has added several key personnel and shifted several others within the organization. All changes are effective immediately. NASCAR veteran Marty Gaunt has been named Vice President of Bill Davis Racing. Gaunt, a native of Toronto, Ont., Canada, began his tenure in NASCAR in 1996 and has held similar positions at Penske Racing and Team Red Bull. Gaunt was also part owner of Red Horse Racing. “It’s an honor for me to able to be a part of Bill Davis Racing with Bill and Gail,” stated Gaunt. “Bill has fielded teams for 21 years now and to be considered to be a part of the reorganization is a great opportunity. I’m excited about the tasks at hand and ready to get started.”
Mark Chambers, who previously served as team manager of BDR’s Craftsman Truck Series effort, will now assume the role of the general manager of Bill Davis Racing. Chambers, who has been with the team since 2006, takes over the GM role from Mike Brown, who will move into the position of Chief Financial Officer.
“I’m confident the modifications we’ve made to our management and front-office staff will make our entire organization stronger,” stated Davis. “Our Truck Series program continues to thrive, but there isn’t any doubt that the Cup Series program has struggled this year. Our partnership with Caterpillar is over 10 years strong, and we owe it to them and to ourselves to make sure we have the best possible people in the most important positions. We have great partners in Caterpillar and Toyota and we hope to continue our affiliation with them for many years to come. I’m confident the changes we’ve announced today will ensure a strong future for this team.” In addition, Davis has hired Jim Thomas as the organization’s Director of Marketing. Thomas, a Florida native, has been the Director of Business Development for Sullivan Worldwide Marketing Group, a leading strategic marketing and planning agency to the United States motorsports industry. Prior to that, he spent several years within the financial arm of Southeast Toyota.(BDR)(4-7-2008) Comment here
Menard and Crafton help the community: NASCAR drivers Paul Menard and Matt Crafton are taking part in the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home today in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The drivers will help by installing insulation donated by Johns Manville. Menard and Crafton will be in Fort Wayne to give of their time and help raise awareness for the organization, while shining a light on the first green build home in Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity history. In addition to their volunteer efforts, Menard and Crafton will sign autographs for fans in celebration of the grand opening of a new Menards store location in Fort Wayne. Menard heads to Indiana on the heels of a 17th place run in yesterday’s Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Crafton is coming off his career best finish of second place in last weeks Craftsman Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway. Both drivers represent Menards in their respective series.(Co-Pilott Motorsports Marketing)(4-7-2008)
No changes planned in COT: NASCAR’s Jim Hunter, one of the sport’s top officials and a 40-year veteran at the tour’s tracks, said that drivers and crews shouldn’t be expecting any rules changes for the winged car any time soon: “At least for a period of time. “I think Robin (Pemberton) and John (Darby), they’d say ‘Let’s go some more races and see where we are.’” Pemberton and Darby are NASCAR’s top two competition officials under president Mike Helton. “Actually I can remember a lot of guys saying they couldn’t run side-by-side in the old car, when they had a hell of a lot of downforce,” Hunter said. “Carl Edwards got out of his car today and said ‘It’s a great feeling when your hands hurt after a race.’ You just have to get up on the wheel. And that was the whole purpose of this thing … secondary to safety.” The next midsize track debut for the stock car will be at Concord in a few weeks. But the Mother’s Day weekend race at just-repaved Darlington could also present some similar issues, with its sudden 200-mph speeds, even though the car raced there last spring.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-7-2008) Comment here
Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Samsung 500:
Total number of commercials: 125
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 69*
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 42
Total number of companies or entities advertised in brief promos or crawlers: 39
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:03 PM
End time to record race/commercial periods:5:51 PM
Total minutes: 228
Minutes of race broadcast: 168
Minutes of commercials: 60
Number of missed restarts: 0
Number of ‘mystery debris cautions’: 1
See full report at CawsnJaws.com and see more about Commercials on my 2008 Commercials page.(4-7-2008) Comment here
Hamlin nearly faints after race: #11-Denny Hamlin was talking with reporters on pit road about his fifth-place finish in the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway when he nearly fainted and collapsed Sunday. It brought an abrupt end to the interview, as a wobbly Hamlin staggered to a nearby golf cart with the assistance of team personnel. He then was whisked away to be given fluids and to rest, after which team officials insisted he was fine. “He’ll need to get some fluids in him, and he’ll be all right.” Hamlin stood off to the side for several minutes before even attempting to answer questions, taking sips from a water bottle and having a cold towel applied to the back of his neck. He then answered three questions before nearly collapsing, with one of his answers being about his physical condition. “I didn’t feel well [during the race],” Hamlin said. “It’s just the heat, the long runs. So I’ll try to get better. It really hit me when I got out of the car. I was just really dizzy and I knew I needed to sit down.”(NASCAR.com)(4-7-2008) Comment here
Sad News: Shane Hammond NorthEastern Midget Association driver Shane Hammond was killed in an accident Sunday at Thompson International Speedway, the Connecticut State police confirmed. Hammond, 27, of Halifax, Mass. was involved in a crash on the fourth lap of a scheduled 25-lap NEMA Midget feature. Hammond’s car made contact with the car driven by Chris Leonard of Pelham, N.H. heading into turn 3. Hammond’s car ended up going over the concrete wall at the entrance to the corner and through a loose banner billboard above the wall. It was unclear if Hammond’s car impacted directly with the stanchion holding the banner billboard upright. Hammond’s car was entirely over the wall and caught in the billboard when rescue personnel arrived at the scene of the crash. The accident took place at 1:06 p.m. Rescue personnel spent about 12 minutes extricating Hammond from the car. The ambulance carrying Hammond left the track at 1:18 p.m. headed to Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam. Track officials said they expected that Hammond would be airlifted to a trauma center from Day Kimball. State police dispatcher Jay Robillard at Troop D in Danielson said Hammond was pronounced dead at Day Kimball. Robillard said only that Hammond sustained “traumatic injuries”(Hartford Courant)(4-7-2008)
Almirola, Menard to Test at Infineon: Sprint Cup Series drivers #8-Aric Almirola and #15-Paul Menard will come to Infineon Raceway on Wednesday, April 9, for a one-day test session. Almirola, who shares driving duties with veteran Mark Martin in the #8 U.S. Army Chevy, has never competed on the Sonoma Valley road course in the Sprint Cup Series. Neither has Menard, who drives the #15 Menards Chevy. Almirola and Menard are expected to test the challenging 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course in late-model stock cars provided by a Northern California-based race team. They will be coached by road-course veteran Chris Cook, who has also worked with NASCAR drivers David Reutimann, Johnny Sauter and AJ Allmendinger. Both will return for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR weekend, June 20-22, at Infineon Raceway. For tickets, call 800-870-RACE or visit www.infineonraceway.com.(Infineon Raceway)(4-7-2008)
News from April 6, 2008
Edwards wins at Texas: #99-Carl Edwards won the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway for his 3rd win of 2008 and the 10th of his career. He domanated the race, leading 122 laps and surviving and green white checker finish. #48-Johnson was 2nd, followed by #18-Busch, #12-Newman, #11-Hamlin, #31-Burton [who continues to lead the points], #20-Stewart, #8-Martin, #17-Kenseth and #07-Bowyer. #24-Gordon wrecked early and finished 43rd, only the second time in his career that he has finished last [the other being Texas in 1999]. There were 16 lead changes among 6 drivers and 6 cautions for 27 laps. Race Results on my Texas Race Results/Awards Page.(4-6-2008)
Ganassi promises changes if Cup teams don’t improve: Chip Ganassi wasn’t pleased with his NASCAR teams long before #40-Dario Franchitti failed to qualify for Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Just how unhappy the car owner actually is became clear Saturday when he unleashed a blistering indictment of his team’s performance so far this season. “Frankly, there are 46 cars there and if you can’t beat three of them, that’s pretty pathetic,” Ganassi said on Sirius Satellite Radio. “I certainly have all the faith in the world in (Franchitti’s) driving abilities. I don’t think it’s that. The fact of the matter is, we didn’t give him a car that was capable of doing it.” Although he praised the work Montoya and his # 42 crew has done to rebound from a slow start to the season, Ganassi was particularly upset with the performance of Sorenson’s #41 team. The third-year driver has four finishes of 31st or worse.”The 41 team, it’s the same old things that take them out,” he said. “One week its this, the next week it’s that, and it’s sort of this combination of all of the above. Everybody on the 41 team is going to have to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are prepared for what’s coming down the pike.” Ganassi, who was in St. Petersburg, Fla., with his IRL teams, said later Saturday he won’t hesitate to make personnel changes if that’s what it will take to get his teams turned in the right direction. (Associated Press/CBS Sports)(4-6-2008) Comment here
NASCAR to Examine McDowell’s Car: Before Michael McDowell’s totaled #00 Toyota winds up in the salvage yard, NASCAR’s research and development team wants a chance to inspect the damage. McDowell was able to walk away from an accident in Friday’s qualifying session that later took Texas Motor Speedway crews three hours to replace a 28-foot section of the SAFER barrier that was severely bowed by the impact. The battered hulk of what remained of McDowell’s machine was placed under a tarp and will be on its way to the R&D; facility in Concord, N.C., next week. NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton said it’s standard procedure for NASCAR to evaluate how its safety initiatives hold up in severe crashes, particularly the advancements that have been made in the new car. Pemberton said NASCAR engineers may be particularly interested in this crash, because it should provide some valuable telemetry to show forces and loads on the car when it impacted the SAFER barrier and then tumbled at least eight times. An initial inspection of the car by NASCAR officials following the accident seemed to indicate that all of the safety features on the car performed as expected, according to Pemberton. (NASCAR.com)(4-6-2008) Comment here
Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Phoenix
A couple changes, #77-Hornish back in and #70-Sauter falls out and must qualify by speed at Phoenix.
The teams are NOT locked in past the next race as the owners points change after each race.
31) #66-Riggs/Haas CNC Racing 588 +98
32) #55-Waltrip/Waltrip Racing 530 +40
33) #96-Yeley/Hall of Fame Racing 505 +15
34) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing 502 +12
35) #01-Smith/Dale Earnhardt Inc 496, 6 points ahead of 36th these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed:
36) #70-Sauter/Haas CNC Racing 490, 6 points out of 35th
39) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis 473 -23
37) #44-Reutimann/Waltrip Racing 458 -38
38) #40-Franchitti/Ganassi Racing 447 -49
40) #84-Skinner/Red Bull Racing 364 -132
For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(4-6-2008)
Villeneuve seeking sponsors overseas: Jacques Villeneuve is still hopeful of returning to NASCAR and is currently seeking sponsors overseas to try to secure the budget that would see him back behind the wheel in the US. “Well we still have a few months to get the budget,” said Villeneuve. “It’s hard going. I’m working on my own now and actually working with Barry Green. Craig was working hard on buying a team in NASCAR, but that didn’t work out and at the same time it closed some doors last year with teams that might have seats. So now I have to start again and keep going.” The Canadian has secured a deal to compete in the last two events of the new Speedcar Series, which features former Formula One drivers in NASCAR Nationwide type machines. He says the opportunity will not only help him get some valuable seat time in preparation for an eventual return to NASCAR on a road course event, but also to find sponsorship on new markets like Dubai, where he is set to race next weekend.(Autosport.com)(4-6-2008)
News from April 5, 2008
Only four drivers left: Only four Sprint Cup drivers have ran all fifteen Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway including the race Sunday: #8-Mark Martin, #31-Jeff Burton, #24-Jeff Gordon and #43-Bobby Labonte. Martin and Burton have won at the track.(4-5-2008)
Petty will skip Dover race for daughter’s wedding: Kyle Petty said Friday at Texas that he will miss the June 1 Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway because of the wedding of his daughter. Montgomery Lee Petty will marry Randy Schlappi on May 31, a spokesman for Petty Enterprises said Friday. Petty is already skipping six Cup races later this year because he will serve as an analyst on TNT’s race broadcasts, and Petty is not driving this weekend’s race at Texas. Montgomery Lee Petty is Kyle and Pattie’s only daughter.(SceneDaily.com)(4-5-2008) Comment here
Petty, Loomis differ on who made call for McCumbee; Petty Would Consider Driving for Another Team: Kyle Petty isn’t happy about the decision to replace him with rookie Chad McCumbee at Texas. He made it clear on Friday that it was not his decision to step aside even though Robbie Loomis, the vice president of competition at Petty Enterprises, said it was. “I don’t care what he said,” Petty said. “I said it wasn’t. Why would I get out of a car?” Petty would not say who made the decision, whether it was Loomis or his father, seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty. He referred to the decision-maker only as “they.” “Quite frankly, Kyle is the one that came up with the idea,” said Loomis, adding Petty will be back in the car next week at Phoenix. “On Monday, Kyle and Richard came to the shop and talked to me and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re trying to strengthening this team up. Let’s try to leave as much as that intact as you can right now and let’s put Chad in there and give him a chance.”’ That didn’t mesh with Petty’s story. “I told them I’ll do whatever it takes to make this team better,” he said. “They felt in order to make this team better was me being out of the car and somebody else being in it. If that’s the way they feel then that’s their option because they run the place. “Do I think I’m the problem?” he said. “No, I don’t think I’m the problem, but I’m pretty arrogant on that side…I think we have problems, but I don’t think Kyle Petty is the problem.”(ESPN.com) AND: Kyle Petty said he would consider driving for a different organization if “there’s not a place for me here” at Petty Enterprises. The 47-year-old veteran replied “Oh, yeah” without hesitation when asked Friday afternoon whether a new race team could be in his future if it is determined that Petty Enterprises wants to go in a different direction. “Even though you think I make a living running my mouth, I try to make a living driving,” he said. “And if there’s no place for me here, then you’d have to go someplace else.” Petty emphasized that such a move would not be made until his current team has chosen the direction it will take. Therefore, a change is not imminent. (SceneDaily.com)(4-5-2008) Comment here
Allmendinger now expected back in #84 at Talladega: AJ Allmendinger, originally expected back in the seat of the #84 Red Bull Racing Toyota April 12 at Phoenix, said Friday he will not return until the following week at Talladega. Mike Skinner made his first appearance in the # 84 at Las Vegas and has a best finish of 27th (at Atlanta) in four starts entering Texas. “He’s said the same things that I’ve been saying, so just more than anything there’s a peace of mind of getting back in the car and [saying], ‘OK, so I’m not crazy. I am feeling the right things,” Allmendinger said. He has tested for the team at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and Nashville during his hiatus from competition.(SceneDaily.com)(4-5-2008) Comment here
Petty Enterprises don’t expect to lose Labonte: Petty Enterprises lost the sponsor of its famed # 43 car to Richard Childress Racing on Tuesday, but officials don’t expect the driver to follow. STP was the sponsor of the #43 car that Richard Petty drove to 200 victories. Now with General Mills moving on, the car needs a sponsor again. Robbie Loomis, the vice president for racing operations at Petty Enterprises, said the organization is in the final stages of negotiating a deal that would keep 2000 Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte there for the remainder of his career. He said losing General Mills, the current sponsor of Labonte’s car, will have no bearing on that. “I’m not worried about that at all,” Loomis said of losing Labonte to RCR. “I feel as good about it as anything I’ve felt about in a long time.” (ESPN.com)(4-5-2008) Comment here
Biffle Doesn’t Consider Childress a Future Option: Greg Biffle, a sought-after Sprint Cup star in a contract year, doesn’t foresee the recently announced #33 Richard Childress Racing Chevys as an option for his future. Biffle, who last week said he was “90 percent” sure he would sign a contract extension with his current team, Roush Fenway Racing, for 2009 and beyond, cited the fickle nature of the top-35 rule as a key deterrent from considering Childress’ fourth car. “I don’t really see that being an alternative for me,” Biffle said. “The one thing a guy’s got to look at is, I’m third in points [now] and have a chance to make the Chase right now, and I’m running fairly well. And to go to a team that has no points and try to qualify for the Daytona 500, and go to Las Vegas and try to qualify, and California, on time, and dodge rainouts — we see all these teams struggle to get in the top 35. I don’t see that as a smart career move for myself.”(ESPN.com)(4-5-2008) Comment here
Both Yates cars bare: Yates Racing drivers #38-David Gilliland and #28-Travis Kvapil are 22nd and 24th, respectively, in the points standings heading into tomorrow’s Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Both cars are unsponsored this weekend and are displaying SponsorYates.com.(4-5-2008) Comment here
McMurray Kicks Off “National Autism Awareness Month” at Texas: This weekend, at Texas Motor Speedway, Jamie McMurray will help promote autism awareness through a special paint scheme, as well as the launch of a month-long online auction with all proceeds going towards the research and support of autism and families coping with this neurobiological disorder. McMurray will pilot the #26 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Ford in this weekend’s Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Along with the black and gold paint scheme, the rear quarter panels and the television panel of the # 26 Ford Fusion will don the autism awareness puzzle pieces. The Jamie McMurray Foundation’s month-long auction also launches this weekend and will run through the end of April. Fans can bid on all kinds of memorabilia with all proceeds benefiting autism research and support.(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(4-5-2008) Comment here
News from April 4, 2008
LifeLock Sponsoring Carpentier for 8 Races: Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced that LifeLock, the nation’s leading identity theft protection service, will sponsor the #10 Dodge with driver Patrick Carpentier in eight races in the 2008 Sprint Cup Season. LifeLock will sponsor Carpentier at Phoenix on April 12, Talladega on April 27, Richmond on May 3, Darlington on May 10, Charlotte on May 25, Michigan on June 15, Chicagoland on July 12 and Kansas on Sept. 28. Gillett Evernham Motorsports CEO Tom Reddin said the addition of LifeLock to the existing sponsorship lineup at the #10 of Valvoline, Auto Value/All Pro Bumper-to-Bumper, Charter and Cintas mean there are few unsponsored races remaining on the #10 Dodge in 2008.(Gillett Evernham PR)(4-4-2008) Comment here
70 team picks up a sponsor: Hunt Brothers Pizza announced a sponsorship test with Haas/CNC Racing and the #70 Jeremy Mayfield car in the 2008 Sprint Cup Series. The test sponsorship with the Haas/CNC racing team will include the following: Secondary sponsor for the upcoming Samsung 500, April 6 at the Texas Motor Speedway and primary sponsor at the Aarons 499, April 26 at the Talladega Speedway. “At Hunt Brothers, we are committed to becoming a strong national brand, especially within the C-Store Industry,” said Scott Hunt, executive at Hunt Brothers Pizza. “Our involvement in NASCAR sends a strong message to C-Store Owners, C-Store Chains, and Oil Companies that we are a serious player, and we are committed to driving product awareness on the national level and ultimately boosting sales for our C-Store partners.” For more information about Hunt Brothers Pizza, see huntbrotherspizza.com.(Media Wire), see an image on my #70 Team schemes page.(4-4-2008) Comment here
Garmin to sponsor #19 for two races: Elliott Sadler is scheduled to drive the #19 Garmin Special paint scheme at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27. 2008 & at Kansas Speedway on September 28, 2008, see an image on my #19 Team schemes page.(4-4-2008) Comment here
Smith continues as #21 crew chief: Mike Smith will be the interim crew chief for Wood Brothers Racing and driver #21-Bill Elliott again this weekend for the Samsung 500 Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Smith debuted in the role last weekend, and he is optimistic about the car the team is bringing for Elliott, who has 11 starts at Texas with one pole position and one top-10.(SceneDaily).(4-4-2008) Comment here
Earnhardt Chevy to sponsor Kennedy in Florida series: Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet will sponsor Ben Kennedy in the Florida-based Advance Auto Parts Pro Truck Series. Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and son of International Speedway Corp. president Lesa France Kennedy, will run the #96 Silverado based out of Mark Martin Performance in Daytona Beach. Kennedy will race more than 25 events at New Smyrna Speedway and Orlando Speedworld.(DEI)(4-4-2008)
Hendrick’s Langenstein to be honored: Charlie Langenstein, who works at Hendrick Motorsports will be honored as Mechanic of the Year Award during Northeast Modified Hall of Fame 2008 Induction Ceremonies on Sunday, May 25. Langenstein has molded a successful career that has carried him from the Syracuse Mile in New York State to the superspeedway of Daytona International in Florida. Currently residing in North Carolina, the New Jersey native first ventured to Nazareth, Reading and Flemington (NJ) Fair Speedway in 1972 and over the next two decades surfaced as one of the top wrenches in the Northeast. From 1976-82 Langenstein accompanied George Smith’s Statewide Racing team with Jimmy Horton behind the wheel, then joined forces with big-Block star Brett Hearn before building a car for notorious owner Tony Ferraiuolo and his driver Ken Brenn Jr. to close out the 80s. Charlie relocated to the Tar Heel State and helped Rob Moroso capture the NASCAR Grand National title in 1989 before working at the Kneisel Speed Shop in Pennsylvania from 1992-95 and serving a one-year stint with Team Freightliner owner Ray Bramall. Today, he is the technical supervisor for Hendrick Motorsports on the Cup circuit, overseeing everything mechanical for the cars driven by internationally acclaimed touring stars Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. More info at dirtcar.com.(4-4-2008)
Aflac Sponsoring Edwards at Texas & Phoenix: Aflac, the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance in the United States, will be the primary sponsor of Carl Edwards’ #99 Roush Fenway Racing team this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Additionally, Aflac will also be the primary sponsor next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Edwards will drive the No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion in a total of eight races throughout the 2008 season.(Roush Fenway Racing PR), See images of the scheme on my #99 Team Schemes page.(4-4-2008) Comment here
Reutimann doesn’t anticipate driver switch if he fails to qualify: #44-David Reutimann faces another weekend where he has to qualify on speed, and he is not looking forward to it. Reutimann said Thursday he wouldn’t anticipate that Michael Waltrip Racing would put him in the car driven by #00-Michael McDowell if he doesn’t make the field. If Reutimann misses the race, the team could replace McDowell with Retuimann, but Reutimann said that hasn’t been discussed. “The #00 is the car that Michael McDowell drives, and as far as I know, if I don’t get in, I’ll be watching,” Reutimann said. “I wouldn’t want to do that. My job is to get the 44 car in. If I can’t get that car in, then I don’t need to be in the race.”(SceneDaily.com)(4-4-2008) Comment here
Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears Airs Saturday on ESPN2: Race fans who missed original airings of the television series Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears, chronicling the move of Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Hendrick Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series, will have a chance to watch again. ESPN2 airs a one-hour episode Saturday, April 5, at 1:30pm/et, leading to live coverage of the Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The series provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved with the five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver award recipient leaving Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the team founded by his late father. Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears is produced by Earnhardt Jr.’s Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard. The final two episodes air on ESPN in prime time the week of the July 27 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, ESPN’s first live Sprint Cup event of the season.(ESPN)(4-4-2008)
Earnhardt, Jr. wins pole at Texas: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won the Coors Light Pole for the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway with a speed of 190.907mph for his first pole of 2008 and his first for Hendrick Motorsports. #99-Edwards qualified second with the rest of the top-10 being: #18-Busch, #12-ewman, #48-Johnson, #44-Reutimann [best go-or-go homer], #6-Ragan, #17-Kenseth, #84-Skinner, and #9-Kahne. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were: #44-Reutimann, #84-Skinner, #77-Hornish, #10-Carpentier, #21-Elliott, #22-Blaney, #34-Andretti, and #78-Nemechek. #00-Michael McDowell got loose going into turn one on his second lap, the car veered head first into the wall and rolled over 8-9 times through turn 2. He got out of the car under his own power, but the session was delayed for one hour and 12 minutes while NASCAR made repairs to the SAFER barrier. See the starting lineup on my Texas Qualifying Page.(4-4-2008)
Three do not qualify [DNQ] for the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway: #40-Franchitti, #45-McCumbee, and #08-Lamar.(4-4-2008)
.. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Samsung 500 with a lap of 28.286 seconds, 190.097 mph.
.. This is his eighth pole in 298 career NASCAR Sprint Cup races. His most recent pole was at Pocono in August 2007.
.. This is his first pole and fourth top-10 start in 2008.
.. Earnhardt posted his second pole and sixth top-10 start in 12 races at Texas. It is his first start better than seventh in his last 10 races here.
.. Carl Edwards posted the second-fastest qualifying time with a lap of 28.498 seconds, 189.487 mph. This is his first start better than 10th in seven Texas races.
.. Kyle Busch (third) posted his second top-10 starts in seven races at Texas. His other top-10 start was fifth in April 2007 when qualifying was canceled.
.. David Reutimann (sixth) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
.. Sam Hornish Jr. (17th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
TWO Race Tracks Jeff Gordon has never won a CUP race at: There are TWO current race tracks the Sprint Cup Series runs on that #24-Jeff Gordon has not won at [a Sprint Cup race]:
Texas 0 for 14 with a best of 2nd in 2002
Homestead 0 for 8 with a best finish of 3rd 2004
Gordon has won at 22 [20 active] of 24 tracks he has raced on including two not on the circuit any longer, North Wilkesboro and Rockingham.
Gordon won at Phoenix in April to finally knock that track off the list in his 17th try there.(4-3-2008)
Wood Brothers Racing Texas Preview Motorcraft Primary Sponsorship Debut: Wood Brothers Racing will unveil Motorcraft’s black, white and red paint scheme as the primary sponsor for this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Bill Elliott will drive #21 Ford Fusion in the Samsung 500 on Sunday, April 6th. Geoff Smith, Motorcraft’s Motorsports Manager, explained why Motorcraft chose to debut their primary sponsorship at Texas Motor Speedway. He stated, “Motorcraft is excited to launch our 2008 sponsorship season in Texas this weekend. Texas is a very large and important market for Ford and Motorcraft parts. The Texas NASCAR race will afford us the opportunity to continue to grow our brand image given NASCAR’s popularity and exposure. We will provide trackside hospitality to reward local dealer and distributor contest winners who will attend the race as our guests.” “Team 21” is looking forward to racing a newly built chassis. Crew Chief, Mike “Andretti” Smith commented on this week’s preparation. He noted, “We went to Ford [Racing] this week to work on the 7-post shaker rig with the actual Texas race car. We think we came up with something really good.” He admited that they will focus on both qualifying and race runs during the initial practice on Friday because they are using a setup that is different from what they have tried at other tracks that resemble Texas, such as Atlanta. For more information on Motorcraft , please visit www.motorcraft.com.(Wood Brothers Racing)(4-3-2008) Comment here
Interstate back on the #18: The green and black colors of Interstate Batteries will be back on the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch at Texas this week.(JGR PR), see images of the car on my #18 Team Schemes page.(4-3-2008)
Texas Soldier Honored for Heroism: Mark Martin and the United States Army NASCAR team will have an added incentive at this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Along with the Army’s prerace pageantry for Sunday’s Samsung 500, the #8 team will be introduced to a special guest – Staff Sergeant Kenneth Thomas — a hometown hero from Utopia, Texas, located approximately 85 miles northwest of San Antonio. Thomas, 23, a member of the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division out of Ft. Hood, Texas, was awarded the Silver Star, a decoration for gallantry in combat. Thomas’ heroic action on Feb. 16, 2007 resulted in a number of his comrades’ lives being saved while his boat patrol platoon was under attack by heavy enemy fire on the Tigris River — 20 miles north of Baghdad. Thomas will be accompanied to Sunday’s race by his platoon sergeant in Iraq — Sgt. 1st Class Allen Johns. The Army will also have a visible presence during Sunday’s national anthem. The 36th Infantry Division Band out of Austin, Texas will play The Star Spangled Banner while 50 Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers from Ft. Worth will hold the 30-by-60-foot flags of the United States and Texas. The 1st Cavalry Division from Ft. Hood will provide the color guard for the national anthem along with 56 soldiers, who will hold the state and territory flags.(DMF Communications/US Army PR)(4-3-2008)
Diamondbacks logo on the #96: That weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, J.J. Yeley’s #96 Camry will sport an Arizona Diamondbacks 10th anniversary logo. Hall of Fame owners are Diamondbacks chief executive officer Jeff Moorad and chief operating officer Tom Garfinkel.(USA Today)(4-3-2008)
Cheez-It on the #5 at Texas: Cheez-It, the world’s largest-selling cheese cracker, will adorn the hood of the #5 Chevy of Casey Mears this weekend at Texas. “The Big Cheese” will make its debut this Sunday and decorate the hood of the #5 Chevy for four races [Texas, Pocono [Aug], Michigan [Aug], California [Aug]]this season. The Cheez-It/CARQUEST Chevy finished third the last time it raced, which was last September at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.(HMS)(4-3-2008)
Martin, McElreath inducted into Texas Motor Sports HOF: NASCAR veteran driver Mark Martin and open-wheel star Jim McElreath were inducted into the Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies held tonight at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway. In addition, Texas Motor Speedway and Happy Hill Farm Academy honored Jimmie Johnson, the two-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion and defending Dickies 500 winner; Sam Hornish Jr., a three-time IndyCar Series champion and last season’s Bombardier Learjet 550k winner; and Indy-car veteran Arie Luyendyk, who won the first nighttime Indy car race at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997, with special awards during the ceremony. McElreath and Martin join previous inductees A.J. Foyt (2003), Johnny Rutherford (2003), Terry Labonte (2004), Lee Shepherd (2004), Kenny Bernstein (2005), Jim Hall (2005) and Eddie Hill (2006) into the Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame. The Bruton Smith Legends Award, a lifetime achievement award given to a legendary figure in motorsports, was presented to Luyendyk. Luyendyk is a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner (1990, ’97) and three-time Indy 500 pole winner. Johnson was honored as the Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year. Hornish Jr., now a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie after an illustrious IndyCar Series career, was recognized with the Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award. Hornish Jr.’s charitable contributions to Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter have not gone unnoticed. For the past three years, Hornish Jr. has hosted the Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament prior to the Bombardier Learjet 550k race weekend.(TMS)(4-3-2008)
A new map to race shops in NC: A new pull-out map featuring all of North Carolina’s Sprint Cup race shops is now available from the Cabarrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau as part of its free, newly released annual Visitors Guide. The map contains directions to the race shops, a description of each, and the hours the race shops are open to visitors. Also included on the map are descriptions of major stops along The Dale Trail, a self-guided tour of landmarks relating to Dale Earnhardt’s life and NASCAR career in and around Kannapolis, the NASCAR legend’s hometown. For more information or a free copy of the new Cabarrus County NC visitors guide and pull-out map to the race shops, phone 800-848-3740 or visit www.visitcabarrus.com(PR)(4-3-2008)
A Look At The 2008 Season: Five different drivers have posted victories in the Sprint Cup Series in 2008: Ryan Newman (Daytona), Carl Edwards (California and Las Vegas), Kyle Busch (Atlanta), Jeff Burton (Bristol) and Denny Hamlin (Martinsville). Dale Earnhardt Jr. has posted five top-10 finishes – more than any other driver. Five drivers have posted top-10 finishes in four of the six races. Burton is the only one of the six with a victory this season. Chevrolet and Toyota are tied for the lead in the manufacturer point standings, each with 37 points. Ford has 35 points. Dodge has 25. Ford and Toyota each have two victories this season. Chevrolet and Dodge each have one.(NASCAR PR)(4-3-2008)
Johnson to unveil new ‘Concourse of Champions’ at TMS: Two-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will officially christen Texas Motor Speedway’s new “Concourse of Champions” display Friday by unfurling his 2007 Dickies 500 champion’s banner on the frontstretch concourse. Johnson will join Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage for the debut of the Concourse of Champions, a display that will feature 8-foot-by-10-foot banners to celebrate every driver in the Sprint Cup Series and Indy Racing League IndyCar Series that has won at Texas Motor Speedway since it opened in 1997. The display will go the length of the concourse beneath the frontstretch grandstands, from Gate 1 to Gate 7, and consist of 32 banners of former champions. The event will begin at 10:40 a.m. Friday in the concourse area located at Gate 4 with a designated media area with Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, and Gossage. All the gates are scheduled to open at 11 a.m. CT Friday, but Texas Motor Speedway will be opening Gate 4 for ticketed fans who are interested in watching or photographing the event with the two-time series champion at 10:30 a.m. The first 200 fans who arrive early for the unveiling ceremony will receive a free Lowe’s key chain.(TMS)(4-3-2008)
Texas Goodyear Tire Notes: The tire combination for this weekend’s inaugural COT race at Texas is the result of a Goodyear tire test at the speedway in January . . . Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Boyer performed the driving duties and provided the feedback during the test . . . the left side tire incorporates the same tread compound as raced in 2007 and a revised tire construction which has been incorporated into many left side tires in 2008, including Las Vegas, Bristol, and Atlanta . . . the right side tire utilizes the same construction as raced in 2007, with a slightly reformulated tread compound to provide a wear improvement for the aging Texas surface and the tougher right side conditions of the COT . . . this specific combination is currently also scheduled for use at Chicagoland . . . the left side tire will also be used in conjunction with a different right side tire at Dover, Michigan, and Kentucky . . . the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series will be using the same tire combination this weekend in Texas. . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Texas . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated Pit Window: Every 50-55 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear), see full report, tires codes and more on my Texas Race Info Page.(4-3-2008)
News from April 2, 2008
Cask No. 16 scheme returns at Texas: This weekend at Texas, Jamie McMurray will pilot the #26 Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Ford Fusion. The #26 Ford will also sport the autism puzzle pieces in support of autism awareness and the Jamie McMurray Foundation. McMurray will have two special guests with him at the track this weekend – Chris Dake and Dawn Litteken from Springfield, Mo., who bid more than $4,200 for a VIP weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The auction helps kick off “National Autism Awareness Month.”(Roush Fenway Racing), see image of the car on my #26 Team Schemes page(4-2-2008)
Prilosec OTC colors for Burton at Texas: Prilosec OTC’s major associate sponsorship of RCR’s #31 Chevy kicks into high gear this weekend in Texas as Burton and the #31 team transform their bright orange #31 AT&T; Chevy into a purple Prilosec OTC racing machine for the Samsung 500. Prilosec OTC, marketed exclusively by Procter & Gamble, is available in food, drug, mass, and club stores in the U.S. Prilosec OTC is available over-the-counter for the treatment of frequent heartburn, with one pill taken every day for 14 days and is the No. 1 selling over-the-counter heartburn medication. Prilosec OTC Victory of a Lifetime Sweepstakes winner Kathryn Cooley continues her ultimate NASCAR Fan’s season at Texas Motor Speedway’s Samsung 500 this weekend. This will be Kathryn’s fifth race of her 20-race schedule with RCR’s #31 Cup Series team and will be a race that Kathryn’s husband, Jack Cooley, will not soon forget. This weekend Jack will truly become part of the No. 31 team as an honorary pit crew member. Jack will dawn his very own Prilosec OTC pit crew uniform and firesuit as he takes a spot in the pits with the rest of the #31 crew. And while Jack is working hard in the pits, Kathryn and her guest will enjoy a bird’s eye view from one of Texas Motor Speedway’s exclusive luxury suites.(RCR PR), see image of the car on my #31 Team Schemes page(4-2-2008)
BAM Racing withdraws from Texas UPDATE 2: One week after announcing a sponsorship program with Microsoft Small Business and qualifying seventh at Martinsville, BAM Racing’s #49 Toyota was withdrawn from this weekend’s Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. No details were available as to the reasons behind the decision by owner Beth Ann Morgenthau, who has operated a team in NASCAR’s premier series since 2002. The #49 was 42nd in owner points following a 37th-place finish at Martinsville, having made three of six races this season. Driver Ken Schrader finished 21st at Las Vegas and 41st at Bristol earlier in 2008.(NASCAR.com)(4-1-2008) UPDATE: been told the team will return to the track next weekend at Phoenix and Microsoft Small Busisness Systems Center will next sponsor the car at Talladega in April. Added some images of the car from Martinsville to my #49 Team Schemes page.(4-2-2008) UPDATE 2: BAM Racing has decided to skip the next two Sprint Cup races in Texas and Phoenix. Team co-owner Tony Morgenthau released the following statement about the decision: “Switching manufacturers was a taller order than we initially realized. While BAM Racing has a very strong short track program, our intermediate track program needs some work. Since we haven’t had time to adequately test the cars on shaker rigs and pull down rigs; since historically we don’t run that well at either Texas or Phoenix – even with a proven, tested racecar; since we intend to improve our on-track performance and not to take a step backwards; our organization has decided to take the next three weeks to focus on the remainder of the racing season. We recognize that we will sacrifice our 42nd position in owner’s points, but that only guarantees our team a spot if qualifying is rained out. Ultimately every car that is 36th or lower must qualify on time in order to race. While skipping the next two races will hurt our points position in the short term, returning to the track at Talladega ready to move forward with fully-tested Toyota Camry’s will enhance our program overall. This has been a very difficult, “big picture” decision; by taking a little time to regroup now, we should be a much stronger team for the rest of the year. Finally, for all the naysayers who may predict this to be the death knell for one of the few remaining independent teams in Sprint Cup . . . wait until Talladega, then tell us if we’re dead or not!”(BAM Racing PR)(4-2-2008) Comment here
Bobby Labonte Comments on Remainder of 2008 Season: Bobby Labonte continues to be totally focused on returning Petty Enterprises back to victory lane. He will concentrate on those efforts for the remainder of the 2008 season. Contrary to reports, he has made no contractual agreements with any team beyond 2008. “I’m very humbled by the level of interest in my future, but at this time I’m concentrating all my efforts in getting Petty Enterprises back to victory lane. I feel good about all the positive steps that Petty Enterprises has made and continues to make. General Mills has been a huge part of making the 43 team what it is today. I worked diligently with Petty Enterprises to continue General Mills involvement with the team. Today, we all learned they have made a decision. I truly appreciate all they have done to contribute to our success at Petty Enterprises. Moving forward, I’m going to work hard each week to win races. I want to do the best I can for Petty Enterprises and everyone who puts great cars under me each week. That’s our focus, and that’s what I feel is the right thing to do for all our partners. At this time, I have no intention to talk about my plans after 2008 because of the immediate tasks at hand. I respectively ask for everyone’s patience in this matter and, again, am humbled by everyone’s interest.”(Breaking Limits PR) AND: Petty Enterprises lost the sponsor of its famed #43 car to Richard Childress Racing on Tuesday, but officials don’t expect the driver to follow. Robbie Loomis, the vice president for racing operations at Petty Enterprises, said the organization is in the final stages of negotiating a deal that would keep 2000 Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte there for the remainder of his career. He said losing General Mills, the current sponsor of Labonte’s car, will have no bearing on that. “I’m not worried about that at all,” Loomis said of losing Labonte to RCR. “I feel as good about it as anything I’ve felt about in a long time.” Meanwhile, Childress is left with finding a fourth driver. Scott Wimmer is a potential candidate. He already has a Nationwide Series win for RCR this season and is scheduled to drive a handful of Cup races in a fourth RCR car.(ESPN.com)(4-2-2008)
TI DLP to re-sign with HOF Racing, Staubach retiring UPDATE: DLP HDTV is expected to sign a contract extension through 2009 to continue as the primary sponsor of the #96 car. Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman became minority owners in Hall of Fame Racing, a Sprint Cup organization, when a group led by Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel bought controlling interest late last season. Aikman plans to invest in the team and attend some races every year. Staubach said he’s ready to retire from racing, probably after this season. “It’s not a goal of mine to continue,” said Staubach, who made it clear he likes the new management of Hall of Fame Racing. “They’ve given me an opportunity to stay involved, but I told them I’ve got a lot going on. I don’t like to be partly involved in things.” Aikman also has other business interests, including his job as analyst for Fox’s No. 1 announcing team. He said his role this Cup season isn’t much different than what it was the first two years of the team’s existence. Aikman was a majority owner, but Bill Saunders ran the daily operations. Now Garfinkel handles much of that role. Aikman will also be around at least through 2009 because he trusts and respects Moorad, Aikman’s agent and longtime friend. Aikman said he’s proud of what the one-car team has done. But to consistently finish in the top 20, it needs to get a second car and more resources. Moorad and Garfinkel plan to provide that. The second car could run as early as next season [supposedly with Brad Coleman as the driver].(Dallas Morning News)(4-1-2008) UPDATE:DLP HDTV officials announced that they will extend their sponsorship of the #96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota driven by J.J. Yeley in the Sprint Cup Series. DLP HDTV, which has been the primary sponsor on the #96 car since its inception in 2006, will remain in that role through the 2009 season. “We’ve been extremely pleased with our sponsorship of the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota,” said Dave Duncan, sponsorship marketing manager, DLP Products, Texas Instruments.(Hall of Fame Racing PR)(4-2-2008) Comment here
Mike Ford named Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race”: Mike Ford, crew chief of the #11 Fed Ex Freight Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin, was named the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” for his team’s first-place finish in Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway. After Hamlin fought an ill-handling car for most of the race, Ford’s direction for a combination of air pressure, wedge and track bar adjustments paid off with Hamlin running consistently in the top five for the last 100 laps of the race and eventually taking the lead for good with 74 laps to go. Ford will receive a $1,000 check as a result of his leadership and successful strategy during the most critical moments of the race. The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each event, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief who made the biggest difference to his team. Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs, who represent Wypall, make up the panel of judges. The crew chiefs include Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett-Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will display signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead. The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2008 season and spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(Wypall PR)(4-2-2008)
Thomas to Red Bull? UPDATE: Brandon Thomas, who recently was replaced by Steve Boyer as crew chief for #96-J.J. Yeley at Hall of Fame Racing, is apparently bound for Red Bull Racing, though his exact duties remain to be seen.(SPEEDtv)(3-31-2008) UPDATE: hearing that Thomas will go to Red Bull Racing as Chief Design Engineer.(4-2-2008)
Sprint Cup Series testing at Kentucky Speedway: some Sprint Cup drivers are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday, April 2 Infield, including Jason Keller of Gillett Evernham Motorsports Research & Development Team; #84-Mike Skinner [also will test a truck for Bill Davis Racing]; #01-Regan Smith of DEI; #45-Chad McCumbee of Petty Enterprises [will also test a truck for MRD Motorsports]; #34-John Andretti of Front Row Motorsports. Fans can view test sessions from the designated area outside the Fan Center in Turn 3. The Fan Center is located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 North. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(4-2-2008)
Foyt says Firestone just as bad: #20-Tony Stewart doesn’t think much of the job Goodyear is doing in NASCAR, and A.J. Foyt is no fan of Firestone’s performance in the Indy Racing League. Asked before Saturday night’s Gainsco Indy 300 what he thought of Stewart’s rant about Goodyear a few weeks ago after NASCAR’s Atlanta race, Foyt took aim at the IRL’s tire supplier. “Firestone’s just as bad,” he said. “We’ve got junk for tires. They’ve got one heat cycle, and they screwed us up the other day for qualifying; they fall off two or three tenths.” Foyt, who will compete in next weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as a team owner for Darren Manning, was a Goodyear driver through much of his legendary racing career. Arch-rival Mario Andretti ran on Firestones. Stewart raced Firestones in the IRL when both tire companies were in the league. “I have no love for Firestone, they have no love for me,” Foyt said, adding that the tires made by Bridgestone Firestone in Japan are “a lot better” than those built domestically.(Tampa Tribune)(4-2-2008)
Hamlin, FedEx Kinko’s and March of Dime Team up in Texas: #11-Denny Hamlin will be in Texas early this week, on hand to make a special announcement with FedEx Kinko’s and the March of Dimes. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 2 at White Rock Lake Park in Dallas. As part of the announcement, Hamlin will be presented with a specially designed helmet by five year old Dallas native Tiffany Bell-Nunez and will unveil the start/finish line for the 2008 March for Babies – to be held at the park later this month.(JGR PR)(4-2-2008)
Harvick leads March Madness Picks: #29-Kevin Harvick currently leads the washingtonpost.com celebrity NCAA tournament pick challenge. Harvick has a one-point lead over second place Byron Mouton (former University of Maryland Basketball player) and a five-point lead over third place Antawn Jamison (Washington Wizards All-star Forward). Harvick has the University of North Carolina (UNC) and University of Memphis meeting in the finals with UNC winning the National Championship.(RCR PR)(4-2-2008)
News from April 1, 2008
Labonte/General Mills to RCR in 2009? UPDATE General Mills to RCR in 2009: Richard Childress acknowledged that his organization is close to fielding a fourth team in the Sprint Cup Series, and Yahoo! Sports has learned that the driver of that car beginning in 2009 likely will be Bobby Labonte [currently #43 Petty Enterprises]. Sources close to the deal point to General Mills, Labonte’s current sponsor with Petty Enterprises, coming along with him to RCR. According to Childress, he will field a fourth car sometime this season, though he wouldn’t set an exact time frame. He did say things were progressing well and that he was pleased with how plans were coming together. “We’re looking at entering a few races before the end of the season,” Childress said. Childress entered a fourth car (#33) in selected races in 2007 with Scott Wimmer as the driver. Wimmer likely is the choice to be behind the wheel when the car makes it back onto the track this season. However, Labonte likely will be the full-time driver in 2009. Hiring Labonte would be an ace up the sleeve for RCR. Labonte is a past champion, which means he would get a champion’s provisional that would guarantee him a spot in the field at the start of the ’09 season. Labonte already has a relationship with Childress, having signed with RCR this year to drive the #21 Nationwide car on a part-time basis this season.(Yahoo Sports)(2-23-2008) UPDATE – RCR to Field Fourth Cup Team in ’09 with General Mills Sponsorship: Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and General Mills have agreed to terms on a multi-year partnership for the world’s sixth-largest food company to sponsor the #33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy beginning with the 2009 Cup Series season. The driver for the #33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy will be announced at a later date. “RCR is honored to represent General Mills and its Cheerios, Hamburger Helper and many other brands in the NASCAR Cup Series,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “The partnership is another step in RCR’s continued association with blue-chip global brands and companies. General Mills has a great history of activating its NASCAR programs so our focus now turns to the short list of drivers we feel will help continue that tradition as well as be at the same competitive level on the track as our current drivers and teams.”
The 2009 season will mark General Mills’ 13th year of sponsorship involvement in NASCAR as well as Richard Childress’ 40th anniversary in the sport. RCR has earned 11 NASCAR championships, including six in the Cup Series with the legendary Dale Earnhardt, four in the Nationwide Series, and one in the Truck Series. Next year will be the first time RCR will run a fourth fulltime NASCAR Cup Series team.(RCR PR and updated at Yahoo! Sports)(4-1-2008) Comment here
Petty Enterprises looking for a sponsor of #43: Since 1949 Petty Enterprises has forged a legacy as the most successful organization in American motorsports history by forming lasting partnerships with trusted sponsors based on the Petty family principles of hard work, integrity, dedication and charity. These core values have produced some of the most enduring and successful partnerships in all of sports. In 2009 primary sponsorship of the famed #43 Dodge will become available for only the second time since .The King., Richard Petty partnered with STP in 1972—a relationship that continues to this day. Petty Enterprises‘ current partner, General Mills, has been the primary sponsor of the #43 for the past nine seasons and will continue through the end of the year. .We value our relationships with all of our sponsors,. said Robbie Loomis, Executive Vice President, Operations. .We appreciate everything that General Mills has helped us accomplish over the past nine seasons both on and off of the track, and we wish them well in their future plans. The #43. driven by .King. Richard and his record 200 wins is synonymous with success not just at the highest levels of motorsports, but across all sports. 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte, continues that tradition today. .Bobby is one of the most marketable and popular drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series,. said Brian Moffitt, Vice President, Marketing. .He and his family share the ideals and values of the Petty organization and he remains a key component to the long-term future of Petty Enterprises. While there is substantial sponsorship interest in Bobby and Petty Enterprises we will carefully consider our options to ensure the continuation of our rich tradition and to build on current momentum. Prospective partners are well aware of the special power of the .Petty. brand, as numerous surveys and marketing groups have identified Richard Petty as one of the most iconic brands in all of sports.. .I am proud of our organization‘s rich tradition.. said Richard Petty “We look at bringing in fresh resources and new partners as a real opportunity to further grow and improve the Petty organization. Especially those who share in the same core values of integrity, dedication and winning that have come to define Petty Enterprises.(Petty Enterprises/MCG Sports PR)(4-1-2008) Comment here
UPS Moving to another team? will stay in NASCAR: on SPEED’s Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain [3-30-2008], Zak Brown, CEO of Just Marketing International, reported that sponsor UPS, currently sponsoring the #44 Toyota that David Reutimann drives, that UPS plans to stay in NASCAR and is reviewing it’s sponsor program and is evaulating probably five teams, including the team they currently sponsor, #44 Michael Waltrip Racing and Reutimann. UPS should formalize their NASCAR plans within the next 60 days. No word on those teams, but UPS says they want to run for a championship and have a “Rock Star” type of driver like they had with Dale Jarrett. Roush Fenway Racing had been rumored in the past with Greg Biffle and hearing that Carl Edwards, if signed, could be the new UPS driver in 2009.(4-1-2008)
Retro Mountain Dew scheme for Dale Jr. UPDATE: hearing that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run a retro #88 Mountain Dew scheme sometime in 2008, supposedly at Darlington in May, see an image on my #88 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008) UPDATE: Fans who attend the Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway will not only see some of the most exciting racing of the 2008 season, they will also see a special one-time-only throwback paint scheme on the #88 Mountain Dew AMP Energy/National Guard entry driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. To kick off Mountain Dew’s “Old School New School” promotion, Earnhardt will pilot the #88 Mountain Dew AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy with a throwback paint scheme modeled after the 1981-82 entry driven by Darrell Waltrip. “I’m so excited about this paint scheme. To run a paint scheme like the Mountain Dew one is a tribute to the history of the sport and the heritage at Darlington,” said Earnhardt. “I can’t wait to see how the car looks on the track because it looks awesome on paper.” The folks at Mountain Dew think Darlington luck could be in Earnhardt’s future, and that’s why they’ve chosen Darlington as the race to launch the Mountain Dew and AMP Energy “Old School New School” promotion that will give consumers the chance to win “Cars, Kicks and More.” You can learn more about Mountain Dew “Old School New School” by going to www.oldschoolornew.com.(Darlington Raceway PR)(4-1-2008) Comment here
McCumbee to race #45 Dodge at Texas for Petty: Quotes from Kyle Petty: “Chad McCumbee is going to step into the #45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge this weekend at Texas. Texas is a good track for him. He had a strong run going in the truck race there last year. At Pocono, he did a great job filling in for me when I went into the booth. Everyone at Petty Enterprises believes in Chad and his abilities. Texas gives us a chance to get another good look at Chad without throwing him to the wolves. He should be relaxed because he knows he can get the job done there.”
Quotes from Chad McCumbee: “I feel comfortable around the #45 team. Billy Wilburn and I work well together. We had a great race last year at Pocono. I’m hoping for more of the same this weekend. Kyle is going to be there, giving me advice and pointers. That means a lot to me. I’ve learned a lot from him already. I’m anxious to do my part to help this team. We’re planning on going to Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday for a test. Just to help me get used to the new car. The two races last year were in the old car, so there will be a little bit of an adjustment period there. I don’t have a lot of experience in the old car either, so maybe that will be a positive.”
In 2007, McCumbee competed in two Sprint Cup Series races for Petty Enterprises, with a high finish of 25th coming in the “spring” race at Pocono. McCumbee is currently 13th in the Craftsman Truck Series point standings. McCumbee, 23, won an ARCA event last June at Pocono Raceway on the same weekend that he made his Sprint Cup Series debut in the #45 Petty Enterprises Dodge. In the Truck race at Texas Motor Speedway last fall, McCumbee started second and led four laps but finished thirteenth after an accident forced him out of the race.(MCG Sports/Petty Racing PR)(4-1-2008) Comment here
NASCAR Foundation Launches 2008 NASCAR Day Program with The Home Depot: The NASCAR Foundation has announced that fans can visit participating The Home Depot stores to make a $5 donation and get their 2008 NASCAR Day collectable lapel pin. This is the second year that The Home Depot, the “Official Home Improvement Warehouse of NASCAR,” has made pins available in more than 1,900 stores across the continental United States. Last year, as a result of its NASCAR Day initiative, The Home Depot raised $400,000 for The NASCAR Foundation with a portion of those funds benefiting KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. The week prior to NASCAR Day, The NASCAR Foundation, The Home Depot and KaBOOM! will partner for a special playground build in Charlotte, N.C., as part of The Home Depot’s “Racing to Play” program. Annually held on the Friday prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Challenge in May, NASCAR Day has become one of the most important and fastest-growing traditions in the NASCAR Family. In 2007, NASCAR Day raised more than $1.6 million through the combined fundraising efforts of NASCAR fans, NASCAR partners and companies worldwide. Fans interested in learning more about NASCAR Day and where to find their local The Home Depot store may visit www.nascar.com/nascarday. On Friday, May 16th, The NASCAR Foundation will hold the second annual NASCAR Day Telethon at the Sam Bass Gallery in Concord, N.C. To show your support and make your donation on NASCAR Day, just dial 1-888-MAY16TH.(NASCAR PR)(4-1-2008) Comment here
Hornish to be honored: #77-Sam Hornish Jr. will be honored with the Texas Motor Speedway Sportsmanship Award at the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame Gala on Wednesday, April 2, 2008, in recognition of his annual celebrity bowling tournament benefiting Speedway Children’s Charities. Over the past three years, the tournament has raised $308,500. Penske Racing Director of Marketing Wally McCarty will accept on Hornish Jr.’s behalf.(Penske Racing PR)(4-1-2008)
Petty finds investor? UPDATE 3: Yahoo! Sports has learned through two independent sources that Richard Petty [#43, #45] will soon announce that he has struck a deal with a major investor that should keep the Petty name in the sport it has been so instrumental in building. While it’s obviously good to keep the Petty name alive in NASCAR, it also signals the beginning of the end of an era.(Yahoo!Sports)(3-9-2008) UPDATE: Richard Petty says he is further along in the process of finding an investor for his Petty Enterprises organization than he was last year when he was in talks with George Gillett. “We ain’t signed a thing,” Petty said Friday at Martinsville Speedway. “But we are working on it. We’ve agreed to more things, but we’re not there yet.” Petty indicated that his family would still have control of the “racing parts” of the team. He also said the investors have been to the races. An announcement likely won’t come in the next couple of months, but Petty indicated that he is comfortable with where negotiations are. “If we decide to do it today, it’s going to take three months to get all the stuff done – it’s going to be a little while,” Petty said. “We ain’t got down to signing it. Until it’s signed, it’s [hard to predict]. We’ve done the leg work. … I wouldn’t have gotten this far if I haven’t felt pretty confident at this point.”(SceneDaily)(3-28-2008) UPDATE 2: Since it first was reported by Yahoo! Sports earlier this month, additional details have emerged on what could be a ground-breaking deal for Petty to enter into a partnership that will secure his family-owned business’ future in NASCAR. Sources close to both parties have told Yahoo! Sports that Petty is in the final stages of negotiations with a group called Medallion Financial, based in New York City. Although hesitant to acknowledge details of the pending negotiations at this time, The King himself has acknowledged he’s confident a deal with a new partner could be finalized within the next 90 days. Negotiations have been taking place for months between Petty and New York financial entrepreneur Andrew Murstein, the president of Medallion Financial. Although Medallion Financial specializes in niche financing, its primary business comes from the financing of taxicab medallions, which is where it gets its name. The company also provides business loans. Murstein’s plan calls for Petty Enterprises to be established as a public company, which would sell shares of stock and seek to grow the Petty brand. That’s not the current model for ownership in NASCAR. Teams generally are privately owned, although some are structured to integrate with one or more of the team owners’ businesses. Going public also means the team will be opening its books to public scrutiny, thus revealing the wherewithal of a NASCAR Sprint Cup team.(Yahoo Sports)(3-31-2008) UPDATE 3: Medallion Financial Group President Andrew Murstein acknowledges speculation that his company’s Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. might be a potential business partner with Petty Enterprises, but he won’t confirm or deny the reports. Medallion Financial has formed an entertainment/sports acquisition company, Sports Properties Acquisition Corp., which completed an initial stock offering in January on the American Stock Exchange. The gross proceeds were $200 million. “There has been speculation of our interest in Petty Enterprises for Sports Properties Acquisition Corp,” Murstein said in a statement Monday. “We are looking to invest several hundred million dollars in the sports, leisure or entertainment-related industries. We are very interested in investing in NASCAR and the motorsports industry in general should the right deal come along.” Medallion nearly completed a deal with Robert Yates Racing in 2006, and Murstein confirmed last year that he had talked with at least five NASCAR teams about a possible investment opportunity.(SceneDaily)(4-1-2008) Comment here