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December 2018 News Archives


  • News from December 31, 2008

  • Petty-GEM merger done deal? UPDATE: Multiple sources have confirmed that Petty Enterprises racing will shut its doors and merge with the team currently known as Gillett Evernham Motorsports. A deal was inked between Petty Enterprises and team owner George Gillett on Christmas Eve, but the terms of that agreement have yet to be divulged. The venerable #43 Dodge covered with the trademarked Petty blue glaze will become part of the Gillett stable with Reed Sorenson expected to be behind the wheel. A formal announcement is expected early next week. Most of the remaining 39 employees at Petty Enterprises will conclude their duties at the Mooresville-based shop on Wednesday. The company moved from its original shop adjacent to the Petty homestead in Level Cross, N.C., in January to what was formerly the Yates Racing complex. Robbie Loomis, Petty Executive VP of Racing Operations, is expected to assume a managerial role under the new partnership, which will likely be rebranded under the Petty banner. Former car chief Ray Fox Jr. will assume a similar role at JTG-Daugherty Racing with the #47 team. David Zucker, who was named CEO of the team when private equity firm Boston Ventures purchased controlling interest in June, is expected to be reassigned to the Petty Driving Experience.(FoxSports), no word on what happend to the #10 ride which Sorenson was supposed to drive.(12-31-2008)
    UPDATE: Although neither GEM nor Petty officials said an announcement was forthcoming, sources indicated that the organizations were ironing out final details. The merger would entail GEM absorbing Petty’s #43 car, which according to sources would be driven by Reed Sorenson and sponsored by the Air Force next season. Chris McKee, marketing director of the Richard Petty Driving Experience, confirmed that David Zucker, current chief operating officer of Petty Enterprises and the Richard Petty Driving Experience, will oversee only the driving experience once the merger is complete. Zucker was installed as Petty’s CEO after team owner Richard Petty earlier this year sold majority interest in his organization to the private equity firm Boston Ventures in a bid to raise capital and improve performance. McKee added that further details of the merger will come next week. Indications are that the name of the merged organization will be altered to reflect Richard Petty’s involvement. Richard’s father, Lee, founded Petty Enterprises in 1949. The merger would place four cars under the GEM stable — the #43, as well as the Nos. 9, 10, and 19 currently in the Gillett-Evernham fleet. Kasey Kahne drives the #9, with A.J. Allmendinger replacing Elliott Sadler in the #19 for next season. No driver has been announced for the #10 car for 2009.(NASCAR.com)(12-31-2008) Comment here
  • SMI expected to announced Kentucky deal complete: Speedway Motorsports Inc. is expected to announce sometime Wednesday that its purchase of Kentucky Speedway is complete. The company agreed in May to buy the Sparta [KY] track from Jerry Carroll and his partners for $78.3 million, including the assumption of $63.3 million in debt, and has been targeting a late December closing. Kentucky Speedway will become the eighth track in SMI’s lineup. The company’s other tracks – Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway – host a combined 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup events each year. The changeover will come as Kentucky Speedway’s original ownership group continues to challenge in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati the dismissal of its antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and its sister company International Speedway Corp. All final briefs in the appeal must be filed by Jan. 28. The sale of the track is separate from the lawsuit.(Cincinnati Enquirer)(12-31-2008)
  • R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company to Sponsor the Pole Award at the Polar Bear 150: The Polar Bear 150 is already one of the biggest Street Stock races in the country and now the competitors will have another prize to claim – a pole award from R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company. The driver winning the award will have their work cut out for them. With up to 99 drivers starting the race, qualifying will be very important and will be determined through a very exciting ‘European Style’ qualifying format. Several will be on the track at the same time making qualifying runs to get the best time and win the R.A. Jefferys Distributing Company Pole Award. The pole award is not the only involvement that the R.A. Jefferys Distributing Company will have with the Polar Bear 150 – they will be supplying the concession stands with Anheuser-Busch products as well as the New Years Eve Celebration that will ring in the New Year in the Rockingham Speedway’s Infield. The Polar Bear 150, the New Year’s Eve Celebration and the partnership with R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Company are all new traditions for the Rockingham Speedway that are a part of a long term strategy for the track. The Polar Bear 150 kicks off on December 31st with practice during the day and a New Years Eve celebration in the garage area and infield of the track starting at 7:30 p.m. Fans can join the drivers and teams for the celebration for only $10. The race will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday January 1st with qualifying at 10:00 a.m. General admission seating is only $15 when purchased in advance and $20 the day of the race. Kids 12 and under are free with a paid adult. For more information please call the speedway at 910-205-8800 or visit www.rockinghamspeedway.com.(Rockingham Speedway PR)(12-30-2008)
    RADIO coverage: RaceTalkRadio.com and Victory Lane Productions will team up to bring race fans exclusive Internet Radio coverage of the Polar Bear 150 from Rockingham Speedway on New Year’s Day. Visit racetalkradio.com to listen live to the race. The green flag will fly at 1:00pm/et on New Year’s Day and you can listen to it live on RaceTalkRadio starting at 12:00noon/et.(12-31-2008)
  • Sad News – Sam Yunick: William “Sam” Yunick, 42, son of of racing legend, Henry Smokey Yunick, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, December 27, 2008. Sam was a graduate of Georgia State and began his journey as an entrepreneur in Atlanta, Georgia in August 1991. Sam and his wife, Sharon, started with one Subway franchise and built it into a successful business with five operations in the Atlanta area. Sam and Sharon returned to Jacksonville in 1996 where Sam started Sync, Inc. which currently employs over 95 people in its various operations. Sam is survived by his wife, Sharon Yunick; two sons, Michael and Patrick; and a daughter, Nicole. More info at the Daytona Beach News Journal.(12-31-2008)


    News from December 30, 2008

  • #8 Crew chief: hearing Doug Randolph will move over from DEI’s [now Earnhardt Ganassi Racing/EGR] #15 team, which is now defunct, to the #8 Chevy of Aric Almirola, Tony Gibson, who was the crew chief of the #8, left to be Ryan Newman’s crew chief on the #39 Stewart-Haas Chevy.(12-30-2008) Comment here
  • HMS Holdings suing DEI over engines UPDATE 2:: HMS Holdings, which operates the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop, is suing Dale Earnhardt Inc. [now Earnhardt Ganassi Racing after another merger] for $1.5 million for the payment of a termination fee stemming from a contract to supply Hendrick engines to Ginn Racing. Ginn Racing, which also is a defendant in the suit filed Friday in North Carolina Superior Court, merged with DEI in July 2007. As part of the merger, DEI and Ginn Racing signed a termination agreement to a contract that was originally signed by Ginn in 2006. The termination agreement required payments to HMS of $1.754 million by July 31, 2007, and $1.5 million by Nov. 15, 2008, according to the suit. The first payment was made on time. The second payment has not been made, according to the suit. The original engine contract and termination agreement are not included in the suit, so it is unclear how much Ginn was paying to use Hendrick engines. HMS is asking for the $1.5 million, 12% interest and an additional $225,000. Hendrick Motorsports spokesman Jesse Essex said the company is looking forward to a swift resolution of the lawsuit.(SceneDaily)(11-25-2008)
    UPDATE – engines cost $12.8M base: If you’re looking to lease engines from Hendrick Motorsports for a NASCAR operation, you’d better be prepared to open up your wallet. A legal battle being played out in North Carolina courts is offering rare insight into the usually secretive world of the sport’s finances as the Hendrick operation seeks compensation from the Ginn Racing team that wound up as part of DEI in 2007. According to a contract filed as part of the case, the Hendrick engine lease agreement with Ginn Racing called for Ginn to pay a base rent of $12.8 million in 2007 and $13.7 million in 2008 to lease engines for its three Sprint Cup teams and one team in what is now the Nationwide Series. The fee covered Cup engines for 36 race events and up to nine tests or special events and Nationwide engines for 35 events, according to the contract filed as part of a lawsuit by HMS Holdings against Ginn Racing and DEI over the termination fees resulting from the Ginn-DEI merger in July 2007.(Scene Daily)(12-20-2008)
    UPDATE 2: DEI claims that former NASCAR team owner Bobby Ginn is responsible for paying off any termination fees of Ginn Racing’s engine leasing contract with Hendrick Motorsports. Both DEI and Ginn have been sued by Hendrick in North Carolina Superior Court over $1.5 million in fees that Hendrick claims is owed under the termination agreement signed when DEI bought Ginn Racing in July 2007. In its response to the suit filed Dec. 22, DEI claims that DEI and Ginn have a signed agreement that DEI would not be responsible for any claims or payments under the engine lease termination agreement. DEI asks the court to rule that Ginn is responsible for any payments. Ginn has not yet responded to the suit.(SceneDaily)(12-30-2008) Comment here
  • GEM announces new director of sales: Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced the hiring of John Cowart as the NASCAR Sprint Cup team’s director of sales. Cowart, 43, will begin his duties with the Statesville, N.C. team effective immediately. “John brings a wealth of motorsports sales experience that will enhance Gillett Evernham Motorsports’ value to our current and future partners,” said De Cordell, GEM chief sales and marketing officer. “We are happy to welcome John and believe he will play a major role in the team’s quest to become the marquee team in motorsports.” Cowart, a Huntersville resident and University of Alabama graduate, said he looks forward to a new challenge. “Gillett Evernham Motorsports offers an opportunity that is challenging and ultimately will be rewarding,” he said. “NASCAR and Gillett Evernham Motorsports allow great brands the opportunity to market their product or service in a unique and interactive environment that connects with its passionate fans and provides a win-win for everyone involved.” Cowart has served in various sales and management capacities throughout the NASCAR industry since the start of the 2000 season.(GEM)(12-30-2008)
  • Tulare City [CA] Council OKs motor sports complex: The Tulare City [near Frensno CA, approx 250 miles from Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA] Council, in a split 3-2 vote, approved late Monday night the proposed Tulare Motor Sports Complex, a 711-acre project that calls for the construction of a race track, a drag strip and commercial and retail development in south Tulare. Tulare Mayor Craig Vejvoda, Vice Mayor Phil Vandegrift and councilman Richard Ortega voted to approve the project, while councilmen David Macedo and Wayne Ross casted a “no” vote. Fresno-based developer Bud Long, who is fronting the project, said he was excited about the outcome. The vote came at the end of a lenghty, three-and-a-half hour, single-issue special meeting held at the Tulare Senior Center, drawing an estimated 240 people. The project will now go before the Tulare County Local Agency Formation Commission in about a month’s time. The Tulare Planning Comission had already approved the project at a meeting earlier this month.(Visalia Times-Delta)(12-30-2008)


    News from December 29, 2008

  • Sadler replaced by Allmendinger? UPDATE 2: AJ Allmendinger is set to replace Elliott Sadler in the #19 Dodge in 2009, multiple Gillett Evernham Motorsports team sources told ESPN.com on Saturday. GEM CEO Tom Reddin told team employees and sponsors the news just before Christmas, causing some sponsors to consider leaving, according to team sources. Reached for comment Saturday, GEM spokesman Drew Brown chose not to comment. Sources also said Ray Evernham, who founded the team and sold majority ownership to George Gillett, cleared out all personal possessions from the team’s shop, including the 2002 Brickyard 400 trophy he won as owner of Bill Elliott’s #9 Dodge. Calls placed to Evernham and Sadler’s representation were not immediately returned.(ESPN.com)(12-27-2008)
    UPDATE: Allmendinger will join Kasey Kahne in the flagship #9 GEM Dodge and newcomer Reed Sorenson, who will pilot the #43 Dodge following the imminent announcement of the merger between owner George Gillett and Richard Petty.
    AND Sadler? Sadler’s possibilities are rumored to include the #41 Chevy at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing or the #77 Dodge at Penske Racing should Sam Hornish Jr. replace Helio Castroneves in the IRL IndyCar Series [who faces a trial and possible jail over IRS charges].(FoxSports), no word on who would drive the #10 Dodge of GEM in 2009.(12-28-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Sadler signed a two-year contract extension with GEM in May, and sources say team owner George Gillett will now be forced to buy out those additional two years. Sadler has already begun making calls to try and find a ride for next season. Sources tell Sirius Speedway that Gillett is heavily leveraged from the original Evernham buyout, as well as from a number of automobile dealerships he purchased earlier this year. He reportedly faces a major payment on his Liverpool Football Club, which plays in the English Premier League, as well. A deal that would have merged GEM with Bill Davis Racing fell by the wayside a few weeks ago, reportedly after Gillett was unable to obtain financing to complete the transaction. Gillett has recently been involved in negotiations to merge GEM with Petty Enterprises. Sirius Speedway reported two weeks ago that the merger had stalled, and while that report was immediately denied by a GEM spokesman, Sadler’s release appears to indicate that the deal is indeed in jeopardy. A combined GEM/Petty operation was expected to field four cars in 2009; enough to retain Kasey Kahne, Reed Sorenson, Sadler and Allmendinger. (Sirius Speedway)(12-29-2008) Comment here
  • Changes for 2009 – Crew Chiefs:
    #00 — Ryan Pemberton left to crew chief Brian Vickers for 2009, Rodney Childers comes from GEM to take over
    #7 — made numerous crew chief changes in 2008, have heard nothing official, but heard that Kirk Almquist, who came to the team in late 2008, will be back
    #8 — TBA, no one named since Gibson left for Stewart-Haas
    #10 — Crew chief Mike Shiplett was suspended by the team in late 2008, no word if he returns
    #14 [was #70] — Darian Grubbs comes over from Hendrick were he was an engineer, but has crew chiefed before with Jimmie Johnson, garnering two wins
    #17 — Chip Bolin goes back to the engeneering side at Roush, Nationwide crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer takes over in 2009
    #19 — TBA, former crew chief, Rodney Childers left to go to MWR’s #00 team
    #26 — Donnie Wingo, leaves Gannasi to take the crew chief gig for McMurray, Wingo had been a logtime crew chief at Gamassi’s
    #33 — Shane Wilson will crew chief Bowyer RCR’s new team
    #38 — Cully Barraclough left at seasons end is is back as the car chief on a NNS ride for Roush, no word who Gilliand’s crew chief will be.
    #39 — Tony Gibson comes over from DEI, Bootie Barker heads to MWR
    #41 — Donnie Wingo left to crew chief McMurray in the #26. #41 has no driver named, nor a crew chief
    #43 — Jeff Meendering left and went to Stewart-Haas racing as a car chief.
    #47 — Frank Kerr will be the crew chief for Ambrose
    #83 — Ryan Pemberton comes over form MWR to crew chief Vickers, former crew chief supposedly will take a management role with the team.
    #98 — Larry Carter comes over from Roush/McMurray to take over for Paul Menard and this new team.
    No Changes [so far] for the following teams: #’s 07,1,2,5,6,9,11,12,18,20,21,22,24,29,42,48,82,88,96,99. See my 2009 Cup Team Chart for more changes and info.(12-29-2008) Comment here
  • Bowyer gets news plane: Clint Bowyer recently [Dec 22nd] took delivery of his Beechcraft Premier IA, the world’s fastest and most technologically advanced single-pilot business jet. With a cruising speed greater than 520mph – 50mph faster than its nearest competitor – the Premier IA is the only light jet in the world that satisfies Bowyer’s need for speed. While in Wichita for the delivery, Bowyer toured the Hawker Beechcraft manufacturing plant and signed autographs for employees. “As a NASCAR driver, I have a very demanding schedule that takes me from coast-to-coast on a regular basis,” Bowyer said. “My new Premier IA will allow me to operate more efficiently and effectively. I am proud to own an airplane made in my home state of Kansas. It was great to see many NASCAR fans at the factory today and I thank them for their work on this superior aircraft.”(Hawker Beechcraft)(12-29-2008) Comment here
  • Sad News – Grady Humphryes: Grady Humphryes, age 71, passed away December 23, 2008. Mr. Humphryes was a respected member of the racing community, Mr. Humphryes worked for ML Motorsports, Bobby Allison, Davey Allison and several other NASCAR and ARCA racing teams over his 40 year career. Funeral Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, December 29, 2008 at Brown Service West Chapel with interment following at Valhalla Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Sunday, December 28, 2008 from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Dearly loved by his family, he is survived by his wife, Angela Humphryes; children, Shelia Humphryes, Angie Weldon (Larry), Scott Humphryes and Andrew Humphryes; siblings, Sox Humphries, Albert Humphries (Eloise) and Gladys Ann Goodwin (Glen); as well as many loving extended family and friends. Memorial Contributions may be made through Bobby Allison Racing, c/o Bonnie Allison Farr, 140 Church Ave., Hueytown, AL 35023. Brown Service West Chapel is honored to serve the Humphryes family.(Birmingham News)(12-29-2008)

News from December 28, 2008

  • BDR Employees Laid-Off; But…: ….are hearing that most of Bill Davis Racing’s employees were laid-off earlier this week following the sale of the team to Marty Gaunt and Mike Held. Despite the bad news, all team members are getting a chance to reapply for their position with the team. They will begin bringing back employees after the first of the year. The move appears to be an attempt at restructuring the organization. By doing this, they can cut loose any employees they do not want while removing any seniority and cutting salaries they might see as high. Given the present climate, it is very much an owner’s market. There are a lot of talented people who are looking for work and those with an opportunity to stay where they are at are very likely to take a pay cut in order to avoid job loss.(NASCAR Insiders)(12-28-2008) Comment here
  • Smith to the #78: 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year recipient Regan Smith will drive for Furniture Row Racing in 2009.(FoxSports), #78 Furniture Row Racing announced late in 2008 that it would run a limited 2009 schedule.(12-28-2008) Comment here
  • Motorsports writer travels world for charity: In the spirit of the season, veteran motorsports writer Al Pearce deserves substantial recognition for a charitable project that has taken him around the world in the past 13 months. Pearce is a writer who literally has gone the extra mile in supporting two causes initiated by Kyle and Pattie Petty: the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Kyle Petty Charity Ride. At his own expense, Pearce, who lives in Newport News, Va., and covers NASCAR for AutoWeek, traveled approximately 67,000 miles to obtain the signatures of 20 Formula One world driving champions on a racing helmet he plans to auction in support of the two charities. Trips to London and Brazil in December, to get the signatures of Lewis Hamilton and Nelson Piquet completed the roster of living F1 champions. The helmet now features 20 names, including the 19 living champions plus Phil Hill, who died Aug. 28, 2008. Hill is the only American-born driver to win the F1 championship. Pearce met each driver face-to-face, with the exception of Sir Jack Brabham, who lives in Australia. FedEx delivered the helmet to Brabham and back to Pearce after it was signed. Despite the enormous expenses he accumulated, Pearce won’t take a dime of reimbursement for this labor of love.(NASCAR.com), more details and info on the upcoming auction on my Racing Charities page.(12-28-2008) Comment here
  • Cicconi wins final race at Rumble: Lou Cicconi Jr. couldn’t wait to celebrate. So he yanked the steering wheel, stomped the throttle and began a dizzying series of 360-degree spins — right there in the middle of the second turn, no more than two seconds after the checkered flag waved, with traffic bearing down on him. The 44-year-old East Coast standout reached a personal goal Saturday by beating NASCAR star Tony Stewart to win the 60-lap midget feature that capped the final night of the 11th annual “Rumble in Fort Wayne.” Forget champagne. Cicconi wanted donuts. “I was so excited,” the driver known as Liquid Lou said, still effervescent a half-hour later. “I’ve been thinking about this for a year — beating Tony Stewart.” Stewart, the winner here on Friday, finished nearly a third of a lap behind in a race that went green all the way after a caution on lap 12. Jon Stanbrough finished third, giving Rick Daugherty the Rumble Series car owner championship, with Mike Fedorcak and Dave Darland completing the top five on the 1/6-mile indoor track at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center. Stewart, whose resume includes two NASCAR titles and another in the Indy Racing League, had won six of the past nine races here and a record seven overall. Stewart, now owner of his NASCAR Sprint Cup team, confirmed that this was his only indoor racing appearance of the winter. He said he will attend the Chili Bowl Nationals next month in Tulsa, Okla., but won’t race due to other commitments.(Fort Wayne News Sentinel)(12-28-2008)
  • Sad News – “Pee Wee” Jones: Mr. Phillip “Pee Wee” Sylvester Jones, Jr., 80, passed away Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at his home. He was born March 31, 1928 in Davidson County to Mittie Cornish and Phillip Sylvester Jones. He was a member of First Christian Church of Clemmons and retired from Modern Chevrolet. Pee Wee was one of the original members of NASCAR beginning in 1949 until his retirement in 1972. He was a six-time ‘ Modified’ Champion at Bowman Gray Stadium where his record of five consecutive championships still stands. He also won multiple championships at other race tracks.
    He was preceded in death by his son, Steve Jones. Surviving are his wife, Shirley Jones of the home; two sons, Tim Jones and wife, Donna of Mooresville, Mike Jones and wife, Tammie of Clemmons; and two special grandchildren, Austin Jones and Vidalia Smallwood. The Jones Family will receive friends on Saturday, December 27, from 6-8 p.m. A Funeral Service will be held on Sunday, December 28 at 2 p.m. at the Hayworth-Miller Silas Creek Chapel with the Rev. Stacy Abernathy officiating. Burial will follow at First Christian Church Cemetery in Clemmons. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice by going to www.hospicecarecenter .org. Online condolences may be made at www.hayworth-miller.com.(12-28-2008)


    News from December 27, 2008

  • Penske-Jasper split? hearing that Penske Racing and Jasper Engines/Transmissions are going to dissolve their partnership in the engine building program. Supposedly Jasper will continue to build and supply transmissions to race teams.(12-27-2008) Comment here
  • M&M’s re-ups with the #18 & NASCAR: Mars North America announced that it will extend its contract as official NASCAR partner, giving tens of millions of NASCAR fans even more to cheer about at track and in store. The multi-year sponsorship commitment allows multiple Mars brands to connect with racing fans and includes four designations:
    · Official Chocolate of NASCAR (M&M’S Brand)
    · Official Chocolate Bar of NASCAR (Snickers Brand)
    · Official Cheese-Filled Snack of NASCAR (Combos Brand)
    · Official Pet Food of NASCAR (Pedigree Brand)
    The multi-year partnership aligns Mars with its existing contracts with Joe Gibbs Racing, continuing a relationship that began in 2008. For 2009, Mars will continue to develop programs that build relationships directly with NASCAR fans, including continuing two of its popular programs that let fans share their passion for NASCAR to the world. Brand highlights include:
    · Now in its second year, M&M’S “The Most Colorful Fan of NASCAR Contest” will launch at the Daytona 500 and run for 24 weeks.
    · For dog lovers, the Pedigree brand will launch a new contest, Pedigree Brand presents the Luckiest Dog of NASCAR, beginning in late April when the first of three cars sponsored by the Pedigree brand races at Talladega Superspeedway. · Mars’ Combos Brand will also leverage its NASCAR sponsorship with the new “Man Zone” on-pack promotion, visiting ten race tracks during the first half of the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season.
    · Snickers Brand will promote its sponsorship at retail stores nationwide.
    For more information about Mars’ relationship with NASCAR, visit www.mms.com/us/racing.(PR)(12-27-2008) Comment here
  • Stewart wins the Rumble: Tony Stewart made it three-in-a-row Friday, winning his third-consecutive 60-lap feature in the 11th annual “Rumble in Fort Wayne” indoor “Rumble Series” race in the Expo Center at Memorial Coliseum [Fort Wayne, IN]. See full stoty at the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.(12-27-2008)
  • NASCAR Night with the Charlotte Bobcats is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 23, 2009, at Time Warner Cable Arena.
    NASCAR Night will feature fan-friendly interactives, including:
    • Meet the stars of NASCAR;
    • Get your picture with the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series trophy;
    • Test drive the new EA NASCAR Kart Racing game, the first racing game for Wii;
    • Rub elbows with the new class of drivers in the Drive 4 Diversity Program;
    • Meet the NASCAR Heroes Comic Book Mascots;
    • Test your skills as a pit crew member with the Pit Stop Challenge;
    • Shop for Officially Licensed NASCAR items.
    Halftime ceremonies will include a public celebration of the 2008 Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson. Tickets are available in the lower bowl of the arena and range from $50 to 85 per ticket. Quantities are limited. To purchase tickets, click here and enter the code “charlotte” or call 704-688-8857.(12-27-2008)


    News from December 26, 2008

  • McCumbee unsure of 2009 plans: Reports, rumors and rumblings. That’s what the last six weeks has revolved around for Chad McCumbee. “I read on the Internet what everyone else does,” the West Brunswick (N.C.) High School graduate said. And with the start of the 2009 NASCAR season a little more than six weeks away, McCumbee still doesn’t know if he’ll be competing in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series. McCumbee was on course to drive the No. 44 Sprint Cup car for Petty Enterprises in 2009 before sponsorship issues arose. “We were all good to go and everybody was happy,” McCumbee said. “The economy affected sponsors obviously. It hurt everything.” So, McCumbee said he is keeping his options open, which means he could return to the Camping World Series (formerly the Craftsman Truck Series). He also said he has had “a few talks here and there” with teams in the Nationwide Series. McCumbee said he has the support of Petty Enterprises if he opts to drive a Nationwide Series car for another team. He ran a full-time schedule in the truck series last year and nine races on the Sprint Cup schedule in the #45 car.(Myrtle Beach Sun News)(12-26-2008) Comment here
  • Richard Petty releasing audio book: NASCAR’s King has spoken. Richard Petty is releasing an audiobook to coincide with the 25th anniversary of his record 200th career victory. Stock car racing “is a very popular sport, but every year that goes by, we leave a little bit of our past behind,” Petty said. He added that the audiobook “will help bring our colorful past into public consciousness. This is not just about Richard Petty or Petty Enterprises. This is about the history of a great sport.” The four-hour, four-disc series is titled “Richard Petty’s Audio Scrapbook.” On it, Petty is joined by longtime racing announcer Barney Hall, former crew chief Dale Inman and drivers Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Bobby Allison. His audiobook is scheduled for release in February during the week of the Daytona 500, a race he won seven times. Petty claimed victory #200 at one of the other major annual events at Daytona International Speedway, the Firecracker 400 in July 1984.(Associated Press / Charlotte Observer)(12-26-2008) Comment here


    News from December 24-25, 2008

  • Interesting trends in NASCAR: As Christmas looms, a lot of unknowns remain about the 2009 Sprint Cup season. There are so many gray areas these days, but this breakdown gives some interesting statistical information on cars, sponsors and drivers for 2009. It also adds some clarity about NASCAR today.
    Cars committed to running the full schedule — 37
    Fully funded cars — 29 of the 37
    Age Breakdown of drivers: Over 50 – 1 (Mark Martin); Under 30 — 14 (However, Clint Bowyer, Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards all turn 30 in 2009. Joey Logano is the only driver under 20. He won’t turn 19 until May.); In their 40s — 3 (We’re counting Labonte [44] in this one. He will have a ride somewhere in ’09. Jeff Burton [41] and Michael Waltrip [45] are the other two. Blaney [46] hopes he’ll be included.)
    Rookies — 2 (Logano and Scott Speed.)
    Southerners — 12
    West Coast — 11
    Midwest — 10
    Northeast — 2
    International — 2
    College graduates — 1 (Newman has an engineering degree from Purdue)
    Cup champions — 6 Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001), Labonte (2000), Stewart (2002 and 2005), Kenseth (2004), Kurt Busch (2005) and Johnson (2006, 2007 and 2008).
    Sons of Cup drivers – 1 (With Kyle Petty’s Cup career probably over, Earnhardt is the only one left.)
    These stats and more info available at the full article.(ESPN.com)(12-24-2008) Comment here
  • SPEED Sets January NASCAR Schedule: SPEED will open its 2009 NASCAR coverage with the first episode of NASCAR 39/10: Reviewing the 60th Season on Jan. 7. The series of 10 three-hour specials, loaded with race highlights and extensive pre- and post-race interviews, will premiere Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. ET and run for five weeks, leading into the network’s extensive NASCAR programming schedule from Daytona Speedweeks in February. In addition, SPEED also will kick off its annual NASCAR Preseason Thunder coverage on Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. ET, with 17 original 30-minute shows and a one-hour special from Daytona Fan Fest on Jan. 17. The popular Trackside Live with Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and Steve Byrnes will open the 2009 season with five consecutive shows from Daytona, airing Jan. 19-23 at 7 p.m. ET. Live NASCAR racing returns to the track with live coverage of qualifying for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. ET and live race coverage Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. ET. Mike Joy and Phil Parsons will be in the booth, with Dr. Dick Berggren and Jim Tretow reporting from the pits.(SPEEDtv PR)(12-24-2008) Comment here


    News from December 23, 2008

  • P.J. Jones to ARCA? In addition to the cast of ARCA RE/MAX Series regulars and a brand new crop of rookies, several well known racing personalities were seen in the ARCA garage during the [Daytona] test, including PJ Jones. Jones, a veteran of NASCAR and the IndyCar Series, is the son of open wheel racing legend and 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones. So just what was Jones doing in Daytona, testing the #37 Spraker Racing Chevy? “PJ and I go way back, and we’re trying to put a deal together for him to run here in ’09,” stated Jeff Spraker, the team owner. “It’s interesting. I’ve been out trying to put some sponsorship together for next year, and one of the companies I talked to was looking for a way to make a little more impact. When I mentioned the possibility of PJ, they said ‘Parnelli’s kid?’ I said yes, and we agreed to continue to talk.”(ARCARacing.comComment here
  • Cope plans to attempt Daytona 500: UPDATE: from Derrikecope.com: “A number of racing entities are struggling and being forced to alter their efforts for 2009. We are assessing where we are at and how we can continue to press on for next year. We at Cope/Keller Racing are gearing up for Daytona the best that we can. Our intent is to be at the Daytona 500 in February. We are actively searching for sponsorship to make that happen. We will continue to look towards the Truck and Nationwide series as well. The end of the year did not go the way we were hoping for, but we probably stretched ourselves a bit thin and the results were less than desirable. The one good thing is that our Sprint Cup efforts are pretty much on line for 2009. We have a bit of service work to do with regard to the trucks and Nationwide cars to ready ourselves. I have committed to an opportunity to drive for a Nationwide team next year, full schedule.”(Derrikecope.com)(12-12-2008)
    UPDATE: from DerrikeCope.com: “Gary Keller and I are preparing cars for the beginning of the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. We will enter a one car team at Daytona and are preparing ourselves for a limited schedule beyond that with the possibility of continuing on to California and Las Vegas as well.”(Derrikecope.com)(12-22-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR Promotes Three: NASCAR announced the promotion of Karen Leetzow, Paula Miller and Susan Schandel to vice president positions. Leetzow has been named vice president/deputy general counsel; Miller has been named vice president of human resources and organizational development; and Schandel has been named vice president/chief accounting officer. All three promotions are effective immediately.(NASCAR PR)(12-23-2008)


    News from December 22, 2008

  • Bill Davis Sells Team: UPDATE Triad Racing Technologies announced that the company will acquire Triad Racing Development, a major supplier of engines, chassis and bodies for NASCAR Camping World, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series teams. In addition to the acquisition of Triad Racing Development, the owners also purchased a majority interest in Bill Davis Racing. “This is an exciting time for us,” said Marty Gaunt, co-owner of TRT. “With the changing economic landscape, we see this as an opportunity to service existing Toyota teams and build the business by providing cost effective engine support and chassis production to all racing teams regardless of manufacturer association.” Gaunt along with business partner, Michael Held, entered into the agreement to purchase Triad this week. With more than 40 years combined motorsports experience, Gaunt and Held will provide management of the company effective immediately. Gaunt and Held both return to the ownership role, having spent time as NASCAR team owners. A California businessman, Held also owns Co-Pilott, LLC, a marketing company that services a number of clients in the motorsports arena. An announcement regarding the Bill Davis Racing Sprint Cup and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series operations, as well as detailed team plans for the 2009 race season, will be made in the coming weeks.(Triad/Co-Pilott PR)(12-22-2008)
    UPDATE: New Bill Davis Racing majority owners Marty Gaunt and Mike Held say they hope to have the #22 Sprint Cup car on the track in 2009 but likely won’t be able to announce firm plans for another few weeks. Gaunt [said] that Mark Chambers will remain as general manager with other leadership positions at BDR to be determined in the next few weeks. Bill Davis will be available as a consultant, Gaunt indicated.(Scene Daily)(12-22-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR looking to fill four sponsor categories: NASCAR will go into 2009 with openings in at least four categories – rental car, quick-service restaurant, home improvement store and digital photography – while five other sponsors renewed their official status deals. The biggest defection comes from Home Depot, which has spent the last 10 years as NASCAR’s official home improvement warehouse. It is one of four official partners that decided not to renew its league deal amid budget constraints. Enterprise, Domino’s Pizza and Kodak also elected to let their official status deals expire. These agreements, which normally range from three to five years in length, typically go for the low seven figures annually. Jim O’Connell, NASCAR’s vice president of corporate marketing, characterized the departures as “companies that are leaving the sport entirely. They all had bad years, earnings-wise, and they’re looking at tighter budgets.” Domino’s and Kodak also vacated team deals in the past year – Domino’s at Michael Waltrip Racing and Kodak at Penske Racing. Among the sponsors that renewed with multiyear deals are Mars, Office Depot, Tylenol, Unilever and Craftsman. The overall reduction going into 2009 leaves NASCAR with 38 official partners, including the four auto manufacturers, about 10 fewer than three years ago. Another pair of sponsors remain in limbo as 2008 comes to a close. DuPont is in negotiations to extend its contract with the sanctioning body, as is Sony.(Sports Business Journal)(12-22-2008)
    AND: Mars North America announced that it will extend its contract as official NASCAR partner. The multi-year sponsorship commitment allows multiple Mars brands to connect with racing fans and includes four designations: Official Chocolate of NASCAR (M&M’S); Official Chocolate Bar of NASCAR (Snickers); Official Cheese-Filled Snack of NASCAR (Combos); and Official Pet Food of NASCAR (Pedigree).(Mars PR)(12-22-2008) Comment here
  • Firestone testing stock car tires: Is there a tire war in NASCAR’s future? Despite efforts to remain low key, Firestone was discovered testing stock car tires at Homestead-Miami Speedway this past week. A Chip Ganassi Racing ARCA stock car driven by Scott Pruett tested on the road course. But an executive with Firestone said the test was nothing more than that, a test. “It was not a Firestone test and it was not a NASCAR test, it was a technical exercise to try and develop current stock car technology,” Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone/Bridgestone motorsports told SpeedTV.com’s Robin Miller. “It was a brandless program. There was no name on the tires or the uniforms or even the tire machines. And the car was painted gray,” he added. “We were just trying to be as low key as possible.” Goodyear is the current sole supplier of tires to NASCAR and has been since 2000. But competitors criticized them several times during the 2008 season especially after the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was reduced to 10-12 laps segments due to tire failures. The current contract for Goodyear runs through 2011. “NASCAR did not come to us and ask us to test,” said Speyer. “But we’re currently talking to a lot of sanctioning bodies, ARCA, USAR and NASCAR and, yes, we’re interested in developing a stock car tire. “But we don’t have a specific timetable or contract with anybody,” he added.(NASCAR Examiner)(12-22-2008) Comment here
  • Interstate Batteries returns for 2009: #18-Kyle Busch and Interstate Batteries are back for another season in the Sprint Cup Series. Busch is scheduled to run the scheme six times in 2009, including California, Texas and Daytona [doesn’t say which races]. See an image on my #18 Team Schemes page.(12-22-2008) Comment here

  • News from December 21, 2008

  • Ambrose voted Australian Driver of the Year: Marcos Ambrose has been voted as the Australian Driver of the Year by Australian motor racing magazine Auto Action for the second-consecutive year. Ambrose, who is currently at home with his family in his hometown of Launceston, Tasmania, won the award by receiving 41 percent of the vote, which was decided by readers of Auto Action as part of the magazine’s annual ‘Racer of the Year Awards’ issue.(Marcos Ambrose PR)(12-21-2008)

  • Newman Foundation raises over $155,000: #39-Ryan Newman raised $155,000 for conservation and animal welfare efforts at the Ryan Newman Foundation’s Fourth Annual Charity Gala and Auction on December 12 and the Third Annual Charity Fishing Tournament on December 13 in Mooresville, NC. The gala, which was presented by Alltel Wireless, featured a concert by country music singers/songwriters Bridgette Tatum and Danny Myrick. Three hundred and nineteen fishermen competed for the grand prize which was Ryan Newman’s Z-20 Ranger Boat. Alfred Kiesling of Mooresville, NC and Cliff Kirby of Catawba, NC won the tournament and took home the grand prize package, valued at $45,000. 90% of the proceeds raised will be used to fulfill the mission of the Ryan Newman Foundation Endowment—to educate and encourage people to spay/neuter their pets and to adopt dogs and cats from animal shelters; to educate children and adults about the importance of conservation so the beauty of the great outdoors can be appreciated by future generations; and to provide college scholarship funding through the Rich Vogler Scholarship program to students interested in auto racing careers. Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated directly to the Humane Society of Iredell and the Humane Society of Catawba County, both located in NC.(RNF PR)(12-21-2008)


    News from December 20, 2008

  • Labonte done deal at Earnhardt Ganassi? UPDATE hold up?: Bobby Labonte has talked to Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing about their #41 opening, but said Tuesday a deal with the Sprint Cup team isn’t imminent. “There are a lot of things that have to develop to make it happen,” Labonte said in his first comments since leaving Petty Enterprises on Dec. 11. “Talks are happening, but that’s not happened yet,” Labonte said in a telephone interview. “I feel like they’ve got a great program, it’s just a matter of they have to put their deal together before I come into the picture.”(USA Today)
    BUT: Bobby Labonte will drive the #41 Target Chevrolet for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in 2009, joining Martin Truex, Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola as part of a newly merged, four-car team. Labonte has not commented since announcing his split from Petty Enterprises last week, and the new Earnhardt-Ganassi operation remains in a virtual media lockdown. However, multiple sources close to the situation tell Sirius Speedway that a deal to put Labonte in the #41 is signed, sealed and delivered, after receiving the approval of sponsor Target. Work has already begun on the necessary promotional infrastructure — photo shoots, marketing campaigns, ancillary programs, etc. — for the coming season.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-17-2008)
    UPDATE: been told Labonte has talked to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing about the #41 ride, but is not close to signing and is still entertaining other offers and rides.(12-18-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Sirius Speedway reported earlier this week that veteran Bobby Labonte will drive the #41 next season, and he remains the leading candidate for the ride. However, a sponsor Labonte hopes to bring to the team has not yet come through, putting the partnership – at least temporarily — on hold.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-12-2008) Comment here

  • Ginn Racing leased engines from Hendrick in 2007 at $12.8M base: If you’re looking to lease engines from Hendrick Motorsports for a NASCAR operation, you’d better be prepared to open up your wallet. A legal battle being played out in North Carolina courts is offering rare insight into the usually secretive world of the sport’s finances as the Hendrick operation seeks compensation from the Ginn Racing team that wound up as part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007. According to a contract filed as part of the case, the Hendrick engine lease agreement with Ginn Racing called for Ginn to pay a base rent of $12.8 million in 2007 and $13.7 million in 2008 to lease engines for its three Sprint Cup teams and one team in what is now the Nationwide Series. The fee covered Cup engines for 36 race events and up to nine tests or special events and Nationwide engines for 35 events, according to the contract filed as part of a lawsuit by HMS Holdings against Ginn Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. over the termination fees resulting from the Ginn-DEI merger in July 2007.(Scene Daily)(12-20-2008) Comment here

  • Johnson running Rolex 24 again: It would make sense if Jimmie Johnson spent his Thursday before Christmas gearing up for the holidays at his North Carolina home. Instead, Johnson waited for fog to clear in North Carolina and Texas before flying to Fort Worth for a planned practice session at the Motorsport Ranch in Cresson. Johnson, NASCAR’s three-time Sprint Cup champion, was trying to prepare for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. For the second consecutive year, Johnson will take a break from the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to join Lewisville-based GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing in the team’s bid to win the 24-hour race.(Fort Worth Star-Telegram)(12-20-2008) Comment here


    News from December 19, 2008

  • Texas World Speedway sits silently during testing ban: With the news that NASCAR has banned testing at its sanctioned tracks for its three national series in 2009, a few people wondered if that might mean increased curiosity in Texas World Speedway, which last hosted a Cup event in 1981. But if Sprint Cup teams have shown increased interest in testing at the 2-mile oval that is a carbon copy of Michigan International Speedway, they haven’t made that known to track president Bill Mather, who hadn’t even considered the idea of NASCAR teams visiting College Station until he read a recent magazine article about the testing ban. “I have been focusing on the testing business but the Autoweek story was the first time I ever thought about NASCAR,” Mather said. “NASCAR’s a different world to me. I’ve never met anybody affiliated with NASCAR. I’d like to. But I’ve been focused in on the road racing world. None of [the Sprint Cup teams] have set foot on the track, I can tell you that much.”
    Built in 1969 and repaved in 1993, Texas World Speedway mainly hosts regional sports-car events, testing for Star Mazda and American Le Mans Series teams and driver education courses. However, a portion of the superspeedway — particularly 22-degree banked Turns 3 and 4 — were unsuitable for high-speed testing because of bumpiness. But Mather said a recent 35-foot wide, 2,200-foot long grinding of the track surface in those areas has hopefully corrected those flaws. “Our oval will be hopefully test ready [by the first of the year],” Mather said. “We’ve just finished grinding [Turns] 3 and 4, which allows us to run our Grand Prix course, also. Turns 1 and 2 are in pretty good shape. The problem is that our Grand Prix course runs Turns 3 and 4. When the grinding company came in, they said to us, ‘This is really good asphalt. It’s amazing how good this asphalt is for its age.’ And that made me happy, because I can’t justify the cost of repaving it.” Mather said some spot grinding was also done to Turns 1 and 2. This week, a process known as asphalt rejuvenation will be applied to the banking, a section of the road course and the paddock area.
    NASCAR ran eight races at Texas World Speedway between 1969 and 1981. Three of Richard Petty’s 200 career victories came on the 2-mile oval situated approximately 100 miles northwest of Houston. In 1980, Cale Yarborough won a 400-mile race that featured no caution flags. Also, Mario Andretti set the world closed-course speed record at 214.158 mph while qualifying for an IndyCar event in 1973, a record that stood for 12 years.(NASCAR.com)(12-19-2008) Comment here
  • SPEED signs Dave Despain thru 2010: SPEED signed veteran motor sports broadcaster Dave Despain to a new two-year deal, keeping the popular host of the Sunday night program Wind Tunnel on the team through 2010. Closing in on 450 episodes of his popular fan-participation show Wind Tunnel, Despain has interviewed everyone who is anyone in the world of racing. Three-time NASCAR champ Darrell Waltrip has made the most guest appearances (9), followed by Jeff Gordon (7), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (7), Funny Car king John Force (6) and open-wheel veteran Paul Tracy (6). Longtime motor sports writer Robin Miller has enjoyed the most co-hosting appearances at 13. “I love the fact that the voices on Wind Tunnel cover the entire racing spectrum; from the fans in the stands, to the folks watching on TV, to the big time stars putting on the show to the movers and shakers who make it all happen,” Despain said. “We stick our noses into every nook and cranny of racing and always seem to find something interesting.” Wind Tunnel opens its 2009 season Feb. 15 at 9pm/et.(SPEEDtv PR)(12-19-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fests Scheduled For Jan. 16-17: Race fans will receive a sneak peek of DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 as well as the new NASCAR racing season on Friday, Jan. 16 and Saturday, Jan. 17 with the annual NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fests at historic Daytona International Speedway. Fans can get their “racing fix” prior to DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 and the 51st annual Daytona 500 with numerous activities with their favorite drivers from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series in the Sprint FANZONE located in the heart of “The World Center of Racing.”
    Among the activities planned for both days include:
    * Interactive fan forums
    * Autograph sessions
    * Show cars, displays, music
    * Online auction
    * Blood drive
    In addition, Richard Petty Driving Experience will be on track with ride and driving packages available. The ride-only packages can be purchased on-site while the driving packages must be purchased in advance at 1-800-BE-PETTY. Tickets, which go on sale Saturday, Dec. 20 at 9 a.m., are $15 with autograph session availability limited to only 100 people per driver in advance. To purchase tickets and request access to the special autograph sessions, call 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS PR) More deatils and driver dates/times on my Driver Appearances page.(12-19-2008)


    News from December 18, 2008

  • NASCAR settles lawsuit with Grant: At a mediation held in New York on December 3, 2008, Ms. Mauricia Grant settled her discrimination lawsuit with her former employer, NASCAR. Ms. Grant was represented by her attorneys Morelli Ratner PC. NASCAR was represented by Jackson Lewis. Neither NASCAR nor Ms. Grant admits liability or wrongdoing by way of the settlement. “We’re glad to have the case settled on mutually acceptable terms,” said NASCAR Managing Director of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston. “NASCAR remains dedicated to maintaining a professional work environment for all employees at all times and we wish Ms. Grant well in her future endeavors.” The specific terms of the settlement agreement remain confidential and both sides agreed not to publicly discuss the details of the case or the terms of the agreement going forward.(NASCAR PR)(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR to begin tougher drug testing in January: NASCAR will test drivers for performance-enhancing drugs next month under a tougher policy that also bans using illegal drugs and abusing prescription medications. NASCAR likely will test drivers the third week of January, and crew members must submit results from an approved lab by Jan. 16, according to documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press. A NASCAR memo sent to teams lists specific banned substances for which crew members must be screened. No similar guidelines were issued for drivers, as NASCAR reserves the right to test competitors for anything. Under the old policy, NASCAR had the right to randomly test based on suspicion of abuse. Under the tougher guidelines first announced in September, everyone will be tested before the season begins, and random testing will continue throughout the year. NASCAR expects to randomly test 12 to 14 individuals per series each weekend in 2009. The memo, dated Dec. 8, is the first time the new policy has been laid out in writing and specifies who falls under the guidelines. Those who must be tested before Jan. 16 include: pit crew members, including “over-the-wall” crew members, the crew chief, car chief, team members responsible for tires, fuel and pit crew operation, spotters and race-day support personnel that includes engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists.
    Among the substances those participants must be tested for are:
    – Seven different amphetamines, including methamphetamine and PMA, a synthetic psychostimulant and hallucinogen.
    – Three drugs classified under ephedrine.
    – 13 different narcotics, including codeine and morphine.
    – Ten different benzodiazepines and barbituates.
    – Marijuana, cocaine, zolpidem, nitrites, chromates and drugs that can increase specific gravity.
    No such list exists for the drivers, but spokesman Ramsey Poston confirmed NASCAR will test for performance-enhancing drugs. The driver testing, which will be administered by NASCAR, had been scheduled for preseason testing at Daytona next month. But because testing has been suspended for 2009, NASCAR likely will screen drivers when most are in Charlotte next month for the annual media tour of race shops.(Associated Press)(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • Labonte done deal at Earnhardt Ganassi? UPDATE No not done: Bobby Labonte has talked to Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing about their #41 opening, but said Tuesday a deal with the Sprint Cup team isn’t imminent. “There are a lot of things that have to develop to make it happen,” Labonte said in his first comments since leaving Petty Enterprises on Dec. 11. “Talks are happening, but that’s not happened yet,” Labonte said in a telephone interview. “I feel like they’ve got a great program, it’s just a matter of they have to put their deal together before I come into the picture.”(USA Today)
    BUT: Bobby Labonte will drive the #41 Target Chevrolet for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in 2009, joining Martin Truex, Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola as part of a newly merged, four-car team. Labonte has not commented since announcing his split from Petty Enterprises last week, and the new Earnhardt-Ganassi operation remains in a virtual media lockdown. However, multiple sources close to the situation tell Sirius Speedway that a deal to put Labonte in the #41 is signed, sealed and delivered, after receiving the approval of sponsor Target. Work has already begun on the necessary promotional infrastructure — photo shoots, marketing campaigns, ancillary programs, etc. — for the coming season.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-17-2008)
    UPDATE: been told Labonte has talked to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing about the #41 ride, but is not close to signing and is still entertaining other offers and rides.(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • Dodge sticking with NASCAR UPDATE: The news Wednesday from Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., was grim — the company will close all 30 of its manufacturing plants for a month beginning Friday because of sagging sales — but indications are the company’s involvement in NASCAR will not change. An individual with knowledge of the situation said the closings will not alter Dodge’s involvement in NASCAR. Dodge has contracts with Gillett Evernham, Penske Racing and Petty Enterprises. All will be honored next season. “Dodge will be back next year,” the official said. Chrysler said in a release Wednesday that tighter credit markets are keeping potential buyers from the showrooms. With a slowing demand, the company said it must match production and save cash. “Chrysler dealers confirmed to the company at a recent meeting at its headquarters that they have many willing buyers for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles but are unable to close the deal, due to lack of financing,” the company said in a statement. “The dealers have stated that they have lost an estimated 20 to 25 percent of their volume because of this credit situation.” Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. announced late Wednesday afternoon that it will shut down 10 of its North American assembly plants for an extra week in January because of the slumping market in this country. The annual two-week holiday shutdown will now be extended through Jan. 12.(ESPN)(12-18-2008)
    UPDATE: Chrysler plans to slash its overall NASCAR budget by more than 30% in 2009, Dodge Motorsports director Mike Accavitti told ESPN.com on Thursday. That reduction is due in part to the team-merger between Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing, which removes Ganassi’s former three-team Sprint Cup operation from the Dodge fold. (Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing will run Chevrolets.) But Dodge will also cut back on at-track car displays, track sponsorships and promotions. It will, though, continue to support Penske Racing, Gillet Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises as planned, Accavitti said. “We’ll definitely be on the track in 2009,” Accavitti said in a phone interview. Chrysler announced Wednesday it would, starting Friday, shut down all 30 US-based manufacturing plants for a month. Accavitti said that will have no bearing on any NASCAR relationship. Accavitti said Dodge evaluates return-on-investment annually “on every dime spent on NASCAR” to determine whether NASCAR should remain part of its advertising plan. Some wonder how cash-strapped automakers can choose to spend on auto racing when the market is so poor. To date, Accavitti said NASCAR has helped move product. And, he continued, there is but one way out of the current abyss: sell more cars.(in part from ESPN.com)(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • Testing at the Rock: GEM tested Tuesday and Wednesday at Rockingham Speedway with #9-Kasey Kahne and on Wednesday, Stewart-Haas Racing was at the track with #39-Ryan Newman testing. Bill Elliott was behind the wheel Wednesday of his own ARCA car early in the test session to get a base line set up and then assumed the role of driver coach for Casey Roderick the 16 year old phenomenon who was getting his first laps on a superspeedway. Roderick is hoping to come back next spring and race in the Carolina 200 ARCA Series race on April 19th, 2009 as well as the season ending ARCA race on October 11th, 2009. The first race of the 2009 season for the Rockingham Speedway is the Polar Bear 150 on New Year’s Day. For more information visit www.rockinghamspeedway.com.(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • Earnhardt laps field in consumer index: #99-Carl Edwards and #48-Jimmie Johnson made gains, but #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained the runaway leader in the Davie Brown Index, which quantifies an athlete’s relevance to consumer behavior. In polling of avid NASCAR fans conducted after the 2008 season by the Charlotte-based Millsport sports marketing agency, Earnhardt ranked first in awareness and nine “attribute” categories: appeal, notice, trend-setter, influence, trust, endorsement, aspiration, exposure and passion. The DBI also is used to quantify Hollywood celebrities, and Millsport vice president Ken Cohn says Earnhardt is creating a separation from other drivers unlike any celebrity the agency has seen. “Avid fans are at least 20% more passionate about Junior,” Cohn says. Rounding out the top five in overall scores were #8-Mark Martin, #20-Tony Stewart, #31-Jeff Burton and Johnson, who advanced two spots from a NASCAR DBI survey in the spring that also was led by Earnhardt. Edwards, who finished second in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series, jumped 14 spots to sixth overall, ahead of #24-Jeff Gordon, #43-Bobby Labonte, #9-Kasey Kahne and #45-Kyle Petty.(USA Today)(12-18-2008)
  • Reutimann Presents Donations to Charities and Local Schools: David Reutimann, driver of the #00 Aarons Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series and the #99 Aarons Dream Machine in the Nationwide Series for Michael Waltrip Racing, hosted his Fourth Annual Charity Golf Tournament, Cook Out and Auction at Silverado Golf and Country Club the weekend after Thanksgiving in Zephyrhills, FL. The festivities consisted of a cook out and sports memorabilia auction, followed by a golf tournament. In total the festivities raised around $78,000 for local Florida based charities. This past Friday David Reutimann received the opportunity to present to his affiliated charities, including All Children’s Hospital of Florida, Camp Boggy Creek, Zephyrhills Pregnancy Center and Kid’s Go to Camp. In addition, David donated $3,000 to six local Pasco county schools. “I’m blessed to be able to give back to so many. It’s rewarding to give back to my community and schools that I myself attended,” said David Reutimann.(PR)(12-18-2008)
  • Munter to test for Hylton: EM Motorsports and Hylton Motorsports announced that Leilani Münter has been hired to test the team’s 2005 Ford Taurus during this weekend’s ARCA Series open test at Daytona International Speedway. James Hylton, 1966 NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year, will be Leilani’s mentor and coach throughout the weekend. Hylton is scheduled to attempt to make the Sprint Cup Daytona 500 race for EM Motorsports.(PR)(12-18-2008)
  • Comparing NASCAR’s Three-Peats: When Jimmie Johnson won the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he joined Cale Yarborough as one of only two drivers to win three straight championships at NASCAR’s highest level. A comparison of the two feats shows a few similarities along with numerous differences.
    The Similarities
    * Adaptation to Change. Both drivers won their championships shortly after major changes to the sport. Yarborough won his after two different changes – the reduction of the number of races in 1972 and the implementation of the current point system in 1975. Johnson won his after the introduction of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2004 and during a period that saw the introduction of a new NASCAR Sprint Cup car (2007-08).
    * Foreshadowing Success. Both drivers came up just short prior to their breakthrough. Yarborough finished second in the point standings in 1973 and 1974 before his first championship in 1976. Johnson finished second in 2003 and 2004 before his first title in 2006.
    The Differences
    * Varied Competition. Statistically, Johnson’s championships have come during a much more competitive era. Over the last three seasons, there have been more races, larger fields and more race and pole winners than during Yarborough’s championship era.
    Though Johnson’s championships have come in seasons that had only six more races each, there were almost twice as many unique race winners (20) during his stretch as there were during Yarborough’s (11). Additionally, there were twice as many unique pole winners (30) during Johnson’s three-year run than there were during Yarborough’s (15).

    Yarborough Races Pole Win Top5 Top10 DNF
    1976 30 2 9 22 23 5
    1977 30 3 9 25 27 0
    1978 30 8 10 23 24 2
    Johnson Races Pole Win Top5 Top10 DNF
    2006 36 1 5 24 24 3
    2007 36 4 10 24 24 4
    2008 36 6 7 22 22 1

    * Tighter Races. Johnson’s era features some of the most competitive racing in the history of NASCAR’s premier series. While the number of lead changes per race remains relatively the same, the number of leaders during Johnson’s reign is more than twice that of Yarborough’s. Johnson’s era also shows increases in cars running at the finish and finishing on the lead lap. The number of cars finishing the race has increased by almost 75%. The average number of cars on the lead lap has increased 10-fold. Additionally, every race during Yarborough’s championship years had fewer than 10 cars finish on the lead lap, and 17 of the 90 races had just the race winner on the lead lap. In Johnson’s years there were just four races with less than 10 cars on the lead lap and not a single race saw the leader on a lap by himself.

    Year Leaders Leaders Per Race Lead Changes Cars on Lead Lao Cars Running at Finish Lapped Field
    1976 24 6 20.6 2.23 21.07 9
    1977 23 6 20.2 2.03 21.3 2
    1978 26 6 21.23 2.47 21.9 6
    2006 48 10 21.78 21.42 36.75 0
    2007 51 10 20.03 20.72 36.92 0
    2008 50 11 21.06 20.75 38.56 0

    * Individual Statistics. Yarborough did have slightly more impressive numbers with regard to individual performance, but that is likely due to the higher level of competition during Johnson’s championships. Both had 10-win seasons but Yarborough had more poles, wins, top fives and top 10s as well as one fewer DNF.(NASCAR PR)

    Year Races Ave Cars in Field Pole Winners Race Winners
    1976 30 35.27 11 8
    1977 30 35.4 9 7
    1978 30 35.47 9 7
    2006 36 43 15 13
    2007 36 43 18 16
    2008 36 43 15 12

    (NASCAR PR)(12-18-2008) Comment here


    News from December 17, 2008

  • Mansfield cancels 2009 Truck race: from the Mansfield Motorsports Park site: Due to the economic times that we are all facing, Mansfield Motorsports Park will not be hosting the 2009 NASCAR Truck Race. We will begin processing refunds immediately. Please accept our apologies and please be patient while we are going through the refund process. We apologize for any inconvenience.(12-17-2008)
  • Kahne to visit school: During the week before Christmas, while most NASCAR drivers will be enjoying their off-season plans, Kasey Kahne will be reminding teens about the importance of safe driving during the hectic holiday season. As part of the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop program, Kahne will be visiting the junior-class students of East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, N.C., on Thursday, Dec. 18 to remind them that the holiday season is a dangerous time for teen drivers. During the past eight holiday seasons, from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day, there have been over 5,000 teens involved in fatal crashes throughout the United States. In the state of North Carolina alone there have been 172 teens involved in fatal crashes during the same time span. The driver of the #9 Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series will be joined at the event by SPEED TV’s John Roberts. The two will show students a video of NASCAR crashes, participate in a Q&A session and test the students’ driving/racing knowledge during a trivia game. Kahne and Roberts will also highlight how Allstate can help identify the risks that teens take when they get behind the wheel through its Parent-Teen Driving Contract and local Allstate agents. In its final stop of 2008, the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop is a national partnership between Allstate and Gillett Evernham Motorsports to visit schools across the country and promote teen safe driving to teens and their parents. In addition to Kahne’s participation, GEM driver Elliott Sadler and team owner Ray Evernham have also headlined the events throughout the season.(Taylor PR)(12-17-2008)
  • Petty-GEM Deal Off? UPDATE denied: Sirius Speedway has learned that the much-discussed merger between Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises has run aground. Anonymous sources say that GEM laid off approximately 50 employees today, and that its Nationwide Series team will either be eliminated or cut back dramatically. In addition, multiple sources say that GEM’s #10 Sprint Cup team and driver Reed Sorenson will also run only a partial schedule. While not commenting on the reported demise of the Petty deal, Gillett Evernham Motorsports CEO Tom Reddin confirmed today that major changes are underway. “We are a Sprint Cup team first and foremost, and winning in that series needs to be our primary focus,” he said. “The Nationwide Series is a fantastic series and we certainly look forward to racing a partial schedule in 2009, but we will not run the full season next year. We will remained focused on putting all of our effort behind the Cup program in 2009. GEM is very fortunate to have nearly all of our Cup sponsors returning in 2009 in addition to the new arrival of others.” Reddin said that GEM will also restructure its engine department for 2009, to align with a reduced number of engine leasing customers next season.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)
    AND Over the last week, Gillett Evernham Motorsports released 65 employees between its Nationwide Series team and engine shop. Due to a downturn in the economy and the inability to secure sponsorship, GEM was forced to cease operation of its NNS team on Tuesday. GEM is still in open discussions with Petty Enterprises regarding a possible merger. However, the option of Petty Enterprises not leasing engines in the future led to the company’s decision to downsize its engine department by nearly half. The organization will continue to employ nearly 300 workers at its Statesville, N.C. facility and field three teams in the Sprint Cup Series with drivers Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson, who will join the team from Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009.(FoxSports)(12-16-2008)
    UPDATE: been told by GEM that the #10 car will run the full Sprint Cup season and that the GEM-Petty merger talks are going well and the deal is NOT off.(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • Robby Gordon to Toyota? UPDATE 2: hearing Robby Gordon Motorsports will switch from Dodge to Toyota. No word if they will be aligned with another Toyota team.(12-11-2008)
    UPDATE: Robby Gordon Motorsports announced that they will partner with Toyota beginning in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season for the #7, which is guaranteed a spot in the season opener Daytona 500. “We are excited to be partnering with Toyota in NASCAR in 2009. After watching their progress last season, we decided that a switch to Toyota was the right package for our team,” commented Robby Gordon, owner of Robby Gordon Motorsports. “We are confident that fielding a Toyota Camry will add to the success of our organization and the competitiveness of our performance on the race track.”
    “I’ve known Robby as a driver, team owner and fierce competitor since 1990,” said Lee White, President of TRD, U.S.A. “We’ve raced together in Off-Road, IMSA, SCCA and Indy Car and have shared many memorable challenges and victories. It will be exciting to see how the association between Robby, his team, Toyota and TRD will develop in 2009. I promise you that it will not be boring to watch.” Toyota’s first involvement with Robby Gordon dates back to 1989 when he became the youngest grand national sport truck driver to win a championship in a TRD-powered Toyota truck.(RGM PR)(12-16-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Les Ungar, Toyota’s National Motorsports Manager told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway Tuesday that Robby Gordon will be welcomed into the Toyota camp, and will receive the same technical support and information as the manufacturer’s other teams. “Robby will be reimbursing us for the engines he receives, and he will receive technical support from Toyota Racing Development the same as everyone else,” he said.” “Like any manufacturer, we are obligated by NASCAR to step up and make the parts and pieces available as part of our agreement to be active in this sport.”(Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway)(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • New Crew Chief for Kenseth? UPDATE: Nationwide Series pit boss Drew Blickensderfer has been promoted to head the team. Chip Bolin, who held the position last year, will go back to work as an engineer at Roush Fenway Racing. Although Blickensderfer started 2008 as crew chief for Roush’s #17 Nationwide Series team, he swapped places with Pierre Kuettel and joined Carl Edwards’ #60 team. The pair went on to win seven of the final 19 races.(FoxSports)(12-16-2008)
    UPDATE: Roush Fenway Racing has named Drew Blickensderfer crew chief for Matt Kenseth’s #17 DEWALT Sprint Cup team for the upcoming 2009 season. “We are really looking forward to Drew coming on board with the #17 DEWALT team,” said Kenseth. “Drew brings a great work ethic and high level of enthusiasm to our team. He has been waiting for the opportunity to become a crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series and I know he’ll make the most of it. I had the chance to work with Drew for a couple of years in the Nationwide Series and he is one of the hardest working guys in the garage. He has a passion for the sport, and I know he will be a great addition to our #17 team.” Blickensderfer served the past three seasons as a crew chief in Roush Fenway’s highly successful Nationwide Series program. He helped guide Danny O’Quinn to a Raybestos Rookie title in 2006, before teaming with Kenseth in the Nationwide Series for the next year and a half. The duo earned three victories in the series, before Blickensderfer moved over to Carl Edwards’ No. 60 team midway through the 2008 season. There, he helped guide the Edwards’ team to seven wins in their last 19 races and a second-place finish in the Nationwide Series point standings. With the addition of Blickensderfer, Chip Bolin – who served as the crew chief on the #17 Sprint Cup team in 2008 – will return to his previous post as team engineer, where he was instrumental in helping guide the team to a Cup championship in 2003. “Chip has been one of the biggest assets to this team since the beginning,” said Kenseth. “Both as an engineer and crew chief, he has been instrumental in our championship run in 2003 and our making the Chase every year since. We are looking forward to adding Drew to the mix and everyone on this #17 DEWALT team is committed to working together and to running up front next season.”(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • EGR will run Chevy’s; all move to Ganassi’s shop UPDATE: Director of Dodge Motorsports Mike Accavitti told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway Tuesday that Chip Ganassi Racing will race Chevrolets as part of its recent merger with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Accavitti’s announcement was the first public admission of an anticipated manufacturer change by the Ganassi team. (Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway)
    AND The new Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team will run Chevrolets and work out of the Chip Ganassi Racing shop, a team spokesman confirmed. The team still has not named a driver nor a crew chief for the #41 car nor has it named a crew chief for the #8 car driven by Aric Almirola. It also still needs sponsorship for Almirola and a half-season sponsorship for #42-Juan Pablo Montoya. The new organization resulted from a merger of Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing, which was announced in mid-November. Neither the shop location nor the engine package is a surprise. The Ganassi team has been a Dodge organization since 2001, the first full season after Chip Ganassi bought a majority interest in Sabco Racing from Felix Sabates. Dodge had a contract with Ganassi at least through 2009, but Dodge officials had indicated that they would let Ganassi out of its commitment if it was in the best interest of the team.(SceneDaily)(12-16-2008)
    UPDATE: The newly merged Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Team is keeping busy early in the offseason with the relocation of two of its cars to another shop. The cars for Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola’s teams will be moving from the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. West shop to the Ganassi Racing shop in Concord, NC. “We’ve moved our equipment and we’re going to run out of Ganassi’s shop in Concord,” Truex Jr. said. “Things are moving along. We’ll just have to wait and see, but so far things have been going pretty well.” The move will combine the DEI teams with Ganassi’s #41 team and #42 team, of Juan Pablo Montoya, in the state-of-the-art 183,000 square-foot facility, which opened its doors in 2003. “Bono (Kevin Manion, Truex Jr’s crew chief) and Juan Pablo’s crew chief Brian Pattie are good friends, they’ve been for a long time and they’re really excited to work together,” Truex Jr. said. “I’m excited about that. So far everything seems to be going pretty smooth.” Sponsorship still needs to be set for some of the cars, including Montoya’s, which only has 19 races set with the Wrigley Chewing Gum company. As for Almirola, the search for sponsorship is still on after the U.S. Army departed the team to head to Stewart-Hass Racing in 2009. “We’ve got several sponsors that we’ve been talking to and we’ve been giving tours of the shop and wining and dining them,” Almirola said. “We’ve got several people interested so that’s good news, but, just nothing set in stone right yet.” The Ganassi cars will make the switch from Dodges to Chevrolets, which is the same manufacturer DEI has fielded since its existence. The team will still utilize engines from Earnhardt-Childress Technologies. “We’re continuing to get our motors from the Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies, which has been really, really awesome,” Almirola said. “Our motors last year were really, really good every weekend. It’s not very often you get a race car driver not complain that he wants more motor. We did not struggle for motor at all this past year.”(RacingOne)(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • #29 team expects to test at least 10 times in 2009: Todd Berrier, crew chief for Richard Childress Racing’s #29-Kevin Harvick, expects that his team will test at least 10 times next year despite NASCAR’s ban on testing at all tracks that host its Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Truck, East and West series. Berrier expects his team will look at options such as the Virginia International Raceway and Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.) road courses, along with Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina and the half-mile Sandusky Speedway in Ohio. None of the facilities is covered by the ban. “The places you can test, you’re going to test,” Berrier said in a phone interview Monday. Berrier expects the #29 team to test several times throughout the season at non-NASCAR venues and possibly before the season begins, weather permitting.(SceneDaily)(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • UTI Foundation Awards the First Brienne Davis Memorial Scholarship: The Universal Technical Institute (UTI) Foundation today selected Kenna Primm of Greenwood, Ark. as the first Brienne Davis Memorial Scholarship recipient. Named in honor of the UTI graduate and NASCAR Sprint Cup official who died tragically in April of this year, the $10,000 scholarship will fund a portion of Primm’s technical education at UTI’s NASCAR Technical Institute, NASCAR Tech in Mooresville, N.C. This month, Primm will graduate from the University of Arkansas with a degree in marketing and begin a 10-week internship at Daytona International Speedway in January. She will start at NASCAR Tech on April 20. Upon completion of her technician training, she plans to combine both her marketing and technician degrees and pursue a career in the motorsports industry. The UTI Foundation supports education excellence and the considerable need for qualified technicians. The $10,000 Brienne Davis scholarship is awarded annually to one qualified female student who wishes to enroll in the NASCAR Technical Automotive Program. Additional information is available on the UTI Foundation website at www.utifoundation.net.(NASCAR PR)(12-17-2008)
  • Part of I-85 in NC named For Richard Childress: Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett joined N.C. Board of Transportation member Nancy Dunn and other state and local officials to dedicate a 5.5-mile section of I-85 from U.S. 64 to Lake Road (State Road 2085) in Davidson County as the Richard Childress Freeway, in honor of the former NASCAR driver and current team owner Richard Childress. A ceremony officially naming the highway for Childress was held at Richard Childress Racing in Welcome on Tuesday. “Richard has been a great contributor to the sport of automobile racing, North Carolina’s growing wine industry and the economy of Davidson County,” Tippett said. “Naming this stretch of I-85 for him is a fitting tribute to the many ways he has given back to this state and its communities.” Childress is the president and owner of Richard Childress Racing. His race team, based in Welcome, has won 12 NASCAR championships including six Sprint Cup, five Nationwide Series and one Craftsman Truck series. Childress is also the owner of Childress Vineyards, located in Lexington. The vineyard, which opened in November 2004, has received several industry awards and was recently named one of America’s Top 25 Tasting Rooms by Wine Enthusiast. Through his efforts and dedication to the local community, Childress has helped create more than 500 local jobs and made the Childress group of companies one of Davidson County’s top five private employers. He has also directly invested more than $100 million into the local economy and recently donated $5 million to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to initiate the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. The Davidson County Board of Commissioners requested the road naming, and the N.C. Board of Transportation passed a resolution dedicating the stretch of highway in Childress’ honor in July, 2008. (RCR site)(12-17-2008) Comment here


    News from December 16, 2008

  • Bud Shootout Changes: With Earnhardt Ganassi Racing going to Chevy and Robby Gordon Motorsports going to Toyota, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya [from Dodge to Chevy] will fall out of the 2009 Budweiser Shootout and the #10-Gillette Evernham Motorsports Dodge will move in. See what the lineup looks like now on my 2009 Budweiser Shootout page.(12-16-2008)
  • The Unofficial NASCAR related Layoff Count since end of season:
    (exceptions noted)
    Dale Earnhardt Inc — 116
    Ganassi — 76 + Nationwide team
    Gillett Evernham Motorsports — 65
    Petty Enterprises — 65
    Bill Davis Racing — 60
    Richard Petty Driving Experience — approx 45
    Roush Fenway Racing — 40-50
    Hendrick Motorsports — 19
    Furniture Row — 25 [approx]
    Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies — 25 [approx]
    Wood Brothers — 22
    Stewart-Haas — 16
    Richard Childress Racing — 15
    Red Bull Racing — approx 15
    JTG Daugherty Racing — 12
    Michael Waltrip Racing — 12
    Ernie Elliott Inc [Ganassi engines] — 9
    Joe Gibbs Engines — approx 5
    Hall of Fame — heard many were let go this week, no number yet
    Yates — Unknown
    See my Racing Schools/Jobs page for news, postings, links and more including Racers Form Support Website, Motorsports Employment Task Force and more.(as of 12-16-2008)
  • Less wrecks in 2008: Accidents and spins in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series fell to their lowest levels in five years, USA TODAY database research shows. The taller, boxier, sturdier new-generation car, which began full-time duty this season after a 16-race trial in 2007, was involved in 211 incidents resulting in a caution, according to data compiled from NASCAR race reports. That’s a 12% drop from last season and marked the lowest total since 2004, when the 10-race, playoff-style Chase began. Wrecks during this year’s Chase also fell 33% from 89 in ’07 to 60 this year, the lowest in the playoff’s five-year existence. One huge surprise was Rookie of the Year Regan Smith, who had the third-lowest accident rate (12%) and became the first Cup rookie to finish every race. Rookie Sam Hornish Jr., a former Indianapolis 500 and three-time IRL IndyCar Series champion, topped the list with 20 accidents in 34 starts (59%). Drivers with the highest total of crashes and spins in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, according to USA TODAY database research:
    2008 — Sam Hornish Jr.*
    2007 — David Ragan*
    2006 — J.J. Yeley*
    2005 — Michael Waltrip
    2004 — Robby Gordon
    2003 — Steve Park
    2002 — Steve Park
    See more at USA Today.(12-16-2008) Comment here
  • New associate sponsor for Vickers: The familiar blue paint scheme of the #83 Red Bull Toyota driven by Brian Vickers will sport a new logo for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season as Mighty Auto Parts joins Red Bull Racing Team as an associate sponsor. Since 1963 Mighty has provided automotive service professionals with leading-edge sales tools, renowned training, outstanding business acumen, and parts and products that have helped some of NASCAR’s finest drivers to victory lane. Red Bull Racing Team will utilize Mighty’s technical expertise to engineer professional performance- grade air and oil filters designed to endure the grueling demands of the racetrack. “I see a natural fit between the philosophies of Red Bull Racing Team and Mighty Auto Parts,” said Ken Voelker, President of Mighty Auto Parts. “The opportunity to partner with a company such as Red Bull Racing that brings passion, an inventive style of thinking and marketing acuity to everything they do, mirrors Mighty’s own modus operandi. We look forward to developing a long-term relationship with RBRT, continuing our long-standing relationship with Jay Frye, and seeing the results of such a synergistic partnership.” Mighty has been involved with NASCAR and Red Bull Racing Team General Manager and Vice President Jay Frye for ten years, most recently as an associate sponsor of Mark Martin at MB2. “It is a privilege to continue my relationship with Mighty,” said Frye. “As a team we have high expectations for next season; the quality products Mighty provides will help improve our on-track performance and take us to that next level.”(RBRT PR)(12-16-2008)
  • Logano to test at Daytona for ARCA: Joey Logano, 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the Year Candiate, is scheduled to among the more than 40 drivers expected to take part in the three-day ARCA Series test on Dec 19, 20, 21. The test is open to the public. Guests can purchase a tram-only $10 at Daytona 500 Experience for transportation into the Sprint FANZONE inside the infield of Daytona International Speedway.(ARCA PR), Logano is scheduled to run the ARCA races at Daytona and Pocono in 2009,(12-16-2008)
  • Kyle Busch named to 4th qtr Pocono Spirit Award: #18-Kyle Busch’s generosity to a former driver prompted voters to name him the fourth-quarter recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association Pocono Spirit Award. Busch was recognized for donating $100,000 to Sam Ard and his family after tying Ard’s single-season victory mark with his 10th win of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, a win that came at Texas Motor Speedway. Ard, a two-time series champion, suffers from both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, creating massive medical bills. “Sam Ard is one of the pioneers of this [series], and to be tied with at 10 wins is something that’s pretty spectacular and really, really special to me,’’ Busch said after the win. “I’m going to try to help him out and see what I can do. It’s not much, but it’s something that can try to help.’’ The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, quarterly winners are selected, and an overall winner is selected by a vote of the NMPA membership. The 2008 overall winner will be announced during the NMPA’s annual convention and awards ceremony in January 2009. Also receiving votes were Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and NASCAR. Sprint Cup driver Juan Pablo Montoya was the first-quarter winner. Longtime NASCAR photographer T. Taylor Warren was the second-quarter winner, and team owner Richard Childress claimed the third-quarter honor.(SceneDaily)(12-16-2008)

  • Bruton Smith’s daughter charged with DWI: The daughter of NASCAR racing mogul Bruton Smith has been charged with DWI in connection with a crash last week that left her seriously injured. Anna Smith remains hospitalized at Carolinas Medical Center. On Tuesday, Huntersville police charged her with DWI and driving with a revoked license. The accident on Dec. 10 happened on Gilead Road near Beatties Ford Road around 5 a.m. Authorities found Smith’s wrecked vehicle off the road in a field. Smith was reportedly thrown about 40 feet from the car.(WCNC.com)(12-16-2008)


    News from December 15, 2008

  • Sports Biz Most Influential, France 9th: NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France is ranked ninth on Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal’s list of the 50 most influential people in sports business. France was ranked 10th last year by the magazine. The magazine’s item on France in this week’s issue reads as follows: “The foreword to the 2008 season was written when Brian France proclaimed NASCAR’s intent to get back to the roots of the sport. France set the tone in January by reaching out to those hard-core fans who felt left behind when NASCAR grew beyond its regional roots over the last 10 years. A NASCAR branding campaign followed and many of the sport’s stakeholders, from tracks to network partners, worked that theme into their promotions and broadcasts. With an industry that depends so heavily on sponsorship facing tough times in 2008 and tougher times in 2009, France’s leadership will be under close inspection. But it’s clear – as this season showed – that when he sets an agenda, most everyone in the sport falls in line.” John Henry, whose Fenway Sports Group owns the Boston Red Sox and half of Roush Fenway Racing, is 20th on the list. Topping the list is ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer.(SceneDaily), see more at sportsbusinessjournal.com(12-15-2008) Comment here
  • Loeb wins ROC: Five-time world rally champ Sebastien Loeb prevailed in the Race of Champions on Sunday, but NASCAR star Carl Edwards provided the night’s biggest upset, downing Michael Schumacher in a second-round clash. Edwards, who represented the USA with drifting standout Tanner Foust, narrowly edged the seven-time Formula One champ on the Wembley Stadium course. Edwards lost in the semifinals to former F1 driver David Coulthard, who fell to Loeb in a closely contested three-heat final. Edwards defeated English Formula 3 champ Jaime Alguersuari in the first round. Foust also provided a big-name knockout, edging Jenson Button in a first-round matchup. In the Nations Cup team competition, Schumacher paired with Sebastian Vettel to lead Team Germany to a repeat title. Schumacher and Vettel swept through the preliminaries undefeated before turning back the Team Scandinavia contingent of Tom Kristensen and Mattias Ekstrom.(USA Today wire)(12-15-2008)

  • News from December 21, 2008

  • Ambrose voted Australian Driver of the Year: Marcos Ambrose has been voted as the Australian Driver of the Year by Australian motor racing magazine Auto Action for the second-consecutive year. Ambrose, who is currently at home with his family in his hometown of Launceston, Tasmania, won the award by receiving 41 percent of the vote, which was decided by readers of Auto Action as part of the magazine’s annual ‘Racer of the Year Awards’ issue.(Marcos Ambrose PR)(12-21-2008)

  • Newman Foundation raises over $155,000: #39-Ryan Newman raised $155,000 for conservation and animal welfare efforts at the Ryan Newman Foundation’s Fourth Annual Charity Gala and Auction on December 12 and the Third Annual Charity Fishing Tournament on December 13 in Mooresville, NC. The gala, which was presented by Alltel Wireless, featured a concert by country music singers/songwriters Bridgette Tatum and Danny Myrick. Three hundred and nineteen fishermen competed for the grand prize which was Ryan Newman’s Z-20 Ranger Boat. Alfred Kiesling of Mooresville, NC and Cliff Kirby of Catawba, NC won the tournament and took home the grand prize package, valued at $45,000. 90% of the proceeds raised will be used to fulfill the mission of the Ryan Newman Foundation Endowment—to educate and encourage people to spay/neuter their pets and to adopt dogs and cats from animal shelters; to educate children and adults about the importance of conservation so the beauty of the great outdoors can be appreciated by future generations; and to provide college scholarship funding through the Rich Vogler Scholarship program to students interested in auto racing careers. Ten percent of the proceeds will be donated directly to the Humane Society of Iredell and the Humane Society of Catawba County, both located in NC.(RNF PR)(12-21-2008)


    News from December 20, 2008

  • Labonte done deal at Earnhardt Ganassi? UPDATE hold up?: Bobby Labonte has talked to Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing about their #41 opening, but said Tuesday a deal with the Sprint Cup team isn’t imminent. “There are a lot of things that have to develop to make it happen,” Labonte said in his first comments since leaving Petty Enterprises on Dec. 11. “Talks are happening, but that’s not happened yet,” Labonte said in a telephone interview. “I feel like they’ve got a great program, it’s just a matter of they have to put their deal together before I come into the picture.”(USA Today)
    BUT: Bobby Labonte will drive the #41 Target Chevrolet for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in 2009, joining Martin Truex, Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola as part of a newly merged, four-car team. Labonte has not commented since announcing his split from Petty Enterprises last week, and the new Earnhardt-Ganassi operation remains in a virtual media lockdown. However, multiple sources close to the situation tell Sirius Speedway that a deal to put Labonte in the #41 is signed, sealed and delivered, after receiving the approval of sponsor Target. Work has already begun on the necessary promotional infrastructure — photo shoots, marketing campaigns, ancillary programs, etc. — for the coming season.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-17-2008)
    UPDATE: been told Labonte has talked to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing about the #41 ride, but is not close to signing and is still entertaining other offers and rides.(12-18-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Sirius Speedway reported earlier this week that veteran Bobby Labonte will drive the #41 next season, and he remains the leading candidate for the ride. However, a sponsor Labonte hopes to bring to the team has not yet come through, putting the partnership – at least temporarily — on hold.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-12-2008) Comment here

  • Ginn Racing leased engines from Hendrick in 2007 at $12.8M base: If you’re looking to lease engines from Hendrick Motorsports for a NASCAR operation, you’d better be prepared to open up your wallet. A legal battle being played out in North Carolina courts is offering rare insight into the usually secretive world of the sport’s finances as the Hendrick operation seeks compensation from the Ginn Racing team that wound up as part of Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007. According to a contract filed as part of the case, the Hendrick engine lease agreement with Ginn Racing called for Ginn to pay a base rent of $12.8 million in 2007 and $13.7 million in 2008 to lease engines for its three Sprint Cup teams and one team in what is now the Nationwide Series. The fee covered Cup engines for 36 race events and up to nine tests or special events and Nationwide engines for 35 events, according to the contract filed as part of a lawsuit by HMS Holdings against Ginn Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. over the termination fees resulting from the Ginn-DEI merger in July 2007.(Scene Daily)(12-20-2008) Comment here

  • Johnson running Rolex 24 again: It would make sense if Jimmie Johnson spent his Thursday before Christmas gearing up for the holidays at his North Carolina home. Instead, Johnson waited for fog to clear in North Carolina and Texas before flying to Fort Worth for a planned practice session at the Motorsport Ranch in Cresson. Johnson, NASCAR’s three-time Sprint Cup champion, was trying to prepare for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January. For the second consecutive year, Johnson will take a break from the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to join Lewisville-based GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing in the team’s bid to win the 24-hour race.(Fort Worth Star-Telegram)(12-20-2008) Comment here


    News from December 19, 2008

  • Texas World Speedway sits silently during testing ban: With the news that NASCAR has banned testing at its sanctioned tracks for its three national series in 2009, a few people wondered if that might mean increased curiosity in Texas World Speedway, which last hosted a Cup event in 1981. But if Sprint Cup teams have shown increased interest in testing at the 2-mile oval that is a carbon copy of Michigan International Speedway, they haven’t made that known to track president Bill Mather, who hadn’t even considered the idea of NASCAR teams visiting College Station until he read a recent magazine article about the testing ban. “I have been focusing on the testing business but the Autoweek story was the first time I ever thought about NASCAR,” Mather said. “NASCAR’s a different world to me. I’ve never met anybody affiliated with NASCAR. I’d like to. But I’ve been focused in on the road racing world. None of [the Sprint Cup teams] have set foot on the track, I can tell you that much.”
    Built in 1969 and repaved in 1993, Texas World Speedway mainly hosts regional sports-car events, testing for Star Mazda and American Le Mans Series teams and driver education courses. However, a portion of the superspeedway — particularly 22-degree banked Turns 3 and 4 — were unsuitable for high-speed testing because of bumpiness. But Mather said a recent 35-foot wide, 2,200-foot long grinding of the track surface in those areas has hopefully corrected those flaws. “Our oval will be hopefully test ready [by the first of the year],” Mather said. “We’ve just finished grinding [Turns] 3 and 4, which allows us to run our Grand Prix course, also. Turns 1 and 2 are in pretty good shape. The problem is that our Grand Prix course runs Turns 3 and 4. When the grinding company came in, they said to us, ‘This is really good asphalt. It’s amazing how good this asphalt is for its age.’ And that made me happy, because I can’t justify the cost of repaving it.” Mather said some spot grinding was also done to Turns 1 and 2. This week, a process known as asphalt rejuvenation will be applied to the banking, a section of the road course and the paddock area.
    NASCAR ran eight races at Texas World Speedway between 1969 and 1981. Three of Richard Petty’s 200 career victories came on the 2-mile oval situated approximately 100 miles northwest of Houston. In 1980, Cale Yarborough won a 400-mile race that featured no caution flags. Also, Mario Andretti set the world closed-course speed record at 214.158 mph while qualifying for an IndyCar event in 1973, a record that stood for 12 years.(NASCAR.com)(12-19-2008) Comment here
  • SPEED signs Dave Despain thru 2010: SPEED signed veteran motor sports broadcaster Dave Despain to a new two-year deal, keeping the popular host of the Sunday night program Wind Tunnel on the team through 2010. Closing in on 450 episodes of his popular fan-participation show Wind Tunnel, Despain has interviewed everyone who is anyone in the world of racing. Three-time NASCAR champ Darrell Waltrip has made the most guest appearances (9), followed by Jeff Gordon (7), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (7), Funny Car king John Force (6) and open-wheel veteran Paul Tracy (6). Longtime motor sports writer Robin Miller has enjoyed the most co-hosting appearances at 13. “I love the fact that the voices on Wind Tunnel cover the entire racing spectrum; from the fans in the stands, to the folks watching on TV, to the big time stars putting on the show to the movers and shakers who make it all happen,” Despain said. “We stick our noses into every nook and cranny of racing and always seem to find something interesting.” Wind Tunnel opens its 2009 season Feb. 15 at 9pm/et.(SPEEDtv PR)(12-19-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fests Scheduled For Jan. 16-17: Race fans will receive a sneak peek of DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 as well as the new NASCAR racing season on Friday, Jan. 16 and Saturday, Jan. 17 with the annual NASCAR Preseason Thunder Fan Fests at historic Daytona International Speedway. Fans can get their “racing fix” prior to DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 and the 51st annual Daytona 500 with numerous activities with their favorite drivers from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series in the Sprint FANZONE located in the heart of “The World Center of Racing.”
    Among the activities planned for both days include:
    * Interactive fan forums
    * Autograph sessions
    * Show cars, displays, music
    * Online auction
    * Blood drive
    In addition, Richard Petty Driving Experience will be on track with ride and driving packages available. The ride-only packages can be purchased on-site while the driving packages must be purchased in advance at 1-800-BE-PETTY. Tickets, which go on sale Saturday, Dec. 20 at 9 a.m., are $15 with autograph session availability limited to only 100 people per driver in advance. To purchase tickets and request access to the special autograph sessions, call 1-800-PITSHOP.(DIS PR) More deatils and driver dates/times on my Driver Appearances page.(12-19-2008)


    News from December 18, 2008

  • NASCAR settles lawsuit with Grant: At a mediation held in New York on December 3, 2008, Ms. Mauricia Grant settled her discrimination lawsuit with her former employer, NASCAR. Ms. Grant was represented by her attorneys Morelli Ratner PC. NASCAR was represented by Jackson Lewis. Neither NASCAR nor Ms. Grant admits liability or wrongdoing by way of the settlement. “We’re glad to have the case settled on mutually acceptable terms,” said NASCAR Managing Director of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston. “NASCAR remains dedicated to maintaining a professional work environment for all employees at all times and we wish Ms. Grant well in her future endeavors.” The specific terms of the settlement agreement remain confidential and both sides agreed not to publicly discuss the details of the case or the terms of the agreement going forward.(NASCAR PR)(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • NASCAR to begin tougher drug testing in January: NASCAR will test drivers for performance-enhancing drugs next month under a tougher policy that also bans using illegal drugs and abusing prescription medications. NASCAR likely will test drivers the third week of January, and crew members must submit results from an approved lab by Jan. 16, according to documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press. A NASCAR memo sent to teams lists specific banned substances for which crew members must be screened. No similar guidelines were issued for drivers, as NASCAR reserves the right to test competitors for anything. Under the old policy, NASCAR had the right to randomly test based on suspicion of abuse. Under the tougher guidelines first announced in September, everyone will be tested before the season begins, and random testing will continue throughout the year. NASCAR expects to randomly test 12 to 14 individuals per series each weekend in 2009. The memo, dated Dec. 8, is the first time the new policy has been laid out in writing and specifies who falls under the guidelines. Those who must be tested before Jan. 16 include: pit crew members, including “over-the-wall” crew members, the crew chief, car chief, team members responsible for tires, fuel and pit crew operation, spotters and race-day support personnel that includes engineers, engine tuners, shock specialists, chassis specialists and tire specialists.
    Among the substances those participants must be tested for are:
    – Seven different amphetamines, including methamphetamine and PMA, a synthetic psychostimulant and hallucinogen.
    – Three drugs classified under ephedrine.
    – 13 different narcotics, including codeine and morphine.
    – Ten different benzodiazepines and barbituates.
    – Marijuana, cocaine, zolpidem, nitrites, chromates and drugs that can increase specific gravity.
    No such list exists for the drivers, but spokesman Ramsey Poston confirmed NASCAR will test for performance-enhancing drugs. The driver testing, which will be administered by NASCAR, had been scheduled for preseason testing at Daytona next month. But because testing has been suspended for 2009, NASCAR likely will screen drivers when most are in Charlotte next month for the annual media tour of race shops.(Associated Press)(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • Labonte done deal at Earnhardt Ganassi? UPDATE No not done: Bobby Labonte has talked to Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing about their #41 opening, but said Tuesday a deal with the Sprint Cup team isn’t imminent. “There are a lot of things that have to develop to make it happen,” Labonte said in his first comments since leaving Petty Enterprises on Dec. 11. “Talks are happening, but that’s not happened yet,” Labonte said in a telephone interview. “I feel like they’ve got a great program, it’s just a matter of they have to put their deal together before I come into the picture.”(USA Today)
    BUT: Bobby Labonte will drive the #41 Target Chevrolet for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in 2009, joining Martin Truex, Jr., Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola as part of a newly merged, four-car team. Labonte has not commented since announcing his split from Petty Enterprises last week, and the new Earnhardt-Ganassi operation remains in a virtual media lockdown. However, multiple sources close to the situation tell Sirius Speedway that a deal to put Labonte in the #41 is signed, sealed and delivered, after receiving the approval of sponsor Target. Work has already begun on the necessary promotional infrastructure — photo shoots, marketing campaigns, ancillary programs, etc. — for the coming season.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)(12-17-2008)
    UPDATE: been told Labonte has talked to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing about the #41 ride, but is not close to signing and is still entertaining other offers and rides.(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • Dodge sticking with NASCAR UPDATE: The news Wednesday from Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., was grim — the company will close all 30 of its manufacturing plants for a month beginning Friday because of sagging sales — but indications are the company’s involvement in NASCAR will not change. An individual with knowledge of the situation said the closings will not alter Dodge’s involvement in NASCAR. Dodge has contracts with Gillett Evernham, Penske Racing and Petty Enterprises. All will be honored next season. “Dodge will be back next year,” the official said. Chrysler said in a release Wednesday that tighter credit markets are keeping potential buyers from the showrooms. With a slowing demand, the company said it must match production and save cash. “Chrysler dealers confirmed to the company at a recent meeting at its headquarters that they have many willing buyers for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles but are unable to close the deal, due to lack of financing,” the company said in a statement. “The dealers have stated that they have lost an estimated 20 to 25 percent of their volume because of this credit situation.” Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. announced late Wednesday afternoon that it will shut down 10 of its North American assembly plants for an extra week in January because of the slumping market in this country. The annual two-week holiday shutdown will now be extended through Jan. 12.(ESPN)(12-18-2008)
    UPDATE: Chrysler plans to slash its overall NASCAR budget by more than 30% in 2009, Dodge Motorsports director Mike Accavitti told ESPN.com on Thursday. That reduction is due in part to the team-merger between Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing, which removes Ganassi’s former three-team Sprint Cup operation from the Dodge fold. (Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing will run Chevrolets.) But Dodge will also cut back on at-track car displays, track sponsorships and promotions. It will, though, continue to support Penske Racing, Gillet Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises as planned, Accavitti said. “We’ll definitely be on the track in 2009,” Accavitti said in a phone interview. Chrysler announced Wednesday it would, starting Friday, shut down all 30 US-based manufacturing plants for a month. Accavitti said that will have no bearing on any NASCAR relationship. Accavitti said Dodge evaluates return-on-investment annually “on every dime spent on NASCAR” to determine whether NASCAR should remain part of its advertising plan. Some wonder how cash-strapped automakers can choose to spend on auto racing when the market is so poor. To date, Accavitti said NASCAR has helped move product. And, he continued, there is but one way out of the current abyss: sell more cars.(in part from ESPN.com)(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • Testing at the Rock: GEM tested Tuesday and Wednesday at Rockingham Speedway with #9-Kasey Kahne and on Wednesday, Stewart-Haas Racing was at the track with #39-Ryan Newman testing. Bill Elliott was behind the wheel Wednesday of his own ARCA car early in the test session to get a base line set up and then assumed the role of driver coach for Casey Roderick the 16 year old phenomenon who was getting his first laps on a superspeedway. Roderick is hoping to come back next spring and race in the Carolina 200 ARCA Series race on April 19th, 2009 as well as the season ending ARCA race on October 11th, 2009. The first race of the 2009 season for the Rockingham Speedway is the Polar Bear 150 on New Year’s Day. For more information visit www.rockinghamspeedway.com.(12-18-2008) Comment here
  • Earnhardt laps field in consumer index: #99-Carl Edwards and #48-Jimmie Johnson made gains, but #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained the runaway leader in the Davie Brown Index, which quantifies an athlete’s relevance to consumer behavior. In polling of avid NASCAR fans conducted after the 2008 season by the Charlotte-based Millsport sports marketing agency, Earnhardt ranked first in awareness and nine “attribute” categories: appeal, notice, trend-setter, influence, trust, endorsement, aspiration, exposure and passion. The DBI also is used to quantify Hollywood celebrities, and Millsport vice president Ken Cohn says Earnhardt is creating a separation from other drivers unlike any celebrity the agency has seen. “Avid fans are at least 20% more passionate about Junior,” Cohn says. Rounding out the top five in overall scores were #8-Mark Martin, #20-Tony Stewart, #31-Jeff Burton and Johnson, who advanced two spots from a NASCAR DBI survey in the spring that also was led by Earnhardt. Edwards, who finished second in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series, jumped 14 spots to sixth overall, ahead of #24-Jeff Gordon, #43-Bobby Labonte, #9-Kasey Kahne and #45-Kyle Petty.(USA Today)(12-18-2008)
  • Reutimann Presents Donations to Charities and Local Schools: David Reutimann, driver of the #00 Aarons Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series and the #99 Aarons Dream Machine in the Nationwide Series for Michael Waltrip Racing, hosted his Fourth Annual Charity Golf Tournament, Cook Out and Auction at Silverado Golf and Country Club the weekend after Thanksgiving in Zephyrhills, FL. The festivities consisted of a cook out and sports memorabilia auction, followed by a golf tournament. In total the festivities raised around $78,000 for local Florida based charities. This past Friday David Reutimann received the opportunity to present to his affiliated charities, including All Children’s Hospital of Florida, Camp Boggy Creek, Zephyrhills Pregnancy Center and Kid’s Go to Camp. In addition, David donated $3,000 to six local Pasco county schools. “I’m blessed to be able to give back to so many. It’s rewarding to give back to my community and schools that I myself attended,” said David Reutimann.(PR)(12-18-2008)
  • Munter to test for Hylton: EM Motorsports and Hylton Motorsports announced that Leilani Münter has been hired to test the team’s 2005 Ford Taurus during this weekend’s ARCA Series open test at Daytona International Speedway. James Hylton, 1966 NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year, will be Leilani’s mentor and coach throughout the weekend. Hylton is scheduled to attempt to make the Sprint Cup Daytona 500 race for EM Motorsports.(PR)(12-18-2008)
  • Comparing NASCAR’s Three-Peats: When Jimmie Johnson won the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he joined Cale Yarborough as one of only two drivers to win three straight championships at NASCAR’s highest level. A comparison of the two feats shows a few similarities along with numerous differences.
    The Similarities
    * Adaptation to Change. Both drivers won their championships shortly after major changes to the sport. Yarborough won his after two different changes – the reduction of the number of races in 1972 and the implementation of the current point system in 1975. Johnson won his after the introduction of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2004 and during a period that saw the introduction of a new NASCAR Sprint Cup car (2007-08).
    * Foreshadowing Success. Both drivers came up just short prior to their breakthrough. Yarborough finished second in the point standings in 1973 and 1974 before his first championship in 1976. Johnson finished second in 2003 and 2004 before his first title in 2006.
    The Differences
    * Varied Competition. Statistically, Johnson’s championships have come during a much more competitive era. Over the last three seasons, there have been more races, larger fields and more race and pole winners than during Yarborough’s championship era.
    Though Johnson’s championships have come in seasons that had only six more races each, there were almost twice as many unique race winners (20) during his stretch as there were during Yarborough’s (11). Additionally, there were twice as many unique pole winners (30) during Johnson’s three-year run than there were during Yarborough’s (15).

    Yarborough Races Pole Win Top5 Top10 DNF
    1976 30 2 9 22 23 5
    1977 30 3 9 25 27 0
    1978 30 8 10 23 24 2
    Johnson Races Pole Win Top5 Top10 DNF
    2006 36 1 5 24 24 3
    2007 36 4 10 24 24 4
    2008 36 6 7 22 22 1

    * Tighter Races. Johnson’s era features some of the most competitive racing in the history of NASCAR’s premier series. While the number of lead changes per race remains relatively the same, the number of leaders during Johnson’s reign is more than twice that of Yarborough’s. Johnson’s era also shows increases in cars running at the finish and finishing on the lead lap. The number of cars finishing the race has increased by almost 75%. The average number of cars on the lead lap has increased 10-fold. Additionally, every race during Yarborough’s championship years had fewer than 10 cars finish on the lead lap, and 17 of the 90 races had just the race winner on the lead lap. In Johnson’s years there were just four races with less than 10 cars on the lead lap and not a single race saw the leader on a lap by himself.

    Year Leaders Leaders Per Race Lead Changes Cars on Lead Lao Cars Running at Finish Lapped Field
    1976 24 6 20.6 2.23 21.07 9
    1977 23 6 20.2 2.03 21.3 2
    1978 26 6 21.23 2.47 21.9 6
    2006 48 10 21.78 21.42 36.75 0
    2007 51 10 20.03 20.72 36.92 0
    2008 50 11 21.06 20.75 38.56 0

    * Individual Statistics. Yarborough did have slightly more impressive numbers with regard to individual performance, but that is likely due to the higher level of competition during Johnson’s championships. Both had 10-win seasons but Yarborough had more poles, wins, top fives and top 10s as well as one fewer DNF.(NASCAR PR)

    Year Races Ave Cars in Field Pole Winners Race Winners
    1976 30 35.27 11 8
    1977 30 35.4 9 7
    1978 30 35.47 9 7
    2006 36 43 15 13
    2007 36 43 18 16
    2008 36 43 15 12

    (NASCAR PR)(12-18-2008) Comment here


    News from December 17, 2008

  • Mansfield cancels 2009 Truck race: from the Mansfield Motorsports Park site: Due to the economic times that we are all facing, Mansfield Motorsports Park will not be hosting the 2009 NASCAR Truck Race. We will begin processing refunds immediately. Please accept our apologies and please be patient while we are going through the refund process. We apologize for any inconvenience.(12-17-2008)
  • Kahne to visit school: During the week before Christmas, while most NASCAR drivers will be enjoying their off-season plans, Kasey Kahne will be reminding teens about the importance of safe driving during the hectic holiday season. As part of the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop program, Kahne will be visiting the junior-class students of East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, N.C., on Thursday, Dec. 18 to remind them that the holiday season is a dangerous time for teen drivers. During the past eight holiday seasons, from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day, there have been over 5,000 teens involved in fatal crashes throughout the United States. In the state of North Carolina alone there have been 172 teens involved in fatal crashes during the same time span. The driver of the #9 Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series will be joined at the event by SPEED TV’s John Roberts. The two will show students a video of NASCAR crashes, participate in a Q&A session and test the students’ driving/racing knowledge during a trivia game. Kahne and Roberts will also highlight how Allstate can help identify the risks that teens take when they get behind the wheel through its Parent-Teen Driving Contract and local Allstate agents. In its final stop of 2008, the Allstate Teen Safe Driving Pit Stop is a national partnership between Allstate and Gillett Evernham Motorsports to visit schools across the country and promote teen safe driving to teens and their parents. In addition to Kahne’s participation, GEM driver Elliott Sadler and team owner Ray Evernham have also headlined the events throughout the season.(Taylor PR)(12-17-2008)
  • Petty-GEM Deal Off? UPDATE denied: Sirius Speedway has learned that the much-discussed merger between Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Enterprises has run aground. Anonymous sources say that GEM laid off approximately 50 employees today, and that its Nationwide Series team will either be eliminated or cut back dramatically. In addition, multiple sources say that GEM’s #10 Sprint Cup team and driver Reed Sorenson will also run only a partial schedule. While not commenting on the reported demise of the Petty deal, Gillett Evernham Motorsports CEO Tom Reddin confirmed today that major changes are underway. “We are a Sprint Cup team first and foremost, and winning in that series needs to be our primary focus,” he said. “The Nationwide Series is a fantastic series and we certainly look forward to racing a partial schedule in 2009, but we will not run the full season next year. We will remained focused on putting all of our effort behind the Cup program in 2009. GEM is very fortunate to have nearly all of our Cup sponsors returning in 2009 in addition to the new arrival of others.” Reddin said that GEM will also restructure its engine department for 2009, to align with a reduced number of engine leasing customers next season.(Sirius Speedway/Motorsports Soapbox)
    AND Over the last week, Gillett Evernham Motorsports released 65 employees between its Nationwide Series team and engine shop. Due to a downturn in the economy and the inability to secure sponsorship, GEM was forced to cease operation of its NNS team on Tuesday. GEM is still in open discussions with Petty Enterprises regarding a possible merger. However, the option of Petty Enterprises not leasing engines in the future led to the company’s decision to downsize its engine department by nearly half. The organization will continue to employ nearly 300 workers at its Statesville, N.C. facility and field three teams in the Sprint Cup Series with drivers Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson, who will join the team from Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009.(FoxSports)(12-16-2008)
    UPDATE: been told by GEM that the #10 car will run the full Sprint Cup season and that the GEM-Petty merger talks are going well and the deal is NOT off.(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • Robby Gordon to Toyota? UPDATE 2: hearing Robby Gordon Motorsports will switch from Dodge to Toyota. No word if they will be aligned with another Toyota team.(12-11-2008)
    UPDATE: Robby Gordon Motorsports announced that they will partner with Toyota beginning in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season for the #7, which is guaranteed a spot in the season opener Daytona 500. “We are excited to be partnering with Toyota in NASCAR in 2009. After watching their progress last season, we decided that a switch to Toyota was the right package for our team,” commented Robby Gordon, owner of Robby Gordon Motorsports. “We are confident that fielding a Toyota Camry will add to the success of our organization and the competitiveness of our performance on the race track.”
    “I’ve known Robby as a driver, team owner and fierce competitor since 1990,” said Lee White, President of TRD, U.S.A. “We’ve raced together in Off-Road, IMSA, SCCA and Indy Car and have shared many memorable challenges and victories. It will be exciting to see how the association between Robby, his team, Toyota and TRD will develop in 2009. I promise you that it will not be boring to watch.” Toyota’s first involvement with Robby Gordon dates back to 1989 when he became the youngest grand national sport truck driver to win a championship in a TRD-powered Toyota truck.(RGM PR)(12-16-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Les Ungar, Toyota’s National Motorsports Manager told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway Tuesday that Robby Gordon will be welcomed into the Toyota camp, and will receive the same technical support and information as the manufacturer’s other teams. “Robby will be reimbursing us for the engines he receives, and he will receive technical support from Toyota Racing Development the same as everyone else,” he said.” “Like any manufacturer, we are obligated by NASCAR to step up and make the parts and pieces available as part of our agreement to be active in this sport.”(Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway)(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • New Crew Chief for Kenseth? UPDATE: Nationwide Series pit boss Drew Blickensderfer has been promoted to head the team. Chip Bolin, who held the position last year, will go back to work as an engineer at Roush Fenway Racing. Although Blickensderfer started 2008 as crew chief for Roush’s #17 Nationwide Series team, he swapped places with Pierre Kuettel and joined Carl Edwards’ #60 team. The pair went on to win seven of the final 19 races.(FoxSports)(12-16-2008)
    UPDATE: Roush Fenway Racing has named Drew Blickensderfer crew chief for Matt Kenseth’s #17 DEWALT Sprint Cup team for the upcoming 2009 season. “We are really looking forward to Drew coming on board with the #17 DEWALT team,” said Kenseth. “Drew brings a great work ethic and high level of enthusiasm to our team. He has been waiting for the opportunity to become a crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series and I know he’ll make the most of it. I had the chance to work with Drew for a couple of years in the Nationwide Series and he is one of the hardest working guys in the garage. He has a passion for the sport, and I know he will be a great addition to our #17 team.” Blickensderfer served the past three seasons as a crew chief in Roush Fenway’s highly successful Nationwide Series program. He helped guide Danny O’Quinn to a Raybestos Rookie title in 2006, before teaming with Kenseth in the Nationwide Series for the next year and a half. The duo earned three victories in the series, before Blickensderfer moved over to Carl Edwards’ No. 60 team midway through the 2008 season. There, he helped guide the Edwards’ team to seven wins in their last 19 races and a second-place finish in the Nationwide Series point standings. With the addition of Blickensderfer, Chip Bolin – who served as the crew chief on the #17 Sprint Cup team in 2008 – will return to his previous post as team engineer, where he was instrumental in helping guide the team to a Cup championship in 2003. “Chip has been one of the biggest assets to this team since the beginning,” said Kenseth. “Both as an engineer and crew chief, he has been instrumental in our championship run in 2003 and our making the Chase every year since. We are looking forward to adding Drew to the mix and everyone on this #17 DEWALT team is committed to working together and to running up front next season.”(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • EGR will run Chevy’s; all move to Ganassi’s shop UPDATE: Director of Dodge Motorsports Mike Accavitti told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway Tuesday that Chip Ganassi Racing will race Chevrolets as part of its recent merger with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Accavitti’s announcement was the first public admission of an anticipated manufacturer change by the Ganassi team. (Sirius NASCAR Radio’s Sirius Speedway)
    AND The new Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team will run Chevrolets and work out of the Chip Ganassi Racing shop, a team spokesman confirmed. The team still has not named a driver nor a crew chief for the #41 car nor has it named a crew chief for the #8 car driven by Aric Almirola. It also still needs sponsorship for Almirola and a half-season sponsorship for #42-Juan Pablo Montoya. The new organization resulted from a merger of Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Chip Ganassi Racing, which was announced in mid-November. Neither the shop location nor the engine package is a surprise. The Ganassi team has been a Dodge organization since 2001, the first full season after Chip Ganassi bought a majority interest in Sabco Racing from Felix Sabates. Dodge had a contract with Ganassi at least through 2009, but Dodge officials had indicated that they would let Ganassi out of its commitment if it was in the best interest of the team.(SceneDaily)(12-16-2008)
    UPDATE: The newly merged Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Team is keeping busy early in the offseason with the relocation of two of its cars to another shop. The cars for Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola’s teams will be moving from the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. West shop to the Ganassi Racing shop in Concord, NC. “We’ve moved our equipment and we’re going to run out of Ganassi’s shop in Concord,” Truex Jr. said. “Things are moving along. We’ll just have to wait and see, but so far things have been going pretty well.” The move will combine the DEI teams with Ganassi’s #41 team and #42 team, of Juan Pablo Montoya, in the state-of-the-art 183,000 square-foot facility, which opened its doors in 2003. “Bono (Kevin Manion, Truex Jr’s crew chief) and Juan Pablo’s crew chief Brian Pattie are good friends, they’ve been for a long time and they’re really excited to work together,” Truex Jr. said. “I’m excited about that. So far everything seems to be going pretty smooth.” Sponsorship still needs to be set for some of the cars, including Montoya’s, which only has 19 races set with the Wrigley Chewing Gum company. As for Almirola, the search for sponsorship is still on after the U.S. Army departed the team to head to Stewart-Hass Racing in 2009. “We’ve got several sponsors that we’ve been talking to and we’ve been giving tours of the shop and wining and dining them,” Almirola said. “We’ve got several people interested so that’s good news, but, just nothing set in stone right yet.” The Ganassi cars will make the switch from Dodges to Chevrolets, which is the same manufacturer DEI has fielded since its existence. The team will still utilize engines from Earnhardt-Childress Technologies. “We’re continuing to get our motors from the Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies, which has been really, really awesome,” Almirola said. “Our motors last year were really, really good every weekend. It’s not very often you get a race car driver not complain that he wants more motor. We did not struggle for motor at all this past year.”(RacingOne)(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • #29 team expects to test at least 10 times in 2009: Todd Berrier, crew chief for Richard Childress Racing’s #29-Kevin Harvick, expects that his team will test at least 10 times next year despite NASCAR’s ban on testing at all tracks that host its Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Truck, East and West series. Berrier expects his team will look at options such as the Virginia International Raceway and Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.) road courses, along with Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina and the half-mile Sandusky Speedway in Ohio. None of the facilities is covered by the ban. “The places you can test, you’re going to test,” Berrier said in a phone interview Monday. Berrier expects the #29 team to test several times throughout the season at non-NASCAR venues and possibly before the season begins, weather permitting.(SceneDaily)(12-17-2008) Comment here
  • UTI Foundation Awards the First Brienne Davis Memorial Scholarship: The Universal Technical Institute (UTI) Foundation today selected Kenna Primm of Greenwood, Ark. as the first Brienne Davis Memorial Scholarship recipient. Named in honor of the UTI graduate and NASCAR Sprint Cup official who died tragically in April of this year, the $10,000 scholarship will fund a portion of Primm’s technical education at UTI’s NASCAR Technical Institute, NASCAR Tech in Mooresville, N.C. This month, Primm will graduate from the University of Arkansas with a degree in marketing and begin a 10-week internship at Daytona International Speedway in January. She will start at NASCAR Tech on April 20. Upon completion of her technician training, she plans to combine both her marketing and technician degrees and pursue a career in the motorsports industry. The UTI Foundation supports education excellence and the considerable need for qualified technicians. The $10,000 Brienne Davis scholarship is awarded annually to one qualified female student who wishes to enroll in the NASCAR Technical Automotive Program. Additional information is available on the UTI Foundation website at www.utifoundation.net.(NASCAR PR)(12-17-2008)
  • Part of I-85 in NC named For Richard Childress: Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett joined N.C. Board of Transportation member Nancy Dunn and other state and local officials to dedicate a 5.5-mile section of I-85 from U.S. 64 to Lake Road (State Road 2085) in Davidson County as the Richard Childress Freeway, in honor of the former NASCAR driver and current team owner Richard Childress. A ceremony officially naming the highway for Childress was held at Richard Childress Racing in Welcome on Tuesday. “Richard has been a great contributor to the sport of automobile racing, North Carolina’s growing wine industry and the economy of Davidson County,” Tippett said. “Naming this stretch of I-85 for him is a fitting tribute to the many ways he has given back to this state and its communities.” Childress is the president and owner of Richard Childress Racing. His race team, based in Welcome, has won 12 NASCAR championships including six Sprint Cup, five Nationwide Series and one Craftsman Truck series. Childress is also the owner of Childress Vineyards, located in Lexington. The vineyard, which opened in November 2004, has received several industry awards and was recently named one of America’s Top 25 Tasting Rooms by Wine Enthusiast. Through his efforts and dedication to the local community, Childress has helped create more than 500 local jobs and made the Childress group of companies one of Davidson County’s top five private employers. He has also directly invested more than $100 million into the local economy and recently donated $5 million to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to initiate the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. The Davidson County Board of Commissioners requested the road naming, and the N.C. Board of Transportation passed a resolution dedicating the stretch of highway in Childress’ honor in July, 2008. (RCR site)(12-17-2008) Comment here


    News from December 16, 2008

  • Bud Shootout Changes: With Earnhardt Ganassi Racing going to Chevy and Robby Gordon Motorsports going to Toyota, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya [from Dodge to Chevy] will fall out of the 2009 Budweiser Shootout and the #10-Gillette Evernham Motorsports Dodge will move in. See what the lineup looks like now on my 2009 Budweiser Shootout page.(12-16-2008)
  • The Unofficial NASCAR related Layoff Count since end of season:
    (exceptions noted)
    Dale Earnhardt Inc — 116
    Ganassi — 76 + Nationwide team
    Gillett Evernham Motorsports — 65
    Petty Enterprises — 65
    Bill Davis Racing — 60
    Richard Petty Driving Experience — approx 45
    Roush Fenway Racing — 40-50
    Hendrick Motorsports — 19
    Furniture Row — 25 [approx]
    Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies — 25 [approx]
    Wood Brothers — 22
    Stewart-Haas — 16
    Richard Childress Racing — 15
    Red Bull Racing — approx 15
    JTG Daugherty Racing — 12
    Michael Waltrip Racing — 12
    Ernie Elliott Inc [Ganassi engines] — 9
    Joe Gibbs Engines — approx 5
    Hall of Fame — heard many were let go this week, no number yet
    Yates — Unknown
    See my Racing Schools/Jobs page for news, postings, links and more including Racers Form Support Website, Motorsports Employment Task Force and more.(as of 12-16-2008)
  • Less wrecks in 2008: Accidents and spins in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series fell to their lowest levels in five years, USA TODAY database research shows. The taller, boxier, sturdier new-generation car, which began full-time duty this season after a 16-race trial in 2007, was involved in 211 incidents resulting in a caution, according to data compiled from NASCAR race reports. That’s a 12% drop from last season and marked the lowest total since 2004, when the 10-race, playoff-style Chase began. Wrecks during this year’s Chase also fell 33% from 89 in ’07 to 60 this year, the lowest in the playoff’s five-year existence. One huge surprise was Rookie of the Year Regan Smith, who had the third-lowest accident rate (12%) and became the first Cup rookie to finish every race. Rookie Sam Hornish Jr., a former Indianapolis 500 and three-time IRL IndyCar Series champion, topped the list with 20 accidents in 34 starts (59%). Drivers with the highest total of crashes and spins in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, according to USA TODAY database research:
    2008 — Sam Hornish Jr.*
    2007 — David Ragan*
    2006 — J.J. Yeley*
    2005 — Michael Waltrip
    2004 — Robby Gordon
    2003 — Steve Park
    2002 — Steve Park
    See more at USA Today.(12-16-2008) Comment here
  • New associate sponsor for Vickers: The familiar blue paint scheme of the #83 Red Bull Toyota driven by Brian Vickers will sport a new logo for the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season as Mighty Auto Parts joins Red Bull Racing Team as an associate sponsor. Since 1963 Mighty has provided automotive service professionals with leading-edge sales tools, renowned training, outstanding business acumen, and parts and products that have helped some of NASCAR’s finest drivers to victory lane. Red Bull Racing Team will utilize Mighty’s technical expertise to engineer professional performance- grade air and oil filters designed to endure the grueling demands of the racetrack. “I see a natural fit between the philosophies of Red Bull Racing Team and Mighty Auto Parts,” said Ken Voelker, President of Mighty Auto Parts. “The opportunity to partner with a company such as Red Bull Racing that brings passion, an inventive style of thinking and marketing acuity to everything they do, mirrors Mighty’s own modus operandi. We look forward to developing a long-term relationship with RBRT, continuing our long-standing relationship with Jay Frye, and seeing the results of such a synergistic partnership.” Mighty has been involved with NASCAR and Red Bull Racing Team General Manager and Vice President Jay Frye for ten years, most recently as an associate sponsor of Mark Martin at MB2. “It is a privilege to continue my relationship with Mighty,” said Frye. “As a team we have high expectations for next season; the quality products Mighty provides will help improve our on-track performance and take us to that next level.”(RBRT PR)(12-16-2008)
  • Logano to test at Daytona for ARCA: Joey Logano, 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the Year Candiate, is scheduled to among the more than 40 drivers expected to take part in the three-day ARCA Series test on Dec 19, 20, 21. The test is open to the public. Guests can purchase a tram-only $10 at Daytona 500 Experience for transportation into the Sprint FANZONE inside the infield of Daytona International Speedway.(ARCA PR), Logano is scheduled to run the ARCA races at Daytona and Pocono in 2009,(12-16-2008)
  • Kyle Busch named to 4th qtr Pocono Spirit Award: #18-Kyle Busch’s generosity to a former driver prompted voters to name him the fourth-quarter recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association Pocono Spirit Award. Busch was recognized for donating $100,000 to Sam Ard and his family after tying Ard’s single-season victory mark with his 10th win of the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, a win that came at Texas Motor Speedway. Ard, a two-time series champion, suffers from both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, creating massive medical bills. “Sam Ard is one of the pioneers of this [series], and to be tied with at 10 wins is something that’s pretty spectacular and really, really special to me,’’ Busch said after the win. “I’m going to try to help him out and see what I can do. It’s not much, but it’s something that can try to help.’’ The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports. Each year, quarterly winners are selected, and an overall winner is selected by a vote of the NMPA membership. The 2008 overall winner will be announced during the NMPA’s annual convention and awards ceremony in January 2009. Also receiving votes were Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and NASCAR. Sprint Cup driver Juan Pablo Montoya was the first-quarter winner. Longtime NASCAR photographer T. Taylor Warren was the second-quarter winner, and team owner Richard Childress claimed the third-quarter honor.(SceneDaily)(12-16-2008)

  • Bruton Smith’s daughter charged with DWI: The daughter of NASCAR racing mogul Bruton Smith has been charged with DWI in connection with a crash last week that left her seriously injured. Anna Smith remains hospitalized at Carolinas Medical Center. On Tuesday, Huntersville police charged her with DWI and driving with a revoked license. The accident on Dec. 10 happened on Gilead Road near Beatties Ford Road around 5 a.m. Authorities found Smith’s wrecked vehicle off the road in a field. Smith was reportedly thrown about 40 feet from the car.(WCNC.com)(12-16-2008)


    News from December 15, 2008

  • Sports Biz Most Influential, France 9th: NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France is ranked ninth on Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal’s list of the 50 most influential people in sports business. France was ranked 10th last year by the magazine. The magazine’s item on France in this week’s issue reads as follows: “The foreword to the 2008 season was written when Brian France proclaimed NASCAR’s intent to get back to the roots of the sport. France set the tone in January by reaching out to those hard-core fans who felt left behind when NASCAR grew beyond its regional roots over the last 10 years. A NASCAR branding campaign followed and many of the sport’s stakeholders, from tracks to network partners, worked that theme into their promotions and broadcasts. With an industry that depends so heavily on sponsorship facing tough times in 2008 and tougher times in 2009, France’s leadership will be under close inspection. But it’s clear – as this season showed – that when he sets an agenda, most everyone in the sport falls in line.” John Henry, whose Fenway Sports Group owns the Boston Red Sox and half of Roush Fenway Racing, is 20th on the list. Topping the list is ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer.(SceneDaily), see more at sportsbusinessjournal.com(12-15-2008) Comment here
  • Loeb wins ROC: Five-time world rally champ Sebastien Loeb prevailed in the Race of Champions on Sunday, but NASCAR star Carl Edwards provided the night’s biggest upset, downing Michael Schumacher in a second-round clash. Edwards, who represented the USA with drifting standout Tanner Foust, narrowly edged the seven-time Formula One champ on the Wembley Stadium course. Edwards lost in the semifinals to former F1 driver David Coulthard, who fell to Loeb in a closely contested three-heat final. Edwards defeated English Formula 3 champ Jaime Alguersuari in the first round. Foust also provided a big-name knockout, edging Jenson Button in a first-round matchup. In the Nations Cup team competition, Schumacher paired with Sebastian Vettel to lead Team Germany to a repeat title. Schumacher and Vettel swept through the preliminaries undefeated before turning back the Team Scandinavia contingent of Tom Kristensen and Mattias Ekstrom.(USA Today wire)(12-15-2008)

News from December 7, 2008

  • France asks Congress to help Big Three automakers: NASCAR chairman Brian France has lobbied Congress to support a financial rescue plan for the struggling Big Three automakers. Chrysler, Ford and General Motors – three of the four manufacturers that participate in NASCAR – are pleading with Congress for a bailout to prevent their companies from going bankrupt. “I’m writing you as a concerned American who wants what is best for our great country,” France wrote. “Of course, the domestic automobile manufacturers play a very important part of the heritage of NASCAR, but more importantly, it is vital for all of America.” The letter, a copy of which was obtained Saturday by The Associated Press, was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Banking Committee. It was dated Tuesday. France’s letter warned that if the auto industry fails, 3 million people would lose their jobs in the first year, and another 2.5 million over the following two years. He said personal income in the U.S. would drop by $150 billion in the first year and domestic automobile production – even by foreign manufacturers – would likely drop to zero. “For these manufacturers to survive, your assistance is urgently needed,” France wrote. “By immediately supporting America’s automobile industry, you can help our nation avoid a devastating economic blow. We urge the Administration and Congress to support the bridge loan package under deliberation. As unattractive as the idea of corporate federal bailouts can be to many Americans, including me, there appears to be no alternative. Federal aid is in the best interest of the entire country.” Although France said last month that NASCAR could survive a manufacturer pullback or pullout, teams throughout the industry are deeply concerned about the stability of the Big Three. Toyota, the only foreign manufacturer that participates in NASCAR, has also seen slumping sales but is on more solid financial footing than the American automakers. Any sort of pullback by the manufacturers would cripple many race teams, particularly because sponsorship is extremely difficult to find during the economic crisis. Many teams have been forced to release employees, and some are reconsidering their 2009 plans.(see full story at the Associated Press)(12-7-2008) Comment here
  • Some Homestead images added: #09 Miccosukee, #6 AAA, #10 Valvoline, #19 Hellmanns, #21 Motorcraft, #25 GoDaddy, #28 AllSport, #29 Pennzoil/Shell, #42 Juicy Fruit, #43 Liberty Mutual, #47 Little Debbie’s, #48 Kobalt Tools, #70 Haas Automation 25th Anniversary, #83 Red Bull [Scott Speed], see my Paint Schemes Gallery for more.(12-7-2008)
  • Logano to run Daytona ARCA race? UPDATE: Look for Joey Logano, scheduled to run the #20 Home Depot Toyota in 2009, to test at Dayotna in December in Venturini Motorsports ARCA car and may run the ARCA race at Daytona in February. Logano ran for Venturini Motorsports at Talladega and finished 2nd.(12-1-2008)
    UPDATE: Venturini Motorsports announced that the Concord, NC-based team would be fielding a full-time ARCA RE/MAX Series team in 2009 with Surrey British, Columbia driver Ryan Fischer as the driver. Fischer has nine previous ARCA Series starts in 2007 and 2008 for Venturini Motorsports with a career-best finish of third at Kentucky Speedway in 2008. Venturini Motorsports also announced that veteran crew chief Steve Darne would be crew chiefing for Fischer. In addition, Venturini Motorsports announced a continued alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing under which Sprint Cup Series driver #20-Joey Logano would be running at least two ARCA RE/MAX Series races for Venturini Motorsports in 2009 at Daytona and Pocono.(ARCARacing.com)(12-7-2008) Comment here


    News from December 6, 2008

  • Yarborough Surprises Johnson With Ring Presentation: Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Cale Yarborough made an unannounced appearance tonight at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York City. Followed by a rousing standing ovation, Yarborough presented the championship ring to 2008 series champion Jimmie Johnson during this year’s annual ceremony. The two champions will be forever linked in NASCAR lore. This season, Johnson joined Yarborough as the only drivers to win three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. Yarborough accomplished the historic feat from 1976-78. During Yarborough’s incredible three-year stretch, he posted 28 wins, 70 top-five and 74 top-10 finishes.
    “Somebody finally did it,” Yarborough said. “I set a pretty good record, didn’t I? It took them 30 years to tie it. There are only two of us who have done it in the 60 years of the sport. That’s a pretty good accomplishment. You know, I haven’t been to this banquet in several years, but tonight I feel like I got my racing spirit back. You know, all he really did is tie the record – he still has to break it. He still has some work to do. I want to congratulate Jimmie; he’s a great man and a great racer. I know he’s going to win some more championships. Maybe he can skip a year though.”
    Yarborough’s famous swagger continues to this day. During his speech, he told team owner Rick Hendrick that if there was a ride open in his stable, he could have the first 70-year-old series champion. Yarborough turns 70 next March. Johnson matched Yarborough’s record with another typically brilliant performance. In 2008, Johnson had seven wins, 15 top fives and 22 top 10s. “What a surprise and what an honor to have Cale present me with the championship ring,” Johnson said. “I’m pretty much floored.”
    The Yarborough ring presentation was the culmination of a night filled with memory-making moments. Earlier in the program, Betty Jane France – widow of former NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr. – introduced Academy Award winning actor Kevin Costner, who made some remarks commemorating the 60th anniversary season of NASCAR. Costner was later joined on stage by seven-time champion Richard Petty, who spoke on the impact NASCAR has had on his life and the tremendous growth of the sport. Also in attendance was Academy Award nominee Tom Cruise, who played Cole Trickle in the NASCAR-themed film Days of Thunder.(NASCAR PR) see images, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-6-2008)
  • Wood Brothers team to cut back to 12 races in 2009: The legendary #21-Wood Brothers organization will run only 12 Sprint Cup races next season. Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing, said tough economic times have forced the organization to enter only the season-opening Daytona 500 and mile-and-a-half tracks with Bill Elliott, the 1985 Cup champion. The mile-and-a-half tracks were picked because Ford’s program is strongest there. “We could run up to 20 but we decided to do 12 and do it right,” Wood said Saturday. “We’re going back to doing it the way we did it years ago.” The organization used to pick and choose races in the early years. It ran only 18 races in 1973, with David Pearson, who won 11 of them. Wood said the organization, which lost Air Force as a sponsor to Gillett Evernham Motorsports, had to let 22 employees go to reduce the team to about 40.(ESPN.com)(12-6-2008) Comment here
  • Carl Edwards won’t cancel trip to Thailand #99-Carl Edwards still plans to visit Thailand later this month, despite that country’s recent political turmoil. Sprint Cup Series champion #48-Jimmie Johnson canceled his planned trip after protestors targeted airports for sit-ins and even shut down the airport in Bangkok for a week. But Edwards and his fiancé, Dr. Kate Downey, are not changing their plans to bike through the country. “I am going to do it,” Edwards said. “If the airport is open, we’re going. I couldn’t be more excited about it. I talked to a couple of people, and they said it’s really a peaceful nation and even the protests are peaceful. I think it will be good.”(SceneDaily)(12-6-2008)
  • Most Popular Driver = Dale Jr.: NASCAR fans across the nation have once again made a statement about their favorite driver.  After tallying over one million votes, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the recipient of the 2008 NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award.  Throughout the race season, fans voted daily for over 40 of their favorite drivers online at chexmostpopulardriver.com.  Earnhardt Jr. was presented with the award at the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Media Luncheon in New York City on Dec 4th.  The award is Earnhardt Jr.’s sixth consecutive win since 2003.  Only Bill Elliott (1991-2000) has more consecutive wins. The NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award has been given annually since 1956 and today is the only award for NASCAR’s top drivers given by the fans.  The six wins by Earnhardt Jr. moved him past Bobby Allison and now only behind Richard Petty (9) and Bill Elliott (16) for most total awards. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win this award now for the sixth time, and I can tell you it never gets old.” said Earnhardt Jr.  “I’ve said it many times before that this award is special because it’s the voice of the fans. I think back to over a year ago when I made the decision to go to Hendrick Motorsports, and my biggest concern was whether the fans would support my decision.” continued Earnhardt Jr.  “They did, and I will always be grateful for that.  I appreciate everyone who voted, and I want to thank Chex and the National Motorsports Press Association for all they do for the sport.”
    “The fans have spoken, and it’s obvious that Dale Earnhardt Jr. truly is amongst the elite of fans’ support,” said Tom Jensen, President of the National Motorsports Press Association. “He deserves this award, and we’re thankful for all the fans who continue to vote and make this award a rich part of our sports history.” The NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award is recognized as one of the sport’s pioneering awards.
    Drivers first voted amongst themselves for a winner before fans later voted on the winner. The top 10 drivers receiving the most votes in alphabetical order were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.(DalrJr.com)(12-6-2008) Comment here


    News from December 5, 2008

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week – Day 5: A busy week in New York City culminated Friday evening with the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. Jimmie Johnson, who etched his name in the NASCAR record books by becoming only the second driver in the sport’s history to win three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, was officially coronated as the 2008 series titlist. The #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team relished in the spotlight Friday afternoon, posing for dozens of photographs with Johnson and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Trophy. It’s a ritual that Johnson says he looks forward to continuing in 2009 and beyond. “Yes, I want to win a fourth championship,” said Johnson, who along with Cale Yarborough is the only NASCAR driver to ever win three straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles. “Right now, I’m just part of history. I’d love to make history. I’m not pulling a Babe Ruth and pointing over the outfield fence and saying I’m going to hit it over here, but yeah, I want to win a fourth championship. We’ll see.”
    Team owner Rick Hendrick, whose teams have won eight series championships, says the chemistry on the No. 48 team has helped provide a winning combination. “There’s a lot of talent on that team, but the thing that really impresses me is how well they work together toward achieving the common goal of winning a championship,” said Hendrick. “They stay motivated and have that “refuse to lose” mentality. For the most part, the team has remained intact from the inception and the consistency has been a real plus in helping them get to the level they are today.”
    Johnson’s wife, Chandra, says it’s amazing to see how passionate her husband is about his work. “Jimmie loves what he does for a living and that’s a real blessing,” said Chandra. “The passion he has for driving that race car is unbelievable.”
    Friday night’s awards ceremony not only recognized Johnson and his championship team, it also featured the remaining top 10 drivers from the 2008 season, including Kyle Busch (10th); Tony Stewart (9th); Denny Hamlin (8th); Jeff Gordon (7th); Jeff Burton (6th); Clint Bowyer (5th); Kevin Harvick (4th); Greg Biffle (3rd); and Carl Edwards (2nd).
    Actor and film director Kevin Costner made some remarks during the banquet regarding NASCAR’s recently completed 60th anniversary season and was joined at the podium by seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty. The musical group Matchbox 20 performed and comedian John Pinette also entertained the audience.(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-5-2008)

  • Labonte to the #41 ride? A possible scenario that could play out if this deal [Petty-GEM merger] goes through would place Reed Sorensen, who signed with GEM in August, in the #43. AJ Allmendinger, who parted ways with Red Bull Racing after the Kansas Speedway race in September and drove the #10 GEM Dodge for the final five races of the season, would remain in that ride according to sources. Bobby Labonte, who signed a four-year extension with the new BV regime and was given ownership as part of his benefit package. Now, it appears that Labonte could drive the #41 Target car for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing.(FoxSportsComment here

  • Blaney will be back in 2009: Dave Blaney will be driving a race car next year. Where he races and what circuit he’s involved with are questions he can’t answer at this time. Blaney, who drove the Caterpillar #22 Toyota of Bill Davis Racing on the Sprint Cup Series last season, is facing the economic crunch. The flow of money that once poured into the world’s most popular racing circuit has slowed to the point that NASCAR has placed a one-year moratorium on testing at tracks where events are staged to save costs. Caterpillar recently ended its association with BDR. Blaney is hoping to land another Cup ride but is realistic in knowing he might have to look elsewhere. “It’s up in the air at the moment,” he said. “There aren’t many Cup rides at all. The 22 team is shut down. Other teams are in the same ball park. Some are trying to round up enough money to race. It’s pretty tough.” The most logical landing point for Blaney is NASCAR’s Truck Series. He’s raced trucks twice and is intrigued by the idea of switching to that style of racing. “It’s good racing,” he said. “If you can land with a competitive team with a chance to win races and run for the championship, heck yeah, it would be very interesting.”(Tribune Chronicle )(12-5-2008) Comment here

  • Hamlin visits Japan: #11-Denny Hamlin recently visited Japan to participate in Toyota’s annual Motor Sports Day at Fuji Speedway. The event featured Toyota drivers from a variety of different racing series, including NASCAR and Formula One, as well as Toyota race cars that participate in various racing series. “This was my first time traveling overseas,” said Hamlin, who took a few demonstration laps in the JGR Camry. “It was an excellent experience. The Fuji Speedway was a good track and I was impressed with the Japanese fans and how excited they were to see a NASCAR race car. It was really enjoyable and I’m glad I was able to attend Toyota’s Motorsports Day.”(Toyota Motorsports PR)(12-5-2008) Comment here

  • Smith still in limbo over 2009 Sprint Cup ride: Regan Smith doesn’t expect to be part of the new Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing team but said Wednesday he continues to have promising discussions with other teams. Smith, talking at the New York City bar Foley’s as part of his winning NASCAR’s top Sprint Cup rookie award, said he has little dialogue with the new leadership at Earnhardt-Ganassi in the weeks since he completed his first Sprint Cup season at Dale Earnhardt Inc. DEI and Chip Ganassi Racing are merging and the #01 car Smith drove in 2008 will not be around next season. “I’m not going to say there’s no chance of it, but I haven’t had very much conversation with them [at Earnhardt-Ganassi] about it,” Smith said. “It’s probably more of a slim chance than some of the other opportunities I’ve got right now.” Among the teams Smith has visited was Furniture Row Racing in Colorado. That team likely will run a partial schedule next season. “I’ve been to the shop, and it’s a great place, a great organization and they’ve got a lot of tools to work with out there,” Smith said. “I was definitely very impressed with it. I didn’t realize there was a shop with that much technology outside of North Carolina.”(SceneDaily)(12-5-2008) Comment here
  • Trouble at Dale Jr’s Charlotte nightclub: Police have charged a bouncer at an uptown Charlotte bar with selling drugs to undercover officers. Anthony Ortega Rodriguez, 28, was arrested on Tuesday after police received complaints about drugs being sold at Whiskey River. The bar – located at the new EpiCentre — is owned by NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Police say that when they arrested Rodriguez he was carrying 12 bags with 15 grams of cocaine.(News 14)(12-5-2008)

  • Stewart-Haas Still Searching For #39 sponsorship: Tony Stewart doesn’t necessarily equate America’s financial crisis with the fact that he hasn’t yet secured full sponsorship on teammate Ryan Newman’s #39 Chevy for next year’s launching of Stewart-Haas Racing. He thinks the bigger problem was the delay in getting Newman in the fold. “Obviously, we wished we could’ve announced Ryan coming on board two or three months earlier and got that little bit of a head start trying to secure sponsorship for it,” Stewart said Thursday during the NASCAR Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at Cipriani’s. That said, when Stewart announced in October the deal naming the U.S. Army as sponsor for 22 points races on the #39, he added that he was close to signing another company to fill out the schedule. Two months later, he’s still looking. “This week we’ve got a meeting with a potential sponsor to fill the rest of those races,” Stewart said. “So, even with the economy the way it is, there are still companies out there that are—people aren’t going to stop advertising. They’re not going to shut down their marketing programs.” Burger King, which last sponsored a car for David Reutimann at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2007, is a company initially rumored as a Stewart-Haas target that hasn’t yet affiliated with another team for 2009.(Long Island Press)(12-5-2008) Comment here

  • Championship “Tire Specialist” award announced: Champion Tire & Wheel announced the winner of the annual “Consistently Smooth” award. Sean Kerlin, tire specialist for Hendrick Motorsports #48 team, is the recipient for the 3rd straight year. The award recognizes the skill and effort of the team’s tire specialist in overseeing the organization and management of their tire and wheel program. The tire specialist is a critical piece in the formula for a championship team as it takes over 2,500 tires and wheels during the course of a full Sprint Cup season. The lead crystal trophy will be presented to Sean at the team’s shop with #48 team manager Michael Landis, and crew chief Chad Knaus. (Champion Tire and Wheel PR)(12-5-2008)

  • NASCAR to partner with Kevin Costner: NASCAR announced a year-long partnership with actor and director Kevin Costner that will see the Academy Award winner participate in several NASCAR initiatives, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards banquet, narration of a new NASCAR movie and the exclusive debut of the latest music video for Kevin Costner and Modern West on NASCAR.COM. “As a long time NASCAR fan, I’m very excited about this partnership,” said Kevin Costner, who has starred in several sports-themed movies. “They have tremendous fans, which are truly the most passionate in all of sports.” Costner kicks-off the partnership with a special guest appearance at the Sprint Cup Series’ annual Champions Banquet at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on December 5 (9:00pm/et on ESPN Classic). Costner narrates a special tribute to the 60th Anniversary of NASCAR. Additionally, Costner and his band, Modern West, will debut the music video for their newest single, “Backyard,” exclusively on NASCAR.com beginning on Monday, Dec. 8. Costner will also serve as the voice of the latest NASCAR film. “The Ride of Their Lives,” narrated by Costner, is a first-person account of the history and heroes of NASCAR brought to life through the men and women who lived the dream. The film includes new, exclusive interviews with famed NASCAR personalities Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, and tells the story of how family dynamics weaved a thread through a half-century of racing. Produced by CMT Films and NASCAR Media Group, “The Ride of Their Lives” premieres Dec. 13 on CMT [9pm/et].(Rogers & Cowan PR)(12-5-2008)

  • Childress selected as recipient of 2008 Humanitarian Award: The Home Depot and NASCAR announced that Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing and former NASCAR driver, was selected as the recipient of the 2008 NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Childress is honored for establishing the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The award is open to any member of the NASCAR community who has shown extraordinary dedication to serving others and improving communities through meaningful service efforts. As the 2008 NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian of the Year, Childress received a $100,000 donation made by The Home Depot to his charity of choice, the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and a specially-designed crystal award.
    In 2008, Childress made a $5 million donation to establish the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. The Childress Institute aspires to impact the chances of a child dying from a traumatic injury through advancing and disseminating research and knowledge on the treatment and care of children with traumatic injuries. Traumatic injury is the leading cause of death for children in the United States, and the Childress Institute will focus on research, education, treatment, prevention and raising awareness of childhood injuries. Childress is currently working with a number of organizations and donors in an effort to raise additional support for the Institute. The other finalists for the award were Artie Kempner, coordinating director of NASCAR for FOX Sports and founder of the Autism Society of Delaware, and Ryan Newman, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver for Penske Racing, founder of Racing for Wildlife with The Conservation Fund and animal rights advocate. They received a $25,000 donation each to their designated non-profit organizations.
    All active employees within the NASCAR industry – drivers, owners, team and track employees, licensees, media partners, and motorsports media – were eligible to receive the NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Nominees were assessed based on their community commitment and dedication; impact on the community; and charitable giving of their time and talents. A blue-ribbon committee comprised of representatives from NASCAR, The Home Depot and motorsports media selected the NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award winner. The NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award was established in 2007. The inaugural Humanitarian Award winner was Don Miller, a former Penske Racing executive. Miller started the Stock-for-Tots program as a holiday event to collect toys and raise funds for Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN).(NASCAR PR)(12-5-2008)


    News from December 4, 2008

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week – Day 4: The top performers from the recently completed 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season were honored Thursday at the annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon at Cipriani in New York City. Bob Bahre, long a champion promoter and supporter of stock-car racing in the New England region, collected one of NASCAR’s most prestigious and longest-running awards, as the former owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, received the Buddy Shuman Award. Presented since 1957, the award annually recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to NASCAR racing. “We might have built the thing, but it’s been the fans and drivers who have made it what it is today,” Bahre said.
    Longtime NASCAR photographer Thomas Taylor Warren, affectionately known to the motorsports community as “T. Taylor,” is the recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award for 2008. Warren was recognized for a lifetime achievement in NASCAR photography. Accepting on behalf of Warren, who died on Oct. 8 at the age of 83, was NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications, Jim Hunter. “T. Taylor was a true pioneer in NASCAR photography,” Hunter said. “He may no longer be with us, but his photographs will live forever.”
    Team owner Richard Childress was the recipient of the NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award. Childress recently helped fund the establishment of the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at Wake Forest University’s Baptist Medical Center. “This is an important cause that we really believe in,” Childress said. “More than 12,000 children die each year from traumatic accidents. We’re committed to do all we can to help make life better for some of these children.”
    For the sixth straight year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award. More than 1.2 million fan votes were cast for Earnhardt Jr. “It’s a great honor to be chosen by the fans once again,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “NASCAR fans are the best in all of sports and we’re fortunate to have a large group of fans that have been extremely loyal to us over the years.”
    Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson picked up five awards and his #48 Hendrick Motorsports team received three other awards. “Today was an opportunity to reflect back on all of the hard work and effort put in by everyone at the race shop,” Johnson said. “The emotions kind of go over the top when you take a moment and realize just how special each of these individuals have been in sharing in the success we’ve had the past three seasons.”
    Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners:
    * Buddy Shuman Award – Bob Bahre
    * NASCAR Home Depot Humanitarian Award – Richard Childress
    * NMPA Myers Brothers Award – Thomas Taylor Warren
    * Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    * Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award – Regan Smith
    * DirecTV Crew Chief of the Year Award – Steve Addington
    * Dow Automotive Strategic Call of the Race Award – Carl Edwards
    * Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Year Award – Bob Osborne
    * MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award – Hendrick Motorsports
    * Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Award – #48 team
    * Mobil 1 Command Performance Award – Ryan Newman
    * USG Improving the Finish Award – Jeff Burton
    * Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award – Jimmie Johnson
    * WIX Filters Lap Leader Award – Jimmie Johnson
    * Coors Light Pole Award – Jimmie Johnson
    * Sunoco Diamond Performance Award – Jimmie Johnson
    * Goodyear Award – Jimmie Johnson
    * Championship Sponsor Award – Lowe’s
    * Champion Crew Chief Award – Chad Knaus
    (NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-4-2008)

  • Petty-GEM merger? UPDATE 3: hearing there could be an announcement as soon as today that Gillett Evernham Motorsports [#9,10,#19] and Petty Enterprises [#43,#45] has merged.(12-4-2008)
    UPDATE: SI.com has learned that Petty Enterprises’ top operation will not return in 2009. The organization will merge with George Gillett, giving that team its fourth car. No word on the future association with Petty Enterprises and Boston Ventures, although Boston Ventures may maintain some involvement in the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Official announcement of the news could come as early as this afternoon. No word on whether Richard Petty will have an ownership stake as part of the merger agreement.(Sports Illustrated)(12-4-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Petty Enterprises is in discussions to merge its storied franchise with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Multiple people familiar with the talks told the AP that the two teams are discussing a deal that would merge Petty’s #43 Dodge with GEM to become a four-car operation. They requested anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing. SI.com first reported Thursday that Petty Enterprises’ top operation will not return in 2009. But David Zucker, CEO of Petty Enterprises, said the report was “not accurate.” He would not discuss a potential merger. “We’re not going to comment on rumors and speculation,” he said. Petty has no full-time sponsorship lined up for next season. The team fields cars for Bobby Labonte, Chad McCumbee and Kyle Petty. Robbie Loomis, vice president of Petty Enterprises, told the AP nothing has changed with the organization, and the team is continuing to talk to potential partners. Drew Brown, a spokesman for GEM, did not immediately return a call for comment.(Associated Press)(12-4-2008)
    UPDATE 3: Petty Enterprises remains in discussions with Gillett Evernham Motorsports to merge into a four-car operation, sources told ESPN.com on Thursday. A report by SI.com that the merger would happen and that Petty Enterprises would not return in 2009, according to multiple sources, is premature. Drew Brown, the director of communications at GEM, said the status of the company has not changed and there are no impending announcements. Officials at the office of GEM majority owner George Gillett were surprised by the report. “We’re just not going to comment on speculation,” Brown said. Should such a merger happen it would shrink the garage by another car, the 45 driven by Kyle Petty, Chad McCumbee and Terry Labonte last season. The #43 of Bobby Labonte would combine with GEM’s #9 of Kasey Kahne, #19 of Elliott Sadler and #10 of Reed Sorenson. A merger could also mean the end of NASCAR’s most storied organization as it has been known since 1969. Owner and seven-time champion Richard Petty sold majority interest in Petty Enterprises earlier this year to Boston Ventures but maintained the Petty name. It is unclear if a potential merger with GEM would incorporate both parties or if the Petty Driving Experience would be included. News of the SI.com report spread rapidly through the Manhattan banquet room that hosted a Thursday awards luncheon featuring the top 12 drivers from this past season. GEM has already benefited from the merger of DEI and Ganassi, which will run under General Motors — Ganassi was a Dodge team — and use engines prepared by Earnhardt-Childress Racing. The #10 car that was 37th in points will move into the top 35 guaranteed a spot in the field because the two DEI cars lost in the merger have been eliminated from the top 35. The #47 car that will be driven by Marcos Ambrose for JTG-Daugherty moved from 36 to 35. “Everybody will just shift up,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. “We will use the top 35 at the track.”(ESPN)(12-4-2008) Comment here

  • Bob Bahre Named 2009 Buddy Shuman Award Winner: Bob Bahre, long a champion promoter and supporter of stock-car racing in the New England region, collected one of NASCAR’s most prestigious and longest-running awards today in New York City. Bahre received the Buddy Shuman Award during the 2008 NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon. Presented since 1957, the award annually recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to NASCAR racing. It honors the late Buddy Shuman, a pioneering NASCAR driver who died in a hotel fire in Nov. 1955. “Bob was a pioneer in NASCAR’s growth in the northeast,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “He’s one of the most respected men in the sport – ever.” Bahre, 80, is the former owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway. A resident of Paris Hill, Maine, he purchased what is now New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 1989 and re-opened it – following reconstruction and renovations – in 1990. NASCAR events have been held at the track since July 1990. Bahre also owned and operated Oxford Plains Speedway from 1986-’94. He’s also renowned for his collection of vintage cars, which he shares with the public each summer during a Founder’s Day festival in Paris Hill. As New England’s largest sports facility, New Hampshire Motor Speedway includes a 1.056-mile oval track and a 1.6-mile road course and room for 105,491 spectators. A new chapter in the track’s history began in Nov. 2007, when Bahre and his son Gary sold the facility to Speedway Motorsports Inc. More recognition is forthcoming: Bahre will be inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Jan. 25, 2009.(NASCAR PR)(12-4-2008)

  • Tire Testing at Las Vegas: there is a Goodyear Tire test scheduled at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on December 10-11, 2008, hearing the drivers to test will be #99-Carl Edwards, #5-Mark Martin, #83-Brian Vickers and #12-David Stremme.(12-4-2008)

  • Testing at Nashville: Gillett Evernham Motorsports tested Wednesday, Dec. 3rd at the Nashville Superspeedway with Reed Sorenson and Dennis Setzer as the drivers on the 1.33 mile Superspeedway. The test was closed to the public. Chip Ganassi [Earnhardt Ganassi Racing?] was scheduled to test Thursday, but it is raining at the track.(Nashville Superspeedway)(12-4-2008)

  • McCumbee not sure of 2008 plans UPDATE: Despite several Internet reports that link Chad McCumbee to a full-time seat in the #44 car for Petty Enterprises next season, McCumbee said the sagging economy has changed a lot of plans. “We have to wait for sponsorship,” he said. “If we don’t have it, we can’t go racing. We’ve had some things lined up, but when companies start to struggle, NASCAR sponsorship will be the first to go.” McCumbee said he doesn’t “have an answer” to what next year will look like, but is “confident we will be able to run some,” in the Sprint Cup Series. He also said he may return to the Craftsman Truck Series. McCumbee is scheduled to run Sunday’s Seneca 250 Late Model stock car race at Myrtle Beach Speedway.(Myrtle Beach Sun News)(11-22-2008)
    UPDATE: #44?/#45?-Chad McCumbee is under contract to drive for Petty Enterprises in 2009, though the number of Sprint Cup races he and the second Petty team will run as a teammate to Bobby Labonte will depend on sponsorship, the team has confirmed. Petty Enterprises CEO David Zucker was asked about his plans for McCumbee at the Street & Smith’s Motorsports Marketing Forum. “It’s tough to break into the sport, and I think expectations sometimes get ahead of the game,” Zucker said. “We’ve seen it with some of the younger drivers. It takes a while. We don’t want to bring them [up] too fast. … You’ve got to invest in younger drivers. The sport needs it. Our plan is to bring him in and get him some exposure but not bring him in too fast.”(NASCAR.com)(12-4-2008) Comment here

  • Daytona 500 in 3-D? Fox Sports Chairman David Hill says Fox hopes to let theatergoers use 3-D glasses to watch February’s NASCAR Daytona 500. Hill says sports in 3-D is “fabulous,” and high-def TV “has just been a steppingstone” to get to 3-D. But even though TV sets already being sold are 3-D-ready, he says don’t expect TV networks to lead the way.(USA Today)(12-4-2008) Comment here

  • #48 Team wins most valuable pit crew honors: A key component of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team’s championship formula is the performance of the over-the-wall crew. In the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, Jimmie Johnson’s performance on the track was matched with near perfection on pit road by the pit crew. The result was a third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship for Johnson and the Hendrick Motorsports team which equaled the 30-year record established by Cale Yarborough (1976-1978). For their effort on pit road, the #48 crew has earned the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award for the third time and second consecutive year.
    The #48 Hendrick Motorsports team, led by crew chief Chad Knaus, swept fourth-quarter honors last year en route to its second year-end award and $100,000 bonus. The team also won in 2004. In the 10 races that made up the Chase, the 48 team had only two finishes (15th at Texas and Homestead-Miami) outside the top 10. Johnson had three wins and a pair of seconds and finished the season with seven trips to victory lane, 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.
    The #48 Lowe’s Chevy team: Greg Morin – Pit Crew Coach; Kenneth Purcell – Jackman; Mike Lingerfelt – Front-Tire Changer; Art Simmons – Front-Tire Carrier; Jeremy West – Rear-Tire Changer; Ron Malec – Rear-Tire Carrier; Rick Gutierrez – Gas man; Mike Knauer – Catch Can; Chad Knaus – Crew Chief. The first-quarter winner was the #18 M&M’s over-the-wall crew from Joe Gibbs Racing while the #9 Budweiser Dodge team from Gillett Evernham Motorsports prevailed in the second quarter. Third-quarter honors went to the #99 crew from Roush Fenway Racing. The #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team emerged the fourth-quarter winner.(Mechanix Wear/C4 Explosive Communications PR)(12-4-2008) Comment here

  • Johnson cancels trip to Thailand: #48-Jimmie Johnson has tabled a planned offseason trip to Thailand after protestors had shut down an airport in Bangkok for a week and left the country’s government in turmoil. “We just canceled our trip and [are] trying to think of what to do now,” Johnson said Tuesday. “We’re on short notice, and I’m sure we can think something out. We really wanted to travel somewhere off the wall and far. I’m not sure where we’ll end up now.”(SceneDaily)(12-4-2008)

  • NASCAR Kart Racing: Five things you need to know: Mario Kart meets Jimmie Johnson. That’s the simplest way to breakdown EA Sports’ sudden shift in direction for its NASCAR series. Produced exclusively for the Wii (and now under the Freestyle brand), NASCAR Kart Racing looks to combine the arcade-nature of power-ups and tracks that do more than turn left with actual NASCAR strategy like teamwork and drafting. “The Wii is the number one console in North America, and when you look at the Wii audience, they’re not the traditional hard-core gamers,” explains Ryan Stradling, the game’s Senior Development Director and the founder of EA North Carolina. “The Wii really appeals to the whole family and we want to take the NASCAR series in that direction, so that the whole family could play together and have that living room experience”. So what should you expect? How about Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart dropping oil slicks behind them as they race for first, the Dover monster starring as an actual monster on the track, and teammates who are able to work together to slingshot one another to first place. See more at ESPN Video Games.(12-4-2008)

  • The Unofficial Layoff Count since end of season:
    (exceptions noted)
    Dale Earnhardt Inc — 120
    Ganassi — 71 (from shutdown of the #40 team in June)
    Bill Davis Racing — 60
    Richard Petty Driving Experience — approx 45
    Roush Fenway Racing — 35
    Petty Enterprises — 30
    Wood Brothers — 25
    Furniture Row — 25 [approx]
    Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies — 25 [approx]
    Hendrick Motorsports — 19
    Stewart-Haas — 16
    Richard Childress Racing — 15
    JTG Daugherty Racing — 12
    Michael Waltrip Racing — 12
    Ernie Elliott Inc [Ganassi engines] — 9
    Joe Gibbs Engines — approx 5
    Hall of Fame — heard many were let go this week, no number yet
    Yates — Unknown
    See my Racing Schools/Jobs page for news, postings, links and more including Racers Form Support Website, Motorsports Employment Task Force and more.(as of 12-4-2008)


    News from December 3, 2008

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week – Day 3: Day Three of Champions Week was a busy one indeed for three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson got an early start in the morning, by ringing the New York Stock Exchange’s Opening Bell, in what has become an annual tradition for the series champion. Following an appearance at the Tissot Countdown Clock event at the Marquee of the Hard Rock Café, Johnson attended the March of Dimes Luncheon at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, where he was the recipient of the organization’s Sportsman of the Year Award.
    Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and team owner Rick Hendrick later attended a media luncheon at Foley’s Pub and Restaurant, where more than 40 New York City and Northeast region media visited with and interviewed the three key components of this year’s No. 48 championship team. A host of NASCAR fans from the area were also in attendance, as Johnson posed for photographs and signed autographs for the faithful. 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raysbestos Rookie of the Year Regan Smith was also recognized at the luncheon.
    “It (winning three straight championships) is starting to sink in some,” said Johnson, who joins Cale Yarborough as the only NASCAR drivers to ever win three consecutive titles. “I probably won’t realize just how special this run’s been until I retire one day. I can tell you that we’re already looking ahead to next season, and doing all we can to win another championship. I can remember I was up in our transporter at Texas late in the season and Chad (Knaus) was already studying some computer data regarding next year’s Daytona 500 car.”
    Hendrick, who won his eighth team championship this season, says the accomplishments of the No. 48 team have been extraordinary. “The work and dedication from this race team have been second to none,” said Hendrick. “To win three straight championships in a sport as competitive as NASCAR is really extra special.” Knaus applauded the leadership Hendrick provides to the entire organization. “To win three in a row is a real tribute to the leadership “Mr. H” provides our team,” said Knaus, who becomes the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win three straight championships. “He’s such a special person in my life.” Smith, a native of Upstate New York, said winning the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award was a “tremendous honor.” “Being able to celebrate this award in my home state is really a big deal,” said Smith. “This is actually my first trip to New York City and I know it’s going to be an awesome experience.”
    Thursday – Johnson’s major event this day is the annual NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon at Cipriani. He’ll be joined by the rest of the top 12 drivers in the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, plus Raybestos Rookie of the Year Regan Smith and other annual award winners. Following the awards luncheon, Johnson will participate in the traditional Times Square photo shoot outside the Hard Rock Café, then attend the annual Stewie Awards, orchestrated by fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, at Sirius/XM Satellite Radio studios.
    Friday – The Big Day. Johnson, his family and his Hendrick Motorsports team will participate in traditional photos during the afternoon, before attending the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony that evening in the Waldorf=Astoria’s Grand Ballroom.(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-3-2008)

  • Parrott to GEM? Hearing crew chief Todd Parrott, who recently left Yates Racing, could end up at Gillett Evernham Motorsports, reuniting with #19-Elliott Sadler. Sadler and Parrott worked together when Sadler drove the #38 M&M’s Ford for Yates. Parrott would replace Rodney Childers who is supposedly headed to the #00 to crew chief David Reutimann.(12-3-2008)Comment here

  • Automakers make their case: Humbled and fighting for survival, Detroit’s once-mighty automakers appealed to Congress with a retooled case for a bailout as large as $34 billion Tuesday, pledging to slash workers, car lines and executive pay in return for a federal lifeline. GM and Chrysler said they needed an immediate cash infusion to last ’til New Year’s, and warned they could drag the entire industry down if they fail. Chrysler LLC said it needed $7 billion by year’s end, and General Motors Corp. asked for a quick $4 billion as just the first installment of as much as $18 billion to stay afloat and weather even worse economic storms. Ford Motor Co. had a more upbeat report, but the other two members of the U.S. Big Three painted the direst portraits to date – including the prospects of shuttered factories and massive job losses – of what could happen if Congress doesn’t quickly step in.(See full story at the Associated Press site)(12-3-2008) Comment here

  • NASCAR R&D Center Wins SAE Award: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Motorsports Engineering Conference Award was presented to the NASCAR Research and Development Center on Tuesday for its efforts towards “designing safer and more competitive vehicles.” NASCAR’s new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car, a seven-year project undertaken at the R&D Center, made its debut on the track in 2007 and was fully implemented into the series at the beginning of the 2008 season. The new car was designed with three primary goals in mind: improving driver safety, improving competition, and helping teams be more cost efficient. Peter Wright, FIA Technical Consultant and the conference’s keynote address speaker, presented the award to Mike Fisher, NASCAR’s Managing Director of the R&D Center. “The NASCAR R&D Center is honored to receive this award and our thanks and appreciation go out to all of the people in our industry who have been involved with the development of the new car, including the race teams, owners, manufacturers, and the staff here at the R&D Center,” said Fisher. “Safety is our #1 priority and is certainly an initiative that we work on every single day.”(NASCAR PR)(12-3-2008)

  • Johnson named Sporting News Driver of the Year: Jimmie Johnson, who drove to a record-tying third consecutive Sprint Cup championship, is Sporting News’ 2008 Driver of the Year. Sporting News’ voting was conducted by a panel of 14 drivers, 14 crew chiefs and three owners from the Sprint Cup Series. The full awards appear in the new issue of Sporting News magazine, which hits newsstands later this week. Sporting News’ other winners:
    — Dale Earnhardt Tough Driver of the Year: Carl Edwards
    — Owner of the year: Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Motorsports
    — Rookie of the Year: Regan Smith
    — Crew chief of the year: Chad Knaus.(Sporting News)(12-3-2008) Comment here

  • Evernham quitting NASCAR to buy a track? UPDATE 2: NASCAR team owner Ray Evernham announced Thursday night in Lincolnton [NC] that he is in advanced negotiations to purchase the East Lincoln Speedway and plans to retire from NASCAR. Evernham and partner Bob Mack of Cornelius-based RPM Group Holdings said they had hoped to have the keys to the speedway in their hands when they appeared at the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce’s Business After-Hours event to make the announcement, but were prevented from doing so as negotiations continued. Evernham said he has already sold off most of his interest in the Gillett-Evernham Motorsports race team and is ending his career with NASCAR. “I want to get back into grassroots racing,” he told the gathering of area community leaders and businesspeople. Contacted by the Times-News Friday morning, current track owner Ralph Nantz said he couldn’t “talk much about it right now,” but confirmed that “serious” negotiations with Evernham were under way. “You might say he is showing some interest,” Nantz said. The East Lincoln Speedway has been in operation since 1991 and is a 3/8 mile clay oval track.(Lincoln Times-News), no word if Evernham will be back with ESPN in 2009.(11-22-2008)
    UPDATE: Cup team co-owner Ray Evernham has completed his deal to purchase East Lincoln Speedway and said that might not be the last track he buys. “I will try to save race tracks to keep them from becoming shopping malls,” Evernham said on Sirius NASCAR Radio.(Charlotte Observer)(12-1-2008)
    UPDATE 2: Ray Evernham has announced that he has acquired the assets of the East Lincoln Speedway in Stanley, NC from founders Ralph and Joanne Nantz. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The East Lincoln Speedway is a 3/8 mile dirt track located on Mariposa Road in Lincoln County, NC. The facility was built by the Nantzes and opened for racing in 1990. The 2009 season will mark its 19th consecutive year of racing. The Speedway runs various classes of cars ranging from Micro-sprints to Late Model Modified-Sportsman. Evernham, whom motorsports media voted “The Greatest Crew Chief of All Time”, won three Sprint Cup championships as Jeff Gordon’s crew chief and led Dodge in its re-entry into NASCAR. He remains a minority owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports and is a motorsports analyst for ESPN. “When I sold the majority interest in Evernham Motorsports to George Gilllett in 2007, one of my goals was to find ways to give back to the sport and help up-and-coming drivers find a safe, low-cost way to race,” said Evernham. “Unfortunately, rising property values and land development have taken away many of the great dirt tracks around the country. With the acquisition of the East Lincoln Speedway, I can make sure that racers in the Charlotte area will have access to a safe, low-cost, family friendly racing facility for many years to come.” The transaction was negotiated by Bob Mack, who will also be a minority owner of the speedway. About The East Lincoln Speedway: The East Lincoln Speedway is a 3/8 mile red clay track located off Mariposa Road in Lincoln County, NC. The track typically operates from April through September and racing is held on Saturday evenings. Admission is typically $10 for adults, children under 10 are free. Pit admission is $20. The track is available for rental during the week and has been used in the filming of several movies and commercials. For more information, see the track website at www.elspeedway.com.(Victory Management Group PR)(12-3-2008) Comment here


    News from December 2, 2008

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week – Day 2: Jimmie Johnson visited one of New York City’s most famous landmarks – Central Park – for a photo shoot Tuesday, as the first full day of Champions Week activities unfolded. Among the photos taken were Johnson in front of Wollman Rink, one of two ice skating rinks in Central Park and one of him on a bridge overlooking The Pond in Central Park. Johnson also plans to have his photo taken Thursday afternoon at the intersection of 48th and 3rd Streets, signifying Johnson’s No. 48 team winning its third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
    “We took some cool photos in Central Park; I think those photos are going to be amazing,” said Johnson, who has an apartment in the Chelsea section of New York City. “I like to go running in Central Park when we’re in town and it’s always a good cut through when you’re on the East Side and have to go over to the West Side or Columbus Circle, so I spend a lot of time in Central Park.”
    Earlier in the day, Johnson visited two of the country’s most highly regarded news organizations – the New York Times and Associated Press. At both offices, Johnson met with print and online editors, discussing topics ranging from his record-tying third straight series championship, the type of physical and mental preparation he undergoes each week, how the team analyzes the video, audio and computer data that is available in helping them prepare for each race, the suspension of the testing policy for 2009, the challenges the current state of the economy is posing to the sport, and how he studies other drivers’ styles to help make himself better. Championship crew chief Chad Knaus accompanied Johnson on the Associated Press visit.
    Later Tuesday afternoon, Johnson participated in a Satellite Media Tour, taping interviews with affiliates from more than 10 of the country’s top television markets. Tuesday night he was scheduled to appear on Motor Racing Network’s NASCAR Live national radio program.(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-2-2008)

  • Childers new crew chief for Reutimann? UPDATE: hearing former #19 GEM crew chief, Rodney Childers, will be Reutimann’s crew chief in 2009.(11-26-2008)
    UPDATE: Rodney Childers will leave Gillett Evernham Motorsports, where he was crew chief for #19-Elliott Sadler, to become #00-David Reutimann’s crew chief at Michael Waltrip Racing, according to sources familiar with the situation. An announcement should come later this week. Childers will replace Ryan Pemberton, who left MWR to become Brian Vickers’ crew chief at Red Bull Racing.(SceneDaily)(12-2-2008) Comment here

  • New Crew Chief for McMurray in 2009 UPDATE 3: from a Detroit Free Press article by NASCAR Sprint Cup owner Jack Roush: “By the way, Jamie [McMurray, #26 Ford after his 1st top-5 in over a year] did the job at Charlotte [in the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway], finishing fifth. We’ll be looking to 2009 with a new crew chief for him — mix up the chemistry again”.(Detroit Free Press), so looks like current #26 crew chief, Larry Carter, will not return to the #26 team and McMurray in 2009.(10-17-2008)
    UPDATE: hearing that McMurray will reunite with his former Ganassi crew chief Donnie Wingo and Carter could be headed to Yates Racing as the crew chief for Paul Menard.(10-18-2008)
    UPDATE 2: “I am all for the crew chief change because I’ve worked with the crew chief in the past,” McMurray said of bringing in veteran Donnie Wingo. “He’s like my best friend, and ever since I left Ganassi, I have remained very good friends with Donnie. “The whole time I was at Ganassi, I can remember seeing crew chiefs that had an engineering background and thinking in my head, ‘Damn, I really wish I had a crew chief with that background, because I think that would take me to that next level. Instead of running sixth to 12th, we’ll maybe contend for wins. But I didn’t realize how great I had it. I’ve missed Donnie ever since. Larry’s done a great job, but you kind of get used to working with someone, and I feel like everyone I’ve had since [Wingo], I’ve compared to my times with Donnie. And those were probably some of the best races for me. Next year, I think, should be my best year ever.”(ESPN.com)(11-6-2008)
    UPDATE 3: Roush Fenway Racing announced that Donnie Wingo will serve as crew chief for Jamie McMurray and the #26 Crown Royal / IRWIN Industrial Tools team. Wingo, who has more than 15 years of NASCAR experience, will lead the #26 team in the upcoming Sprint Cup Series season. “I’m thrilled to be working with Jamie again,” said Wingo, who served as McMurray’s crew chief for three seasons at Ganassi Racing. “Jamie and I had some good runs together at Ganassi and we were pretty successful on the track. I’ve seen how well Jamie has performed in the past and I hope with coming over to Roush Fenway Racing we can build on that success. Not only do I get to work with Jamie, but I get to work with four other really good crew chiefs here at Roush Fenway Racing. With the support of them and everyone at Ford Racing, I’m really looking forward to next season.” In 2008, McMurray finished 16th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings with four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. “Donnie and I have been friends for years,” said McMurray. “Even when he wasn’t my crew chief, I would still call and talk to him – not just about racing – but anything. He is one of the hardest workers I know, so to be able to have him come over to Roush Fenway and be a part of this #26 Crown Royal / IRWIN Industrial Tools team is really exciting. We ended our season on such a high note, that I can’t wait to get back to Daytona. We have a few changes we are going to make to the #26 team during the off season, but I totally expect that we will be able to start the 2009 season just as strong as we finished 2008. I’m excited to have Donnie back as my crew chief and I am looking forward to next season here at Roush Fenway Racing.”(Roush Fenway Racing)(12-2-2008) Comment here

  • Tony Stewart Live on Sirius ending? UPDATE: Speculation after listening to the final segment of Tony Stewart Live [Sirius Satellite Radio] on Thursday night [Dec 4th] is the radio show may be ending after their Stewie Awards champions week show in December. The show has aired two years.(11-20-2008)
    UPDATE: been told that the December 4th segment of Tony Stewart Live [Sirius Satellite Radio] will be the final show after a two-year run.(12-2-2008)

  • Johnson named March of Dimes Sportsman of the Year: #48-Jimmie Johnson, fresh off chalking up his third straight Sprint Cup Championship, will be rewarded in a different way on December 3 when he is honored as the 2008 March of Dimes Sportsman of the Year. Johnson will be presented by NASCAR CEO Brian France. Only the second NASCAR driver ever to win the Sprint Cup Series three consecutive times, Johnson will be joined by NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer (Corporate Leadership Award) and MLS Commissioner Don Garber (Sports Leadership Award) at the 25th Annual March of Dimes Sportsman of the Year Luncheon at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. LPGA star Lorena Ochoa was named “Sportswoman of the Year”.(Taylor PR)(12-2-2008)

  • Economaki Champion of Champions to be awarded National Speed Sport News will announce the sixth annual Economaki Champion of Champions presented by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., at the PRI Trade Show in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 11. Speedway Motorsports, Inc. will be presenting sponsor of the award for the first time, replacing Rockett Brand Racing Fuel, which previously supported the award that is annually given to the North American racing champion judged to have had the best season on and off the race track. J.J. Yeley was the first recipient of the award when he won the USAC Triple Crown in 2003. Since then, the trophy named for longtime NSSN editor Chris Economaki has been presented to Steve Kinser, Tony Schumacher, Jimmie Johnson and Donny Schatz, who won the award in 2007.(National Speed Sport News)(12-2-2008)

  • 41st Annual Snowball Derby: This December, the annual short-track racing Super Bowl, the Snowball Derby Weekend, will celebrate its 41st Anniversary at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. The 41st Annual Snowball Derby Weekend, December 3rd through 7th, will feature scores of the country’s top short track talents vying for victories in the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 or the 300-lap Snowball Derby Super Late Model feature. Names such as Darrell Waltrip, Ted Musgrave, Butch Miller, Rick Crawford, Rich Bickle, Donnie Allison and Steven Wallace have all added their name to the Snowball Derby win list over the previous 40 editions of the Snowball Derby. Five Flags Speedway announced that Speed51.com will once again be the official news site of the Snowball Derby in 2008. The 41st Annual Snowball Derby is scheduled to take the green flag at 2pm CT at Five Flags Speedway on Sunday, December 7th. For more information on the 41st Annual Snowball Derby event and tickets see www.snowballderby.com.
    Some Cup, Nationwide or Truck Series drivers schedule to run in the Snowball Derby this year include: John Wes Townley [NNS], Danny Bagwell [ran a couple Truck races], Stanley Smith [past Cup], Shane Sieg [trucks], Benny Gordon [trucks], Jeff Fultz [a few NNS races], Gary St. Amant [trucks], Wayne Anderson [trucks, 1 Cup race].(12-2-2008)

  • Television Exposure during 2008 Cup Season: #48-Jimmie Johnson’s 2008 NASCAR dominance did not end on the racetrack, as the newly crowned three-time Cup Series Champion earned a combined total of $510,161,750 of in-broadcast television exposure, the most of any driver, for his sponsors during race telecasts this past season.
    According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. — which specializes in measuring the impact of sponsorships across all forms of media — 62 brands appearing on locations such as Johnson’s car, uniform and support crew’s uniforms appeared clear and in-focus for a total of 59 hours, 28 minutes, 39 seconds (59:28:39) during television coverage of NASCAR’s premier series in 2008. Additionally, the sponsors were mentioned by Johnson, his crew, or the announcers 316 times. Exposure value is calculated by comparing the on-screen time and mentions to the estimated cost of a commercial spot during each respective race telecast throughout the season.
    Johnson’s top sponsor, Lowe’s, garnered nearly $200 million of exposure value, or 39% of the total in-broadcast exposure associated with Johnson, to lead all team sponsors in 2008. Johnson also clocked in with the highest exposure contribution to a carmaker, as Chevrolet collected nearly eight hours of on-screen time and $67.8 million of exposure value from its association with the three-time champion.
    Carl Edwards mirrored his runner up status in the points championship by collecting the second-most exposure for his sponsors, as 76 brands monitored with Edwards amassed 58:50:51, 311 mentions and nearly $496 million. One area Edwards did manage to surpass his rival Johnson was in exposure captured during the Chase for the Sprint Cup. During telecasts of the final 10 races, Edwards’ sponsors laid claim to $225 million of exposure, compared to $201 million resulting from the Johnson’s effort.Full PR at Joyce Julius & Assoc. site.(12-2-2008)Comment here

  • Jim France buys into bank: The vice chairman of NASCAR has acquired a 72% controlling interest in CenterBank of Jacksonville N.A. James C. France, who is also chairman of Daytona-based International Speedway Corp., said he made the investment based on the potential for growth in the Jacksonville market. “With port development activities and the potential of adding an aircraft carrier to the naval base at Mayport, we see Jacksonville as poised for exceptional growth,” said France. “We’re glad to be a part of a bank that will help that growth happen.” France is the son of Bill France Sr., the co-founder of NASCAR. The France family has a history of banking in Florida. Bill France Sr. was a shareholder in American National Bank. CenterBank President and CEO Raymond K. Mason Jr. was president of American National Bank. “I’ve known Jim and his family for more than 30 years and am looking forward to having him as a partner,” said Mason.(Jacksonville Business Journal)(12-2-2008)

  • The Unofficial Layoff Count since end of season:
    (exceptions noted)
    Dale Earnhardt Inc — 120
    Ganassi — 71 (from shutdown of the #40 team in June)
    Bill Davis Racing — 60
    Richard Petty Driving Experience — approx 45
    Roush Fenway Racing — 35
    Petty Enterprises — 30
    Wood Brothers — 25
    Furniture Row — 25 [approx]
    Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies — 25 [approx]
    Stewart-Haas — 16
    Richard Childress Racing — 15
    Hendrick Motorsports — 12
    JTG Daugherty Racing — 12
    Michael Waltrip Racing — 12
    Ernie Elliott Inc [Ganassi engines] — 9
    Joe Gibbs Engines — approx 5
    Hall of Fame — Unknown, could come after the weekend
    Yates — Unknown
    See my Racing Schools/Jobs page for news, postings, links and more including Racers Form Support Website, Motorsports Employment Task Force and more.(as of 12-2-2008)


    News from December 1, 2008

  • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champions Week – Day 1: Jimmie Johnson has been there before – the past two years to be exact – but celebrating his third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship on the biggest media stage in the world is certainly something the driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet is looking forward to. For the third straight year, Johnson and his team will be taking New York City by storm, participating in national media events and making a host of special appearances leading up to Friday night’s annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony (ESPN Classic will televise beginning at 9 p.m.) at the Waldorf=Astoria. Johnson says celebrating championships in the Big Apple never gets old.
    “Champions Week in New York City is always an amazing time,” said Johnson, who joins Cale Yarborough as the only NASCAR driver to win three straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles. “It’s fun to celebrate everything we’ve done this year as a team and really let loose and have some fun. Everyone works extremely hard year-round to make us one of the best teams in the garage, so it’s nice to have some time to reflect on what we’ve done and enjoy some of the recognition.”
    Johnson arrived in New York Monday afternoon. That evening, he and his wife, Chandra, were scheduled to participate in the annual Champion’s Welcome Dinner in the Waldorf=Astoria Executive Kitchen, a gathering attended by NASCAR, Sprint and championship team representatives and overseen by Executive Chef John Doherty.(NASCAR PR), see driver appearances, news, notes and more on my 2008 Cup Awards page.(12-1-2008)

  • Speed changes to #82 UPDATE will run for MWR in Nationwide: been told the team will switch from the #84 to #82 for Speed in 2009, see images of the diecast car on my #82 Team Schemes page.(11-8-2008)
    UPDATE: After ruffling fenders in ARCA and the Craftsman Truck Series, Speed graduates to a full-time Sprint Cup ride in 2009. He drove the ##84 in four races and the #83 in one to close last season. Speed, switching to a silver #82, will contend for rookie of the year and start the season locked inside the top 35 in car owner points under the watch of returning crew chief Jimmy Elledge. He’s guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races, including the season-opening Daytona 500. He’ll also run a partial Nationwide Series schedule in the #99 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. After a two-year stint in the NASCAR garage, the #84 retires to the RBRT museum/race shop in Mooresville, NC.(RBRT PR)(12-1-2008) Comment here

  • Pemberton leaves MWR for Red Bull UPDATE: After asking for his release, #44 crew chief Ryan Pemberton is expected to reunite with his friend and former boss Jay Frye at Team Red Bull. Pemberton, 39, spent this year working with David Reutimann and the #44 Toyota after weathering the MB2 Motorsports buyout and the Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc. merger last fall. The Pemberton-led crew won the pole at Homestead, but finished 20th on Sunday. Pemberton’s official position has yet to be determined.(FoxSports)(11-18-2008)
    UPDATE: #83 driver Brian Vickers will have a new crew chief for his third season with Red Bull Racing Team, as Ryan Pemberton leads Vickers’ charge to his first Red Bull victory and a spot in the 2009 Chase. Teammate Scott Speed will return for his rookie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He’ll drive the #82 Red Bull Toyota under the watch of returning crew chief Jimmy Elledge. “We’re entering our third Sprint Cup season with driver and crew chief pairings that have what it takes to consistently compete at a high level,” said Jay Frye, RBRT Vice President and General Manager. “Brian and Ryan are each at a point in their respective careers where they can bring home wins and make a run for the championship. Scott earned his Sprint Cup ride by exceeding our expectations in ARCA and trucks. He has a great asset in Jimmy, who has experience working with both rookies and open-wheel drivers.” Pemberton, 39, inherits a #83 team that earned a pole, three top-five and six top-10 finishes before Vickers finished 19th in points. His most recent crew chief role was with the #44 Toyota, guiding driver David Reutimann to four top 10s in 2008. A longtime crewman, Pemberton became a crew chief in 1995 in the Nationwide Series and took his first Sprint Cup job in 1997 at MB2 Motorsports. Since then, he has crew chiefed for the likes of Derrike Cope, Jerry Nadeau, Joe Nemechek, Mark Martin and Aric Almirola. His first victory as a crew chief came when Nemechek won the 2004 race at Kansas Speedway.(RBRT PR), hearing that forrmer #83 crew chief, Kevin Hamlin will end up in a managerial position at RBRT.(12-1-2008) Comment here
  • Wimmer may have Daytona 500 ride: Scott Wimmer, a part-time racer for Richard Childress this year, won a [Nationwide] race and finished in the top ten eight times. He’s a six-time winner in the Nationwide Series. However, he was cut loose by RCR Racing after the season. He spoke with some owners this week and would love to drive both Sprint Cup and Nationwide next year. Scott Wimmer: “I talked to a team about running Daytona 500 so hopefully I can make a start down there again and run a Nationwide Car. I might be running both series so it might be a real busy year next year.”(WAOW.com)(12-1-2008) Comment here

  • Gordon fails to finish charity race in Brazil: Rubens Barrichello won a charity karting event in Brazil on Sunday, beating drivers including Felipe Massa, Michael Schumacher and Jeff Gordon. Barrichello edged Brazilian countryman Lucas Di Grassi in the first race of the “International Challenge of the Stars,” then finished fifth in the second to clinch the overall title with 36 points. In its fourth edition, the event organized by Massa in southern Brazil will aid local charities and the victims of recent flooding in the region. Gordon, making his first trip to race in Brazil, struggled after starting in 25th place and failed to complete the first race because of mechanical problems. He also did not finish the second race. Gordon told local media it was all “too new” for him, but that it was “fantastic to see the guys” fighting each other for position throughout the races.(Sports Illustrated/Associated Press)(12-1-2008)

  • Evernham quitting NASCAR to buy a track? UPDATE: NASCAR team owner Ray Evernham announced Thursday night in Lincolnton [NC] that he is in advanced negotiations to purchase the East Lincoln Speedway and plans to retire from NASCAR. Evernham and partner Bob Mack of Cornelius-based RPM Group Holdings said they had hoped to have the keys to the speedway in their hands when they appeared at the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce’s Business After-Hours event to make the announcement, but were prevented from doing so as negotiations continued. Evernham said he has already sold off most of his interest in the Gillett-Evernham Motorsports race team and is ending his career with NASCAR. “I want to get back into grassroots racing,” he told the gathering of area community leaders and businesspeople. Contacted by the Times-News Friday morning, current track owner Ralph Nantz said he couldn’t “talk much about it right now,” but confirmed that “serious” negotiations with Evernham were under way. “You might say he is showing some interest,” Nantz said. The East Lincoln Speedway has been in operation since 1991 and is a 3/8 mile clay oval track.(Lincoln Times-News), no word if Evernham will be back with ESPN in 2009.(11-22-2008)
    UPDATE: Cup team co-owner Ray Evernham has completed his deal to purchase East Lincoln Speedway and said that might not be the last track he buys. “I will try to save race tracks to keep them from becoming shopping malls,” Evernham said on Sirius NASCAR Radio.(Charlotte Observer)(12-1-2008) Comment here