February 2004 News Archives
- Kenseth Gift Shop to break ground: Matt Kenseth, the winner of the 2003 Cup Championship from the Cambridge [WI] area, has broken ground on a building for a gift shop in the nearby town of Christiana. The store, known as Matt Kenseth’s MK Race Wear, is expected to include Kenseth merchandise for sale amid memorabilia, including race cars from his 15-year career. “It’s a place for people to come and see how my career started with my dad (Roy Kenseth) and where its at today and as we go on,” he said at the groundbreaking Thursday. Kenseth will own the store, and his fan club, run by his sister and brother-in-law Kelley and Mike Maruszkewski, will operate it. “This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. We just decided to go get it done,” Kenseth said.(Post-Crescent/AP)(2-29-2004)
- Diversity – Driver and crewman are selected to join Score Motorsports: A Modified veteran from New Jersey and a NASCAR novice from Richmond will join a Virginia-based team this season as part of the inaugural “Drive for Diversity.” With sponsorship secured through the new program that is designed to increase minority involvement in NASCAR, Bruce Driver will compete for Score Motorsports in the Late Model division at South Boston Speedway in 2004. After an evaluation at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway last month, Driver, 39, was selected by Score co-owners Hermie Sadler, a NASCAR driver from Emporia, and Bryant Stith, the former U.Va. basketball star. The “Drive for Diversity” will place at least four other minority drivers with Late Model teams at short tracks around the Southeast in the Dodge Weekly Racing Series. The initiative, which was commissioned by NASCAR and created by Access Communications, also will put another half-dozen minority crew members in the Craftsman Truck Series. Driver hasn’t raced full time since 2000. His career stalled after struggling through the Modifed Series with an underfunded team and a crew of volunteers.
James Green also hopes to use his “Drive for Diversity” opportunity as a springboard in stock car racing. The lifelong resident of Richmond will work as a crew member on Sadler’s Busch and Cup teams this season. The 30-year-old grew up around drag racing and had little experience on ovals until he was hooked on racing at Virginia short tracks about five years ago. Green moved with his fiancee yesterday from Chesterfield County to the racing hub of Charlotte, N.C., trying to improve his chances of latching on in NASCAR. His break with Score should help accelerate those plans. The program’s other drivers and crew members are expected to be announced next month when the Nextel Cup circuit visits Atlanta Motor Speedway.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-29-2004)
- Not NASCAR but…Woman wins in Grand-Am: Milka Duno became the first woman to win a major North American sports car race when she co-drove a Pontiac-Crawford to victory Saturday in the Grand Am event at Homestead-Miami Speedway.(CBS Sportline/AP)(2-29-2004)
- Earnhardt Movie pushed back to Dec, Pepper to star? UPDATE: Barry Pepper is in the driver’s seat for the upcoming ESPN original film “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story,” which he will star in and co-executive produce. The network has confirmed that Pepper (“25th Hour”) will portray the biopic’s title character, who died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500. Production will begin in the summer in Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta. Originally scheduled to air in late summer, “Earnhardt” has been pushed back to December.(Hollywood Reports – need sub to view entire article)(2-25-2004)
UPDATE: Barry Pepper will star as the late NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt in “3,” a made-for-TV movie set to air in December on ESPN. Pepper previously played Roger Maris in the HBO feature “61.” His other films include “Saving Private Ryan,” “Knockaround Guys” and “25th Hour.” Pepper also will serve as the movie’s co-executive producer. He said Earnhardt “captured my fascination and the hearts of millions of NASCAR fans across America.”(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(2-28-2004)
- Olympics Scheme for Labonte: Terry Labonte is scheduled to run a special Olympic Paint scheme at Pocono on August 1st . See images of the scheme on my #5 Team Paint Schemes page or 2004 Paint Scheme Page.(2-28-2004)
- Chevrolet Donates $242,400 to Pair of Charities: The results are in and the 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Jeff Gordon Signature Edition was a sell out. As a result of this marketplace success Chevrolet has donated a total of $242,400 to charity as a way to acknowledge of two key individuals who supported the vehicle program – 4-time NASCAR driving champion Jeff Gordon and team owner of Gordon’s #24 Dupont Chevrolet, Rick Hendrick. The Jeff Gordon Foundation and the Hendrick Marrow Program each received a check for $121,200. See full story on my Racing Charities Page.(2-28-2004)
- Hot Wheels for Burton at Darlington: Jeff Burton is scheduled to drive a Hot Wheels schemes on the #99 Ford at Darlington in March, see an image of the scheme on my #99 Team Paint Schemes page or 2004 Paint Scheme Page.(2-28-2004)
- IROC Tests at Texas: Race teams testing at Texas Motor Speedway are usually in search of additional speed. Parity and equality took precedence over speed Thursday as the Crown Royal International Race of Champions machines took to Texas Motor Speedway for the first time in preparation for the April 2 inaugural event. Crown Royal IROC test drivers Dave Marcis, Jim and Jay Sauter wheeled a trio of the series machines around “The Great American Speedway” seeking setups that will be used in the April 2 race. The identically prepared stock cars will be driven by 12 of the world’s leading drivers in the series’ Texas debut. “So far in the first day of testing, I’m happy with the cars,” said Marcis, a former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regular and long-time IROC tester. “I have been to Texas before, I like this race track, always did quite well here. Jim and Jay Sauter are both here working on the cars, our goal today is to change shocks, change springs and keep working on the chassis to where we are comfortable.” Individual tickets to the Crown Royal IROC Series 100 will go on sale Monday, March 1 at the speedway ticket office, by calling (817) 215-8500, online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com and at Ticketmaster locations. A special advance purchase ticket price of $35 is being offered for the inaugural event. Also included in the evening’s racing will be a 100-mile race for the ROMCO Super Late Model Series. Season ticket holders will receive free tickets to the April 2 doubleheader. Season tickets for 2004 are still available and include frontstretch seating for six major races at Texas Motor Speedway including the April 4 Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event.(TMS PR), more info on IROC on my 2004 IROC page.(2-27-2004)
- Team Ford Racing Member Suite Tix a hot item: Is the 2004 Team Ford Racing party season starting without you? Tickets to several events are moving quickly and while there are still tickets available for the Bristol suite, TFR is sold out of Texas race tickets. Race tickets are your entry pass to the heights of Bristol Motor Speedway, but there is more to this two-day March event. TFR members, and their guests, will watch two NASCAR events from inside a suite. This is an ideal race which to bring guests as many lines are eliminated or much shorter. Imagine no long wait in a line for a bland hot dog, not to mention those other necessary lines shortened, so you can see more of the race. If you’ve never been to a TFR event, catch a glimpse of TFR’s first 2004 TFR event at Daytona International Speedway. During the mid-February event, members asked questions of Jeff Burton, driver of the #99 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, as well as MRN Radio’s Joe Moore and Ford Racing Technology Engineer Pat DiMarco. In addition to Bristol, tickets are still available for the pre-race party at Texas Motor Speedway, while a full compliment of race and pre-race tickets are available for Michigan International Speedway and Infineon Speedway. Most TFR pre-race events allow members a close look at the track, including a pit tour. TFR members often talk to crew members as they complete the final day’s preparations for on-track battle. TFR’s pit tour guides include some of the most knowledgeable racing people at the track. NASCAR-beat sports writers and championship crew members have shared their insights with our members. You must be at least 18 years of age to participate in pit tours. Proper pit tour attire is required, including closed-toe shoes. Shorts, skirts and sleeveless shirts are not permitted. Rules are subject to change per track and per day. If you have special transportation needs, please tell our staff when purchasing the tickets. TFR members will receive a race scanner to use during each NEXTEL Cup race. Scanners take members into the pits, car and high above the track as the action between drivers and crew chiefs and spotters unfolds. Driver’s licenses or state I.D. cards are required to use scanners. Join the fun, call 1-877-TFR-CLUB to register for your favorite upcoming TFR event or for more info, see their site at www.fordracing.com.(2-27-2004)
- Sad News: Four-time NASCAR Winston West Series champion Roy Smith drowned when a commercial fishing trawler sank off northern Vancouver Island, rescue officials said. Smith, 59, of Malahat, was a crew member of the 80-foot Hope Bay, which foundered in heavy seas early Thursday about 60 miles north of Vancouver Island in Queen Charlotte Sound. Two other members died, and one was rescued, Dennis Kimoto of the Rescue Coordination Center in Victoria said. Smith competed in the Daytona 500 three times, and was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2002. His best finish at Daytona was 10th in 1982 [his Cup Career was 26 races, 4 top 10’s from 1975-1989]. The other victims were Derek Myers, 48, of Victoria, and Dennis Webber, 44, of Errington. Michael Slusar of Nanaimo, a Canadian Fisheries Department observer, was in good condition Thursday after being rescued and taken to Port Hardy, along with the bodies of two crew members. The body of a third man was recovered several hours later, Kimoto said. It wasn’t immediately clear when Smith’s body was found. “I know people in the trawl fleet are very upset. They were well-known and well-qualified,” Stuart Nelson of the Deep Sea Trawlers Association said.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(2-27-2004)
- Labonte’s to visit the Coast Guard: Justin Labonte, driver of the 2004 Team Coast Guard Racing/Labonte Motorsports “Shield of Freedom” #44 NASCAR Busch Series car, is scheduled to visit Coast Guard units in Miami, FL, Feb. 25-27. He will be joined by his father, two-time Nextel Cup Series Champion Terry Labonte Friday, Feb. 27. The Miami office is one of 10 new recruiting offices the Coast Guard will open this year in a nationwide effort focusing on bolstering diversity recruitment. The Labontes will also get hands-on opportunities to experience the mission capabilities of the Coast Guard as they prepare to represent the Coast Guard during the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series season. The Coast Guard announced its partnership with Labonte Motorsports for a 15-race schedule in mid December. On Friday, the Labontes will experience the training regimen, including repelling and shooting, of the Coast Guard’s law enforcement teams at the Miami Federal Correctional Institution before they head to the skies for demonstrations of the Coast Guard’s airborne law enforcement and search and rescue missions.(PR)(2-27-2004)
- Update on James Ince MORE: Veteran crew chief James Ince, considered by many to have one of the brightest minds in motorsports, said Friday that he’s ready to end a five-month, self-imposed exile from the sport. Ince left the #10 Nextel Cup team in October and retreated to his home in Missouri, where he refused to return phone calls and avoided contact with the NASCAR community. “I had some personal problems, some health issues and some family business to take care of,” he said by telephone Friday. Although he said it was “extremely hard” to walk away from racing, it was something he had to do. “My passion and my life is NASCAR racing,” he said. “But there were other things that had to come first.” He said he’s confident he’ll soon hook up with a front-running team. “My timing’s really bad because this time of the year people think they have the right combination for their race teams,” he said(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), NOTE: Ince is not at Rockingham this weekend and NOT working for the #56 Busch team as reported on TV during Busch Qualifiying coverage.(2-21-2004)
MORE: James Ince’s phone used to ring all of the time. Now, he’s waiting for somebody to call. When Ince was the youngest crew chief in NASCAR’s top series, there were people trying to lure him away from the #10 team. But last year, the circumstances of real life made racing take a backseat for the first time in his adult life. “I turned down offers from half the garage area when I was working,” Ince says. “My timing was off.” He left the team he’d help build and hold together through some hard times to deal with some hard times for himself and for his family. “I had some things I had to take care of,” he says now. “Someday, I know I am going to look back on it and say it was the best thing I ever did.” Ince’s father took ill last year and the family business was in danger of going under. “People were going to lose their homes and things like that,” Ince said. Ince had how own issues, too. Mainly, he was burned out, and that didn’t at all surprise people who knew him best. To say that Ince is intense is to say that the ocean is wet. When he’s working on his race car, that’s exactly what it is – his race car. He built cars and raced them on all kinds of tracks all across the Midwest before coming to NASCAR. When somebody here gave him the reins to a team, they found out quickly that Ince didn’t consider it a loan. If he was going to be held responsible for how well it did, he was going to be the one who decided how it should be built and tuned. That attitude doesn’t sit particularly well with some, and Ince understands that. But he still believes that he’s got something to offer to the right team, and still believes that sometime soon that team will ring his phone. Ince wasn’t at North Carolina Speedway on Sunday for the Subway 400, a track where he got his first win as a crew chief in November 2002 with Johnny Benson at the wheel of the #10 Pontiac. He’s just back in the Charlotte area from Missouri, where he’s been handling his own and his family issues. And he says he’s ready to go racing again. “For the first time in three years my fire is relit,” said Ince, who’s now 33. “I am just trying to find somebody who’s ready to win races and win championships.” After he left the #10 team during 2003, he had chances to go back to work. “But I had a million things on my plate I had to attend to,” he said. “If it had been one thing I could have handled it, but I got hit with a bunch of things at once. Now, I’ve emptied my plate.” The #10 team, for years, had an “us-against-the-world” mentality that held it together longer than otherwise would have been possible. That came unglued last year, though, and Ince accepts his share of the blame. MBV Motorsports team has gone in a new direction, with rookie Scott Riggs driving its Chevrolets. Benson is driving in the Busch Series and Ince is looking for a place to start again. “It got to a point where I just felt like I wasn’t able to make anything good happen for the team,” Ince says. “That’s part of the sport, and finally I figured out it was OK for me to make a personal decision to do what was best for me and not go down with the ship.” Ince watched the Daytona 500 on TV and said all it really did was make him mad. “I saw my life on television and I wasn’t a part of it,” he said. Now he wants back in the game. “My goal is to find a car owner who wants to win races who is willing to let me do what I do,” he said. “People used to think I was too intense, but now I am going to be twice now as intense as I ever was.”(ThatsRacin.com)(2-26-2004)
- #43 hopes to be ‘Lucky’ at Vegas: Driver Jeff Green knows a few extra breaks here and there would sure come in handy when the NASCAR Nextel Cup series reaches the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway next week. “If there’s any place that a little extra luck could make the difference, it’s Las Vegas,” the Owensboro, Ky., native said. “There couldn’t be a better place for us to run the Lucky Charms Dodge and we’re hoping it’ll give us the edge we’re looking for on the track.” Green will drive the #43 Lucky Charms Dodge throughout the Las Vegas weekend for Petty Enterprises. Lucky Charms is among the popular cereal brands made by the 43 car’s primary sponsor General Mills. “Maybe this will give us a little extra advantage,” he laughed. “All I know is that winning at Las Vegas would, for sure, be ‘magically delicious.’” Prominently featuring Lucky the Leprechaun on the hood, sides and rear, the Sam Bass-designed Lucky Charms Dodge has a red background with Lucky Charms rainbow colors as accents. The design also showcases the cereal’s famed marshmallows and trademark rainbow. “Having some of the Lucky Charms luck rub off on us would be great, and having Lucky the Leprechaun on the car close to St. Patrick’s Day can’t hurt either,” Green laughed. “This #43 team has been moving forward this season,” Green said. “We’ve seen some pretty good moments at Daytona and Rockingham, and we think we’re going to be pretty good at Las Vegas.”(Williams Company PR), see images of the car on my #43 Team Paint Scheme Page or 2004 Cup Paint Scheme page.(2-26-2004)
- Bodine still looking:
Brett Bodine, who was networking the paddock for work during the first two Nextel Cup events of the season, is trying to keep his unsponsored team from going out of business. “I’m looking to do whatever I can do,” Bodine said in the Feb. 19 issue of NASCAR Scene. “I’ve got to make a living.” Bodine, who has driven in the Cup series since 1988 and operated his own team since 1996, has a diverse resume in racing and plenty of skills to offer someone. “I’m a race car driver/team owner/team manager/advisor; whatever I need to do,” he said. “I’m in a position where I’m looking for a job.” Bodine was interviewed for the weekly publication during the season-opening Daytona 500 weekend. He did not return a phone call seeking further comment Wednesday. “I don’t have any solid prospects right now,” Brett told NASCAR Scene. “I’m just trying to be seen.” Bodine also was seen canvasing the paddock for work at Rockingham, N.C. last Friday. “We are all still working, trying to find something — whether it’s a sponsor with enough funding that would allow us to rebuild or whether it’s a ride for Brett with another team,” team spokeswoman Carolyn Carrier said in a fan forum message on the Web site www.brettbodine.com. Older brother Geoffrey said last month that one of the options Brett was pursuing was to manage a start-up team out of the Brett Bodine Racing shop in Mooresville, NC. Brett’s team has been idle since he failed to qualify for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last August. He raced an abbreviated schedule before his primary sponsor, Hooters restaurants, pulled out last June. The team negotiated a two-year contract with a new sponsor in mid-August. When the sponsor didn’t follow through, Brett had no choice but to lay off the rest of his employees. Bodine is not giving up hope of getting his team up and running again. In fact, he said the latest sponsorship deal is still on the table. “It hasn’t closed itself, it just hasn’t happened,” he said. “It’s a start-up company and they’re not in a position yet to start funding. I’m running out of time.” To help pay the bills, Brett has been selling off some of his cars. Andy Hillenburg, who purchased one of them, drove it to a 34th-place finish in the Subway 400 on Sunday. “The stuff that he’s selling needed to be gotten rid of, as it is pretty much dated or needed lots of work,” Carrier said in a forum message.(Elmira Star Gazette)(2-26-2004)
- Dale Jr. talks about the #3: Dale Earnhardt Jr. admitted on “Larry King Live” on Monday that he’d like to drive the No. 3 car made famous by his late father some day. “I think driving that number is something that I’d love to do, I’d love to get behind the number three car and maybe be in the driver’s seat, but it’s something I’ll do later in my career, if ever,” Earnhardt told a caller on the national TV show. “It’s just right now I have got to concentrate on the Budweiser number eight and winning championships.”(Roanoke Times)(2-26-2004)
- Elliott tests at short track: On Monday, Bill Elliott, returned to Smoky Mountain Speedway in Blount County [GA], to try out his dirt-racing car. Elliott took a break from his #91 red Dodge to give his #9 white Coca-Cola Ford Mustang late-model dirt track race car several rounds at the Smoky Mountain Speedway. A member of Elliott’s team called the speedway’s owner, Denny Garner, and asked if Million Dollar Bill could take a few rounds on the track with dirt track racer Ray Cook, 32, who has become known as the “The Tarheel Tiger.” Garner was more than happy to open the track to Elliott and Cook, who spent several hours making rounds at the dirt track. Elliott has been working with Cook this season. Cook drives the #53 Everham Performance Parts car. Elliott was fairly modest about his reasons for visiting Maryville to use the track, claiming he was simply there to observe. “I have no idea,” he said with a smile when asked why he was in Maryville. “I just got in the truck and came up here.” After his car was revved up by crew members, Elliott climbed inside the #9 car sporting his red Coca-Cola racing suit and zoomed out to the track. He and Cook together made several rounds around the dirt raceway before coming in for a break. Those who apparently use the track regularly made several rounds to pack down some of the loose spots in the track. Both drivers and their crews spent several hours at the track Monday. When Elliott raced at the speedway in 1975, it was still an asphalt track. In the mid-1980s, the track was returned to a dirt track. Garner purchased the track a year ago after it sat empty for three years. The track completed one season last year. To prepare for Cook and Elliott’s use, water was sprayed onto the dirt track overnight Sunday.(Daily Times)(2-26-2004)
- Ford being sued: The families of three women killed last year in a fiery crash, including the wife of a former NASCAR crew chief, are suing Ford Motor Co., claiming the limousine they were riding in was defective. The crash in Greensboro on Sept. 10 killed Tara Howell Parker, 29, of Cornelius, whose husband [Shawn Parker – now the #1 Truck crew chief] was then NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett’s crew chief. Also killed were her sisters, Mysti Howell-Poplin, 24, and Megan Howell, 16, both of Mocksville. All three were passengers in the limousine when it was hit from behind by a pickup truck. The suit filed Tuesday in Davie County alleges the limousine was defective because its fuel tank was located behind the rear axle, and was more likely to leak fuel when hit from behind. Autopsies showed the women died of burns and smoke inhalation from the fire, not from the impact of the crash, according to the suit. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages, said attorney Bill Bystrynski, who is representing the families of Tara Parker’s sisters. Police said the limousine had stopped in a travel lane on Interstate 40 due to highway construction when it was struck by a 1998 Ford F-150 pickup driven by Jeffrey Niles McFayden of Greensboro. The truck pushed the limousine into the car in front of it. McFayden, 35, was charged with driving while impaired and three counts of second-degree murder. The limousine driver and the driver and a passenger in the front car were not injured. Ford issued a statement on Tuesday, saying there are more than 20 million registered vehicles with fuel tanks located behind the rear axle, and that such designs are common among every major vehicle manufacturer. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Association specifically investigated this issue and found that tank location does not determine safety, but rather component and structural design,” the statement said.(WSOCTV.com)(2-26-2004)
- Roush Racing/Gibbs Racing and Diversity: Roush Racing will place Morty Buckles, a black driver, in a Late Model car this season as part of the NASCAR team’s diversity program. Roush Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing each are starting driver diversity programs this season at the Late Model level. NASCAR also is starting a driver diversity program. NASCAR’s program is expected to put five minority drivers with Late Model teams that compete in the Dodge Weekly Series in the Southeast. NASCAR is expected to place six minority crew members on Craftsman Truck Series teams. Those announcements are expected to be made next month. Buckles, a resident of Stone Mountain, Ga., has competed in the Late Model series and served as an instructor for the Richard Petty Driving Experience. He’s scheduled to compete this season at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Va., and Southampton Motor Speedway in Capron, Va., said Sam Belnavis, chief diversity officer for Roush Racing. Joe Gibbs Racing announced last month that Chris Bristol, who is black, and Aric Almirola, who is Hispanic, will drive for its Late Model teams this season in North Carolina.(Roanoke Times)(2-26-2004)
- Sad News: Edward Byerley “Buck” Wilkins, an architect and contractor who helped develop South Boston Speedway in 1957, died Tuesday in his South Boston home. He was 90. Mr. Wilkins and a business partner, David Blount, opened the speedway as a quarter-mile dirt track in August 1957. Mr. Wilkins and his family operated the track with Blount for about a quarter-century. In 1960, South Boston Speedway played host to its first NASCAR-sanctioned race, and two years later the partners expanded the track and paved the surface. After Blount’s death in 1982, the Wilkins family sold the track the following year.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-26-2004)
- #8 Pit Crew fastest at the Rock: The pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. edged Sterling Marlin’s crew to claim first place in the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade at Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race in Rockingham, N.C. The Rockingham victory paid $20,000 and lifted the No. 8 pit crew into the points lead. Being in first place is nothing new for Earnhardt’s crew. The #8 team, part of DEI’s multi-car operation, collected the $200,000 bonus for winning the inaugural McDonald’s/POWERade pit crew season championship in 2003. The 2004 pit crew champion will also collect $200,000 at the season-ending Awards Banquet in New York. Earnhardt’s Chevy was a hair quicker on Rockingham’s pit road than Marlin’s Dodge. The No. 8 Budweiser machine spent 301.939 seconds off the track compared to 302.233 seconds for Marlin’s Coors Light Dodge. Third was Jamie McMurray’s No. 42 Texaco Dodge with a time of 302.613. Dale Jr., who leads in the Nextel Cup driver standings, was quick to give credit to his team for his fifth-place finish in Rockingham. “We feel like a top-five here at Rockingham is almost like a win,” said Earnhardt in post-race interviews. “We didn’t have a great car, but we made changes during every stop and the car got better and better. If your crew can’t make the right changes and get you in and out fast, you have no chance at Rockingham. We had great strategy all day and took advantage of the yellow flags. I told (car chief) Tony Jr. on the radio to ignore me if I started begging to come in and change tires. It’s so hard here to hang onto the car when the tires go away, but the guys in the pits made the right calls. It paid off for us.” Earnhardt’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Bill Snyder (gasman), Kevin Pennell (jackman), Phil Drye (front tire changer), Danny Earnhardt (front tire carrier), Shannon Myers (rear tire changer), Troy Prince (rear tire carrier), Craig Lund (catch can). Tony Eury Sr. is the crew chief and the car chief is Tony Eury Jr. The pit crew coach at DEI is Walt Smith.(DMFCommications PR), see top 10 at the Rock and standings on my Pit Crew Page.(2-26-2003)
- Testing Set at Kentucky UPDATE 2: Kentucky Speedway’s Web site says five Nextel Cup drivers and one from the Busch Series are scheduled to test at the 1.5-mile track this week. Kasey Kahne was scheduled to be there today to test Akins Motorsports’ No. 38 Busch Series Dodge. Dale Jarrett is scheduled to test Robert Yates Racing’s No. 88 Ford Tuesday and Wednesday. Also expected Wednesday are Rusty Wallace in Penske Racing South’s No. 2 Dodge, Jeff Green in Petty Enterprises’ No. 43 Dodge and Paul Menard in Andy Petree Racing’s No. 33 Chevrolet. Green is expected to return on Thursday, when he is scheduled to be joined by Ricky Craven in PPI Motorsport’s No. 32 Chevrolet. The track says fans may watch from the fan center in Turn 3.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-23-2004)
UPDATE Kentucky Testing Postponed: #88-Dale Jarrett and #38-Elliott Sadler plan to explore aero, shock and engine packages during tomorrow’s scheduled test at Kentucky Speedway. The Robert Yates Racing duo postponed testing today due to cold, damp weather conditions. “We have an agenda of things we want to try. This is a good racetrack to test aero packages, chassis and shock packages,” Jarrett said. “There are a lot of things we can accomplish here. I don’t know that we’re going to be able to use (the information) at Vegas, but the opportunity is there to learn things that may work at Las Vegas or Atlanta. That’s the good thing about coming here, it’s a good opportunity to try new cars and new set-ups.” NEXTEL Cup Series teams also scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway tomorrow include Penske South (#2-Rusty Wallace), Petty Enterprises (#43-Jeff Green) and Andy Petree Racing (Busch?-Paul Menard). PPI Motorsports (#32-Ricky Craven) and Petty Enterprises (#43-Jeff Green) are scheduled for Feb. 26. Fans can view testing from the Turn 3 Fan Center. Kentucky Speedway season and single-event tickets are on sale now. Season tickets can be reserved online at www. kentuckyspeedway.com or by phone at 859-578-2300. Single-event tickets are available online at www.kentuckyspeedway.com or www.tickets.com and by phone at 888-652-RACE. Tickets also are available through Tickets.com outlets including Meijer stores and the speedway ticket offices located at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Ste. 200, Ft. Mitchell, Ky., and in Sparta, Ky., in the Turn 3 Fan Center.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(2-25-2004)
UPDATE 2: Due to freezing temperatures, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Dale Jarrett, Elliott Sadler, Rusty Wallace and Ricky Craven did not test on Wednesday at Kentucky Speedway. Richard Petty Enterprises NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Jeff Green and NASCAR Busch Series driver Paul Menard will test as scheduled.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(2-26-2004)
- Carl Long to run the #02 at Vegas: SCORE Motorsports, a joint venture between NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler and retired NBA star Bryant Stith, announced today that veteran racer Carl Long will drive the team’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) entry for next week’s UAW-Daimler-Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Long will attempt to make his second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start of the season behind the wheel of the unsponsored #02 Pontiac Grand Prix. “Carl and I talked last Friday at Rockingham, and it seemed like a win-win situation for both of us,” stated Hermie Sadler, co-owner of SCORE Motorsports. “We are looking to have a presence in the NEXTEL Cup Series, and this opportunity allows us to do that while allowing me to focus my attention to the performance of our Busch Series team.” (#02 Chevy) Sadler, the 1993 NASCAR Busch Series Rookie-of-the-Year also mentioned, “it also gives Carl the opportunity to race while he continues to pursue some other opportunities. We look forward to having him as a part of our team for the event.” Sadler, who ran 10 NNCS races in 2003, expressed the team is also hoping to enter the event Atlanta Motor Speedway. “We’re seriously considering the AMS (Atlanta Motor Speedway) NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event. We’ll know more after Las Vegas, but it’s our hope and intent to be competing in the Golden Corral 500 with Carl Long as the driver.” Long, a former NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division and ARCA RE/MAX Series driver, made his 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut at North Carolina Speedway driving his own No. 46 Al Smith Dodge Intrepid. After starting the event 42nd and running comfortably in the top-35, he was taken out in a vicious accident on lap 265. Long was tagged by Joe Nemechek and tumbled down the backstretch several times, landing on his wheels at the entrance to turn three. He was uninjured in the crash, and credited with a 38th-place finish. Long hopes to make his tenth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start next week and is ecstatic about the chance to join SCORE Motorsports for Vegas.
“I am very honored about having another shot to race in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, especially with SCORE Motorsports,” he said. “I am very confident that I will be able to give 150% behind the wheel for the team, and I feel there should be no reason why a top-20 finish should be out of the question. This opportunity with Hermie Sadler and SCORE Motorsports came before our accident on Sunday,” Long said emphatically. “I’ve been friends with Hermie for many years, and this was a deal that was beneficial to both of us. I’m hoping that out all the details can be worked out with Spears Motorsports, which will allow me to compete in the 500-mile event in Atlanta,” Long continued. He is a member of the Spears Motorsports team that David Starr drives for in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. “My duties for Spears Motorsports are my main concern, so we’ll have to play it by ear.” One obstacle the Virginia-based operation faces is finding the backing for two of the most exciting NNCS races of the season. “At this point we do not have a primary sponsor, but we are looking and asking any interested parties to please contact us,” Sadler mentioned. Anyone interested in sponsorship opportunities at SCORE Motorsports can find contact info at their website at: www.sadlerfanclub.com.(2-25-2004)
- Earnhardt Movie pushed back to Dec, Pepper to star? Barry Pepper is in the driver’s seat for the upcoming ESPN original film “3: The Dale Earnhardt Story,” which he will star in and co-executive produce. The network has confirmed that Pepper (“25th Hour”) will portray the biopic’s title character, who died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500. Production will begin in the summer in Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta. Originally scheduled to air in late summer, “Earnhardt” has been pushed back to December.(Hollywood Reports – need sub to view entire article), past news about the movie on my Movie Page.(2-25-2004)
- France moves back to Daytona: Location, location, location. Apparently, Brian France is taking his new job seriously. According to the Los Angeles Times, NASCAR’s new chairman and CEO sold his Southern California home to move to Florida, near stock-car racing’s headquarters. France reportedly received close to his asking price of $12.9 million for the house and six-acre property in a gated Brentwood community of Los Angeles. The 10,800-square foot house, built in 2001, features seven bedrooms, 81/2 bathrooms, an outside living room with a fireplace, and mountain and city views.(Philadelphia Inquirer)(2-25-2004)
- Testing at Nashville: Nashville Superspeedway will be “full throttle” this week with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing and NASCAR Busch Series testing with NEXTEL Cup Driver #12-Ryan Newman [Feb 26-27] and NASCAR Busch Series Drivers #1-Johnny Benson [Feb 25] and #2-Ron Hornaday, Jr.[Feb 26] All testing is closed to the general public.(Nashville Superspeedway PR)(2-25-2004)
- Richmond for the All-Star Challenge? NASCAR announced yesterday [see story below] the format of its all-star race likely won’t be overhauled, but its location could change. In a news conference to promote the May 22 race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne said the future of the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge will be considered on a year-to-year basis. “There are a lot of tracks and a lot of cities that want this race,” Pyne said. A prime candidate would seem to be Richmond International Raceway because of NASCAR’s new title sponsor, Nextel. When the all-star event was known as The Winston, Lowe’s was a natural host because the Concord, N.C., track is located 60 miles from previous title sponsor R.J. Reynolds’ headquarters in Winston-Salem. RIR is the closest Cup track to Nextel’s headquarters in Reston, Va., about 100 miles north of Richmond. Michael Robichaud, Nextel’s director of sports marketing, said the wireless communications company would be interested in considering other locations for the showcase race. RIR spokesman Keith Green said his track would be very interested in the event, which has been held at the 1.5-mile oval north of Charlotte for 18 of the past 19 years. “If the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge is moved and Richmond is considered, it would be an incredible event here,” Green said. “Drivers have long considered Richmond to be the ideal racetrack, and we would love nothing more than to bring this event here. It would be an electric atmosphere with no-holds-barred, short-track racing on a Saturday night under the lights.” Pyne praised Lowe’s Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler yesterday for promoting the event, which drew a record crowd of more than 140,000 last year. But Pyne also said the continued support of the Charlotte, N.C., area would be a major factor in its future. “Other sports have facilities that were funded by taxpayers,” Pyne said. “Our sport has never been treated the same way. What Humpy and NASCAR would like to see is our sport treated in an equivalent fashion when we place an all-star event in a community, the same way it would if Charlotte had an opportunity to host an NBA All-Star Game or an NCAA Final Four.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-25-2004)
- NASCAR examining field-fillers: NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter said yesterday the practice of “field fillers” will be discouraged more heavily in the future. Because only 37 full-time teams are slated to run the 2004 Nextel Cup schedule, several ragtag operations attempted to qualify for the 43 spots in Sunday’s Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. Joe Ruttman made one lap and earned $54,196 for last place. He was black-flagged for not having a pit crew. “The Joe Ruttman thing was sort of a sham,” Hunter told The Associated Press. “We always try to do the right thing, and since we had let it go that far, we let him start the race. However, that will not happen again.”(Richmond Times Dispatch and see an AP story at MSNBC)(2-25-2004)
- Robbie Reiser Crew Chief of the Year  by Racer: Matt Kenseth’s run to NASCAR’s final Winston Cup title owed much to Roush crew chief Robbie Reiser, who oversaw the team that prepared the #17 DeWalt Ford Kenseth drove to 11 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes in 2003. It culminated a long-term relationship between the two that dates back to 1997, and the performance obviously impressed the readers of RACER Magazine, who named him Crew Chief of the Year in their online balloting by a decisive margin.(Speed Channel)(2-24-2004)
- More on the Field Fillers: #80-Andy Hillenburg, who failed to qualify Junie Donlavey’s #90-car at Daytona (although he made a little money in the 125), made the field in Stan Hover’s long-shot car here and did best among the irregulars, finishing 34th. You might also consider #14-Larry Foyt (32nd, running without sponsorship) and #50-Derrike Cope (30th), although Cope was semi-regular last year and may be again this year [Jayski Note: Cope and the #50 plan to run a full season]. Hillenburg’s take for the afternoon’s work was $55,425, not a bad payday for 376 laps of staying out of the way. Less notable were the ultimate back-mark cars of #09-Joe Ruttman and #72-Kirk Shelmerdine. Ruttman, “driving” for James Finch, was flagged before the green because he did not have a pit crew [should be a rule, no pit crew, no start, no points, no money]. Shelmerdine, lapped eight minutes after the start-engine command, made 19 laps before he was parked for being below minimum speed. Both, however, made minimum purse, which here is a little over $50,000. There was some talk that a driver had to make a certain number of laps in order to collect purse money, but that never has been the case and likely was not Sunday.(Speed Channel)(2-24-2004)
- F1 Team Boss Disses NASCAR, UPDATE now plans to attend a race: McLaren boss Ron Dennis is no fan of NASCAR, with its lines of growling stock cars rumbling bumper-to-bumper around ovals for hours on end. “You know one single thing that really, really upsets me?,” he said last month when the talk turned to Formula One’s commercial future. “It’s every time that I read about NASCAR. It’s just amazing. I mean they are just full up. Every race is full up, they’ve got more income, more television revenue and it’s boring as hell. McLaren chief Ron Dennis doesn’t understand why NASCAR is so popular in America. “That machine is working and yet we’ve got a much better show,” he added.(see full ESPN column) better show? a driver wins the pole, he wins the race [9 of 16 won from the pole, worse starting spot to win was 11th], unless he has a mechanical problem or brain fade.(2-20-2004)
UPDATE: Why has McLaren principal Ron Dennis scheduled a trip to a NASCAR race? The English F1 boss reckons the US-based stock-car oval series is ‘boring as hell’ but they’ve got more spectators at the races and more cash flowing-in. He told Reuters: “[NASCAR] is working and yet we’ve got a much better show. If something is as successful as that then you’d be a fool if you didn’t go and try to understand what the ingredients are.” Most F1 pundits are dismissive of the stock-car technology but Dennis and managing director Martin Whitmarsh intend to keep a keen-eye on the circus.(F1-Live site), doesn’t say what race Dennis will attend or when.(2-24-2004)
- Tuesday News Conference to Detail the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge UPDATE: Officials of NASCAR, Nextel and Lowe’s Motor Speedway will unveil the format and other details concerning the 20th running of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge during a news conference Tuesday, Feb. 24, in The Speedway Club at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, the most exciting all-star event in professional sports, will be contested under the lights at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday night, May 22.(LMS PR)(2-21-2004)
UPDATE: Since its inception in 1985, NASCAR’s version of an “all-star game” has evolved from a novelty to a showcase, a spring ritual of speed and daring resulting in yearly additions to the book of NASCAR lore. This year, the event (formerly known as The Winston) has a new name for its 20th running: The “NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.” On May 22, it returns to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. for the 18th consecutive year, once again featuring an exclusive field of 2003-04 race winners and past champions of the event, which will be televised live on FX (7:00pm/et). The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge events will have a total purse of $4,095,000, an increase of $225,000 from the previous year. The winner will receive $1 million.
A total of 18 drivers already have qualified, and the talent-laden group is led by defending champion #48-Jimmie Johnson.
Also involved, for the first time: Nextel Communications: “The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge is a marquee event for Nextel,” said Michael Robichaud, senior director of sports and entertainment marketing for Nextel, the title sponsor of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. “It has been one of the most exciting events on the schedule since its inception because drivers aren’t competing for points – they race for pride and a check for $1 million. That format has created some of the sport’s greatest moments, which has made it a favorite for both drivers and fans. Our focus is to create an atmosphere that makes fans feel more connected to this all-star event than ever before.”
The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge has been held at Lowe’s Motor Speedway every year since its inception – except for 1986, when it was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “No other all-star event in professional sports has produced the drama and excitement this event has for nearly two decades,” Lowe’s Motor Speedway President H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler said. “Serving as the home venue for this event, we have worked hard to build equity and making the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge a real fan favorite. We have some things up our sleeve to make the 20th edition bigger and better than ever.”
“Through the years, this has become one of the obvious highlights of our season,” NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne said. “It is invariably exciting, and provides a perfect lead-in to one of our key NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points events, the Coca-Cola 600, which is held in Concord the following week (May 30).”
The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge format’s specifics follow. The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge will have a minimum of 20 cars and drivers who meet one (or in some cases more) of the following criteria:
- Drivers and car owners who have won races in either 2003 or 2004.
- Active drivers who have won the championship of NASCAR’s premier series.
- Active NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers who have won the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.
- The winner of the NEXTEL Open, a two-segment (20 laps/10 laps) preliminary event for teams who have competed, but not won, during 2003 or 2004.
As for the racing itself, the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge will consist of three segments totaling 90 laps/135 miles around the 1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway track. An initial 40-lap segment advances the top-20 finishers to the second segment. From that 30-lap sprint, the top 14 advance to the final segment, which is 20 laps. There also is the “x” factor to consider: A vote by fans will determine a random inversion (anywhere from three to 10 cars) of the starting order for the 20-lap finale.
Two races into the 2004 season, the following drivers have qualified:
- Race winners: Michael Waltrip (No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet), Dale Jarrett (No. 88 UPS Ford), Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford), Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet), Ricky Craven (No. 32 Tide Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie IRWIN Ford), Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Joe Nemechek (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet), Robby Gordon (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet), Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford), Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet), Terry Labonte (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet) and Bill Elliott (No. 91 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge).
- Past series champion: Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge).
- Past event champion: Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford).
- Car owners: Joe/Rick Hendrick (No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet) and Ray Evernham (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge).
What: NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge
Where: Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Concord, NC
When: Saturday, May 22, 7:30pm/et
Who: Race winners in 2003 and ’04; past series champions; past champions of the event; NEXTEL Open winner.
TV: FX, 7:00pm/et.
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $4,095,000.
Race length: 90 laps/135 miles.
Track layout: 1.5-mile tri-oval.
2003 winner: Jimmie Johnson.
Qualified drivers (as of Feb. 22): Race winners—Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Ricky Craven, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Joe Nemechek, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott; Past event champion: Mark Martin. Past series champion: Rusty Wallace. Qualified owners: Joe/Rick Hendrick (No. 25 entry), Ray Evernham (No. 9 entry).(NASCAR PR)(2-24-2004)
- Levi’s Signs Jimmie Johnson: Levi Strauss says it has signed a sponsorship deal to make its Signature line the exclusive apparel sponsor for Nextel Cup driver Jimmie Johnson. The deal includes both retail and at-track programs. The brand says it has also agreed to a category-exclusive deal with NASCAR that will include usage of the NASCAR trademarks and opportunities to partner on special marketing programs. Financial terms were not announced.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-23-2004)
- Ward and CertainTeed Expand Program: CertainTeed Corp. says it is expanding its marketing program with Nextel Cup driver Ward Burton. The manufacturer says the driver of Haas CNC Racing’s #0 NetZero Chevy will represent its entire line of building materials and appear on behalf of the company at 12 races at CertainTeed-sponsored hospitality venues.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-23-2004)
- Champ Car Series drops doctors….maybe NASCAR can hire them? The new owners of the Champ Car series are not renewing the contracts of two doctors credited with making the series’ trauma team one of the world’s best. The Open Wheel Racing Series on Sunday said Dr. Steve Olvey and Dr. Terry Trammel will not be retained. Olvey, a professor and director of the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, said his contract with the open-wheel racing series has not been extended. Trammell, an orthopedic surgeon based in Indianapolis, said he will remain with the series for the final year of his current contract as a consultant. Champ Car spokesman Eric Mauk confirmed that Olvey was being replaced as the series medical director but said the organization would have no further comment.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(2-23-2004)
- Qualifying Changes? Heat Races? Talladega Race Set-up qualifying? While most drivers and crews aren’t showing much enthusiasm for eliminating traditional two-lap qualifying sessions in favor of 50-lap heat races to determine race lineups, Hill finds the idea intriguing. Certainly the current method of qualifying for Sunday Cup races makes for a terribly boring television show. Qualifying has been used over the years as a ticket-selling marketing promotion. However, over the last 15 years that aspect of qualifying has vanished and it has become a generally useless routine. “Nobody even pays attention to the sheets anymore,” Gil Martin, the general manager for the Kevin Harvick-Richard Childress team, said. NASCAR officials are considering one novel response to the qualifying question – for the April 25 Talladega 500 Cup teams could be required to qualify on a race setup. How? That Friday teams, after practice and qualifying, will have their cars impounded and covered up until the start of Sunday’s race. No Happy Hour Saturday.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-23-2004)
- Gordon off to the road: After racing in Rockingham this weekend, #31-Robby Gordon is heading to San Felipe, Calif., to compete in the Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250, which is the second competition of the 2004 SCORE International Off-Road racing series. Gordon competed earlier this year in the Laughlin Desert Challenge, which was the first 2004 SCORE International Off-Road race in Laughlin, Nev.(RCR PR)(2-23-2004)
- Drivers Warned about ‘colorful’ language: NASCAR President Mike Helton issued a warning to Busch Series drivers Saturday to watch their language and actions, especially in regards to TV broadcasts and interviews. Helton addressed the group in Saturday morning’s drivers meeting and plans to do the same in Sunday’s Cup drivers meeting at North Carolina Speedway. “All of you understand how NASCAR typically treats actions that are played out on TV, particularly when it comes to profanity or actions that we think are detrimental,” Helton said. “What I wanted to do today is to make sure you understand that while we may have been a little forgiving over the past few weeks … that we’re going to tighten back up on profanity in the sport.” TV networks have come under scrutiny recently over events and language considered in bad taste or in violation of FCC regulations. Helton cited the Super Bowl halftime incident in which singer Janet Jackson exposed her breast as an example. In addition, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal recently was suspended for one game without pay (roughly $295,000) for a profanity-laced interview on TV following a game. “The networks and the government are getting ready to get into this deal and it’s going to make things complicated. So, I wanted to be very precise and want you to understand that this is your warning,” Helton said. “If somebody puts a microphone in front of you, the first thing that ought to go through your head is that you’re talking to your grandmother or your 4-year-old daughter. You have to watch what you say because it’s beyond what we want to do in the sport, to make it a family oriented sport.” TV talent, particularly those who work pit road and conduct post-race interviews at races, have been advised to help prevent incidences of foul language as well, sources said. TV reporters caught in such situations are likely to cut an interview short, sources said.(ThatsRacin.com)
AND In the Subway 400 prerace drivers meeting, drivers were warned by President Mike Helton to maintain a suitable level of decorum during live television interviews in the wake of Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime show. “That incident has caused the FCC and federal government to react, and that reaction has led to greater scrutiny of the entertainment industry and sports in particular,” Helton said. “We have a policy about profanity, and that is under more of a microscope today than it ever has been. . . . When you’re being interviewed, understand you’re talking to an audience of 8 to 80. We’ve all worked very hard to get the following we got, and we don’t want to mess that up.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-23-2004)
- More on Field Fillers: NASCAR’s John Darby declared here that there was no contractual provision requiring Nextel Cup fields to sport a full 43-car allottment at each event, but the governing body is obviously mounting a major effort to get enough cars to each track to fulfill such a requirement. They’re not providing any incentive to hang around, though. In fact, at Rockingham, they were discouraging it. Early in Sunday’s race, Joe Ruttman’s #09-Dodge was black-flagged for “not having a crew.” You’d think NASCAR’s crack operatives might have known about that in advance. And the race wasn’t 25 laps old when #72-Kirk Shelmerdine’s Ford was black-flagged for not maintaining a competitive speed. Not just anyone can run a Cup race, however. Morgan Shepherd is 62, and he failed to make the field. He was here, though his car was not allowed to make a qualifying run because it had not managed to get out on the track for a practice lap. #80-Andy Hillenburg’s first pit stop took 36.5 seconds.(Shelby Star)(2-23-2004)
- OSHA to check out tracks: Federal OSHA inspectors are expected to make the rounds at several NASCAR tracks, in the wake of the investigation of the death of a track safety worker at Daytona during SpeedWeeks. One item of concern to OSHA – the spotters’ stands high above the track. OSHA’s decision to step into the Daytona case is worrisome in some NASCAR quarters; sports are generally considered immune to such examination.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-23-2004)
- Ganassi Says He Was Robbed: They were lined up behind the NASCAR hauler before Sunday’s Subway 400 had even concluded at North Carolina Speedway. Ganassi Racing owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates staked out a position at the entrance, and were soon joined by Donnie Wingo, crew chief for driver Jamie McMurray, and team manager Andy Graves. They were there to protest the win of #17-Matt Kenseth, claiming Kenseth and second-place finisher #9-Kasey Kahne were not on the lead lap and McMurray, who was third, should have been the winner. Ganassi and Sabates contended when Kenseth and Kahne pitted under green on Lap 350 and a caution then came out, they should have been scored a lap down. Rather, NASCAR corrected the scoring and put them back on the lead lap. When the other lead-lap cars then pitted, Kenseth and Kahne moved into the first and second positions for the final restart. McMurray, who was the race leader when the caution came out, restarted third.
“We just got robbed in front of a 100,000 people,” Ganassi said. “Even if you say they froze the field, we had (Kenseth) and (Kahne) split and should have been no better than second. They come in the pits and then it goes yellow, and then we go in the pits as the race leader and come out third. How does that work?”
While the Ganassi group waited for NASCAR officials to return from race control, driver Mark Martin joined them. He, along with car owner Jack Roush, were summoned to the hauler because NASCAR felt Martin, a lapped car, was blocking the race leaders on the final restart of the race. Strangely enough, one of the drivers Martin was racing in the incident was McMurray. So, when Martin arrived, he and Sabates got into a brief profanity-laced exchange before they all went up in the hauler.
Roush, meanwhile, was still celebrating Kenseth’s win in Victory Lane, and didn’t join the group until much later. After nearly 40 minutes, Ganassi and Sabates came out declaring NASCAR was not going to change its decision, but emphasizing their belief McMurray was the winner. “There was no explanation. There was no reviewing (of tape). Nothing,” Sabates said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you get the shaft and sometimes you get the elevator. We got the shaft this time.”
And what of NASCAR’s explanation? “Now that we dont race back to the yellow, when the yellow comes out, all the positions are frozen. It was our determination in timing and scoring (Kenseth) and (Kahne) were still on the lead lap when the caution came out. We gave them what they lost when the pace car went by them and gave them that lap back.” The reasoning didn’t sit well with the Ganassi group, who left frustrated and angry. And Martin didn’t appear particularly satisfied with his visit either when he finally emerged from the hauler. “I’m disappointed because the people in the sport know I have a lot of integrity,” he said. “I watched it on the tape and I didn’t see anything. I was racing and wasn’t in anybody’s way.”(ThatsRacin.com)(2-23-2004)
- StockCarFans.com – Rumblings – Rockingham: Since Matt Kenseth is one of the “Gillette Young Guns” we’ll say he won by a whisker! That close shave had to help, cause Kenseth won today’s Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway by the whopping margin of .010 seconds over Kasey Kahne. With less than 10 laps to go it was up for grabs amongst the top-3, as Jamie McMurray had his chances as well. This was career win #8 for Kenseth (tying him with Kurt Busch and Kyle Petty for 52nd on the all-time win list), and #67 for Roush Racing. His second win at Rockingham (he won this race in February of ’02) was worth $222,303 for Kenseth from the over $4.7M in posted awards.
It was all about where you were when the cautions fell today, and it’s apparent that NASCAR’s “no racing back to the caution” rule is still a work in progress. We saw two changes to Rusty Wallace’s pit crew for this race, and it certainly wouldn’t be a big surprise to see some more moves from that corner before we get to Vegas.
Kasey Kahne (2nd) had his career-best finish today. He was 41st at Daytona last week in his debut.
Jamie McMurray (3rd) had his best finish since he was 3rd at Bristol last August.
Sterling Marlin (4th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Darlington in September of 2002!
Rusty Wallace (7th) had his best finish since he was 6th at Loudon last September.
Ward Burton (9th) had his best finish since he was 6th at Watkins Glen last August.
Johnny Sauter (14th) had his best finish since he was 23rd at Loudon last July.
Scott Riggs (31st) had his career-best finish today. He was 34th last week at Daytona in his debut.
Andy Hillenburg (34th) had his best finish since he was 24th at Daytona in October of 1998 (only 4 races).
Carl Long (38th) had his best finish since he was 29th at Lowes Motor Speedway in October of 2001 (only 5 races).
STREAKIN….Jeff Gordon has 10 Top-10’s in the last 11 races. Matt Kenseth has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is a tie between Matt Kenseth (+22) and Johnny Sauter (+22). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Dale Jarrett (-31), followed by Jeff Green (-20).
The big move forward in the standings this week goes to Jamie McMurray (36th to 11th), while Dave Blaney who didn’t compete this weekend fell from 15th to 37th. Of the competitors, Jimmie Johnson fell the most spots (5th to 25th)….unchartered territory for him.(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(2-23-2004)
- Race Notes: Rockingham:
- Matt Kenseth won the Subway 400 at the North Carolina Speedway, scoring his eighth career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 150th career start. His most recent victory came at Las Vegas last March, 35 races ago.
- Kenseth is the first repeat winner in the last five races at Rockingham. He won this race in 2002.
- Kenseth is one of just three drivers to start the 2004 season with top-10 finishes in each of the first two races of the season. Kenseth finished ninth at Daytona. He is joined by Dale Earnhardt Jr., (fifth) and Jeff Gordon (10th) two top-10 finishes in both of the races this season.
- This is Kenseth’s second victory, third straight top-five and sixth straight top-10 finish at Rockingham.
- This race was the first victory for Ford in 2004 and first since Ford won at Bristol last August, 14 races ago.
- Today’s 0.010 margin of victory ties Atlanta (Dale Earnhardt over Bobby Labonte – 3-12-00) for the fourth closest finish since electronic scoring was introduced in 1993.
The closest margin of victory was 0.002 second by Ricky Craven over Kurt Busch at Darlington in March 2003. Dale Earnhardt beat Ernie Irvan by 0.005 second at Talladega in July 1993 for the second closest finish. Kevin Harvick crossed the line just 0.006 second ahead of Jeff Gordon at Atlanta in March 2001 in the third closest race since the advent of electronic timing.
- The 2004 Subway 400 marks the first time since the inaugural American 500 in 1965 that only one race will be run at the North Carolina Speedway.
- Rookie Kasey Kahne (second) scored his career-first top-10 finish [and top-5]. It is the second straight race that a rookie has finished in the top three. Scott Wimmer finished third at Daytona.
- Jamie McMurray (third) scored his first top-10 finish in 2004. It marked his second top-five finish in four races at Rockingham.
- Sterling Marlin (fourth) scored his first top-10 finish in 2004. It was his 15th top-10 finish in 37 races at Rockingham.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fifth) is the only driver with two top-five finishes this season. He retained the lead in the NEXTEL Cup point standings by just seven points over second-place Matt Kenseth. This was his best finish in nine races at Rockingham. His previous best here was 13th last fall.
- Jeff Gordon (10th) scored his second top-10 finish in 2004. He has scored 11 top-10 finishes in 23 races at Rockingham.
- Jimmie Johnson ended an eight-race streak of top-10 finishes that dated to Kansas City last October. With his 41st-place finish in the Subway 400, Johnson dropped to 25th in the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. Johnson had ranked in the NASCAR Top 10 for 70 straight races (since Atlanta in March 2002), the longest streak in the top-10 since Dale Earnhardt stayed in the top-10 for 123 races between Daytona (2-14-93) and Atlanta (11-10-96). Johnson ranks ninth in consecutive races ranked among the top 10 under the current point system.
- Terry Labonte (17th) has been running at the finish in the last 44 straight races, a streak that began at Charlotte in October 2002.
- Five of the drivers in the final 2003 point standings are currently ranked among the top-10 in 2004. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (first), 2003 Champion Matt Kenseth (second), Kevin Harvick (third), Jeff Gordon (fifth) and Tony Stewart (sixth).
- The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Leader bonus will be worth $30,000 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
(NASCAR Stats Services)(2-22-2004)
- Martin called to the NASCAR trailer: #6-Mark Martin was called to NASCAR’s trailer [phone booth? oval office? white elephant?] as NASCAR was concerned that he was blocking for his teammate, #17-Kenseth [Martin is also listed as the owner of the car], Martin was insulted by the accusation.(Speed Channel’s Speed News – NASCAR Edition)(2-22-2004)
- Long earns his ‘purse’. loses his only Cup car: The most spectacular wreck of the race involved #46-Carl Long, one of the four “field-fillers” in the event, who walked away unhurt after flipping his car almost six times down the backstretch. Long was bumped from behind by #01-Joe Nemechek on lap 263 and the contact sent him into the wall along the backstretch. His car turned on its side as it skidded along the track, then barrel-rolled several times before finally coming to a stop. Long quickly emerged unhurt from the only race car he owns. “We were racing along and someone must have got into me, because next thing I knew, I seen the people up there in the back straightaway in the bleachers up there eating chicken,” Long said. “You can’t pay $2 at the state fair to ride something like that.” There had been concern about the field-fillers, who made the race because of a shortage of full-time competitors. Long, #09-Joe Ruttman, #72-Kirk Shelmerdine and #80-Andy Hillenburg were all well off the pace the entire weekend and clearly not capable of being competitive. NASCAR ordered Ruttman off the track one lap into the race when they saw he had no pit crew set up. Shelmerdine was called off shortly after – he had been lapped eight minutes in – because he wasn’t up to the minimum speed requirement. Still, Ruttman earned $54,196 for his last-place finish and Shelmerdine got $54,895 for coming in 42nd. Hillenburg finished in 34th place, 17 laps down, and picked up $55,425. Long, too, had been lapped several times, but was running a clean race before the wreck. He finished 38th and earned $55,135. “We made the highlight reel, but it won’t do much for me racing,” said Long, who has made spot starts in NASCAR’s top series the past several years. “Without any sponsor and without any deal, that’s not the way I wanted to finish today. I don’t have another car, so I guess it will be some time before I get out there again – unless someone wants me to put their car on the highlight reel like that.”(ThatsRacin.com/AP and see a column at NASCAR.com: Long loses car, but not sense of humor)(2-22-2004)
- Roush/Yates Engine Woes Update: Reigning series champion #17-Matt Kenseth said Roush Racing has determined what caused the engine failures in teammates #6-Mark Martin and #99-Jeff Burton last weekend in Daytona and is confident the problem is corrected. Kenseth said each engine had something different wrong with it.(Fayetteville Observer), however, was not specific on what that something was.(2-22-2004)
- Stewart, Andretti talk about Daytona: After Tony Stewart publicly blamed John Andretti for causing two on-track incidents during practice at Daytona last week, he sought out Andretti for some one-on-one conversation at Rockingham. The two sat on the pit wall and talked for several minutes, but Andretti said afterward that he’s still upset with the way Stewart acted at Daytona. “He came up and talked to me,” Andretti said. “He was talking about what made him mad, and I disagreed with him.” Andretti said he was mostly mad that Stewart made derogatory comments in public before having a private discussion. And he thinks any apology should have been as public as the criticism. “I’m still really disappointed in how he handled it,” he said. “Everybody can say, ‘Well that’s Tony,’ but when I have a family and kids that are old enough to understand, it’s not good enough to come up and talk to me on pit wall.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(2-22-2004)
- Some Ideas to curb costs: On the technical front, these are some ideas being bandied about the garage for France to consider:
Cutting back on the number of body templates and curbing the repeated, costly changes.
Rationing tires, as NASCAR does with the Busch Series.
Putting major limits on engine parts and high RPM technology.
One driver raised an even more dramatic cost-cutting option – that NASCAR issue full-shell molded bodies, registered and numbered the way NASCAR does with car noses and tails.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-22-2004)
- Waltrip Keeping the Hatch: NASCAR’s investigation after the Daytona 500 of Michael Waltrip’s battered stock car revealed that the roof escape hatch, while bent, held firm. The team said Waltrip, who at 6-foot-5 is the tallest Nextel Cup driver, will continue to use the escape hatch design on his car. Waltrip’s #15 NAPA Chevy went into a tight barrel roll, flipping at least three times, on the back straightaway in the first half of the 500 and came to rest on its roof on the infield grass. The roof hatch “bowed” according the Waltrip’s crew chief Slugger Labbe, but the structure remained intact. “The flip he took, he landed on the right front corner of the roof and it pushed the halo over to the left and the roll cage shrunk on the top, so to speak, and the roof hatch was the weakest point and it bowed in a little bit,” Labbe said. “The pins still released and everything. The pins did their job but the roof hatch was caved in but that was probably one of the worst flips you will ever see.” The battered car was shipped directly from Daytona International Speedway to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, NC, for study. Gary Nelson, managing director of the R&D facility, said the car was inspected Tuesday and Wednesday by NASCAR engineers then released to Labbe Thursday morning. “The whole top was crumpled and bent but the integrity of the escape hatch were still there,” Nelson said. “The hinges were still connected to all the parts which is what we look at. We haven’t found that any of the systems were compromised,” Nelson said. “None of the systems had gone bad. None of the systems, such as roll bars, driver restraints, any of the things designed to protect the driver, were compromised.” Waltrip was pinned in his car for several minutes but Labbe said his movement was not limited by the bent roof hatch. Waltrip’s car won’t be heading to the junkyard. Teresa Earnhardt, who owns Dale Earnhardt Inc., said the stock car would be put on display in the Earnhardt Museum, located at the massive DEI race shop near Charlotte, NC.[Mooresville](Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-22-2003)
- Bye-Bye Taurus in 2006-2007? UPDATE 2 NO: Ford Motor Co. plans to phase out its midsize Taurus by 2006 or 2007, and three vehicles under development will replace it, according to people involved in the plans. Two of them will go on sale next year: the Five Hundred, a large, Audi-like sedan, and the Freestyle, a combination sport-utility vehicle and station wagon that shares a similar European styling and will replace the Taurus wagon. This week at the media preview of the New York International Automobile Show, Ford executives will release the first pictures of the Futura, a midsize car aimed at the perennial champions of the car market, the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. The Futura is to be introduced in 2005 and will offer a hybrid version that supplements its gasoline engine with electric power.(Star Tribune). NOTE: ‘If’ this happens, no idea what Ford would use in NASCAR and not looking to guess, have seen images of the Five Hundred, as posted here.(4-16-2003)
UPDATE: A Taurus badged race car will be utilized in NASCAR competition in the 2004 season, according to Greg Specht, manager, North American Racing Operations Ford Racing Technology. “I can say for the record that we’ll be racing a Taurus in ’04,” said Specht regarding the future of the Taurus. “The Taurus is changing, the production car – the showroom car, is changing in 2004. And our race car is being changed to reflect those differences. According to NASCAR rules, any car a manufacturer wants to use in competition must be submitted for approval to the Daytona Beach, Fla. sanctioning body no later than July 1 the year prior to its desired rollout. That means that if Ford wants to run a redesigned Ford Taurus in 2004, it must be in NASCAR’s hands by July 1, 2003. Asked if the Taurus might be replaced with another make after 2004, Specht replied, “I can say for sure that we’re going to race a Taurus in ’04.” (Ford Racing)(4-17-2003)
UPDATE 2: stumbled upon a Speed Channel show this morning, Autoline Detroit [Sunday’s at 10am, re-air on Tuesday at 8:30am], where Ford Marketing Manager Amy Marentic representative was on the show hosted by John McElroy. They were discussing Fords future plans, including the new Ford 500. Marentic was asked if the Ford Taurus would still be made in 2005 and what the future was for the car and if it would have a ‘farewell’. Marentic said the Taurus was here to stay and that Ford was not discontinuing the Taurus brand. Currently seen on Detroit Public Television, Autoline Detroit is hosted by industry observer and expert John McElroy. Join John and a panel of reporters each week as they discuss the latest news out of Detroit and interview a top industry insider, more info about the show at Speed Channel or www.autolinedetroit.tv(2-22-2004)
- A Win for Dale….a win for Angels: It has been a remarkable week for Dale Jr. Six years ago Sunday his dad won America’s race, the Daytona 500. It took Dale Sr. a long time to enter victory lane at Daytona as the winner of the Big Race. Dale Jr. fans everywhere rose to their feet, cheers went up as the #8 crossed the finish the finish line and took the checkered flag. Some of those fans were angels, and some of those angels were right here on earth. Entering their third year, the Pit Board Charity set their lineup for the 2004 season carefully. For the past two years, the PBC has been helping various racing related charities by providing Dale Jr. fans a way to unite and make a difference in the lives of others. Together, working as a team, they have raised over $60,000. It is simple the way it works, a charity is assigned to each finishing position at the beginning of the year. Each week of the season, a donation is made to the charity that matches Dale Jr.’s finish. For the 2004 lineup, the organization selected for the coveted #1 position in the Pit Board Charity lineup was Jaret’s Angels. Jaret Arneson is a Charlotte resident that was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 2000. Jaret’s Angels was formed to raise awareness and funds for research in the fight against this terrible disease. Jaret was watching the race with his family on Sunday. In the closing laps, Jaret and family were pulling the #8 car around the track with their cheers. When the checkered flag waved, Jaret jumped up and down, Dale had won. The Arneson household was a scene right out of victory lane. With Dale’s win, the Pit Board Charity closed their first fundraiser of the year, and raised $3000.00 for Jaret and all the angels fighting juvenile diabetes. They also raised $500 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp and $500 for the Faison School of Autism. The winning for charity won’t stop this week, it will go on throught the year at each race. Whatever the finish, whatever the track, a victory will be won for charity by Dale Jr. and his fans. But what a way to start the year by winning one for the angels, both here and in heaven.(Pit Board Charity PR)(2-22-2004)
- Some Notes: Terry Labonte has a streak of 43 consecutive races without a DNF, the longest current streak in the series. The last time he failed to finish was at Talladega in Oct. 2002. … Jeff Burton is the only Cup driver who doesn’t have a DNF in his past 20 starts at Rockingham. … Jimmie Johnson has been in the top 10 of the points standings for 70 consecutive weeks, the longest current streak and the ninth longest in NASCAR history. Should Johnson stay in the top 10 all season he would pass Richard Petty for sixth place on the all-time list.(The State)
UPDATE: looks like #48-Johnson’s 70 race streak will end today as he was involved in an accident at the Rock. Labonte increased his DNF streak to 44. Burton failed to finish a race at Rockingham in 20 races.(2-22-2004)
- Droppin’ out early….ya think? UPDATE: #09-Joe Ruttman, #80-Andy Hillenburg, #46-Carl Long and #72-Kirk Shelmerdine aren’t here [Rockignham] to race. They’re here to make sure there were 43 cars to line up for the start. If they go out early because of a “vibration,” it’ll be their pagers vibrating to tell them the checks they’re getting from NASCAR to show up have cleared.(ThatsRacin.com), lets start a field-filler tracker on Sunday and see what they each do.(2-22-2004)
AND drivers refute – Although Hillenburg admits the guarantee of a paycheck — last place here a year ago paid almost $45,000 — he wants to finish the race and go on to attempt to make at least 20 events this year. “I don’t want to look like we’re trying to capitalize on anything, but this is our window of opportunity,” he said. “We’re not here to go two laps and try to get a check. We’re here to do the best we can.” But Shelmerdine doesn’t share the same outlook. Although he’s taking the season one race at a time and hopes to be at the Las Vegas event in two weeks, he has no delusional ideas of winning. “If we get lapped twice in the first 100 miles, there’s probably not much point to finishing the race,” Shelmerdine said. “But we’re not going to park on the first lap. We didn’t come here to park; we came here to do the best we can.”(NASCAR.com/AP)(2-22-2004)
AND II: “With this short spoiler on it, and if other cars get around me and get me out of control, then I’ll just pull it in because it’s no use of me going out there and wrecking and taking out some people with a lot on the line,” Long said. “If I can get tires [from other teams] and the car drives good, I’ll race all day long.” Hillenburg admits his team is not as prepared as it needs to be. He said the team hadn’t planned to make its season debut until Atlanta next month. That changed after questions surfaced whether this race would have a full field. Hillenburg said the team needed to come here to earn series points, which could help it earn provisionals and make future races. “There’s a small window of opportunity to get back into this garage for a few teams and that window will probably be closed by Atlanta,” he said. “More cars will come.”(Roanoke Times), this is in no way a SLAM on these drivers, just some notes I found, nothing wrong with keeping their name in the press. Hope thay all finish and do well.(2-22-2004)
UPDATE: The so called field-fillers? (where they started): and where they finished at the Rock:
#80-Hillenburg (43): 34th, -17 laps
#46-Long (42): 38th and out after a spectacular accident
#72-Shelmerdine (41): 42nd and out after 20 laps
#09-Ruttman (40): 43rd and out after 2 laps.(2-22-2004)
- Cup still on the counter: Three months after Matt Kenseth clinched the final Winston Cup championship at North Carolina Speedway, the trophy is still sitting on a countertop in his home in Terrell, NC. “I’m waiting for that carpenter guy to come over and finish my trophy room,” Kenseth said. “I’ve got a little place I’m going to have built and stick it in the wall. It’s kind of a neat little place. It hasn’t been done yet, so it’s just sitting on the counter. One of these days, though, I’ll get it put away.”(Charleston Post and Courier)(2-22-2004)
- Congrats to Craig ‘Skippy’ Smith and wife Kara on the birth of their son. Landon weighed in at 10.5lbs and was 22 1/2 inches. Craig is a painter, formerly with Ultra Motorsports and Buffalo Bills fan, now of Joe Gibbs Racing Busch team.(2-21-2004)
- Daytona Penalties Doled Out: Crew chief Jimmy Fennig was fined $20,000 by NASCAR for weights improperly attached to a bar reinforcing the rear bumper on the #97 Ford entered for driver Kurt Busch for the Daytona 500. The fine against Fennig was the highest announced Saturday by NASCAR officials, who penalized a total of eight crew chiefs and two drivers for infractions at Daytona. NASCAR said it found pellets that were, in its judgment, added for the purpose of increasing the weight of the rear bumper cover on the #97 Sharpie Ford.
Ken Francis, crew chef for the #91 Dodge Bill Elliott drove in the Bud Shootout, was fined $5,000 for a non-approved rear deck lid.
Other penalties assessed were:
$500 for Anthony Gibson, crew chief on the #1 Maxwell House/Post Chevy of John Andretti, for an unapproved air directional device and another $500 for a gap in the rear coil spring that did not meet specifications.
$500 for Mike Hillman, crew chief for Derrike Cope’s #50 Dodge, for an air filter housing that had more than two holes drilled in the bottom.
$500 for Greg Zipadelli, #20-Tony Stewart’s crew chief, and Ben Leslie, #21-Ricky Rudd’s crew chief, for using adjustable fender braces.
$500 for Greg Steadman, crew chief for #45-Kyle Petty, and Gary Putnam, crew chief for #43-Jeff Green, for use of unapproved air directional devices.
$500 for drivers #2-Rusty Wallace and #72-Kirk Shelmerdine for using head-and-neck restraint devices on which manufacturer’s dates had expired.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-21-2004)
- Update on James Ince: Veteran crew chief James Ince, considered by many to have one of the brightest minds in motorsports, said Friday that he’s ready to end a five-month, self-imposed exile from the sport. Ince left the #10 Nextel Cup team in October and retreated to his home in Missouri, where he refused to return phone calls and avoided contact with the NASCAR community. “I had some personal problems, some health issues and some family business to take care of,” he said by telephone Friday. Although he said it was “extremely hard” to walk away from racing, it was something he had to do. “My passion and my life is NASCAR racing,” he said. “But there were other things that had to come first.” He said he’s confident he’ll soon hook up with a front-running team. “My timing’s really bad because this time of the year people think they have the right combination for their race teams,” he said(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), NOTE: Ince is not at Rockingham this weekend and NOT working for the #56 Busch team as reported on TV during Busch Qualifiying coverage.(2-21-2004)
- StockCarFans.Com – Ramblings – Rockingham: It was Ryan Newman’s day today….and once again it wasn’t in much doubt. #12-Newman was faster than Jamie McMurray in his Alltel Dodge at North Carolina Speedway this afternoon…by a whopping .165 seconds. He sped around this 1 mile oval in 23.398 sec (156.475 mph) to grab his third Bud pole at this old place and 19th of his Nextel Cup career. That’s a phenominal pole percentage (a new stat….PPP) of .232! And, that’s waaaay above the Mendoza line.
#9-Kasey Kahne (3rd) has his career-best starting spot. He started 27th last week in his debut.
#2-Rusty Wallace (4th….and without any concrete in site) has his best starting spot since he had the outside pole at Dover last June.
#43-Jeff Green (8th) has his best starting spot since he had the pole for the Daytona 500 in February of last year.
#88-Dale Jarrett (9th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 6th at Talladega last October.
#77-Brendan Gaughan (15th) has his career-best starting spot. He started 17th last week in his debut.
#32-Ricky Craven (17th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 13th at Lowe’s last October.
#10-Scott Riggs (19th) has his career-best starting spot. He started 36th last week in his debut.
We’ve got four drivers this weekend making their first starts in quite awhile….
#09-Joe Ruttman (40th) is making his first start since the Daytona 500 in 1995! He started 19th and finished 27th that day.
#72-Kirk Shelmerdine (41st) is making his first field since he started 41st and finished 42nd at Pocono in July of 2002.
#46-Carl Long (42nd) has made his first grid since he started 39th and finished 43rd at Atlanta in October of 2002.
#80-Andy Hillendurg (43rd) makes his first field since he started 43rd and finished 43rd at Martinsville in April of 2002.
STREAKIN….Ryan Newman has 7 Top-10 starts in the last 8 races.
No real Trouble Train this weekend. #59-Andy Belmont and #89-Morgan Shepherd both W/D’ed their cars before qualifying so all 43 cars that took a time made the event.(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(2-21-2004)
- More night races? Triple Points for the Daytona 500? more Fox ideas: More night races and the Daytona 500 counting more than any other race are some of the ideas David Hill, Fox Sports Television Group chairman, says he’d like to see NASCAR enact. Hill, whose network broadcasts the first half of the NASCAR schedule, admits his ideas are not likely to be followed. “I’ve always believed that NASCAR would make fantastic prime-time entertainment,” Hill said in a conference call this week. “The problem is that you’ve got 200,000 people who have got to get to work the next morning.” Even so, he says night racing could work. “I’ve always believed that the next step forward for this sport is to regularize the races,” he said. “If I had my way, I’d mandate that every track had lights so fans knew every Friday night was a Truck race and every Saturday night was a Busch race and Sunday was a Cup race.” Hill said he would like to see quadruple points awarded at Daytona and the schedule changed to where the season finale takes place the weekend after Thanksgiving instead of the weekend before. Hill also said that he’s “cautiously optimistic” that Fox can make money off the TV contract. Fox, NBC and their partners paid more than $2.4 billion to broadcast NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series events beginning in 2001. NBC’s contract ends in 2006. Fox’s contract ends in 2006, but it has the option to extend that through 2008.(Roanoke Times)(2-21-2004)
- Brett Bodine/Jimmy Spencer at the Rock: Cup veteran Brett Bodine was among the interested observers in the garage area Friday. Bodine’s 480th career start came last June at Michigan International Speedway, where he qualified his Ford, then suffered a broken collarbone during a crash in practice and had to press older brother Geoffrey into service to drive in the race. The team owner-driver said Friday that he is in the process of selling off the cars in his fleet, but retains all the other equipment necessary to operate a team. He sold another one Friday when Andy Hillenburg made the field for Sunday’s race. Bodine’s purpose for visiting the track? “Whatever. Driving or whatever else a team could use,” he said. Also spotted at the track Friday was Jimmy Spencer, who competed in last Sunday’s Daytona 500 but is now looking for work. Team owner Jim Smith shut down his Cup team for lack of sponsorship and will concentrate on the Craftsman Truck operations that fields entries for Ted Musgrave and Andy Houston.(Fayetteville Observer)(2-21-2004)
- Raines still looking: Tony Raines, a rookie of the year candidate in the Nextel Cup last season, remains without a ride after his BACE Motorsports decided not to run another season without sponsorship. Raines said he would like to remain at BACE if a sponsor is found. Otherwise, he will look at other options as they become available. BACE fields the #74 Chevy. “I want to get in a good car,” Raines said. “I believe I can win races in any of the series in NASCAR. I’ve won Truck races and I’ve come really close in Busch. We had a great operations going there, but right now it’s not operating. They’re not happy about it. I’m not happy about it. (But) you have to keep going. You can’t wait on the world, because it doesn’t stop.”(ThatsRacin.com)(2-21-2004)
- How Ruttman found out he was racing at the Rock: Joe Ruttman, who ranks racing just behind baby-sitting, discovered he would be qualifying for his first Cup race since 1995 while sitting in #09 car owner James Finch’s trailer before the Daytona 500 on Sunday. “He walked in and asked for my address,” said Ruttman, a 13-time winner in the Craftsman Truck Series who will turn 60 in October. “Then, he started filling out an entry form, and he said, ‘You do have a NASCAR license, right?’ Then he said, ‘Sign here.'”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-21-2003)
- Offer to attempt? While it couldn’t be confirmed through NASCAR, team sources said some drivers were promised last-place money if they would show up and attempt to qualify for the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway. That would be about $35,000.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-21-2004)
- Blaney to run more Cup races: #23-Dave Blaney’s next race with Bill Davis Racing is scheduled for March 14 at Atlanta, but the team’s sponsorship situation could add races to his schedule. “We found some sponsorship for Atlanta and I think Las Vegas is still up in the air, and after that it will be just race-to-race,” Blaney said. “I felt like we had a great car at Daytona. It was a shame we got knocked out of the pack we were drafting with because of a couple pit stops that were off. If we could have hung up there in front, we could have helped Scott and we both could have had a great day.” Blaney also has a 10-race deal [#31 Whelen] in the Busch Series this season, but would like to return full time to BDR in Cup, if possible. “This is the team I would like to run for if I can. I would like to put something together to run as much as we can,” he said.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-20-2004)
- Why Sauter and not Edwards: Why was #30-Johnny Sauter penalized for speeding down pit road during the Daytona 500, and Carl Edwards wasn’t penalized for his during the Craftsman Truck Series race. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter explained it this way: Sauter was penalized for reckless driving. As drivers in front of him slowed to enter the pits, he elected to speed through pit road to avoid colliding with anyone. Edwards, on the other hand, got there as a result of contact between his truck and the one driven by Randy LaJoie. So supposedly Sauter was putting himself and others in harm’s way, whereas Edwards was getting himself out of it.(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(2-20-2004)
- Testing at Texas: Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of two-dozen drivers scheduled to test at Texas Motor Speedway prior to the Samsung/RadioShack 500 race week. In addition to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series teams, the Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) Series and Toyota, the newest NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series manufacturer, are also slated during the 12 days of testing at the 1.5-mile superspeedway. Following are teams/drivers scheduled as of Feb. 19 – subject to change:
2/26/27 Crown Royal IROC Series (9a-5p) Dave Marcis, Jay and Jim Sauter 2/28-3/1
Toyota (9a-5p)(Trucks) #42/Mike Skinner, #24/Travis Kvapil, #22/Bill Lester, #21/Hank Parker, Jr., #17/David Reutimann, #12/Robert Huffman, #23/Shelby Howard & Joe Ruttman
2/28-29 Holigan Racing (5-10p) #50/David Starr (Busch) 3/8-9 FitzBradshaw/Richard Childress (9a-5p) #12/Tim Fedewa, #14/Casey Atwood, #82/Randy LaJoie & #21/Clint Bowyer (Busch)
3/16-17 DEI/Evernham/Joe Gibbs (9a-5p) #8/Dale Earnhardt Jr., #91/Bill Elliott (Cup) & #18/J.J. Yeley (Busch)
3/22-23 Roush Racing (9a-5p) #60/Greg Biffle (Busch)
3/23-24 Bill Davis/Penske/Hendrick/Labonte (9a-5p) #22/Scott Wimmer, #2/Rusty Wallace, #5/Terry Labonte (Cup) & #44/Justin Labonte (Busch) All test sessions are closed to the public.(TMS PR)(2-20-2004)
- F1 Team Boss Disses NASCAR: McLaren boss Ron Dennis is no fan of NASCAR, with its lines of growling stock cars rumbling bumper-to-bumper around ovals for hours on end. “You know one single thing that really, really upsets me?,” he said last month when the talk turned to Formula One’s commercial future. “It’s every time that I read about NASCAR. It’s just amazing. I mean they are just full up. Every race is full up, they’ve got more income, more television revenue and it’s boring as hell. McLaren chief Ron Dennis doesn’t understand why NASCAR is so popular in America. “That machine is working and yet we’ve got a much better show,” he added.(see full ESPN column) better show? a driver wins the pole, he wins the race [9 of 16 won from the pole, worse starting spot to win was 11th], unless he has a mechanical problem or brain fade.(2-20-2004)
- Parts Confiscated: NASCAR inspectors confiscated several items during Thursday’s pre-qualifying inspections at Rockingham. Among the items taken were unapproved foam for fuel cell bladders from the #89 Ford of Morgan Shepherd and the #9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne. In addition a lap belt was taken from the #88 Ford of Dale Jarrett because its expiration date had passed.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-20-2004)
- Some Tidbits about the Rock: #88-Dale Jarrett won the 2003 Subway 400 at NCS/The Rock last year….starting 9th, where does Jarrett start on Sunday? 9th. Did ya know the following drivers have never lead a lap at the Rock?
#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., best finish: 13th [11/2003] in 8 races; best start: 7th [first race there 2/2000]; starts 7th
#29-Kevin Harvick, best finish: 14th [2/2001 first Cup start ever] in 6 races; best start: 23rd [11/2001]; starts 32nd
#38-Elliott Sadler, best finish: 9th [2/2003] in 10 races; best start: 11th [2/2003]; starts 25th
#31-Robby Gordon, best finish: 11th [11/2002] in 10 races; best start: 7th [10/1996]; starts 34th.
(NASCAR Stats Services)(2-20-2004)
- Tires at the Rock:
This is the first time this specific combination of Goodyear Eagles will be used in NASCAR competition . . . the previous combination of left- and right-side for Rockingham were in place for the last three seasons . . . this is the first of three times Nextel Cup teams will compete on these tires in 2004 . . . Darlington (both races) is the other NASCAR track where teams will run this same combination this season . . . both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series cars will compete on the same tires this weekend . . . as on all ovals longer than one mile, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Rockingham. For the full Goodyear Notes, see my Subway 400 Race Info Page.(2-19-2004)
- Some Notes on the new rules: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby offered up the following synopsis, for this week’s competitive landscape: “Rockingham will be the first race where competitors will have the shorter spoilers compared to ’03. As far as tires go, Rockingham is typically known for tire wear. But it’s a misconception that all the tires we use at every track this year are softer. There will be places where the [compound] isn’t much different [like at Rockingham]. The tires will be different at tracks where Goodyear determined a compound change was warranted.” Darby said Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 5-7) will be the next track where a decidedly softer tire will be used. … To rehash the new spoiler rules, with the exception of races at Daytona and Talladega, all 2004 cars in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series now have spoilers 5 1/2 inches tall, a reduction of three-quarters of an inch from the start of 2003.(NASCAR PR)(2-19-2004)
- Earnhardt Silent Candlelight Tribute: Jayski was at the Silent Candlelight Tribute for Dale Earnhardt on Feb 18th at DEI, would guess 300-400 people showed up, fans came from many places all over the country. DEI set up some nice heaters for folks and boards were set up for fans to leave their thoughts and messeages. Dale Beaver, minister from Motorsports Outreach, spoke around 8:20pm/et and spoke of his rememberances of Earnhardt and gave quite an inspirational talk. Candles and a nice dated commemorative decal was given out [one per person]. 2004 Tribute Candle [not given out or available at the tribute] are now available, please call 1-877-DEI-ZONE (9663), all Tribute Candle’s ordered between 2/18 – 3/3 will be at a special price. For more info, see the Silent Candlelight Tribute Page at the DEI site. Teresa Earnhardt, Taylor Nicole, Dale’s brother and sister, Richie Gilmore, John Andretti, Tony Gibson and about a dozen or so other employees were at the Tribute also, but kept a low profile.(2-19-2004)
- Pit Crew for Tony Stewart Grabs Top Honors at Daytona Tony Stewart’s #20 Home Depot pit crew captured first-place honors at the Daytona 500, the opening race for the 2004 McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade. The McDonald’s/POWERade championship is in its second season of rewarding the pit crews, the unsung heroes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. The program will award $20,000 per week to the top participating pit crew. In addition, results will be tabulated throughout the season to determine the program’s championship crew, which will take home a $200,000 bonus at the completion of the 36-race schedule. The #20 crew, which is part of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, edged the reigning McDonald’s/POWERade champions, the #8 pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Though Stewart finished second to Earnhardt in Sunday’s season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, the #20 pit crew performed flawlessly in the pits. The Home Depot Chevy registered the least amount of time on pit road during the 500-mile race , 216.397 seconds. Earnhardt’s car was in the pits for a total of 223.435 seconds. Third was Elliott’s Sadler’s #38 Ford with a time of 227.944. “Our pit stops at Daytona were awesome,” said Stewart. “Every one of them was perfect and quick. And that’s important at Daytona, because one slow stop there can really mess up your day. Everyone on the Home Depot team has a lot to be proud of.” Stewart’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Chuck White (jackman), Tom Dean (front tire carrier), Mike Lingerfelt (front tire changer), Jay Barry (rear tire carrier), Todd Foster (rear tire changer), Jeff “Gooch” Patterson (gasman) and Brian Larson (catch can). The team’s crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa.(DMF PR), see race results and season standings on my Pit Crew Page [sorry, still no pit crew chart – work in progress](2-19-2004)
- Tony Sr. crew chief of the week:
Not surprisingly, NASCAR fans have selected Tony Eury Sr. as crew chief of the week in the Nextel Cup series. Eury heads the crew on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500-winning car, which also won one of the twin 125-mile qualifying races and was third fastest in time trials. Eury also stuck around until Monday to help oversee Earnhardt’s victory in the rain-delayed Busch Series race at Daytona. “This was a total team effort,” Eury said. “This crew has been working their guts out since last November to get ready for this race. They poured their heart and soul into this weekend.” The award, sponsored by Wypall Wipers, is presented after each race to the crew chief getting the most votes by fans logging onto www.wypall.com/crewchiefchallenge. Robby Reiser, crew chief on the car driven by defending series champion Matt Kenseth, was the fans’ second choice. “I voted for Tony, too,” Reiser said. “He dominated this weekend. Crew chiefs dream of putting together a car as good as his team created. He made all the right decisions, from the car setup to the pit strategy, and that’s what it takes to win. He deserves this award.”(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(2-19-2004)
- Belmont team adds sponsor for Cup race: Continental Fire Safety Inc. of Trenton, N.J., has announced plans to sponsor owner/driver Andy Belmont’s #59 Pontiac [yes, teams can still run a Pontiac, GM just doesn’t support them anymore, 2003 models are still legal] in Sunday’s Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. Financial terms of the deal were not announced. Belmont, a regular competitor in the ARCA Re/Max Series, also plans to enter the March 7 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-19-2004)
- Spencer’s plans: Jimmy Spencer spoke via tape to Dave Despain on Speed Channel’s Wind Tunnel [10:00pm/et M-Th] and said that #7 team owner Jim Smith won’t fund the team out of his pocket abd won’t run until they get a sponsor, Spencer also said he hopes to re-start his Busch Series team and run his son in the USAR Hooters Cup Series.(Weds Wind Tunnel Show)(2-19-2004)
- New Texas Racing Museum: Ground was broken for a new Motorsports Museum that will feature a variety of motor sports memorabilia, including displays of racing cars and motorcycles. The museum will be located at the site of the Bama Pie Company building at the corner of 4th Avenue and Pennsylvania in South Dallas and will open in 2005. The city pledged $29,000 through the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust Fund and $290,000 in community development block grant funding for the project. The South Dallas Development Corporation added $45,000.(Dallas Morning News)(2-19-2004)
- Stewart to run Watkins Glen road race: With The Glen.com 200 Grand American race scheduled for the Sirius at the Glen NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend, Aug. 12-15. The event will get a boost from an appearance by former Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart. “The more attention we can draw toward that event just helps build that series, and having Tony Stewart participate is a bonus,” said Julie Giese, director of public relations for Watkins Glen International. Stewart and co-drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Andy Wallace came close to winning the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona International Speedway in the Howard-BOSS Motorsport Chevy Crawford earlier this month. Wallace and Stewart will team up in the same Daytona Prototype at the Glen. Giese said the sports car event, being on the NASCAR weekend, will most likely draw a few more Nextel Cup drivers. Earnhardt is not expected to be among them, but Kyle Petty and Robby Gordon are possibilities. The Grand Am series has used its close connections to NASCAR in the past to help promote the Daytona Prototype class. Chemung native Geoffrey Bodine, voted one of NASCAR’s top 50 drivers of all time, was brought in to race in the June Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen last year. The SPEED Channel will sandwich live coverage of the Formula One race between live coverage of the beginning and end of the Glen endurance race, which will start at 11 a.m. Viewers will rejoin the Glen action at 3:30 p.m. for the final hours.(Elmira Star Gazette)(2-19-2004)
- Labonte’s streak lives: #5-Terry Labonte extended his series-high streak of consecutive races without a DNF (did not finish) to 43 by running to the finish of the Daytona 500. The last time he failed to complete a race was in the fall of 2002 at Talladega Superspeedway. The modern-era record is 56 in a row, set by Jeff Gordon in 2001-02.(Delaware News Journal)(2-19-2004)
- Waltrip’s roll cage did its job: NASCAR’s managing director of competition Gary Nelson says after the initial evaluation of the #15 NAPA Chevy, the integrity of the safety components, including the roll cage, was not compromised during Michael Waltrip’s wild crash on Sunday in the Daytona 500.(FoxSports)(2-19-2004)
- DW Book back to the presses UPDATE: Putnam Books has had to go back to the presses after only one week in the market place with DW’s autobiography. “DW: A Lifetime Going Around In Circles” came out Monday Feb. 9th and according to sources, already the 90,000 copies are gone.(2-18-2004)
UPDATE: Darrell Waltrip’s autobiography, “DW: A Lifetime Going Around in Circles,” will debut on the New York Times Best Seller List next Sunday, February 29. “DW” will be ranked 15th on the Hardcover Non-Fiction list based upon sales in its first week of release. Waltrip is a three-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion and current analyst for FOX Sports. FOX Sports begins their NASCAR coverage this weekend from Rockingham, NC. (Note the Feb. 29 date of release… The New York Times published list trails sales reports by at least one week.) “An autobiography? That’s a book about cars, right?” — Darrell Waltrip.(fingerprint inc)(2-19-2004)
- Andretti at the Rock UPDATE officially entered, Gunselman withdraws: John Andretti will have a ride for Rockingham and probably the next few races, DEI officials said, and cars are being put together this week for that race, in a rapidly moving venture. That third DEI team had planned to shut down after the Daytona 500 because of lack of sponsorship.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-11-2004)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Inc. has entered its #1 Chevy for driver John Andretti in Sunday’s Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. The entry, which was made in time for the team to receive championship points, gives the event 45 entries after Jay Robinson Racing canceled its entry Wednesday for driver Larry Gunselman. “With the short turnaround between Daytona and Rockingham, we didn’t want to sacrifice the Subway 400 because we’re hoping to run the whole season,” DEI spokesman Steve Crisp said. “We’ve got something we think may come through (sponsor for the season). So some of our valued partners: Snap-On Tools, Nilla Wafers, Nutter Butter and Chevrolet, The American Revolution came on for one race to sponsor the car.”(NASCAR.com)(2-18-2004)
- Benny Hungry: Ragu pasta sauce, Shedd’s Spread Country Crock spread and Hellmann’s mayonnaise have named NBC and TNT broadcast analyst and former NASCAR Champion, Benny Parsons, as spokesperson of the multi-brand NASCAR Busch Series Hungry Drivers program. The campaign will feature Parsons in radio commercials during race broadcasts on MRN and PRN, advertisements on the NEXTEL Vision Screens, and PA announcements at each track. The campaign will be aimed at informing consumers of new and different ways to include Ragu pasta sauce, Hellmann’s mayonnaise and Shedd’s Spread Country Crock spread into their favorite recipes.(Bulldawg Marketing PR)(2-18-2004)
- Pennzoil back to Cup…on the #99 for Vegas UPDATE: been told that Pennzoil, currently a primary sponsor in Roush Racing’s #9 part time Busch Series team and Cup associate on all the teams, will be the primary sponsor for Jeff Burton on the #99 Roush Racing Ford at Las Vegas [Jayski will be there]. See my #99 Team Paint Scheme Page for images of the scheme.(2-17-2004)
UPDATE: Roush Racing announced today that Pennzoil will be the primary sponsor on the #99 Ford of Jeff Burton for the Las Vegas race on Sunday, March 7, 2004. “We’re real excited to have Pennzoil on the No. 99 Ford for Las Vegas,” said Burton. “Pennzoil is a primary sponsor on the No. 9 Busch car but it’s great to have them on the Cup car as well. They are a great partner for Roush Racing and they provide us with a product that is second to none. We look forward to running up front with the No. 99 Pennzoil Ford in a couple weeks.” Pennzoil is also a primary sponsor on the #9 Busch car which is shared by Burton, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth. In addition, Pennzoil will be the primary sponsor on Greg Biffle’s NEXTEL Cup car for the first Pocono race. The addition of Pennzoil as the primary sponsor for the #99 Roush Racing Ford in Las Vegas is the latest in the continued search for a full-time sponsor on the #99 Ford. This announcement comes at a time when interest in the program is increasing each day. “There is a lot of interest in the program right now,” said Burton. “The team needs to stay focused on the racing right now while our marketing department does their job. We have a lot of irons in the fire and I feel confident that we’ll have more announcements in the future.”(Roush Racing PR)(2-18-2004)
- Nice story about Robby Gordon: Last August, 9-year-old Killian Owen lost his three-and-a-half-year struggle with leukemia. But in the gym of his east Cobb elementary school, a climbing wall on a giant mural of a phoenix – a legendary bird that rises from the ashes to live on – flying triumphantly over a mountain will keep the youngster’s memory alive for generations of students to come. Dubbed “Killian’s Climb,” the wall and the mural were dedicated Tuesday in a ceremony that included heartfelt remarks by Killian’s mother, Grainne Owen, who expressed her gratitude for the support her family received throughout her son’s illness. Killian Owen was a month shy of his 6th birthday when he was diagnosed in December 1999 with the cancer that eventually took his life. In October 2002, a relapse put Killian back in the hospital and introduced him to a new hero, NASCAR driver Robby Gordon, who drives the #31 Cingular Wireless car. Owen, who lives with his family in the east Cobb subdivision of Johnson’s Landing and works for the Atlanta-based Cingular, asked Gordon one day if he would mind dropping by the hospital to say hello to his son. “He came over that day and we couldn’t get him to go away. He visited every room on the cancer ward,” Owen recalled. Gordon, who was a special guest at Tuesday’s dedication ceremony, came back many times to see Killian. “We’d play games, like Dragonstrike, anything to cheer him up and make him smile,” Gordon said. “Every time I was in town, I’d go see him for three or four hours.” When the child was out of the hospital, Gordon made sure Killian and his family attended races in which Gordon was competing or that they were with him when he made special appearances in the community. “Killian didn’t know much about racing before he met Robbie, but he became a huge fan,” Mrs. Owen said. For Gordon, Killian’s illness and eventual death was a reality check. “I had a friend whose daughter had cancer, but she survived,” he said. “I live in such a fantasy world that (losing Killian) really makes my life more real.” Gordon is very special to the Owen family, “not because of how famous he is or how exciting his job is, but because he’s a kind, generous person who made a great difference in our lives, and Killian loved him,” Mrs. Owen said.(see full story and photo at the Marietta Daily Journal)(2-18-2004)
- Pretty Funny: Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and parallel parked a Chevy Malibu rental car, and backed into the car behind him….then he got into a black Chevy Corvette and did some donuts in the NYC street, even had an in-car cam.(2-18-2004)
- Vickers fan club and website unveiled: Representatives of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie contender Brian Vickers, driver of the #25 GMAC Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, have introduced his all-new official website, www.brianvickers.com, and 2004 Brian Vickers Fan Club (BVFC). For info on Vickers fanclub and other drivers fanclubs, see my Fan Club Info page. Cool note: portion of all BVFC proceeds donated to Brian’s designated charities.(2-18-2004)
- Diversity and a Racing Reality TV Show? Thee Dixon has been around racing since 1957, first racing motorcycles and stock cars himself, then owning a race team that competes irregularly [was the #85 team] in NASCAR’s top division. If things go according to plan this year, people will see more of Dixon and his Nextel Cup team, one of a handful of black owners to field racecars on any NASCAR circuit in recent years, at the track and potentially on TV. Dixon, whose race career was wrecked because of injuries, has entered an agreement with some local TV producers to have the #85 team followed as part of a planned reality TV show that highlights the expensive and nerve-wracking world of NASCAR. All he and Black Knight Communications need is a sponsor to film a pilot show, with the ultimate goal of producing a one-hour weekly reality TV series based on the Mansion Motorsports team. The show’s concept is to follow the Mansion Motorsports Team to the races and cover the action: from the black owner to a black driver (to be named once a sponsor is secured [George Mack?]), to a Hispanic pit crew (made up of painters who work for Dixon during the week), to a white team manager – whatever may come – happiness, heartache, tragedy or comedy. The #85 black Dodge will be the focal point of the planned TV show, which makes its hood a great place to slap a big ad. The going rate for hood space for one race (and one TV show) is $100,000. The trunk is another a great place for an ad for $25,000, while ads on the sides cost about $10,000 each. There are also no guarantees the series will sell. Hundreds of pilots are pitched in Hollywood each year and the odds are long.(in part from a column on ThatsRacin.com, click here ti view the whole column)(2-18-2004)
- Three Years TODAY – Silent Candlelight Tribute set for Wed, Feb. 18: Those wishing to pay tribute and remember Dale Earnhardt on the anniversary date that stunned millions will be able to do so on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at Dale Earnhardt, Inc.[Jayski plans to be there since I live close now]. For the third time in as many years, fans are invited to gather at our corporate headquarters in Mooresville, NC to honor Dale Earnhardt. Fans will come from many miles, states and hours away to gather outside our front doors at dusk. Dale Beaver, minister from Motorsports Outreach, will speak to the gathering at 8:00pm/et. Dale and Dale Earnhardt became friends through the Outreach program and the many Outreach functions that Dale Earnhardt would attend. It was Dale Beaver who spoke at Dale’s nationally televised memorial service in 2001. He told the story of how he first met the seven-time NASCAR champion expecting a bear of a man. Instead, he left the hauler knowing he just met a man who was just a concerned father. The relationship has continued between Dale and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. as evident by Dale’s return to speak at the Silent Candlelight Tribute.
Fans will honor and pay special tribute to its fallen leader on the grounds that Dale created and enjoyed. Each fan will be provided with a candle to hold during the evening in addition to a commemorative decal. The building itself will be closed, but attendees will be able to see a special display dedicated to Dale’s seven championships. Just like years past, Teresa Earnhardt is asking fans who are unable to attend the event to light a candle in their homes, wherever you may be, to remember Dale’s remarkable spirit. Special 2004 Commemorative Tribute Candles hand-crafted at Dale Earnhardt Inc. are now available for purchase by fans across the country. These 6.5-inch high, 3.5-inch wide aluminum candles have become a very special collectable that pays tribute to Dale Earnhardt permanently. For more information on how you can order a 2004 Tribute Candle please call 1-877-DEI-ZONE (9663) For our appreciation for your participation, all Tribute Candle’s ordered between 2/18 – 3/3 will be at a special price. For more info, see the Silent Candlelight Tribute Page at the DEI website.(DEI Site)(2-17/18-2004)
- AT&T and Cingular; Nextel Next? Nextel Communications Inc. has in the past had merger talks with WorldCom Inc., AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and other potential partners, but they led nowhere. Now the question is: Will Cingular Wireless LLC’s $41 billion bid for AT&T Wireless, a deal that would result in the nation’s largest cell phone company, force Nextel into a marriage with another carrier
[and how will that merger, AT&T and Cingular, effect the sponsorhip of #31 Robby Gordon’s RCR Chevy, is unknown, but that merger could take months even years – Yahoo Biz].
Susan B. Kalla, an analyst for Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc., says yes. She gives Nextel at most two years before it succumbs to a merger or acquisition. Combinations like Cingular Wireless and AT&T Wireless will achieve enough cost savings to “put smaller players like Nextel at a competitive disadvantage,” Kalla said. “Nextel will be forced to do some consolidation.” Viktor Shvets, an analyst for Deutsche Bank, says not necessarily. “When niches come under pressure there are two things you can do,” he said. “You can either try to become better and better at what you do, or you can bulk up and become a much larger carrier.” Nextel’s trademark service has been its walkie-talkie [very cool feature, Jayski loves it], which allows users to reach people by pushing a button to talk instead of dialing phone numbers. The feature first attracted construction workers and truck drivers [like Jayski’s Dad and Pop], but eventually became popular among professionals who need to be in constant communication with customers and co-workers. Over 90 percent of Nextel’s 12.3 million customers are businesspeople, according to the company. Analysts said Nextel could pursue two strategies. It could become a specialty player, offering businesses increasingly sophisticated wireless services, such as remote access to company databases or live video feeds over its networks. Or it could evolve into a broad wireless company, possibly by merging with Sprint. The company’s strategy has nurtured rapid growth. Nextel reported a 22 percent yearly increase in subscribers at the end of September, and its stock more than doubled in 2003. Analysts expect that trend to continue when Nextel reports fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow.(see full story at Washington Post – need to reg to view)(2-18-2004)
- Rusty’s son to race Hooters Cup: Plans are being ironed out for Stephen Wallace, Rusty’s 16-year-old aspiring racing son, to compete full-time this season in Hooter’s Cup competition — in quest of the series’ rookie title.(TRPR)(2-18-2004)
- Strong Ratings for Speed Channel during Speedweeks: The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series kicked off its second exclusive season with SPEED Channel in grand fashion, scoring a Nielsen Rating of 1.61 (980,000 households). SPEED’s household delivery was up 70 percent from just a year ago, when the season opener scored a 1.03 with 576,000 households. The Florida Dodge Dealers 250 peaked at a rating of 1.90 from 9:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. ET, putting the race in more than one million households (1,156,000). Capturing a younger audience, the Men 18-49 rating was 1.31, with a peak of 1.69 (629,000 households) — the highest rated M18-49 and HH telecast on SPEED since the network started receiving daily overnights and up 82 percent from a year ago.
The Truck Series finished off a string of strong SPEED Channel ratings from Daytona, including a 1.36 Nielsen mark for the ARCA race and a .77 (466,000 households) for the inaugural Crown Royal International Race of Champions on SPEED Channel. The replay of the IROC race later in the evening scored a .81 (493,000 households).
A lot went into SPEED Channel’s Daytona effort that gave race fans more than 70 hours of programming from NASCAR’s season-opening Speed Weeks. With 21 Speed Weeks on SPEED Channel studio segments totaling more than 14 hours and on-track coverage that included 24 blocks of practice, qualifying and racing totaling more than 40 hours, SPEED Channel was LIVE for more than 40 hours. In addition, Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain loaded heavy with NASCAR names like Buddy Baker, Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip and Robert Yates, wrapping up with a Monday interview with Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. The gang from Trackside broke in the new 53-foot traveling stage truck with nightly programs from just outside Daytona USA, capping off Speed Weeks with a live-audience show on Feb. 13 that scored a cumulative rating of .93. In delivering more than 70 hours of Daytona coverage, SPEED Channel used a 29-member production staff, 24 on-air personalities and 64 technicians. SPEED also utilized about 125 NBC personnel to assist with on-track production.(SPEED Channel PR)[Jayski Note: all I can say is: great coverage and thanks!](2-18-2004)
- Earnhardt Inducted into Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame: The late stock car racing legend Dale Earnhardt has been named as one of four inaugural inductees of the Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame. Earnhardt dominated NASCAR tracks around the country for more than two decades, winning seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships and more than $40 million during his career. Joining Earnhardt as the first laureates of the new Greater Charlotte Sports Hall of Fame are three of the Charlotte region’s greatest athletes, all of whom competed in the Olympic games and distinguished themselves in their respective sports:
Jim Beatty – 1960 U.S. Olympic team and first man to run the indoor mile in less than 4 minutes (3:58:9).
Jeff Mullins – University of North Carolina at Charlotte head basketball coach.
Floyd “Chunk” Simmons – tailback on the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill football team, but distinguished himself internationally in track and field. Won bronze medals at the 1948 London Olympic Games and the 1952 Helsinki, Finland Olympic games.
The inductees will be honored and officially inducted into the Hall at an induction dinner on April 17, 2004, at the Panthers’ Den at Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte. O. Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Lowe’s Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports, Inc., and Jerry Richardson, founder/owner of the Carolina Panthers are the honorary co-chairmen of the event. The event will benefit the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Senior Centers, Inc. (CMSC). For more information: www.charlotteseniorcenters.org.(LMS PR – for the full PR, see my Hall of Fame/Museum page)(2-17-2004)
- Daytona 500 TV Ratings Mixed AND: Overnight Nielsen Media Research numbers show mixed results for NBC’s coverage of Sunday’s Daytona 500. Today’s Sports Business Daily says the season-opening Nextel Cup race drew a 10.4 rating and a 21 share in the overnight Nielsen figures. That number is up 13 percent from last year’s 9.2/18 overnight figures for Fox’s rain-shortened telecast, but it was down 4 percent from NBC’s 10.8/23 overnight in 2002. (Final figures for the 2002 broadcast on NBC were 10.9/26). Still the race was by far the biggest sports event on television over the weekend. NBC’s “Discover Card Countdown to Green” pre-race show between noon and 1:30 p.m. was the second-highest draw with a 5.7/12, according to the Daily.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-17-2004)
AND The Daytona 500 drew its second-highest TV rating since live broadcasts of the race began in 1979. NBC’s broadcast of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victory Sunday got a 10.6 national rating and was seen by 33.5 million viewers. Only the 2002 Daytona 500 did better, with a 10.9 rating and 35 million viewers. NBC aired that race during the middle Sunday of its Salt Lake City Olympic coverage. Last year’s race, which was delayed twice and then shortened by rain, drew a 9.8 rating on Fox. Sunday’s rating peaked from 4:30-5 p.m., shortly before Earnhardt finished, with an 11.6 rating. The 1979 race now drops to third among live broadcasts with a 10.5 national rating. The rating is the percentage of U.S. TV homes tuned to a program, and each point represents 1,084,000 homes.(Yahoo/AP)(2-17-2004)
- Tragic News: Police are awaiting autopsy and toxicology results to determine why an 18-year-old student at Mooresville’s NASCAR Technical Institute fell to his death from a small bridge early Tuesday morning [Feb 10th]. At 12:24 a.m. Tuesday, Mooresville police received a 911 call asking that an officer check on a person wandering around Willow Creek Apartments off Plaza Drive. The caller said the person was staggering and appeared to be intoxicated. The responding officers drove through the apartment complex but didn’t see anything, Marcum said. The officers then located the caller, who pointed out the last place the person was seen wandering around. Police searched the area and found the body of John Ryan MacIntosh, 18, from Maryland face down in a shallow creek running through a steel culvert under a paved road that leads into the apartment complex. MacInstosh apparently sustained a head injury either during the fall, or as a result of it. Police notified MacInstosh’s family in Maryland on Tuesday.(Mooresville Tribune – jayski’s home newspaper now)(2-17-2004)
- Winning both Cup and Busch race in the same year at Daytona in Feb, two drivers have won both, Darrell Waltrip in 1989 and Bobby Allison in 1988
Make it 3: as Dale Earnhardt Jr. won both the Daytona 500 and the Busch race at Daytona in the same weekend.
AND: Dale Jr. also won a 125 race, joining Bobby Allison as the only drivers ever to win a 125, Busch and Cup race in the same Speedweeks.(2-16-2004)
UPDATE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his third race in four days Monday at Daytona International Speedway, winning the Hershey’s Kisses 300 in the NASCAR Busch Series. He won yesterday’s Daytona 500 and his 125-mile qualifying race last Thursday, giving him three victories during Daytona’s Speedweeks for the second season in a row. (Only Glenn “Fireball” Roberts and his father Dale Earnhardt have won three races in one Speedweeks.)
This is Dale Jr’s ninth career victory at Daytona, which moves him into a tie for 10th in all-time wins at the 2.5-mile track, joining Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon. It is his fourth consecutive Busch Series race win at Daytona, one race shy of his father’s track record five consecutive Busch wins. No other driver has won a Busch Series race here since February, 2001.
Since the begiining of Speedweeks at Daytona on January 31, Dale Jr. completed 880 laps – more than 2427 miles – and led 464 laps during five races (he led 344 laps during 24-Hours of Daytona, 14 laps during Twin-125, 59 laps during Daytona 500 and 47 laps in the Busch Series 300.) (fingerprint inc./Bud PR)(2-17-2004)
- StockCarFans.com RUMBLINGS — DAYTONA: They all knew who they had to beat….it just wasn’t gonna get done today! Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead for good on lap 181 and led the rest of the way to grab his first ever Daytona 500 victory. Six years to the day from his dad’s only victory in the 500, the Earnhardt’s become the third father-son team to capture the Great American Race, joining the Pettys (Lee and Richard) and the Allisons (Bobby & Davey). It took Dad 20 tries…the son but 5. Pretty select company….
It was Jr.’s 10th career win (six of ’em plate events), moving him into a tie for 45th on the all-time win list with Sterling Marlin & Donnie Allsion.
DEI has now won 7 of the last 8 plate races (the rest of the field still has a little catching up to do), and Little E becomes the 29th different driver to win the Daytona 500. His bounty from the over $16M in posted awards was a cool $1,495,070. It wouldn’t be a plate race without a “big one”….and we had it today on lap 72. This time it was a 12-car job, with Michael Waltrip getting the worst of it. All drivers were okay. As scary as that big wreck was, how’s about Johnny Sauter screaming down pit road? What’s up with that![Jayski Note: Sauter was penalized]
Not too shabby finishing runner-up here….Tony Stewart’s take-home pay this week is over $1M.
#22-Scott Wimmer (3rd) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 9th at Phoenix last November.
#01-Joe Nemechek (6th) had his best finish since he was 3rd at Loudon last September.
#38-Elliott Sadler (7th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Martinsville last April.
#88-Dale Jarrett (10th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Bristol last August.
#1-John Andretti (13th) had his best finish since he was 12th at Loudon last September.
#41-Casey Mears (14th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 15th at Las Vegas last March.
#23-Dave Blaney (15th) had his best finish since he was 14th at Loudon last September.
#45-Kyle Petty (21st) had his best finish since he was 16th at Michigan last August.
#50-Derrike Cope (30th) had his best finish since he was 29th at Las Vegas last March.
STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 8 Top-10’s in a row. Tony Stewart has 9 Top-10’s in the last 10 races. Jeff Gordon has 9 Top-10’s in the last 10 races.
The Rookie Report: Scott Wimmer (3rd) is the top finishing freshman today in a slam dunk. He was followed by Brendan Gaughan (19th), Johnny Sauter (26th), Scott Riggs (34th), Brian Vickers (39th), and Kasey Kahne (41st).
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is Jeff Gordon (+31), followed by Scott Wimmer (+23), Dale Jarrett (+21), and Mike Skinner (+21). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Mark Martin (-35), followed by Sterling Marlin (-33), Jeff Burton (-31), Jamie McMurray (-29), and Michael Waltrip (-29). This is Gordon’s first Op since Homestead in November of 2002.(StockCarFans.com (Nextel Cup) Newsletter)(2-17-2004)
- NASCAR apologizes to fans for inconveniences during presidential visit: Some Daytona 500 attendees seated near President Bush’s suite Sunday complained they couldn’t return to the grandstands after using the bathroom, grabbing a soda or buying a T-shirt. Daytona International Speedway officials responded Monday by placing a formal apology on the track’s Web site for any inconveniences fans faced while Bush met NASCAR drivers, posed with military personnel and gave television and radio interviews. “We want to get (fans) in their seats as soon as possible to enjoy the experience,” Speedway spokesman David Talley said. “Unfortunately, we were doing exactly what the Secret Service asked, and that was holding people up until the president was done.” A group of 75 employees from Bright House Networks were asked to move to another suite Sunday to make room for the president, but a company spokesman said no one minded. “It was kind of honor that our suite was where he wanted to take in the race,” said spokesman Brian Craven. A spokesman with the United States Secret Service said Monday he was unaware of the complaints and declined comment.(Daytona Beach New Journal)(2-17-2004)
- Dale Jr. on the tube: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver for the #8 Budweiser team and winner of the 2004 Daytona 500 for the NASCAR NEXTEL Series, began a frantic media tour Monday after his Victory Lane celebration after winning yesterday’s rain-delayed Busch Series 300. The 500-winning car was unveiled Monday morning at Daytona USA, where it will be on display with its special “Born-On” dating Budweiser paint scheme for the next 12 months.
Tuesday, Feb 17, 2004:
The Today Show / NBC / 7:30 am
Live with Regis and Kelly / Syndicated / 9:00am/et
CNN / American Morning / Headline News / Exact time TBD
NASCAR Live with Eli Gold / MRN Radio Network / 7:00pm/et
Late Show with David Letterman / CBS / 11:30:00pm/et
(fingerprint inc./Bud PR)(2-17-2004)
- Kerry not a NASCAR fan? and..: not really into Politics myself, but saw this and made me wonder…..from the Charlotte Observer: Democratic front-runner John Kerry continued to ignore [fellow democrat rivals] Howard Dean [who sponsors the #84 Busch Team] and John Edwards [Senator from NC, gov is Mike Easley – oops] as he criticized President Bush, labeling the president missing in action on the economy. He ridiculed the president on Monday for taking a trip to the Daytona 500 auto race in Florida at a time when the economy should have his undivided attention. “We don’t need a president who just says, ‘Gentlemen, start your engines,'” Kerry said. “We need a president who says, ‘America, let’s start our economy and put people back to work.'”
AND from a bit of an anti-NASCAR themed New York Times article ….”When the campaign of Dr. Dean, the former Vermont governor, was flush with optimism and money, it sponsored a driver. It may not have done him much good in the South against Mr. Kerry, of Massachusetts, who in his campaign autobiography, “A Call to Service,” described himself as a “charter member of one the most selective but fastest-growing sports clubs in the world: the NASCAR fans of Massachusetts.” So it seems Kerry does like NASCAR, somehat anyhow.(no more email needed on this subject – not into politics myself and not looking for anymore arguments about it)(2-17-2004)
- Long at the Rock: the Carl Long site is reporting that Long has entered the upcoming Subway 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at North Carolina Speedway. He will be driving the #46 Dodge for Glenn Racing. The team is looking for sponsorship. For those who want to help Carl in this effort, he asks for you to please contact him. Along with running the Nextel Cup race, Carl will still be driving the #83 Ford for Long Brothers Racing in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Rockingham.(2-16-2004)
- Smirnoff and DEI? Several teams were hoping for a strong showing to attract potential sponsors, including the #1 DEI Chevy with John Andretti. DEI is in discussions with Seagram’s Smirnoff brand.(Yahoo Sports), however, it was recently announced that Smirnoff Ice re-signed with Matt Kenseth and the #17 Team.(2-16-2004)
- Waltrip not happy with response time: Michael Waltrip was relieved to emerge unscathed after his #15 NAPA Chevy flipped twice in the backstretch grass at Daytona International Speedway yesterday. The two-time Daytona 500 winner wasn’t happy about the effort to extricate him from his upside-down car after his wild ride. “This isn’t the safest or the sanest thing to do, and you don’t look forward to being in those situations,” Waltrip said. “But you look forward to people helping you of it, and I didn’t appreciate what those safety workers were trying to do to get me out. I was trying to tell them just to turn the car over. All they had to do was flip it back over, and I could get out. They were cutting bars, and the whole car was on top of me. I don’t know what bar they thought they had to cut to alleviate the hole I was in. . . . And what did they eventually do? They flipped it over and I got out. I hope that was a lesson learned.” The crew needed about 10 minutes to remove the 6-5 Waltrip – the tallest driver in the Nextel Cup Series – from the cockpit of his battered car. His height makes getting in and out of the 18-inch window difficult, and he is one of only three drivers who have a roof hatch as an alternate exit. “I was pinned way bad in a box a 6-5 guy shouldn’t be in,” he said. NASCAR Senior Vice President of Communications Jim Hunter said the safety crew followed guidelines “to a T.” “Our procedure is not to turn a car over until the driver is OK,” Hunter said. “They were cutting the bars to help get him out of the car because they couldn’t use the roof hatch. I’d rather have Michael upset than Michael being injured.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-16-2004)
- Evernham to build own chassis: Evernham Motorsports has taken the next step in expanding its resources by developing a chassis in-house that Bill Elliott tested last month at Las Vegas. Team owner Ray Evernham says the project has been in the works for the past three years and that building the frame took 120 to 140 man hours, not including the research involved in the design. “If you want to compete at the top level, you’re almost forced (to build your own chassis),” Evernham says. “We’re a year behind in doing it, but it’s finally going.” Evernham says the chassis needs more testing, but he hopes to install it in Kasey Kahne’s and Jeremy Mayfield’s cars in the near future.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(2-16-2004)
- ESPN Back: You might have noticed ESPN is a major presence at Nextel Cup events again now that it’s dropped “RPM2Night” and isn’t violating some convoluted policy NASCAR had against magazine-type shows not on Fox or NBC/TNT. Mike Massaro is actually trackside now, conducting business as it should be instead of having to run down drivers in parking lots and heliopads. Having Jerry Punch on hand is also a plus.(Richmond Times Dispatch) but where is John Kernan?(2-16-2004)
- Edwards heir apparent to Martin UPDATE to Busch next year: A seemingly harmless post-race question turned into a startling revelation Friday night. During Carl Edwards’ winner’s interview in the press box at Daytona International Speedway following his victory in Friday night’s Florida Dodge Dealers 250, Edwards’ team owner, Jack Roush, was asked about Edwards’ future. His response was rather matter-of-fact: “Carl Edwards is the heir apparent to Mark Martin in the No. 6 car.” Roush continued; “I’d like to see Mark (Martin) drive three more years and then I think (Edwards) will be in the No. 6.” Even Edwards, 24, seemed taken aback by the remark. Asked later about Roush’s comment, he said: “It’s an honor and motivates me to work harder every day to be the best driver I can be so that when we do come up with a marketing partner to run in the Nextel Cup Series in that car, I can … win championships. The emotional part of me just can’t believe it. It gives me chills. Mark Martin has been someone I have looked up to long before I even started racing for his determination and drive.”(ThatsRacin.com)(2-14-2004)
UPDATE: Carl Edwards — the heir apparent to Martin’s No. 6 car — and Craftsman Trucks teammate Jon Wood will be moving to the Busch Series next season.(Yahoo Sports)(2-16-2004)
- Engine Tuner leaves Evernham: Engine tuner Mike Hawkins parted with Evernham Motorsports last week. Considering that Kasey Kahne’s engine failed Sunday on lap 43, it was obvious that Hawkins was missed. Hawkins is rumored to be headed for Toyota. Coupled with Jon Dennison’s earlier departure at Richard Childress Racing, there now are tuner openings on the Nos. 9 and 29 teams. But the head engine builder’s job at DEI — vacant after Richie Gilmore’s move to director of motorsports — will be the hardest to fill. The company has been very secretive with the construction of its engines. The concern is that an engine specialist could come in, stay a few years and take the information elsewhere. If that’s not enough, the pressure of maintaining a record that includes winning 10 of the last 13 restrictor-plate races will be intense.(Yahoo Sports)(2-16-2004)
- Sad News: Carl Edwards’ celebration following his win Friday night in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series opener at Daytona took a somber tone when Edwards learned the mother of his car chief, Steve McCain, had died unexpectedly at her home that evening. Within a few hours, team owner Jack Roush had arranged for one of his planes to come from Livonia, Mich., to Daytona Beach to transport McCain to be with his family in Owensboro, Ky. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his entire family. We’ve gotten to know many members of his family and the loss has affected everyone on this team,” Edwards said. “If we can win the championship this year it will certainly be dedicated to her memory.”(ThatsRacin.com)(2-16-2004)
- #33 Crew Member Injured: During the first caution period in the Daytona 500 on Sunday, John Wallace, a tire carrier for #33-Mike Skinner, fell from the wall onto pit road, suffering a hairline fracture of his right arm and requiring 8-10 stitches in his forehead, just above his nose, team general manager Bobby Hutchinson said. “A tire from (#32-Ricky Craven) rolled into our pit as John was jumping off the wall, and he landed right on it,” Hutchinson said. Hutchinson said another crew member filled in for Wallace on Skinner’s next two pit stops, and then after Robby Gordon was caught up in a multi-car crash on Lap 70, a tire man from Gordon’s crew filled in on Skinner’s team. (Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-16-2004)
- 6 Cars to thr Dyno: NASCAR put six cars on the chassis dynamoeter, which measures rear-wheel horsepower, following Sunday’s race. Those tested were the cars of #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #20-Tony Stewart, #22-Scott Wimmer, #29-Kevin Harvick, #48-Jimmie Johnson and #88-Dale Jarrett.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-15-2004)
- Petty in the NY Times UPDATE: Kyle Petty, driver of the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge, will have an op-ed piece appear in the New York Times, Sunday, Feb. 15. The piece, which will run in the sports section, is the first op-ed piece written by a NASCAR driver for the Times.(2-13-2004)
the link: It’s That Time of Year for Nascar, With Something New by Kyle Petty (NY Times)(2-15-2004)
- #14 gets a sponsor for the 500 UPDATE: The LPGA Tour will sponsor Larry Foyt’s #14 Dodge in Sunday’s Daytona 500, the first time the top women’s professional golf circuit has advertised on a car in NASCAR’s biggest race.(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(2-14-2004)
UPDATE: Model-shoot photos of LPGA players Laura Diaz, Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis will adorn the car driven by Larry Foyt in the Daytona 500. The one-race sponsorship deal is part of the LPGA’s effort to increase visibility. Given the way the pictures look, it’s clear they’re trying to show off some of their players in the most flattering light possible. Like NASCAR, the LPGA is based in Daytona. Diaz and Kerr will have their pictures on the front hood of Foyt’s car and Gulbis’ will be on the hood of the trunk.(Greenville News/AP)(2-15-2004)
- Mountain Dew Back with the #19 and will sponsor the #9: #9-Kasey Kahne, NASCAR Nextel Cup Series rookie, is the newest member of the Mountain Dew team. Kahne joins his Evernham Motorsports teammate, #19-Jeremy Mayfield, who has been sponsored by Mountain Dew since the 2002 season. Pepsi-Cola North America, makers of Mountain Dew, announced an agreement with Evernham Motorsports to extend their sponsorship to include rookie driver Kasey Kahne and the over-the-wall crew of Kahne’s #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge who compete in the Nextel Cup Series. The Evernham Motorsports pit crews for Kahne and Jeremy Mayfield will be known as the “Dew Crews.” Kahne’s Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge will race in a special Mountain Dew color scheme for one race in 2004. In addition, Kahne and Mayfield will appear on in-store display materials and make appearances during the season for Mountain Dew. This marks the fourth straight year that Mountain Dew has sponsored Evernham Motorsports drivers and teams. Pepsi’s involvement with NASCAR began when the sport was introduced in 1948. Today, Pepsi serves its products at 16 of the 23 Nextel Cup Series tracks and is the title sponsor of NASCAR Nextel Cup races in Daytona, Fla. (Pepsi 400) and Darlington, S.C. (Mountain Dew Southern 500).(Clear!Blue PR)(2-13-2004)
IMAGES added a few images of each car to the 2004 Cup Paint Scheme Gallery.(2-15-2004)
- More on Tires: Goodyear officials say increased downforce on the cars and different setups have led to tire problems. Goodyear has altered the tire compound this season for all tracks except Darlington and Rockingham. Goodyear officials say the right-side tires at Daytona are a harder compound than last year. The left-side tires are the same. Some crew chiefs say the tread is peeling during a run. Competitors are concerned what tire wear will be like today since rain Saturday washed the rubber off the track. That will make the track more abrasive early.(Roanoke Times)(2-15-2004)
- BEN-LA? [not BEN-LO] Bobby Labonte and actor Ben Affleck met and raced in a Daytona 500 simulator at Daytona USA on Feb. 14, one day before Labonte will compete in the Daytona 500. Affleck will serve as grand marshal for the Daytona 500 and has starred in movies such as Good Will Hunting, Daredevil and Armageddon [Jayski could watch Arenageddon over and over]. “He was a nice guy,” Labonte said. “I actually watched Daredevil the other night, so it was cool to meet him.” Affleck raced using the simulator representing Jeff Gordon’s car, while Labonte used his #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet. “I wrecked him early in the race when I was trying to draft him,” Labonte said. “We talked afterward, and I explained to him about the ‘bump draft.’ We talked a lot about racing, and he really knows the sport.” Labonte will start 13th in the Daytona 500, driving the No. 18 “The Passion of the Christ” Interstate Chevrolet.(Camp and Associates PR)(2-15-2004)
- Spencer and Kitty Litter at Daytona: Ultra Motorsports and driver Jimmy Spencer picked up sponsorship for the #7 Dodge at Daytona for the Daytona 500. Jonny Cat, the newest member of the Oil-Dri family, is sponsoring the Ultra Motorsports team and Spencer, sporting both the Jonny Cat and Oil-Dri brands. More info on Oil-Dri at www.oildri.com, including some images of the car. Oil-Dri is a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of products for consumer, industrial and automotive, agricultural, sports fields and fluids purification markets.(2-14-2004)
IMAGES also added a few of the images to the 2004 Cup Paint Scheme Gallery.(2-15-2004)
- USA Weekend Special TODAY: To celebrate the kickoff of the 2004 racing season, USA WEEKEND Magazine’s gathered all EIGHT active NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship winners for an afternoon of photos and fun. Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace, Matt Kenseth, Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart are featured in an exclusive poster in USA WEEKEND’s 2/15 issue. Check your local newspaper for your own poster.(PR)(2-6-2004)
See the full feature at The lords of NASCARNATION by Dennis McCafferty.(2-15-2004)
- Domino’s Dots Are Coming….. If #15-Michael Waltrip, last year’s Daytona 500 victor, delivers a repeat win at the DAYTONA 500, Domino’s will give away new Cheesy Domino’s Dots across the country the next day. The PR: Domino’s Pizza is counting on Michael Waltrip, the driver of the #15 NAPA Chevrolet, to deliver a repeat victory at the DAYTONA 500. If Waltrip captures the checkered flag on February 15, Domino’s will give away Cheesy Domino’s Dots to customers across the country on Monday, February 16th [not sure what happens if it gets postponed]. Domino’s is adding 360 degrees of cheesy, zesty, all-around fun to the traditional pizza meal with the introduction of its newest side dish, Cheesy Domino’s Dots. Named after the dots in Domino’s Pizza’s logo, Cheesy Domino’s Dots are small, round balls of zesty, delicious bread, covered with a blend of melted Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses and then sprinkled with Domino’s delicious garlic and Romano cheese seasoning. Cheesy Domino’s Dots are served 12 per order, with a side of marinara sauce to round off the delectable taste. In 2003, Domino’s became the “Official Pizza of NASCAR.” More information on the Company, in English and Spanish, can be found on the web at www.dominos.com.(2-15-2004)
- Jarrett’s Budweiser Shootout win yields Ford Credit Donation: Dale Jarrett’s victory in the Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway last weekend results in another $10,000 donation from Ford Credit to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to help in its mission to eradicate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. Ford Credit now has donated $652,500 to the Komen Foundation based on Jarrett’s on-track performance and end-of-season bonuses since 1998. Ford Credit gives the Komen Foundation $10,000 for each of Jarrett’s victories, $7,500 for each second-place finish, $5,000 for each third-place finish and $5,000 for each pole position won (as fastest qualifier).(Team Ford Racing), see the 2004 Race Fans for a Cure Schedule on my Racing Charities page.(2-15-2004)
- Higgins and others receive awards: Former Charlotte Observer motorsports writer [and the best story teller – thought I saw him at the Mooresville PO Friday] Tom Higgins received the Russ Moyer Media Award from The Living Legends Of Stock Car Racing in Daytona Beach on Wednesday night. Rex White won the group’s Pioneer Award, Jerry Cook won its Distinguished Driver Award and Roger Penske won the Allison Family Award.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-14-2004)
- Yeley gets a sponsor for selected Busch race and one Cup race: Vigoro , a leading brand of premium lawn and garden products for over 80 years, along with The Home Depot, will be the primary sponsors of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver J.J. Yeley during the 2004 season. Yeley will drive the #18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevy as part of an A-B-C schedule that will consist of ARCA, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races [#18 in Busch, supposedly #80 in Cup, not sure about ARCA]. His first race in the Vigoro/Home Depot machine will be the March 6 Sam’s Town 300 Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Vigoro is owned by St. Louis-based United Industries Corporation (which goes to market as Spectrum Brands) and is sold exclusively at Home Depot stores. Heading Yeley’s effort will be veteran crew chief Doug Hewitt, who after being a crew chief in the Cup Series since 1993, joined JGR in late 2001 as crew chief for Coy Gibbs in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Under Hewitt’s guidance, Gibbs finished 10th in points in 2001 and 2002. Hewitt continued as crew chief for Gibbs’ Busch Series effort in 2003, and he takes the team he helped build to Yeley’s rookie campaign in 2004. Vigoro is the number two selling brand of lawn and garden fertilizers in the United States. The company’s household brands include Hot Shot , Cutter and Repel . The company’s lawn and garden brands include Spectracide, Spectracide Triazicide , Spectracide Terminate , Garden Safe and Real-Kill in the controls category as well as Vigoro , Schultz™, Bandini and Best brands in the lawn and garden fertilizer and organic growing media categories.(True Speed Communication PR). See rest of the PR and Yeley’s 2004 ABC schedule on my #80 Team News and Links page.(2-14-2004)
- NASCAR Sponsors Debuting during the Daytona 500: The Daytona 500, one of the largest and most-watched sporting events of the year, is more than just NASCAR’s richest and most prestigious race. It is a television event used by some of America’s largest and most successful companies to launch new advertising campaigns. In 2002, 35 million viewers watched all or part of NBC’s coverage, a record in the race’s 24-year broadcast history. NBC will again broadcast the 46th annual Daytona 500 live on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 12:00noon/et, with approximately 200,000 spectators expected to attend the race at Daytona International Speedway. Following are several companies’ high-profile advertising plans for reaching the sporting world’s most brand-conscious fans tuned in to “The Great American Race”:
· Nextel Communications Inc., continues its first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series ad campaign with two new spots showing fans using their Nextel phones with digital walkie-talkie Direct Connect, often with humorous consequences. In one ad, fans “Direct Connect” each other to embellish the truth and shorten a very long concession line. A second spot shows friends in the racetrack’s RV park using Direct Connect to navigate through the masses. Nextel will run three other spots that debuted in the weeks leading up to the Daytona 500. One spot, featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. scoring an NFL touchdown – in his race car – was rated one of the best ads from this year’s Super Bowl broadcast.
· UPS will air two new spots to launch this year’s Race the Truck ad campaign, in which Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Ford, receives “proper training” from UPS drivers about what it takes to drive the big, brown truck. In “Safety,” a UPS driver asks if Jarrett has ever had any accidents driving his UPS vehicle. In “Yoga,”Jarrett finds himself in entirely new positions. UPS will also air three more humorous spots featuring Jarrett during the 2004 season.
· ExxonMobil will run a new commercial promoting the “Mobil 1 Million,” a consumer promotion in which one lucky fan can win a total of $1 million by predicting the winners of all 36 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races in 2004.
· AOL will advance its new campaign for the company’s TopSpeed technology with a new spot featuring NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. AOL will also carry a special Daytona 500 Advertising Poll on AOL.com. AOL members will log on to vote for their favorite commercial, selecting one of 12 spots from the Daytona 500.
· NAPA AUTO PARTS will air two new spots featuring Michael Waltrip, driver of the No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet and the defending champion of the Daytona 500, and his DEI teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. The new commercials will run throughout the NASCAR season with a third spot to be introduced in the spring.
· The Gillette Company will break a new NASCAR-themed commercial for its Duracell battery brand during the Great American Race. Gillette aired two spots for the “Gillette Young Guns” during the Budweiser Shootout on Feb. 7. The Gillette Young Guns are Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.
· Coca-Cola will take a lighthearted look at NASCAR drivers’ competitive nature in a spot called “To the Victor.” NASCAR stars in the Coca-Cola Racing Family – including Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip and Kevin Harvick – heatedly race remote controlled cars for an ice-cold Coke. A 60-second version of the spot will be shown in movie theaters across the country this spring.
· ChevronTexaco will air a new TV spot for its Havoline brand that uses historical footage to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary. Texaco/Havoline is in its 18th year as a sponsor of NASCAR’s premier national series and currently sponsors the No. 42 Dodge driven by Jamie McMurray, the 2003 Raybestos Rookie of the Year.
· Visa is again this season giving its cardholders a chance to win the Visa Ultimate NASCAR Experience in 2004 with a new spot. Ten winners will receive the NASCAR “weekend of a lifetime.” More details are available at www.visa.com/nascar.
· Anheuser-Busch, the Official Beer of NASCAR, will be showcasing its new 2004 creative, starring Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. The company is running eight ads in the race, including two NASCAR-themed spots.
· Toyota: Three-time NASCAR champion and new Toyota team owner Darrell Waltrip will star in a series of TV, print and radio ads beginning with the Daytona 500. The TV spots will run during other sporting events including NBA and NCAA basketball games. Waltrip is expected to drive the No. 11 Toyota Tundra in three races this year.
· Lowe’s is debuting a 60-second spot featuring Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. The ad ties the passion Lowe’s has for helping its customers with home improvement projects with the passions fans have for racing. It is also intended to reflect Lowe’s long-term commitment to the sport while showcasing the new “face” of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing.
· NASCAR is launching its own new image advertising campaign – the story of a fantasy race where, through computer wizardry, the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time compete against the stars of today. The first of six TV spots in the campaign, called “Timeless,” will debut during the Daytona 500. The campaign, developed by The Martin Agency, features archive film and audio of NASCAR heroes of the past blended with images of hard-charging champions of today – all set to Boston’s classic rock ballad “Long Time.”
Other strong supporters of NASCAR that will advertise during the race include Domino’s with a spot for Cheesy Domino’s Dots and Ford, with the Ford GT 60-second commercial which debuted in the Super Bowl kickoff show.(NASCAR PR)(2-14-2004)
- Tires…..Goodyear… Tire wear has emerged as a major concern in the Nextel Cup garage this week as teams prepare for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, said in a Daytona Beach newspaper on Thursday that he wondered if Goodyear might be trying to hurt drivers with the tire construction, but backed off that comment during a television interview during the Gatordade 125s. Scott Riggs did blow a right-front tire in his 125-miler and several other teams said they were worried about tire wear on the right-side tires, especially the right front.
“We’ve seen some pretty significant wear in some cases,” Goodyear’s Greg Stucker said Friday. “Some cars are perfectly fine, others have struggled a little more. Our engineers are working with everybody to make sure we have the setups under the cars that are going to be right for the Daytona 500.” Stucker said the tire compound being used here this week is actually harder than it has been in past years, but this year’s tire has a more flexible sidewall that makes them feel different. “Some people have gotten pretty well dialed to the setup, others are still struggling with it or still searching for the right combination that’s best for them,” Stucker said. “There’s one tire but there are a lot of drivers and a lot of different setups. More guys struggling with getting the balance than we expected. A lot of guys are very happy out there and they’re looking at the rest of these guys who are struggling and saying ‘very good.'”(ThatsRacin.com)(2-14-2004)
- Numbers from the Dyno after the Twins: NASCAR’s chassis dyno runs after Thursday’s 125-mile qualifying races showed the gap between the winners and the others to be sizable. Elliott Sadler’s Ford engine pulled 422 horsepower at the rear wheels, a bit more than the Chevy motors of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick. Tony Stewart’s motor was at 409.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-14-2004)
- New Goodyear Belt: For the third consecutive year, Goodyear is introducing yet another power transmission belt to the NASCAR Cup series. This time, it’s a unique timing belt. Making it’s debut is the Goodyear Eagle Pd synchronous belt-and-sprocket system found under the hood of the #43 Petty Enterprise car, driven by 2000 Busch Series Champion Jeff Green. One look at the Goodyear Eagle Pd synchronous belt and sprocket shows something is dramatically different about this belt. “Its helical-offset-tooth chevron pattern provides continuous tooth engagement and self-centering tracking, which eliminates the need for sprocket flanges,” said Mike Fine, manager of racing for Goodyear Engineered Products. “The belt’s thin profile defies its inherent strength.”
No flanges – combined with Eagle Pd’s added strength – allow for a narrower belt drive, which saves engine space. Eagle Pd’s continuous tooth engagement provides smoother, more stable operations than conventional timing belts at the high revolutions-per-minute that race engines undergo, allowing for more accurate cam timing. There also is less strain on the belt, which minimizes stretching, that can cause a loss of tension and accompanying timing errors. Proper tension is as critical to belts as air pressure is to tires.” During installation, the belt tension is adjusted using different idler sizes and accurately measured with a sonic gauge. “Once established, tension is set for the life of the Eagle Pd belt,” he said. Although new to the Nextel Cup Series, Eagle Pd was introduced to the Craftsman Truck Series last season. And last weekend, Eagle Pd helped power Kyle Busch’s Ditech.com Chevrolet to victory lane, in the ARCA 200 at the Daytona International Speedway. During the race, Kyle, a Hendrick Motorsports driver and younger brother of Kurt, took the checkered flag after coming back from a lap down. Two years ago, Goodyear introduced its Gatorback Poly-V belt to drive engine components, and last year it launched its Black Hawk v-belt to drive the race engine’s auxiliary oil pump. For additional information on Goodyear’s complete line of automotive belts and hose, visit www.goodyearbeltsandhose.com.(2-14-2004)
- Crew Members replaces on the #2 after the Shootout UPDATE: Dave Littau front tire carrier, and Tim Boatwright, jackman are no longer with Penske Racing South. Mark Padgent [sp?] is the new jackman, no word on who the new tire carrier is.(in part from an XM Satellite – NASCAR Radio interview with Penske Racing’s Don Miller / and the Rustys2Crew.com site)(2-13-2004)
UPDATE: New jack man Mark Padgett and front tire carrier DeWane Colvard join front tire changer Donald “DJ” Richardson, rear tire changer Jay Fabian, rear tire carrier David “Double D” Doyle, gas man Dougie “Pooh Bear” Ingold and gas catch man Nick Giambruno. Padgett jacked previously for Petree Racing, while Colvard is veteran over-the-waller from Roush.(2-13-2004)
- More on the ‘common’ engine: NASCAR is expected to release specs for its proposed “engine of the future” sometime later this year, partly in response to Toyota, partly to get all the manufacturers on the same timetable for new engine parts, and eliminate some griping. Engine men are approaching the situation warily.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-13-2004)
- War of Words at DEI: after the first Gatroade Twin 125, Tony Eury Sr., #8-Dale Earnhardt’s crew chief: “It looks like our teammate doesn’t want to be our teammate no more. So we ended up dumping him at the end and going on to win. If that’s the way they want to play it, that’s the way we’ll play it.” Waltrip brushed off the criticism: “Earnhardt and I do a nice job together, so you just have to take it with a grain of salt when you hear some of the stuff they come up with. I’m amazed those crew guys can carry on like that. But we know what the big picture is, and we’ll be a part of it Sunday.”
“Me and Michael will draft fine together in the future, we just didn’t today,” Earnhardt said. “You can have friends, but you can’t be friends to the end. You’ve got to go for the win. I’ve got a benchmark that my daddy set for wins at this place, and we got another one today. I couldn’t run directly behind anyone because the air was too dirty. So I started running the top. But then when I started gaining some ground on Michael he moved up to the top, and took all the air I was using. I told them, ‘Pick one or the other, because I’m going to run where he ain’t, because I can’t run behind him.”
“It was a dead-end road where Earnhardt was headed, and they were all lined up on the bottom, so I just got in line,” Waltrip said. “It wasn’t any big deal. I love Dale Jr. We work so well together.”(Winston Salem Journal)(2-13-2004)
- Stock Car Fans Ramblings – Twin 125’s: We had the running of the Gatorade Twin 125’s at Daytona International Speedway, and if Jr’s car was awful Thursday it’s gonna be a long day for 42 other drivers on Sunday.
Greg Biffle grabbed his first career-pole Sunday, and he’ll lead ’em to the green as the first-ever Roush pole winner at Daytona. It was also the first pole for a Roush Ford since Kurt Busch grabbed the top-spot at Homestead in November of 2002.
For Biffle, this is his best starting spot since he had the outside pole at Richmond last September. He was also outside the front-row at Watkins Glen last August.
Elliott Sadler (2nd) has his best starting spot since he had the pole at Talladega last October.
Sterling Marlin (4th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 4th at Talladega last October.
Tony Stewart (5th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 4th at Watkins Glen last August.
Mark Martin (8th….and seemingly very confident) has his best starting spot since he lined up 3rd at Richmond last September.
Michael Waltrip (9th) has his best starting spot since he started 5th at Loudon last September.
Matt Kenseth (12th) has his best starting spot since started up front at Dover last September….but that race was lined up on points. On time, this is his best qualifying effort since he started 6th at Darlington last September.
Scott Wimmer (26th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 19th at Phoenix in November of 2002 (only 9 races).
STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 4 Top-10 starts in the last 5 races.
The Butterfly Brigade: We’ve got three drivers making their first career Nextel Cup starts on Sunday. Brendan Gaughan, Kasey Kahne, and Scott Riggs all get to break in easy….with the biggest race of the season! They join Johnny Sauter, Scott Wimmer, and Brian Vickers in what promises to be an extremely entertaining Rookie of the Year contest. As usual, we’ll follow it all year long in our Rumblings.
The Trouble Train was very short this week….and this is a category that we expect may be empty more than once this season (if some of the reports flying around are accurate). Only two cars got the early out this race. Neither Kirk Shelmerdine nor Andy Hillenburg were able to race their way into the 500.
We’ve got an hour and a half of pre-race on Sunday (I’m willing to endorse it for the kiddies….Lee Greenwood won’t let us down) then three hours of sitting on the edge of your seat and holding your breath. Throw in a rather dicey tire situation, and there’s not gonna be a whole lot of comfortable drivers out there. That makes that #8 car look even tougher.(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(2-13-2004)
- Congrats: to Rob Faiella of the site Inside the Pit Box, who is getting married to Alison White on Saturday, Feb 14th in New London, CT.(2-13-2004)
- Congrats to Bill Davis Racing’s tire changer and transmission specialist Gordon “Gordy” Arbitter on his recent engagement to Jamie Carriker.(2-12-2004)
- Rusty to be honored: Miller Brewing Company will honor former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Rusty Wallace, driver of the #2 Penske Dodge, and Miller Lite Racing teammate Larry Dixon, two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion, with a special commemorative can series. The program will launch in February and run through March. In conjunction with the six commemorative 24-oz. racing-themed cans, both Wallace’s Penske Racing Miller Lite Dodge and Dixon’s Don ‘the Snake’ Prudhomme-owned Miller Lite dragster will sport a special paint scheme celebrating ‘Great Moments in Miller Racing.’ Wallace’s No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge will sport the one-race scheme during the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7, while Dixon’s Miller Lite dragster will feature the special paint scheme during the 20 th annual Checker Schuck’s Kragen Nationals, March 5-7, near Phoenix.(see full PR at trpr.com), see an image of the #2 Dodge on my #2 Team Paint Scheme page.(2-12-2004)
- Las Vegas TV Special to have LVMS Segment: As part of an hour-long feature on Las Vegas, the nationally-syndicated show, Extra, will feature a visit to Las Vegas Motor Speedway with NASCAR stars Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Extra reporter Samantha Harris spent time taking hot laps around the 1.5-mile superspeedway during last month’s NASCAR test session. She also received some expert advice from Johnson and Gordon and even got an opportunity to sit behind the wheel of Johnson’s Lowe’s Chevrolet. After spending the day at the speedway, the Extra crew ventured onto the Las Vegas Strip with Johnson, who challenged Harris to a race at the Sahara’s Speed World. Other segments of the show will focus on Las Vegas superstars, super shows and super real estate … where to stay, where to eat and who you need to know [could be useful for those going to the race in March]. The show will air locally on KTNV-TV Channel 13 at 7 p.m. Pacific Time on Saturday, Feb.14 and again at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 15. For a listing in any other area, log on to the show’s website at www.extratv.com and click on local listing. The program will re-air on Feb. 18.(LVMS PR)(2-12-2004)
- New Home Depot Racing Site: Home Depot announced the launch of HomeDepotRacing.com, featuring several informational tools designed for race enthusiasts of all ages. Some of the features web surfers will find when browsing HomeDepotRacing.com include the latest race reports, current point standings, past and present statistics, a multimedia section, Stewart’s Home Depot store appearance schedule, a Home Depot Chevy show car calendar, bios on members of the #20 team and a page outlining the history of the Home Depot Racing sponsorship.(PR)(2-12-2004)
- Caution means Caution: NASCAR officials on Thursday advised drivers to listen to their spotters and be aware of activity on the track as they leave pit road under caution. The warning was issued by managing event director David Hoots during Thursday’s prerace drivers meeting at Daytona International Speedway, site of the Gatorade 125-mile qualifying races. On Sunday, a track safety worker, Roy H. Weaver, was killed in an incident in an IPower Dash series race. Weaver, 44, was picking up debris on the 2.5-mile Daytona speedway when he was struck and killed by a race car driven by Ray Paprota. “If you are coming off pit road under caution and trying to catch up with the rest of the pack, make sure you are talking to your spotter completely around the race track. Let him advise you of anything out there on the race track,” Hoots told the drivers. “If you have no reason to catch up early, then take the time to do so. With one lap to go, you still have 2½ miles to catch up to the field on this race track. Take your time and do it very slowly and very cautiously.”(ThatsRacin.com – Jim Utter)(2-12-2004)
- #90 Gets a Sponsor for the 500: The #90 Ford owned by Junie Donlavey and driven at Daytona by Andy Hillenburg, will be sponsored by Nashville’s Music City Motorplex [www.musiccitymotorplex.com], which may be part of a Daytona 500 first — a race track sponsoring a race car. Hillenburg will attempt to qualify the #90 Ford for Donlavey. Motorplex President Joe Mattioli, a longtime friend of Donlavey, announced the sponsorship yesterday. ”It’ll be fun,” Mattioli said, ”and it will give our track some national exposure.”(Tennessean)(2-12-2004)
- Newman the Chosen One: Ryan Newman, who led NASCAR’s premier series in wins and poles last season en route to a sixth-place finish in the championship, has been voted the preseason No. 1 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series by motorsports media. Newman, the 26-year-old Indiana native who drives the No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge for Penske Racing South, collected 1,915 points on the strength of 27 first-place votes to outdistance four-time series champion Jeff Gordon. Newman was followed in the voting by the Hendrick Motorsports tandem of #24-Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson. Gordon, last season’s preseason No. 1, is ranked No. 2 with 29 first-place votes and 1,806 points, 109 behind Newman. Johnson amassed 1,801 points – just five points shy of Gordon – behind a poll-high 41 first-place votes to earn the No. 3 ranking. The Hendrick Motorsports duo is followed by #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is No. 4 with 1,525 points and 22 first-place votes. Rounding out the top five is 2002 series champion #20-Tony Stewart who is No. 5 with 1,291 points and five first-place votes. The rest of the top 10 are: #29-Kevin Harvick, #17-Matt Kenseth, #97-Kurt Busch, #18-Bobby Labonte and #42-Jamie McMurray. Twenty-eight drivers received votes from more than 100 motorsports writers who participated in the balloting. Drivers received 20 points for a first-place vote, 17 for second, 15 for third, 13 for fourth, 11 for fifth, nine for sixth, seven for seventh, five for eighth, three for ninth and one for 10th.(NASCAR PR)(2-12-2004)
- Canadian TV Guide news: The Canadian version of TV Guide magazine will feature its first-ever NASCAR cover on Saturday. This collectible issue, which hits newsstands Monday, is geared toward the huge contingent of NASCAR fans throughout Canada. “NASCAR is the No. 1-rated motorsport in Canada,” said TV Guide Editor Jamie Hubbard, “and interest is climbing dramatically every season. Now that the Daytona 500 and other NASCAR races are also being broadcast on TORONTO 1 and the A-Channels, those numbers will only rise.” NASCAR International sees this as a pinnacle for Canadian racing enthusiasts. “Coverage of the 2004 NASCAR Season in TV Guide is really a milestone for NASCAR and stock car racing in Canada,” said Robbie Weiss, NASCAR Director, International. “NASCAR has established itself as part of the Canadian sports culture and is truly becoming a global phenomenon. Today, we are proud to see our fans and media partners following and enjoying NASCAR racing in more than 100 countries around the world.” The Canadian version of TV Guide reaches 3.6 million readers on a weekly basis.(NASCAR PR)(2-12-2004)
- STP Returns to the #43: History was repeated today at Daytona International Speedway when Richard Petty announced that his long-time sponsor, STP, will join Cheerios and Betty Crocker on the hood of the famed #43 Dodge for one race this season. The unveiling of the new paint scheme kicks off a celebration of Petty family anniversaries by sponsors General Mills and STP. The Cheerios/STP #43 Dodge will race at the Subway 400 in Rockingham, NC on Feb. 22. For the Pettys, a family steeped in NASCAR tradition, 2004 marks numerous monumental racing anniversaries. It is the golden anniversary of patriarch Lee Petty’s first championship; the 45th anniversary of Lee Petty’s win of the inaugural Daytona 500; the 40th anniversaries of Richard Petty’s first Daytona 500 win and first series championship; and the 20th anniversary of Richard’s record-setting 200th and last win. Long-time sponsor STP is also celebrating a key milestone as 2004 marks its 50th anniversary as a pioneer in the fuel and oil additive category. The STP logo, which will remain on the car throughout the 2004 season as an associate sponsor, began making headlines in 1972 with the historic sponsorship of Petty and the #43 car. In 1979, Richard won his seventh NASCAR title, which put him in a class of his own, and also etched STP as an icon in the racing world. General Mills, sponsor of Petty Enterprises’ #43 car since 2000, returns as the primary sponsor in 2004 through its Cheerios and Betty Crocker brands.
Outside of the special paint scheme, to recognize this historic year for the Petty family, General Mills brings a unique opportunity to race fans – a series of collectible “Salute to Petty” die-cast cars representing Petty family racecars past and present. The special collection features 21 different die-cast cars, 16 from Hot Wheels, including replicas of the 1957 Pontiac GTO, 1964 Plymouth Belvedere, 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, 1974 Dodge Charger, 1984 Pontiac Grand Prix, 2004 Dodge Intrepid and more. For a limited time, consumers can find die-cast cars free in or near specially marked packages of General Mills brands including Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Wheaties, Honey Nut Chex, Pop Secret, Old El Paso, Betty Crocker, Bugles and Pillsbury Grands!.(STP PR) see an image of the #43 Dodge on my #43 Team Paint Scheme page(2-11-2004)
- Childress in an AOL commercial: America Online [AOL] announced a series of new initiatives launching today for NASCAR’s Daytona 500 that gives fans unparalleled access to the kick off of the NASCAR season. This comprehensive race package, Daytona 500@AOL, features video highlights of the best Daytona 500 moments, daily photos with ZoomView technology and exclusive clips from the Warner Bros. Pictures upcoming film NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience — all available for viewing up to five times faster than on a standard dial-up connection and up to two times faster than on a standard high-speed connection with the new AOL TopSpeed technology. AOL will also launch a new ad on behalf of the AOL TopSpeed technology featuring the Teutuls from Discovery Channel’s “American Chopper.” Daytona 500@AOL continues AOL Sports’ new programming offerings that debuted with SuperBowl@AOL and includes innovative and engaging content, best experienced via AOL for Broadband, that brings fans closer to major events. The content package builds upon the company’s partnership with NASCAR and sponsorship of the Richard Childress Racing #30 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race car [driver Johnny Sauter]. During the Daytona 500, AOL will debut the latest commercial in a series of ads showcasing the popular Teutul family and the AOL TopSpeed technology that kicked off during the Super Bowl. The new ad will feature a cameo by NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. In addition, AOL is sponsoring the “Daytona to Daytona” Sweepstakes for AOL members which features as the grand prize a custom built TopSpeed(TM) chopper built by “Monster Garage” star Jesse James (valued at $150,000) as well as $50,000 cash. The sweepstakes begins February 12 and runs through June 25. The winner will be announced at the Pepsi 400 in Daytona on July 3. For Official Rules, see AOL Keyword: Daytona Sweeps.(Business Wire)(2-11-2004)
- Sponsor for the #33: during Speed Channel’s Wed Nextel Cup practice, it was mentioned that Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Marine Boats would be the sponsor of the #33 RCR Chevy and driver Mike Skinner for the Daytona 500. The sponsor is NOT AOL as I earlier reported. Also see the PR at RCR’s site.(2-11-2004)
- Duracell on the #29: Duracell, the world’s leading manufacturer and marketer of high-performance alkaline batteries, today announced a multi-year marketing and promotional agreement with NASCAR. Under the terms of the agreement, Duracell becomes the Official Status Sponsor and the “official alkaline battery” of NASCAR. Duracell will also partner with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Kevin Harvick and become an Associate Sponsor of the Richard Childress Racing’s #29 Team. Duracell will leverage Harvick and its NASCAR sponsorship with an integrated marketing communications program throughout the 2004 season. The program includes consumer promotions, in-store POP, print FSIs, and advertising in the form of TV, print and radio executions, highlighting Duracell’s “Trusted Everywhere” theme. Harvick, who will sport Duracell logos on his uniform and on the front lower quarter panel of his No. 29 Chevrolet, will star in the Duracell TV spot, scheduled to break during NBC’s coverage of the 46th running of the Daytona 500 on February 15.(Business Wire)(2-11-2004)
- #19 / #97 may be fined: Jeremy Mayfield’s #19 team and Kurt Busch’s #97 team are likely to be penalized further for infractions found by Nextel Cup officials, series director John Darby said. The rear deck lid on Mayfield’s car failed to fit the template. Busch’s car had a rear bumper support confiscated. Teams are allowed to place added weight in the support as long as it is in an approved container. The weight in Busch’s car was not in such a container. Also taken were an illegal spring from Derrike Cope’s #50 car; underpans from the cars of #7-Jimmy Spencer, #24-Jeff Green, #29-Kevin Harvick, #0-Ward Burton and #95-Andy Belmont [who withdrew]; and adjustable fender braces from the cars of #20-Tony Stewart, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #15-Michael Waltrip and Busch.
Other violations included illegal windshield clips from Larry Foyt’s #14 car, an illegal wheel opening on Earnhardt’s #8 car, and expired Hutchens Devices from #2-Rusty Wallace and #72-Kirk Shelmerdine. Darby said that the adjustable fender braces are not as likely to incur a further penalty. Teams are allowed to use adjustable braces during practice but not during qualifying.(Roanoke Times)(2-11-2004)
- Sponsor for the #50: Arnold Motorsports had some news Tuesday regarding sponsorship, which he had been lacking. Team Owner Don Arnold said Thrifty Car Rental will be on the hood as what is called the co-primary sponsor. He added that there are important, ongoing meetings to land the primary sponsor that will splatter its name across the rear quarter panels of the #50 Dodge that Derrike Cope will drive.(Naples Daily News)(2-11-2004)
- Memorial Service for Weaver on Wed: A memorial service will be held at 2:00pm/et Wednesday for Roy H. Weaver, the 44-year-old Daytona International Speedway track safety worker who was killed in an incident in an IPower Dash series at the track on Sunday. “It’s devastating,” said Robin Braig, the speedway’s president, said of the effect Weaver’s death has had on the track’s employees and volunteers. “Roy was one of the most enthusiastic members of our safety team and operations department. He was just a real bundle of energy, a guy with a great handshake who always had a smile for everybody and was willing to help anybody with anything.”(ThatsRacin.com)(2-11-2004)
- Raybestos and NASCAR extend agreement: Brake Parts Inc., manufacturer of Raybestos, the world’s leading brand of brake components, has reached an agreement with NASCAR to extend sponsorship of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year program through 2010. Raybestos will sponsor the rookie race in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Busch, and Craftsman Truck Series in addition to the Busch North and NASCAR Grand National West Division. Raybestos has renewed their marketing partnership with NASCAR and will remain the “Official Brakes of NASCAR.” Raybestos celebrates their 10th anniversary as an associate sponsor with Robert Yates Racing. The Raybestos colors will once again grace the quarter panels of Elliott Sadler’s #38 M&M’s Ford.
The Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NEXTEL Cup Series is awarded an original portrait by Motorsports artist Jeanne Barnes and a check for $50,000 presented during NASCAR Awards Night in New York. The Busch Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award is worth $15,000 to that division’s top rookie. In addition, the highest finishing rookie in each Busch Series race earns $1,000 from Raybestos brand Brakes. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the Craftsman Truck Series collects $10,000 at season’s end and like the Busch Series, the highest finishing rookie in each race earns $1,000 from Raybestos.(Raybestos / Camp and Assoc PR), see full PR and more on my NASCAR Sponsor page.(2-11-2004)
- Andretti at the Rock: John Andretti will have a ride for Rockingham and probably the next few races, DEI officials said, and cars are being put together this week for that race, in a rapidly moving venture. That third DEI team had planned to shut down after the Daytona 500 because of lack of sponsorship.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-11-2004)
- Delphi Major Assoc on the #5; and Primary in 4 races Delphi Corp. says it is expanding its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports by becoming a major associate sponsor of the #5 Kellogg’s Chevy of Terry Labonte in the Nextel Cup Series. Delphi says it will also be the primary sponsor for four races: April 4 at Texas Motor Speedway; May 15 at Richmond International Raceway; Aug. 8 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; and Aug. 22 at Michigan International Speedway. Financial details were not disclosed.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter), see images of the car on my #5 Team Paint Scheme Page.(2-11-2004)
- NASCAR Connection an Amercian Idol: Former NASCAR broadcasting employee, Ashley Thomas, has been selected as one of 32 semifinalists, out of 70,000 contestants, on season 3 of American Idol. After Ashley’s initial success in the American Idol auditions, she resigned from NASCAR in order to further pursue her dream of performing. For more information on Ashley, check out the American Idol website: www.idolonfox.com.(Rusty Wallace site)(2-11-2004)
- Nextel Launches First Official NASCAR Wireless Handsets in the Sport’s History: Nextel Communications Inc. announced the availability of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Phone and ten NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Driver Phones, which are modeled after ten specific drivers. The eleven new handsets are the first NASCAR-branded wireless phones in the sport’s history. Collectively, the handsets share the Motorola i736 model name. More info at www.nextel.com(Yahoo Biz)(2-10-2004)
- NASCAR Theme Song: Motor Music, a partnership between NASCAR and Cherry Lane Music Publishing, announces the unveiling of NASCAR’s theme song, “Thunder.” Composed by David Robidoux and mixed by Alan Meyerson, the NASCAR theme song, “Thunder” conveys the thrills, excitement and drama of NASCAR racing. This is the first time in the 56-year history of the sport that NASCAR will have branded theme music. In addition to the NASCAR theme song, Motor Music has created an initial 15-CD library of instrumental and orchestral cues covering a wide variety of genres. The NASCAR theme and library are intended for domestic and international broadcasts — NASCAR races are now broadcast in 115 countries — including television, radio, online and new media avenues of delivery, as well as commercial recordings. They are the first installments in an ever expanding body of NASCAR music that will enhance the brand beyond sports programming.(Business Wire)(2-10-2004)
- NASCAR Artist ‘Has Designs’ on 2004 Daytona 500 Entries: Sam Bass, the most prolific artist in NASCAR, owner of Sam Bass Illustration & Design, Inc., designed the graphic schemes of the Nextel Cup Series race cars driven by #24-Jeff Gordon, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #29-Kevin Harvick, #31-Robbie Gordon, #5-Terry Labonte, #40-Sterling Marlin and the #45-Georgia-Pacific and #43-General Mills-sponsored cars of Petty Enterprises. As the first artist officially licensed by NASCAR, Bass has led the industry for more than 15 years and continues to set the pace in the NEXTEL Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck NASCAR Series. Bass said that creating a successful race car design is a challenge that stretches the artist further than the simple task of applying colors to sheet metal. “Large companies spend billions of dollars over time to establish their products and brands in their customers’ minds,” said Bass. “And for many NASCAR sponsors, the race car is the most visible public extension of their brands. This puts the pressure on me to design a look for the race car that resonates with its customers. It must adapt well to the team uniforms and equipment. It should also present a consistent brand image on packaging and merchandising. And most importantly, it has to look good on TV. It’s quite a challenge,” he said. “The idea is to create a race-car design so rooted in the brand that you could strip the words off the car, yet the brand and the sponsor would still be unmistakable,” said Bass. Bass, 42, is the most highly accomplished artist in the NASCAR industry. Since 1987, the Hopewell, Va., native has created more than 300 race car and team graphic designs for leading corporate clients, NASCAR team owners and drivers. He also creates fine-art paintings, posters, merchandise, apparel, souvenir program covers and packaging, plus guitar designs. His 10,000-square-foot studio, gallery and showroom is located adjacent to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., in the greater Charlotte area. The gallery is a popular stop for tourists visiting the area. More information on Bass is available at www.sambass.com. Bass is available for media interviews.(Sam Bass PR)(2-10-2004)
- Guard and Reserve Busch Series cars schemes UPDATE: The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a government-funded program that enlists the support of America’s corporations to procure employment of American military service men and women. The ESGR will sponsor 5 Busch Series races, with Richard Childress in an attempt to create awareness and to promote the 5 Freedom Award recipients selected in 2003, running the #29 Busch Series Chevy(1-20-2004)
4/3/04 Texas Busch / Bobby Labonte / #29 RCR – Army
5/1/04 Fontana Busch / Tony Stewart / #29 RCR – Marines
7/10/04 Chicago Busch / Ricky Craven / #29 RCR – Navy
9/25/04 Dover Busch / Kerry Earnhardt / #29 RCR – Air Force
11/20/04 Homestead Busch / Kevin Harvick / #29 RCR – Coast Guard (2-10-2004)
- Gibbs OK: Redskins coach [and owner of the #18, #20 and #80 Cup teams, and #18 and #20 Busch teams] Joe Gibbs, 63, was taken to the emergency room at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Fla., for a diabetic reaction due to an insulin imbalance during his visit with Jags quarterback Mark Brunell. Gibbs, who was treated and released that night, returned to work Tuesday. Gibbs started to feel poorly on his Monday afternoon flight from Washington and was given some M&Ms on the plane to boost his sugar level. When Brunell met Gibbs at the airport in St. Augustine, Gibbs asked the quarterback to drive him to a hospital. Gibbs, diagnosed several years ago, revealed his diabetes during his introductory press conference when he returned to the Redskins last month. “He had an imbalance in his insulin, they gave him the required dosage to correct the imbalance and he went on his way,” Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson told the Washington Post. “They didn’t keep him there. They gave him what he needed and he left.”(ESPN)(2-10-2004)
- Speedway death ruled accidental: The death of a Daytona International Speedway safety worker was ruled an accident Monday, but questions remain over what caused the grisly incident during Sunday’s IPOWERacing Dash Series 150.(see full story at the Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-10-2004)
- Brian France Named Most Influential in Motorsports: NASCAR Chairman Brian France has been named the most influential person in motorsports by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal. The magazine this week named France and his father, former NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr., to the top two spots on the list, which is dominated by NASCAR officials and others with close ties to the sport. Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc. took the third spot in the rankings, followed by Fox Sports Television Chairman David Hill and NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-10-2004)
- Shelmerdine trying to make the Daytona 500: Kirk Shelmerdine, a four-time NASCAR champion crew chief and Dale Earnhardt’s ace-in-the-hole for so many Sundays, is back behind the wheel trying again to make his first-ever Daytona 500 as a driver. It has been more than 10 years since Shelmerdine suddenly retired as the boss at Richard Childress’ operation to try his hand at driving. Since then, he has won ARCA races and had fun and made a modest living out of his tiny shop across the street from Childress’ vast racing compound just south of Winston-Salem. Inside that nondescript, one-story shop, Shelmerdine has been pounding out the wrinkles on the Ford he’ll take to the grid here Thursday in the 125-mile qualifying races that will determine whether he finally makes the 500. In his first few days here, Shelmerdine has learned one brutal fact: “We’re behind on technology.” Shelmerdine is also behind on cars. He has two. His former boss has 62. “The car is a good car, drives OK, it’s just not that fast. The engine is better than the car right now. We don’t have any of the ‘stuff’ these other teams have to work with, and it shows. Nobody is trying to fool anybody, that’s just the way it is. We’re looking to get a spot to start, and it would be neat if we could do it.”(Winston Salem Journal)(2-10-2004)
- DW’s Book Released: Darrell Waltrip’s autobiography, “DW: A Lifetime Going Around in Circles,” will be available across North America Monday, Feb. 9th. In conjunction with the release of the book (published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.), Waltrip, a three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion and current analyst for FOX Sports, will make a series of media and public appearances this week. Here is a partial list of Darrell’s calendar for the week:
Monday through Friday night: Darrell will be co-host of “TRACKSIDE LIVE,” shown each evening on the Speed Channel direct from the Daytona International Speedway.
Tuesday, February 10:
9:10am: The Bob and Tom Show/ syndicated radio show
11:30 am Fan Forum appearance at Daytona USA with David Reutimann, driver of the No. 17 NTN/Darrell Waltrip Motorsports Toyota in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
6:50pm Live with George Michael to Washington D.C. area and syndicated “George Michael’s Sports Machine”
9:00pm Hannity & Colmes / FOX News Channel / “The Presidential Election and NASCAR Dads”
Wednesday, February 11:
6:00 – 9:00am Satellite feed with Duncan-Hines / morning television shows across the United States
Thursday, February 12:
9:10am: The Bob and Tom Show/ syndicated radio show
6:30 – 8:30pm: Autograph Session: Waldenbooks, Volusia Mall / 1700 Speedway Boulevard, across from the Daytona International Speedway.(fingerprint inc. PR), the book is also available at DWStore.com, where rumor has it that Jayski Tshirts will be available there within the next few weeks.(2-10-2004)
- New Assoc for the #49: The Casite Company announced today that their 2004 Associate Sponsorship of NASCAR’s BAM Racing, Dodge car #49 car, will kick-off at the Daytona 500 in Florida on February 15. Casite has been supplying the racing and automotive industries with quality aftermarket automotive chemicals since 1922. And while Casite is not new to sponsoring racing, this will be their first national sponsorship at this level. Casite will also participate in the following Nextel Cup NASCAR races with BAM: Food City 500 in Bristol, TN on March 28; Coca-Cola 600 in Concord, NC on May 30; Michigan 400 at MIS, MI on June 20; Brickyard 400 at Indy on August 8; EA Sports 500 at Talladega on October 3; and one other yet to be determined race. For the past two years, Casite has sponsored the Casite Classic at Flat Rock Speedway and recently concluded their 2003 ARCA Street Stock race sponsorship at Flat Rock. For additional Casite product or company information, visit the company website at www.casite.com.(Williams Company PR)(2-10-2004)
- Bang Racing to run some Cup races later in 2004 UPDATE 3: First-year Craftsman Truck Series team owner Alex Meshkin says he will make an announcement Tuesday about a sponsorship deal that will see his team compete in the Nextel Cup Series near the end of this season. Meshkin, 23, owns Bang Racing, which will field a pair of Toyotas for Mike Skinner and Travis Kvapil in the truck series this season.(NASCAR Scene daily Newsletter)(2-6-2004)
UPDATE: Hearing that Bang Racing owners Alex Meshkin and Larry McReynolds will announce an associate relationship with EBAY…….and that EBAY will sponsor 10 – 12 NEXTEL Cup races with Bang this year. No word on a car# or manufacturer.(2-7-2004)
UPDATE 2: “It’s a pretty significant deal,” Meshkin said Saturday. “We have tried to get involved in Cup since Day 1 and have been looking for the right opportunity. Our truck team has generated a lot of press and with that comes a lot of corporate sponsorship interest.” Bang is one of four NASCAR Craftsman Truck series teams to debut this season with the Toyota Tundra. The Toyota truck entries have fueled speculation the manufacturer will soon move into Cup. Asked the car make of his Cup entries, Meshkin said: “It will not be a Toyota. I’m not saying if anyone has a Toyota race car right now, but there is certainly not a NASCAR-approved Toyota entry right now.” Before a Toyota could compete in Cup, the manufacturer would have to submit a car and engine for approval by NASCAR. Meshkin said Tuesday’s announcement will include the Cup team’s sponsor and information on the team’s driver and possible car make.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-8-2004)
UPDATE 3: BANG RACING will participate in all NASCAR race series. During the last half of 2004, BANG RACING will enter the Nextel Cup series, with the eBay Cup team. eBay will serve as a co-primary sponsor of BANG RACING’S Nextel Cup team in 2004; this is in preparation for a full Cup Program in 2005 and beyond. Their Nextel Cup drivers will include, Mike Skinner and Travis Kvapil.(Bang Racing Site)(2-10-2004)
- Kahne’s Contract: been told that Kasey Kahne got out of his contract with Ford, the details are: Kahne’s attorneys advised him in October his contract became void after Jason Jarrett ran a third Robert Yates Ford in last September’s Cup race at Talladega. Their contention was Kahne should have been in that car, not Jarrett. So all during the winter when Kahne addressed questions about how he got out of his deal with Ford, he always responded by saying “I have fulfilled my contractual obligations.” Apparently, Kahne’s lawyers were correct and Ford figured a Judge would side with Dodge and Kahne.(2-10-2004)
- Hendrick Motorsports Website Re-launched: Hendrick Motorsports today unveiled its new-look Internet presence, www.HendrickMotorsports.com, with a fresh design and unique features found nowhere else on the Web. The latest version of the site, which received more than 1 million visits in 2003, marks the second re-design since HendrickMotorsports.com was initially launched in 1998.(HMS PR)(2-10-2004)
- New Driver Site: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Jamie McMurray announced the official launch of his new website, www.jamiemcmurray.com. McMurray, along with website designer 51 Sports, hopes the new site draws in new NASCAR fans, as well as provides a solid platform for McMurray’s current fan base. McMurray, who pilots the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, was named the 2003 NASCAR Raybestos Rookie of the Year.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(2-10-2004)
- Daytona 500 Qualifying TV Ratings: NBC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Daytona 500 qualifying session drew the second-highest overnight ratings of weekend sports events on broadcast television, today’s Sports Business Daily reports. Overnight Nielsen Media Research numbers show the qualifying session drew a 3.4 rating and an 8 share, trailing only the 3.9/8 that CBS drew for Sunday’s final round of the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament. Among the events that trailed were the National Hockey League All-Star Game on ABC (2.5/5) and the NBA game between the Lakers and Magic on ABC (3.2/7).(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-10-2004)
- NASCAR Themed TV Guides this week: In its February 14 issue (on newsstands Monday, February 9), TV Guide magazine offers its 2004 NASCAR preview issue. Each copy features one of three collectible flip-motion race car covers, with an alternating image of two popular driver paint schemes including:
* Jeff Gordon, 2004 DuPont Chevrolet and 2003 DuPont/Wright Bros. 100 Years of Aviation Chevrolet
* Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2004 Budweiser Chevrolet and 2003 Budweiser/MLB All- Star Game Chevrolet
* Kevin Harvick, 2004 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet and 2003 GM Goodwrench/Sugar Ray Chevrolet
In the issue, TV Guide’s NASCAR expert Robert Edelstein examines the extensive off-season overhaul that is bringing major changes to the sport starting with Sunday’s Daytona 500. Targeting a more youthful market in a campaign waged on the track, in the boardrooms, and on the couch, NASCAR is reinventing itself at top speed. Also included is an exclusive excerpt from Waltrip’s new book, “DW: A Lifetime Going Around in Circles,” in which he recalls all the “boo’s” hurled at him from contemptuous fans that he had to endure throughout the middle of his career. tvguide.com also celebrates the coming NASCAR season with an exclusive roundtable interview, in which Edelstein chats with some of the sport’s hottest drivers, including Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Waltrip. Also available from TV Guide, wherever magazines are sold, is the 2004 Auto Racing Yearbook, a 96-page full-size NASCAR preview magazine for 2004 [with an article by Jayski]. Along with features, schedules, predictions and posters, the issue offers one lucky winner a chance to win a trip for two to the Brickyard 400. All three collector’s covers of the February 14 TV Guide Digest issue are available for purchase on line at www.shoptvguide.com.(2-9-2004)
- #7 Crew Chief leaves? UPDATE 3: hearing that the #7 Ultra Motorsports crew chief, Gene Nead and the team have parted ways.(2-3-2004)
UPDATE: Jimmy Spencer’s crew chief Gene Nead will travel with the #7 team to Daytona, however he will be moving on following the Daytona 500. Nead didn’t say what his next move will be.(PRN’s Garagepass radio report)(2-5-2004)
UPDATE 2: now hearing the majority of the Cup shop personnel, not at the track, have been laid off.(2-8-2004)
UPDATE 3: Jim Smith and Ultra Motorsports will shut down the #7 Nextel Cup team after the Daytona 500. Although the possibility exists for Ultra to run additional Cup races, Smith says he’s turning his full attention to the Craftsman Truck Series. “I’m not going to run this team out of my own pocket anymore,” Smith says. “Half the team has left, the other half has been laid off, and anyone left over we’ll keep to work on other stuff. There will still be plenty of racing in my future.” Driver Jimmy Spencer’s plans are uncertain.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(2-9-2004)
- Biffle #6: #16-Greg Biffle is the sixth driver to claim his first career pole position in the Daytona 500, following Ramo Stott (1976), Loy Allen (1994), Dale Jarrett (1995), Mike Skinner (1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2002).(Richmond Times Dispatch)(2-9-2004)
- DEI Tuner leaves to start own biz? UPDATE: hearing that DEI Engine Tuner and #8 Gasman, Jeff Clark has left DEI to start a Motorcycle Business in the Charlotte, NC area.(1-6-2004)
UPDATE: Engine tuner John Dennison has left Kevin Harvick’s #29 RCR team to replace crew member Jeff Clark on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #8 car. Clark submitted his resignation in January, but he stayed on to help the team through Speedweeks. Brian Englehart will temporarily fill in on the #29 crew until a full-time tuner is hired.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(2-9-2004)
- Newsweek Article – Safety: Petty Enteprises is the only NASCAR Nextel Cup team featured in a Newsweek magazine article appearing in editions of February 9. Subscribers will receive the magazine early this week, while it will begin appearing on newstands nationwide later in the week. The national magazine interviewed Richard and Kyle Petty for the article, and spent several hours at the team’s Level Cross, N.C., shop last week in preparation for the story regarding safety. The magazine also visited NASCAR’s R&D facilities, and interviewed other experts. Newsweek is a major news magazine with international circulation well over 4 million.(Williams Company PR), see the story at MSNBC.com.(2-9-2004)
- Johnson’s streak at 69: Jimmie Johnson extended the longest current streak for consecutive weeks in the NASCAR Top 10 to 69 weeks with his 2nd place finish in last season’s championship race. It is the 9th longest streak in the modern era (1972-present). Should Johnson remain in the NASCAR Top 10 the entire 2004 season, he will pass Richard Petty and take sole possession of sixth place on the all-time list. An interesting note is that the season-opening race put a halt to all but two of the streaks, the exception being Dale Earnhardt’s record streak of 174 weeks and Sterling Marlin’s 11th-ranked run (66 weeks).(Team Lowe’s Racing PR)(2-9-2004)
- 42 and counting: Terry Labonte enters the 2004 season carrying a string of 42 consecutive races without a DNF (did not finish), the longest current streak in NEXTEL Cup. The modern-era record is 56 straight, set by Jeff Gordon in 2001-02. Labonte was one of only two drivers who completed all 36 races last season, the other being Kevin Harvick.(HMS PR)(2-9-2004)
- Commemorative Daytona 500 Program Distributed Coast to Coast: A commemorative newsstand edition of the award-winning Daytona 500 program will be available to race fans unable to attend NASCAR’s most prestigious race – the Daytona 500. The program hit newsstands in major grocery chains and mass retail outlets throughout the nation on Feb. 3. The unique cover of the 256-page program features a special Mickey Mouse Event Car as well as s the ultimate prize in motorsports, the Harley J. Earl trophy – presented to the winner of NASCAR’s most prestigious motorsports event – the Daytona 500. Although there will be 5 different Daytona 500 program covers, only the Mickey Mouse design can be purchased at newsstands nationwide. The Daytona 500 souvenir program features in-depth features on all of the events of Daytona’s Speedweeks. Driver profiles, race reviews and historical retrospectives, along with hundreds of photographs, fill the 256 full-color pages. The publisher’s editorial and photography staff has been recognized by various professional and media organizations, including the International Automotive Media Awards, for their work.(DIS PR)(2-9-2004)
- Engine Rule at Daytona: the engine rule is a little different at Daytona 500 [just like qualifying] then the other 35 races, teams must run the same engine from Saturday’s first practice session (Feb. 7th) through the twin-125 mile qualifying races (Feb. 12). If a team makes a change, then it must start at the rear of the twin 125 field. After the twin 125 races, teams can make an engine change before the next day’s practice session. After that, if an engine change is made, the driver will start at the rear of the. So far #19-Mayfield is the only one to change an engine, so he will fall to the rear of whatever twin 125 he runs in.(2-8-2004)
- Tragic News at Daytona: A Daytona International Speedway safety worker was killed Sunday afternoon when he was struck by a race car being driven by a paraplegic competitor in a race during activities leading up to next week’s Daytona 500. Roy H. Weaver III, a 44-year-old track crew supervisor, was picking up debris in the Turn 2 area of the 2.5-mile track after a crash during the IPower 150 when he was struck by a race car being driven by Ray Paprota. Paprota, 41, is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of injuries he suffered in an automobile crash in 1984. He uses specially modified hand controls to accelerate, brake and change gears in his race car. Sunday’s race was the first held under authority of IPower, a sanctioning body that bought what was formerly known as the NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series late last year. The race had been slowed under a yellow for a wreck in Turn 4 that required Tony Billings of Pfafftown, N.C., to be cut from his car. Late Sunday, Billings was listed in stable condition at Halifax Medical Center. The cars were stopped on pit road under a red flag while the Dash series garage was cordoned off with security workers and police. The Volusia County medical examiner came to the garage and officials took photos of Paprota’s car. More than two hours after the incident took place, but before Weaver’s death was confirmed, the race was resumed and shortened from 60 to 40 laps. Danny Bagwell, whose Alabama-based team had helped Paprota prepare his race cars for competition, was the winner.(see full story at ThatsRacin.com)(2-8-2004)
- No Radio Shack: been told the rumored associate sponsor deal between the #77 Team and Radio Shack has fallen through, for past news, see my #77 Team News and Links page.(2-8-2004)
- NASCAR Working on ‘New Car’: NASCAR is closer to a futuristic car that promises a safer ride for stock car racers and millions of drivers buying vehicles off the showroom floor. The fatal crashes in 2000 of Adam Petty and Kenny Irwin in New Hampshire and Tony Roper in Texas led NASCAR to reach out to the best engineers it could find, and the Dale Earnhardt accident threw the project into high gear. There have been plenty of crashes since, some serious, but no deaths. And if NASCAR’s safety program keeps progressing as it has recently, the risks of deadly wrecks will keep going down. With the major car makers working on the program with NASCAR, it’s a good bet that some of those safety features will wind up on street cars. Practically every part of the car is being examined for ways to make it safer. New high-tech materials – a foam aluminum that resembles a sponge; a honeycomb metal that looks as if it came out of a mutant beehive; steel designed to bend and crinkle on impact – are under investigation. Improved “crush zones” would absorb energy in a crash to protect occupants. Better collapsible steering wheels, changes in the location of the oil tanks; refined gas, brake and clutch pedals; a new generation of shock absorbers and tires that will make cars easier to control; systems to prevent fires or suppress them – they’re all part of NASCAR’s overhaul.(FoxSports/AP)(2-8-2004)
- Corvette to pace the field: General Motors has provided the Official Pace Car for the Daytona 500 during the entire “Modern Era” of NASCAR and this year is no exception. The 2004 Corvette Coupe, considered “America’s performance icon,” will continue that tradition and pace this year’s Daytona 500, the opening race of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series on Feb. 15. Today’s Corvette continues to deliver excitement by combining the perfect blend of performance, technology and content. Nearly 1.4 million Corvettes have been sold worldwide in its 51-year history. Corvette will pace four events at the Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks this month, including the Budweiser Shootout, the Gatorade 125-Mile qualifying races, the Hershey’s Kisses 300 and the Daytona 500. These four events help make up the 57 national NASCAR events Chevrolet will pace in 2004 season (26 Nextel Cup, 18 Busch, and 13 Craftsman Truck races).(GM PR)(2-8-2004)
- Gets Points at Best Western: Michael Waltrip will be competing for his third Daytona 500 title in the last four years — and he’ll also be racing for Best Western customers across the country. Throughout the month of February, any person who books and stays at a Best Western property will receive 500 points toward a future stay, and, if Waltrip does win at Daytona, each of those people will receive an additional 500 points. More information is available at www.bestwestern.com/racing. “It’s a great way to help the fans more involved,” said Waltrip. “If I win, they win.”(Alan Taylor Communications PR)(2-8-2004)
- Scanners will still be allowed: Nextel Communications is hoping it can ingratiate itself to skeptical fans by providing subtle conveniences and nostalgia in its first season sponsoring NASCAR’s top series. High on the list is assuring fans they still will be able to use their race scanners. The popular and pricey gadgets allow fans to listen to teams’ in-race audio by tuning in to their frequency. When a communications company purchased title sponsor rights, speculation quickly mounted that the old scanners would be phased out. Though some tweaking may be done to allow Nextel subscribers similar access, there are no plans to make the scanners obsolete, executive vice president Mark Schweitzer said. “Scanners as they are now will stay in place,” Schweitzer said. “We have made no plans to limit their use.”(Augusta Chronicle/AP), more info on scanners on my Scanner Links / Freqs page.(2-7-2004)
- Inspection/Room of Doom at Daytona Notes: Several Nextel Cup teams had to make alterations to their Daytona 500 cars following Friday’s inspections. And several teams had parts confiscated by NASCAR inspectors. The Chevy of #15-Michael Waltrip and #5-Terry Labonte were among those requiring the most additional work before they were approved. The Chevy of #24-Jeff Gordon was the first car to receive its sticker indicating it passed inspection. Among the parts confiscated by NASCAR: the rear deck lid from Jeremy Mayfield’s #19-Dodge; right-side floor pans from Jimmy Spencer’s #7-Dodge; braces from Labonte’s Chevrolet; and the rear bumper support from the #97 Ford of Kurt Busch.(ThatsRacin.com)(2-7-2004)
- 45 cars show, NASCAR trying to add to the list? Next Thursday’s Twin 125-mile qualifiers will be superfluous this SpeedWeeks since only 45 teams arrived for the 43-car Daytona 500 field. NASCAR officials are reported to be scrambling to add cars to the 125s.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-7-2004)
45 cars entered: the 2004 Daytona 500 Entry list is up, only 45 drivers are listed 38 full time teams andd seven part-timers including: #09-Johnny Benson, #1-John Andretti, #14-Larry Foyt, #23-Dave Blaney, #33-Mike Skinner, #72-Kirk Shelmerdine and #95-Andy Belmont. So 2 teams will miss the race, unless more are added [see stroy below]. For the link, see my 2004 Daytona 500 Race Info Page for the link and much more about the race.(2-7-2004)
UPDATE: add #90 Andy Hillenburg.(2-7-2004)
- Donlavey’s team Back [make it 46]: For the 54th consecutive year, Junie Donlavey has brought his Richmond, Va.-based team to the motorsports mecca by the beach. Donlavey, whose team hasn’t attempted to qualify for a Cup race since last year’s Daytona 500, has entered his No. 90 Ford in this year’s season-opening race. Morgan Shepherd is listed as the driver, but Donlavey still is working out details of who will pilot the car. He expects to know by today. The team owner doesn’t have a sponsor for the 500-mile event, which has become a recurring theme. Donlavey last fielded a full-season effort in 2001. He contemplated shutting down his garage on Old Midlothan Turnpike after losing a sponsor midway through the 2002 season.(Richmond Times Dispatch), NASCAR has Andy Hillenburg listed as the driver.(2-7-2004)
- Bill Elliott to drive a specially designed car in the Bud Shootout: Evernham Motorsports owner Ray Evernham announced today that his charity foundation, Racing For A Reason, is expanding it’s relationship with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to a national level to raise awareness about the critical need to find cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society logo will be displayed on the Evernham Motorsports #91 Dodge that Bill Elliott will drive in the Bud Shootout this Saturday, February 7, at the Daytona International Speedway.
“We started the Racing For A Reason Foundation in 1993 to help benefit great organizations like The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” said Evernham. “I’ve had a strong association with The Society for over ten years, predominately with their Charlotte (NC) chapter. We recently initiated discussions with them to explore ways to grow our relationship and we quickly identified some exciting opportunities.”
Bill Elliott said he is also pleased to be participating in this program. “This is a great cause and I’m glad to be involved with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This organization helps a lot of people and we hope this raises the awareness of what they do.”
For more information about blood cancer, visit www.LLS.org or call the Society’s Information Resource Center (IRC), a call center staffed by master’s level social workers, nurses and health educators who provide information, support and resources to patients and their families and caregivers. IRC information specialists are available at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 6:00pm/et.(PR), see full PR on my Racing Charities page.(2-6-2004)
- FX Reality Show to air in May UPDATE: Daily Variety says 10 Nextel Cup drivers have been lined up for a “docu-style” series scheduled to debut on the FX cable channel in May, today’s Sports Business Daily reports. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeremy Mayfield, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Tony Raines, Brian Vickers, Kenny Wallace and Rusty Wallace are scheduled to take part, the story says. Daily Variety’s Denise Martin writes that FX has approved ordering eight hours of the series, which is tentatively titled “NASCAR: Drivers Unscripted.” Each episode is expected to focus on three drivers prior to a race, and production is scheduled to begin with the Daytona 500.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(2-5-2004)
UPDATE: FX has placed an order for eight episodes of an unscripted series featuring some of the top drivers of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, it was announced jointly by FX Networks President and CEO Peter Liguori and NASCAR Vice President, Broadcasting and New Media Dick Glover. Scheduled to premiere in May, NASCAR: Drivers Unscripted (working title), is a weekly, one-hour series that will give viewers an unvarnished look at nine drivers, their families and teams, primarily focusing on their lives away from the tracks. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeremy Mayfield, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Tony Raines, Brian Vickers, Kenny Wallace and Rusty Wallace will be featured in multiple segments over the course of the show’s eight-week run.(NASCAR PR), see full story on my TV/Media Info and News page.(2-6-2004)
- President Bush to attend Daytona 500: President Bush will attend the Daytona 500 Feb. 15 in Florida. Bush plans to spend that Sunday night in Florida where his brother, Jeb, is governor, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Friday in announcing the trip to the auto race. That same night in Wisconsin, Democrats are scheduled to hold a debate in advance of that state’s primary on Feb. 17. (AP/NASCAR.com)(2-6-2003)
- #4 Announces Sponsor: Morgan-McClure Motorsports announced a new primary sponsor for the #4 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series entry. Beginning its 21st year in NASCAR, the team welcomes the addition of YOKE TV.com to its racing program. YOKE TV.com is cutting edge and will offer one of the world’s first web-based TV programs. The company plans to start broadcasting on May 1, 2004. It will feature stars in the world of sports, entertainment and music and offer an insiders view into the real life and behind-the-scenes stories of famous athletes, musicians or celebrities.
Viewers will enjoy a large number of new television shows created by YOKE TV.com with full 24 hour programming. Broadband internet users will be able to view YOKE TV anywhere on a global basis over their computer monitors.
Announcing its new primary sponsor at Daytona International Speedway, where the team has three prestigious Daytona 500 victories, marks a new beginning for Morgan-McClure Motorsports. The Abingdon, Va.-based team ended the 2003 season with a string of consistent runs and looks to continue the momentum. It will sport fresh colors of red, silver and white this season on new Chevrolet Monte Carlos in its stable and display a new NASCAR Nextel Cup Series logo.
Kevin Lepage will return as the driver of the #4 YOKE TV.com Monte Carlo along with the entire Morgan-McClure Motorsports road crew and Tim Brewer, the winningest crew chief on the circuit with 53 Cup victories.
Brent Meikle, President and CEO, YOKE TV.com, quotes on his company and joining NASCAR with Morgan-McClure Motorsports: “We are extremely excited to get involved with Cup level racing in Nextel’s first year and with Morgan-McClure Motorsports for the full season in YOKE TV’s initial broadcast year. It’s a new year and I think YOKE TV’s new commitment to NASCAR is a prime example of the type of new sponsorships NEXTEL will attract to grow this great sport even bigger over the coming years.
“We will have the most interesting broadcast content on the air, not just on the internet, but our goal is to be the most interesting content on the air anywhere versus any medium. And we think we have a programming format that will make that vision a reality the very first day we begin broadcasting May 1st, 2004. This is really the future of broadcast and a whole new experience for people in viewing broadband. Today, we are happy to be here in NASCAR and want Kevin and the team to have the glory. Their focus is on a full year of racing. Our time will come soon to share more about both our programming and a major charitable drive we are heading up at the right time.”
Larry McClure, President of Morgan-McClure Motorsports, quotes on obtaining a new sponsor: “We are extremely enthusiastic to have YOKE TV.com aboard as our primary sponsor. This is a new dawning for Morgan-McClure Motorsports and our sponsor. During the past several months, a lot of hard work has gone into our sponsor deal and the race team. To have this announcement at Daytona means a lot to this team and to me. It has always been one of my favorite tracks. We look forward to a successful partnership with Brent Meikle and YOKE TV.com. My commitment and dedication to winning remains strong.” Visit yokeTV.com to learn more.(Morgan-McClure Motorsports PR)(2-6-2004)
- Gillette To Unviel New Commercials: As part of the excitement surrounding next weekend’s “Great American Race” in Daytona, and proving yet again the marketability of the sport’s flashy young drivers, Gillette will be unveiling a series of national television spots this weekend featuring its Gillette Young Guns — Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and Ryan Newman. The two 30-second spots will debut during the telecast of the Budweiser Shootout, which airs Saturday on TNT. Both spots will continue to run exclusively during NASCAR programming on TNT, NBC and FOX throughout the 2004 race season. The two 30-second commercials utilize the friendship and competitive nature of the six young drivers, along with the fast-paced excitement of motorsports, to promote the MACH3 Turbo Champion Razor. This is the first time Gillette has used NASCAR personalities in their television advertising, and is part of a multi-faceted season-long promotion between Gillette, NASCAR and the six drivers.(Alan Taylor PR)(2-6-2004)
- Penske and Sirius Satellite Radio: Penske Corporation and SIRIUS Satellite Radio announced Friday an agreement designed to utilize motorsports as a platform to bring satellite radio to race fans across the country. SIRIUS Satellite Radio logos will appear on Penske Racing Team entries competing in NASCAR Nextel Cup and the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series commencing with events at Daytona International Speedway today. The sponsorship is an extension of a business to business agreement previously announced by SIRIUS aimed at expanding the availability of SIRIUS Satellite Radio services to new car and truck purchasers and lessees. “Racing is the common thread throughout our organization and a natural environment for us to highlight the SIRIUS brand to our fans in NASCAR and IndyCar.” said Roger S. Penske, Chairman of Penske Corporation. “We are delighted that drivers Rusty Wallace, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Newman, Sam Hornish, Jr., and Brendan Gaughan will be competing under a SIRIUS Satellite Radio banner.”(Penske Racing PR)(2-6-2004)
- No #74 at Daytona? UPDATE: sources tell me that unless the #74 BACE Motorsports team gets sponsorship the team and driver Tony Raines may not go to Daytona and run Speedweeks.(2-2-2004)
UPDATE: BACE Motorsports announced Friday that Tony Raines and the No. 74 Nextel Cup team will not attempt to run the 2004 Daytona 500. Blaming a lack of sponsorship, owner Bill Baumgardner said it would not be in the team’s best interests to run the entire Cup schedule this season. The scaling back oon the Cup level will not impact BACE’s pursuit of its fourth Busch Series title.(ThatsRacin.com) see full story on my #74 Team News and Links page.(2-6-2004)
- CAT Stands by Wimmer UPDATE 2 Wimmer to race at Daytona: The director of Caterpillar Inc. racing programs said the company will stand behind its NASCAR Nextel Cup driver, Scott Wimmer, despite his arrest Saturday for driving while impaired. “We’re basically going to continue on with Scott,” said Greg Towles. “He made a terrible mistake but by the same token, there’s been no history of that at all.” Wimmer was driving a 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck belonging to his boss, Bill Davis, early Saturday morning when he hit a large rock and the truck overturned near his High Point, N.C., home. Published reports said a Breathalyzer test recorded Wimmer’s blood alcohol content at 0.15 percent, nearly twice the North Carolina legal limit of 0.08. Wimmer was not at the crash site when police arrived but was found later at his home. His wife, Jody Ambrose, was charged with misdemeanor obstruction of justice and delay. Court dates for both are March 10. Wimmer is scheduled to begin his first full season in the Nextel Cup series for Davis next week at the Daytona 500. Wimmer moved up from the Busch Series to the #22 Caterpillar Dodge for the last four races of last season. Davis released a statement Monday and withheld comment until all the facts have been revealed. Wimmer, a Wisconsin native, could face disciplinary action from NASCAR. Officials there are reported to be looking into the matter. “We’re not sure what NASCAR is going to do,” said Towles. Wimmer is scheduled to make an appearance in Peoria on Feb. 24 at a Peoria Rivermen game but that visit may be postponed until after his court date.(Peoria Star Journal)(2-5-2004)
UPDATE: Wimmer speaks about his drunk driving charge, “I made a poor decision and I’m the one that has to pay for it.” Scott Wimmer told PRN’s Mark Garrow during Thursday’s media day at Daytona. Wimmer has a March 10th court date after being charged with drunk driving and hit-and-run over the weekend in North Carolina. Wimmer says he’s lucky to have strong people around him who are going help including NASCAR, Car Owner Bill Davis and sponsor Caterpillar will hopefully make him a better person. Wimmer said “Hopefully I can help people make better decisions like I didn’t. In 28-years of living this is my one major mistake and I won’t make it again. I had a lot of calls from team owners, drivers and friends and family and they’re all supporting me and they know I’ll make it thru it. I’m looking forward to this season and getting it off and getting this put behind me.”(PRN’s Garagepass radio report), quite a few articles on this subject, including Lyle Petty’s comments, he wonders why NASCAR has done nothing, see my Columns/Articles links page for more.(2-6-2004)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR will not bar rookie Scott Wimmer from the Daytona 500 despite Wimmer’s recent arrest for driving while impaired. Until the matter is resolved, Wimmer is free to compete in the Nextel Cup series, said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president. “We’re just going to let the judicial process run its course and not going to judge Scott prematurely,” Hunter said. Should Wimmer excel during the events leading to the Feb. 15 Daytona 500 or the sport’s biggest race, it will only draw more attention to his arrest instead of his achievement. Hunter was adamant that NASCAR would not change its approach despite the potential controversy. “We have always followed the judicial system in this country, and we’re going to continue to,” he said.(News and Record)(2-6-2004)
- Foyt to attempt the Daytona 500: A.J. Foyt’s #14 team is looking for a sponsor and will attempt to qualify for the 500. Foyt’s son Larry will drive the car, with engines leased from Evernham Motorsports.(USA Today/AP)(2-6-2004)
- Fike Eyeballing NASCAR: Midget Driver driver, A.J. Fike, will begin the new phase of his career Saturday at Daytona. He will compete in the ARCA race with former Indiana standout Andy Hillenburg as his driving coach. Fike, who last year competed in the IRL’s Infiniti Pro Series, is hoping to use an ARCA season as a springboard to NASCAR.(Indy Star)(2-6-2004)
- Gordon close on Indy 500 plans: #31-Robby Gordon is close to finalizing a deal for the 2004 Indianapolis 500. He hoped to have it ready to announce Thursday during media day at Daytona International Speedway but needed a few more days to get the contracts signed. He plans to do it largely on his own with support from one of Chevrolet’s Indy Racing League teams.(Indy Star)(2-6-2004)
- “The King” to Unveil Fresh Look For #43 Dodge: Long Time Sponsor STP and Current Primary Sponsor General Mills Join Forces to Salute Historic Petty Anniversaries During 2004 Season. History will repeat itself as seven-time Winston Cup Champion Richard Petty will join current Petty Enterprises driver Jeff Green to unveil a special paint scheme for the No. 43 Dodge. The unveiling kicks off a celebration of Petty family anniversaries by team sponsors General Mills and STP. 2004 will mark 20 years since Petty claimed his record-breaking 200th victory and seventh Daytona 500. This year also marks the 50th year anniversary of STP.
NASCAR Legend, Richard Petty and current #43 Dodge driver Jeff Green will unveil the #43 Dodge to be driven at Rockingham in the Subway 400 on February 21, 2004.
” Q & A with Richard Petty and Jeff Green
” Interview opportunities with Richard Petty and Jeff Green
” First time photo opportunity of special #43 Dodge
Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at Daytona International Speedway.(PR)(2-5-2004)
- #7 Crew Chief leaves? UPDATE: hearing that the #7 Ultra Motorsports crew chief, Gene Nead and the team have parted ways.(2-3-2004)
UPDATE: Jimmy Spencer’s crew chief Gene Nead will travel with the #7 team to Daytona, however he will be moving on following the Daytona 500. Nead didn’t say what his next move will be.(PRN’s Garagepass radio report)(2-5-2004)
- Gibson Movie on #18 Hood: Norm Miller, chairman of Dallas-based Interstate Batteries, replaced his own company’s hood-sized logo with an ad for “The Passion” on NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte’s #18 Chevrolet. The car will carry the ad during the Daytona 500 race Feb. 15. Miller said he feels “privileged” to offer the giveaway publicity. Miller is yet another volunteer in an effort to turn “The Passion” into a success of biblical proportions. Many think a successful opening will encourage more Christian-themed movies — and win more souls. “We need this film to have the biggest opening on record,” said the Web site catholicexchange.com.(Atlanta Journal Constitution)(2-5-2004)
- Fans Given Chance Vote on Sterling’s Car Scheme: Prilosec OTC and two-time Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin announced today that race fans throughout the country will be given the chance to determine how Sterling’s #40 Prilosec OTC Dodge [Coor’s Light] will look when it competes in a Nextel Cup race later this season. “Fan interaction is something our sport prides itself on,” said Sterling Marlin. “We thought it would be a lot of fun to have the fans pick the paint scheme for the Prilosec OTC car. After that, it’s up to me and the crew to win the race for the fans.” Beginning Sunday, February 8, fans will have the opportunity to vote for one of three different #40 Prilosec OTC paint schemes posted on www.prilosecotc.com . Fans will be able to vote on the website by clicking on their favorite paint scheme. Paint scheme selection will conclude at 12 midnight, April 30. Voting for Sterling’s purple racing machine will kick off with a national coupon insert that will appear in Sunday morning newspapers across the country this weekend. The #40 Prilosec OTC Dodge paint scheme that receives the most votes will be unveiled at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Friday, May 28. Prilosec OTC officially begins its associate sponsorship of the #40 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Nextel Cup entry this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. In addition to its one-race paint scheme later this year, Prilosec OTC will also appear on Sterling Marlin’s firesuit and the B-post of the #40 Coors Light Dodge throughout the 2004 Nextel Cup season.(Yahoo Sports)(2-5-2004)
- Coke Commercial: Coca-Cola’s 30-second NASCAR commercial at movie theaters across the country was recently unvieled. Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler and Bill Elliott are part of the commercial preceding the featured movie. The commercial involves in a remote-control race.(Patriot News)(2-5-2004)
- Irvan in sprint cars: Former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan has taken an ownership position with the United Sprint Car Series, which was founded by ex-sprinter Pete Walton. Walton said that he and Irvan have taken over the North Carolina-based American Outlaw Action Series. “The two series will immediately merge our management teams and our efforts to continue the growth of sprint car racing for drivers and teams based in the southeastern United States,” Walton said, adding that Irvan will concentrate on marketing efforts on behalf of the series.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(2-4-2004)
- #10 to be sponsored by Valvoline’s MaxLife at the Shootout: MaxLife, the premium motor oil created by The Valvoline Company for cars with more than 75,000 miles, will be the primary sponsor on Mike Skinner’s #10 Chevy in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. The Valvoline MaxLife Chevrolet will be crewed by the #10 team, led by crew chief Doug Randolph, who serves in the same capacity for rookie driver Scott Riggs in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Along with its award-winning motor oil “Product of the Year” by Lubricant’s World in 2001 — the MaxLife product line consists of antifreeze, automatic transmission fluid and engine protector.(MBV Motorsports PR)(2-4-2004)
- Burton has two race sponsorship; but for what races? UPDATE 2: from the #99-Jeff Burton Fanclub Driver Diary: “As for sponsorship the remainder of the year. We will be making an announcement this week with regards to a sponsor for two races and I believe we have some more announcements coming soon.” Burton is in Las Vegas testing.(Jeff Burton Fanclub Driver Diary/Roush Racing site)(1-29-2004)
UPDATE: hearing it could be longtime Roush Racing sponsor SKF.(1-30-2004)
UPDATE 2: Roush Racing announced that SKF will continue its sponsorship of Jeff Burton, the #99 team and Roush Racing through 2004. In addition, SKF will expand their sponsorship to be primary sponsor of the #99 Ford for the February Rockingham race and March Atlanta race. “We are certainly excited to have SKF and Chicago Rawhide as part of our team in 2004,” said Burton. “The #99 team is looking forward to carrying the SKF and Chicago Rawhide logo on our car not only for Rockingham and Atlanta but as an associate throughout the year. They have been with us for six years and we are looking forward to another exciting year with them as part of our team.” The announcement of SKF’s sponsorship demonstrates the interest that has been generated among many potential sponsors for Burton and the #99 team for the 2004 season and beyond. Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing says it’s only a matter of time before the #99 Ford will carry a primary sponsor for the entire year. “SKF helps us continue the positive momentum that is building around Jeff Burton’s program.” Smith continued, “We, in turn, are committed to again helping SKF meet its marketing objectives.”(Roush Racing PR)(2-4-2004)
- #4 Sponsor Close: Though no official announcement has been made concerning sponsorship for the 2004 season, silver, red and white #4 Chevys sit in Morgan-McClure Motorsports Abingdon, VA shop. McClure said a deal is nearly completed and should be solidified by the end of the week. “We haven’t signed an agreement with a sponsor but we had a conference call on Sunday and agreed on everything,” McClure said. “There’s no use in me announcing who it is until it happens, but we feel pretty good about that.” While five different drivers sat behind the wheel for Morgan-McClure last season, the team’s settled on Kevin Lepage as its 2004 driver. Though Kodak remains an associate sponsor on the team’s Chevrolets, it moved its primary sponsorship to Roger Penske’s #77 Dodge, piloted by rookie Brendan Gaughan.(Bristol Herald Courier)(2-4-2004)
- Want to be on TV?: Daytona International Speedway is looking for 4,000 volunteers over the age of 13 to be in the national spotlight, taking part in the heart-pumping pre-race revelry leading up to “The Great American Race” – the prestigious Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, 2004. The high-energy pre-race, featuring Grammy Award-winning musical entertainment and a world-class, first-of-its-kind pre-race show at Daytona International Speedway, will be televised live on NBC and produced by Q&A Entertainment. To participate in the event and for more information, call 386-947-6792.(DIS PR)(2-4-2004)
- Little E gets a new spotter: Richie Gilmore, the new head of racing operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., said Stevie Reeves will replace Ty Norris as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s spotter. Reeves used to spot for DEI’s #1 team and occasionally has filled in for Norris, who left the organization last week. Spotters serve as an extra set of eyes for drivers, standing at the top of the grandstands with a radio to help drivers avoid trouble on the track.(USA Today)(2-4-2004)
- Smirnoff Ice Back with Kenseth: Smirnoff Ice will sponsor Roush Racing driver Matt Kenseth in six races during the 2004 season:
May 30 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s
July 3 Pepsi 400 at Daytona
July 25 New England 300 at New Hampshire
August 8 Brickyard 400 at Indy
September 5 Pop Secret 500 at California
October 3 EA Sports 500 at Talladega
Smirnoff will also have secondary sponsorship on the DeWALT car for the remaining 2004 races.(Mattkenseth.com), see images of the car and a new DeWalt scheme on the #17 Team Schemes page.(2-4-2004)
- Craven Hosts 7th Annual Snowmobile Charity Ride and raises over quarter of a million for charity: Ricky Craven hosted his 7th Annual Snowmobile Ride for Charity on Saturday, January 31, 2004 in Greenville, Maine. Craven, through the generous support of the riders and businesses involved, raised $253,500 for various charities, the largest amount he has ever raised in one year. Over 575 riders participated in the ride this year (the largest number they have hosted to date), and for a donation of $125, each rider shared in a 60-mile snowmobile ride through the hills of Moosehead Lake, an autograph session with Ricky and owner of PPI Motorsports, Cal Wells, and received breakfast and lunch. Five charities received a sum of $48,500 each: The Marrow Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network, The Make-A-Wish Foundation; The Travis Roy Foundation; and Give Kids the World. Additional donations were made to Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club and to the Greenville school system.(PPI Motorsports PR) see the full PR on my #32 Team News and Links page(2-4-2004)
- NASCAR Hire: In a move to enhance NASCAR’s business leadership within the motorsports industry, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France announced today the appointment of R. Todd Wilson as Chief Financial Officer. Wilson, who will report directly to France, will serve as NASCAR’s highest ranking financial officer. He will oversee all financial issues affecting the sanctioning body and continue to serve as Chief Financial Officer of NASCAR Broadcasting and NASCAR Digital Entertainment. Wilson’s most recent responsibilities include serving as the Assistant Treasurer of NASCAR and Chief Financial Officer of NASCAR Broadcasting, NASCAR Digital Entertainment, and NASCAR Images.(NASCAR PR)(2-4-2004)
- Air Force’s NASCAR connection thunders into Tyndall Air Force Base: Part of the Tyndall Air Force Base tarmac literally became a stock car racing pit road Jan.12 as one of NASCAR’s most dominant race teams roared into “The Home of Air Dominance.” The Wood Brothers’ Racing team, including veteran driver Ricky Rudd, brought their #21 Motorcraft Racing/U.S. Air Force Ford Taurus race car to the base. The 700-horsepower car sported a predominantly blue paint scheme, complete with Air Force logos and aircraft. The team, which the Air Force will partly sponsor for a fourth-consecutive NASCAR season beginning next month, invited base members to take part in a pit stop challenge. Tyndall responded, fielding nine separate teams competing for fastest pit stop honors in front of hundreds of spectators.(Tyndall Air Force Base PR), see full PR on the #21 Team News and Links page and images on the #21 Team Schemes page.(2-4-2004)
- Former NASCAR Driver to be honored: The 33rd Rome-Floyd Hall of Fame Class of 2004 includes a future NFL Hall of Famer, a NASCAR pioneer and the man often known as East Rome’s greatest athlete. When the annual induction banquet is held Thursday, Feb. 12 at the Holiday Inn Skytop, five deserving men will be enshrined. The class includes Ray Donaldson, a six-time NFL Pro Bowl selection; Larry Kinnebrew, who a standout high school track and field athlete and played in the NFL; Nat Hudson who played in the NFL; Henley Gray, who finished fourth in the 1966 NASCAR points race; and Bill Thornton, a meritorious entry known for his contributions to the community. Gray, who was also featured in a Rome News-Tribune article in February 2003, had 374 races [Not the Cup level] on the NASCAR circuit and 55 top 10 finishes. He is also credited with providing cars driven by Ned Jarrett, CooCoo Marlin, the late Dale Earnhardt and Buddy Baker. His fourth place finish in 1966 was one behind 200 race winner Richard Petty. His name is listed in the Stock Car Racing Encyclopedia. “He was the backbone of racing at the time,” said Rome Speedway president Mike Swims. “He’s given a lot to the sport, not only short track racing but NASCAR as well.”(in part from the Rome News-Tribune)(2-4-2004)
- Said in the #10 for more races? UPDATE No: saw this in a few reports about the #33 Mike Skinner/RCR ride and been asked by dozens of readers, so…..”Skinner will also be competing in the Feb. 7 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, driving the #10 Chevrolet, team car to the #01 Chevrolet he won the pole in last year for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond. Boris Said also earned a pole in the #01 last year (Sonoma) and will drive the #10 in a number of races this season so Skinner is using the No. 10 for the pole-winners only event.” I have email off to sources on this, have not heard anything about the regular driver of the #10 Valvoline Chevy, Scott Riggs, skipping any races [road courses for Said], would assume if Said is to run for the team, it would be for a third team to the #01/#10.(2-3-2004)
UPDATE: been informed that Scott Riggs will be in the #10 Valvoline Chevy and Joe Nemechek will be in the #01 US Army Chevy for all 36 races, Said will not be driving in either car.(2-3-2004)
- NASCAR Diversity Internship program: NASCAR, in cooperation with more than 20 organizations within the motorsports industry, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the NASCAR Diversity Internship program this summer. The summer 2004 program will provide up to 33 college students a 10-week, paid summer internship that introduces them to the world of NASCAR, and the various career opportunities available throughout the industry. This year’s interns will begin their experience on June 1 with an orientation session in Charlotte, North Carolina. For the full press release, a website link and info on the program, see my Racing Schools/Jobs/Siminars News and Links page.(NASCAR PR)(2-3-2004)
- NASCAR College Tour News: NASCAR announced program details for the 2004 NASCAR College Tour presented by Coca-Cola. In a joint effort, NASCAR and the Coca-Cola Company visit Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions to build awareness about the motorsports industry and its various career opportunities. Students meet leading industry representatives and learn more about these careers from an insider’s perspective. The NASCAR College Tour presented by Coca-Cola will kick off Monday, February 9, 2004. For the full press release and more info, see my Racing Schools/Jobs/Siminars News and Links page.(NASCAR PR)(2-3-2004)
- NASCAR Preview and Press Guide out: UMI Publications, Inc. announced the immediate availability of The Official NASCAR Preview and Press Guide 2004. Long considered the Racing Fans’ Bible, the Press Guide’s highly anticipated release by racing fans and NASCAR industry leaders alike has over 400 pages of information covering the 2003 season and the inaugural 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. No other preseason NASCAR publication can compare to the contents, accuracy and updated information of the Press Guide. Production of the magazine runs into January to insure the accuracy of information, complete updates of Driver Bios, New Paint Schemes, Complete Statistics of 2003 and Track Reviews. Race teams plan for the Press Guide’s deadline as a benchmark for having everything in place for the upcoming season. With 432 pages of information, including a section covering Every NASCAR Series (which no other publication offers) the Press Guide is the industry leader in its category. With distribution over 500,000, the Press Guide is the #1 selling preseason publication of any sport. You can purchase The Official NASCAR Preview and Press Guide 2004 at all major newsstand outlets or by calling the publisher direct at (800) 747-9287 or ordering online at www.umipub.com. UMI also publishes the official NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Yearbook (given away at the Awards Ceremony in New York), many hardcover Driver Books (Earnhardt, Elliott, Jarrett, among others), Track Books and many other specialty books.(UMI PR)(1-30/2-3-2004)
- Marketers Fuming at New Championship Restrictions: In a move that raises the financial risk for the marketers who sponsor race cars and their drivers, NASCAR is instituting a new scoring system that will more tightly restrict eligibility to win the Nextel Cup Championship. Marketers, who covet the intense media exposure that follows the winner back to Pit Road, are fuming. Some tell AdAge.com they are seriously reassessing their season-long NASCAR sponsorship budgets, which can range from between $15 million and $30 million. “We’ve made a commitment to our team for this year,” said an executive for a marketer that sponsors one of the 42 Nascar drivers. “But if our guy isn’t one of the 10 drivers competing for the championship, then maybe next year we do look at [sponsoring] the first 26 races and then seeing what happens.”(See full story at Ad Age)(2-3-2004)
- Munter Seeking Sponsorship for Late Model, Announces TV Show: Due to the tremendous growth at LesCare Kitchens, they have decided to dedicate all of their resources into manufacturing requiring them to withdraw the planned 2004 sponsorship investment with Leilani Munter in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series. With this recent development, Leilani Munter is seeking sponsorship in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series for the 2004 racing season. In addition to exposure at the racetrack, Leilani has the ability to garner additional brand recognition for sponsors through her work as a special correspondent for NASCAR.com throughout the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. Also, FOX Sports Net South has included Leilani in a list of three up and coming drivers they will follow throughout the 2004 racing season. The 30 minute weekly show “Around the Track” will air Sundays at 10:30pm. Munter will be a guest tomorrow on the Fox Sports South’s NASCAR show “Around the Track” that airs as a part of the Southern Sports Report at 10:00pm.(www.leilanimunter.com)(2-2-2004)
- NHIS Track Owner Injured UPDATE: New Hampshire International Speedway Owner Bob Bahre was seriously injured in a car accident Thursday night when his car went off the road in Maine. According to track spokesman Ron Meade, Bahre suffered a fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle, a concussion, rib injuries and has been in and out of consciousness. “They just got him out of an MRI and they have him stabilized, but as you can imagine all the swelling, it’s pretty serious,” Meade said. A hospital spokesman said Bahre is listed in stable condition but he remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Stevens Memorial Hospital in Maine. Bahre’s family told Meade that Bahre went off the road and crashed into a tree, totaling his Chevy Blazer. Police extracted Bahre from his car. Meade said Bahre lost a lot of blood, but he was probably saved by wearing a seat-belt and the Blazer’s air bag. Bahre, a self-made multimillionaire in his late 70s, is credited with bringing big time auto racing to New England with his racing empire in Loudon. He also owned and operated Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine from 1964 to 1986.(Concord Monitor/AP)(1-31-2004)
UPDATE: Bob Bahre was in intensive care in a Maine hopsital after he was seriously injured in a car accident Thursday when his car went off the road. Bahre, who is in his late 70s, was listed in stable condition Sunday at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Maine, a hospital spokesman said. According to track spokesman Ron Meade, Bahre suffered a fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle, a concussion, rib injuries and has been in and out of consciousness. Bahre was following another vehicle to his home in Paris, Maine, after a day at the speedway when his SUV went off Route 160 in Brownfield at 2 p.m. Thursday and hit a tree. The airbag and seat belt probably saved Bahre from greater injury, Cpl. Tim Ontengco of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department said. Bahre, who said he was fatigued, apparently fell asleep coming off a curve, Ontengco said. “I asked him what happened. He said he was kind of tired and fatigued because he had been at the speedway all day and he was driving back” to his home in Maine, the investigator said. After the crash, the speedometer was stuck at 49 mph, the speed the SUV was traveling, Ontengco said. (Concord Monitor)(2-2-2004)
- Testing at the Rock: North Carolina Speedway says three Nextel Cup teams were scheduled to test at the Rockingham track today. Those expected were #31-Robby Gordon, #9-Kasey Kahne and #10-Scott Riggs. Kevin Harvick was also scheduled to be on hand to test his #21 Busch Series car.(Scene Plus Daily Newsletter)(2-2-2004)
- Gaughan looks to go faster UPDATE Breaks Record: Driving a 2004 Dodge Ram SRT-10 powered by a Dodge Viper engine, Brendan Gaughan [driver of the #77 Kodak Dodge] will attempt to break the record of 147 mph set last August by a Ford SVT F-150 Lightning at the Chelsea Proving Grounds in Michigan. “The speed they told me that we have to do — even I was nervous,” Gaughan, a NASCAR Nextel Cup rookie, said Thursday. “It’s a stock pickup truck, right off the factory line. The record is 149 or something like that and we’re going to beat that … and I’ve been told we’ll beat it very easily.” To qualify for the record and certification by Guinness World Records, the truck must be identical to what a customer can find at a local Dodge dealer. Gaughan’s speed will be measured over a kilometer, and the record speed is derived from an average of his speeds in both directions on the 4.71-mile, high-speed oval.(Las Vegas Sun)(1-31-2004)
UPDATE: The Dodge Ram SRT-10 unleashed its Viper power today, taking its place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the “World’s Fastest Production Pickup Truck.” Only recently off the Saltillo, Mexico, assembly line and not modified in any way for additional power or enhanced aerodynamics, the Dodge Ram SRT-10 posted a two-lap, both-directions average speed of 154.587 mph over a “flying kilometer” on the 4.71-mile oval at the DaimlerChrysler Proving Grounds here in Chelsea. The record run by the Dodge Ram SRT-10 was certified by Guinness World Records and the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The previous record was 147.54 mph, set last July by the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning, before the Dodge Ram SRT-10 went into production. Behind the wheel of the Ram SRT-10 in the record-setting run was Brendan Gaughan, a six-time winner in a Dodge Ram in the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS). Gaughan makes his NASCAR Nextel Cup debut later this month at the Daytona 500 in the #77 Kodak Dodge. With a Guinness World Record now under its belt, the stock Dodge Ram SRT-10 now heads to Florida, where it will pace the field at the Feb. 13 Florida Dodge Dealers 250 NCTS race at Daytona International Speedway.(Clear!Blue, LLC PR), see full PR on my #77 Team News and Links page.(2-2-2004)
- Fittipaldi at Daytona: Christian Fittipaldi will return later this week for the stock car portion of Speed Weeks, even though he doesn’t have a ride lined up for any events at Daytona International Speedway. Fittipaldi said he is under contract with Petty Enterprises Inc., but there is no sponsorship money to do a full race program. “Obviously like a bunch of other people out there, we’re fighting hard to find a sponsor for my program,” Fittipaldi said. “At the moment we have a program to do five or 10 Nextel Cup races.” Sponsorships are in short supply at the Nextel Cup level of racing, where multi-million dollar deals are needed to fund a team. “Hopefully, we can go find the budget to go racing the whole season,” Fittipaldi said. “The economy is hindering a lot of people out there. It’s hard for teams and race car drivers.”(Daytona Beach News Journal)(2-2-2004)
- Wimmer Arrested UPDATE 2: Scott Wimmer, driver for Bill Davis Racing’s Nextel Cup #22 Caterpillar team, was arrested for driving while impaired early Saturday morning when he wrecked a blue, 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck owned by Bill Davis Racing. According to High Point police records, at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning, Wimmer was charged with DWI after officers gave him a Breathalyzer test and found he had a 0.15 blood alcohol content, nearly twice the state legal limit for intoxication, 0.08. Just over one hour later, at about 3:15 a.m., Wimmer’s wife Jody Ambrose, was charged with misdemeanor obstruction and delay, according to High Point police records. High Point police officials would not comment on details of the charges. Messages left at Wimmer’s home were not returned. Contacted at his home Saturday night, Bill Davis, owner of the High Point-based Bill Davis Racing, would not comment on the incident. When asked about how the DWI charge would affect Wimmer’s status on the team, Davis only said, “We really don’t have any comment right now. We are kind of figuring out the facts.” Court dates for Wimmer and Ambrose are both set for March 10.(High Point Enterprise)(2-1-2004)
UPDATE: Bill Davis and Bill Davis Racing are aware of the current allegations against driver Scott Wimmer. Davis has been in contact with NASCAR, Caterpillar, and all of the current sponsors and will remain in constant communication until all of the facts have been established. Until all of the facts have been revealed, Davis is not in a position to comment on the specifics of the allegations. Davis and Wimmer will continue to work with NASCAR, Caterpillar and other sponsors until there is resolution.(BDR PR)(2-2-2004)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR officials are looking into Nextel Cup driver Scott Wimmer’s arrest for driving while impaired to determine his status for the Daytona 500. Wimmer, who drives for Bill Davis Racing, was arrested at about 2 a.m. Saturday after he wrecked a 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck owned by the team. High Point, N.C., police records stated that a Breathalyzer test recorded Wimmer’s blood alcohol content at 0.15 percent, nearly twice the North Carolina legal limit. Drivers are considered intoxicated in North Carolina if their blood-alcohol content is more than 0.08 percent.(Roanoke Times) AND Wimmer had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit, High Point police spokesman Lt. Keith Washington said Monday. Wimmer’s pickup hit a large rock, flipped over, then hit a road sign, the spokesman said. Wimmer was also charged Saturday with hit and run after the pickup registered to the High Point-based Bill Davis Racing team was found overturned with three tires missing about a mile away from his home, Washington said. When officers arrived at the scene, Wimmer wasn’t there. He was found hiding behind a bed at his home, according to the police report.(Yahoo/AP)(2-2-2004)
- BAM and Pizza? UPDATE 3 Officilal Sponsor: heard from a source very close to the situation Red Baron Pizza has reached an agreement to sponsor BAM and Ken Schrader in the #49 car starting in 2004. Red Baron Pizza sponsored Schrader in the past and has been involved in NASCAR before.(1-15-2004)
UPDATE: from a Ken Schrader fan club emailing……: “As far as what is going on with Kenny and BAM Racing….No, Red Baron is not going to be the sponsor. I really wish I could say more, but with all the rumors that were incorrectly generated past few weeks I can’t say much. Yes, they have a full-time sponsor (it is a good one), Ken will be the driver and BAM will compete in the complete NEXTEL Cup season…Other than that…stay tuned…they will be making the announcement sometime around February 3, 2004.
being told it will not be Red Baron Pizza specifically but it’s parent company Schwans who could be the sponsor.(1-28-2004)
UPDATE 2: from a new part of the Schwan’s site: A company that grew from “one man and one truck” into an American food-industry powerhouse will join forces with NASCAR’s fastest-growing Cup team beginning with the 2004 season. Announcing a multi-year agreement, Schwan’s Home Service – a unit of The Schwan Food Company — will sponsor BAM Racing’s #49 Dodge and veteran driver Ken Schrader in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. See more at www.schwansracing.com, including an image of the car.(getting this link from a ton of folks, seems (1-30-2004)
UPDATE 3: A company that grew from “one man and one truck” into an American food-industry powerhouse will join forces with NASCAR’s fastest-growing Cup team beginning with the 2004 season.Announcing a multi-year agreement, Schwan’s Home Service – a unit of The Schwan Food Company — will sponsor BAM Racing’s #49 Dodge and veteran driver Ken Schrader in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The announcement was made today by Beth Ann Morgenthau, owner of BAM Racing, and M. Lenny Pippin, president and CEO of The Schwan Food Company. “We are very excited to have one of the best-known names in the food industry join us as we work towards our first pole, our first race victory and our first championship as a team,” Ms. Morgenthau said in making the announcement. “Schwan is a well-known and highly respected name in the American and European food industry, and we’re extremely pleased to be partnering with them. The fact that The Schwan Food Company grew from a small dairy home-delivery business in 1952 to what it is today is not lost on us,” she continued. “Their faith in a race team that began small and is building into what we feel will become a powerhouse within NASCAR means a great deal to us. We are excited about the marketing possibilities for Schwan, as well as the competitive possibilities for BAM Racing. The Schwan Food Company is pleased to join forces with BAM Racing and Ken Schrader,” added Pippin. “We are excited to be associated again with NASCAR and Mr. Schrader, who drove Schwan’s #90 Red Baron Thunderbird in the late 1980s. We are seeing a groundswell of excitement about this partnership among Schwan’s Home Service’s millions of customer families across the United States who believe that Schwan and BAM have the potential to be a major force in the Nextel Cup Series.”
“Racing the Schwan’s Home Service car is literally a dream that is coming true,” said driver Ken Schrader. “It’s been about 15 years since I raced for Red Baron Pizza, but our friendship has remained strong and we always hoped to work with Schwan’s again. This is a great opportunity for all of us, and it adds another chapter to a great sponsor-driver relationship.” Visit www.schwansracing.com to follow the Schwan’s Home Service 49 Dodge throughout the 2004 Nextel Cup Series.(Williams Company PR)(2-2-2004)
- Spencer won’t be penalized by NASCAR: The national motorsports manager for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., defended the company Thursday in the wake of inflammatory comments made against it by veteran NASCAR driver Jimmy Spencer the day before. “The investment of Toyota in plants and associated businesses in this country is in the billions of dollars,” Les Unger said from Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida, where testing for several NASCAR series is taking place this week. “We think we’re great corporate citizens as far as this country is concerned.” When Spencer, 46, was asked at Texas Motor Speedway what he thought about Toyota, a Japan-based firm, competing in this year’s Craftsman Truck Series schedule, he brought up the bombing of Pearl Harbor as part of a rambling response on the development. Spencer, well-known on the NASCAR circuit for his opinionated, biting sound bites and sometimes off-color humor, later attempted to clarify his statement, stressing he was referring to how international business relationships have evolved in the years since World War II. “If Toyota didn’t do that (add new racing teams), the truck series would’ve been a dying breed,” said Spencer, who drove a Dodge truck to one series victory last year. “Toyota’s going to be good.”(San Antonio Press)
AND NASCAR will not penalize driver Jimmy Spencer for a remark about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor or his hope that Toyota’s venture into truck racing will be a failure. “That’s Jimmy Spencer,” NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Sunday when asked about comments the outspoken driver made last week about Toyota’s entry into Craftsman Truck competition. Although Hunter said Spencer is not in any trouble with the sanctioning body, he emphasized that NASCAR does not share the driver’s opinion.(CNNSI/AP)
see more about Spencer’s comments at: the Washington Post or/and San Antonia Press: [Jimmy] Spencer slams Toyota entry(2-2-2004)
- RadioShack to sponsor a team? #77? #1? UPDATE 4 ?? RadioShack will shortly announce a NASCAR team deal that will see it serve as primary sponsor on a car for a handful of races, today’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The story does not say which NASCAR series the sponsorship is scheduled for.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter), RadioShack has been linked in the past the the Hall of Fame Racing team [Aikman and Staubach as owners](1-22-2004)
UPDATE: two sources hear it’ll be the #77 Dodge, another says it will be the #1 DEI Chevy in a few selects races.(1-24-2004)
UPDATE 2: and yet another source tells me it is the #4 Morgan McClure Chevy team who RadioShack will sponsor.(1-27-2004)
UPDATE 3: now hearing that RadioShack will NOT sponsor any Cup teams in 2004?(1-29-2004)
UPDATE 4: not sure what is happening with this rumor, seems a bit ‘out of control’, but have been told, RadioShack [Shaq?] will NOT be the sponsor for the #4 Morgan McClure team, HOWEVER, they could sponsor the #77 Dodge in the Budweiser Shootout and put either Steve Park or Jeff Green in the car. Both won poles in 2003, but are not otherwise entered in the race.(1-30-2004)
AND being told by sources that this deal will go to the #77 with Radio Shack as an associate sponsor.(2-2-2004)
- No #74 at Daytona? sources tell me that unless the #74 BACE Motorsports team gets sponsorship the team and driver Tony Raines may not go to Daytona and run Speedweeks.(2-2-2004)
- Skinner back with RCR at Daytona [UPDATE]: Mike Skinner will return to Richard Childress Racing, at least for the Daytona 500. Skinner, who won the 1995 Craftsman Truck title for Childress, is racing full time in the No. 42 Toyota truck, but he will drive the #33 Cup car for RCR at Daytona with Bobby Leslie as crew chief. RCR’s #2 AC Delcxo [Ron Hornaday] Busch team will pit Skinner’s Cup car at Daytona. RCR pit crew coordinator David Smith says the snowstorm that hit the Carolinas last week hampered the crews’ practice. “We’re still digging out the stalls so we can practice,” Smith says. Smith swapped the #s 2 and 21 Busch pit crews in the offseason.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News), see past news on the RCR #33 team on my #33 RCR Team News and Links page.(2-2-2004)
- New Additions to the #8: The #8 Bud crew will feature two new faces in 2004, both from inside the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. family. Shannon Myers, formerly of the No. 1 DEI team, will be the rear-tire changer, and Craig Lund, a part-time Bud crew member last year, will take over catch-can duties. Bill Snyder will handle the gas can and work alongside Phil Drye (front-tire changer), Danny Earnhardt (front-tire carrier), Kevin Pennell (jack man), Troy Prince (rear-tire carrier) and Barry Hoover (windshield/driver comfort). The Bud crew, which won the 2003 McDonald’s Pit Crew Drive-Thru Award, are led by crew chief Tony Eury and car chief Tony Eury Jr.(fingerprint inc PR), no word on who will be Dale Jr’s spotter at Ty Norris, who left DEI last week, was the spotter. Any team wishing to announce their crew or have updates for the 2004 Pit Crew Chart, feel free to email me.(2-2-2004)
- Glowing Track? The glow tracing the track under many of the cars during Las Vegas testing was a ride height laser, which gauges the vertical movement around the car and the angle on the track. The system, which costs about $20,000, provides data that allows the engineers to determine how to adjust shocks and springs and make the best use of a car’s aerodynamics.(Yahoo Sports/Sporting News)(2-2-2004)
AND A ride height laser puts out a beam of red light, just like a laser pointer. A team typically has 4 of these on the car, one at each corner. It is impossible to see these when the car is at speed on the track. More likely, what is being seen is a slip angle sensor. This makes a bright light under the car, as if a flashlight is being ponted down from the car. There are usually 2 of these (but sometimes only one) per vehicle. These sensors tell the team engineer how much the car is in yaw, or how much the front end is sliding in relation to the rear end.(2-2-2004)
- Congrats to the Wood’s: Jordan Wood, 17, daughter of Eddie and Carol Wood of Stuart, was chosen as Miss Martinsville-Henry County 2004 at the scholarship pageant Saturday. The Patrick County High School student will represent the area at the Miss Virginia event. Last year’s Miss Martinsville-Henry County, Nancy Amanda Redd, left, who is also the reigning Miss Virginia, crowned Wood. Runners-up were: First runner-up Laura Linda Stokes, 18, daughter of James and Linda Stokes; second runner-up Kristen Muscatello, 18, daughter of Meredith and Cheryl Muscatello, and third runner-up Andrekka Lanier, 23, daughter of Larry and Alvenis Daye of Chatham. The Miss Martinsville-Henry County Scholarship Pageant was celebrating its 50th anniversary.(Martinsville Bulletin)(2-1-2004)
- Unser Jr had a sponsor for a NASCAR ride? Al Unser Jr. is unemployed right now, without a sponsor for the 2004 season, which is a little more than six weeks away. Unser was set for a ride in NASCAR. A sponsor and team were lined up. But the sponsor had to withdraw when it suffered a serious financial setback, and Unser had to go fishing again. ”I’ll be back in the IRL,” he says of the Indy Racing League. ”The IRL is where I want to drive.”(in part from the Albuquerque Journal – need sub to read)(2-1-2004)
- Rolex 24 At Daytona keep up with the race info/news/results at:
Daytona Beach News Journal
why do I post this? cause many NASCAR drivers will be driving in the race, including:
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Petty, Robby Gordon, Christian Fittipaldi, Boris Said, Paul Menard, Scott Pruett and some former NASCAR drivers like David Donohue, Butch Leitzinger, Mike Borkowski, David Murry, Anthony Lazzaro,
Race Info: A broken suspension piece cost NASCAR stars Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and road racing ace Andy Wallace a victory in the Rolex 24 sports cars endurance race, an event they appeared to have won until the final hour. Instead of the two Nextel Cup drivers and four-time 24-hours champion Wallace celebrating in the familiar Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway, it was Andy Pilgrim, Terry Borcheller, Christian Fittipaldi and Forest Barber spraying the champagne Sunday afternoon. Stewart was at the wheel of the Chevrolet-powered Crawford when the left rear tire pulled off the rim and sent the 2002 Winston Cup champion spinning to a stop on the backstretch, just missing the concrete wall.(ThatsRacin.com/AP)