June 2004 News Archives
June 30, 2004
- #77 Crew Chief Fined: Shane Wilson, crew chief for the #77 Dodge driven by Brendan Gaughan, has been fined $10,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. He was found in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-Q (unapproved fuel cell container modification).(NASCAR PR)(6-30-2004)
- Some Selected Tidbits from Brian France’s press conference at Daytona International Speedway on Tuesday:
On the Tony Stewart/Brian Vickers incident:
Q. I am curious as to your thoughts on the latest Tony Stewart incident, is this a big deal in your mind?
BRIAN FRANCE: It is a big deal. We’re going to see how big it is here shortly. But his behavior at Sears Point is unacceptable. We will be dealing with that shortly. Tony has to work within the same rule structure and behavioral expectations that we have for all of our drivers. And one way or the other, we will figure that out.
Q. I was just wondering, you said on Tony that we’d know something soon. Can you be a little more clear on the timetable, is it going to be today or tomorrow?
BRIAN FRANCE: It will be before the Pepsi 400, that’s for sure. Look, we’ll do it as fast as we can. We are still reviewing a few details to make sure we understand exactly what occurred and then we’ll be reacting as soon as we get that completed.
Q. Because a normal reaction to some-thing like this would be a fine, probation, points deduction, things like that. Because this is something of a continuing pattern, I guess, is it at least being discussed of doing something even more harsh than that?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, Tony is not on probation now. And he is like any other driver and we are going to look at the circumstances open mindedly. But we are on record, and I’ll say it today, that his behavior at Sears Point is not acceptable. And so just how severe the punishment need to be to make a point that we are not going to accept that, and punish somebody for what they did, that’s something we are going to have to work through.
Q. I want getting back to Tony Stewart, have you or will you talk to Tony Stewart about his latest incident, and with regards to that, you said there’s something that would come out shortly. Is this going to be your decision or something you’re signing off with that Mike Helton’s decided to do?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, I’ll sign off on anything that is substantial. Mike will, as he always does, make his recommendations and we’ll do that as a group. We have talked to Tony and I’m sure we’ll talk again with Tony. That’s where we are.
Green-White-Checker in Cup:
Q. There’s been talk about green-white-checker, and Rusty Wallace thinks it might not work, but where is NASCAR looking at races finishing under green and are we going to see a change on that in the near future?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, we are studying that whole idea of how we might give ourselves more opportunities to finish under a green flag scenario, which is what we want. If we find the right system, I know we have one that works in the Truck Series, but remember those are shorter races. And we are having to factor in a number of other things of where the NEXTEL Cup Series races on, how many tracks, and really, most important thing is how long the events are. But if we can figure out a better approach, I hope everybody knows us or knows me by now, that we will implement it if we can and we are looking at it closely.
Q. How big of a fight is it to,‘ I have a suspicion that you would pull the trigger tomorrow on a green-white checker finish or something close to it, I know you’re not going to fill us in on the internal struggles that might go on in the front office among those that are for it or against it, but how does that process play out? I mean, do you guys go through a lot of scenarios of what could happen, what could go right, what could go wrong, but I assume at the end it’s a matter of dragging some folks along with you who are against it; is that a fair assessment?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, we have a lot of smart people who have good views, and they don’t always agree with me and I don’t always agree with them. But we have always in NASCAR, we want to hear the opposing views, because you never know when somebody might make the right point. We are going through that process now as we are with three or four, we always seem to have three or four things that we are looking at for next year, for this year. We are looking at our rules package, which we are going to have out three months earlier than we have ever had with more input than we have ever had, with our team owners and drivers. So, listen, NASCAR is an industry that you have to reach out and get all of the ideas. And if we can find one, as you know, we will make a decision if it promotes better racing or safety or anything that we think improves the industry.
Q. Do you find kind of a humorous, for lack of a better word, excuse or complaint among some of the drivers to be against the guaranteed green-flag finish? Their argument seems to be, hey, we can’t be trusted with a shootout like that.
BRIAN FRANCE: We know at 53 years of managing the sport, we know what the drivers are up against in terms of finishing under green or not finishing under green. Most of them have said recently that they would support some version of it, and we are going to look at and listen, we want to finish the races under green. That’s what we are all about. There are all kind of elements we have to factor in, and if we can manage through those elements and figure out the right package for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, a fiveâ€‘mile race is not as simple as one might think, and we want to be very thoughtful of going through the process. And if we can find a better solution, you’ve heard me say this on a variety of topics, we are going to be open-minded to change. We’ve got to find the right solution.
Hard Liquor – not allowed:
Q. Going back to, can you figure out why beer and wine sponsors are acceptable and yet hard liquor isn’t? Do the fans recognize the difference?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, they may or may not. What’s at issue here is a long-standing rule going back into the ’70s of a cooperation that the network television partners would have when it comes to hard liquor and spirits, and you know, a lot of our events, 80 percent of them, are on network television. That’s a different challenge than other motorsports series have or other people might have. So, we have to understand that we’ve got to be in step, and that’s not to say that our television partners are for or against allowing spirits. That’s one thing that we’ve got to understand as we go along. Another is the hard liquor and cars have another element that you have to consider. And timing of such a thing, we’re all going through now, the incident at the Super Bowl and other incidents where there’s a real crackdown of what’s, you know, broadcast on national television, how it’s treated, how it’s presented. There’s a lot we have to consider before we just throw out a 30-‘year policy. And that’s what we did consider. We looked at all of the circumstances that we thought Roush could provide. They did a nice job of laying out some things in the end. We think the timing is just not right now, and we’re going to leave it at that and we’ll review it down the road.
Q. And you’re talking about the hard liquor situation relating to the television partners and some of the regulations there, how is that different from what you guys had to go through with the cigarette advertising? I know it wasn’t too long ago that Jimmy Spencer had a car sponsored by Winston, how is that different from the hard liquor?
BRIAN FRANCE: Well, one of it was that we had tobacco starting in the early 70s before all of the restrictions and all of the things that eventually impacted the industry, the way it did in the 90s. They were already a partner of ours, unlike the spirits, where we have a policy where they are not in the sport. So that’s the most important thing. And then you had all of that loyalty built up in a time when they didn’t have any restrictions and they were just a normal company doing business to where that changed in the midst of them being a partner within the sport. So we had to look at that differently and we’d look at cigarettes coming into the sport out of the blue today differently. You have to look at all of the circumstances, but RJR was a great partner for a long time and you just can’t dismiss that when restrictions swirl back and forth.
Scoring back to the last green flag lap:
Q. How much consideration is being given to scoring by the last completed green flag lap?
BRIAN FRANCE: We like what we have now in terms of, we know we are much more accurate going back to the last available loop. It’s completely accurate, it’s more current and if we should go back a full lap, and we’ve recently simplified that procedure, but to capture that , easy to understand, is one of our challenging when we tried to have a system where we used all available means to be even more current. But we are plenty current and plenty accurate enough and very simple with the current system we have, and you’ve seen that in the last two weeks and I think you’ll see it continue to be simpler to understand and more accurate.
Car of the future:
Q. I just wanted to ask you a little bit about the Car of the Future thing, how that’s progressing and do you see that probably coming to fruition by 2006 or maybe even before the end of next season? And where does all of that stand, is that a very important project for you and obviously it’s a major change for the sport.
BRIAN FRANCE: Yes, it is. Mike Helton feels strongly about it, as does Gary Nelson and everybody who is working on it and they are doing good work. They are on schedule, and one of the challenges they have, this will be a project where we have reached out like never before to the industry, they have their input, their ideas, because we are all going to be living in this car for a long time. So there’s a lot of work being done now to sit down with every crew chief, team owner, some drivers, and that’s ongoing. We are hoping to get that car on the racetrack sometime next year, and then we are going to be announcing a phase-‘in system, as we’ve obviously got a lot of equipment that we’ve got to deal with that needs to be cycled out. So those are all timelines we are working on but the project is going great.
Q. So the only thing that’s confusing me is if you brought it in in the middle of a season, basically everybody would have to switch cars in the middle of the season. That seems difficult at best. Is that really the plan, to do it that way, rather than try to do it at Daytona because it’s such an aerodynamic track?
BRIAN FRANCE: We never said we were just going to drop it in in the middle of a season. You’re right, we will have to be very intelligent about that. Although, you know, there are some tracks like Talladega being one and others; Atlanta is a very fast track where people are building certain cars for certain tracks maybe. But listen, those are all coming as we finalize the time line. You’re right, we never just introduce it in the middle of a season and hope for the best. It would be a coordinated effort as we do unveil that car.
See the full transript/Q&A, with MUCH more at NASCAR.com.(6-30-2004)
- New Assoc for Yates? UPDATE 3: hearing that Citibank (Citi Financial Group) has signed on as an associate sponsor for the #88 UPS / RYR Ford with driver Dale Jarrett, supposedly will be officially announced at Daytona next week.(6-23-2004)
UPDATE: also hear the #38 will pick up associate sponsorship from Citibank.(6-27-2004)
UPDATE 2 – RYR to try a Busch team again: Robert Yates Racing will add a Busch team to its stable for 2005. Yates will run Elliott Sadler, Dale Jarrett and a younger driver in the car. “Our drivers are interested in the companion knowledge that could be gained by running in the Busch races,” Robert Yates says. Although a sponsor has not been announced, Citibank, which recently signed on as an associate sponsor on the #38 (Sadler) and #88 (Jarrett) Nextel Cup cars, could be a possibility.(FoxSports/SportingNews)(6-28-2004)
UPDATE 3: Robert Yates, owner of Robert Yates Racing (RYR), announced a new partnership with CitiFinancial. Effective immediately, CitiFinancial is an associate sponsor of Robert Yates Racing, the #88 UPS race car driven by Dale Jarrett, and the #38 M&M’S race car driven by Elliott Sadler. CitiFinancial will be the exclusive financial service company for Robert Yates Racing. The partnership with Robert Yates Racing is CitiFinancial’s first foray into NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Racing. As part of the organization’s new association with Robert Yates Racing, CitiFinancial decals will be part of the #88 and #38 paint schemes for the rest of the 2004 NASCAR season, beginning with this weekend’s NEXTEL Cup event at Daytona International Speedway. CitiFinancial, a member of Citigroup, the world’s largest financial services company, is the leading community-based lender in North America, serving more than 8 million customers through more than 2100 offices in 48 states and Canada. Additional information may be found at www.citifinancial.com.(6-30-2004)
- Larry Mac’s son wins at LMS: There were fireworks on and off the track Tuesday night during round three of the 10-week Hardee’s Summer Shootout at Lowe’s Motor Speedway as Brandon McReynolds and Donald Bond were the big winners. McReynolds, the 13-year-old son of former NASCAR crew chief and FOX television analyst Larry McReynolds, added his name to the list of feature winners in the Cabarrus Family Medicine Bandolero Young Guns division while Bond drove his GMC Syclone to victory in the One-on-One Spectator Races.
Thomas Van Wingerden of Huntersville, N.C., nudged pole-sitter Kyle Grissom [Steve’s Son] up the track and out of the lead on the way to his first feature victory of the season in the Tom Johnson Camping Center Legends Car Pro division. Van Wingerden kept his cool following a seven-car crash on lap 16 that collected point leader and defending champion Michael Van Wingerden. Grissom settled for a second-place finish followed by Cliff Daniels.
Defending Quaker Steak & Lube Thunder Roadster champion Ryan Zeck of Harrisburg, N.C., needed only eight laps to go from worst to first en route to grabbing his first victory of the season. Despite starting at the rear of the 20-car field, Zeck traded paint with point leader Michael Van Wingerden, capitalized on several early caution flags and sliced his way to the front. Andrew Rogers and John Freeman rounded out the top three.
Charlotte’s Andrew Rogers captured his first feature victory in the Raceape.com Legends Car Semi-Pro division.
Point leader Clay Hair went to the outside of the front row for a lap-13 restart and that decision proved to be the move of the night as he quickly grabbed the lead and won his second consecutive feature in the Holiday Inn University Legends Car Masters division for drivers ages 40 and over. Hair pulled away to win by 10-car lengths with John Sossoman and Tom Van Wingerden following him across the stripe.
Kyle Fowler of Smyrna, Ga., won the TopChoice for Fire Ants Bandolero Bandits division feature in his first Hardee’s Summer Shootout appearance.
Lexington, N.C., resident Bruce Benson II notched his second consecutive feature victory in the 20-lap run for the Premise Termite Elimination Bandolero Outlaws [the series Jayski will run a few races in]. Benson took the lead on lap two and never looked back as he beat Jason Hayes and Artie Clever to the stripe in the division for drivers ages 16 and over.
The Hardee’s Summer Shootout at Lowe’s Motor Speedway continues on Tuesday night, July 6. Gates open at 5 p.m. with feature racing starting at 7:30. Call 1-800-455-FANS for ticket information or visit www.lowesmotorspeedway.com. Anyone interested i getting involved and racing in the Shootout, see 600racing.com.(6-30-2004)
June 29, 2004
- Speed Channel added to XM Satellite NASCAR Radio: XM Satellite Radio announced that NASCAR Radio (XM Channel 144) is adding programming from the popular cable network SPEED Channel to its premier schedule of live NASCAR races, exclusive interviews, and call-in shows. NASCAR Radio, one of the most-listened-to channels on XM, now carries 11 programs produced by SPEED Channel, one of the nation’s fastest-growing sports cable networks. The SPEED programming on NASCAR Radio includes NASCAR This Morning, Totally NASCAR, Pit Bull, NASCAR Victory Lane, NBS 24/7, Inside Nextel Cup, Trackside, NASCAR Edition Speed News, NASCAR Fast Forward, and Men Behind the Wrenches. As part of this new partnership, XM will be the presenting sponsor of the highly-rated SPEED program Pit Bull, which can be seen on SPEED and heard on XM every Saturday preceding a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at 6:30pm/et.
The SPEED Channel programs join NASCAR Radio’s stellar line-up, which includes exclusive XM shows such as Dialed In, the enormously popular call-in program hosted by Charlotte-based reporter Claire B. Lang. Dialed In receives tens of thousands of calls each month as fans heat up the phone lines to talk about the latest NASCAR happenings. NASCAR Radio also carries every live race broadcast from Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Performance Racing Network (PRN), every NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying session and race, every NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, and series and specials that you can only hear on XM. NASCAR Radio, available exclusively on XM, is the first and only 24-hour radio channel dedicated to a single sport. For more information about XM, visit (SPEED Channel)(6-29-2004)
- Wyoming Attorney Cleared In Earnhardt Seat Belt Case: The Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled that a lawyer hired to sue NASCAR for blaming a seat belt for Dale Earnhardt’s death did not commit an ethics violation. The justices did not find evidence that Robert Horn had violated a Wyoming State Bar rule against representing different clients in the same or related cases if they have competing interests. The high court also affirmed that Simpson Performance Products (SPP) of Charlotte owes Horn about $20,000 in legal fees. SPP made the seat belt Earnhardt was wearing when he died in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500. NASCAR officials blamed Earnhardt’s death in part on seat belt failure. SPP then hired Horn to look into suing NASCAR. The company did not file suit, but company founder Bill Simpson sued in 2002, after he left the company. Horn represented Simpson and the company.(WRAL.com/AP)(6-29-2004)
- Road Race Laps Led – Gordon now fifth all-time: Jeff Gordon led 92 laps Sunday in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 [a new track record]. In doing so he became only the fifth driver to lead more than 500 road-course laps in his career. Gordon has now led 521 laps on road courses and trails only Cale Yarborough (609), Dan Gurney (696), Richard Petty (885) and Bobby Allison (1,025) in that category.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(6-29-2004)
- Biffle going for Back-to-back: Roush Racing’s Greg Biffle will be shooting for his second straight Pepsi 400 victory at Daytona International Speedway. Only four drivers — Glenn “Fireball” Roberts (1962-1963), A.J. Foyt (1964-1965), Cale Yarborough (1967-1968) and David Pearson (1972-1974) – have been able to capture back-to-back victories in the mid-summer classic.(DIS PR)(6-29-2004)
- Daytona double: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will try to pull off the Daytona double and win the Daytona 500 and the Pepsi 400 in the same year. It won’t be an easy feat for Earnhardt Jr. as only Bobby Allison (1982), LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969), Cale Yarborough (1968) and Fireball Roberts (1962) have been able to win the Daytona 500 and the Pepsi 400 in the same year. In February, Earnhardt Jr. held off Tony Stewart and Scott Wimmer to capture his first triumph in the “Great American Race.” Also in Speedweeks 2004, Earnhardt Jr. captured the Hershey’s 300 NASCAR Busch Series race, a Gatorade 125-mile qualifier and finished second in the Budweiser Shootout.(DIS PR)(6-29-2004)
- 20th Anniversary Of Petty’s 200th: During pre-race ceremonies for the Pepsi 400, the 20th anniversary of Richard Petty’s 200th NASCAR victory will be celebrated with Petty taking the checkered flag in his famous #43 Pontiac. Petty, NASCAR’s all-time wins leader, will also receive several special gifts and awards as Daytona International Speedway recreates a landmark moment in the history of NASCAR. Petty, driving his famous #43 STP Pontiac, captured his 200th and final NASCAR victory in the 1984 Pepsi Firecracker 400, all with the late President Ronald Reagan in attendance. Petty nipped Cale Yarborough at the start/finish line to take the white flag and the yellow flag to secure the milestone victory.(DIS PR)(6-29-2004)
- Raines in the #23 at Daytona UPDATE: Tony Raines will drive a second [#23] car for Bill Davis Racing at Daytona next weekend. Dave Blaney had driven the car until leaving to join Richard Childress Racing full time.(Roanoke Times)(6-26-2004)
AND Raines will supposedly also run at Indy in the Brickyard 400 for Davis in the #23 Dodge.(6-29-2004)
- Big names in Racing movie UPDATE: Heard earlier this week that while in California Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty and Humpy Wheeler recorded their parts for the new Pixar movie that comes out in the Fall of 2005. The title is called “Cars”. No word on the plot line but all characters are cars and naturally it is based around racing. Pixar has produced blockbuster after blockbuster animated movies starting with “Toy Story” and most recently “Finding Nemo”.(6-27-2004)
UPDATE: the movie is about a collection of classic automobiles set out for adventure on Route 66. Also, voices include: Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, John Ratzenberger, Larry The Cable Guy and Owen Wilson.(6-29-2004)
- McClure tunes up for Nextel Cup with LPR win: Eric McClure tuned up for his attempt to qualify for his second career NASCAR Nextel Cup race by taking a first and second in the Late Model division twin 50-lap races Saturday at Lonesome Pine Raceway. The LPR appearance was the first for McClure in four weeks. After finishing 26th in his Nextel Cup debut in the April running of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega, McClure hopes to make the field for Saturday’s running of the Pepsi 400 at Daytona.(Coalfield.com)(6-29-2004)
- Harvick and KISS at RIR: #29-Kevin Harvick in Cup, #6-Matt Crafton in Trucks and #2-Ron Hornaday in the Busch Series will run paint schemes adorning the rock group [and Jayski fave – 24 CD’s] KISS. These special paints are scheduled to be run at the Chevy Rock and Roll weekend at Richmond in September. See an image of the #29 on my #29 Team Paint Schemes page.(6-11-2004)
UPDATE: Rock and Roll all Night….party every day…. NASCAR Busch Series driver Ron Hornaday, fresh off his win this past weekend in Milwaukee, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Matt Crafton, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the rock group KISS, Executives from Chevrolet, Warner Music Group, Action Performance Companies, Inc., and Richmond International Raceway will hold a press conference on Tuesdaym June 29th as KISS will be featured on Hornaday’s #2 AC Delco, Crafton’s #6 Chevy truck and Kevin Harvick’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series #29 GM Goodwrench Chevy during the September 9-11 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 weekend at Richmond International Raceway. For the second straight year, the Chevy Rock & Roll weekend will feature concerts and special paint schemes featuring some of the most popular musical artists around. The concert lineup for race weekend and participation from other bands will be announced in the near future.(RIR PR)(6-29-2004)
- Stewart goes after Vickers UPDATE: #20-Tony Stewart again finds himself in the middle of controversy, this time involved in an alleged physical confrontation with rookie #25-Brian Vickers. Following Sunday’s Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, Stewart brought his #20 Chevrolet to a rest on pit road, exited his car and hurried quickly to Vicker’s car. Witnesses said the two engaged in what appeared to be an amicable conversation at first, with Stewart leaning over the driver’s-side window of Vicker’s car. After a few moments, Stewart became quite animated, began reaching into the car and tried to pull Vickers out, witnesses said. Members of Vicker’s team quickly grabbed Stewart and hustled him away from the car. Stewart and Vickers both made a trip to the NASCAR hauler after the race. Late Sunday, NASCAR President Mike Helton said the sanctioning body was still gathering information about the incident. Vickers, who remained at the track well after Sunday’s race while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon celebrated the win, said he had no idea why Stewart was upset. “He hit me earlier in the race and then he wrecked us in Turn 11 and that’s why we spun there. Then after the race he came over to the car and then it just went from there. “I was still strapped in the car with my helmet off. He came after me in the car. He reached for me and knocked the breath out of me. It was not a fist and he didn’t hit me in the face.” Vickers said he laughed when Stewart yelled at him because he had no idea why Stewart was so angry. “He said that I laughed about the situation and when I laughed I pissed him off and that’s why he did it. I’m not going to lie to him and say that I didn’t smile about it,” Vickers said. “Somebody is upset at me because they wrecked me and I thought it was funny.”(ThatsRacin.com)(6-28-2004)
AND from a Raybestos ROTY report/PR: BRIAN VICKERS, #22 GMAC CHEVROLET:
NOTES: Vickers finished 22nd and took Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the fourth time this season.
WHAT WAS TONY STEWART SO UPSET ABOUT?
“To be honest with you, I have no idea why he is upset. He hit me earlier in the race and then he wrecked us in turn 11 and that’s why we spun there. Then after the race he came over to the car and then it just went from there.”
YOU WERE STILL SITTING IN THE CAR?
“I was still strapped in the car with my helmet off.”
WAS HE YELLING AT YOU?
“At first it was a discussion about why he hit me and I thought it was kind of funny. I was trying to figure out why he was coming to me, mad at me, when he hit me. I was a little confused there and I thought it was kind of funny and that’s when he came in the car after me.”
WHAT DID NASCAR SAY ABOUT ALL THAT?
“You’ll have to ask them for that. That’s a question that you will have to ask NASCAR.”
WHAT PREVENTED IT FROM GETTING OUT OF HAND?
“My team grabbed him off and pulled him off of me. He came after me in the car. He reached for me and knocked the breath out of me. Here’s the deal: it was not a fist and he did not hit me in the face. He hit the armrest and he reached in the car and he grabbed me in the chest and when he did he hit me. It was kind of open-palm, grabbed my shirt. It was hard enough to knock the breath out of me and then he tried to pull me out of the car and that’s when my guys grabbed me.”
DID STEWART APOLOGIZE WHEN YOU GUYS MET WITH NASCAR AFTER THE RACE?
“He said that I laughed about the situation and when I laughed it pissed him off and that’s why he did it. I said ‘Yeah, I did laugh. I thought it was funny that you were mad at me because you wrecked me.’ I thought it was funny. I’m not going to lie to him and say that I didn’t smile about it. That’s how I was raised. This is not a situation that I’m going to make a big deal out of. Somebody is upset at me because they wrecked me and I thought it was funny. He was always behind me. I never passed him, I was never behind him.”
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A PROBLEM WITH TONY BEFORE TODAY?
“No, actually Tony I get along. Well, we used to [laughs]. We used to get along fine, actually, I guess as well as can be.”
ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THAT THINGS WILL SORT THEMSELVES OUT?
“I’m sure NASCAR will do the right thing. I’m sure they will handle the situation. They’ll take care of it. If this happened at a restaurant, it would be my problem to handle. This happened at their racetrack and they’re running the deal. It’s their problem to handle and I’m sure they’ll do the right thing. Right now, I’m looking forward to next weekend. What happens down the road happens. Am I happy with the guy right now? No, not really but I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. That’s NASCAR’s job to penalize people for things like that, not mine. Whatever NASCAR decides is their decision and I’ support them in whatever they do.”(Camp and Assoc.)
AND II After his visit to the NASCAR hauler Sunday, Stewart left without comment. But he and Vickers did speak afterward.(see another story at NASCAR.com)(6-28-2004)
UPDATE: Tony Stewart could get word today or Wednesday from NASCAR officials about his run-in with rookie Brian Vickers after Sunday’s Dodge/Save Mart 350.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-29-2004)
June 28, 2004
- Sonoma TV Ratings Match 2003: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Dodge/Save Mart 350 from Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., drew a 4.8 overnight rating and a 10 share from Nielsen Media Research, today’s Sports Business Daily reports. The figures are identical to the overnight numbers from 2003, when the race wound up with final figures of 4.8/11.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-28-2004)
- Cope in the #94 at Daytona: Derrike Cope will be running at Daytona this weekend in the Pepsi 400. Cope says, “I will be driving the WW Motorsports #94 Dodge this weekend at Daytona. It’s a brand new super speedway car of mine that has never been on the track, so we are going down cold. We’ll be running a Joey Arrington restrictor plate engine in our Dodge. We anticipate doing some dyno testing this week in preparation for Daytona. We are pleased to have Racer’s Edge Sports Drink as our sponsor at Daytona. Our goal, obviously, is to make the field and to have a productive showing. We are planning to run at Chicago the following week in the Tropicana 400. After that, our schedule is not finalized.”(Derrike Cope site), WW Motorsports Chevy’s were being driven by Stanton Barrett in some Cup races,(6-28-2004)
- Rudd at Kentucky: #21-Ricky Rudd is scheduled to test the #21 Motorcraft/ Air Force Ford for the Wood Brothers at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday, July 29th. Fans can watch from the front of the Turn 3 Fan Center. Schedule subject to change daily.(Kentucky Speedway site)(6-28-2004)
- No Spolier Cut for 2004, lose an inch for 2005: NASCAR officials have decided against cutting the rear spoiler a half-inch at midseason and another half-inch at the end of the year, series spokesperson Mike Zizzo said Saturday. Instead, NASCAR will cut the rear spoiler one inch after the season. Zizzo said that NASCAR decided not to cut the rear spoiler this season because series officials are pleased with the competition. Also, series officials don’t want to burden teams with additional costs adjusting to the new rear spoiler, such as more wind tunnel testing. The rear spoiler was 6 1/4 inches at the end of the 2003 season. NASCAR cut it to 5 1/2 inches for this season. The spoiler will be 4 1/2 inches for next season if NASCAR follows through on this plan.(Roanoke Times)(6-28-2004)
- No IRL Team for Stewart? Indy 500 in….2010? Tony Stewart is back to saying he has no intention of competing in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 or starting an Indy Racing League team. After showing up on bump day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month and toying with the idea of attempting to qualify an A.J. Foyt Racing car, Stewart said he would come back next year and do it for real. But asked about it before his 15th-place finish Sunday in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, Stewart said he got carried away by “Indy fever.”
“I would love to do it for the fans, but I just can’t,” the Columbus, Ind., native said. “It’s too much of a hassle. There’s nothing in my contract (with Joe Gibbs Racing) that says I can’t do it, but there’s no way I can and be fair to these guys here.” Stewart said the next possibility is 2010, when the new contract he signed last year with Gibbs will have expired. He’ll be 39 then. He also backed off his comments of a few weeks ago, when he said he has considered buying an IRL team or starting one. “I’m not working on it and haven’t done anything about it,” he said. “I’ve got three full-time (U.S. Auto Club) teams and one World of Outlaws team. That’s plenty to keep me busy.”(Indianapolis Star)(6-28-2004)
- Petty Movie News: Disney’s movie on the Petty family, once projected to be in theatres this year, has had its script rewritten. Bill Scott, executive vice president at Petty Enterprises, says the plan is for the movie to begin shooting late this year or early next year. Scott said that would lead to a release in early 2006. Scott says he’s not sure if filming will take place in North Carolina. “North Carolina has not stepped up to the plate in terms of tax breaks for movie productions like some of the states, even Georgia and South Carolina have,” Scott said. “I think that’s going to be an issue. If they’re going to save millions of dollars by shooting somewhere else, as much as we at Petty Enterprises and Richard and the family want them to do it in North Carolina, those are not calls that we make. Hopefully, the North Carolina film commission and the legislature will do something to really make it economically feasible to do in North Carolina.”(Roanoke Times), see past news on many NASCAR themed movies on my NASCAR Movies page.(6-28-2004)
- Longer Road Races? Ford team owner [#’s 6,16,17,97,99] Jack Roush said he would prefer that the Nextel Cup Series’ two annual road races were longer. “I think it would be beneficial to hold these races for longer than 180 miles,” said Roush. “For many years I competed in endurance racing, and it would be a positive, I think, if we had an incentive to make these cars durable.” The actual length of Sunday’s race was 218.9 miles. During the 1960s and ‘70s, NASCAR held races on the road course in Riverside, Calif., that were 500 miles. Roush suggested a length of 350 miles for the races at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen.(Gaston Gazette)(6-28-2004)
- What happened to the Lucky Dog Pass? NASCAR announced Sunday it was eliminating the use of the “free pass” – allowing the first car not on the lead lap to return to lead lap under each caution – for both road course events this season. Generally the length and slow speeds of a road course make it unusual for cars to fall off the lead lap. NASCAR officials also cited the length of time to bring the car around the field as a reason not to use it on the road courses.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-28-2004)
- Said To Race Nextel Cup: #36-Boris Said told Insider Racing News that he will drive a minimum of three more races in NASCAR Nextel Cup this season and possibly more will come out of the meeting this week. Currently it looks like Watkins Glen, Brickyard 400 at Indy and Fontana with the MB2/MBV Motorsports team and teammates Scott Riggs & Joe Nemechek. The sponsor will continue to be CENTRIX Financial, LLC, the Official Auto Finance Company of NASCAR . Said, stated that if not with him, he was sure CENTRIX would be around the sport for some time to come.(Insider Racing News)(6-28-2004)
- New Pit Road Speeding System: Greg Biffle wants NASCAR to develop a more accurate system to record the speed of cars coming down pit road. Biffle was busted for speeding in the Busch race at Kentucky, and it cost him the race. Although NASCAR contends Biffle was clocked at well over the 45-mph speed limit on pit road, Biffle insists he maintained the required speed and that officials using stopwatches don’t produce precise speed measurements. Biffle might get his wish soon. NASCAR sources have told the Sporting News a new timing and scoring system is in the works.(FoxSports/SportingNews)(6-28-2004)
- Green, Petty Team Complete All 110 Laps – means…a lot of books: Petty Enterprises and Cheerios made it a storybook finish at Infineon Raceway in Sunday’s Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR Nextel Cup race. By completing all 110 laps of Sunday’s race, Jeff Green and the #43 Cheerios Dodge team earned a donation of 4,730 books to families in the San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento areas. Cheerios had pledged a 10,000-book bonus if Green finished in the top 10. “Because of the effort Jeff and the Cheerios Dodge guys had all day, we want to go ahead and donate the bonus anyway,” said Greg Zimprich, a spokesman for Cheerios. So, a total of 14,730 books will be donated by Cheerios and First Books, a national children’s literacy program. The books-per-lap donation is part of the ongoing Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program, which gets books into the hands of children. More than 60 percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. Over the past two years, through its Spoonfuls of Stories program, Cheerios has donated $1 million to First Book, and has distributed more than 10 million books to children across the country.(Williams Company)(6-28-2004)
- Harvick Wins – Bill Elliott Second at Mesa Marin: Kevin Harvick, flew three NASCAR Nextel drivers to Mesa Marin Raceway, Harvick’s home track in Bakersfield, CA., on Saturday for the Kyle Carter – McMillin Homes Race of Champions presented by Cingular Wireless and Young Wooldridge. Mesa Marin Raceway, is a high banked 1/2 mile paved oval with turns banked 17 degrees and 7 degrees banking in the straights. After an autograph session, the four took to the track with Harvick winning by a bumper over Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin was third and Scott Riggs finished fourth.(Insider Racing News)(6-28-2004)
- Sad News: NHRA drag racer Darrell Russell died Sunday night from injuries suffered in a violent crash during the Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Russell, a 35-year-old native of Hockley, Texas, had just lost to Scott Kalitta in the second round of eliminations when his Top Fuel dragster crashed while running about 300 mph at the end of the quarter-mile strip at Gateway International Raceway. The crash occurred around 7:30pm/et. Just less than two hours later Graham Light, NHRA senior vice president of racing operations, announced to the media that Russell had died at St. Louis University Hospital. Russell is the first participant to be killed in competition at an NHRA national event since Blaine Johnson died in a crash during a qualifying run at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis in 1996.(see full story at ThatsRacin.com)(6-28-2004)
- Said wins at Infineon [Trans Am] Boris Said, who pulled a unique double-double Sunday. He finished sixth in Sunday’s Cup race, then moved to another car and won the Trans-Am series race at Infineon that followed.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-28-2004)
- Co-winners declared in Pikes Peak climb: Robby Unser [has driven in the Truck Series] and Paul Dallenbach [Wally’s brother] were both declared the overall winners of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Sunday because officials were not sure the racing’s timing equipment was reliable.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-28-2004)
June 27, 2004
- Gordon wins from pole at Infineon: #24-Jeff Gordon dominated Sunday’s Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, leading a track record 92 of 110 laps on the 10-turn, 1.99-mile course and earning his first road course win since August 2001 at Watkins Glen. That winless streak seemed out of place for the driver who held the all-time Cup series record for road course wins (seven) entering Sunday’s race. The win is Gordon’s third of the 2004 season and 67th of his career. To earn the victory, Gordon had to hold off a strong challenge by Chip Ganassi Racing. Gordon bested #42-Jamie McMurray by 1.012 seconds for the win, followed by #39-Scott Pruett, driving a fourth Ganassi car this weekend. #15-Michael Waltrip and points leader #48-Jimmie Johnson completed the top five. The rest of the top 10: #36-Boris Said, #41-Casey Mears, #6-Mark Martin, #99-Jeff Burton and #38-Elliott Sadler. Despite getting a slow start on the race’s first lap, Gordon, the pole winner, took early control and led 43 of the first 55 laps in dominating fashion.(ThatsRacin.com)
For my race rundown, cautions, notes, lap leaders, etc, see my Infineon Raceway Race Info/Rundown Page
For race results, see:
Jayski’s Sonoma Race / Awards Results page
- Gilliland wins after Harvick and Said wreck: In one of the wildest finishes for a race at Infineon Raceway, Nextel Cup race qualifiers Boris Said and Kevin Harvick, running first and second, wrecked with little more than one lap to go, and David Gilliland, who was completely off the track on at least four occasions, wound up winning Saturday’s Southwest Series Snap-On Tools 200, a prelude to today’s Dodge/Save Mart 350 main event.(Press Democrat)(6-27-2004)
- One for the Books at Infineon Raceway: Petty Enterprises is promising a storybook finish to the June 27 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.. That’s because Cheerios and First Book, a national children’s literacy organization, will donate 43 children’s books for each lap completed by Petty Enterprises’ Jeff Green and the #43 Dodge, which carry the Cheerios and Betty Crocker colors. “If Jeff completes all 110 scheduled laps, we’ll donate 4,730 books to area children who need them,” said Greg Zimprich, a spokesman for Cheerios. “But we’d like to sweeten the pot: if Jeff finishes in the top 10, we’ll donate 10,000 more books – for a total of almost 15,000 books.” The books-per-lap donation is part of the ongoing Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories® program, which gets books into the hands of children. More than 60 percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. “Growing up with my two brothers, we enjoyed books of all kinds, and I want other kids to have that same opportunity,” said Green. “I’m happy to know that this race is one for the books.” NASCAR audiences will get to share in the excitement by cheering on the #43 Dodge, which will be sporting a special Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories paint scheme for the race. After the race, the books will be donated to programs serving needy children in San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento, Calif. To kick off the weekend, Cheerios hosted 50 children from the Boys and Girls Club, Valley of the Moon, in Sonoma, on Friday morning, June 25 for a breakfast and story time at the speedway. Green read The Racecar Alphabet, after which the children had the opportunity to watch practice from the grandstand. Over the past two years, through its Spoonfuls of Stories program, Cheerios has donated $1 million to First Book, and has distributed more than 10 million books to children across the country.(Williams Company PR)(6-27-2004)
June 26, 2004
- Green x 2 -White-Checkers starting next week at Daytona? UPDATE – NO: NASCAR’s proposed green-green-white-checkered finishing rule – for a three-lap green-flag shootout finish – may go into effect at Daytona next week, according to NASCAR sources.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-26-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR said Saturday that the Nextel Cup Series would not use a green-white-checkered rule next weekend at Daytona. Speculation has had NASCAR implementing the rule as soon as this Saturday’s Pepsi 400, but NASCAR said that won’t be the case. “We continue to evaluate the green-white-checkered, and there is a possibility you could see it sometime this season,” said NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo.(NASCAR.com)(6-26-2004)
- Johnson 2nd Qtr Speed Channel Driver of the Year: Driving in championship form, Jimmie Johnson demolished the competition in voting for the Speed Channel Driver of the Year, second quarter, 2004. Johnson, who jumped to the top of the NASCAR Nextel Cup points standings after last week’s DHL 400 in Michigan, had two victories including a win from the pole at in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and a win at the Pocono 500 in the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. He had a virtually unblemished second quarter with only one finish out of the top-four. Despite his fine record, Johnson was surprised when he learned of his award. “I couldn’t believe it when someone told, me,” he said. “I’m completely honored to win this award.” Perhaps it’s a tradition for his team. The 28 year-old drives under the Hendricks Motorsports banner in a car owned by Jeff Gordon, a four-time Driver of the Year. “When you at look at the people who have won (it) before it’s pretty amazing company,” he explained. “They’re some of the best racers in the world.”
In the voting he took 12 first-place Speed Channel Driver of the Year votes, and a vote on every ballot with none lower than third place. As a result, he scored 144 points. Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice finished in second with 91 points and three first-place votes. Rice also won the pole and led the most laps at the Brickyard in the Pioneer Argent/Mortgage Rahal-Letterman G Force/Honda. Martin Truex, Jr., a protégé of Dale Earnhardt Jr., was third with 52 points. Driving the Dale Earnhardt Inc. owned Ritz Crackers Chevrolet, Truex notched three wins and one runner-up finish and continues to lead the points in NASCAR’s Busch series. A total of 18 drivers scored points in the second quarter voting, including fourth place Greg Anderson (with three first-place votes) from the PowerAde Pro Stock division, fifth place Sebastien Bourdais, points leader in the Champ Car series, and IRL’s points leader Tony Kanaan was sixth.
Noteworthy; Jeff Gordon won the fan vote, with Earnhardt Jr. second, and Johnson third. More than 40,000 fans clicked their votes on the www.speedtv.com website. In it’s 38th year, the Driver of the Year title is unique because it is the only award that encompasses all of the racing series in the United States and fan participation. A panel of 18 leading journalists from across the U.S. and a fan vote on Speedtv.com determine the winner. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9,6,4,3,2,1 basis. Johnson will receive a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix wristwatch to be presented on Speed TV.(DOTY/Speed Channel PR)(6-26-2004)
- New Shock Rule Coming? UPDATE 2: #9-Kasey Kahne, who had a rare off day Friday and will start 34th. NASCAR wanted to check the air pressure in his rear shocks after qualifying and got upset when the crew drained the pressure before turning them over. NASCAR is now considering a mandatory air-pressure rule for shocks. Changing the air pressure in shocks can change the ride-height of a car, increasing speed.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-20-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials are exploring the possibility of implementing a new shock rule for its Nextel Cup Series, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Friday. The rule, if adopted, would regulate the gas pressures in shocks, setting minimum and maximum limits. Currently, teams are encouraged to follow the shock manufacturers’ guidelines when setting pressures. The rule, which could be instituted as soon as the July 11 race weekend at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., could also include confiscation of teams’ shocks following qualifying and races. Several Cup teams use high pressures in their rear shocks to help bring the rear ends of cars higher into the car, making up for the lower spoiler height instituted before the start of the season. The Cup rulebook sets a minimum height requirement of 51 inches for Cup cars, but there is no maximum limit.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-25-2004)
UPDATE 2: For the upcoming Chicagoland race, NASCAR officials will implement new rules regarding shocks that will require teams to turn in the shocks that will be mounted on their cars for NASCAR inspection. The shocks will be confiscated on the day before the race, after the final practice, and returned on race morning. Teams were informed of the impending move on Friday. Expect NASCAR to go public in Daytona next week.(Gaston Gazette)(6-26-2004)
- Still Waiting – #99 Sponsor…would be Diageo UPDATE 2 Officially NO: Car owner Jack Roush and driver Jeff Burton continue to wait on NASCAR to decide whether it will allow the full-time sponsorship from Diageo. That company owns many of the premium liquor brands [including Bailey’s, Guinness, Smirnoff, Crown Royal, Captain Morgan, Johnny Walker, Seagrams] in the world and, despite coveting the exposure from two beer companies – and the sponsorship from Busch for one of its racing series – the racing organization still has problems with hard liquor being a sponsor in the sport. Roush said the sponsorship is ready to sign – NASCAR permitting.(Augusta Chronicle).(6-14-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials are not likely to allow Roush Racing to have a hard-liquor company sponsor Jeff Burton’s car, although series officials are examining the issue. Series officials have not allowed sponsorship from a hard-liquor product for several years. If the sponsor is not allowed, Roush Racing will have to find a new sponsor for Burton, who has run all season without a full-time sponsor. “Our scenarios about getting through this season are tempered completely by whether or not we’ve got someone signed up for next season. That makes a big difference,” said Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing.(Roanoke Times)(6-21-2004)
UPDATE 2: The Associated Press reports that NASCAR has decided to hold to its ban on liquor sponsorships, thus apparently shelving a bid by international producer Diageo to become primary backer of Jeff Burton’s #99. Jack Roush’s #99 has run all this year without sponsorship. Roush Racing president Geoff Smith said at Michigan that the deal with Diageo was ready to go, pending NASCAR’s approval. NASCAR, however, said Friday that the arrangement would not be approved. “It is very unlikely at this time that we would change such a long-standing policy,” NASCAR president Mike Helton said, adding that the sanction will continue to examine the matter. Television likely is the impediment, with the major networks holding to a 40-year ban on liquor advertising. NASCAR permits sponsorship from beer, tobacco and prescription drug companies, and even from the maker of a controversial “fat burning” diet supplement. NASCAR’s policy seems to be in line with what the networks permit. Diageo’s Crown Royal brand is sponsor of the IROC series this year, but IROC is not directly connected with NASCAR. Jim Beam is sponsor of an IRL IndyCar team. Diageo produces dozens of major liquor brands, including J&B, Crown Royal, Smirnoff, and Jose Cuervo. Smirnoff, a brand of gin and vodka, also produces the Smirnoff Ice malt beverage, which is partial sponsor of Roush’s #17, so Roush has a settled relationship with the British company. Smith said the team remains committed to Burton and the #99. “The plan is for him to run the entire schedule, but we have to find some money somewhere soon,” he said.(Speed Channel)(6-26-2004)
- Gaughan and PR Rep escape injury: Nextel Cup rookie Brendan Gaughan and his public relations representative, Terry Jarrell, escaped injury Thursday night in a head-on collision in San Francisco. After the wreck, the other driver attempted to drive away, striking other cars, Gaughan said. “He got blocked in, the police got him, no one got hurt and the good guys prevailed,” he said. Gaughan was on his way to a media appearance. “We figure we got the crash out of the way,” he said. “We can let that be the crash of the weekend and let Avis take care of that.”(ThatsRacin.com)(6-26-2004)
June 25, 2004
- New Nextel Feature: Nextel Communications on Thursday unveiled a new NASCAR feature, called FanScan In-Car Audio, which lets Nextel subscribers use their cell phones to eavesdrop on the chatter between NASCAR drivers and their crew chiefs, spotters and other team members. The service is for the NASCAR faithful who can’t enough of the 15- to 30-second snippets used by TV networks during race broadcasts. Nextel, the sixth-largest U.S. cell phone service provider, wants to capitalize on its sponsorship of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series of races. A number of different FanScan service plans will be offered to subscribers starting Sunday. Under one plan, customers pay $10 for a month of chatter, or about four races. To combat declining per-minute phone prices, U.S. cell phone service providers have been offering new features like FanScan that don’t involve phone conversations.(CNET)(6-25-2004)
- A Speed Racer Movie: Actor Vince Vaughn is developing a live-action movie version of the Japanese cartoon series Speed Racer [which can be seen daily on Speed Channel], Daily Variety said Thursday. The paper said the DodgeBall star would star as Racer X — the long-lost brother of the title character. The project is being produced for Warner Bros. by Joel Silver (The Matrix) and Richard and Lauren Shuler Donner. Vaughn will also serve as an executive producer. Speed Racer has had a series of false starts in the past — with such directors as Alfonso Cuaron, Julien Temple, Gus Van Sant and Hype Williams preparing at various times to take it to the starting line. Variety said Vaughn revived the project with a pitch that focused more on character and family than on big-budget effects. I’ve been a fan of the show since I was a kid and I always liked the theme of the protective older brother who can’t reveal his identity, Vaughn said.(Big News Network.com), doesn’t say who will play Speed Racer – Jeff Gordon?, also for more info on other NASCAR themed movies, see my NASCAR Movies past news page.(6-25-2004)
- Incentive for Busch: #97-Kurt Busch has extra incentive to run well at Infineon to benefit low-income families. For a top five-finish, IRWIN will donate $10,000 in product to the charitable foundation Rebuilding Together, and $20,000 for a win.(Roush Racing)(6-25-2004)
- $42k for DW’s Truck Three-time NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip’s Toyota Tundra pickup truck, an exclusive VIP trip to the Toyota Tundra 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Race Aug. 14 in Nashville, a “Do-It-Yourself” Dream Garage of more than 500 Craftsman tools and a $1,000 gift certificate to Bass Pro Shops went up for bid in an eBay auction with the Toyota truck going for $42,301.(6-25-2004)
- SEM sponsors Graf and the #59 BAM car: SEM Products announced its sponsorship of BAM Racing’s #59 SEM COLOR HORIZONS Dodge and driver Klaus Graf, for the upcoming Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. As BAM’s “Road Course Hired Gun,” Graf is also the first driver professionally trained for Formula One racing by European automobile manufacturers to move into the NASCAR stock car racing world. “We are pleased to have this partnership deal with BAM and the #59 car. This is a dynamic time for our company and we look forward to showcasing our expanded COLOR HORIZONS line,” stated Brian Joyner, Marketing Manager for SEM Products. SEM’s custom paint scheme is called “California Dreamin” and includes a mix of different metallic oranges, yellows and black, as well as, a palm tree.
“SEM has done it again. This will be the most colorful and exciting car on the track, maybe in NASCAR history. Everybody always works to come up with specialty paint schemes for the night races; this is one of the first for a day race with a theme tied into the track itself,” said Eddie Jones, General Manager of BAM Racing. “With the ingenuity of SEM and the expertise of our fabricators, this is going to be one that will really show off this race car.” The theme was designed by California native, Ron Fleenor, Custom Finish Manager at SEM Products. “This new line of Custom Finish Products is unlike any other product out there. It rocks!” says Fleenor.
The recently re-vamped COLOR HORIZONS line, creates a rainbow of color combinations for almost any look. COLOR HORIZONS, which can be applied to metal, aluminum or plastic surfaces, are also available in an array of base and candy concentrates, metallic flakes and pearlescent pigments, as well as, easy to use aerosols for a show-stopping finish. “We are very pleased that SEM and COLOR HORIZONS will be on our car for this big race.” said Beth Ann Morgenthau, who owns BAM Racing along with her husband Tony. “Having SEM with their history of excellence as a part of BAM Racing means a lot to all of us,” she continued. “We plan on giving them our best effort for this race, and are excited to see how good our car will look on the track at Infineon Raceway.”(SEM PR), see images of the car on the 2004 Paint Schemes Page.(6-25-2004)
- #16 Team Gets Cool Ride: Earlier this week the call came in to the Roush Racing shop in Concord, NC. that the National Guard had finalized special travel arrangements for the #16 team. After several weeks of planning, it was confirmed that the team would arrive and depart from Infineon Raceway on Sunday in a CH 47 Chinook Helicopter. The CH 47 Chinook is a tandem-rotor transport helicopter. It is 51 feet in length, weighs approximately 33,000 pounds, has a maximum payload of more than seven tons and travels at up to 150 mph. It requires three crew members and can carry 33 troops. The first Chinooks were built in 1961 and were first used in combat during Vietnam War. By 1968, the Chinook had put in 161,000 hours of flying time, carrying 22.4 million passengers and 1.3 million tons of cargo. Chinook helicopters were also used to transport U.S. and allied troops in the Persian Gulf War. During 2002, the Chinook’s high speed and large payload gave it the lowest cost-per-ton-mile of any transport helicopter available. 300 Chinooks are currently undergoing another modernization process to make them fully compatible with 21st century operational and war-fighting requirements as well as improve the aircraft’s efficiency and effectiveness. The CH 47 used to transport the National Guard crew this weekend will be operated by three members of the National Guard. The Chinook will be brought in to Oakland, Calif. on Saturday for the early morning flight to Infineon Raceway. The team will meet the helicopter at 5:30 am for the 20-minute flight to the track as the garage is schedule to open at 6:00 am. Following the 110-lap event, the CH 47 will be brought back to the Infineon Raceway helipad where it will pick up the National Guard team to take them to Roush Air in Oakland. The National Guard is the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States and one of the nation’s longest enduring institutions. The National Guard operates in all 50 states, three territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands) and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit the National Guard website at www.1-800-GO-GUARD.com.(Roush Racing)(6-25-2004)
- NASCAR Names New Southeast Series Media Coordinator: Jason Mitchell, of Charlotte, N.C., has joined the NASCAR Public Relations staff as the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series media coordinator, effective immediately. Mitchell, a graduate of Appalachian State University, is a former sports writer for the Independent Tribune and the former assistant sports editor for the Wilkes Journal-Patriot. Mitchell has also covered motorsports for RacingOne.com, Racing Milestones, Stock Car Racing magazine, Last Lap magazine and has been a featured guest on several motorsports radio programs. In addition, Mitchell has written three books for the Charlotte Observer, including Tony Stewart: Driven to Win and Young Guns and Living Legends.(6-25-2004
- Yikes – Michigan TV Ratings off 16.7%: Final Nielsen Media Research numbers show Fox’s broadcast of last Sunday’s DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway drew a 4.5 rating and 13 share, down 16.7 percent from 2003’s 5.4/16, today’s Sports Business Daily reports. The ratings were the lowest for the race since Fox began broadcasting it, the Daily says.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-25-2004)
June 24, 2004
- Harvick Tshirt goes for $3.2k – plus!: Take one Matt Kenseth t-shirt worn by Kevin Harvick during Michigan qualifying, add 29 hours to bid on it in the name of a great cause, toss in a bunch of fans from both sides wanting to win it for their driver’s “family,” and you’ve got a recipe for a fabulous fund raiser. Kevin decided to auction off the Kenseth t-shirt as a way to raise money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. On Wednesday, June 16 at 3:00 p.m. ET, bidding began for the infamous shirt. By 3:01 p.m., the bidding was up to $500.00. A few minutes later, that amount doubled. Soon enough, fans of driver Matt Kenseth began tossing in bids of their own, letting their loyalties be known and prompting Kevin’s fans to try harder. Bids began flying with taglines such as “Kenseth Rules” or “Harvick Rules More!” As the 29 hours wound down, a neutral bidder was in the lead. Kevin’s fans rallied in order to prevent the shirt from landing in the hands of anyone but a die-hard Harvick fan. In the auction’s final moments, Kevin’s fans surrounded Sue Bunce, a Harvick fan who was determined to place the highest bid. After receiving help from fellow fans, Sue presented a final bid of $2,929.29. Seeing the amount of Sue’s bid, Kevin asked those in charge of the auction if she had won it. With two minutes remaining in the event, they were unable to give Kevin a positive answer because there were other participants (of the Kenseth variety) still actively bidding. Saying, “I can’t let anyone but a Harvick fan get it,” Kevin tossed in an extra donation to bring the amount of Sue’s bid to $3,245.29, a number that represented not only Kevin but honored Adam Petty, who drove car number 45. His extra push helped Sue’s bid stay above another one received in the final moments of the auction. Following the announcement of the winner, Kevin matched the amount, increasing the total monies raised to $6,490.58. Every single penny is being sent to the Victory Junction Gang Camp in the name of Kevin Harvick’s fans. On a side note, Kevin also wore another Kenseth shirt on race day at Michigan, which he plans to give to the VJGC on behalf of all the Harvick fans that pitched in to make this a successful bid! Following the auction Harvick had this to say, “We couldn’t let the shirt get into anyone but a Harvick fans hands.”(Kevin Harvick Site)(6-24-2004
- New Penske Shop? UPDATE: hearing that Penske Racing South [#2, #12, #77] has purchased the Matsushita building in Mooresville, NC. Hoping to move in the 415,000 sq ft /105 acre property in Dec 2004. The building is located at Mazeppa Road and NC, 801.(5-11-2004)
UPDATE: Penske Racing South said Tuesday it will remain in Mooresville, moving its three NASCAR teams to the vacant Matsushita Compressor Corp. of America building in the Mooresville Business Park. “I absolutely did not want to leave Mooresville,” said Don Miller, president of Penske Racing. The team is currently located in Lakeside Park at Exit 36, and is one of the original racing tenants there. The decision to stay in Mooresville came in the face of pressure from nearby cities to relocate Penske’s operations. Concord, which recently lured Chip Ganassi Racing from Mooresville, lobbied especially hard, Miller said. Penske has already placed a down payment on the Matsushita facility, and is awaiting final approval from banks and the Environmental Protection Agency to renovate and move in. In buying the 400,000-square-foot building, nearly as large as eight football fields, Penske is taking over a facility that has been vacant since 2001. “We’re excited that it’s not a vacant building (any longer),” said Melanie O’Connell Underwood, director of economic development for the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce, and manager of the Mooresville Business Park. “(Penske racing) is one of the first race shops in town, so they have career employees,” Underwood said, commenting on the difficulty of relocation for employees. “That (Penske is) staying shows their belief in their employees, and Don Miller’s belief that he wanted to be near the sport that he grew.” Penske Racing South, which fields teams for drivers #2-Rusty Wallace, #12-Ryan Newman and rookie #77-Brendan Gaughan, has been in Mooresville since 1991. About 200 employees will work at the new facility. Penske Racing South plans to continue operations at the Auto Research Center wind tunnel facility at Lakeside Park, and at Penske-Jasper Engines in Concord. As for making changes to the Matsushita building, Miller said it would be the “finest facility in racing.” He added that a 300-foot walk would be built above the shop area so fans can see the operations in action. Those operations will comprise about 227,000 square feet, he said. The rest will be leased, perhaps to another race-related business.(Mooresville Tribune – need to register)(6-24-2004)
- Pit Rule amended: NASCAR amended a pit-road rule. Pit road will open the second time the leader reaches the pit entrance while behind the pace car. The rule debuted at Pocono but didn’t specify if the leader had to be behind the pace car. A NASCAR official signaled that pit road was open a lap early at Pocono, leading series officials to later apologize for the mistake.(Roanoke Times)(6-24-2004)
- NASCAR’s R&D Center – a tour: check out FoxSports/SportingNews Lee Spencer’s story and Harold Hinson’s photos of NASCAR’s Research and Development Center, click here and scroll through this guided tour/gallery of images and words.(6-24-2004)
- Bodine and Brown leave the #37: Todd Bodine will no longer be driving the #37 Dodge and has parted ways with the team immediately as did crew chief Teddy Brown. No word on Bodine’s Cup plans [he drives the #31 Whelen Ford part-time in Busch] or who may drive the #37 Dodge.(Todd Bodine site)(6-24-2004)
June 23, 2004
- Jeff Gordon wins pole at Infineon Raceway: #24-Jeff Gordon, one of the smoothest road course drivers in NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Series, bobbled, slid and wobbled his way through his qualifying lap Friday at Infineon Raceway and still won the pole for Sunday’s Dodge/Save Mart 350. It is Gordon’s 3rd pole of 2004 and 49th of his career. With the help of new pavement, Gordon’s lap at 94.303 mph also broke the track record, 93.620 mph set last season by road course specialist Boris Said [in the #36 this year]. Gordon’s eventful lap came early in Friday’s session and he withstood several strong challenges. #2-Rusty Wallace (94.174 mph) and #97-Kurt Busch (93.825 mph) came closest. #6-Mark Martin and #17-Matt Kenseth completed the top-five. Series points leader #48-Jimmie Johnson will start 34th. Several road course specialist made their way into Sunday’s race. #39-Scott Pruett, driving a fourth entry for Chip Ganassi Racing this weekend, qualified sixth; Said was 19th in a third entry by MB2/MBV Motorsports; and #30-Jim Inglebright qualified 27th in Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. #72-Tom Hubert (35th), #62-Austin Cameron (32nd), #02-Brandon Ash (37th) and #59-Klaus Graf (38th) all made the field for their first Cup starts of the season.(ThatsRacin.com)
- Sonoma Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup at:
Jayski’s Dodge / Save Mart 350 Qualifying / Grid page
- 2nd’s for Kahne: #9-Kasey Kahne has four second-place finishes in 2004, what is the record? 12, done by Bobby Allison in the 1972 season.(Speed Channel’s Inside Nextel Cup TV show)(6-22-2004)
AND Rookie -of-the-Year contender Kasey Kahne has scored four second-place finishes in 2004. The last time a driver scored more than four second-place finishes in their rookie season occurred in 2002 when Ryan Newman scored a record setting five second-place finishes. Newman also scored his first career victory that season winning at Loudon in September 2002. James Hylton is the only other driver to score four second-place finishes in his rookie season in 1966.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(6-23-2004)
- Sadler’s Crew Grabs First Win of Season with Michigan Victory: Elliott Sadler’s pit crew captured its first victory of the season in the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade with an impressive performance in Sunday’s DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway. With Sadler’s #38 crew winning the $20,000 weekly prize, there have been 10 different pit crew winning teams in the first 15 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races of the season. In the McDonald’s/POWERade standings, Sadler’s crew closed the gap with the first-place team of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #8 crew. Earnhardt’s pit crew has a slim 28-point lead over Sadler’s crew in the chase for the $200,000 that will be awarded to the season champion. The #38 pit crew scored a narrow victory in Michigan over its Robert Yates Racing teammate – the #88 crew for Dale Jarrett. Sadler’s M&M’s Ford spent the least amount of time on pit road – 192.295 seconds. Jarrett’s UPS Ford was right behind with a time of 192.498. Kevin Harvick’s #29 GM Goodwrench Chevy was third at 202.837. “My pit crew deserves this,” said Sadler. “Eddie D’Hondt recruited all of these guys over the off season and we have just meshed together. I never had a crew so good – and never had a team so pumped up and wanting to win. Every time I come to pit road I’m confident they are going to give me good track position. These guys deserve the recognition because they work their tails off – not only last weekend but all season long. Those guys are awesome and I’m real proud of them.” Sadler’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Darryl Lockyer (front-tire changer), Kevin Hall (front-tire carrier), Dave Smith (rear-tire changer/car chief), Lance Hanna (rear-tire carrier) Rodney Fetters (jackman), Preston Cordell (gas man) and Jay Thompson (catch can). The team’s crew chief is Todd Parrott.(DMF Communications PR), for the top 10 at MIS and seson standings, see my Pit Crew Page. For resultsd from the rest of the season, see my 2004 Past Pit Crew News page.(6-23-2004)
- Here she comes…: This is a big week for the Wood family with three major events taking place. Car owner Eddie Wood’s daughter, Jordan, competes in the Miss Virginia Pageant with the preliminary events beginning today in Roanoke and the finals Saturday night at the Roanoke Civic Center. The winner goes to the Miss America Pageant in September. Wood’s son, Jon, competes in Friday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Milwaukee, where he has two top-10 finishes in three races there. Eddie Wood’s team competes in the Cup race at Sonoma, Calif., with driver Ricky Rudd. “It’s hard to be in three places at once,” Eddie Wood said. “I’ve always tried to be at as many of Jon’s races as I could, but this weekend could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Jordan. I wouldn’t miss that for anything. It could be a big weekend for the Wood family if all three of us can win.”(Roanoke Times)(6-23-2004)
- Pemberton to NASCAR? UPDATE: It has been more than four years since Mike Helton was named NASCAR president and vacated his former role of VP for competition. For some time, Helton has juggled the responsibilities of both jobs, but NASCAR has attempted to recruit someone to serve as a liaison between the competitors and the sanctioning body. Sources tell Sporting News that current Ford field manager Robin Pemberton has been selected for the job. Roger Penske says he was unaware of the situation, but refers to Pemberton as a first-class guy. Pemberton, 47, has 22 career wins as a crew chief and worked with such notables as Richard Petty, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(6-21-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR has hired Robin Pemberton. Pemberton was one of stock-car racing’s best-known and most respected crew chiefs during his 17 years with drivers such as Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin. Now he has signed on with NASCAR, to take unspecified, but sorely needed, responsibilities helping the beleaguered sanctioning body regain credibility with its competitors, and, it is hoped, its fans. Pemberton has been Ford’s NASCAR field manager the past 18 months. Ford officials yesterday said they have begun searching for a replacement. NASCAR discussed just such a management role with Pemberton in late 2002 when he left Petty Enterprises after a year as general manager. But NASCAR at that time was unwilling to offer a competitive salary.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-23-2004)
- Raceline helps the Troops keep up with NASCAR: RACELINE has been selected by American Forces Network to help American troops worldwide keep up to date on the lastest NASCAR news. Joe Moore, executive producer and host of RACELINE is also co-anchor for Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcasts of the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch and Truck Series and hosts MRN Radio’s NASCAR Today. Joe worked as an announcer and news reporter for AFN while in the US Army in Thailand from 1972 – 1974. RACELINE has been in production 11-years and is currently seen by over 60-million viewers on 150 television stations coast to coast and on several networks including Foxnet, The Outdoor Channel, American One TV, Time-Warner Television/Ohio and FamilyLand. AFN reaches American forces in 178 countries and 200 ships at sea.(6-23-2004)
- Belt Confiscated from #49 UPDATE Penalty: Confiscated from Ken Schrader’s #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge at Michigan International Speedway was a Crotch Belt. The belt in violation, as it had surpassed the two year manufacturer’s date, stamped on the belt. Evidently the rest of the belt met requirements.(Insiderracing.com)(6-20-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief Scott Eggleston has been fined $500 for a driver restraint equipment infraction that occurred this past weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Eggleston – crew chief for the No. 49 Dodge driven by Ken Schrader – was in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 20-17.2C (anti-submarine belt – expired manufacturer’s date) in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book. The infraction was discovered by NASCAR officials during last Friday’s initial inspection process.(NASCAR PR)(6-23-2004)
- Tracy was offered a RCR ride at Sonoma but…: Robin Miller mentioned on Speed Channel’s Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain and in an article at the Speed Channel site: Paul Tracy could have been making his Nextel Cup debut this weekend at Sonoma, Calif. but was denied permission by his Champ Car owner Gerald Forsythe. “Richard Childress offered me a ride last month but Gerry and Kevin (Kalkhoven, OWRS ower) thought it would confuse people and they would think I was going to NASCAR,” said the 2003 CART champion. “I think it would have been good for Champ Car.” Forsythe and Kalkhoven may understand business but they need a PR class because they blew an excellent opportunity to get some free exposure to a group of race fans that don’t know Champ Car exists.(Speed Channel’s Wind Tunnel)(6-23-2004)
- Up…Up..Up..and Away: #12-Ryan Newman and crew chief Matt Borland will make an appearance at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz. on Monday, June 28. With the assistance of Luke Air Force Base, Newman and Borland will spend the day at the base going through training prior to taking a flight in a F-16 with the 56th Fighter Wing. The two will go through flight evaluations, life support training, a pre-mission briefing and one-hour mission. The flight will take the NASCAR standouts over Prescott, Sedona, Winslow, Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon, before coming back to the base. Following the mission, the two will some spend time at the Enlist Club signing autographs and taking photos with base personnel, some who have recently returned from duty overseas. This will be the first time either Newman or Borland have been in a fighter jet.(Penske Racing PR)(6-23-2004)
- Newman 13th fastest to get win #10: #12-Ryan Newman became the 15th driver in history to record his 10th win within his first 100 career starts. His victory at Michigan on Sunday was his 10th in 95 career starts, making him the 13th fastest to reach 10 race wins. Newman became the 48th driver to win 10 races. The fastest any driver has reached 10 wins was Speedy Thompson, who scored his tenth win in only 55 career starts. The other drivers to post their tenth win in their first 100 starts are: Herb Thomas (58 starts), Tim Flock (60), Dick Hutcherson (61), Fonty Flock (67), Curtis Turner (68), Fred Lorenzen (71), Dick Rathmann (73), Fireball Roberts (77), Tony Stewart (79), Junior Johnson (81), Bobby Allison (91), Ryan Newman (95), Jeff Gordon (96) and Lee Petty (100). #48-Jimmie Johnson is knocking on the door, and has 10 races to become the 16th driver on this list; he has 9 wins in 90 career starts. No other active drivers are on pace to make the list.(LT Picks)(6-23-2004)
- More on Biffle to Gibbs: Rumor — Greg Biffle will driver Joe Gibbs’ FedEx Chevy in ’05
Here’s what we know —
1. Gibbs is definitely adding a third car next season.
2. FedEx is definitely on board.
3. Gibbs says he is looking for a veteran driver.
Here’s what we think we know —
1. NBS ace J.J. Yeley is too young and too inexperienced to get the ride.
2. Longtime Roush Racing employee Biffle is the perfect age, a proven winner and becoming increasingly vocal about the fact that he isn’t getting the same good stuff (i.e. engines and cars) that his four more famous teammates are.
Biffle is flat denying the rumors [and says he is signed for 2005 with Roush] that he will jump to JGR, but don’t believe it. Larry Mac is fond of saying “I talked to my people,” and I [Ryan McGee] have talked to my own people at Gibbs. When Biffle’s names come up, they just smile and say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, man.”(see more facts/rumors at FoxSports)(6-23-2004)
- Cameron making a Cup run at Sonoma: Bill McAnally Racing with driver Austin Cameron will be heading to Infineon Speedway in Sonoma, California for the “Dodge/Save Mart 350”. Cameron will be piloting the #61 McMillin Homes/NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet. The BMR pit crew has been working hard and will have the opportunity to warm up by servicing the #0 NASCAR Elite Division Southwest Tour car of Jim Inglebright on Saturday as Inglebright goes for his fourth win at Infineon Speedway in the series. For more information on Bill McAnally Racing, check outr their website at www.billmcanallyracing.com.(RacingWest)(6-23-2004)
- What’s up with Larry Foyt?: Once again, Larry Foyt will perform as A.J. IV’s spotter, this time at Richmond. Foyt had planned to attend the race along with some people from his NASCAR Nextel Cup crew. When Foyt IV heard of those plans, he asked Larry to spot for him. “Larry did a great job for me at Texas,” said Foyt IV. “I know he’d rather just watch the race and have fun so I really appreciate him doing this.” Larry Foyt’s next planned start in his father’s Nextel Cup car is the Brickyard 400 at Indy unless sponsorship can be secured before that event.(Foyt Racing PR)(6-23-2004)
- Penske Racing Fair & balanced method: that’s the way team shop foreman Gary Brooks explained the allocation of new race cars after Rusty’s Miller Lite Team received the new PRS-75 they are racing in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 this weekend. “With Brendan (Gaughan) and his team switching over to our in-house chassis, we are handling the situation quite well,” Gary explained. “Brendan’s team joins the rotation with Rusty and Ryan – getting every third new chassis. Then, to speed up the process of making sure all three teams are running the same cars, each time the No. 2 or No. 12 team gets a new chassis, they’ll also send over one they already have in their stable to the No. 77 team. That’s a pretty fair and balanced method of getting the job done.”(TRPR)(6-23-2004)
- DNF’s: Four drivers who have made all 15 Nextel Cup race starts in 2004 do not have a DNF [did not finish]: Kevin Harvick who has the longest streak at 54 races without a DNF, 2 short of Jeff Gordon’s modern era record [56 races], but a bit short of the all-time record of 84. #20-Tony Stewart [31 races since], #38-Elliott Sadler , and #18-Bobby Labonte .(6-23-2004)
- Ford Credit donates thanks to Jarrett’s 3rd-place finish: #88-Dale Jarrett’s third-place finish in the DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday results in another $5,000 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, a sponsor of the #88 UPS Taurus, now has donated $683,800 to the Komen Foundation based on Jarrett’s on-track performance and end-of-season bonuses since 1998 – including $15,000 in 2004 (Jarrett won the non-points Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway in February). 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).(Campbell Co. PR)(6-23-2004)
- Penske Trio to be Honored: The Society of Manufacturing Engineers has announced plans to award VIP membership to Penske Racing South driver Ryan Newman, crew chief Matt Borland and chief engineer Michael Nelson. The trio will receive their honors on July 22 at an SME banquet in Laconia, N.H. The society said it is honoring the three to acknowledge the contribution of engineering and technology to auto racing. Newman, a 10-time Cup winner, earned his bachelor’s degree in vehicle structure engineering from Purdue University. Borland earned his degree in mechanical engineering from the General Motors Institute, now known as Kettering University, in Michigan. Nelson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson University in South Carolina.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-23-2004)
June 22, 2004
- #4 Owner Talks about future of team; skipping Sonoma: #4-Morgan-McClure Motorsports will not attend the upcoming race at Infineon Raceway. However, the team, which has 14 NASCAR Cup Series wins, continues to move forward in 2004 as it seeks sponsorship. With two top-20 finishes in 2004, Larry McClure stays focused on bringing his No. 4 Chevrolet back to its competitive potential. The team began the 2004 season with a sponsor, but since has been without a fulltime primary decal on the car. McClure seeks sponsorship in order to bring his three-time Daytona 500 winning team back into the competitive ranks of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Although he has experienced both sides of racing success now, McClure remains optimistic about his race team.
Larry McClure quotes:
“We have tried to use our money as well as we could. We got behind the eight ball a little bit at the beginning of the year because of the change over from Pontiac to Chevrolet. We have used several different people to put bodies on the cars. The inconsisitency of this hurt us. We were in a position that we had to run some of those cars without doing the aero work on them that they needed in order to be competitive. We found a few shortfalls when we did research in the wind tunnel recently. We have chosen a couple of the cars we have that are the better of the lot to change. It seems like from week to week to week that we are making progress even though our stats may not show it.”
“Spencer quoted this past weekend that his car was the best he has driven all year with the exception of the restrictor plate cars. He felt like we have decent engines and we could be competitive if he could get through the middle of the corners a little better. Sunday at Michigan we had a reasonable effort. The team lost one lap because we ran out of gas. We lost a second lap because Spencer felt like he had a vibration in the car, like a loose wheel, which was not visual to us after pitting. Actually we shot ourselves in the foot twice. We had an opportunity to be in the top-15, possibly one lap down.”
“Our sponsorship funds are limited this year. We have had to put the team on a diet. We are doing the best we can with what we have to do with. Basically that is what has happened. We are still searching for sponsorship dollars. “Changing cars from Chevrolet to Pontiac and then back to Chevrolet over the past two years really lost the team a lot of ground. I am not saying that is totally our problem. We do not have 20 engineers working on this race car and team. It is a downfall. We have to try a lot of things without them being proven and that costs us time. It creates problems with performance. With lack of engineering support and lack of sponsorship support, it has put us in a deficit deal. We are working hard to try to catch up. If we had the funds, we could buy the people and the technology. We do not have the funds. We are trying to work harder and be smarter with our group.”
“Being in this position, I realize there is not much difference from an outhouse to a penthouse. On a short track, the difference is 3/10ths and on a larger track it is less than a second. If we can just come up with the right combination, we can get back to where we once were. That motivates me, because I am a competitor. I want to win. I want to be competitive. When the time comes for me to step back and to step out of this sport, I would like to know that I have given it everything I have. Plus, the fact is we have a lot of people here who depend on this company. We are doing everything we can to keep the company afloat and continue racing and make a livelihood for the people who work here.”(Morgan McClure Motorsports site)(6-22-2004)
- Dale Jr. 59th in Celebrity 100: Forbes Magazine unveiled its most recent “Celebrity 100” and “World’s 50 Highest-Paid Athletes” lists in its July 5 issue. While it should come as no surprise that celebrities such as Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise graced the top of the “Celebrity 100” list, NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. was ranked 59th. According to Forbes.com/celebs, rankings are based on the relative star power of the celebrity, including how much they earn and how many people are paying attention to them. Earnhardt Jr., whose estimated earnings from June 2003 to June 2004 were $20 million (including salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and appearance fees), was “power ranked” in the same category of celebrities such as Jay Leno, Derek Jeter, Halle Berry and Jessica Simpson.(NASCAR.com)(6-22-2004)
- Update on the #50 Plans: The #50 Arnold Motorsports team and driver P.J. Jones will have California-based Bennett Lane Winery as the sposnor of the #50 Dodge at Infineon Raceway. The following weekend at Daytona for the Pepsi 400, Mike Wallace will probably be behind the wheel with GEICO as the sponsor [and supposedly at Talladeage in Oct too]. At Dover, Wallace, with the GEICO sponsorship aboard, replaced Derrike Cope, who was in the hot seat the first 12 races of the season. (Naples Daily News)(6-22-2004)
- Rookie’s in Top-20: For the first time this season, every single Nextel Cup rookie finished in the top-20. As a matter of fact, it appears that this was the first time since June of 2002 that all of the rookies [of the year candidates] have finished in the top-20 in the same race.(LastCowboys.com)(6-22-2004)
- Overnight TV Ratings Down 11.1%: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s DHL 400 Nextel Cup race from Michigan International Speedway drew an overnight rating of 4.0 and a 10 share from Nielsen Media Research, today’s Sports Business Daily reports. The rating represents a drop of 11.1 percent from the 2003 race, which drew a 4.5/11 overnight and a final 5.4/16. This year’s race trailed both the third and fourth rounds of the U.S. Open golf championship on NBC in the ratings from the nation’s largest television markets.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-21-2004)
- Kurt Busch testing at Kentucky: Kentucky Speedway’s Web site calendar shows that Kurt Busch is expected to test Roush Racing’s #97 Sharpie/Irwin Tools Ford on Tuesday. Spectators are permitted to watch from the Fan Center, but the track cautions that the schedule is subject to change.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-21-2004)
- Special Sunoco Premium Offer: Sunoco plans to sell about 400,000 remote control cars as premiums in its first retail promotion of its sponsorship deal that makes it the official fuel of NASCAR, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. Columnist Terry Lefton says cars will be offered at Sunoco’s 4,500 locations this summer. The three remote control cars will be offered at $9.99 each. A picture shows one will carry the #15 and NAPA logo of Michael Waltrip’s Nextel Cup car. Two will carry paint schemes and the No. 8 of Dale Earnhardt Jr., although the red model will not carry the Budweiser logo because the promotion is aimed at children, the story says. A blue-and-white model will carry the Oreo cookie paint scheme.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-21-2004)
- Still Waiting – #99 Sponsor…would be Diageo UPDATE NO?: Car owner Jack Roush and driver Jeff Burton continue to wait on NASCAR to decide whether it will allow the full-time sponsorship from Diageo. That company owns many of the premium liquor brands [including Bailey’s, Guinness, Smirnoff, Crown Royal, Captain Morgan, Johnny Walker, Seagrams] in the world and, despite coveting the exposure from two beer companies – and the sponsorship from Busch for one of its racing series – the racing organization still has problems with hard liquor being a sponsor in the sport. Roush said the sponsorship is ready to sign – NASCAR permitting.(Augusta Chronicle), see past news on this on my #99 Team News and Links page.(6-14-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials are not likely to allow Roush Racing to have a hard-liquor company sponsor Jeff Burton’s car, although series officials are examining the issue. Series officials have not allowed sponsorship from a hard-liquor product for several years. If the sponsor is not allowed, Roush Racing will have to find a new sponsor for Burton, who has run all season without a full-time sponsor. “Our scenarios about getting through this season are tempered completely by whether or not we’ve got someone signed up for next season. That makes a big difference,” said Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing.(Roanoke Times)(6-21-2004)
June 21, 2004
- First time in modern era OOPS actually..the 2nd time: Hendrick Motorsports became the first team in NASCAR’s Modern Era (1972 – present) to take the top three qualifying spots for a Cup race when #24-Jeff Gordon won the pole position, #25-Brian Vickers qualified 2nd and #48-Jimmie Johnson qualified 3rd for the DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Other teams have qualified first and second, but never first, second, and third.(Chevy Notes and Quotes PR)(6-19-2004)
Top Three Starters..same team: this was not the first time a team swept the top three starting spots in qualifying. In fact it was the 2nd time Hendrick Motorsports did it. At the spring Darlington race in 1995, #24-Jeff Gordon, #5-Terry Labonte and #25-Ken Schrader started 1-2-3.(Don’t need to look it up, already did)(6-21-2004)
- Maintaining a Top-10 Standard: Four drivers have remained in the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings all season: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Elliott Sadler.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(6-21-2004)
- 3-way tie for 6th: Three drivers are tied for 6th in drivers points with 1933. #24-Gordon gets 6th [2 wins breaks the tie], the #38-Sadler gets 7th [1 win, next best is a 4th], then #97-Kurt Busch gets 8th [1 win, next best is a 5th].(6-21-2004)
- Why the caution? and Jones is OK: After two weeks of confusion and controversy over scoring problems and miscues by NASCAR officials, Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway came off without a hitch. But there were some questions when a caution flag came out on the final lap with the crashed #50 car of P.J. Jones sitting in the middle of the track in Turn 2, far behind the leaders. NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said the yellow was waved because there were at least six cars racing on the track behind Jones’ wreck and NASCAR did not want to delay the safety crew from reaching him. Jones was not injured.(NASCAR.com/AP)(6-21-2004)
- ARCA driver to attempt Cup? UPDATE it was mentioned during Speed Channel’s ARCA race coverage at Michigan that ARCA driver A.J. Henriksen plans to attempt Pocono and the October race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, didn’t say if it was with his ARCA team [E.C.C. Motorsports] or another team.(6-20-2004)
UPDATE: The team Henriksen will drive for is ECC Motorsports with plans to attempt to make the cup races at Pocono, Chicagoland, and Lowe’s Motor Speedway race. The team is in the finishing stages of completing their Cup car and hope to test at Pocono in about 3 to 4 weeks. The team is activly seeking sponsorship help for their Cup and ARCA efforts.(6-21-2004)
- Ganassi Racing to have a Busch team in 2005 UPDATE 2: been told that Ganassi Racing will run a full time Busch program next year in house and possibly a second team for 15 – 20 Busch races also. Supposedly the drivers will be some combination of their current three Cup drivers (Marlin, McMurray and Mears) and possibly David Stremme and/or Reed Sorensen. Ganassi Racing also plans to move into their new building by the Concord [NC] Airport in July.(5-10-2004)
UPDATE: announced at MIS and on Fox Sports Net’s NASCAR This Morning, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, will field a full-time Busch Series team in 2005 with Discount Tires as the sponsor. Reed Sorensen will drive in four Busch races later in the 2004 season. Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray and Sorensen will drive in 2005.
AND Chip Ganassi announced Sunday morning that Discount Tire Co. and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) have joined forces. Discount Tire Co. will become the “Official Sponsor of Talent Development” for CGRFS. Discount Tire will be an associate sponsor on all three CGRFS NEXTEL Cup Series cars and the primary sponsor of a NASCAR Busch Series Dodge for eight races in 2004. The Busch Series car will be driven by Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears and ASA driver Reed Sorensen.(Dodge Notes/Clear!Blue PR)(6-20-2004)
UPDATE 2: Chip Ganassi Racing on Sunday announced the formation of an in-house NASCAR Busch Series team to assist in its driver development program. The team will debut this season in eight races. Ganassi Nextel Cup drivers Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray will each drive two and 18-year-old up-and-comer Reed Sorenson will drive in four events. Sorenson was rookie of the year in the American Speed Association last season and won Saturday’s Automobile Racing Club of America series event at Michigan International Speedway in a Ganassi-prepared Dodge. Ganassi has signed Discount Tire Co. as a sponsor for the team’s 2004 races. Team owner Chip Ganassi said he hoped to have Sorenson run most of the Busch schedule in 2005. McMurray will drive the #41 Dodge in the Aug. 21 race at Michigan and Nov. 6 at Phoenix. Mears will be in the car for the Sept. 4 at California and Oct. 15 at Charlotte. Sorenson, currently fourth in the ASA points race, will be in the car Aug. 7 at Indianapolis, Oct. 30 at Atlanta, Nov. 13 at Darlington, and Nov. 20 at Homestead.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-21-2004)
- Sauter to run his own car in Cup with RCR engines: The Johnny Sauter saga is taking another strange turn. While car owner Richard Childress has put Dave Blaney in the #30 cars that Sauter has been driving on the Cup tour, Childress is keeping Sauter under contract and will provide engines and backing for Sauter to run his own cars later this summer. So Sauter will get a novel chance to show he can make it in this sport in the coming weeks by designing his own Cup cars with buddy Joe Shear. Cary Agajanian, Sauter’s agent and one of this sport’s noted attorneys says that it’s a good break for Sauter: “Johnny will run a few races, under no pressure, with a car the way he wants it built. When Johnny won … last year at Richmond in the Busch series, it was in a car built by Joe and Johnny themselves. And these cars will be the same thing – these two guys will be able to build their own cars for Cup, it’s a most amazing thing.” Agajanian said that it will be a joint venture by Childress and the Sauter-Agajanian team. “And then we’ll see what happens for next year,” Agajanian says.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-21-2004)
- Pit Road Flagger reassigned….for now: Dean Duckett, the Nextel Cup Series official who mistakenly waved a green-flag signaling pit road was open in last weekend’s race at Pocono, has had his race-day duties temporarily reassigned, ThatsRacin.com has learned. Duckett did not work the entrance to pit road in Sunday’s DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway, and instead was assigned to the garage area during the race. It was unclear how long Duckett would serve in his new role, but it could be two or three weeks, sources said. When asked about Duckett’s reassignment, spokesman Mize Zizzo said NASCAR would not comment on internal personnel matters.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-21-2004)
- Sunday’s Illegal Part Confiscated: #20-Tony Stewart’s Home Depot Chevy had an oversized fuel entry neck confiscated. The oversize would allow the gas tank to fill at a faster rate, saving time on pit road.(Insider Racing News)(6-21-2004)
- Newman wins at Michigan: #12-Ryan Newman overcame trash on his grill, falling a lap down while piting to have it removed, got the Lucky Dog pass on the 3rd caution and slowly worked his back up from, took the lead and won the DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway for his first win of 2004, his first since Kansas in Sept 2003. #9-Kasey Kahne, who started 34th and fell a lap behind early with an ill-handling car, fought back and got his 4th runner-up finish of 2004. The rest of the top five were #88-Dale Jarrett [his first top five since he won in Rockingham in Feb 2003], #48-Jimmie Johnson [took over the points lead] and #38-Elliott Sadler [his first ever top 10 at MIS]. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the top 10, then lost positions late and finished 21st and lost the points lead. #24-Jeff Gordon lost an engine while leading early in the race. Jimmie Johnson was the highest finishing driver with the Father’s Day scheme, so $25,000 goes to his father Gary.
For results, see:
Jayski’s Michigan Results Page
- StockCarFans.com – Rumblings – Michigan: #12-Ryan Newman used the free pass to perfection today, coming back from an early overheating pit stop to win the DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway…..once again, under caution. Newman’s win was his second consecutive at MIS (ending a streak of nine different winners in a row at this track), his first of 2004 (his last win was at Kansas last October), and the 10th of his Cup career (he’s tied for 46th on the all-time win list with Donnie Allison & Sterling Marlin). He becomes the 9th different driver to score a victory this season. This was win #55 for Roger Penske (if you add in the three that then partner Michael Kranefuss had with Jeremy Mayfield), and was worth $176,367 from the almost $5M in posted awards for Newman. What we’ll never know is if Kasey Kahne could have caught him….though I agree with him and think he would have come up just a little short. For Kahne, this runner-up finish (his 4th of the season) ties his career- best. The last time he was the bridesmaid was at Texas in April.
#88-Dale Jarrett (3rd) had his best finish since he won at Rockingham in February of 2003. This is his first Top-5 since that event, and brings us to 22 drivers who have scored a Top-5 this season….last year’s number was 30.
#40-Sterling Marlin (6th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Bristol inMarch.
#30-Dave Blaney (15th) had his best finish since he was 11th at Texas in March.
#45-Kyle Petty (18th) had his best finish since he was 18th at Martinsville in April.
STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 8 Top-10’s in the last 9 races.
Michael Waltrip has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the week is Dale Jarrett (+34), followed by Kasey Kahne (+32), and Dave Blaney (+24). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Jeff Gordon (-37), followed by Robby Gordon (-28), and Casey Mears (-22). Jeff Gordon in now leading the down side of this category….this was BD #3.
We have a change at the top of the point standings after this weekend as Jimmie Johnson takes the lead from Dale Earnhardt Jr by 7 markers. Jr had held the top spot since we left Martinsville in April….seven races. Kasey Kahne has moved back above the “Stayin’ Alive” line, but only by a single point. Teammate Jeremy Mayfield is on the outside lookin’ in by 43 points. Brian Vickers (22nd to 19th) made the best move forward today, while Ward Burton (21st to 25th) fell the most spots. We’ve got a three-way tie for 6th….any other year that might mean sumptin’.(for more and some opinions on the yellow finish, see StockCarFans.Com Nextelcup Newsletter/Site)(6-20-2004)
- Long’s Rockingham Car Diecast up for Auction: Up for auction on eBay.com is a custom-made 1/24th scale model of Carl Long’s car that was destroyed in the frightening rollover crash at North Carolina Speedway earlier this year. This car is only 1 of 2 replicas ever produced by the artist, Richard Dupuis. 100% of the proceeds received from the winning bidder will be used to fund Carl Long Racing. For more info and the link to the auction, see www.carl-long.com.(6-20-2004)
- NASCAR says they are still in charge: the transcript of the statement by NASCAR President Mike Helton to the drivers at the drivers meeting: “I think everyone is aware of our challenges right now. Let me remind you of something that most all of us became participants in NASCAR well after it was began and founded with the exception of Richard (Petty). Richard’s been around forever. And I suspect that 50 years from now as there still having driver’s meetings at race tracks there won’t be many of us around to remember this conversation. But I want to remind everybody that this sport is what it is because of its longevity, it’s effort to be correct and fair and the participants that make it up and the officials that run the races and the race tracks that entertain us and the sponsors that become involved. And it’s gotten bigger and better every time we’ve moved and it’s still the greatest form of motorsports if not one of the greatest form of sports in this world. Don’t misinterpret some of the issues we may have with weakness we may have to challenge us. We’ll still police the sport…we will still police what goes on at the racetrack and we will still enforce the regulations of this sport. So, don’t misinterpret anything that may be going on right now as an opportunity to take advantage of any situation. We’re not going to let that happen. In saying that I would also, we seem to go in this cycle of everybody being very respectful to then everyone not being too respectful to get to the point where no body is respectful at all with each other on the race track. I think we’re kinda getting back into the bottom of that cycle where it seems like theres a lot of beating and banging going on at the racetrack thats causing aggression thats causing cautions thats causing things that shouldn’t be caused. So I would suggest drivers that you be more respectful on the race track to start with, with each other and that should go a long way to what goes on on the racetrack and what we have to get involved in. The other thing crew chief’s, we announced last week that when we freeze the field the computer does it, the software establishes it and the messages comes back to you what your position is. When you ask or are told by an official on pit road what your position is thats it. Theres no debate. Go on to something else. Our officials will pay attention to other things but when he delivers the message to you of where your car belongs on the race track theres no debate to it.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144)(6-20-2004)
- Stewart walks out of drivers meeting, goes to the back: Nextel Cup driver #20-Tony Stewart walked out of Sunday’s pre-race drivers meeting at Michigan International Speedway before its conclusion and was sent to the rear of the field to start Sunday’s DHL 400. Several drivers were asking questions of NASCAR President Mike Helton and events director David Hoots regarding restarts, when Stewart appeared to get frustrated. He said in part, “Can’t we just go race?” and walked out of the meeting. The meeting continued. Stewart had qualified 27th.(MRN Radio race coverage/ThatsRacin.com)(6-20-2004)
- Marlin Safe: [Chip Ganassi’s] Comment on Sterling Marlin’s Future with the 40 team: “Sterling is not going anywhere. I asked him yesterday if somebody else was throwing him out besides me. I ain’t throwing him out. I’m just going to send our young guys to language class so they can understand him (said in jest).”(Dodge Notes/Clear!Blue PR)(6-20-2004)
- Think Sponsors Don’t Care about drivers actions? Brendan Gaughan barely had been in the Jasper Engines and Transmissions office in Atlanta for a minute, hardly had pulled back his hand from the firm shake with a sponsor that could give him his first full-time ride in Nextel Cup. The inevitable question came quickly. “Tell me about Homestead,” asked Bud Denker, Kodak’s vice president of brand and market development. Gaughan gulped, then did what he does second best. He started talking. Talking too much had gotten him into this mess about 72 hours earlier at Homestead. Gaughan had entered the final race of the NASCAR truck series schedule leading in points for his father’s Orleans Racing team. He was running in the top 10 with 31 laps left when Marty Houston, making his first truck start in three years, caused an accident that wrecked Gaughan. His title hopes dashed, Gaughan blasted fellow Dodge team owner Jimmy Smith for entering an unusually high five trucks, at least one of which Gaughan felt was being handled by an unqualified driver. “Jimmy Smith can kiss my a–,” Gaughan said. See full article at the St Petersburg Times.
Because sponsor support underpins their careers, drivers are obliged to heed concerns over behavior, either perceived or documented. Both 2002 champion Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch were ordered into anger counseling the past two years. Though Caterpillar stood behind rookie Scott Wimmer through his conviction in June for driving while impaired, there are likely to be in-house consequences beyond the 60-day suspended sentence and 24 hours of community service he received in court.(6-20-2004)
- Good chance Cingular back with the #31 in 2005: #31 Car owner Richard Childress said sponsor Cingular Wireless has an option to remain sponsor of Robby Gordon’s ride next year. “It’s a performance option,” Childress said. “Right now we’re within that.”(Roanoke Times)(6-20-2004)
- Ford taking legal action against Kahne? UPDATE: Word from Ford sources that Ford Motor Company is reportedly taking legal action against Dodge sensation #9-Kasey Kahne over its contract with Kahne. Kahne, the sport’s hottest rookie, deferred to his agents, Rod Moskowitz and Cary Agajanian. Moskowitz: “We have no comment at this time. Kasey said earlier this year that he has fulfilled all his obligations to Ford, and our position remains the same.” Ford gave Kahne a major break by putting together a Busch package with Robert Yates. That Ford contract contained a clause that allowed Ford, if Kahne were offered a Cup deal by a rival car maker, to keep Kahne if Ford could match that deal with a ride of similar capability. When Dodge’s Ray Evernham offered Kahne the ride Bill Elliott was winning in last fall, Ford appeared unable to match it. Or at least that’s the way the situation was explained at Daytona earlier this year. It’s unclear what Ford’s actions might mean, what situation Dodge and Evernham might now be in, and what might happen next.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-19-2004)
UPDATE: The latest on Ford’s legal action against Kasey Kahne: Kahne was served with papers when he landed here Thursday, informing him of the suit over breach of contract. Ford apparently only wants to recoup some of its investment in Kahne, 24, not to park him or put him back in a Ford. Part of Kahne’s decision to leave Ford for Dodge and car owner Ray Evernham followed Robert Yates’ decision not to expand to a third Cup team for Kahne, who was driving a Busch car for Yates. The turning point, one source said, could have come last September when Yates put Jason Jarrett in a third Cup car at Talladega instead of Kahne.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-20-2004)
- Image added the #98 C2 [Coca-Cola] Dodge image that Bill Elliott will run at Dayonta in July to the 2004 Cup Paint Schemes page, see the other seven cars too [#’s 1,16,20,21,29,97,99].(6-20-2004)
- FedEx…….AND MORE – Biffle under contract thru 2005? UPDATE 2: J.J. Yeley, the Sprint-car star learning the NASCAR ropes in a Joe Gibbs Busch car, will get a shot at Cup racing this fall in five to seven races in a #11 car, expected to be sponsored by FedEx. FedEx interviewed Yeley and Greg Biffle this week for the ride for next season, according to team sources. However, Geoff Smith, head of Roush Racing, says Biffle is under contract with Roush through the 2005 season and he plans to sit down with Biffle later this year and discuss a contract extension.(Winston Salem Journal)
UPDATE: Despite weekly rumors to the contrary, Greg Biffle said he would fulfill his current contract with Roush Racing. Biffle has said repeatedly in recent weeks he would remain with Roush at least through the end of the season. “We’re not going anywhere right now,” he said Saturday. “Things are getting pretty crazy out there. There are other teams starting up and things going like that, so there’s speculation about what’s going to happen.” Biffle said his priority is to get his #16 team in the top 10 in points and into victory lane. “I feel like we’re really close,” he said. “I’m working as hard as I can here to get this program turned around and capable of making the top 10 in points.”(ThatsRacin.com)
AND even MORE hearing that the #11 will run eight different FedEx paint schemes in 2005, one paint scheme for each of the different companies.(6-19-2004), see below for a LARGE bunch of stories, and even two images of one of the schemes of the #11 car.
UPDATE 2: Greg Biffle adamantly denied recent reports that he is talking to other Nextel Cup teams about leaving Roush Racing. Biffle’s name has surfaced in conjunction with a supposed third Joe Gibbs Racing team, but Biffle said neither he nor any of his representatives have talked to another team. Biffle also said his contract runs through next year, and Roush could exercise an option year. Could Biffle get out of his current contract and join another team? Jack Roush is known for having airtight contracts with his drivers, so that doesn’t seem likely. Gibbs currently fields Chevrolets for Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte, but the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported this week that FedEx has signed a letter of intent to sponsor a third JGR team. Biffle, who has been public in his criticism of Roush Racing’s engine problems this year, was allegedly high on Gibbs’ list of potential drivers. But there is no contract between FedEx and JGR, a team source said Saturday. And Biffle was vehement about staying at Roush.(NASCAR.com)(6-20-2004)
IMAGES got two images of the #11 FedEx Chevy, see my 2004 Cup Paint Schemes page
- El Paso to sponsor Geoffrey Bodine at Indy: Successful El Paso businessman Gregg Jackson is leading a $100,000 effort by local businesses to sponsor a race car that will attempt to qualify for NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 this summer. The El Paso NASCAR Race Car, a 2004 Dodge Intrepid scheduled to be driven by 55-year-old stock car veteran Geoffrey Bodine, features a paint scheme centered on the city’s new tourism slogan — El Paso: Do Texas Different. The car, which will test next month and try to qualify three days before the Aug. 8 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, begins a six-week tour of local businesses and sponsors today at Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino. El Pasoans will be offered the opportunity to sign the hood of the car for $50. Proceeds will go to the Fort Bliss Families Fund, which benefits children of soldiers killed in Iraq. A news conference announcing the race team’s plans, including coming appearances and events, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at the El Paso convention center. El Paso’s at-the-track NASCAR effort will be led by team owner Gary Trout of North Carolina, a friend of Jackson’s who helped put the unique deal together. Dodge engines will be provided by Ray Evernham, one of NASCAR’s biggest names. Bodine, preparing earlier last week to run another car [#98 Ford] in the NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway today, sounded confident in the “El Paso” program. Trout “has bought some really good stuff from Ray Evernham,” said Bodine, who is scheduled to attend a hospitality event for sponsors at the convention center on July 21. “I’m real confident we’ll be in the field.”(full story – long – at the El Paso Times) and see another site: www.suncityracing.com, where you can find out more on the team, which will run the #34 Dodge and the crew chief is Geoff Kaeser.(6-20-2004)
- Love-Bug NASCAR Movie? hadn’t heard much about this in a while: Herbie: Fully Loaded, a movie with Herbie the Love Bug. Plot Outline: The classic white Volkswagen with a knack for helping couples hook up finds itself in the world of NASCAR racing. Production is scheduled to begin on June 21st, 2004 [tomorrow]. Only cast member mentioned at www.imdb.com is actress Lindsay Lohan.(6-20-2004)
- Jarrett helps out [$$] Kenseth? At least two people inside the NASCAR garage said Dale Jarrett gave fellow Ford driver Matt Kenseth a large bill to help pay his $25,000 fine for last week’s bumping incident with Kevin Harvick.(The State)(6-20-2004)
- Belt Confiscated from #49: Confiscated from Ken Schrader’s #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge at Michigan International Speedway was a Crotch Belt. The belt in violation, as it had surpassed the two year manufacturer’s date, stamped on the belt. Evidently the rest of the belt met requirements.(Insiderracing.com)(6-20-2004)
- NASCAR’s favorite “sons” take a drive with their biggest fans-their Dads: Action Performance Companies is ensuring NASCAR Dads will have a Happy Father’s Day with a special race day program at Michigan International Speedway on June 20, 2004. Several NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers will showcase special paint schemes that honor their favorite “NASCAR” Dads-their own. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series entrants will compete during the 400-mile race in Brooklyn, Mich. on Father’s Day Sunday. Action Performance helped create the program as a vehicle for drivers to share the NASCAR experience this Father’s Day and to thank “Dad” for all of his unending support in making their racing dreams come true. Each race car in the program will incorporate Father’s Day-oriented slogans among its standard paint scheme. Each driver also will share the race day spotlight, as his father’s name will be featured above the passenger-side door. In addition to the Happy Father’s Day motif, Kyle Petty and the #45 Georgia-Pacific team are using the opportunity to create a full-fledged tribute to Petty’s noteworthy father, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Richard “King” Petty. Each driver who participates in the Father’s Day program also is eligible for a $25,000 bonus. The prize will be rewarded the highest finishing driver, who will then present it to his father or Dad’s favorite charitable organization.
The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers participating in the Father’s Day event include:
#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr./Dale Earnhardt
#33-Kerry Earnhardt/Dale Earnhardt [DNQ]
#48-Jimmie Johnson/Gary Johnson
#18-Bobby Labonte/Bob Labonte
#5-Terry Labonte/Bob Labonte
#40-Sterling Marlin/Coo Coo Marlin
#42-Jamie McMurray/Jim McMurray
#41-Casey Mears/Roger Mears
#45-Kyle Petty/Richard “King” Petty
#20-Tony Stewart/Nelson Stewart
#25-Brian Vickers/Clyde Vickers
#2-Rusty Wallace/Russ Wallace
#15-Michael Waltrip/Leroy Waltrip
Action Performance is producing the commemorative die-cast replicas of all 13 Father’s Day edition NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race cars. A percentage of the proceeds from the sales of these Father’s Day collectibles have been earmarked to benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp. The die-cast will be available through Action’s usual distribution channels, including the 17-member ARC distributor network and the exclusive RCCA collector club.(Williams Company PR), for images of the cars, see my 2004 Cup Paint Schemes page.(6-20-2004)
- ASA Troubles? Problems continue to mount for the troubled American Speed Association with the latest setback the cancellation of its scheduled July 4th race at Pikes Peak International Raceway. The ASA’s National Tour was to have raced at the one-mile track in Colorado Springs, Colo. as part of an Independence Day doubleheader with the USAC National Sprint Car Series. But on Friday, the series announced the ASA portion of the doubleheader was cancelled because “event sponsorship did not materialize in time.” The Pikes Peak turn of events comes in the wake of reports that ASA president Steve Dale informed teams at last weekend’s event at Berlin Raceway that there would be no guarantees of future purses or television exposure and that the sanctioning body was experiencing severe financial problems. Several sources reported Dale was emotional and distraught during the impassioned session. Earlier in the week, ASA television partner SPEED Channel announced it had renewed its deal to carry ASA National Tour events through the 2005 season. Since purchasing the ASA from the Robbins family nearly two years ago, Dale has made several drastic modifications to the sanctioning body’s business model. The majority of changes came to the premiere National Tour division including the addition of superspeedway events to the traditional short track oriented schedule and the controversial color scheme introduced on cars at the beginning of the season. The new design, which incorporates sponsor logos on the side door panels while relegating numbers to the rear quarter panels, has been widely criticized by fans, television viewers and even some drivers. Dale also expanded the ASA’s base of operations to include a touring late model stock car series (the former US Pro circuit), a modified division (SMART) and a regional west coast truck circuit. ASA also introduced its Member Track Program this season aimed at bringing weekly short tracks into the fold, similar in nature to NASCAR’s popular Dodge Weekly Racing Series. Turmoil within the organization was reported as early as April when a mass exodus of long-time management personnel took place including former vice president of marketing and series co-owner Mark Gundrum and media relations staffers Mike Miller and Kyle Larsen.(see full story at RacingOne) and from the ASA Racing site: The reason given was anticipated event sponsorship did not materialize in time.(6-20-2004)
- New Shock Rule Coming? #9-Kasey Kahne, who had a rare off day Friday and will start 34th. NASCAR wanted to check the air pressure in his rear shocks after qualifying and got upset when the crew drained the pressure before turning them over. NASCAR is now considering a mandatory air-pressure rule for shocks. Changing the air pressure in shocks can change the ride-height of a car, increasing speed.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-20-2004)
- Something new for the fans: Last week, #2-Rusty Wallace, a full fleet of engineers and NASCAR officials recently conducted a test at Talladega Superspeedway. The test ran Wallace’s Dodge without a restrictor plate, enabling lap speeds to clock into the 216 mph neighborhood, with straightaway speeds dancing around the 228 mph mark. www.teamfordracing.com learned from garage sources the test dealt with a new wireless technology item that may become available to the fans.(Team Ford Racing)(6-19-2004)
- Waltrip to run for Charity – $1 million goal: #15-Michael Waltrip held a brief Q&A session with the media on Pit Road at Michigan International Speedway this morning while training for the Las Vegas Marathon. By participating in the Marathon on January 30, 2005, he hopes to raise $1 million for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. Kyle Petty was also on hand to lend his support for Waltrip’s effort. “I felt like it was important for people to remember that Kyle (Petty) and those folks have done such a great job raising all the money to build the camp. It’s going to take a real commitment from the whole community to maintain the camp. We wanted to draw attention to the fact that if the kids come there for a year, it’s going to cost $2 or $3 million. The donations need to continue to roll in. When you do something new, it gets a lot of attention. We want to make sure that attention remains on the camp and what Kyle and the whole Petty family have built. I thought this was a neat way to draw attention to it. I have some wonderful sponsors that are going to get involved and help. It’s become a real joy for Buffy and I to work on and to see where it all goes.”
“We want to raise $1 million. I think we can do that with the sponsors we have and with the fans. We’re going to come up with a program where people can log online and train with me. When they join the Marathon they’ll get maybe a die cast car. We’re going to do everything we can to get the fans involved. With such a hefty goal, we’re going to need the masses to pitch in $10 at a time in order to accomplish our goal. But we feel pretty confident that with the folks we have around us and the sponsors we have and the way the race fans have responded to the camp that we can accomplish our goal.”
“The plan is to have an announcement in July at Daytona showing the fans how they can get involved and talking about the wonderful corporate partners we have line up to be a part of it. This is just an eye-opener to let folks know I am going to do this and hopefully get some interest built in it. And then in July we’re going to announce how exactly the fans can contribute and how they can be a part of me running the marathon. Hopefully by then we can get some more drivers to commit to running the marathon too. We’re planning to offer that up in relay form so that we can maybe get 10 drivers to run a mile or so or a couple of miles apiece to knock out a marathon in that fashion as well. Maybe we should get the media involved. That would be interesting.”(Chevy Notes and Quotes PR)(6-19-2004)
- Ford Engines UPDATE: Speed Channel’s coverage of Nextel Cup qualifying at Michigan mentined that all the Ford Yates/Roush teams #’s 38, 88, 6, 16, 17, 97, 99 have a new Ford engine package except #21-Ricky Rudd.(6-18-2004)
UPDATE: Doug Yates and his motor gurus were busy this week readying a nearly full compliment of new D3 headed engines for the Ford entries. The new D3, which ran in all but two cars last week at Pocono Raceway, will run in seven of the eight Ford factory cars here at Michigan International Speedway. #21-Ricky Rudd will be the lone car with the older C3 issue package while both the Robert Yates Racing cars and all of the Roush Racing cars will have the D3 package this week. According to Yates the variety of engine failures in last week’s event were all unique unto themselves, and that there was no pattern of breakage that raised a red flag with the noted engine builder. Yates said the engine in Mark Martin’s and Jeff Burton’s Tauruses suffered from upper end valve train problems while Dale Jarrett’s Ford suffered from a piston problem. The problems found in Martin’s car differed from Burton’s car, but Yates didn’t elaborate regarding what he found. Yates said that it is “good to see the 88 running strong at Pocono,” and admitted that they were “probably pushing on [D.J.’s car engine] a little too hard”.(Team Ford Racing)(6-19-2004)
- Off to F-1 for the day: Teammates #24-Jeff Gordon, #25-Brian Vickers and #48-Jimmie Johnson and several Hendrick Motorsports team members hopped aboard a helicopter and then a private plane and headed for Indianapolis immediately after the final practice Saturday. They made the quick trip to Indy in time to watch qualifying for Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix and take a tour of the Formula One garages at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We’re going to show these guys a little bit about what Formula One is like and how it works,” said Gordon, who earlier this year caught an F1 race in Barcelona, Spain. Joining the drivers, who will start 1-2-3 in Sunday’s race, were Chad Knaus, Johnson’s crew chief, Hendrick Motorsports competition manager Ken House and Brian Whitesell, team manager for Gordon and Johnson.(Michigan Live/AP)(6-19-2004)
- The Official Bank: SunTrust Banks announced a multi-year agreement with NASCAR to become the “Official Bank of NASCAR.” SunTrust’s relationship with NASCAR, one of the largest and most popular sports in the country, reinforces the company’s commitment to serve the financial needs of the motorsports industry. Under terms of the agreement, SunTrust will be involved in NASCAR at many levels, including supporting the sport’s diversity initiatives, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, grassroots racing, and various charitable and community programs. In order to best serve the NASCAR community of drivers, owners and teams, SunTrust will build upon its Motorsports Banking Group announced earlier this year. The expanded unit will support both the financial needs of NASCAR’s drivers and teams as well as assist with the sport’s community-related programs that directly benefit the families of NASCAR’s drivers and teams. Sanctioned organizations that will receive immediate support from SunTrust Motorsports Banking include Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports (WAM), which helps to provide support for the families of NASCAR racers; Motor Racing Outreach (MRO), a non-denominational group that provides religious services for NASCAR and other racing series; and Victory Junction Gang Camp, a retreat for children living with chronic or life-threatening illnesses. SunTrust will also take its sponsorship to the track and broaden the number of NASCAR fans it reaches across the country by becoming an associate sponsor of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team to be named, as well as a contingency award sponsor of NASCAR’s Dodge Weekly Racing Series, NASCAR’s grassroots racing series. This local program will also include sponsorship of several grassroots racing facilities.(Yahoo Biz)(6-19-2004)
- Dodge Charger? the Dodge Intrpid replacement for Dodge’s NASCAR entry has been rumored for months to be a Charger, and am hearing it will be introduced as a new body line in mid year 2005, will be rear wheel drive, have a Hemi option, and be a four door.
AND The automaker [Dodge] is expected to build a higher-output, 6.1-liter Hemi to join the current 5.7-liter model, now available in Dodge pickups and SUVs as well as the Chrysler 300 Series sedan. As many as half of buyers choose the Hemi in those vehicles. Chrysler has begun putting the bigger Hemi in prototype models of the all-new 2005 Dodge Charger sedan, which is in test production in Brampton, Ontario, according to two company sources familiar with the project. The Charger is expected to reach showrooms next spring.(Detroit News), July 1st is the drop-dead date set by NASCAR for new car submissions.(6-19-2004)
- ABC/ESPN back? ABC/ESPN is targeting a takeover of the NBC/TNT half of the NASCAR TV package, which expires in 2006 — two seasons earlier then FOX’s contract.(Sporting News Print Magazine, dated 6-21-2004, page 7)(6-19-2004)
- Still Feudin’: #17-Matt Kenseth and #29-Kevin Harvick continued their feud from last weekend’s race at Pocono in dueling news conferences Friday at Michigan International Speedway. Kenseth and Harvick each spun out in incidents involving the other in the final four laps of last Sunday’s Pocono 500. This week, NASCAR fined each $25,000 and placed both on probation until Aug. 11. Harvick said Kenseth’s spin was the result of Kenseth brake-checking in front of him, while Kenseth said he retaliated against Harvick because if “I was going to lose those spots (on the track), then he was going to lose his, too.” While Kenseth spent much of his time with the media contradicting Harvick’s account of the incident, Harvick directed most of his comments at NASCAR officials, saying he was penalized him without cause. “We presented NASCAR with everything they needed. (Kenseth’s) skid marks are very evident on the race track and I wish now I had taken a picture of them. There’s no way you can spin someone out under caution without at least knocking the grille out of your car,” Harvick said. “Just like (Nextel Cup Series director) John Darby told me, ‘Your past is probably why you’re getting a fine.’ I don’t think that’s the right way to go. But then, what has been right the past few weeks?” Harvick said he would not appeal the penalty. “The appeals process doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, you’re going to lose,” he said. Harvick and his team owner, Richard Childress, remain adamant that Kenseth instigated both incidents under caution. “I’ve done a lot of wrong things, and that’s the first time I have ever talked to Mike Helton twice and presented everything we presented,” Harvick said. “Whether they like it or not, they are hard, cold facts.” Kenseth denied he brake-checked, triggering the first spin. After both news conferences, Darby again asked both drivers to visit the NASCAR hauler, where they met for several minutes before the start of Friday’s practice session.(see full story at ThatsRacin.com)(6-19-2004)
- Green Flag Finishes in all races in 2005? UPDATE 2 maybe sooner? and more NASCAR is looking at ways to finish races under green, but nothing is expected to change until next season at the earliest, a series official said Monday. Three of the past six Nextel Cup races have ended under caution. “I think long-term, we’ve got to do everything we can to figure out how to finish races under green,” said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president. Hunter said he doesn’t anticipate a change this year. One option is to guarantee that the race’s final two laps are run under green, as is done in the Craftsman Truck Series.(Roanoke Times)(6-15-2004)
UPDATE – sooner? Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark said Thursday that NASCAR officials indicated to him this week that mandatory green-flag finishes for Nextel Cup races are in the works and could be in place before the end of the season. Clark said this week would be a good time to start: “There’s no reason not to do it right now. It would be equal for everybody.” Fans have expressed their displeasure at races ending under caution by throwing objects onto the track and at officials. “My expectation is that every race that ends under caution, you’ll see the same thing,” Clark said. “It’s like booing a driver — once everybody gets to doing it, there’s no stopping it.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(6-18-2004)
“green-green-white-checkered” but: NASCAR officials, working quickly to repair an image damaged by a series of recent mistakes, are considering a new rule intended to ensuring green-flag finishes. The rule, which could go into effect later this season, according to NASCAR sources, would be used in the event of a yellow flag in the closing laps of a race and would allow NASCAR to run a “green-green-white-checkered” finish – that is, a three-lap green-flag shootout – even if that meant the race would go beyond the scheduled distance. But if the yellow came out again during that shootout, then the race would end under caution.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-19-2004)
AND: NASCAR is exploring possibilities to help ensure green-flag finishes in its Nextel Cup Series, spokesman Mike Zizzo confirmed Saturday. A green-white-checkered rule is already used in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series, but whether NASCAR would adapt the same rule, or something a little different for Cup has not yet been decided.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-19-2004)
- NASCAR Pay Per View Racing Special: a racing program that premiered last night [Friday, June 18th] on inDemand called “The greatest night of champions. It pits 5 current NASCAR drivers against 5 retired drivers. The program runs for almost 3 hours. Legendary drivers include three-time Winston Cup Chamption Cale Yarborough, Ernie Irvan, Harry Gant, Dave Marcis and Dick Trickle. Representing the current drivers are Sterling Marlin, Jimmy Spencer, Bill Elliot and Kerry Earnhardt. Darrell Waltrip will host the event and his brother Michael Waltrip will serve as race commentator. For re-airs, see inDemand.com and check to see if your cable provider carries it.(6-19-2004)
- Elliott at Indy UPDATE: #91-Bill Elliott plans to return to Indy, the site of his 43rd career win, driving a Dodge sponsored by Visteon.(RacingOne)(6-12-2004)
UPDATE: on Tuesday, June 22nd, Visteon’s Greg Gyllstrom, vice president and general manager of North America and Asia Aftermarket Operations, will join Ray Evernham and driver Bill Elliott to announce details of the Brickyard 400 and a primary sponsorship of the team. Visteon’s Aftermarket Operations are committed to leading the market in delivering products that withstand the extreme vehicle requirements and endurance of racing, and to delivering original equipment components and systems to customers and consumers of Aftermarket products. The Brickyard 400 will also be the venue for the first public showing of Visteon’s newest line of glass products, the NASCAR Performance Windshields and the GlideMaster rear windows for light duty trucks.(Visteon Site)(6-19-2004)
- Robby Apologizes: #31-Robby Gordon publicly apologized to #12-Ryan Newman for the crash that eliminated Newman from the Pocono 500 and led him to describe the crash by saying Gordon “ran out of talent.” “I’m sorry about what happened with Ryan,” said Gordon. “He is a very talented driver and I respect him greatly. I just got pushed down too low on the track onto the curb and it made me loose, causing me to swing up into him. I didn’t mean to do that. I was just trying to save my race car and, unfortunately, bumped him in the process.”(Gaston Gazette)(6-19-2004)
- Software for the pit crews coming? NASCAR’s next technical challenge is to develop computer software and hardware to provide its teams on pit road with the new freeze-the-field scoring information from the loop system. NASCAR’s Mike Helton said last week the new system would be used to set the field at the yellow. However, teams say they have no scoring monitors to tell them what the field should look like. And they say that NASCAR’s only two-radio channels are filled with chatter.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-19-2004)
- Melling and Elliott team up at MIS: Mark Melling and Bill Elliott, two of the most famous names in Michigan International Speedway history, are getting back together this weekend at MIS. Melling, a Jackson businessman whose father, Harry, sponsored Elliott from 1981 through 1991, is sponsoring the Bill Elliott Racing Team entry driven by MIS newcomer Ray Cook in the Flagstar 200 ARCA Re/Max Series race Saturday. The sponsorship of Cook by Melling Cylinder Sleeves is one of two Melling sponsorship interests in the ARCA race. Melling is also sponsoring the Melling Oil Pump Chevrolet driven by Billy Venturini.(Michigan Live)
HOWEVER: Bill Elliott’s debut as an ARCA Re/Max car owner got off to a rough start Friday when his driver, Ray Cook, became the first to test the new SAFER walls at Michigan International Speedway. Cook lost control of his Dodge late in practice and backed the car hard into the wall in Turn 2. Cook wasn’t hurt, but the car’s rear end was caved in to the back window, and Cook was not able to qualify it for today’s Flagstar 200, scheduled for 1:00pm/et.(Detroit Free Press)(6-19-2004)
- Davis not happy with Blaney leaving: Car owner Bill Davis was not pleased at Blaney’s decision to join Childress. Davis said he had a verbal agreement with Blaney to field a car for him here and at other tracks this season.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-19-2004)
- Seen on Pit Road: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 GM Goodwrench Chevy, in a Matt Kenseth Championship T-Shirt.(MRN Radio Qualifying Coverage)(6-18-2004)
- Pit Road Flag Changes: the control tower will now radio down to the pit road flagman what flag to display and when pit road is closed or open.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio Report)(6-18-2004)
AND Beginning this weekend, NASCAR officials in race control will instruct the pit road flagman when to signal pit road is open or closed, NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo said. Previously, the pit road flagman received instruction from race control, but also could wave the flag at his or her own discretion. Last weekend at Pocono, pit road flagman Dean Duckett mistakenly put out a green-flag, signaling pit road was open when it should have been closed. Several drivers, including then-race leader Jimmie Johnson, followed correct procedure and did not pit, but the majority of the lead-lap drivers did. NASCAR could not find a suitable method to correct the mistake and left the running order as it was. Johnson still won the race.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-18-2004)
- Gordon wins DHL 400 pole: #24-Jeff Gordon won the pole for the DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway with an event [not track] qualifying record speed of 190.865mph, his 2nd Budweiser Pole of 2004, 48th of his career and 4th at Michigan. Hendrick Motorsports swept the first three spots as #25-Brian Vickers is on the outside pole and #48-Jimmie Johnson qualified 3rd [#5-Terry Labonte starts 31st]. Rounding out the top five is #12-Ryan Newman and #31-Robby Gordon. #30-Dave Blaney broke loose and backed into the turn two wall and will need to go to a backup car and use a provisional, starting 39th, but will have to fall to the rear of the field before the drop of the green flag on Sunday. Failing to make the race are #33-Kerry Earnhardt and #00-Carl Long.
Michigan Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup at:
Jayski’s Semi-Live Michigan Qualifying/Grid Page
- StockCarFans.com – RAMBLINGS — MICHIGAN:
It was a Hendrick Motorsport parade today at Michigan International Speedway….and Jeff Gordon was at the head of the line. Gordon grabbed his second Bud Pole of the season (he nabbed the top-spot at Martinsville in April) this afternoon for Sunday’s DHL 400 with a speed of 190.865 (37.723 sec). This is the 4th pole for Gordon at MIS, and the 48th of his career. Hendrick Chevy’s took the top three spots…Brian Vickers and last week’s winner Jimmie Johnson were the supporting cast today.
Robby Gordon (5th) has his best starting spot since he started 3rd when we were here last August.
Kurt Busch (7th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 7th at Martinsville in April.
STREAKIN….Brian Vickers has 6 Top-10 starts in a row.
Ryan Newman has 5 Top-10 starts in the last 6 races.
Jimmie Johnson has 4 Top-5 starts in the last 5 races.
The Trouble Train only contained two cars today….45 on hand, so the early outs go to Kerry Earnhardt & Carl Long.
Gotta wonder about TV sometimes. Speed TV [Channel] couldn’t tear themselves away from an interview with an employee (Michael Waltrip) long enough for us to see Dave Blaney crash on his first qualifying lap. Brother DW was letting ’em know there was trouble, but I guess it just didn’t fit their broadcast mode du jour. Funny, I thought it was a qualifying show. How’s about that brother stuff. Todd Bodine in on time by .001 over brother Geoffrey….can’t get any closer than that! 400 miles here is a mere sprint after what we’ve had the last couple weeks. This race is often fast and fuelish….wide sweeping turns with multiple grooves makes this a place where you need to hit the setup off the truck, cause chances are you’re not gonna get a whole lot of pit stops to improve it.(StockCarFans.Com Nextelcup Newsletter)(6-18-2004)
- Morgan-McClure to skip Infineon Raceway race: #4 Morgan-McClure driver, Jimmy Spencer, says the team will not run a car at the road course at Infineon Raceway next week [June 27th]. The unsponsored team has ran in all the races so far in the 2004 Nextel Cup season, but is 36th in owners points. Spencer said that lack of sponsorship led to the decision. Team owner Larry McClure said a deal to put Johnny Miller [who ran the car last year at Infineon] in the car couldn’t be worked out. McClure said he is still talking to potential sponsors, but says the team needs a few decent runs to help seal the deal.(NASCAR Scene Magazine – need sub to read online)(6-18-2004)
- 3rd Evernham team? Harley Davidson? UPDATE: hearing that Evernham Motorsports may expand to a full-time 3-car team and that Harley Davidson may be involved with the team in some capacity. NO IDEA if this would involved Bill Elliott or who the thrid driver may be, if it happens.(6-8-2004)
UPDATE: Team owner Ray Evernham dismissed a report that he has signed Harley Davidson as a sponsor for a third team, but didn’t dismiss the idea of bringing his #91 team up to fulltime. Evernham says he is just friends with a top company official at Harley Davidson and the official recently visited Evernham. As for the third team, Evernham would like to put the program together and that Bill Elliott would be part of that with the option of driving full-time or sharing the ride.(NASCAR Scene Magazine – need sub to read online)(6-18-2004)
- Official Suspended for Truck Race Snafu: Dion Hinskey, the official who mistakenly triggered a caution during the May 21 Craftsman Truck Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, NC, was suspended by NASCAR for three races, ThatsRacin.com has learned. As of Friday, NASCAR, however, had not suspended Nextel Cup Series official Dean Duckett, who served as the flagman at the entrance of pit road in last weekend’s controversial race at Pocono, sources confirmed. During the Pocono race, Puckett mistakenly waved a green flag allowing lead lap cars to pit when they were not supposed to. Then-race leader Jimmie Johnson and three others did not pit, instead following the correct procedure outlined in the drivers’ meeting the morning of the race. Johnson rebounded and ended up winning the race. In the Truck race, Hinskey, the backup flagman, mistakenly activated the caution lights on the track with four of 134 laps remaining when a truck spun, but no caution was called by race control. Then-race leader Carl Edwards slowed thinking there was a caution as did second place Dennis Setzer. Setzer, realizing no caution was called, passed Edwards and held on for the victory. At the time, NASCAR denied the caution lights were activated. Later, once in-car camera footage was found showing the light illuminated, NASCAR admitted it had made a mistake. Hinskey’s first missed race was the June 4 race at Dover, Del., where Cup flagman Jimmy Howell replaced him in the flagstand. When asked about any punishments officials have received in either incident, NASCAR spokesman Mize Zizzo said NASCAR would not comment on internal personnel matters.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-18-2004)
- Mountain Dew back on the #9 and #19 – #9 at MIS: Evernham Motorsports teammates Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne showed their alliance to the “Dew Crew” today when they unveiled their Mountain Dew Dodge paint-outs plastered with the team green at the Michigan International Speedway. “Fueled by Dew,” Kahne’s #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge will feature a Mountain Dew paint scheme when he competes in the DHL 400 this Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. Mayfield will race in his Mountain Dew-themed #19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge at the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on November 14. Mountain Dew is sponsoring Kasey Kahne and Jeremy Mayfield throughout the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. Both drivers are making appearances for Mountain Dew during the season and they are featured on in-store display materials. In addition, Mountain Dew sponsors the over-the-wall pit crews for Kahne and Mayfield. Their teams are known as the “Dew Crew.”
“The association between Mountain Dew and Evernham Motorsports is such a big part of our race team and I’ve enjoyed working with them,” said Mayfield who is in his third season as a driver for Evernham Motorsports. “Everything they do is so much fun to be a part of. I’m excited about the Dew paint scheme I’ll be running at Darlington and look forward to making the other drivers green with envy.”
“This is my first year being associated with Mountain Dew, it’s been fun so far,” said rookie driver Kasey Kahne. “Everyone on the team has been great to work with and each week I meet new people who are part of the Mountain Dew team. I love Mountain Dew, so working with them comes naturally. Running the Dew car at Michigan this weekend is something I’m looking forward to. It’s always fun to drive a car with different paint on it. It gets the fans’ attention and if you do well it helps the sponsors.” This marks the fourth year that Mountain Dew has sponsored Evernham Motorsports. Pepsi-Cola North America, the makers of Mountain Dew, has been involved with NASCAR since 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).(Evernham Motorsports/Clear!Blue PR), see images of the cars on my #9 Team Paint Schemes and #19 Team Paint Schemes pages.(6-18-2004)
- Waltrip starts a driver development program: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) introduces the formation of a driver development program. The Sherrills Ford, N.C. based team, which already fields winning NASCAR Busch Series cars and competitive NEXTEL Cup cars with experienced drivers, will now field cars in the American Speed Association (ASA). They will compete in a limited number of events in late 2004 with plans to field a two-car team for the entire 2005 schedule. “The fact that we have limited schedules in different series enables us to test all the waters,” explained Director of Competition Joe Garone. “We feel like we have a real grasp on what it takes to be competitive on any level. Our focus is not a specific series, but a program built on nurturing a driver from all aspects including performance, relationship building and media savvy.” “The emphasis has to be on performance,” car owner Michael Waltrip said. “It is necessary to win to be successful in any type of racing. It is also it’s important to develop all the elements necessary to be a winning driver.” Michael Waltrip Racing will begin testing with several drivers this summer, and is talking with current ASA and NASCAR competitors about coaching the new talent during these tests. “We have our eyes on a lot of guys we think have potential to be the next NASCAR star,” said Waltrip. “With the experienced people we have in place at MWR, we feel like we have the perfect opportunity to develop that talent. Between my years of driving race cars and representing sponsors and Joe Garone’s and Jerry Baxter’s (current Busch Series crew chief) expertise in building winning race cars, the rewards of developing young talent are obvious.”(MWR PR)(6-18-2004)
- Stewart to run Olympics scheme at MIS in Aug: This year the 2004 summer Olympics will be held in Athens, Greece, the birthplace of the modern and ancient Olympic games. Excited to support the U.S. Olympic athletes, Home Depot has renewed its sponsorship of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics Teams through 2008. For the second time on the NASCAR circuit Tony Stewart will be racing his #20 The Home Depot Chevrolet to support this legendary athletic competition. To commemorate the 2004 Athens Olympics, Stewart’s special paint scheme will feature the Olympic logo and graphics at the August 22nd race in Michigan.(Sunday Hauler) and see an image on my #20 Team Paint Schemes pages.(6-18-2004)
- Mears Car at MIS: Once again the Target Team will bring chassis #402 to Michigan International Speedway to try and earn #41-Casey Mears his first top-five finish. This chassis has four top-10 finishes this season including a 10th last weekend at Pocono.(Casey Mears Site)(6-18-2004)
- Fed-Ex to Gibbs? 3rd team UPDATE 2 Biffle? Yeley? Letter of Intent: Greg Biffle, a former truck and Busch champion, is looking to leave his Roush Racing Cup ride, but he’ll be with the #16 car for the rest of this season. He isn’t about to risk losing his Roush ride in the Busch Series as he tries to find a new Cup ride. “There’s no way I’d ever leave anywhere midseason,” Biffle says. “Times are tough, but they’re not that tough. I’m going to try to honor all of our contracts that are present. For now, we’re going to work real hard to get this Busch and Cup deal turned around.” Biffle is sixth in Busch Series points and 23rd in Cup.(FoxSports/Sporting News), see past rumors on the #16 Team News and Links page.(6-14-2004)
AND Federal Express, which once was in the running to be the title sponsor of NASCAR’s top series before Nextel came on board, has been in talks with both Joe Gibbs Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. Word in the garage: Fed Ex will end up on a third Cup car for the 2005 season at JGR with J.J. Yeley, a Busch rookie this season, behind the wheel. But Gibbs says it’s too early to commit. “Right now, we’re in the process of moving through things, and we can’t announce anything because the deal isn’t done,” Gibbs says. “We’ve been in conversations for a long time but right now it’s just a work in progress.”(FoxSports/Sporting News)(5-24-2004)
THE UPDATE add…Biffle: FedEx will announce Wednesday that it will sponsor a third Nextel Cup car for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2005. The car will carry the #11, which was the number that J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, wore as a football player at William and Mary. J.J. Yeley was expected to be the driver of a third Nextel Cup car next year, but the organization wants a veteran driver for the ride. Sources close to the team say that Greg Biffle would be at the top of their list. Joe Gibbs, the Washington Redskins’ coach, will play his home games at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. next fall so a relationship already existed between Gibbs and the company that will move from the field to the track next year.(FoxSports)(6-16-2004)
UPDATE 2 Yeley: hearing that FedEx introduced J.J. Yeley and Joe Gibbs at their annual sales meeting in Orlando, FL today with the car, owner and driver [Yeley](6-16-2004)
UPDATE 3: FedEx said Wednesday it has signed a letter of intent to sponsor Joe Gibbs Racing’s third car starting in 2005. A driver hasn’t been chosen for the #11 FedEx Chevrolet. No financial terms were announced, although UPS’s sponsorship of the #88 Ford driven by Dale Jarrett – one of the sport’s marquee drivers – reportedly is worth as much as $16 million a year. FedEx confirmed only that it has signed a letter of intent. Gibbs Racing said it expects a contract to be signed within a month. FedEx and Gibbs Racing have been in talks for about 18 months. It hasn’t been decided if FedEx will have associated sponsorships with other Gibbs drivers, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart. One of the candidates to drive the new FedEx-sponsored Chevy is Busch Series rookie J. J. Yeley. Yeley, a Gibbs driver, has one top 10 finish in nine starts and sits 29th in the Busch standings. “What we’re going to do is build a list (of potential drivers) based on what kind of potential they have and what kind of equipment they’re running already,” said Dean Noble, vice president of business affairs for Gibbs Racing. “After interviews we’d narrow the list to a couple of guys who would meet with FedEx. It’s truly a partnership putting this team together.” FedEx’s entry into the sport could help the Memphis Motorsports Park, said vice president and general manager Jason Rittenberry. The track has NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series events and covets a place in NASCAR’s premier Nextel Cup Series.(Memphis Commercial Appeal)(6-17-2004)
- NASCAR Day featured on the #50 at MIS: Arnold Motorsports announced they will feature the NASCAR Day logo on their #50 Dodge this weekend at Michigan International Speedway with driver P.J. Jones. NASCAR Day is an opportunity for the NASCAR community nationwide to unite and celebrate its enthusiasm for the sport while raising money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp for kids, which celebrated its grand opening Tuesday. PJ Jones will again be driving for Arnold Motorsports after a team-best 22nd-place effort at Pocono last weekend.
“I¹m very proud of the car we¹re running this weekend in support of NASCAR Day,” said PJ Jones. “We had a good race last weekend and we¹re hoping for the same this weekend to attract attention to this unique program that the entire NASCAR community can get behind. Victory Junction is going to provide seriously ill children with the chance to just be kids as they experience the fun of summer camp. I¹m excited that Arnold Motorsports and I can do our part to help support the Camp by showing our NASCAR spirit to benefit children.” Fans can show their NASCAR spirit by donating a minimum of $5 in exchange for the opportunity to wear their favorite NASCAR apparel to work on August 20, the inaugural NASCAR Day. All participants will receive a commemorative NASCAR Day lapel pin. Proceeds will benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp, which was established to provide fun and memorable camping experiences to chronically ill children. Fans seeking information, or to sign up for NASCAR Day, should visit www.nascar.com/nascarday or call 1-866-305-4703. For more information on Arnold Motorsports, visit www.arnold-motorsports.com.(Arnold Motorsports PR)(6-17-2004)
- Special Coca Cola Schemes at the Pepsi 400 UPDATE: interesting, hearing that eight drivers will run special Coca-Cola C2 [never flavor of coke, less sugar or something] schemes at Daytona in the July 3rd, ‘Pepsi 400’. The drivers? #29-Harvick, #1-Andretti, #91-Elliott, #16-Biffle, #97-Busch, #99-Burton, #21-Rudd and #20-Stewart. See images of the #29 and #1 on my 2004 Cup Schemes page.(6-4-2004)
ADDED: #16, #21, #97 and #99 Coca-Cola C2 to my 2004 Cup Schemes page.(6-5-2004)
UPDATE: Bill Elliott has become a big player in the cola wars that will be fought at Daytona International Speedway next month. The July 3 Nextel Cup race is sponsored by Pepsi, but Atlanta-based Coca-Cola has chosen the event for a huge promotion of its new mid-calorie, reduced-carb beverage, Coca-Cola C2. Elliott, who hasn’t raced in Cup since April 4 at Texas, will drive a Coke-sponsored #98 Dodge [not sure how this effects the current #98 Ford team and who would get to use the number, they are listed at #198 for owners, and last I heard, #98 is held by Yates, assume Elliott would be owner #298]. Because his usual car owner Ray Evernham has a deal with Pepsi, Elliott will have to be his own car owner. He will lease the car from Evernham, and after a recent test at Daytona is confident of a strong run. “I’m looking forward to this,” Elliott said Wednesday. “Coke’s from Georgia and so am I, so for me this is a really neat deal.” Seven other drivers will be carrying the C2 colors at Daytona, including #1-John Andretti, who like Elliott, is running a limited schedule this season. Elliott’s return as a car owner actually will come this weekend at Michigan when he’ll field an ARCA car for his dirt racing buddy, Ray Cook. “Ray’s a good young driver and he’s worked awfully hard at racing,” Elliott said. “I’m just trying to open some doors for him and help him get some credibility.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and see the #20 Home Depot/Coca-Cola image on my #20 Team Paint Scheme page.(6-17-2004)
- Cautions…Cautions…Cautions: 24.5% of laps have been run under caution in last two races on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup tour (and a whopping 34.3% in final half of those races) – only 13.8% of Michigan’s last 10 races run under yellow — “Gosh, I’ll tell you, it must be a situation where the moon is aligned with some of the evil stars or something weird like that,” chuckled Rusty Wallace about the recent happenings. “Michigan has always been a pretty calm place, with all the excitement centered around fuel mileage, pit strategy and track position. I really think things will calm down a whole lot this week at Michigan and I’ll be totally shocked if they don’t.”(TRPR)(6-17-204)
- Waltrip Racing Experience Announced: Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion and FOX Sports Analyst Darrell Waltrip announced plans for a $5 million, 30,000 square-foot motor racing-themed attraction to be opened in this resort community in spring 2005, sited at the multi-purpose Belle Island Village development in the heart of Pigeon Forge, Tenn. “Darrell Waltrip’s Racing Experience” is the second major attraction to be announced at Belle Island Village, located in an East Tennessee community that attracts more than 11 million visitors a year as a gateway to America’s most visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The venue will include such components as an interactive theatre, competition radio-controlled cars, a racing car simulator, pit crew area, an arcade, and both permanent and rotating exhibits ranging from 15-25 actual stock cars that have won a variety of racing events.(Bristol Herald Courier)(6-17-2004)
- Final Pocono TV Ratings off 1.9%: Fox’s broadcast of last Sunday’s Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway earned a 5.2 national rating and a 14 share from Nielsen Media Research, down 1.9 percent from last year’s 5.3/14. Sports Business Daily figures show Fox averaging a 5.8/14 through 11 races, down 1.7 percent from the 11 comparable races in 2003.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-17-2004)
- Benson wins at Berlin..laps Waltrip: Johnny Benson Jr. promised Michael Waltrip that he would have a blast if he someday joined him for a night of racing at the Berlin Raceway in Marne. Waltrip did make it out to Berlin on Wednesday night and said he had a great time. However, Benson had everyone beat when it came to having fun. Benson grabbed the checkered flag in the 125-lap Spring Memorial, outdueling the powerhouse T.A. Gentry teammates of Joe Bush and Lee Anderson in front of 6,330 fans. Benson overtook Bush, the track’s Late Model division points leader, with 11 laps to go and pulled away, disappearing into lapped traffic over the final laps.(Michigan Live)(6-17-2004)
- Cope in the #02: Look for Derrike Cope this weekend at Michigan where he will be attempting to qualify Hermie Sadler’s #02 Nextel Cup car and run in the DHL 400. Cope indicated that someone would fill in for him this weekend in the Busch Race at Kentucky [Mark Green](Derrike Cope site)(6-17-2004)
- Kahne is Hot: This week People Magazine picks, for the fifth year, “The 50 Hottest Bachelors” in a special double issue. From a pro tennis player (Andy Roddick), to a NASCAR driver (Kasey Kahne) and an astronaut (Benjamin Alvin Drew), there’s someone for everyone. This year PEOPLE has chosen actor Orlando Bloom as Bachelor #1. #9-Kasey Kahne was chosen in the “At the To of the Game” Section.(Clear!Blue PR)(6-17-2004)
- Mears’ Pit Crew Collects Pocono Win; #8 Crew Extends Points Lead: The pit crew for Casey Mears, which has been close many times in the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade, can now lay claim to winning the weekly contest with a solid effort in Sunday’s Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. The victory, worth $20,000, was the third of the season for the Chip Ganassi Racing stable. Mears’ teammates – the No. 40 team for Sterling Marlin and the #42 team for Jamie McMurray – also scored pit crew victories with Marlin’s crew winning in Bristol and McMurray’s in Charlotte. Mears’ crew gained five spots in the McDonald’s/POWERade standings, moving from 17th into a tie for 12th. The #8 crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues in first place with a 38-point margin over Elliott Sadler’s team. In the first 14 races of 2003, the #8 crew has garnered two wins, nine top fives and 13 top 10s. The season champion receives a $200,000 bonus. Mears’ #41 Target Dodge spent the least amount of time on pit road in Pocono – 233.419 seconds. Busch’s Irwin Ford followed with a time of 260.402. Earnhardt’s Budweiser Chevy was third at 304.851. “I am really proud of the guys,” said Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for the 41 team. “Pit stops have never been our suit, but the Target guys have been working really hard during the week. This just proves that their hard work is paying off and we are getting the results that we’ve been striving for over the past year.” Mears’ over-the-wall crew consists of: Dave Gebhardt (front-tire changer), Marty Forcier (front-tire carrier), Jason Sheets (rear-tire changer), Scott Myers (rear-tire carrier), Rick Reling (jackman), Les Huntley (gas man) and Todd Anderson (catch can).(DMF Communications), for the top 10 at Pocono and the standings, see my Pit Crew page.(6-17-2004)
- Knaus wins Pocono WypAll Wipers Crew Chief of the race: #48 crew chief, Chad Knaus for driver Jimmie Johnson in the Hendrick Motorsports / Lowe’s Chevy, won the Crew Chief Challenge Winner on June 13, 2004 at Pocono Raceway.(WypAll Wipers site)(6-17-2004)
- Long misses race UPDATE: Despite the absence of his crew chief, Jim Long, who was sick and remained in Charlotte this weekend, #5-Terry Labonte earned his second consecutive seventh-place finish. The team’s chief engineer, Alan Gustafson, served as crew chief for the race.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-14-2004)
UPDATE: Jim Long, crew chief of the #5 Kellogg’s Chevrolets, is expected back in the garage this weekend after sitting out the race at Pocono. He remained home in Denver, N.C., last week for tests and treatment of migraine headaches while chief engineer Alan Gustafson served as interim crew chief.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(6-17-2004)
- Victory Junction Gang Camp Opens: I attended the grand opening of the Victory Junction Gang Camp on Tuesday [June 15th] and was blown away by the camp and all it’s beautiful buildings. The event was well organized, enjoyable and quite emotional [yes I shed a few tears]. I got to see the computer lab funded by readers of Jayski.com an was shocked to see a huge Jayski banner adorning the wall of the Silver Theatre where the lab is located, the home page for all the computers is Jayski.com, I was quite humbled. If nothing else becomes of this site, knowing that I and the readers were in some small part able to help the Petty’s and kids, all the hard work is worth it and really motivates me to continue and keep working at it. The folks attending the event were quite impressive, all the Petty’s were there, Paul Newman, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers, Robbie Loomis, Benny Parsons, Ned Jarrett, Gov. Mike Easley, Rep. Karen Ray and just so many people, some I knew, some I met. Brian and Heather [and Mechanzie?] Collier and their staff have done an awesome job, I was just in awe and shocked at the place. Even on-and-off showers couldn’t dampen the night or the spirits of everyone there. I dropped off my check for Robby Gordon’s double [$815 – for each mile he ran at Indy and LMS – plus I added a bonus of $185], so the computer lab fund is up over $12,000 now]. I took a bunch on pics and hope to post them soon, but FoxSports.com has a few images posted to get ya started at: PHOTOS: Victory Junction Gang Camp grand opening and see a good PR about the night at Catchfence.com and story at the Rocky Mount Telegram. I plan to come up sometime soon once things settle down and spend a day up there, updating from the Computer lab and seeing the staff and kids and helping in anyway I can. And thanks to Kyle and Pattie Petty for the kind words, it means alot to help out.(6-16-2004)
- Harvick and Kenseth dropped in final finishing order UPDATE and fined $25k: after meeting with #17-Matt Kenseth and #29-Kevin Harvick for their beating and banging and spinning each other out, NASCAR moved both to the tail end of the lead lap. So Kenseth goes to 21st and Harvick goes to 20th. Unofficial results already had Kenseth in 21st due to his pitstop, Harvick drops from 10th to 20th but maintains 9th in the driver points standings.(Speed Channel’s Speed News coverage)(6-13-2004)
AND the official results are now posted at the Pocono Race Results/Awards page.(6-14-2004)
AND II Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick were penalized for bumping each other at the end of the Pocono 500. With Sunday’s race about to end under caution, Harvick spun Kenseth into the infield in Turn 3 on Lap 197. Kenseth then did the same to Harvick on the backstretch on the next lap. Both Kenseth, the 2003 series champion, and Harvick were interviewed after the race by NASCAR officials, who then dropped them to 20th and 21st. Harvick originally finished 11th, and Kenseth had finished 10th. More penalties could be coming later this week, NASCAR president Mike Helton said. “It boils down to a frustration level between the 17 [Kenseth] and the 29 [Harvick] that got played out on the race track, under caution, and that’s something we frown on … greatly,” Helton said.(CNNSI/AP)(6-15-2004)
UPDATE – Kenseth and Harvick fined: Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth were each fined $25,000 by NASCAR and placed on probation until Aug. 11 for bumping incidents between the two during the final laps of Sunday’s Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. Harvick, driver of the #29 GM Goodwrench Chevy, and Kenseth, driver of the #17 DeWalt Ford, took part in bumping and spinning out each other during the final caution period of the race, which extended from Lap 197 to 200. Both drivers were penalized for involvement in an altercation with another competitor during a caution period. The rift began 11 laps from the finish when Harvick passed Kenseth coming out of Turn 1 and cut in front of Kenseth’s car. Kenseth then used the front of his car to lift Harvick’s rear wheels and passed him again as the final caution came out. While the race was under caution, Harvick spun Kenseth into the infield in Turn 3 on lap 197. At the time, no penalties were assessed or drivers or crew chiefs called to the NASCAR hauler. Kenseth then returned the favor on the backstretch on the following lap, after which NASCAR called both drivers and crew chiefs to the hauler after the race.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-16-2004)
- Special Scheme for Kenseth at Michigan: This weekend, the #17 Ford will sport a Carhartt paint scheme, as one of the team’s largest associate sponsors takes over the primary role. Headquartered in nearby Dearborn, Mich., Carhartt (established 110 years ago) manufactures the most rugged, high quality workwear on the market.(Matt Kenseth Site), see an image of the scheme on the #17 Team Paint Schemes page.(6-15-2004)
- #30 driver at Michigan? UPDATE it’s Blaney: The question of who runs for him [in the #30 AOL Chevy] at Michigan, [team owenr Richard] Childress said, will likely be decided Monday or Tuesday. Sauter is 28th in the standings entering today’s Pocono 500. For the moment “I don’t know,” Childress said of his Michigan driver. “Right now Johnny Sauter is hired to drive the car, and he doesn’t have (competing) commitments. But….”(Winston Salem Journal), see past rumors [from April] on the #30 Team News and Links page.(6-13-2004)
UPDATE [from June 11th – see quote: With Dave Blaney stepping in for Johnny Sauter for this weekend’s Nextel Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., there is speculation that Sauter is on his way out of the #30 car with Richard Childress Racing. The official word is travel commitments would not allow Sauter to make it back and forth between this weekend’s Busch Series race in Gladeville, Tenn., where he is competing, and Pocono. Sauter did not return a phone message, but his father, Jim Sauter, said a permanent driver change could be on the way based on discussions with his son. “I think it’s more than (travel),” Jim Sauter said. “That’s just as far as they’re concerned, a way of getting around it with the media. If Childress was going to keep him around, he would have left him in there. It doesn’t look good.”(Wisconsin State Journal), the entry lists for MIS have Sauter listed in the #30.(6-15-2004)
UPDATE 2 – Blaney In; Sauter still with RCR: Dave Blaney has been named to take over driving duties of Richard Childress Racing’s #30 AOL Chevy, replacing rookie Johnny Sauter. Blaney, who is in his seventh season in the Nextel Cup Series, has logged 155 career races with his first start coming at North Carolina Speedway in 1992. Most recently, Blaney drove a limited Cup schedule for Bill Davis Racing, making eight starts during the 2004 season. “This sport has gotten so tough and complicated, sometimes tough decisions have to be made,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “Our sport is driven by business decisions and that is what this driver change is, a business decision. Blaney has a strong, consistent driving style that will fit well with the No. 30 team. As a veteran racer, Dave will work well with our crew chief Kevin Hamlin to get the America Online Chevy up front.” Blaney, 41, of Hartford, Ohio, currently lives in High Point, N.C. with his wife Lisa and their three children. The 1995 World of Outlaws champion, along with his family, owns Sharon (Ind.) Speedway. “I am really honored to be driving for Richard Childress,” Blaney said. “I look forward to getting back to racing every weekend and can’t think of a better opportunity for me than with a great team like RCR and a great sponsor like America Online.” Sauter will remain under contract with RCR and drive additional Nextel Cup Series events throughout the 2004 season, to be named at a later date. “I still feel very strongly about Johnny’s ability as a young driver,” said Childress. “That is why I wanted to keep him under contract with RCR to run the additional Cup races for us this season and help us with testing.” Sauter said he will use the change to focus on his Busch ride with Brewco Motorsports [#27]. “I am happy about remaining under contract with RCR to do some testing as well as running a limited number of Cup races,” he said. As announced last week, road course specialist Jim Inglebright will drive the #30 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on June 27.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-16-2004)
- $25,000 to Dad’s favorite charity / special schemes: Several NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers will showcase special paint schemes that honor their favorite “NASCAR” Dads-their own– during the DHL 400. Action Performance helped create the program as a vehicle for drivers to share the NASCAR experience this Father’s Day and to thank “Dad” for all of his unending support in making their racing dreams come true. Each race car will incorporate Father’s Day-oriented slogans among its standard paint scheme. Each driver [#’s 2,5,8,15,18,20,25,40,41,42,45,48] also will share the race day spotlight, as his father’s name will be featured above the passenger-side door. Fathers who will be at MIS for the DHL 400 will be invited to the drivers’ meeting as well as introduced with their sons during pre-race ceremonies. Each driver who participates in the Father’s Day program also is eligible for a $25,000 bonus. The prize will be rewarded the highest finishing driver, who will then present it to his father or Dad’s favorite charitable organization.(MIS Site), see images of the cars on my 2004 Paint Schemes page.(6-15-2004)
- It’s a big, fast truck…what’s not to like? Three-time NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip’s Toyota Tundra pickup truck, an exclusive VIP trip to the Toyota Tundra 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Race Aug. 14 in Nashville, a “Do-It-Yourself” Dream Garage of more than 500 Craftsman tools and a $1,000 gift certificate to Bass Pro Shops will go to the highest bidder in an online eBay charity auction hosted by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS).
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the winner’s bid will go to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a retreat for children living with chronic or life-threatening illnesses, established by Kyle and Pattie Petty. More information on the charity auction on eBay can be found at www.DarrellsTundra.com, with the online auction running June 14-24. The Victory Junction Gang Camp is a designated charity of NASCAR.
For more info see www.DarrellsTundra.com or my Racing Charities page.(6-14-2004)
- Overnight Pocono TV Ratings Down 8%: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Pocono 500 from Pocono Raceway drew a 4.7 rating and 11 share overnight from Nielsen Media Research, today’s Sports Business Daily reports. The figures from the nation’s largest television markets represent an 8 percent drop from last year’s overnight rating of 5.1. ABC’s broadcast of Sunday night’s NBA playoff game between the Lakers and the Pistons was the weekend’s most-watched sports event, drawing a 14.4/23, according to the Daily’s figures.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-14-2004)
- NASCAR Canada Announced: NASCAR announced the formation of NASCAR Canada, in partnership with TSN, that establishes a Canadian base of operation with a new office and dedicated staff in Toronto and further extends the marketing of the sport in NASCAR’s largest market outside of the U.S. The business venture with TSN, a division of Bell Globemedia, one of Canada’s leading media companies, supports the continued growth of the fan base of NASCAR in Canada and brings a range of sponsorship and licensing opportunities to all businesses involved in the sport. Under the agreement, TSN Events, TSN’s marketing division, retains exclusive rights through NASCAR Canada to NASCAR’s marketing assets over a multi-year period and will operate NASCAR Canada, providing partners with numerous opportunities in a sport known to have the most brand-conscious and brand-loyal fans. NASCAR Canada will provide Canadian businesses with marketing rights to the NASCAR mark; a multi-platform TV, print and radio media program; grassroots initiatives through the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series which has events at Delaware Speedway in Ontario and St. Eustache Speedway in Quebec; event marketing; and a licensed goods program. The bond between NASCAR sponsors and fans is unmatched in professional sports. NASCAR fans are three times more likely to purchase the products of NASCAR sponsors versus non-sponsors. NASCAR fans also purchase more than $2 billion in NASCAR licensed merchandise each year. Canadian fans already exude a strong passion for NASCAR. With TSN televising NASCAR since the network’s inception in 1984, NASCAR is the top-rated motorsport on Canadian television. Additionally, a significant number of Canadian NASCAR fans regularly travel to NASCAR events across the United States. NASCAR, the second-highest rated television sport in the United States, is also seen in 150 countries in 23 languages through relationships with 30 international broadcast partners. TSN recently signed a three-year agreement for 16 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races annually through the 2006 season. Additional NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races are broadcast in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet, Craig Media and SPEED Channel. NASCAR Canada will be based at TSN headquarters in Toronto and will liaise directly with NASCAR’s International Division in Los Angeles. The Canadian operation will work closely with NASCAR’s New York and Charlotte offices to assist sponsors and licensees, respectively, with their activation plans to extend their reach into Canada. TSN’s programming and news content is also available online at TSN.ca.(NASCAR PR)(6-14-2004)
- Still Waiting – #99 Sponsor…would be Diageo: Car owner Jack Roush and driver Jeff Burton continue to wait on NASCAR to decide whether it will allow the full-time sponsorship from Diageo. That company owns many of the premium liquor brands [including Bailey’s, Guinness, Smirnoff, Crown Royal, Captain Morgan, Johnny Walker, Seagrams] in the world and, despite coveting the exposure from two beer companies – and the sponsorship from Busch for one of its racing series – the racing organization still has problems with hard liquor being a sponsor in the sport. Roush said the sponsorship is ready to sign – NASCAR permitting.(Augusta Chronicle), see past news on this on my #99 Team News and Links page.(6-14-2004)
- It’s a big, fast truck…what’s not to like? Three-time NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip’s Toyota Tundra pickup truck, an exclusive VIP trip to the Toyota Tundra 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Race Aug. 14 in Nashville, a “Do-It-Yourself” Dream Garage of more than 500 Craftsman tools and a $1,000 gift certificate to Bass Pro Shops will go to the highest bidder in an online eBay charity auction hosted by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS).
One hundred percent of the proceeds from the winner’s bid will go to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a retreat for children living with chronic or life-threatening illnesses, established by Kyle and Pattie Petty. More information on the charity auction on eBay can be found at www.DarrellsTundra.com, with the online auction running June 14-24. The Victory Junction Gang Camp is a designated charity of NASCAR.
For more info see www.DarrellsTundra.com or my Racing Charities page.(6-14-2004)
- Harvick creeping up on record: by finishing the Pocono 500, #29-Kevin Harvick has now been running at the end of 53 straight races. No DNF’s [did not finish]. The modern era record [1972-present] is 56 held by Jeff Gordon [2001-2002], the all time record is 84 races held by Herman Beam from April 30, 1961 thru March 10, 1963.(6-14-2004)
- Double-Duty Pocono-Nashville: four drivers competed in both the Cup race at Pocono Raceway and the Busch race at Nashville Superspeedway [driver, Cup finish, Busch finish]:
Robby Gordon [#31 Cup, #55 Busch], 8th, 14th
Michael Waltrip [#15, #99], 33rd, 38th – both DNFs
Gregg Biffle [#16, #60], 13th, 11th
Kasey Kahne [#9, #38], 14th, 6th.(6-14-2004)
- No one in the garage believes NASCAR? Kahne too low? Yesterday’s problems [at Pocono] were yet another chapter in one of the biggest stories of the season – NASCAR’s dwindling credibility and numerous faux pas. One team owner, who declined to be named, shook his head and said: “I’ve been in this sport 30 years, and NASCAR’s credibility in the garage is at an all-time low. Nobody believes them anymore.” Among questions raised here: Was Kasey Kahne’s car too low after winning Friday’s pole and did NASCAR ignore it, as several rivals complained? Was Michael Waltrip’s Talladega car too low and did NASCAR ignore that, as rivals too complain? The lower the nose, the faster the car. Car owner Ray Evernham denied that Kahne’s car was too low: “Nothing was brought to my attention about our car being low, so I would say that’s probably fake”.(read more at the Winston Salem Journal)(6-14-2004)
- Craven ride in jeopardy? DENIED 2: #32-Ricky Craven could be one of the first drivers to be on the way out of their present rides. Craven has had a miserable campaign, with no top-10 runs and a best finish of 16th. He’s 31st in points driving for Cal Wells’ PPI Motorsports.(Alton Telegraph)(6-13-2004)
UPDATE: #32-Tide Chevrolet car owner Cal Wells denies a published report driver Ricky Craven’s job is in jeopardy. “I don’t know where it came from” said Wells prior to the start of Sunday’s Pocono 500. Wells added, “Despite the pathetic performance we’ve had so far this year I think we’ve got a reasonable shot at getting a program (second team) for next year. We’ve been looking around a lot, so maybe that’s part of it, I don’t know. It’s a chemistry thing and we haven’t hit it.” Craven is in the first of a new three year contract with the Tide team.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show/Sporting News)(6-13-2004)
UPDATE 2: Wells hasn’t ruled out moving crew chief Dave Charpentier to a different position, saying the team “hasn’t hit on the chemistry” yet.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(6-14-2004)
- Waltrip good thru 2005 UPDATE NAPA too: during an interview with XM Radio’s Claire B. Lang on Friday, DEI’s director of motorsports, Richie Gilmore said Michael Waltrip is signed with DEI thru 2005 and plans are to keep him in the #15 NAPA Chevy.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 – subscription required)
AND from ThatsRacin.com: Richie Gilmore, director of motorsports at Dale Earnhardt Inc., downplayed remarks last weekend by Dale Earnhardt Jr. about a possible departure of driver Michael Waltrip from the organization’s #15 Chevrolets. “Michael would probably want to finish his career at DEI, but the chances of that happening I wouldn’t say are 100 percent right now,” Earnhardt Jr. said at Dover, Del. On Friday, Gilmore – who was not at Dover last weekend – said he spoke to Earnhardt Jr. Thursday night about his comments. “The biggest thing he tried to do was protect Martin (Truex Jr.), because there had been a lot of rumors Martin was going into the No. 15,” Gilmore said. Earnhardt Jr. “kind of fired back and really didn’t give the right solution. He was trying to protect Martin, but how it came out it was more aimed at Michael.” Gilmore said DEI did not have any problems with Waltrip, who is 20th in points but has three consecutive top-10 finishes entering Sunday’s Pocono 500. “We’ve had some really bad luck that happened on the race track. It wasn’t like Michael just decided two weeks ago to start driving again,” he said. “Michael’s our driver. He’s signed through 2005. Our driver lineup is pretty much set for next year. I think we’ll even keep (Dale) Jr. now,” Gilmore joked.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-11-2004)
UPDATE: NAPA has exercised its option as the sponsor for next year.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(6-14-2004)
- More on the idiots: Nextel Cup flagman Jimmy Howell wasn’t hurt after being hit in the back of the head by a cooler thrown by a fan [idiot] on the final lap. A Pocono spokesman said the fan was escorted away but wasn’t arrested because Howell didn’t want to press charges [shame]. Bobby Labonte’s #18 Chevrolet also was dinged by a beer can as other fans rained debris on the track during yesterday’s final caution. Since Jeff Gordon’s Chevrolet was pelted by trash after winning at Talladega, Cup races have been plagued by a rash of incidents involving fans [idiots] littering the track.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(6-14-2004)
- Changes to finishing order: after meeting with #17-Matt Kenseth and #29-Kevin Harvick for their beating and banging and spinning each other out, NASCAR moved both to the tail end of the lead lap. So Kenseth goes to 21st and Harvick goes to 20th. Unofficial results already had Kenseth in 21st due to his pitstop, Harvick drops from 10th to 20th but maintains 9th in the driver points standings.(Speed Channel’s Speed News coverage)(6-13-2004)
- Johnson wins a wild race at Pocono: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway, dominating most of the race and leading the most laps and overcoming a pit road miscue. #19-Jeremy Mayfield finished 2nd, followed by #18-Bobby Labonte, #24-Jeff Gordon and #97-Kurt Busch. Over 25% of the laps were run under caution and the race ended under caution as #99-Burton lost an engine with only four laps to go. Some IDIOT tossed debris out of the stands and hit one of the flagmen and security is hunting for the the IDIOT. #17-Kenseth and #29-Harvick got into a spinning match, each spinning each other out and have been called to the NASCAR hauler. #8-Earnhardt Jr. finished 6th and maintains the points lead. It is Johnson’s third win of 2004.[see another race story at ThatsRacin.com]
For results see:
Jayski’s Pocono Race Results / Awards Page
- Top Five [unofficial] Drivers Points Standings after Pocono:
#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2113
#48-Jimmie Johnson, 2055, -58
#17-Matt Kenseth, 1889, -224
#24-Jeff Gordon, 1874, -239
#20-Tony Stewart, 1854, -259
Jayski’s Drivers/Owners Points after Pocono
- Riggs wins ARCA Race: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series rookie Scott Riggs [#99 Valvoline Pontiac], in his first ARCA RE/MAX Series attempt, raced the Valvoline Pontiac from 30th to first en route to winning the Pocono ARCA 200 Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Red-hot rookie Ryan Hemphill, who was slowly chewing away at Riggs’s lead inside of ten laps remaining, got within five lengths of the leader when Hemphill ran out of gas two laps shy of the finish [finished 7th]. Ken Schrader was 2nd in the #69 Four Winds Motorhomes Dodge. Jason Jarrett finished 6th.(see full story at arcaracing.com)(6-13-2004)
- StockCarFans.com – Rumblings – Pocono: Jimmie Johnson led early, led often (eight times for 126 laps), and led the final 28 circuits to take his first Pocono win, his third of the season, and the 9th of his Cup career (he’s now tied for 48th on the all-time win list). It was the 9th victory for Hendrick Motorsports at Pocono Raceway, their 5th of the season, and the 122nd in their history. Johnson cashed $186,950 from the over $4.7M in posted awards. With the exception of the way the race was run from the tower, it was the usual Pocono….tough on motors and tough on transmissions. Throw in a few more than the usual lug-nut troubles as well and it all added up to a weird day.
Jeremy Mayfield (2nd) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Atlanta in March.
Kurt Busch (5th) had his best finish since he won at Bristol in March.
Greg Biffle (11th) had his best finish since he was 8th at Atlanta in March.
Jeff Green (15th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Texas in the #30 car in April of 2003! This was the best finish for the #43 car since John Andretti was 8th at California in April of 2003!
Geoffrey Bodine (28th) had his best finish since he was 10th at Daytona in July of 2002. (only 9 races)
STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 7 Top-10’s in the last 8 races.
Dale Earnhardt Jr has 7 Top-10’s in the last 8 races.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the week is Scott Riggs (+24), followed by Kurt Busch (+22). DOWN: The Big Dropper was a lonely Mark Martin (-32). A slim category this week….
P. J. Jones led today for the first time in his Cup career (only his 13th start). He’s the 40th different driver to lead a lap this season….last year’s number was 48.
No changes in the Top-10 after this week (points-wise). Those are the only drivers currently eligible for the “Chase” at the moment, and it’s beginning to look like there will be only 10 in the post-season. In the race of consequence, Jeremy Mayfield is now only two markers out of the last transfer spot. Mayfield made the best move forward (15th to 11th) this week, while Michael Waltrip (20th to 24th) made the commensurate move in the opposite direction.(StockCarFans.Com Nextelcup Newsletter)(6-13-2004)
- Pocono Race Stuff:
Jimmie Johnson won the 2004 Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway, scoring his ninth career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 89th start. His last victory came at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, two races ago.
* This is Johnson’s third victory in 2004, tying Dale Earnhardt Jr., for the most this season. Johnson also scored victories at Darlington and Charlotte. All nine of Johnson’s victories have occurred on superspeedways.
* Johnson’s first victory was his second top-10 finish in five races at Pocono Raceway. He has posted top 15 finishes in all five of his Pocono races.
* Johnson posted his 10th top-10 finish in 2004.
* Johnson led eight times for 126 laps including the final 28 laps of the 200 laps raced in the 2004 Pocono 500. Johnson led the most laps for the second time in 2004.
* In the last three races (Charlotte-Dover-Pocono), Johnson led 461 of the 1,000 laps raced (46 percent).
* This was the eighth victory for Chevrolet in 2004. Ford has five and Dodge has one.
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. remained the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point leader, his ninth race in 2004 as leader of the point standings. He now leads by 58 points over second-place Jimmie Johnson.
* Nine drivers are within 400 points of current point leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the countdown to the chase for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship .
* Jeremy Mayfield (second) scored his fifth top-10 finish in 2004. He has scored top-10 finishes in the last three races. Mayfield scored his eighth top-10 finish in 20 races at Pocono Raceway. This is Mayfield’s eighth second-place finish since his last victory which came at Pocono in June 2000.
* Bobby Labonte (third) scored his seventh top-10 finish in 2004 and his seventh top-10 finish in 23 races at Pocono Raceway. He climbed from eighth to sixth in the point standings.
* Jeff Gordon (fourth) scored his 10th top-10 finish in 2004. He climbed from fifth to fourth in the point standings. Gordon scored his 16th top-10 finish in 23 races at Pocono Raceway (70 percent).
* Kurt Busch (fifth) scored his sixth top-10 finish in 2004. Busch scored his third top-10 finish in seven races at Pocono Raceway, including top-five finishes in three of his last four races there.
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. (sixth) scored his 11th top-10 finish in 2004. Earnhardt Jr., has scored top 10 finishes in his last four races in 2004. He has scored four top-10 finishes in nine races at Pocono Raceway.
* Brian Vickers (13th) was the highest finishing rookie for the third time in 2004.
* Kevin Harvick (20th) extended his streak of running at the finish in 53 straight races, dating to Rockingham in November 2002.
* Matt Kenseth (21st) has ranked among the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 in 49 straight races.
* Michael Waltrip (33rd) ended a three-race streak of top-10 finishes.
* P.J. Jones (22nd), who competed in his 13th NEXTEL race, led a lap for the first time in his career.
* The 16 different lap leaders in the 2004 Pocono 500 tied the record for the most in a race at Pocono. There were also 16 different lap leaders in June 1990 and 2003.
* The 112.129 mph average speed was the slowest in a Pocono race since the track opened in 1974.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(6-13-2004)
- The Way it used to be done: There are 49, million-dollar haulers — some without sponsors — lined up outside the garages at Pocono, and then there was Morgan Shepherd’s white horse trailer. Shepherd, who owns his car and calls his one-man team ”Racing with Jesus,” hauls his car to the track in a small, four-wheel trailer that he pulls with a Dodge Ram pick-up, just like they used to do.(Morning Call)(6-13-2004)
- Drive for Diversity Taps 5 OFF 5 ON Race Team Performance As Official Partner: 5 OFF 5 ON Race Team Performance [www.5off5on.com], the pit crew consulting, coaching, and placement division of PIT Instruction and Training, LLC, has been named as the official Crew Member Development Partner of Drive for Diversity, a long-term solution aimed at developing a steady pipeline of well-trained and supported minority crew members for the racing industry. Drive for Diversity is managed by the Radiate Group’s Access Marketing & Communications and endorsed by NASCAR. For 2004, 5 OFF 5 ON worked in conjunction with Access staff to execute the evaluation of crew members and assisted in the selection of Drive for Diversity crew members for the current season. This past January, 5 OFF 5 ON conducted a motorsports combine testing and evaluation at their facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, and the process included a physical evaluation, functional evaluation, fitness assessment, skills assessment and oral interviews. Over 40 people participated in the combine, with six being chosen for opportunities in the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. While recruiting of the 2005 Drive for Diversity motorsports combine testing and evaluation will not formally begin until later this year, interested individuals are welcome to gain training and experience with 5 OFF 5 ON Race Team Performance in the meantime.(PR)(6-13-2004)
- Some Short Trackin’ Stuff with ‘Cup’ connections: Michael Crofford was in the right place at the right time. The Houston youngster scored the first ROMCO Super Late Model Series feature win of his career Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in the First Convenience Bank 100. NASCAR.com’s and Mooresville, NC’s Leilani Munter finished 7th after starting 4thm see Munter on Speed Channel’s “I Wanna Date A Race Car Driver” on June 16th at 8:00pm/et.
AND Scott Riggleman won on Saturday night at Mountain Speedway in St. Johns, PA with the help of the Arnold Motorsports Nextel Cup crew who were in town for the Pocono 500. Bucktown Racing’s crew chief George Reynolds made the call for some major adjustments to the Sony Nashville Chevy prior to qualifying and the Arnold Motorsports crew was right their to make the changes to put the #09 in top form. Shannon Conner a childhood friend of Scott and full time lead fabricator on the NASCAR Arnold Mororsports Team did the spotting for the #09 and was excited to help Riggleman keep the win streak going.(6-13-2004)
- Stewart to start IRL team? Tony Stewart said he has had some discussions over the past month about starting an Indy Racing League team. Stewart, who started his career in open-wheel racing, won the IRL title in 1997. “It started with other groups of people that approached me about the possibility of starting a team,” Stewart said. “With our schedule in the Cup series, all my teams (World of Outlaws and U.S. Auto Club) teams are self-sufficient. The biggest thing would be hiring a team manager and a good crew. If we could do that, I would definitely entertain it.” Stewart, who races sprint cars in his spare time and is also running in three Grand American Sports Car series events this season, said he could see increased participation on his part if there were more such races run in conjunction with Cup. “I would love to see the IRL run in conjunction with NASCAR,” he said. “If they would do that just like the race at Daytona with the sports car, I could promise you I would definitely entertain that.”(ThatsRacin.com)(6-13-2004)
- Labonte #600 in a Chevy: This weekend’s Pocono 500 marks Terry Labonte’s 600th race in a Chevrolet and his 795th start overall. His first-ever NASCAR start came in a Chevy on Sept. 4, 1978 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, where he finished fourth. The majority of his career victories (19 of 22) have come while driving the General Motors mark — including the 1995 Pocono 500.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(6-13-2004)
- some caution tidbits:
There have been 16 fewer cautions this season in Nextel Cup, but 75 more caution laps.
There are an average of 10.5 more caution laps per race since NASCAR banned racing back to the yellow flag in September.(St Petersburg Times)(6-13-2004)
- Changes during a caution flag UPDATE 2: NASCAR’s Mike Helton held a press conference at Pocono to discuss the scoring and long cautions at Dover last week and said two changes would be made this week:
1) the scoing and freezing the field when a caution comes out will be entirely dependent on electronics [not video or spotters].
2) pit road opening during the caution will be yielded to the leader of the race.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 – subscription required), hope to have a better explantion in a bit.
UPDATE: NASCAR President Mike Helton apologized today for the 24-lap caution period that occurred at Dover, calling it “unacceptable” and announcing that NASCAR was taking steps to help ensure it doesn’t happen again. Beginning with this weekend’s Cup race at Pocono, NASCAR will now rely solely on its electronic timing and scoring system to determine when the field is frozen and the running order when a caution flag waves. NASCAR officials have been using both electronic scoring and what Helton called “the human element” to make such decisions. NASCAR uses electronic loops around the race track to determine the running order at different points around the race track. Those loops will now be the sole source for determining the running order when the field is frozen. NASCAR will also attempt to shorten its caution periods with two moves: One, it will allow the free pass or “Lucky Dog” driver to move ahead of the pace car and back onto the lead lap quicker, between the first and sec! ond laps of pitting, or while the leaders are pitting. It will also shorten the laps it will take before it opens pit road. Pit road will now open the second time the leader — not the pace car — reaches the entrance to pit road. That means that the field may not have to complete two full laps now before pit road opens.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-11-2004)
UPDATE 2 – good explanation:
1) Beginning Sunday, NASCAR will rely on electronic methods to resolve virtually all timing and scoring disputes. NASCAR will still use video replays to help resolve disputes at the end of races, Helton said [so you could see changes in the finishing order on Monday when the official results come out]. The change will affect all three of NASCAR’s national touring series – Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Trucks. It is also possible NASCAR would use a red flag in the future, rather than run several laps under caution, when trying to resolve scoring issues.
2) An extra caution lap will no longer be used to bring the car earning the “free pass” [Lucky Dog]back onto the lead lap. Instead, the car gaining the lap back will move ahead of the pace car while lead-lap cars are pitting. That driver will then pit with cars one or more laps down.
3) The race leader, rather than the pace car, will determine when pit road opens for the first time under each caution. Under current rules, pit road is closed the first time the pace car passes the entrance to pit road. The race leader’s first pass will now be used to make that determination (instead of using the pace car during a caution period as the determining vehicle that opens pit road the second time passing, the race leader’s passing pit road the second time would open the pits, unless circumstances prevented this opening)(ThatsRacin.com)(6-12-2004)
- NASCAR defends safety efforts at Dover: NASCAR investigated the safety team’s response time to #17-Matt Kenseth’s wreck last weekend’s race at Dover, but found no shortcomings, NASCAR President Mike Helton said. Kenseth was one of three cars to spin in oil dropped on the track by another car in the late stages of the race. His #17 DeWalt Ford came to rest alongside the pit road wall on the frontstretch. He then walked back to the garage area and complained that an ambulance never came to check on him. “They (safety teams) were moving in the proper amount of (time) of the command to go,” Helton said. “The track did everything they were supposed to do. The workers at the track did everything they were asked to do when they were asked to do it. I don’t have an answer past the point that if it took too long to get to him, we’ll fix that.”(ThatsRacin.com)(6-12-2004)
- Geoffrey just wants to race: Geoffrey Bodine hasn’t run full time in NEXTEL Cup since 1999 and raced only once last year. Yet, the 55-year-old Chemung, N.Y., native isn’t ready to drive off into the sunset. He was at Pocono driving the #98 Lucas Oil Ford Friday, hoping to qualify for tomorrow’s race. “I was talking to Buddy Baker this morning and said it’s hard to quit,” Bodine said. “He said, ‘I know what you mean.’ It’s hard to stop going around in circles.” A good portion of tomorrow’s field wasn’t even in kindergarten when Bodine made his debut in 1979. Two drivers – Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers – hadn’t even been born. “I don’t have anything else to do,” Bodine said. “I don’t have any family. The family is grown up and the wife is gone. I don’t have any distractions. I can do this 100 percent. This is all I want to do really.”(Times-Leader)(6-12-2004)
- Elliott at Indy: #91-Bill Elliott plans to return to Indy, the site of his 43rd career win, driving a Dodge sponsored by Visteon.(RacingOne)(6-12-2004)
- Complaints and Kudos about track garages: Crewmen and Crew Chiefs continue to complain about the quality, or lack thereof, in garage facilities. A visit to Dover, which has one of the most decrepit and dangerous garages in NASCAR, will do that to you. Most who spoke Friday commended Pocono for its spacious garage and commodious working conditions. “Why can’t they build them all like this?” one top chief exclaimed. The ones singled out for abuse were Dover, Watkins Glen, and, curiously, given that it is one of the newer tracks, California. The California Speedway has nice garage amenities, but the garage stalls were built to accommodate the narrow champ cars, and it’s almost impossible to squeeze the 5ft-wide stock cars into the stalls. Given that ISC now owns the speedway, that isn’t likely to be changed any time soon. There are reports that Watkins Glen plans to greatly upgrade its garages before long. Dover continues to be a problem. A track spokesman said he knows of no immediate plans for improvements. That is odd, as the speedway has built a fairly nice Busch garage at the other end (Turn 4) of the track, with plenty of turnaround room and an open, roofed pad. It is puzzling that NASCAR has not taken a stronger hand in this matter, given its requirements for updates to its franchised facilities. There are government agencies who would be interested.(Speed Channel)(6-12-2004)
- Special Davey scheme at ‘Dega: #42-Jamie McMurray will run another special Texaco/Havoline retro paint scheme at Talladega in October to celebrate the life of Davey Allison and the 2004 Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame.(RacingOne)(6-12-2004)
- Blaney, not Martin should had been the lucky dog: #6-Mark Martin’s Dover win was certainly popular and well-deserved, but NASCAR’s confusing scoring snafu shuffled the field at a decisive moment. And the Bill Davis team insists #23-Dave Blaney, their driver, not Martin, should have been the man to get the crucial ‘lucky dog’ free pass back to the lead lap. That pass helped Martin win the race. If Blaney had gotten the free pass and gone on to win, it would have been his first tour win, and a major plus at a critical point in his career. Davis’ team said NASCAR officials, when shown computer printouts yesterday of NASCAR’s own scoring-and-timing at that moment, on lap 319 of the 400-lap event, reluctantly agreed Blaney, not Martin, should have gotten the free pass. But they said no change to the results would be made.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-12-2004)
- Where is the #90 car? Junie Donlavey’s #90 Ford is at Pocono Raceway this weekend, but his hauler is parked outside the Nextel Cup garage. Driver Kevin Ray will start 38th in today’s ARCA 200. He originally had planned tomorrow’s Pocono 500 as the second of a six-race foray into the Cup series, but the team elected to regroup after failing to pass inspection in its debut at Dover International Speedway last week. Ray, an ARCA veteran, still is planning to attempt the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway in three weeks. “There’s not near as much pressure here as through the other gates over there,” Ray said, motioning toward the chain-link fence separating the ARCA and NASCAR garages. “We just need to get everything going in the right direction, so we thought we’d take a step back and make what we got work.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(6-12-2004)
- #1 team coming back…and a DEI Busch team? [gasp] AND: Within the next week, Dale Earnhardt Inc.[DEI] should announce plans to reopen its #1 Chevrolet Nextel Cup team with driver John Andretti and add a Busch Series team, DEI’s director of motorsports, Richie Gilmore, said Friday. “We’re real close to putting together a long-term deal with the #1 car and John Andretti. We’re hoping to put some news out next week about that,” Gilmore said. “This team has been the No. 1 priority this season. We didn’t want to bring it back unless we could do it full time. We felt like that is what John needed and what we needed.” Gilmore said the Cup deal would be for the remainder of this season, 2005 and 2006. Andretti would drive the car at least through 2005. DEI also plans to announce the hiring of Paul Menard, 23, who has been running in the Busch Series with Andy Petree Racing. Menard left that organization earlier this week. “We’re trying to get that worked out. Paul reminds me a lot of Martin, especially his personality. He’s a really good kid – and nothing against Andy (Petree) – but with DEI resources, I think Paul can really excel,” Gilmore said. “We’re looking at a long-term relationship with Paul because of his age and ability, with him and Martin (Truex Jr.) being the future of DEI.”(ThatsRacin.com)
AND the crew chief for the #1 car will be the Pete Rondeau, currently the car chief for the #15 DEI team, Tony Gibson will be the crew chief for Paul Menard and the new #11 Busch team.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 – subscription required)(6-11-2004)
- Simulators Allow Victory Junction Gang Campers to Take The Ride of a Lifetime: Pro-Image 2, Microsoft and the NASCAR Technical Institute have teamed up to build eight racecar simulators for Adam’s Race Shop at the Victory Junction Gang Camp, which provides year-round camp sessions for children aged 7-15 with life-threatening illnesses. The racecar simulators at Adam’s Race Shop, one of the signature buildings at Victory Junction Gang Camp, will allow campers to learn about various aspects of professional stock car racing by allowing up to eight campers to virtually race against each other and the stars of NASCAR at one time. Pro-Image 2 provided the design concept and technological guidance to create the simulators built by NASCAR Technical Institute student and instructor volunteers. Each of the eight simulators are run by Xbox consoles, donated by Microsoft.(PR)(6-11-2004)
- Sadler to run one of the new Ford engines at Pocono AND four drivers: Elliott Sadler will have one of Doug Yates’ new Ford D-3 engines this weekend, which should make him one of the favorites Sunday, particularly as strong as he ran at Charlotte two weeks ago. “Doug has taken a lot of pride, and all the guys, in that motor, and I think everybody will be pleased,” Sadler said. “For the guys that have never had Yates horsepower at Pocono, I think they’re going to be very happy.” Sadler said that it has not yet been decided which of the other seven Jack Roush and Robert Yates teams will run the new D-3 and which will stay with the established C-model engine. The D-3, Robert Yates says, should be well suited to Pocono because it likes a low gear. Yates said, if he couldn’t run one of the new engines at Pocono he might just go fishing this weekend.(Winston Salem Journal)
AND during an interview on Speed Channel’s Cup qualifying, Dale Jarrett said he would have the new Ford engine package this weekend at Pocono.
AND II heard on MRN radio’s qualifying coverage, also running the new Ford engine package are #17-Kenseth and #99-Burton, both had transmission problems in qualifying. And #16-Greg Biffle also has the new package.(6-11-2004)
- Biffle scheme: This weekend at Pocono you won’t see the red, white and blue #16 National Guard car but you will see the bronze and black #16 Pennzoil SUV, Truck and Minivan/National Guard Ford Taurus. The familiar stars and stripes will return next week at Michigan. Pennzoil is in its first year of partnership with Roush Racing and serves as an associate sponsor on all Roush racecars and racetrucks. Pennzoil also takes on a primary sponsorship role for nine Busch series races in the #9 car with drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton. This weekend Pennzoil has chosen to showcase their SUV, Truck and Minivan motor oils as they take on a primary role on the #16 Ford Taurus driven by Greg Biffle.
The Pennzoil SUV, Truck and Minivan motor oil is specially formulated for the demands of larger vehicles. It combines the strength of a traditional Pennzoil motor oil with a boost of Pennzoil Synthetic to help provide protection against the stress of heavier loads.
Pennzoil SUV, Truck and Minivan provides the following protection for larger vehicles:
• Helps prolong larger vehicle’s engine life
• Contains a unique anti-wear additive package to protect the engine during punishing short trips
• Excellent protection against engine strain under heavy loads
• Specifically formulated to provide a thick cushion of lubricant to protect harder working engines
• Helps keep engines running clean in the extreme temperatures created by harder working engines.(Roush Racing PR), see images of the car on my #16 Team Paint Schemes page.(6-11-2004)
- Evernham may get into the engine business: Evernham Motorsports [#9,#19,#91] owner Ray Evernham said he is looking to expand his engine program and has had preliminary talks with several NASCAR teams. Although the most likely case would be to start building engines for a new team in 2005, Evernham said he could be ready sooner. “I think if we had someone who came to us and said we needed engines, we could do something right now. How extensive an effort we could manage right away remains to be seen,” Evernham said. There are at least three full-time Nextel Cup Series Dodge organization that do not currently build their own engines, Petty Enterprises, BAM Racing and Arnold Motorsports.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-11-2004)
- Petty Power Down: [#43-Jeff] Green seems to be just the steadying influence that Petty Enterprises, his current team, has needed. He’s a nose-to-the-grindstone guy who doesn’t mince words. Green’s words this week are aimed to the engine department. Goodyear’s new tires are putting a premium on low-end RPM, to get up quicker off the corners. That should be particularly evident at places such as Sears Point, a road course. “We’ve been qualifying good the last couple of weeks, although we haven’t been racing very good,” Green said. “We’ve got to work on our cars to get them handling better for the long runs. I think our big holdup now is our motor program. The guys are turning more RPMs on other teams; our guys are working really hard to get our motors where we can turn more RPMs. I think that’s what shows during the race – when the tires start falling off, you start getting down lower in RPMs. Those guys who are running more gear than I am, it really shows.”(Winston Salem Journal)(6-11-2004)
- #50 at Pocono for Rudd: #21-Ricky Rudd is expected to make his 50th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start at Pocono Raceway, more than any other driver. Rudd has competed in all but the first three races at Pocono (1974-76). Rudd’s only Pocono victory occurred in June 2001 when he won there from the Bud Pole.(6-11-2004)
- Harvick and KISS at RIR: #29-Kevin Harvick in Cup, #6-Matt Crafton in Trucks and #2-Ron Hornaday in the Busch Series will run paint schemes adorning the rock group [and Jayski fave – 24 CD’s] KISS. These special paints are scheduled to be run at the Chevy Rock and Roll weekend at Richmond in September. See an image of the #29 on my #29 Team Paint Schemes page.(6-11-2004)
- Eight Drivers Out: There have been eight different race winners in the last eight races at Pocono, since June 2000. Bobby Labonte was the last driver to sweep Pocono, scoring victories in both races in 1999.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(6-11-2004)
- Dale Jr. tests at Kentucky for Pocono: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., brought his No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet to Kentucky Speedway on Thursday to tap the karma that has led to two of his three wins this season. Earnhardt, Jr., has converted weekday Kentucky tests into Sunday wins in both March and May so far this season. He tested at Kentucky Speedway on March 11 and visited Victory Lane at Atlanta three days later. Earnhardt, Jr., repeated the accomplishment on May 15 at Richmond International Raceway, just three days after testing an engine combination for that race at Kentucky Speedway. Should he visit Victory Lane in Pocono, Pa., this week, he will become the second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver to combine a Kentucky Speedway test with a Pocono win. Dale Jarrett first accomplished the feat in June 2002. Other drivers testing at Kentucky Speedway today included NASCAR Busch Series drivers Clint Bowyer, Billy “Catfish” Parker, Hermie Sadler and Kenny Hendrick.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(6-11-2004)
- Sad News: Longtime racing photographer/writer Walter Chernokal passed away Tuesday night. Chernokal was the track an Associated Press Photographer, worked for the Chester Daily Times, was a photographer at the Reading, PA Fairgrounds, instrumental in the forming and running of the old NARA, was involved with George Stockinger in the promotion of the original Atlantic City Indoor Racing events, wrote for Illustrated Speedway News, and then later Area Auto Racing News. Chernokal was a life member of the American Racing Drivers Club. There will be a tribute to Walter on Saturday at the New Egypt Speedway [NJ]. Walter was proceeded by his wife Rose, and is survived by a son Jim, and daughters Rosemary and Ann, plus two grandchildren and three great grandchildren. The family has asked that donations in Walter’s Memory be sent to any of the following: Penn University Cancer Center, Checkered Flag Fan Club Injured Drivers Fund, Or to – Any Quarter Midget Track or Organization in his memory.(OWR)(6-11-2004)
- Rusty hits 228mph at Talladega: #2-Rusty Wallace gave a new meaning to the term “high speed communication” on Wednesday afternoon when he piloted his Miller Lite Dodge at speeds up to 228 mph at Talladega Superspeedway. “We hit 228 (mph) at the end of the straightaway and averaged 221 (mph) for that overall lap segment,” an excited Wallace said late Wednesday afternoon as he prepared to head back home to North Carolina. “It was a helluva deal that I certainly will remember for the rest of my life. We’d all been wondering what it would feel like to run at Talladega again without the (restrictor-) plates and now I know. I’ll bet we could be running speeds up to 235 (mph) without the plates if we spent time doing some tweaking. But I’ll tell you this – there’s no way we could be out there racing at those speeds,” Wallace offered. “It was neat to be out there running that fast by myself, but it would be insane to think we could have a pack of cars out there doing that.”
Wallace’s high-speed opportunity came at the request of NASCAR officials on behalf of series sponsor NEXTEL and Racing Radios, the Hampton, Ga.,-based company that serves as the “Official 2-Way Radio provider” for all three of the major NASCAR racing series. “I’ve enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Racing Radios and I jumped at the opportunity to assist them with their ‘Communication of the Future’ program for NASCAR,” Wallace said. “We were invited to bring our Miller Lite Dodge superspeedway car down for the test to assure quality audio at high rates of speed. The NASCAR, NEXTEL and Racing Radios officials were all extremely pleased at the end of the day, so I’d say that we did a good job for them.” Wallace’s speed far exceeded the official track qualifying record of 212.809mph (44.998 seconds), set by Bill Elliott on April 30, 1987.
“I guess it was about as official as you could get as we were operating under the watchful eyes of NASCAR,” chuckled crew chief Larry Carter, who flew to Talladega with Wallace after testing at Sonoma, Calif., on Tuesday. “John Darby (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director) and Buster Auton (long-time series official who has served as the pace car driver since 1997) were in charge, along with officials from Racing Radios and NEXTEL. So, there were plenty of witnesses on hand.(Tom Roberts PR)(6-10-2004)
AND A world record of 221.160mph for a close course was established at Talladega on Aug. 9, 1975 by Mark Donohue in a Porsche 917-30 [Non-NASCAR].(6-11-2004)
- Sauter out of the #30? UPDATE 5 just too early? maybe for good?: hearing that Johnny Sauter, driver of the #30 RCR team has parted ways with RCR – Richard Childress Racing? IF TRUE – Two drivers being rumored are Tony Raines, part-time in the #74 Busch ride and Dave Blaney, part-time in the #23 Dodge in Cup and part-time in the #31 Ford in Busch.
UPDATE: looks like my sources were incorrect as RCR has denied that Sauter has been released and will still drive the #30 AOL Chevy.
UPDATE 2: MRN Radio’s Sirius Speedway (Sirius Satellite Radio) is reporting that Johnny Sauter has not been released by Richard Childress Racing. Spokesperson Lisa Cox said that team owner Richard Childress has been in Alaska on a hunting trip since Monday, and that Sauter remains the driver of the #30 AOL Chevrolet.
PLUS another clue I should had heeded: Sauter and the team tested the last few days in Martinsville.
UPDATE 3: PRN’s Garage Pass radio show talked to Johnny Sauter today and he said: “There’s absolutely no truth to it. Richard (Childress) hasn’t said one word to me. As a matter of fact we had a conversation this weekend that said I was his driver no matter what happens and we’re gonna continue to race. I’m not gonna worry about it. I’ve been the topic of rumors before I guess, and my relationship with Richard and everybody at RCR and AOL is as strong as ever and I just can’t wait to get back racing. There’s always rumor mills in this wonderful world of racing and I guess if they’re talking about you at least they know you’re alive.” NOTE: Childress is in Alaska hunting polar bears.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(4-8-2004)
UPDATE 4 – maybe the rumor was 2 months too soon? ….Now Sauter’s future with [Richard] Childress is a topic of much discussion, and Childress isn’t quelling any rumors. In the span of just a few days, Childress has decided to sub a veteran road racer ]P.J. Jones] for Sauter at Sonoma later this month and to sub veteran Dave Blaney for him this week for the Pocono 500. In both cases, Childress said, Sauter’s Busch commitments have caused conflicts that precipitated the changes. But yesterday, Childress, asked directly about Sauter’s future with the team, sidestepped the question. “Right now Dave Blaney is in the car for Pocono, and we’ll see how that goes,” Childress said. “This sport has gotten so tough and complicated, and tough decisions have to be made. Today the sport is driven a lot by business decisions.” Asked if Sauter would be back in the car at Michigan International Speeway for the June 20 race there, Childress demurred. Sauter couldn’t be reached for comment.(Winston Salem Journal)….oops.(6-10-2004)
UPDATE 5 and even more: The early story line here [Pocono] this weekend centers on Richard Childress, who may be shopping for a new driver. Childress is doing nothing to dispel speculation that Johnny Sauter may be replaced. Dave Blaney will have Sauter’s ride here for qualifying this afternoon for Sunday’s Pocono 500; Jim Inglebright will have the Childress ride at Sears Point. Childress hasn’t said who will be in the car next week at Michigan. Sauter hasn’t said much about the situation.(Winston Salem Journal)
AND Richard Childress says Sauter will be in the #30 car at Michiagn and that the team is taking the scheduling conflict with Sauter’s Busch schedule to evaluate the #30 program with Blaney and Jim Inglebright.(XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 144 – subscription required)(6-11-2004)
- Sad News – Ralph Moody dies at 86: Ralph Moody, a partner in the legendary Holman-Moody Racing operation that helped put Charlotte on the map as a worldwide center for motorsports, died Wednesday morning at his home in Mooresville after a long illness. He was 86. Between 1958 and 1971, cars owned by Mr. Moody and partner John Holman won 93 races in what is now know as NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Series. He also won five races as a driver in the 1956 and 1957 seasons. “His place in life was making a car go fast around a race track,” said Lee Holman, the son of John Holman who is still president of Holman-Moody, a company that Mr. Moody sold his share of in 1972. “If you were a racer, you and Ralph Moody could get along.” One the many racers who benefited greatly from Mr. Moody’s expertise in building fast race cars was David Pearson. Pearson won 30 of his 105 Cup victories in Holman-Moody Fords, winning 16 times in 1968 and 11 more races in 1969 on his way to championships in both of those years. Pearson, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Fred Lorenzen, Nelson Stacy, Fireball Roberts, Dan Gurney, Dick Hutcherson, Mario Andretti and Bobby Allison all did win in Holman-Moody cars. According to the book “Holman-Moody: The Legendary Race Team,” by Tom Cotter and Al Pearce, it was when a young Bobby Allison saw Mr. Moody driving his 1940 Ford coupe in a race Hialeah, Fla., that Allison was inspired to become a racer himself. Mr. Moody was born Sept. 10, 1917, in Taunton, Mass. As a teen he built a Model T Ford race car and ran it on nights and weekends. He served in the Army in World War II, driving a tank under the command of Gen. George S. Patton. After the war, he resumed racing. He and his wife, Mitzi, were married in 1949. They moved from New England to Hollywood, Fla., where Mr. Moody could race year-round. He also opened an auto repair shop and drove stock cars owned by Red Vogt and Pete DePaolo, the 1925 Indianapolis 500 champion. Mr. Moody was inducted last year into the N.C. Auto Racing Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in 1990 and into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994. Funeral arrangements for Mr. Moody were to be finalized Wednesday through Cavin-Cooke Funeral Home in Mooresville, NC.(See full column at ThatsRacin.com)(6-9-2004)
SERVICES: A funeral mass for racing legend Ralph Moody will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Therese Catholic Church in Mooresville. Mr. Moody, co-owner of the Charlotte-based Holman-Moody motorsports dynasty, died Wednesday at the age of 86. “Holman-Moody spawned a lot of mechanics who turned out to be innovators – and perpetrators – in motorsports,” racing legend Johnny Rutherford, now an official with the Indy Racing League, said Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway. Rutherford drove U.S. Auto Club and NASCAR stock cars for Holman-Moody in 1964. “I drove my first race for them at Milwaukee, which is a flat track where you have to kind of lean on other cars,” Rutherford recalled. “I came from an open-wheel background where we didn’t do that. I remember Ralph telling me, ‘You’ve got to learn how to drive a stock car.’ I asked him what he meant by that and he said, ‘We’ve got a lot of new sheet metal back at the shop in Charlotte. We can fix it, so go out there and mix it up.'” Mr. Moody was a member of nine different automotive and racing halls of fame. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Marjorie “Mitzi” Tobin Moody; a son, Ralph Moody III of Mooresville; a daughter, Ann Moody of Denver, and three granddaughters. Following the funeral on Saturday, a graveside service will be held Tuesday at Westlawn Cemetery in Littleton, Mass. Mr. Moody was born in Massachusetts. Memorials may be made to St. Therese Catholic Church, 217 Brawley School Road., Mooresville, N.C., 28117 or to Hospice of Iredell County, 403 E. Statesville Ave., Mooresville, N.C. 28115.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-10-2004)
- Stewart’s Pit Crew Wins in Dover: Tony Stewart’s pit crew took home the $20,000 first-place check as a result of winning the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade in Sunday’s MBNA 400 “A Salute To Heroes” at Dover International Speedway. It was the second victory of the season for Stewart’s crew, which also finished first at the Daytona 500 opener. Stewart’s crew remains third in the chase for the $200,000 bonus that will go to the McDonald’s/POWERade season champion. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew continues to lead in the standings with 501 points, 33 more than Elliott Sadler’s team and 37 more than Stewart’s crew. Stewart’s Home Depot/Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet spent the least amount of time on Dover’s pit road with a time of 305 seconds. Earnhardt’s Budweiser Chevy was second at 338 seconds and Kurt Busch’s Sharpie Ford was third at 355. “The crew gave me great stops all day long,” said Stewart, who finished second in the 400-mile race. “They were definitely on their game at Dover. We led a bunch of laps and contended for the win, and they were a big reason why.” 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 (gas man) and Brian Larson (catch can). The team’s crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa.(DMF Communications PR), for the top 10 at Dover, season standings, see my Pit Crew page.(6-10-2004)
- So..what’s up with Larry Foyt? part time Cup driver, #14-Larry Foyt, who competed in the Indy 500 two weeks ago, isn’t driving in the Bombardier 500, but he is working during the race. Larry is the spotter this weekend for his nephew, A.J. Foyt IV. Team owner A.J. Foyt Jr. asked Larry to help out. “I think it’s better to have a driver serve as the spotter,” A.J. said. “Drivers see things in a different perspective and are better able to relate that information to fellow drivers.”(Dallas Morning News)(6-10-2004)
- Stewart to run Paul Revere 250 at Daytona: Tony Stewart will co-drive with sports car champion Andy Wallace in the Paul Revere 250 next month at Daytona and again in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series in August. “I really feel like it will help me be a better road racer when it comes time to go to road course races with Cup this year,” said Stewart, the 2002 Cup champion. “We learn so much from the guys who are professional road racers. You pick up little things here and there.”(ThatsRacin.com/AP)(6-10-2004)
- Testing at Chicago: Monday, June 7 through Tuesday, June 8 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver #41-Casey Mears tested in preparation for the upcoming July 9-11 NASCAR weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Joining Mears on Tuesday was NASCAR Busch Series driver Mike Bliss who tested a NEXTEL Cup Series car for Joe Gibbs Racing. Also testing was NASCAR Busch Series drivers Todd Szegedy and David Stremme. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver, Joe Nemecheck, was also on hand assisting his Busch Series driver, Todd Szegedy.(Chicagoland Speedway) no speeds reported.(6-10-2004)
- New Radio Call-In Show, “PRN’s Sunday Drive”: NASCAR fans across the country will have the opportunity to play backseat driver when Performance Racing Network’s new interactive radio show, “PRN’s Sunday Drive,” debuts Sunday evening, June 13. Hosted by veteran motorsports broadcasters John Kernan and Stephanie Durner, the two-hour live call-in program offers fans a platform to sound off on the day’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race along with other happenings in the motorsports industry. “‘PRN’s Sunday Drive’ promises to be entertaining, informative and fun,” said Doug Rice, vice president and general manager of Performance Racing Network. “NASCAR fans are the most passionate in sports and this program gives them a forum to express their opinions about the day’s race shortly after the victory lane celebration has concluded.” Several driver analysts, including John Andretti, Geoffrey Bodine, Mike Wallace and Shawna Robinson, will participate in the program throughout the season, adding a behind-the-wheel view to the mix. “This is a great opportunity for me to stay in touch with the NASCAR fans and have some fun at the same time,” said Kernan, longtime host of ESPN’s “RPM 2Night.”
“PRN’s Sunday Drive” will be broadcast live from PRN’s studio at Lowe’s Motor Speedway every Sunday from 8:00 to 10:00pm/et during the remainder of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season. The program will resume on Sunday, Feb. 20, following the 2005 Daytona 500. A list of radio stations that carry “PRN’s Sunday Drive” and other PRN programming is available online at www.goprn.com. Performance Racing Network, a subsidiary of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. is a NASCAR radio rights holder and provides programming to over 720 radio stations and XM Satellite Radio’s NASCAR channel.(LMS PR)(6-9-2004)
- Crew Chief’s penalized: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chiefs Todd Parrott and Jeff Buckner were each fined $500 for driver restraint equipment infractions that occurred during this past weekend’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, NASCAR officials announced today. Parrott was in violation of Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rule Book (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) for having the #38 M&M’s Ford of driver Elliott Sadler with shoulder harness belts that had an expired manufacturer date. Buckner also was in violation of Section 12-4-A (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) for having the #02 Chevrolet of driver Hermie Sadler with an anti-submarine belt that had an expired manufacturer date. The infractions were discovered by NASCAR officials during Friday’s opening-day inspection.(NASCAR PR)(6-9-2004)
- New Addition to RE: Jayski advertisor, Racing Electronics is proud to announce the addition of Kip Childress to the R.E. family. Literally born into the world of NASCAR racing, Kip brings with him a lifetime of racing experience, as a NASCAR official, and most recently as team service representative and manager for Racing Radios. “I am extremely excited to have been given the opportunity to join what is already a top notch team of professionals. Bruce Silver and Racing Electronics have proven themselves to be progressive in an industry in which innovative technologies are a competitive advantage, both on and off the racetrack. I am proud to now be a part of this impressive undertaking, and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead,” says Childress, who will be operating out of Racing Electronics Concord, NC, facility as Operations Manager for the Southern Division. He resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife Jenny and daughter Sarah, and a child on the way. “During the last year Racing Electronics has grown and expanded with our new relationships as the Official Communications Provider for NHRA, USAC and World of Outlaws as well as the addition of our new company, RaceSafe. Childress brings exceptional organizational and people skills and is a perfect fit for our company. The timing couldn’t be more perfect,” says Bruce Silver, President.(Racing Electronics PR)(6-9-2004)
- Riggs to run ARCA Race at Pocono: Scott Riggs has never competed at Pocono Raceway, but he is hopeful that entering Saturday’s ARCA Series race at the 2.5-mile track will better prepare him and the Valvoline team for Sunday’s Pocono 500 Nextel Cup event. Coming off of a career-best fifth-place finish at Dover International Speedway, Riggs will pilot the #99 Valvoline Pontiac in the Pocono 200 ARCA race. Officially driving for Ken Schrader, Riggs is hopeful the ARCA experience will benefit him come Sunday. Riggs’ only experience at the asphalt tri-oval is a one-day test session the #10 Valvoline Chevrolet team participated in last week. “We tested our Cup car in Pocono and everything went well,” said Riggs. “The car was pretty good off the truck and by the end of the day it felt great. We’re hopeful we can take the test session, the ARCA race, and our great result from last week and turn those things into another solid finish. We’re still striving to be better. Last week’s finish was a good shot in the arm. It lets us know we need to keep our heads up and it will pay off.”(MBV Motorsports PR)(6-9-2004)
- Rusty ‘speedy’ at Infineon: Rusty Wallace posted the fastest lap Tuesday during a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup test session at Infineon Raceway. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will visit the scenic Sonoma Valley later this month for the Dodge/Save Mart 350 (June 25-27). Wallace, a two-time winner at Infineon Raceway in 1990 and 1996, recorded the fastest lap of the five NASCAR drivers at the one-day test session on the newly repaved 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. Wallace turned the track at 1 minute, 15.5 seconds. Road-course specialist Boris Said holds the official track record of 1:16.522, set in 2003.
#31-Robby Gordon, defending champion at Infineon Raceway, was second-fast at 1:16.27. #5-Terry Labonte at 1:17.14; #30-Jim Inglebright at 1:17.20; and #25-Brian Vickers at 1:17.67 rounded out the quintet. Wallace was in qualifying trim, while the four other drivers were in race trim. All times were supplied by the race teams. “We always look forward to coming out here,” Wallace said. “I heard they repaved the whole track so we thought it would be a good idea to come out here and test. We always feel like we’ve got a chance to win here and the test went good. The track’s got a lot of grip.” Added Gordon: “The track is a little bit faster than it was last year. It should make for a pretty exciting race when all 43 cars are out there.” Inglebright, who has won three of the last four events at Infineon Raceway for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series, is a resident of nearby Vacaville and will replace rookie driver Johnny Sauter in the No. 30 AOL Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing for the road-course race at Sonoma. “I’m looking forward to this race quite a bit,” Inglebright said. “I’ve done well in the Southwest Series here and I’m hoping I can perform well for Richard Childress Racing.”(Infineon Raceway PR)
The speeds in mph:
#2-Wallace 94.887 [old track record us 93.620, 2003 by Boris Said]
#25-Vickers 92.236. (6-9-2004)
- The Return of Buckshot to the Busch Series: Buckshot Jones has been named to drive the Yellow Transportation Dodge in the Federated Auto Parts 300 Saturday night at the Nashville Superspeedway. “I’m really excited about this opportunity,” said Jones. “The Yellow team almost won the race at Nashville a couple of months ago. And I know that the team expects to contend for the win again this time.” This will be the first NASCAR Busch Series start for Jones in two and a half years. During his 145-race Busch Series career, Jones has scored two wins, 13 top-five and 33 top-10 finishes. In the first race at Nashville this year, the Yellow team with Johnny Benson behind the wheel went into next-to-last lap of the race with a chance to win the event. Benson was running third when rookies Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer, running 1-2, got together on the backstretch. Benson, who was only a car length back of the duo, got caught up in the melee as did fourth-place Robby Gordon. As a result, Michael Waltrip leaped from fifth to first. Benson ended up seventh.(PR), of note, Finch bought Jones old team shop last year.(6-9-2004)
- New Dodge car close to submission to NASCAR: According to folks involved with the Dodge factory efforts, their new car is close to ready for submission to NASCAR. The target date for submission is June 1st [well..was, not sure if it made it], though July 1st is the drop-dead date set by NASCAR for new car submissions. According to the Dodge source, that car will be more recognizable [Charger? Daytona?] than any of the current fleet. The factory rep would tell the name of the car, but the huge rollout scheduled for next year’s Speedweeks [at Daytona] might be a hint on what name might be hung on Dodge’s 2005 entry. If / when NASCAR approves the new Dodge, it will mean that every year since joining the [Cup] tour that Dodge Cup owners have had to carve their cars up for the following season.(Speedway Scene Print Edition – issue dated 5/28/2004) and they will again in 2006, when the ‘Car of the Future’ [COF] will supposedly run.(6-9-2004)
- Buschwackers and Nashville: Nextel Cup is at Pocono this weekend so help will be needed at Nashville for teams with Buschwhackers [Cup drivers who drive in Busch]. Buckshot Jones will take over the #1 seat all weekend for Jamie McMurray. Tyler Walker will qualify for Kasey Kahne, Mike McLaughlin will fill in for Biffle, and Johnny Benson will try his hand in the #99 until Waltrip gets there, Johnny Sauter will drive the Busch car and skip the Pocono Cup race. Joe Nemechek will skip the Busch race all together.(BGNRacing.com)(6-8/9-2004)
- Blaney to run the #30 at Pocono: Due to conflicts with Johnny Sauter’s racing schedules, Dave Blaney will drive Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) #30 America Online Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the June 13 Pocono 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. “There were conflicts with Johnny’s schedules in trying to run both the Busch and Cup series’, so we decided it would be best to put Dave in the car for Pocono,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR.(RCR PR)(6-8-2004)
- Nextel not Happy? UPDATE 2 – 10 year deal: Nextel officials continue to have sticker shock, a year after signing on as NASCAR’s series sponsor. Officially the company has signed a 10-year contract with NASCAR, though some insiders say that it’s a five-year contract with a five-year renewal option. The deal went down so quickly that many of the items that Nextel executives thought they were getting they find they’re still having to negotiate for, and NASCAR sources say they’re not happy.(from the Winston Salem Journal)(6-6-2004)
HOWEVER “The NASCAR Nextel Cup is an unprecedented opportunity to brand the most exciting championship series in sports, which lasts 10 months of the year, travels to all corners of the U.S., and captures the imagination of 75 million fans,” said Tim Donahue, president and CEO of Nextel. “NASCAR’s reach is unmatched, and we’re thrilled to be associated with it.”(from the Delaware News Journal)(6-6-2004)
UPDATE 2: NASCAR is denying a report in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal that Nextel’s sponsorship of its Cup Series is a five-year contract with an option for a five-year renewal. “As our organizations had announced last June, Nextel signed a 10-year deal with NASCAR,” NASCAR Director of Business Communications Andrew Giangola told today’s Sports Business Daily. “The Winston-Salem Journal did not contact NASCAR or refer to the widely circulated news release about the agreement and got it wrong.”(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-8-2004)
- 3rd Evernham team? Harley Davidson?: hearing that Evernham Motorsports may expand to a full-time 3-car team and that Harley Davidson may be involved with the team in some capacity. NO IDEA if this would involved Bill Elliott or who the thrid driver may be, if it happens.(6-8-2004)
- #99 to run Duke Children’s Hospital paint scheme: Roush Racing announced that Jeff Burton’s #99 Roush Racing Ford will sport the Duke Children’s Hospital paint scheme, originally set to run in Talladega, this week at Pocono. Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center will be carried on the car at the 500 mile race Sunday, June 13. Burton’s association with the hospital began years ago after an associate sponsor invited him to visit kids admitted to the hospital. Since that time, Burton has continued his support through fundraising events, appearances, monetary donations, time and of course most importantly, visits to the hospital with his wife Kim who has sat on the hospital board for the last four years. Through their efforts the Burtons have raised nearly $900,000 for the hospital to date. Duke Children’s provides $48 million in un-reimbursed charity care each year. Funds also support cutting-edge research, world-class advocacy and support programs for families and their sick children, top-notch clinical care and medical education to ensure future generations receive the most advanced medical care available. Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center, located in Durham, N.C., is a 148 bed hospital located on the fifth floor of Duke Hospital and includes an intensive care nursery, a transitional care nursery, a pediatric intensive care unit and a newborn nursery. For more information visit www.dukechildrens.org.(Roush Racing PR), see an image of the car on my #99 Team Paint Scheme page. (6-8-2004)
- SpeedFreaks on TV: SPEED Channel joins the “Freak Nation” in July, creating a television home for the popular nationally syndicated motor sports radio series — SpeedFreaks. Scheduled to debut July 12 at 8:30pm/et, the half-hour, in-your-face summer adventure blends the worlds of motor sports and entertainment. “This has been a long time coming,” said Robert Ecker, SPEED’s VP of Programming. “Bringing this radio program to SPEED Channel is the natural progression of its development. With all the stars finally in alignment and the perfect slot on the schedule opening up, there was no longer anything to prohibit us from consummating the marriage.” SpeedFreaks CEO and host Kenny Sargent showed no shame in getting the network’s attention. “I guess me pitching the pup tent outside SPEED big-gunner Jim Liberatore’s house 24-7 worked,” Sargent said. “That and the Metallica at deafening decibels didn’t hurt either. We’ve rattled the cages for four years as the most popular motor sports radio show in the country and now, we get to take the Freak Nation into 66 million homes. I better prepare SpeedFreaks’ lawyers.” Aimed at the 25- to 44-year-old male demographic, SpeedFreaks is the largest motor sports radio show in the country, reaching nearly 40 states as well as parts of Canada.
SpeedFreaks airs live on the radio Sunday nights from 7 to 9pm/pt on the Freak Radio Network. It is 80-plus markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Indianapolis, Boston, Detroit, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Charleston, Reno, Bakersfield, etc. Additional live coverage can be heard on the Internet at www.SportsByline.com, the Armed Forces Network and on Sirius Satellite’s Sports Byline USA stream 122. SpeedFreaks can also be heard every Saturday live from 3 to 6pm/et on Sirius Satellite’s Extreme Sports Action stream 123.(SPEED Channel PR)(6-8-2004)
- Donate CD’s to Victory Junction: Give the Gift of Music to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, donate music CD’s for their New Rock-Ola Juke Box. The Victory Junction Gang Camp will soon be receiving the gift of music, in the form of a brand new Rock-Ola Bubbler Juke Box. The Juke Box is being donated from friends of the camp, Motorsports Image. This beautiful, nostalgic Rock-Ola Bubbler Juke Box will be placed in the cafeteria of the camp and fill the halls with the sounds of music for all to enjoy. Music CD’s are needed to load into this new Rock-Ola Juke Box. Motorsports Image is asking for your help to donate Music CD’s.
Motorsports Image was recently named as a distributor by the Rock-Ola Juke Box Company in order to supply some of the company’s “National Restaurant” customers. The new Rock-Ola Juke Box donated by Motorsports Image, will be delivered to the Victory Junction Gang camp within the next two weeks. Please send music CD’s directly to Motorsports Image so that they may be loaded in the new Juke Box prior to delivery.
The company’s mailing address is:
319 Rolling Hills Road
Mooresville N.C. 28117
Please select CD’s and music that are appropriate for children, and also please send original CD’s in their original packaging, please no copies. More info at www.motorsportsimage.com, www.rock-ola.com and/or www.victoryjunction.org.(6-7-2004)
- Another ‘NASCAR’ themed movie in the works: Beating out several other studios, Columbia Pictures has secured rights to the Will Ferrell comedy “Talladega Nights,” to be directed by his longtime collaborator Adam McKay. Named after the famous racing track, the film will be co-written by Ferrell and McKay based on a pitch that is set in the world of high-stakes professional stock car racing. Jimmy Miller and Judd Apatow will produce the feature, which is tentatively set for a summer 2006 release. Ferrell and McKay will serve as executive producers, with Matt Tolmach overseeing for the studio. “We love this project and couldn’t be more thrilled about working with Will, Adam, Judd and Jimmy,” Tolmach said. Said Miller: “To produce this film with these three guys is a dream come true for me. Not only are they longtime clients, they are some of my best friends and some of the most talented people I know. I feel that this material is in great hands with Amy and Matt and the entire team at Sony.”(Hollywood Reporter) — so, think it will be a drama?, see past news on other movies on my Movie Past News page.(6-7-2004)
- Menard to DEI? UPDATE 2: Motorsports.com is reporting that Dale Earnhardt Incorporated racing is set to announce the joining of Paul Menard to the DEI stable of drivers. Menard will run a yet unannounced numbered car with a Menard Home Improvement stores sponsorship. The sponsorship is stouter than the money deal with NAPA Auto Parts, and for five years. Menard will run three years of Busch and two years of Cup under the new contract. The team’s first Busch event is set to be New Hampshire International Speedway.(from Motorsports.com)(6-6-2004)
UPDATE: “You know more than I do,” was all Menard would tell BGNRacing.com of the rumor regarding his racing future. A team representative for Chance2 said he had not been informed of any plans regarding Menard and was unsure of a possible new DEI entry into Busch.(6-6-2004)
AND hearing that Chance 2 [Dale Earnhardt Jr./Tersa Earnahrdt’s Busch team] has signed Busch north standout Ryan Moore, for seven Busch Series races in 2005, and full time in 2006.(6-5-2004)
UPDATE 2: hearing the deal was signed on Friday, June 4th, a 5-year deal, it would be a DEI deal, not Chance2 and would be the #1 DEI team [for Cup] with the first few years in the Busch Series.(6-7-2004)
- CASCAR to NASCAR? UPDATE: Rumours are rampant that the CASCAR Super Series — Canada’s top stock car racing sanctioning body — is in negotiations with NASCAR to sell its events, including races at the Toronto and Vancouver Molson Indys. Reports of the sale were being spread this past weekend in Charlotte, N.C., home of NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 [at Lowe’s Motor Speedway]. If the sale were to be completed, it is expected that NASCAR would rename the series NASCAR North and lump it in with its two other regional racing series — Busch North and Grand National West. CASCAR spokesman Richard Coughlin, reached at Delaware Speedway where the series held its first race of the season this past weekend, said there have been talks but denied a sale is imminent. Veteran driver Peter Gibbons, who coincidentally has his race shop in the Charlotte area, won the race at Delaware in his #1 Canadian Tire Chevrolet.(Toronto Sun)(6-2-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR has been in discussions to buy Canada’s top stock-car racing series, CASCAR owner and founder Tony Novotny of London confirmed yesterday. “We have had discussions with NASCAR as recently as February of this year,” Novotny said. “However, we don’t have any kind of a deal on the table right now that says they are going to buy us at this point.” Novotny said that the most recent talks have centered on whether NASCAR is able to make a deal that works for him and the 30 or so teams who regularly run the CASCAR Super Series, including the Toronto and Vancouver Molson Indys. This isn’t the first time that NASCAR has focused it’s attention on the Canadian market in general and CASCAR specifically. “We have had discussions with NASCAR as far back as five years ago,” Novotny said. “I sat down with then NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr.” A key impetus to getting NASCAR’s attention has been the huge success the past two seasons of having Nextel Cup drivers race in the annual Canada Day Shootout at Cayuga.(London Free Press)(6-7-2004)
- Benson gets a ride at Kentucky: Johnny Benson will returning to Busch Series competition at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, June 19th. He will be driving the #17 Ford competing in the Meijer 300.(Johnny Benson site)(6-7-2004)
- McClure loses Busch/Cup backing: Eric McClure passed his first NASCAR Nextel Cup test at Talladega Superspeedway. Although McClure’s sponsor I Can Learn announced a plan for the 2004 season to include primary sponsorship of five races, the #04 team was recently informed that the company will not be able to honor the remainder of the agreement. That decision leaves McClure searching for financial backing for either the Busch Series or Nextel Cup. “We realize Eric has the talent to race in any situation,” said McClure’s father Jerry. “Eric has grown into a mature racer who uses his head. I am proud of what he has accomplished in such a short period of time.” The McClure resume features two ARCA Series starts (Michigan-2003/Daytona 2004), two Busch starts (Rockingham-2003/Las Vegas-2004) and one Nextel Cup start. He finished 26th and on the lead lap at Talladega McClure competed in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Late Model event at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn Saturday night.(Bristol Herald Courier)(6-7-2004)
- Mears didn’t lose an engine: heard many reports during the race and on shows later that #41-Casey Mears lost an engine which got oil on the track and some drivers complained that Mears stayed on the track too long, from a team PR: Mears told the team he thought he had a tire going flat as the car was beginning to smoke. He stayed at the top of the track until he could pit. He learned a lap later that he was dropping oil on the track but didn’t realize it because the motor was still running. The leader [#9 Kahne] ran through the oil and spun bringing out the final caution on lap 383. The team repaired the oil line and Mears was able to finish the race 28th.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(6-7-2004)
- Changes at RCR: A change in management occurred last week when Richard Childress Racing [#’s 29,30,31,33] promoted Mike Dillon, a former Busch Series competitor and Richard Childress’ son-in-law, to general manager. Bobby Hutchens was named vice president of competition. Childress says RCR has been operating as a three-team organization despite its growth to five full-time teams in Cup and Busch. Childress did not rule out additional changes with his teams if performance does not pick up. Dillon added, “We’re trying to improve all aspects of competition, and the change will take some of the weight off Bobby’s shoulders.” The move will allow Hutchens to spend more time with the engineering and R&D departments.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(6-7-2004)
- Kenseth Not Happy: Late in the race, while the number of lead-lap cars had already been reduced dramatically through attrition, leader Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth spun in oil dropped on the track by Casey Mears’ Dodge and wrecked in Turn 4. Kenseth, the reigning series champion, complained that NASCAR waited to call a caution knowing Mears had dropped oil. He also criticized the safety crews for not sending an ambulance to get him. “I think race fans should be mad. First, NASCAR spends 40 laps under caution screwing around for who knows what. Then a car blew up half a lap before we got (to the turn) and they never threw the caution. They just let it go green until we all rode down in there and wrecked,” he said. “We’ve run two laps under yellow and haven’t seen an ambulance. Glad I’m OK. I haven’t seen anybody check me out yet.”(ThatsRacin.com)(6-7-2004)
- New Race Record at Dover International Speedway, not for the fastest, but Sunday’s win by Mark Martin in the MBNA 400: A Salute to Heroes, was the slowest race speed average for a Cup race at Dover, 97.042mph, the old record was in June 1975 by David Pearson with an average speed of 100.820mph.(6-7-2004)
- #99 Seeking Sponsor Approval UPDATE 3: Roush Racing is seeking NASCAR’s approval for a liquor company to sponsor its #99 Ford for Jeff Burton, this week’s issue of NASCAR Scene reports. NASCAR officials said earlier this season that the sanctioning body had no intention of changing its policies prohibiting sponsorship from hard liquor distillers, but Roush President Geoff Smith says the proposed sponsorship has been submitted. “They’ve only given an indication that they are reviewing [the policy against hard liquor sponsorships],” Smith said. The story does not name the proposed sponsor for the team.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)[Jayski hopes it is Jack Daniels](6-4-2004)
UPDATE: Roush Racing reportedly is trying to win approval from NASCAR to secure a hard-liquor company to sponsor South Boston’s Jeff Burton, whose #99 Ford has been competing without logos all season [actually has had some one-off deals and Round-Up for a few races]. NASCAR has a long-standing policy against allowing alcohol sponsorships involving distilled spirits, but President Mike Helton said changes were being considered. “It’s a complicated process,” Helton said. “We have a policy we’ve adhered to and said time and time before that the answer is, ‘No.’ It’s not as simple as saying, ‘It’s OK,’ this time. Why wasn’t it OK before and what kind of ripple effect do you create to all the people you said, ‘No,’ to before? But in fairness to industry, we’ll address our stances on sponsorships that in the past we haven’t allowed.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(6-5-2004)
UPDATE 2: Roush Racing president, Geoff Smith, told www.teamfordracing.com that a potential sponsorship package for Jeff Burton’s #99 has been sitting in limbo for quite some time. At issue — the offer comes from a hard alcohol company. NASCAR has a long-standing prohibition regarding hard liquor company sponsorship, which NASCAR believes violates the family atmosphere of an event. There have been cracks in that position through the course of time, with Roush Racing’s Smirnoff Ice product making it to the approved list after successful argument that the product is on par with beer. Hard alcohol products, as a group, had been banned from television for years, but a change in that position earlier this year opened the doors for liquor ads on TV. Seeing an opening the International Race Of Champions Series, with tactile approval from NASCAR, inked a deal with Crown Royal as their series sponsor. NASCAR indicated in early April that it was reviewing its policy on hard liquor, but no decision has been forthcoming since those statements were made at Texas Motor Speedway. General objection to alcohol advertising was reported in a recent Wall Street Journal article, in which officials from Anheuser-Busch noted, “a drink is not a drink”, working to maintain their marketplace share. Anheuser-Busch is not only one of the sport’s biggest advertisers, but also one of the biggest over-all spenders of advertising dollars; and listed 38th in the 2003 Ad Age top-100 advertisers. “We secured a commitment in late February for [liquor] sponsorship and asked NASCAR if it would review its prohibition,” Smith told TFR. Smith went on to say that they’ve been working with NASCAR to see if a resolution can be worked out, but so far have not received clearance for the sponsorship.(Team Ford Racing)(6-6-2004)
UPDATE 3: Team owner Jack Roush said after the race that he has a sponsor immediately ready to sign a deal to sponsor Burton’s #99 team, which has run unsponsored most of the year. That sponsor is for a hard liquor product, however, but NASCAR has not allowed sponsorship in that product category. Roush said he expects to hear as soon as this week if NASCAR will change that policy.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-7-2004)
- Ford Pushes Dodge; Burton disagrees: After his planned pit stop went awry when he spun on pit road, #12-Ryan Newman ran his tank dry with the extra mile he had to go to come back around for gas. He received some unexpected help from Ricky Rudd, who pushed him most of the way around with his #21 Ford. Once on pit road, one of Newman’s Penske Racing teammates, Brendan Gaughan, provided similar assistance. Driver #99-Jeff Burton, who like Rudd drives a Ford, criticized Rudd for assisting Newman, who drives a Dodge. Said Rudd: “He was out of gas. Our spotter said to push him. I didn’t think about it.”(ThatsRacin.com)…kudos to Rudd and the spotter!(6-7-2004)
- Pamela Anderson pleads with Dale Jr.: Pam Anderson wants Dale Earnhardt Jr. to help out some chicks. The former “Baywatch” babe wrote a pleading letter to the NASCAR star after she learned that his race car is sponsored by KFC — which has been under attack from animal rights groups such as PETA, for whom Anderson is a spokeswoman. “Greetings from an admirer,” Anderson writes, then outlines the grievances against the fast food chain, including charges that it uses chickens that have been defeathered live with scalding water. “When you take a multimillion-dollar endorsement from a company, you must also take some responsibility for the company’s practices,” Anderson continues, “so we’re asking you to use your considerable influence with KFC to improve its animal-welfare standards.” Anderson even offers to have a letter drafted up that Earnhardt can sign and send to KFC. Earnhardt didn’t return our calls for comment, but Anderson said in a statement to the Scoop: “Little chickens need a big man like Dale to stick up for them!”(MSNBC)(6-7-2004)
- Mears to get soapy: Casey Mears will test at Chicagoland Speedway this week in preparation for the Tropicana 400 on July 11. Mears had a season-best starting position of fourth there last season but finished 34th. Mears generally refrains from being a major player in NASCAR’s As the Wheel Turns soap opera, but after this weekend’s race at Pocono, the 26-year-old driver of the #41 Target Dodge will fly to Los Angeles to play himself in an episode of Days of Our Lives. “We’re always looking for more exposure for the sport and more exposure for me,” Mears says. “I think it will be a great experience, but the funny thing is I’m really not a soap-opera guy.” This won’t be Mears’ first network experience. Several years ago, after Mears expressed interest in meeting Jennifer Love Hewitt, he was an extra on the since-cancelled Party of Five.(FoxSports/Sporting News)(6-7-2004)
- Martin wins at Dover and ends 73 race drought: #6-Mark Martin won his first race since May 2002 [Coca-Cola 600] in 73 races, winning the MBNA 400: A Salute to Heroes at Dover International Speedway, in a slow, ugly, wild race. It is Martin’s 4th win at Dover and 34th of his career. Only 5 cars ended up on the lead lap, the rest of the top five were: #20-Stewart, #8-Earnhardt Jr., #99-Burton and #10-Riggs. #10-Scott Riggs had his best career finish and was the highest finishing rookie of the year candidate. Earnhardt Jr. increased his points lead over #48-Johnson. Sixteen cars did not finish the race and many more that were still running were damaged.
For race results, see:
- TOP FIVE [unofficial] DRIVERS POINTS after Dover:
#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., 1963
#48-Jimmie Johnson, 1865, -98
#17-Matt Kenseth, 1784, -179
#20-Tony Stewart, 1767, -196
#24-Jeff Gordon, 1709, -254
For full standings see ThatsRacin.com or NASCAR.com.(6-6-2004)
- StockCarFans.com – Rumblings – Dover:
For what was going to be an emotional weekend, Saturday’s news increased it tenfold. The passing of President Ronald Reagan brought a thoughtful remorse to many. The world lost the greatest leader of the 20th Century, NASCAR lost a friend, and their fans lost a hero. Certain memories of Mr. Reagan will always be emblazoned in our minds….whether it be the speech he gave 20 years ago today on that beach in Normandy, the famous “Tear Down this Wall” speech in Berlin, the images of him lying on that sidewalk in DC, or just simply that picture of the President and the King smiling in the press box at Daytona International Speedway on July 4th, 1984.
Now, where do we start? It’s not often we can say that “pit in” determined the outcome of the race, but you could certainly make an argument for it today. With about 80 laps to go in today’s MBNA 400 “A Salute to Heroes” 400 at Dover International Speedway, we finally had our first round of green-flag pit stops. After racing 320 laps, I guess a few guys forgot how tricky this pit-road entrance can be.
First Tony Stewart totally missed it. He had to make an extra lap and that probably cost him the race. Then came the telling move. Ryan Newman spun coming in, hit the cones, hit the tires that protect the end of pit wall, and brought out the caution that would lead to “THE BIG ONE”. What’s that you say? You think it only happens at Talladega? We had an 19 car job today in turn 3….and it was a major mess.
But, before we got to that point, a few other observations….
Ryan Newman got the deal of the century. He had no less than 4 infractions (hitting the commit-line cones, spinning on pit road, pitting too early, running the stop sign at pit out), and his team spent the next 20 laps complaining that he was getting a ONE LAP PENALTY.
So, while NASCAR was covering itself in ignominity trying to figure out who was where “at the moment of caution”, not to mention who was the “lucky dog”, we lost a ton of laps to that confusion. BTW, NASCAR seems to lead the league in confusion lately. Since this was not NASCAR’s finest hour (keeping the WWII theme intact), they topped it off by not throwing a caution when Casey Mears grenaded an engine in turn 4 and Kasey Kahne was lucky enough to be the first car through that area….about 20 seconds later. He was toast….
When the concrete dust settled (how come this is one of the last tracks to get “soft walls”? Buddy Baker was telling us 15 years ago the hardest hits in NASCAR came at Dover!), it was Mark Martin in Victory Lane….and it’s been quite awhile since he’d graced that location.
Martin’s victory broke a 72 race losing streak (his last win was the Coke 600 at Lowe’s in May of 2002), and was the 34th of his Cup career. This breaks a 17th place tie with the legendary Fireball Roberts on the all-time win list, and was win #70 for Jack Roush. His 4th win at Dover was worth $271,900 from the nearly $5.5M in posted awards.
17 DNF’s today…..they don’t call this place the Monster Mile for nuttin’!
Tony Stewart (2nd) had his best finish since he was the runner-up at Daytona in February.
Jeff Burton (4th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Richmond last September.
Scott Riggs (5th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 15th at Texas in April.
Burton & Riggs’ Top-5’s now gives us 21 drivers at that number (last year we had 30). Riggs’ Top-10 gives us 30 drivers at that mark (last years number was 42).
Scott Wimmer (9th) had his best finish since he was 3rd at the 500 in February.
Jimmy Spencer (17th) had his best finish since he was 14th at Rockingham last November.
STREAKIN….Dale Earnhardt Jr has 6 Top-10’s in the last 7 races.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the week (for the second time this season) is Terry Labonte (+27), followed by Jimmy Spencer (+24), Dale Earnhardt Jr (+23), and Kevin Harvick (+23). DOWN: The Big Dropper was a tie between Jeff Gordon (-23) and Stanton Barrett (-23), followed by Brendan Gaughan (-22). This was also Gordon’s second BD of the season.
We’re halfway thru the season fans (we’re gonna have to consider this a 26 race season for all but 10 drivers, after all), and we’re down to just the Top-10 currently eligible for this year’s Chase. Sure didn’t take us long to get there, huh?
Jeff Burton (29th to 24th) made the best move forward today in the points, while Greg Biffle (21st to 25th) and Joe Nemechek (23rd to 27th) fell the most spots.(StockCarFans.Com Nextelcup Newsletter)(6-6-2004)
- Chris Bristol claims first win for Reggie White/Joe Gibbs Racing: Chris Bristol qualified second and led every lap to claim his first win at Caraway Speedway in his MBNA – Rockwell Automation sponsored Chevrolet. It is the first win for the Reggie White/Joe Gibbs Racing diversity program.(JGR PR)(6-6-2004)
- Dale Jr. to appear on KFC Buckets: KFC says Dale Earnhardt Jr. will become the first person other than chain founder “Colonel” Harland Sanders to appear on buckets of its fried chicken. KFC, which is sponsoring Earnhardt Jr.’s Chance 2 Motorsports team for six Busch Series races this year, says Earnhardt Jr. will appear in racing gear with a Chevrolet painted in KFC colors on the buckets.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-6-2004)
- Toyota Names Program Manager: Toyota has named Pat Wall to a newly created position as vice president and Craftsman Truck Series program manager for Toyota Racing Development USA Inc. Wall, who has spent 15 years as a motorsports consultant providing marketing and sponsorship services, will be responsible for oversight of all TRD resources in High Point, NC [where Bill Davis Racing is located]. He will also oversee Toyota’s technical and racing relationship with NASCAR.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(6-6-2004)
- Congrats: Eric McClure, who made his NASCAR Nextel Cup debut at Talladega on April 25 in a 2nd Morgan-McClure Motorsports #04 Chevy, is currently celebrating his honeymoon. He has been working on sponsor plans to race again soon.(Bristol Herald Courier)(6-5-2004)
- Ford Engines at Dover: haven’t heard for sure, but heard on an XM Satellite – NASCAR Radio interview with #21 crew chief, Ben Leslie says none of the Fords will be using the new Ford cylinder heads at Dover.(6-5-2004)
- Stremme to Cup by 2006: NASCAR Busch Series driver David Stremme, one of several up-and-comers Chip Ganassi has signed to driver development contracts, should join the Nextel Cup ranks by 2006, said Andy Graves, Ganassi’s team manager. “We have David Stremme signed long-term with the Ganassi organization, Reed Sorenson and Ryan Hemphill. We’re excited about those three young guys,” Graves said. “I think you’re going to see David Stremme in Cup in the near future, if not 2005 I’d say for sure in 2006. Reed and Ryan are both getting their feet wet. It’s going to take a little more work to get them to that level, but they both have the talent.” Stremme is driving the #32 TrimSpa Dodges for Braun Racing this season. Sorenson is running full-time in the American Speed Association and Sorenson and Hemphill are both running Automobile Racing Club of America series events. Graves called Roush Racing among the most successful at developing new talent in the Cup series. “I think those guys have done good jobs bringing up Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth. I think they’re the ones that kind of started it,” he said. “Both Hendrick and ourselves have kind of caught up with them, and hopefully we’ve got some young guys to get ready for the future.”(ThatsRacin.com)(6-5-2004)
- Ganassi Shakeup? [no details]: A shakeup may be brewing inside the Chip Ganassi camp, according to insiders. Ganassi’s three drivers are all winless over the past year and a half.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-5-2004)
- RCR Crewman wants Biffle: Crewmen at Richard Childress’ shop are chomping at the bit with the possibility of acquiring Greg Biffle. “We need someone to step this operation up a notch,” an RCR crewman said. “And Biffle could do that. Childress needs to get him – no matter what it costs.”(Winston Salem Journal)(6-5-2004)
- Ward to test at VIR: #0-Ward Burton and the NetZero Racing team are scheduled to test at Virginia International Raceway next Wednesday, June 9th in preparation for the upcoming road course event at Infineon (Sonoma Calif.) Raceway.(Ward Burton PR)(6-4-2004)
- Testing at Infineon Raceway: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers #31-Robby Gordon, #5-Terry Labonte, #2-Rusty Wallace and rookies #30-Johnny Sauter and #25-Brian Vickers will be testing at Infineon Raceway on Tuesday, June 8, from 8:30am – 7:00pm/et.(Infineon Raceway PR)(6-4-2004)
- NASCAR takes control of caution lights: NASCAR president Mike Helton said Friday the sanctioning body has taken control of the switches for the caution lights away from the flagstand. The switches will only be located in the control tower during races for all of NASCAR’s three major divisions. The decision comes after a mistake in the Infineon 200 Craftsman Truck Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last month where the caution lights came on and leader Carl Edwards slowed. The lights, allegedly turned on by the backup flagman, were quickly turned off, and there was no caution. Edwards ended up losing the race, and NASCAR later admitted it was wrong. The flagstand will no longer be able to turn on the caution lights but can still wave the caution flag.(NASCAR.com)(6-4-2004)
- Sacks back in a Cup car? during Speed Channel’s Busch Series Qualifying coverage, Jeff Hammond mentioned that Greg Sacks, attempting to make the Busch Series race at Dover, is working on a deal to get back in a Nextel Cup car, possibly as soon as Chicago in July. No word on what team and no idea if it has anything to do with that #05 Team he announced a few years ago.(6-4-2004)
- Jim Inglebright to Drive #30 AOL Chevrolet in Sonoma: Due to a conflict in driver Johnny Sauter’s NASCAR NEXTEL Series and Busch Series schedules, Richard Childress Racing (RCR) team owner Richard Childress has named Southwest Series driver Jim Inglebright to pilot the #30 AOL Chevrolet for the June 27 Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway. Inglebright, 43, a regular on the NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series, has eight wins in 96 starts, including three straight victories at Infinion Raceway (2000-2002). He finished fourth in the 2003 event. He also ran a limited Craftsman Truck Series schedule during the 2000 and 2001 seasons, posting one top-ten finish in 17 starts. “We’re disappointed Johnny couldn’t run Infineon due to the Busch race weekend in Milwaukee, which is Kleenex’s, his Busch team’s sponsor’s, hometown,” said Childress. “We decided to put Jim Inglebright in the AOL Chevrolet for that race and are confident he will do a great job for us. Jim has the aggressive driving style I like and he definitely knows his way around Infineon, his track record speaks for itself.” Sauter will remain the full-time driver of the #30 AOL Chevrolet and will return to the seat for the July 3 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. “I am honored to get the opportunity to drive the AOL Chevrolet for Richard Childress,” said Inglebright, the Fairfield, Calif., native who will also compete in the Southwest Series event at Infineon Raceway. “Driving in the Nextel Cup Series has always been a goal of mine. What better way to reach my goal than to drive for Richard Childress and AOL at Infineon Raceway.” Inglebright will test the #30 AOL Chevrolet at Infineon Raceway Tuesday, June 8, in preparation for the Dodge-SaveMart 350. “AOL is excited to have a driver of Jim Inglebright’s status in the seat of the AOL Chevrolet for the road-course event at Infineon Raceway,” said JD Ettore, AOL Director National Promotions & Sponsorship. “Jim is a very well respected driver and with him we know we have a great shot at winning.”(RCR PR)(6-4-2004)
- More on the Mikey leaving DEI rumors [looks more and more like he will leave]: Rumors have begun to swirl — again — that 41-year-old Michael Waltrip’s job with Dale Earnhardt Inc. is in jeopardy. On Wednesday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that although it would be a tough decision, there is a good possibility DEI will replace Waltrip when his contract expires at the end of this season. ”I know Michael personally would like to finish his career [with DEI],” Earnhardt said during a Pepsi 400 promotion at Daytona International Speedway. “But I don’t see, ah, I don’t see the chances of that being so good right now. But we haven’t made a decision yet. Michael goes and runs good this past weekend at Charlotte [a second in the Coca-Cola 600]. He puts up a good argument for himself. But we need results out of that team.” Earnhardt also emphasized that rookie Martin Truex Jr., the star driver of his Second Chance Busch Series team, should not be seen as the “villan.”
”If we decide not to keep Michael, I believe we’d bring another driver in other than Martin,” said Earnhardt, citing that he believes the best course for Truex’s development in one more year in the Busch series. ”It’s kind of tough for Martin because he feels like he’s causing problems that he’s not even causing,” Earnhardt said. Waltrip has won a total of four races during his 3 ½ years with DEI, but all the victories have come on the superspeedways of Daytona or Talladega, where DEI cars have excelled in restrictor-plate racing. Waltrip finished 24th in the point standings in 2001, prompting the first round of talk that his job was in jeopardy. But in July of 2002, DEI extended his contract with NAPA Auto Parts as its primary sponsor for two more years. Waltrip finished 14th in the championship in 2002 and was 15th last year. This year Waltrip is 24th, 229 points out of the final spot for the 10-race shootout for the championship.
”I love Michael,” said Earnhardt Jr., who leads the championship race. “It’s very difficult because Michael and Dad were great friends. And Michael is a good friend, and I think the world of him. And Michael would love to finish his career where he’s at. At the same time, we have to look toward the future. . . . That team [the No. 15 Chevy] has been going for three or four years and we feel like we’ve got to position ourselves for another driver for a good long relationship.” In the offseason last year, DEI tried to to lure two-time Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. to drive a third car. Hornish decided to remain in the IRL and drive for Team Penske. Earnhardt said the team can’t pass up on a good ”home run hitter in the offseason” because they were waiting for Waltrip to retire. He also said it’s not ”healthy” for a team to switch drivers midseason, although he did not rule out the possibility that it could happen. ”If it cuts Michael’s career a couple of years shorter than he anticipated [with DEI], I don’t think he’s going to have a problem continuing what he wants to do,” Earnhardt said. Waltrip could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but after finish second to runaway victor Jimmie Johnson last week in the Coca-Cola 600 he said: “I know I have the talent and ability to do the job. It just reaffirms that.”(in part from the Miami Herald – need to register to view)(6-4-2004)
- Wimmer gets NASCAR probation also: Nextel Cup rookie #22-Scott Wimmer has been placed on probation by NASCAR for the remainder of the season after being convicted of driving under the influence. Wimmer pleaded guilty and received a year’s probation and a requirement to do 24 hours of community service. He was allowed to keep his driver’s license. NASCAR also plans to require Wimmer to do some sort of community service. “We’re looking at some different things so Scott can get the message out so that it will help others not put themselves in the position he put himself in,” said NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter, adding that NASCAR and Wimmer have worked together since Wimmer’s arrest on Jan. 31. “We feel he has accepted responsibility for his actions and is truly remorseful.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(6-4-2004)
- MRN Honored: Motor Racing Network (MRN) swept top honors in all eligible radio categories at the annual American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) Awards Banquet in Indianapolis on Saturday, May 29. The nation’s largest independent sports radio network, based in Daytona Beach, Fla., received first place honors for 2003 programming in the Radio Staff Produced and Radio Single Produced categories. Following are those who were recognized in each category:
Radio Race Report: NASCAR Busch Series – “Dreambody 250” from Pikes Peak International Raceway Eli Gold, anchor; David Hyatt, Executive Producer and T.G. Ailstock, Producer
Radio Feature Program: NASCAR Heroes – Richard Petty, Eli Gold, Host; David Hyatt Executive Producer and Marty Hough, Producer
The AARWBA is the second National Association to honor MRN for its outstanding radio coverage of NASCAR races in 2003. Earlier this year, National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) recognized MRN with 8 awards including the prestigious “Barney Hall Award” given to NASCAR Live Event Producer, Ryan Horn. “These awards show the dedication of the entire MRN staff to producing quality programming for our millions of listeners,” said network President and Executive Producer Hyatt. “We are honored to be recognized by our peers.”(MRN PR)(6-4-2004)
- Special D-Day scheme and diecast deal: MBNA is the primary sponsor of the #18 Chevy for Dover, and Labontes car is painted in a style reminiscent of World War II military equipment. A 1:24 scale die-cast replica of Labonte’s MBNA D-Day car is available and a portion of the royalties from sales of the die-cast will be donated to the D-Day Memorial Foundation and to the Armed Forces Family Scholarship and Assistance Fund (AFFSAF), administered by the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation (MCLEF).(JGR PR), check out the die-cast at www.full-victory.com.(6-4-2004)
- National D-Day Memorial Foundation Logo: Elliott Sadler will run a special D-Day logo on the rear quarter panel of the #38 M&M’s Ford. According to National D-Day Memorial Foundation President and Retired Army Colonial William A. McIntosh, M&M’S as a distinct place in wartime history. “Wherever American troops were – there were also M&M’S,” said McIntosh. “M&M’S was the only candy that didn’t melt in the conditions we faced as GI’s. I remember eating them for a quick pick me up and just because they tasted so good. We are so thankful to the Mars family for their contributions to American soldiers over the years.”
“We are proud to be a part of American history,” said Jeffery Moran Director of Communications for Masterfoods USA. “Placing the National D-Day Memorial Foundation decal on the #38 car for the MBNA 400 at Dover International Speedway is a great to pay tribute to the Americans who fought for our country on this historic day.”(M&M’s Racing PR)(6-4-2004)
- McMurray’s Pit Crew Scores First McDonald’s/POWERade Victory: Jamie McMurray’s pit crew claimed the McDonald’s Drive-Thru Pit Championship fueled by POWERade in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Though McMurray’s crew had been close to the top in a number of races, this was the first time the #42 team captured the $20,000 weekly prize. The first-place finish lifted McMurray’s crew from 11th to eighth in the McDonald’s/POWERade point standings. The season winner will collect a $200,000 bonus. Speaking of winners, last year’s season champion – the pit crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. — remains first with 459 points and a 21-point margin over Elliott Sadler’s crew. The margin of victory for McMurray’s crew was a mere three-tenths of a second over Sadler’s team. McMurray’s Texaco-Havoline Dodge, which is part of the Chip Ganassi racing stable, spent 283.521 seconds on pit road. Sadler’s Pedigree Ford was clocked at 283.824. Michael Waltrip’s NAPA Chevy was third at 288.029. “I’m really proud of this entire Texaco/Havoline team,” crew chief Donnie Wingo said. “They have really pulled together and we have a very solid pit crew. I also want to send a word of thanks to Dave Collins, who is an important part of the 42 pit crew. Dave injured his finger a while back and is out of commission for now, but we look forward to him getting back soon. I also want to say thank you to McDonald’s and POWERade for their support of this pit crew competition. Our team takes great pride in being awarded this prize.” The #42 over-the-wall crew consists of: Shane Church (front tire changer), Keith Mansch (front tire carrier), Billy Curwood (rear tire changer), Andrew Carter (rear tire carrier), Mark Cass (jackman), Mike Bodick (gas man) and Heath Silver (catch can).(DMF Communications PR), see the top 10 from the race and the standings on my Pit Crew News page.(6-3-2004)
- Long at Dover UPDATE: hearing that Carl Long will attempt to make the MBNA 400: A Salute to Heroes at Dover International Speedway in the #00 McGlynn Motorsports Chevrolet, while not asscoaited with Michael Waltrip or DEI, it is a former DEI car supposedly.(6-2-2004)
UPDATE: Carl Long has teamed up with the #00 McGlynn Motorsports Nextel Cup Chevrolet crew this weekend at Dover International Speedway and again for the upcoming Pocono Nextel Cup race scheduled for Sunday, June 13, 2004. Long has nine NASCAR Cup Series, four Busch Series and six NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career starts to his credit and is one of the most popular independent drivers in NASCAR. Long has been tabbed by Team Owner Raynard McGlynn to help his team gain valuable experience on and off the track. McGlynn’s long-term strategy is to enter his son Ryan in the July 25, 2004 Loudon [New Hampshire] Cup race. Driver Ryan McGlynn has been approved by NASCAR to compete in Nextel Cup tracks up to one-mile until he gains additional Cup experience. McGlynn competed at the inaugural Daytona truck event and is approved to compete at Superspeedways in all truck competition. McGlynn Motorsports plans on running at least one truck series event, possibly Kentucky. McGlynn Motorsports and driver Ryan McGlynn posted their career-best finish in the Kentucky truck race, coming home eleventh (11th) after qualifying twenty-ninth (29th) for the July 14, 2001 event.(TruckSeries.com)(6-3-2004)
- #32 Testing the road: hearing that the #32 Tide PPI Motorsports Chevy team tested at Virginia International Raceway on Wednesday in preparation for the upcoming road course race at Infineon Speedway. Ricky Craven drivers the #32 Tide Chevy.(6-3-2004)
- Racing Electronics Expands: Racing Electronics has announced their plan for the expansion of their southern operations. A brand new state-of-the-art 12,000 square-foot facility is planned to house both Racing Electronics and RaceSAFE Systems, Inc. at 840 Derita Road, Concord, NC. Racing Electronics’ building site is one mile from the entrance to Concord Airport, one-quarter mile from Poplar Tent Road, and directly across the street from the new facility being constructed by Ganassi Racing. “This area is a rapidly expanding, high visibility area. Our plans are to expand our southern operations with a new retail center, distribution facility, technical center, repair center, and state-of-the-art showroom and audio testing laboratory,” said Bruce Silver, president of Racing Electronics.(RE PR)(6-3-2004)
- Jerry Nadeau Returns to Connecticut with Endurance Karting: NASCAR driver and Danbury [CT] native Jerry Nadeau returns to his home state June 18 and 19 for the EnduranceKarting.com events at Lime Rock Park. Nadeau will serve as an instructor in the June 18 racing school, which is limited to 20 participants. On Saturday, June 19, Nadeau will be on one of 28 teams competing in an eight-hour go-kart endurance race. Nadeau says: “I really enjoyed instruction and working with people and coming back to Lime Rock is going to be so much fun.” Pre-registration is required for the race and the school. “I have raced with EnduranceKarting.com three times at the kart track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway [in Charlotte],” Nadeau said. “Last time, I teamed up with Ernie Irvan and my dad, who had not raced in years. We had a great time, racing together and against racing enthusiasts.” Nadeau was seriously injured in a May 2003 crash at Richmond International Raceway. He has since undergone extensive rehabilitation and has progressed remarkably. He keeps his racing skills in practice through go-karts and racing-themed video games, in hopes of returning to the Nextel Cup Series in 2005. The Lime Rock race also marks a homecoming to go-kart racing for Nadeau. He began racing go-karts at age four, winning three consecutive World Karting Association Gold Cup Championships (1988 to 1990). He won the WKA Grand National Championship and the Skip Barber Eastern Series Rookie-of-the-Year title in the same year (1991). In 1996, he competed in the Formula Opel European Series and finished sixth, the highest-ever finish by an American. Nadeau began racing in the prestigious Nextel Cup Series in 1997, posting one win at Atlanta Motor Speedway (November 2000) in 177 starts. Throughout his rehabilitation process, Nadeau has enjoyed spending time with his wife Jada and one-year-old daughter Natalie.
EnduranceKarting.com travels the country holding “Arrive and Race” events for the avid race fans to try the spirit of racing. For more information on the Lime Rock races, or EnduranceKarting’s other events in Portugal, North Carolina, Indiana, Las Vegas or Florida, visit www.EnduranceKarting.com or call toll-free 1-866-722-3669.(Endurance Karting PR)(6-3-2004)
- Gunselman in the #98 at Dover: Larry Gunselman, co-owner of the #98 Lucas Oil Ford will climb into the car this weekend in Dover International Speedway, attempting to make the MBNA 400: A Salute to Heroes race. Gunselman has worn a number of hats this season as co-owner, pit crew member, as well as being fully involved with the day-to-day operations at the MACH 1 shop in Denver NC. Gunselman brings a wide array of experience from various levels of racing, including the former the Winston West, the NASCAR Busch, NASCAR Craftsman’s Truck, and NASCAR Nextel Cup series. Most recently Gunselman raced the full year in 2003 finishing 21st in points in the NASCAR Busch Series. “I’m very excited about driving the car this weekend in Dover”, stated Gunselman.(Mach 1 PR)(6-3-2004)
- TV Ratings: Indy 500 beats Coke 600? UPDATE or does it? The Indianapolis 500 defeated the Coca-Cola 600 in preliminary overnight Nielsen ratings, despite enduring lengthy rain delays Sunday. ABC’s 4.7 rating for the Indy 500 fell from a 5.1 last year, but it edged out the 4.5 for Fox’s Coca-Cola 600, which declined 8 percent from 2003. Usually, the Indy 500 is over by the time the Coca-Cola 600 begins, but rain delays caused them to compete for two hours. In each half-hour segment from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Eastern, the Indy 500 won, ending with a 4.8 rating from 7 to 7:30, compared with a 4.0 for the Coca-Cola 600. Each overnight ratings point equals 754,274 television households. Viewership did not plummet during the Indy 500’s rain delays, which actually pushed it into a later time period with more viewership. The two rain-delay segments, the first from noon to 2 p.m. and the second from 2:45 to 4:30, rated a 3.6 and a 3.7.(New York Times – need to register)(6-2-2004)
UPDATE OR? NASCAR’s Coke 600 Overpowers Indy 500 by Widest Margin Ever:
Sunday’s heated TV viewership rivalry between the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Nextel Cup’s Coca-Cola 600 produced the widest ratings disparity since 2000. That year however, it was the Indianapolis 500 that topped the Coca-Cola 600 by a margin of +61% (5.5 on ABC vs. 3.4 on TBS). This past Sunday produced an entirely different result. In a further indication of NASCAR’s surging national appeal, the Coca-Cola 600 fired a 5.0 national rating and captured its third consecutive ratings victory over the Indianapolis 500, which posted a 4.1 national rating. The +22% gap over Indy represents the widest margin of victory favoring the Coca-Cola 600 in the history of both events. From a viewership standpoint, NASCAR’s victory was even more impressive as the Coca-Cola 600 generated an average audience of 8.4 million over a 4.5-hour broadcast, while the Indianapolis 500 drew 6.1 million, a difference of + 38%.
Facts and figures:
Coca-Cola 600 vs. Indy 500
HH Rtg – +22% – (5.0 vs. 4.1)
M18-34 – +200% – (3.0 vs. 1.0)
M18-49 – +110% – (4.4 vs. 2.1)
M25-54 – +86% – (5.2 vs. 2.8)
P2+ – +38% – (8.4 mill vs. 6.1)
- NASCAR Day: NASCAR announced plans for a new and exciting charity initiative, designating August 20, 2004 as the inaugural “NASCAR Day.” This one-day event is an opportunity for the nationwide NASCAR community to celebrate its enthusiasm for the sport while raising money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, which is scheduled to open this summer. On Friday, August 20, fans can show their NASCAR spirit by donating a minimum of $5 in exchange for the opportunity to wear their favorite NASCAR apparel to work. All participants will receive a commemorative lapel pin celebrating NASCAR Day. Proceeds will benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp for kids, a Proud Charity of NASCAR established to provide fun and memorable camping experiences to chronically ill children. All fans and companies are welcome, and encouraged, to participate in this cause program.
Already, NASCAR is seeking participation within the industry and is encouraging companies outside the industry to participate. To date, The Coca-Cola Company, Goodyear, Best Western and Levi Strauss Signature have committed their support by allowing employees to wear NASCAR apparel on August 20th.
Fans seeking information, or to sign up for NASCAR Day, should visit www.nascar.com/nascarday or call 1-866-305-4703. Corporations interested in implementing a company-wide NASCAR Day program can call 704-348-9640.
“There are no other fans like NASCAR fans,” said Kyle Petty, driver of the #45 Georgia-Pacific Dodge. “Their dedication and enthusiasm for the sport is unrivaled. NASCAR Day is a great way to harness the energy of every single person, company and organization involved in the sport for a greater good. I’m looking forward to showing my NASCAR spirit on August 20.”
NASCAR Day is organized through NASCAR Community Relations, which makes the most of the sport’s combined strengths to help as many people as possible through charitable foundations. Together, the NASCAR community is using this unique and dedicated format to assist people everywhere.(NASCAR PR)(6-2-2004)
- Blaney to run the #23 at Dover: Bill Davis Racing announced the addition of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Inc. as a primary sponsor of the #23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge for the MBNA 400 “A Salute to Heroes” at Dover International Speedway. Headquartered in Harrisburg, PA, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet has 31 locations stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. In addition to serving as a primary sponsor of the #23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge this weekend at Dover, Ollie’s is already a primary sponsor of the #43 Curb-Agajanian team piloted by Aaron Fike in the NASCAR Busch Series. Mark Butler, the CEO of Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, remarked that “the Bill Davis Racing #23 NASCAR team is a perfect partner for Ollie’s. Despite not having a full-time sponsor in 2004, the #23 team has fielded a number of very competitive entries in Nextel Cup races this year. “As we recently opened a store in Dover and are looking forward to expanding with more stores in the Delaware area, we believe that sponsoring a team in such an extremely popular and widely covered sporting event as the MBNA 400 ‘A Salute to Heroes’ will help us promote our company’s commitment to providing quality products at cheap prices in Delaware. The #23 Bill Davis Racing team has competed in a limited schedule this year due to a lack of full-time sponsorship, but it certainly does not appear that Dave Blaney has been driving for anything less than a full-time team; Blaney has notched four top-20 finishes in five Nextel Cup Series starts as driver of Bill Davis’s #23 car. “I am excited to pilot the #23 Bill Davis Racing Ollie’s Bargain Outlet Dodge at Dover this week. We have a great team working on that car, and we will build on some positive things we took away from our performance in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte last weekend.” Headquartered in Harrisburg, PA, Ollie’s Ollie’s Bargain Outlet was founded in 1982 by Mr. Mort Bernstein and Mr. Mark Butler. Ollie’s purchases By buying overproduced, overstocked and discontinued goods from manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers and offers a compelling value to its customers by selling these , Ollie’s is able to sell its products at prices typically 40% to 50% below suggested retail prices. Please visit www.olliesbargainoutlet.com for more information.(Bill Davis Racing PR), Blaney was listed in the #7 Ultra Motorsports Dodge at Dover, no idea if they will field the car with another driver [Steve Park?] or withdraw.(6-2-2004)
- Wimmer testing at Pocono: The #22 Caterpillar team will make a stop at Pocono Raceway on Thursday, June 3 in preparation for next week’s race. The team will be testing the car they raced at Rockingham, Darlington and California. Wimmer hasn’t raced at the three-turn track, so the test session is essential to the team. Dave Blaney, Wimmer’s part-time teammate will be on hand to help the team.(Bill Davis Racing PR)(6-2-2004)
- CASCAR to NASCAR? Rumours are rampant that the CASCAR Super Series — Canada’s top stock car racing sanctioning body — is in negotiations with NASCAR to sell its events, including races at the Toronto and Vancouver Molson Indys. Reports of the sale were being spread this past weekend in Charlotte, N.C., home of NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 [at Lowe’s Motor Speedway]. If the sale were to be completed, it is expected that NASCAR would rename the series NASCAR North and lump it in with its two other regional racing series — Busch North and Grand National West. CASCAR spokesman Richard Coughlin, reached at Delaware Speedway where the series held its first race of the season this past weekend, said there have been talks but denied a sale is imminent. Veteran driver Peter Gibbons, who coincidentally has his race shop in the Charlotte area, won the race at Delaware in his #1 Canadian Tire Chevrolet.(Toronto Sun)(6-2-2004)
- Wimmer Convicted; Gets Probation UPDATE 3: NASCAR driver Scott Wimmer [#22 Caterpillar Dodge] was convicted Tuesday of drunk driving after a single-vehicle accident in January. Wimmer, 28, was sentenced to one year of probation and 24 hours of community service after he was also found guilty of fleeing the scene of an accident. He was given a 60-day suspended prison term, served only if he violates probation, will lose his driver’s license for one year [NOTE: been told that Wimmer only loses his driving privileges if he violates his license restrictions and/or doesn’t fulfill his 24 hour community service]. He has already undergone an alcohol assessment, satisfying the last term of the sentence. Chuck Alexander, Wimmer’s Winston-Salem-based attorney, said he will appeal the decision of a District Court judge, meaning Wimmer can keep his license until the appeal is resolved. Wimmer was arrested Jan. 31 for driving while impaired after wrecking a 2004 Dodge Ram pickup truck owned by Bill Davis Racing. Wimmer drives for the High Point-based racing team in NASCAR’S top-level Nextel Cup series. His wife, Judy Ambrose, was found innocent of charges that she impeded the investigation by lying to police.(CNNSI/AP)(6-2-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR officials are withholding comment on Nextel Cup rookie Scott Wimmer’s conviction on drunken driving charges stemming from a Jan. 31 arrest in High Point, NC. Following a bench trial Tuesday in High Point, Wimmer, 28, was convicted of driving while impaired. He was given a 60-day suspended sentence, 24 hours of community service, fined $100 plus court costs and must relinquish his N.C. driver’s license [NOTE: been told that Wimmer only loses his driving privileges if he violates his license restrictions and/or doesn’t fulfill his 24 hour community service]. Wimmer is appealing the conviction, his attorney said in court. NASCAR officials plan to wait to comment until they have had time to review the conviction and speak with Wimmer, spokesman Mike Zizzo said late Tuesday.
AND – NOTE – IMPORTANT: A valid driver’s license is NOT a requirement to compete in NASCAR. Competitors must have a valid NASCAR license.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-2-2004)
UPDATE 2 – Response: Scott Wimmer got his day in court today answering charges for driving under the influence. Wimmer was arrested January 31, 2004 after an accident in High Point, NC. The court heard Wimmer’s case and found him guilty of driving under the influence. It resulted in a level five conviction, the lowest conviction for such charges, where Wimmer will serve 24 hours of community service in a 30-day period and he must also undergo an alcoholic assessment, which he has already completed. Wimmer’s conviction will not result in a loss of license. The charges of delay and obstruction against Wimmer’s wife, Jody, were dismissed. Since Wimmer was found guilty, the court returned an automatic appeal, however, Wimmer will resign the appeal in front of Supreme Court and accept the ruling of the courts. “I respect the decision of the courts,” said Wimmer. “I’ve been very fortunate to have the support of my sponsor, my family and the entire Bill Davis Racing family throughout all of this. I’m eager to put all of this behind me and move forward. My next commitment to putting all of this behind me is to try and help others from making the same mistake that I’ve made.”(Bill Davis Racing PR)(6-2-2004)
- Red, White and Blue for Kirk: Kirk Shelmerdine and the #72 crew head for the Monster Mile at Dover, Delaware this weekend for the MBNA 400 “A Salute To Heroes.” Shelmerdine’s Ford Taurus will sport a red, white, and blue paint scheme to honor our veterans, and the other heroes who have given so much to keep us free. Kirk and his crew also wish to send a special salute to honor the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Freddie B’s, RacingUnderdog.com, and The Winning Team Racing Apparel are Shelmerdine’s associate sponsors for this week’s event.(RacingUnderdog.com / Hearsay Entertainment PR)(6-2-2004)
- Cope Out? UPDATE yep Mike Wallace in, Jones at Pocono: hearing Derrike Cope and the #50 Arnold Motorsports team have parted ways.(6-1-2004)
UPDATE: Team owner Don Arnold of Naples said late Tuesday afternoon that he will replace driver Derrike Cope with Mike Wallace for Sunday’s MNBA 400 at the Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. Wallace through the 2004 season has been piloting the #4 Geico/Sportclips Ford in the NASCAR Busch Series. “I think you know where I’m going with this,” said Arnold, whose Nextel Cup Series team has struggled to find consistent corporate sponsorship since it debuted last summer in a Brick yard 400 qualifying attempt in Indianapolis. In the recent Nextel Open race in Charlotte, Arnold had the Geico sponsorship on the hood of the car driven by Cope and changed the overall paint scheme from gold and red to all-red. Geico will sponsor the car this weekend. “We’ve decided not to use Derrike at this point,” Arnold went on. “We may go back to him, but right now we’re going to try some options on drivers. Derrike has done an awful lot to help us progress and bring our group forward. He brought the program a long way.” Arnold said he made the decision to change drivers along with crew chief Mike Hillman, who had a previous association with Wallace for A.J. Foyt Racing two years ago. In addition to giving Wallace a chance behind the wheel, Arnold said he would have P.J. Jones drive the #50 Dodge at Pocono on June 13 after earlier lining up Jones to handle the upcoming road course event at Sonoma on June 27. “Certainly I am not pleased. This wasn’t something I anticipated,” a disappointed Cope said Tuesday night. “I haven’t talked to Don yet. He wasn’t the one who told me. So it’s difficult to comment. He owns the race team and he has to do what he thinks is best for his team. That’s just the way this sport goes sometimes. There are no hard feelings,” Cope added. “Some things happen for a reason. I’ll talk to Don (today) and go pick up a couple of my racecars I have in his shop.” Cope, who managed his own Cup team a year ago, said he wouldn’t try to qualify on his own this weekend at Dover. “I wouldn’t want to do that,” he said. “I want to be proficient and that’s putting a lot on your plate.”(Naples Daily News)(6-2-2004)
- Papa Joe Honored: “Papa Joe” Hendrick, the father of Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick who planted the seed that has grown into one of NASCAR’s most successful organizations, was presented The Order of the Long Leaf Pine by N.C. Gov. Mike Easley on Tuesday. The award is the State of North Carolina’s highest honor presented to an individual for dedication and extended length of service to his or her organization. Gov. Easley made the presentation at Hendrick’s headquarters near Lowe’s Motor Speedway, in front of nearly 450 of the organization’s employees, including Hendrick Nextel Cup driver Jimmie Johnson, who won Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. “Mr. and Mrs. Hendrick you really have helped the weak grow strong and you’ve made the strong grow great,” Easley said. “Because of the work that you two started many, many years ago, you have improved the quality of life of thousands of North Carolinians and those beyond this state.”
“Papa Joe” Hendrick Jr., 84, has been in and out of a Charlotte, N.C., hospital battling cancer in recent months. He and his wife, Mary, were on hand Tuesday to receive the honor. Johnson and former Hendrick driver Ken Schrader made remarks during the presentation. Johnson lauded “Papa Joe” for his courage in the face of adversity. “Pop, you make us all wake up every morning and work a little harder seeing how hard you’ve fought through everything,” he said. “You give us all a lot of inspiration to wake up each morning, put a smile on our face and get to work.” “Papa Joe” Hendrick co-owns Hendrick’s #5 Busch and #25 Nextel Cup series teams with his grandson, Ricky Hendrick. “Papa Joe” Hendrick began racing modifieds in the early 1960s. While fielding a car with driver Ray Hendrick (no relation), the team won races throughout Virginia at such tracks as South Boston, Martinsville and Richmond.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-2-2004)
- Ganassi Being Sued: NASCAR and IRL Team[s] owner Chip Ganassi was accused in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday of failing to pay his share of a $35 million debt linked to the construction of the Chicago Motor Speedway. The multimillion dollar lawsuit filed by the Chicago-based National Jockey Club alleged that Ganassi failed to adequately fund the project and was trying to duck his share of the debt, according to a statement from the club. Ganassi could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.(CBS Sportsline/AP)(6-2-2004)
- Congrats to one on my favorite sites [non-nascar but automotive! sometimes some good auto racing stuff posted] www.autoextremist.com, an interesting look at the automobile industy for car enthusiasts everywhere. Run by Peter DeLorenzo, the site turned five years old today. Peter has been a guest on Dave Despain’s Wind Tunnel [Speed Channel – 10:00pm/et] in the past. Congrats.(6-2-2004)
- Johnson back to the Busch Series..for a race at LMS…with SpongeBob: #48-Jimmie Johnson who will join Kyle Busch in driving special “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” paint schemes during the Oct 15th, Busch Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The race will mark Johnson’s first appearance in the Busch Series since 2001. Johnson’s #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet will sport the SpongeBob character while Busch’s #5 Lowe’s Chevrolet will be outfitted with SpongeBob’s starfish buddy Patrick. See more in the Track Section below.(Lowe’s PR), see some images of the car on the 2004 Busch Paint Schemes page.(6-1-2004)
- Gloves, required? a few asked, so…… Q) While watching the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t wearing his racing gloves during the race. Is it mandatory for racers to wear ALL of their racing gear during the race? And also can Dale Jr. be penalized for not wearing his racing gloves during the race?
A) Jeff Hammond: No, drivers are not required to wear gloves. It is recommended that they wear them.
A) Larry McReynolds: That’s a great question, but gloves are not required by NASCAR. It is a lot like a full-face helmet. NASCAR suggests you wear it.(FoxSports Q&A)(6=1=2004)
- Stewart in trouble? UPDATE unlikely: Tony Stewart may be in trouble with NASCAR for an incident in Saturday’s Busch race: Stewart’s car was sponsored by rocker Kid Rock, who bills himself as “American Bad Ass,” from the title of his first hit single. Stewart’s car had Kid Rock painted on the quarterpanel and “American Bad Ass” on the hood, but NASCAR officials made Stewart tape over the offending song title. However during the first pit stop Stewart ordered his crew to pull off the tape, which the crew did.(Winston Salem Journal)
UPDATE: been told by folks with the team that Stewart’s car started the race without the tape covering any part of the song title and that Stewart made no such orders.(6-1-2004)
- Waltrip looking to move on? Another driver whose name is suddenly being mentioned by rival car owners is Michael Waltrip, who has been having a tough season but is a two-time Daytona 500 winner. The DEI sponsorship situation is up in the air, with Waltrip’s NAPA sponsorship up for renewal. Waltrip is apparently on the wanted list by some rival car owners for his marketability. Elsewhere at DEI, Martin Truex Jr., who has been remarkably successful in DEI’s Busch car and who has developed a tight relationship with Dale Earnhardt Jr., is being pushed to step up to a full Cup ride next season. Crew Chief Slugger Labbe admitted – “The rumor mill is kicking up. But NAPA is behind us 100 percent, and Michael is our driver. We’re focused on winning races, and I want to give Michael his first downforce win, and we’re cutting bodies off each week. We’re not going to bring inferior stuff to the track. Whatever happens happens, but we’re going to do the best we can to win races and make sure Michael and NAPA are happy.”(Winston Salem Journal)(6-1-2004)
- Robbie’s Mom doing better: Robbie Loomis, crew chief for the #24 DuPont Chevy driven by Jeff Gordon: “My mom just called, and she’s had a real good day. She actually told my sister to leave the hospital, so I like the sound of that.” Loomis missed Nextel Cup practice and qualifying Thursday to comfort his ailing mother in Daytona Beach, Fla., where she has been hospitalized for several weeks while being treated for several blood clots and complications with the pancreas. He returned for practice Saturday but blamed himself for Gordon’s surprising struggles Sunday. “It was a horrible night,” Loomis said. “I take full responsibility because I haven’t had my head in the game here lately.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(6-1-2004)
- Rusty in trouble? #2-Rusty Wallace maybe in trouble with NASCAR for running an extra lap Saturday after NASCAR ended practice for the Coca-Cola 600.(Winston Salem Journal)(6-1-2004)
- Some Tidbits: The last driver to win the Coca-Cola 600 and go on to win the championship was Jeff Gordon in 1998. The last time a driver won the 600 and in Dover the next weekend was Dale Earnhardt in 1993.(Roanoke Times)(6-1-2004)
- Rudd: Engine Good, Chassis Not: Ricky Rudd was the only driver using the next-generation Roush-Yates engine in the 600, and the results were mixed. The motor provided reliability and more power, but his #21 Air Force Ford couldn’t match the performance. “The motor was good, but you’ve got to have a chassis that complements the motor,” Rudd said. “We were bad in the corner, so we couldn’t take advantage. This motor liked to go, but we were losing about 300 rpm more in the corner than we should have been.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(6-1-2004)
- The Biffle Rumor Expands: The hottest property is Greg Biffle, whose all-star run-in with Roush Racing teammate Kurt Busch triggered a him-or-me outburst; he appears ready to leave Roush at the end of the season. Biffle is under consideration for rides with Richard Childress, DEI, Chip Ganassi and Ray Evernham, according to sources.(Winston Salem Journal), past news on the rumor, see my #16 Team News and Links page.(6-1-2004)
- Ice Bag from a Driver: A driver in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 was apparently attempting to cause an intentional caution when the a bag of ice hit several cars on Lap 349 of 400, Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said. Darby said the bag of ice came from a car in the field, but that the car could not be identified with certainty from video replay of the incident. The ploy worked, as NASCAR threw the caution. Causing an intentional caution is prohibited by NASCAR rules.(ThatsRacin.com)(6-1-2004)
- Inspections Not Fair? One Cup car owner, who preferred not to be named, says it would be interesting for TV to set up cameras in the NASCAR inspection bay, because he says he’s skeptical that every car gets a fair shake: “Some cars they don’t even put half the body templates on.”(Winston Salem Journal)(6-1-2004)