Sad News: Veteran NASCAR Crew Chief Butch Hylton’s, Mother, Patsy Hylton past away yesterday afternoon. She had been recovering from major aorta aneurysm surgery on 12/19/2005 and been in the hospital ever since the surgery, fighting for recovery. Family and Friends are invited to her Memorial service at 12:30pm on Monday, April 3, 2006. It will be held at her church: Epworth United Methodist Church, 1030 Burrage Road, Concord NC 28025. There will be a reception for Family and Friends at BKB2 Motorsports, 41 Odell School Road Suite A, Concord NC 28027 immediately following her memorial service, a celebration for her life. Patsy’s request for donations should be made to Epworth United Methodist Church- Building Fund at the address already given.(3-31-2006)
Craven to run race in Maine: Ricky Craven will hop into a Johnny Clark Motorsports car this summer, returning to his roots with the 34th running of the prestigious TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. It will mark the first time Craven races in his home state since 1992. “I’m really excited about this,” said the 39-year-old Craven, who has no other racing on his calendar this year. “This race has been such a big part of my life. I sat in the grandstands and watched it in the ’70s, and I fulfilled a dream when I won it in 1991.” Though no concrete plans have been laid out, Clark and Craven expect to test the car on a couple of occasions before the race weekend. Even then, Craven will be in attendance all weekend to participate in the numerous practice sessions for the 250.(Maine Today)(3-31-2006)
Rusty teams up with Microsoft: Rusty Wallace and Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 with GPS Locator are teaming up to help families embark on successful and stress-free road trips this spring and summer. While Wallace hung up his racing helmet at the end of the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup season, he has hardly put it in park. After driving around in circles for over 20 years, Wallace is now helping travelers explore the open road with a wealth of road trip tips and tricks. From planning ahead with a trip-planning tool like Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 with GPS Locator to taking the time to enjoy the interesting stops along the way, Wallace’s tips — available at www.microsoft.com/streets/rustywallace — will help ensure that everyone in the car enjoys the ride this travel season.(Wireless Dev Network)(3-31-2006)
Goodyear Martinsville Tire Notes: This is Goodyear’s short track tire set-up for 2006 . . . this is the first time Goodyear has brought this combination to the track . . . Martinsville is the only track at which Nextel Cup teams are scheduled to run this exact combination of left- and right-side tires . . . Cup and Busch Series teams will run this right-side tire code (D-4044) in all four tire positions on the road courses this season . . . Craftsman Truck teams will also run this set-up at Mansfield in May . . . as on most ovals less than one mile in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Martinsville. Estimated Nextel Cup Pit Window: Every 145-155 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR). See the codes, numer of tires, more notes on my Martinsville Race Info/Rundown Page.(3-31-2006)
Mrs. VA to best guest of #01 Army team: Rose Lopez-Keravuori, the reigning Mrs. Virginia will be a guest of the U.S. Army team at Sunday’s DIRECTV 500 Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. It will be the first NASCAR race for Lopez-Keravuori, who was crowned Mrs. Virginia last May. A 1997 West Point graduate with degrees in Spanish, French and Computer Science Engineering, Lopez-Keravuori spent six years of active duty in Germany as a military intelligence officer. She currently serves as a military intelligence captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and holds down a full-time job as an intelligence analyst with BAE Systems. Lopez-Keravuori is an avid outdoor enthusiast and adventurer. She and her husband Eero have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, surfed in Bali and gone ice climbing in New Zealand. Lopez-Keravuori resides in Arlington, Va. and travels the state to promote her platform on education.(MB2 Motorsports PR)(3-31-2006)
Johnson wins pole at Martinsville: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the Budweiser Pole for the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway with a speed of 96.736mph for his first pole of 2006, his 9th career pole in 153 races and first in 23 races, since Chicago last July. #26-Jamie McMurray will start on the outside pole, followed by #20-Tony Stewart, #12-Ryan Newman and #9-Kasey Kahne. #24-Jeff Gordon will start 8th, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 29th. #14-Sterling Marlin was the highest qualifier of the go or go homers, and will start 6th. #18-J.J Yeley is the highest starting rookie at 18th. #49-Jimmy Spencer couldn’t get the BAM Dodge up to speed and will miss the race along with #74-Cope, #61-Lepage [first dnq of the season], #78-Wallace, #89-Shepherd and #00-Sadler. No wrecks or major incidents.
For pole progression, qualifying speeds, order and starting lineup, see my Martinsville Starting Grid/Qualifying Page.(3-31-2006)
Martinsville Qualifying News and Notes:
• Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the DIRECT 500, lapping Martinsville Speedway in 19.575 seconds at 96.736 mph. Tony Stewart holds the track-qualifying record of 19.306 seconds, 98.083 mph, set Oct. 21, 2005.
• This is Johnson’s ninth career Bud Pole in 153 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
• Johnson posted his fifth top-10 start his 2005. His only non-top 10 came at Atlanta (14th).
• It is Johnson’s first Bud Pole and fifth top-10 start in nine Martinsville races.
• The last Bud Pole by a Hendrick Motorsports driver was at New Hampshire in July 2005 by Brian Vickers.
• Jamie McMurray posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 19.583 seconds, 96.696 mph – and will join Johnson on the front row for the DIRECTV 500. He posted his third top-10 start in 2006 and his third in seven races at Martinsville.
• This is the second Bud Pole for Chevrolet in 2006. Dodge also has two Bud Poles and Ford has one. Qualifying was canceled at Bristol.
• Tony Stewart (third) posted his third top-10 start this season, all third or better and all in the past four races. It is his eighth top-10 start in 15 races at Martinsville.
• Ryan Newman (fourth) has three top-10 starts this season, all in the past three races. This is his ninth top-10 start in as many races at Martinsville.
• Kasey Kahne (fifth) posted his first start better than 15th in five Martinsville races. This is his third top-10 start this season – all top fives.
• Chad Blount (43rd) became the 52nd driver to make the field for a race this season.
• Six driver qualified for their first race at Martinsville: Stanton Barrett, Chad Blount, Clint Bowyer, David Stremme, Martin Truex Jr., and J.J. Yeley.
• Six of the seven Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidates qualified for the DIRECTV 500. Brent Sherman did not attempt to qualify. Yeley (18th) was the highest qualifying rookie contender for the fourth time this season.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(3-31-2006)
Ramblings – Martinsville: Jimmie Johnson becomes our fifth different pole winner in as many races (we got snowed out last week if you remember) today at Martinsville Speedway as he captured the Bud Pole for Sunday’s DIRECTV 500 with a speed of 96.736 mph (19.575 sec). This is career pole #10 for JJ.
Jamie McMurray will join Johnson on the front-row. This is his best starting spot since he had the pole at Pocono last July.
Sterling Marlin (6th….and with the pressure on) has his best starting spot since he timed in 3rd at Bristol in August of 2004.
Scott Riggs (11th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 7th at Talladega last October.
Tony Raines (12th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 4th at Rockingham in November of 2003! (only 14 races)
Ken Schrader (19th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 7th at Bristol last August.
Chad Chaffin (31st) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 35th at Phoenix last November (this is only his 4th career NEXTEL Cup start).
STREAKIN….Kurt Busch has 5 Top-10 starts in a row.
Greg Biffle has 8 Top-10 starts in the last 9 races.
Jimmie Johnson has 5 Top-10 starts in the last 6 races.(StockCarFans.com)(3-31-2006)
State Water Heaters sponsors #61 at Martinsville: Peak Performance Motorsports announced that its #61 entry will be sponsored by State Water Heaters for the Direct TV 500 at Martinsville. “We welcome State Water Heaters to the Nascar Nextel Cup family,” said team owner Jeff Stec. “We are expecting an exciting race at Martinsville and thankful for the opportunity to brand such a fine product”, said Stec. “I’m looking forward to giving State Water Heaters their first Martinsville race and want to thank all the folks at State for stepping up this weekend to make this all possible”, said Lepage. More info on State Water Heaters at statewaterheaters.com.(Peak Performance Motorsports PR), see images of the car on the #61 Team Schemes page.(3-31-2006)
Memorial Service for Campbell at RIR Today: The family of Kenneth Campbell will hold a memorial service for him today, Friday, March 31 at 5:00 p.m. The service for the longtime VP of Public Relations at Richmond International Raceway who passed away last Friday will be open to friends, family and business associates of Mr. Campbell and his family, and not the general public. The service will take place in the media center in the Richmond International Raceway infield. Upon Mr. Campbell’s retirement in 2001, the building was renamed the Kenneth Campbell Media Center in his honor. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in his name to the Victory Junction Gang Camp at 4500 Adam’s Way, Randleman, NC 27317.(Richmond International Raceway PR)(3-31-2006)
News from March 30, 2006
LMS testing, restrictor plate doubtful UPDATE: Official lap times were not reported during a tire test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Tuesday and Wednesday, but #43-Bobby Labonte said he came within .3 second of the last October’s pole-winning lap, Elliott Sadler’s 27.948-second lap at 193.216 mph. “It’s going to be faster [than 2005],” Riggs said. “Is it going to be fast enough that we’re going to need restrictor plates? Absolutely not … even if we are going to break the track record. Anytime you come out with a new tire or new paving, we always break track records. I don’t think just because we are going to run faster than the track record previously, it’s not by two seconds or 10 miles an hour.” Goodyear is testing tires to determine a compound to use when Nextel Cup teams test on the newly paved track May 1-3. The Nextel Cup series races at the track twice in May, for the all-star event and the Coca-Cola 600. Tire problems marred both races at Lowe’s after the track surface was ground down last year, but this year, the track has been repaved. “Anytime you come out to a test like this, there are a lot of unknowns,” said Rick Heinrich, Goodyear’s Nextel Cup product manager. “We knew the conditions would be severe. We knew there would be a lot of speed. New asphalt generally generates a lot of wear. Conditions were a little more severe than we anticipated but not out of the ordinary.” Labonte, Riggs, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and the truck of Bobby Hamilton Jr. participated in the test. Riggs said he did not think speeds were so fast that restrictor plates would be needed in May. Heinrich said the wear is coming on both sides of the car and front and rear. The loads are similar to loads from last year, he said. “Right now, there’s a little bit too much wear, but that’s kind of expected because the asphalt is real fresh,” Heinrich said. “The more laps … will slow that wear down.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-29-2006) UPDATE It could take weeks for Goodyear to decide what tire will be best because the track surface will continue to change as more and more cars drive on it. The only thing that’s certain is that the speeds should reach record highs. Labonte said his laps Wednesday were just a tick off of Elliott Sadler’s track record 193.216 mph. But Sadler’s mark was set in qualifying, when a car is designed to go as fast as possible for only one lap. The times posted during the test were in race trim, when a car is supposed to be much slower. “It would not surprise me if you saw a 197-mph lap,” track president Humpy Wheeler said. Although using horsepower-sapping restrictor plates is an option, no one really wants to use them.(AP) UPDATE 2: Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, was at LMS monitoring the situation. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said no decision will be made on whether the sanctioning body will step in to lower speeds until after a full Cup test session in early May.(NASCAR.com)(3-30-2006)
Final Bristol TV Ratings down: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway drew a final Nielsen Media Research rating of drew a 6.2, the second-highest figure in the race’s history, track officials say. The rating was 1.6% lower than last year’s 6.3, but officials say last year’s race was a week later, while this year’s event aired directly against the regional finals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The track says Sunday’s race was seen by more than 9.9 million viewers — up 2% from last year. Officials also say Fox’s coverage of Saturday’s Sharpie Mini 300 drew a 2.5 broadcast rating, making it the highest-rated, most-watched Busch Series event in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway. Officials say the figure marked a 25% increase over the previously highest-rated Busch race at BMS, the 2004 Sharpie 250.(SceneDaily.com), never did see the final Atlanta TV Ratings.(3-30-2006)
#37 Team Slows to limited schedule UPDATE: Two Toccoa [GA] businessmen, John Carter and Roger Craven, did the near-impossible last year when they took their shoestring budget team to Daytona and finished ninth in the Daytona 500, earning more than $300,000. But this year, Carter and Craven are on the verge of dropping off the circuit. With Mike Skinner at the wheel of their #37 Dodge, the R and J Racing team has failed to qualify for an event this year, and the team has no primary sponsor to help foot the bills. “We’re still trying to get on our feet, and we’re too good a team to just quit,” Carter said. “It’s a shame that a Georgia-based team can’t get a Georgia-based company to help us just a little bit.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-24-2006) UPDATE: After failing to qualify for the first five races this year, #37 R&J Racing moved its shop back to Toccoa, Ga., and plans to spend the next month rebuilding cars. Car owner Roger Craven said the team needed time to re-evaluate its schedule and concentrate on selected races for the rest of the year. “We’ve decided to put everything under the same roof,” Craven said. “We’re re-organizing and using the rest of the year to rebuild for the future.”(Augusta Chronicle)(3-30-2006)
Mathis team hopes to run ARCA race UPDATE: Victory Motorsports Racing, owned by former NFL All-Pro Wide Receiver Terance Mathis, will participated in the ARCA Series open test session in Nashville with hopes of being approved to run April 15, 2006, in Nashville. Morty Buckles will run car # 81 for Victory Motorsports Racing. “This is just the first step in getting on the Nextel Cup Circuit,” says Terance Mathis, majority team owner of Victory Motorsports Racing. “I have been waiting for this day for a while now. Terance took a chance on me when I came out of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program, and now we are making strides to run ARCA, and eventually run Nextel Cup. This entire experience is so much bigger than myself and Terance, it’s about creating more opportunities for minority drivers, and minority owners,” says Morty Buckles. Victory Motorsports Racing is owned about by majority partner, former NFL All Wide Receiver Terance Mathis, and minority partner Morgan-McClure Racing, a 23 year veteran to the Motorsports Industry.(Origins Public Relations) UPDATE: looks like the PR folks jumped the gun, been told while Buckles will attempt to make the ARCA race at Nashville, it will not be in the #81 Victory Motorsports car but that Buckles will be working with and driving for ST2 Motorsports from Columbia, TN with BRG Racing, contracted with ST2 to provide a Dodge Charger #67.(MortyBuckles.com)(3-30-2006)
Wimmer and Morgan-McClure team protected by LifeLock: Morgan-McClure Motorsports, which owns the #4 AERO Exhaust Chevy Monte Carlo team with driver Scott Wimmer, announced that it has decided to offer the LifeLock Identity Theft service to its NASCAR Nextel Cup Series team. LifeLock is the nation’s first and only service that prevents identity theft and backs it up with a $1 million guarantee. LifeLock does the prevention work by maintaining active fraud alerts with the three major credit bureaus as well as ChexSystems. The LifeLock system makes personal information useless to everyone but the rightful owner. Every time someone attempts to open credit, change an address or make changes in bank accounts, LifeLock is there to make sure the right person is making the request. LifeLock and MMM are also proud to announce that fans of MMM and Scott Wimmer can get identity theft protection at a discount by going to www.lifelock.com and signing up using the promotion code (McClure). A link is also provided on the MMM website (morgan-mcclure.com).(3-30-2006)
News from March 29, 2006
Johnson wrecks in LMS tire testing: #48-Jimmie Johnson crashed in Turn 4 when his right rear tire went flat at Lowe’s Motor Speedway during the Goodyear tire test Wednesday morning. Johnson was not injured in the accident, but his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy could not be repaired enough for him to continue to test on the newly repaved track. “The tire went down, lost air pressure,” said Rick Heinrich, Goodyear’s Nextel Cup product manager. “He had felt the tire start to go down in Turn 1, and in Turn 3, the deflation of the tire completed. … We’re still looking at the tire and trying to come up with a concrete determination of what caused the tire to go down. We don’t know if it was a puncture or wear-related at this point.” Johnson’s was the only incident during the Tuesday all-day session and the Monday morning session. #43-Bobby Labonte, #10-Scott Riggs, #29-Kevin Harvick and Bobby Hamilton Jr. in a truck also participated in the session.(SceneDaily.com)(3-29-2006)
Lester Welcomes a New Son: Barely a week after the excitement of racing in his first Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bill Lester and his wife Cheryl had another major event to celebrate … the birth of their second son, Austin Richard Lester, who arrived on the starting grid at 1:56pm/et on Tuesday, March 28, at 9lb Ooz and 20.5″ tall. Following the introduction ceremony and command to start your engines, he immediately posted competitive nap times. Mom, dad, baby and brother Alex are doing fine.(AMS PR)(3-29-2006)
New look for #07 at Martinsville: The #07 Chevy will sport a new look this weekend as DIRECTV assumes the primary sponsorship role on Bowyer’s Chevy. DIRECTV will also be showcased on his entry in June at Pocono and this fall at Talladega. Bowyer’s customary primary sponsor Jack Daniel’s will be featured on the car’s lower quarter panels and the trunk lid. DIRECTV is also the entitlement sponsor of this weekend’s race.(RCR PR), see an image on my #07 Teams Schemes page.(3-29-2006)
#26 Tire Changer Injured, Prognosis Good: Joe Kruschek, rear tire changer for the #26 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, was injured in last Monday’s race in Atlanta during a routine pit stop. Kruschek sustained injuries to both hands when the jack was released while he was still in the process of tightening lugnuts. Kruschek suffered a broken left thumb, a broken right middle finger and a cut right index finger. He successfully underwent surgery on Tuesday, March 21st, in a local hospital in Griffin, Georgia, and was transported back to the Charlotte, North Carolina area by Roush Racing. Kruschek will be in a cast and will undergo physical therapy for at least a couple of months, but the prognosis is good for a satisfactory recovery. Upon welcoming Kruschek back to the Charlotte area, team owner Jack Roush contacted Dr. Jerry Petty, a Charlotte neurosurgeon, to further evaluate Joe and refer him to a hand specialist. “We’re going to see that Joe Kruschek has the best possible care and that the most appropriate specialists are consulted and brought on board. Joe is a racer and I know that more than anything he wants to get back to work at the race track, but first and foremost we want him to be healthy,” commented Jack Roush. This is Kruschek’s first year with Roush Racing.(Roush Racing)(3-29-2006)
Why #1 Crew Chief not fined: FOX Sports used the same excuse for profanity creeping into Sunday’s broadcast of the Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway as CBS did for Janet Jackson’s breast being exposed during halftime of Super Bowl XXXVIII. Equipment malfunction. “We’ve talked to FOX Sports and they told us there was a malfunction, that it wasn’t deliberate,” NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Tuesday. “They told us there’s some sort of system in play where there’s a delay. For whatever reason, it didn’t work. They assured us they’re looking at ways to make sure that doesn’t reoccur.” The incident occurred when the in-car radio conversation between crew chief Kevin Manion and his driver, Martin Truex., Jr., was broadcast. Manion was caught using the same word that earned driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. a $10,000 fine and the loss of 25 points two years ago at Talladega Superspeedway. Hunter said Manion was not fined because “this was a glitch that occurred.”(NASCAR.com)(3-29-2006)
Stewart’s Team Earns Second Straight Pit Crew Challenge Win: For the second week in a row, Tony Stewart’s pit crew secured the weekly Checkers / Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition by spending the least amount of time on pit road in Sunday’s (March 26) NEXTEL Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. “Our pit stops were really good all day,” said Stewart, who recorded a 12th-place finish in his Home Depot/Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet. “For two straight weeks our stops have been good. The guys have really stepped it up and I’m proud of them. We never lost a spot on pit road, and at a place like Bristol where track position is so important, having a crew that keeps what you earned on the race track is invaluable.” Stewart’s team will be awarded the weekly $10,500 prize entitled to the winning team. In addition, a $105,000 reward will be presented to the team with the most pit crew wins at the conclusion of the 36-race Nextel Cup season. Stewart’s over-the-wall crew, who spent 206.844 seconds on pit road during the 500-lap event, consists of: Jason Lee (jackman), Tom Dean (front-tire carrier), Ira-Jo Hussey (front-tire changer), Jody Fortson (rear-tire carrier), Todd Foster (rear-tire changer), Jeff Patterson (gasman), Brian Larson (catch can) and Scott Geerts (windshield). The team’s crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa. The Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge is in its second season with the Nextel Cup Series. Checkers/Rally’s is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at checkers.com.(DMF Communications PR)(3-29-2006)
#88 tests at Caraway: In preparation for the DirecTV 500 at Martinsville the #88 UPS Team spent Monday at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., shaking down the car Dale Jarrett will race this weekend.(UPS Racing PR)(3-29-2006)
#400 for Nemechek: #01-Joe Nemechek will reach another career milestone when the green flag drops for Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. It will be his 400th career Cup start. Nemechek’s first start was July 11, 1993 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon. He started 15th and finished 36th in a family-owned Chevrolet sponsored by Dentyne. Since then, the U.S. Army Chevy driver has carved an impressive career leading up to his 400th start.(MB2Motorsports PR)(3-29-2006)
Stewart tests at Lakeland: #20-Tony Stewart tested at USA International Speedway at Lakeland, FL on March 21-22 in preparation for this weeks race at Martinsville Speedway.(Truespeed/JGR)(3-29-2006)
Mississippi passes resolution for Dale Earnhardt Day: The Mississippi House passed a resolution Tuesday designating April 29 each year as “Dale Earnhardt Day” in the state. The NASCAR star, also known as “The Intimidator” was born April 29, 1951, in North Carolina. He was killed in a crash at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, 2001. Although there are no NASCAR races in Mississippi, the resolution says that Earnhardt “created a legacy in Mississippi (by) amassing so many wins.” It also says Earnhardt “changed the sport of racing, bridging past, present and future generations of fans by upholding the finest NASCAR traditions while remaining a cutting-edge competitor throughout the entirety of his career.” The resolution was sponsored by a diverse group of 55 House members — Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, men and women. It now goes to the Senate. A similar resolution passed the Georgia House of Representatives in 2005. Another one was filed in the Ohio House of Representatives this week.(Clanton Advertiser/AP)(3-29-2006)
New NASCAR auto body shop opens in Mooresville: Race City USA just got its newest full-service auto body and paint shop-Automotion, which just opened its doors at 149 Beyer’s Creek in the Talbert Pointe Business Park. President Frank Norris has teamed up with several local NASCAR body and paint technicians in a brand new 12,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility..(PR) more info on my Racing Parts Links page.(3-29-2006)
#5 tested at Caraway: #5 Crew chief Alan Gustafson has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 263 for Sunday’s race at Martinsville. The Kellogg’s team tested the car, which saw action in both Martinsville events in 2005, on March 22 at Caraway Speedway, a .455-mile oval in Asheboro, N.C.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(3-29-2006)
News from March 28, 2006
Sadler vs. Hammond: NASCAR and wrestling fans will join together this Saturday night in Martinsville as TNA Wrestling comes to the Old Lowes Building across the street from the Martinsville Speedway after the Truck Series race. In addition to the TNA Superstars, NASCAR will be well represented in a 8 man tag team “Lumberjack” match that will feature NASCAR on Fox’s Jeff Hammond and driver Hermie Sadler teaming with Team 3-D (formerly the Dudley Boys) to take on 5 time NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett, Americas Most Wanted, and “Showtime” Eric Young.(3-28-2006)
Spencer to drive the #49 at Martinsville: Jimmy Spencer will drive the #49 Dodge Charger for BAM Racing at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. Spencer will join BAM Racing as an advisor for the team and mentor for rookie driver Brent Sherman. Spencer may run several additional races with BAM Racing this season, either in the #49 Dodge or another car. “I enjoy working with young drivers as they progress through the ranks of NASCAR,” said Spencer. “Brent has the determination and support it takes to compete at this level. I hope to be able to help him make a successful transition to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.”
“The team has made this decision due to the fact that NASCAR will not allow rookie drivers any test sessions at Martinsville,” commented team general manager Eddie Jones. “Brent has never been to Martinsville before and our hope is that Jimmy will be able to provide him with the guidance it takes to compete at short tracks.”
“I believe the team is being fair in its decision for this weekend,” said Sherman. “Although I am not currently in a championship race, the team is in a points race. I always welcome opportunities that are presented to me, and to work with a veteran like Jimmy Spencer is a great opportunity. I hope that this decision will not only benefit me, but the team as well.” Sherman will return to driving duties for the #49 Dodge Charger for the upcoming race at Texas Motor Speedway.(BAM Racing PR)(3-28-2006)
Jeff Gordon Fined by NASCAR as a Result of Bristol Infraction: NASCAR announced today that Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, has been fined $10,000 as a result of his involvement in an altercation on pit road [he pushed #17-Matt Kenseth] after the completion of Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Gordon has also been placed on probation until Aug. 30, 2006. Gordon was in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rule book.(NASCAR PR)(3-28-2006)
Stremme to run Truck race at Martinsville: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced NEXTEL Cup Series rookie #40-David Stremme will drive the #04 Bobby Hamilton Racing Dodge in the Truck Series event on Saturday, April 1 at Martinsville Speedway. Scott Lagasse Jr. will resume driving duties of the #04 Dodge at Gateway International Raceway on April 29.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-28-2006)
Dodge files responses in BDR case: Dodge has filed its responses to Bill Davis Racing’s motions that ask a federal judge to reconsider a $6.5 million jury verdict levied in February against the race team. Dodge asks the judge not to change the verdict or grant BDR a new trial in the case, where the jury found the team guilty of giving confidential Dodge information to Toyota while building Toyota products for the Craftsman Truck Series. In May 2003, Dodge terminated its six-year, $18.425-million contract with BDR signed in 2000 and filed suit against the race team. Dodge also indicates that it will ask BDR for attorneys’ fees for the trial, which could raise the total amount due to the manufacturer. BDR contends the verdict should be overturned for what it terms improper jury instructions and issues dealing with the way Dodge compiled its amount of damages. Dodge says the jury instructions were valid and that it compiled the amount of damages fairly. “BDR’s issues in its motion for new trial are frivolous, improper and in bad faith,” the Dodge brief states. Judge George Caram Steeh has not indicated when he would rule on the motions. If BDR loses, the team has said it would take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals.(SceneDaily.com)(3-28-2006)
Rookie News and Notes – Post-Bristol/Pre-Martinsville: Denny Hamlin was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 26 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin finished 14th and took top Raybestos Rookie honors for the second time this season. He was the only Raybestos Rookie to finish on the lead lap at Bristol. Clint Bowyer holds a six-point advantage over Hamlin and J.J. Yeley (52-46) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the April 2 DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Morgan Shepherd is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the DirecTV 500 (since 1975). Shepherd won the 1981 event, outlasting the late Neil Bonnett to score his first NEXTEL Cup Series win. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to score a top-five finish in the spring race at Martinsville is Dick Trickle. Trickle finished third in 1989, the best finish by a first-year driver since Morgan Shepherd won the 1981 Advance Auto Parts 500. Trickle also led the race once for seven laps. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to score a top-10 finish in the Advance Auto Parts 500 is Jeff Gordon, who placed eighth in 1993.(Raybestos PR), see the full report/notes on my Rookie Page.(3-28-2006)
News from March 27, 2006
Testing at Kentucky week of March 27th UPDATE: #96-Tony Raines is scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday, March 28th and #12-Ryan Newman is scheduled on Wed., March 29th. Fans are able to view testing from the designated area outside Turn 3 for free. Testing usually begins at 9:00 a.m., and ends at approximately 5:00 p.m. Test times will vary based on team goals.(KS site)(3-26-2006) UPDATE: Four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway Wednesday, March 29. Tony Raines will practice with his #96 Texas Instruments DLP HDTV Chevy, Kurt Busch will put his #2 Miller Lite Dodge through its paces, Sterling Marlin will practice his #14 Waste Management Chevy and Morgan Shepherd will test his #89 Victory in Jesus Ministries Dodge.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-27-2006)
Overtnight Bristol TV Ratings down: Overnight Nielsen Media Research ratings were down for Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but the network saw an increase for Saturday’s Busch Series race, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. Sunday’s Food City 500 earned a 5.3/11, down 5.4% from 2005’s overnight 5.6/13, while coverage of Saturday’s Sharpie Mini 300 was up 9.5% from a 2.1/5 last year to 2.3/5 this year.(SceneDaily.com), never did see the final Atlanta TV Ratings.(3-27-2006)
Tire Testing at Lowe’s coming up UPDATE: The repaving at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is expected to be finished this weekend. Goodyear has scheduled a tire test there March 28 and 29. Scheduled to test are #21-Ken Schrader, #29-Kevin Harvick, #10-Scott Riggs and #43-Bobby Labonte, along with Bobby Hamilton in his Craftsman Truck.(Roanoke Times)(3-11-2006) UPDATE: #48-Jimmie Johnson, #29-Kevin Harvick, #43-Bobby Labonte and #10-Scott Riggs have been picked by Goodyear and NASCAR to run the Charlotte tests, and that is drawing criticism from rivals. Johnson was a late substitution for Ken Schrader, and Johnson’s selection has drawn criticism from some who say that the test may give him an unfair advantage. Some question why NASCAR and Goodyear would pick Labonte for a second tire test already this year, after just doing a tire test at Texas, when so many other teams have not yet been picked. No Ford drivers were picked, which led Jimmy Fennig, crew chief for Jamie McMurray, to complain that “all the manufacturers should be represented.” Gil Martin, the crew chief for Clint Bowyer, said that “a dozen teams ought to be testing at Charlotte.” Richard “Slugger” Labbe, the crew chief for the Dale Jarrett-Robert Yates operation, was more pointed, questioning the pre-race tire data supplied by Goodyear. Last year many teams, with the backing of Detroit’s manufacturers, did their own pre-race tire testing at high-tech places like New York’s Calspan tire-research facility. This year, NASCAR officials have halted all that independent testing by instituting a tire-leasing program, and teams are not allowed to take any tires away from any track after the race.(Winston Salem Journal) NOTE: Schrader and the Wood Brothers pulled out of the test because of a schedule conflict.(Roanoke Times)(3-27-2006)
More sponsorship for Marlin coming UPDATE: Expect a sponsorship announcement soon from MB2 Motorsports about additional funding for Sterling Marlin’s #14 Chevrolet. Currently, the team has sponsorship for about half the Nextel Cup schedule, but is close to finalizing more deals. An announcement could come next week at Martinsville.(Speed Channel)(3-26-2006) UPDATE: MB2 Motorsports announced that Ginn Clubs & Resorts (pronounced GHIN) has agreed to be a primary sponsor on Sterling Marlin’s #14 Chevy for three Nextel Cup races and Kraig Kinser’s Silverado for one Truck Series race. The sponsorship package kicks off this weekend at Martinsville Speedway with Ginn Clubs & Resorts being the primary sponsor on Marlin’s #14 entry for Sunday’s Cup race and Kinser’s #29 [not #47?] entry for Saturday’s truck race. Kinser, an MB2 Motorsports development driver, is part of the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports truck team. The agreement also calls for Ginn Clubs & Resorts to sponsor Marlin’s MB2-owned Chevrolet — July 1 at Daytona and Oct. 14 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Ginn Clubs & Resorts, based in Celebration, Fla., is a privately held resort development and management firm specializing in exclusive leisure lifestyle and vacation destination communities in the United States. The company first partnered with MB2 as the primary sponsor on Bill Elliott’s #36 Chevy during February’s Daytona Speedweeks.(MB2 Motorsports PR), more info on Ginn Clubs & Resorts at ginnclubsandresorts.com.(3-27-2006)
Dale Jr. testing at Greenville: Dale Earnhardt Inc. officials say Dale Earnhardt Jr. is testing the team’s #8 Budweiser Chevy at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina today. The team is testing a new short-track car that will likely be the primary car for this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th in yesterday’s race on another half-mile oval, Bristol Motor Speedway.(SceneDaily.com), plus Dale Jr, Truex Jr. and others are scheduled to race online at simracingnetwork.com.(3-27-2006)
NASCAR Safety, reason Robby left the IRL: Paul Dana’s death in an Indy Racing League crash was a grim reminder for Robby Gordon of why he raced at Bristol Motor Speedway instead of Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. “That’s why I left,” said Gordon, who gave up a promising open-wheel career to race NASCAR full time four years ago. “One hundred percent, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Indy cars are too fast for ovals, and they run ovals every weekend. If I run on ovals, then I’m running around in a stock car with a lot more protection around me and at less speeds as well.” News of the fatality in Florida spread through the Nextel Cup garage about two hours before the Food City 500.(USA Today)(3-27-2006)
COT and the Wing: One item that is expected to be missing in the final version of the car of tomorrow [COT] will be the customary rear spoiler, which NASCAR has used for decades as part of its aerodynamic package. In its place will be a single-element rear deck wing, which was first track-tested at Daytona earlier this year. Monday’s session at Bristol will be used to test different wing designs. The wing will represent a dramatic change in the look of NASCAR’s stock cars, but according to Brett Bodine, a former driver who now serves as NASCAR’s test driver and is heavily involved in the development of the new car, the wing is more in tune with today’s modern race cars as well as new showroom models. He added that using a wing will allow teams to build a more symmetrically shaped car rather than the current models, which are cut and bent to shape to permit them to run better on ovals. According to Bodine, the wing will be a bolt-on piece that will be given to teams each race weekend by NASCAR, thus preventing any cheating. The wing will most likely include a small wickerbill/Gurney flap – a right-angle piece of metal rigidly bolted or riveted to a wing’s trailing edge – which will offer an additional level of downforce or drag to be produced by the wing. Monday’s session also will test the design of the new air splitter located below the bumper on the front of the new car. The splitter is designed to keep the front of the car on the ground. Both the wing and the splitter are items that have been used successfully for decades in sports car racing worldwide.(Yahoo Sports)(3-27-2006)
Gordon push to be looked at by NASCAR: Although not giving as firm a statement as typical when penalties are imminent, NASCAR officials said they will review the Jeff Gordon shove of Matt Kenseth, which occurred on pit road after the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said Sunday night that NASCAR will follow its typical procedure and review the incident in the next few days, probably Tuesday. Kenseth and Gordon were involved in a crash on the final lap, where Kenseth sent Gordon spinning. Kenseth went over to Gordon to apologize after the race, and Gordon shoved him away. “I would have been ticked off, too,” Kenseth said. “I probably should have known better than to go over there, but I just think when you do something wrong, you should try to be a man about it and apologize.” Both drivers and crew chiefs were called to the hauler after the race. “I’m sure he didn’t mean to do it and all that stuff, but I wasn’t happy about it,” Gordon said. “I showed it to him after the race.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-27-2006)
Even more on Cingular/AT&T/Childress: Car owner Richard Childress could have sponsor trouble if AT&T changes the names of the brands its about to acquire. AT&T has said it will spend $67 billion to purchase BellSouth, the parent company of Cingular – which currently sponsors Childress’ #31 Chevrolet. If the deal goes through, Cingular and BellSouth will be known as AT&T. That won’t fly in NASCAR, where series sponsor Nextel Cup has an exclusivity contract that grandfathered in the Cingular and Alltel sponsorships and logos. But they can’t be changed, and new names will not be permitted. “The contract NASCAR presented us is pretty straightforward,” said Michael Robichaud, vice president of sports sponsorships. “It’s really no different than the category exclusivity that Winston had for 33 years. We actually took it one step further, out of respect for Richard Childress and Roger Penske, and grandfathered in their existing sponsorships as it stood on the day we signed our agreement.” Childress wasn’t sure how it will play out. “It’s too early to comment on all that,” he said. “Cingular has said they’re going to be here for the long haul, and we expect them to be in the sport for quite a while.”(Associated Press)(3-27-2006)
McCauley Wins Crew Chief of the Race Award: Kurt Busch and crew chief Roy McCauley survived 500 laps of furious racing action this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Despite setbacks with tires and radio transmissions, Busch battled back from the problems to capture his fifth victory at Thunder Valley. Busch’s come from behind win earned McCauley the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. Trouble started early for Busch and McCauley. From the get-go, Busch and the team battled radio problems that hindered Busch from communicating with the team. On lap 62, a flat right-rear tire forced the #2 Miller Lite Dodge to make an unscheduled pit stop. Even with the problems, Busch methodically worked his way through the field in route to one of the speedway’s most impressive comebacks. A panel of voters; including Tony Eury Sr., a member of the local media and a Wypall Wipers representative; all agreed that McCauley’s comeback deserved Crew Chief of the Race accolades. For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, Wypall Wipers gave McCauley $1,000. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. This was McCauley’s first Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him with Darian Grubb and Kenny Francis for second-place in the standings. Robbie Reiser is in the lead with two wins.(Wypall PR)(3-27-2006)
Kahne Joins the Winners Circle UPDATE and now Busch: #9-Kasey Kahne has joined an elite group of drivers as a result of his victory in the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta. Kahne’s second career victory earned the Ray Evernham-owned #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge team a spot in NASCAR’s Winner’s Circle Program, if Kahne enters, qualifies and competes in the remaining 32 races on the schedule this season beginning with Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kahne joins the Winner’s Circle Program as a “wild card,” leaving one more “wild card” slot open to an additional race winner this season that is not already in the program. The Winner’s Circle Program, which starts each season with the top 10 winning drivers from the previous season, is designed to reward teams who have typified the best in NASCAR racing. Two “wild card” slots are available each year, making a total of 12 maximum spots open for the program in any season. For more info, the 2007 and 2006 charts and more, see my Winner Circle page.(3-24-2006) UPDATE: after his win in Bristol on March 26th, #2-Kurt Busch takes over the final wild card spot on the program.(3-27-2006)
News from March 26, 2006
Tragic News from Homestead: Driver Paul Dana died after a two-car crash Sunday during the warmup for the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The other driver, Ed Carpenter, was awake and alert at a Miami hospital, IRL officials said. The race will start as scheduled, officials announced. However, Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal announced that drivers Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice, teammates of Dana, will not race. “Obviously, this is a very black day for us,” Rahal said. “This is a great tragedy.” Dana is the first IRL driver killed since Tony Renna died in a crash during testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October 2003, and the third to die in the 10-year history of the series. Scott Brayton perished in a practice crash at Indianapolis in May 1996. The last NASCAR driver killed was Dale Earnhardt in February 2001, and the last driver to die in Formula One was Ayrton Senna in May 1994. It is the third racing death at the Homestead track — John Nemechek was killed in a NASCAR truck race in February 1997 and Jeff Clinton died in a Grand Am sports car event at the track in March 2002. Dana, 30, a former motorsports journalist with a degree from Northwestern, competed in three IRL races for Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing last year with a best finish of 10th in the race at Homestead.
Carpenter, the stepson of Indy Racing League founder Tony George, spun his Vision Racing car exiting Turn 2 of the 1.5- mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval and hugged the outside wall before slowly creeping back onto the racing surface. It was nearly stopped when it was hit in the left-rear corner at nearly full speed by Dana’s car. Rahal said that there were no radio communication problems with Dana’s car and that he was informed by his spotter of the accident ahead. Dana cannoned into Carpenter’s crippled race car approximately six seconds after yellow lights were displayed around the track warning of Carpenter’s spin. Dana’s car nearly split in half. The chassis flew about 6 feet off the ground and pieces were strewn down the track. It nearly turned over, but landed on its wheels before sliding to a halt. It took track safety workers about 15 minutes to get both drivers out of their cars. The practice session did not resume. Dana and Carpenter both were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. IRL officials said Dana died shortly before noon. In 2005 for Hemelgarn Racing, he broke his back in a practice crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Vision Racing team manager Larry Curry was more optimistic about Carpenter’s condition. “I’ve been told he is awake and alert and is going to be fine,” Curry said. “They want to check him out at the hospital, but he should be fine.”(ESPN.com/AP)(3-26-2006)
Kurt Busch wins at Bristol: #2-Kurt Busch won the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, booting #17-Matt Kenseth out of the way with 4 laps to go to win his 1st race of 2006, his first in the #2 Dodge, his 5th at Bristol and 15th career win. It is the first win for the #2 Penske Racing Dodge since Rusty Wallace won at Martinsville in April 2004. #29-Kevin Harvick finished 2nd [his last top 5 was Richmond last May, 30 races ago], followed by #17-Matt Kenseth [the new points leader], #99-Carl Edwards and #43-Bobby Labonte [the first top five for the #43 in Bristol, May 2001 with John Andretti]. Points leader coming in, #48-Jimmie Johnson had a rough day and fell a couple laps down early and finished 30th, 13 laps down, falling to 3rd in the points, 19 laps behind new points leader #17-Matt Kenseth. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th. #24-Gordon booted Kenseth, then Kenseth came back and booted Gordon, who spun and ended up 21st, last car on the lead lap. On pit road, Kenseth approached Gordon, Gordon got out of his car without even getting his helmet off and push Kenseth, then race officials got between the drivers. Race Results on my Bristol Race Results/Awards Page. Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Bristol page. Race Rundown: see my Bristol Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(3-26-2006)
Bristol Race Notes:
• Kurt Busch won the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, scoring his 15th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 189th career start.
• Busch’s last victory came at Richmond, 13 races earlier.
• It was his fifth Bristol victory in 11 races on the Tennessee short-track.
• Busch scored his eighth top-10 finish in 11 races at Bristol.
• Busch scored his first top-10 finish this season. His best finish in the first four races of 2006 was 16th twice.
• Busch moved into 42nd on NASCAR’s all-time winners list, tied with Ernie Irvan.
• Busch finished 10th in the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago after five races he ranked seventh in the point standings.
• Busch climbed from 27th to 16th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
• Busch led three times for 33 laps, including the final five laps.
• This was team owner Roger Penske’s 58th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory. Penske has scored eight NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories at Bristol.
• Dodge scored its first Bristol victory since Richard Petty won the Volunteer 500 in 1975, 31 years ago. Notebook Items
• Kevin Harvick (second) has finished in the top-five in six of his 11 races at Bristol Motor Speedway. He scored his first top-10 finish of the season. The last top-five finish posted by Harvick was at Richmond in May 2005. Harvick climbed from 23rd to 13th in the point standings. One year ago Harvick ranked sixth after five races.
• Matt Kenseth (third) scored his sixth top-five finish in 13 races at Bristol Motor Speedway. He climbed from third to first in the NASCAR NEXTEL cup standings. The last time Kenseth led the point standings was leaving Bristol in March 2004. Kenseth has scored top-10 finishes in eight of his last nine races at Bristol.
• Carl Edwards (fourth) scored his first top-10 finish in four races at Bristol Motor Speedway. It marked his second top-five finish in 2006.
• Bobby Labonte (fifth) scored his third top-five finish in 27 races at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was his first top-10 finish in 2006 and first by the No. 43 when Jeff Green finished seventh at Martinsville in October 2004.
• Tony Stewart (12th) led the most laps (245) in the 2006 Food City 500. The last time he led the most laps in a race was at Martinsville last October nine races ago where he finished second.
• Denny Hamlin (14th) was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender in the 2006 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
• All seven of the 2006 Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders have competed in all five races in 2006 and at least one has scored a top-15 finish in every race. This was the first race in 2006 that a rookie contender did not finish in the top 10.
• Joe Nemechek (28th) has been running at the finish in the last 37 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April, the longest current streak.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(3-26-2006)
Rumblings – Bristol:
One good gauge as to how entertaining a race has been is by how many upset drivers we have at the end of the event. Today, we had 42 ticked off and one happy…..by all accounts, that makes this the best race of the year.
Kurt Busch put the “bump and run” on former teammate Matt Kenseth on lap 496 today (gee, we’ve never seen that type of move before at Bristol, huh?) and went on to win the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway for his 5th win at the short-track with the truth in advertising slogan “Racing the way it oughta be”! Career win #15 for Kurt moves him into a tie for 42nd on the all-time win list with Ernie Irvan and was victory #55 for Roger Penske (#58 if you count the three in partnership with Michael Kranefuss).
Busch, who had to come from two laps down after some early tire troubles (and we had a number of drivers who had those problems), took down $175,858 from the over $5.4M in posted awards and places the #2 car in the last vacant spot on this season’s Winners Circle plan.
Kevin Harvick (2nd) had his best finish since he won when we were here last April…..and you can’t bet he’s tired of following “Busch’s” this weekend.
Bobby Labonte (5th) got the Petty Enterprises #43 their first Top-5 today since John Andretti was runner-up here in March of 2001.
Jeff Green (15th) had his best finish since he was 15th at The Brickyard last August.
Sterling Marlin (17th) had his best finish since he was 13th at Kansas last October.
Stanton Barrett (39th) had his best finish since he was 34th at Dover last June (only 6 races).
STREAKIN….Mark Martin has 4 Top-10’s in a row. Kasey Kahne has 4 Top-10’s in a row.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is Bobby Labonte (+25), followed by Scott Wimmer (+21). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Jamie McMurray (-27), followed by Jimmie Johnson (-25) and Brian Vickers (-20). Bobby goes from the bottom to the top of the “Shaft” in just six short days!
In that all-important quest to be in the Top-35 in Owner Points to get an exempt spot for qualifying next week, Scott Riggs in the Evernham #10 Dodge holds down position #35…..but his teammate (and two-time Chase combatant) Jeremy Mayfield is only nine points ahead of him. Some of the drivers on the outside looking in (and having to qualify on time next week) are Sterling Marlin in 36th, Kevin Lepage in 37th, and David Stremme in 38th. We’ve got our first change at the top of the point standings this season as Jimmie Johnson’s troubles dropped him from the top-spot to 3rd in the run down. Kurt Busch (27th to 16th) made the best move forward today, while Jamie McMurray (16th to 24th) fell the most spots.(Stockcarfans.com)(3-26-2006)
Wood expects to be in #21 car in 2007 UPDATE – no, but a 2nd car: Busch Series regular Jon Wood [#47], third-generation member of NASCAR’s Wood Brothers Racing, said Wednesday he is “90 percent sure” he will drive the #21 Ford full time in the Nextel Cup Series in 2007.(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(3-23-2006) UPDATE: Jon Wood said Saturday that he expects to be behind the wheel of a Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Nextel Cup car full-time in 2007, but not the #21 currently driven by Ken Schrader. Published reports last week had the driver in the #21 next year. “The plan all along was to have two Nextel Cup Series teams in 2007 if we can find appropriate sponsorship for a two-car operation,” Wood said. “Right now, I plan to compete in as many as seven Cup races this year in preparation for running full time in Cup in 2007 as the second driver on a two-car Cup team.”[#47 Ford](Speed Channel) AND – Schrader back in 2007? Jon Wood fully expects to move to a full-time NASCAR Nextel Cup ride next season with his family’s Wood Brothers/JTG Racing team. But it won’t be in the team’s #21 Ford Fusion, as was reported last week by a Texas newspaper. If all goes according to Hoyle, a second full-time sponsor will be lined up, Schrader will stay in the #21 and Wood will campaign a second team car, the number [#47?] of which is to be determined.(Ford Racing)(3-26-2006)
Rudd named Virginian of the Year: Ricky Rudd, who retired from NASCAR racing in November after 31 years and a record 788 consecutive starts in stock car racing’s premier series, was honored Friday as the Virginian of the Year by the Virginia Press Association. Rudd, a Chesapeake native, received the award during The Associated Press dinner at the VPA/AP Winter Conference, held this year at the Hotel Roanoke. Rudd, who lives near Charlotte, N.C., made his NASCAR debut in 1975 and completed his first full season two years later, winning NASCAR’s 1977 rookie of the year.(Richmond Times Dispatch/AP)(3-26-2006)
Kyle Busch considering cutting back Busch Series starts? #5-Kyle Busch says he may reconsider his plans to run both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series. Busch has run well in the Cup series, currently sitting eighth in points, but his other effort has been less stellar. He’s 18th in the standings in the Busch Series entering today’s race [he ended up winning the Busch Series race at Bristol]. Asked if there had been any discussion of cutting back his Busch schedule, the driver said it hasn’t been talked about yet – but that such a change would not surprise him.(SceneDaily.com)(3-26-2006)
News from March 25, 2006
Jarrett plans to retire after 2008 season, stay with Yates: #88-Dale Jarrett said Friday that his tentative plan is to remain with Robert Yates Racing through the end of the 2008 season and then retire. “Things are pretty good that I’ll be where I’m at through that time,” Jarrett said Friday during a rain delay at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I don’t want to overstay my welcome here … trying to extend any longer than that would be taking a chance as far as my competitive spirit and my body holding up.” Jarrett said he was unlikely he would follow the lead of Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte and driver part-time after stepping away from his full-time ride.(Speed Channel) AND Dale Jarrett reaffirmed his plan to race through the 2008 season but revealed there’s a chance he could finish his NASCAR career outside Robert Yates Racing. “Some of the other offers coming my way have kind of a two-year deal, so that’s when I started looking at (2008),” said Jarrett, whose contract is up at the end of the season with Yates, his home since 1995. “I think the high probability is that I’ll be right where I’m at.” The 1999 champion hopes to settle on his future by the end of May.(USA Today)(3-25-2006)
Rusty to help with COT test at Bristol UPDATE 2 no Rusty: Rusty Wallace has been asked by NASCAR officials to help with the development of the new car [COT – Car of Tomorrow]. Wallace is scheduled to drive one at an upcoming Bristol test session scheduled for March 27, the day after the Nextel Cup race. Wallace knows the high-banked track extremely well, having won there nine times.(Yahoo Sports)(3-19-2006) UPDATE: Only four teams – Richard Childress Racing (Jeff Burton), Penske Racing South (development driver Billy Wease), Chip Ganassi Racing (Reed Sorenson) and Roush Racing (Carl Edwards) – are expected to bring cars to an open test for the “car of tomorrow” Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway. The test comes a year before the car is expected to make its debut at the track. Manufacturers must submit their specifications for approval by July 1. “This is strictly about tuning the cars, understanding what it will take for springs and shocks and handling of the car,” NASCAR Vice President Robin Pemberton said March 18. “We will get some more feedback from the wing and the [front] splitter.” Pemberton said having four teams would be good, and NASCAR can’t expect every team to come to every test. NASCAR is bring its own.(SceneDaily.com)(3-22-2006) UPDATE 2 – No Rusty; Rules Book close: The first rulebook for the Car of Tomorrow is expected to be in teams’ hands next week, said NASCAR’s director of cost research Brett Bodine, who’s been NASCAR’s lead test driver for the project. NASCAR president Mike Helton asked Rusty Wallace, the 1989 Cup Series champion who retired at the end of last season, to test the prototype at Bristol following this weekend’s events, the fifth test and the first on a short track this season. “I was asked to do the test, but I’ll be at a big production meeting up in Bristol, Conn., with Marty [Reid] and Scott [Goodyear] and the rest of the ESPN guys, so I passed on it,” said Wallace, who will not be at Bristol for the first time in 23 years due to his new position as an analyst on the ABC/ESPN broadcasts of the Indy Racing League, which opens this weekend in Homestead, Fla. “But what I am going to do is probably drive the Car of Tomorrow at Martinsville. I do want to drive the car just to feel it. I want to understand what it’s all about, and if I can make some comments about how they can make their car better or different, I’d be happy to tell them.” Bristol’s 2007 spring race is scheduled as the first official event for the Car of Tomorrow. Earlier this season, the Car of Tomorrow was tested twice at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway and twice on Atlanta Motor Speedway, a 1.54-mile track. A test had been scheduled at Darlington after the Dodge Charger 500 in May, but Bodine said that had been dropped in favor of another 1.5-mile test, at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on the Tuesday after the May 28 Coca-Cola 600.(NASCAR.com)(3-25-2006)
Sad News – Kenneth Campbell Sr.: Former Richmond International Raceway Vice President of Public Relations Robert “Kenneth” Campbell Sr., who helped promote racing for nearly 60 years in Richmond, passed away late last night. He was 83 and resided in Chesterfield County, Virginia at the time of his passing. Known as “Kenneth” to his friends and co-workers, Mr. Campbell helped promote races in Richmond starting in 1948 when Nelson Royall built the facility that is now know as Southside Speedway. Fourteen years later, he joined former Richmond International Raceway owner Paul Sawyer as a partner to help promote races at the ½-mile dirt track known at the Virginia State Fairgrounds. That track, of course, was later reconfigured into a ¾-mile paved oval and today is known as Richmond International Raceway. Before retiring in 2001, Mr. Campbell was known for being a tireless and innovative promoter. Decades ago, he organized a group of fans, government officials and civic leaders from Richmond to take a train to Darlington to help them understand how big NASCAR was becoming in other cities throughout the south. The plan worked, as the fares were sold out and fans were left at the platform.
He also helped start the big business of sponsorships in NASCAR. Before decals on cars were commonplace, he once brokered a deal to put a logo from a Richmond car dealer on Richard Petty’s car. Long before NASCAR was a mainstream sport, he helped bring ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” to Richmond to tape a race segment. Mr. Campbell also drove the NASCAR pace car at most major tracks throughout the country and he worked for CBS at NASCAR races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lois Gronlund Campbell; daughter, Deborah “Dodie” Campbell Ortland; son, Robert Kenneth Campbell, Jr.; sister Wanda Campbell Brinkley and brother Garland Campbell. He was preceded in death by his parents John Harding Campbell and Era Atkins Campbell. The family will hold a private burial. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in his name to the Victory Junction Gang Camp at 4500 Adam’s Way, Randleman, NC 27317. Upon Mr. Campbell’s retirement, the Richmond International Raceway media center was named after him. A memorial service will be held at the Kenneth Campbell Media Center located in the Richmond International Raceway infield on Friday, March 31 at 5:00pm/et.(RIR)(3-25-2006)
Harvick not to own Cup team; leaning toward RCR? Roush? While rumored to be the top choice of Toyota when that auto maker ventures into NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition in 2007, driver #29-Kevin Harvick says none of the future moves he makes will entail the role of owner/driver. In fact, Harvick’s comments Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway sounded more like the five-year Cup veteran would rather remain with current car owner Richard Childress than either exit to start his own Cup program – he already fields Busch and Truck entries through Kevin Harvick Inc. – or leave to drive for another owner. Harvick is in the final year of his contract with Richard Childress Racing, although there are contract options available to Childress to re-sign the driver. And while the two have mutually agreed to discuss their future later this year, Harvick said Friday that there was no specific date set to have any issues resolved. The talk of Toyota, he said, is speculation. “… As far as [Toyota] courting me, I don’t know what would fall into that category. Everything up to this point is speculation of what’s happening. Right now, there’s nothing done or nothing happening anywhere from any manufacturer or anything.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-25-2006) AND There was also a new report, from usually reliable sources, that Harvick is also entertaining a job offer from a current rival team on the tour, possibly Ford’s Jack Roush, although Roush wasn’t here to discuss that.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-25-2006)
FAA now embroiled in Hendrick plane crash lawsuits: Hendrick Motorsports, facing three negligence lawsuits resulting from an Oct. 24, 2004, plane crash near Martinsville (Va.) Airport, contends in court documents that its liability, if any, should be transferred to air traffic controllers. Dianne Dorton, widow of Hendrick engine builder Randy Dorton, and Tracy Lathram, widow of Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram, filed separate lawsuits in December in North Carolina Superior Court against Hendrick Motorsports. Linda Turner, widow of former Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Turner, filed a lawsuit earlier this month in North Carolina against the team. Linda Turner also has filed a federal lawsuit in Greensboro, N.C., against the Federal Aviation Administration over the actions of air traffic controllers. All of the lawsuits ask for an unspecified amount of damages. While denying their claims of negligence in the Dorton and Lathram cases, Hendrick Motorsports uses many similar arguments as Turner’s complaint against the FAA. Hendrick Motorsports’ complaint names air traffic controllers Brian Park, William Thomson Jr. and Jerry Wilson. Hendrick Motorsports alleges that the air traffic controllers failed to properly monitor the aircraft and respond when they should have known the plane was in danger of missing the approach at Martinsville Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board has blamed errors of the pilots as the probable cause of the crash, which killed both pilots and eight others, including four family members of team owner Rick Hendrick. The NTSB report on the crash states that once the plane was cleared for approach and was approved to change its radio frequency away from the controllers’ frequency that the “controller no longer had responsibility for the flight.” Hendrick’s filing also states that Dorton’s complaint should be handled as a workers compensation claim.(SceneDaily.com)(3-25-2006)
News from March 24, 2006
CARS to premiere at LMS in May: Disney.Pixar’s exciting new computer-animated feature “CARS” will stage its World Premiere on Friday, May 26th at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC in one of the most unique and elaborate movie events of all-time, it was announced today by Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip, and others from the voice cast of the film will be joined by a host of stars from the racing world and 30,000 guests that are expected to attend the “CARS” World Premiere, taking place at the same location as that weekend’s famous Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race. The screening of the film represents the first multi-screen digital cinema premiere ever, with Texas Instruments and its DLP CinemaR technology serving as Disney’s event technology partner in providing the digital cinema projectors. A series of four giant custom-built outdoor movie screens (115-feet wide and 50-feet tall) will be constructed at Lowe’s Motor Speedway at Turn #2 of the track. Each screen will have three DLP Cinema 2K digital projectors dedicated to it. A state-of-the-art sound system is also being created and installed for the event. Tickets for the premiere will be made available for purchase by the general public starting today. Proceeds will benefit Speedway Children’s Charities, and Association of Hole in the Wall Gang Camps. For tickets, call 1-800-455-FANS, visit the Lowe’s Motor Speedway box office, or order online here.
To cap off the weekend, the #96 DLP HDTV car will be wrapped as the film’s lead character “Lightning McQueen” for the NEXTEL Cup series race in Charlotte the same weekend [see image on my #96 Team Schemes page].
Lightning McQueen (voice of OWEN WILSON), a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. On route across the country to the big Piston Cup Championship in California to compete against two seasoned pros, McQueen gets to know the town’s offbeat characters -including Doc Hudson (a 1951 Hudson Hornet with a mysterious past, voiced by PAUL NEWMAN), Sally (a snazzy 2002 Porsche voiced by BONNIE HUNT), and Mater (a rusty but trusty tow truck voiced by LARRY THE CABLE GUY) – who help him realize that there are more important things than trophies, fame and sponsorship.
The all-star vocal cast also includes free-wheeling performances by Tony Shalhoub, Michael Keaton, Cheech Marin, George Carlin, Katherine Helmond, and John Ratzenberger. Delivering more fun and authenticity to the cast for “CARS” are vocal performances from some of the all-time greatest names from the racing world including the legendary Richard Petty, plus “drive-on” roles by Mario Andretti, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Darrell Waltrip (who holds the record for five-wins at the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600), and Michael Schumacher, the ace German Formula 1 racing legend, who is a seven-times world champion, and is widely considered to be the best Grand Prix racing driver of all-time.(LMS PR)(3-24-2006)
Fabrizio, Poole Named Finalists in Writing Competition: Veteran NASCAR beat writers Tony Fabrizio of the Tampa Tribune and David Poole of the Charlotte Observer know have been named among the 10 finalists in the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) National Writing Contest’s “Game Story” category, in the 100,000-250,000 circulation division. Both are in the final top 10 via outstanding stories on Tony Stewart’s 2005 victory in the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard. The final top five and honorable mention selections will be announced by the APSE in early April.(NASCAR PR)(3-24-2006)
Rusty Honored: Rusty Wallace’s name is already written all over the Bristol Motor Speedway record books, and as of Thursday his name is now written on the side of the speedway grandstands. The tower, which tops the Kulwicki grandstand, was dedicated Thursday in honor of nine-time BMS Cup race winner Wallace, as well as a plaque on a pedestal in Legends Plaza in front of the Bruton Smith Building bearing an engraving of Wallace’s likeness and a short narrative on Wallace’s career. Joining Wallace for the ceremony was his family including wife Patty, son Steve, brother Kenny, and his parents Russ and Judy. Also in attendance were BMS President Jeff Byrd and Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Bruton Smith. Wallace’s plaque and monument dedicated Thursday in Legends Plaza joins those of other racing legends honored at BMS in the past, including the Allison family, Dale Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Alan Kulwicki, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. Wallace’s nine wins at BMS are tied for second all time with Earnhardt and Yarborough. Waltrip has the most with 12.(Kingsport Times-News)(3-24-2006)
Five Purple Heart Recipients to Attend Bristol Race: The #16 National Guard team will have the privilege of being accompanied this Sunday by five Purple Heart recipients from the Tennessee National Guard. SPC Wesley Bullington, SGT Tony Anderson, SPC Jamey Smith, SGT Christopher Cartwright and SPC Anthony Lambert have all received a Purple Heart for the sacrifices they made while in the line of duty. These soldiers all come from the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment is the only enhanced Armored Cavalry Regiment within the National Guard, and one of only two Armored Cavalry Regiments in the United States Army. It is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, with units throughout the East and Central Tennessee Area. The Purple Heart is a U.S. military decoration awarded in the name of the President of the United States to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in or with the U.S. military after April 5, 1917. The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first American award made available to the common soldier.(Roush Racing PR)(3-24-2006)
Buy a Cookie and Help Out: After raising $2,000 selling cookies from her front yard for last year’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life, 8-year-old Nora Gilmer of Piney Flats is taking her cookie business to the NASCAR races at Bristol this weekend. Beginning today at noon, Nora and her friends from Piney Flats United Methodist Church and fellow third-graders at Avoca Elementary School, Bristol, will be manning two cookie booths just outside the track. Race fans can look for her “Cookies for Cancer” stands across from Lady Equipment Co. near Bristol Motor Speedway’s southern entrance and the other just down Volunteer Parkway at the school. Her cookies also will be available throughout the weekend at the Austin Springs Spa and Salon at Johnson City’s Carnegie Hotel.(Johnson City Press)(3-24-2006)
#61 Gets Sponsor: The Enthusiast Network is partnering with the #61 Ford Fusion, driven by Kevin LePage, for the 2006 season of NASCAR Nextel Cup. The TEN Magazine logo and the www.FordTruckWorld.com logos will make their debut on the #61 Ford Fusion at the Food City 500 at Bristol. In addition to the sponsorship, TEN will conducting a host of giveaways including the opportunity to win special VIP garage passes to a future race. For all the news from TEN Magazines, please visit theenthusiastnetwork.com.(PR)(3-24-2006)
Subway Colors at Bristol for Biffle: This weekend the #16 National Guard team and driver Greg Biffle will again run the 2006 Subway paint scheme. This paint scheme will run a total of 11 times this season.(Roush Racing), see image on my #16 Team Schemes Page.(3-24-2006)
Bristol Goodyear Tire Notes: This is the second time in three races that NASCAR Nextel Cup teams will run this specific combination of left- and right-side tires . . . teams ran this tire set-up earlier this month at Las Vegas . . . both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series teams will run the same tire codes this weekend . . . while Las Vegas and Bristol are the only two tracks at which teams are scheduled to run this tire combination, Nextel Cup teams will also run this left-side code (D-4028) with a different right-side code (D-4030) at Pocono. Estimated Pit Window: Every 150-160 laps, based on fuel mileage. Full notes on the Bristol Race Info/Rundown Page.(3-24-2006)
#37 Needs Sponsor or may close: Two Toccoa [GA] businessmen, John Carter and Roger Craven, did the near-impossible last year when they took their shoestring budget team to Daytona and finished ninth in the Daytona 500, earning more than $300,000. But this year, Carter and Craven are on the verge of dropping off the circuit. With Mike Skinner at the wheel of their #37 Dodge, the R and J Racing team has failed to qualify for an event this year, and the team has no primary sponsor to help foot the bills. “We’re still trying to get on our feet, and we’re too good a team to just quit,” Carter said. “It’s a shame that a Georgia-based team can’t get a Georgia-based company to help us just a little bit.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-24-2006)
Footballers start Race Team: Football hall of famer Gale Sayers and World Champion MVP Ray Lewis, along with entrepreneur Mark Bloomquist, have formed The Milestone Company. The operation will run both cars and trucks under its new name: S&L Racing. The team will be headquartered in North Carolina. S&L Racing’s mission is to develop a winning race team that provides opportunities for minorities and women in the sport. To achieve their objective, S&L Racing will start from scratch, working their way up to the Nextel Cup Series. The team plans to start racing this season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The Milestone Company will work with NASCAR, other racing teams and organizations, and corporations to assist in providing opportunities for those looking to make a career out of racing. For more information on S&L Racing, contact the team at 336-389-1700.(FoxSports/Newswire/S&L Racing)(3-24-2006)
Cope to attempt Bristol; gets sponsorship: even thou not on any entry lists as of 1am/et on 3/24/2006, derrikecope.com reports: Derrike gave us an update before qualifying. “We will be attempting to qualify at Bristol this weekend. The team has really worked hard to finish a car that was purchased from Penske racing. It is a more updated car from last year. So we are hopeful that we can have a good performance tomorrow in qualifying. I have had good success at Bristol and am really looking forward to tomorrow.”(Derrike Cope site) AND Sundance Vacations reached a full season agreement with McGlynn Racing to sponsor the Derrike Cope driven NASCAR Nextel Cup Dodge for the remaining races of the 2006 race season. The Sundance Vacations’ marketing campaign is centered on the company’s Ultimate Sports Giveaway. The winner of the sweepstakes will receive 6 tickets to the sports event of their choice including the Daytona 500. Sundance Vacations joins My Guardian 911 and Royal Administration on the #74 Dodge. Although, My Guardian 911 is the primary sponsor for most races, the national wholesale travel company will take the primary sponsor position for the Neighborhood Excellence 400 presented by Bank of America at Dover International Speedway, the Pocono 500 at Pocono International Speedway and the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.(McGlynn Racing PR)(3-24-2006)
News from March 23, 2006
Penalties/Fines/Suspensions from Atlanta Infractions: NASCAR announced today that penalties have been issued to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams, as a result of rule violations this past weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Rodney Childers, crew chief for the #10 Valvoline Dodge driven by Scott Riggs, has been fined $10,000 for violating Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-W (improperly attached weight) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rule book. The violation was discovered during practice.
Larry Hyder, crew chief for the #21 Little Debbie’s Ford driven by Ken Schrader, has been fined $1,000 for violating Sections 12-4-A; 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-3.2.3A (unapproved side window). The violation was discovered during pre-qualifying inspection.
Additionally, Thomas Harris, a member of the #66 Best Buy race team, has been fined $5,000 and indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing/unauthorized duplication of a NASCAR Annual Credential). (NASCAR PR)(3-23-2006)
Food City to help sponsor #4 car at Bristol: Morgan-McClure Motorsports announced that Food City will again partner with the Abingdon, VA-based team for this weekend’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The associate sponsorship marks the fifth consecutive event at Bristol in which the supermarket chain has adorned the sides of #4 Aero Exhaust Chevy driven by Scott Wimmer. Steve Smith, President and CEO of Food City, Quotes: “Food City is excited to again partner with our friends and neighbors at Morgan-McClure Motorsports. We look forward to seeing the Food City colors flying around Bristol Motor Speedway and nothing would make us happier than to have Scott Wimmer join us in Victory Lane.” Larry McClure, President of Morgan-McClure Motorsports, Quotes: “We’re very excited to have Food City partner with our race team for the Food City 500. Food City has contributed a great deal to the racing community over the years and with Morgan-McClure and Food City both being local companies; it is a privilege for us to include them in our racing program.”(Morgan-McClure Motorsports PR)(2-23-2006)
Rookie News and Notes: Reed Sorenson was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 20 Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Sorenson finished 10th, his first top-10 finish in six NEXTEL Cup Series starts and took top rookie honors for the first time this season. The finish was the best effort of Sorenson’s NEXTEL Cup career. His previous best effort came February 26 at California Speedway where he logged a 21st-place finish. A different driver has claimed the honor in each of the first four NEXTEL Cup Series races in 2006. A Raybestos Rookie has finished in the top 10 in all four NEXTEL Cup Series races this season. Clint Bowyer holds a five-point advantage over J.J. Yeley (43-38) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the March 26 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Bowyer is the only Raybestos Rookie that ranks in the top 10 in the NEXTEL Cup Series championship standings. He is currently 10th entering the Bristol event, 19 behind ninth-place Dale Jarrett. A Raybestos Rookie has finished in the top-10 in three of the last four Food City 500 races at Bristol: Kvapil, Greg Biffle (fifth in 2003) and Jimmie Johnson (seventh in 2002). The best finish by a Raybestos Rookie in the Food City 500 came in 1979 when Dale Earnhardt scored his first career win.(Raybestos PR), see more notes, standings on my ROTY Page.(3-23-2006)
Menards/Energizer on the #7 Hood: This is the first time this season that Menards/Energizer will be primary sponsors of the #7 Chevy of Robby Gordon. Menards, dedicated to service and quality, is a steadily growing home super center currently adding locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Jim Beam, Harrah’s and CarLoan.com will act as associate sponsors this weekend.(Robby Gordon Motorsports PR)(3-23-2006)
Sharpie Scheme back UPDATE: This weekend at the Bristol Motor Speedway marks the first of five races for Jamie McMurray behind the wheel of the black and red #26 Sharpie Ford Fusion.(Roush Racing PR)(3-22-2006) UPDATE: Sharpie welcomes Jamie McMurray to the family this Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. McMurray will take the wheel of the #26 Sharpie ‘MINI’ Ford Fusion for the first time on Sunday, March 26 during the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, the Food City 500. McMurray will drive the special Sharpie MINI paint scheme that will be featured at five races in 2006 [both Bristol’s, Chicago, New Hampshire in July and ]. Emblazoned with new Sharpie MINI marker, the look highlights a 16-color, “pint-sized” marker series with a clip. In tribute to its latest innovation, Sharpie also renamed its spring NASCAR Busch Series event at BMS the Sharpie MINI 300. The Sharpie MINI 300, slated for Saturday, March 25, now includes 50 additional laps of Bristol action. The race was formerly known as the Sharpie Professional 250. Sharpie MINI markers are available in 16-colors: black, red, blue, green, orange, berry, lime, aqua, purple, plum, navy, burgundy, turquoise, tangerine, magenta and lilac. The suggested retail price for 4-, 8-, and 12-packs is $5.93, $11.73, and $17.78, respectively. Single Sharpie Minis are also available with a lanyard option for the suggested retail price of $1.99. Sharpie markers are available at office supply stores and other retailers nationwide. For more information, go to sharpie.com.(Sharpie PR)(3-23-2006)
Mears Tested at Caraway: #42-Casey Mears, crew chief Donnie Wingo and the Texaco/Havoline team tested at Caraway Speedway last week and on Wednesday in preparation for the Food City 500 at Bristol and next week’s race at Martinsville.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-23-2006)
Kingsport mayor to give Martin key to the city: Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips will present the key to the Model City to NASCAR driver Mark Martin today – officially proclaimed “Mark Martin Day” by the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen earlier this week. The key to the city presentation will come during a larger ceremony this afternoon as Food City honors Martin, driver of Roush Racing’s #6 Ford Fusion, sponsored by AAA. It marks the first time Kingsport has given a key to the city to a NASCAR driver, said Kingsport Community Relations Officer Dave Light. Key to the city presentations are not common in Kingsport, he said. Allison David, marketing events coordinator for Food City, said the practice has been a yearly event for Family Race Night events in Bristol each August. “Both Bristol, Tennessee, and Bristol, Virginia, have done it every year for whomever we honor,” David said. “We’re excited that Kingsport is participating and that Mayor Phillips himself is going to make the presentation.” Food City suggested Martin for the honor because he is retiring this year, David said. Light said the keys given out by Kingsport are ordered special made by the city, and they are basically 6-inch metal skeleton keys with the city seal on them. “It makes a nice keepsake and memento,” Light said. “They’re normally given to non-residents who through their activities and contributions – philanthropic or business or political or whatever – have benefited the city and its citizens. Mark Martin races very cleanly and represents very good principles of good sportsmanship and good citizenship. He is well-liked and can serve as a good role model for the young people of our region.”(Kingsport Times-News)(3-23-2006)
American Idol star visits DEI: “American Idol” Bo Bice and his band, Sugarland Money, paid a visit to Dale Earnhardt, Inc. on Tuesday afternoon to check out where their favorite race team builds the cars for their favorite drivers. They were en route to a gig in Spartanburg, SC on Wednesday night. Having just left Columbia, SC earlier in the day with Charlotte radio interviews on tap for Wednesday morning, Bice and his band realized DEI in Mooresville was a doable stop on the way. They pulled up in their tour bus and took a behind-the-scenes view of our facility. Joining in the tour was Taylor Earnhardt, herself. She and Bice had their picture taken by a #8 car with a large photo of her dad, Dale, in the background. She offered interesting insights about the buildings and different aspects of DEI. During his tour, Bice was easily recognized by most of the employees. He gladly stopped, talked to everyone, posed for pictures and signed autographs. Even some fans who were outside the large glass doors of the Interior Showroom recognized Bice and got his attention. During his tour, Bice and the band stopped into the #8 Budweiser shop. There, Brian Cram (Shop Foreman) talked to them in more depth about race cars, how much they weigh and how many cars the team works on at one time. He even put Bice in the primary car for the upcoming Martinsville Speedway.(DEI PR)(3-23-2006)
News from March 22, 2006
Latest on AT&T and Cingular UPDATE #31 news – NASCAR says NO: Life goes on for Cingular Wireless, even though the brand is mere months from dying away. AT&T, which plans to take full control of the cellphone provider as part of its acquisition of BellSouth, intends to drop the 5-year-old Cingular name. Although Atlanta-based Cingular has spent more than $4 billion advertising itself since the company was born, its services will be renamed with the historic AT&T brand. Cingular’s president and chief executive, Stan Sigman, supports the change, saying the company has been at a “competitive disadvantage” in pitting itself against rival Verizon Wireless, which shares the same name as other services offered by Verizon Communications. Cingular, meanwhile, has been distinct from its current corporate parents, AT&T and BellSouth. One thing isn’t up for debate: Because the Cingular brand will continue to exist for months, the carrier can’t afford to stop spending money on marketing. Thus you’ll see plenty of Cingular ads, notably during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — which began this week — and during Fox TV’s hugely popular “American Idol.” Cingular will come full circle if, as expected, AT&T buys BellSouth for $67 billion in stock, taking full control of Cingular in the process. AT&T’s plans to eliminate the BellSouth and Cingular names, and move to the single AT&T name, would save hundreds of millions of dollars on ads.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), no mention in the column what happens with the #31 team, but would assume it will be rebranded AT&T at some point.(3-18-2006) UPDATE: NASCAR officials say they have informed Richard Childress Racing that if Cingular Wireless changes its name to AT&T, as expected after a recent merger, AT&T would not be allowed on Jeff Burton’s #31 car. NASCAR made the ruling based on its interpretation of its contract with series sponsor Nextel. Cingular and Alltel, as well as Samsung/Radio Shack with Texas Motor Speedway, were grandfathered in as existing sponsors when the Nextel Series sponsorship contract was signed in 2003. “It’s pretty clear that they can’t transfer a name due to a sale,” NASCAR Vice President for Corporate Communications Jim Hunter said March 17. Executives from Cingular would not comment March 16 when asked about what would happen to the company’s sponsorship. “Right now, Cingular is in it and is in it for the long haul,” team owner Richard Childress said March 19. “That’s about all I can say.” Hunter said that Cingular could negotiate with Nextel to try to transfer the name and keep the sponsorship. But Michael Robichaud, vice president for sports marketing for Sprint Nextel, said there are no plans to negotiate. One option could be for Cingular to move to the Busch Series, where any cellular company can provide sponsorship.(SceneDaily.com)(3-22-2006)
Parsons moving ‘home’, starting a winery..NOT retiring: Like most people who left Wilkes for auto factory jobs and other work in Detroit in the 1940s and 1950s, Benny Parsons has returned to his native county. The Motor Racing Sports Hall of Fame driver and 1973 Winston Cup champion still has homes in Concord and Florida, but he’s building a house overlooking the North Prong of Lewis Fork Creek Valley in Parsonsville [NC] and surrounding mountains. The hilltop house is on land that’s been in his family for generations. On 10 adjoining acres where his forebears had an orchard, Parsons is planting rows of Chardonnay Merlot and Syrah grapes for a vineyard and winery. Parsons, 64, married and with two grown sons, has been in Wilkes a lot lately due to his new house and vineyard near where he was raised in Parsonsville. The motorsports radio show host and NASCAR TV analyst drew a big crowd when he was volunteer guest speaker at the Wilkes United Way Campaign Finale on Feb. 28. Parsons’ two brothers, Phil Parsons and Steve Parsons were born in Detroit and stayed with their parents. Steve still lives there and Phil lives in Denver.(In part from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot), also Parsons and wife Terri are building a vineyard on his old home place where he was born in Wilkes County N.C. The name of the vineyard is Rendezvous Ridge. Parsons has no plans to retire from broadcasting and hopes to be part of the ESPN or/and TNT TV package in 2007, NBC is in the final year of their NASCAR TV deal. Plans are to bottle and sell the wines under the label Benny Parsons Rendezvous Ridge.(3-22-2006)
Hotel tax hike OK’d to help NASCAR hall: In an 8-1 vote, Mecklenburg commissioners agreed to raise the county’s hotel tax by 2 percentage points, from 6 to 8 percent. The money to be raised by the increase was a financial cornerstone of Charlotte’s bid to host the motorsports shrine. Commissioners held a public hearing on the increase, the public’s only chance to weigh in since the deal was announced. But no one came to object. Instead, half a dozen speakers — sporting buttons from the campaign to win the hall — stood up to praise it, saying the Hall of Fame will draw hundreds of thousands of tourists, and solidify the region’s status as home to the booming racing industry and the accompanying jobs. Mohammed Jenatian, president of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance, said the tourism industry was involved in the decision to increase the tax, and believes the project is worth it.(Charlotte Observer)(3-22-2006)
USG Scheme for #17 at Bristol: For the first of three times in 2006, Matt Kenseth will pilot the #17 USG Sheetrock Ford Fusion. USG Sheetrock will also be the primary sponsor for the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in July and the November race at Phoenix International Raceway.(Roush Racing PR)(3-22-2006)
Stewart’s Pit Crew Takes Top Honors in Atlanta: Tony Stewart’s pit crew captured the Checkers / Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition in Monday’s rain-delayed NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge is in its second season of rewarding pit crews, the unsung heroes in the Nextel Cup Series. The program awards $10,500 per week to the top pit crew. In addition, the pit crew with the most wins will be awarded a $105,000 bonus at the completion of the 36-race schedule. Stewart’s #20 Home Depot Chevrolet spent the least amount of time on pit road (322.141 seconds) during Monday’s 500-mile race. The winning performance by the #20 crew lifted Stewart to a fifth-place finish. Stewart’s over-the-wall crew consists of: Jason Lee (jackman), Tom Dean (front-tire carrier), Ira-Jo Hussey (front-tire changer), Jody Fortson (rear-tire carrier), Todd Foster (rear-tire changer), Jeff Patterson (gasman), Brian Larson (catch can) and Scott Geerts (windshield). The team’s crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa. The #20 crew, part of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, snapped a three-race win streak by Hendrick Motorsports teams. The first two Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge wins of the season went to Jimmie Johnson’s #48 crew. The round-three winner was the #5 crew for Kyle Busch. Daytona (2/19) Jimmie Johnson Team; California (2/26) Jimmie Johnson Team; Las Vegas (3/12) Kyle Busch Team; Atlanta (3/20) Tony Stewart Team.(DMF Communications PR), more at checkers.com.(3-22-2006)
Congrats: Congratulations to Brent and Kathleen Sherman who welcomed their son, Brent Cooper Sherman, on March 21, 2006. Baby Cooper weighs eight pounds, five ounces and is 20.5 inches long. Both mom and baby are doing well.(3-22-2006)
DirecTV to sponsor RCR? UPDATE 2: looks like DirecTV will be an associate sponsor on the #07 Jack Daniel’s RCR Chevy Clint Bowyer will drive in 2006. See the schemes on my #07 Team Schemes page.(1-31-2006) UPDATE: NASCAR partner DIRECTV has announced an official partnership with Richard Childress Racing (RCR), one of NASCAR’s premier racing teams. Through the partnership, DIRECTV will be an associate sponsor of the #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevy and its driver, Clint Bowyer, during the 2006 Nextel Cup Series season. The association with RCR aligns DIRECTV with one of the sport’s most well-respected racing programs and one of the sport’s most exciting young drivers. DIRECTV also will be primary sponsor of the #07 Chevy at three Nextel Cup Series races this season at Martinsville (April 2), Pocono (June 11) and Talladega (October 8).
As the nation’s leading digital TV service, DIRECTV has a long history with NASCAR, though this announcement marks the company’s first official sponsorship of a Nextel Cup team. The service has become an integral part of the sport by providing millions of fans the opportunity for the most enhanced, unique NASCAR viewing experience at home and trackside. DIRECTV has also become a critical piece of racing equipment for crew chiefs, as teams up and down pit road rely on the digital picture and sound to aid spotters and monitor car performance throughout the entire race. The partnership with RCR and Clint Bowyer will enable DIRECTV to create consumer marketing and retail promotions targeting NASCAR’s loyal fan base. In addition, the relationship will provide DIRECTV the opportunity to increase awareness of its new DIRECTV Plus ® DVR among race fans and emphasize current and future features that will enhance their race viewing experience.(RCR Site)(2-10-2006) UPDATE 2: RCR, along with DIRECTV, will unveil a new look for the #07 Chevy Friday, March 24 at 10a.m. in Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway. The #07 DIRECTV Chevrolet will make its debut the following weekend in the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Driver Clint Bowyer, crew chief Gil Martin and senior vice president of advertising and public relations, Jon Gieselman, from DIRECTV will be on hand for the unveiling.(RCR PR)(3-22-2006)
News from March 21, 2006
Yeley to Drive AsthmaControl.com scheme at Bristol: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will display a unique paint scheme on the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevy driven by rookie J.J. Yeley during the March 26 Food City 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The sponsorship aims to help raise awareness about the need for improved asthma control, and to motivate patients with asthma to take the Asthma Control Test (ACT) and share the results with their doctors. The ACT consists of five simple questions that help patients understand how their asthma affects them. It can be found at www.asthmacontrol.com. GlaxoSmithKline will also bring its AsthmaControl.com mobile exhibit to Bristol Motor Speedway on March 26 to allow race fans with asthma to take the ACT, learn their asthma scores on-site and receive racing souvenirs. For company information, visit GSK on the World Wide Web at www.gsk.com.(JGR/Camp & Assoc)(3-21-2006)
Only Chargers after Texas: Don Miller, the president of Penske Racing South, said that corporate headquarters informed his organization that the Intrepid can’t be used after the April 9 Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. At least one of Penske Racing’s two drivers — #12-Ryan Newman and #2-Kurt Busch — has used the Intrepid since the Daytona 500. There were plans to use the car on most 1.5- mile and 2-mile tracks the remainder of the season. The Charger has only four wins since being introduced last season. Kahne’s win was the first on a 1.5-mile track where the blunt nose of the car has created aerodynamic problems. The problems have created a split among Dodge teams that have considered going to NASCAR to ask for help. Ray Evernham, the owner of Kahne’s car, said that no longer is a consideration.(NASCAR.com)(3-21-2006)
Tough Day for Crew Members at Atlanta: As #41-Reed Sorenson exited the pits after a stop during a caution period on lap 190, his #41 Dodge struck John Slusher, the catch-can holder for Robby Gordon’s #7 crew. Slusher lay on his back on pit road while being treated. He was taken by ambulance to the track’s care center, where he was evaluated, treated and released, according to NASCAR officials. Joe Kruschek, the rear tire changer on Jamie McMurray’s #26 Ford, also was injured on a pit stop and taken to Spalding Regional Medical Center. He suffered a broken left thumb and required stitches in his right forefinger.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-21-2006)
Francis Wins Crew Chief of the Race Award: The only person that Kasey Kahne couldn’t outrun this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway was Mother Nature. Sunday afternoon’s rain showers forced NASCAR to postpone the Golden Corral 500 until the following day, but Kahne had no problem leaving the field in his #9 Dodge Charger’s wake once the race went green. Kahne’s day earned his crew chief, Kenny Francis, the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. A panel of voters; including Tony Eury Sr., a member of the local media and a Wypall Wipers representative; all agreed that Francis deserved Crew Chief of the Race honors for putting Kahne in position to collect the win. For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, Francis was presented $1,000. At the end of the season the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. This was Francis’ first Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him with Darian Grubb for second-place in the standings. Robbie Reiser is in the lead with two wins.(Wypall PR)(3-21-2006)
TNA Wrestling to sponsor Hermie Sadler at Martinsville: TNA Wrestling, the new face in professional wrestling, will partner with Aarons Sales and Lease Ownership for Less in sponsoring #00 MBA Motorsports and driver Hermie Sadler in the Virginia 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race on April 2nd at Martinsville Speedway. The car will feature a special paint scheme that will promote the kick off of Autism Awareness month. Sadler has a daughter with Autism. TNA joins Aarons on the “Dream Machine” for Martinsville as they move their weekly show , “IMPACT” to Thursday nights on Spike TV beginning April 13. Spike is calling its new Thursday night lineup “Full Contact Thursday.” In addition to IMPACT, TNA also does monthly live Pay-Per-View events. The TNA roster includes stars such as Sting, Jeff Jarrett, Christian Cage, Team 3-D and many others. For more information on TNA Wrestling, visitwww.tnawrestling.com. Sadler has been driving the Aarons Dream Maching this season in partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing, and looks forward to this partnership at Martinsville. “I appreciate Aarons and TNA Wrestling coming together to make Martinsville a special weekend for everyone. Autism Awareness is very important to us, and we look forward to sending that message at Martinsville.” Aarons is also partnering with TNA Wrestling off the track at Martinsville, as they are sponsoring a live TNA event Saturday night, April 1, at the Old Lowes building just across from the speedway. The event will feature the stars of TNA Wrestling, as well as NASCAR personalities Elliott Sadler, Hermie Sadler, Kyle Petty, Scott Riggs, Michael Waltrip, and others. TNA is offering a $5.00 discount at the door for anyone that has a Martinsville Speedway ticket stub from Pole day or the truck series race, or a NASCAR license. For more information on the event and tickets, visit www.uwfusa.com.(3-21-2006)
News from March 20, 2006
Harvick’s price tag too high for GM? #29-Kevin Harvick has set too high a price tag in his contract renegotiations with General Motors, and it now seems unlikely that car owner Richard Childress will renew the deal, according to sources. The two have set an early April deadline. Harvick drives Nextel Cup [and Busch] cars for Childress, and also fields a Truck for Ron Hornaday and two Busch cars, for Burney Lamar, Ron Fellows, Tony Stewart and himself, all under Kevin Harvick Inc. Toyota would likely be willing to support Harvick with a full Nextel Cup-Busch-Truck package, but it is unclear if GM is willing to match that. And it’s unclear if Harvick would back down on his price in order to stay with Chevrolet. That is all raising speculation about who Childress might hire to replace Harvick if Harvick does move on.(Winston Salem Journal); Harvick has been rumored to the Red Bull Toyota team and to Michael Waltrip Racing’s 2nd team.(3-20-2006)
Kahne wins at Atlanta: #9-Kasey Kahne won the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Las Vegas Motor Speedway, dominating the final 80 laps for his 2nd win of his career [other was Richmond last May] and 1st of the year. It is the first Dodge to win at Atlanta since Richard Petty won there in March 1977. Kahne is the first driver to win the spring race from the pole since Buddy Baker in 1979. #6-Mark Martin was 2nd, followed by #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #24-Jeff Gordon and #20-Tony Stewart. Points leader, #48-Jimmie Johnson finished 6th and now leads the points by 50 over Kahne. #45-Kyle Petty came home 8th, his best finish since an 8th at Dover last Sept. #41-Reed Sorenson was the highest rookie of the year candidate with a 10th place finish. Johnson is now the only driver to score a top-10 finish in all four races of the 2006 season. #23-Bill Lester ran the whole race, but fell 6 laps down and finished 38th. There were 8 cautions for 43 laps and 27 lead changes with 12 leaders. Race Results on my Atlanta Race Results/Awards Page. Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Atlanta page. Race Rundown: see my Atlanta Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(3-20-2006)
Unofficial Driver Points Standing after Atlanta [4 of 36 races]:
#9-Kahne, 640, -50
#17-Kenseth, 612, -78
#6-Martin, 600, -90
#42-Mears, 554, -136
#24-Gordon, 539, -151
#8-Earnhardt Jr., 534, -156
#5-Busch, 530, -160
#88-Jarrett, 490, -200
#07-Bowyer, 471, -219
For drivers/owners points, see my
Atlanta Race Notes:
• Kasey Kahne won the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, scoring his second career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 76th career start. Kahne won from the Bud Pole.
• Kahne’s last victory came at Richmond, 29 races ago. He also won that race from the Bud Pole.
• It was his first victory and fourth top-five finish in five Atlanta races.
• Kahne scored his third top-five finish in four races this season. All four of his finishes in 2006 have been top 15s.
• Kahne moved into second in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, the highest ranking of his career.
• Kahne led four times, including the final 80 laps. He did not lead the most laps
• Dodge scored its first Atlanta victory since Richard Petty won this race at Atlanta in 1977 – 29 years ago.
• The last victory from the Bud Pole at Atlanta came in the fall of 1996 by Bobby Labonte.
• Eight of the last nine race winners at Atlanta have won from a top-10 starting position.
• This was team owner Ray Evernham’s eighth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory and first at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
• Evernham Motorsports has won at least one race each season 2001– 2006, six consecutive years. Notebook Items
• The last time a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race was won from the Bud Pole was by Matt Kenseth at Bristol in August 2005.
• The best start to a season (after four races) was done twice. Herb Thomas (1954) and Bill Elliott (1992) each scored three victories in the first four races.
• Mark Martin (second) has finished in the top-five in the last four races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He has scored four straight top-15 finishes to start the season. Martin climbed from fifth to fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. One year ago Martin ranked fifth.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (third) scored his sixth top-five finish in 14 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He climbed from 11th to seventh in the NASCAR NEXTEL cup standings.
• Jeff Gordon (fourth) scored his 12th top-five finish in 28 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It marked his second topfive finish in 2006, both in the last two races.
• Tony Stewart (fifth) scored his fifth top-five finish in 15 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was his second top-five finish in 2006. The defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion climbed from 19th to 12th in the point standings.
• Jimmie Johnson (sixth) has finished four top-10 finishes, including two victories, in the first four races in 2006. He is the only driver to start the 2006 season with four top-10 finishes. He remained first in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. Johnson has ranked among the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings for 73 straight races, a streak that began after race No. 4 at Atlanta in March 2004.
• Paul Menard (seventh) scored his career best NASCAR NEXTEL Cup finish.
• Reed Sorenson (10th) was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender in the 2006 Golden Corral 500. It marked the first top-10 finish of his short career.
• Greg Biffle (16th) led the most laps (128) in the Golden Corral 500. The last time he led the most laps in a race was at California two races ago where he finished 42nd.
• All seven of the 2006 Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders have competed in all four races in 2006 and two scored top-15 finishes in today’s race.
• Joe Nemechek (17th) has been running at the finish in the last 36 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April and is the longest current streak.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(3-20-2006)
Rumblings – Atlanta: a day late but Kasey Kahne certainly wasn’t a dollar short today at Atlanta Motor Speedway as he captured the Golden Corral 500 by daylight. Kasey’s win from the pole (he’s the first driver to do that since Matt Kenseth accomplished that feat at Bristol last August) was the second of his NEXTEL Cup career (he’s tied for 92nd on the all-time win list) and the 8th for Ray Evernham. This victory was worth $203,664 from the over $4.8M in posted awards and puts the #9 Dodge on the Winners Circle Plan this season. Most of the action today came on pit road. We had loose lug nuts, accidents, a crew member run over, and the seemingly ever-present tire problems.
Dale Earnhardt Jr (3rd) had his best finish since he won at Chicagoland last July.
Paul Menard (7th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 27th at Watkins Glen last August.
Kyle Petty (8th) had his best finish since he was 8th at Dover last September.
Reed Sorenson (10th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 21st at California last month.
Scott Riggs (11th) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Michigan last August.
STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 6 Top-10’s in the last 7 races.
Mark Martin has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is Kyle Petty (+24), followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr (+23), Dale Jarrett (+22), Terry Labonte (+21), and Jamie McMurray (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Bobby Labonte (-39), followed by Kevin Harvick (-33), Kurt Busch (-28 ), Denny Hamlin (-24), Jeff Burton (-22), Carl Edwards (-22), and Jeremy Mayfield (-21). Petty Enterprises captures both ends of a very busy “Shaft” today.
Jimmie Johnson retains the points lead after today….but new second place man Kasey Kahne is just 50 markers in arrears. Kyle Petty (33rd to 24th) made the best move forward this week, while Carl Edwards (23rd to 30th) went seven spots in the wrong direction.(StockCarFans.com)(3-21-2006)
News from March 19, 2006
Vote for Most Popular Driver site is open MORE: The Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver of 2006 Award. website in now up and running, fans can vote at mostpopulardriver.com.(3-17-2006) MORE Internet voting for the NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver begins this weekend at www.mostpopulardriver.com. Under the Chex banner for the second year, the Most Popular Driver Award has become the largest fan-based award in motorsports. Since General Mills started sponsoring the award in 2002 more than 13.4 million votes have been cast. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the award the past three years. This year more than 40 Nextel Cup Series drivers are eligible for the esteemed NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Award, which is administered by the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA). It has been awarded annually since 1956 and is one of the oldest awards in racing. Fans may vote on the site once each day beginning this weekend. Voting ends at11:59am/ct, Monday, November 20, 2006.
NASCAR NMPA Chex Most Popular Driver Key Points
• Top winners of the award are Bill Elliott with 16 wins and Richard Petty with nine.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win in 2005 made him the seventh driver in NASCAR history to win the award in consecutive seasons. The other six drivers are Lee Petty, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Bill Elliott and Darrell Waltrip.
• More than 14 million votes have been cast since General Mills began sponsoring the award in 2002. Prior to General Mills’ sponsorship of the award, the most votes cast in a single season were 400,000.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. received a record 1,403,544 votes in 2005. Jeff Gordon finished second with 594,434 votes.(Elevation / General Mills PR)(3-19-2006)
Tire Problems at Atlanta? The Golden Corral 500 has a chance to be like other Nextel Cup races in Atlanta, where tires aren’t a problem the day following a Busch Series event where tires weren’t totally dependable. But the race Sunday afternoon also could turn into a debacle as it did in Charlotte last October. Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch suffered tire blowouts in the Busch Series race Saturday at Atlanta, sparking memories of the tire-plagued races in Charlotte last year. NASCAR Vice President Robin Pemberton said the spring Atlanta weekends traditionally have tire issues early in the weekend but they fade as more rubber gets on the track. But there are two differences this year: Teams were not allowed to test at the track in the months leading up to the race and the chance of rain Sunday could rid the track of any old rubber. Goodyear Director for Race Tire Sales and Marketing Greg Stucker said he did not hear of any major problems during Nextel Cup practice Saturday. Pemberton said teams didn’t hit 50 laps on a practice run, so it’s hard to predict if there will be issues in the event today. Stucker said the tire this weekend is a new tire for Atlanta, the result of a tire test in January conducted by Newman’s Penske Racing South teammate Kurt Busch. Greg Biffle, who had problems on his first run in the Busch Series race with his tires wearing down to the cords, said the tire is not the issue. Pemberton said Saturday night that there had been no decision on whether to throw an early competition caution in the race.(SceneDaily.com)(3-19-2006)
News from March 18, 2006
New Team Plans Texas Debut: H&K Motorsports, a husband and wife owned team based in Denton,, TX has announced plans to make its Nextel Cup Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway. Denton native Eddie Kucharski and wife Bonnie Heimlich plan to enter veteran Trevor Boys in 15 Cup races, beginning with a qualifying attempt April 7 for the Samsung/RadioShack 500 at TMS. The team also plans to compete in the ARCA ReMax Series beginning at Nashville Superspeedway on April 15.(Fort Worth Star Telegram) Boys has 102 Cup starts with two top 10’s running races between 1983-1993, his best finish was a 9th at Richmond 1983 in the #48 Chevy.(3-18-2006)
Latest on AT&T and Cingular II: Life goes on for Cingular Wireless, even though the brand is mere months from dying away. AT&T, which plans to take full control of the cellphone provider as part of its acquisition of BellSouth, intends to drop the 5-year-old Cingular name. Although Atlanta-based Cingular has spent more than $4 billion advertising itself since the company was born, its services will be renamed with the historic AT&T brand. Cingular’s president and chief executive, Stan Sigman, supports the change, saying the company has been at a “competitive disadvantage” in pitting itself against rival Verizon Wireless, which shares the same name as other services offered by Verizon Communications. Cingular, meanwhile, has been distinct from its current corporate parents, AT&T and BellSouth. One thing isn’t up for debate: Because the Cingular brand will continue to exist for months, the carrier can’t afford to stop spending money on marketing. Thus you’ll see plenty of Cingular ads, notably during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — which began this week — and during Fox TV’s hugely popular “American Idol.” Cingular will come full circle if, as expected, AT&T buys BellSouth for $67 billion in stock, taking full control of Cingular in the process. AT&T’s plans to eliminate the BellSouth and Cingular names, and move to the single AT&T name, would save hundreds of millions of dollars on ads.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), no mention in the column what happens with the #31 team, but would assume it will be rebranded AT&T at some point.(3-18-2006)
Lester easily makes the race at Atlanta: Bill Lester became the first African-American driver to qualify for a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race in 20 years, while Kasey Kahne took the pole for Sunday’s Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Lester’s #23 Waste Management Dodge was the fastest among the cars that needed to qualify on time with the 19th fastest lap of 190.502 mph. Lester joins Charlie Scott, Wendell Scott, George Wiltshire, Randy Bethea and Willy T. Ribbs as the only African-Americans to accomplish this feat with Ribbs being the last in 1986. “I’m so excited, I’m relieved, I’m enthused, I can’t wait for Sunday’s race,” said Lester, who is from Atlanta. “My wife knew my heart and soul was in racing and she supported me 110 percent.”(RacingOne)(3-18-2006)
Jarrett plans to run through 2008: Before the Daytona 500, #88-Dale Jarrett described the 2006 Nextel Cup season as critical to determining how long he would extend his career. After three races of evaluating his team, he has a timetable. “I’m pretty sure now I’m going to drive through 2008,” he said Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I feel like if we can stay on pace with what we’re trying to do, that would be sufficient time to leave it in a good situation.”(USA Today)(3-18-2006)
News from March 17, 2006
Hamilton Taking Time Off from 2006 Season for Health Reasons: 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton regretfully is stepping out of his #18 Fastenal Dodge for the 2006 season effective after the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway due to health reasons. Hamilton has been diagnosed with cancer in the right side of his neck and will be replaced for the season by his son Bobby Hamilton Jr. “Nobody wants to go through this and the word cancer is a stout word to hear,” Hamilton said. “But I will be starting my treatment right after the race in Atlanta so I have to take care of me for awhile. The hardest thing I’ve done is stepping out of this truck, but I will be back by Homestead or by Daytona bext year. When I told Dodge and Fastenal that I had to do this, they were right on board with me. It says a lot for companies of this magnitude to stay with our program during such a difficult time. We have a huge family at BHR and their support will enable our program to continue to be a success.”(NASCAR PR)(3-17-2006)
Busch in a Charger: it was reported on NASCAR Live that Kurt Busch is in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger and his teammate #12-Ryan Newman is still running a Dodge Intrepid as is #43-Bobby Labonte.(Speed Channel’s NASCAR Live)(3-17-2006)
Michael Waltrip Racing News UPDATE 4 Burger King and Bill Elliott: Toyota is using the same entry philosophy [they used in the Truck Series] as they enter NASCAR’s top series – new teams. Michael Waltrip Racing is working hand in hand with Toyota developing the 2007 Camry. With the quality people we have on board, we will be a key technical partner in all areas of the building process. We are even developing our own 2006 Dodge cars. The reason for this is three fold. First, to run a five-race 2006 schedule, which will be announced Friday afternoon [March 10th] of the Las Vegas race weekend next month. At that time, we will also announce a driver and sponsor combination. Secondly, to assist Toyota in understanding where the cars that are on track today are aerodynamically. And lastly, to help MWR’s employees to stay current with the competition. This group will be much better prepared to race in 2007 because of this plan. Waltrip Racing World is gaining more and more momentum. On February 6, 2006, we finalized zoning approval for the entire 11-acre campus. We plan to begin demolition and renovations by March 1, 2006. Everyone we talk to about our fan friendly, interactive entertainment based concept believes it will be a hit. Race tracks, baseball stadiums –heck, all sports venues have become interactive. Now, the first race shop will be. Our real estate partner, Noah Lazes, has been busy visiting other race shops, Daytona USA, Basketball arenas, etc., making sure our project is the latest and greatest in the world of sports-themed destinations. Bobby Kennedy, MWR’s V.P. of Competition [but still working with DW’s Truck Series team], along with Larry Carter, MWR and former Penske Racing [#2] crew chief, have been equally as busy making sure every detail is in order for the team to produce the fastest race cars possible out of our facility. We are blessed that Larry recently helped in the design of Roger Penske’s new Penske Racing shop. His experience and knowledge of the project ensures me our team will need nothing when we move in.(NAPA Site)(2-28-2006) UPDATE: been asked what happened to this announcement? no idea….have not seen nor heard a thing, the link has been removed from the articles list, but the old article is still there.(3-14-2006) UPDATE 2: been told the announcement could be within the next week or two.(3-15-2006) UPDATE 3: look for the announcement to come Friday, March 17th at Atlanta Motor Speedway, hearing Burger King could be a sponsor in some part.(3-16-2006) UPDATE 4 – Burger King and Bill Elliott: Beginning this year, Burger King said it will become a primary sponsor of Michael Waltrip Racing’s (MWR) #00 Chevy [not Dodge or Ford] driven by Bill Elliott. Elements of the promotion are to include a specially designed #00 paint scheme, in-store activities and driver appearances. The five Nextel Cup races the company is to sponsor this year are at Chicagoland, July 9; New Hampshire, July 16; Indianapolis, Aug. 6; California, Sept. 3; and Homestead, Nov. 9. Waltrip was among the first owners to announce plans to work with Toyota starting in 2007, during its first foray into NASCAR Nextel Cup Series racing.(South Flordia Business Journal) MORE: Michael Waltrip Racing announced Friday that it will team with Burger King and NASCAR champion Bill Elliott for a five-race schedule this season. Elliott will pilot the #00 Burger King Chevrolet at Chicago, New Hampshire, Indianapolis, California and Homestead. Waltrip said the team plans to expand to a full-time NEXTEL Cup venture next season, running Toyotas. Waltrip said sponsorship and driver plans for next year were still up in the air. But for now, he’s thrilled to have a veteran like Elliott behind the wheel. Burger King also announced donations to both the Speedway Children’s Charities and the National Motorsports Press Association. Waltrip quotes of the day: (On fielding Chevrolets for his team despite driving Dodges himself) “I’m like Switzerland, I can drive anything. Chevrolet is the car to beat. They’ve won two of the first three races. When we were planning this project, in order to lure Mr. Elliott, we wanted to get the best car he could drive. Right now that appears to be Chevrolet. I’ll stay in a Dodge, I suppose, but I am going to be in a Toyota truck later this year, and I’ve got a call in to Ford.”(AMS Pit Notes)(3-17-2006)
BDR/Lester plan full 2007 season: Bill Lester’s #23 Waste Management Team is scheduled to compete at Atlanta Motor Speedway, at Michigan Speedway in June and at California Speedway in September. More races are expected to be added to the 2006 schedule as additional sponsorship and Lester’s commitments in the Craftsman Truck Series permits, with an eye on the entire NEXTEL Cup schedule in 2007. Atlanta’s Championship Group handles program management and business development, and is expected to announce additional program details over the coming months.(Bill Davis Racing)(3-17-2006)
Kahne wins pole at Atlanta: #9-Kasey Kahne won the Budweiser Pole for the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap of 192.553mph for his first pole of 2006 and 7th of his career. #12-Ryan Newman just missed the pole by .002 seconds/.013mph, and missed his 7th straight pole at Atlanta, but will start on the outside pole/2nd. #31-Jeff Burton will start 3rd, followed by #43-Bobby Labonte and #18-J.J. Yeley. The big news was that #23-Bill Lester qualified for the race, the first African-American to make a Cup race since Willy T. Ribbs in June 1986 at Michigan, Lester was the fastest of the drivers not on the top-35 teams in owners points [Desperados?] and will start 19th. #96-Terry Labonte made the race using a past champions provisional [for the 3rd time in 4 races]. #25-Vickers blew an engine after his first lap and will have to fall to the rear of the field before the start of the race. Missing the race were: #32-Kvapil, #13-Sacks, #74-Cope, #34-Chaffin, #37-Skinner, #92-Blount, #51-Garvey, #78-KWallace and #95-Barrett. See the qualifying results/starting lineup on Jayski’s Atlanta Starting Lineup/Qualifying Page.(3-17-2006)
Kyle and Stewart talk..again: Behind the Hauler Talk with Kyle Busch, #5 Kellogg’s Chevy: Atlanta Motor Speedway: WHAT’S THE SITUATION BETWEEN YOU AND TONY STEWART RIGHT NOW?
“I called him this week. We talked a little bit on the phone. It was a good conversation. A civil one. We just both talked about what I aggravated him with last week at Las Vegas and we both decided to elect on moving along and coming here to Atlanta and seeing how we can race out the rest of the year.” WELL, WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
“It’s like he said. It wasn’t quite 80 laps to go. It was more like 65. But I was holding him up a little bit. I was trying to preserve my race car and my position on the race track for the last pit stop. A lot of these guys say you don’t race until after the last pit stop, but you’d rather come into the pits third for the last pit stop and have a chance to get out leading than come in eighth and only be able to get out third. So I was trying to preserve my position a little bit and try to get a better spot for my guys to have an easier job on pit road.” DID TONY STEWART GIVE YOU ANY ADVICE THAT WAS HELPFUL?
“Oh, just trying to discuss how to race and how you race the race track. You’ll see this weekend that this place definitely won’t be anywhere near what Las Vegas was. At this place, you’ve got so many different grooves. You can run all over this place. The race track is old and aged. You have to race the race track here. It’s worse than Darlington almost. It’s a pretty bad place where you’re not going to see a whole lot of side-by-side and bumper-tagging.” DOES TONY STEWART UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU’RE COMING FROM?
“He did and he didn’t. He had a sense of yeah, okay that makes sense. But still, I don’t care. He’s in his race car trying to run his race and I’m in my race car trying to run my race. Sometimes, conflicts connect and you have that.” DID YOU COME AROUND TO HIS WAY OF THINKING OR DO YOU STILL BELIEVE THAT YOU WERE IN THE RIGHT?
“There are a bunch of different scenerios. If you look at a 400 lap say at Dover, you’re going to let people go for probably 300 laps or so and then in the last 100, you’re not because you’ve got to plan yourself for your last pit stop. And then you’ve got to get out of the last pit stop and race to the end. It’s different situations everywhere you go. I saw his point, but I also saw my point as well.” DO YOU THINK YOU DID ANYTHING WRONG?
“To answer your question in the fullest extent, I didn’t do anything wrong. I was just racing my own race; racing my own race car.” WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH TONY STEWART RIGHT NOW..ON THE TRACK?
“On the track? Probably not very good. But as far as off the race track, once he takes his helmet off, he’s a completely different person. You’re able to talk to him and be receptive of him. It’s good to be able to have that relationship off the race track, I guess.”(in part from the GM Racing PR)(3-17-2006)
Lester gets assoc sponsor for 3 races: Valvoline, with its 110-year history of firsts in motorsports, is seeking a new first – a historic partnership in NASCAR Nextel Cup competition with driver Bill Lester. Valvoline will be an associate sponsor on Lester’s #23 Dodge Charger for three races – Atlanta (March), Michigan (June) and California (September). The car will carry Valvoline’s legendary red, white and blue decal on the B-pillar and Lester will sport the colors on his uniform.(Clear!Blue PR)(3-17-2006)
Special scheme for Yeley at Atlanta: The Interstate Batteries Chevy will be sporting new colors for the first time this season in Atlanta. Husqvarna will be featured as the primary sponsor of J.J. Yeley’s #18 Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Chevy.(Joe Gibbs Racing), see an image on my #18 Team Schemes page. The scheme is scheduled to run at two more not yet announced races.(3-17-2006)
RCR Announcement UPDATE: Richard Childress Racing and #31 driver Jeff Burton have scheduled a press conference Friday, March 17 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to announce a new partnership for the 2006 season.(RCR PR)(3-15-2006) UPDATE: Holiday Inn is expected to join a growing list of Atlanta companies that sponsor cars and drivers in NASCAR. Richard Childress Racing and driver Jeff Burton will be backed by Holiday Inn in as many as 10 Busch Series races this season, according to team officials. The team has scheduled a press conference today at Atlanta Motor Speedway to reveal details of its new sponsorship.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-17-2006)
Irwin 2006 debut at Atlanta IMAGE: Atlanta will mark #26-Jamie McMurray’s first run in the IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford. The weekend will showcase a special IRWIN paint scheme featuring the IRWIN Vise-Grip.(Roush Racing)(3-14-2006) IMAGE: added an image on my #26 Team Schemes page.(3-17-2006)
Atlanta Goodyear Facts: This is the first time Goodyear has brought this combination of left- and right-side tires to the race track . . . all three NASCAR series — Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck — will run the same tire codes this weekend . . . Atlanta is the only track at which teams are currently scheduled to run this exact combination this season. Estimated Pit Window: Every 60-65 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see more notes, codes and facts on my Atlanta Race Info page.(3-17-2006)
Atlanta Rookie Notes: #11-Denny Hamlin was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hamlin finished 10th, taking top rookie honors for the first time this season. A different driver has claimed the honor in each of the first three races. Hamlin scored his best finish of the 2006 season. He racked up the fourth top-10 finish of his 10-race NEXTEL Cup Series career. A rookie has finished in the top 10 in all three NEXTEL Cup Series races this season. #07-Clint Bowyer holds a seven-point advantage over Hamlin and #18-J.J. Yeley (35-28) in the rookie standings entering Atlanta.
Bowyer is the only rookie that ranks in the top 10 in the NEXTEL Cup Series championship standings. He is currently seventh entering the Atlanta event, 14 behind sixth-place Kyle Busch and 151 behind leader Jimmie Johnson. DID YOU KNOW? Robby Gordon is the most recent rookie to win the pole for the 1997 spring race at Atlanta.(Raybestos PR), see more notes and the rookie standings on my 2006 Rookies page.(3-17-2006)
Newman going for a record: #12-Ryan Newman leads all active drivers with six Atlanta Motos Speedway poles, all of them coming in the past six races at the track. Buddy Baker, Newman’s mentor and coach, has a record seven AMS poles. In his eight appearances at AMS, Newman has qualified on the front row for seven of them. In October 2002, qualifying was canceled due to rain, placing Newman sixth on the starting grid. The current record for consecutive poles is held by David Pearson, who earned 11 straight pole positions at Charlotte Motor Speedway [now Lowe’s Motor Speedway] from 1973-1978. Newman’s average AMS start of 1.75 leads all drivers.(Penske Racing)(3-17-2006)
Atlanta Qualifying Notes:
• Kasey Kahne won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the Golden Corral 500, lapping Atlanta Motor Speedway in 28.792 seconds at 192.553 mph. Geoffrey Bodine holds track-qualifying record of 28.074 seconds, 197.478 mph, set Nov. 15, 1997, in the first qualifying session on the current track configuration. Bodine’s lap remains the fastest qualifying lap on a non-restrictor-plate track in NASCAR history.
• This is Kahne’s seventh career Bud Pole in 76 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
• This is his first Bud Pole and second top-10 start in 2006.
• This is Kahne’s first Bud Pole and third top-10 start in five NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway – all in the past three races. He has three top five finishes here.
• Ryan Newman posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 28.794 seconds, 192.540 mph – and will join Kahne on the front row for the Golden Corral 500. It is his ninth top-10 start in as many races at Atlanta – including eight front-row starts. Newman had scored six straight Bud Poles at Atlanta (March 2003 through October 2005). It is his first top-10 starting position since he started second at Homestead last fall.
• Kahne and Newman were the only drivers to break the 192 mph-mark.
• This is the second Bud Pole for Dodge in 2006. Chevrolet and Ford each have one Bud Pole this season.
• Jeff Burton (third) posted his fourth top-10 start of 2006, the only driver to do so. It is only his second top-10 start in 24 races at Atlanta. His previous best start here was 10th in this race in 1998. It was his best qualifying effort since he started second at Bristol in August 2005.
• Bobby Labonte (fourth) posted his 10th top-10 start in 27 races at Atlanta – but his first since he started 10th in this race in 2004. It is Labonte’s second top-10 start this season but his best start since he qualified fifth at Phoenix last November.
• J.J. Yeley (fifth) posted his second top-10 qualifying effort of 2006 – both top fives. He started 36th in his one previous race at Atlanta.
• Kevin Harvick (sixth) posted his first start better than 15th this season and his best since he started sixth at Pocono last July.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(3-17-2006)
Stock Car Fans – Ramblings – Atlanta:
Well, whatcha know! Somebody other than #12-Ryan Newman can take a Bud Pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway. #9-Kasey Kahne grabbed the top-spot tonight at AMS for Sunday’s Golden Corral 500 by all of .002 over the aforementioned Mr. Newman for his first pole since Richmond in May of last year and the 7th of his NEXTEL Cup career. We’ve had four different Bud Pole winners in four races….can we go for a field of 36 next February? [at the Bud Shootout].
#43-Bobby Labonte (4th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 4th at Phoenix last April. #29-Kevin Harvick (6th) has his best starting spot since he had the pole at Richmond last September. #41-Reed Sorenson (15th….and back with his homies this week) tied his career- best starting spot today. He also started 15th at Homestead last November.
#07-Clint Bowyer (16th) has his career-best starting spot for Sunday. His previous best was 20th last week at Las Vegas.
Welcome Bill Lester (19th). He makes his first NEXTEL Cup start on Sunday.
#15-Paul Menard (22nd) has his career-best starting spot this weekend as well. His previous best was 42nd at Watkins Glen last August.
#55-Michael Waltrip (24th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 19th at California last September.
STREAKIN….Jeff Burton has 4 Top-10 starts in a row.
Greg Biffle has 6 Top-10 starts in the last 7 races.
If you’ve been away from TV or the computer today you may have missed the announcement from former Cup driver (and current Truck Series driver) Bobby Hamilton. He’ll be stepping out of his ride after tonight for treatment of cancer in his neck and will be replaced by his son. We all wish Bobby the best and please remember to keep him in your thoughts and prayers as he undergoes treatment.(Stockcarfans.com)(3-17-2006)
News from March 16, 2006
#61 gets sponsors from AMP and Ingles: The #61 Peak Performance Motorsports Ford entry will be sponsored by Mountain Dew’s AMP Energy Drink and Ingles Markets for the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta. Kevin Lepage will receive a boost from that great Mountain Dew citrus taste in the new 16oz. Tall Boy serving. With Maltodextrin, Ginseng, Taurine, B Vitamins, and Guarana, AMP and AMP Tall Boy are the next generation of invigoration. AMP Energy Drinks is proud to continue Pepsi’s partnership with NASCAR, a relationship that spans more than five decades. For more information, visit: www.ampenergy.com.(Peak Performance Motorsports), see an image on my #61 Team Schemes page.(3-16-2006)
Cope & #74 McGlynn Racing to run at Atlanta & Bristol: McGlynn Racing announced Thursday that Derrike Cope and the #74 Dodge will compete in the Golden Corral 500 this weekend in Atlanta as well as the Food City 500 at Bristol the following week. The team had a serious mechanical problem with its hauler while enroute to Las Vegas for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and was unable to compete for a starting spot. “We are still growing as a team and anyone that hopes to make it at this level is going to experience setbacks along the way. We have a great group of sponsors behind us and we want to ensure we represent them well on the track and we intend to do just that, ” said Ray McGlynn, owner of McGlynn Racing. “With the backing of our current sponsors and others in the works, we look forward to each and every race. Our thanks go out to My Guardian 911, Sundance Vacations, Royal Administration and all our team sponsors and our fans for standing behind us.(McGlynn Racing PR)(3-16-2006)
#78 gets help from the Benchwarmers: The Benchwarmers, the new comedy from Adam Sandler and Jack Giarraputo’s Happy Madison Productions and Revolution Studios, will serve as an associate sponsor of the #78 Furniture Row Chevy and driver Kenny Wallace at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which will feature the title of the film on the car’s hood. The Benchwarmers, which will be released nationwide by Columbia Pictures on April 7, tells the story of three underdogs (Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder), once benchwarmers themselves, who form a three-man baseball team to challenge a full squad of elementary school baseball bullies. Their success leads to a high-stakes, winner-take-all game with the best kids in the state where, if they win, they will become an inspiration for every kid who has ever been a benchwarmer. Kenny Wallace will have to speed his way into the Golden Corral 500 by being one of the fastest cars during Friday night’s Qualifying. Expressing the reasoning behind the sponsorship, producer Jack Giarraputo said, “It would be easy to come in and pick one of the top teams to advertise our movie, but that would go against everything the movie’s about. We wanted to show support for one of the underdogs.” The three stars of The Benchwarmers, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Heder, will be on hand to lend their moral support to #78 to overcome the odds, as they will also serve as Grand Marshals of the Golden Corral 500.(Furniture Row Racing PR)(3-16-2006)
Sad News – Helen Rae Daley Smith: Helen Rae Daley Smith, 83, died unexpectedly Thursday, March 9, in her home at the Biltmore Estates in Phoenix, AZ. A beloved mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother and friend to many, she was born Sept. 27, 1922, in Ames. Helen was married for more than 40 years to Clyde B. Smith. This partnership yielded one of the most successful grocery chains in Arizona history, Smitty’s Big Town. She later was married to a retired military officer, Earl Morgan, of Las Vegas. She was the first “lady” NASCAR race team owner. Contributions, in lieu of flowers, can be made to the Geisinger Medical Foundation, 100 N. Academy Avenue, Danville, PA, 17822.( midiowanews.com), drivers included Morgan Shepherd, Ed Sanger, Sterling Marlin and Phil Barkdoll for 11 races in 1985.(3-16-2006)
Riley Technologies leaves Indy for NC: Indianapolis lost one of its major motor sports entities Wednesday when Riley Technologies and its subsidiaries announced plans to move to stock car country in September. Since 1990, the company has built Indy cars, championship-winning sports cars and U.S. Auto Club cars in a facility located a block south of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It has 35 employees, most of whom are expected to move to a new 40,000 square foot facility in Mooresville, NC. Bill Riley, president of Riley Motorsports, said the move is based on a surge in the company’s NASCAR business. Mooresville is home to a large percentage of the Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series teams and suppliers. “We want to strengthen our ties to NASCAR,” said Riley, who leads the company with his father, Bob. “We’re excited for what lies ahead.” Riley Technologies, over which Bob Riley presides, has a road-course testing project with Robert Yates Racing, a NASCAR team. Being in the Charlotte area should afford the company more opportunities in stock car racing, Bill Riley said. Riley Motorsports won the Grand American Daytona Prototype championship last year with drivers Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli. It will continue to work with two Grand Am teams based in Indianapolis (Ganassi and Fernandez). Meanwhile, Bill Riley said a change in the landscape of open-wheel racing has meant less business for the company. “With the IRL and Champ Car becoming more spec series, none of the teams really need our services,” he said. “I grew up in Detroit going to the Indianapolis 500 with my dad, so it does kind of hurt (to leave).”(Indianapolis Star)(3-16-2006)
Blount to the #92: look like Chad Blount has taken over the driving duties for the #92/64 Front Row Motorsports Chevy/Dodge. Blount was supposedly going to run a full-schedule then a partial schedule in the #37 RJ Racing Dodge. Blount is now listed as the #92 driver on the Front Row Motorsports website.(3-16-2006)
News from March 15, 2006
History of African-American Drivers in the NEXTEL Cup Series:
Charlie Scott: Scott made his NASCAR debut in 1956. … Competed in the 1956 beach/road race in Daytona Beach driving for the famed Kiekhaefer Chrysler team. … Was a successful driver in Georgia during the late 1940s and 1950s. … No relation to Wendell Scott.
Wendell Scott: Scott made 495 starts in NASCAR’s premier series, winning over $180,000 in his 12-year career. … Was the 1959 Virginia State NASCAR Sportsman Division champion. Also won track championship at Southside Speedway in Richmond, Va. in 1959. … Made debut in NASCAR’s premier series in 1961. … Won at Jacksonville (Fla.) Speedway Park on Dec. 1, 1963, making him the only African-American driver to win a race in one of NASCAR’s national divisions. … Finished his career with 147 top 10s. … Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.
George Wiltshire: Wiltshire competed in two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events. … Made debut in 1971 at Islip (N.Y.) Speedway. … Also competed at Pocono International Raceway in 1975. … Raced in the NASCAR Sportsman Division in upstate New York in the 1970s.
Randy Bethea: Bethea competed in one NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1975. … Was a popular driver on tracks around the Nashville, Tenn. area in the 1970s. … Competed in the NASCAR Sportsman Division, finishing 16th in points in the state of Tennessee in 1972.
Willy T. Ribbs: Ribbs competed in three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events in 1986 for the famed DiGard team. … Made debut at North Wilkesboro Speedway. … Won several Trans-Am events for Jack Roush in the mid-1980s. … Competed in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2001. Finished 16th in the series standings, winning more than $235,000.(NASCAR Media)(3-15-2006)
Darrell “D.W.” Waltrip’s Dream Comes True: Aaron Rents announced that for the first time ever, Darrell Waltrip will take the wheel from younger brother Michael Waltrip to race the #99 Aaron’s Dream Machine at the upcoming Busch Series race at Martinsville Speedway on the evening of July 22, 2006. NASCAR fans familiar with the Waltrip brothers and their long-standing relationship with Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership know that for years, Michael Waltrip has famously and repeatedly turned down older brother Darrell’s requests to drive the Aaron’s Dream Machine. However, in a surprise announcement made during the final moments of a Darrell Waltrip Roast benefiting the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Tennessee, Darrell’s wife Stevie dramatically handed the three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion one of Michael’s racing helmets along with her permission to drive the #99 Aaron’s Dream Machine during the Martinsville race. Despite the fact that Darrell Waltrip completed what he called his “One and Done” race this past October in the #12 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville, the driver jumped to his feet to accept the helmet and express his thanks at the opportunity that had eluded him until this point. “I can’t believe it,” said Darrell Waltrip. “The Aaron’s ad campaign has been a lot of fun for me over the years, but I seriously thought I would never get to race that car. I really appreciate Michael and Aaron’s and, of course, my wonderful and supportive wife Stevie, for giving me this opportunity. Like they say, Dreams Come True at Aaron’s!” President of Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership Ken Butler stated, “When we let the fans vote on whether or not to let D.W. race the #99 Aaron’s Dream Machine, the response was definitely in favor of letting him drive it. Now we can bring this very successful campaign and very important partnership with the Waltrip family full circle for Aaron’s. I have a great respect for Darrell Waltrip and what he has accomplished in his career, including his 13 previous Busch series wins. We are honored to have him represent Aaron’s behind the wheel in Martinsville.”(more at michaelwaltrip.com)(3-15-2006)
Lester to make Cup debut at Atlanta UPDATE 2:Bill Lester is expected to announce at a Tuesday news conference that he’ll attempt to make the Cup race next weekend at Atlanta in a Bill Davis Racing car [#23?]. If Lester makes the race, he would become the first African-American to compete in a Cup race since Willy T. Ribbs in 1986.(Roanoke Times)(3-12-2006) UPDATE: Lester will attempt to qualify for Sunday’s Nextel Cup Golden Corral 500 in a Bill Davis Racing car sponsored by Waste Management. At stake is a chance to become the first African-American in NASCAR’s premier series since Willy T. Ribbs finished 37th at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 1986. Despite huge growth in attendance and TV ratings the last two decades, NASCAR has lagged in attracting minority fans and competitors. Waste Management will sponsor him in Cup races at Michigan on June 18 and at California Speedway on Sept. 3. Lester said there’s an option for more races. He will be one of an expected 17 drivers vying for eight unprotected spots in the 43-car field at Atlanta.(USA Today)(3-14-2006) UPDATE 2: Truck Series driver Bill Lester will make history this weekend, piloting the #23 Waste Management NASCAR entry for Bill Davis Racing in the Golden Corral 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.(AMS Site)
Lester would become the sixth black driver to compete in NASCAR’s top series since the sport’s inception in 1949. The late Wendell Scott drove in 495 races from 1961-73 with one victory at Jacksonville (Fla.) Speedway in 1963. No other African-American has competed in more than three races. Willy T. Ribbs was the last African-American to race in the Cup series, competing in three races in 1986.(Roanoke Times), see an image on the #23 Team Schemes page.(3-15-2006)
Ranier Racing Museum Grand Opening: The Prestonsburg Convention and Visitors Bureau and The City of Prestonsburg, KY announce thed Grand Opening of the Ranier Racing Museum. The Museum will open Tuesday, March 21st and will be open from 2pm until 7pm with a dedication ceremony taking place at 5:30pm. The Museum will be located in downtown Prestonsburg at the tourism building also known as the old post office at the corner of Court and South Central Avenue. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served and entertainment will be provided. Many prominent racing icons will be in attendance, including Buddy Baker, former Ranier driver and current NASCAR announcer, and Waddell Wilson, former crew chief and famed engine builder. The complete collection of racing memorbilla from Ranier Racing Team will be on permanent display including the 1983 Daytona 500 Championship Trophy. Certain former NASCAR collection cars will be on display for public viewing. Any parties interested in donating or showcasing their Ranier Racing collection may contact the museum directly. Normal operating hours will be weekdays, Monday thru Friday, 9:00am until 4:00pm and certain weekends. Please call 606-886-1341 for more information and group visits. The public is invited to attend the Grand Opening Ceremony and celebrate the history and family of the Ranier Racing Team.(3-15-2005)
Testing at Kentucky: The ongoing evaluation of the Dodge Intrepid versus Charger NEXTEL Cup Series race platforms continued at Kentucky Speedway Tuesday with Penske Racing South driver Kurt Busch the #2 Miller Lite car. Busch visited the 1.5-mile tri-oval to work with spring packages and further explore techniques for enhancing the performance of the 2006 Charger template. “We come here to test because this is the closest track that we can run that gives us information for other racetracks. This place is definitely is the caliber of a Cup facility. Northern Kentucky, the Cincinnati area, everybody wants a Cup race here. We’re studying the way the rear and front springs come down to the racetrack. You don’t want the car to hit the racetrack, you just want to make sure you get the car as low as you can. This place is flat and smooth. We’re trying to get things right for our next race. We had it right at Daytona, but we’ve struggled in the last two races so we’re just coming back and touching up on things,” Busch said. Ryan Newman also participated in the test.(Kentucky Speedway PR), #9Kasey Kahne of Evernham Motorsports is testing today.(3-15-2006)
Brian France sells most of his ISC Stock: NASCAR Chairman Brian France has sold most of his stock in International Speedway Corp., the publicly traded track operating company controlled by his family, but an ISC spokesman said March 9 there is nothing unusual about the action. France didn’t own much of the stock, relatively speaking, in the first place. According to its annual filing of stockholders to the Securities and Exchange Commission, ISC reported March 6 that Brian France had 8,930 shares of Class A stock and 8,033 of Class B stock (.03% of the total voting power). In last year’s report, he had 237,078 shares of Class A and 235,181 of Class B (0.78% voting power). The stock sales happened sometime before Jan. 31.
His sister, ISC President Lesa France Kennedy, also has given up some of her stock. She had 417,404 shares of Class A and 391,718 shares of Class B (1.34% of the total). At the end of last year, she owned 888,812 of Class A and 867,407 shares of Class B (2.9% in voting power).
None of the sales were to anyone outside of the France Family Group (made up of 35 members), which collectively owns 62.95% of the ISC stock and votes as one entity. Members of the France family own stock as part of the France Family Group and also can own shares outside of it. There are transfers all of the time between entities because they’re trying to do estate planning and other things,” ISC Investor Relations Director Wes Harris said. “There’s been no direct sales of the France Family Group stock.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-15-2006)
Fujifilm scheme for #41 at Atlanta: The #41 Dodge will boast a different look in the Golden Coral 500 for driver Reed Sorenson. Fujifilm will serve as the primary sponsor for the event. To coincide with the paint scheme, a Reed Sorenson photo diary will be posted on fujifilm.com, commemorating his homecoming and the week’s events. Additionally, Fujifilm is encouraging fans planning to attend the AMS race to wear Fujifilm green, white and red, or other apparel, in support of Sorenson. Brand ambassadors are set to scour AMS this coming weekend in search of the three most enthusiastic and colorful Reed Sorenson fans, and those chosen will receive a complementary prize package from Fujifilm that includes a FinePix V10 digital camera – the same model used by Sorenson to record his photo diary — a 1GB xD Picture Card and a specially-fitted FinePix V10 camera case.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR), see an image of the car on my #41 Team Schemes page.(3-15-2006)
Final Las Vegas TV Ratings down: Fox says its broadcast of Sunday’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler earned a 6.2 national rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 12 share, drawing 10.3 million viewers. Fox says final Nielsen figures are expected to show that the race was the weekend’s top-rated sports program, easily topping CBS’s NCAA basketball tournament selection show, which earned national figures of 4.6/9. The 6.2/12 for this year’s race, however, is 3.1% lower than last year’s 6.4/14 for the race.(SceneDaily.com)(3-15-2006)
Sacks to attempt Atlanta: The 2006 season begins at Atlanta Speedway for the #13 Ford race team and driver/owner Greg Sacks. The #13 will be using Robert Yates Engines in 2006.(Greg Sacks site), hearing the sponsor will be Who’s Your Daddy energy drink.(3-12-2006) UPDATE: Who’s Your Daddy announced it has entered into a sponsorship agreement to be the exclusive primary sponsor of Sacks Motorsports for the 2006 Nextel Cup Season. Greg Sacks will drive the Who’s Your Daddy #13 Ford, debuting at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Golden Coral 500, this Sunday, March 19, 2006.(Greg Sacks site/BusinessWire)(3-15-2006)
150 starts – Jeff Gordon vs. Jimmie Johnson:
#24-Jeff Gordon, stats after 150 careers starts, Dover in Sept 1997
Top fives: 71
Top tens: 92
Championship 1995, 2nd in 1996
#48-Jimmie Johnson, stats after 150 career starts, Las Vegas in March 2006
Top Fives: 56
Top Tens: 89
2nd drivers points in 2003 and 2004.(3-15-2006)
News from March 14, 2006
Menard to run at Atlanta: Dale Earnhardt Inc. will enter a [#15] car for Busch Series driver Paul Menard in this weekend’s Golden Corral 500 Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Menard was scheduled to drive in seven Cup races in 2006 but failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 after blowing a tire in his Gatorade Duel event. If Menard makes the field, it will be his first oval race in Nextel Cup. Menard’s previous two Cup races were at Watkins Glen. Menard is 17th in the Busch Series points standings [8th if you take out the Buschwackers].(SceneDaily.com)(3-14-2005)
Evernham Motorsports joins effort to find missing woman: Evernham Motorsports president and CEO Ray Evernham announced that the decklid of Jeremy Mayfield’s #19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger will feature a photograph of 24-year-old Jennifer Kesse, missing from the Orlando, Fla., area since Jan. 24, during Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kesse was reported missing when she failed to show up for work on Jan. 24. NASCAR team owner Evernham attended high school with Kesse’s mother Joyce, and felt compelled to help when he heard of the disappearance. Since the search for Kesse began, the Orlando Police Department has received more than 1,000 leads, but officers are still hopeful that someone out there has additional information that can lead to a break in the case. For more information about Jennifer Kesse, please visit jenniferkesse.com. Anyone with information concerning her disappearance, please call 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).(3-14-2006)
NASCAR HOF name won’t be for sale: Buried deep in the 63rd page of a contract between NASCAR and the city of Charlotte is the phrase: “Neither party shall sell any naming rights or presenting sponsorship for the HOF without the other party’s prior approval.” OK, we know. That doesn’t exactly eliminate the possibility. NASCAR doesn’t want a bunch of corporate names getting in the way of the clearly stated “NASCAR Hall of Fame.”
“We think that would probably go beyond the bounds of good taste,” said Mark Dyer, NASCAR’s vice president of licensing. “We didn’t want to have a particular corporate name on it, because we wanted the purity of the NASCAR name,” said Tim Newman, who heads the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which will own and operate the Hall of Fame.(Kansas City Star)(3-14-2006)
Wiley X Eyewear donates to USO: In commemorating its first primary sponsorship in NASCAR when they sponsored #14-Sterling Marlin in the MB2 Motorsports Chevy at Las Vegas, Wiley X Eyewear donated 500 pairs of its revolutionary High Velocity Protection tactical goggles along with a check for $5,000 to the United Service Organizations (USO) to support the American men and women in uniform serving overseas. Making the presentation prior to Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was Myles Freeman Jr., vice president and co-owner Wiley X Eyewear, Sterling Marlin, MB2 driver and Myles Freeman, president and owner of Wiley X Eyewear.(MB2Motorsports PR)(3-14-2006)
Stewart on Whips:· Wednesday, March 15 – Unique Whips … Speed Channel’s popular celebrity car customizing show, Unique Whips, takes on NASCAR as Will Castro and his team get a pair of special projects from NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champ Tony Stewart – including a Cadillac hearse, airs Wednesday, March 15 at 10:00pm/et.(SC), see TV Listing page for other air dates/times.(3-14-2006)
News from March 13, 2006
Some Book News: The Lawrence Group publishes the officially licensed NASCAR 2006 Road Atlas. It includes Locations of all NASCAR Sanctioned Tracks, Maps of all 50 States, Major City Insets, Maps of Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico, NASCAR Information, Cup Location Insets, Fun NASCAR Facts, Perfect for corporate giveaways, premiums and incentives! AND Big John’s Speedway Grill: Fascinating interviews and behind-the-pit grilling stories with celebrity drivers including Kyle Petty, Sterling Marlin, and others. No-nonsense grilling recipes, including rib-tickling appetizers, entrées, sides, and desserts, each illustrated with full-color photos guaranteed to make mouths water. An insider’s guide to the NASCAR racetrack—chock-full of track lore related by a man with years of experience in the NASCAR pits. Organized by geographical regions—Big John’s authentic voice enlivens each region’s personality, folding in his favorite restaurants and hot spots, racetrack stories, and regionally styled recipes loaded with fresh, local ingredients. Big John’s most successful grilling hints and tips, including super shortcuts and flavor boosters. AND Checkered Flag Cooking: An Insider’s Guide to Tailgating at the Races: From NASCAR to your local dirt track, Kent “The Deck Chef” Whitaker has combined his love for great cooking with his passion for motor sports to bring you this complete insider’s guide to tailgating, grilling, race day cookouts and more. BOOK SIGNING #5-Kyle Busch is scheduled to sign copies of the book Pit Road Pets in Atlanta.
For more info on these books, other books, the Busch signing……see my Racing Bookstore page.(3-13-2006)
Johnson’s 3 race run historical: #48-Jimmie Johnson has two wins and a second-place finish in the first three races of the season – the best start in NASCAR history. In the process, he became the 16th driver to win two of the first three races to start the season. The only reason he doesn’t have a big lead in the Nextel Cup Series standings is Matt Kenseth’s success. He’s got a win, a second and a 15th. Johnson leads Kenseth by 52 points heading into Sunday’s Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A year ago, seven of the top 10 drivers in the standings after the Las Vegas race went onto qualify for the Chase for the Championship. Five drivers – Ryan Newman (18th), Tony Stewart (19th), Kurt Busch (22nd), Carl Edwards (23rd) and Greg Biffle (25th) – were in last year’s Chase and find themselves playing catch-up. Johnson joins Marshall Teague (1952), Herb Thomas (1954, 3 of 1st 4), Lee Petty (1955, 3 of 1st 5), Marvin Panch (1957), Bob Welborn (1959), Jim Paschal (1963), Richard Petty (1969, 1972 and 1973),
David Pearson (1976. 2 wins & 29th),
Cale Yarborough (1977, 2 wins & 2nd),
Darrell Waltrip (1980, 2 wins & 40th and 1989, 2 wins & 29th),
Dale Earnhardt (1987, 5th & 2 wins),
Neil Bonnett (1988, 4th & 2 wins),
Bill Elliott (1992 27th & 2 wins & 4 of 5 and after 5 races he DIDn’t lead the points),
Jeff Gordon (1997, 2 wins & 4th) and
Matt Kenseth (2004, 9th & 2 wins) as drivers who’ve won two of the first three races of the season.(Augusta Chronicle)(3-13-2006)
Dodge to lobby NASCAR for help: Dodge plans to lobby NASCAR officials for help with its cars by the Texas race in April, said John Fernandez, director of Dodge Motorsports Operations. The Dodge Charger has struggled since its 2005 debut. Teams and drivers complain that it doesn’t handle well in traffic and prevents them from getting to the front. NASCAR rejected Dodge’s request for a rule change last season to help the Charger. Fernandez said Sunday morning before the race that Las Vegas was a critical test for his teams. He says that he and other Dodge officials are trying to figure which front end is better, the Charger or the Intrepid. The key area is between where the headlights would be. “Inherently, the [Charger] is what we thought it was,” Fernandez said. “The question is we’ve got a little aerodynamic imbalance … in traffic in the Cup conditions. We’ve come a long way. If we got a little bit of help from NASCAR, I think we’d get over the hump on that.” Fernandez said that he could lobby NASCAR for a rule change to help the Dodge before the Texas race if officials know what they want to request. Fernandez also said that Dodge is not planning to have a test with its teams. Dodge had a test scheduled a few weeks ago at Kentucky Speedway but that was canceled by snow. There was talk of a test after Las Vegas, but Fernandez said that race conditions offer the best test opportunity. Fernandez admits he’s “nervous” about NASCAR’s car of the future. The car is scheduled to make its debut at Bristol in March 2007, but series officials have yet to tell teams and manufacturers the exact specifications of the car. Fernandez said that he thinks NASCAR is settling on a rear wing for that car. “I’m a little bit nervous,” Fernandez said of NASCAR’s delay. “I think that we’ve got a long way to go to perfect that car and make sure it’s a good, safe product. We still have some development to do with the car, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve had some teething problems with it, there’s no doubt about that.”(Roanoke Times)(3-13-2006)
GWC factoid: There have been 15 green-white-checkered [GWC] finishes in NASCAR [Nextel Cup] history, and only four times has the leader lost the lead on those final two laps.
#17-Matt Kenseth led 146 laps at Las Vegas in 2006, #48-Jimmie Johnson passed him at the line and won by 1/2 a car length, only leading 1 lap to win.
#17-Matt Kenseth led at Talladega in Oct 2005, Dale Jarrett passed
#16-Greg Biffle won at Darlington after #12-Ryan Newman led heading into the green-white-checkered in May 2005
Biffle won the final race of 2004 when #20-Tony Stewart had fuel problems at Homestead.(3-12-2006)
Cup team considering move to Indy? UPDATE Evernham Denies: in a Darrell Waltrip column at FoxSports: “by the way I was in Indy this past week on some business. There’s a rumor going around that some big NASCAR team was thinking about moving to Indianapolis, and I was talking to some folks who may have given me an inside track on who it might be. It’s a guy that’s got three cars and no crew chiefs, if that helps you any.”(FoxSports), no crew chiefs? Evernham Motorsports uses Team Directors…not crew chiefs.(1-6-2006) UPDATE Evernham denies: Team owner Ray Evernham said Sunday morning that there was absolutely no truth to the rumors that he was considering relocating his team from Statesville, N.C., to the Indianapolis area. The state of Indiana has been trying to lure teams to the Hoosier state, but Evernham said he wouldn’t even consider leaving his current location, which abuts an airport and houses the rapidly growing Evernham Motorsports operation. “I have not talked to anybody at Indy,” Evernham said Sunday morning. “We have no intention of moving Evernham Motorsports. We’re more than happy where we’re at. And actually, it’s been distracting to the team because I had a lot of people coming up and asking me about it. I have no idea where that even came from.”(Speed Channel)(3-13-2006)
HOF Racing not to appeal ruling: Bill Saunders, co-owner and general partner of the #96 Hall of Fame Racing team, said Sunday the team will not use its final appeal to try to overturn penalties imposed by NASCAR for a technical violation in Daytona 500 qualifying. NASCAR inspectors found an unapproved carburetor modification was used in the #96 DLP Chevy. A three-member panel from the National Stock Car Racing Commission last week unanimously upheld the NASCAR ruling, including a $25,000 fine to crew chief Philippe Lopez and loss of 25 points by both driver Terry Labonte and Saunders, listed as owner of the car and a co-owner of the new team with former NFL quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. The team could have appealed that ruling to NASCAR commissioner Charles D. Strang.(ESPN.com/AP)(3-13-2006)
Tire War coming? Another Goodyear-Hoosier tire war may be brewing behind the scenes, with reports that Hoosier engineers are testing new tires with Nextel Cup teams and trying to baseline those tires on some specific compounds and designs, to mimic the Goodyears. One test was reported to have been held in the past week or so at Kentucky Motor Speedway, and the next test is reported to be scheduled for Nashville, both apparently with Dodge drivers. It is unclear which NASCAR Cup teams might be running the tests with Hoosier, and Hoosier’s Bob Newton could not be reached for comment.(more at the Winston-Salem Journal)(3-13-2006)
Overnight ratings for Las Vegas slip: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earned an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 5.4 and a 10 share, 6.9% lower than the 5.8/12 for 2005 race, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports.(SceneDaily.com)(3-13-2006)
News from March 12, 2006
Johnson beats Kenseth at Vegas: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a last lap pass during a Green-White-Checkered finish, beating #17-Matt Kenseth by 1/2 a car length. Kenseth led 146 of the 270 laps and Johnson led 1, the most important one, the final lap. The win is Johnson’s 2nd of 2006 [in 3 races], 2nd in a row at Las Vegas and 20th career win in 150 starts [13%]. Johnson has 2 wins and a 2nd this season, now leads Kenseth in the points by 52 points. #5-Kyle Busch finished 3rd [and tangled with #20-Stewart again], followed by #9-Kasey Kahne and #24-Jeff Gordon. Johnson is the first driver to win a Cup race from a top-5 starting spot [3rd]. 2005 Nextel Cup champ, #20-Tony Stewart was in the top-5 most of the day until late contact with the wall slowed him to 21st. #42-Casey Mears, who fell from 2nd in drivers points to 4th, still was able to finish 9th, he and Johnson are the only drivers who have top-10’s in all three races so far in 2006. There were 7 cautions for 30 laps. There were 22 lead changes with 11 leaders. Race Results on my Las Vegas Race Results/Awards Page. Points Standings on my Drivers/Owners Points after Las Vegas page. Race Rundown: see my Las Vegas Race Info/Rundown Page for my race rundown page, laps led, top 10, race notes, lucky dogs and more.(3-12-2006)
Las Vegas Race News and Notes:
• Jimmie Johnson won the 2006 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, scoring his 20th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 150th career start.
• Johnson won the $30,000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Leader Bonus for winning the race and leading the points.
• Johnson’s last victory came at Daytona two races ago.
• Johnson became the first driver to score a victory at Las Vegas from a top-five starting position.
• Johnson scored his third top-five finish in three races this season.
• It was his second Las Vegas victory in five races here. Johnson also won here in 2005.
• Nineteen of Johnson’s 20 victories have come on superspeedways.
• Johnson moved into 30th on NASCAR’s all-time winners list, tied with Speedy Thompson.
• Johnson finished fifth in the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings and has ranked first after all three races in 2006. Johnson took the point lead after this race one year ago.
• Johnson led only once, leading the final lap, the fewest laps led by a race winner at Las Vegas.
• It was Johnson’s third top-10 finish in five races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
• Johnson has won at least one race each season 2002– 2006, five consecutive years.
• Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one race each season 1986-2006, 21 consecutive years.
• This was team owner Rick Hendrick’s 142nd NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory. Hendrick has scored three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories in the nine races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Notebook Items
• Jimmie Johnson (first) has finished first, second and first in the first three races in 2006 and remained first in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings. Johnson has ranked among the top-10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings for 72 straight races, a streak that began after race No. 4 at Atlanta in March 2004.
• Matt Kenseth (second) has finished in the top-10 in the last four races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Kenseth climbed from third to second in the point standings. One year ago he ranked 28th after three races.
• Matt Kenseth led the most laps in the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400. The last time he led the most laps in a race was at Texas last November. His 146 laps led were the most by a non-race winner at Las Vegas.
• Kyle Busch (third) scored his second top-five finish in three races at Las Vegas Speedway.
• Kasey Kahne (fourth) also scored his second top-five finish in three races at Las Vegas Speedway. It is his second top-five finish in 2006.
• Jeff Gordon (fifth) scored his fourth top-five finish in nine races at Las Vegas. It was his first top-10 finish in 2006.
• Denny Hamlin (10th) was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender.
• Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contender Clint Bowyer (15th) has scored top-15 finishes in all three races in 2006.
• All seven of the 2006 Raybestos Rookie-of-the Year contenders have competed in all three races in 2006 and two scored top-15 finishes in today’s race.
• Joe Nemechek (13th) has been running at the finish in the last 35 races, a streak that began at Bristol last April, the longest current streak.(Provided by NASCAR Statistical Services)(3-12-2006)
Stockcarfans.com – Rumblings – Las Vegas: That banking can’t come soon enough…. We had a race that went 270 laps today….and the only two laps that were worth watching were the two we weren’t supposed to see. Jimmie Johnson got by Matt Kenseth on the outside of turn 4 on the final lap today to win the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 405 by an eyelash…..leading all of about 50 yards of the race! The win was the second of the season for Johnson and the 20th of his NEXTEL Cup career. He’s now tied for 30th on the all-time win list with Speedy Thompson. Win #142 for Hendrick Motorsports was also their 3rd at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the second in a row for Johnson here. Matt Kenseth dominated most of the day leading five times for 146 laps, but came up short at the end.
Joe Nemechek (13th) had his best finish since he was 4th at Lowe’s last October.
STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races. Casey Mears has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races.
The Rookie Report: Three races in and three different Rookies in the top-spot. Today it was Denny Hamlin (10th), followed by Clint Bowyer (15th), J. J. Yeley (17th), Martin Truex Jr (20th), David Stremme (33rd), Brent Sherman (34th), and Reed Sorenson (40th).
This Week’s Elevator…UP: Operator of the Week is Casey Mears (+29) followed by Robby Gordon (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Ryan Newman (-32). About as much action in the “Shaft” this week as there was on the track.
Three races into the season and we’ve had 23 different drivers lead a lap…..last year we had 27 in the first three events.
Every position in the Top-10 in points changed hands….except the leader. Jimmie Johnson retains the points lead (he’s been there from the start) while Matt Kenseth moves into second.
The best move forward today came from Greg Biffle (38th to 25th)….Ryan Newman went 11 spots in the opposite direction (7th to 18th).(Stockcarfans.com)(3-12-2006)
Ash to make more attempts: #02-Brandon Ash, who attempted to make the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but missed, plans to attempt races in the #02 2004 Dodge Intrepid at Phoenix (both), then Richmond (both), Dover (both), Infineon Raceway, Chicago, Watkins Glenn, California, Kansas and Martinsville (Oct).(brandonashracing.com)(3-12-2006)
#32 Fire: Been told the #32 Tide Chevy caught fire in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway garage this morning when the team was warming up the engine, supposedly a loose oil line caused the problem…besides blowing out all the fire retardant to put out the fire..team is replacing some heat shields and will not change motors or have to go to the back.(PRN’s Garage Pass)(3-12-2006)
News from March 11, 2006
Petty movie is back on: The Disney-backed movie on Richard Petty is on again and filming could start this fall or early spring 2007, said Bill Scott of Petty Enterprises. The movie was expected to be filmed in either 2004 or 2005, but that changed after the script was rejected. Scott said the script has been rewritten, and movie officials are revising it. Scott said actor Dennis Quaid is scheduled to play Lee Petty.(Roanoke Times)(3-11-2006)
Tire Testing at Lowe’s coming up: The repaving at Lowe’s Motor Speedway is expected to be finished this weekend. Goodyear has scheduled a tire test there March 28 and 29. Scheduled to test are #21-Ken Schrader, #29-Kevin Harvick, #10-Scott Riggs and #43-Bobby Labonte, along with Bobby Hamilton in his Craftsman Truck.(Roanoke Times)(3-11-2006)
Pilot Truck Driver Challenge – On the Road Again: The Pilot Truck Driver Challenge is on again for 2006, the Truck Driver Challenge showcases team transport drivers to demonstrate why they are the best truck drivers on the road. With the responsibility of driving millions of dollars in equipment from the team shop to the track, owners demand the best, and these drivers will prove that claim. Categories in the Truck Driver Challenge will put the driver’s skills to the test as they compete for a grand prize of $50,000. New faces around the garage will introduce some transport drivers to the challenge for the first time. Timmy Rogers and DeWayne Zirkle, rookie drivers for Petty Enterprises, will be competing in the challenge as they enter their first full season in the Nextel Cup. Veteran drivers such as Peter Jellen of Joe Gibbs Racing and Bill Lewis of Penske Racing are out to prove experience can hammer down the enthusiasm of the younger drivers. With the theme of safe and responsible truck driving, new categories will be added in the 2006 challenge. Drivers will be required to complete two safety quizzes, as well as a team event, where they will be partnered with another competitor. During this category, drivers will work together using hand signals and voice commands to navigate obstacles. The popular Chicane Courses will again be a part of this year’s challenge with three courses scheduled for competition. The dates and locations are:
1. Florence Civic Center, Florence, SC – Thursday, May 11
2. Knights Baseball Stadium, Fort Mills, SC – Monday, May 22
3. Sears Mall, Bristol, TN – Thursday, August 24
2006 promises to be an exciting season as the Nextel Cup team hauler drivers try to prove who is the best of the best. Defending champion Franky Nester of Richard Childress Racing will be defending the crown as the Pilot Truck Driver Challenge Champion. Each week the drivers will tackle a different category of the challenge in their quest to take home the title, and walk away with the $50,000 check when the Challenge winner is announced in Atlanta.(PR)(3-11-2006)
Down to NONE: With #15-Michael Waltrip, #99 Domino’s Chevy, not qualifying for the Busch race, it leaves just #01/#87-Joe Nemechek as the only driver who has started every NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch race ever held at LVMS.(LVMS.com Pit Notes PR)(3-12-2005) NONE: Nemechek did not run in the 2006 Busch race, so no drivers have ran all the Busch and Cup races at Vegas.(3-11-2006)
News from March 10, 2006
Kyle Busch speaks about Mexico: #5-Kyle Busch admitted he lost patience last weekend in Mexico City when he and #15-Michel Jourdain Jr. got together while racing for the lead on lap 54. “I lost a little bit of that (patience) last weekend in trying to get back to the lead. I was worried too much about what was going on behind me. I knew Denny (Hamlin) was fast. I knew Boris Said was fast. I tried to get to the lead so I could try to pull away. But knowing there would be more cautions at the end of the race, I should have known better.” Busch says he and big brother Kurt talked about it this week while running four-wheelers on the Nevada sand dunes.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(3-10-2006)
No Honda in NASCAR? Honda Racing president Robert Clarke was asked this week if Honda will follow archrival Toyota into NASCAR. “I never say never,” Clarke said. “I’ve learned that in this business. But we have no immediate or near-term plans to get into NASCAR. We are quite occupied with our activity in the IRL.” Honda is the only engine supplier for the IRL this season because of the departure of Toyota and Chevrolet.(Dallas Morning News)(3-10-2006)
Motocross champ Carmichael looking to NASCAR: Motorcross racer, Ricky Carmichael, may trade in his two-wheel ride for NASCAR’s four-wheel variety, perhaps as soon as 2008. He has a friend, mentor and supporter in Kasey Kahne, who spent last Saturday — on a rare weekend off from Nextel Cup — hanging out with Carmichael at the AMA Supercross at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Kahne and Carmichael are the same age (26) and share the same passion for racing, having met at the Daytona 500 in 2004 and immediately becoming friends. That friendship has helped increase Carmichael’s interest in four-wheel racing. Kahne offered to set up a taste of driving a stock car last summer and Carmichael accepted. They went to the one-third mile, semi-banked Hickory Speedway in North Carolina, a classic short track where many NASCAR drivers have run before they hit the big time. Ray Evernham, Kahne’s Cup team owner, provided a late model and went along to oversee the preparation. Kahne drove to set it up. Carmichael not only didn’t hit the wall, but also put in some good laps for a guy driving a stock car for the first time. “Ricky did a great job,” Kahne said. “He did it right. We had a lot of fun.” The experience convinced Carmichael that driving in NASCAR is something he intends to pursue. “It’s a dream of mine, for sure,” he said.(more at CNNSI)(3-10-2006)
Speed adds Drew Johnson to Speed News Team: Speed VP of Studio Production Chris Long announced that Drew Johnson will join Bob Varsha and Connie LeGrand at the SPEED News anchor desk beginning immediately. “We went through dozens of audition tapes and really liked what we saw with Drew,” Long said. “He has the racing knowledge, the look and the charisma to energize the show a little bit. He’s a strong addition to an already talented team.” Johnson, 29, comes to SPEED after working as a sports director at local affiliates in Palm Springs, Calif., and Terre Haute, Ind. Prior to his management positions, Johnson covered sprint car and modified racing at tracks throughout the Midwest, and provided trackside radio reports for multiple events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “For a race fan, getting a job at SPEED is like going to work in a toy store,” Johnson said. “With all of the energy and all of the events going on, it’s great to be surrounded by so much experience in broadcasting and motor sports. It’s a real honor.” An avid go-kart racer, Johnson has enjoyed recreational seat time in Dirt Modifieds and sprint cars.(Speed Channel PR)(3-10-2006)
Fox bringing Cablecam to NASCAR: Fox officials say the network is bringing its popular Cablecam for Sunday’s coverage of the UAW-DaimlerChrylser 400 Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The high-definition camera, made popular by NFL on Fox, will be suspended above the track by a system of cables, puleys and computer-controlled winches. The camera moves within a 250,000-square-foot area covering the front stretch, the start/finish line and pit road at LVMS. This will be the first regular-season NASCAR event in which the Cablecam is used.(SceneDaily.com)(3-10-2006)
#74 Withdraws: Derrike Cope was planning on driving the #74 McGlynn Racing Dodge an Las Vegas until some unfortunate news came his way. On Thursday, Cope updated derrikecope.com with: “My update for Las Vegas is a disappointing one. I am here in Las Vegas, but I just got word that the Transporter has broken down and will not make it here for this weekend. It is unfortunate for all of us, but they got out of town late and with this happening it is impossible for them to get here in time. I just spoke to Ray McGlynn [owner] and the sponsor and they said that we will just have to rebound and get ready to go to Atlanta next week. I will give you an update next week prior to leaving for Atlanta.”(derrikecope.com)(3-10-2006)
Biffle wins pole at Las Vegas: #16-Greg Biffle won the pole for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a lap of 172.403 mph for his first pole of 2006, 2nd of his career and first since Daytona in Feb. 2005, 73 races ago, putting Biffle in the 2007 Budweiser Shootout. #20-Tony Stewart will start on the outside pole after running 172.068, followed by #48-Jimmie Johnson, #5-Kyle Busch and #9-Kasey Kahne. The rest of the top-10: #2-Busch, #01-Nemechek, Jeff Burton in the #31 Cingular Chevy, #17-Kenseth, and #25-Vickers. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 42nd after having a very loose car and almost loosing it a couple times. #10-Scott Riggs made the race, qualifying 22nd, being the highest starting non top-35 driver to make the race. Riggs had a scare when his throttle stick before he left pit road, the crew was able to get it unstuck so Riggs could make his run. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were Riggs, #61-Lepage, #7-Gordon, #32-Kvapil [after missing last weeks race], #78-KWallace, #96-TLabonte, #4-Wimmer and #34-Chaffin. Missing the race were: #95-Barrett, #00-Sadler, #64-LaJoie, #89-Shepherd, #37-Skinner and #02-Ash. See the qualifying results/starting lineup on my Las Vegas Qualifying/Grid Page.(3-10-2006)
News from March 9, 2006
Company to put Junior Johnson’s life on film: Junior Johnson’s life story could soon become a movie, says Fred Griffith of Follow Your Dreams Productions, Inc., a Beverly Hills, Calif., motion picture company that has signed a rights deal for the former NASCAR legend’s life story. The movie is to depict Johnson’s life as a moonshine hauler and NASCAR race driver. Griffith, an actor and producer from South Carolina, is currently adapting a screenplay based largely on the book, “Junior Johnson, Brave In Life,” written by Tom Higgins and Steve Waid. Veteran actor and producer Chris Mulkey (“Radio”) is a writing producer for the film. The film will show what Johnson has overcome in his life to become a NASCAR legend with 50 victories in his driving career. It will also depict his often-dangerous career as a moonshiner who hauled illegal whiskey throughout the Southeast for many years.(SceneDaily.com), back in 1973, the movie “The Last Amerian Hero” aired, it was based on Tom Wolfe’s magazine article, this film follows the unlikely career of race car driver Junior Johnson in which Jeff Bridges starred as Johnson, but the character was named Junior Jackson. The real Junior Johnson served as technical advisor on the film.(3-9-2006)
Ward Receives State Conservation Award: The A. Willis Robertson Award was first established in the year 2000 and is awarded annually to the Virginia citizen who has exercised outstanding conservation practices on his/her own land or who has made significant contributions to conservation activities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This year’s recipient was Ward Burton, 2002 Daytona Winner and Halifax County conservationist. The award was granted by the state biologist professional organization, known as the Wildlife Society, Virginia Chapter. Its members are 10,000 strong nationally. Ward Burton is the founder and President of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation. See full story at wardburton.com.(3-9-2006)
Congrats: to Danielle Frye, MRN reporter and wife of MB2 Motorsports [#01, #14, #36] CEO and general manager Jay Frye, gave birth March 8th to daughter Emerson Daye at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Emerson weighed in at 7 pounds, 2 ounces and was 19.5 inches long. Emerson joins 2-year-old sister Addison Rece in the Frye household.(3-9-2006)
Congrats II: MB2 motorsports Parts coordinator, K.C. Brooks and his wife Niki who is employed at Wachovia bank in charlotte, welcomed baby girl Kaylee Nicole on Monday, Feb 27th@ 7:26am weighing 6lbs. 3oz. and was 20 inches long.(3-9-2006)
ESPN following Kurt Busch: Kurt Busch will take an ESPN film crew around his hometown of Las Vegas this week. “It won’t be what you might think,” says ESPN feature producer, Jeremy Louwerse. “You probably won’t see a single clip of The Strip or what Las Vegas is most famous for. Our intent is to go back and take a look at Kurt’s roots – the neighborhood where the 2004 NASCAR champ grew up, his high school, his favorite fast food joint – all the local color he experienced growing up in Las Vegas before making it big time in racing.” The feature is set to first air on Friday morning’s popular ESPN2 program, Cold Pizza. The two-hour, weekday morning show airs live from New York City between 10 a.m. -12 noon. The program is hosted by Jay Crawford and Dana Jacobson.(Tom Roberts PR)(3-9-2006)
Ice Age II on the #5 at Vegas: Kyle Busch’s #5 Chevy will sport an “Ice Age: The Meltdown” paint scheme in this weekend’s NEXTEL Cup event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The film will premiere March 31 in theaters across the country.(Hendrick Motorsports PR), see an image of the car on my #5 Team Schemes page.(3-9-2006)
Snap-On Tools extends with DEI: Snap-on announced they have extended their sponsorship commitment with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. With this multi-year contract renewal, Snap-on will serve as an associate sponsor to DEI. “Snap-on has played an important role in our team’s success through the years,” said Teresa Earnhardt, president and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. “This long-term renewal reaffirms the strong relationship that Snap-on and DEI enjoy. We look forward to our continued partnership with Snap-on and its quality tools.”
“Snap-on Tools has been a part of the DEI family since my father began racing,” said Dale Earnhardt, Jr. “Their products have been in our shops for decades and we rely on them to help us win races. They’ve been a solid partner through the years, and it’s great we can continue working with them well into the future.” DEI is currently comprised of four teams – the #1 Bass Pro Shops, #8 Budweiser and the #15 Menard’s Chevy teams which compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. They also field the #11 Menard’s Chevy in the NASCAR Busch Series. Snap-on franchisees build relationships and distribute products directly to technicians via the Snap-on van, which has remained an icon for the company since the mid 1940s. In addition, products are sold directly to consumers via snapon.com.(Ogilvy PR)(3-9-2006)
NASCAR OK with Roush’s 6th team: Jack Roush says he had no problems asking NASCAR for a part-time sixth team to run Todd Kluever [#06 3M Ford] in seven races in 2006 in preparation for his rookie season in 2007. When NASCAR announced its four-car cap for every owner last November, NASCAR President Mike Helton indicated an owner could field a fifth part-time car for a rookie. Roush has five full-time teams, and NASCAR has said it would not force him to break any contracts to get down to four. Roush didn’t have to lobby for approval for the extra races for Kluever, since NASCAR had already indicated that a part-time rookie would not count against the cap. “Our five cars are OK for the time being, and with Todd being a rookie deal, we got the same considerations [others would],” Roush says. “They offered me to start with that I was good if I needed to do that.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-9-2006)
Gordon gets waxed in Vegas UPDATE:Madame Tussauds Las Vegas will make Jeff Gordon just the second auto racing figure to grace its SPEED attraction when it unveils a life-sized wax attraction of “The Rainbow Warrior” at 2:00pm/pt, Wednesday, March 8, at Madame Tussauds at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, 3377 Las Vegas Boulevard South. SPEED is an interactive attraction dedicated to auto racing that was opened in August 2005 with a meticulously recreated $200,000 wax figure of Dale Earnhardt, the legendary “Intimidator” of NASCAR. Gordon will now join Earnhardt in the attraction. Adrian Jones, general manager of Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, Chris Powell, general manager of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will participate in the unveiling of the Gordon figure. The figure of Gordon will be unveiled in an official driving uniform and be situated in a high-energy, winning setting of Victory Lane. Visitors will be able to stand next to the figure and feel the sights and sounds of one of the most thrilling moments in NASCAR history.(Madame Tussauds Las Vegas PR)(3-7-2006) UPDATE: Jeff Gordon became only the second auto racing figure to be immortalized in Madame Tussauds Las Vegas SPEED attraction when his life-sized wax attraction was unveiled in special ceremonies at Madame Tussauds on The Las Vegas Strip. Joining in pre-race activities for this Sunday¹s (March 12) NASCAR UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Madame Tussauds introduced Gordon¹s meticulously re-created $200,000 figure, complete with driver¹s uniform, into SPEED¹s Victory Lane. Gordon joins the legendary “Intimidator,” the late Dale Earnhardt, whose wax figure christened the SPEED attraction in August 2005. Adrian Jones, general manager of Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, and Chris Powell, general manager of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, unveiled Gordon¹s wax figure. Like all Madame Tussauds¹ attractions, Gordon¹s figure is interactive. Fans and visitors can stand next to it and be photographed while experiencing the sights and sounds of NASCAR. Although he was precluded from attending the unveiling ceremony by prior commitments during race week, Gordon said he was very honored to be immortalized by Madame Tussauds. Madame Tussauds Las Vegas is open seven days a week. For attraction hours and pricing, call 702-862-7800, or visit online at www.mtvegas.com.(PR)(3-9-2006)
Fisher may run Indy 500: Sarah Fisher, the first female racer to win an Indy-car pole position and the IRL’s most popular driver from 2000-2003 who was basically abandoned by the series, is supposedly also in line to get an Indy drive in May. “I’m still working on a Busch East ride with Richard Childress for this season but the month of May is open,” replied Fisher with a chuckle when asked about the rumor. “I don’t know at this point because I haven’t had any conversations with any teams. But if the right opportunity came along, sure I’d love to run Indy again and I hope it happens.”(Speed Channel)(3-9-2006)
Air Force to Fly NASCAR Stars at Las Vegas: Kenny Schrader and Jon Wood will receive U.S. Air Force fighter orientation flights at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada on Thursday March 9. Schrader, current driver of the NEXTEL Cup #21 Wood Brothers Racing Team, will fly with the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, Thunderbirds. Wood, this year’s Busch series #47 driver for JTG Racing, will fly with the 57th Wing.(Air Force PR)(3-9-2006)
News from March 8, 2006
Celebrity Crew Chief for Robby at Vegas: To launch Harrah’s Entertainment’s premier event of the 2006 season with Robby Gordon Motorsports, nine-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Hellmuth, Jr., will bring his best bluff and tough call tactics to the No. 7 Harrah’s team as celebrity crew chief for the 400-mile event in the Vegas desert. With Hellmuth by his side, crew chief Greg Erwin hopes to raise the odds for the team to cash in on their first win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Sunday’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 is the first event of the 2006 campaign where Harrah’s will be the primary sponsor of the #7 Chevy. Jim Beam, Menard’s and CarLoan.com will serve as associate sponsors.(Robby Gordon Motorsports PR)(3-8-2006)
Special Schemes for #9 and #19 at Vegas: #9-Kasey Kahne and #19-Jeremy Mayfield’s Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Chargers will run special paint schemes in Sunday’s UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Flames [DW will be happy] will extend down the length of each car and the hoods will feature the race logo for the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400.(Clear!Blue/Evernham MS PR), ni images to post..yet.(3-8-2006)
Nicorette scheme for the #24 at Vegas: Nicorette nicotine gum will be featured for the very first time in a special car paint scheme with four-time series champion Jeff Gordon driving the #24 Nicorette Fresh Mint Chevy at this weekend’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Nicorette gum, NicoDerm CQ patches and Commit lozenges combine for the only smoking cessation sponsorship in NASCAR history. This innovative program includes season-long sponsorships with Gordon and rookie-of-the-year candidate Reed Sorenson. The sponsorship also includes NASCAR’s “Commit to Win” NEXTEL Cup Contingency Award and sponsorships with Richard & Kyle Petty. The sponsorship also includes the first-of-its-kind “QUIT Crew” program that provides smoking cessation counseling to NASCAR teams and fans. Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Petty Enterprises have already enrolled in the program. NASCAR fans can experience the “QUIT Crew” program at the Winner’s Circle Exhibit, an interactive, entertaining exhibit open to race fans Frdiay – Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Fan Walk . Free smoking cessation counseling will be provided to NASCAR fans at the exhibit. For more information, log on to quit2winracing.com.(Lighthouse Marketing PR), see many images of the car on my #24 Team Schemes page, the scheme will also run at Atlanta in October.(3-8-2006)
HOF Racing appeal denied: Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach’s #96 Hall of Fame Racing team will have to live with its Daytona penalty. The team’s appeal was denied Tuesday by a three-person review panel of the National Stock Car Racing Commission at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, NC. HOF Racing’s #96 DLP Chevy team was penalized 25 championship points and crew chief Philippe Lopez was fined $25,000 on Feb. 21 for using a carburetor that didn’t meet regulations during qualifying for the Daytona 500. The team appealed the decision because the carburetor and engine came from Joe Gibbs Racing, which is supplying equipment to HOF. HOF officials didn’t have a comment after the verdict was announced. The points penalty is costly for HOF because the team needs to stay in the top 35 in the standings to have a guaranteed spot in the field at each Nextel Cup race. Terry Labonte, who is driving the car for the first five races, ranks 31st after the first two events. But the team would rank 26th if not for the points deduction. Labonte has a guaranteed spot as a past Nextel Cup champion, but he’s only driving the first five races. Tony Raines takes over in Martinsville on April 2. Aikman and Staubach did not attend the appeal hearing. J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR, went to the hearing with Bill Saunders, the managing general partner of HOF, and Lopez.(Dallas Morning News)(3-8-2006)
Rookie News and Notes: #18-J.J. Yeley was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the February 26 Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Yeley scored an eighth-place finish, his best effort in eight career NEXTEL Cup starts. He took top Raybestos Rookie honors for the first time in 2006. #07-Clint Bowyer holds a two-point advantage over Yeley (21-19) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the March 12 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Bowyer is the only Raybestos Rookie that ranks in the top 10 in the NEXTEL Cup Series points. He is eighth in the standings entering the Las Vegas event, two points behind seventh-place Ryan Newman and 84 behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Kyle Busch was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the 2005 UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He finished second, 1.661 seconds behind race winner Johnson. At least one Raybestos Rookie has won a Bud Pole in each of the last 10 years (1996-2005). There has been a first-time Bud Pole winner in each of the last 19 years (1987-2005).(Raybestos/Camp & Associates), see more notes and standings on my Rookies Page.(3-8-2006)
Hooter’s scheme for #61 UPDATE: The #61 Peak Performance Motorsports Ford with Kevin Lepage driving, will sport the orange colors of Hooter’s at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. The scheme is to promote the new Hooter’s Casino. See images of the scheme on my #61 Team Schemes page.(3-7-2006) UPDATE: Hooters Casino Hotel will join forces with Peak Performance Motorsports and sponsor #61-Kevin Lepage, at the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 on March 12, 2006. With a deep affection for NASCAR racing, dating back to its triumphant sponsorship of late driver Alan Kulwicki beginning in 1991, Hooters Casino Hotel hopes lightning will strike once again with Lepage behind the wheel. The world’s first Hooters Casino Hotel features 696-Hooterized Florida-casual rooms and suites fully equipped with the latest amenities. The hotel is conveniently located one block from the famous Las Vegas Strip. The 30,000 square foot “Hooters”-themed casino floor offers approximately 670 state-of-the-art slot and video poker machines and 32 table games – including the Hooters Girl Party Pit – for 24-hour fun. For more information call 1.866.LVHOOTS or visit hooterscasinohotel.com.(Peak Performance Motorsports/Kirvin Doak Communications). See more images of the scheme on my #61 Team Schemes page.(3-8-2006)
News from March 7, 2006
Harvick/RCR up in the air: Whether #29-Kevin Harvick returns to Richard Childress Racing next season will not be totally up to the 2001 Nextel Cup rookie of the year. A source close to the organization said there is concern over whether Harvick is focused enough on his Cup career to be given a long-term contract. Harvick already owns teams in the Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series, and is believed to be a target of Toyota as a driver and perhaps owner when the Japanese-based manufacturer enters NASCAR’s top series in 2007. Harvick and team owner Richard Childress have set an April deadline for determining whether they will remain together past this season. Childress has maintained he would like Harvick back. He also admitted the decision is not one-sided. “It’s got to be right for both of us,” said Childress, who attended Sunday’s race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. “It can’t be right for just one. It has to be a deal that both of us believe we can win races and win championships.(NASCAR.com) AND The Ltn Hour ( Let’s Talk Nascar ) Radio Show reported on this weeks show that Robert Yates Racing is also looking at Kevin Harvick to take over the #88 UPS Ford in 2007 as current driver Dale Jarrett’s contract ends at the end of 2006. Jarrett has said he would like to driver at least thru 2007. UPS is signed thru 2007.(LTN Radio Show)(3-7-2006)
Newman puts out fire: #12-Ryan Newman and a Leatherman helped control a fire that threatened to engulf Sledgehammer Charlie’s in downtown Lenoir [NC] Monday afternoon. Chris Barlowe and Jeffrey Rocks with Gateway Grading were having lunch with NASCAR driver Ryan Newman at Sledgehammer Charlie’s discussing a business venture, according to Barlowe and Rocks, when the fire started. “Our lunch had just arrived when the restaurant filled with smoke,” Rocks said. Barlowe, who used to work with Lenoir Fire Department, asked where the roof access was, and Barlowe, Rocks and Newman climbed up to the roof. Once on top, they saw a vent system cover. If not for Newman’s Leatherman, a knife-like tool, the men still may have been trying to get to the fire when Lenoir arrived. However, Barlowe said Newman used the Leatherman to remove the bolts to the ventilator cover while he used a fire extinguisher on the flames. “Once they got the top off, Ryan and Chris expended every fire extinguisher (they had),” Rocks said. “Instead of running away (Newman) ran to the fire.”
“Ryan saved the day,” Barlowe said. Fire Chief Ken Briscoe said he saw Barlowe on the roof, but he didn’t know a NASCAR driver was working reserves for the department as well. “When (Barlowe) came down he was telling me he and this other guy took fire extinguishers to knock this fire down,” Briscoe said. “I thanked him and said ya’ll did a great job.” Then Barlowe told the chief he may want to thank the man that helped him. “I walked over there and said, ‘Gosh! Ryan Newman,’” Briscoe said. “He said, ‘Yeah.’” Briscoe said he thanked Newman again for helping knock the fire down until Lenoir’s firefighters arrived on the scene, and Newman told him not to worry about it. “He was very personable and polite,” Briscoe said. “He did a great job up there knocking the fire down.” By Monday evening, the entire report wasn’t complete, but Briscoe estimated around $12,000 to 15,000 in damages. A Sledgehammer Charlie’s employee said the restaurant may be open this weekend, but more than likely will be closed until next week.(News-Topic)(3-7-2006)
Foose scheme will return at Indy: While Jeff Gordon’s 13th place finish at California Speedway could be viewed as somewhat of a disappointment, the Chip Foose designed #24 Hot Hues Chevrolet stood out for its unique paint scheme. The paint scheme will race again at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August. Gordon announced the news prior to the inaugural running of the design at California. The repeat appearance was scheduled in response to the overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers, custom car enthusiasts and race fans.(Gordonline.com), see images of the car on my #24 Team Schemes page,(3-7-2006)
Overnight Mexico ratings down: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Telcel-Motorola 200 Busch Series race from Mexico City earned a 3.0 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 7 market share, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is down 11.8% from last year’s 3.4/7 for the inaugural running of the event, the Daily notes.(SceneDaily.com)(3-7-2006)
Testing at Kentucky: #14-Sterling Marlin and Robert Yates Racing development driver Matt McCall are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Tuesday, March 7. Fans are able to view testing from the designated area outside Turn 3 for free. Testing usually begins at 9:00 a.m., and ends at approximately 5:00 p.m. Test times will vary based on team goals.(3-7-2006)
News from March 6, 2006
It’s Official – NASCAR HOF in Charlotte: NASCAR today announced that it has selected Charlotte, N.C., to be the home of its Hall of Fame. The NASCAR Hall of Fame, which will be a state of the art facility capturing the spirit of the sport, will honor the NASCAR icons and create an enduring tribute to the drivers, crew members, team owners and others that have impacted the sport in the past, present and yet to come. “To NASCAR fans everywhere, it is my distinct honor to announce that NASCAR has selected Charlotte, N.C., to be the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “The winners in this process are the 75 million NASCAR fans nationwide, who will have a Hall of Fame to call their own. The City of Charlotte will welcome fans from around the country and even the world to the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” said France.
Charlotte’s proposal best achieves NASCAR’s overriding goal to have one of the premier hall of fames in the world of sports and entertainment. The region’s rich racing history and heritage along with the strength of the city’s overall financial structure for the Hall, represents the best fit for NASCAR, the industry and the fan-base. The Hall is expected to include exhibit space, a Great Hall, a Hall of Honor, interactive entertainment restaurants, retail outlets, and a state-of-the-art media center for the industry. The NASCAR Hall of Fame will be a special place that brings NASCAR’s history to life and preserves that history in the appropriate environments. The new facility will allow longtime fans to have the opportunity to relive NASCAR’s greatest moments and for new fans to learn about them.
“Our goal has been – and continues to be – to create one of the “crown jewels” of Charlotte and the very best Hall of Fame-themed entertainment experience in the world,” said Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory. “This Hall of Fame will expand the dynamic and growing sport of NASCAR racing in a dynamic and growing city. It’s a victory not only for the entire region, but for NASCAR fans across the country and internationally. We look forward to welcoming all fans for a unique and entertaining experience.”
Mayor McCrory credits the regional effort and broad-based support from the business community, elected officials, the hospitality and tourism industry and NASCAR fans who supported this effort. Mayor McCrory specifically cited the strong leadership from his fellow “Crew Chiefs,” including Cathy Bessant of Bank of America; Luther Cochrane of BEK Building Group, as well as John Tate of Wachovia and Tim Newman of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
The Hall of Fame, which will be located in Charlotte’s Center City will be developed, designed, and operated by the City of Charlotte and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. The total cost of the Hall of Fame is estimated at $107.5 million. This will primarily be funded by a new two percent hotel/motel tax and contributions from the State of North Carolina and the private sector. The Hall of Fame, which will be open no later than spring of 2010, has been designed and concept by world renowned architecture firm, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. The firm has designed iconic buildings in cities worldwide, including the Javits Convention Center in New York City, the expanded Louvre in Paris, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Charlotte is the hub of the NASCAR industry. Currently 82% of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams, 72 percent of NASCAR Busch Series teams and 55 percent of NASCAR Craftsman Truck teams are based in the Charlotte region. The industry’s current annual statewide economic impact is estimated to be $5 billion.(NASCAR PR)(3-6-2006)
#32 and #78 to share resources: Nextel Cup’s #78 Furniture Row Racing of Denver has joined forces with North Carolina-based PPI Motorsports. The single-car teams agreed to share resources and manpower, according to Furniture Row backup driver Jerry Robertson of Arvada [CO]. Robertson, who might replace veteran driver Kenny Wallace in the #78 Chevrolet later in the season, will become teammates with PPI driver Travis Kvapil, who drives the #32 Tide-sponsored Chevy.(Denver Post)(3-6-2006)
#14 and Marlin to be sponsored by Wiley X Eyewear at Vegas: Wiley X Eyewear (pronounced Y-lee), a manufacturer of sports, casual and tactical eyewear, will be the primary sponsor on Sterling Marlin’s #14 Chevy this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The MB2 Motorsports entry will carry the black and red colors of Wiley X, a company that was lauded by the New England Journal of Medicine in the Dec. 9, 2004 issue. The renowned weekly medical publication stated that Wiley X ballistic eyewear was one of the main reasons for the decreasing amount of eye injuries suffered by soldiers. Along with being a major supplier to the U.S. Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies, Wiley X produces sophisticated sunglasses for both causal, active wear and specialty eyewear for the motorcycle, mountain/street bike, hunting, boating and fishing markets to name a few. Wiley X is not a stranger to motorsports. The company is in its second season as an associate sponsor on the MB2-owned #01 U.S. Army Chevy driven by Joe Nemechek. Wiley X has also established an official status with the International Race of Champions (IROC) circuit. For additional information about Wiley X Eyewear and its products, search the company’s web site at: wiley-x.com.(MB2 Motorsports PR), see an image of the car on my #14 Team Schemes page.(3-6-2006)
Tire Leasing deal still questioned: After the first two races of the 2006 Nextel Cup season, questions still abound about NASCAR’s controversial tire-leasing program designed to help level competition. Instituted in conjunction with the rule limiting testing dates at Nextel Cup tracks, the tire-leasing plan is aimed at keeping teams from using Goodyear tires at non-NASCAR designated test sessions. Teams are now forced to lease tires rather than buying them as they have in the past. Supposedly this lessens the advantage multicar teams had enjoyed in testing. Last week at California Speedway, Goodyear leased each race team six sets of tires for practice and qualifying, but did not issue race tires (10 sets per team) until final practice was completed. To further eliminate any potential for unapproved use of Goodyears, the tire manufacturer has installed computer chips in each tire to keep track of inventory. In cutting back on the umpteen number of test sessions in previous years, Cup teams are now permitted to test just six times per season. So far, teams have tested at Daytona Beach and Las Vegas in January [see my Testing News page for other scheduled tests]. Some teams have found a way around the tire-leasing restriction by testing Hoosier tires at non-NASCAR designated testing venues. Hoosier radials aren’t at all similar to the Goodyear component used in Nextel Cup, but could give teams a slight advantage by allowing for additional testing.(in part from the Boston Herald)(3-6-2006)
Wheldon to NASCAR? If Dan Wheldon has plans to head to NASCAR, he’s keeping them private. Wheldon, the defending Indy Racing League champion who lives in St. Petersburg, has moved to Target Chip Ganassi Racing for 2006. He comes off a sensational 2005 season in which he won six races, including the 89th Indianapolis 500 and Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for Andretti Green Racing. While it’s widely believed Wheldon got a huge raise at Ganassi, there might have been another inducement. Michael Andretti told the Express-Times of Easton, Pa., that Chip Ganassi has promised Wheldon a ride in Nextel Cup as soon as next season. Asked whether that’s true Saturday after a photo shoot at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Wheldon wouldn’t answer directly. “Like anything in my contract, I’m not allowed to discuss it,” he said. “That’s between me and Chip.” Wheldon expressed interest in NASCAR last year while he was considering his options for 2006.(Tampa Tribune)(3-6-2006)
Latest on AT&T and Cingular: AT&T announced a $67 billion dollar merger with BellSouth that could create the largest telecommunications company in the country. The purchase of Atlanta-based BellSouth would give AT&T total control of Cingular, the nation’s largest cell phone provider, and BellSouth’s nine-state network. Together, the three companies employ more than 316,000 people. The Cingular brand would likely be phased out in favor of the AT&T brand. The name will be familiar to wireless customers: AT&T Wireless Inc., a spin-off of AT&T, was acquired by Cingular in October 2004. The BellSouth name also would be absorbed in the deal.(MSNBC), no word on how this will effect the Cingular sponsorship of the #31 RCR team.(3-6-2006)
Cup in Mexico? UPDATE: Team owner Felix Sabates predicts that a track will be built in Mexico over the next five years to attract the Nextel Cup Series the way the Autrodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course has attracted the Busch Series to Mexico City. “There’s some areas in Mexico, very wealthy areas in Mexico, with a huge population around it,” Sabates said Saturday before qualifying for Sunday’s Busch race. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t see something there in the next four or five years.” NASCAR chairman Brian France said last week at California that the Cup Series isn’t looking at Mexico City for the near future. Sabates agrees as long as the only option is a road course, because the series doesn’t want to add a third road course with Watkins Glen (N.Y.) and Infineon (Calif.) already on the schedule.(see more about this at NASCAR.com)(3-5-2006) UPDATE: Team owner Felix Sabates has admitted that he’s had serious discussions with several influential and presumably wealthy Mexican associates about building a ¾-mile oval near Mexico City. Sabates thinks it could happen within five years. That could pave the way for a Cup event in Mexico.(Yahoo Sports)(3-6-2006)
News from March 5, 2006
Stewart and Kyle Busch settle: – Kyle Busch said he and Tony Stewart hashed out their differences last weekend prior to the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Stewart had criticized Busch’s driving ability after the Daytona 500. Busch said Saturday prior to qualifying for the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 that he and Stewart have cleared the air. “I was able to talk with him and get it over with and get it behind both of us,” Busch said. “We were able to race against each other a little bit on Sunday and gave each other plenty of room, which was cool. We waved and said, ‘Thank you’ as we were passing each other. … There’s plenty more times throughout the year where I know we’ll be racing and hopefully we can just keep it the way we did Sunday.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-5-2006)
Schrader 2nd in Texas: Robert Litton, of Alexandria, Louisiana, captured the SUPR A Feature Late Model title and George White, of Fort Worth, won the Modified Championship on Saturday before the largest crowd in the three-year history of the Pro-Cuts Texas World Dirt Track Championship at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. Litton staved off a fierce rally by Cup driver #21-Kenny Schrader, who opted to play in the Texas dirt during the Cup off weekend. Schrader, who needed a second-place finish in the Last Chance Qualifier just to advance into the feature, started 20th in the 22-car finale, but stormed to second in just two laps of the 40-lap event. Litton, however, never relinquished the lead at any point and held Schrader at bay for the final 38 laps.(TMS PR and Fort Worth Star Telegram)(3-5-2006)
New NASCAR Show on Biography Channel REVIEW: On March 8, The Biography Channel gets behind the wheel of an exciting and original new series produced in conjunction with NASCAR Images, “NASCAR Driven to Win.” Offering up-close-and-personal profiles of some of the racing circuit’s most popular young drivers, the series delivers an “under-the-hood” glimpse of life both on-and-off the track. Comprised of 13 half-hour episodes, “NASCAR Driven to Win” will debut new World Premiere episodes each Wednesday during March at 10:00pm/et. The series launches with the premieres of Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch (10:30pm/et); March 15 revs up with premieres of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle (10:30pm/et). More info at biographychannel.com(PR)(3-1-2006) REVIEW: Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch are the first two victims of Biography Channel’s new series on NASCAR drivers, “Driven to Win.” A low-octane mix of smoochy interviews and fawning idolatry, “Driven” has the depth of an oil stain. Kahne and Busch — down-to-earth good guys, by all reports — deserve better. There is a danger these episodes may actually be viewed by their friends, who would be appropriately driven to mocking in squeaky voices the over-the-top adoration within these 30-minute bios. Kahne is not merely good-looking. “Female fans — they loved those eyes,” swoons the narrator. Busch is not merely competitive. “His focus remained singular: winning races.” Well, duh. In “Driven,” every decision is a Crossroads of Life. Each achievement is a Turning Point. Any setback is a Personal Tragedy. Mothers actually testify on camera that their sons are great. It’s like watching an infomercial for God. Those who like their drivers served up as one-dimensional superheroes shouldn’t pass on “Driven.” But those with a notion of reality will find it the pits.(Charlotte Observer Review/Opinion)(3-5-2006)
News from March 4, 2006
Some News on the COT: NASCAR announced in January that the car of tomorrow would be used in Nextel Cup competition beginning in the spring of 2007 at Bristol Motor Speedway, and that it would be phased in over three years. It will be in 16 of 36 races next year. Brian France, the chairman and chief executive of NASCAR, led the pitch for the concept, which became a priority after the racetrack deaths of Dale Earnhardt and others. The new car will be two inches taller and four inches wider. It is hoped that the design, which gives more space to the driver, will improve the quality of races by removing some of the dependence on aerodynamics that has taken some of the competition out of the drivers’ hands and turned stock-car racing into more of a sport of engineers. The new racecar will eliminate the designs of individual manufacturers from Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and, next year’s addition, Toyota. All cars will be virtually identical except for the fake grill that differentiates the models. NASCAR officials say the car will control costs because there will be no need to build as many racecars to fit different tracks on the circuit. Some teams have as many as 17 racecars for use at various tracks; they will need perhaps only 10 in the future because there will be so few adjustments allowed from car to car, according to Gary Nelson, who recently resigned as NASCAR’s vice president for research and development but will remain involved with the development of the car. NASCAR figures that by phasing in the changes over three years, the current equipment will not become immediately obsolete. Teams can use up their inventory along the way. NASCAR officials say they are still experimenting and that researchers are years away from finding the right specifications for the midsize 1½-mile ovals, which is why the car of tomorrow will not be used at those tracks until 2009.(in part from the New York Times…past news and images on my COT Page)(3-4-2006)
Pruett still has NASCAR plans: Scott Pruett said Thursday that even though he is not racing in the Busch Series race Sunday in Mexico City, he plans on running both the Nextel Cup and Busch events in August at Watkins Glen International. Pruett is still running at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, where the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series is racing Saturday. Pruett drives full time on that circuit for Chip Ganassi Racing. Pruett said he had planned to run in the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 [Busch Race] , but the sponsorship didn’t materialize. Pruett’s plans for the June race in Sonoma are up in the air because the Grand American cars are competing at Mid-Ohio that same weekend.(SceneDaily.com)(3-4-2006)
News from March 3, 2006
Hall of Fame Racing Appeal Date set: Hall of Fame Racing’s appeal of a fine and two points deductions meted out by NASCAR for infractions discovered at Daytona International Speedway will be heard Tuesday [March 7th] in Concord, NC. The start-up Nextel Cup Series team is co-owned by former Cowboys quarterbacks and Pro Football Hall of Famers Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. HOF Racing was hit with three penalties last week after an unapproved carburetor was found following qualifying for the Daytona 500 on the #96 DLP Chevy driven by Terry Labonte. NASCAR fined crew chief Philippe Lopez $25,000, even though the team’s engines are supplied by Joe Gibbs Racing. Labonte, who finished 17th in the race, was docked 25 championship points. Dallasite Bill Saunders, managing partner of HOF Racing, was fined 25 owners points.(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(3-3-2006)
Red Bull’s technical director moves to NASCAR: Red Bull will use one of its first prominent figures to set-up its NASCAR team in the US. Their technical director for Red Bull Racing in Formula 1, Gunther Steiner, will more from Formula 1 to NASCAR starting April 1st. The forty-year-old South Tyrolean will also assume the function of Technical Director for the Red Bull Toyota NASCAR team, acting on a level with General Manager Marty Gaunt. Red Bull’s NASCAR team will start preparing for their debut season in 2007 on the first of April. Gunther Steiner said about his career move inside Red Bull Racing: “It is a new and fascinating challenge. If as a European you are asked to help set up such an ambitious project you simply cannot say no. I’m really looking forward to working on my new task.”(f1racing.net)(3-3-2006)
Sad News: “Bunkie” Blackburn: James Ronald “Bunkie” Blackburn, a former NASCAR driver who once won a race at Daytona International Speedway, has died. He was 69. Blackburn died Tuesday, Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia [Tenn] announced. His cause of death was not available Thursday night. Blackburn drove in the Grand National and NASCAR circuits from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, driving for teams run by Smokey Yunick and Petty Enterprises. He had four top fives and 14 top 10s in the Grand National series, The Daily Herald in Columbia reported. Blackburn ran 71 races at 26 different tracks in his career. His top finish was in 1968, when he won the Permatex 300 at Daytona from the pole. He also won poles at Talladega and Bristol and was inducted into the Pure Darlington Record Club in 1964 after posting a record qualifying time. He finished in the top 10 twice in the Daytona Firecracker 400. Blackburn grew up surrounded by racing — his father owned and operated a dirt track in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C. Blackburn also competed throughout the Middle Tennessee area on dirt tracks and at Nashville Speedway against drivers like Darrell Waltrip, who lives in Franklin, and Coo Coo Marlin, the late father of current Nextel Cup driver Sterling Marlin, also of Columbia. He retired from racing after an injury and went to work for General Electric in Columbia for 20 years before retiring. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Nancy Hedrick Blackburn, three daughters, a son and 12 grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. (ESPN.com/AP);
Mr. James Ronald “Bunkie” Blackburn, 69, resident of Campbellsville Pike, died Tuesday, February 28, 2006 at Maury Regional Hospital. A memorial service will be conducted at 11 a.m., Saturday at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Dr. Jim Hughes officiating. The family will visit with friends Friday from 4-8 p.m. and Saturday from 10-11 a.m. at the funeral home. Notes of sympathy may be sent to the family at www.oakesandnichols.com.(3-3-2006)
Ford Fusion 7th different Ford to win…and more: The Ford Fusion registered its first Nextel Cup victory at California Speedway on Sunday in only its second series start. … Fusion is the seventh different Ford model in NASCAR history to win a Cup event, joining Taurus, Thunderbird, Torino, Galaxie, Fairlane and the original Ford. … The last time Ford Racing swept a NASCAR Craftsman Truck, Busch and Nextel Cup Series weekend was when Roush Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton combined to win all three events at Phoenix in 2001. Biffle captured the Truck and Busch events, and Burton won the Cup feature.(FoxSports)(3-3-2006)
Calif TV Ratings UPDATE: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Auto Club 500 Nextel Cup race from California Speedway earned an overnight Nielsen Media Research rating of 6.2 and a 12 share, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The overnight rating was 12.7% lower than the 7.1 Fox earned last year, when the race went on to record final figures of 7.9/16. The Daily notes that this year’s race aired opposite NBC’s final-day coverage of the Winter Olympics.(SceneDaily.com)(2-27-2006) UPDATE: The 2006 West Coast Premiere of NASCAR at California Speedway dominated the Nielsen Media Services television ratings for sports this weekend (February 24-26), with both the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series races scoring top finishes. According to data received from NASCAR, Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Auto Club 500 on Fox was number seven nationally for total households in primetime, and number four among adults, with a rating of 7.4 [last year was 7.9/16] and average viewership of 12.5 million. The race ranks as the fourth highest rated auto racing event (with the exception of Daytona 500 broadcasts) in broadcast history. It was the top-rated competitive sporting event for the week, finishing second only to the Winter Olympics closing ceremonies. Saturday’s Busch Series Stater Bros. 300 was the No. 1 cable sporting event of the weekend, with a 2.1 rating and an average of two million households tuning in. The race finished ahead of cable broadcasts of both NBA and college basketball games (including the Celtics/Lakers game), and the PGA tour.(California Speedway PR)(3-3-2006)
Hamlin Brings FedEX Racing Excitement to Oakland: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Chevy and promising NASCAR Nextel Cup rookie made a pit stop on the way to the Fontana track in February, stopping at the FedEx Express hub in Oakland, California to meet employees of the facility. Hamlin, in California for the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway, spent two hours greeting hub employees, signing autographs and taking pictures with those in attendance. For Hamlin, it was his second visit to a FedEx Hub since taking the wheel of the #11 car. He visited the Memphis WorldHub in December of last year during the company’s busiest week in history, and while it wasn’t quite as busy Thursday in Oakland, Hamlin noted the importance of meeting employees face to face. The Oakland hub is the fourth largest FedEx Express hub in the U.S., and the 1700 employees handle an average of 238,000 packages a day. More and pictures from the event are available at FedExRacing.com.(FedEx Racing/Weber Shandwick PR)(3-3-2006)
Rusty Wallace Tests IndyCar UPDATE: To prepare for his role as an analyst for ABC Sports’ and ESPN’s coverage of the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series season, Rusty Wallace will drive an IndyCar Series car on Thursday, March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Wallace won the 1989 NASCAR championship and scored 55 NASCAR Cup Series victories in his racing career. He retired after the 2005 season and drove the past 15 years for Roger Penske, the winningest car owner in Indianapolis 500 history. The Indy Racing League kicks off its Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway March 2-6. The IRL returns to the Sunshine State for the IndyCar Series’ Toyota Indy 300 and Indy Pro Series’ Miami 100 at the 1.5-mile oval, both on March 26.(Homestead-Miami Speedway)(3-2-2006) UPDATE: While Rusty Wallace retired from NASCAR competition following last year’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he decided a little “track time” will help him in his new role as commentator on ABC and ESPN’s IRL IndyCar Series telecasts which will begin with the March 26 Toyota Indy 300. Thursday, Wallace slid behind the wheel of Sam Hornish’s Penske Racing Honda Dallara, and ran eight laps around the 2.21-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway road circuit. “I feel like I’m going on my first roller coaster ride,” Wallace said before firing up the car. Wallace said that Team Penske teammates Hornish and Helio Castroneves gave him all the information he needed. “Then Helio said, ‘It’s not a qualifying lap. Go out and have fun.'” Wallace did just that – although he failed to heed Castroneves’ final word of advice – “Don’t stall.” Wallace ran a best unofficial time of 1:18 – an impressive seven seconds slower than Castroneves’ best lap of the day of 1:11.01 “I’ll tell you, I never could have reported on this sport the way it needs to be reported without getting to drive this car,” Wallace said. “I was really impressed with the brakes – they could stop on a dime. The acceleration was incredible. But the biggest surprise to me was how you go out and get such great speed, and as you turn down off the back straightaway, I can’t believe how hard the wheel gets going into turn 10. As you ark off into there, the steering wheel’s locked up. It’s amazing. That was the only place that was spooky. The slow corners were fun, the upshifts were fun. These are incredible hot rods. I’m glad I did it.” Asked how long it would have taken him to get up to speed, Wallace said, “If I started off in the morning, I think by the end of the day I would have been within a second and a half. I knew in my mind where I gave up stuff. The biggest thing I needed was the car to fit me better, and getting more seat time to build confidence that this car will stick. I don’t know the operational envelop of these cars and how far you can take them.” It was Wallace’s first time around the 2.21-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway road course. “I’ve been coming to Homestead forever and ever, always running the oval, and I’ve never seen the road course before today,” Wallace said. “It’s a great road course. I can’t believe how beautiful it is, and I never saw it before. Every time we came here it was covered with motorhomes.” While Wallace joked about talking team owner Roger Penske into running a third car for him in the Indianapolis 500, he was serious about getting more track time in an open-wheel car this year. “I’m going to do it all year long in the two-seater, run all the tracks and get a good idea of what’s going on,” Wallace said.(HMS PR)(3-3-2006)
News from March 2, 2006
Davis files motions to change Dodge verdict: Bill Davis Racing has filed three motions in U.S. District Court in Michigan in response to a verdict of $6.5 million in damages it has been ordered to pay DaimlerChrysler. A jury awarded the damages to Dodge on Feb. 9 after a four-week trial in Detroit. The jury found that BDR gave confidential Dodge information to Toyota and also violated its Cup agreement with Dodge when it signed a contract with General Motors to race in the Busch Series and up to seven Cup events. BDR has filed three motions: one requesting a new trial, another to request a reduction in damages and another for a judgment that it did not violate its Dodge agreement by signing the GM contract. Among the arguments are improper jury instructions and issues dealing with the way Dodge compiled its amount of damages. If Judge George Caram Steeh upholds the verdict, BDR has announced plans to appeal. Dodge terminated its contract with BDR in May 2003 after it discovered BDR’s work with Toyota’s truck program. The six-year, $18.425-million contract was scheduled to end in 2005. BDR’s work on the truck was ruled legal by Steeh, but he left it up to the jury to decide whether BDR gave confidential Dodge information to Toyota.(SceneDaily.com)(3-2-2006)
NASCAR Downplays HOF Report UPDATE Charlotte wins? announce Monday?….on Speed: NASCAR is downplaying a report in the Charlotte Observer that quotes sources as saying Charlotte has emerged as the clear leader in a three-city battle for the sport’s hall of fame. NASCAR chairman and chief executive officer Brian France said before Sunday’s race at California Speedway that Atlanta remained very much in the running for the hall, and NASCAR public relations spokesman Kerry Tharp said after Sunday’s race that a decision on the hall had not been reached. “We are still in the decision-making process, and we’re still collecting information from all the cities,” Tharp said. “We still anticipate making an announcement in March.” The Observer said a high-ranking NASCAR official and two Nextel Cup team owners, all speaking on the condition of anonymity, said NASCAR officials have indicated to them that Charlotte’s selection is nearly certain. Charlotte, Atlanta and Daytona Beach, Fla., are the three finalists for the hall.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution) AND NASCAR officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Sunday night that Charlotte has emerged as the clear leading candidate to be the permanent home to NASCAR’s $100 million Hall of Fame. The NASCAR officials said, however, that the sanctioning body is still negotiating with Daytona Beach, Fla., and Atlanta, the two other finalists in the running for the facility. “It’s fair to say that Charlotte is the clear front-runner now and that our discussions with the city have intensified,” said a senior NASCAR official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We are still having discussions with the other two cities, though.” No date for the announcement of a winner has been set yet, sources said, though it is expected in the next several weeks.(Speed Channel)(2-27-2006) UPDATE: NASCAR will announce the selection of Charlotte for its Hall of Fame at a press conference Monday, sources tell The Charlotte Observer.(SceneDaily.com)(3-1-2006) UPDATE 2 – Atlanta Trying…: [GA] State lawmakers trying to drive millions of new public dollars into Atlanta’s NASCAR hall of fame bid have hit an unexpected speed bump. In an attempt to snatch the attraction from rival Charlotte, legislators hurried this week to hike the public portion of Atlanta’s bid from nearly $32 million to about $80 million. That, with corporate support and bank loans, would push the total offer for the racing shrine from $92 million to more than $140 million. NASCAR plans to announce its choice on Monday in Charlotte, according to reports. Georgia lawmakers came up with two new ideas to try to lure the hall to Atlanta: One would steer $20 million from state sales taxes to the project. The other would divert about $22 million in surplus money from Atlanta’s rental car tax to the project. But the latter notion hit an obstacle: Atlanta officials have already committed the money to help the city’s homeless.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution) UPDATE 3: NASCAR will host a press conference Monday at 4:00pm/et at the Charlotte Convention Center to announce that Charlotte will be the home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, multiple sources confirmed to SPEEDTV.com today. SPEED will break into its regular programming to cover the Hall of Fame announcement, whenever it takes place.(Speed Channel)(3-2-2006)
Lowe’s gets most TV exposure in Daytona 500: #48-Jimmie Johnson’s victory at this year’s Daytona 500 enabled his primary sponsor, Lowe’s, to amass nearly $20 million of in-broadcast exposure during NBC’s live telecast. The Lowe’s exposure figure marked the highest sponsor total for a single NASCAR race telecast monitored throughout the last 22 years by Joyce Julius and Associates. Altogether, Lowe’s identity appeared for 27 minutes, 30 seconds (27:30) during the 4.5-hour Fox telecast. Additionally, Johnson’s sponsor was mentioned on six occasions. When comparing the exposure to the estimated cost of a commercial on the season opening broadcast, Lowe’s earned $19,876,555 in exposure value. Not surprisingly, the Lowe’s logo on Johnson’s hood accounted for the largest portion of the sponsor’s in-broadcast impact, with 16:37 leading to $11.6 million, or 58% of Lowe’s entire exposure. In comparison, primary team sponsors averaged 12:05, 2.9 mentions and $1.4 million per race last season during 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series coverage.(Joyce Julius PR)(3-2-2006)
News from March 1, 2006
Texas HOF Inductees: Drag racing legend Kenny Bernstein, Indy-car designer and team owner Jim Hall, NASCAR team owner Jack Roush, winner of the Texas Motor Speedway Racer of the Year Award, and former NHRA racer Raymond Beadle, winner of the Bruton Smith Legends Award are the 2006 inductees into the Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame. Truck Series drivers [#11] David Starr is the recipient of the 2006 TMS Sportsmanship Award. The Hall inductees and the award winners will be honored at the Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame Gala on April 5 at the TMS Speedway Club Ballroom. Proceeds from the event go to Happy Hill Farm in Granbury, an academy and home for disadvantaged children.(Dallas Morning News)(3-1-2006)
6th Roush Team…for a bit UPDATE 2: Later this season, Roush Racing will add a sixth Nextel Cup team, for seven races, to get Todd Kluever [Busch Series #06] warmed up for his role as #6-Mark Martin’s [retiring from Cup] replacement next season.(Winston Salem Journal)(2-26-2006) UPDATE: Roush Racing’s Todd Kluever, who is running the Busch Series [#06 3M Ford] full time and will make seven Cup starts later this year, will have the second Michigan race (Not first even with the race sponsorship) on his schedule along with Chicago, Kansas and Phoenix in November to name a few. Expect his debut to come at Chicagoland – the track closest to his hometown of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.(RacingOne)(2-27-2006) UPDATE 2: 3M Company and Roush Racing announced that 3M will be the primary sponsor for the #06 Ford Fusion entry driven by Todd Kluever in six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races this season. Kluever’s NEXTEL Cup races this year are intended to prepare him for the 2007 NEXTEL Cup season, when he will drive the #6 AAA Ford Fusion currently driven by Mark Martin. Kluever’s six-race schedule will consist of Chicago, July 9; Michigan, August 20; California, Sept 3; Kansas, Oct 1; Lowe’s, Oct 14 and Phoenix, Nov 12.(Roush Racing PR)(3-1-2006)
New NASCAR Show on Biography Channel: On March 8, The Biography Channel gets behind the wheel of an exciting and original new series produced in conjunction with NASCAR Images, “NASCAR Driven to Win.” Offering up-close-and-personal profiles of some of the racing circuit’s most popular young drivers, the series delivers an “under-the-hood” glimpse of life both on-and-off the track. Comprised of 13 half-hour episodes, “NASCAR Driven to Win” will debut new World Premiere episodes each Wednesday during March at 10:00pm/et. The series launches with the premieres of Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch (10:30pm/et); March 15 revs up with premieres of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle (10:30pm/et). More info at biographychannel.com(PR)(3-1-2006)
Schrader runs dirt at Texas this weekend: Following back-to-back rain-outs to open the 2006 schedule, the O’Reilly SUPR Late Model season will seek to finally kick off its new season at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track on Friday and Saturday with the Pro-Cuts World Dirt Track Championships. The two-night event will feature late model and modified racing on the 4/10-mile mile clay oval with more than 200 combined entries expected. NEXTEL Cup Series veteran Kenny Schrader takes advantage of the off-week on the Cup schedule to compete in the championship event. Schrader, the 23-year Cup veteran who pilots the #21 Little Debbie/Motorcraft/U.S. Air Force Ford for Wood Brothers Racing, will be in the #99 Pro-Cuts late model entry this weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. The Pro-Cuts World Dirt Track Championship will be the third short track stop of the year for Schrader. He did not qualify for the show at Talladega on Jan. 7-8. At Central Arizona Raceway in Casa Grande, Ariz., he had finishes of seventh (Jan. 14), 11th (Jan. 15), and second (Jan. 18). Schrader has been a longtime competitor in dirt track races and has at least nine more events scheduled through the summer. (TMS PR)(3-1-2006)