COT to run full time in 2008? still undecided: NASCAR isn’t ready to decide after one weekend whether the car of tomorrow will be used for all tracks in 2008. NASCAR’s current phase-in plan includes racing with the car of tomorrow in 16 races this year, 26 races in 2008 and then for the full schedule in 2009. “What we do know is that it’s terribly hard and it’s very frustrating to run two different programs throughout a year,” Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby said Friday. “So for most of the mechanics and the crew members and even a lot of the crew chiefs in the garage, they would prefer just going, just making the decision now. But for the same reason that the original rollout of the new car was three years – a three-year period, will be the same reason that ultimately decides whether ’09 is gone and we’re all in for ’08 or not. That reason is the team owners, the guys that are writing the checks to build these things.If they’re comfortable with scaling up and pushing a little harder and eliminating ’09, NASCAR, we’d welcome it with open arms, for sure. But we also don’t want to force them into that decision,” Darby said. “The team owners will have to come and say, look, this deal is working pretty good. They’re very easy to build, they’re very easy to manage in inventory, so on and so forth, so let’s press on with it.’ We’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-31-2007)
Yates also looking for a financial partner: Add Robert Yates Racing to the ever-expanding list of Nextel Cup Series owners actively courting investment partners. RYR president Doug Yates said Saturday that he and his father have been pursing investors for six months. They’ve gotten some inquiries but nothing solid, Yates said. Among those investors with which Yates has spoken are the Maloof brothers, owners of the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise and the Palms Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. “We talked to them last year,” Yates said. “Nice group of guys. Nice family. But they felt like, at the time, they were focused on their business. They have a lot of businesses, so that’s a name that’s come around. But there are a lot of people out there interested. We know how popular the sport is and people from the outside can look and see, ‘Hey, this has some value.'” Yates said the most viable method for Nextel Cup teams to hold value is franchising, and feels it’s time NASCAR implemented a franchise system. “At some point, I think NASCAR has got to start looking at franchises, and making these teams worth something,” Yates said. “Right now it’s a shame — [a team] goes from something to nothing really quick. It’s not really fair to the people who have helped grow the sport.” Richard Childress was the first owner to sell a stake of his team to an investment group, and the performance of his team has improved tremendously since. Next up was Jack Roush, who made a high-profile sale of 50 percent his team to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group. Ray Evernham is searching for an investment partner and Petty said Friday at Martinsville Speedway that Petty Enterprises is, too.(ESPN.com)(3-31-2007)
Why no penalty for Biffle? Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby said Greg Biffle’s #16 Ford Fusion wasn’t penalized for being low at Bristol Motor Speedway in part because NASCAR doesn’t have a rule for minimum rear height except at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. There are requirements for minimum heights at other tracks but no set penalties for violators [Jayski Note: but many have been penalized for cars too low]. Biffle’s fifth-place car was whisked to the NASCAR R&D Center because it measured lower than in prerace inspection, but officials found nothing improper after scouring the car Monday. NASCAR will allow a quarter-inch more tolerance on minimum height at Martinsville. “We will need a minimum height down the road,” Darby said. “Right now, we don’t need where we or the teams need it to be.”(USA Today)(3-31-2007)
Petty may also look for invester: #45-Kyle Petty said Petty Enterprises may have to join Jack Roush, Richard Childress and other car owners and sign with a business partner, to keep making a go of it in this sport. Richard Petty was in Montreal this week checking out businesses [and at a Montreal Canadiens agem]. And fellow Dodge team owner Ray Evernham has been talking with Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillet Jr. about a joint NASCAR business venture. Kyle Petty points to Petty Enterprises’ close ties with Evernham Motorsports, particularly on the engine building side, and said it just makes sense to check out some of the people that Evernham is considering working with. “There’s more to Petty Enterprises than just a race team going round in circles,” Kyle Petty said, mentioning the company’s other ventures. “So that makes Petty Enterprises a little different venture for a potential investor. “We have already folded our company into some of the stuff that Evernham Motorsports does, so as Ray begins to branch out and take on different partners, we need to find out who those partners are, and if there is an opportunity there we’d be foolish not to explore it.”(Winston Salem Journal) AND Richard Petty, owner of Petty Enterprises, was an invited guest of Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett at Tuesday’s Rangers-Canadiens game at the Bell Centre, Journal de Montréal reported this week. Kyle Petty didn’t shed much light on what his father and Gillett talked about Friday. “As (team owner) Ray (Evernham) begins to branch out and take on different partners, we need who his partners are if we want to stay in businesses (with Evernham ),” said Petty, who drives the No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge. “If there’s an opportunity there, then we would be idiots not to explore it. We are exploring different avenues with different people.” The Petty and Evernham organizations — both Dodge teams — have grown closer in recent months. Evernham builds Petty’s engines and the two teams are sharing engineering knowledge. “Those conversations are between George and Richard. I really don’t know what’s going on there,” Evernham said. Petty Enterprises’ last victory came here eight years ago, but Kyle Petty said his family’s company is still attractive to suitors. “The main part of what we do is race around in circles,” he said. “This is our main job, but we have the (Richard Petty) Driving Experience that has 1,000 to 1,500 dates. We are starting a defensive driving program. There’s a lot of stuff going on outside of this and that makes Petty Enterprises a little bit different opportunity for an investor.”(USA Today)(3-31-2007)
Chrysler buyer? China? Canada? DaimlerChrysler [Dodge] hasn’t sold its U.S. Chrysler division yet, but indications are two more major offers could be put on the table in the next few days. And the big story is intense speculation in Detroit that China will be involved in one of the offers for Chrysler, in order to get a base for selling some of its cars in the U.S., as well as to use Chrysler expertise to expand its own internal car market. China has become the world’s second-largest automobile market in the world, behind the United States. Magna, the big Canadian auto-parts firm, has already made a bid, of nearly $5 billion, for Chrysler. If Magna wins, look for Mark Hogan, a former General Motors’ exec, to take the helm.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-31-2007)
Fans to vote a driver into the Nextel Challenge: Sprint Nextel announced the return of the Nextel Fan Vote, a voting competition driven by fans to award one lucky team a starting spot in the May 19 Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Voting begins on Sprint or Nextel phones beginning Sunday, April 1. The Nextel All-Star Challengefield consists of drivers who have won a points race in 2006 or 2007, active Nextel All-Star Challenge winners within the past 10 seasons and active past Nextel Cup Series champions within the past 10 seasons. For the Nextel Fan Vote, fans will select one driver among the top 50 in Nextel Cup Series driver point standings who is not already qualified. Voting will be available April 1 and can be completed via the following channels: Sprint and Nextel phones; Text “NASCAR” to 7777 on your Sprint or Nextel web-enabled phone and follow the received directions; Online at www.nextel.com/speed, Online at www.nascar.com; Trackside at the Nextel Experience; Participating Sprint and Nextel retail locations. The winner of the Nextel Fan Vote will be announced following the Nextel Open during Nextel All-Star Challenge pre-race festivities. The NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge will be broadcast live exclusively on SPEED, with coverage beginning at 7:00pm/et. Tickets for the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge start at just $29 and can be obtained at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway ticket office, online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.(LMS PR)(3-31-2007)
Cingular/AT&T/NASCAR update: With no court date set for Friday, employees of Richard Childress Racing didn’t even bother to pack the forbidden AT&T logos for the #31 Chevy. AT&T filed a lawsuit on March 16 and sought an immediate injunction earlier this week to allow the logos to appear on the #31 driven by Jeff Burton. NASCAR has so far refused the change, citing its contract with the series’ title sponsor, Nextel. Since its merger last year with BellSouth, AT&T has begun to phase out the Cingular name. It submitted a paint scheme in January to NASCAR, but it was rejected. AT&T spokesman Chris Capo told USA TODAY earlier this week crewmembers could affix the logo to the car this weekend if a federal court judge grated the injunction. He was hopeful Friday that there would be a hearing sometime before the next Cup race, scheduled for Texas Motor Speedway on April 15.(USA Today)(3-31-2007)
Ribbon Cutting for Johnson’s Victory Lanes Bowling Alley at Victory Junction: Jimmie and Chandra Johnson unveiled Jimmie Johnson’s Victory Lanes at the Victory Junction Gang Camp on Thursday, the first major initiative for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. Just a year after announcing the formation of the foundation, the Johnson’s joined Pattie and Kyle Petty, Lynda and Richard Petty, and the campers of Victory Junction to bowl the inaugural frames at the 5,100 square foot bowling alley. The colorfully decorated bowling alley is complete with four lanes, a shoe counter, an arcade area, and a one-of-a-kind light show that enables campers to go “retro” bowling at night. The QubicaAMF lanes have space themed-masking and a cutting-edge string pin setting design. The building is complete with a replica of Johnson’s #48 Lowe’s Chevy on the roof. During the Grand Opening, Jimmie, Chandra, Kyle, and Pattie were paired with a Victory Junction camper that created an impromptu “bowl off” between the Johnsons and the Pettys.(PR)(3-31-2007)
News from March 30, 2007
Final Bristol TV Ratings down 17%: Fox’s broadcast of last Sunday’s Food City 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway drew a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 5.1 and a 12 market share, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 17.7% lower than the 6.2 Fox drew for the race last year.(SceneDaily.com), see past ratings and news, plus the Ratings Chart on my 2007 TV Ratings page.(3-30-2007)
NASCAR expands rear height tolerances for COT: NASCAR will give teams a half-inch tolerance instead of a quarter-inch on the minimum height requirement of the rear of the car during post-race inspection at car of tomorrow [COT] races, Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby told reporters Thursday. #16-Greg Biffle was outside the quarter-inch tolerance after a fifth-place finish at Bristol, but NASCAR won’t penalize him because of the lack of benefit to the car to be that low. Darby also said that although it was procedural measurement with the car of tomorrow, it was never specified in the rulebook. He says NASCAR will continue to explore the minimum height of the rear of the car before making a steadfast rule. Darby also said that the minimum right-side weight was changed from 1,650 pounds to 1,700 pounds. As far as the problems some teams had with broken exhaust pipes, Darby said he expected that to be fixed. “The teams have been very weight conscious through this process,” Darby said. “Most of the exhaust pipe failures that we saw were pipes that were constructed out of material that was much thinner than the pipes on yesterday’s car were. iI should be an easy fix for the teams.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-30-2007)
Hylton plans attempt Talladega in April: #58-James Hylton isn’t ready to let go of the steering wheel just yet. Hylton, 72, who came within a few laps of qualifying for the Daytona 500, wants to give the Nextel Cup Series another try — this time at Talladega Superspeedway in April. “We’ve still got the car we ran Daytona with, the same car,” Hylton said. “We’ve prepared this car for Talladega, which is not a real big jump. Unless something drastic happens, we’ll be at Talladega, because we’re set up to go there.” He’s in talks with the sponsor of that car [Daytona car], Retirement Living TV, to back him again in the April 29 event at Talladega. He had originally hoped to try to make last weekend’s event at Bristol Motor Speedway, but couldn’t get a Car of Tomorrow built in time. Yet the two-time winner and former rookie of the year  on NASCAR’s premier circuit is still buzzing over the publicity generated by his attempt to make the Daytona 500.(NASCAR.com)(3-30-2007)
NASCAR working on COT problems: NASCAR officials are scrambling to solve a couple of potentially serious issues with the “Car of Tomorrow.” Denny Hamlin and several other drivers complained about an unusual amount of carbon monoxide in their system after Sunday’s inaugural COT race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Some teams had issues with the protective foam in the right side door overheating, melting and producing toxic fumes. Some had springs that failed for no apparent reason, which may have been the reason for the #16 car of Greg Biffle being too low during post-race inspection. NASCAR officials plan to talk with crew chiefs before they arrive in Martinsville on Friday to discuss solutions to these issues. They will look at adjusting the tolerances for minimum height until it is determined what makes the new car settle. They will suggest that teams use a thicker exhaust pipe after determining those that had exhaust systems failures used a thinner pipe to conserve weight. They already have talked to Roush Fenway Racing officials about putting a heat shield over the pipe near the right door and notching the foam higher around the pipe to keep heat from compromising it. NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton and Nextel Cup series director John Darby have scheduled a Friday morning press conference to discuss the issues.(ESPN.com)(3-29-2007)
Wood Brothers Museum open for Martinsville visitors this weekend: For those wanting to witness a real trip down Memory Lane, the Wood Brothers Racing Museum will be open both Friday, March 30th and Saturday, March 31st in their hometown of Stuart, Virginia. Stuart is only 30 minutes away from this weekend’s NASCAR races at the Martinsville Speedway. For hours, directions and more see www.woodbrothersracing.com.(Wood Brothers/JTG Racing)(3-30-2007)
Bobby Labonte to Drive Grand-Am Rolex Cup Sports Car at Martinsville: #43-Bobby Labonte will give NASCAR fans the chance to see a different kind of race car on the oval at Martinsville this Saturday. Blending the worlds of NASCAR short track racing with the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes, Labonte will drive Finlay Motorsports’ #19 Z-Line Designs/Mission Residential/Make-A-Wish Foundation Ford Crawford on the track prior to Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race. This is the same car Labonte drove in the 2007 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race. Following a demonstration run on Martinsville’s .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval, the brilliant orange and black-liveried car will be on display in VIRginia International Raceway’s tent at Martinsville. The car is coming off a top-ten finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The car races in the series enjoyed by several other Nextel Cup drivers, including Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and now-retired Rusty Wallace in their entries at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Fans can examine the car closely meet and the Finlay and VIR teams at Martinsville and again at the Grand-Am Rolex Series VIR 400 April 27-29. Tickets can be purchased for VIR’s major events online at Etix.com or in person at the gate. More info about VIRginia International Raceway at .(VIR PR)(3-30-2007)
Martinsville Goodyear Tire Notes: Both NASCAR series will run the same tire codes at Martinsville this weekend, though the Nextel Cup tires will be branded “Goodyear Eagle,” while the Craftsman Truck tires will be branded “Goodyear Wrangler” . . . this is the first time Goodyear has brought this specific combination of left- and right-side tires to the track . . . Martinsville is the only track at which Nextel Cup teams will run this specific setup of left-and right-side tires . . .however, this right-side code (D-4110) will be run on all four tire positions at the series’ two road course races — Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International . . . Craftsman Truck teams are scheduled to run this same tire setup at Mansfield in May . . . as on most NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Martinsville. Estimated Pit Window for Nextel Cup cars are every 115-125 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see notes, codes and more on my Martinsville Race Info page.(3-30-2007)
Hamlin wins pole at Martinsville: #11-Denny Hamlin won the Budweiser Pole for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway with a speed of 95.103mph for his 1st pole of 2007 and 5th of his career. The rest of the top-10 are #26-McMurray, #24-Gordon, #21-Schrader, #18-Yeley, #29-Harvick, #20-Stewart, #8-Earnhardt Jr., #99-Edwards and #70-Sauter. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were: #21-Schrader, #22-Blaney, #10-Riggs #49-Bliss, #36-Mayfield, #44-Jarrett, #84-Allmendinger and #00-Reutimann. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were: #21-Schrader, #22-Blaney, #10-Riggs #49-Bliss, #36-Mayfield, #44-Jarrett, #84-Allmendinger and #00-Reutimann. See Qualifying order, speeds and the starting lineup on my Martinsville Qualifying Page.(3-30-2007)
Six do not qualify at Martinsville: #55-Waltrip, #78-Wallace, #15-Menard, #83-Vickers, #37-Lepage and #4-Burton.(3-30-2007)
Ramblings – Martinsville Qualifying: It was Denny Hamlin today at Martinsville Speedway as he took the Bud Pole for Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500 with a time of 19.911 sec (95.103 mph). The Virginia driver has now captured the last two poles in his home state as his last top-spot was at Richmond last September. The was the 5th pole for Hamlin, and he’s also the fifth different driver to qualify for next February’s Budweiser Shootout.
Jamie McMurray (2nd) takes the outside pole. This is his best starting spot since he was on the outside of the front row at Infineon last June.
Ken Schrader (4th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 4th here in April of 2003! How’s that for handling that qualifying pressure?
J. J. Yeley (5th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 5th at Kansas last September.
Carl Edwards (9th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 6th at Dover last September.
Johnny Sauter (10th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 10th at Bristol in March of 2004!
Tony Raines (11th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 11th here last October.
Jeremy Mayfield (13th) has his best starting spot since he qualified on the outside pole at Dover last June.
David Ragan (27th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. He lined up 35th at Daytona and Las Vegas this year for his previous best.
STREAKIN…..Jeff Gordon has 4 Top-5 starts in the last 5 races.
(See more at stockcarfans.com)(3-30-2007)
Martinsville Qualifying Fast Facts:
.. Denny Hamlin won the Bud Pole for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500, his fifth Bud Pole 49 career Nextel Cup races.
.. Tony Stewart retains the Martinsville track qualifying record of 19.306 seconds, 98.083 mph – set Oct. 21, 2005.
.. This is Hamlin’s first Bud Pole and third top-10 start in 2007.
.. This is Hamlin’s first Bud Pole and third top-10 start – all top-fives – in four races at Martinsville Speedway.
.. Hamlin became the seventh different Bud Pole winner at Martinsville since Jeff Gordon ended a streak of three straight in March 2004.
.. Jamie McMurray qualified second, posting his best start since he started second at Sonoma in 2006. He also started second in this race in 2006.
.. Ken Schrader (fourth) was the quickest of the 14 drivers required to make the field on time. It was Schrader’s best qualifying effort since joining Wood Brothers Racing in 2006 and the best for the Wood Brothers since Ricky Rudd started second here at Martinsville in October 2005.
.. Four drivers posted their first top-10 start of the 2007 season: McMurray, Schrader, J.J. Yeley (ninth) and Johnny Sauter (10th).
.. Juan Pablo Montoya (23rd) was the highest qualifying rookie-of-the-year candidate for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500.(NASCAR Stats PR)(3-30-2007)
News from March 29, 2007
Where is Bill Brodrick? who? The Hat Man.. since I get asked about him a few times a month and even have a section for the question in my Racing FAQ’s [#27]….the lastest. He’s been to more Victory Lanes than Richard Petty, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon combined. Officially, Bill “The Hat Man” Brodrick was in charge of public relations for Unocal’s racing division. He’s remembered, however, as the burly guy with a lion’s mane of coiffed hair and beard to match who was in charge of Victory Lane. His celebrations were orchestrated with the finely tuned precision of a symphony conductor. Brodrick was almost always the first person to a winner’s car once it got to racing’s version of the Promised Land, and as a result, he was almost always on television for at least a few seconds. Unocal was bought out in 1997. Although he’d been with the company just a few weeks shy of 29 years, at the end of the season, Brodrick was shown the door. Afterward, he refused to be a “hanger on,” who begs for passes. He operated Tavern at the Bridge in Algonquin, Ill., for four years and then turned it over to his son. “My son talked me into it, and my wife, of course, was on my son’s side,” Brodrick said of his decision to buy the bar. “This place was available, and my son knew it real well. To make a long story short, I bought that saloon and had to go to work. My son runs the business now and it’s doing quite well. It was work. I’d never worked that hard in all my life.” He still handles a few things here and there with the tavern, and he’s also a contract driver for a courier company. Brodrick stays as busy as he wants to be. Read full story on NASCAR.com.(3-29-2007)
Raines tests at Caraway: #96-Tony Raines and the Hall of Fame Racing Team headed to Caraway on Tuesday, March 27, to shake down the #96 DLP HDTV Chevy Impala SS [COT] in preparation for Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Both tracks are similar in layout, and Raines is hoping the one-day test session will lead to a productive weekend at Martinsville. Officials from DLP HDTV donated 80 tickets for this weekends Goody’s Cool Orange 500 to members of the Virginia Army National Guard and their families.(HOF Racing)(3-29-2007)
Testing at Greenville: many teams tested recently at Greenville Pickens Speedway in S.C. including #18-J.J. Yeley [3/27], #41-Reed Sorensen [3/27], #84-A.J. Allmendinger [3/28-3/29].(3-29-2007)
USG colors for Kenseth at Martinsville: #17-Matt Kenseth will run the USG Sheetrock paint scheme this weekend for the first of three races this season (Chicago in July and Texas in November). (Roush Racing), see scheme on my #17 Team Schemes page.(3-29-2007)
Martinsville Rookie News and Notes: #6-David Ragan was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 25 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ragan scored a 26th-place finish and took top rookie honors for the third time in five races this season. · Ragan and #42-Juan Montoya are tied (57-57) for the lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the April 1 Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Montoya is 19th in the Nextel Cup Series championship standings, best of any Raybestos Rookie. The Goody’s Cool Orange 500 will be race No. 3 in the Raybestos Rookie Magnificent Seven program. The Raybestos Rookie of the Race normally pays $1,500 but that increases to $5,000 at seven designated races throughout the 2007 season. Ragan (Daytona) and Montoya (Las Vegas) have each captured the bonus once this season. Other races where the bonus is available: Darlington (May 12), Infineon (June 24), Chicagoland (July 15), and Bristol (August 25). Morgan Shepherd is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the Goody’s Cool Orange 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-10 finish in the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 is Jeff Gordon, who placed eighth in 1993. Tony Stewart  is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the pole for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 (since 1975). Denny Hamlin is the only Raybestos Rookie to qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup since the program was created in 2004. At least one Raybestos Rookie has won a Bud Pole in each of the last 11 years (1996-2006).(Camp and Assoc/Raybestos PR), and see standings and more on my 2007 Rookie News, Notes and Standings page.(3-29-2007)
News from March 28, 2007
Biffle will not face discipline for car height: NASCAR will not penalize Greg Biffle’s #16 team, despite the fact his Ford was found to be too low in post-race inspection at Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton said Wednesday. NASCAR has scheduled a news conference for Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway to explain their reasoning in detail. NASCAR took the #16 car back to its research and development center Sunday night after the Food City 500 and gave it a thorough inspection Monday. Officials determined that no unapproved adjustments had been made to the car, so NASCAR cleared the machine and returned it to Roush-Fenway Racing on Monday afternoon. The 2007 season began with a new, less tolerant approach toward rules violators, prompting many to suspect that Biffle and his team would receive a stiff penalty following the Bristol mishap. But NASCAR officials said the Car of Tomorrow is a work in progress, and that they anticipated the cars would lose some height during the race at Bristol. Officials ran eight cars through the height sticks during post-race inspection, and Biffle’s was the only one that came back too low. Before making any permanent changes, NASCAR said it will likely make some rules adjustments in the future that benefit everyone.(ESPN.com)(3-28-2007)
AT&T wants logo on Burton’s car immediately UPDATE NASCAR responds: Telecommunications giant AT&T filed a motion Monday, asking that its logo be added to Jeff Burton’s #31 Chevy immediately. The motion was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, where the company also filed its lawsuit against NASCAR. A hearing on the motion has not yet been scheduled. Burton is sponsored by cell phone service provider Cingular. AT&T recently took full ownership of Cingular as part of its recent merger with BellSouth and intends to eliminate the brand name. AT&T sued NASCAR on March 16 after racing series officials refused to allow AT&T to put its logo on Burton’s car because of NASCAR’s deal with Nextel, which sponsors NASCAR’s top series — the Nextel Cup. “We must bring this issue to resolution,” John Burbank, vice president of marketing for AT&T, said in a statement. “The season is well under way and so are our rebranding efforts. This filing is a logical next step for us in the process, and one we must pursue so that we can simply move forward with our paint scheme — something our agreement with NASCAR allows us to do.” AT&T officials acknowledge they agreed to a contract with Childress’ team that contains provisions saying Cingular can’t increase the size or placement of its logo on the car and can’t switch its sponsorship to another team. But they say the contract does not contain language preventing a logo change if Cingular is bought out by another company. NASCAR and Nextel officials declined comment when the lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit seeks permission to make the logo switch and damages for the “substantial harm” NASCAR has caused to the company. The lawsuit calls altering the design of the #31 car an “integral part” of the company’s brand name switch, and that NASCAR’s refusal to allow it inhibits the company’s ability to “attract new customers and retain existing ones.”(AP/ESPN.com), see past news on the AT&T lawsuit and Cingular on my #31 Team Schemes page.(3-26-2007) UPDATE – NASCAR fires back: AT&T has been pressuring NASCAR with its lawsuit over how to paint the quarter panels on Jeff Burton’s Nextel Cup #31 Chevy car as it rebrands Cingular under the AT&T logo. According to papers being filed in the suit, NASCAR officials told Stan Sigman, the president and CEO of Cingular, five weeks ago that in April 2005, George Pyne, NASCAR’s CEO at the time, told the Richard Childress-Burton team that it would not allow a change in paint scheme or logos if Cingular was bought and had its name changed. NASCAR further said that its grandfathering of Cingular – after Nextel signed on as the series sponsor – “was tied directly to the Cingular Wireless brand and not the Cingular company.” The papers further say that “it is generally not in NASCAR’s interest to limit sponsors’ participation in the sport.” NASCAR suggested that AT&T could sponsor a Busch team or a Trucks team instead, if it wished. That is precisely the route that Verizon has taken. NASCAR’s filing refers specifically to Pyne’s letter to Childress, dated April 4, 2005. It specifies that “should Cingular be acquired by a third party, the Cingular brand is continually welcome as a team sponsor. However, should the company’s name change, we will not allow any paint scheme or branding on the car promoting this new name.” The papers go on to say: “NASCAR certainly has no desire to eliminate the Cingular brand from NASCAR Nextel Cup series competition.” But, “unfortunately AT&T’s decision to purchase Cingular and then to eliminate the Cingular brand puts NASCAR in the position of having to now enforce the rights granted Nextel in the series sponsorship agreement.”(in part from the Winston Salem Journal)(3-28-2007)
Teams use thinner metal on exhaust at Bristol, causes problems:#11-Denny Hamlin said the first race with the Car of Tomorrow, last week at Bristol, wasn’t that much different. How he felt afterward sure was. Hamlin said yesterday during Busch Series testing at Richmond International Raceway that he and several other drivers had “extremely bad headaches” along with aches throughout the body. “I had to get blood tested yesterday to see what was wrong with me because I felt terrible,” Hamlin said. “I talked to my physical trainer who talked to other physical trainers who said their guys took the day off because they couldn’t do anything yesterday.” Hamlin said he wondered whether it had anything to do with a carbon monoxide problem. Kerry Tharp, the director of communications for NASCAR competition, said yesterday by phone that several teams, including Hamlin’s #11, had exhaust system failures. A number of teams, in trying to conserve weight on the new car, opted for a thinner metal piping for their exhaust systems. That led to failures. The problem is not expected to repeat this weekend at Martinsville.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(3-28-2007)
Hamlin’s #11 Crew Takes Pit Crew Challenge Win in Bristol: Denny Hamlin’s over-the-wall crew captured the Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge in Sunday’s Food City 500 Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The #11 FedEx Chevry, owned by Joe Gibbs Racing, spent the least amount of time on pit road (190.763 seconds) during the 500-lap event at the .533-mile oval. “The FedEx over-the-wall crew was great all day at Bristol. I think they picked up spots for me each time I pitted and they helped put the team in position to win,” said Hamlin. “This was a total team effort and I want to thank the guys back at the shop and crew for all the work they did to get these new cars ready to race. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a better end to the weekend, but with this team, I have no doubt we’ll have another chance to win soon.” Checkers/Rally’s awards the winning Nextel Cup pit crew each week with a cash prize of $11,000. The #11 crew includes: Chris Webb (jackman), Chad Edwards (front-tire carrier), Donnie Brown (front-tire changer), Heath Cherry (rear-tire carrier), Dennis Terry (rear-tire changer), Scott Wood (gasman), John Eicher (catch can), Bobby “Spike” Christenson (windshield) and John Furino (pit support). The team’s crew chief is Mike Ford and the pit crew coordinator is Paul Alepa. An additional $111,150 will be presented to the pit crew with the most wins at the completion of the 36-race Nextel Cup schedule. To win the Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge, teams are required to finish on the lead lap while spending the least amount of time on pit road. Checkers/Rally’s is in its third season as title sponsor for the pit crew challenge. Checkers/Rally’s is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at checkers.com.(DMF Communications PR)(3-28-2007)
Mears gives Dad a nice birthday present: Roger Mears, father of #25-Casey Mears, drives his son’s motor coach from race to race during the NASCAR season and is a familiar face at the track. However, the former off-road racer won’t be so easy to find this weekend in Martinsville. Roger Mears, who celebrated his 60th birthday last Saturday, will be at the Barrett-Jackson auction — also known as the “World’s Greatest Collector Car Event” — in Palm Beach, Fla., from March 28 to April 1. The younger Mears, driver of the No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, arranged for his father to attend the event as a birthday present and even slipped a blank check in with the ticket.(Hendrick Motorsports)(3-28-2007)
Germain Racing to Run some Busch Races UPDATE 2 and Cup:“We were going to run a few races with the new Car of Tomorrow, but in retrospect we felt we maybe ought to back down on that a little bit and run some Busch races instead,” [Ted] Musgrave said. “I think that’s where we’re leaning, try to get the Toyota flag flying there, but one thing’s for sure, we’re going to try to go for the championship in the Truck Series again.” [Tddd] Bodine will drive the Busch car, according to Germain, who explained that it was Toyota who came to his team and sked if they would hold off on the Car of Tomorrow and run a partial Busch schedule.(Naples Daily News)(2-12-2007) UPDATE: Interviewed on Sirius Radio’s The Morning Drive [with Marty Snider & David Poole], Todd Bodine said his Germain Racing team will test at Richmond this week. They currently plan on running about 12 Busch races this season, starting at Richmond. The team also still plans 3-4 Cup races, possibly starting at the Brickyard [Indy].(3-27-2007) UPDATE 2: Germain Racing plans to field two fulltime Nextel Cup teams for Toyota by 2009. Todd Bodine took the first step in that process on Tuesday, testing a Busch Series car at Richmond. Germain Racing will enter Bodine in the May 4 Richmond Busch race in a Camry being built at its new Mooresville, NC, shop. It is the first of 11 Busch events the 43-year-old Bodine is scheduled to enter this season.(ESPN.com)(3-27-2007)
Bodine to add another venue to his Bobsled Challenge: Geoff Bodine. who last year persuaded 10 race car drivers to get behind the cowls of specially made bobsleds and race to raise money for the U.S. bobsled team, is taking his project to Utah Olympic Park. “We’re going to have two,” Bodine said Tuesday from Park City, Utah. “They saw our event and asked us to come out. This is going to be a good venue.” The new event will be staged in December after a World Cup event at the Park City track. The Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, which relies on Whelen Engineering for substantial sponsorship, made its debut in Lake Placid in January 2006 and was staged again the first weekend of this year. Boris Said, a road-racing expert whose father competed on two U.S. Olympic bobsled teams, has won three of the four races. He was in Park City on Tuesday to test a bobsled that was modified for the new event. Drivers who have raced on the difficult Lake Placid track drove a shortened course on the 20-turn chute and recorded speeds of just over 50 miles per hour. Said drove the entire track at Utah Olympic Park and was clocked around 73 mph, according to John Morgan, a TV commentator for the sport and co-organizer of the Bobsled Challenge. Because of hectic schedules, Bodine so far has been unable to attract a current Nextel Cup star, such as Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon, to either of the first two runnings of his fundraiser, which will return to Lake Placid the first weekend in January. Still, the races so far have been successful at raising money for increased research and development for the U.S. bobsled team, which excelled in the 2006-07 World Cup season. Steve Holcomb, a native of Park City, won the two-man and overall titles, and Shauna Rohbock, of Orem, Utah, finished second to German women’s champion Sandra Kiriasis. Over the past 15 years, Bodine has raised more than $1 million to help build American-made bobsleds through his Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project.(ESPN.com/AP)(3-28-2007)
NASCAR Images up for some Emmy’s: NASCAR Images, the internal production and creative services company of NASCAR, has been nominated for two Emmy Awards for the television program Beyond the Wheel. The 2006 Emmy Award nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences are for “Live Event Turnaround” and “Camera Work.” Beyond the Wheel was also nominated in the Live Event Turnaround category in 2005.(NASCAR PR)(3-28-2007)
News from March 27, 2007
Gordon’s shop not ready…Cal Wells helps out UPDATE 2: #7-Robby Gordon said Friday that his new shop in Charlotte, N.C., will not be ready in May as he had hoped. “The weather this winter has just killed us,” said Gordon. “We’re moving dirt and getting up to speed on that, it’s just taking longer than I wanted, to be honest with you, to get the stuff in place.” The Nextel Cup owner/driver did not have a firm completion date, but said the pouring of the foundation for the new home of Robby Gordon Motorsports should be “in the next couple of weeks.” Gordon also has enlisted the help of former NASCAR Nextel Cup team owner Cal Wells III. “Cal’s been coming to work with us on race weekends and observing,” said Gordon Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “He’s just trying to help me in any way he can with the experience that he has.” As for the new Fusion Car of Tomorrow, Gordon is enthusiastic. “I’m fine with the new car,” said Gordon, who once again is without a sponsor this weekend. “I think it’s the great equalizer. We just haven’t got our piece figured out yet.”(Ford Racing)(3-25-2007) UPDATE: Former car owner Cal Wells said he’s in talks with sponsors and an ownership group to be part of a two-car effort next season. Wells said he hopes to have a deal done later this spring. He would be a minority owner in the team but run it.(Roanoke Times)(3-26-2007) UPDATE 2: from Cal Wells III: “I have known the entire Gordon family for decades. Robby’s father drove for me in my early years of off-road racing and Robby has driven for me in off-road and in Indy car. We’ve had our good times and our challenges, been mad at each other, supported each other, but most of all, we’ve remained family friends. He and his sisters along with his mom and dad and step-mom, all good friends. As Robby’s racing organization continues to develop, it is going through what all small businesses go through, a challenging evolution, Rob reached out for some advice but nothing more. I don’t work there, haven’t taken a job there, just helping him out a little bit on a couple of deals he is working on, which if successful will really establish his organization as a force in the garage area. Our relationship works best when I offer supportive suggestions but not for compensation or an obligation from him to follow any of them. As for myself, I am actually working on a couple of opportunities which will hopefully keep me in the sport I so dearly love. Time and hard work will tell.”(3-27-2007)
New website for Wood Bros: The Wood Brothers/JTG Race Team has undergone an extreme makeover regarding their official team website, located at www.woodbrothersjtg.com. After months of careful planning, the redesigned site hit the Internet over a week ago in a Beta Test Phase and now is ready for fans and visitors alike to browse the updated offerings.(PR)(3-27-2007)
Johnson to open up Victory Junction Bowling Alley: Jimmie and Chandra Johnson and the Pettys will celebrate the Grand Opening of Jimmie Johnson’s Victory Lanes at the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, NC on Thursday, March 29 from 2:00 – 4:00pm/et. More info about the camp at Victory Junction Gang Camp.(3-27-2007)
#16 declared too low after Bristol race UPDATE penalty delayed, if any? #16-Greg Biffle’s team faces penalties after his car failed post-race inspection following a fifth-place finish. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president for competition, said the car was too low. Pemberton would not speculate on the penalty, which could include a fine and points deduction, saying inspectors wanted to go over the car completely at the R&D Center in Concord, N.C., before a ruling is made. Biffle’s car, as well as the #5 of winner Kyle Busch, were taken to Concord as a part of what will be a routine process as NASCAR implements the Car of Tomorrow this season. Pemberton said Busch would have the car back in time for Martinsville. That was good news to crew chief Alan Gustafson, who plans to use the car as a backup next week.(ESPN.com)(3-25-2007) UPDATE: From Larry McReynolds’ column at FoxSports.com: “Don’t expect to see a decision handed down this week against Greg Biffle and the #16 Roush Fenway Racing Nextel Cup team because a rear quarterpanel was low, and that’s not something a team would want to have at Bristol. NASCAR can’t figure out how it would be a performance enhancement. I don’t look for any penalties this week. You’re going to probably see something next week as this scenario is another part of the learning process with the Car of Tomorrow.(FoxSports.com)(3-27-2007)
Schrader testing at Caraway: In preparation for Martinsville, Ken Schrader the #21 Little Debbie Ford decided to test at Carraway Speedway on Tuesday, March 27th. Schrader needs to race his way into the field at Martinsville as the team is not in the top 35 in owners points.(Wood Brothers/JTG Racing PR)(3-27-2007)
COT and Haulers Fact: One of the big controversies about the Car of Tomorrow concerned the race haulers, the 53-foot tractor-trailers teams use to haul cars to and from the track. Last year, when team owners were fighting the CoT concept tooth and nail, one of their prime objections was that the taller CoTs would necessitate wholesale replacement of the pricey trailers. NASCAR insisted that wasn’t true. So what’s the real story? Newer trailers—those made in the last two years—have a lowered upper deck floor that accommodates the new, taller cars just fine. But some of the smaller teams that use older trailers have to replace the race tires on their CoTs to get them to fit. For example, BAM Racing, which fields cars for Mike Bliss, has a set of tire innerliners that it puts on Bliss’s CoT to get it to fit in the trailer. The innerliners, of course, aren’t as tall as the regular race tires. At least one other team uses production street tires when it loads its CoT. One other footnote about the trailers: The average life expectancy of a NASCAR Nextel Cup trailer is about 3-4 years. At the end of its life cycle, technology has advanced enough that teams want new features and configurations in their trailers.(Ford Racing)(3-27-2007)
Vickers suffers burns at Bristol; will test this week: #83-Brian Vickers’ cockpit was contaminated by excessive heat and fumes resulting from an exhaust system failure half-way through the race [at Bristol]. Vickers soldiered on for 200+ laps while enduring burns on his bottom and feet and noxious exhaust leaking into his racecar to lead a lap in competition and finish on the lead lap in 15th place. Part-way through the race, Vickers suddenly radioed the team that his engine was running roughly and he had smoke and fumes entering his cockpit. Initially suspecting another engine malady, it was subsequently revealed that a section of exhaust pipe directly beneath Vickers seat had failed and separated, affecting the engine’s performance. Vickers reported a severe heat problem developing inside his Toyota. Representatives of BVLLC reported Monday afternoon that Brian Vickers is doing well and recovering from the 1st and 2nd-degree burns suffered to his bottom/feet and exhaust inhalation Vickers experienced during Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Vickers requested medical attention following the race, including oxygen, and is resting at home in Charlotte. He plans to address TRB business obligations Tuesday, test at Greenville-Pickens Speedway on Wednesday and is expected to be ready for this weekend’s race at Martinsville.(Brianvickers.com)(3-27-2007)
ESPN360.com To Feature All 26 ESPN2 Busch Series Races Live:ESPN announced today that its signature broadband service, ESPN360.com, will deliver live online simulcasts of every remaining ESPN2 Busch Series telecast – 26 in all, beginning on April 7 at the Nashville Superspeedway. Coverage will also include simulcasts of ESPN2’s pre-race programming, including each week’s NASCAR Countdown. ESPN360.com’s live coverage will be integrated directly into the ESPN.com RaceCast, allowing fans with access to ESPN360.com to not only watch the live race Webcast, but also follow the in-race animated graphic display and get track information, lap leaders, race leaders, driver stats and live chat with ESPN NASCAR contributor Tim Cowlishaw throughout the race. ESPN360.com is available at no charge to consumers in more than 15 million homes nationwide, via highspeed Internet connections provided by ESPN affiliated service providers. ESPN360.com’s coverage will make it the live online home of the Busch Series, complementing ESPN2 as the television home of the Busch Series.
Highlights: Extensive videohighlights from every Busch and NEXTEL Cup race on ESPN.com and ESPN360.com
Surrounding Action: Additional video from each race, including insider features, practice and qualifying footage, interviews with drivers, pit teams, extensions to ESPN studio programming and video blogs covering major news and events.
Season-Long Driver Capsules: ESPN360.com features exclusive driver-specific video capsules, progressively updated throughout the season, that provide season-to-date highlights, interviews, news and all other driver-related video.(ESPN PR)(3-27-2007)
IROC Site Tribute: the IROC site has a thank you posted with a nice tribute to the IROC Series, the series has cancelled the first two races of the 2007 season, for more see the IROCracing.com site.(3-27-2007)
News from March 26, 2007
Overnight Bristol TV Ratings down: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Food City 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway earned a 4.9 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and an 11 market share, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 7.5% lower than the 5.3 the race drew overnight in 2006 and 12.5% lower than the 5.6 overnight figure in 2005.(SceneDaily.com), see past ratings and news, plus the Ratings Chart on my 2007 TV Ratings page.(3-26-2007)
Dodge execs repeat commitment to teams [and the sport]: Dodge will remain committed to the NASCAR Nextel Cup series regardless of whether Chrysler is sold, the director of Dodge motorsports said Sunday. “Yeah, there are some things going on, things we’re looking at, but it’s not going to affect our racing program,” Mike Accavitti said during the Car of Tomorrow’s debut at Bristol Motor Speedway. Accavitti and Tom LaSorda, the chairman of DaimlerChrysler, visited with the owners of three of Dodge’s top teams — Evernham Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and Penske Racing — before Sunday’s race. “We talked to everybody today,” Accavitti said. “The message is pretty consistent. We don’t intend on going anywhere.” That doesn’t mean Chrysler won’t. KeyBank Capital Markets analyst Brett Hoselton recently reported that Canadian-based Magna International Inc. and an unnamed equity group have offered $4.6 billion to $4.7 billion for Chrysler. “This is being handled by people at a much higher level than I am,” Accavitti said. “As far as they’re concerned, they’d like to bring a quicker resolution to it than a slower resolution. Every indication I have is it’ll be sooner rather than later.” There have been reports that the sale could happen within the next week or so. “Under any scenario, as far as we’re concerned, we see us remaining involved in NASCAR,” said Accavitti, noting Dodge’s contracts with its NASCAR teams range from one to five more years. It’s a great way to reach those fans and tell them about the performance brand of Dodge.”(ESPN.com)(3-26-2007)
Jarrett to test at Kentucky: Michael Waltrip Racing driver #44-Dale Jarrett is scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway Tuesday, March 27. Test sessions begin at 9:00am and conclude at approximately 5:00pm. Mark Green tested the #44 on Monday. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-26-2007)
Commercial breakdown for the Food City 500 at Bristol:
Total number of commercials: 138
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 64
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 28
Total number of companies or entities advertised in brief promos or crawlers: 27
Total amount of time these brief promos take during broadcast: app. 2 min. 30 sec.
Items of interest this week: ABC missed more than one restart during the Busch race of Saturday. At one point during Sunday’s race, Fox returned from commercial and did an app. 25 seconds of promos, nearly missing one restart. Just as the cameras focused on the track, the green flag flew and the cars surged forward. Close one. So far this year, have not recorded Fox missing one restart.
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:11 P.M.
End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:45 P.M.
Total minutes: 214
Minutes of race broadcast: 154
Minutes of commercials: 60
See full report at CawsnJaws.com.(3-26-2007)
Study: Will NASCAR’s Increased Safety Efforts Increase Accidents? When NASCAR debuts the Car of Tomorrow at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 25 [yesterday], Todd Nesbit, an avid NASCAR fan and assistant professor of economics at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, will be busy counting the number of accidents—and how many of those drivers walk away without a scratch. In 2006, Nesbit and Russell Sobel, professor of economics at West Virginia University, produced a study that explored how drivers react to having cars so safe that they can generally walk away with no injuries after crashing into a concrete wall or another car at a very high rate of speed. “Based on results of our study, we would project that drivers will drive more recklessly and take more risks while driving the Car of Tomorrow,” Nesbit said. “Initially, there will be a learning curve for everyone, which will likely increase the number of accidents as drivers and crews get used to the vehicles. Once the learning curve has passed, we predict that the new normal rate of crashes will be higher than it is currently because of the response to additional safety features on the Car of Tomorrow.” The study, “Automobile safety regulation and the incentive to drive recklessly: Evidence from NASCAR,” shows that NASCAR drivers, in fact, do drive more recklessly in response to the increased safety of their vehicles. However, even with an increase in accidents, there is a reduction in total injuries—because the increase in riskier driving is not enough to offset the benefits from an increase in safety features. See the full article/study at (Penn State University)(3-26-2007)
News from March 25, 2007
Roush Fenway must lose team by 2010 UPDATE losing Ameriquest after 2007: Roush Fenway Racing will have to decrease its number of Nextel Cup teams from five to four by the start of the 2010 season, team president Geoff Smith said Saturday. NASCAR announced in 2005 that it would limit organizations to four fulltime Cup teams and that it would work with Roush to get down from four to five. Originally, the agreement was that once Roush lost a sponsor and driver at the same time, it would have to get down to four. “That [original discussion] triggered a loop that made the shrinkage date unpredictable, so it was [changed to] very simply, when the 2010 season starts, you’ll have four,” Smith said. “We have to be at four at the start of 2010, regardless of what happens to us in the interim, if we lose a driver, lose a sponsor.” Smith indicated that his contracts are solid through the 2009 season. He also said in the perfect world, Roush would sell one of the teams. “We’ve got three more years to sell one of our teams off,” Smith said. “Hopefully, we can retain some business with that sale.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-24-2007) UPDATE: Changes are on the way at Roush Fenway Racing, which is losing one primary sponsor after this season and has been ordered by NASCAR to drop one of its five Nextel Cup teams by 2010. Ameriquest, the mortgage company that became the primary sponsor of Greg Biffle’s #16 car this season, has asked Roush Fenway to sell off the final two years of its contract, which expires in 2009. The lender’s struggling parent company recently announced a second round of layoffs, and Ameriquest last week pulled out of a 30-year deal as rights holder to the name of the Texas Rangers’ ballpark. “It’s very clear that they want to reduce their contract exposure to us,” Roush Fenway president Geoff Smith said Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “If we weren’t able to do that, then you get into, OK, here’s your car, what are we going to do with it? You’ve got this lame duck environment going on, which is not helpful to anybody. So in practical terms, we can assume that we’ll have another sponsor for next season.” Smith doesn’t anticipate any difficulties in finding a new sponsor, especially given that Roush Fenway has nearly an entire season to search. Roush Fenway also has until the 2010 season to comply with NASCAR’s maximum of four cars per organization, announced by the sanctioning body in 2005. The car cap was put in place after all five Roush cars qualified for the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship. “There’s no mistaking our understanding of what we have to do,” Smith said. “Regardless of what goes on within our programs, we have to go to four [cars] in 2010.”(NASCAR.com)(3-25-2007)
New DEI deal for Dale Jr. by May a ‘realistic goal’: Although negotiations are on hold, that shouldn’t prevent #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. from having a new deal with Dale Earnhardt Inc. by May. “Absolutely,” Max Siegel, the president of Global Operations for DEI, said before Sunday’s Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. “All of the issues are properly framed. That’s a realistic goal.” Negotiations were put on hold when Earnhardt Jr.’s sister and business partner, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, underwent surgery on Friday to remove tumors from her pancreas. She is expected to stay in the hospital for four or five days. “She’s at a critical part of this process,” Siegel said. “I don’t want the focus to be on her recovery for the contract negotiation. “Every day we’re checking in with her and making sure that the first priority is her getting healthy. As soon as they’re ready to resume any kind of discussions we’re ready.” Siegel doesn’t foresee any situation in which negotiations would continue without Kelley. But Siegel sees no reason why a new deal can’t still be done by May while DEI still has exclusive negotiating rights. “You can’t really rush the process,” he said. “We’re all headed in the right direction, so just as soon as it makes sense for us to sit back down we will. But none of us want to do anything that is going to interfere with her recovery or frame of mind.” Earnhardt Jr. is in the last year of his contract with the company his father built. He said earlier this year he wanted majority ownership to be a part of his new deal.(ESPN.com)(3-25-2007)
Kyle Busch wins 1st COT race at Bristol: #5-Kyle Busch won the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway for his 1st win of the 2007 season, 4th career win and 200th NASCAR [Cup, Busch, Trucks] win. There was a green-white-checker finish after a late caution, with #5-Busch holding off a hard charging #31-Jeff Burton, who held on to 2nd, followed by #24-Gordon, #29-Harvick, #16-Biffle, #66-Green, #8-Earnhardt Jr, #07-Bowyer, #26-McMurray and #25-Mears. #20-Stewart led the most laps, but had a fuel system problem religated Stewart to a finish of 35th. #24-Gordon takes over the points lead from idle #01-Martin. There were 15 cautions for 90 laps and 10 drivers lead the race with 14 lead changes. 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.(3-25-2007)
Unofficial Driver Points Top-12 Standing after Bristol [5 of 36 races]:
#24-Jeff Gordon 791
#31-Jeff Burton 788 -3
#48-Jimmie Johnson 716 -75
#17-Matt Kenseth 697 -94
#29-Kevin Harvick 647 -144
#5-Kyle Busch 639 -152
#01-Mark Martin 629 -162 [missed 1 race]
#07-Clint Bowyer 621 -170
#11-Denny Hamlin 606 -185
#99-Carl Edwards 598 -193
#40-David Stremme 587 -204
#20-Tony Stewart 575 -216 some noteables:
#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 17th
#9-Kasey Kahne is 34th
For drivers/owners points, see my Jayski’s Drivers/Owners Points Page.(3-25-2007)
Bristol Penalty Report: Car#, Penalty, Reason, Issued
1 #01 OL Car/truck pitting out of the assigned pit box 51
2 #43 TE Excessive speed – Exiting pits 52
3 #10 PT Excessive Speed-Entering pits 105
4 #96 MCI Lug nut(s) not installed 152
5 #36 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 226
6 #36 TE Commitment Line Violation 226
7 #9 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 282
8 #31 TE Excessive Speed-Entering pits 284
9 #20 TE Commitment Line Violation 289
10 #18 TE Excessive Speed-Entering pits 312
11 #7 TE Excessive Speed-Entering pits 380
12 #88 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 413
13 #21 OL Car/truck pitting out of the assigned pit box 416
14 #48 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 485
15 #88 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 485
16 #22 TE Excessive speed – Exiting pits 488
PT – Pass through
TE – Tail end of the longest line
SG – Stop and Go
OL – One lap
ND – NASCAR discretion
MCI – Must come into pits
(Provided by NASCAR Statistics)(3-25-2007)
Rumblings – Bristol Race Notes: Kyle Busch won the first-ever COT event today at Bristol Motor Speedway as he took the Food City 504 by about a half-length over Jeff Burton, barely surviving a G/W/C in the process. It was the 4th Nextel Cup win of Kyle’s young career (he’s tied for 69th on the all-time win list) and the 152nd for Hendrick Motorsports (their third in a row, btw). The victory was worth $179,400 from the over $5.5M in posted awards, and puts the #5 car on the Winners Circle plan for 2007. Reviews will be mixed on the COT. There’s a bunch of drivers who don’t like the car….and the racing today was certainly not as good as many Bristol races we’ve seen. One thing’s for sure, they’re gonna have to do something with that front splitter…. By popular demand, we got to see Carl Edwards’ back-flip a day late….. Take that ABC/ESPN! We also got somewhat of a clarification concerning the Chase and the #01 car….as we expected. So, if you’re gonna follow that Owner Points race with a fervor, dig in!
Jeff Green (6th) had his best finish since he was 5th at Talladega in October of 2002!
Jamie McMurray (9th) had his best finish since he was 3rd at Watkins Glen last August.
Mike Bliss (17th) had his best finish since he was 12th at Homestead in November of 2005.
Ward Burton (18th) had his best finish since he was 10th at Talladega in October of 2004!
Kenny Wallace (21st) had his best finish since he was 21st at Homestead in November of 2005.
Jeremy Mayfield (34th) had his best finish since he was 29th at Loudon last July (only four races).
STREAKIN….Jeff Burton has 4 Top-5’s in the last 5 races.
Jeff Gordon has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
This Week’s Elevator…..UP: Operator of the Week is Kevin Harvick (+36), followed by Jeff Burton (+27), Matt Kenseth (+27), Dale Earnhardt Jr (+24), Carl Edwards (+20), and David Stremme (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Scott Riggs (-33), followed by Tony Stewart (-31), Elliott Sadler (-24), and Martin Truex Jr (-24). This is the second time at the top (and bottom) of the Shaft for both leaders this week…..Harvick was the Op at Daytona and for Riggs this is two in a row.
(see full newsletter at Stock Car Fans.com)(3-26-2007)
Bristol Race Notes:
Kyle Busch won the Food City 500, winning the first Car of Tomorrow race. It is his fourth victory in 79 Nextel Cup Series races.
.. This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in 2007.
.. This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in five races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
.. Kyle Busch has won at least one race in each of the past three Nextel Cup Series seasons.
.. Jeff Burton finished second, his second straight runner-up finish and his third top-10 overall at Bristol.
.. Jeff Gordon finished third, his 18th top-10 finish in 29 Bristol races.
.. Kevin Harvick finished fourth, posting his ninth top-10 finish in 13 races at Bristol. Six of his finishes here have been fourth or better. .. Jeff Gordon took over the lead in the Nextel Cup point standings, his first time atop the points since Feb. 20, 2005. Gordon leads Jeff Burton by just three points.
.. Mark Martin fell from fist to seventh in the point standings.
.. This was the 600th Nextel Cup victory for Chevrolet.(NASCAR Stats)(3-25-2007)
Founder of Hot Rod Mag passes away: Robert E. Petersen, an entrepreneur who single-handedly created the largest special-interest publishing company in America, was instrumental in the evolution of the hot-rodding culture, and who, with his wife Margie, realized his dream of establishing an educational museum to pay tribute to the automobile, died on Friday, March 23, at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. after a short but valiant battle with neuroendocrine cancer. He was 80. In January 1948 he launched Hot Rod Magazine, and hawked the magazine at local speedways for 25 cents a copy. Motor Trend, a more upscale publication for production car enthusiasts, and dozens of other titles aimed at specialty automotive segments soon followed.(Hot Rod Magazine site)(3-25-2007)
Tragic News: Three friends bound for a NASCAR race in Tennessee were killed yesterday when their small plane crashed shortly after takeoff into a patch of woods near a Jacksonville home. Baltimore County police identified the victims as Theodore C. Ryder, 45, who was piloting the aircraft, Paul E. Sorensen, 48, and Timothy H. Conner, 48 – all from Joppa. There were no injuries on the ground, officials said. Officials said the plane, a six-seat Piper Saratoga, took off from Harford County Airport in Churchville at 9:06 a.m. and crashed about nine minutes later. The plane was heading for Abingdon, Va., and family said the three expected to attend a car race in nearby Bristol, Tenn.(Baltimore Sun)(3-25-2007)
Chevy Impala Fact: Food City 500 marks the return of the legendary Impala nameplate to NASCAR Cup competition. Impala has 60 NASCAR Cup wins to date. Last Impala victory was December 1, 1963 by Wendell Scott at Jacksonville Speedway, the only African-American driver to ever win a NASCAR Cup race.(GM Racing PR)(3-25-2007)
RIR to remain an impound race: Nextel Cup teams better make good use of their car of tomorrow test April 3-4 at Richmond International Raceway because they won’t get separate qualifying and race practice when they go there for the May 4-5 race weekend. Richmond remains an impound race, just as it was for both races last year, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said Friday. The Friday-Saturday schedule of the Richmond weekend allows for the impound procedure – where there is no practice between qualifying and the race – to make the schedule a little less hectic. While Richmond remains an impound race, when the teams go the following week to Darlington Raceway, they will not have their cars impounded. Darlington was not an impound race last year. Darlington also will be a COT race, and that will be the first COT race at a track longer than a mile [1.36miles].(SceneDaily.com)(3-25-2007)
Waltrip gets help from Toyota: Toyota is taking aggressive measures, similar to the way it moved into the Craftsman Truck Series, to improve its Nextel Cup teams. Lee White, the general manager for Toyota Racing Development, said Saturday that TRD engineers are preparing a car from Michael Waltrip Racing that the struggling Waltrip could use at a future 1.5-mile track. He said TRD also has offered to build a Car of Tomorrow road-course car for Bill Davis Racing and a COT superspeedway car for Team Red Bull to use at the second Talladega race. But White insisted Toyota will not centralize the construction of Cup cars the way it did its trucks. White said four days are scheduled for Waltrip, who has missed the last four races, to test the car that was driven by Dale Jarrett at California. He said if the car ever gets into a Cup event it would be at the May race in Charlotte. White said the car will then go to Bill Davis’ shop in the High Point, N.C., area and be put on a chassis machine, measured, checked and rechecked. White said he is encouraged by the progress Toyota has made the past month, particularly getting five of seven cars into Sunday’s inaugural COT race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a subpar test last month. He said the company remains patient, understanding it will take time to make a mark in NASCAR’s premier series. He hopes sponsors will remain patient as well, particularly NAPA, the primary sponsor of Waltrip’s car. White added that Toyota is nearing a deal with a Busch team to run a few COT Cup road courses this year. He said Wyler Racing, which fields the Toyota Tundra driven by Jack Sprague in the Truck Series, might participate in a COT race later this year. He doesn’t anticipate major expansion next season.(ESPN.com) AND Toyota is sending one of Michael Waltrip Racing’s Camrys back to its TRD research center for a complete dismantling to see if they can learn why the car is so slow.(Ford Racing)(3-25-2007)
Carmichael Debuted in Stock Car Race Saturday UPDATE 2:Supercross champion Ricky Carmichael makes his stock car debut in a Super Late Model feature driving a car owned by Mark Martin at Columbia Motorsports Park in Lake City, FL, Saturday, March 24, 2007, gates open at 6:00pm/et info at columbiamotorsportspark.com. SPONSOR: Ginn Racing announced that Monster Energy will be the primary sponsor of Ricky Carmichael’s late model stock car program which begins Saturday night (March 24) at Columbia Motorsports Park in Lake City, FL. Ginn’s Nextel Cup pilot Mark Martin will mentor Carmichael as part of his role as the company’s driver development director. The 27-year-old Carmichael is expected to run in 15 late model stock car races in 2007. After this weekend’s race in Lake City, Carmichael’s other two scheduled events at this time are April 21 and April 28 at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, FL. Monster Energy, the popular energy drink, has been a major sponsor of Carmichael’s Supercross and motocross programs.(Ginn Racing PR)(3-24-2007) UPDATE 2: Ginn Racing development driver and motocross champion Ricky Carmichael made his stock car debut Saturday night in a super late model race at Columbia Motorsports Park [Lake City, FL]. Under the watchful eye of Nextel Cup point leader Mark Martin, Carmichael finished third in his heat race. In the main feature, he overcame a second lap incident, but on Lap 7 of 25 his right-front tire went flat, sending his #4 Monster Energy Chevy into the wall and a premature exit from the race. Fellow Ginn development driver Matt Martin finished fourth in his heat and seventh overall in the feature. Carmichael’s next two scheduled late model races will be April 21 and April 28 at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. He is expected to compete in a total of 15 late model races this season.(Ginn Racing PR)(3-25-2007)
News from March 24, 2007
Burton hopes for resolution soon with AT&T suit: #31-Jeff Burton says his Richard Childress Racing team can’t wait long for a resolution to its AT&T lawsuit against NASCAR. That’s why he’s keenly awaiting to see if AT&T will get the injunction it’s asking for to be allowed to put the AT&T logos on the car in place of Cingular. AT&T and Cingular merged earlier this year, and AT&T is phasing out the Cingular brand. AT&T wants to put its logos on the #31 Nextel Cup car, but NASCAR has said that conflicts with NASCAR’s sponsorship agreement with Nextel. No hearings have yet been set in AT&T’s request for a temporary injunction as well as a permanent injunction for it to be allowed to remain as a Cup sponsor. NASCAR has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which was filed March 16 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. “It can’t linger,” Burton said Friday. “An injunction will have a much quicker decision than a regular court case, and then it still will go to court later. … If AT&T is told it can’t come back, then we have people that we have to feed, people that have house payments and have a life they have to live and they have to be paid. We can’t be caught in the position of not having sponsorship going into ’08. And if AT&T raised their hand and say, ‘We’re going to get out and fight it later,’ they might not ever be able to get back in.” When NASCAR negotiated a 10-year deal with Nextel in 2003 worth an estimated, $700-$750 million, it grandfathered in Cingular but not AT&T. The Cingluar sponsorship was set to run out at the end of the year, and AT&T wants to renew but must now wait for the courts.(SceneDaily.com)(3-24-2007)
Next race for Chevy engine at Texas: Richard Childress Racing likely won’t attempt to run the new Chevrolet engine until next month at Texas. #33-Scott Wimmer failed to qualify using that motor at Atlanta last week. The team plans an endurance test of at least 500 miles on the engine at Kentucky Speedway before Texas.(Roanoke Times)(3-24-2007)
Next race for Almirola is RIR: In addition to a 14-race Busch schedule, #80-Aric Almirola will attempt to qualify for four Cup races this season, the next coming at Richmond International Raceway in May. He made his Cup debut in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 two weeks ago at Las Vegas, where he qualified 31st and finished 41st.(Roanoke Times)(3-24-2007)
News from March 23, 2007
Sad News – Eric Medlen: NHRA Funny Car driver Eric Medlen died Friday, four days after he suffered a severe closed-head injury in a test session crash at Gainesville, Fla. He was 33. Medlen’s family elected to have him taken off life-support systems, which they said was Eric’s wish for this type of situation. Medlen’s Mustang Funny Car crashed head on into the right concrete barrier after it blew a tire on a test run the day after the Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Medlen was one of four drivers for John Force Racing. The other three JFR drivers — Force, Robert Hight and Ashley Force — stayed in Florida with Medlen’s family. Eric’s father, John Medlen, said, “On behalf of the family, I want to thank the medical staff at Shands not just for giving Eric the very best care he could have received, but for the compassion it showed for Eric and all those close to him. I also want to thank the thousands of people who offered their prayers and support to us during this very difficult time.” More at ESPN.com, NHRA.com and Ford Racing.(3-23-2007)
Dale Jr./DEI conracts on hold while sister is in hospital UPDATE:Negotiations to re-sign with the company his father built isn’t #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s top concern at the moment. The health of his sister is. Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, who has been negotiating the new deal at Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) with her brother, is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday. “My sister is in the hospital right now, so we’re going to have to put everything on hold for a while,” Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “She’s going to be in the hospital for a couple of days. We’ll be watching that pretty closely. Everything in life is on hold until that gets better.” Representatives of DEI would not discuss specifics of the surgery, only to say that the family was concerned. A source close to the situation said a benign cyst was discovered on Elledge’s pancreas last week. Elledge’s situation has forced the postponement of several negotiation meetings the past week and a half. But sources close to the situation said the meetings prior to that had gone well and that Teresa Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr.’s stepmother and the owner of DEI, was actively involved. “Our No. 1 priority right now is for Kelley to have a speedy recovery,” said Max Siegel, the vice president for Global Operations at DEI.(ESPN.com)(3-22-2007) UPDATE: Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, who handles brother Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s business affairs and is general manager of JR Motorsports, is resting comfortably after surgery earlier today, said JR Motorsports Director of Motorsports Steve Crisp. Crisp would not disclose the exact nature of the surgery. “She’s good,” Crisp said. “Everything went as expected. She’s resting right now. … Everything was a success. All indications are that everything is all taken care of.” Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday that his contract negotiations with Dale Earnhardt Inc. were on hold until Earnhardt Elledge could return to the negotiating table. Earnhardt Elledge is married to Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for #41-Reed Sorenson in the Nextel Cup Series at Chip Ganassi Racing. Jimmy Elledge was not at the track Friday, with Busch Series crew chief Brian Pattie helping fill that role. Jimmy Elledge is expected to be at the track Sunday to call the shots.(SceneDaily.com)(3-23-2007)
NHL Owner meets with Evernham UPDATE; George Gillett Jr., the owner of the Montreal Canadiens National Hockey League team and co-owner of the Liverpool soccer team in England, has talked with NASCAR teams, including Evernham Motorsports, team owner Ray Evernham confirmed Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I’ve talked to a lot of people,” Evernham said. “George is one of the people I’m talking to. When I said I was looking for a partner [earlier this year], the phone has been ringing and ringing. I met George. He is a really cool guy. But we don’t have anything done.” Evernham has invited Gillett to come to Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 this weekend.(SceneDaily.com)(3-10-2007) UPDATE: Ray Evernham may be getting closer to finding a business partner for Evernham Motorsports. George Gillett Jr., the owner of the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL and co-owner of the Liverpool soccer team in England, will be at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday. Gillett also met with Evernham at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago. “We’re still talking,” Evernham said on Friday. “It’s a matter of getting the right partner and getting the right timing. It’s not about the money. I need the right partner. I want to win a championship.” Evernham said he hasn’t discussed how much of EMS will be sold. “I just need somebody that’s going to come in and bring people that are interested in providing technology and sponsorship to the race team,” he said. Evernham would like to find a partner that could take over some of his business duties, such as dealing with sponsors. “I want to work on race cars again,” said Evernham, who won three championship as the crew chief for Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports. “That’s what I do, work on the cars with my guys and go fast. I need a partner who can do his side and I can do my side.”(ESPN.com)(3-23-2007)
Final Atlanta TV ratings: Fox’s broadcast of last Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway earned a 5.2 final Nielsen Media Research Rating and a 12 market share, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The 2006 race was carried on cable station FX on a Monday, so comparisons aren’t possible, but the 2005 race on Fox earned a 5.5/13.(SceneDaily.com), see TV Ratings for the season on my 2007 TV Ratings page.(3-23-2007)
Latest on the #36 team rumors UPDATE: been told that members of the #36 Bill Davis Racing team were told that if the team were shutting down, they would find out from team owner Bill Davis and not thru the media and that BDR is contracted with Toyota to field two teams even if the sponsor were to leave the team or not pay the bills. See past news on the #36 rumors on my #36 Team News and Links page.(3-23-2007) UPDATE: The #36 Bill Davis Racing Toyota team is not shutting down, team manager Tommy Baldwin told ESPN.com Thursday. “By no means are we slowing down with that team,” Baldwin said. “But reality is reality. You don’t make races you’re going to be out of business. Any team. Not just the 36. We’re certainly not in that position right now.” Driver Jeremy Mayfield has yet to qualify for a race this season, spawning speculation that the team was in peril. “The reality of it is we’ve missed the first four races,” Baldwin said. “It’s been a hard thing to swallow as a race team. We’ve just got to keep working with the 36, figure out what Jeremy really wants [in the car].” Baldwin explained that Mayfield’s driving style is vastly different than that employed by Dave Blaney, driver of BDR’s #22 Toyota. As a result, what he wants to feel at the wheel is also quite different. “Jeremy’s a finesse driver,” Baldwin said. “He feels a lot of things in the steering wheel. Some things he doesn’t like compared to Dave — Dave can just drive through the situation where Jeremy is feeling a lot of things and it’s making him uncomfortable. “The team is close. The people working on it are doing a really good job. The car is prepared really well. The car is built right. But I don’t know if it’s being they’re built to Jeremy’s liking. Being associated with Jeremy in the past [at Evernham Motorsports], there were some differences we had to do back then between the two drivers. It’s pretty much the same here, we’re finding out.” To combat the situation, Baldwin said cars dedicated to Mayfield are being cut up and rebuilt. He said they went to the wind tunnel Thursday and will go twice more in the coming two weeks. Baldwin said Toyota is doing everything it can to assist BDR’s development, and that Mayfield is fully engaged and handling it well. What about him? Is it time for a full time return to crew chief? “I don’t want to,” Baldwin said. “I want to keep working on the future of Bill Davis Racing as well as what’s going on today. I’ve had to stop a lot of things, change my focus because of this role. But until we get into making the races and the direction we need to go there’s no sense in bringing someone else into the company just yet.”(ESPN.com) AND: been told by sources at the track, the #36 has 360 OTC decals on the car.(3-23-2007)
Cowher, other stars part of NASCAR Reality show: Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher will star in an ABC-TV reality show about NASCAR that begins filming this week and is set to air in June. Cowher will compete against John Elway, Tony Hawk, William Shatner, Laird Hamilton and his wife, Gabby Reese, Serena Williams, Jewel and others, reports WTAE-Channel 4, Pittsburgh’s ABC affiliate. Participants will compete in speed, driving from zero to 100 mph, braking and pit crew skills.(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)(3-23-2007)
Fox’s DW and Hammond honored with Emmy Nominations: During their legendary on-track careers, driver Darrell Waltrip and crew chief Jeff Hammond saw Victory Lane 43 times as a team. Now, as members of the NASCAR on FOX team, they still run circles around the competition. Earlier today, both men were honored with their first-ever Emmy Award nominations – Waltrip for “Outstanding Event Analyst” and Hammond for “Outstanding Studio Analyst”.
“On a race team, the driver gets all the glory, but he knows it’s really about the people behind him who are helping him and pushing him,” said Waltrip. “I am blessed to be with the greatest team in racing covering our sport.”
“I’ve been fortunate to be side-by-side with Darrell Waltrip when we have won races and championships together,” said Hammond. “Receiving our first nomination together is one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me!”
NASCAR on FOX, already the recipient of nine Emmy Awards for its coverage from 2001 to 2005, also received 2006 nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for “Outstanding Live Event/Audio,” and “Outstanding Technical Team Remote,” an award the series has taken home for three consecutive years. The 28th Annual Sports Emmy Awards will be presented on Monday, April 30, in New York.(Fox PR)(3-23-2007)
Chevy Aims for 600th NASCAR Cup Series Win: Chevrolet will have the opportunity to achieve several historic milestones at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. With Jimmie Johnson’s back-to-back wins in Las Vegas and Atlanta, Chevrolet has 599 NASCAR Cup wins as Team Chevy heads to Bristol, Tenn. where the Impala nameplate will make its return to NASCAR racing. If a Chevy driver wins in Bristol this weekend, it would be the 600th all-time victory for Chevrolet and the 61st win for Impala. This weekend’s Food City 500 in Bristol is the first event featuring NASCAR’s next generation of race cars including the Chevy Impala SS. Forty-eight years after the nameplate was introduced to NASCAR racing, Impala returns to NASCAR competition in 16 Nextel Cup events this season. When it takes the track at Bristol, Impala will have already achieved consecutive NASCAR titles in 1960 and 1961 as well 60 race wins including the inaugural Impala race in 1959 at Daytona International Speedway [Bob Welborn, the first race was a 40 lap qualifying race for the Daytona 500, back then it was an official points paying race]. In addition to Impala’s success, Chevrolet’s history of NASCAR racing accolades includes 23 driver titles, 30 manufacturer championships and 599 victories. Chevrolet’s closest competitor for all-time NASCAR victories trails by the equivalent of a full-season of race wins (22). Total All-time NASCAR Cup Wins (by corporation): 1949-present
General Motors Corporation = 933
(Chevy: 599, Pontiac: 154, Olds: 115, Buick: 65)
Ford Motor Company = 676
(Ford: 577, Mercury 95, Lincoln: 4) Chrysler Corporation = 444
(Dodge: 194, Plymouth: 191, Chrysler: 59)
(GM Racing PR)(3-23-2007)
NASCAR giving team ‘wiggle room’ at Bristol: Nextel Cup teams are going through the car of tomorrow inspection process slowly today [Thursday] at Bristol Motor Speedway. And what is good today might not be good in the future. NASCAR is trying to work with the teams and educate them about the car, said Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby, and that education could mean giving teams some wiggle room if they are off on a template that would have no bearing on the high-banked concrete half-mile track this weekend at Bristol. That’s why NASCAR opened the garage a day early. About eight of the 50  cars entered were through the templates and scales after nearly three hours of inspection Thursday as part of the first car of tomorrow weekend. From start to finish, it was taking 80-90 minutes for a car to go through the templates and scales before getting the engine and safety inspections done while teams are working on their cars in the pit stalls. “We don’t relax on our safety inspection and we don’t relax on the things that are competitively driven, but if a guy has got a template here that is a 16th [of an inch] off that the whole world knows is not going to make a difference at all when it’s out on the race track, we’ll let them work toward getting it right [in the future],” Darby said Friday about two hours into the inspection process. Teams are going underneath the big claw-looking master template for the first time under real “race” conditions. In the past, templates were placed on the car one at a time. Now many of those templates are in one, big interlocking template. When the cars go through the initial template inspection, they don’t have wings on them. NASCAR issues the wings after the cars are through that section. One of the big parts of the learning process is how much a car changes from week to week and if a piece moves or gets bent whether it will be illegal the following week.(SceneDaily.com)(3-23-2007)
PRN at Bristol Motor Speedway: Schedule of Events:
March 23: Food City 500 Qualifying broadcast begins at 3:30pm/et
March 24: Sharpie Mini 300 Busch Series broadcast begins at 2:30pm/et
March 25: Food City 500 Nextel Cup Series broadcast begins at 1:15pm/et
PRN’s Crown Royal Post Race Talk show begins immediately after the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race. PRN’s broadcast crew consists of co-anchors Doug Rice and Mark Garrow; pit reporters Brett McMillan, Steve Richards and Brad Gillie and turn announcer Rob Albright. PRN’s broadcast will be heard on more than 465 stations nationwide, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio channel 128 and on NASCAR.com. The events can be heard locally on WMEV-93.9 FM and WFHG-980 AM.(PRN PR)(3-23-2007)
Gordon wins pole at Bristol: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Budweiser Polefor the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway with a speed of 125.453mph for his 2nd pole of 2007 and 58th of his career. It is Gordon’s 5th pole at Bristol. The rest of the top-10 are #9-Kahne, #19-Sadler, #20-Stewart, #26-McMurray, #48-Johnson, #22-Blaney, #10-Riggs, #66-Green and #11-Hamlin. #01-Regan Smith will make his first career start, starting 12th. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were: #4-Burton, #49-Bliss, #14-Marlin, #36-Mayfield [1st start of 2007]. #83-Vickers, #78-Wallace, #44-Jarrett [1st of 2007 in on speed] and #84-Allmendinger [1st race of 2007 and career]. See the qualifying results, order and starting lineup on my Jayski’s FREE Semi-Live Qualifying Page.(3-23-2007)
Six do not qualify at Bristol: #37-Lepage, #00-Reutimann, #55-Waltrip, #13-Nemechek [first race missed in 175 races], #70-Sauter [had made all 4 races of 2007] and #15-Menard.(3-23-2007)
Ramblings – Bristol Qualifying Notes: Jeff Gordon captured the Bud Pole today at Bristol Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Food City 500 with a speed of 125.453 (15.295 sec) for his second top-spot of the season (he’s the first repeater, btw) and the 58th of his NextelL Cup career…..and that’s pretty significant. He’s now tied with the legendary Bobby Allison for 5th on the all-time pole list. Kasey Kahne will join Gordon in the Uecker seats.
Jamie McMurray (5th) has his best starting spot since he grabbed the outside pole at Infineon last June.
Dave Blaney (7th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 6th at Martinsville last October. This is also Toyota’s best starting spot thus far….their previous best was when Blaney started 11th at Las Vegas.
Jeff Green (9th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 8th at Martinsville last October.
Welcome Regan Smith (12th). This is his first Cup start ever….no pressure, huh? Not like this car has been any good or anything.
Ward Burton (14th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 4th at Martinsville in October of 2004 (only seven starts).
Ken Schrader (15th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 10th at Martinsville last October.
Tony Raines (17th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 11th at Martinsville last October.
Jeremy Mayfield (23rd) makes his first Cup race of the season and has his best starting spot since he timed in 15th at The Brickyard last August (only two races).
Dale Jarrett (30th) makes the field this week for the first-time this season on speed. He still has two more Champion Provisionals avaiable for the rest of the year.
Robby Gordon (34th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 9th at Texas last November.
Welcome A. J. Allmendinger (43rd)…..we’ve been waiting for you. This is his first Nextel Cup start….you can bet he’ll be wide-eyed on Sunday!
STREAKIN….Elliott Sadler has 3 Top-5 starts in a row.
The Trouble Train had a few new faces amongst it’s six cars today. Kevin Lepage, David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip, Joe Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, and Paul Menard are the dnq’s this weekend, and it’s crucial for a couple teams. Nemechek should be okay to still make the Top-35 in Owner Points (they were 19th coming into this week and will get 22 points as a dnq), but Johnny Sauter’s status could be iffy. They came out of Atlanta in 28th in Owner Points and get 19 markers this week, so it’s gonna be close.(Stock Car Fans)(3-23-2007)
Bristol Qualifying Notes: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Bud Pole for the Food City 500, posting a lap of 15.295 second at 125.453 mph – scoring the first Bud Pole in the Car of Tomorrow.
.. It is Gordon’s 58th Bud Pole 478 career Nextel Cup races.
.. This is his second Bud Pole and third top-10 start in 2007 – all also top-fives.
.. This is Gordon’s fifth Bud Pole at Bristol – breaking a tie with Fred Lorenzen for the fifth most Bud Poles here.
.. Gordon moved into a tie with Bobby Allison for fifth on the all-time Bud Pole winners list.
.. Ward Burton (14th) was the quickest of the drivers required to qualify on time.
.. Jeremy Mayfield (23rd) and AJ. Allemendinger (35th) qualified for their first race this season. It will be Allmendinger’s career-first Nextel Cup start.(NASCAR Stats)(3-23-2007)
Bristol Rookie News and Notes: Juan Pablo Montoya was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 18 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Montoya scored a fifth-place finish, his best finish in five career Nextel Cup Series races. His previous best effort was 19th in the February 18 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway (race #1). Montoya took Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the second consecutive race and for the second time this season. He holds a one-point edge over David Ragan (47-46) in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the March 25 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Montoya is the only driver to simultaneously lead the Raybestos Rookie standings in both the Nextel Cup Series and the Busch Series since the rookie program was created in Busch in 1989. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to lead a lap at Bristol is Kevin Harvick in the 2001 Food City 500. Harvick led three times for 137 laps, more than any other driver. Montoya is 15th in the Nextel Cup Series championship standings, best of any Raybestos Rookie. He is trails 14th-place Kyle Busch by just six points. Tony Stewart is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the pole at Bristol in his rookie season. Stewart took the top spot in the 1999 Sharpie 500 (August race). He is also the only Raybestos Rookie to lead the most laps in a race at Bristol, leading once for 225 laps. Only once since 1975 have Three Raybestos Rookies finished in the top-10 at a race in Bristol: 1979. Dale Earnhardt scored his first career win in the Food City 500 and was joined in the top-10 by Terry Labonte (seventh) and Joe Millikan (eighth).(Camp and Assoc/Raybestos PR)(3-23-2007)
Bristol Goodyear Tire Notes: Both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series will run the same tire codes at Bristol this weekend . . . this is the first time Goodyear has brought this specific combination of left- and right-side tires to the track . . . both the left- and right-side codes feature different mold types, construction and compounds from what Goodyear brought to Bristol last year . . . unlike on other NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams are required to run inner liners in their right-side tires only at Bristol . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. Estimated Pit Window is every 120-130 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see full notes on my Bristol Race Info/Rundown page.(3-23-2007)
Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC: The Busch Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway, this weekend and ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of Saturday’s 250-lap race. The Bristol event is the first short track race of the season for the Busch Series and one of six select Busch Series races this season that will air on ABC, with the other 29 to be televised by ESPN2. Coverage will begin with the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show at 2:30pm/et, with the race to start at 3:00pm/et. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who runs only a handful of Busch Series races, will compete in the Bristol event, seeking his second Bristol Busch Series win. Rusty Wallace, who was a nine-time winner at Bristol during his NASCAR Cup driving career, will lend his knowledge of the track to ESPN’s coverage as analyst, working alongside two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree in the booth with lead announcer Jerry Punch. ESPN’s pit reporter team will have a new face at Bristol as Shannon Spake, who has been reporting for ESPN’s SportsCenter, NASCAR Countdown and NASCAR Now this season, will join the telecast team working with Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro as regular pit reporter Allen Bestwick has the weekend off. Brent Musburger will host the telecast and studio analysts Tim Brewer and Brad Daugherty will join Musburger in the ESPN Pit Studio. ESPN2 will have live coverage of practice and qualifying for this weekend’s NASCAR Busch Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday and Saturday, March 23-24. Live coverage of Friday’s one-hour final practice session for the series will be aired from 2:30-3:30pm/et. Qualifying will be televised from 11:00am 12:30pm/et on Saturday. Calling the action from the booth will be Jerry Punch with analysts Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will report from the pits and garage, while Tim Brewer will be in the ESPN Pit Studio with host Brent Musburger. ESPN2 will have live, primetime coverage of the 2007 IndyCar Series opener from Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday night at 8:00pm/et. ESPN’s Marty Reid will call the race, joined in the booth for expert analysis by former IndyCar Series driver Scott Goodyear. Jack Arute, Vince Welch and Brienne Pedigo will report from the pits.(ESPN PR)(3-23-2007)
News from March 22, 2007
Sharpie Introduces #8 Marker, Sharpie Scheme and more: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr, is making a bold statement on and off the track as he prepares for the Sharpie MINI 300 Busch Series race this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS). The new Sharpie/Dale Earnhardt, Inc. relationship will officially kick off Saturday when Dale Jr steps behind the wheel of the new DEI #8 Chevy, co-sponsored by Sharpie and Budweiser. Race fans will get a glimpse of the race when Sharpie introduces the first-ever Dale Jr #8 Sharpie marker, rolling out in stores now. Dale Jr will unveil the marker and new paint scheme Thursday, March 22, at 5 pm at the track’s Tower 8, where he will also sign Sharpie’s giant autograph wall. Dozens of children representing Speedway Children’s Charities will join him, lending their signatures and support to the Sharpie “Autographs for Action” campaign to benefit Speedway Children’s Charities with $10,000 in funds and supplies. The Sharpie MINI 300 is Dale Jr’s second Busch race this season. Dale Jr is a former winner at Bristol, going to Victory Lane in the 2004 Sharpie 500 Nextel Cup Series race. DEI and Dale Jr’s new Sharpie partnership also includes a bold new addition to the BMS landscape – a giant three-story billboard covering Tower 8 and featuring Dale Jr’s larger-than-life likeness. The banner, which also includes an image of the Sharpie #8 paint scheme and the new #8 marker, will be unveiled Thursday along with the #8 marker. It will become a permanent fixture at BMS throughout the 2007 race season. The Dale Earnhardt Jr #8 Sharpie marker is the only marker endorsed by Dale Jr. Available in black fine point and imprinted with his autograph and #8, it is rolling out now in select stores nationwide where office products are sold. Autographs for Action annually seeks one million autographs as part of its program to give away $1 million in funds and supplies for community groups, charitable organizations and schools nationwide (go to www.sharpie.com). Sharpie will donate $10,000 in funds and supplies to Speedway Children’s Charities as part of the Bristol autograph drive. Visit sharpie.com for more information.(Sanford PR)(3-22-2007)
Front Row Motorsports to Focus on #37 Team: Front Row Motorsports announced they will focus primarily on the #37 Dodge for the reminder of the 2007 season and that the team still plans on running the #34 with a limited schedule. “We would love to continue entering two cars each week, but in today’s climate, we feel that focusing on one car will give us our best shot at making races,” said team owner Bob Jenkins. “With the number of well-funded teams that are entered each week, it is very difficult for the independent teams such as ours to compete as a multi-car effort.”(Front Row Motorsports PR)(3-22-2007)
Young drivers put COT to the test: They’ve never competed in a NASCAR Nextel Cup race, and they won’t be racing at Bristol, but three drivers could have an impact on what happens in the series’ first Car of Tomorrow race Sunday. Landon Cassill, 17, graduated last month from high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is a development driver for Hendrick Motorsports. Billy Wease, 20, finished second in his ARCA debut last summer but hasn’t raced a stock car since then for Penske Racing. Kevin Hamlin, 28, has started 15 Busch Series races but none for his current team, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Each driver played a key role in helping his team develop the Car of Tomorrow, which debuts this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. They tested the cars when their more famous Cup teammates couldn’t. They ran mile after mile as crews tried to understand the car. Sometimes the changes worked. Sometimes they didn’t. “We sent him to do the dirty work,” Kurt Busch said of Wease. “We wanted him to run the tires off the car. It was a lot of monotonous work of just lap after lap, session after session. When we jumped in the car, Ryan (Newman) and myself, we were further down the road.” The task for each driver often was the same. The crews had a list of changes — from shocks and springs to adjusting the front splitter and so on — to make. The driver then told them how it made the car handle. Sometimes the driver ran two laps. Sometimes it was five laps. Sometimes it was 20 or more laps at tracks such as Greenville-Pickens in Greenville, S.C., Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., or Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. When the day ended, they often had driven more than 400 miles. Cassill tested alone at Greenville-Pickens in the offseason and then tested with Jeff Gordon, Casey Mears and Kyle Busch at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla. “It was important for Jeff and I to tell Steve what the car was doing and being accurate about it, especially with a car they haven’t used before,” Cassill said, referring to Gordon’s crew chief, Steve Letarte. “It’s important to have accurate feedback from the driver.(in part from the Roanoke Times)(3-22-2007)
Hendrick going for 200th NASCAR win: Car owner Rick Hendrick now has 199 combined NASCAR victories: 151 at the NEXTEL Cup level, 23 in the Busch Series and 25 in the Craftsman Truck Series. The total includes a 1983 Busch Series win by the late Dale Earnhardt at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in a car co-owned by Hendrick and Robert Gee.(HMS PR)(3-22-2007)
Johnson’s #48 Crew Earns Pit Crew Challenge Win in Atlanta:Jimmie Johnson’s #48 pit crew earned its first Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge win of the season by spending the least amount of time on pit road during Sunday’s (March 18) Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, helping lift its driver to a victory in the Kobalt Tools 500. Johnson’s over-the-wall crew is the reigning Checkers/Rally’s Double-Drive Thru Challenge champion, having earned five pit crew wins in 2006. “I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” said Johnson, whose team spent 323.450 seconds on pit road. “They worked hard all weekend and it showed on Sunday when their strong, consistent pit stops helped us win the race.” Checkers/Rally’s awards the winning Nextel Cup pit crew each week with a cash prize of $11,000. An additional $111,150 will be presented to the pit crew with the most wins at the completion of the 36-race Nextel Cup schedule. The #48 Lowe’s over-the-wall crew includes: Chris Anderson (jackman), Art Simmons (front-tire carrier), Mike Trower (front-tire changer), Ron Malec (rear-tire carrier), Tim Ladyga (rear-tire changer), Rich Gutierrez (gasman), Mike Knauer (catch can) and Sean Kerlin (eighth-man). The team’s pit crew coach is Matt Clark and the crew chief is Chad Knaus. An additional $111,150 will be presented to the pit crew with the most wins at the completion of the 36-race Nextel Cup schedule. To win the Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge, teams are required to finish on the lead lap while spending the least amount of time on pit road. Checkers/Rally’s is in its third season as title sponsor for the pit crew challenge. Checkers/Rally’s is the Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant of NASCAR, more info at checkers.com.(DMF Communications PR)(3-22-2007)
Menard tests COT at South Boston: #15-Paul Menard tested the Car of Tomorrow at South Boston Speedway (Wednesday, March 21st). While the focus of the test was to prepare for next weekend’s event at Martinsville, a secondary goal was to improve DEI’s overall COT program.(co-Pilott.com PR)(3-22-2007)
News from March 21, 2007
Rudd to run Pedigree scheme at Bristol: This weekend the Nextel Cup Series travels to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 and it will mark a series of firsts for the #88 team. NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow will make its racing debut providing a true test as to how the newly redesigned body styles will handle the pressures of race day. Sunday will also mark the first time the #88 team has run a special paint scheme for the 2007 season. Instead of the normal Snickers Racing scheme, the team will be running a bright yellow Pedigree Brand Food for Dogs Ford Fusion.(elevationgrp/Snickers Racing PR), no images of the scheme..yet.(3-21-2007)
Dodge Avenger to Debut at Bristol: The Dodge Avenger, which joins the Dodge Charger in Nextel Cup competition this season, makes its racing debut Sunday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway – the first NASCAR Car of Tomorrow (COT) race. Preparing for NASCAR’s 16 COT races in 2007 has kept the candle burning at both ends for most Nextel Cup teams since the end of last season. The Avenger, Dodge’s racing version of the COT, has been tested at tracks throughout the country getting ready for the ultimate test in Thunder Valley, Tennessee this coming weekend. The all-new 2008 Dodge Avenger, the street-legal version of this great new race car, is a mid-size sedan combining bold, aggressive Dodge styling with innovative interior features, high-levels of safety and reliability, exhilarating performance and excellent fuel efficiency of 30mpg on the highway. Production of the all-new 2008 Dodge Avenger began at the Sterling Heights (Michigan) Assembly Plant in February and will start to arrive in dealer showrooms next month. “Dodge is ready for the challenge at Bristol, and we think the Dodge Avenger is the car to beat,” said Mike Accavitti, Director – Dodge Motorsports and SRT Marketing, Chrysler Group. “We believe that the Avenger can bring Dodge a championship in the future, and we can’t wait to start that campaign this weekend. And, for the first Dodge driver to win a COT race, we will donate an all-new Dodge Avenger to the charity of his choice,” Accavitti added.(Clear!Blue/Dodge Motorsports PR)(3-21-2007)
Overnight TV Ratings for Atlanta: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway earned a 4.7 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 10 share, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The March 2006 Atlanta race was rained out on Sunday and carried on the FX cable station on a Monday, so comparison figures aren’t available.(SceneDaily.com), in 2005 the overnight ratings were 4.9/11 with a final of 5.5/13, in 2004 the overnight was 5.3.
see TV Ratings for the year, plus a TV Ratings Chart comparing 2005-2006-2007 on my TV Ratings page.(3-21-2007)
Bill France Jr. back home: Former NASCAR Chairman Bill France Jr. was released from the hospital Sunday afternoon and is resting at home, still under the care of his personal physician, NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Tuesday. France was admitted to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach, Fla., on March 14 and diagnosed with a virus.(ESPN.com)(3-21-2007)
Sad News: Condolences to Kerry Earnhardt on the death of his stepfather Jackie Lynn Key last Thursday. Survivors include his wife, Latane Brown Key of the home; a daughter, Janene “J.J.” Key of Davidson; one son, Kerry Earnhardt and wife, Rene, of Mooresville; three sisters, Judy James and husband, Danny, of Kannapolis, Cathy Grooms and husband, Robert, of China Grove, and Bobbie Dudley of Yadkinville; a brother, Dennis Key and wife, Marce, of Kannapolis; and four grandchildren, Bobby Key, Jeffrey Key, Blade Compton and Kayla Earnhardt. Memorials may be sent to United Brotherhood of Christ, 345 Fry St., China Grove, NC 28023.(3-21-2007)
Shooting suspect arrested; accused of firing into crowd at NASCAR event: A man suspected of opening fire on a crowd at California Speedway during NASCAR [Busch Series] races last month was arrested Monday by sheriff’s deputies. Ramon Luis Caraballos, 30, of San Bernardino was booked into Central Detention Center on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies said. Deputies from the Fontana station responded to a reported shooting at 8:17pm/pt, Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Speedway, 9300 Cherry Ave. The shooting occurred after a fight between Caraballos and another man. Deputies said Caraballos had been drinking and punched the man in the face. He then pulled out a knife and later got a gun from his car. He fired twice at the man and a crowd behind him, but no one was struck, deputies said. Investigators identified Caraballos as the suspect Monday and arrested him in San Bernardino. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller did not have any further information on the incident Tuesday evening. He was being held on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to the sheriff’s online log. A call to California Speedway on Tuesday was not returned.(San Bernardino County Sun)(3-21-2007)
Stremme to run Energizer scheme at Bristol: The #40 Dodge of David Stremme will sport the Energizer e2 Lithium paint scheme this weekend in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The dynamic silver and blue paint scheme will feature Energizer e2 Lithium, the World’s Longest Lasting Battery in High Tech Devices, alongside the famous Energizer Bunny.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-21-2007)
Reiser back this weekend; #17 to run Arby’s scheme: Robbie Reiser will return to the track this weekend, after serving a four-race suspension. The past four races were the first Reiser had missed atop the pit box as #17-Matt Kenseth’s crew chief since 1999, a steak of 255 races. Kenseth will run the Arby’s paint scheme this weekend for the first and only time in the Nextel Cup Series in 2007.(Roush Racing PR)(3-21-2007)
New sponsor for BAM Racing at Bristol: Bam Racing welcomes OBOVO.com to the #49 team as one of the organization’s primary sponsors this season beginning at Bristol Motor Speedway. OBOVO.com, recently re-named from WhatsOnline.com, is a proprietary metacrawler search engine that provides users with high quality Internet search results from multiple search engines simultaneously. Users can utilize a multitude of powerhouse websites for information, shopping and auctions directly from the site. OBOBVO.com also offers one of the most dynamic image and video search tools on the Internet. Look for OBOVO.com to adorn the hood of the BAM Racing Dodge at a number of races in 2007.(BAM Racing PR)(3-21-2007)
Lepage in #37; Chaffin in #34 at Bristol: Kevin Lepage, who tested the Car of Tomorrow (COT) for Front Row Motorsports at Bristol while be driving the #37 COT at Bristol and Martinsville. John Andretti, who drove the #37 car the last three races in California, Vegas and Atlanta, will be back in the #37 car next month at Texas Motor Speedway. Race Week Media is still searching for sponsors for Bristol and Martinsville for the #37 team. Cahd Chaffin is scheduled to drive the #34 Front Row Motorsports Dodge at Bristol.(3-21-2007)
Montoya Speaking Engagement in NYC on Wed and on TV: #42-Juan Montoya be the featured guest for an exclusive one-on-one interview on opening day of the 2007 World Congress of Sports in New York City this Wednesday. One of the largest gatherings of senior executives in sports business, the World Congress of Sports features panel discussion on critical topics with the sports industry’s most important leaders. Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig is the one-on-one guest for the closing day of the event.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR) AND Juan Pablo Montoya and the #42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger will visit the set of ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) Wednesday morning. Montoya and the car will be featured during the 8:30 a.m. segment of the morning show which had almost 5 million viewers last week. Montoya will stop by the set while in New York City for the World Congress of Sports hosted by the Sports Business Journal.(NASCAR)(3-21-2007)
News from March 20, 2007
DEI testing at South Boston? been told that DEI is testing the COT [Car of Tomorrow/Today] today [Tuesday, Mar 20th] at South Boston Speedway [VA] with #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #1-Martin Truex Jr. supposedly doing the testing.(3-20-2007)
AT&T to sue NASCAR to place logos on #31 UPDATE and image:The cell-phone industry’s ruthless fight has spilled over into NASCAR, and landed squarely on the hood of Jeff Burton’s #31 Chevy. AT&T’s wireless unit, formerly known as Cingular Wireless, planned to file a lawsuit later on Friday in Atlanta’s U.S. District Court against NASCAR. The suit will center around AT&T’s sponsorship on the #31 Chevrolet driven by Burton. The car has traditionally been sponsored by Cingular, with its familiar orange paint scheme. Though federal regulators approved AT&T’s acquisition of BellSouth and its wireless unit Cingular on Dec. 29, NASCAR will not allow AT&T logos to appear on the #31 car because it would violate its current agreement with Sprint Nextel, which owns the naming right to NASCAR’s top series. “We’re filing a lawsuit to protect the right to transition from Cingular to AT&T on the #31 car,” AT&T spokesperson Clay Owen said Friday afternoon. NASCAR officials were not immediately available for comment. Burton’s car will continue to sport the Cingular Wireless paint scheme for this weekend’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-16-2007) UPDATE: AT&T Inc., owner of the largest U.S. mobile phone carrier, sued NASCAR after meeting resistance to its efforts to replace the Cingular brand with the AT&T brand on the #31 Chevy car that the company sponsors. “NASCAR’s refusal is apparently a result of its fealty to Spring Nextel Corp., a wireless provider that, since 2004, has been lead sponsor of NASCAR’s ‘Cup Series,’ which is a series of NASCAR’s highest profile races,” stated AT&T in a complaint for injunctive relief. The complaint, filed in federal court in Atlanta, also seeks a declaratory ruling and damages. AT&T, which acquired the remaining 40% ownership of Cingular Wireless L.L.C. in its acquisition of BellSouth Corp. late last year, has a sponsorship agreement with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) that runs from 2005 through 2007, with an exclusive right to negotiate a renewal beyond 2007, the suit said. RCR owns the #31 car, which is driven by Jeff Burton. “NASCAR granted Sprint Nextel a lead sponsor of the Cup Series, exclusivity as the sole communications provider sponsoring NASCAR racing, and it is apparently on this basis that NASCAR refuses to permit RCR to alter the design of the #31 car,” the AT&T suit stated. Andrew Giangola, director of business communications for NASCAR, said the motorsports organization does not comment on litigation. However, Giangola pointed out that NASCAR’s contract with Sprint Nextel grandfathered both Cingular and Alltel Corp. into the competition, allowing Cingular and Alltel to participate in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series as team sponsors indefinitely as long as the firms did not change the scope of their sponsorship (beyond a team) or the actual name and brand on the race car. He said only the “Cingular” and “Alltel” brands are permitted on cars competing in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. “This has been and remains NASCAR’s position,” said Giangola. The issue is notable as Cingular and Sprint Nextel have previously battled over a variety of issues, including advertising claims.(source: RCR Wireless News [NO affiliation with Richard Childress Racing]), see an image of the proposed Cingular/AT&T scheme on my #31 Team Schemes page.(3-20-2007)
New Chevy engine tested at Darlington: #24-Jeff Gordon completed 500 miles in one of the new Chevrolet R07 engine last week in a tire test at Darlington Raceway. “The thing looked real nice, very good,” Hendrick engine assembly director Jeff Andrews said Sunday. “We were real pleased with the performance of the engine. Jeff said the engine felt real good. It wasn’t a marketable difference in power. It was really just a reliability test of parts and castings. The encouraging thing is we’ve taken something that is virtually brand new and we’ve come out of the box with it very equal and close to that power-wise.” Chevrolet officials had hoped that teams would see RCR use the engine for a full race weekend and put it in their main cars in the next few weeks. That probably won’t happen. Wimmer likely will attempt the April 15 race at Texas with the new engine for another race simulation try. RCR engine builder Danny Lawrence speculated that RCR’s three fulltime teams could use the engine for the Nextel All-Star Challenge, a non-points event, before using the engine for a points-paying race weekend.(SceneDaily.com)(3-20-2007)
Newman heading to a dubious record: #12-Ryan Newman won the pole for this past Friday for the Atlanta race. Doesn’t seem to translate into wins for Newman who is now on the brink of setting a modern-era record that he probably does not want. Newman has gone winless in the last 26 races that he has started from the pole. This places him in a tie for second with Ricky Rudd (who snapped his 26 race losing streak when he won from the pole at Pocono in 2001). Newman is one race shy of moving into a tie with the current record holder. Geoffrey Bodine started his losing streak at Daytona in 1982 and lost 27 consecutive races when starting from the pole. It was almost 8 years later before Bodine would be able to finally score a win from the pole (Martinsville 1990). Bodine went 0 for 27 to begin his career. He would go on to win from the pole three times in his career. Ricky Rudd went 0 for 26 to begin his career. So far, he has only one win from the pole position. Ryan Newman only went 0 for 3 before scoring his first win from the pole. He was hot for awhile, winning 3 times in his first 12 poles, then his current streak took over.(LTPicks.com)(3-20-2007)
Robby Gordon can keep Motorola decals: Robby Gordon’s #7 Ford can run Motorola decals on his car in today’s race [at Atlanta Motor Speedway]. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said late Saturday that an agreement had been reached that will allow Gordon to advertise Motorola’s digital audio player on his car. That solves the problem created by the original basic Motorola insignia, which was seen as a way of promoting wireless phone service. Nextel, the title sponsor of the Cup series, owns exclusive rights to promote wireless phone products. Only those wireless companies already in the sport when Nextel took over in 2004 can advertise competing products.(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution), see the past news on Gordon having to remove the Motorola decals on my #7 Team News and Links page. MORE: on SPEED’s RaceDay…Gordon’s car was shown, the hood now has the big Motorola logo on the hood and the name on the quarter panels, under each it reads “Digital Audio Players”.(3-18-2007) IMAGE: and see an image of the car with the decals it ran on Sunday on the #7 Team Scheme Page.(3-20-2007)
Additech to be Featured on #80 JGR car: Additech, America’s No. 1 fuel system tune-up, expands its partnership with Joe Gibbs Driven and will be featured on a Joe Gibbs Racing Nextel Cup Car. Additech will be featured on the Joe Gibbs Driven Chevy, #80, driven by Aric Almirola. Almirola’s first attempt to qualify for a Nextel Cup race took place March 9 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he finished forty first. Houston-based Additech has patented the only “tune-up at the pump” fuel system service. Additech’s unique fuel additive delivery system dispenses and blends world leading fuel additives into gasoline while consumers pump their gas, allowing consumers to conveniently perform routine auto maintenance while they fuel their vehicle. For more information, visit Additech’s website at www.additech.com.(PrimeNewswire)(3-20-2007)
Sad News – Gerard Nadeau: Gerard Joseph Nadeau ‘Jerry’, 62, died Monday, March 19, 2007 at his residence. Born December 16, 1944 in Madawaska, ME, he was the son of Aurele and Imelda Nadeau. He was a veteran serving in the US Army. Mr. Nadeau was preceded in death by brothers, Robert and Reno Nadeau. In addition to his parents, he is survived by his wife, Pauline Cyr Nadeau; daughter, Debbie Fink and husband, David, of Parrish, FL; son, Jerry Nadeau of Davidson, NC; brothers, Gilman Nadeau and wife, Huguette, of Waterbury, CT, John Nadeau and wife, Rachel, Philip Nadeau and wife, Mildred, Ronald Nadeau all of Madawaska, ME, Roger Nadeau of New Britain, CT, and Norman Nadeau of West Palm Beach, FL; sisters, Patricia Prue and husband, Lewis, of Fort Fairfield, ME, Nancy D’Allaire and husband, Jean-Pierre, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, Joan Medlin and husband, Wallace, of Maner, TN, Betty-Ann Caron and husband, Francois of Baker Lake, Canada, Rena-Mae Voisine and husband, Brian, of Fort Kent, ME; granddaughter, Pepere’s Little Angel, Natalie Kate Nadeau. A funeral mass will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, March 23, at St. Therese Catholic Church. The family will receive friends Thursday from 6:00-9:00 pm at the funeral home. The family would like to give a special thanks to the staff of Community Home Care & Hospice of Cornelius, 9606 Bailey Road, Suite 230, Cornelius, NC 28031. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Victory Junction Camp, 4500 Adam’s Way, Randleman, NC 27317 or Miry Brook Fire Department Company #13 Ladies Aux., Miry Brook Road, Danbury, CT 06810. Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, is serving the Nadeau family.(jerry-nadeau.com)(3-20-2007)
News from March 19, 2007
Engines Dyno’d at Atlanta: NASCAR tested eight cars on the chassis dyno after the race to see if there is a measurable loss in power after a 500-mile race with the recent switch to unleaded fuel. Cars tested were those of winner #48-Jimmie Johnson, #20-Tony Stewart, #17-Matt Kenseth, #99-Carl Edwards, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya, #2-Kurt Busch, #22-Dave Blaney and #44-Dale Jarrett.(Roanoke Times), two fo each manuafacturer……no results were mentioned.(3-19-2007)
Toyota leads first laps: #83-Brian Vickers went into the NASCAR record book as the first driver of a Toyota Camry to lead a lap during a Cup race. Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, led twice for five laps, including Toyota’s series first on Lap 89. But Vickers finished 42nd after getting swept up in a four-car crash on Lap 231. #22-Dave Blaney, who finished 27th and two laps down to winner Jimmie Johnson, also led one lap in his #22 Caterpillar Toyota for Bill Davis Racing.(Fort Worth Star Telegram)(3-19-2007)
Triple Double in Cup-Busch-Trucks: While there were 3 weeks between Craftsman Truck Series races, this marks the first-time ever that all 3 national NASCAR series (Cup, Busch, & Truck) had back-to-back winners at the same time. Jimmie Johnson has won back-to-back Cup races (Atlanta & Las Vegas), Jeff Burton has won back-to-back Busch races (Atlanta & Las Vegas) and Mike Skinner has won back-to-back Craftsman Truck races (Atlanta & California).(3-19-2007)
Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Kobalt Tools 500:
Total number of commercials: 133
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 64
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 30
Total number of companies or entities advertised in brief promos or crawlers: 26
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:09 P.M.
End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:43 P.M.
Total minutes: 214
Minutes of race broadcast: 152
Minutes of commercials: 62
See full report at CawsnJaws.com.(3-19-2007)
Harvick’s helmet taken…..but recovered UPDATE: don’t have a ton of details on this, but heard from sources at the track that someone broke into the #29 RCR garage this morning at Atlanta Motor Speedway, taking Kevin Harvick’s helmet and was supposedly caught climbing a fence with the helmet on, no word on any other items taken or any damage by the person.(3-18-2007) UPDATE: Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick’s helmet was stolen from the #29 hauler in the Nextel Cup garage Sunday morning. But the caper was quickly foiled by speedway security. “[NASCAR] was notified early this morning that track security had come across and apprehended two individuals in the garage who were in the possession of Kevin Harvick’s racing helmet,” NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp said. “The police were notified, the individuals were arrested and the helmet was returned safe and sound.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-19-2007)
News from March 18, 2007
Montoya allowed to test at Darlington Tire test: As if the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. needed any more headaches after 39 spins and accidents last week at Las Vegas, the company got even more criticism this week when Juan Pablo Montoya was allowed to do a tire test at the Darlington Raceway. Goodyear routinely conducts tire tests. It randomly invites drivers, but Montoya was allowed to drive although he wasn’t on Goodyear’s list. The test at Darlington was important because that race will feature the new Car of Tomorrow. Goodyear invited #24-Jeff Gordon, #22-Dave Blaney, #41-Reed Sorenson and #16-Greg Biffle, but Montoya showed up and was allowed to drive Sorenson’s car. Goodyear said Montoya had NASCAR’s blessing. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said NASCAR allowed Montoya, a rookie, to drive because he’s never been at Darlington. Montoya’s appearance at Darlington may prove to be a one-time exception. NASCAR said invited drivers are the only people who will be allowed to test in the future.(Savannah Morning News)(3-18-2007)
Sunoco still not happy: Sunoco is still upset about Shell’s move into this sport (in which Sunoco is paying NASCAR for “official fuel” sponsorship rights) and is considering legal action against Shell to force it to take down all those Kevin Harvick banners at its 15,000 service stations.(Winston Salem Journal), Pennzoil/Shell sponsor’s Harvick’s #29 Richard Childress Chevy.(3-18-2007)
Johnson wins at Atlanta: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his 2nd win of the 2007 season, 25th career win and 2nd in a row. The win was also the 151st for Hendrick Motorsports. #20-Stewart finished 2nd, followed by #17-Kenseth, #31-Burton, #42-Montoya, #07-Bowyer, #99-Edwards, #1-Truex Jr., #41-Sorenson and #01-Martin. Pole sitter #12-Newman, after going to the rear at the start of the race, never ran up front and finished 23rd, down 1 lap. #8-Earnhardt Jr finished 14th; #9-Kahne crashed late in the race and finished 39th and is now 36th in drivers points. #01-Martin has an 8 point lead over #24-Jeff Gordon after 4 races. There were 6 cautions for 27 laps and 13 drivers lead the race with 31 lead changes. 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.(3-18-2007)
Unofficial Driver Points Top-12 Standing after Atlanta [4 of 36 races]:
#01-Mark Martin 629
#24-Jeff Gordon 621 -8
#31-Jeff Burton 618 -11
#48-Jimmie Johnson 601 -28
#17-Matt Kenseth 567 -62
#20-Tony Stewart 507 -122
#29-Kevin Harvick 482 -147
#11-Denny Hamlin 480 -149
#07-Clint Bowyer 471 -158
#40-David Stremme 463 -166
#18-J.J. Yeley 462 -167 some noteables:
#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 26th
#9-Kasey Kahne is 36th
For drivers/owners points, see my Jayski’s Drivers/Owners Points Page.(3-18-2007)
Daytona Penalty Report: Car#, Penalty, Reason, Issued
1 #21 PT Excessive Speed-Entering pits 131
2 #96 PT Excessive Speed-Entering pits 193
3 #44 PT Excessive speed – Exiting pits 193
4 #44 TE Excessive Speed-Entering pits 197
5 #2 TE Excessive speed – Exiting pits 224
6 #21 MCI Pitting before Pit Road is Open 224
7 #18 TE Lug nut(s) not installed 225
8 #9 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 230
9 #00 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 230
10 #12 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 231
11 #14 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 231
12 #24 TE Excessive speed – Exiting pits 233
13 #12 TE Excessive Speed-Entering pits 233
PT – Pass through
TE – Tail end of the longest line
SG – Stop and Go
OL – One lap
ND – NASCAR discretion
MCI – Must come into pits
(Provided by NASCAR Statistics)(3-18-2007)
Rumblings – Atlanta Race Notes: Jimmie Johnson passed Tony Stewart (and crowded him a bit) with three to go today at Atlanta Motor Speedway and went on to win the Kobalt Tools 500. Coming from third on the final restart with 11 laps remaining, Johnson captured his second win in a row, his 2nd at Atlanta, and the 25th Nextel Cup victory of his career (he’s now tied with Jim Paschal & Joe Weathersley for 23rd on the all-time win list). This was win #151 for Hendrick Motorsports, it was their 9th at Atlanta, and it was worth $233,261 from the over $4.9M in posted awards.
Juan Pablo Montoya (5th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 19th at Daytona last month.
Reed Sorenson (9th) had his best finish since he was 8th at Michigan last August.
Mike Bliss (21st) had his best finish since he was 12th at Homestead in November of 2005 (only seven races).
STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 9 Top-10’s in the last 10 races.
Mark Martin has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races. Matt Kenseth has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is Jeff Burton (+28 ), followed by Jamie McMurray (+22). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Scott Riggs (-33), followed by Kasey Kahne (-27), Kyle Busch (-24), and Ryan Newman (-22). A relatively quiet “Shaft” today.
Next week will be crucial as far as the Top-35 in Owner Points (and the qualifying exemption it carries with it) is concerned. No team from 29th on back can breathe easy right now, and we’ve got some well-funded teams on the outside looking in at the present. Paul Menard (#15) is 36th on the list, just 9 points back….and teams like Kasey Kahne’s, the Wood Brothers, Dave Blaney’s, Brian Vickers’, and Scott Riggs’ need to run good seven days hence. The best move forward today came from Clint Bowyer (17th to 9th), while Greg Biffle (15th to 26th) fell the most spots.(Stock Car Fans)(3-18-2007)
Race Notes – Atlanta:
.. Jimmie Johnson won the Kobalt Tools 500, his 25th victory in 187 Nextel Cup Series races.
.. This is his second victory and third top-10 finish in 2007 – all top-threes and all in the past three races.
.. This is his second victory and eighth top-10 finish in 12 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
.. Tony Stewart finished second as Johnson and Stewart reversed their finishes at Atlanta last fall. Stewart has posted 11 top-10 finishes in 17 races at Atlanta, all in the past 12 races here.
.. Matt Kenseth finished third, this third top-five finish in his last four races at Atlanta.
.. Brian Vickers led laps 89 through 91, the first laps led by a Toyota in a Nextel Cup Series race.(NASCAR Statistics)(3-18-2007)
Rex White to drive at Atlanta and a Book: Rex White is driving a car in NASCAR’s premier series once more. Before the start of today’s Kobalt Tools 500 Nextel Cup race, White will drive a 1962 Chevy Impala race car identical to the one he drove to victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway that year. The 1960 NASCAR Grand National champion’s laps kick off the return of the model, this time as the Impala SS, in next weekend’s car of tomorrow race at Bristol Motor Speedway.(SceneDaily.com). BOOK: also the follow-up book to “Gold Thunder” will be hitting the book stores and news stands in May 2007. The new book, “All Around the Track: Oral Histories of Drivers, Mechanics, Officials, Owners, Journalists and Others in Motorsports Past and Present” written by Anne B. Jones and Rex White with a foreword by Ed Clark. More info on the book on my Bookstore page.(3-18-2007)
Ricky Carmichael to make stock car debut Saturday MORE:Supercross legend, Ricky Carmichael, is scheduled to make his first start as a stock car professional at Columbia Motorsports Park [not North Florida Speedway] in Lake City, FL. Mark Martin plans to skip the Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway to act as Carmichael’s crew chief. The link between Martin and Carmichael is Bobby Ginn, who calls Palm Coast home. Carmichael was signed by Ginn to a driver development deal. Martin left Roush Fenway Racing to drive a Chevrolet for Ginn in Cup this season.(source: Daytona Beach News Journal) AND/MORE How do you say goodbye to an outgoing champion? Ricky Carmichael found out Saturday night when a rowdy crowd cheered his every move on the tight and twisting Supercross course carved into the turf of the Citrus Bowl. There was a video presentation, fire, lights, ear-blistering music and bucket loads of adulation for the Panhandle rider who turned pro at age 16. “It’s been an amazing ride,” he told the motorcycle mob in pre-race ceremonies. Then he played to the crowd. “I’m glad to finish my career, right here, in Florida.” Cheers of thunder. After a runner-up finish to his young nemesis James Stewart last weekend at Daytona International Speedway, the 27-year-old Carmichael ended his 10-year Supercross with the same result, a second place after a spirited battle with the sport’s next great star. Carmichael showed his skill behind the wheel Friday evening when he zoomed from Orlando back home to Tallahassee in 3 1/2 hours. Why the rush? His wife Ursula went into labor and gave birth to twins, Kadin and Elise, around 3:30 Saturday morning. Carmichael made it back in time. The scene will be much different next Saturday night when Carmichael makes his professional stock car debut when he races a Late Model at Columbia Motorsports Park [not North Florida Speedway] in Lake City, FL. Ginn Racing is prepping Carmichael for a NASCAR career, and no offense to NFS, but he’s beginning the journey on one of racing’s lowest rungs. Carmichael’s debut in the racing shadows — far, far away from the media’s glare — was Mark Martin’s call. Martin will skip the Nextel Cup race at Bristol to act as Carmichael’s crew chief. “Mark told me, ‘I don’t want to throw you in a hornet’s nest right off the bat,’ ” Carmichael said.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(3-18-2007)
MWR hires Finley from BDR: Sitting in his motorcoach at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday Michael Waltrip could hear the roar of Nextel Cup cars participating in the first practice. “It’s just really tough … to hear those cars roll off pit road and know they were getting ready to win this Atlanta race [Sunday] and me not be a part of it,” said Waltrip, who failed to qualify for his third straight Nextel Cup event Friday. “It’s sad.” But Waltrip wasn’t sleeping in on this unusually cool morning. He was meeting with Toyota Racing Development officials to find a way to integrate their people and resources more into his struggling organization. He hopes to have that plan in place this week and present it to restless sponsors such as NAPA — his own car’s sponsor — that haven’t gotten the race-day exposure it paid for. “They gave us credibility and wind tunnel time and technical support,” Waltrip said of Toyota. “Now we’re stepping back and saying we need some help to implement the assets you’re bringing to our team. We don’t think we’re doing a good job of implementing and taking advantage of all the wonderful technological help [they] can offer us. They’re reassessing how that will go forward.” Waltrip would like to see a few key engineers move from TRD’s Concord, N.C., office to his new shop in Cornelius, NC. Waltrip isn’t standing still. He hired Derrick Finley, who had been the crew chief for #36-Jeremy Mayfield at Bill Davis Racing, to serve as project manager and part-time crew chief while the suspended David Hyder sits at home [Jayski Note: Hyder was reported last week to be back at the shop, but cannot go to the track].(in part from: ESPN.com)(3-18-2007)
Yates still sees challenges in Unleaded Fuel usage: Doug Yates [#38, #88 Roberts Yates Racing Fords] has had a chance to pull apart and examine the engines from the first two races in the unleaded era, and he sees some challenges ahead. In fact, Yates said, his engines came within, say, 10 laps of wholesale failure in unleaded’s debut at California. “We came back from Fontana and every engine we had was almost broken,” said Yates, chief of Roush-Yates Engines, which produces all motors for Ford’s NASCAR fleet. “Some were broken and just didn’t fail on the track. The 21 car [Ken Schrader/Wood Brothers] broke. #99-Carl Edwards’s engine was broken and he didn’t even know it. It must have broken coming to the checkered flag or on the way to the garage. “I’ve talked to the other engine builders in the garage, and they say this is a way bigger challenge than we all thought it was going to be.” NASCAR has used unleaded gas in the Craftsman Truck and Busch Series for a few years [actually started in 2006]. It decreed last year that unleaded would become the mandate beginning at California this year. The California and Las Vegas races were the laboratories. Yates said he saw few problems with valves and valve seats, which had been thought to be most vulnerable with the new fuel. Lead has lubricating properties, and unleaded fuel deprives the engine of much of that inherent lubricity. But it goes much deeper than that. “What people don’t understand is anything you change in these engines is a big deal,” Yates explained. “I’m getting tired of hearing people on TV saying, ‘Oh, it’s just unleaded fuel.’ It’s a very hard change for the engine guys. The initial thing was valves and valve seats; that continues to be a problem. But what people don’t understand is they reduced the octane from 112 to 98. Whenever you reduce octane, the fuel burns faster, so now you’re microwelding rings, breaking pistons, having [fuel] distribution issues. It used to be when you lowered the octane, you lowered the compression. Well, obviously in racing, you’re not going to lower the compression, so the tuning of the engine is probably the toughest thing.” Doug, son of legendary team owner Robert Yates, studied engineering at North Carolina State, and he admits the change to unleaded has been a major mental puzzle. “I should have gone for my master’s,” he said with a smile.(source: Ford Racing site)(3-18-2007)
Petty Driving Experience teams up with Clemson for Safe Driving Program: Richard Petty Driving Experience (RPDE), in partnership with Clemson University’s Automotive Safety Research Institute (ASRI) announced the launch of its national Safe Driving Program. The program is intended to prevent or reduce highway crashes by high-risk adolescent and young adult participants by measurably improving driver skills, attitudes, knowledge and behavior. The research-based Safe Driving Program, initially designed for high-risk drivers aged 16 to 25, will teach safe driving skills and safety education to participants through a classroom setting and on-track experiences by placing students in hazardous driving situations in a controlled and safe environment. Professional driving instructors will coach the students through corrective responses during each stage of the safe driving modules. RPDE and Clemson will develop a unique safe driving program based on best practices for both classroom instruction and on-track laboratory experiences targeting the acquisition of safe driving skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Kyle Petty, a long-time advocate of driver safety for young adults, will serve as the spokesman for this initiative, and Kim Alexander, executive director of ASRI, will lead the research team and serve as Clemson’s spokesperson. The safe driving programs, which start at $329 per person, will be held in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles and Orlando initially and are expected to expand to more markets in the future. Young drivers can reserve their place in the Safe Driving Program by calling 1-800-BE-PETTY. For more information, call 1-800-BE-PETTY or visit www.1800bepetty.com. For more information on the Richard Petty Driving Experience/Clemson University Automotive Safety Research Institute collaboration, please visit clemson.edu/autoresearch/ASRI.(PR)(3-18-2007)
Sad News – Comerford: Thomas F. Comerford, Sr., 70 of Fort Lauderdale, Fl. formerly of Neptune, NJ, suddenly passed away on Thursday, March 15, 2007. Comerford was a modified race car driver for many years retiring from driving in 1987. He was an avid race fan and loved boating. Comerford enjoyed of his retirement in Fort Lauderdale, entertaining family and friends. Surviving is his loving wife, Laraine; three sons, Thomas Comerford Jr., Robert and his wife Diana Comerford and Keith and his wife Kimberlee Robinson; three daughters, Carolyn and her husband Leonard Valente, Shari and her husband Gil Steever, Kelly and her husband Michael Matthews; eleven grandchildren; Danielle, Dylan, Tiffany, Dalton, Chelsea, Justin, Morgan, Natalie, Rita, Bailee and Chase; and a brother Ronnie and his wife Louanne Comerford; a sister-in-law Kim Wooten, and several cousins, nieces, and nephews. Visitation will take place at the John E. Daly Funeral Home, 85 Riverside Avenue, Red Bank, NJ, 07701 on Monday, March 19, from 2-4 and 7-9. A Mass of Christian Burial will begin on Tuesday at 9:00 am at St. James RC Church in Red Bank, NJ. Internment will be private.(3-18-2007)
Tires to be watched at Atlanta: The tire story began to develop in the Craftsman Truck race Friday night, when many tires showed signs of blistering and chunking. The problem, if anything, became more pronounced during the Busch race, which puzzled some of the veterans. It rained here [Atlanta Motor Speedway] into Friday afternoon, leaving a green track. Normally, however, a race and a few practice sessions lay rubber in the track, making the asphalt more accommodating to the tires. Not so Saturday, some said. “We’d wear the right rears to the cords, and 10 laps at the end of the race—the tire wear kept getting worse as the race went on, which is unusual because it usually gets better,” #17-Matt Kenseth said.” Equally odd was that Goodyear beefed up the right-side tires in Trucks and Busch. It also will run a different, presumably harder, set on the Cup side Sunday. NASCAR anticipated the trouble, allowing Busch teams to purchase an extra, seventh set of tires and ordering a caution around lap 35 so teams could have a look. Throughout the race, however, teams pulled off tires worn to the nylon, especially on the outside shoulders. Cup teams, which made final practice before the Busch race, made long runs and noticed serious wear as well. “I’m nervous about tomorrow,” #99-Carl Edwards said. “Our tires weren’t holding up as well on the Cup car as they were on the Busch car today.” Goodyear officials, who took much criticism for their Flintstone [Hard Tires….like rock] tires last week at Las Vegas, were ready with a defense Saturday, noting that Truck and Busch teams lost practice time to the rain Friday. “They has limited practice time, and a few didn’t get dialed in,” Goodyear rep Carole Swartz said after consulting with company engineers. “[Plus] the track was greener up high, and if they got high on the race track, the wear got higher.” It’s likely NASCAR will order some kind of stop for tire examination early in Sunday’s race.(source: Ford Racing)(3-18-2007)
News from March 17, 2007
Martin says, again, he will NOT race at Bristol next [this] week: For weeks, Mark Martin has been answering the questions. Would he or wouldn’t he run Bristol? Friday in the Atlanta Motor Speedway media center, Martin put those rumors to bed, for once and for all. So fans that want to watch him race will have to do so at this weekend’s Kobalt Tools 500, or miss him until the April 15 race at Texas. “There are mixed emotions, but the bottom line is that I’m gonna take a break,” Martin said. “Right now I’m doing what I love. I want to keep doing it and I want to keep loving it. There have been a few times in the past few years that I didn’t love it. I need a break.” He said this in spite of the pressure he’s been getting from former teammates Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton, who have bets riding on whether he’ll return for next week’s Bristol race. Both have said they expect him to race. “Last week I was trying to taxi the plane and my phone rang and it was Kenseth,” Martin said. “He called saying, ‘I wouldn’t have passed you on the last lap, but you aren’t running for points, so I did.’ We were hanging out the other night and he just kept at me; he’s relentless. I finally just had to get up and leave.”(AMS Pit Notes)(3-17-2007)
Kyle Busch to test at Caraway next week UPDATE and Mears: Kyle Busch and his #5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST team will test [a COT] March 20 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., to prepare for the April 1 Nextel Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway.(Hendrick Motorsports)(3-16-2007) UPDATE: Casey Mears and the #25 National Guard/GMAC team are testing a COT at Caraway as well on Tuesday (3/20) to prepare for Martinsville.(HMS)(3-17-2007)
Bill France Hospitalized UPDATE 3: Former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. was hospitalized Wednesday night at Halifax Medical Center, where he was under the care of his personal physicians. His condition was not known, and NASCAR officials confirmed only that the 73-year-old France had been admitted.(Associated Press)(3-14-2007) UPDATE: Former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. has been diagnosed with a virus, according to ESPN.com’s Marty Smith. France is already showing signs of improvement after being admitted to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach on Wednesday. France, 73, is under the care of his personal physician. He has struggled breathing recently as a side effect of extensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer since 2000. He has been relying on a motorized scooter to get around. France suffered a mild heart attack in 1997 while in Japan for an exhibition race. He was diagnosed with cancer two years later, but never revealed what type.(ESPN.com)(3-15-2007) UPDATE 2: Bill France Jr. is alert and resting well at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, a NASCAR spokesman said Thursday afternoon.(SceneDaily.com)(3-16-2007) UPDATE 3: NASCAR President Mike Helton said Friday that former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. continues to recover from a recent illness. Helton joked that the 73-year-old France hasn’t lost his desire to be the boss. “He’s resting comfortably,” Helton said. “He’s giving orders, and everybody is responding accordingly.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-17-2007)
Taking Safety to the Short Tracks..LaJoie: Randy LaJoie announced the launch of his Safer Racer Tour Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Tour will visit short tracks all over the country to educate racers on the importance of safety. Only an estimated 30% of short-track race cars are up to safety standards. According to LaJoie, getting the safety features in the cars is an uphill battle. Cost issues as well as negative attitudes are a huge obstacle. Lajoie hopes to work with drivers, track promoters and even chassis builders to get the word out. “I want to educate these guys,” LaJoie said. “The rest of the industry doesn’t know what the top three divisions know. Some people just don’t know what could happen to them.” LaJoie is a two-time Busch Series Champion. His company, the Joie of Seating, has revolutionized the driver’s seat and is rapidly becoming the leading seat provider for drivers of all ages.(source: AMS Pit Notes)(3-17-2007)
American Idol’s Simon Cowell to be judged by drivers on 60 minutes: #2-Kurt Busch, #15-Michael Waltrip and Racing Legend Mario Andretti will be the “judges” who critique Simon Cowell’s high-speed driving abilities in a segment in Sunday’s edition of “60 Minutes” on CBS, the show airs at 7:00pm/et. Cowell will be behind the wheel of a 600 horsepower, full-sized Indy-style race car in conjunction with the Mario Andretti Racing School. Busch will also be the special featured guest on Monday night’s edition of ESPN2’s NASCAR Now show, which airs at 6:30pm/et.(Tom Roberts PR)(3-17-2007)
Kyle Petty Ride 2007 Plans announced: The 2007 Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride kicks off in Bar Harbor, Maine, on July 14 and will make overnight stops in Woodstock, Vt.; Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Hot Springs, Va.; Augusta, Ga.; St. Augustine, Fla.; and concludes on July 20 when riders will relax at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. Fuel and overnight stops throughout the Ride will be marked by events and activities for fans, supporters and riders. On July 18, riders will stop at the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., to meet campers and tour the grounds. This week, designed for children with burn, skin or craniofacial disorders, is funded by proceeds from the 2006 Charity Ride. As a result of The Ride’s efforts, 80 children will attend the 5-day camp session free of charge. In 2006, fans and spectators donated coins along the Charity Ride route through the “Small Change. Big Impact.” program. These donations totaled more than $53,000. For the fourth year, Chick-fil-A will serve as the title sponsor of the Charity Ride and recently announced its extension of the sponsorship through 2009. Other 2007 sponsors include Victory Motorcycles/Polaris Industries, Pilot Travel Centers LLC, SunTrust Banks, Sunoco (the official fuel of NASCAR), Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola, Dodge Motorsports, Sprint Nextel and Wincraft Racing. To learn more about the 2007 Chick-fil-A Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, visit www.kylepettycharityride.com.(PR)(3-17-2007)
Rusty Wallace Inc hires development driver: Rusty Wallace, Incorporated (RWI) announced that 17-year old short track phenom, Chase Austin, has joined RWI Racing’s driver development program. This program will see Austin behind the wheel of an RWI #66 Dodge Charger for the entire 14-race NASCAR Busch East Series, with primary backing from RWI’s Busch Series sponsor, Atlanta, GA-based home builder, HomeLife Communities. Austin will join Steve Wallace, the youngest son of NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace, as one of the two drivers currently competing under the RWI banner. Wallace and Austin will pilot identically painted #66 HomeLife Communities Dodge Chargers prepared at the state-of-the-art RWI complex, located just north of Charlotte, NC. Though he is only 17 years old, Austin has won more than 100 feature races in go-karts, stock cars and sprint cars. Much like Rusty Wallace, Austin competed and won, in the Midwest-based American Speed Association before deciding to make the jump to NASCAR. With that in mind, Wallace, one of NASCAR’s top-ten all-time winningest drivers and ABC / ESPN’s Lead Auto Racing Analyst, is eager to help Austin become a pioneering and successful African American driver in one of NASCAR’s touring series and beyond. The NASCAR Busch East Series features 13 races, plus the NASCAR All-Star Showdown event, at 12 tracks, using cars similar to those in the NASCAR Busch Series. “While Chase is not a part of the Drive for Diversity program, we all definitely support it and fully believe in the cause,” Wallace said, “Right now though, Chase just wants to focus on driving for Rusty Wallace, Inc. and learning what it takes to win races at a higher level. We’re going to give Chase everything he needs to do just that. I really believe that he’s going to have a great year; if it goes as well as we hope, we could potentially be looking at Steve (Wallace) having a Busch Series teammate in 2008.”(RWI)(3-17-2007)
Home Depot named 2007 Exclusive Retailer of NASCAR Day Pins:The NASCAR Foundation announced that The Home Depot will become this year’s exclusive retailer of NASCAR Day pins. NASCAR Day 2007 [scheduled for May 18], which is a little more than two months away, is an annual, charitable celebration of the spirit of NASCAR fans. In support of the initiative, the company will run a special NASCAR Day-themed paint scheme on the #20 The Home Depot Chevy driven by Tony Stewart at Texas Motor Speedway. NASCAR Day pins will be available for a $5 donation at The Home Depot stores nationwide starting April 16 while supplies last. Proceeds raised from NASCAR Day pins at The Home Depot will equally benefit the NASCAR Foundation Family of Charities, which is comprised of over 30 nonprofit organizations supporting children’s causes, animal welfare and conservation efforts, and The Home Depot’s national nonprofit partner KaBOOM!, whose vision is to create a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. NASCAR Day is a one-day celebration of the NASCAR spirit and its fans. In exchange for a $5 donation, participants including NASCAR fans, corporations, schools and organizations across the country will receive a commemorative 2007 NASCAR Day lapel pin for their donation. NASCAR Day, which this year is scheduled for May 18, began in 2004 and celebrates its fourth observance in 2007. Annually held on the Friday prior to the Nextel All-Star Challenge in May, it has become one of the most important and fastest-growing traditions in the NASCAR Family. In 2006, NASCAR Day raised more than $1.3 million which included over 3,000 company locations across the country, over 100,000 pins sold online, 29 official state proclamations issued and NASCAR Day celebrations held worldwide. More info at foundation.nascar.com.(3-17-2007)
Newman to the back: #12-Ryan Newman’s team changed engines after practice Saturday morning at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Newman won the pole, his 7th at AMS on Friday [tying Buddy Baker for the most all-time at the track]. Newman will start the Kobalt Tools 500 from the rear on Sunday, but is still credited the Budweiser Pole, his 38th of his career. See more on the 2008 Bus Shootout, pole records and more on my 2008 Bud Shootout page.(from SPEED’s Busch Series Qualifying coverage)(3-17-2007)
Cancer Screening at AMS: With the recent passing of NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton from head and neck cancer, this terrible killer is all too relevant. Now Atlanta Motor Speedway is teaming with the Yul Brynner Foundation in honor of Bobby Hamilton to help race fans with free early screening for this devastating disease, which kills more than 15,000 people each year. It will be the second year for the screening at AMS, with six private screening rooms available in the corporate display area in front of Atlanta Motor Speedway. The screening rooms will be open Saturday from 8:30am to 3:00pm and will be manned by doctors and nurses. Last year, head and neck specialists screened more than 200 race fans at AMS, catching many pre-malignant lesions and even some early cancers.(AMS Pit Notes)(3-17-2007)
Steve Park searching for a ride: Steve Park, whose last NASCAR race was in a Busch car at O’Reilly Raceway Park last August, was in the garage at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday knocking on doors in the hopes of finding a ride for 2007. While driving a Cup car for DEI in 1998, Park was seriously injured in a crash at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He returned to race later that year, but in 2001 he suffered a brain injury in a violent crash during the Busch race at Darlington. In his only full season in the trucks (2004), Park finished ninth in points. The following year he won the second race of the season at California Speedway, but by the end of the season, Park and team owner Steve Gaughan went their separate ways. In 2006, Park started the season driving 10 races for James Harris’ CTS team but moved over to the Busch Series to compete in six races for James Marsh. “I’m here looking for a job,” Park said. “Atlanta is the first stop on the East Coast for a lot of these teams and I wanted to be here to talk to a few people about a ride in the truck or Busch series.” Park says it’s been tough for him to sit at home. “I was born to race,” he said. “I should be on the race track right now.” Park said he had a deal to get back in the Busch Series this season, but it fell apart a month before Daytona. “I spent a lot of time in the Craftsman Truck Series and enjoyed it,” Park said. “I’d like to get back into one for the rest of this season.” Park joked that during his time away from racing, he cut 10 strokes off his golf game. “Playing golf is great over the winter time when you know you have a job to go racing again in the springtime,” Park said. “But when the spring time comes and you’re not out there racing, it’s a bummer.”(Yahoo Sports)(3-17-2007)
Dale Jr on SpeedFreaks: SpeedFreaks TV Guests this weekend include Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Extended Interview), Fourteen Time NHRA Funny Car Champion John Force, IndyCar Series Champions Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon, Drifting Champion Sam Hubinette, Heavy Metal Demigod Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, ABC/ESPN Motorsports Host Jamie Little. The show airss on ESPN Saturday at 11:30am/et and re-airs on ESPN2 Tuesday March 20 at 5:30am/et.(3-17-2007)
News from March 16, 2007
Newman wins pole at Atlanta: #12-Ryan Newman won the Budweiser Pole for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a speed of 193.124mph for his 1st pole of 2007, 1st in 22 races, 7th pole at Atlanta and 38th of his career. The rest of the top-10 are #19-Sadler, #48-Johnson, #01-Martin, #24-Gordon, #43-Labonte, #40-Stremme, #5-Busch, #49-Bliss [best of the non Top-35 teams] and #10-Riggs. #00-Reutimann was the highest qualifying Toyota at 24th [4 of 7 Toyota’s made the race] and the best Ford qualifier was #99-Edwards who will start 14th. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were: #49-Bliss, #13-Nemechek, #15-Menard, #00-Reutimann, #70-Sauter, #14-Marlin, #83-Vickers and #44-Jarrett [using a past champions provisional]. See the qualifying results, starting lineup, pole propgression on the Starting Grid/Qualifying Results and Order.(3-16-2007)
Eight do not qualify for Las Vegas #33-Wimmer, #4-Burton, #37-Andretti, #55-Waltrip, #78-KWallace, #34-Lepage, #36-Mayfield and #84-Allmendiner.(3-16-2007)
Ramblings – Atlanta Qualifying Notes: If we’re in Atlanta, it can only be Ryan Newman on the pole. Newman blistered a cold Atlanta Motor Speedway in 28.707 (193.124 mph) to take the Bud Pole by almost 2/10th’s of a second over Elliott Sadler for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500. This is the 7th top-spot at AMS for Newman and the 38th overall in his Nextel Cup career (he’s now tied for 13th all-time with Herb Thomas & Tim Flock)….but first since Loudon last July. Ryan is the 4th different pole winner in 4 races this season. Bobby Labonte (6th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 3rd at Bristol last August.
Mike Bliss (9th) makes his first race of the season. This is his best starting spot since he qualified 6th at Texas in November of 2005.
David Reutimann (24th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend. His previous best was 26th at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in October of 2005.
Johnny Sauter (26th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 14th at Lowe’s last May (only four races).
STREAKIN….David Stremme has 3 Top-10 starts in the last 4 races.(Stock Car Fans)(3-16-2007)
Ryan Newman won the Bud Pole for the Kobalt Tools 500, his 38th Bud Pole 192nd career Nextel Cup races.
.. This is his first start better than 19th in 2007 and his first Bud Pole since New Hampshire last July.
.. This is Newman’s seventh Bud Pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He posted six straight Bud Poles here, sweeping 2003 through 2005. Newman has started from the top 10 in 10 of his 11 Atlanta races, including nine starts from the front row.
.. There have been four different Bud Pole winners in the first four races of 2007.
.. Seventy-four of the 95 Nextel Cup races at Atlanta have been won from the top-10 starting positions, including nine of the last 12.
.. Mike Bliss was the fastest of the 16 drivers that had to make the field on time and qualified for his first race of 2007. His last race was at Homestead in the 2006 season finale.
.. None of the three races this season have been won by a top-10 starter. The best start by a race winner to this point in 2007 is 23rd by Jimmie Johnson at Las Vegas.
.. Only six of the 30 top-10 starters have finished in the top 10 in the first three races of 2007.(NASCAR Media)(3-16-2007)
Robby has a sponsor for Atlanta UPDATE forced to pull logos: Add another cellphone company to the NASCAR mix. Verizon Wireless officials plan to announce today they will work with Motorola to sponsor Robby Gordon in the [#55] Busch Series. The first-time Busch sponsorship for both companies will begin with Saturday’s Busch race at AMS. Motorola will also sponsor Gordon’s Cup #7 Ford in the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday. The sponsorship also includes Busch races at Charlotte, Chicago and Texas.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), see images of the scheme on the #7 Team Schemes page and 2007 Busch Series Schemes page. UPDATE: Robby Gordon is removing a Motorola logo from the hood of his #7 Ford at the request of NASCAR officials, but he says he doesn’t understand how Motorola and Cup series sponsor Nextel are competitors. He also can’t understand why the company can be an associate sponsor on the car, as it has been the three previous Nextel Cup races, but cannot move into a primary slot. “I’m having a hard time understanding how Nextel and Motorola are competitors because that’s the reason we can’t use the sponsorship,” Gordon said. “They have been an associate sponsor on my car for the first three events, and they can remain as an associate sponsor on my car; they just can’t be a primary sponsor on my car.” Gordon said NASCAR officials told him that was the reasoning for the changes. NASCAR President Mike Helton said that Motorola is specifically listed among the companies barred from being a primary sponsor in the Nextel agreement, which gives Nextel (now Sprint) exclusivity among wireless providers as well as wireless handset manufacturers. “It’s a NASCAR decision, yes,” Gordon said. “This is the first time I have ever been involved in something like this. I’ve never been told no [on] a sponsor because we never felt we’ve gone after a sponsor that wouldn’t be approved. I didn’t even imagine that Motorola wouldn’t be approved. They’re the official radio of everybody in the garage area. It’s just mind-boggling, and I’m having a little bit of a hard time on it.” Gordon said he planned to use the sponsorship for two events. “We have a relationship with a competitor’s cell phone company [Verizon] in the Busch Series, and we felt that with them in the Busch Series and Motorola strictly in the Cup series, there wouldn’t be a conflict,” he said. Motorola has a relationship with NASCAR as it is the primary vendor of Racing Radios, which provides two-way radio service for NASCAR at the track. Gordon said he was unaware of exactly how Motorola could be considered a competitor. “That’s where a person like myself has a hard time because you go to the front page of Nextel.com and you find Motorola logos on there and Motorola phones on there, and it’s just a bit confusing why we’re having an issue with the race car being on the race track,” Gordon said. Helton added that NASCAR – not Nextel – made the decision on the car, a decision that he said seemed fairly black-and-white. “NASCAR is the group that polices the sport, so it’s NASCAR’s role to approve paint designs, approve sponsors on cars, approve how sponsors utilize the paint designs on the cars to promote and activate their relationships,” Helton said. Helton said that most of the times, these issues are handled before the car gets to the track. “There is a process in place where the paint scheme has to be approved … there wasn’t time to fix the car before it got here, but we have plenty of time here to correct things,” he said.(SceneDaily.com)(3-16-2007)
Irwin colors for McMurray at Atlanta: IRWIN Industrial Tools will be the primary sponsor the #26 Ford that Jamie McMurray drives this weekend in Atlanta, which marks the first of 11 races in which the IRWIN blue and yellow paint scheme will adorn McMurray’s #26 machine. Atlanta is a special race for IRWIN Industrial Tools, as they are part of the Newell Rubbermaid Company, which is based in Atlanta.(Roush Racing), the next race for IRWIN is Martinsville on April 1st. See an image of the scheme on the #26 Team Schemes page.(3-16-2007)
Nextel Pit Crew Challenge Tix on Sale: Tickets for the 2007 Nextel Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman, featuring competition between the top 24 pit crews in the Nextel Cup Series, will go on sale Thursday, March 15. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased online at www.pitcrewchallenge.com or by calling the Charlotte Bobcats ticket office at (800) 495-2295. The Nextel Pit Crew Challenge is set for Wednesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena. The competition is a signature lead-in event to the Nextel All-Star Challenge Saturday, May 19 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. See more and this year’s format on my Pit Crew News page and see my 2007 Pit Crew chart.(3-16-2007)
Mikey to have XM radio show: XM announced that Michael Waltrip will join racing’s biggest stars exclusively on XM Radio. Waltrip will host the half-hour weekly show “Michael Waltrip Out Loud,” exclusively on XM. Debuting on March 20, “Michael Waltrip Out Loud” will air every Tuesday night from 7:00- 7:30pm/et on XM’s sports talk radio channel XM Sports Nation (XM 144). Waltrip’s show will feature his insight into the world of racing, as well as guests from the world of music and entertainment. Fans can tune in to hear Waltrip with breaking updates from the road or back at his newly opened Waltrip Raceworld shop in Cornelius, NC. In addition to being home to “Michael Waltrip Out Loud” show, XM will partner to become primary sponsor of Waltrip Racing’s #99 Busch Series car driven by David Reutimann for the Chicagoland race July 14. XM is home to racing’s biggest stars. In addition to Michael Waltrip’s new show, NASCAR fans can catch exclusive shows from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.(XM Radio PR)(3-16-2007)
Food City Founder Jack Smith Passes Away: Bristol Motor Speedway lost a close and valued friend Thursday with the passing of Jack Smith, the founder and chairman of long-time race sponsor Food City. The 81-year-old Smith died Thursday morning at his home in Abingdon, Va., after a brief illness. Bristol Motor Speedway president and general manager Jeff Byrd was extremely saddened by Smith’s passing. “Jack Smith was a great friend to all of us at BMS,” he said. “He was a true gentleman and I’ve always felt that he and the rest of the Food City folks were just an extension of our family here. We were in business together certainly but the relationship we had with Jack went far beyond that. He built a very successful business based on the same exemplary values and principals he lived by. He was an outstanding individual and we will miss him a great deal. All of us at BMS are thinking about the Smith family during this very difficult time and have them in our prayers.” In 1955 Smith opened his first store in his hometown of Grundy, Va., and so began his storied career in the grocery business. Now more than 50 years later, Food City stands at the top among supermarket chains serving the Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee Tri-State region and boasts nearly 100 stores. Smith built his chain upon the premise of providing superior customer service – a principle that still rings loudly throughout the Food City chain today. Food City joined Bristol Motor Speedway in 1992 and is celebrating its 15th anniversary as sponsor of the spring Nextel Cup race, The Food City 500. Food City, which also sponsors the Food City 250 Busch Series event in August, recently extended its sponsorship through 2010. Farris Funeral Service in Abingdon is in charge of the funeral service. Arrangements, however, are incomplete at this time.(BMS PR)(3-16-2007)
Johnson’s win at Vegas #150 for Hendrick Motorsports: #48-Jimmie Johnson’s performance Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway marked the 150th points-paying Nextel Cup Series victory since 1984 for team owner Rick Hendrick. Each Hendrick win has come in a Chevrolet race car. Hendrick Motorsports 150th Cup Series win came in its 736th points-paying event (1984-present). That’s an average of one victory every 4.906 races. Hendrick Motorsports’ 150 Cup victories have been amassed by 12 different drivers: Jeff Gordon (75), Jimmie Johnson (24), Terry Labonte (12), Tim Richmond (9), Darrell Waltrip (9), Geoff Bodine (7), Ricky Rudd (4), Ken Schrader (4), Kyle Busch (3), Jerry Nadeau (1), Joe Nemechek (1) and Brian Vickers (1). Hendrick’s career total of 150 Cup wins is best among NASCAR’s modern-era car owners (1972-present). Second on the list is Jack Roush with 96 victories. Petty Enterprises is first all-time with 268 first-place finishes in Cup competition. Hendrick is second all-time. Hendrick Motorsports’ first Cup victory came April 29, 1984 at Martinsville, Va., with driver Geoff Bodine [in the #5]. Jeff Gordon notched the organization’s 50th on March 24, 1996 at Darlington, and its 100th on June 10, 2001 at MIchigan. Jimmie Johnson posted win No. 150 Sunday at Las Vegas. Car owner Rick Hendrick now has 198 combined NASCAR victories: 150 at the Cup level, 23 in the Busch Series and 25 in the Craftsman Truck Series. The total includes a 1983 Busch Series win by the late Dale Earnhardt at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in a car co-owned by Hendrick and Robert Gee. Hendrick Motorsports has earned six NEXTEL Cup championships, giving the organization more titles since 1995 than any other team in major American professional sports. With four World Series rings, the New York Yankees are second during that span, followed by the New England Patriots, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Red Wings, who each have three championships in their respective sports (1995-present). With Johnson’s win, Hendrick Motorsports has now earned at least one Cup Series victory in 22 consecutive seasons (1986-present). Rick Hendrick was not able to attend Sunday’s NEXTEL Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He was at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., for an event honoring high achievers at Hendrick Automotive Group car dealerships. Hendrick is the chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(3-16-2007)
Klaussner steps up support of Waltrip’s #55: The new look of Klaussner Furniture Industries will make its debut this weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway with its expanded sponsorship of the #55, Michael Waltrip NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. The logo of Klaussner Home Furnishings, Klaussner’s new consumer brand, will be prominently placed on the rear deck lid. Klaussner has supported Waltrip in a limited capacity for some time and recently chose to trade up from the window post to a more prominent placement on the car. Klaussner, which is gearing up for a new brand initiative later this year, is giving consumers and NASCAR fans a preview of its new look and new direction. More info about Klaussner Furniture at klaussner.com.(MWR PR)(3-16-2007)
Kyle Busch visits school as part of Animal Ambassadors Program:Virginia Busch, president of the Sea World and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund teamed up today with Nextel Cup driver #5-Kyle Busch to present several unique and exotic animals to students at Luella Middle School in Locust Grove, Ga. Eighth-grade students got an up-close and personal look at a bald eagle, alligators, penguins, otters and more, all while learning about their ecosystems and how they can help protect them. Kyle Busch, who’s #5 Busch Series Chevy will be sponsored by the Sea World and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, talked to the students about his racing career as well.(AMS PR/Hendrick Motorsports)(3-16-2007)
News from March 15, 2007
Haas CNC Racing team swap sponsors for Atlanta: The #66 and #70 Haas CNC Racing Chevry Monte Carlo’s will “swap” sponsors this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Johnny Sauter, whose primary sponsor is normally Yellow Transportation, will instead carry the Best Buy logos on his #70 entry this weekend. Jeff Green’s #66 car, which usually carries a blue and yellow Best Buy paint design, will instead be sponsored by Yellow Transportation. In the first five races of this year, Sauter’s #70 team must qualify for the event on time (being a new team with no 2006 owner’s points). Sauter is three for three in his qualifying tries this season, but since Green is guaranteed a spot in the race by virtue of finishing in the top-35 in points last season, the swap ensures that Yellow Transportation and its 200 guests attending the Atlanta event will be represented in Sunday’s race.(Haas CNC Racing/GMR PR), see images of the schemes on my #66 Team Schemes page and #70 Team Schemes page.(3-15-2007)
#72 Cup Team Moving to the Busch Series UPDATE 2: The #72 Nextel Cup team, owned by Brian and Tony Mullet, announced to its team members and driver Brandon Whitt that it will be moving to the Busch Series. The team will supposedly be headed by Greg Pollex (formerly of ppc Racing), with Todd Gordon as Crew Chief and Jason Keller as the driver.(CJM Racing PR)(3-14-2007) UPDATE: been told that driver Brandon Whitt, General Manager Derek White and Crew/Car Chief Doug George are no longer with the team.(3-15-2007) UPDATE 2: The following is a statement from co-owner Bryan Mullet at CJM Racing pertaining to the speculation/rumors regarding CJM Racing and their future: “CJM Racing is dedicated to its involvement in the NASCAR ranks. We, as a team, are re-evaluating our position and working on a few different scenarios’ that will allow us to grow and become a competitive force within NASCAR. Contrary to unsubstantiated rumors, to date no one has been hired and the team is currently consulting with a group to determine the best avenue for success. Sponsorship discussions are underway and future announcements are to be expected within the next few weeks.”(CJM Racing PR). NOTE: the team is not entered in any of the Atlanta races this weekend.(3-15-2007)
Goodyear tests at Darlington: #24-Jeff Gordon, #22-Dave Blaney and #41-Reed Sorenson tested tires at Darlington on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Sorenson’s teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, took his first laps on the track in Sorenson’s car. Nextel Cup Series director John Darby said there is no problem with Montoya getting a partial test because Goodyear controls tire tests.(Thatsracin), also been told that #16-Greg Biffle tested at Darlington also.(3-15-2007)
Hornish to run Brickyard 400? Defending the Indianapolis 500 title will be tough enough for Sam Hornish Jr., but he says he’d like to win twice on the historic 2 1/2-mile oval this year. Hornish, who already has driven in two Busch Series races this season, said Wednesday he likes the idea of trying to drive in both major American races at the track – Indy and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. “The biggest thing would be our resources,” Hornish said. “But if they asked me to do it, I’d do it.” It’s not unprecedented. A few NASCAR drivers, most notably Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon, have competed in Indianapolis on Memorial Day weekend and later returned to compete in the Brickyard 400. Hornish won the second-closest finish in Indy 500 history by 0.0635 seconds in 2006. Hornish might be setting himself up for even greater expectations. When asked if he had any inkling about running in the July 29 Nextel Cup race in Indianapolis, he didn’t hesitate. “I’m trying to work on Roger (Penske) as far as that goes,” Hornish said. “I think it would require a little bit of testing, and the biggest thing would be our resources. Obviously, we don’t want to take away from what Kurt (Busch) and Ryan (Newman) do there.” #2-Busch and #12-Newman are the two regular drivers for Penske’s NASCAR team. Hornish also is trying to become only the sixth driver in Indy history to repeat as champion, something his teammate Helio Castroneves accomplished in 2001-02.(Associated Press)(3-15-2007)
Jackson Hewitt scheme for Biffle at Atlanta: This weekend at Atlanta, #16-Greg Biffle will run a black and red Jackson Hewitt paint scheme.(Roush Racing PR), see image of a the scheme on my #16 Team Schemes page.(3-15-2007)
Stewart/Home Depot start 2007 playground campaign: Racing to Play Kicks Off Third Year with Playground Build in Atlanta on Thursday, March 15th – #20-Tony Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs, along with volunteers from The Home Depot, Joe Gibbs Racing, KaBOOM! and members of the Metro Atlanta community are joining forces to build a racing-themed playground in just one day at Evansdale Elementary School in Doraville, Ga. The playground is part of The Home Depot’s Racing to Play program, which is aimed at making a lasting, positive impression in the lives of at-risk children who live in NASCAR race communities. The Home Depot’s Racing to Play program will build 10 racing-themed KaBOOM! playgrounds in 2007. It’s a partnership between The Home Depot, Joe Gibbs Racing, and KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization whose vision is to create a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America. In the program’s first two years, more than 4,400 volunteers donated approximately 33,300 hours of service to build 20 Racing to Play playgrounds that have impacted the lives of more than 11,000 children in race markets across the country.(True Speed Communication/JGR)(3-15-2007)
Andretti to run the #37 at Atlanta: John Andretti will continue to drive the #37 Dodge at Atlanta with Huddle House as the sponsor. Contrary to earlier reports [initial entry list], Bill Elliott will not be driving the car. However, the team is still based out of the Elliott shop in Dawsonville, GA.(Race Week Media) AND Contrary to a number of published reports that originated from a media release issued by Huddle House on March 8, 2007, former NASCAR Cup Champion Bill Elliott has not agreed to the reported three-race partnership that would put him in the #37 Huddle House Dodge for the Kobalt Tools 500 on March 18, Talladega on April 20, and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 27. The media release made the erroneous claim that Front Row Motorsports – owner of the #37 Dodge – and Huddle House had reached terms on a partnership in which the family restaurant franchise would serve as the primary sponsor of an Elliott-driven Dodge. Unfortunately, the media release was issued without the knowledge or participation of Bill Elliott Racing or any of its officers. Bill Elliott Racing sincerely apologizes to NASCAR fans around the world for any confusion this error may have caused. We certainly know how eager fans are to see Bill back on the race track, and we share in their enthusiasm. Elliott’s Racing at AMS: Fans should be pleased to know that Bill Elliott is going to be racing in the final race of the Legends Winter Flurry series on Saturday, March 17th at the Atlanta Motor Speedway following the conclusion of the Nicorette 300 Busch Series event. Bill will be competing in the Thunder Roadster Division, while his son, Chase Elliott, will be racing in the Bandelero Division. Bill’s nephew, Trey Poole will be competing in the Legends division.(Bill Elliott Racing/AMS PR)(3-15-2007)
Camping World to sponsor Wimmer at Atlanta: Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and Camping World have agreed on a multi-pronged sponsorship agreement for three of RCR’s Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series teams for 2007. Camping World, based in Bowling Green, Ky., is the world’s largest supplier of RV accessories and camping equipment with over 65 retail outlets in key regional locations. The multi-team program will include: Scott Wimmer in the #33 Camping World Chevy at the March 18 Kobalt Tools 500 Nextel Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway; Clint Bowyer in the #07 Camping World Chevy at Nextel Cup Series events at New Hampshire International Speedway (July 1) and Pocono Raceway (Aug. 5); and Bowyer in the #2 Camping World Chevy in the Busch Series races at Phoenix (April 20), Talladega (April 28), the Camping World 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway (June 30) and Chicagoland Speedway (July 14). For more information go to campingworld.com.(Richard Childress Racing PR)(3-15-2007)
AMP on the #41 at Atlanta: AMP Energy Drink will adorn the upper-rear quarter panels of the #41 Target Dodge that Reed Sorenson drives at Atlanta. AMP, a product of PepsiCo, Inc., is based on the original flavor of Mountain Dew, enhanced with energy boosting ingredients.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-15-2007)
Montoya to film safety commercial: In conjunction with NASCAR, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Florida Department of Transportation, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya will be filming a public service announcement (PSA) for the “Click It or Ticket” campaign designed to promote seat belt safety. The PSA will be filmed in both English and Spanish.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-15-2007)
News from March 14, 2007
NOTE on Owners Points: from what I am told the #109 team of James Finch/Phoenix Racing and the #4 team of Larry McClure/Morgan McClure Motorsports have ‘switched’ car numbers with Finch now listed as the #4 owner, combing the #109’s Daytona points  with the #4 points at Las Vegas  for a total of 194 and moving up to 38th on the Owners Points list. Been told NASCAR has approved this move. Why would the #4 team do this? Race attempts do not matter if a team is in the top 35 of the owners points, so if the #4 can get in the next two races and get in the top-35 they will be guaranteed a starting spot if the team can stay in the top 35.
My ‘understanding’ of the rules, is that since the #4 is now listed with only 2 race attempts, the team would not get in the race in the case qualifying is cancelled [rain etc] as there are many teams already with three who would get in first. That is how the rule is written, but NASCAR could change that..so who knows.(3-14-2007)
Terry Labonte to race…..in Maine: One of NASCAR’s living legends will continue the recent tradition of Nextel Cup champions competing in the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway. Terry Labonte, who won stock car racing’s top prize in 1984 and 1996 and was named one of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers of all-time in 1998, Labonte, 50, plans to compete in a car prepared by Richard Moody Racing out of its spacious race shop in Auburn. He will attempt to make his fourth career start in the TD Banknorth 250 as a teammate to two-time race champion Ben Rowe of Turner. Labonte qualified for the OPS crown jewel in 1983, 1986 and 1992, with a best finish of 17th in his third try.(oxfordplains.com)(3-14-2007)
Las Vegas TV Ratings Up 2%: Sunday’s (3/11/07) NASCAR on FOX event from Las Vegas posted a 6.3/13 (10.5 million viewers) National rating, according to figures released today by Nielsen Media Research. Sunday’s 6.3/13 is up +2% over last year’s 6.2/12 for the same race on FOX, and was the top-rated sporting event of the weekend. NASCAR on FOX from Las Vegas outrated CBS’ NCAA Selection Show by +47% (6.3/13 vs. 4.3/9 ), the largest margin ever recorded between the two events. Ratings for Sunday’s race on FOX opened at a 5.5/13 and grew steadily throughout the broadcast, peaking at a 7.6/14 (13.1 million viewers).(FOX PR)(3-14-2007)
Busch Series TV Ratings are up: After four races of ESPN’s new NASCAR agreement, the Busch Series is averaging 2,234,000 households, including a big jump from last year’s audience for Saturday’s race from Las Vegas, the first of six in 2007 to be aired on ABC. The broadcast earned a 2.4 rating and averaged 2,699,000 households, an increase of 58% compared to the same race in 2006 (1,713,000 homes). Also, ESPN2’s three races are the network’s top three ratings of 2007. The telecast of the season-opening event from Daytona International Speedway was ESPN2’s most-viewed auto racing telecast ever with 2,200,600 household impressions (2.4 rating). It was the seventh-most-viewed telecast overall in ESPN2 history, with a larger audience than anything the network aired in 2006. ESPN’s eight-year NASCAR agreement provides benefits far beyond the race telecasts and television alone. This past weekend, the motorsports section of ESPN.com enjoyed 79% more traffic than the same weekend a year ago (739,000 page views, up from 414,000). For the season to date, racing content has generated nearly double the number of page views per day than 2006 (up 98%, from 199,000 to 393,000). The NASCAR Busch Series will continue Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway on ABC with NASCAR Countdown at 2:30pm/et. ABC will also televise the March 24 event from Bristol Motor Speedway.(ESPN PR)(3-14-2007)
Parsons family would like some memorabilia back: Benny Parsons, as selfless and thoughtful a man as the good Lord ever molded, was quick-as-a-hiccup to aid a friend in need. He didn’t keep tabs, wasn’t interested in paybacks. He just wanted to help. It’s time some of those folks he helped reciprocated the gesture. Terri Parsons, Benny’s second wife, is searching desperately for memorabilia from Benny’s driving career. The hope is to collect a wide range of helmets, trophies, driving suits and sheet metal to display in a special wine-tasting room at Rendezvous Ridge, Benny’s winery in Wilkesboro, N.C. Terri seeks a driving uniform and helmet from every car he ever drove. To date, the quest has been exasperating. (see full story at ESPN.com)(3-14-2007)
Wimmer first to run new Chevy engine: This weekend, Richard Childress Racing will be the first team to utilize Chevrolet’s new R07 motor when Scott Wimmer hits the track with the #33 Holiday Inn Chevy on Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Per NASCAR regulations, the R07 displaces a maximum of 358 cubic inches. In contrast to the SB2’s “mirror port” cylinder heads, the R07’s cylinder heads resemble production LS-series small-block cylinder heads with alternating intake and exhaust valves. While production small-block V-8 engines employ electronic fuel injection, the R07 port layout is optimized for the single four-barrel carburetor mandated by NASCAR. The R07’s key technical advances over the SB2 include 4.500-inch cylinder bore centers (vs. 4.400 inches in the SB2), a raised camshaft that improves valvetrain dynamics, a new six-bolt head bolt pattern that reduces cylinder bore distortion, and a targeted cooling system that minimizes temperatures at critical locations. A cast camshaft tunnel, integral piston squirter galleries, and overhead oil feed galleries reduce engine assembly time. Relocating the fuel pump to the inboard side of the car and eliminating external oil and coolant lines enhance safety. RCR will be the first team in the Nextel Cup ranks to utilize Chevrolet’s new engine combination.(RCR PR)(3-14-2007)
MWR tests COT at Rockingham: on ESPN2’s NASCAR Now, Michael Waltrip said he and #44-Dale Jarrett were testing the Car of Tomorrow [COT] at Rockingham [North Carolina Speedway] and the #00-David Reutimann would be testing there on Wednesday, March 14th.(3-14-2007)
Ginn Resorts colors for Nemechek at Atlanta: Joe Nemechek will drive a new car in Atlanta, built at the Ginn Racing shop in Mooresville, N.C. Crew chief Peter Sospenzo is excited about the new #13 Chevrolet that will showcase the Ginn Resorts colors for the Kobalt Tools 500. “We’re fired up about this new car after seeing the results from our wind tunnel test last week,” said Sospenzo. “You need the entire package at Atlanta — horsepower, aero and handling. We believe we have it all and with Joe’s past performances at this track, we’re definitely pumped about this weekend.”(Ginn Racing)(3-14-2007)
Special CAT scheme for Blaney at Atlanta: The #22 Caterpillar Toyota Dave Blaney drives will be adorned with a new paint scheme this weekend at Atlanta featuring the new D6T and D6K Track-Type Tractors. The Cat D6T and D6K Track-Type Tractors are the new line of mid-size machines built for applications ranging from site preparation to finish grading. Each machine is quipped with ACERT Engine Technology, which optimizes engine performance while meeting emission regulations for off-road applications. The AccuGrade Laser Grade Control System is a high technology earthmoving tool that allows dozer operators to grade and fill with increased accuracy without the use of traditional stakes or grade checkers. The SystemOne Undercarriage will deliver the longest life and greatest reliability of any undercarriage system available.(Bill Davis Racing)(3-14-2007)
Triple at Atlanta for Bowyer: Clint Bowyer is scheduled to compete in all three NASCAR-sanctioned races this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the #07 DIRECTV HotPass Chevy on Sunday in the Nextel Cup race, he will race the Kevin Harvick Inc.-owned #2 Camping World Chevy Silverado in Friday night’s Craftsman Truck Series event and the #2 BB&T Chevy Monte Carlo in Saturday’s Nicorette 300 Busch Series race.(RCR PR)(3-14-2007)
Congrats: Jason Kivette, who handles catch can duties for the #22 Cat Racing team, and his wife Kristin welcomed new addition Justice Marie to the Bill Davis Racing family last week.(BDR)(3-14-2007)
Atlanta Rookie News and Notes: #42-Juan Pablo Montoya was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 11 UAW-DainlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Montoya scored a 22nd-place finish and took top rookie honors for the first time this season. Montoya earned $5,000 from Affinia Group as part of the Raybestos Rookie Magnificent Seven program. The Raybestos Rookie of the Race normally pays $1,500 but that increases to $5,000 at seven designated races throughout the 2007 season. The next event where the bonus is available will be April 1 in Martinsville. David Ragan holds a seven-point lead (37-30) over Montoya in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering the March 18 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Ragan is 19th in the Nextel Cup Series championship standings, best of any Raybestos Rookie. He is 20 points behind 10th-place Elliott Sadler. Kevin Harvick scored a memorable win as a Raybestos Rookie in the 2001 Kobalt Tools 500. He beat Jeff Gordon by just .006 seconds to capture his first Nextel Cup Series victory in just his third career start. Raybestos Rookies Robby Gordon (1997) and Johnny Benson (1996) scored their first career Bud Poles in back-to-back spring races at Atlanta. Gordon won the pole in his 11th career start. Benson took the top spot in just his fourth career start. Gordon is the most recent Raybestos Rookie to win the pole for the spring race at Atlanta.(Camp and Assoc/Raybestos PR), of note….until Las Vegas last week a Rookie had finished in the top 15 in 38 consecutive Nextel Cup races.(3-14-2007)
News from March 13, 2007
Did you know? All 10 drivers that started in the top 10 at Las Vegas failed to finish in the top 10. On average, between four and five drivers that start in the top 10, finish in the top 10, but not this weekend. So how long has it been since all 10 drivers failed to finish in the top 10 [in a Nextel Cup race]? How about 1,421 races ago. On July 4, 1965, all 10 drivers that started in the top 10 failed to finish in the top 10. Almost 42 years ago. It happened at Daytona. Marvin Panch was the pole sitter and would become the highest finisher among the top 10 starters. Marvin finished 12th and led 39 laps. He would retire from the race after 136 laps of the race’s 160 laps [only 14 cars of 40 were running at the finish]. In fact, the top 10 starters that day led 130 laps. AJ Foyt (started 11th) would grab the win, leading the other 30 laps that day. Not only did the top 10 starters in 1965 finish outside the top 10, but all 10 posted a DNF, 3 engines, 3 crashes, 1 heating issue, 1 fuel pump, 1 rocker arm and even 1 driver [Junior Johnson] is listed as ‘quit’. The top 10 starters at Vegas this weekend didn’t fair that bad, only scoring 3 DNFs. But they all finished outside the top 10, ending a string of 1421 races with at least top 10 starter finishing in the top 10.(LTPicks.com)(3-13-2007)
Sad News – Laura Lorene Myers: Laura Lorene Myers (nee Yontz) died March 11, 2007 at the Brian Center in Lexington. She was 76. Lorene was born February 5, 1931 to Lala Atwood and Howard Younts in Winston-Salem. She married Bobby Myers, a NASCAR pioneer, who was killed in Darlington, at the Southern 500 in 1957. Lorene never re-married. She worked as school crossing guard for Winston-Salem police, then later worked for Southern Tool Company, where she retired. She leaves behind two sons: Danny “Chocolate” Myers, and his wife Caron of Lexington; and Richard “Poncho” Myers, and his wife Judy, of Titusville, FL; three brothers, George Yountz and his wife Ann of Davidson County, Steve Weeks and his wife Peggy, also of Davidson County and Rudy Yontz and his wife Jean of Atlanta. Her sister, Mary Rose Cates, preceeded her in death, as did her brother Jack. She also leaves behind four grandchildren, three great-children and several nieces and nephews. A family visitation will be held Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 at Hayworth Miller Funeral Home on Silas Creek in Winston-Salem. The funeral will be at Hayworth-Miller’s chapel on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Interment will be at the Oaklawn Memorial Gardens.(3-13-2007)
Las Vegas #01 Pit Crew Win Extends Streak: Mark Martin’s pit crew grabbed its third consecutive win of the season in the Checkers / Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge by taking top honors in Sunday’s (March 11) Nextel Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The #01 U.S. Army crew also claimed wins in the first two races of 2007 – at Daytona and California. “Wow, those guys are just awesome on pit road,” said driver Mark Martin, who leads the Nextel Cup driver point standings with three straight top-five finishes. “The U.S. Army crew has really been a big part of our success so far this season. If they can keep that up, I hope I can help get them to Victory Lane really soon.” “The Army over-the-wall crew has played a vital role in our success,” added #01 crew chief Ryan Pemberton. “Lance (Munksgard, pit crew coach) has done an outstanding job with all of the Ginn Racing teams. It is great to see Checkers/Rally’s reward and recognize the pit crews for their excellent performances.” The #01 over-the-wall crew, which spent 322.066 seconds on pit road in Las Vegas, includes: Scott King (jackman), Colin Pasi (front-tire carrier), Charlie Brock (front-tire changer), Dwayne Moore (rear-tire carrier), Dave Woodhead (rear-tire changer), Danny Harrington (gasman), Scotty Hazlett (catch can) and J.D. Hilton (windshield). Checkers/Rally’s awards the winning Nextel Cup team each week with a cash prize of $11,150. An additional $111,150 will be presented to the pit crew with the most wins at the completion of the 36-race Nextel Cup schedule. To win the Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge, teams are required to finish on the lead lap while spending the least amount of time on pit road. Checkers/Rally’s is in its third season as title sponsor for the pit crew challenge.(DMF Communications PR)(3-13-2007)
Knaus Wins Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award:Undeterred by Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s new pavement, Jimmie Johnson and the #48 team collected their third UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 title in a row. Led by crew chief Chad Knaus, Johnson pulled away from the competition in the final eleven laps to become the most-accomplished driver in Las Vegas Motor Speedway history. The victory, however, was not an easy one, and it required great preparation and adjustments from Knaus and the #48 team to give Hendrick Motorsports its 150th career victory. Following a pass-through penalty from a pit stop infraction, Knaus made all of the right adjustments to the Lowe’s Chevrolet, cementing a place for both his team and driver in the record books and earning himself the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award. A panel of voters; including a member of the local media, Tony Eury Jr. and a Wypall Wipers representative; agreed that Chad Knaus made the best decisions and adjustments. As the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race, Knaus received $1,000. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.(Wypall PR)(3-13-2007)
New NASCAR Reality TV Show: Gillette is taking its “Young Guns” group of marketable NASCAR racers beyond the 30-second commercial and into reality TV. The razor maker is producing a prime-time reality show called “Fast Cars and Super Stars: Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race.” The show is slated to air on ABC in June leading up to the NBA Finals. The show will follow members of the “Young Guns,” such as Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch, as they train other celebrities, including skateboarder Tony Hawk and surfer Laird Hamilton, to become race-car drivers. The series will be made up of six 30-minute episodes and a one-hour finale. The show gives Gillette, which is a unit of Procter & Gamble, valuable branding throughout the series.(Boston Herald)(3-13-2007)
Johnson’s 2nd tire getaway..why no penalty? been asked, here is the best answer I have seen…..as usual, penalties are the descretion of NASCAR and most are a judgement call….
Q from fan: Why wasn’t Jimmie Johnson penalized on the last pit stop when his tire went out of his pits and the official stopped it? The official should not be allowed to do that, and if he does, it should be an automatic penalty! Could you please explain this?
Jeff Hammond/FoxSports: A NASCAR official is there to referee and give assistance in the spirit of safety. For example, a tire crossing pit road is not in the best interest of NASCAR or anybody on pit road if an official can knock it down. What I believed and perceived at the time was the official saw the crew member trip and inadvertently release the tire while making an effort to carry the tire over pit wall. When the No. 48 team was penalized during the fifth caution, nobody on the team made an effort to catch the tire, and a NASCAR official wasn’t close to it. In that first instance, the car clearly had left the pit before they had gotten control of it. It’s a judgment call, and it’s easy for us to go back because we have instant replay. The officials on pit road do not have replays, and the officials in the tower are reluctant to make calls based off of replays if they aren’t able to see the entire circumstance. While some people may think the #48 team got by with one, I have a hard time criticizing what happened because we do not need that tire on pit road. NASCAR officials aren’t biased, and they have saved more than just Jimmie Johnson’s tires from rolling onto pit road. The officials are there to promote safety as much as anything else. If they can intervene and prevent something from happening, they won’t worry about penalties or any other kinds of ramifications after the fact.(3-13-2007)
New site for MMM: #4 Morgan McClure Motorsports sponsor, State Water Heaters, has a new website for the team: State Racing: stateracing.com. Also of note…looks like the #4 team and #09 team had ownership swaps of some sort. With the #09  now on the Owners Points Standings as being owned by Larry McClure [the owner of the #4 team Ward Burton drives for] and the #4 team is now being shown in 38th, with the owner as James Finch with owners points from the race at Daytona  and from Las Vegas  for a total of 194 and 38th in the owners points, however the team is listed with only two attempts…and it is my understanding [waiting on an answer] that to get a guaranteed top 35 spot, a team has to attempt [not run] all the races and that the field is filled after qualifying is cancelled by top 35 in owners points, other criteria [past champ, past winners] and then the by race attempts with owners points breaking the tie.(3-13-2007)
Overnight TV ratings for Vegas up: Overnight ratings for Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were up 1.9% over last year’s figures. This year’s race drew a 5.5 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and an 11 market share, compared with a 5.4/10 in 2006, according to Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily.(SceneDaily.com)(3-13-2007)
NASCAR Coverage this week on ESPN and ABC: The Busch Series heads to one of NASCAR’s fastest race tracks, Atlanta Motor Speedway, this weekend and ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of Saturday’s 300-mile race. The Atlanta event is one of six select Busch Series races this season that will air on ABC, with the other 29 to be televised by ESPN2. Coverage will begin with the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show at 2:30pm/et, with the race to start at 3:00pm/et. Play-by-play announcer Jerry Punch will be joined in the booth by Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree for analysis. Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro will serve as pit reporters. Brent Musburger and Chris Fowler will host the telecast. Studio analysts Tim Brewer and Brad Daugherty will join Fowler in the ESPN Pit Studio during the telecast.
NASCAR Now, ESPN’s first daily news and information show totally dedicated to NASCAR, will air on ESPN2 at its regular 6:30pm/et timeslot Monday through Friday of this week. The program’s weekend edition will air at 10:00am/et Sunday with segments from Atlanta Motor Speedway. A new episode of SpeedFreaks will air on Saturday at 11:30am/et. A motorsports and lifestyle show, SpeedFreaks blends superstar motorsports pilots with actors and musical guests, all while positioning ‘The Freak Nation’ in a unique, cutting edge format unlike anything else in the racing world. The Freaks also ask their own brand of questions en route to covering the broad spectrum of the industry.(ESPN PR)(3-13-2007)
News from March 12, 2007
Riley-D’Hondt Still Planning to Run this Year: Riley-D’Hondt Motorsports still plans on fielding a Busch Series car later this year as well as entering the two Nextel Cup road-course races, team co-owner Eddie D’Hondt said Sunday. Road racer Marc Goosens will drive in the Cup events, D’Hondt said. David Green has been working with the team and is presumed to be its Busch driver. The team has 10 Busch cars and two cars of tomorrow for its launch. Jerry Pitts will be the crew chief.(SceneDaily.com)(3-12-2007)
DEI Testing at Kentucky on Tuesday: Dale Earnhardt, Inc., driver Kerry Earnhardt is scheduled to lead research and development efforts during a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway Tuesday, March 13. Fans can view test sessions for free from the designated area outside the speedway Sparta, Ky., Fan Center. Sessions usually begin at 9:00 a.m., and end at 5:00 p.m. Times will vary based on team goals and driver schedules.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-12-2007)
California Policeman Selected as Kahne’s Assistant: The selection process was tough and the interviews were intense, but the winner of the Kasey Kahne Dream Job contest was up to the challenge – and took home the top prize for his efforts. David Metzger from Fremont, Calif., was named the winner after final interviews at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 9. Metzger, a policeman with the Atherton Police Department and a member of the San Mateo Narcotics Task Force, was one of three finalists who traveled to Las Vegas for the judging and the weekend’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race. Metzger was selected for his problem-solving skills, commitment to improving performance, creative thinking and ability to deal with pressure on the job. The contest, sponsored by Dodge Motorsports, offered contestants an opportunity to be Kahne’s assistant at the Dodge Avenger 500 Nextel Cup race on May 12 at Darlington Raceway. More than 20,000 fans entered the contest. Almost 116,000 people voted for the nine semifinalists. The top three finalists were Kelli Quattlebaum of Greenville, S.C., received the most votes with 33,251. David Metzger from Fremont, Calif., received 20,891 votes and Erin Coates of Dubuque, Iowa., received 13,028 votes. Metzger will spend four days at the Evernham Motorsports headquarters in Statesville and work with the Marketing Department scheduling Kahne’sat-track activities for the Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington Raceway. Duties will also include working with the marketing and public relations team to get Kahne to all the appearances, media interviews, on-track and NASCAR-mandated responsibilities on his schedule that weekend.(Clear!Blue PR)(3-12-2007)
No sponsor for Robby at Vegas? UPDATE: as most noticed, #7-Robby Gordon has no sponsor decals on his #7 Ford, which is painted all black. The original NASCAR entry list had Harrah’s as the sponsor, then was changed to TBA [to be announced]. There in nothing on the robbygordon.com site and email’s sent to the team PR folks have gone unanswered for weeks. Gordon did have an appearance at Harrah’s in Las Vegas this past week. Have gotten and posted the #7 Motorola scheme, but no word on when that will run.(3-10-2007) UPDATE: For #7-Robby Gordon life as an independent owner-driver on the NASCAR circuit is getting tougher. First, long-time sponsor Harrah’s has dropped its financing; the world’s largest gaming company is in the process of going private in a $17 billion sale. Second, planned new sponsor Monster, the Red Bull energy drink rival, has yet to sign on as one of Gordon’s backers, a deal that was expected here.(Winston Salem Journal)(3-12-2007)
Commercial breakdown for the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400:
Total number of commercials: 116
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 56
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 4:30 P.M.
End time to record race/commercial periods: 7:56 P.M.
Total minutes: 206
Minutes of race broadcast: 154
Minutes of commercials: 52
Total race brdcst time: 154 min Total comm. brdcst time: 52 min
See full report at CawsnJaws.com.(3-12-2007)
Motorcycler looking to go to NASCAR: Mike Metzger, “The Godfather” of freestyle motocross who achieved cult status by cutting back flips and breaking all manner of bones in X-Games competition, is actively pursuing opportunities in NASCAR, he said Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Metzger was in the garage area Saturday rubbing elbows introducing himself to prospective team owners. No question, he’s anxious to join fellow motocross star Ricky Carmichael in stock cars. Metzger said he’d bantered with several teams, and that many are intrigued at the prospect of his coming to NASCAR. If he were to make the jump it would be substantial, and like Carmichael he’d have to start small and work his way up. The 31-year-old is currently on the mend after crashing badly while attempting a 75-foot back flip during a film shoot. The result was a crushed L4 vertebrae and back surgery. The injury sidelined Metzger’s season in the Championship Off Road Racing Series. Metzger moved from two wheels to four last October and fell in love, and said he believes NASCAR to be the next step in the progression of his career.(ESPN.com)(3-12-2007)
NASCAR Signs Licensing deal with RPDE: NASCAR and Richard Petty Driving Experience (RPDE) announced today that the two organizations have agreed to a multi-year licensing agreement, formalizing a relationship that began 15 years ago with the initial development of RPDE. While Richard Petty and NASCAR remain synonymous, the agreement cements a relationship that began more than 50 years ago when the Petty family first joined the sport. This new licensing agreement will allow Richard Petty Driving Experience to better align its business with NASCAR, its sponsors, business partners and 75 million fans. For more information, call 1-800-BE-PETTY or visit www.1800bepetty.com.(RPDE PR)(3-11-2007)
Barrett to run at Infineon: Pro30 Racing, which is based in Novato, will run a partial NASCAR Nextel Cup schedule for the 2007 season, including the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 22-24. Stanton Barrett, a native of Bishop in Southern California, will drive the #30 Bad Boy Power Drink/Pro 30 Chevy in the Sonoma Valley. He has six top-10 finishes in his Busch Series career and is also a top Hollywood stunt man. For more information, visit www.pro30racing.com.(The Reporter)(3-12-2007)
News from March 11, 2007
Sprint Cup in 2008? Sprint Nextel confirmed Sunday that it is mulling over the possibility of changing the name of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in 2008. “As we have stated before, Sprint Nextel is actively researching the best action regarding the name of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series,” said a Sprint Nextel public relations representative Sunday. “The name will remain NASCAR Nextel Cup Series for the duration of the 2007. Our hope is to have more information by late summer regarding our plans for changing or not changing the name in 2008.” NASCAR officials had no comment on the possibility of a name change for its top series..(SpeedTV.com)(3-11-2007)
Johnson wins at La Vegas: #48-Jimmie Johnson won the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his 1st win of the 2007 season, 24th career win and 3rd straight a Las Vegas. The win was also the 150th for Hendrick Motorsports. #24-Gordon finished 2nd, followed by #11-Hamlin, #17-Kenseth, #01-Martin [3rd staight top-5 of the season], #99-Edwards, #20-Stewart, #12-Newman, #5-Busch and #26-McMurray. #8-Earnhardt Jr finished 11th, #31-Burton was 15th and #9-Kahne wrecked late and finished 35th. There were 9 cautions for 40 laps and 16 drivers lead the race with 28 lead changes. 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.(3-11-2007)
Unofficial Driver Points Top-12 Standing after Las Vegas [3 of 36 races]:
#6-Mark Martin 495
#24-Jeff Gordon 489 -6
#31-Jeff Burton 453 -42
#48-Jimmie Johnson 406 -89
#17-Matt Kenseth 397 -98
#29-Kevin Harvick 389 -106
#5-Kyle Busch 382 -113
#11-Denny Hamlin 374 -121
#18-J.J. Yeley 365 -130
#19-Elliott Sadler 342 -153
#40-David Stremme 342 -153
#38-David Gilliland 335 -160 some noteables:
#20-Tony Stewart is 13th
#8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 28th
#9-Kasey Kahne is 36th
For drivers/owners points, see my Jayski’s Drivers/Owners Points Page.(3-11-2007)
Las Vegas Penalty Report: Car#, Penalty, Reason, Lap Issued
1 #6 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 2
2 #7 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 9
3 #25 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 9
4 #4 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 9
5 #13 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 19
6 80 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 40
7 #15 PT Excessive Speed-Entering pits 81
8 #41 PT Excessive Speed-Entering pits 82
9 #70 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 107
10 #48 TE Outside half pit box tire violation 108
11 #1 TE Excessive speed – Exiting pits 110
12 #5 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 117
13 #16 OL Car/truck pitting out of the assigned pit box 118
14 #2 PT Excessive Speed-Entering pits 151
15 #13 PT Excessive Speed-Entering pits 151
16 #44 PT Excessive Speed-Entering pits 154
17 #07 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 226
18 #31 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 252
19 #8 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 252
20 #14 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 252
21 #9 TE Pitting before Pit Road is Open 251 penalty code:
PT – Pass through
TE – Tail end of the longest line
SG – Stop and Go
OL – One lap
ND – NASCAR discretion
MCI – Must come into pits.(NASCAR Statistics)(3-11-2007)
Rumblings – Las Vegas Race Notes: So much for all that Friday Night talk about this being a Dodge track… Jimmie Johnson dominated late after teammate Jeff Gordon controlled the middle of the race, and the Hendrick Motorsports Chevies ran one-two today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson made it a three-peat this afternoon as he ran away from a restart with 11 laps left in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, and it was career victory #24 (he’s 25th on the all-time win list). It was also a milestone win for HMS (#150)….with four of those coming here at LVMS. JJ’s take of the over $6.3M in posted awards was a rather nice $415,366. The new asphalt and hard tires played tough today, but it wasn’t quite as bad as many predicted (we had nine caution periods for accidents). The 28 lead changes among 16 drivers was also a pleasant surprise.
Ryan Newman (8th) had his best finish since he was 8th at Bristol last August. Jamie McMurray (10th) had his best finish since he was 3rd at Watkins Glen last August. Kenny Wallace (24th) had his best finish since he was 21st at Homestead in November of 2005 (he was subbing for Kurt Busch then). STREAKIN….Jimmie Johnson has 8 Top-10’s in the last 9 races.
Jeff Gordon has 7 Top-10’s in the last 8 races.
Mark Martin has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is Jeff Gordon (+34), followed by Matt Kenseth (+33), Ryan Newman (+31), Bobby Labonte (+29), Jamie McMurray (+23), Jimmie Johnson (+22), and Robby Gordon (+21). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Kasey Kahne (-34), followed by Dave Blaney (-31), Joe Nemechek (-29), Sterling Marlin (-26), and Reed Sorenson (-24). This is the second week in a row that Kasey’s had the position of honor in the bottom half of the “Shaft”.
We’re three weeks into the all-important first five races (when we change from 2006 Owner Points to the current years’) and we’ve got four high- dollar teams in trouble. The #9 (Kasey Kahne), #21 (Ken Schrader/Jon Wood), #10 (Scott Riggs), and #22 (Dave Blaney) are all on the outside looking in at the moment, (though Kasey’s only 3 markers out)….and you can bet they’d all like that safety net when we get to Martinsville. Mark Martin retains his points lead (and thus the speculation will continue for another week at least)….and it’s up to six markers over new second place man Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt Jr (40th to 28th) made the best move forward this week, while David Ragan (5th to 19th) fell the most spots.(Stock Car Fans)(3-11-2007)
Bowyer to run DirecTV hotpass scheme at Atlanta: Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and DIRECTV, primary sponsor of Clint Bowyer’s #07 Chevrolet for six races on the 2007 Nextel Cup Series schedule, will unveil a new paint scheme for Bowyer’s #07 entry at next weekend’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This unique paint scheme will prominently feature the logo for the innovative new NASCAR HotPass service, exclusively available on DIRECTV. The new paint scheme is well-timed for DIRECTV as Bowyer continues an impressive start in his second year in NASCAR’s top division. It also coincides with a strong overall start for RCR to the 2007 season. All three RCR entries are currently in the top six of the Nextel Cup Series championship point standings. Additionally, Kevin Harvick captured victory in spectacular fashion in last month’s season-opening Daytona 500, the second Great America Race victory in RCR’s storied history. More information is available on www.directv.com/hotpass.(RCR PR)(3-11-2007)
New GM Engine, not quite ready: GM’s new R07 engine may not be ready for prime time. Introduced last fall, the new engine is the first to be designed specifically for racing by GM. It was touted as the being the successor to the production-based engines that had been used by GM in stock car racing since the mid-1950s. In using what is referred to as a “clean sheet of paper” while designing the engine, GM’s engineers were confident they had addressed the kinds of issues that plagued previous designs, in turn building a race-ready powerplant. However, the planned rollout of the new engine into Nextel Cup competition, which originally was slated for sometime later this month or in April, has been delayed. When asked to comment on the delay, GM Racing program manager Pat Suhy said that teams were still testing the new engine and were not yet comfortable with giving up their current engine, the very reliable SB2 – which won its first race when Dale Earnhardt took it to victory lane at the season-opening Daytona 500 in 1998. Although the new engine has not seen a lap of real competition, teams are able to simulate the stresses of a race weekend on their shop dynamometers, which are used to measure power and durability of engines. Those tests include running the engines until they are hot, letting them cool down and then heating them up again, which is known as heat cycling. What teams have found hasn’t been all that comforting. “We’ve blown at least one of them up,” said one senior team member who asked to remain anonymous. He did stress that failures do occur whenever teams work on something totally new. And, he added, he expects Chevy teams will continue to test the new engine, including on actual race weekends,(Yahoo Sports)(3-11-2007)
Inpection at Bristol for COT may change: NASCAR officials apparently have been telling crew chiefs in the Nextel Cup garage no one should fail inspection prior to the first practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway in two weeks. If there was a car that passed every template during the recent Bristol test for the COT, no one can point it out. The Ford nose missed the template by 3/16’s of an inch on both sides and there was a minor issue with the hood that must be worked out in a hurry. Chevry teams also had issues in the nose and tail sections. Dodge and Toyota were also not without issues but individuals in those camps were not talking. The word now is NASCAR is going to relax the process, requiring teams to meet just four of the eight required points in the overall template.(CircleTrackPlus.com), see image of the inspection ‘cage’ on my COT page.(3-11-2007)
News from March 10, 2007
DEI Engine problems appear to be solved UPDATE: Teammates #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. and #1-Martin Truex Jr. both suffered blown engines last Sunday at California, and it appears the engine department has solved the problem. Earnhardt Jr. said “The unleaded fuel lubricates the valve train less so we’re going to have to address that by applying more oil in the left front side of the motor in the valve train. The right side of the valve train looked really, really good. Centrifugal force pushed all the oil over so we have to somehow pump more oil over to the left side of the valve train and give that more durability. That’s what our company has done this past week and we should have no problems.”(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(3-9-2007) UPDATE: However, the issue might have been deeper than just lubrication. A source inside the DEI organization said a broken valve spring and a spun bearing caused the engine to fail. Neither issue was directly related to running unleaded fuels. “We tossed away a bunch of defective valve springs to solve on of the issues,” said the source. As for the bearing, the failure was the result of an oiling failure no previously seen by the engine department. We looked at our process of building engines and it wasn’t an issue with construction.”(Circletrackplus.com)(3-10-2007)
Hyder back to work at MWR: Banished crew chief David Hyder has returned to the Michael Waltrip Racing shop, working on the cars while under indefinite suspension for the Daytona fuel scandal. NASCAR officials found an illegal fuel additive in Michael Waltrip’s car before and after Daytona 500 qualifying Feb. 11, and the sanctioning body subsequently handed down a record $100,000 fine, as well as a 100-point penalty. “In the world outside of these [garage] gates, you’re innocent until proven guilty,” MWR Vice President Ty Norris said. “That’s the world we live in, so we’re just trying to figure out, still trying to investigate with all the fervor that we did before to figure out what is going on. He’s working on these [No.] 55 cars, getting them set up and going to test at Kentucky.” Norris said the investigation is continuing into exactly what the fuel additive was and how it got in the car. He said the team sent 15 different types of substances from its hauler to a lab and all came back as being legal. Norris said NASCAR has told them what chemical was illegal but he said his team was still trying to figure out where it came from. “We haven’t been able to find out from anybody who knows anything about that particular type of substance to explain to us how or why that would happen or how or why it would leave a residue,” Norris said. Norris also said he didn’t believe it ended up helping with the qualifying attempt. “We slowed down a tenth with all of the qualifying oils and everything else,” Norris said. “We slowed down the next day. I don’t know why anybody thinks that it worked. We don’t know what it was, we don’t know what it was intended to do and we don’t know where it was entered into the system.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-10-2007)
NHL Owner meets with Evernham; George Gillett Jr., the owner of the Montreal Canadiens National Hockey League team and co-owner of the Liverpool soccer team in England, has talked with NASCAR teams, including Evernham Motorsports, team owner Ray Evernham confirmed Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I’ve talked to a lot of people,” Evernham said. “George is one of the people I’m talking to. When I said I was looking for a partner [earlier this year], the phone has been ringing and ringing. I met George. He is a really cool guy. But we don’t have anything done.” Evernham has invited Gillett to come to Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 this weekend.(SceneDaily.com)(3-10-2007)
Kyle Busch looks at ownership: #5-Kyle Busch started Kyle Busch Motorsports about three years ago near his home in Mooresville, N.C. The Las Vegas native says with a grin that the operation was started to help provide tax deductions. But it has turned into a growing business, and the beneficiary is Alex Haase, a 17-year-old junior at Centennial High School. Busch will sponsor Haase in the regional NASCAR Grand National West Division this year for a Southern California-based team that has a car formerly driven by current Cup driver David Gilliland. “This could translate into something bigger down the road,” Busch said of race-team ownership status. He drives part time in the Craftsman Truck Series for owner Billy Bellew [#15-Bill Lester], and he might begin taking a bigger role with that team. “He’s looking to step back and let me take over that deal,” said Busch. Haase will run in all the Grand National West races and compete in the Super Late Models divisions at the LVMS Bullring and short track in Irwindale, Calif., when his West schedule allows. Busch said he plans to return to his hometown to compete in three Super Late Models races at the Bullring this year, two in the summer and one in the fall.(Las Vegas Review Journal)(3-10-2007)
AT&T Rolls Out Burton Blog: #31-Jeff Burton now sharing his views on this year’s season in a new blog available only through the MEdia Net Racing Portal from the wireless unit of AT&T Inc. Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy and 18-time Cup Series winner, is launching the Burton Blog, a unique perspective on a variety of issues ranging from candid reviews of his race performances to light-hearted commentary on pop culture. Cingular, now AT&T, is making the unique content available to its more than 61 million customers exclusively on its MEdia Net Racing Portal. Continuing through the end of the Cup season in November, new Burton Blog entries will be posted several times a week in the “Cingular Exclusives” section of the MEdia Net Racing Portal. Fans can participate in the Burton Blog mailbag by submitting a text message with a question to “JB31” (5-2-3-1). Burton will answer select questions throughout the season. Other content available on the Racing Portal includes Jayski.com text alerts of news and in-race results, NASCAR.com To Go and racing-themed ringtones and wallpapers. Fans with 3G capable handsets can view weekly exclusive video insight on Burton and the #31 Chevrolet. Cingular Video features pre- and post-race video analysis from Burton and TEAM Cingular members, filmed on location at the Richard Childress Racing team shop. Customers can access the Racing Portal and the Burton Blog on their wireless handset by launching the MEdia Net option and then visiting the main Sports home page. Customers can access the Burton race reviews and previews on their 3G handsets by launching Cingular Video and visiting the Richard Childress Racing option on the main Sports page of MEdia Net. Standard MEdia Net data-usage charges and text-message charges apply.(Career Sports & Entertainment PR)(3-10-2007)
DW visits with Dion: Three time Cup Champ and FOX broadcaster Darrell Waltrip and his family were guests of Celine Dion last night at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. When Celine heard the Waltrip’s were coming to her show, she invited them backstage for a pre-show visit. Celine’s husband, Ren-Charles and their two sons are huge NASCAR fans.(3-10-2007)
ESPN NASCAR Coundown and NASCAR Now this weekend:ESPN’s NASCAR Countdown will preview the NASCAR Busch Series Las Vegas Motor Speedway action Saturday at 2:30pm/et on ABC with host Brent Musburger and co-host Chris Fowler, Brad Daugherty, Tim Brewer and Shannon Spake. The race telecast team, play-by-play announcer Jerry Punch,Rusty Wallace and analyst Andy Petree will also contribute. NASCAR Countdown will also include reports from pit reportersMike Massaro and Allen Bestwick, as drivers and teams change strategy from road racing in Mexico City to Las Vegas where they will gamble with a new track configuration and newly developed tires. NASCAR Countdown will originate from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and will be telecast from ESPN’s new, state-of-the-art mobile pit studio as it sets the stage for primetime coverage of the 300-mile NASCAR Busch Series race Saturday afternoon, March 10. Highlights will include:
Las VegasMotor Speedway Track Reconfiguration
Risk vs. Reward for Nextel Cup Drivers
Mexico City Re-cap with Juan Pablo Montoya
NASCAR NOW: Members of the NASCAR Now team will fill their slots in Las Vegas where they will report on what’s in the cards for Saturday’s Busch Series race and Sunday’s Nextel Cup race. Rusty Wallace, Tim Cowlishaw, Marty Smith, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will report from trackside while host Erik Kuselias and analyst Stacy Compton will man the studio garage in Bristol, Conn. Sunday’s NASCAR Now Features:
What I Did on My Week Off: Greg Biffle went dune buggy racing in the desert
An in-depth look at the re-constructed Las Vegas Motor Speedway
There is an “I” in DEI: an update on the Dale Jr.-DEI talks.(ESPN PR)(3-10-2007)
NASCAR on FOX Nextel Cup Coverage from Las Vegas: Everyone tries to leave of Vegas a winner and this weekend is no different for NASCAR’s drivers. On Sunday, March 11 (4:00 PM ET) Nextel Cup’s best drivers go all in for one of the circuit’s most exciting and competitive races. FOX Sports’ Emmy Award-winning coverage travels to Las Vegas to catch defending race winner Jimmie Johnson as he takes on current points leader Mark Martin and the rest racings’ elite. Sunday’s Nextel Cup coverage begins from inside FOX’s renowned “Hollywood Hotel.” This traveling prerace studio is hosted by Chris Myers, along with analysts Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip. Shortly after, the green flag drops with Waltrip, race announcer Mike Joy, and analyst Larry McReynolds calling the action. Some highlights: Chris Myers takes Kyle Busch to the photo finish; Mark Martin will be interviewed [wonder what they will ask him?] DW: Week Off Could Help Earnhardt & Toyota Get Back on Track.(Fox PR)(3-10-2007)
Checkers/Rally’s Wins Bill Veeck Sports Sponsorship Award:Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc., the nation’s largest chain of double drive-thru restaurants has been recognized as the 2006 Bill Veeck Sports Sponsorship Award winner for the Professional Association category. The chain received the award for its Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant sponsorship of NASCAR and several International Speedway Corporation (ISC) race tracks. Checkers/Rally’s became part of the NASCAR experience in 2005 with its Official Burger and Drive-Thru Restaurant sponsorship of the sport, and further supports this relationship through its official track sponsorships at Daytona, Richmond, Homestead and Michigan, as well as Indianapolis. The annual Bill Veeck Sports Sponsorship Awards are organized by the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University. They were established in 2004 in honor of one of the greatest innovators in the history of sports, Hall of Fame baseball owner Bill Veeck, and recognize companies that continue a longstanding tradition of unique, innovative and inventive sports promotion. For more information, visit www.billveeckawards.com.(Checkers Drive-In Restaurants PR)(3-10-2007)
News from March 9, 2007
Goodyear waiting for NASCAR’s ok to sell test tires: In a casual conversation outside the new Neon Garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Stu Grant, General Manager Global Race Tires at Goodyear, revealed there have been talks with NASCAR about selling tires to NASCAR Nextel Cup race teams specifically for testing. “Last year Mike Helton told us they would allow us to sell some tires to race teams for testing sometime in 2007,” Grant said. “I am just waiting for them to tell us when.” Faced with buying tires from Hoosier, General and yet unnamed manufacturers, teams have been lobbying Goodyear for their help in convincing NASCAR that development of the new COT demands they use Goodyear rubber at test sessions.(CircleTrackPlus.com)(3-9-2007)
Nextel Cup Banquet returns to NYC in 2007: The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series banquet will return to New York City for the 27th consecutive year in December, NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter confirmed Friday. With rumors swirling about the possibility of the banquet being moved from New York to Las Vegas, Hunter was adamant that the annual awards ceremony will return to New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Las Vegas has been campaigning to attract NASCAR’s annual celebration of its champion, and Hunter said NASCAR will keep its options open for future banquets. “We have [looked around], but we are going back to New York,” Hunter said Friday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “It’s the place the banquet should be right now.”(SceneDaily.com), no date has been officially announced but it is usually the last Friday in Nov or first Friday in Dec.(3-9-2007)
Kahne wins pole at Las Vegas: #9-Kasey Kahne won the Budweiser Pole for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a speed of 184.856mph for his 1st pole of 2007 and 13th of his career. The speed is a new track record for the re-configured speedway [the old record was also held by Kahne at 174.904mph in 2004] The rest of the top-10 are #40-Stremme, #19-Sadler, #42-Montoya, #31-Burton [best Chevy], #10-Riggs, #41-Sorenson, #14-Marlin, #13-Nemechek and #2-Busch. #22-Blaney was the best Toyota and will start 11th [only two Toyota’s made the race] and the best Ford qualifier was #99-Edwards who will start 13th. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were: #14-Marlin, #13-Nemechek, #78-KWallace, #15-Menard, #4-Burton, #80-Almirola, #70-Sauter and #44-Jarrett [using a past champions provisional]. See the qualifying results and starting lineup on my Las Vegas Starting Lineup/Qualifying Results Page.(3-9-2007)
10 Do not qualify for Las Vegas #84-Allmendiner, #49-Bliss, #36-Mayfield, #72-Whitt, #83-Vickers, #37-Andretti, #00-Reutimann, #55-Waltrip, #47-Scharder and #34-Lepage(3-9-2007)
Las Vegas Goodyear Tire Notes: Teams in both the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series will run the same tire codes this weekend . . . this is the first time Goodyear has brought this specific combination of left- and right-side tires to the track . . . this left-side code (D-4076) is new to the Goodyear tire lineup and was tested during the Busch Series’ open test at Las Vegas in February . . . this right-side code (D-4022) was designed for the new track surface at Charlotte and run successfully at that track in 2006 . . . while this left-side is unique to Las Vegas, this right-side is scheduled to be run at Charlotte again this season . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Las Vegas . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. Estimated Pit Window: Every 36-39 laps, based on fuel mileage (Nextel Cup — 13-gallon fuel cell).(Goodyear PR), for full report see my Las Vegas Race Info/Rundown page.(3-9-2007)
Ramblings – Las Vegas Qulaifying Notes: Las Vegas Motor Speedway has new asphalt, new banking, and a new pit road…..and it’s baaaaad fast. And the baaaaadest, fastest of ’em all was Kasey Kahne. Kahne tooled around in a smooth 29.212 seconds (184.856 mph)….and you know every qualifier shattered the previous track record. Kahne’s 13th career pole put’s him into next February’s Budweiser Shootout….we’ve had three qualifers in three races, btw. The top four, six of the top-seven, and seven of the top-10 are Dodges this week.
David Stremme (2nd) takes the outside pole, and it’s his career-best qualifying effort. His previous best was 3rd at Daytona last July.
Juan Pablo Montoya (4th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend as well. His previous best was two weeks ago in Fontana when he started 9th.
Reed Sorenson (7th) tied his career-best starting spot today….capping a good day for the Ganassi Dodges. He also started 7th at Dover last September.
Sterling Marlin (8th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 7th at Talladega last October.
Kenny Wallace (15th) has his best starting spot since he timed in 4th at Martinsville in October of 2003
Paul Menard (19th) has his career-best starting spot this weekend also. His previous best was 22nd at Atlanta in March of 2006.
Welcome….Aric Almirola (31st) and Jon Wood (41st) both make their first Nextel Cup starts this weekend.
STREAKIN…..Jeff Burton has 4 Top-10 starts in a row.(Stock Car Fans)(3-9-2007)
Dale Jr on SpeedFreaks: This Saturday on ESPN2, SpeedFreaks will bust out the chosen profession of one Mr. Dale Earnhardt Jr. before he even thought about paying the mortgage on that little ‘ol race shop. It may have been by design that he became the most popular driver in NASCAR. From the Mopar Pits, SpeedFreaks not only unveil Dale’s secret early obsession but they’ll take the Freak Nation on a desert and camel off-road adventure with Baja 1000 winner and NASCAR’s Robby Gordon. Crash, Lugg, Statt and The Sarge will also engage the SpeedFreaks faithful in a heavy topic involving Nextel Cup pilots Allemndinger vs. Montoya. It will be another whiplash and smile style show this Saturday, March 10 on ESPN2 at 11:30am/et [Replayed on ESPN2 Tuesday March 13 at 5:30am/et]. This SpeedFreaks Saturday throw-down was shot from the Lucas Oil Studios in the Mopar Pits in Las Vegas.(more at SpeedFreaks.TV)(3-9-2007)
Dale Jr. not worried about points standing: Headed into Sunday’s UAW-Daimler-Chrysler 400, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t concerned about his 40th place point standings. “I’m not really worry about it”; said Earnhardt Jr. “I’m upset we’ve finished how we have but there’s nothing we can really do about it. If I was 40th in points with the chase two races way I’d be really upset…very upset…but it’s early in the season and we’ve got time to remedy it.” Nobody is panicking on the Bud Chevy team and that includes the driver. According to Earnhardt Jr.; “I think getting worried or panicky won’t improve the situation; it’ll only spread through my team like a virus. Panic is very contagious so you really have to have a positive outlook and try to propose that on the team that they work hard to try and come out of it.” The team has had no luck the first two races of the season suffering a blown motor at California and getting swept up in a crash at Daytona. “I can only do what I can do” said Dale Jr. “We’ll try and come back the best we can and get the best finishes we can to get out of that hole. I think we’ll be able to do that.”(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(3-9-2007)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Richard Petty wax figures to be unveiled at LVMS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard Petty will appear in the flesh and in wax in Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Neon Garage. Earnhardt Jr. and Petty, the seven-time NASCAR champion, will unveil their wax figures at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 9. The two figures will remain in the Neon Garage throughout the weekend. Once the NASCAR Weekend is completed, the two figures will go to their home at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. The figures will join those of seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt and four-time champ Jeff Gordon in Madame Tussauds SPEED attraction. Tickets for the March 9-11 NASCAR Weekend are available by calling 1-800-644-4444 or by logging on to www.lvms.com. Madame Tussauds will be open throughout the racing weekend. For attraction hours and pricing, call 702-862-7800 or visit online at www.mtvegas.com.(LVMS PR)(3-5/9-2007)
Johnson to Drive Cadillac CTS-V in Charlotte SPEED GT Race: #48-Jimmie Johnson will drive Team Cadillac’s #16 CTS- V in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday night, May 24, 2007. The 50-minute race, the fourth round of the 10-race SPEED GT series, will take place on the track’s 1.5-mile banked oval with modifications to introduce road racing elements to the course. The SPEED GT race will follow NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600. Johnson is one of America’s most versatile racers. He’s race motorcycles, off-road trucks, ASA stock cars, and Daytona Prototypes. Johnson is scheduled to participate in a one-day SCCA Pro Racing test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on March 19 before making his SPEED GT debut in May. The Cadillac CTS- V race cars that compete in the SPEED GT championship are based on the production Cadillac CTS- V performance luxury sedan.(GM Racing PR)(3-9-2007)
NASCAR license plate plan crashes, burns in Illinois: A plan to offer Illinois motorists the chance to buy NASCAR license plates is stuck on pit row with a flat tire. Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Bob Flider, D-Mount Zion, failed to receive enough votes in the House Thursday and was sent back for a tune-up. “I’m going to try and resolve the concerns I heard today,” Flider said. Flider had sought to bring NASCAR plates to Illinois as a way to celebrate the popular stock car racing series. The plates, already available in several other states, would cost $35 more than standard plates and would allow motorists to pick plates featuring their favorite drivers. But, state Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago, questioned whether the state should be paying NASCAR for the right to use their logo. “I think people should think twice about this,” said Fritchey. The legislation is House Bill 946.(the Pantagraph)(3-9-2007)
News from March 8, 2007
Chevy to scrap Monte Carlo…again? Inside Line has confirmed with supplier sources that production of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo will cease at the end of the 2007 model year. That means the last Monte Carlo will roll off the line sometime this summer. In recent years, the Monte Carlo has been one of General Motors’ biggest successes on the NASCAR stock-car racing circuit. But the two-door companion to the Chevrolet Impala sedan has not resonated with the buying public.(Edmunds.com), it was announced in October 2006 that Chevy would be going to the Impala for Car of Tomorrow [COT] races.(3-8-2007)
Hooters Casino to honor Kulwicki during NASCAR weekend:Hooters Casino Hotel [115 E. Tropicana Avenue, Las Vegas] invites race fans to pay homage to late NASCAR driver, Alan Kulwicki, by visiting his legendary car [#7 Hooters Ford] displayed inside the casino hotel, March 8-10 from 4 to 10 p.m. During that time, fans will have the opportunity to take photos with Michelle Nunes, Miss Hooters International, and Alise Dippolito, Miss March 2007 from the Hooters calendar in front of the “Underbird.” Underbird – the Hooters-sponsored race car driven by Kulwicki – is prominently displayed on the casino floor complete with an interactive kiosk, which tells the story of the relationship between Hooters of America and NASCAR, and more importantly the special bond between Kulwicki and Hooters. In 1991, Hooters signed the Kulwicki Racing Team to a three-year contract, and at the same time began sponsoring the Winston Cup season-ending race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which became the Hooters 500. In the season-ending race of the 1992 season, Kulwicki won the Winston Cup. Following the win, Hooters enjoyed one of the highest levels of awareness it had known at that point. Hooters’ relationship with NASCAR ultimately brought the Hooters Restaurant chain from a virtual unknown to worldwide recognition in one weekend. Following the untimely passing of Kulwicki in 1993, Hooters has continued to pay tribute to the legendary driver with gestures ranging from donations to the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Park for the construction of the Brooks Pavilion, to the Underbird memorial at Hooters Casino Hotel.(Lighthouse Marketing PR), more about Kulwicki’s #7 Hooters Ford ‘Underbird’ at underbird.com.(3-8-2007)
Huddle House to sponor the #37 for three races: After sponsoring Bill Elliott’s #37 Dodge throughout the Daytona 500 week of events, Huddle House, a 420-unit nationwide family restaurant franchise with deep ties to the South, was hungry for more. Huddle House, along with Front Row Motorsports, the owner of Bill Elliott’s/John Andretti’s #37 Dodge, have announced a partnership for the family restaurant franchise to serve as the primary sponsor of the car for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 18; the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29; and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC on May 27. Huddle House, fresh off an infusion of funding from its recently announced $124 million acquisition by Allied Capital, has signed on as the primary sponsor of NASCAR racing legend Bill Elliott and Mario Andretti’s nephew John Andretti, giving the Huddle House brand extensive positive exposure to tens- of-millions of Americans who are known to be very loyal to the companies that sponsor their favorite drivers. As the primary sponsor of Bill Elliott’s/John Andretti’s #37 Dodge, the Huddle House logo will be detailed on the hood, trunk, bumper and inside the car, as well as patched onto the team jersey. As part of the sponsorship deal, Elliott’s car has been officially renamed “The Huddle House Dodge” for all three of the upcoming races. Also, the Huddle House #37 Dodge will be featured at several Huddle House locations during an eight day tour of the car, beginning with a March 15-17 stop at the Locust Grove, GA location, 4830 Bill Gardner Pkwy.(PRN Newswire)(3-8-2007)
Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper to sponsor Riggs at two races IMAGE: Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper will be the primary sponsor of the #10 Evernham Motorsports Dodge that Scott Riggs drives in two 2007 Nextel Cup Series races: Las Vegas Speedway on March 11, 2007 and at Michigan International Speedway on August 19, 2007. Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper will be an associate sponsor of the #9, #10 and #19 Evernham Dodges for all other Nextel Cup Series races in 2007 and will receive branding on Evernham team uniforms, team haulers and pit equipment. Kasey Kahne will be driving the #9 car while Elliott Sadler will take the wheel for #19.(Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper site)(3-6-2007) IMAGE: see an image of the scheme on my #10 Team Schemes page.(3-8-2007)
Childress to Speak March 8 at Neurosurgeon Convention: Richard Childress will give a speech March 8 to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (AANS/CNS). The speech, entitled “The Importance of Teamwork,” is part of the 2007 AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves Annual Meeting at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in Phoenix. The 10-time NASCAR championship team owner and winning team owner of the 2007 Daytona 500 was invited to speak to the group by his friend, Charles L. Branch Jr., MD, chair of the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, and a practicing neurosurgeon at Wake Forest University Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.(RCR PR)(3-8-2007)
Larry Mac joins TNT UPDATE: Larry McReynolds is branching out from his role as a NASCAR analyst on Fox Sports and Speed, joining the team that will work six Nextel Cup races for TNT this summer. “We are excited about adding Larry’s knowledge to our team,” said Jeff Behnke, executive producer for Turner Sports said Monday. “We plan to use him in a multipurpose role.” McReynolds, a former NASCAR crew chief, joined the Fox team as an analyst in the booth for the 2001 season. He continues in that role in this, the first year of NASCAR’s second consolidated network contract. Fox will end its 2007 season after the Dover race in early June, with TNT taking over at Pocono on June 10 and broadcasting through the July 15 race at Chicagoland. McReynolds will work TNT’s prerace show from a mobile set along with a host that is yet to be named. He will add commentary from that set during the races and also will be used to demonstrate things from a cutaway car and pursue stories in the garage as needed. Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach will be in the booth for those six races, with Kyle Petty joining them for five of those.(Thatsracin/Charlotte Observer)(3-6-2007) UPDATE: Turner Network Television (TNT) announced a multi-year contract agreement with former NASCAR crew chief Larry McReynolds to serve in a unique multi-faceted analyst role for the network’s coverage of Nextel Cup Series racing. Building on his 18 years of experience as a winning NASCAR crew chief, during TNT’s race coverage McReynolds will provide in-depth race analysis and coverage from both the studio set position as well as roving locations around the track. From interviewing crew chiefs on pit road to conducting demonstrations on a cutaway car, McReynolds’ unique role will allow him to traverse the track to help take viewers closer to the action. TNT’s coverage of six consecutive 2007 Nextel Cup Series races begins on June 10 from Pocono Raceway and concludes July 15 from Chicagoland Speedway. McReynolds will serve as a race analyst alongside fellow analysts Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach and play-by-play announcer Bill Weber during TNT’s race coverage, as well as during the network’s pre-race show which will broadcast live from a new state-of-the-art mobile rig positioned in the track infield. Rounding out TNT’s line-up of NASCAR announcers include pit reporters Marty Snider, Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen and Lindsay Czarniak.(Turner Sports PR)(3-8-2007)
Whitt has new assoc sponsor for Vegas: #72-Brandon Whitt and CJM Racing will make their third attempt in the 2007 season and vie for a spot in Sunday’s UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Whitt has three starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Craftsman Truck Series, in his last visit he scored a seventh place starting position and a ninth place finish. The Plaza Hotel and Casino has partnered with the CJM Racing team and will adorn the deck lid this weekend. Associate sponsors Metal Wear Jeans, Solar Bat Sunglasses and Foothills Chiropractic will adorn the B-post.(CJM Racing PR)(3-8-2007)
News from March 7, 2007
McDonald’s scheme for Kahne at Las Vegas: The #9 Dodge Charger that Kasey Kahne drives will be sporting a special McDonald’s paint scheme this weekend in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.(Evernham Motorsports/Clear!Blue PR)(3-7-2007)
Can Dale Jr, still make the chase? after two races, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 40th in Nextel Cup Drivers Points, the highest finishing drivers who stood at 40th after 2 races in the past 15 seasons?
2001: Kevin Harvick finished 9th [was 8th after 26 races, The Chase starts race #27], Harvick stepped into the #3 car at Rockingham, renumbered to #29 after the death of Dale Earnhardt, so after two races he had only run one race.
1996: Geoff Bodine 17th; 2006 [was 18th after 26 races]: Scott Riggs 20th [failed to make the Daytona 500, was 18th after 26 races]; 1998: Johnny Benson 20th [was 19th after 26 races].(from ESPN’s NASCAR Now with some facts added by yours truely) ALSO: in 1996 Jeff Gordon was out of the top-40 after 2 races and came back to finish 2nd to Terry Labonte and was leading after 26 races [the Series only ran 31 races in 1996](3-7-2007)
Siegel says DEI, Junior still working on deal: Max Siegel, president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., said business dictates that contract negotiations with Dale Earnhardt Jr. be resolved soon. And what exactly does that mean in terms of a timetable? “If I had a goal, it would be by May,” Siegel said in a telephone interview. “That’s probably what makes sense.” Siegel said dialogue among DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt (who founded the company with her late husband, Dale Earnhardt) and her stepchildren (Kelley Earnhardt Elledge and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) has been open and candid. Elledge is business manager of her brother’s JR Motorsports and his negotiating partner. “I wanted to cut through all of the clutter to see what needed to be addressed,” Siegel said. “We’ve done that. The tone of the conversation last week between me and their team was very positive. Everyone is working on a solution to keep Dale Jr. at DEI. Everyone would argue the continuation of this business is a top priority. If not, [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] could have walked away and driven for anyone else.” He said Elledge and Dale Jr. have been very much involved with infrastructure issues at DEI the past few weeks, so much so that Siegel described their involvement as “diligent” and “refreshing.” It is that future that Siegel is eager to begin expanding. He comes from a music and entertainment background and sees the potential in digital entertainment and developing original programming, to name a few things on the to-do list he intends to explore.(see full story at ESPN.com)(3-7-2007)
TV Ratings for Mexico race down from last year: ESPN2’s broadcast of the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 Busch Series race garnered a Nielsen Media Research rating of 2.3 with 2,142,000 households watching, according to the network. ESPN’s Spanish-language telecast showed a 0.2 rating with 196,000, boosting the total households watching to 2,337,000. But those numbers were down 34.3% over 2006’s race, which was shown on the Fox network. Last year, the Fox broadcast had a 3.5 rating with 3,821,000 households.(SceneDaily.com)(3-7-2007)
Evernham cancels appeals? UPDATE no, but penalties upheld:hearing that after the penalties for the #9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne were upheld on Monday, Evernham Motorsports withdrew their appeal of the Daytona penalties of the #10 Dodge of Scott Riggs and #19 Dodge of Elliott Sadler.(3-7-2007) UPDATE: Evernham Motorsports lost its second appeal in as many days Tuesday as the National Stock Car Racing Commission turned down the #19 team’s appeal of the 25-point penalty NASCAR handed down for infractions during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.(SceneDaily.com), no word on the #10 team and Riggs but supposedly they chose not to appeal, but have heard nothing for sure.(3-7-2007)
Kentucky testing UPDATE 2: the following drivers/teams are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway: #55-Michael Waltrip on Monday, March 5th; #12-Ryan Newman on Tuesday, March 6th; #1-Martin Truex Jr. on Wednesday, March 7th. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway site)(3-3-2007) UPDATE: The Michael Waltrip Racing test scheduled for today at Kentucky Speedway has been cancelled.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-5-2007) UPDATE 2: The Dale Earnhardt, Inc., test session for driver #1-Martin Truex, Jr., today at Kentucky Speedway was cancelled.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-7-2007)
Johnson to run USO/Power of Pride scheme in the Coke 600: #48-Jimmie Johnson and Lowe’s will run a special paint scheme on the #48 Chevy in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in a special celebration of America’s military personnel. The #48 will honor the United Service Organizations, Inc. (USO) featuring the “Power of Pride”, also in the program are Nextel Cup drivers #01-Martin, #24-Gordon, #11-Hamlin, #4-Burton and #21-Wood, see an image of the scheme on my #48 Team Schemes page.(3-7-2007)
Hamlin to honor the Marines in the Coke 600: #11-Denny Hamlin is scheduled to run the U.S. Marine Corp/FedEx Freight scheme on the #11 Chevy in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in a special celebration of America’s military personnel. The #11 Chevy will have a black base with red accents. Featured on the hood is the U.S. Marine Corps emblem, also in the program are Nextel Cup drivers #01-Martin, #24-Gordon, #48-Johnson, #4-Burton and #21-Wood, see an image of the scheme on my #11 Team Schemes page.(3-7-2007)
DEI’s Max Siegal to be honored: The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding will honor Max Siegel, President of Global Operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., on Thursday, March 8th, 2007 during their annual New York Spring Benefit at the home of Denise Rich. During the ceremony, President Rabbi Marc Shcneier and Chairman Russell Simmons will award Max Siegel the Joseph Papp Racial Harmony Award in recognition of his efforts to promote better relations between African-American and Jewish communities. “These awards mark outstanding achievement by corporate leaders who have advanced the cause of diversity and race relations,” says Rabbi Marc Schneier. Max Siegel was recently appointed to President of Global Operations of Dale Earnhardt Inc., the top motor sports franchise in NASCAR. Siegel oversees the entire organization including competition, marketing, sales, sponsorship and distribution for all DEI¹s properties including motor sports teams, licensing, promotion, business development, and the Dale Earnhardt Foundation. The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, under the leadership of Rabbi Marc Schneier, President, and Russell Simmons, Chairman, is a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting racial harmony and strengthening inter-group relations. The organization is committed to the belief that direct, face-to-face dialogue between ethnic communities is the most effective path towards the reduction of bigotry and the promotion of reconciliation and understanding.(Susan Blond PR)(3-7-2007)
Almirola Drives Joe Gibbs Driven to Las Vegas: Joe Gibbs Driven, the automotive aftermarket division of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will make its first appearance as a primary sponsor of a Nextel Cup Series race car when JGR development driver Aric Almirola attempts to qualify for his first Nextel Cup race March 9 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Joe Gibbs Driven includes a successful line of JGR-owned high-performance racing oils and lubricants – products developed by JGR’s three-time Nextel Cup championship-winning engine builder Mark Cronquist and used by JGR’s Nextel Cup and NASCAR Busch Series teams. Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil is sold nationwide to racers at every motorsports level. Other quality licensed products that are part of the Joe Gibbs Driven family are Additech Fuel System Cleaner and Sellars Shop Towels. Both will adorn Almirola’s #80 Joe Gibbs Driven Chevy at Las Vegas. Almirola was one of JGR’s first prospects via the diversity program founded by JGR and the late Reggie White, an initiative that traces its roots back to May 2003. To learn more about Joe Gibbs Driven, please visit www.JoeGibbsDriven.com.(True Speed Communication PR), see an image of the car on my #80 Team Schemes page.(3-7-2007)
Las Vegas Rookie News and Notes: David Ragan was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race at California Speedway. Ragan scored a 16th-place finish and took top rookie honors for the second consecutive race. Ragan holds a nine-point lead (28-19) over Juan Pablo Montoya in the Raybestos Rookie standings entering Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ragan is fifth in the Nextel Cup Series championship standings, 65 points behind leader Mark Martin and 37 behind fourth-place Kevin Harvick. He leads sixth-place Clint Bowyer by six points and seventh-place Joe Nemechek by 11. A Raybestos Rookie has been in the top-10 in the NextelCup Series championship standings for 19 consecutive races, dating back to the 2006 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. A Raybestos Rookie has finished in the top 15 in 38 consecutive Nextel Cup races. Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne share the best finish by a Raybestos Rookie in nine previous NextelCup Series races at Las Vegas. Busch placed second in 2005, 1.661 seconds behind race winner Jimmie Johnson while Kahne finished second in 2004, 3.426 seconds behind winner Matt Kenseth.(Raybestos PR), see full report, standings and history on my Rookies page.(3-7-2007)
Wood to run special USAF scheme in Coke 600: #21-Jon Wood is scheduled to run the special paint scheme representing the U.S. Air Force on the #21 Ford in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in a special celebration of America’s military personnel. The #21 Ford has a blue base with a featured USAF emblem on the hood and Ford Motorcraft on the rear deck lid., also in the program are Nextel Cup drivers #01-Martin, #24-Gordon, #48-Johnson, #4-Burton and #11-Hamlin, see an image of the scheme on my #21 Team Schemes page.(3-7-2007)
Arbitrator Awards Sacks judgement from Whos Your Daddy; appeal planned: not much info, but from Yahoo Biz, an SEC filing from a few weeks ago concerning former NASCAR driver Greg Sacks: On July 19, 2006, [Whos Your Daddy] the Company received a Demand for Arbitration from [former Cup driver] Greg Sacks pursuant to a NASCAR sponsorship of Sacks Motorworks. The agreement contained an arbitration clause and the Arbitrator awarded Sacks $1,790,000 on February 13, 2007. The Company believes that the award was improper and intends to vigorously oppose the award including by filing a countersuit against the company.(Yahoo Biz), there have been no news concernig Sacks plans to run any races since early 2006.(3-7-2007)
News from March 6, 2007
Smith expects Martin to stay in ride UPDATE Martin says NO..again:Regan Smith is more than an interested third party when it comes to whether Nextel Cup points leader Mark Martin will stick to his plan to run a part-time schedule. He’s the driver ready to replace Martin in the #01 U.S. Army Chevy when the series moves to Bristol Motor Speedway on March 25. “When I go to Las Vegas [next week] I might put a couple of dollars on it,” Smith said before practice for Sunday’s Busch Series race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. “I’m sure it’s going to be on the board soon. It’s a pretty big story. “I don’t know what the odds are. All I can say is if I was in his shoes and leading the points after Atlanta it would be tough for me as a driver to get out of the car.” Either way, Smith will have a ride at Bristol. Owners Jay Frye and Bobby Ginn have promised to put him in a fourth car, the #39, if Martin has a change of heart. They’ve even discussed using his Busch Series crew chief to run the show. Martin, off to the best start in his Cup career with a second in the Daytona 500 and fifth last week at California, has been adamant that he won’t change his mind. He insists he’s happy with the part-time schedule and that he’s looking forward to having an off weekend. He also has a history of changing his mind. He extended his 2005 retirement tour at Roush Fenway Racing into 2006 after owner Jack Roush lost Kurt Busch to Penske Racing.
Smith has run through all the scenarios, including what would happen if the #01 was in the top 12 in points with him and Martin splitting the schedule. “How cool would that be?” Smith said. “Maybe it would put some pressure on NASCAR to make a decision.” There would be no decision. The way the Chase for the Nextel Cup is set up the top 12 in driver points make the field. Smith and Martin could run the car for the owner’s title, but not the overall championship.(more at ESPN.com), Ginn said on ESPN2’s NASCAR Now show Friday that he thinks it is 50-50 if Martin races at Bristol.(3-3-2007) UPDATE: Mark Martin said on ESPN’s NASCAR Now that he is not interested in running a full-schedule this season, is doing what he wants to do [running a partial schedule] and thrilled to be working with Regan Smith [who will run the #01 Chevy when Martin steps out]. Martin has no plans on changing his Nextel Cup schedule and says the best part of not running a full schedule is not worrying about those ‘stinking’ points. Martin however, would not say there is a zero percent chance he will not running a full schedule, but has no plans to.(ESPN’s NASCAR Now)(3-6-2007)
Jon Wood to make Nextel Cup debut at Las Vegas: The UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will mark Jon Wood’s first official Nextel Cup start in the #21 Air Force Ford. Regular driver Ken Schrader will step aside, but still compete in a second Nextel Cup entry, the red #47 Ore-Ida/Kingsford/Clorox Ford. The UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 will mark the first time that the Wood Brothers/JTG Organization will have two entries in the same event. The team also has plans to duplicate the double entry later next month at the Texas Motor Speedway. The ESPN Network has committed to filming an “All Access” feature story on Jon Wood and the week leading up to his Nextel Cup debut, which is slated to air on Sunday, March 11th during their NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. Check local listings for viewing times. Wood turned the 16th fastest overall lap at the open test in January at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Wood and the entire Wood Family are on tap to take a private guided tour of the Nellis Air Force Base on Thursday, March 8th with Director of Competition Michael McSwain and Co-Team Owner Jodi Geschickter are scheduled to fly in assorted Air Force aircraft.(Wood Brothers/JTG Racing PR)(3-6-2007)
Get Well: Carl Wegner of Wegner Motorsports recently had a heart attack but is doing well and supposedly getting back to work soon, everything at Wegner Motorsports is business as usual. Wegner supplies engines to some Busch and Truck Series teams.(3-6-2006)
Get Well to Racing Electronics Kevin Hughes, Sr. Service Manager for the Nextel Cup Series, who sustained a broken ankle at Fontana.(3-6-2007)
“Magic” Johnson to Serve as Honorary Crew Chief for the #66 team; special scheme: The #66 Haas CNC Racing Chevy is carrying a special paint design this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The #66 car features logos promoting a national Best Buy retail promotion for Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope, which is helping to raise thousands of dollars for the Magic Johnson Foundation, founded by basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Johnson will attend the race as a guest of Samsung and Best Buy, and will serve as the honorary crew chief for Green and the #66 team. Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope is an innovative philanthropy program that combines the forces of major national retailers with sports, music and civic personalities, to benefit children, families and communities in need. From March 4-24, Samsung will donate a percentage of each qualifying unit sold at Best Buy stores to the Magic Johnson Foundation. Established by basketball legend, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the foundation is committed to making a positive impact on families in inner city communities, one child at a time. Eligible categories for the promotion include Consumer Electronics (television, audio & video), Home Appliances (refrigerators and microwaves), and Information Technology products (monitors and printers). Best Buy customers will also receive a free Best Buy gift card for purchasing select Samsung products during the promotion. This card allows eligibility for a chance to win a VIP trip for two to the April 21 NASCAR race in Phoenix, AZ. Best Buy, which is in its second year as the primary sponsor of the #66, is supporting the promotion in several ways. Last month, Jeff Green traveled to Los Angeles to participate in a photo and video shoot with Magic Johnson and the #66 Samsung Four Seasons of Hope car. This past Sunday, a photo of Johnson, Green and the car appeared on the cover of Best Buy’s weekly advertising circular, which is inserted into millions of newspapers across the United States. A special promotional video featuring Johnson and Green is airing on TV screens throughout all Best Buy retail locations for the duration of the promotion. For more information on Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope, visit www.fourseasonsofhope.com. To find out more about the Magic Johnson Foundation, log on to www.magicjohnson.org.(GMR Live Marketing PR), see images of the car on my #66 Team Schemes page.(3-6-2007)
Goodyear tire testing at Darlington: Goodyear will conduct a tire test at Darlington Raceway on March 13 and 14. The test is closed to the public. The drivers participating in the test are #24-Jeff Gordon, #22-Dave Blaney and #41-Reed Sorenson. All three teams will be bringing the Car of Tomorrow [COT].(Darlington Raceway PR)(3-6-2007)
Kurt Busch testing COT at local NC track: #2Kurt Busch, crew chief Roy McCauley and the Miller Lite/Penske Racing Dodge team are testing today (Tuesday, 3/6) at Southern National Raceway Park, a four-tenths-mile asphalt oval located near Kenley, N.C. “We’re going the extra mile in preparing for the upcoming races, particularly for the Car of Tomorrow debut in the March 25 race at Bristol,” Busch explained. “We tested at Bristol last week (Feb. 28-March 1) and felt like we needed more track time with our new Dodge Avenger (the COT). We’re hoping to be at the top of our game with the new Dodge Avenger and getting the additional track time is very important. Just from the short-term impact, we’re talking about three of four races where we’re racing the car between Bristol and Phoenix. You could say that the next few weeks could play out to be the most important and pivotal of the 2007 season.”(Tom Roberts PR)(3-6-2007)
Ward Burton to run special scheme in Coke 600: #4-Ward Burton and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team will run a special State Water Heaters U.S. Air Force car with a special paint scheme in the Coca-Cola 600 Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May that includes the U.S. Air Force 60th Anniversary seal on the hood, see an image of the scheme on my #4 Team Schemes page.(3-6-2007)
Martin to run special scheme in Coke 600: A special celebration of America’s military personnel takes place with the American Heroes Program. Mark Martin and Ginn Racing join the celebration of American Heroes with a special paint scheme representing the U.S. Army on the #01 Chevy. Martin’s #01 US Army American Heroes Chevy will run a special scheme in the Coca Cola 600 a Lowe’s Motor Speedway, a black base with a featured “American Heroes Memorial Day” emblem on the hood, see an image of the scheme on my #01 Team Schemes page.(3-6-2007)
MWR Tests at Kentucky, talks about the season so far: Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Dale Jarrett and Michael Waltrip attempted to place their early-season performance and off-track problems in the past by fine tuning their #55 and #44 race machines during a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway March 2. The much-heralded Michael Waltrip Racing trio of Jarrett, Waltrip and rookie David Reutimann in the team’s No. 00 entry were expected to be a strong link in Toyota’s Nextel Cup foundation, but have struggled out of the gate with personnel suspensions and race finishes outside the top 10. The overall average team finish through the first two series races of the season stands at 32 entering this Sunday’s race on the newly-configured 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “It’s not time to panic yet, it almost is. We’re going to make a few subtle changes and ramp up everything we do. Hopefully, we’ll show some steady improvement. We haven’t done a good job at the racetrack,” Waltrip said. It didn’t get any easier for the team Friday in Kentucky where Jarrett and Waltrip plowed through wind gusts as powerful as 32 mph while turning test laps. “I enjoy the track. A lot of people say it’s not a whole lot like anywhere we run, but it’s not a whole lot unlike a bunch of places we run,” Waltrip said. “It’s crazy how little time you get during a race weekend to learn and how much you try to squeeze into that little bit of time. Now, we’re able to relax and really, really tear apart the car, run, talk about it, analyze it and make it change. It’s a good way to learn systems and processes. We’re a new team and we really, really need to develop our process. I almost spun out once, so everybody knows I was trying hard. I was pretty happy with some of the stuff we did at the end. We want to be sure we’re smart going to Vegas. We’ll know what helped the car here and we’ll take that into consideration there and come up with a plan.”
Waltrip, who was a lightning rod for controversy when crew chief David Hyder and competition director Bobby Kennedy were suspended from the series indefinitely when an illegal fuel additive was associated with the #55 during Daytona 500 qualifying, opened the season with a 30th-place finish and failed to qualify for the Feb. 25 series event at California Speedway. “We had a terrible incident at Daytona with the fuel, whatever happened there. We still continue to internally look at every receipt and phone call and everything we can to figure out what happened. We’re not any closer today to knowing what happened than we did when we found it Sunday morning (at Daytona). We were shocked then and we’re still just digging for answers. That was a bad way to start. Then, we missed the California race by .040 of a second. People that hadn’t lost 462 races in a row like I did, they might’ve quit. We’re not going to quit,” Waltrip said. Waltrip cancelled a second session scheduled for Monday.(Kentucky Speedway PR)(3-6-2007)
Wrestling’s Goldberg to serve on Biffle’s crew at Vegas: On Sunday, March 11, former wrestling champion Bill Goldberg will go from the squared circle to the 1.5-mile oval track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Goldberg, a die-hard motorsports fan, will serve as an honorary member of Nextel Cup driver Greg Biffle’s #16 Ameriquest Ford pit crew for the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. Goldberg, a devoted car enthusiast, will also be in Las Vegas to promote his new Spike TV show Bullrun. The taped ten-episode reality show premieres March 13 at 10:00pm/et. Bullrun, based on the same-named international automotive rally, features 12 teams of two drivers who use their own cars in a rally that takes them across America on a 4,000-mile journey. Spike TV is available in 90 million homes and is a division of MTV Networks. MTV Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc.(PR)(3-6-2007)
Kyle Busch to fly with the Thunderbirds: #5-Kyle Busch will take a ride in an F-16 fighter jet on Wednesday with the Air Force Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas Motor Speedway.(HMS PR)(3-6-2007)
NASCAR on ESPN this week: Live NASCAR racing will return to ABC for the first time in seven years Saturday when ESPN on ABC presents the Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Las Vegas event is the first of six select Busch Series races this season that will air on ABC, with the other 29 to be televised by ESPN2. Coverage will begin with the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show at 2:30pm/et, with the race to start at 3:00pm/et. Brent Musburger and Chris Fowler will host the telecast. Play-by-play announcer Jerry Punch will be joined in the booth by Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree for analysis. Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro will serve as pit reporters. Studio analysts Tim Brewer and Brad Daugherty will join Fowler in the ESPN Pit Studio during the telecast. The Las Vegas race will be the first of three consecutive Busch Series races that will be televised by ESPN on ABC, all on Saturday afternoons. The March 17 event from Atlanta Motor Speedway and the March 24 race at Bristol Motor Speedway will be the others. The Busch Series will return to ESPN2 with the April 7 event at Nashville Superspeedway. The last live NASCAR race to appear on ABC was the Brickyard 400 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 5, 2000, one of five NASCAR Cup Series events on the network that year. NASCAR races have appeared on ABC for decades, beginning with broadcasts on the award-winning Wide World of Sports program in the 1960s.
NASCAR Now, ESPN’s first daily news and information show totally dedicated to NASCAR, will air on ESPN2 at 6:30pm/et Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, with re-airs at midnight, and will air at midnight on Thursday and Friday. The program’s weekend edition will air at 10:00am/et Sunday with segments from Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Host Erik Kuselias will talk with NASCAR insider Marty Smith from Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday and Wednesday, while ESPN motorsports analyst Brad Daugherty will join the program on Wednesday.
#8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr., will be a guest on a new episode of SpeedFreaks that will air on Saturday at 11:30am/et. A motorsports and lifestyle show, SpeedFreaks blends superstar motorsports pilots with actors and musical guests, all while positioning ‘The Freak Nation’ in a unique, cutting edge format unlike anything else in the racing world. The Freaks also ask their own brand of questions en route to covering the broad spectrum of the industry. In addition to Earnhardt, guests Saturday include #7-Robby Gordon and NHRA racers Joe Amato and Richie Stevens.(ESPN PR)(3-6-2007)
News from March 5, 2007
#9 Team Penalties Upheld by Commission: On March 5, 2007, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Evernham Motorsports regarding the #9 car. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following post-qualifying inspection on February 11, 2007 for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at Daytona International Speedway. The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”; Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules” and Section 20-2.1E “Unapproved aerodynamic modification.” The penalties assessed were:
Loss of 50 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Ray Evernham.
Loss of 50 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship Driver Points for driver Kasey Kahne.
$50,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR for the next four (4) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until March 21, 2007 (not including testing) for crew chief Ken Francis.
The Appellants did not contest the legality of the violations, nor appeal the fine or suspensions, but appealed the severity of the point penalties. The Appellants presented an argument that lesser penalties had been previously issued to other teams for more egregious violations, and that the magnitude of this penalty ranked amongst the largest for comparable violations. In deciding the Appeal, the Commission considered several factors:
Evernham Motorsports does not have a history of multiple rules violations.
These infractions were premeditated and intentional. They constituted serious violations In the judgment of the Commission, the penalties assessed are severe by the standards of a year or more ago. However, Commission members were advised that NASCAR executives had announced to contestants at a driver briefing in mid-2006 that the previous “benchmark” penalty standards for many serious violations would likely be increased going forward. Subsequent to that, two 50-point penalties were assessed during the 2006 season. Therefore, by a majority vote, it is the decision of the National Stock Car Racing Commission to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR. The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner.(NASCAR PR)(3-5-2007)
#17 Team Penalties Upheld by Commission: On March 5, 2007, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Roush Fenway Racing regarding the No. 17 car. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following post-qualifying inspection on February 11, 2007 for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at Daytona International Speedway. The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”; Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules” and Section 20-2.1E “Unapproved aerodynamic modification.” The penalties assessed were:
Loss of 50 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Jack Roush.
Loss of 50 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship Driver Points for driver Matt Kenseth.
$50,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR for the next four (4) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until March 21, 2007 (not including testing) for crew chief Robbie Reiser.
The Appellants did not contest the legality of the violations, nor appeal the suspensions, but appealed the severity of the fine and the points penalties. The Appellants presented an argument that a “ratcheting up” of penalties was not warranted in light of the recent record of penalties, and that lesser penalties had been previously issued to other teams for more egregious violations. In deciding the Appeal, the Commission considered several factors:
Roush Fenway Racing does not have a history of multiple rules violations.
These infractions were premeditated and intentional. They constituted serious violations.
In the judgment of the Commission, the penalties assessed are severe by the standards of a year or more ago. However, Commission members were advised that NASCAR executives had announced to contestants at a driver briefing in mid-2006 that the previous “benchmark” penalty standards for many serious violations would likely be increased going forward. Subsequent to that, two 50-point penalties were assessed during the 2006 season. Therefore, by a majority vote, it is the decision of the National Stock Car Racing Commission to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR. The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner.(NASCAR PR)(3-5-2007)
Jeff Gordon to run military scheme at Coke 600: Memorial Day Weekend is always thrilling for race fans at Lowe’s Motor Speedway [Coca-Cola 600]. This year, a special celebration of America’s military personnel takes place with the American Heroes Program! In honor of the American Heroes Program, #24-Jeff Gordon and DuPont have created a commemorative paint scheme featuring the Department of Defense. Gordon’s #24-Chevy includes shades of blue with the Department of Defense seal dominating the hood, see an image of the scheme on my #24 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2007)
McClures welcome a baby girl: Around 3:40pm at the Bristol Regional Medical Center today [March 5th], Busch Series [and Cup] driver Eric McClure and his wife Miranda became proud parents of a precious baby girl, Mabreigh Elizabeth McClure. Mabreigh weighed 7 lbs. 1 oz. and was 19 inches long. Both mother and baby are doing fine.(PR)(3-5-2007)
Dale Jr./DEI find what caused engine problem: Quotes from #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. about starting the season with two Did-Not-Finish (DNF) results: “We’re not happy about it, but we’re keeping our heads up. We’ve had some rough starts before and came back strong. We were 38th in the points after two races in 2003, and we came back to finish third. It seems like we always get better as the year goes on. Don’t forget, we had back-to-back last-place finishes in the middle of the summer last year and dropped out of the top-10 in points, but we fought back into the Chase when we needed to. As a team, you can’t let it be a distraction – we have to go out and run every lap as hard as possible and not worry about it. This team has always performed well when the pressure is on, and I expect nothing less this week. We found out what caused the engine failure at California, and our guys have been busting their (butts) to make sure we don’t have that problem again. The most positive thing we took from California is that we had a car that was really fast. We had a flat tire, but then we came back out and passed Matt Kenseth even with a loose wheel that caused a bad vibration. That shows we have a really good set-up and we’re taking that same chassis to Las Vegas.”(Budweiser Racing PR)(3-5-2007)
Kobalt Tools To Sponsor Johnson in Cup, Busch Races: Kobalt Tools will sponsor the #48 Lowe’s Chevy in two of Jimmie Johnson’s Nextel Cup Series races as well as all three of his Busch Series races in 2007. Kobalt Tools will also be the title sponsor for the March 18 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway now called the Kobalt Tools 500. The Kobalt Tools paint scheme will appear on Johnson’s #48 Nextel Cup car at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 18 and at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 4. Johnson will race the Kobalt Tools paint scheme in Busch Series races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 26 and Oct. 12 as well as California Speedway on Sept. 1. Kobalt Tools is an industry frontrunner in hand tools, mechanics’ tools, tool accessories and just recently introduced the Portable CO2 Regulator which is a portable CO2 tank that connects to any standard pneumatic device for power and strength on-the-go.(GMR Marketing/Lowes Racing PR)(3-5-2007)
Principal to sponsor Ginn Racing in 2007: The Principal Financial Group, the nation’s 401(k) leader1 and premiere benefits provider, announced today that its expanded relationship with Ginn Racing will include a two-race primary sponsorship of the #01 Chevy, co-driven by Mark Martin and Regan Smith during the 2007 Nextel Cup season. The sponsorship calls for Mark Martin to race the Principal Financial Group Chevy at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, and for Regan Smith to race in the Principal Financial Group colors on Sept. 16 at New Hampshire International Speedway. The Principal will serve as a season-long associate sponsor on Martin and Smith’s #01, and on Joe Nemechek’s #13 and Sterling Marlin’s #14 Ginn Racing Chevys. “Following the excitement of Mark Martin’s close second place finish in the Daytona 500, the Principal Financial Group is thrilled to support his return to Daytona International Speedway,” said Mary O’Keefe, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Principal Financial Group. “With Mark mentoring Regan Smith, The Principal is also proud to provide an edge to the next generation of NASCAR.” The Principal first joined Ginn Racing in August 2006 as an associate sponsor on Marlin’s Waste Management Chevy. The company increased its sponsorship in November when The Principal served as primary sponsor of Marlin’s #14 and Nemechek’s #01 Chevys during the Nextel Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway. The U.S. Army, Martin’s and Smith’s primary sponsor for the balance of the 2007 Nextel Cup season, will have associate sponsor status on the #01 car in both Daytona and New Hampshire.(Businesswire.com)(3-5-2007)
UPS/Toys for Tots campaign: The UPS Store is kicking off its third annual Toys for Tots campaign and celebrating Dale Jarrett’s new racing team and car with the “Design Dale’s New Ride” coloring contest – inviting kids ages 5-12 to design the special paint scheme for The UPS Store/Toys for Tots #44 Camry. More information on my Racing Charities page.(3-5-2007)
Monster Racing Excitement partners with Delaware State University: Monster Racing Excitement announced a new partnership with Delaware State University, to become the exclusive College and University Partner for the 2007 season. Monster Racing will assist Delaware State University in promoting diversity, educational curriculum, athletics, driving safety and other efforts aimed at reaching the ever growing and diverse NASCAR fan base. The program is scheduled to be launched in March and run throughout 2007. It will focus on the history of diversity in motorsports and the automotive industry. Monster Racing is excited that Delaware State University has chosen the racing excitement experience to convey important messages to those currently participating in, or planning to enter, higher education. For more information on Monster Racing Excitement or the Delaware State University program please go to monsterracing.com.(PR)(3-5-2007)
News from March 4, 2007
AAA Travel scheme at Talladega: #6-David Ragan is scheduled to run a AAA Travel paint scheme at Talladega on April 29, 2007. See an image on my #6 Team Schemes page.(3-4-2007)
Mathis still looking for sponsor to run team: For the past two years, former NFL player Terance Mathis, has been working the telephones trying to find a sponsor for his Victory Motorsports. He brings star appeal to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, as well as the opportunity for the sport to embrace a minority-owned team. On the surface, it should be an easy sell. A high-profile owner with a chance to break the color barrier in a sport that’s trying desperately to chip away at its all-white perception should have Corporate America ready to come aboard. But Mathis, like so many before him, has learned it’s not that easy. “I’m still battling the battle,” Mathis said. “The reason this isn’t easy is because unlike other sports, where the whole league makes sure you’re on the right path, in NASCAR you’re on your own. It needs to be fixed.” In the past four years, several high-profile people from sports and entertainment have talked about joining NASCAR. The sanctioning body has put many of them on display, hoping to give its diversity program some legs. But for the most part, it has turned into a daunting task. Mathis, for now, is up for the challenge. “I’m stubborn,” he said. “That’s how I played my career. I’m going to work my tail off and find a way to make this happen. There have been times when I’ve decided I can’t do this anymore, then I get a phone call or an e-mail from somebody that reminds me this is more important than a race team. We can’t close the door on this. I want to make it viable for anyone who wants to come into this sport. I started this thing, and I want to see it to the end.” While Mathis continues to struggle to find funding, Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith, actor/comedians Tommy Davidson, Damon Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans will have a car on the track this year. Their #06 Ford is scheduled to make its debut in the Busch Series race at Mexico City today. Others, like Mathis and former Oakland Raiders receiver Tim Brown are still looking.(Augusta Chronicle), Victory Motorsports has made announcements in the past joining with Morgan-McClure Motorsports and R.J. Racing [sold to Front Row Motorsports recently and has been listed as the #04, #94 and #67], but both deals fell thru.(3-4-2007)
News from March 3, 2007
Baldwin to crew chief Mayfield? UPDATE 2: hearing that Tommy Baldwin Jr. will crew chief the #36 360 OTC Toyota that Jeremy Mayfield at Las Vegas and beyond. Derrick Finley was the crew chief for the first two races but the team has failed to qualify for the first two races of the 2007 season.(2-28-2007) UPDATE: Bill Davis Racing (BDR) announced today that Tommy Baldwin Jr. has assumed the role of interim crew chief for the #36 360 OTC Racing team and driver Jeremy Mayfield. Baldwin takes over those duties from Derrick Finley, who will remain with the team in an engineering capacity. “We’re fortunate to have someone like Tommy, with his record as a crew chief and his abilities as a team leader, available within our organization in situations like these,” stated team owner Bill Davis. “Derrick Finley has been an integral part of the Bill Davis Racing family for several years and will remain with us serving in a different role. Obviously, the 360 OTC Racing team has struggled in the early stages of the season and we felt it would be in the best interest of the team and our sponsors to make the change.” During this time, Baldwin’s main priority will continue to be serving as Competition Director for all of Bill Davis Racing’s Nextel Cup teams and assuring BDR’s growth as an organization. Baldwin will act as crew chief for the #36 team only until a suitable replacement is found.(Bill Davis Racing PR)(3-2-2007) UPDATE 2: Tommy Baldwin told Sirius NASCAR Radio’s “Sirius Speedway” Friday that he has no intention of making his return to the top of the pitbox a full-time affair. “We’ll give this a whirl for the next 2-3 races, until we can find someone else to sit on the pit box,” he said. “But this is not a full-time position for me. I was just gettng settled into the Director of Competition position, and I’ve still got a lot of work to so there. But for now, I’ll be doing the two jobs at once.”(Sirius NASCAR Radio)(3-3-2007)
Fellows replaced by GM, has Busch plans UPDATE: Canada’s most successful sports car racer, Ron Fellows, has been replaced by Denmark’s Jan Magnussen in the #3 Corvette C6-R for the 2007 American Le Mans Series GT1 season. The shock announcement from General Motors Racing comes just one month after the company introduced a limited edition Ron Fellows Championship Corvette Z06 at the Chicago International Auto Show. GM road racing boss Steve Wesoloski said Fellows — who will become a roving ambassador for the team — would race in the two ALMS endurance events as well as at the Grand Prix of Mosport this season. Fellows, meanwhile, is on his way to Mexico City where he will drive the Kevin Harvick Incorporated #33 Chevy in Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. He also is signed with Harvick for the inaugural NBS at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in August and at Watkins Glen the next weekend.(Toronto Sun), no word on his Nextel Cup plans for 2007, he usually runs the road courses at Infineon Racway and Waltkins Glen, usually with a Chevy team.(2-28-2007) UPDATE: Fellows, who has driven for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in recent years, said he has no Nextel Cup races locked in yet for this year. “It’s still early in the game, and hopefully we can pick up an opportunity,” the Canadian driver said.(SceneDaily.com), the last couple of years Fellows drove the #32 PPI Motorsports Chevy, but that team is no longer in business.(3-3-2007)
News from March 2, 2007
California TV ratings drop 9.5%: Fox’s broadcast of last Sunday’s Auto Club 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at California Speedway drew the largest television rating of any weekend sporting event but fell 9.5% from 2006. Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports that this year’s race drew a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 6.7 and a 13 market share. The rating fell from 7.4 last year and was well off the 7.9 the race drew in 2005.(SceneDaily.com)(3-2-2007)
Court approves Turner-Hendrick settlement: A U.S. District Court judge has approved a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit of Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Turner stemming from the Oct. 24, 2004, plane accident that killed 10 people on the way to the race in Martinsville, Va. Attorneys for widow Linda Turner, the pilots and Hendrick informed the court about six weeks ago that they had agreed to a settlement, and the court approved the settlement Thursday. The terms of the settlement are confidential. The settlement provides for an equal distribution of settlement proceeds among Linda and her three children, according to a filing with the court. Turner also has sued the U.S. government over the actions of the air-traffic controllers. That suit is still pending, as are two other suits from widows Dianne Dorton and Tracy Lathram against Hendrick Motorsports. In those cases, Hendrick Motorsports has filed a third-party claim against the U.S. government and the actions of the air-traffic controllers. The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that pilot error was the primary cause of the accident.(SceneDaily.com)(3-2-2007)
Super 8 Motels Named Official Lodging Sponsor of Petty Enterprises: Super 8 Motels announced that it has signed an agreement with Petty Enterprises to become the official lodging partner and associate sponsor of the #43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge driven by Bobby Labonte. Beginning with the 2007 Nextel Cup Series season, the Super 8 logo will be displayed on Labonte’s car and uniform, crew team’s uniforms, team trailers, pit boxes and transporters including merchandise haulers. With this agreement, the Super 8 economy hotel chain will enter its 11th year as a NASCARR racing sponsor, according to Rosanne Zusman, Super 8 vice president of marketing. With more than 2,000 Super 8 Motel locations worldwide, the Petty team, Labonte and racing fans can find clean, comfortable accommodations wherever their travels take them. The Super 8 brand features free continental breakfast and high-speed Internet access, free local calls and kids 17 and under stay free with an adult family member. Participating motels offer fax and copy services, exercise facilities and pools. Reservations and information are available by calling (800) 800-8000 or by visiting www.super8.com.(Petty Racing PR)(3-2-2007)
News from March 1, 2007
Almirola to Make Cup Debut at Vegas: Three years ago, Aric Almirola was getting ready for a full season of late model stock car racing at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C. After scoring two wins, six top-fives and 15 top-10s in 2004, Almirola began climbing the NASCAR ladder. The Tampa, Fla., native of Cuban descent traversed the Southeast in 2005 competing in regional late model races, and by the end of the year, was running a limited schedule in the Craftsman Truck Series. Two top-10 finishes in four Truck Series starts led to a full-time Truck Series ride and a nine-race Busch Series schedule in 2006. The promise Almirola showed in 2004 continued in 2006, which led JGR officials to give him a slate of 18 Busch Series races and four Nextel Cup races in 2007. That first Nextel Cup race comes at Las Vegas, where Almirola will attempt to qualify the #80 Joe Gibbs Driven Chevy.(Joe Gibbs Racing PR)(3-1-2007)
COT Inspection: A Learning Process For Car Of Tomorrow: Aside from on-track work, this week’s Car of Tomorrow test at Bristol Motor Speedway also has another component – inspection. A new car means a new process of inspecting it, and Nextel Cup officials were ready early Wednesday when the garage opened. Inspection wasn’t mandatory, but available to teams wanting to refine and reassure. “We’re taking the time to walk all the way from A through Z through the entire template process,” said Nextel Cup Series director John Darby. “Actually it’s educational for our own officials as much as the teams, but we’re letting the two groups work together to trouble-shoot the system.” Like the current inspection process, Car of Tomorrow inspection will concentrate on exterior body measurements and templates, but with a twist: Rather than the current template bay with multiple templates that must be applied by hand, a new scaffolding-like structure allows multiple templates to be applied to a car at the same time. It was a popular station during Wednesday morning’s inspection, with its gleaming, retractable aluminum templates that inspectors lower from above. “The value of being here and working with the teams on the process is to help everyone understand the issues,” Darby said, “and to expedite the process when we come back.” Prior to competing, teams must present their Car of Tomorrow chassis and roll cages for certification at NASCAR’s R&D Center in Concord, N.C. At the track, they must verify that their car has been certified. Darby – who said the NASCAR Nextel Cup garage will open a day early during March race week – was pleased with both the tenor and pace of Wednesday’s inspections. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything that’s been a surprise,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything that’s been out in left field if you will. It’s been more a refining process with the teams than anything.”(NASCAR PR)(3-1-2007)
Rain cuts COT Testing Short Thursday: The rain started at 10:30am/et at the track so teams got in an hour and a half of testing. Around 10am Clint Bowyer scraped the wall in turn turn four damaging not only the right side of the #07-Jack Daniels Chevy but also tore the left front of the splitter. No speeds were reported for the short session as all cars didn’t make laps.(PRN’s Garage Pass)(3-1-2007)
AAA Insurance scheme: #6-David Ragan is scheduled to run a AAA Insurance paint scheme at Dover in June [also ran it at California] and some other races in 2007. See an image on my #6 Team Schemes page.(3-1-2007)
MWR suspended team members not allwowed at COT test: While the two crew chiefs [#17-Robby Reiser & #9-Kenny Francis] served with four-week suspensions at Daytona International Speedway were free to come to Bristol Motor Speedway for the official “car of tomorrow” test, MWR’s crew chief and vice president of competition were not. Their suspension over the use of an illegal fuel additive is more sweeping than the others. NASCAR officials also still have the #55 Toyota that was impounded at Daytona, but Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby says that is more a result of procedure than a sign that any investigation is ongoing. Darby also said that it is up to MWR officials to decide when to apply for reinstatement of David Hyder and Bobby Kennedy. “I don’t know if we’ve got an exact timeline on it,” Darby said. “A couple of weeks is obviously nowhere near long enough. The team will have the ability to apply for reinstatement for either one or both of the crew members in time. At the time of reapplication, if the feeling internally is that it still is not enough time, it will be denied. If we get through a long enough time period and maybe get a little more help on how the whole situation came together, we’ll look at it at that point.”(SceneDaily.com)(3-1-2007)
Put Carl Edwards to Work: For the third year, Office Depot is running the “Small Business of NASCAR” program, giving small businesses the potential for big exposure. A new element in this year’s promotion brings Nextel Cup Series driver, Carl Edwards and the Office Depot show car to the winning business where the small business owner may even decide to put Edwards to work for the day! Edwards, a small business owner himself as the entrepreneur behind a new record label Back 40 Records, fully understands the impact that effective marketing and national exposure can have on the potential success of a business. For more information on the Small Business of NASCAR promotion or to enter, please visit www.officedepotracing.com.(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(3-1-2007)