JR Motorsports being sued over accident: A local [Florida] family is sueing JR Motorsports and #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. following a rear end crash by a tractor trailer. In November 2006, Michael Harris and his son, 21 year old Chris, were driving in their pick up truck headed south on Interstate 95 in St. John’s County [FL]. Harris was several cars in front of a Champion tractor trailer. Traffic started to back up and slow down on the interstate. Harris’ lawyer, Charles Sorenson, says he slowed down to, going about 15 miles per hour and then pulling on to the shoulder. The only problem, Sorenson says is the semi didn’t slow down with everyone else. Sorenson says the impact was so severe, the bolts in the pickup’s seat, which hold it down to the floor, were broken. Both father and son were wearing seatbelts, but both went to the hospital. Both are still being treated for neck and back injuries. According to the lawsuit, JR Motorsports is the owner of the tractor trailer. The owner of JR Motorsports belongs to NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Sorenson says Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will most likely be deposed in the case. JR Motorsport’s team told First Coast News it has received the lawsuit, but will not make any other comment at this time. The driver of the semi, Ricky Mace, is also being sued.(First Coast News)(3-31-2008) Comment here
Martinsville overnight TV Ratings same as 2007: NASCAR on Fox tallied a 4.9/10 yesterday for racing from Martinsville. Yesterday’s 4.9/10 is flat with last year’s Martinsville rating [4.9/11], but in this case that’s good news given the dramatically tougher competition faced by this year’s race. Yesterday’s race came against a pair of NCAA Regional Finals, including the strong Davidson-Kansas game, while last year’s race aired on the Final Four weekend and faced no NCAA basketball. By matching last year’s rating, FOX maintains its streak of seven straight NASCAR events this year that have been at least flat with last year in the metered markets (this excludes the Fontana race because of rain). Los Angeles has emerged as the surprise market of the year for NASCAR. Yesterday’s race earned a 2.8/7 in LA, a +65% gain over last year’s 1.7/5. For the season-to-date, Sprint Cup racing on FOX is averaging a 6.2/12, including Fontana, a +5% bump over last season’s 5.9/12.(Fox PR), for TV ratings news so far in 2008, see my 2008 TV Ratings page.(3-31-2008) Comment here
Sad News – Max Helton…services: Max Helton, who 20 years ago helped begin a Christian ministry in the NASCAR garage that grew into the Motor Racing Outreach organization, died Sunday afternoon at his home in Huntersville, N.C. Mr. Helton was diagnosed with brain cancer in August. He is survived by his wife, Jean, along with four daughters and nine grandchildren. Funeral arrangements had not been finalized Sunday night. Mr. Helton was working at a church in Glendora, Calif., in 1988 when he met Darrell and Stevie Waltrip at a race in Riverside, Calif. Helton told the Waltrips that he felt he was being called to lead a racing ministry. The Waltrips, along with Lake Speed and Bobby Hillin Jr. and their wives, were looking for a spiritual leader for a Bible study group they had formed. Within a year, Mr. Helton had moved his family to North Carolina to begin MRO, which conducts chapel services at the track each weekend and also provides counseling and support services to people in racing. Helton led Bible study and counseling sessions at dozens of NASCAR drivers’ homes and race team shops before leaving the organization in 2002. Since then, Mr. Helton had formed World-Span, an organization to serve the spiritual needs of racing series around the world. Before his illness, Mr. Helton traveled extensively, helping spread his message of “personal evangelism” and teaching others to serve as spiritual leaders and teachers. “A lot of lives and a lot of things have changed in our sport because of Max.Helton,” Darrell Waltrip said.(Charlotte Observer)(3-31-2008) Services: A memorial service is planned for Wednesday, April 2 at 3pm at Grace Covenant Four-Square Church. (17301 Statesville Rd, Cornelius, NC 28031 – Exit 25 off of I-77). There will be a visitation and viewing on Tuesday evening, April 1, from 7-9 pm at Raymer Funeral Home,(16901 Old Statesville Rd, Huntersville, NC 28078 (704) 892-9669) located at Hwy 73 and Old Statesville Road in Huntersville.) The family requests that in lieu of flowers memorials contributions may be sent to: Worldspan Ministries, P.O. Box 681117, Charlotte, NC 28216.(MRO Site)(3-31-2008)
Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Goody’s Cool Orange 500:
Total number of commercials: 118
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 65
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 41
Total number of companies or entities advertised in brief promos or crawlers: 33
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:00 PM
End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:52 PM
Total minutes: 232
Minutes of race broadcast: 178
Minutes of commercials: 54
Number of missed restarts: 0
Total race brdcst time 178 Total comm. brdcst time 54
See full report and stats at CawsnJaws.com.(3-31-2008) Comment here
Photographer honored at Martinsville: T. Taylor Warren, a longtime racing photographer and Martinsville resident, was honored Sunday during pre-race ceremonies of the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Warren, 83, received the H. Clay Earles Award, given in honor of the Martinsville Speedway founder to recognize individuals who have made an impact on the sport of NASCAR through their life’s work. During post-race ceremonies in Victory Lane, track officials had Warren pose with winner Denny Hamlin so the moment could be commemorated on film, something the photographer has done countless times in his career. Warren covered his first race in 1948, a midget-car event held in Milwaukee, Wis. Since that time, he’s become a fixture at racetracks across the country, well known for his timely shots of on-track action as well as pit-road scenes. Warren has photographed all 50 runnings of the Daytona 500, and he has been the official photographer for Goody’s Headache Powders for 31 years, dating back to the product’s first association with NASCAR. Warren was working at Martinsville Speedway over the weekend, something he’s done at virtually every race since 1952. As usual, he was clad in a photojournalist’s vest loaded with equipment that has become a virtual trademark of the legendary photographer. During pre-race ceremonies, Warren also received the Doug Agee Award, given annually at the speedway to a person or persons who most embodies the value and spirit of Agee, a pioneer of racing promotions. He was a longtime employee of Goody’s. Karen Parker, business development and partnerships director at the Martinsville Speedway, also received the Doug Agee Award. Though Warren is perhaps best known for a 1959 finish-line photo that helped decide the winner of the first Daytona 500, he was hesitant to claim one picture as the best of his career. Warren gave no indication he has retirement plans.(Martinsville Bulletin)(3-31-2008)
NASCAR to return to Australia? Marcus Marshall, a driver in Australia’s V8 Supercar Series, said Saturday that countryman Marcus Ambrose’s success in NASCAR has boosted the sport’s popularity in the country, and sparked rumors that a dormant 1½-mile track might get active again. The track hasn’t been used for about eight years, he said. “It was pretty popular and now there are rumors at the moment of it opening up again, so that kind of fits with NASCAR maybe looking to be more international and Australia as a place to maybe take a round of one of their affiliated championships.” Queensland, Australia, is already a destination of the Indy Racing League.(ESPN.com/AP)(3-31-2008) Comment here
RFR working on driver contracts: Greg Biffle’s contract extension with Roush Fenway Racing is nearly complete, and the team is working on extensions for David Ragan and Carl Edwards. Using Biffle’s words from earlier in the week, Roush Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith said that the contract with Biffle is 90% along. He said the fact that Biffle is running second in points has not accelerated the deal. “We wanted to get it done over the winter,” Smith said Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. “We like to get them done so they don’t become a distraction of the team in terms of the race season.” The contracts for Edwards and Ragan, as well as those with the companies sponsoring [AAA announced they would leave at the end of 2008] their cars, end after the season is over. Smith indicated that the team would like to sign the sponsor and driver at the same time. He said the team also is working with a sponsor to finalize the Biffle deal. “For us, there’s a money equation that has to be met,” Smith said. “The sponsor has to pay [a certain amount] in order for us to pay the driver and so forth. We close all of that out at the same time.” Smith doesn’t anticipate having trouble finding sponsorship for Edwards. His organization currently is looking for sponsorship for the two Yates Racing cars. “It’s pretty early,” Smith said about the sponsor search. “Carl Edwards, even in this down economy, he’s the hottest property in the garage. We’ve got all the sponsorship we can handle for him. David, and Travis [Kvapil] and David Gilliland, they’re all in the mix. We’re hoping the economic climate improves here shortly and typically May and June are big months for significant prospects to come forward for us. We’re about to find out if that’s true.”(SceneDaily)(3-31-2008) Comment here
News from March 30, 2008
Hamlin wins at Martinsville: #11-Denny Hamlin won the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway for his 1st win of 2008, 4th of his career, becoming the 45th driver to win a race at Martinsville. #24-Gordon was 2nd, followed by #31-Burton, #48-Johnson, #20-Stewart, #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #50Mears, #26-McMurray [back in the top-35 of owners pts], #99-Edwards [who ran out of fuel on the last lap while running 5th] and #07-Bowyer. The points leader going into the race, #18-Kyle Busch had trouble, spent some time in the garage and finished 38th, falling to 5th in drivers points. #31-Burton takes over the points lead by 39 over #29-Harvick. There were 20 lead changes among 8 drivers and 18 cautions for 89 laps. Race Results on my Martinsville Race Results/Awards Page.(3-30-2008) Comment here
Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Texas
A couple changes, #26-McMurray and #01-Smith move into the Top-35 and #77-Hornish nad #44-Reuitimann are now out and must qualify by speed at Texas.
The teams are NOT locked in past the next race at Texas as the owners points change after each race.
31) #26-McMurray/Roush Racing 494 +59
32) #96-Yeley/Hall of Fame Racing 468 +33
33) #55-Waltrip/Waltrip Racing 460 +25
34) #70-Mayfield/Haas CNC Racing 441 +6
35) #01-Smith/Dale Earnhardt Inc 438, 3 points ahead of 36th these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed:
36) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing 435, 3 points out of 35th
37) #44-Reutimann/Waltrip Racing 418 -20
38) #40-Franchitti/Ganassi Racing 416 -22
39) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis 373 -65
40) #45-Petty/Petty Racing 327 -111
For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(3-30-2008)
Martinsville Speedway Fast Facts:
.. Denny Hamlin won the Goody’s Cool Orange 500, his fourth victory in 85 Sprint Cup Series races.
.. This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in 2008.
.. This is his first victory and fifth top-10 finish in six races at Martinsville – including second in October 2006 and third in this race in 2007.
.. Jeff Gordon (second) posted his 25th top-10 finish in 31 races at Martinsville. Gordon has been running at the finish in all of his Martinsville races and has finished on the lead lap 24 times.
.. Jeff Burton (third) posted his 14th top-10 finish in 28 races at Martinsville.
.. Regan Smith (14th) was the highest finishing rookie.
.. Jeff Burton took the lead in the Sprint Cup Series point standings, leading Kevin Harvick by 39 points.(NASCAR Statistics)(3-30-2008)
Did Not Finish Streak and stats: #29-Harvick has been running at the finish in 50 consecutive races, the longest current streak, next up is #07-Bowyer at 43 consecutive races.(3-30-2008)
Roush Fenway Racing doesn’t plan any legal action against MWR: Roush Fenway Racing doesn’t plan to take legal action against Michael Waltrip Racing for what it characterized as the theft of a sway bar unless there is evidence that the piece has been duplicated. Team president Geoff Smith said the issue would not have surfaced at all had Toyota general manager Lee White not insinuated that Roush’s team of Carl Edwards intentionally cheated at Las Vegas.(see full story at ESPN.com), so lets hope this whole thing is over.(3-30-2008) Comment here
Truex focused on racing – not contract: #1-Martin Truex Jr. says that he’s not worried about contract talks with his Dale Earnhardt Inc. team yet [his contract runs out at end of season]. He’s too busy focusing on improving his performance. These days, just five races into the season, his thoughts are on racing, not negotiations of the contract that ends this season. “I haven’t even looked down that road yet,” he said of any potential contract developments. “I’m so focused on winning right now with my team and giving these guys everything I’ve got.”(SceneDaily)(3-30-2008) Comment here
Villeneuve could return to BDR: Even though Bill Davis Racing released former World Driving Champion Jacques Villeneuve after he failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 and subsequently shut down the #27 Toyota Camry he drove, it doesn’t necessarily mean the story is over. BDR General Manager Mike Brown said Saturday morning that the team is still maintaining regular contact with both Villeneuve and his advisor, Barry Green, and if sponsor money can be found, the team might resume racing this season. “We could make that happen if we can put a sponsorship deal together,” said Brown. “We have weekly dialog with those guys and they’re all hoping we can put something together.” As for the new association with BAM Racing, who switched from Dodge to Toyota this week and is using BDR engines, Brown said it doesn’t necessarily mean the teams will merge. “We’re just doing what we can to better ourselves right now,” he said.(SPEEDtv) AND Villeneuve is to join the Speedcar series for the last two rounds, taking the grid for the upcoming race at the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 4-6, followed by the final round in Dubai a week later on April 11-12. He will join Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert, Stefan Johansson, Ukyo Katayama, JJ Lehto and Gianni Morbidelli in the field. “Speedcar Series looks like a great event and I have heard that it is a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s a series still in its infancy and will build up but I think it’s a great idea. On a personal level, Speedcar will give me more road racing experience with this kind of cars which will be useful in future NASCAR road courses events, and it’s also a great excuse to meet race fans.”(GrandPrix)(3-30-2008) Comment here
Rain at Martinsville possible: there is rain in the area of Martinsville Speedway and is a threat for race time. NASCAR Now’s Marty Smith reported that NASCAR said they need to start track drying by 3:00pm/et and the race by approx 4pm/et as the track does not have lights [how great would a night race at Martinsville be?]. The forecast for the Martinsville area is: Rain likely. Cloudy, with a high near 41. East wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible. See a few weather links and info on my Martinsville Race Info page – weather section. UPDATE: looks like the race will start as scheduled and the radar looks pretty clear as of 2:00pm/et.(3-30-2008)
Martinsville Grand Marshal can’t make it: Inclement weather has derailed the schedule of Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer, who was set to serve as grand marshal for today’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500 race at Martinsville Speedway. Icy weather in Blacksburg grounded Beamer’s flight plans, according to the coach, who spoke to the media via telephone this morning. Recent knee surgery has made it difficult for Beamer to get around. “I had a helicopter that could bring me right to the track and I was going to be in good shape, but then they couldn’t fly (due to the ice),” said Beamer. “Once that happened, I felt like I needed to cancel out.” Beamer apologized repeatedly for his cancellation, lamenting the fact that he couldn’t attend in person. “I’m very sorry because I really like racing, and I really like the Martinsville track, and I really like the people at the Martinsville track,” said Beamer. “I think the heart of NASCAR is right here in Virginia when you talk about Bristol and Richmond and then Martinsville.” A spokesman for Goody’s Cool Orange, the race’s primary sponsor, said various members of the Virginia Tech community, including the Tech band, which is set to play the national anthem, would serve in Beamer’s place as grand marshal. The most notable grand marshal duty is announcing the famous racing line, “Gentlemen, start your engines.”(Martinsville Bulletin)(3-30-2008)
Sad News – Bill Neely: William Neely, a prolific racing writer who chronicled the lives of Richard Petty and A.J. Foyt, died Tuesday, March 25, in North Carolina after complications from heart surgery. Neely was 77. He was most famous for the 1974 classic Stand on It, a Novel by Stroker Ace, which told the fictional story of driver/wild man Stroker Ace and was later made into a movie starring Burt Reynolds and Loni Anderson. Neely loosely based the book on his experiences in the 1960s, when he headed up public relations for Goodyear at the height of the racing “tire wars” with Firestone. Neely was AutoWeek’s travel editor in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His work also appeared in Playboy, Car and Driver, Esquire and Sports Illustrated. He also penned a chili cookbook, as well as Tire Wars, a look at Goodyear’s racing program in the 1960s. H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, who led public relations for Firestone at the same time, said Neely was known for his grace under fire, as the 1960s was a turbulent time for racing, wrought with accidents and driver deaths. “He was one of the icons of auto racing in the 1960s, when auto racing was really jumping forward by leaps and bounds,” said Wheeler, who is now the president of Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Neely also worked in public relations for Rolex and Exxon. In total, he authored 19 books. Neely later turned to acting and appeared in “Night Flier” in 1997, a movie based on a Stephen King novel where Neely’s character had his head chopped off. He moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, about a decade ago to try to secure more acting roles with a local studio. He also made an unsuccessful bid for Congress. He had a heart attack several years ago, and the surgery he was having Tuesday was to install a new heart valve. In his later years, he enjoyed driving around Wilmington in a black 2002 Corvette, and lounging in a yacht he owned that previously belonged to Hollywood actress Greta Garbo. As his longtime friend Jeannette McLean said, he was “living the life of a retired person who loved life.” Neely is survived by five children and four grandchildren. He was a native of Jane Lew, West Virginia, and graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1952. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Neely’s name be made to Friends of Felines, P.O. Box 475, Castle Hayne, NC 28429.(Autoweek)(3-30-2008)
News from March 29, 2008
MWR had [Roush] part, says it was a mistake UPDATE: Michael Waltrip confirmed Friday afternoon that it was his team that Jack Roush was alluding to when saying a Toyota team had stolen a sway bar from Roush Fenway Racing at Dover last September. “It was a mistake,” Waltrip said. “Look at the back of these toolboxes. There are sway bars, there’s jack handles, and it wound up in our possession. We called them and said, ‘We want to give this back.’ ”(full story atSceneDaily) MORE: Michael Waltrip acknowledged on Saturday that his team had the sway bar that team owner Jack Roush accused a Toyota team of stealing last season. But Waltrip insisted that it wasn’t a theft, that the bar accidentally wound up at his shop after the September race at Dover and that nobody realized it belonged to Roush Fenway Racing until that organization called to inquire about it in January. “Accidents happen, mistakes happen,” Waltrip said. “If you look inside this garage area today there’s over 70 racing vehicles in here and stuff gets slung everywhere … I could see why he would be upset. He feels like he was wronged and he’s mad about it.” Roush said the sway bar was specially designed by Roush Fenway for his cars. He said they were larger than the old bars, unable to fit in the toolbox slot and were put underneath the box instead. Roush said a member of a Toyota team — which turned out to be David Reutimann’s #00 car — parked next to him at Dover, then walked over and took the piece. “I don’t know what makes him tick,” Waltrip said of Roush. “But I do know that no one went to his toolbox and swiped his bar.” Waltrip said he had no knowledge that the piece was sandblasted to hide its identity and that somebody from his team called a vendor to have it duplicated as Roush alleged. “I don’t have knowledge of any of that,” he said. “I heard it was painted blue and when we figured out that it wasn’t ours then it was set off to the side and eventually returned.”(ESPN.com)(3-29-2008) Comment here
NASCAR won’t intervene in Roush dispute with Toyota team: NASCAR officials say they will not intervene in the dispute between Roush Fenway Racing and an unspecified Toyota team that allegedly took a part from the Ford organization. Team owner Jack Roush is asking NASCAR for “relief” on the issue, but NASCAR Vice President of Competition strongly dismissed that idea on Friday. “If they’ve got issues with each other or other teams, then they’ve got to talk to those other teams,” Pemberton said. “I didn’t take a part or a piece, all right? Nobody in this [NASCAR] trailer took a part or a piece. We know Jack said that, and apparently some other team acknowledged having a part or a piece. Those people need to work their deal out.” Roush said a Toyota team took a sway bar home from a September race at Dover last season. If that’s true, Pemberton said, “Then shame on a team that has that person working for them. If you’ve got a guy that takes a part or a piece from another team, then, in my opinion, I wouldn’t have a guy like that work for me,” he said. Still, that doesn’t mean NASCAR is going to do anything about it. “[The teams] have to work together,” he said. “We’re not going to build walls in here. We’re not going to separate everything. We’re going to run this garage area just like it’s been run. If you have issues, then you’ve got to work it out.”(SceneDaily)(3-29-2008)
Tums to sponsor fall Martinsville race and #40, #41 cars: TUMS announced that it is using its newest product, the TUMS QuikPak instant dissolve powder, to bring its fastest relief ever to Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., as the entitlement sponsor of the October 19, 2008 Sprint Cup series race – The TUMS QuikPak 500. The TUMS QuikPak 500 will be the first NASCAR race sponsored by the TUMS brand. The race sponsorship will continue to build on the long-standing relationship between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare and the .526-mile Virginia short track. The partnership began in 1983 when Goody’s Headache Powder first sponsored the Goody’s 500 at Martinsville Speedway. In addition to the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway, TUMS will serve as an associate sponsor of the #40 and #41 Dodges for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) throughout the 2008 season. The TUMS logo will appear on the B-post and rear quarter panel. The agreement also includes a primary sponsorship in two races. TUMS QuikPak will serve as the primary sponsor of Sprint Cup series rookie Dario Franchitti’s #40 Dodge Charger for the Aaron’s 499 race at Talladega Superspeedway on April 27. CGRFS teammate Reed Sorenson will carry the TUMS QuikPak paint scheme under the lights August 23 for the Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. TUMS will host 18 fan events at race tracks during the season. For each event, TUMS will bring its blue QuikZone display to the fan concourse area along with TUMS Racing simulators, games and the TUMS show car. Fans will have an opportunity to learn more about TUMS fast relief and simple solutions for heartburn and sample the new TUMS QuikPak. The TUMS QuikZone debuted in Daytona for Speedweeks. The TUMS QuikZone also will travel to community events throughout the country. For more information on TUMS Racing, visit www.TUMSracing.com.(Clear!Blue PR) see images of the cars on my #40 Team Schemes page and #41 Team Schemes page.(3-29-2008)
New FedEx ad to speed up “slow things” auction: This weekend, FedEx will unveil the latest effort from the popular series of television commercials that has supported the company’s sponsorship of the #11 car. In the new “Garage Sale” ad, driver Denny Hamlin holds a garage sale to sell off the things that slow him down. In fact, he’s so serious about it he’s teamed up with FedEx to hold an online auction of everyday items that just aren’t fast enough for Denny and the #11 team. More info on my Racing Charities page.(3-29-2008)
Sadler injured? Setzer to qualify? UPDATE 2: It was reported on SPEED’s Truck Series practice coverage [Friday 11am-12pm] that #19-Elliott Sadler injured his back and that Truck Series veteran, Dennis Setzer, may practice and qualify the #19 McDonald’s Sprint Cup Dodge for Sadler on Friday at Martinsville Speedway.(3-28-2008) UPDATE: In response to the announcement that Elliott Sadler sustained an off-track injury that makes his status in question for today’s practice for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Mark McArdle, vice president and managing director of competition of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, has issued the following statement:
ON THE STATUS OF ELLIOTT SADLER’S CONDITION? “The situation that we’re finding ourselves in is that the driver of our No.19 McDonald’s Dodge – Elliott Sadler – sustained a low-back injury away from the racetrack during the course of the week. He’s finding himself in quite a bit of discomfort, so what we‘ve done is put Dennis Setzer in a position of stand-by.
“It’s high likely that Dennis will do some laps in the car here during today’s practice session and get the car dialed in for us in race configuration. Elliott’s pretty uncomfortable in any kind of sitting position this morning. We’ll have to make a decision as the day goes on as to exactly what our plans will be with regard to putting Elliott in the car for qualifying or not. We’re going to take it on an hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis for the course of the rest of the weekend. What’s important of course is doing what’s best for Elliott to make sure that we don’t exaggerate or exasperate his injuries any further. So we’re taking medical advice to ensure that we do the right things in that regard. We’re pleased that Dennis has accepted our request to put himself in a stand-by role. He’s an outstanding Dodge driver. Of course it’s a natural fit for us at Gillett Evernham and we’d like to thank his ownership in the truck series for giving him permission to put him in that status for us. Obviously, with his pedigree at this race track, it was an easy choice as to who to ask to stand-by. We’ve got him fitted to the car and trying to work on the logistics of being able to go back and forth between drivers – if that proves to be the right thing to do. We just want to make sure that we kept you folks informed on what’s going on here this morning.”
HOW DID HE INJURY HIS BACK? “Apparently he had some injury after doing some routine for the week. Apparently during the course of that, something went slightly wrong and I think he exasperated it later that same day with a different sporting injury of some kind. We really don’t know too much detail about the nature of the injury other it’s just low back and seems to be involving a lot of nerve endings.”
WHEN DID IT HAPPEN? On Wednesday.
WHO WILL MAKE THE DECISION TO IF ELLIOT RETURNS TO THE CAR? “It will be Elliott’s call working with me in trying to make the best decision that we can. I think right now our inclination will be that we begin practice with Dennis. Certainly the possibility exists that as we go from race mode to qualifying trim, that at that point, we put Elliott in the car for a lap or two to put him in a position where John (Darby) and NASCAR would be happy (for Elliott) to qualify the car and then make our decision as to whether he will qualify based on his condition.”
Elliott Sadler, driver of the #19 McDonalds Dodge Charger: “My back started to hurt late Wednesday and the pain was more noticeable when I got up Thursday. It was a normal week for me, so that’s what really gets me more than anything. Nothing hurts a driver more than not being in his race car with his team. My goal is to be better by Sunday so I can race.”(Dodge Motorsports PR)(3-28-2008) UPDATE 2: ELLIOTT SADLER (#19 McDonalds Dodge Charger) HOW DOES THE BACK FEEL TODAY? “The back is a little sore. I’m going to ice it down and take some inflammatory medicine and try and get as best prepared as I can.”
DO YOU THINK THAT YOU CAN DRIVE 500 LAPS TOMORROW? “Right now, I feel like that I can go maybe half-way tomorrow. Right now it’s a 50-50 chance of going the whole way. Dennis (Setzer) is going to stay and hang out with us tomorrow. If I need him, then we’ll go to him. I’m still in a lot of pain right now. You use so much brake here. I’m pushing my back up against the seat a lot. We made seat adjustments today and that helped. Right now it’s 50-50 of going the whole way.”(Dodge Motorsports PR)(3-29-2008) Comment here
Happy Hour [Final] practice for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway is over, the fastest:
slowest: #00-McDowell 93.171 and #01-Smith 93.562
most laps run: #48-Johnson 102; #44-Reutimann 90 best average laps [all laps averaged]
#1-Truex Jr. 93.434 [6th fastest lap]
#6-Ragan 93.394 [4th]
#29-Harvick 93.375 [8th]
For all the speeds, see my Martinsville Practice Speeds Page.(3-29-2008)
Security company wants Gordon to stop using its logos UPDATE RGM Statement: A security software firm wants #7-Robby Gordon to remove its logos from his uniforms and equipment as part of a contract dispute that began when the Dakar Rally was cancelled because of terrorism threats. Vanguard Integrity Professionals is suing Gordon in U.S. District Court in California over the sponsorship of Team Gordon in the Dakar Rally and is asking for $1.15 million back from the driver. The company went public with the dispute Wednesday because it wants Gordon to immediately cease using its logos in his NASCAR ventures, and claims the driver was only authorized to promote Vanguard outside the United States. “We want the world to know that Vanguard is no longer associated with Team Gordon,” the company said in a statement released to The Associated Press. Gordon could not immediately be reached for comment. Gordon contends Vanguard cannot terminate the contract. Upset that Gordon continues to use Vanguard logos, the company requested a temporary restraining order to prohibit Gordon’s use of the logos. The motion was denied March 5 in U.S. District Court.(Associated Press/ESPN)(3-27-2008) UPDATE: We are disappointed by Vanguard’s decision to present our issues to the media. But given the inaccuracies and misleading statements recently published by Vanguard, we want to make sure that the public is aware of important information pertaining to the 2008 Dakar event. The organizer of the Dakar races, ASO, will present the 2008 Dakar Series race in Central Europe beginning April 19, 2008. As with the originally planned Dakar event, the race in Europe will be a cross country endurance off-road event that will traverse threatening and difficult terrain in multiple stages. The race will be covered by international media, and the coverage will be carried by media outlets throughout the world. ASO describes the 2008 Dakar event, dubbed the Central Europe Rally, as follows: “The demands on competitors of the Central Europe Rally will be equivalent to those of the Dakar. The quality of competition also guarantees strong media interest.” See full statement at Robbygordon.com.(3-29-2008) Comment here
News from March 28, 2008
Latest on the ‘stolen’ Roush “proprietary part” UPDATE MWR: Jack Roush said on Friday that a Toyota team stole a sway bar made specifically for Roush Fenway Racing from one of his Sprint Cup teams last season at Dover. “A theft did occur,” the co-owner of Roush Fenway said during practice at Martinsville Speedway. “The part was recovered … We are still considering what if any legal action to seek.” One of Roush’s options is asking for a restraining order to guarantee the team in question does not duplicate the bar, which has been determined legal by NASCAR, for a competitive advantage. “It’s lawyer time,” Roush said. Roush made his first comments since he was quoted in ESPN The Magazine as saying a proprietary part was found missing from his inventory and discovered with a Toyota team. He discounted comments made by Jim Aust, the president of Toyota Racing Development, that a valve spring was found during a teardown inspection, identified as belonging to Roush and returned. Roush said the theft occurred in the garage area at Dover in September , where the only Toyota teams in the field belonged to Michael Waltrip Racing and Team Red Bull.
Lee White, the general manager of TRD, said his organization launched a full investigation into the allegation when Roush’s allegations were published in ESPN The Magazine. He said a valve spring that did not belong to Toyota ended up at TRD’s California location after the California race, that it was reported to NASCAR and returned. Roush said he became aware of the theft in early January when the vendor that produced the product for Roush Fenway was contacted by the Toyota team in question about duplicating the bar.
Roush said he’s had several discussions with NASCAR officials about the situation. He was alarmed when Robin Pemberton, the vice president of competition for the series, said disappearing parts are a common occurrence and the teams needed to work it out amongst themselves. Roush said there is something fundamentally wrong if NASCAR doesn’t intercede, reminding the governing body has no problem reacting when somebody uses an illegal part — on purpose or not. Roush, noting he has been in the business 22 years, and said this is the first time he’s heard of such a situation. He declined to respond to a question in which Michael Waltrip Racing was insinuated as the Toyota team. “I don’t substantiate,” he said. Waltrip declined to comment until he heard how the question was posed and the way Roush responded.(see full story at ESPN.com), see past news about this on the #17 Team News and Links page.(3-28-2008) Comment here
Goodyear completes 2nd test at Darlington: The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Wednesday completed a “continuation test” at Darlington Raceway with drivers #16-Greg Biffle, #24-Jeff Gordon and #12-Ryan Newman. An initial test with the same drivers earlier this month got Goodyear half-way to its goal of finding the right tire combination for the May 10 race at the legendary track. Goodyear engineers and the three teams held an original tire test at Darlington on March 10-11. They struck on the correct right-side tire, though they were not completely satisfied with the left-side codes they tested. Thus, Goodyear brought back the same three teams — so as to take advantage of their baseline notes — to hone in on that correct left-side. “Goodyear did a great job with the tire that they brought back,” said Greg Biffle. “The track still has quite a bit of speed. The ‘softer’ left-side tire had us a little faster than we wanted to go, but the ‘tougher’ left-side was real driveable. We were all happy with it.” A complete track repaving job was recently completed at Darlington, changing what had traditionally been one of the NASCAR circuits most abrasive racing surfaces. The result is a smooth, fast race track. “The track seems to be, as all dark, repaved tracks are, very sensitive to temperature. The hotter it is, the less grip there is,” explained Rick Campbell, Goodyear’s team leader for NASCAR Racing. “The Darlington race will be run primarily in the evening and this tire is intended to perform on a cool race track where grip will be a little better. This is the right tire for an evening race at Darlington and based on the feedback we received from all three drivers in attendance, they agreed with that.”(Goodyear PR)(3-28-2008)
NASCAR said NO to a #44 – #00 pts swap: David Reutimann wanted to keep the points he earned in the #00 car during the first five races of the Sprint Cup season as he makes the switch to the #44 driven by Dale Jarrett for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. NASCAR said no. “They wouldn’t let us switch,” Reutimann said Friday. “It puts you back almost in the same boat you were before. It’s aggravating.” Reutimann was 27th in owner’s points in the #00. Jarrett, who is retiring, was 34th in the #44 and only 16 points from falling out of the top 35 — the cutoff for a guaranteed spot in the field for each Sprint Cup race. Michael Waltrip Racing announced last season that Reutimann would replace Jarrett after the first five races. John Darby, the Sprint Cup series director, said point swaps typically are granted only when there is a change in a business function or when an owner is trying to reorganize during the offseason. Sam Hornish Jr., for example, was given Kurt Busch’s points at the start of this season as the newest member of Penske Racing so that he would be guaranteed a spot in the first five races. “This was never meant to be used to give a driver the best position he can get,” Darby said. “Most people in the garage understand that.” Rookie Michael McDowell will inherit Reutimann’s points as the new driver of the #00.(ESPN.com)(3-28-2008)
Biffle 90% sure he’ll stay at Roush UPDATE: #16-Greg Biffle is in his contract year — is deal with Roush Fenway Racing is up at the end of the season. He’s got something to prove, not only to everybody who thought he would never make the Chase again, but also to team owner Jack Roush. He’s said that he feels there’s a “90 percent” chance he will re-sign, but there’s little doubt that the better he does on the track, the more money he’s likely to make off of it.(Sports Illustrated)(3-28-2008) UPDATE: Greg Biffle on Friday stated his intent to sign a contract extension with Roush-Fenway Racing, saying he is “90%” sure he will do so. “We’re really just in the fine-tune negotiations [stage],” Biffle said. “I think we’re coming along fairly well. It hasn’t been a top priority, but we’ve been communicating back and forth about what we’d like to see in a contract — appearances and the way it’s structured and different things. And I feel pretty confident we’re going to be able to reach middle ground [at Roush Fenway]. I would say 90%.” The hope, Biffle said, is to complete the agreement by midseason. “That would be preferable,” Biffle said. “So closing down to the chase, and the championship, we have the thing ironed out.” Biffle said other teams have mentioned casual interest in securing his driving services, and he’s spoken with them — but only in passing. Roush Fenway, he said, is the only team with which he is negotiating.(ESPN.com)(3-28-2008) Comment here
Interim crew chief named for the #21: Team engineer Mike Smith is the interim crew chief for the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Sprint Cup Series team this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Smith is an aerodynamic specialist who has been with the team for 18 years. Bill Elliott is driving for the Wood Brothers this weekend at Martinsville. The team is outside the top 35 in owners points, but has access to a past champions provisional and is, therefore, locked into the field for Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500.(SceneDaily)(3-28-2008)
Tony cuts his mane: Tony Stewart comes into Martinsville Speedway relaxed and refreshed after a rare off-weekend on the 38-race weekend Sprint Cup Series schedule. The driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing is also a bit more aerodynamic, for the long hair he had sported since the end of last season is gone. Stewart’s mane looks more like it did when he was a rookie in 1999.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing:
What made you decide to finally cut your hair? “To be honest, I just woke up one morning and told one of my roommates, ‘Today’s the day. I’m going to get it cut.’ There was no rhyme or reason for it. I just woke up that morning and decided to get my hair cut, and that was that. I kind of laughed about it myself because there wasn’t anything that happened that made me do it. I just went ahead and did it. People who know me say I look 10 years younger now.”
How is the aftermath of having your back waxed? “It’s already growing back. It’s like a Chia Pet.”
Is it a testament to NASCAR’s popularity that the length of your hair and your hair follicles in general have become a topic of discussion?
“Yeah, it’s kind of unbelievable, and it does say that the sport is popular because I never thought the length of my hair would ever gain so much attention.”(JGR PR)(3-28-2008) Comment here
Jeff Gordon wins pole at Martinsville: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway with a speed of 96.288mph for his 2nd pole of 2008 and the 65th of his career. #11-Hamlin qualified second with the rest of the top-10 being: #8-Almirola, #6-Ragan, #26-McMurray [best go-or-go homer], #9-Kahne, #49-Schrader [first race w/Toyota], #18-Busch, #20-Stewart and #48-Johnson. The non-top 35 teams that made the race were: #26-McMurray, #49-Schrader, #21-Elliott, #22-Blaney, #84-Skinner, #01-Smith, #10-Carpentier and #40-Franchitti. Franchitti tied with #45-Kyle Pettyy, but go the 43rd starting spot over Petty due to the fact that Petty was 40th in owners points and Franchitti was 38th.
For the starting lineup, qualifying results, pole progression see my Starting Lineup/Qualifying Results/Order Page.(3-28-2008)
Four do not qualify [DNQ] for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway: #45-Petty, #34-Andretti, #78-Nemechek and #08-Raines.(3-28-2008)
.. Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 with a lap of 19.666 seconds, 96.288 mph.
.. This is his 65th pole in 515 career NASCAR Sprint Cup races. He is fourth on the all-time pole winners list behind Richard Petty (126), David Pearson (112) and Cale Yarborough (70).
.. This is his second pole and sixth top-10 start in 2008.
.. This is Gordon’s seventh pole at Martinsville Speedway. He also started first here in September 1995 when qualified was canceled.
.. Denny Hamlin posted the second-fastest qualifying time with a lap of 19.775 seconds, 95.757 mph. This is his fourth top-10 start in six Martinsville races – all also top-fives. This is Hamlin’s second top-10 start in 2008.
.. Aric Almirola (third) posted his career-first Sprint Cup Series top-10 start. His best start in his seven-race Sprint Cup Series career was 16th, which came last race at Bristol.
.. Jamie McMurray (fifth) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
.. Sam Hornish Jr. (26th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
.. Michael McDowell (34th) qualified for his career-first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Martinsville Goodyear Tire Notes: Teams in both the Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck Series will be running the same tire codes at Martinsville this weekend, though the Cup tires will be branded “Goodyear Eagle,” while the Truck tires will be branded “Goodyear Wrangler” . . . this is the same successful tire combination of left- and right-side tires that Goodyear brought to Martinsville for the COT cars and trucks in 2007 . . . this is the only track at which Cup teams will run this combination this season, though this right-side code (D-4110) will be run on all four tire positions at the road courses of Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International . . . Truck teams will run this combination on one other short track in 2008 — Mansfield . . . as on most NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners their tires at Martinsville. Estimated Pit Window: Every 120-130 laps, based on fuel mileage (Sprint Cup).(Goodyear PR), see full notes on my Martinsville Race Info page.(3-28-2008)
Stewart and Zippy at the Rock: Tony Stewart will be climbing into the flagstand for the first time to wave the green flag to start a major stock car race when 50 cars come roaring by to start the Carolina 500 at Rockingham Speedway on May 4th. Stewart’s Sprint Cup crew chief will also be in Rockingham for the Carolina 500 and he will trade his normal race day duties as crew chief in for a position as driver. Greg Zipadelli will drive the pace car for the parade laps to begin the 312-lap race before relinquishing the steering wheel back to Jack Wallace, the regular ARCA RE/MAX Series driver. “It is an honor to have Tony and Greg join us for our race,” said track owner Andy Hillenburg. “Tony has the same passion for the sport that our fans have and there is not a nicer person in the garage area than Greg.” Stewart and Zipadelli will be traveling to Rockingham after trying to win the Sprint Cup Series race the night before in Richmond, VA. If weather is a factor in Richmond then both men will not be present for the Carolina 500.(Rockingham Speedway)(3-28-2008) Comment here
Friday Practice for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway is over, the fastest:
#88-Earnhardt Jr. 95.161
slowest: #08-Raines 92.974 and #83-Vickers 93.580
most laps run: #00-McDowell 72; #77-Hornish 65
For the speeds, laps run, see my Martinsville Practice Speeds Page.(3-28-2008)
Where did the non top-35 drivers practice at Martinsville if things stay the same, these drivers would make the race:
#22-Dave Blaney, 6th
#26-Jamie McMurray, 11th
#49-Ken Schrader, 12th
#84-Mike Skinner, 19th
#45-Kyle Petty, 25th
#01-Regan Smith, 34th
#78-Joe Nemechek, 35th
#21-Bill Elliott, [could use past champ provisional], 38th if things stay the same, these drivers would miss the race:
#10-Patrick Carpentier, 39th
#40-Dario Franchitti, 43rd
#34-John Andretti, 44th
#08-Tony Raines, 47th
For the speeds, laps run, see my Martinsville Practice Speeds Page.(3-28-2008)
News from March 27, 2008
Special Black and Silver Scheme for Dale Jr.: #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr will run a special monochromatic paint scheme at the Sprint Cup All-Star Race, featuring an all black and silver design with hints of red and only a few sponsors in full color. 3 Doors Down dedicated a song they wrote for the National Guard Citizen-Soldiers. National Guard soldiers are “Citizens” in time of piece – “Soldiers” in time of need. Dale Jr. wanted to run a car that looked like the “Grey Ghost” that Buddy Baker drove. Most of the design work was done by Jim Gravin at Hendrick Motorsports. See an image of the car on my #88 Paint Schemes Page.(3-27-2008) Comment here
Martinsville Rookie Notes: #01-Regan Smith was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 16 Food City 500 at Bristol. Smith scored a 25th-place finish and claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the second time this season. #40-Dario Franchitti leads the Raybestos Rookie standings by one point (50-49) over Smith and Sam Hornish Jr. entering the March 30 Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville. #00-Michael McDowell and #77-Sam Hornish Jr. are the only members of the Raybestos Rookie class with a guaranteed starting spot at Martinsville. Three Raybestos Rookies entered in this weekend’s race at Martinsville do not have a guaranteed starting position: Franchitti, Smith, and #10-Patrick Carpentier. Morgan Shepherd is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 (since 1975), winning the 1981 event. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to score a top-five finish in the spring race at Martinsville is Dick Trickle, a 3rd in 1989. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to score a top-10 finish in the spring race at Martinsville is Jeff Gordon, who placed eighth in 1993. Tony Stewart is the only Raybestos Rookie to win the pole for the 1999 spring race (since 1975).(Camp and Assoc/Rabestos PR), see standings, history and more notes on my 2008 Rookies page.(3-27-2008) Comment here
Original Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury on Display: The Wood Brothers Racing original 1971 #21 Purolator Mercury driven by David Pearson has been brought home to Stuart, Virginia where it will be on display at the Wood Brothers Racing museum beginning this week. The legendary race car is in fact, the same machine that David Pearson won his first race with the Wood Brothers and also shared the infamous 11 out of 18 wins in 1973. The race car also known as “The Wood Brothers Purolator Mercury” was loaned to the Darlington Speedway 34 years ago and still carries all of the original parts and paint scheme as it was raced in those infamous years. It was brought back to the Stuart, Virginia race shop for routine maintenance and restoration. The museum of Wood Brothers memorabilia spans 58 years of racing. Among some of the many items on display are; a 1989 Neil Bonnett Thunderbird, a 1937 Glen Wood Ford Coach, and cars from Jon Wood and Keven Wood’s careers. Every inch of the walls are decked with plaques and photos, new and old that Glen Wood personally hung himself. There are also a variety of trophies, helmets, uniforms and other items from the Wood Brothers history. Nineteen of NASCAR’s “50 Greatest Drivers” have piloted the Wood Brothers cars over the past 58 years, such as David Pearson, AJ Foyt, Curtis Turner, Dale Jarrett and others. The museum is open weekdays from 9:00am to noon, & 1:00pm to 5:00pm. There is no admission fee, and the gift shop offers varied souvenir items. It’s located only thirty minutes from Martinsville Speedway, just off highway 58. The museum and souvenir shop is also open this Saturday during the Martinsville Race weekend until 1pm.(WBR PR)(3-27-2008) Comment here
BAM merging..with someone? UPDATE 3: been hearing rumors, but no confirms, that the #49 BAM Racing team may be merging with another team, the rumors include either the Petty Enterprises Dodge teams [#43 and #45] or the #22 Bill Davis Racing Team. The Petty deal sounds like a better match as BAM already uses Dodges. BDR just recently suspended operations of its 2nd team [#27] and parted ways with the crew chief of that team, Slugger Labbe. BDR is currently out of the top 35 in owners points and not guaranteed a spot in the next race at Martinsville. Either is BAM Racing’s #49 with Ken Schrader or one of the Petty cars, #45-Kyle Petty. Supposedly CAT is only signed with the #22 thru 2008 and could be headed to Joe Gibbs Racing in some capacity for 2009.(3-21-2008) UPDATE: Microsoft, through the Microsoft U.S. Small Business Team, has just become one of the sponsors of the #49 Sprint Cup Series team for the 2008 season. The Microsoft sponsorship will feature the Microsoft Small Business name as well as the Microsoft Small Camry Microsoft Full Rear Business Specialist (SBSC) ‘blue badge,’ which designates those Microsoft Partners who specialize on servicing the needs of small businesses. With this sponsorship, the Microsoft Small Business name, as well as the Microsoft Small Business Specialist ‘blue badge,’ will be shown in a Microsoft section on the #49 car for all remaining races of the 2008 season. The BAM Racing #49 car will feature a full-car Microsoft Small Business theme (primary sponsorship) for the March 30, 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race next Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA. The car will show Microsoft SmallCamry Microsoft Rear 3-4 view Business and the Microsoft Small Business Specialist ‘blue badge’ across the entire car.(in part from the Microsoft SMB Community Blog), see images of the #49 TOYOTA on the blog site or my #49 Team Schemes page. Hearing this will be more of a working association the a merger with BDR. The #49 is listed as a Dodge on the entry list, but that could change when updates are made later this week. Of note, Schrader is entered in the Truck race at Martinsville…in the #52-Federated Auto Parts TOYOTA.(3-25-2008) UPDATE 2: BAM Racing will begin using Toyota engines from Bill Davis Racing in the #49 car driven by Ken Schrader this weekend at Martinsville Speedway in what could be the first step toward a merger between the companies. “Right now it’s more of a collaboration than a merger,” said Eddie Jones, general manager at BAM Racing. “We’re trying to work together to see what we can do for them and what they can do for us and see if there is anything to move forward on.” BAM was under contract to use Dodge engines supplied by Gillett Evernham Motorsports this season. Jones said they’re still in the process of working through that deal, but added that GEM has given permission for BAM to move forward with BDR. “That’s the business part of the deal,” Jones said. “I’m trying to get the race car all put together.” Jones said he contacted BDR a couple of weeks ago, believing the power Toyota engines have shown could be the best long-term solution. “Short term, we expect to at least stay the same or get a little better,” he said. “Long term, we’re doing what we can do this year and hoping to have a great situation and by the time the year is over look at something else.”(ESPN.com)(3-26-2008) UPDATE 3: BAM Racing, announced that Microsoft joins the team in a multifaceted capacity that includes a Diamond Sponsorship as well as a strategic offering. The two companies are excited to provide current and future members of the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community the opportunity to leverage BAM Racing’s ground-breaking Diamond Sponsorship Program enhanced with added features and a reduced price – available only through this offer at 49Team.com. While striving to improve its financial prospects with the innovative Diamond Sponsorship Program, BAM Racing is making significant changes on the performance side also. Beginning this weekend in Martinsville, driver Ken Schrader will be piloting a Toyota Camry. According to team co-owner Tony Morgenthau, “We had a great seven-year run with Dodge, but as a single-car team we took a long hard look at all the manufacturers. The bottom line is that we found Toyota to be the most committed to racing and the absolute best fit for our team. We’re not satisfied with being an ‘also-ran’ so we are looking to significantly improve our performance. The switch to Toyota should help BAM Racing realize that goal.”(BAM Racing PR)(3-27-2008) Comment here
Two associate sponsors on the #17 at Martinsville: The logo for Southern Air will ride along on the C-post of the #17 DeWalt Ford of Matt Kenseth this weekend. Southern Air is the region’s largest mechanical, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical commercial and residential contractor company – with over 700 employees they cover Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia. Coleman Adams Construction, one of the largest and oldest General Contractor companies in Virginia will ride along on the #17’s wings this weekend at Martinsville.(RFR PR)(3-27-2008) Comment here
Sad News – Geno Tataryn: Eugene ‘Geno’ Mychailo Tataryn passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, March 23, 2008. He was a devoted son to Anna and Mykola, loyal brother to George, and close friend to many. Towering at 6’4″, Geno was a kind, gentle spirit with a heart as supersized as his stature. He never met a stranger because it took only minutes for a friendship with Geno to blossom, and he was always there to lend a helping hand or console a friend in need. He was brilliant and talented and possessed a wealth of qualities many admired. Geno developed a passion for racing that brought him to North Carolina, where he worked for five years as an Engine Development Engineer for Dale Earnhardt Inc. After resigning that position to care for his mother, he went on to work as a consultant for an engineering company, which allowed him the opportunity to travel and the freedom to pursue other interests. Geno was an SCCA sanctioned racecar driver and competed in road races around the country and in Puerto Rico. He was proud to have been the inspiration and the original track designer for High Rock Raceway in Salisbury, NC.(more info at the Charlotte Observer)(3-27-2008)
News from March 26, 2008
Roush Says Toyota Team Stole “Proprietary Part” UPDATE 2:ESPN the Magazine has an interesting and potentially explosive quote from Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush as part of its 10th Anniversary issue, which is on newsstands this week. Two weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the magazine quotes Roush as saying, “We had a proprietary Roush Fenway part go missing from one of my race teams, and we recovered it from a Toyota team. I’m not going to say which team it is, but we are considering legal action, or getting NASCAR involved.” If Roush’s allegations prove to be true, this could become NASCAR’s version of the recent spy scandal that rocked Formula One racing, in which the McLaren-Mercedes team was caught with confidential, proprietary test information belonging to rival Ferrari. We contacted Roush Fenway Racing today in search of further information – including team was involved and the specific part in question — and we [SIRIUS Speedway w/ Dave Moody] hope to have a statement from them later today.(Motorsports Soapbox)(3-25-2008) UPDATE: Jack Roush, co-owner of Ford-based Roush Fenway Racing, leveled another serious accusation at nemesis Toyota at Atlanta Motor Speedway — one that took nearly three weeks to surface. No one from either RFR or Toyota was willing to comment on Tuesday, but no one was denying Roush told a reporter from ESPN The Magazine on March 7 that a Toyota team had been in possession of an RFR team part.(ESPN)(3-26-2008) UPDATE 2: Toyota officials on Wednesday identified the Roush Fenway Racing part that owner Jack Roush said was found in a Toyota team’s [supposedly MWR] possession during a Sprint Cup post-race teardown as a spring. Jim Aust, the president and chief executive officer of Toyota Racing Development, said once the part was found to belong to RFR that it was returned. He was uncertain how the part, discovered on a table with other Toyota parts, got there or from which team it came. “I don’t understand the whole procedure when a teardown happens,” said Aust, referring to a post-race process in which several cars are broken down by NASCAR inspectors. “The only thing I know is it wound up with parts we had and [which were] returned to Roush. “It’s unfortunate it happened the way it did. It wasn’t anything intentional. There’s no reason to be done intentional. I have no idea how it happened to begin with.” Roush Fenway president Geoff Smith said the part in question was not a spring, but he would not elaborate. No one at RFR has identified which Toyota team had the part. “Jack is the only one to talk to at this time and he presently doesn’t want to make any additional comments,” Smith said.(ESPN.com)(3-26-2008) Comment here
BB&T colors on #07 at Martinsville: This week, Clint Bowyer’s #07 Chevy Impala SS will feature a burgundy, gold and white BB&T paint scheme. Jack Daniel’s, Bowyer’s mainstay primary sponsor, will be featured on the car’s lower-rear quarter panels and deck lid. BB&T is the full-time sponsor of Bowyer’s #2 Chevy in the Nationwide Series. BB&T Corporation, headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a fast growing, highly profitable financial holding company. Bowyer will pilot Chassis No. 218 from, built new last season but yet to be raced, this is the same Chevrolet Impala SS Bowyer and his Gil Martin-led team tested last week at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Condolences go out to Phil Gould, Car Chief of RCR’s #07 Chevy, and his family on the unexpected passing of his mother Hazel Gould. Gould will miss this weekend’s race at Martinsville but is expected to return to the track next weekend in Texas.(RCR PR)(3-26-2008)
Kennametal to sponsor Franchitti at Martinesville and Texas: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced an expansion of their current partnership with Kennametalto include primary sponsorship for the next two Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) races in Martinsville and Texas on the W40 Dodge Charger driven by NSCS and Nationwide Series (NNS) Raybestos Rookie of the Year points leader Dario Franchitti. A longtime CGRFS partner, Kennametal supplies tooling and machining technology to CGRFS’ Charlotte and Indianapolis-based racing shops. In addition they provide the team’s engineers and machinists a myriad of opportunities to further refine their skills in order to gain optimum performance through Kennametal’s internal university program.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-26-2008)
Tire test at Darlington: One test of Darlington Raceway’s new surface wasn’t enough, so Goodyear is coming back. The tire manufacturer will hold a one-day test Wednesday at NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway. The test, which is closed to the public and the media, will feature the same three drivers who participated in the last test (Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle), which was held March 10-11. Toyota, which didn’t have a driver represented in the last test, also won’t have a driver at this one. During the last test, Goodyear officials said they only need two teams for collecting data and the exclusion of Toyota wasn’t deliberate. One of the main reasons for the test clearly is to find a tire that might help slow the speeds down. During the last one, speeds reached more than 200 mph on the back stretch. The qualifying record for the track is 173.797, set by Ward Burton in 1996. “Speeds picked up over 18 miles an hour and that’s pretty substantial,” Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning said. “They are doing the right thing by coming back and listening to the comments the drivers made. Hopefully, they will design something to withstand the speed.” Since the first test, the track has changed a little with more rubber being put down on it. A six-day driving school was held last week and Browning said 16,416 laps were put down on the track, which is more than a typical 500-mile race with 43 cars. “That definitely doesn’t hurt the track,” Browning said. “Historically, tracks just need time to settle in.”(South Carolina Now)(3-26-2008)
McDonald’s debut on the #19 car: #19 Dodge driver Elliott Sadler carries the familiar McDonald’s paint scheme this weekend in the Sprint Cup series race at Martinsville Speedway. Sadler will race the McDonald’s car six times in 2007 joining a small group of Sprint Cup drivers who have carried the Golden Arches paint scheme through the years. The list includes Hut Stricklin, Jimmy Spencer, plus Gillett Evernham Motorsports drivers Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne. The #19 McDonald’s Dodge will run GEM Chassis No. 221 this weekend; a brand new car never raced and tested last fall in Atlanta.(GEM PR), see images of the scheme on my #19 Team Schemes page.(3-26-2008)
News from March 25, 2008
Kennedy Assumes Crew Chief Role #55 team: Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Bobby Kennedy and Paul Andrews will switch managerial roles beginning with Martinsville Speedway. Kennedy will now serve as crew chief for Michael Waltrip and his #55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota team as Andrews will continue in a leadership role to supervise Michael Waltrip Racing’s test teams. “Paul did a great job in helping us reach our top-35 goal and I know he will continue his diligence with our test teams for the betterment of our organization,” Waltrip said. “Bobby has always been there for me and my NAPA Auto Parts Toyota team to help with our decision making process. We have known each other for a very long time and I guess you can say that we are made for each other. Going to Martinsville with Bobby knowing we have the luxury of being in the top 35, is a relief. Now, it is all about being successful in the race.”(MWR PR)(3-25-2008) Comment here
Testing at Nashville: Toyota Motorsports rented the Nashville Superspeedway for an all day test on Tuesday [March 25th] for team testing. Bill Davis Racing, Hall of Fame Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, and Red Bull Racing Team participated in the day long test. Nashville Superspeedway will serve host to Toyota Motorsports testing 25 times throughout 2008. Nashville Superspeedway host the Toyota Tundra 200 Craftsman Truck Series race in August. (Nashville Superspeedway PR)(3-25-2008) Comment here
Charter to sponsor Robby: Robby Gordon will race the #7 Charter Communications Dodge this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. “We are excited to have Charter Communications as the primary of the #7 this weekend, and we hope to finish strong on Sunday for them” said Gordon.(RGM PR)(3-25-2008) Comment here
News from March 24, 2008
Nationwide Series Testing at Richmond: Nationwide Series teams will test Monday, March 24 and Tuesday, March 25. Testing is from 1:00 to 9:00pm/et each day. In case of rain, teams will test on Wednesday. More than 30 drivers representing more than 20 teams are expected to participate and gather notes for the remaining three short tracks on the 2008 series schedule. See the complete release on the Richmond Testing Page. Speeds will be posted when available.(3-24/25-2008) Comment here
#21 Crew chief leaves team: Gene Nead, crew chief for the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Sprint Cup car, has left the team, team officials confirmed Monday morning. Nead joined the Wood Brothers in November 2007 after a stint with Robby Gordon Motorsports. With a variety of drivers this year – Bill Elliott, Johnny Sauter and Jeff Green – the Wood Brothers have failed to qualify for four of the five events. The team is 44th in owners points and has had to qualify for races on speed but should be OK for the race in Martinsville because with Dale Jarrett’s retirement and Kurt Busch now being locked in with points, Elliott is expected to be the only past champion who isn’t locked into the field. The team has not yet named a replacement for Nead.(SceneDaily)(3-24-2008) UPDATE: “We had a whole bunch of testing planned, to go out and just race more and go through some things and figure them out,” [#22-Dave] Blaney [of Bill Davis Racing] said. “We needed the days to try to learn something, but we missed out on a couple.” Instead, the #22 Cat team will attempt to make up for lost time this week before going to Martinsville. Monday’s workout will be at a short track in [Caraway Speedway in Asheboro] North Carolina in preparation for Martinsville, while Tuesday and Wednesday in Nashville are for general testing. “We’ll try to learn all we can this week,” Blaney said. Since Bristol, the Cat team has added Gene Nead, who left a year ago to join another team. “He’s coming back,” Blaney said of the crew member whose role will most likely be that of engineer. “He’s very good,” Blaney said of Nead, who will help crew chief Tommy Baldwin in all phases. “If you can add some people to make your team stronger, no matter when, that’s a good thing. Hopefully, it’ll give us a little shot in the arm and turn it around.”(Youngstown Vindicator)(3-24-2008) Comment here
Justice Dept Approves XM-Sirius Deal: The Justice Department approved Sirius Satellite Radio’s $5 billion buyout of rival XM Satellite Radio on Monday, saying the deal was unlikely to hurt competition or consumers. The deal was approved despite opposition from consumer groups and an intense lobbying campaign by the land-based radio industry. The buyout received shareholder approval in November. The companies said the merger will save hundreds of millions of dollars in operating costs – savings that will ultimately benefit their customers. The Justice Department, in a lengthy news release explaining its decision, said the two companies compete not just with each other but also with other forms of radio and entertainment.(Associated Press), no word how this will effect Sirius or XM’s coverage of NASCAR.(3-24-2008) Comment here
McDowell to make Cup debut at Martinsville; Aaron’s to sponsor next 5 races: March 30th is significant to Michael McDowell because he will make his long-awaited Sprint Cup Series debut with Michael Waltrip Racing in the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway. As the 23-year-old steps into the #00 Toyota Camry, Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership announces today that their partnership will continue with the Michael Waltrip Racing team through Richmond International Raceway. “We are thrilled to continue to be on the #00 for the next five races and help introduce Michael McDowell to the Cup side.” stated Ken Butler, President of Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership. “We are proud to be able to extend our involvement in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Michael Waltrip Racing and look forward to having McDowell in the Aaron’s Dream Machine especially at Talladega Superspeedway for our race, the Aaron’s 499. I have seen Michael race in the ARCA Series last year and was impressed with his driving. I think he will do well at this level and everyone at Aaron’s will be behind him 100 percent.” This may be McDowell’s first race in the #00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry, but this is his second visit to the .526-oval. “In October, I raced for Darrell Waltrip Motorsports in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the biggest thing I learned is you have to be patient,” McDowell said. After Bristol Motor Speedway, all three Michael Waltrip Racing entries were locked into the top 35. McDowell is glad the pressure to make the race is no longer there.(MWR PR)(3-24-2008) Comment here
Chrissy Wallace to make CTS debut: Germain Racing will field the #03 Germain Motor Company/Chase Toyota Tundra this weekend at Martinsville Speedway for Chrissy Wallace’s Craftsman Truck Series debut. Wallace’s NASCAR career is set to kick off, by strange coincidence, at the same track where her father, NNS driver Mike Wallace, began his career in 1990. Mike will spot for Chrissy. Mike Abner, who has served as crew chief for Ted Musgrave and Justin Marks at Germain Racing, will lead the #03 team effort at Martinsville.(Germain Racing PR)(3-24-2008)
Milestone coming up for Stewart…laps led: after Bristol, #20-Tony Stewart has led 9,892 laps in his Sprint Cup career, which is 13th all time and 108 laps short of 10,000. Bill Elliott is 12th at 11,416. #24-Jeff Gordon is the leading active driver with 19,557. Richard Petty is the all time leader with 52,194 [racing reference or 51.382 NASCAR Stats], followed by Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson. #8-Mark Martin is 11th at 11,437.(data from RacingReference.info and NASCAR Statistics)(3-24-2008) Comment here
After five Sprint Cup Races parity has reigned in the first five races of this Sprint Cup Series season. All four manufacturers have at least two cars in the top 12. Only 96 points separate first-place Kyle Busch from fifth-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet). Six drivers have Driver Ratings above 100.0, and one other – Earnhardt – is one-tenth off at 99.9.
A look at the Loop Data box score tells some other interesting tales:
For instance, there is a reason Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevrolet) hasn’t been his usually dominant self. The statistics show a huge dip in the way he closes out races this year. Gordon’s “Closer” number (the positions gained/lost in the last 10% of races) is last at -31. Last season he led the stat with a +78. Furthermore: Gordon’s average starting position this season is 3.4. At mid-race, he’s averaging a sixth-place position. His average finish, though, takes a huge dive at 18.6. But the stats show Gordon’s been better than his finishes – as his Driver Rating of 102.9 is fourth-best in the series. The side of that scenario explains the huge comeback year Greg Biffle (#16 Jackson Hewitt Ford) is having. Biffle, improving throughout, averages a start of 13.0, a mid-race of 9.2 and a finish of 7.4. Overall this season, Biffle has a Driver Rating of 102.1 (fifth-best), an Average Running Position of 9.5 (fourth) and 1,372 (88.6%) Laps in the Top 15 (second-best).
Another storyline: The speed Carl Edwards (#99 Office Depot Ford) has flashed this season. He has 213 Fastest Laps Run, by far the highest total in the series (second most is Kyle Busch at 125). The statistical story of points leader Kyle Busch begs to be told. The stats show his tremendous passing ability this season – he’s first in Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) at 126. Busch is the only driver in triple-digits in the stat, and is far ahead of second-place Tony Stewart (#20 Home Depot Toyota) with 72.
Another week in the books and the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings are still tight as Sprint Cup teams take the week off and prepare for Martinsville. Dario Franchitti leads the rookie standings with 50 points, just one point over Sam Hornish Jr. and Regan Smith who are tied with 49. Smith was the highest-finishing rookie at Bristol posting a 26th, after finishing 38th at Atlanta. Smith is the only rookie this season to have competed at Martinsville; he posted a 26th-place finish last April in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Hornish Jr. finished 26th at Atlanta and 29th at Bristol, but has never raced at Martinsville. Patrick Carpentier (#10 Valvoline Dodge) sits fourth in the rookie standings with 21 points. Carpentier finished 35th at Atlanta, but due to qualifying being cancelled, did not start at Bristol. This will also be the first time Carpentier has competed at Martinsville.
Competition amongst manufacturers is extremely close, with all four manufacturers represented in the top 12 of the driver standings, and all four manufacturers having won at least one race in the first five races of the season. Plus, for the first time in Bristol Motor Speedway history, 42 cars finished the race last Sunday, a clear testimony to the “new car” being used in the Sprint Cup Series. In the Manufacturers’ Standings, Ford and Chevrolet both have 31 points, but Ford has two wins to Chevrolet’s one. Chevrolet grabbed its first win of the season at Bristol and has the most wins by a manufacturer at Martinsville with 43.(NASCAR Statistics)(3-24-2008) Comment here
News from March 23, 2008
Not all drivers took the weekend off: A pair of veteran NASCAR drivers spent part of their Easter weekend racing in north Georgia Saturday evening. Bill Elliott finished fifth in a Legends race in the Masters class at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton. About 50 miles to the north on Interstate 85, Ken Schrader wound up fourth in the Super Late Model at Lavonia Speedway. And Kasey Kahne finished 14th at a spring car race at Williams Grove in Mechanicsburg PA on Friday and on Saturday at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown PA, he failed to make the feature and declined a provisional start. Also six Nextel Cup regular’s ran the Nationwide Series Race in Nashville: Bowyer, Edwards, Kyle Busch, Reutimann, Ragan and Hamlin, which was won my Scott Wimmer.(3-23-2008)
Testing at Greenville: no word which drivers will test, but hearing the Dale Earnahrdt Inc, will test at Greensville Pickens Speedway [SC] on Monday, March 24th.(3-23-2008)
Sad News – Hazel Parsons: Hazel Parsons, mother of Phil and the late Benny, passed away today at Carolinas Medical Center. Tomorrow would have been her 85th birthday. Thoughts go out to the Parsons family.(3-21-2008) MORE” Funeral Services will be held Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at 2:00 PM at the Boone Family Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Rex Eldreth and Rev. Ken Pardue officiating. Burial will follow in the Stony Hill Baptist Church Cemetery, 406 Summit Road, Purlear, NC. Mrs. Parsons was born on March 22, 1923 in Wilkes County. She and her late husband Harold Parsons owned and operated a Taxi Cab Company in Detroit, Michigan. Mrs. Parsons is survived by two sons, Steve Parsons and wife, Donna, of Rochester, Michigan and Phil Parsons and wife, Marcia, of Cornelius, NC; a daughter, Patty Severt and husband, Rex, of West Jefferson, NC; one brother, Ritz Beshears of Purlear, NC; four sisters, Nancy Fletcher and Denton McNeill of West Jefferson, NC, Frances Cheek of Fleetwood, NC and Bernice Eller of Albemarle, NC; eleven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren and a daughter-in-law, Mrs. Terri Parsons of Parsonsville, NC also survive.
She was preceded in death by two sons, infant, Richard Allen Parsons and Benny Parsons and her husband, Harold Parsons.
The Parsons family will receive friends Monday, March 24, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the Boone Family Funeral Home, 2005 Mount Jefferson Road, West Jefferson, NC 28694. In Lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Connie F. Parsons Scholarship Fund, PO Box 443, Ellerbe, NC 28338 or the Ashe County Humane Society, 1175 Old Highway 16, Jefferson, NC 28640.(Charlotte Observer)(3-23-2008)
News from March 22, 2008
How much do you know about the National Stock Car Racing Commission? Until recently, most fans might not have even known there was an independent board that handles hearing procedures for appealing NASCAR penalties. See the full story at NASCAR.com.(3-22-2008)
DW’s Pipes To ‘Idle’ During Sprint Cup Off-Week: NASCAR on Fox lead analyst Darrell Waltrip, who lost his voice during last week’s race at Bristol, was diagnosed with severely inflamed vocal cords on Wednesday of this week. This prompted a visit to Dr. Katherine Garrett (aka the “Voice Doctor To The Stars”) at the Vanderbilt Voice Clinic where she treated DW with a steroid. Dr. Garrett, who has treated Charlie Daniels and other Nashville singing stars, has DW under strict orders to severely limit his speaking. He is expected to return to the booth March 30 in Martinsville. “It took eight years, but I finally figured out a way to get more air time,” quipped DW’s pre-race colleague and former crew chief Jeff Hammond.(Fox PR)(3-22-2008) Comment here
News from March 21, 2008
Top 12 after five races..a year ago: and where they finished:
1) #24-Gordon [2nd]
2) #31-Burton [8th]
3) #48-Johnson [1st] 4) #17-Kenseth [4th]
5) #29-Harvick [10th]
6) #5-Kyle Busch [now #18] [5th]
7) #01-Martin [now #8][part time 27th]
8) #07-Bowyer [3rd]
9) #11-Hamlin [12th]
10) #99-Edwards [9th]
11) #40-Stremme [not in Cup this year][24th] 12) #20-Stewart [6th] drivers who made the chase, who were not in top 12 after 5 races:
#2-Kurt Busch [was 20th finished 7th]
#1-Martin Truex Jr. [was 25th finished 11th]
So by race 5, ten of the twelve chasers were in the top 12, with 21 races to go.(3-21-2008) Comment here
Testing at Kentucky: #48-Jimmie Johnson and Regan Smith, in the #8 DEI Chevy, are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Monday, March 24th and Tuesday, March 25th. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway)(3-21-2008)
Motorcoach driver lawsuit fails again: A U.S. District Court Judge has dismissed a second lawsuit that David Scott, a black motorcoach driver who worked for Penske Racing, had filed against NASCAR stemming from a highly publicized 1999 incident at New Hampshire International Speedway. The incident occurred when Scott was greeted by a pair of motorcoach drivers, one of whom was wearing a white pillow case over his head as if he were a member of the Ku Klux Klan. NASCAR indefinitely suspended the two motorcoach drivers involved. Scott had claimed NASCAR and sister company International Speedway Corp. discriminated against him by not granting him a vendor contract he sought and that NASCAR discriminated against him for not following through with an alleged promise to hire him following the incident. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York City. Judge Deborah Batts ruled in January that the statute of limitations had passed for all of the allegations except for the vendor-contract situation. The judge had ordered Scott to re-file the lawsuit to assert a plausible claim and the grounds for it. The judge then dismissed the remainder of the case Wednesday, ruling that the new complaint did not expand on the original one. “[Scott] was given explicit direction as to what set of facts could survive another motion to dismiss but chose not to change a single word in the description of the underlying events,” Judge Batts wrote. In past court filings, NASCAR says that Scott was given several work opportunities that were declined and he was not qualified for the racing official job he wanted. Scott can ask the judge to reconsider her ruling and also can appeal the judge’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.(SceneDaily)(3-21-2008) Comment here
Trickle skipping races this season UPDATE: Dick Trickle had plans to run select races in the Midwest this summer, but those plans will be put on a hold. Wirphotos.net has been told Dick Trickle had to have heart surgery in which 2 stents/shunts were put in. Trickle won’t be able to wheel a car this season per doctor orders. Trickle has drove a car prepared by Tim Rothe over the last couple a seasons and has told Tim Rothe not to prepare a car for him as he will be taking this year off.(Wirphotos.net)(3-18-2008) UPDATE: Dick Trickle is touched by everyone who is concerned about his health. Or maybe the better word is overwhelmed. He’s just fine for a 66-year-old man who underwent heart catheterization last week, his daughter, Vicky Trickle Bowman, said Thursday. (Factor in caffeine and nicotine addictions, chronic sleep deprivation and a nearly 50-year history of high-speed crashes and the Wisconsin short-track racing legend is downright great.) Besieged by questions about his heart this week, Trickle begged out of a slew of interviews, and instead Bowman offered this update: Trickle began to experience chest pains shortly after hip replacement surgery in November. Numerous medical tests turned up nothing until doctors performed a catheterization last week to check blood flow to his heart. They found two blockages and put in stents – tiny wire tubes designed to keep the arteries open – during an outpatient procedure. Because Trickle is taking blood thinners and cannot take unnecessary risk of internal injuries, he won’t race this season. “He’s fine,” Bowman said. “It’s nice that people care.”(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )(3-21-2008) Comment here
Final Bristol Cup TV Ratings up: NASCAR on Fox Final National TV Rating for Sunday’s race from Bristol earned a 5.5/13 (8.9 million viewers). That’s an +8% gain over last year’s 5.1/12 and a nice increase on a day when the competition came up stronger than expected. For the season-to-date, including the rain-impacted Fontana race, NASCAR on Fox is averaging a 7.1/14 and 12.1 million viewers. That’s up +4% over last year on rating (vs. 6.8/14) and up +7% on average audience (vs. 11.4 mill.). Excluding that one rain-impacted race, NASCAR on Fox is up +7% on rating (7.3/15 vs. 6.8/15) and +10% on viewership (12.4 mill. vs. 11.2). So far this season, FOX has aired six Sprint Cup programs that were not impacted by rain, and all six of them have posted better ratings than last year (Bud Shootout, Daytona qualifying, and four points races). This is the first time in FOX’s history that six consecutive NASCAR events have enjoyed a year-to-year increase. Saturday’s Nationwide race from Bristol aired on ABC and earned a 2.0/5, down -5% compared to last year’s 2.1/6 for the same race.(Fox PR)(3-21-2008) Comment here
Cup teams test at New Smyrna: Mike Skinner was at New Smyrna Speedway [FL] on Wednesday testing at the half-mile oval in the #84 Red Bull Racing Toyota, a car normally occupied by AJ Allmendinger. Skinner has been given the wheel for a short span of Sprint Cup races in an attempt to get the second-year race team a bit more competitive. That’s it. “I’m a consultant,” he said after dozens of test laps at NSS. “I’m trying to bring all my years of experience to help them find a balance in the car. I don’t want AJ’s job. Allmendinger was in attendance, dressed in street clothes, watching the telemetry screens, monitoring the chatter between Skinner and the crew. Skinner was running this show on pit road. “They’re getting a lot of test data,” said Skinner, who calls Daytona Beach home. “We’re trying to give them a thicker notebook, a bigger playbook.” The #84 car was joined at the session by the Red Bull test team, with Tim Fedewa behind the wheel, and the #43 Petty Enterprises Inc. Dodge, jockeyed by Bobby Labonte.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(3-21-2008)
Tix for sale to see the Pit Crew Challenge in May: Tickets for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman, featuring competition between the top 24 pit crews in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, are on sale now. 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 NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge is set for Thursday, May 15 at 7 p.m. at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena and will be aired at 9 p.m. that evening on SPEED. Now in its fourth year, the competition is a signature lead-in event to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Saturday, May 17 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.(JHE Production Group PR)(3-21-2008)
Sad News – Teresa Ellen Burton: Teresa Ellen Burton died on March 18, 2008, surrounded by her loving family. Her death follows a brave and cheerful fight against non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She was the aunt of NASCAR drivers Ward and Jeff Burton. More info and service times at the Richmond Times Dispatch.(3-21-2008)
Motorcoach driver lawsuit fails again: A U.S. District Court Judge has dismissed a second lawsuit that David Scott, a black motorcoach driver who worked for Penske Racing, had filed against NASCAR stemming from a highly publicized 1999 incident at New Hampshire International Speedway. The incident occurred when Scott was greeted by a pair of motorcoach drivers, one of whom was wearing a white pillow case over his head as if he were a member of the Ku Klux Klan. NASCAR indefinitely suspended the two motorcoach drivers involved. Scott had claimed NASCAR and sister company International Speedway Corp. discriminated against him by not granting him a vendor contract he sought and that NASCAR discriminated against him for not following through with an alleged promise to hire him following the incident. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New York City. Judge Deborah Batts ruled in January that the statute of limitations had passed for all of the allegations except for the vendor-contract situation. The judge had ordered Scott to re-file the lawsuit to assert a plausible claim and the grounds for it. The judge then dismissed the remainder of the case Wednesday, ruling that the new complaint did not expand on the original one. “[Scott] was given explicit direction as to what set of facts could survive another motion to dismiss but chose not to change a single word in the description of the underlying events,” Judge Batts wrote. In past court filings, NASCAR says that Scott was given several work opportunities that were declined and he was not qualified for the racing official job he wanted. Scott can ask the judge to reconsider her ruling and also can appeal the judge’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.(SceneDaily)(3-21-2008)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reality to sponsor racing team:Dale Earnhardt Jr. Realty has teamed up with Glacier Bear Racing for entire 2008 year as Primary Sponsor on race truck. 17 year old WKA Multi-Champion Jessica Brannam and NASCAR Car Engineer Tiffany Daniels have been approved by Dale Jr. to drive Glacier Bear Racing race truck in the Best in the Desert Racing Association Off Road Truck Series.(Glacier Bear Racing PR)(3-21-2008) Comment here
News from March 20, 2008
Dale Jr. featured on ESPN The Magazine cover: Five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is among a select group of professional sports stars featured on unique covers for ESPN The Magazine‘s 10th anniversary issue, released this week. The double-sided special edition features 10 covers, five on each side and in random order. The front half highlights athletes who have dominated their respective sport in the last 10 years — baseball’s Ichiro Suzuki, NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson, pro basketball player Tim Duncan, tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams, and professional snowboarder Shaun White. The flip side is devoted to athletes believed to shine over the next 10 years — Earnhardt Jr., pro basketball player LeBron James, hockey star Sidney Crosby, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and NFL quarterback Vince Young. Earnhardt Jr.’s cover was shot by photographer Matt Jones, who shows the driver not in typical NASCAR attire but in a single-breasted Armani suit and tie. This marks the third time Earnhardt Jr. has appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. He and Matt Kenseth shared the cover for the 1999 NASCAR Preview, and he alone was the subject of a cover story in the Feb. 18, 2002 edition. “It was a real honor to be included in this 10th anniversary project for ESPN The Magazine,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “It’s humbling to be among athletes of this caliber. I hope ESPN is correct in that we can generate a few headlines in the next 10 years. I feel like we can.” In addition to the 10 covers, each athlete was photographed in settings of special meaning or personal significance for the inside pages. In homage to the history of NASCAR and his racing roots, Earnhardt Jr. took ESPN The Magazine to his vintage gas station in Mooresville, N.C., where photographer Sarah Friedman shot Earnhardt Jr. and his 1972 Camaro. “I have a great appreciation for the history of NASCAR where I grew up in Kannapolis,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “This old-school gas station reminds me of that town, where the old cotton mill was the big industry. It’s all torn down now, and I’m real nostalgic for it.” ESPN The Magazine’s 10th anniversary edition is on newsstands now. Fans can also log on to www.espnthemag.com for behind-the-scenes footage of each athlete at their respective photo shoots, as well as prominent feature articles that have appeared in the magazine during its first 10 years of publication.(HMS PR)(3-20-2008) Comment here
Testing at Greenville: hearing that #77-Sam Hornish Jr. and #07-Clint Bowyer tested Tuesday at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.(3-20-2008)
Petree to drive Truck at Martinsville? UPDATE 2 denied: Image added: Hearing that current ESPN analyst Andy Petree was testing a #92 Harris Trucking Toyota at Martinsville and plans to run the CTS race on March 29. Petree has run 7 career CTS races, the last coming in 2004 at Martinsville.(3-12-2008) UPDATE: Image of the #92-Harris Trucking Toyota tested by Andy Petree at Martinsville is posted on the 2008 Paint Scheme Gallery page. UPDATE 2: Petree said on Wednesday’s NASCAR Now [ESPN2 6pm/et] that he would not be running the race, he got his racing fix out of his system testing the truck at Martinsville.(3-20-2008)
Said picks up a two race NNS deal: Team Rensi Motorsports announced the signing of Boris Said to drive the #25 No Fear Energy / Smithfield Foods Ford for the two Nationwide Series international races — in Mexico City and Montreal. Frank Stoddard will work with Said and Team Rensi Motorsports for both Nationwide Series events.(Team Rensi PR)(3-20-2008)
Said to own car dealership: #60-Boris Said is teaming up with one of the country’s largest automotive retail operations to bring Boris Said’s BMW of Murrieta to the Temecula Valley [Calif] in 2009. A joint venture between Said and Charlotte, N.C.-based Hendrick Automotive Group, the more than 50,000-square-foot facility will open off of Interstate 15 at the future French Valley Parkway exit in the fall of 2009. Hendrick Automotive Group will co-own and operate the dealership. Occupying more than eight acres of property at the Murrieta Auto Mall, Boris Said’s BMW of Murrieta will provide sales and service to what has been an under-represented region for the automaker. Construction will begin in the fall of this year. Hendrick Automotive Group currently owns and operates five BMW Centers in three different states that have achieved the manufacturer’s Pinnacle CSI (customer satisfaction index) award 12 times since 2002. The honor is earned annually by the top 8 percent of BMW retailers in the United States.(Hendrick Automotive Group PR)(3-20-2008)
News from March 19, 2008
Lowe’s Motor Speedway and UPS to Honor Dale Jarrett at All-Star Race: Dale Jarrett will finally “race” the truck and Lowe’s Motor Speedway is offering a special two-day ticket package for just $44 so fans can be on hand Saturday night, May 17, when Jarrett’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered Tour” culminates at the Sprint All-Star Race. Those are just two of several events and promotions that officials from UPS and Lowe’s Motor Speedway announced Wednesday in preparation for the 1999 Sprint Cup champion’s final career start. Jarrett unveiled the #44 UPS Toyota Camry he will drive in the Sprint All-Star Race which features a special paint scheme that pays tribute to several of the North Carolina native’s career accomplishments. The unveiling marked the first time Jarrett viewed the metallic-gold design which unites the past with the present. The car displays design elements from both Jarrett’s current #44 UPS Camry as well as the #88 Quality Care entry that he drove during the 1999 championship season.
But, before Jarrett straps into the #44 UPS Toyota Camry for the final time, he’ll do something fans have eagerly anticipated, he’s going to “race” the truck. After Jarrett is introduced prior to the Sprint All-Star Race, he will step into the UPS Race Truck from the UPS ad campaign and take one lucky fan for a ride around the 1.5-mile superspeedway. In honor of Jarrett and in appreciation of the fans who have supported him, Lowe’s Motor Speedway officials have created “DJ’s Deal,” a special Friday-Saturday (May 16-17) All-Star Weekend ticket package for only $44. The “DJ’s Deal” package and tickets for all May events at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, including the May 17 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the May 25 Coca-Cola 600, can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.(LMS PR), see images of the car on my #44 Team Schemes page.(3-19-2008)
Raines to attempt to make Martinsville in the #08: EM Motorsports owner John Carter announced that Tony Raines would pilot the #08-Rhino’s Energy Drink Dodge Charger in the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 on March 30, at Martinsville Speedway. Raines is a veteran of six Sprint Cup Series starts at Martinsville. Raines’ best finish at the historic half-mile track was a 10th place finish in last October’s Subway 500. Raines qualifies well at the track with an average starting position of 17.3 in his 6 races. EM Motorsports is based in Toccoa, Georgia and is led by owner John Carter, Crew Chief Charles Swing and Marketing VP Doug Barron.(EM Motorsports PR) Carl Long attempted to make the Daytona 500 with the team and Burney Lamar had made a few attempts. Long had been scheduled to run at Bristol, but the team didn’t make an attempt there.(3-19-2008)
No Roush Points swap: Roush Fenway Racing spokesman tells me that Roush Fenway Racing has no plans of swapping points from the #17 Matt Kenseth team to the #26 Jamie McMurray team, who is 36th in onwers points and nees to race his way into the race at Martinsville.(3-19-2008) Comment here
No Petty Racing points swap for Martinsville: Petty Enterprises officials say they will not ask NASCAR to approve a points swap between drivers Bobby Labonte and Kyle Petty. That means that Petty will need to qualify based on speed for the March 30 Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. The team could have swapped points between the drivers, helping get both into the field. Petty is outside the top 35 in owners points this season, with the locked-in field being set based on this season’s points starting with the Goody’s Orange Cool 500. Since Labonte is the 2000 Cup series champion, he would have been eligible for the past champions provisional as the most recent past champion outside the top 35. Instead, the team is not requesting a change, leaving Labonte 18th in points and Petty 40th.(SceneDaily)(3-19-2008) Comment here
Johnson tests at The Rock: #48-Jimmie Johnson tested at Rockingham Speedway on Tuesday, March 18th. AND It has been a long time since the Rockingham Speedway garage was filled with over 40 cars and team transporters. This Friday and Saturday, March 21st and 22nd, the Rockingham Speedway is hosting an open test session for the Carolina 500 [ARCA Series] and 42 teams have already signed up to participate. Fans will be admitted into the grandstands and infield for free to watch the two-day test session. Grandstand and infield gates will open at 9:00am/et both days, the same time cars will roll onto the track each morning. The test will end at 5:00pm/et. The ARCA RE/MAX Series teams will be testing for next month’s Carolina 500 on May 4th the first race at “The Rock” since Andy Hillenburg purchased the track and reopened it last fall. Some of the drivers expected for the open test are: Scott Speed, Bobby Gerhart, Bryan Silas, Mario Gosselin, Joey Lagano, Marc Davis, Austin Dillon, Matt Carter, Gabi DiCarlo along with many others. For more information about the open test or to order tickets for the ARCA RE/MAX Series Carolina 500 on May 4th and the Hooter’s Pro Cup American 200 on November 1st, contact the speedway at (910) 205-8800 or visit their website at www.rockinghamspeedway.com.(3-19-2008) Comment here
Miller named Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” in Bristol: Scott Miller, crew chief of the #31 AT&T Mobility Chevy driven by Jeff Burton, was named the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” for his team’s first place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Although Burton only led two laps throughout the entire race, it was the “final” two propelling him to his first career victory at Bristol. Miller will receive a $1,000 check as a result of his leadership and successful strategy calls during the most critical moments of the race. At both Bristol races this season, not only does the winning crew chief receive $1,000, but a $1,000 bonus is awarded to the winning pit crew as well. The #31 AT&T crew received a $1,000 check during the post-race ceremonies in Victory Lane. The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief who made the biggest difference to his team. Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent Wypall, make up the panel of judges. The crew chiefs include Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, FL. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(Wypall PR)(3-19-2008)
Fuel Cell Problems at JGR? #11-Denny Hamlin says a potential flaw in the design of the fuel cells at Joe Gibbs Racing may have contributed to Sunday’s loss at Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin was leading on the green-white-checkered restart, but his car stalled because not enough fuel reached the engine. That allowed #31-Jeff Burton to blow past Hamlin for his first win at the half-mile track and set up a 1-2-3 finish for Richard Childress Racing. Hamlin, who got his car going after gas swashed into the engine in the corners of the track, finished sixth. It wasn’t the first time this has happened. “Anytime we get low on fuel, especially with a banked race track like Bristol, all of our fuel drains in the cell to where we don’t get any in the engine,” Hamlin said Tuesday. “Once we do take off all we’re using is fuel in the lines. There’s a bubble in there and the car stalls.” Hamlin said team owner Joe Gibbs met with engineers all day Monday looking for answers. He said officials are also looking into why the gearbox in his car failed the previous week at Atlanta and the one in teammate Kyle Busch’s car failed with him in the lead at Bristol. “He blew the top seal out of his,” Hamlin said. “Mine blew the bottom seal. As far as knowing exactly what’s causing it, I don’t know yet. Between steering boxes and fuel, it’s aging me pretty bad.” Hamlin said there are several ways to design a fuel cell. One is so that it always works well with low fuel; another is where under green-flag conditions a car can “suck out the gas to where there’s only one drop left.”(ESPN.com)(3-19-2008) Comment here
News from March 18, 2008
Stewart gets waxed…see images: Last night [3/17] on “Tony Stewart Live” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, Stewart and Kevin Harvick discussed their run-in in the final laps of Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. While running second and third, Harvick’s and Stewart’s cars came together, spinning Stewart out and knocking him back to a 14th place finish. Immediately after the accident, words were exchanged between spotters for the #20 and #29 teams. Kevin Harvick: “I think for me the biggest thing is just Bristol brings out the best in everybody. I was mad when I got out [of the car]. The spotter was mad when I got into the side of Tony and the emotions run so high. And it’s not the spotter’s fault. It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just part of our sport. It won’t be the last time we probably run into each other but we get better at handling it amongst each other as you learn more about the situations and things like that. The spotters didn’t have anything to do with me running into the side of him.” Tony Stewart: “That’s the thing about our sport that you don’t see in other sports. We don’t get a cool-down period. You get that pure, raw emotion and a lot of times it doesn’t give us all a chance to compare notes. Like we were talking about earlier, I had called Kevin and I didn’t even know what had happened and this was 6 o’clock at night by the time I got home. It just shows how passionate I think everybody is. The crew guys are just as passionate about what is going on as we are. In our case my spotter is also head of our chassis department so when I crash something he’s the guy that has to fix it.” Stewart: “Obviously, I was disappointed that we were in a wreck but I know, of all people, I trust Kevin more than anybody else on that racetrack. I know that anything that happens with us, just like what happened yesterday, I knew it wasn’t intentional.”
Later in the show, Stewart made good on a longtime bet with his buddy Harvick. After some teasing about his hirsute torso, Stewart said a year ago on SIRIUS that if Harvick was able to raise $100,000 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp, he would agree to have his back waxed. Having reached the stated goal with fan donations and a matching contribution from Harvick himself, Stewart made good on his promise, undergoing the painful procedure last night live on SIRIUS as Stewart’s co-host, Matt Yocum, and Harvick provided rip-by-rip commentary for SIRIUS listeners nationwide. Thanks to late donations by Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs, who pledged $15,000, and Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, who donated $10,000, the total raised for Victory Junction Gang Camp surpassed $125,000. Asked during the procedure if the pain was worse than hitting the wall at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Stewart laughed and said, “Yeah, it does actually. It does hurt worse than hitting the wall at Vegas. It just isn’t lasting as long.” To hear audio clips and see photos from last night’s show, visit www.sirius.com/nascar. Last night’s show re-airs tonight at 11pm/et, Thursday at 10pm/et, Saturday at 10pm/et and Monday at 8pm/et on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, channel 128.(Sirius PR))(3-18-2008) Comment here
Changes at the #96? UPDATE 3 Boyer Named Crew Chief: hearing there could be a crew chief change coming at the #96 Hall of Fame Racing team…Slugger Labbe could be coming over from the now idle #27 Bill Davis Racing team. Brandon Thomas is the current crew chief for J.J. Yeley at Hall of Fame Racing. There tend to be some changed during the first of weekend every season.(3-16-2008) UPDATE: been told that Labbe was seen at Bristol in a Bill Davis Racing sweatshirt and been told by BDR rep that Labbe is still with BDR and will help out the #22 CAT team in testing the next couple weeks.(3-17-2008) UPDATE 2: Richard “Slugger” Labbe, who was crew chief of the #27 Bill Davis Racing car, has parted ways with the team, a BDR spokesman confirmed Monday.(SceneDaily)(3-18-2008) UPDATE 3: Hall of Fame Racing officials announced that Steve Boyer will serve as crew chief for driver J.J. Yeley and the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry beginning with the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 Sprint Cup Series race weekend March 29-30 at Martinsville. Boyer, who has worked within the engineering department at HoFR since December 2007, takes over for Brandon Thomas, who had served as crew chief since October 2006. Boyer is no stranger to the top of the pit box, as he was Sterling Marlin’s crew chief at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates for the last six races of the 2004 Sprint Cup Series season and the entire 2005 campaign.(HOF PR)(3-18-2008)
McCumbee to test at Gateway for Petty’s UPDATE: Chad McCumbee is scheduled to test a Petty Enterprises Sprint Cup Series Dodge Tuesday and Wednesday at Gateway International Raceway. Test sessions will be closed to the public.(PR)(3-15-2008) UPDATE: Chad McCumbee and the Petty Enterprises team has cancelled their test session at GIR due to weather. There are no plans to re-schedule.(GIR)(3-18-2008)
Terry Labonte could return to racing? Two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte has enjoyed his cameo appearances at the track and would do so again. “A couple of years ago I ran some races for a team and they called me about this race and that race,” Labonte said Monday, chuckling while recalling the story. “I said, ‘Man, I’ve already got a fishing trip planned, and invited a bunch of my friends and stuff. They’ve already made their plans. I can’t change them.'” Labonte and his past champion provisional would be available, under the right circumstances. Labonte subbed three times for Michael Waltrip in 2007 to help guarantee the #55 Camry a spot in the field, and told the Richmond Times-Dispatch last year he would’ve helped old boss Rick Hendrick had Casey Mears fallen out of the top 35. But Labonte made it clear that an appearance would be less about a past relationship and more about running at tracks that he enjoys. He admitted that he’d love to compete at the road races, where his proficiency is well-noted, and he also mentioned short tracks like Richmond as a preference. More than anything, he doesn’t want to have a negative effect wherever he goes. “Like I told one guy, the only way I’d be interested in doing it is if everybody’s onboard with it,” Labonte said. “‘Cause I don’t want this [driver] to think I’m trying to take his job, because the last thing I want is his job. If I could help them, I would.” With Dale Jarrett’s retirement from points competition, his provisional is out of play. Labonte’s past champion provisional from his 1996 title would take precedence over Bill Elliott’s crown from 1988. Teams are considering switching owner points with past champions to guarantee spots in the field-Matt Kenseth/Jamie McMurray and Terry’s brother Bobby Labonte/Kyle Petty serving as examples-but the champs are running well enough that racing their way in on speed is likely, giving Terry Labonte’s provisional value.(Long Island Press) AND [Petty Racing] Team officials planned to meet Monday afternoon to discuss options for the #45 car, including the possibility of putting another driver temporarily behind the wheel. Petty Enterprises could switch points between Petty and Bobby Labonte, who could get in on a past champion’s provisional if he failed to make it on speed. But their obligations to sponsor General Mills, which backs Labonte’s car, make that a long shot. A more viable option might be calling on another Labonte — Bobby’s brother Terry, also a past champion, who Petty Enterprises was thinking of putting in the #45 car for road course events anyway. “We could do the Bobby thing, but we don’t want to do that because of the sponsor thing,” team vice president Robbie Loomis said Sunday. “We could call on brother Terry. He might be willing to help us out a little bit. We could use him to start the race. He’s got the championship status like they have with Bill [Elliott] and with Dale Jarrett. So that’s an option for us, too. But ultimately, we’d like to leave Kyle in there as the driver of the car, and have him make the race.”(NASCAR.com)(3-18-2008) Comment here
MWR Installs Jet Edge Waterjet Cutting System: Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) has installed a Jet Edge precision waterjet cutting system at its fabrication shop in Cornelius, N.C. MWR plans to use its Jet Edge system to cut parts for its three Sprint Cup Series teams and Nationwide Series team. MWR and Jet Edge also announced their new technical partnership, which will give MWR access to Jet Edge’s latest waterjet-cutting technology and position Jet Edge as a leading waterjet technology supplier to the $19.5 billion performance racing industry. With construction of its new fabrication shop completed, MWR has begun increasing its in-house manufacturing capabilities, explained Dr. Eric Warren, MWR’s vice president and technical director. One of its first steps was to acquire waterjet-cutting capabilities that have become essential to NASCAR teams as they race to fabricate parts under extremely tight deadlines.(MWR PR)(3-18-2008) Comment here
News from March 17, 2008
1-2-3 finishes: Richard Childress Racing [#31-Burton, #29-Harvick, #07-Bowyer] pulled off a feat Sunday that’s not quite as easy as 1-2-3. With its first sweep in team history, RCR also became the first team to finish in the top three spots since Roush Fenway Racing did so four times in 2005.
Last 1-2-3 Finishes
2008: Bristol, RCR
2005: Homestead, Roush*
2005: Texas, Roush
2005: Kansas, Roush
2005: Richmond, Roush
1997: Daytona, HMS
Bristol TV Ratings Up: NASCAR on Fox posted a 5.0/11 for racing from Bristol Sunday, a +2% gain over the same race a year ago and the third straight week that NASCAR has posted a year-to-year increase in the metered markets. Season-to-date, NASCAR on Fox is now averaging a 6.5/13 in the metered markets, a +7% boost over last year’s 6.1/12.(Fox PR)(3-17-2008)Comment here
Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Food City 500 at Bristol
Total number of commercials: 127
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 63
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 42
Total amount of time these brief promos take during broadcast: app. 4 min. 30 sec.
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:01pm/et
End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:17pm/et
Total minutes: 196
Minutes of race broadcast: 138
Minutes of commercials: 58
Number of missed restarts: 1 (and one near miss)
Total race brdcst time 138 Total comm. brdcst time 58
See full report at CawsnJaws.com.(3-17-2008) Comment here
DW presented #11 Mountain Dew Buick Regal: Three-time Cup champion Darrell Waltrip, who leads all drivers with 12 wins at Bristol Motor Speedway, received a surprise gift from Ralph Santana of PCNA VP Sports , Media and IMG, on behalf of the Mountain Dew Racing. Waltrip, who is currently a television analyst form FOX, was presented the #11 Mountain Dew Regal he drove during back-to-back championship seasons in 1981-1982. During those two years, he captured 24 captured flags, 12 in 1981 and another dozen in 1982. His streak of seven consecutive victories at Bristol Motor Speedway began with a sweep of both Cup events in 1981 along with both Bristol events in 1982 and 1983 along with the spring race in 1984. The Owensboro, Kentucky native garnered 84 career wins in 809 starts and he sat on the pole 59 times with career winnings of $19,416,618. Waltrip’s 84 victories ties him with Bobby Allison for third in series wins. He has also been named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.(TriCitiesSports)(3-17-2008) Comment here
Jarrett Honored Sunday: #44-Dale Jarrett received a standing ovation in the drivers’ meeting in honor of his final points race. He then told the drivers to enjoy their careers “because we all have one time in this, and mine has been fantastic.” The 1999 Cup champion also was honored during prerace introductions, receiving a “Tennessee Volunteer” rifle similar to the ones used by settlers in this area during the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Kings Mountain. An avid golfer, he also received 668 Titleist Pro V1 golf balls to commemorate his career Cup starts. Jarrett’s father, Ned, waved the green flag to start the race. The race was anti-climactic, though, as Jarrett finished 37th, 10 laps off the pace. “Well, it wasn’t the finish I would have liked,” he said. “I’m able to go out with the best sponsor in the business in UPS and I would have liked to have had a better day for them, but I really can’t be too upset when you take into consideration the kind of career I have been fortunate to have.”(ESPN.com)(3-17-2008) Comment here
Changes at Red Bull, Labbe?: Guenther Steiner is no longer the director of competition for Team Red Bull. Officially, Steiner is on “vacation.” However, sources close to the team say he’s gone and there’s been no replacement named. It’s all part of the shakeup underway at the team now that Jay Frye has been put in charge. I [Yahoo’s Bob Margolis] also hear that Slugger Labbe [who parted ways with BDR on Monday] could be on his way over to Red Bull to be reunited with Frye.(Yahoo Sports)(3-17-2008) Comment here
Testing at Kentucky this week CANCELLED: #48-Jimmie Johnson and #78-Joe Nemechek are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedwy on Tues/We March 18-19 along with R&D teams of Joe Gibbs Racing with Joey Logano, Stanton Barrett’s team, the CTS Bill Davis Racing team with Mike Skinner and on Wed Petty Racing will test with driver TBA. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary. CANCELLED: All race teams scheduled to test Kentucky Speedway March 18-19 have canceled their sessions due to a rain-filled weather forecast.(Kentucky Speedway)(3-17-2008)Comment here
Almirola Soldiers to Impressive 8th-Place Finish in Bristol: #8-Aric Almirola sure didn’t look like a driver who had not competed in more than four months. In only his seventh career Sprint Cup start the 24-year-old U.S. Army driver took on one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks Sunday and psoted an eighth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. “Awesome, just awesome,” said crew chief Tony Gibson. “Aric drove the wheels off that Army Chevrolet. We had a decent car, not a great one. But Aric drove both patiently and hard. He has talent. The team believes in him and he believes in us. He is in the future and we’re just happy that he is driving our stuff.” Almirola’s last Cup race was in November in Phoenix. “These guys on this Army team deserve the credit,” said Almirola, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday. “I had a good car with a lot of speed and didn’t have to hustle it. It was a lot of fun out there and I want to thank the U.S. Army, DEI, Tony (Gibson) and all the guys on this team for believing in me. The pit stops were excellent all day.” Almirola will also drive the #8 Chevy in the next Cup race at Martinsville Speedway (March 30) as part of his 12-race schedule with Dale Earnhardt Inc. He is sharing the ride with veteran Mark Martin. Almirola started the race from the 16th position and drove in the top 15 for nearly the entire race. Almirola’s previous best finish in a Cup race was 26th in Phoenix last fall.(DEI PR)(3-17-2008) Comment here
Points Swapping could happen for Martinsville: If needed, Michael Waltrip Racing could swap its owner points to ensure that drivers David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip are locked into the top 35 beginning at Martinsville. With MWR set to have different drivers in two of its cars after Dale Jarrett’s final points race on Sunday, rookie driver Michael McDowell said he’ll likely inherit the owner points of the car that is outside the top 35, if necessary. All three MWR cars are currently in the top 35, but McDowell knows it makes little sense to have the unsponsored #00 locked into the field with David Reutimann and the #44 UPS car or Michael Waltrip and the #55 Napa car on the outside. As for finding a sponsor, McDowell said the only thing he can do is get the best finishes possible once he debuts at Martinsville. Aaron’s has sponsored the #00 and Reutimann through the first five races.(SceneDaily.com) AND other teams may swap points depending on how they stand after the race at Bristol as the 2008 Owners Points will be used for the the Top-35 guaranteed spots at Martinsville March 30th. Just to be clear, the Top-35 would only be locked in for Martinsville, not the rest of the season, the Top-35 can change from race-to-race all the way thru the last week at Homestead.
Other teams/drivers that MAY switch: #45-Kyle Petty and #43-Bobby Labonte [Petty is currently 40th on OWNERs pts, 60 out of 35th and the #43 is 19th after Bristol], Labonte would have the past champions provisonal to use…up to 6
#2-Busch [10th] and #77-Hornish [made it in at 35th, so doubt they would switch now]…again, with Busch still having 5 champion provisionals left to use.
#17-Kenseth [11th] and #26-McMurray [36th] could swap, but have not heard anyone from Roush metnion it
NASCAR would have to approve any of these points swaps.(3-15/16-2008) UPDATE: Petty Enterprises will decide in the next week whether to swap the owners’ points between Bobby Labonte and Petty to assure Petty a spot at Martinsville. Petty is 40th in points. Labonte, who would be guaranteed a spot as a past champion (2000), is 18th after finishing 38th on Sunday.(ESPN.com)(3-17-2008) UPDATE 2: Petty Enterprises could petition NASCAR for a swap of points between Petty and the 19th-ranked Dodge of teammate Bobby Labonte, who would be in the field as a past champion. But Robbie Loomis, the team’s vice president of operations, said he might be comfortable with Petty qualifying on speed at Martinsville.(USA Today)(3-17-2008) Comment here
News from March 16, 2008
Burton wins at Bristol: #31-Jeff Burton won the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in the AT&T Chevy for his first win 2008 and 20th of his career in a green-white-checked finish. #29-Harvick finished 2nd and #07-Bowyer finished 3rd, for the first ever Richard Childress Racing 1-2-3 finish. #16-Biffle, finished 4th followed by #88-Earnhardt Jr., #11-Hamlin [who led with 2 laps to go but had a bad restart], #9-Kahne, #8-Almirola [his best career finish in seven starts], #38-Gilliland and #17-Kenseth. Points leader #18-Kyle Busch finished 17th. #44-Dale Jarrett in his final points race of his career, finished 37th, 10 laps down. There were 10 cautions for 86 laps and there were 17 lead changes among 8 drivers.
See race results, awards, laps led and more on my Bristol Race Results page.(3-16-2008)
The Unofficial Points Standings [after Bristol race 5 of 36]:
1) #18-Kyle Busch 782
2) #16-Greg Biffle 752 -30
3) #29-Kevin Harvick 749 -33
4) #31-Jeff Burton 745 -37
5) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 686 -96
6) #9-Kasey Kahne 674 -108
7) #20-Tony Stewart 656 -126
8) #12-Ryan Newman 635 -147
9) #07-Clint Bowyer 606 -176
10) #2-Kurt Busch 605 -177
11) #17-Matt Kenseth 604 -177
12) #1-Martin Truex Jr. 595 -187 other chase contenders
13) #48-Jimmie Johnson 581 -201
14) #24-Jeff Gordon 574 -208
15) #11-Denny Hamlin 568 -214
16) #99-Carl Edwards 548 -234
For the points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(3-16-2008)
Top-35 in Owner Points and guaranteed a starting spot at Martinsville
2008 owners points now take effect for the next race and the rest of the season. The teams are NOT locked in past the next race at Martinsville as the owners points change after each race.
31) #96-Yeley/Hall of Fame Racing 386 +34
32) #70-Mayfield/Haas CNC Racing 374 +22
33) #5-Mears/Hendrick Motorsports 368 +16
34) #44-Reutimann/Waltrip Racing 367 +15
35) #77-Hornish/Penske Racing 356 4 points ahead of 36th these teams/ drivers must qualify by speed:
36) #26-McMurray/Roush Racing 352 4 points out of 35th
37) #22-Blaney/Bill Davis 334 -22
38) #40-Franchitti/Ganassi Racing 319 -37
39) #01-Smith/Dale Earnhardt Inc 317 -39
40-) #45-Petty/Petty Racing 296 -60
For the owner points standings, see my Drivers/Owners Points Standings page.(3-16-2008)
Bristol Motor Speedway – Fast Facts
.. Jeff Burton won the Food City 500, his 20th victory in 480 Sprint Cup Series races.
.. This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in 2008.
.. This is his first victory and 12th top-10 finish in 29 races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
.. Kevin Harvick (second) posted his 10th top-10 finish in 15 races at Bristol.
.. Clint Bowyer (third) posted his third top-10 finish in five races at Bristol.
.. This is the first-ever 1-2-3 finish for Richard Childress Racing.
.. Regan Smith (26th) was the highest finishing rookie.
GWC factoid: There have been 24 green-white-checkered [GWC] finishes in Sprint Cup history, and only six times has the leader lost the lead on those final two laps.
#01-Mark Martin led in the 2007 Daytona 500, #29-Kevin Harvick passed him as a huge wreck took place behind them and beat Martin to the line by 2/1000th’s of a second.
#17-Matt Kenseth led 146 laps at Las Vegas in 2006, #48-Jimmie Johnson passed him at the line and won by 1/2 a car length, only leading 1 lap to win.
#17-Matt Kenseth led at Talladega in Oct 2005, Dale Jarrett passed
#16-Greg Biffle won at Darlington after #12-Ryan Newman led heading into the green-white-checkered in May 2005
Biffle won the final race of 2004 when #20-Tony Stewart had fuel problems at Homestead.
#11-Denny Hamlin led with 2 to go, had a slow restart, #31-Jeff Burton passed him and won at Bristol, March 2008
Jarrett fan’s odyssey on its final leg in Bristol: Last fall when Dale Jarrett announced his plan to retire from Sprint Cup Series competition after the first five races of the 2008 season, Cathy Tanner decided she had to see her man wheel it one last time. Or five. Tanner, a fan of Jarrett’s for more than a decade, took a seven-week leave of absence in February from her position as an elementary school teacher’s aid and hit the road. From her Florence, Ala., home to Daytona Beach, Fla., to Fontana, Calif., to Las Vegas, Nev., to Hampton, Ga., to Bristol, Tenn. Just her and her gray tabby cat, Baby, in a 27-foot RV. She’ll head back to Florence following Sunday’s Food City 500. “The next time somebody tells us they’re a DJ fan we’ll have to call BS on them,” laughed Jarrett’s son, Jason. “We know who the biggest one is now.”
“It’s just something I wanted to do — to see (Jarrett) race these final races,” said Tanner, via phone from a perch in the Bristol Motor Speedway grandstand, Cup cars blaring by in the background. “And I didn’t want to go by myself so I had to bring my cat with me.” She returns to school Friday. Tanner was introduced to NASCAR years ago when her daughter chose the sport as the topic for a high school term paper. They’d go to the library together and read about the sport, and watch races with Cathy’s father on Sunday afternoons. She cheered for Jarrett and Terry Labonte, but Jarrett ultimately won her devotion. “I went with Dale because we have the same birthday,” Tanner said. “I always thought that was sort of strange.” Tanner is uncertain how much she’s spent on the trek, or how many miles she’s driven (MapQuest says 6,065). She fills the RV up twice a day on the road. She used a portion of her inheritance from her father’s death to pay for the trip. NASCAR Sundays afforded father and daughter a special bond, so she felt he’d approve.(see full story by Marty Smith at ESPN.com, Thanks to Nancy Osterhoudt for the info for this article, Nancy runs my Truck Series site)(3-16-2008)
2nd Darlington tire test scheduled…no Toyota..again: Goodyear is going back to Darlington Raceway for another test on the newly paved surface, and once again a Toyota won’t be involved. #16-Greg Biffle (Ford), #24-Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet) and #12-Ryan Newman (Dodge) will all return to Darlington in two weeks to help Goodyear find a suitable tire for when the series races there in May. Speeds inched toward 200 mph during the two-day test earlier this week, and Goodyear must find a tire capable of withstanding the speeds. Toyota officials were irked they were the only manufacturer not included in the initial test, and they grew angrier when they learned of the second session. But Goodyear officials said the participants are on a rotation, one manufacturer is always left out of the testing and having four teams at a session is overkill for the engineers. “We really don’t need four cars to get the work done that we need to get done,” said Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales. “We’re going to go to Indianapolis in a few weeks, there will be a Toyota there and there won’t be a Ford there. That’s the way that it plays out. We’re going to try to spread the work out among the teams that give us the best results.” Brian Vickers is expected to represent Toyota in Indianapolis. But inclusion there did little to satisfy the Toyota camp, which feels the other three makes will be ahead of its teams because of data it gathers during the test. And, because the surface has been repaved, the other teams have a baseline for setups that Toyota will not have when it arrives in Darlington for the race. Toyota officials declined to comment on the exclusion.(Associated Press)(3-16-2008)
What happened to NASCAR’s ethanol program? from a Tom Jensen column…. Great question. I [Jensen] spoke with NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp late Friday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway and he said NASCAR is deep into alternative-fuel research at its R&D center in Concord, N.C. But making the change requires an awful lot of input from teams, fuel suppliers, engine builders, etc., and NASCAR tries not to rush into these things. I think within the next couple of years, there will be some alternative fuel in NASCAR, but it’s not ready yet.(SPEEDtv.com)(3-16-2008)
Wypall Wipers Increases Stakes at Bristol: Wypall Wipers is going to make a certain pit crew extremely happy as well as treat a special young man to a once-in-a-lifetime experience this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. In addition to the $1,000 which goes to the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race,” for Sunday’s Food City 500, a bonus of $1,000 will be awarded to the winning pit crew for their efforts. While they celebrate in Victory Lane with the extra cash, fifth grader Michael Castro will have already lived an unforgettable day. Castro, a student at Stonewall Jackson Elementary in Bristol, VA., is Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Classroom.” A member of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club, the youngster will be an honorary “Crew Chief for a day,” and will shadow Todd Berrier, crew chief of the #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy, before the race. The Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” is a part of the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief Challenge,” a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup Series garage. Go to Wypall.com to find out more about Wypall Wipers.(Wypall PR)(3-16-2008)
The King Hands Over Keys of ‘Cat Chopper’: Jeff Green [not the NASCAR driver] compared his winning bid on the customized Cat Chopper motorcycle to enjoying a dish of Neapolitan ice cream. “I got the Cat Chopper, I met a true racing legend, Richard Petty, and I got to help a worthy cause like Victory Junction Gang,” said Green, a resident of Peoria, Ill. The winning bid was $100,000. Petty handed Green the keys to the Cat Chopper during a Caterpillar Inc. customer event at Caesar’s Palace. The event was part of ConExpo-Con/Agg, one of the largest construction trade shows in the world. Green, whose family owns 11 vehicle dealerships in Illinois, plans to exhibit the Cat Chopper at Green Chevrolet Hummer and Finish Line Ford, both in Peoria, and at various community events. The Cat Chopper was constructed for Caterpillar in 2005 during two episodes of cable TV’s American Chopper. The 150-horsepower, six-speed show bike toured 32 states and up into Canada before Caterpillar donated it to Victory Junction Gang last May. In February, Victory Junction Gang auctioned the Cat Chopper on eBay. All proceeds are going to the organization’s 72-acre camp in North Carolina. The camp, founded by the Petty family, caters to children with chronic medical conditions and serious illnesses. The Cat Chopper was constructed by Orange County Choppers (OCC) in New York and customized to reflect Caterpillar and its industry, including the signature yellow color, a bulldozer-like exhaust pipe and bolted front and rear wheels.(MCG Sports PR)(3-16-2008)
There will be a competition caution on lap 50 of the Food City 500 today at Bristol Motor Speedway. With heavy rains overnight washing the rubber off the 0.533-concrete oval, NASCAR officials announced the addition of the competition caution so teams can check tire wear. Teams were told during the pre-race drivers meeting that they would not be allowed to add fuel prior to the competition caution. No rain is expected during the race, which is scheduled to get the green flag at 2:14pm/et.(SceneDaily.com)(3-16-2008)
News from March 15, 2008
Robby to sell? UPDATE 2 denied: hearing that Alex Gillett [George Gillett’s son – AG Motorsports?] has purchased Robby Gordon Motorsports [#7 Dodge] and will run it as a separate entity from Gillette-Evernham Motorsports. Plans are to eventually expand it to a multi-car team. Assuming Robby Gordon will stay on as driver…if this is true. Currently Gordon owns the team, but has a technological and marketing partnership with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and is 24th in driver/owners points.(3-10-2008) UPDATE: “On Feb. 1, Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Robby Gordon Motorsports announced a technical, manufacturing and marketing agreement. Nothing has changed since that announcement.”(GEM PR)(3-11-2008) UPDATE 2: One of the hot rumors last week was the sale of Robby Gordon Motorsports to Alex Gillett, son of Gillett Evernham Motorsports primary owner George Gillett Jr. On Friday at Bristol, the owner/driver Gordon said it was business as usual for him. “I haven’t sold my race team,” Gordon said. “People talk and there are a lot of interesting things going on, but right now, it’s business as usual. I bet last year, 20 people came to me asking me if I was interested in selling my team, so it is what it is.”(NASCAR.com)(3-15-2008) Comment here
Why no Elliott at Bristol? UPDATE: Bill Elliott is not running the #21 Wood Brothers Little Debbie Ford at Bristol Motor Speedway this week, supposedly Elliott asked to switch the Bristol race [scheduled for Elliott] with Martinsville on March 28-30th, so the team hired Jeff Green to run at Bristol. Green has won a pole at Bristol in August 2001.(3-14-2008) UPDATE: Wood Brothers Racing and the #21 Team spent the week tapping every available resource looking for answers on how to get the car to perform better and make races. They were excited about their findings and were looking forward to qualifying for this Sunday’s Food City 500. Earlier in the week, the decision was made to ask Bill Elliott to drive the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway, a race he was not scheduled for, instead of Bristol. This resulted in the team finding another driver for the Bristol race. Wood Brothers asked Jeff Green to pilot the #21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion and he agreed. Green is a proven Nationwide and Sprint Cup series veteran who has a history of top finishes and poles at the infamous short speedway. With Green behind the wheel, the #21 Little Debbie Ford Fusion finished the only practice before qualifying as the ninth fastest car overall. The team was confident that if Jeff and the car qualified as they had practiced the #21 would be in the race on Sunday. It appeared as though the #21 Team was going to have the kind of weekend their efforts merited. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. Around noon, the rain clouds arrived at Bristol Motor Speedway and loomed overhead most of the afternoon. NASCAR did its best to try to get qualifying in, but it just wasn’t meant to be. After several delays and efforts to dry the track, NASCAR made the call at 5:00 pm to cancel qualifying. As the rain continued, they set the field according to last year’s owner points, past champions and the top teams remaining according to this year’s owner points. This meant that the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Team and Jeff Green would not be racing this weekend. While missing the race is a grave disappointment, the depth of which is only truly appreciated by those actually missing the race, Wood Brothers Racing leaves Bristol knowing they put forth a car that was fast enough to make the race on speed.(Wood Brothers racing PR)(3-15-2008) Comment here
Time for a drivers Union? UPDATE: The always boisterous Tony Stewart led a loud parade of outrage aimed at Goodyear’s engineers after Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. If Stewart had thought about it long enough, he might have realized that there is much more that he and his fellow drivers can do. This is the perfect time for the drivers in the Sprint Cup Series to form a union. Then they can have real leverage on matters such as tires, safety and races. NASCAR has always said the drivers are “private contractors,” so there has never been a need for a union. Plus, in the old days, any talk of forming a union could have seriously jeopardized a driver’s career. See full story at the Delaware News Journal.(3-13-2008) UPDATE: Major League Baseball has a union. The NFL has a union. The NHL has a union. Is it time for NASCAR to have one? Would a union help settle issues such as the Goodyear tire controversy at Atlanta last weekend? Jeff Gordon isn’t sure. “I’ve seen the unions run things in the ground,” Gordon said during a rainy Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “It bugs the heck out of me when I think of the strikes that have happened in baseball. Look at the strike that just happened with the writer’s strike in Hollywood. While there are positives for the people they’re representing, sometimes if you look at the sport as a whole or an industry I’ve seen where it’s done a lot of damage. I see it happening right now with General Motors.” Gordon said a union is a good thing only if the right people are managing it and the proper intent is there. The problem, he said, is nobody can guarantee that. We all have so many different agendas and ideas, to see them all come together as one could be tough,” he said. Gordon said NASCAR would be better suited to have a quarterly meeting in which all drivers are brought together to discuss hot topics.
NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the current system remains effective. “NASCAR always has had an open-door policy and always will,” Tharp said. “Drivers, owners, and crew chiefs are regularly in communication with our sport’s leadership. It is a system that has worked and continues to work well.” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said the drivers need a spokesperson to represent them as his father once did. Dale Jarrett would like to see a panel of three to five drivers, and not necessarily the same every year, become the voice of the garage. “We won’t use that word union,” said Jarrett, who is driving in his final points race this weekend. “That gets people stirred up. Does there need to be a panel? Yes, it could be really helpful.”(ESPN.com)(3-15-2008)Comment here
Tony Stewart meets with Goodyear’s Stu Grant at Bristol: The following are statements from NASCAR driver Tony Stewart and Goodyear General Manager of Worldwide Racing Stu Grant, respectively, following a meeting between the two this afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway. Tony Stewart: “I’m glad the weather gave us a break in the schedule that allowed us to meet this afternoon, and I appreciate Stu taking the time to meet with me. We’re hoping that Goodyear will now work with us a little better on the racing side of things and rely on our input a little more, because we are the ones driving the cars. It was a good meeting, but at the end of the day, it’s up to Goodyear to make it right. If having this meeting helps to make things better down the road, then this meeting was a success. My comments last week (following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway) were made in frustration and made to get Goodyear’s attention. But what I overlooked when I made those comments was that they affected people who had nothing to do with the racing program. I want to apologize to the people who work in the factories and the union workers at Goodyear. We realize that they’re working hard just like everybody else, and we realize that Goodyear as a whole works hard too. But our comments last week were not meant to offend those people, because they’re not the ones making the decisions about the racing tires we use here at the track. A lot of the people that Goodyear brings to the track aren’t necessarily engineers and they don’t make the decisions on what compounds and constructions (of tires) that we’ll race on, but they’re the people who are here as early as the teams are and leave as late as the teams do because they’re here mounting and dismounting tires and unloading and loading trucks. A lot of those people have become friends over the years, and that’s another group of people we didn’t mean to offend with our comments. Our comments were strong to get somebody’s attention high up in corporate at Goodyear. It wasn’t meant to offend anyone else.” Stu Grant: “I was very pleased with the meeting that I had with Tony. It was an excellent meeting. It was constructive. It was extremely worthwhile to sit down and have a discussion with him. Tony was able to express his concerns and I listened to his concerns. I was able to explain our process, and we both talked about how moving forward, we can improve the process of developing tires for NASCAR Sprint Cup racing together.”(Goodyear PR)(3-15-2008) Comment here
McCumbee to test at Gateway for Petty’s Chad McCumbee is scheduled to test a Petty Enterprises Sprint Cup Series Dodge Tuesday and Wednesday at Gateway International Raceway. Test sessions will be closed to the public.(PR)(3-15-2008)
Congrats: Talladega Superspeedway Public Relations Director Kristi King and husband David welcomed William Noah into the family on Friday, March 7. Will weighed in at 7 pounds 2 ounces and measured 20 ¾ inches long. Will is still a patient at St.Vincent’s Women & Children Center. Mommy and Daddy are looking forward to bringing him home soon. Well wishes can be sent to 308 Paradise Isles, Riverside, AL 35135.(3-15-2008)
Drivers celebrities join resort advisory board: Sheridan Ridge Private Reserve, a more than 1,400-acre upscale resort community located in Southwest Virginia, announced the joining of top NASCAR celebrities Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Hammond and Greg Zipadelli to the project¹s Advisory Board. The Advisory Board members¹ duties will include weighing in on the property¹s planned amenities, as well as introducing individuals to the unique lifestyle of Sheridan Ridge. Each Advisory Board member will have a vacation home on the property. Sheridan Ridge will also introduce interested individuals around the country to the beauty of Southwest Virginia. More info at sheridanridgeva.com.(3-15-2008)
Happy Hour Practice for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway is over, just as the practice ended, the rain and lightning started, the fastest were:
#88-Earnhardt Jr. 120.770
slowest: #55-Waltrip 118.131 and 78-Nemechek 118.320.
no speed listed for #70-Mayfield, #12-Newman as both teams changed engines
#43-Labonte scraped the wall pretty good, pancaking the right side of the car.
most laps run: #00-Reutimann 75; #41-Sorenson 65
News from March 14, 2008
Final Atlanta TV Ratings are up: Fox’s broadcast of last Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway earned a final 6.4 Nielsen Media Research rating and a 15 market share, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 23.1% higher than the 5.2/12 Fox earned for the Atlanta race last year.(SceneDaily.com)(3-14-2008)
Thanks DJ, A Champion, A Legend, A Friend: This weekend as a symbol of appreciation, Michael Waltrip Racing will run a special decal for Dale Jarrett on the #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry and the #00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry during the Food City 500 weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway that states “Thanks DJ, A Champion, A Legend, A Friend.” This is the beginning of a long celebration of Dale Jarrett’s accomplishments during his illustrious career. Bristol Motor Speedway is his last race until making his final Sprint Cup Series appearance on May 17 in the Sprint All-Star event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “We are very grateful for everything DJ has done not only for MWR, but for NASCAR,” Waltrip said. “He has been an invaluable resource to Michael Waltrip Racing as we launched three brand new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams in 2007 and he will continue to be. Having the decal on our #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS and #00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camrys is a way for us to thank Dale for everything he has done and to tell him that we will miss him. It’s a symbol of our gratitude. We will celebrate his memorable career leading up to the his final ride in the #44 UPS Toyota Camry during the Sprint All-Star race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.” In 1999 the Hickory, N.C.-native become a Sprint Cup Series champion after posting an impressive four wins, 24 top 5s, and 29 top 10s. Since his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Martinsville Speedway in 1984, Jarrett has amassed 32 victories, 16 pole awards, 163 top 5, 260 top 10 finishes.(MWR PR)(3-14-2008) Comment here
Bristol Qualifying rained out for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, so the field was set by the rules book, 2007 Owners points for the top-35 [the last week the 2007 owners points are used], race winners in this or the current season [#2-Busch], past series champs [#44-Jarrett, his final points race], then 2008 race attempts with ties broken by 2008 Owners Points standings [#83-Vickers, #00-Reutimann, #55-Waltrip, #49-Schrader, #78-Nemechek and $84-Skinner]. Missing the race were #21-Jeff Green, #34-John Andretti and #10-Patrick Carpentier.
The top 10 will start as follows: #48-Johnson, #24-Gordon, #07-Bowyer, #17-Kenseth, #5-Mears, #20-Stewart, #77-Hornish Jr., #31-Burton, #99-Edwards and #29-Harvick.
See the starting lineup on my Bristol Qualifying Page.(3-14-2008)
Almirola to make season debut: When asked of what it’s been like to have not competed in a race in more than four months, Aric Almirola gave a succinct response. “Painful,” stated Almirola, who will turn 24 on Friday (March 14). Well, Almirola’s wait to jump into the #8 U.S. Army Chevy that Mark Martin has driven in the first four Sprint Cup races of the season will soon be over. As part of his 12-race Cup schedule in 2008, Almirola will drive the Dale Earnhardt Inc. entry at the next two races — this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway and March 30 at Martinsville Speedway. “The guys on the Army team are great and they are just as excited as I am,” added Almirola. “That makes me happy.” The last time Almirola competed in a NASCAR race (Cup, Nationwide or Truck) was last fall in the Nov. 11th Cup event at Phoenix International Raceway. The only driving he has done since then was some testing in the #8 Chevy at Daytona, California and Phoenix. “I’m appreciative of the opportunity I have with DEI and learning from Mark Martin,” explained Almirola. “But it’s been very hard for me to watch the races on top of the pit box. It’s not any fun being a spectator. I want to be in the action as a driver and mix it up.” Almirola’s finish (26th) in Phoenix last fall was his best in six career Cup starts. The Bristol event will be Almirola’s second Cup race at the half-mile bullring. His first race there — August 2007 — was also his maiden ride with DEI and the U.S. Army. He started 35th and finished 36th.(DEI PR)(3-14-2008)
More tire stuff. Firestone not interested in NASCAR: During a lengthy, unflattering critique of the tires that Goodyear supplied the drivers at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart said that other tire companies would do a better job in NASCAR. While Stewart really was not calling for a tire war, his words surely hit a nerve in Daytona Beach and Akron, Ohio, cities where NASCAR and Goodyear have their headquarters. That’s because for racing series and tire companies, tire wars are often viewed as a potential Armageddon. “No,” Ramsey Poston, NASCAR managing director of corporate communication, said, “we are not interested (in a tire war). Goodyear has been a remarkably good partner.” Most major forms of auto racing in the world have gone through tire wars — times when more than one brand of tire is available to competitors. The last tire war in NASCAR occurred in 1994, when Hoosier came in and challenged Goodyear for status and customers. Geoffrey Bodine won three races on Hoosiers that year. Cars using Hoosiers won 12 pole positions. But the move was not made without controversy. Concern was expressed by some teams and some drivers. They were worried that a tire war could adversely affect safety as the companies, in a quest to be faster than the other, would go with softer and softer rubber compounds and the result would be blown tires. Some thought the tire war would drive up costs. The 1994 tire war lasted one season. Hoosier did not come back in 1995, as it just proved too costly for a company that, compared with Goodyear, was mom-and-pop. A new tire war in NASCAR would be impossible to mount right now as the series does not have an open-tire policy — NASCAR has an exclusive contract with Goodyear. No other tire company could enter the sport until the Goodyear contract expires. For the time being, Firestone, the American company that is probably best suited to go after Goodyear’s contract when it expires, is not interested in approaching NASCAR. “Obviously,” Al Speyer, motor-sports executive director for Firestone, said, “NASCAR is a very successful form of motor racing. But, we are really, really busy with open-wheel racing.” Might that change when Goodyear’s contract with NASCAR expires ? Speyer said, “We are always looking at all motor sports, and we have ongoing analysis, but we could never comment on pending business ventures.”(Kansas City Star)(3-14-2008) Comment here
200 mph at Darlington: What a difference a paving makes: 200 miles per hour. That’s how fast the Sprint Cup Series cars ran during Goodyear tire tests earlier this week at historic Darlington Raceway. That’s not a miss-print. The Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon, the Ford of Greg Biffle and the Dodge of Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman were all clocked unofficially at 200 mph at the end of this old track’s smooth, newly re-paved backstretch. Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning almost couldn’t believe it himself. “We had some of the telemetry numbers from the teams and I couldn’t believe it when they told me they were hitting 200 mph at the end of the backstretch,” said Browning. “That’s incredible!” Jeff Gordon, a seven-time winner on the tricky, treacherous, 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval, said the track was fast and smooth. “The old humps and bumps are gone,” said Gordon. “It’s still Darlington. It’s just a lot smoother and a lot faster.” Order tickts now by calling 1-866-459-RACE.(Darlington Raceway PR)(3-14-2008)
NASCAR represented in Sports Emmy Nominations: The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) announced the nominees for the 29th Annual Sports Emmy Awards at the IMG World Congress of Sports at the St. Regis Hotel in Monarch Bay/Dana Point, California. At the 29th Annual Sports Emmy Awards, winners in 30 categories including outstanding live sports special, sports documentary, studio show, play-by-play personality and studio analyst will be honored. The Awards will be given out at the prestigious Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center located in the Time Warner Center on April 28th, 2008 in New York City. Many of the leading sports broadcasters, personalities and television professionals will be presenters at the event. American Airlines and Thomson Grass Valley are the official sponsors of the 29th Annual Sports Emmy Awards. Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal is the exclusive magazine partner. The list NASACR related shows nominated
Outstanding Live Sports Special: NASCAR on FOX: Daytona 500, FOX
Outstanding Live Sports Series: NASCAR on FOX, FOX
Outstanding Live Event Turnaround: Quest for the Cup, NASCAR Images
Outstanding Sports Documentary: Dale, NASCAR Images
Outstanding Studio Show Daily: NASCAR Now, ESPN2
Outstanding Open / Tease: Indianapolis 500, ABC
Outstanding Technical Team Remote: ESPN NASCAR, ABC / ESPN / ESPN2 & NASCAR on FOX, FOX
Outstanding Technical Team Studio: NASCAR on FOX, FOX
Outstanding Music Composition / Direction / Lyrics: Dale, NASCAR Images
Outstanding Live Event Audio / Sound: NASCAR on FOX, FOX
Outstanding Graphic Design: ESPN NASCAR, ABC / ESPN / ESPN2
The George Wensel Technical Achievement Award: ESPN NASCAR, Draft Track ABC / ESPN / ESPN2.(emmyonline.org)(3-14-2008) Comment here
News from March 13, 2008
Pocono Testing May 27-28…open to public: Pocono Raceway officials announced that ticket holders for Pocono Raceway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekends in 2008 will be able to attend a special 2-day NASCAR test at Pocono Raceway on May 27 and May 28, 2008 for no charge. This 2-day test will be the first opportunity NASCAR teams will have to test the new Sprint Cup Series race car (formerly known as the COT) at Pocono Raceway. Approximately 50 Sprint Cup Series teams are expected to attend, which shows the importance of this test. 2008 Pocono NASCAR ticket holders will be eligible to receive up to four (4) FREE tickets to the test session. A mail-in coupon for the test and additional information will be sent to all ticket holders who have purchased their NASCAR race tickets prior to May 9, 2008. Fans that are not current ticket holders for either of Pocono Raceway’s 2008 Sprint Cup Series or the ARCA Re/Max Series events will be able to purchase test tickets for $5.00 each by calling the Pocono Raceway Ticket Office at 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929), or they can be purchased at Gate 8 on each day of the event. Tickets for the Pocono 500 weekend, June 6-8, 2008 and the Pennsylvania 500 weekend, August 1-3, 2008 are still available but are selling fast. For more information or to order race tickets, call toll-free 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929) or online at www.poconoraceway.com.(Pocono Raceway PR)(3-13-2008) Comment here
Jeff Gordon Featured on Cover of EA Sports NASCAR 09: Electronic Arts announced Jeff Gordon, legendary NASCAR driver of car #24, will be featured as the cover athlete for EA SPORTS NASCAR 09. NASCAR 09 is scheduled to ship in North America on June 10 and will offer an authentic, exhilarating stock car driving experience for racing fans of all ages. “It’s exciting being on the cover of NASCAR 09,” says Gordon. “The game is as real as it gets and it’s been great being involved with it on this level. I look forward to helping gamers in NASCAR 09.” Gordon’s prestigious reputation aligns with the new NASCAR 09 career mode, “Sprint for the Cup.” Gordon will bring the game to you as a guide and a mentor to help you build your reputation to become the next Sprint Cup Series champion. With a completely rebuilt handling model, the game will be more accessible to newcomers while continuing to offer options that will challenge even the most experienced virtual driver. NASCAR 09 is an authentic NASCAR experience that will appeal to every type of NASCAR enthusiast. Developed in Orlando, Florida by EA Tiburon, NASCAR 09 will be available for the Playstation 3 and Playstation 2 computer entertainment systems and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system.(Electronic Arts PR)(3-13-2008) Comment here
Bristol Tire Notes: Teams in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be running the same tire codes at Bristol this weekend . . . this is the first time that teams have run a race on either of these two tire codes . . . based upon the results of last August’s races on the reconfigured Bristol track, the new concrete surface proved to be less severe than originally predicted . . . this spring’s recommendation utilizes new tread compounds on both left-side and right-side tires, aimed at increasing overall grip . . . on most NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams do not run inner liners in any tire position . . . Bristol is unique in that regard, with teams being required to run inner liners in their right-side tires at the high-banked short track . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window is every 130-140 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), se full notes on the Bristol Race Info page or the codes/pressures for each race this year at the 2008 Tire Codes page.(3-13-2008)
#28 Ford to Carry “11 Million” at Bristol: The 2008 NASCAR TV season is already off to a great start with an average of more than 11 million people per race day watching the #28 Yates Racing Ford during FOX’s coverage. This three-race average doesn’t include the 33.5 million viewers that watched the Daytona 500. With TV ratings up, and the #28 team still looking for sponsorship, it only makes sense to highlight one of the many benefits of a primary sponsorship with Yates Racing and the #28 team by placing “11 Million” on the hood of the Ford Fusion. Driver Travis Kvapil thinks it’s a unique approach to attracting sponsorship and hopes that he can get his #28 “11 Million” Ford to the number one position this Sunday at Bristol. Chassis #464 is the chassis the #28 Yates Racing team will be running this weekend for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Yates Racing purchased this chassis from Roush Fenway Racing in 2008. This is the same chassis that Carl Edwards won the 2007 Sharpie 500 with.(Yates Racing PR)(3-13-2008) Comment here
Marathon Oil back on the #45: Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil is on the hood of Kyle Petty’s #45 Dodge for the first time this season this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway(Petty Racing PR), see images of the scheme on the #45 Team Schemes page.(3-13-2008)
Charter colors for Carpentier at Bristol: Patrick Carpentier is looking forward to his first trip to Bristol Motor Speedway for this weekend’s Food City 500. Carpentier has never even set eyes on the legendary bull-ring. It will be his sixth start in the Sprint Cup Series and the team’s second race sporting the Charter Communications colors. The #10 Charter Dodge is currently ranked 46th in Owner Points. They are currently 153 points out of the top-35. This will be his first attempt at qualifying and racing at Bristol. Being outside the top-35 in [46th] owner points, Carpentier will have to qualify on time.(GEM PR), see image of the scheme on the #10 Team Schemes page.(3-13-2008)
Bristol Rookie Notes: #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 9 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Hornish Jr. scored a 25th-place finish and claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the second time this season. No other driver has captured the honor more than once in 2008. #40-Dario Franchitti leads the Raybestos Rookie standings by two points (41-39) over Hornish Jr. entering the March 16 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The most recent Raybestos Rookie to lead a lap at Bristol is Kevin Harvick. Harvick led three times for 137 laps, more than any other driver, in the 2001 Food City 500. The best finish by a Raybestos Rookie in the Food City 500 came in 1979 when Dale Earnhardt scored his first career win. Since Earnhardt’s victory, only three drivers have finished in the top-five in the spring race: Morgan Shepherd (fourth in 1981), Dick Trickle (fifth in 1989), and Greg Biffle (fifth in 2003). Tony Stewart is the only Raybestos Rookie to win a 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 that same race once for 225 laps. Only once since 1975 have three Raybestos Rookies finished in the top-10 in a race in Bristol. In 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/Rabestos PR), see my 2008 Rookies page for more notes, history, standings.(3-13-2008) Comment here
More comments by Stewart about Goodyear; NASCAR’s Helton responds: Monday night on “Tony Stewart Live” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, hosts Stewart and Matt Yocum discussed the race this past Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the controversy over the performance of Goodyear’s racing tires. NASCAR President Mike Helton was a guest on the show and discussed the issue with Stewart.
Stewart: “I’m not overreacting about Goodyear tires. This was my opinion about what we had. I’m the only driver that is in all this that has raced in Sprint car and Midget racing, Silver Crown racing, modifieds, super modifieds, the IRL with Indy cars and stock cars. I’m one of the few guys that has run enough of this stuff to actually know what it is like to have driven for Firestone, to have driven for Hoosier tires, you name it. We’ve even drove for Goodyear in some of these series but what we had yesterday at this level of competition was not acceptable. We’ve complained for years on numerous occasions behind closed doors to Goodyear and the problem doesn’t get solved. So maybe this was one of these cases where maybe finally something good will come out of this. And if it sounds like we’re whining about it it’s because we’re trying to get their attention. For Goodyear to say that they were satisfied with that, if they truly believe that they were satisfied with the way the race went yesterday I’m more disappointed than ever. And I can’t believe that NASCAR, at the end of the day, is truly, honestly, happy with the results. We invited Goodyear to come on [the show] and state their side of it two different times in the last 24 hours and they graciously declined. I think that basically covers what we’re dealing with here.”
NASCAR President Mike Helton was a guest on last night’s show and discussed the tire issue with Stewart.
NASCAR President Mike Helton: “Tony, we’re all well aware of your opinion and you’re right to express your opinion, albeit, I think maybe a little bit too strong in this case. What NASCAR asks for Goodyear to do this year as we completely run this new chassis from racetrack to racetrack is, first and foremost, bring a safe tire, a tire that is safe for the competitors to race on. And then bring one that is durable. And certainly bring one that is consistent so that everybody up and down pit road has the same tire as they compete in the events every weekend. I think what we did have in Atlanta was a tire that did not fail and we had a tire that was safe from that aspect and that it delivered in an environment that is a challenge right now because we’re going back to a lot of places in ’08 with a new chassis, new configurations underneath them by the crew chiefs and the engineers that are throwing challenges at Goodyear. And Goodyear all along the way has stepped up. They have been responsible. They have made a major commitment to put the right tires under NASCAR’s national series and we’re proud of our relationship with them. I think it is a little bit too much to blame whatever your opinion on Sunday was completely on Goodyear because we’re all in this thing together, every crew member up and down pit road, every car owner, every driver, every supplier like Goodyear in the sport that wants it to do good, wants their product to be right. And I think Goodyear has made a commitment to that for NASCAR and for the competitors. Now that doesn’t mean we’re going to be exactly right every weekend. Sometimes NASCAR does things wrong. We make mistakes and we go back and we learn from them and we fix them.
Stewart: “You can understand from [NASCAR’s] standpoint, listening to Mike, what their objective is and what they feel like Goodyear’s objective is but I think they would feel totally different about it if we made every one of the high-ranking NASCAR officials ride in the right seat this past Sunday and feel what we felt. I think they might have a little different opinion about it.”
“Tony Stewart Live” airs every Monday (8-10pm ET) exclusively on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, channel 128. Monday’s show re-airs tonight at 11pm/et and Thursday at 10pm/et.(SIRIUS PR), see the full transcript of the tire segment on my Tires Sponsor News page.(3-13-2008)
News from March 12, 2008
Petree to Drive at Martinsville Truck race? Hearing that current ESPN analyst Andy Petree was testing a #92 Harris Trucking Toyota at Martinsville and plans to run the CTS race on March 29. Petree has run seven career CTS races, the last coming in 2004 at Martinsville.(3-12-2008) Comment here
#99 Roush Fenway Racing team will not appeal: Roush Fenway Racing announced today that it will not appeal the penalties imposed by NASCAR following its post-race inspection of the #99 car at Las Vegas. “We have conducted a thorough internal investigation and have found no evidence whatsoever that anyone intended for the bolt/nut fastener to fail to secure the lid for the entire race,” said Jack Roush, team owner. “We have subsequently added protective measures to insure that the lid will remain fastened even if a failure of this type should again occur.” Geoff Smith, president of Roush Fenway Racing said, “We realize in the NASCAR system of penalty administration that simple negligence, by itself, is never sufficient grounds to overturn or reduce a penalty. Consequently, no appeal will be made of the penalties assessed by NASCAR.”(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(3-12-2008) Comment here
The Hartford & Ganassi Racing to Launch Partnership at BMS: With its iconic stag logo taking its place on the hood of an 800-horsepower racing machine, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., announced that it will sponsor #40 Dodge Charger on March 16 at the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway with driver Dario Franchitti. “For a company like The Hartford, with a nationwide network of independent agents, we know how important it is to be associated with an outstanding team,” said Michael Concannon, senior vice president, personal lines. “That’s why a partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) is a great fit.” Bearing The Hartford’s distinctive colors, the maroon and yellow race car will feature The Hartford’s branding on the hood, tv and quarter panels. Franchitti will wear a maroon and yellow firesuit featuring The Hartford and the stag logo. In addition to the primary paint scheme in Bristol, The Hartford will continue to be featured on the #40 Dodge as an associate sponsor for the remainder of the 2008 season. Furthermore, Franchitti and Ganassi’s IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon will both carry The Hartford’s iconic stag logo on their fire suits throughout the Sprint Cup and IRL IndyCar Series seasons, respectively. More info about The Hartford at thehartford.com..(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-11-2008) IMAGE see an image of the schemne on my #40 Team Schemes page.(3-12-2008) Comment here
Jarrett making his last points start in Food City 500: When #44-Dale Jarrett starts the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway March 16 it will be the 668th start in a successful 24-year career. It also will be the former Sprint Cup champion’s last points race as the North Carolina native hangs up his helmet this year. The 51-year-old Jarrett opted to return this year, but only to run the first five races of the season. His last race actually will be the All-Star event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May, but BMS will be the last place he races for points. As a former BMS winner – he captured the Goody’s 500 (Aug. 23, 1997) – Jarrett says it is fitting that the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, where he made his first start in 1986, will cap what has been a very successful career.
“I was pleased whenever I saw the number (the fifth race) and as I started counting down to see exactly where it was going to be,” he said. “When I realized it was Bristol, I was pleased about that and it worked out too because I think it’s very fitting. It’s a place that I enjoy racing and there’s going to be so many fans there – and I know there’s 160,000 people there –but it seems like so many more than that. So it will be a fitting way for me to finish my racing as far as points racing goes.”
Jarrett says he’s always enjoyed being at Bristol, whether it was as a racer or as a kid, coming to the races to see his father, Ned, race. “Everybody, I think, that has ever raced there has had things happen to them because of how exciting the race track is,” he said. “I look at the positive side of it. What a great facility. From the very first time that I remember going there and watching my dad race there and win, I think that was 1965. Then the change of the race track (1969 to a steeper banking) and going back as a teenager and sitting in the grandstands to watch the Late Model Sportsman races at that time. Then as a competitor, getting my first Busch Grand National victory at Bristol (1991). I thought at that time, everybody really wanted to win at Bristol. Then in 1997, when I was able to win the night race –that was probably one of the top victories of my career.”
The Food City 500 will be Jarrett’s 44th start at BMS. He says he’s made peace with this being the last time he’ll race for points. “I think that’s a race that I always looked at – even when I was battling for the championship – it was always a wild card kind of race,”said the 1999 series champion. “You wanted to do well and there was always so much action going on. I don’t know that I’ll look at it as a points race. I’ll just look at it as my last time in a race that is really going to mean a lot to the race team and myself.”
Jarrett says there’s not much chance that he’ll be able to keep his emotions in check on race day at Bristol. “I think it’s going to be (emotional),” he said. “Probably as the race gets closer, it will become even more so because I am going to have a lot of family and friends around, so I think that will help add to it, on top of it just being Bristol. I know I’ve said that a number of times but it is a special place to race.”
Jarrett has always said that if he had to buy tickets to any race track on the circuit, Bristol would be the place. He says he still feels that way. “I do still feel that way, mainly because I still own tickets to Bristol,” he said. “It has always been such a huge request from family and friends, them wanting tickets to Bristol. When the race became so popular to everyone else, there just weren’t tickets to be had. I was fortunate that my good friends at Bristol called me and said ‘look, we have these six tickets opening up. We hate that we have to ask you to purchase them but that’s the deal.’
“So for about seven years now we have owned six tickets to the Nationwide Series races and the Sprint Cup series races. So I still have those and it is still the most requested ticket that we have.”
After capturing a championship and 32 career wins, Jarrett says he doesn’t feel he’s missing much, if anything, from his resume. “I can’t really see anything,” he said. “Would I have preferred to have gotten a second championship? Yes, and I came close to having a couple and that was great to be able to battle for that, but I’ve been blessed and I couldn’t imagine asking to add anything to a career that I’ve been very fortunate to have.” Dale Jarrett at Bristol Motor Speedway: Jarrett collected his only Bristol Motor Speedway Cup Series win during the Goody’s Headache Powder 500 (August 23, 1997). He started the event from third position, his best Bristol qualifying effort, and passed pole winner Kenny Wallace and second place starter Jeff Gordon to lead the first lap of the event. Gordon and Jarrett battled for the win all night before an accident knocked Gordon out of contention. With Gordon out of the race, Jarrett cruised to the checkered flag, leading 210 laps on his way to Victory Lane. He finished the race 0.102 sec. ahead of Mark Martin.
Jarrett has one win, nine top-fives, 19 top-10s and has led 544 laps during his Bristol Motor Speedway Cup Series career.
To date, Jarrett has started 43 races at Bristol and Martinsville, more than any other tracks on which he has competed.
Jarrett has banked over $2.2 million dollars in winnings from his Cup Series efforts at Bristol.
Jarrett’s first Sprint Cup start at Bristol occurred in the 1986 Busch 500. He qualified 28th and finished 29th in the 30-car field. He completed 69 laps and retired from the race due to a vibration in his car. He earned $990 for the day’s work.
In 30 Nationwide Series starts at BMS, Jarrett has one win, 11 top-fives and 12 top-10s.
Jarrett’s Nationwide Series win at Bristol came in the Jay Johnson 250 (August 1991). He started the race from 11th position and won $19,375. An all-star cast followed Jarrett across the line with Bobby Labonte in second, Jeff Gordon in third, and Davey Allison in fourth.(BMS PR)(3-12-2008) Comment here about DJ’s career
Jarrett backs Stewart’s comments about tires: Dale Jarrett on Tuesday called on Goodyear to listen carefully to Tony Stewart’s complaints about the tires the company has produced this season. Although some drivers believe Stewart went overboard in his criticism of Goodyear following Sunday’s race in Atlanta, Jarrett said the manufacturer needs to start constructing a better tire for Sprint Cup racing. “I have no problem with what Tony Stewart said. I’m a huge supporter of Goodyear and all that they have done over the years, but somebody needs to wake up right now and listen to these guys,” said Jarrett, the former series champion who is retiring following Sunday’s race in Bristol. “We’re talking about race drivers that have a huge amount of talent and very seldom complain about things like that.”(see full Associated Press report for more)(3-12-2008) Comment here
New colors for Kenseth at BMS: Matt Kenseth and the #17 team will sport the colors of Dish Network this weekend. He is the second Roush Fenway Racing driver to race the red, black and white Dish Network paint scheme this year. Carl Edwards recently won back-to-back races in the Dish Network car. Greg Biffle will carry the colors later this season. The trio are dubbed the Dish Network All-Stars.(RFR PR)(3-12-2008)
Goodyear to use same tire compound at Texas as last year: Texas Motor Speedway officials were informed by Goodyear that the tire manufacturer will utilize the same tire compound that produced dramatic racing in both Sprint Cup Series races last season for the upcoming Samsung 500 on April 6. Following several driver complaints at Sunday’s event at Atlanta Motor Speedway where the new Sprint Cup car (formerly the Car of Tomorrow) competed for the first time, Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage reached out to Goodyear because that Speedway Motorsports, Inc. sister track is nearly identical to TMS. Both are 1.5-mile ovals with 24-degree banking in the corners, among the fastest tracks on the circuit and play host to the new car for the first time in competition. “I called Goodyear and they told us they never planned to use the same tire they used in Atlanta for our upcoming race,” Gossage said. “The tire they will use for the Samsung 500 will be effectively the same tire they used in Texas last year, and those two races resulted in a last-lap pass in April and a side-by-side duel for the lead down to the finish in November. Both the left-side and right-side tires will effectively use the same compound as in 2007, but with a slightly different construction for the new car. The engineers feel quite good about their plans.” Once again as Gossage did last week with NASCAR, he will make Texas Motor Speedway available to Goodyear should they be interested in additional testing prior to the Samsung 500. Sprint Cup drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer participated in a two-day Goodyear test Jan. 15-16 at TMS.(TMS PR)(3-12-2008)Comment here
Sad New – Bobbie Tripp Goldsmith: Bobbie Southerlin Tripp Goldsmith [Jason Keller’s Mother-in-Law], 64, of 201 Tigerville Rd., went home to be with the Lord on Monday, March 10, 2008 at her home. Surviving are her husband of 27 years, Dean Goldsmith of the home; daughter, Deborah Tripp Keller and husband, Jason, of Travelers Rest; son, Ricky Lewis Tripp and wife, Larie, of Travelers Rest; sisters, Jeanette Brookshire of Travelers Rest and Linda Stone of Sunset, S.C.; brother, Carroll Southerlin of Greer; grandchildren, Chelsea Tripp, Ha’lle Tripp, Joe Keller and Jade Keller. Along with her parents, Mrs. Goldsmith was predeceased by her first husband, William Ernest Tripp; and a brother, Charles Frank Southerlin. Funeral services will be held Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Renfrew Baptist Church with burial to follow at Grandview Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends Tuesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Howze Mortuary. Memorials may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 5401 Kingston Pike, Suite #230, Knoxville, TN 37919 and/or Interim Hospice, 775 Spartan Blvd., Spartanburg, SC 29301. Condolences may be expressed to the family by visiting www.thehowzemortuary.com. The Howze Mortuary and Cremation Service, Travelers Rest, is in charge of arrangements. (864)834-8051.(3-12-2008)
News from March 11, 2008
Did you know that it has been 32 years since Chevrolet has been shut out of the first four races of the season and a Chevy driver went on to win the title in the same year? In 1976, Cale Yarborough won his first of three straight Championships. But the Chevy camp was held winless through the first four races of the season. Once the ball started rolling for Cale, he would win race #5 at Bristol and eight more races that season. This year, Dodge, Ford and Toyota have all posted wins, keeping the powerful Chevy contingency out of victory lane. This is only the sixth time in the modern era (since 1972) that Chevy has been winless after four races. This other years this occurred were:
2002 – Tony Stewart won the title in a Pontiac
1992 – Alan Kulwicki won the title in a Ford
1976 – Cale Yarborough won the title in a Chevy
1973 – Benny Parsons won the title in a Chevy
1972 – Richard Petty won the title in a Plymouth & Dodge.
The last time Chevrolet went winless for an entire season was in 1970.(LTPicks.com)(3-11-2008) Comment here
Congrats: Mike Ellershaw, #44 tire changer, and his wife Beth welcome a baby boy on March 9th, 6lb and 15oz and 18inches long.(3-11-2008)
Steve Addington named Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” in Atlanta: Steve Addington, crew chief of the #18 Snickers Toyota driven by Kyle Busch, was named the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” for his team’s first place finish in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Addington helped his team’s assault to the front of the field in Sunday’s race by leading 173 of the 325 laps, giving Toyota its first official victory in NASCAR’s top series. Addington will receive a $1,000 check as a result of his leadership and spirited effort during the race. The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team. Representatives from Wypall Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent Wypall, including Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team, make up the panel of judges. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, FL. The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2008 season and spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto www.Wypall.com.(Wypall PR)(3-11-2008)
Robby to sell? UPDATE “nothing changed”: hearing that Alex Gillett [George Gillett’s son] has purchased Robby Gordon Motorsports [#7 Dodge] and will run it as a separate entity from Gillette-Evernham Motorsports. Plans are to eventually expand it to a multi-car team. Assuming Robby Gordon will stay on as driver…if this is true. Currently Gordon owns the team, but has a technological and marketing partnership with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and is 24th in driver/owners points.(3-10-2008) UPDATE: “On Feb. 1, Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Robby Gordon Motorsports announced a technical, manufacturing and marketing agreement. Nothing has changed since that announcement.”(GEM PR)(3-11-2008) Comment here
Petty donates two Cup cars to VT: Petty Enterprises has donated two #43 Nextel Cup race cars to the Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research (VIPER). Richard Petty and son Kyle have donated the race cars to VIPER as research tools for mechanical engineering students pursuing graduate degrees. The Petty’s decision was prompted by the Nextel Cup’s retirement of the cars in preparation for the move to the “Car of Tomorrow” in 2008. Petty Enterprises General Manager Robbie Loomis noted in an ESPN.com article that the first donation would be to Virginia Tech for use at VIPER, primarily due to the research already underway there with a well-known motor sports team. “In this sport we need an area where we can groom and shape engineers to really fit the racing model. There always seems to be a disconnect between the book engineer and the actual applications engineer at the racetrack. So we hope we can bring that together for the future,” said Loomis. VIPER Director Steve Southward couldn’t agree more. “We are thrilled to have the race cars in the lab for hands-on experience. Working with these cars on our eight-post shaker rig allows our students to put what they learned about chassis engineering in class into practice in a way that leads to real know-how,” said Southward. The VIPER program in mechanical engineering began in 2005. The institute offers unique programs, including testing of commercial vehicles.(Danville Register)(3-11-2008) Comment here
updated images for the #10: Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper returns to the Sprint Cup Series with Gillett Evernham Motorsports for the 2008 season. A new driver and a new paint scheme will adorn the #10 Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Dodge Chargers. Patrick Carpentier will take to the driver’s seat for races at Dover International Speedway [Bumper-to-Bumper] on June 1 and Daytona International Speedway [Autovalue] on July 5. For more information on Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Quality Parts & Services see 800autotalk.com.(MMI PR), see my #10 Teams Schemes page.(3-11-2008)
News from March 10, 2008
Goodyear Tire Test at Darlington March 10th UPDATE: #24-Jeff Gordon [Chevy], #16-Greg Biffle [Ford] and #12-Ryan Newman [Dodge] are scheduled to be at Darlington Raceway participating in a Goodyear tire test on Monday, March 10, 2008. The test is not open to the public.(Darlington Raceway PR)(3-5-2008) UPDATE: The roar of racing engines could once again be heard at Darlington Raceway on Monday as three of NASCAR’s top teams participated in a Goodyear tire test at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman took to the track shortly after 12:30pm/et, and it did not take long for them to get acclimated to the new surface. “The basic transitions, the banking and the walls haven’t changed,” said seven-time Darlington winner Jeff Gordon. “The bumps are gone, the grip level is high and it’s awesome, they did a great job.”
“I’m happy with the new surface, they have done a nice job, said two-time Darlington winner Greg Biffle. “There are no bumps or dips anywhere that we have noticed; I was pretty impressed with how smooth it was. The car was really stable and I was happy with the first few laps.” Before embarking on the $10 million capital improvement project track officials consulted several drivers and crew chiefs about the track’s surface. The response was unanimous, don’t change Darlington. In response engineers utilized over 4 million reference points around the track’s surface to ensure that the integrity of Darlington Raceway’s original design remained the unchanged, a fact that did not go unnoticed.
“They really didn’t change anything,” said Gordon.” One of the neat things I heard from them was that they wanted to keep the history, keep the shape, the banking and everything the same as it has been throughout this track’s history and I think they did a great job with that.”
“Darlington has always been my favorite track because you are always adjusting,” said 2008 Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman. “You adjust to the tires, the bumps, the character of the track, the fact that you are running right next to the wall is challenging. It’s the most challenging track that we have and that is why I enjoy it the most.” Monday’s test marked the first time that race cars had returned to the track since off-season capital improvement projects that included a new racing surface, new infield access tunnel and the addition of SAFER barrier walls on the interior walls down the frontstretch and backstretch.(Darlington Raceway PR)(3-10-2008) Comment here
Goodyear Statement on Atlanta Race Tires: Based on Goodyear’s tire testing at Atlanta last August, October and December, we provided what we believed were the best possible products for the races this past weekend. We had no tire failures and no problems with heat or wear. We supplied the same tires for both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, and received zero complaints about our tires after the Nationwide race on Saturday.
We believe that our engineering, research and tire development is second to none. We accept that drivers will have their own opinions about our tires. NASCAR president Mike Helton told us Monday that “NASCAR is very grateful for the commitment Goodyear has made on behalf of building a good and safe product for our competitors, including this past weekend at Atlanta. NASCAR stands by our relationship and is proud to have Goodyear as a partner.”
Even though both Goodyear and NASCAR were satisfied with the tire’s performance in Atlanta, if the drivers are not happy, then Goodyear’s not happy. Now that we know how this tire combination performed, we’ll go back and retest for the fall race. We have the same goal as the drivers and NASCAR: to put the safest, best performing tires on these cars.
There will be many instances this year when the new car is on a particular track for the first time, as was the case in Atlanta. That makes it tougher than usual to get a read on how the tires will perform. But if there is ever any doubt about the recommendation, we will always err on the conservative side.
Finally, we would like to correct an erroneous comment made by Tony Stewart. Goodyear decided to leave other racing series only because of the escalating costs of competition in those series. At least one other tiremaker has done the same. For Goodyear, the enormous investment required to compete in those other forms of racing far outweighed the benefits derived from our participation. We see tremendous benefits in our 54-year relationship with NASCAR as the organization’s longest continuing supplier. We remain fully committed to, and are proud of, our relationship with NASCAR.(Goodyear PR)(3-10-2008)
Overnight TV Ratings up for Atlanta: NASCAR on Fox TV Ratings hit a five-year high for the second straight week. This time the good news came from Atlanta, where yesterday’s race earned a 5.6/12 [overnight/fast], Fox’s top Atlanta race rating since 2003 and a +19% gain over last year’s 4.7/10. Remarkably, FOX’s 5.6/12 for the race nearly matched the combined ratings of head-to-head competition on ABC, CBS, and NBC (5.7/12), and when national ratings are released it’s likely that FOX will beat that three-network total. For the season-to-date, NASCAR On FOX is averaging a 6.8/13, a +5% gain over last year’s 6.5/13. Excluding the rain-impacted Fontana race, FOX has now aired five Sprint Cup programs this year, and all five have been either flat or up in the metered markets.(FoxPR), for the full season of ratings and chart, see my 2008 TV Ratings Page(3-10-2008) Comment here
#27 team suspends operations: Slugger Labbe, crew chief of the #27 Toyota for Bill Davis Racing told Mike Bagley and David Poole on The Morning Drive (Sirius NASCAR Radio 128) that the team has suspended operations due to lack of funding. The #27 may run Talladega but sponsorship money is needed to keep this team afloat.(Sirius NASCAR Radio 128)(3-10-2008) Comment here
Special Pennzoil scheme for Harvick: #29-Kevin Harvick is scheduled to run a Platinum Pennzoil scheme at the Sprint All-Star race in May and the August race at Bristol. See am image of the scheme on the #29 Team Schemes page.(3-10-2008)
Race and Commercial Breakdown of the Kobalt Tools 500:
Total number of commercials: 133
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 74
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 35
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 2:00 PM
End time to record race/commercial periods: 5:51 PM
Total minutes: 231
Minutes of race broadcast: 171
Minutes of commercials: 60
Number of missed restarts: 0
Number of debris cautions where debris not shown: 1
See full report at CawsnJaws.com.(3-10-2008) Comment here
Vickers clinches top 35….after next race: With #83-Brian Vickers team being 211 points ahead of the team 36th in Owners Points, #77-Hornish Jr., he could fail to qualify for the race at Bristol this coming weekend and still be locked in the top-35 and guaranteed a spot at Martinsville Speedway on March 30th. #2-Kurt Busch is also locked in after race 5 [Bristol] but is guaranteed to make the race at Bristol by having a past champions provisional to use. Other teams that were not locked into the Top-25 for the first fivee races but are curretnly in the top-35 are: #00-Reutimann [27th], #44-Jarrett [Reutimann takes over after Bristol, 32nd] and #55-Micheal Waltrip [33rd only 23 points out of 36th]. Five teams that started the 2008 season locked in the top-35 but are now sitting outside the current Top-35 are: #77-Hornish Jr. [switched owners pts with the #2 and is 18 pts out of 35th], #22-Blaney, #40-Franchitti, #01-Smith and #45-Petty [81 points out in 40th]. See my Drivers/Owners Points after Atlanta page for the standings.(3-10-2008) Comment here
Petty could be out of top 35, is points swap with #43 possible? #45-Kyle Petty is optimistic that even though he is 40th in owners points that he could get back into the top 35. He believes his Petty Enterprise Dodge has been better than a year ago and mechanical gremlins have hurt the finishes as he sits 81 points out of the key 35th-place spot. “We had three bad races but I am more encouraged where we’re at than I was last year. and that is no joke,” Petty said Friday. “Our car has driven good at all three races.” With the top 35 reverting to this year’s owners points following Bristol next week to determine the guaranteed spots in the lineup week to week, Petty does have another option to get back into the top 35 – he could swap owners points with teammate #43-Bobby Labonte. Labonte, as the 2000 Cup champion, would have access to a past champions provisional, if needed. Labonte, who is 14th in owners points, would still keep his driver points [with #44-Dale Jarrett retiring and #2-Kurt Busch 10th in owners points, Labonte would be guaranteed to make the races unless he used up his 6 past champion provisionals]. “It’s something we’ve thought about, but we haven’t talked about it [with everyone],” Petty Enterprises Executive Vice President Robbie Loomis said Sunday. Petty said the decision would be made by Loomis: “I haven’t thought about it because I’m not worried about it,” Petty said. The top-35 situation also could impact who eventually replaces Petty when he steps out of the car for six races to be in the booth for TNT’s Cup telecasts. The team used Chad McCumbee for one race and John Andretti for the others last year and it likely will be at least another month before those plans are settled. “We’re kind of waiting on this point deal to shake out,” Loomis said. “We have had a lot of drivers contact us about doing it. … I’m really, really big on McCumbee.(SceneDaily)(3-10-2008) Comment here
Bill Elliott’s son wins title: Twelve-year-old Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, won his first major racing title Saturday by clinching the Young Guns division of Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Winter Flurry. The Winter Flurry is a six-race competition for eight divisions of Legends, Bandolero and Roadsters. Other champions crowned Saturday were Bubba Harry (Roadsters), Kyle Plott (Bandits), Trey Maughan (Outlaws), Rawlin West (Chargers), Justin Swilling (Semi-Pro), Jeff Haynie (Masters) and Billy Fulson (Pro). Elliott’s crew chief is his father Bill, who said he was just “tickled to death that nothing fell off the car” during the race. But he shouldn’t start looking for a full-time gig in that arena, according to his son. “He climbed out and said, ‘It’s junk,'” Bill Elliott said. “I guess he must have got that from me. But he’s doing a good job. Right now, it’s just been a good way to spend time with him. I didn’t get to spend too much time with my other kids, and I regret that.” Chase Elliott, from Ballground, Ga., also sees these early races as a stepping stone for his future. “It was fun,” Chase Elliott said. “We’re just working hard, having a good time. We’re moving in to a Legends car this summer and just want to keep moving up. I guess my goal is to get to Cup one day.” His mother, Cindy, is bracing herself for that. “I tried to deter him when he was younger; I gave him golf lessons, tried to get him involved in baseball,” Cindy Elliott said, laughing. “But ever since he’s been old enough to talk, he’s wanted to be a race car driver. And he’s doing a great job, having a lot of fun. I’m so proud of him.”(AMS Pit Notes)(3-10-2008) Comment here
Another NASCAR themed movie? Gary Ross has made a deal with Universal Pictures to develop and direct an untitled drama set against the world of NASCAR racing. Script is being written by Terence Winter, the “Sopranos” exec producer who most recently adapted “The Wolf of Wall Street” for Martin Scorsese at Warner Bros. NASCAR has agreed to cooperate, so Ross will be able to use the circuit’s tracks and footage of actual races and drivers, as well as shoot scenes during races. Pic will be produced by Ross, Scott Stuber, Mary Parent and Jimmy Miller in a co-production between their Larger Than Life, Stuber/Parent and Mosaic Media Group banners. Miller, who developed relationships with NASCAR when he secured the circuit’s cooperation on “Talladega Nights,” was instrumental in bringing NASCAR into the fold. The NASCAR drama will focus on an up-and-coming driver who scratches his way into the circuit and develops a mentor/rival relationship with the driver he grew up idolizing. The dynamic is made more complex because the vet racer’s son drives for his father’s team.(Variety)(3-10-2008) Comment here
News from March 9, 2008
Kyle Busch wins at Atlanta, Toyota’s first win: #18-Kyle Busch won the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway for his 1st win of 2008, 5th career win and first ever for Toyota in Sprint Cup [40th race]. It is the first time a foreign manufacturer has won a Cup race since Al Keller won in a Jaguar on June 13, 1954 in Linden Airport [NJ]. Busch also won the Truck Series race at Atlanta on Friday and leads the Cup and Truck Series points standings. Busch is now the youngest driver to win a Cup race at Atlanta [Jeff Gordon had been the youngest at 23 years, 7 months, 8 days old], Busch is 22 years old, 10 months and 8 days old [approx]. #20-Stewart was 2nd [and not happy with the tires at all] followed by #88-Earnhardt Jr., #16-Biffle, #24-Gordon, #07-Bowyer, #29-Harvick, #17-Kenseth, #83-Vickers and #31-Burton. Last weeks winner, #99-Edwards was leading the race late when his engine gave out on lap 275 and he finished 42nd. There were 8 cautions for 35 laps and there were 26 lead changes among 9 drivers. Race Results on my Atlanta Race Results/Awards Page.(3-9-2008) Comment here
The Unofficial Points Standings [after Atlanta, race 4 of 36]:
1) #18-Kyle Busch 665 [finished 5th in 2007]
2) #16-Greg Biffle 592 -73 [14th]
3) #29-Kevin Harvick 574 -91 [10th]
4) #12-Ryan Newman 571 -94 [13th]
5) #31-Jeff Burton 555 -110 [8th]
6) #9-Kasey Kahne 534 -131 [19th]
7) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 531 -134 [16th]
8) #20-Tony Stewart 525 -140 [6th]
9) #83-Brian Vickers 491 -174 [38th]
10) #2-Kurt Busch 478 -187 [7th]
11) #1-Martin Truex Jr. 471 -194 [11th]
12) #17-Matt Kenseth 470 -195 [4th]
notable drivers not in the top 12
13) #48-Jimmie Johnson 467 -198 [1st]
15) #24-Jeff Gordon 444 -221 [2nd]
16) #07-Clint Bowyer 436 -229 [3rd]
17) #99-Carl Edwards 433 -232 [9th]
19) #11-Denny Hamlin 413 -252 [12th]
For drivers/owners points, see my Jayski’s Drivers/Owners Points Page.(3-9-2008)
Atlanta Motor Speedway Goodyear Tire Comment: Following the Kobalt Tools 500, Ed Clark, president and general manger for Atlanta Motor Speedway, spoke with Stu Grant, General Manager Global Racing Tires for Goodyear. “Following my conversation with Stu Grant, I have pledged to make our track available to Goodyear to come to AMS on an as needed basis to get the proper compound they need before the October 26 Pep Boys Auto 500,” said Clark. “We will do everything possible from our end to help make sure that we have the best tire compound available when the Sprint Cup teams return this fall.” Tire Talk – Drivers Point Fingers at Goodyear for Poor Tire Selection Drivers were still not happy with their Goodyear Eagles after climbing from their Sprint Cup cars following the Kobalt Tools 500, perhaps none were more unhappy than two-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. “That was the most pathetic racing tire that I’ve ever been on in my professional career,” Stewart said. “They (Goodyear) exited out of Formula One. They exited out of IRL. They exited out of World of Outlaws and there is a reason for that. Goodyear can’t build a tire that is worth a crap. If I were Goodyear, I would be really embarrassed about what they brought here. I guarantee you Hoosier of Firestone or somebody can come in and do a lot better job than what they are doing right now.”
Goodyear marketing manager Justin Fantozzi said Goodyear officials were not disappointed with their selection for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500. “We are tremendously proud of the wear rates we saw here,” Fantozzi said. “We have a defined development for this particular tire that started in August with a test here in Atlanta.” When asked if there are changes in store for the tire Goodyear will bring back when the Cup Series returns to AMS in October, Fantozzi said they have a defined process that is followed. “We’ll do the same thing we do after every race. We have post race data now, so we will go back to Akron, Ohio and sit down with engineers and see where that leaves us for the October race. Driver comments are part of the data set we use when selecting tires, so we will gather input there as well.”
Georgia Power NASCAR Sprint Cup Pole winner Jeff Gordon didn’t have rave reviews about Goodyear’s tire selection either. “I felt like I was going to crash every single lap,” Jeff Gordon said about his run. “I’m exhausted right now. I feel like I’ve run a thousand miles here. That was the hardest day I have ever had at Atlanta, especially for a top-five finish. This car, this tire, at this track was just terrible.”(AMS Pit Notes)(3-9-2008) Comment here
Petty finds investor? Yahoo! Sports has learned through two independent sources that Richard Petty [#43, #45] will soon announce that he has struck a deal with a major investor that should keep the Petty name in the sport it has been so instrumental in building. While it’s obviously good to keep the Petty name alive in NASCAR, it also signals the beginning of the end of an era.(Yahoo!Sports)(3-9-2008) Comment here
Scouts to Race at AMS UPDATE: Saturday is Atlanta Motor Speedway’s biannual Scout Day at the Races, when all Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts in uniform are admitted free for the day’s festivities, including the Nicorette 300 Nationwide Series race. New for this year will be a Pinewood Derby demonstration in front of the Petty Grandstand after the conclusion of the Nicorette 300. Sprint Cup owner Ray Everham and broadcaster Mike Joy will host the event, and all scouts participating will receive a commemorative certificate and a T-shirt that says “I raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway.” To get prepared for the big day, there was a special media flight of the Pinewood Derby held Friday morning in the media center, which was won by five-year-old Will Lanford, son of Atlanta Fox 5 sportscaster Buck Lanford. He clutched the winning Fox-5 “sponsored” car long after the end of the contest, and later had his carved wooden trophy autographed by Sprint Cup driver Carl Edwards. The beautifully carved trophy was actually created by Atlanta Motor Speedway’s own Grandstand Supervisor, Shaun Kelley, an accomplished woodworker.(AMS PR)(3-8-2008) UPDATE jayski.com #7 finishes 3rd: Motor Racing Outreach and Speedway Children’s Charities conducted the first autotrader.com Pinewood Derby event Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Nearly 100 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts braved the chilly weather to watch the Nicorette 300 and race their cars down the 30 foot extruded aluminum track. Sprint Cup Series team owner Ray Evernham built two sleek entries, which were awarded to the winning scouts. Every scout received a “I raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway” T-shirt and certificate.
In the MRO class for NASCAR participants’ family members, Christian Yates raced his #28 to a one car length victory over John Hunter Nemechek’s #78 Furniture Row entry, with Scott Joy’s jayski.com #7 an inch behind in third, and Skylar Riggs’ #66 fourth. Macy Waltrip, Layne Riggs, Todd Gilliland, and Emilia Reutimann also competed, racing cars that they and their dads had built.
A variety of strategies were employed. Waltrip’s car was “loose” and benefitted from a tire change, while graphite lube was a hot commodity among drivers trying to keep up with Yates’ “horsepower”. Joe Nemechek served as honorary starter, From FOX Sports, Mike Joy was race director and Matt Yocum was finish line judge. Proud crew chiefs included Doug Yates, Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann, Scott Riggs, David Gilliand, Ray Evernham, Nemechek and Joy. MRO President Billy Mauldin presented the awards. The next event is planned for Charlotte in May.(3-9-2008) Comment here
Four races for Skinner in the #84…hopefully: Mike Skinner envisions mentoring as the next phase in his NASCAR career, and what he did Friday was an important step toward ensuring that A.J. Allmendinger maintains his. Skinner quelled speculation about Allmendinger’s benching by Red Bull Racing by making it clear he’s just pinch-hitting for the struggling second-year Sprint Cup Series driver, who reiterated his commitment to NASCAR. Skinner then went out and fulfilled his primary duty by qualifying the #84 Toyota Camry 34th for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500, which will mark the car’s first competition this season. Skinner’s interim job description is getting the car into races and finishing in the top 35 to guarantee a spot in the field starting with the sixth race at Martinsville, Va. The hope is that Allmendinger, minus the pressure of having to race his way in, can take over from there and just drive. “We’re planning on four races and hopefully that’s all it’s going to take,” said Skinner, 50. “Hopefully we can go test somewhere (to the point) that I don’t even get in the car and (Allmendinger) does all the driving, and I can talk to him and tell him some of those things I felt when I was in that situation and how I dealt with it. Hopefully, that will reduce some of that pressure. There’s no question from anybody about this guy’s ability to drive a car. Is it the race team? Is it the driver? Is it a combination? Is it too much pressure? That’s what I’m here to evaluate. If A.J. succeeds, then I’ve succeeded.” After winning five open-wheel races in 2006 in the since-disbanded Champ Car World Series, Allmendinger jumped to stock cars last season in start-up situations with Red Bull and Toyota. That combination has resulted in a series of hard knocks, with the start of his career delayed to the fifth race at Bristol and just 17 races in a 43rd-place ranking. This season Allmendinger has failed to qualify for the Daytona 500, while rain denied him an opportunity to make the field for the Auto Club 500 in California. He missed last week’s race at Las Vegas despite being part of a “go or go home” group thought to have an advantage by going out after the top 35 drivers already locked in. Allmendinger and Skinner have a previous history as protégé and mentor dating back to Allmendinger’s brief learning curve in the Truck series. He promised to stick by Skinner and absorb his expertise even harder this time, dismissing whispers that his struggles would send him back to America’s reunited open wheel circuit. “No. I want to be here,” Allmendinger said. “This is the place to race. The ultimate thing comes down to I know I have the ability to win races and win championships. We just need to get the ship turned around the right way. Mike doesn’t want this job, he wants to help me.”
Going out next to last in qualifying, Skinner knocked out former champion Bill Elliott to ensure the team’s first tandem appearance this season. That led to a series of congratulations for the driver and Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye, who also expressed a sense of relief. “Mike did a phenomenal job for the program,” Frye said. “He and Brian were running similar lap times in practice and that gave us a direction. That’s what a multi-car team has to do to get better. What we’re trying to figure out now is the direction the car needs to go because A.J. is a phenomenal talent and he can do this. We’re just trying to catch our breath and hopefully get this thing pointed in the right direction and put him back in there, and 10 years from now we’ll forget this even happened.” (USA Today)(3-9-2008)
Bliss in the #22 for Blaney for practice UPDATE: Dave Blaney is not practicing the #22 Caterpillar Toyota as he is not feeling well, Mike Bliss is practicing the #22 for Blaney in Happy Hour practice at Atlanta.(SPEED practice coverage)(3-8-2008) UPDATE: Blaney is expected to start the the race today, but how long he would drive is still to be determined. Blaney has the flu and Mike Bliss practiced the car Saturday in case he has to fill in for Blaney during the race today. “[Blaney] is better,” BDR General Manager Mike Brown said Sunday morning. “He’s going to try to run all he can, hopefully all of it.” As long as Blaney starts the race, he earns the points for the car’s finish, regardless of who is in the car at the end of the race.(SceneDaily)(3-9-2008)
News from March 8, 2008
Edwards, Roush respond to NASCAR Penalty: Despite being blasted from nearly every angle by competitors for the loose oil tank lid that allegedly gave them an on-track advantage, Carl Edwards and Jack Roush defended their innocence while fielding questions from the media Friday afternoon. “I swear it was not an intentional thing,” Edwards said. “It doesn’t change what I’m gonna do; I just drive the race car as fast as I can. It’s not my responsibility to tighten that bolt.” Earlier in the day, nearly every fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup driver or owner who was asked about the penalty condemned Edwards and his Roush Fenway team for intentionally loosening the lid. “You can tell a lot about people by the way they act,” Edwards said. “People get worked up about it; we’ve got ’em where we want ’em. It’s not a big deal to me personally; it’s almost comical.” For owner Jack Roush, it’s certainly not a laughing matter. While he wouldn’t rule out appealing the decision, he did say he’d made a certain peace with what had transpired. “If NASCAR’s decided that your car is out of variance, regardless if you’re culpable or did it with intent, and then there’s a penalty … that’s fine, just do it every time,” Roush said.(AMS Pit Note)(3-8-2008) Comment here
UPS, Toys for Tots announce program: UPS and Toys For Tots will launch a new Literacy Program, officials from both announced Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The mission of this new program is to give books to lower-income children in order to help them succeed in life. David Reutimann, who will take over the #44 UPS Toyota later this month [at Martinsville], will also pilot a special Toys For Tots paint scheme at the California race on Labor Day weekend [8/31]. “Women like to buy shoes; I like to buy helmets,” Reutimann said. “We get a new paint scheme and I get to buy a new helmet.” As a father, though, Reutimann also recognizes the importance of the new Literacy Program. “I think about the simple pleasure of sitting and reading to my daughter, and it’s said to think that some children don’t have that,” Reutimann said. “I’m glad we’re going to be able to give that to them and glad to be able to get a new helmet.”(AMS Pit Notes)(3-8-2008) Comment here
No Indy 500 this year for Robby: DOES THIS MEAN [winning the appeal] YOU [#7-Robby Gordon] WON’T ATTEMPT THE INDIANAPOLIS 500 THIS YEAR? “It was more of a fact if we’re on the outside of the top 35, we really weren’t going to have a shot at making the Chase in 2008, we needed to do something big. Let’s go try to win Indy or something. That’s the pure racer coming out in me that wants to succeed. That deal is off.”(Dodge Motorsports PR)(3-8-2008) Comment here
Goodyear Satisified with Atlanta tire: Despite some complaints from competitors this weekend, Goodyear marketing manager Justin Fantozzi said he was pleased with the tire his company brought for competition in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I was not pleased at our open house test last fall, and that’s why we came back in December,” Fantozzi said. “Now what we have is a right-side tire that’s harder for better durability and a left side that has better grip in it.” Tony Stewart was highly critical of the tire Friday after qualifying, and other drivers echoed his concerns Saturday after practice. “We’re on the edge,” Gordon said. “It’s a handful. We’re all sliding all over the place.” Michael Waltrip agreed that the tire was a handful, but he saw that as a positive. “That’s what racing is all about,” Waltrip said. “Before, whatever you could give that car, it could take. But now a driver can give it more than it can take, and you have to finesse it. So, yeah, you’re sideways and slipping all over the place, but it should make for some fun racing.” While the drivers can’t agree how the new tire will affect competition Sunday, it has obviously slowed the cars dramatically. Jeff Gordon’s pole run Friday was 185.251 mph – more than eight mph slower than last spring’s pole run by Ryan Newman. “This tire makes it harder to get a hold of,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after qualifying second Friday. “You can’t enter the corner nowhere near as fast as you used to.” Fantozzi said Goodyear is continuously looking for a better tire, and that won’t change now. “We’re never stagnant, we’ve got a whole crew of engineers back at the shop that you never see, analyzing data and working on next year’s tire,” Fantozzi said. “But at the end of the day, we always err for safety.” (AMS Pit Notes)(3-8-2008) Comment here
News from March 7, 2008
Sad New – Kitty Allison: Kitty Allison, mother of legendary NASCAR drivers Bobby and Donnie Allison, died Thursday at the age of 101. From BobbyAllison.com: The Matriarch of the Allison Family, Kittie (Mom) Allison passed away on Thursday evening, March 6, 2008. She and Ed (Pop) had 13 children, 8 of whom are still living, 25 grandchildren, 32 great grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter. Mom was a devout Catholic and an inspiration to everyone she knew. Born and raised in New Jersey, Mom lived in Miami, Florida most of her life and raised her children there. She and Pop moved to Hueytown, Alabama to be near their family and racing in the 1970’s. A Lifetime Member of the Winston Cup Ladies Auxiliary in Racing (WAM) Mom was always on the racing scene and flew to many tracks with her son Bobby to watch him and Donnie race. For the last few years, she made her home at the Little Flower Catholic Assisted Living Community in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mom will be greatly missed by her family and all who met her over the 101 years of her life.
There will be a Viewing and Rosary Service at Browns Service Funeral Home-West at 2885 Allison-Bonnett Memorial Parkway in Hueytown, Alabama on Tuesday, March 11th — Viewing at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm with the Rosary being said at 7:30 pm. The Funeral Mass will be at St. Aloysious Catholic Church in Bessemer, Alabama at 751 Academy Drive, Bessemer, Alabama at 10:00 am on Wednesday, March 12th with burial following at Highland Memorial Gardens in Bessemer, Alabama.
In lieu of flowers, any donations can be made to: Little Flower Assisted Living, 8700 Lawyers Rd., Charlotte, NC 28227 or
St. Aloysious Catholic Church, 751 Academy Dr., Bessemer, Alabama 35022 or Victory Junction Gang Camp.(Bobbyallison.com)(3-7-2008)
Analysts say T-Mobile MAY acquire Sprint; T-Mobile Series?: Sprint Nextel may be a takeover target, according to one of the nation’s largest investment banking firms. Deutsche Telekom, owner of T-Mobile and the world’s sixth largest phone company, may consider acquiring Overland Park-based Sprint to block a price war in the mobile phone industry, analysts for Merrill Lynch said today. The Wall Street firm said Sprint’s operational problems and shaky position in the U.S. wireless industry may force the company to cut prices even further to attract customers. T-Mobile generally is considered to be the low-cost alternative among the top five U.S. mobile phone companies. Last week, Sprint introduced an unlimited voice and data wireless plan that undercut other U.S. companies. Lynch, which advises its clients to sell Sprint shares, said it is not aware of any acquisition discussions.(Kansas City Star)(3-7-2008)Comment here
Home Depot Sells Off Sponsorship For Some Races; Subway?: the Long Island Press reports that Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs told the Press Wednesday that the [Home Depot, #20 Tony Stewart] home improvement warehouse has sold off the primary sponsorship for some races to another company. “At times we’ll bring people to them and say, ‘Hey, what do you think,’ and usually in the past they say, ‘Thanks but no thanks,'” Gibbs said. “I think they found a partner here that makes sense for them.” Gibbs wouldn’t divulge who the partner is, saying, “I’ll let them go into all that detail when the time is right.” He did add, though, that the agreement is more than a one-off deal. Home Depot has shared primary signage with assorted other sponsors, including animated movies Shrek 2 and Madagascar, for one-off races in the past. A Home Depot PR rep reached by the Press following the interview with Gibbs had no comment other than adding that such announcements would be made by JGR. But without prompting, the spokesperson asked if anything had been mentioned during the interview about restaurant chain Subway. Stewart regularly stars in commercials for the company, and his car has carried small signage of the company’s logo. Selling off races obviously saves money in a sport that is getting increasingly pricey to sponsor. JGR’s contracts with Stewart and Home Depot run through 2009.(Long Island Press)(3-7-2008)Comment here
Toyota’s GM says #99 knew what it was doing with lid UPDATE: Lee White, GM for Toyota Racing Development, said Carl Edwards’ team knowingly caused a lid to come loose on an oil tank in his Ford because it increased the car’s speed during Sunday’s victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Edwards was penalized 100 points by NASCAR for the missing cover. Roush Fenway Racing has denied the infraction was intentional, saying a bolt broke because of a vibration. The team said it wasn’t certain it achieved a gain in performance. White said the manufacturer’s testing at wind tunnels in Germany revealed removing the cover on the oil tank (located in a steel box behind the driver’s seat) resulted in 170 extra pounds of downforce, the aerodynamic measurement of keeping a car glued to the track. White also said video of a pit stop showed a member of Edwards’ pit crew pulling on a right rear fender to open a 3-inch gap to an inner panel. Toyota testing showed that would create about 70 pounds of downforce, White said. NASCAR said the only issue with the car during inspection was the lid.(more at USA Today)(3-7-2008) UPDATE: What began as a debate over whether the infraction was intentional — which is the overwhelming opinion of the Sprint Cup garage — has turned into personal warfare between Jack Roush and Toyota’s Lee White. Roush has badgered White repeatedly since Toyota came into the sport last season, complaining about how the foreign manufacturer stole away crew members by doubling salaries and drove up the overall cost it takes to compete. He even referenced the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. So when NASCAR hammered Edwards with the penalty, which included the loss of 10 bonus points he would get should he makes the championship chase and a six-race suspension for crew chief Bob Osborne, White didn’t hesitate to fire back at his former boss. White, the general manager of Toyota Racing Development, told USA Today on Thursday that Roush Fenway Racing knowingly caused the lid to come off to increase the car’s speed. Roush fired back with claims that White basically cheated during his days as the manager of his road-racing team and that was the reason he didn’t bring him to North Carolina when he moved into NASCAR. He also questioned why White would test a car without the lid or with the side panel pulled out when both are illegal. And then to throw fuel on the fire, Roush said Michael Waltrip’s car wasn’t the only Toyota at the 2007 Daytona 500 that had “jet fuel” in the engine. NASCAR never has revealed what the foreign substance was. Roush and White actually were once friends. White often tells how in 1986 his wife picked out Roush’s first fedora that has become synonymous with the man known as the “Cat in the Hat.” NASCAR officials declined to comment on that topic, but got a kick out of the way Roush and White were attacking each other. Maybe the two simply are following the edict of chairman Brian France and showing more of their personalities.(see full story and many quotes at ESPN.com)(3-7-2008) Comment here
Jeff Gordon wins pole at Atlanta: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his 1st pole of 2008, 2nd ever at Atlanta and 64th of his career [he has won from the pole 17 times] with a speed of 185.251mph. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr will start 2nd, followed by #1-Martin Truex Jr., #99-Carl Edwards, #43-Bobby Labonte, #18-Kyle Busch, #07-Clint Bowyer, #29-Kevin Harvick, #9-Kasey Kahne and #8-Mark Martin. The Go-or-Go Homers who made the race: #78-Nemechek [fastest at 17th], #10-Carpentier, #55-Waltrip, #2-Busch, #00-Reutimann, #84-Skinner, #83-Vickers and #44-Jarrett [uses past champions provisional].
See qualifying results, starting lineup and more on my Starting Lineup/Qualifying Page.(3-7-2008)
Slowest pole speed at Atlanta since 1995: the 185.215mph pole speed run by #24-Jeff Gordon on Friday, March 7, 2008 for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway is the slowest pole speed since Darrell Waltrip won the pole at Atlanta on November 12, 1995 with the speed of 185.046 mph. The current track record is 197.478mph held by Geoff Bodine and set in Nov 1997, the first race after the track was reconfigured and repaved. The March 2007 pole speed was 193.124mph set by #12-Ryan Newman.(3-7-2008)
Five drivers fail to qualify for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway: #49-Ken Schrader, #21-Bill Elliott, #28-Johnny Benson, #34-John Andretti and #08-Burney Lamar.(3-7-2008)
Petty’s Donate Atlanta Race Sponsorship to Paralyzed Veterans of America: Petty Enterprises will donate the primary sponsorship of their #45 Dodge at this weekend’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to Paralyzed Veterans of America. “I would like to express my thanks to Richard and Kyle Petty for doing something good for America’s paralyzed veterans, not just one day a year but year-round. We really appreciate the fact that you guys care,” said Paralyzed Veterans’ National President Randy L. Pleva, Sr. Petty Enterprises announced in November 2007 that Paralyzed Veterans will serve as a primary sponsor on the #45 Dodge Avenger for two races during the 2008 Sprint Cup season at the Richmond in May and Pocono in June. The organization will be an associate sponsor on the #45 Dodge for the remaining 34 races of the season. “I’m honored to have the Paralyzed Veterans of America on board with us for this weekend’s race in Atlanta,” said Kyle Petty, driver of the #45 PVA Dodge. “We need to take care of those who sacrifice so much for us. Paralyzed Veterans is a leading advocate for the improvement in the quality of health care for our veterans. Everyone knows that I care deeply about charitable work, so this is a natural partnership.” “The King” Richard Petty sees Paralyzed Veterans as a great way to give back to those who do so much for our way of life. “From helping our vets get the benefits they deserve to promoting buildings that are wheelchair accessible, Paralyzed Veterans sets a great example of how we should treat our service men and women,” said Petty. “People say that racecar drivers are heroes, but these guys are the real heroes.” For more information visit www.pva.org/petty. Founded in 1946, Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of individuals with spinal cord injury or disease.(Petty Enterprises PR), see images of the car on my #45 Team Schemes page.(3-7-2008) Comment here
Atlanta Rookie Notes: #40-Dario Franchitti was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race in the March 2 UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Franchitti scored a 33rd-place finish and took top rookie honors for the first time this season. Franchitti also grabbed the lead in the Raybestos Rookie standings. He holds a one-point edge over #01-Regan Smith (31-30) entering the March 9 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Franchitti is also the only Raybestos Rookie to lead a lap in three Sprint Cup races this season. He led the Auto Club 500 (race No. 2) once for one lap. 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 Sprint Cup Series victory in just his third career start. Robby Gordon is the most recent Raybestos Rookie to win the pole for the spring 1997 race at Atlanta. The late Kenny Irwin holds the record for most laps led by a Raybestos Rookie in the spring race at Atlanta. In 1998, Irwin led five times for 112 laps. Since 1975, TWO or more Raybestos Rookies have finished in the top 10 in the spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway three times. Ryan Newman holds the all-time Raybestos Rookie record for most poles (6), most top-fives (14) and most top-10s (22).(Camp & Assoc/Raybestos PR), see the full report, history, standings and more on my 2008 Rookies Page.(3-7-2008)
Atlanta Goodyear Tire Notes: Teams in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be running the same tire codes at Atlanta this weekend . . . teams in the Craftsman Truck Series will run the same left-side code (D-4152) with a different right-side code this week . . . this is the first time that teams have run a race on either of these two tire codes . . . this tire setup was tested by Bobby Labonte at Atlanta in December . . . this tire combination has some changes over what has been run at Atlanta in the past . . . this left-side code (D-4152) features Goodyear’s new construction that will help add grip and will be run on all intermediate tracks . . . this right-side code (D-4154) has a tougher tread compound for better wear . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Atlanta. . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window is every 50-54 laps, based on fuel mileage.(Goodyear PR), see full report with code and pressures on the Atlanta Race Info page, Goodyear Section.(3-7-2008)
Newman Eyes Pole Record at Atlanta Motor Speedway: #12-Ryan Newman is currently tied with Buddy Baker for pole positions at Atlanta Motor Speedway at seven each. Newman has never won from the pole [best was 4th in March 2004], but 14 drivers have, including Baker, winning the 1979 spring race from the pole. Newman notched six consecutive poles through 2003-2005 and grabbed his seventh last year in the spring race.(AMS PR)(3-7-2008)
News from March 6, 2008
Sponsor for Kvapil at Atlanta? UPDATE: hearing that Zaxby’s Restuarant’s will sponsor Travis Kvapil’s #28 Yates Racing Ford in a one-race deal for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 in Atlanta. Zaxby’s restaurants also sponsors the #09 Craftsman Roush Racing truck that Kvapil drives on a part-time basis.(3-5-2008) UPDATE: Yates Racing announced today that Zaxby’s will sponsor the #28 entry with driver Travis Kvapil for this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 9th. “I’m really thrilled to have Zaxby’s as the sponsor of our #28 Ford Fusion for this weekend at Atlanta,” stated Kvapil. “Having the opportunity to drive the Zaxby’s Ford, and Atlanta being Zaxby’s home base for the company, is a great tie-in. I know that we’re going to have a lot of success for them on Sunday. Our Cup team has really been able to show our potential over the past few weeks, and I think that this is a great time for sponsors to jump on board to partner with our Yates Racing teams. I’m really looking forward to this weekend and representing Zaxby’s.”
“We are ecstatic to have Travis representing our company at Atlanta this weekend,” commented Tony Townley, Vice-President of Zaxby’s Franchising. “We are thrilled to have Travis representing us at Atlanta, since our company is headquartered here. I think our franchisees and customers will be excited to watch the #28 in our first Cup series endeavor. Our customers can identify with our colors and branding from our last couple of years racing in the Truck series, and we’re looking forward to our partnership with Yates Racing for this weekend’s Cup race.” Kvapil has already achieved a top-10 finish this season in the Sprint Cup series when he brought home an eighth-place finish this past weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Yates Racing. Kvapil will drive the #09 entry in the Craftsman Truck Series this weekend at Atlanta for Roush Fenway Racing, which is also sponsored by Zaxby’s. Kvapil will pilot the #09 Zaxby’s truck for ten more races following this weekend’s race at Atlanta.(Yates Racing PR), see an image of the scheme in my Paint Schemes Gallery.(3-6-2008) Comment here
Fastenal on Franchitti’s car at Atlanta: This weekend Dario Franchitti’s primary Nationwide Series sponsor Fastenal will be adorning the hood of his both his NNS and Sprint Cup car as at Atlanta as he pulls double duty for the fourth straight weekend.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR)(3-6-2008)
Reutimann Tests at Infineon Raceway: #00-David Reutimann visited Infineon Raceway for the first time on Wednesday and he was surprised by the challenges of the twisting 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course. Reutimann came to the track for a one-day test session before his first race start in the Sonoma Valley at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sprint Cup Series event, June 20-22. Currently in his second year of full-time Cup Series competition, he was replaced by road-course specialist P.J. Jones for the Infineon Raceway event in 2007. The visit also marked Reutimann’s first trip to the Sonoma Valley and Northern California, and he was quite taken with the rolling hills and beautiful landscape. “This track is pretty tricky. It’s a really neat layout with all of the elevation changes. It’s a lot to take on, but it’s a great track,” said Reutimann. “It’s a beautiful area. I’ve never been here before, and it’ll be great to come back in June.” Reutimann piloted a GT America stock car supplied by Pioneer Motorsports out of Lake Oroville. He was coached by road-course veteran Chris Cook and completed approximately 90 laps in the full-day test. “David, even with his limited road-course experience, is that good. He can be a contender on the road courses. He progressed all day long and finished at a very high level,” said Cook, who has also worked with NASCAR drivers Johnny Sauter, Paul Menard and Los Gatos native AJ Allmendinger. For ticket information on the Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 20-22, call 800-870-RACE or visit www.infineonraceway.com.(Infineon Raceway PR)(3-6-2008)
Texas Motor Sports HOF names inductees: Mark Martin and open-wheel star Jim McElreath have been selected as this year’s inductees into the Texas Motor Sports Hall of Fame and will be honored April 2 at The Speedway Club at Texas Motor Speedway. In addition, Texas Motor Speedway and Happy Hill Farm Academy announced that Jimmie Johnson, the two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and defending Dickies 500 winner; Sam Hornish Jr., a three-time IndyCar Series champion and last season’s Bombardier Learjet 550k winner; and Indy-car veteran Arie Luyendyk, who won the first nighttime Indy car race at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997, will also be honored with special awards during the ceremony.(TMS PR)(3-6-2008) Comment here
Kessel Leaving Sprint’s NASCAR Account For Victory Junction Gang: Dean Kessel, Sprint’s Director of NASCAR marketing for the past two-plus seasons, is leaving to become president of the Victory Junction Gang, a camp for special-needs children. With Kessel’s departure effective April 4, Sprint Dir of Sports Marketing Steve Gaffney will assume an increased role in overseeing the NASCAR sponsorship. Gaffney and Kessel were previously peers at the director level. Sprint will hire a GM for its eight-person office in Huntersville, NC. The GM will report to Gaffney, who will continue to operate out of Sprint’s K.C. HQs for the near future. Gaffney will continue to direct Sprint’s other sports sponsorships including the NFL, Sprint Center and the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association.(Sports Business Daily)(3-6-2008)
News from March 5, 2008
Retro Mountain Dew scheme for Dale Jr.? hearing that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run a retro #88 Mountain Dew scheme sometime in 2008, supposedly at Darlington in May, see an image on my #88 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008)
Robby Gordon’s reaction: The following is a statement from Robby Gordon regarding today’s decision by the National Stock Car Racing Commission restoring his 100 owner and driver points as well as reversing the six-week suspension of crew chief Frank Kerr. The commission did increase the fine from $100,000 to $150,000. Gordon is now 21st in driver points. Robby Gordon: “We see this as good news. We are grateful the commissioners rescinded the points penalty and suspension but disappointed by the fine. Still, we see this as a victory for Robby Gordon Motorsports. We feel like justice was done and appreciate NASCAR creating a system that allowed us to take our appeal to the National Stock Car Racing Commission. Now we plan to put this issue behind us and concentrate on making the “Chase” in 2008 as well as getting the Jim Beam Dodge into victory lane. I want to thank the thousands of fans and our sponsors who have supported us through this episode and want everyone of you to know how much we appreciate all that you have done. Our goal is to be a model team in the future and never go through something like this again.”(Robby Gordon Motorsports PR)(3-5-2008)
Roush Fenway Racing Statement on #99 Penalty: Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith’s statement on the penalty given to the #99 team following Sunday’s Las Vegas race. “The bolt holding the lid in place failed in its purpose as a result of vibration harmonics generated by the car and the race track during the race. The bolt was secure enough to survive 225 miles of practice, perhaps up to 399 of 400 miles of the race and the scrutiny of numerous inspections. It’s a tough business for any race team to have to pledge $100,000, 100 points and a six race crew chief suspension as an indemnity payment to NASCAR against a promise forced from us by NASCAR that no bolt will ever fail its purpose under race conditions. We are currently evaluating whether or not the circumstances justify submitting to the unpleasantness of the appeal process, but from a competitive standpoint, we believe it is in our best interest to have Bob Osborne begin serving the penalty now. Chris Andrews, our chief engineer, will be at the track on Friday and Saturday to lead the #99 team and general manager Robbie Reiser will join Chris on the pit box Sunday during the race. We are confident that we have the depth of talent in our organization and the strength in Carl Edwards and the #99 team to overcome this penalty, should that end up being the final outcome of this unhappy episode.”(Roush Fenway Racing PR)(3-5-2008)
Robby’s Appeal to be held on March 5th UPDATE 2: #7-Robby Gordon’s appeal to NASCAR officials in response to a 100-point penalty and six-race suspension and $100,000 fine for crew chief Frank Kerr is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, March 5, 2008 in Daytona.(2-28-2008) UPDATE: nothing official, but am hearing all of the penalties [points and crew chief suspension] have been rescinded BUT the fine was increased from $100,000 to $150,000.(3-5-2008) UPDATE 2: On March 5, 2008, the National Stock Car Racing Commission [Doug Fritz, Bud Moore and Chairman George Silbermann] heard and considered the appeal of Robby Gordon Motorsports regarding the #7 car. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following opening day inspection on February 8, 2008 for the Sprint 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 20-3.1-A: “Unapproved front bumper cover.”
The penalties assessed were:
* Loss of 100 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Robby Gordon.
* Loss of 100 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver Points for driver Robby Gordon.
* $100,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR for the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until April 9, 2008, and probation until December 31, 2008 for crew chief, Frank Kerr.
The Appellants argued that the bumper cover was installed as delivered from the manufacturer, that it did not provide a competition advantage since it was discovered prior to being allowed on the racetrack, and that the bumper met the templates. The Appellants also argued against the severity of the penalties. In deliberating, the Commission considered several factors. The bumper cover constituted an obvious rules infraction and the Appellants did not contest the legality of the part. The Commission notes and reaffirms the following fundamental principal which is vital to maintaining the integrity of the sport: Regardless of the source of an unapproved part on a racecar, the race team that officially enters the car in a NASCAR race is ultimately accountable for that racecar’s conformance, or non-conformance, to the rules. However, the Commission believes that the facts presented during the hearing represented an extraordinary and unusual set of circumstances. While this does not excuse the infraction, the National Stock Car Racing Commission has decided to reinstate the car owner and driver championship points, lift the suspension, and increase the fine. For the crew chief, Frank Kerr, the penalty is increased to $150,000 and he remains on probation through Dec. 31, 2008. 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)(3-5-2008) Comment here
#99 Fails post race inspection at Las Vegas UPDATE 3 Penalties announced: been told the oil tank lid was not secured on the winning #99 Ford of Carl Edward’s and found during post race inspection at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The car failed post race inspection and will keep the win, but will face points penalties and a fine. NASCAR usually announces penalties late Tuesday afternoons.(3-2-2008) MORE: The #99 car had a problem in the postrace inspection. The lid of the oil tank reservoir was off, so NASCAR officials are taking the car to the Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. Any possible penalties would come later this week, probably Tuesday. Five Nationwide Series teams were penalized for a similar violation at Daytona.(ESPN.com)….the rule…the oil reservoir tank cover was not fastened securely, the five teams were penalized with the loss of 25 driver and owner championship points.(Jayski’s Past NNS News page) UPDATE: Carl Edwards said on NASCAR This Week [SPEED] that a bolt backed out, but he expects to be penalized.(3-3-2008) UPDATE 2: NASCAR did not announce any penalties Tuesday and supposedly will make an announcement on their decision sometime Wednesday, March 5th.(3-4-2008) UPDATE 3: NASCAR has issued penalties and fines to the #99 team that competes in the Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rule infractions found last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The #99 car driven by Carl Edwards was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-2.1J (any device or duct work that permits air to pass from one area of the interior of the car to another, or to the outside of the car, will not be permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, the inside of the car to the trunk area, or the floors, firewalls, crush panels and wheel wells passing air into or out of the car) of the 2008 NASCAR rule book. The violations were found during post-race inspection at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2. As a result, Edwards and car owner Jack Roush have been penalized 100 championship driver and 100 championship owner points, respectively. In the event the #99 team qualifies for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the team will not receive the 10 bonus points for the UAW-Dodge 400 victory used for determining the Chase seeding order. Crew chief Bob Osborne has been fined $100,000, suspended from the next six Sprint Cup Series events, suspended from NASCAR until April 30 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.(NASCAR PR), Expect Roush Fenway Racing to appeal the penalties. The 100 pt deduction takes Edwards from leading the Drivers Points Standings to 7th, 79 pts out of 1st and #18-Kyle Busch retakes the points standings by 20 over #12-Ryan Newman.(3-5-2008) Comment here
10th Anniversary Scheme for Stewart at Atlanta: Tony Stewart’s #20 Home Depot Toyota will sport a slightly different look when it takes to the track for this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The traditional orange and black colors of primary sponsor Home Depot will remain, but in celebration of the Atlanta-based company’s 10-year anniversary as a proud NASCAR sponsor and staunch supporter of Stewart and Joe Gibbs Racing, a special paint scheme designed by one of The Home Depot’s 350,000 associates will adorn the #20 machine. In a company-wide contest that began on Dec. 17, 2007 and ended on Jan. 18, 2008, Home Depot associates were encouraged to design the car that Stewart would drive March 9 at Atlanta. From a total of 351 entries, the winning design came from the pen of Scott Foreman, a Pro Desk Sales Associate who works at The Home Depot in Brighton, Colo. A Pro Desk Sales Associate like Foreman bleeds orange, for they are on the front line of The Home Depot’s core customer – general contractors and do-it-yourselfers who view no home improvement project as too large. The Home Depot entered NASCAR with a bang in 1999, as the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer became the Official Home Improvement Warehouse of NASCAR. Augmenting that platform, The Home Depot also signed to sponsor a newly formed second team of Joe Gibbs Racing with a rookie crew chief and a rookie driver who had made a name for himself in open-wheel race cars but was still a stock car neophyte.(True Speed Communication/Joe Gibbs Racing), see images of the scheme on my #20 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008) Comment here
GEM has full sponsor for #10 car: from a Dodge Motorsports transcript, George Gillett- Majority Owner, Gillett/Evernham Motorsports:
DO YOU HAVE SPONSORSHIP LEFT ON THE #10 CAR FOR PATRICK (CARPENTIER)?
“We don’t get into that kind of detail. I’m happy to report – as recently as last night [Monday] – for 2008 we have a verbal which is in the writing today, for a major, major, major new sponsor the 10 car. It’s very exciting for us and for the sponsors. We are really starting to see some major new sponsors come on board. Budweiser is a thrill, Best Buy, McDonalds, Cintas and so forth. We’re pleased with the way things are going – but as Patrick gets even more success on the track – his wonderful personality – we’re finding a lot of people interested in the 10 car.”(Dodge Motorsports Transcript)(3-5-2008)
DIRECTV scheme for Bowyer at Atlanta: For the second time in three weeks, Clint Bowyer’s #07 Chevy will feature a blue and white DIRECTV paint scheme. Jack Daniel’s, Bowyer’s traditional primary sponsor, will be featured on the car’s deck lid and lower-rear quarter panels. DIRECTV is the leading digital TV provider dedicated to the best entertainment experience available. With more than 16.8 million customers, DIRECTV is the industry leader in satellite service. DIRECTV will strategically place four Mobile Pit Boxes throughout the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) concourse and display area for fans to enjoy a free preview of NASCAR HotPassT Only on DIRECTV.(RCR PR), see images on my #07 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008)
PVA.org scheme for Petty at Atlanta: Quotes from Kyle Petty: “I’m honored to have the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) on board with us for this weekend’s race in Atlanta. Their plan was to be a primary sponsor on the #45 Dodge Charger for two other races this year, but they picked up this weekend too. They are a great sponsor, but an even better group of people. We need to take care of those who sacrifice so much for us. The PVA is a leading advocate for the improvement in the quality of health care for our veterans. Everyone knows that I care deeply about charitable work so this is a natural partnership.” Petty’s Victory Invitational Celebrity Golf Tournament, held last weekend in Phoenix, raised $110,000 for the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Arizona State University College of Nursing & Healthcare Innovation.(Petty Racing PR), see images on my #45 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008)
Robby to have sponsor fron Valvoline at Atlanta: Robby Gordon will race the #7 Dodge with Valvoline sponsorship this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Gordon said: “We are going to carry the Valvoline sponsorship this weekend to help out Gillett Evernham Motorsports. This is pretty cool. I saw on one of the online auction sites someone was auctioning off the Valvoline driving suit I wore in the off road days. It was going for $500! Maybe I should have saved a couple.(RGM PR)(3-5-2008), see images on my #7 Team Schemes page.(3-5-2008)Comment here
Carpentier To Drive #10 Cintas Dodge At Atlanta: Patrick Carpentier will attempt to make his fifth career start this weekend driving the #10 Cintas Dodge at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Carpentier once again faces the daunting challenge of making the 43-car field solely on his qualifying time. He is 47th in car owner points.(GEM PR)(3-5-2008)
Interesting Stat: #99-Carl Edwards scores back to back wins for the second time in his career. It is the second time in his young career that he would win 2 races in a row. That makes Carl the 32nd driver in NASCAR history to have more than one winning streak of 2 races or more. There have been 48 drivers to win 2 in a row once, and now 32 drivers that have done it twice. Here is a list of all drivers that have 2 or more winning streaks of 2 races or more. Of course, the King leads all drivers with an untouchable 37 winning streaks.(LTpicks.com)(3-5-2008)Comment here
Benson in the #27 at Atlanta: The #27 Toyota Camry of Johnny Benson will feature the decals of Toyota Certified Used Vehicles this weekend in Atlanta. TCUV is one of Benson’s primary sponsors on his #23 Craftsman Truck Series machine as well. Benson hopes to make his 275th career Sprint Cup Series start when the green flag waves for the 500-mile event Sunday afternoon. The #27 Bill Davis Racing team plans to utilize chassis #40 for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This is the same Camry the team ran last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.(BDR PR)(3-5-2008) Comment here
Eury Jr. named Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” in Las Vegas: Tony Eury Jr., crew chief of the #88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevy driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., was named the WYPALL Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” Tuesday for his team’s second place finish in the UAW/Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Eury Jr. helped his team vault to the front of the field in Sunday’s race with strategic two-tire and gas-only calls that gained the #88 team valuable track position at critical times in the race. Eury Jr. will receive a $1,000 check as a result of his leadership and proactive thinking during the race. The 2008 WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup garage. Following each Cup race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief that made the biggest difference to his team. Representatives from WYPALL Wipers, together with FOX/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and three of NASCAR’s top crew chiefs who represent WYPALL, including Todd Berrier of the Richard Childress Racing #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy team, Bob Osborne of the Roush Fenway Racing #99 Office Depot Ford team, and Kenny Francis of the Gillett Evernham Motorsports #9 Budweiser Dodge team, make up the panel of judges. In addition to the $1,000 check, the winning crew chief will receive signage to announce the win on their pit box the following week. The crew chief with the most weekly top wins will be honored as the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year and will be presented a $20,000 check at the season finale in Homestead, FL. The WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief Challenge will continue throughout the remainder of the 2008 season and spotlight the men behind the machines. For more information, log onto www.wypall.com.(Wypall PR)(3-5-2008) Comment here
GA Governor to host Atlanta Motor Speedway Day: Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue will host the 6th annual Atlanta Motor Speedway Day at the Georgia State Capitol [Atlanta, GA], along with Georgia State Senator John Douglas, AMS President and General Manager Ed Clark, Past champion Rusty Wallace, David Ragan (Unadilla, Ga. native), Steve Wallace, David Stremme, Truck Series Owner Billy Ballew (Blairsville, Ga. native and resident), Andy Lally (Dacula, Ga. resident and driver for TRG Motorsports) outside the State Capitol on Mitchell Street [If it rains, the location will be inside the Capitol in the North Wing] on Thursday, March 6 @ 10:45am/et.(AMS PR)(3-5-2008)
SPEED adds two NASCAR shows: SPEED adds two NASCAR programs to its line-up beginning this weekend with the introduction of NASCAR Confidential and NASCAR in a Hurry. NASCAR Confidential premieres March 23 at 8:00pm/et on SPEED, offering a new twist on the behind-the-scenes genre. Instead of focusing on at-track competition, teams or drivers, the program will tell a unique and untold story on a variety of subjects through the eyes of several participants. It will be a one-hour, highly-produced narrative covering a 24-hour period.
NASCAR in a Hurry, a 30-minute weekly program hosted by Adam Alexander and a number of rotating SPEED on-air personalities, premieres Sunday at 11am/et from Atlanta Motor Speedway. It will recap the weekend’s early highlights from the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series, in addition to clips from various NASCAR on SPEED programs. NASCAR in a Hurry will air immediately prior to NASCAR RaceDay on Sundays, while NASCAR Confidential is currently scheduled as a six-episode series with its March 23 premiere focusing on what it took to put together the historic 50th running of the Daytona 500.(SPEED)(3-5-2008)
News from March 4, 2008
National TV Ratings up for Vegas: NASCAR on Fox earned a major victory this weekend with an excellent 7.1/13 (12.1 million viewers) for the UAW Daimler-Chrysler 400 from Las Veg. Sunday’s 7.1/13 marks a +13% gain over last year’s 6.3/13 and is the best rating ever for the Las Vegas race, topping the previous high of 6.9/15 in 2003. Excluding the Daytona 500, this is Fox’s highest-rated NASCAR race since the 2006 Fontana race (7.4/14). The long-sought elimination of the bye week between Fontana and Las Vegas was the primary factor in this weekend’s big ratings increase. So far this season, Fox has aired four Sprint Cup programs that were not impacted by rain, and all four of them have posted better ratings than last year (Bud Shootout, Daytona qualifying, Daytona 500, Las Vegas 400). Looking just at Sprint Cup races, Fox is up +1% for the season including the rain-impacted Fontana race (7.9/14 vs. 7.8/15). Excluding Fontana, Fox is up +2% for the two races that ran as scheduled (8.6/17 vs. 8.4/17).(Fox PR)(3-4-2008) Comment here
Edwards in select company…but: #99-Carl Edwards is the fifth driver to win the two races following the Daytona 500 in the last 25 years, of the other four, one has won the championship, Dale Earnhardt. The drivers:
1987, Dale Earnhardt, finished 1st in points
1988, Neil Bonnet, 16th
1992, Bill Elliott, 2nd
2004, Matt Kenseth, 8th
2008, Carl Edwards, ?
Quite a change in top-35 possible: after three races, the 2008 Owners Points are shaping up with quite a few changes, there currently are five teams that were in the top-35 in 2007 Owners Points, and locked in the first five 2008 Sprint Cup races, who are out of the top-35 in current 2008 Owners Points Standings: #22-Dave Blaney, #40-Dario Franchitti, #77-Sam Hornish Jr. [switched with #2-Kurt Busch to be guaranteed a spot in the first five races], #01-Regan Smith and #45-Kyle Petty. Five teams/drivers who were not in the top-35 of owners points at the end of 2007, are currently in the top-35 after three races: #2-Kurt Busch [traded #2 owners points with Penske’s third team, #77-Hornish], #83-Brian Vickers, #00-David Reutimann, #44-Dale Jarrett and #55-Michael Waltrip. At the sixth race, Martinsville, the current season points start being used for the top-35 and a guaranteed spot, but it can change from week to week, harder to get in as the season moves on.(3-4-2008)
Texas offers up track for testing; NASCAR declines: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage has given NASCAR an open invitation for further testing in preparation for the TMS debut of the new Sprint Cup Series car at the upcoming Samsung 500. The new Sprint Cup Series car, formerly known as the “Car of Tomorrow,” is making its first appearance at 1.5-mile ovals this season, and Gossage would like to provide additional testing time after watching the car’s debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval this past weekend. There was an abundance of on-track incidents during practice and qualifying, a track-record 11 cautions on race day and some driver concerns regarding their April 4-6 visit to Texas Motor Speedway for the Samsung 500 race week. For the time being, however, Gossage is encouraging NASCAR to give the competitors an additional opportunity to test at Texas Motor Speedway prior to the Samsung 500 because the only testing on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval came in the form of a two-day Goodyear tire test Jan. 15-16 with Juan Pablo Montoya and Clint Bowyer. Gossage is open to a test session in the coming weeks, opening the speedway Wednesday (April 2) of race week for a practice session or expanding the race week schedule Thursday (April 3) to add a Cup practice to the Nationwide Series’ practice and qualifying for the O’Reilly 300.(TMS PR) UPDATE: NASCAR says it will keep an eye on the car’s performance at Texas before determining whether any additional track time is necessary. As for an additional test, the sanctioning body’s answer is clear-cut. “The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is testing in Phoenix [Tuesday] and will test at Pocono and Charlotte later this year,” series spokesman Ramsey Poston said Tuesday. “There are no plans to add tests at this time.” Sprint Cup teams also tested at Daytona, California, and Las Vegas in addition to the session this week in Phoenix and those upcoming at Pocono and Charlotte. Texas officials lobbied NASCAR for an open test, but did not receive one. But Gossage still holds out hope that NASCAR will change its mind. The track president also sent an overnight letter to NASCAR president Mike Helton outlining his concerns about racing at Texas without a test.(NASCAR.com)(3-4-2008) Comment here
Toyota’s Aust retiring: Jim Aust, who has been responsible for Toyota’s motorsports activities in the U.S. for the past 10 years, has announced his retirement. Aust will step down as vice president, motorsports for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., and president and chief executive officer of TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development), on June 31. Toyota’s racing programs in the U.S. flourished under Aust’s leadership and included a victory in the Indianapolis 500, multiple series championships and the expansion of the company’s racing activities into NASCAR. Beginning in 2004, Toyota began competing in the Craftsman Truck Series with the Tundra and last year Toyota entered the Camry in the Sprint Cup Series, the premiere race series in the U.S. “Jim has played an integral role in the growth of Toyota’s racing activities in the U.S.,” said Dave Illingworth, TMS senior vice president, chief planning and administrative officer. “From the high banks of NASCAR to short track midget racing, drag racing, sports cars and off-road trucks, Toyotas are now racing and winning at tracks across the country.” Aust joined Toyota in 1987 and held various management positions in the Toyota Motor Credit Corporation/Toyota Motor Insurance Services (TMCC/TMIS) division before moving to motorsports in 1998. “There are a lot of great memories, made possible by the hard work of the people at TRD and the great teams and drivers running with Toyota power,” Aust said. “There was Toyota’s first CART win by Juan Pablo Montoya, Gil de Ferran’s Indy 500 win, a CART championship for Cristiano da Matta and an IRL championship for Scott Dixon, Johnny Greaves’ multiple championships in CORR, Todd Bodine’s championship in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and the three-peat by Ganassi Racing in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. “Seeing a Camry compete in the Daytona 500 last year for the first time was very special and I expect to see Toyota’s first Sprint Cup victory before I retire in June.” Aust’s replacements at TMS and TRD will be announced closer to his retirement date.(Toyota Motorsports PR)(3-4-2008) Comment here
NASCAR Penalty RECINDED: don’t see this too often and will be interesting to see what bearing it has on Robby Gordon’s Penalty and Carl Edwards possible penalty, both should be announced this week sometime. Anyhow……On March 3, 2008, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Rusty Wallace Racing. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following post-qualifying inspection on February 15, 2008 for the Nationwide Series race 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 20A-8.4C: “The oil tank reservoir tank cover was not fastened securely.”
The penalties assessed were:
• Loss of 25 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Ed Rensi.
• Loss of 25 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship Driver Points for driver David Stremme.
• $15,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR from the next six Nationwide Series events; suspension from NASCAR until April 9, 2008; and probation until December 31, 2008 for crew chief Steve Darne. In deliberating, the Commission also considered Section 20A-2.1L of the Rule Book concerning the passage of air into or out of the car. After reviewing the testimony and evidence presented during the hearing, the Commission determined that the cover appeared to be fastened. All bolts appeared to be fully engaged. The slight deflection at one corner of the cover which gave rise to the penalty was arguable, given the overall design of the oil tank reservoir encasement. Therefore, by a majority decision, the National Stock Car Racing Commission decided to rescind the penalties assessed by NASCAR.(NASCAR PR)(3-4-2008) Comment here
Red Bull could replace Allmendinger UPDATE Skinner in: Red Bull Racing is considering temporarily pulling #84-A.J. Allmendinger from his Toyota as it reevaluates that struggling program. Allmendinger failed to qualify for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, making him 0-for-3 on the season. In contrast, teammate #83-Brian Vickers has made all three races in the other Red Bull car. “We can’t keep missing races. It’s just not an option,” said general manager Jay Frye, hired in January to turn around the second-year Red Bull program. We’re looking at several different ideas, all aimed at figuring out what’s wrong with that program, how we can fix it and how we can get that car into races. But it can’t continue the way it is. It just can’t.” One of the options being considered is pulling Allmendinger from the seat and replacing him with a veteran who can help assess the program and get the car into races. Among the available drivers are Mike Skinner and Johnny Benson, who are currently both pitching in to fill an open seat at Bill Davis Racing, and Sterling Marlin and David Stremme. “We love A.J. and we’re 100 percent committed to him and want to develop him,” Frye said. “This is not at all giving up on A.J. But we just can’t do nothing and risk having a season like that team had last year.” Red Bull is also working on securing seat time for Allmendinger in Nationwide Series and Truck Series races to help his adaptation to NASCAR. Options in the Nationwide Series are rides in a Joe Gibbs Racing or Chip Ganassi car, and there could be some seat time available in a truck owned by Billy Ballew.(Associated Press/Sports Illustrated)(3-3-2008) UPDATE: Red Bull Racing Team has confirmed that veteran NASCAR driver Mike Skinner will temporarily replace AJ Allmendinger in the #84 Red Bull Camry in the Sprint Cup Series effective this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Skinner, a Craftsman Truck Series champion, currently races full-time in the #5 Toyota Tundra. “We’re at a crossroads where we need to make a change that will elevate the #84 team to success,” said VP and General Manager Jay Frye. “AJ’s our guy and he’s a talented driver, but there’s a lot being asked of him. In order for him to be successful, we have to get this team pointed in the right direction. We hope we can do that with the help of a veteran driver.” Skinner’s history with Red Bull Racing Team dates back to 2006 when he served as a test driver for the team. Skinner’s history with Allmendinger also dates back to 2006, when he mentored teammate Allmendinger during the rookie’s part-time ride with Bill Davis Racing NCTS team. Frye hopes with the help of Skinner, that RBRT will have the program turned around and the ride returned to Allmendinger in no time. AJ Allmendinger, #84 Red Bull Driver said: “Let’s not kid ourselves; I’m a racer and I want to be racing, but I get the big picture here and obviously we need to improve our program. Do I want to be out of the car? #But, I know Skinner can help both me and my team. All I can say is he better be prepared for me to eat, drink, and sleep with him. Ok, well maybe not the sleeping part, but I’m ready to attach myself to him and learn everything I can.” Mike Skinner, Substitute #84 Driver: “The first time I ever met AJ, I took an immediate liking to him. He’s not just a great personality; he also has a remarkable amount of talent. He took on a huge challenge jumping into stock cars last year, and I’m glad I can be the one to help him and his team figure out where the glitches are in their program. This is a positive thing for AJ as a learning experience, for the Red Bull Racing Team to get back on track, and for me to have the opportunity to help another Toyota team that has great equipment and potential.”(Red Bull Racing PR)(3-3-2008) Comment here
Overnight TV Ratings up for Las Vegas: NASCAR ON Fox earned a major victory Sunday with a 6.2/12 for Sprint Cup Racing from Las Vegas. That 6.2/12 is a 13% gain over last year’s 5.5/11 for the same race. This year’s 13% growth for the Las Vegas race matches Fox’s best gain for any single race in almost four years, since the 2004 California race posted a 14% increase. Sunday’s 6.2/12 is Fox’s best rating for the Las Vegas race since 2003 (6.3/13), which not coincidentally is also the last year that Fox’s Vegas race was not preceded by a bye week. For the season-to-date, NASCAR On Fox is averaging a 7.2/14 for the Sprint Cup, up +3% over last year’s 7.0/14. So far this season, Fox has aired four Sprint Cup events that were not impacted by weather (Bud Shootout, Daytona qualifying, Daytona 500, Las Vegas 400) and all four have either matched or beaten last year’s metered market rating.(Fox PR), have not seen any ratings on Monday’s rain-delayed Cup race.(3-4-2008) Comment here
News from March 3, 2008
Kahne the only one: #9-Kasey Kahne is the only driver with three top ten’s after three races in 2008, finishing 7th at Daytona, 9th at California and 6th at Las Vegas. #24-Jeff Gordon joined #5-Casey Mears as the two drivers with 2 DNF’s [did not finish] in the first three races. Gordon had one DNF all of 2007. #48-Johnson had run ten races in a row finishing on the lead lap until Las Vegas where he was 2 laps down. #29-Harvick has been running at the finish in 47 consecutive races, the longest current streak, next up is #07-Bowyer at 40 consecutive races.(3-3-2008) Comment here
Gordon calls for more SAFER walls at Vegas UPDATE LVMS statement: #24-Jeff Gordon, who escaped injury after crashing hard into the inside retaining wall in Turn 2 in the closing laps of Sunday’s UAW-Dodge 400, called on Las Vegas Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith to add ‘soft walls’ in the area. Gordon crashed on lap 263 of the 267-lap race and hit a spot in the wall where there is a gap. “I’m really disappointed right now in this speedway for not having a soft wall back there,” Gordon said. “And even being able to get to that part of the wall shouldn’t happen. I’ve got two things to say: ‘Bruton, you need a soft wall and to change the wall back there on the back straightaway’. Thankfully, Hendrick Motorsports … builds an unbelievable race car because that’s the hardest I’ve ever hit.” Greg Biffle, who finished third in the race and was behind Gordon on the track when he crashed, agreed with Gordon and said there is no excuse for having gaps in the walls. “There shouldn’t be any gaps anywhere,” Biffle said. “There should be SAFER barriers all the way around the inside and the outside of these racetracks. You can’t say we don’t have the time or money to do it because we’re coming back here next year and going to race again.”(Las Vegas Sun) UPDATE: Las Vegas Motor Speedway statement concerning Gordon’s comments: “We began evaluating that section of the speedway today. As we have done since the SAFER barrier program began, we will work with NASCAR, and we will do whatever it recommends.”(3-3-2008) Comment here
Stewart OK after hard wreck at Vegas: #20-Tony Stewart experienced a case of déjà vu in Sunday’s UAW-Dodge 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) had led six laps and was running solidly in the top-10 until a blown right front tire on lap 107 sent Stewart hard into the SAFER Barrier that lines the outside retaining wall in turn four. “That’s the hardest one I’ve taken in a long time,” said Stewart after being evaluated and released from the infield care center. “It just blew a right front I guess and went straight in. It didn’t try to turn or anything. It was a real tight part of the corner. It hit so hard it’s got my lower back sore and made my legs feel about half numb. They just tingled until we got to the infield care center. I tried to knock the fence down yesterday in the Nationwide race and thought I’d made some ground on it and tried to finish it off, but it shows how good the soft walls are. They still don’t go anywhere. Yesterday, I just hit my right foot on the pedals because I hit (the wall) with the left side (of the car). It just bruised it. It bounced off it and hit it again today,” said Stewart, who wound up 27th in the Nationwide Series race and 43rd in the Sprint Cup race. “Today’s hit was probably 10 times harder than yesterday’s. My legs were tingling and my lower back is sore. That’s probably from tensing up on the way to hitting the wall. When you see the wreck coming and you know you’re not going to miss it, every muscle in your body tenses up and that makes it worse.” Despite feeling sore and knowing some bruising would have to be dealt with in the days to come, Stewart declared himself healthy for the team’s test Monday and Tuesday at Phoenix International Raceway and the upcoming Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “I’ll be all right for the test tomorrow in Phoenix,” Stewart said. “It’s going to be a miserable two days. I was already sore today and my foot was sore from the wreck yesterday. It didn’t make it any better today. We’ll do what we have to do the next two days and get ready for Atlanta.”(True Speed Cummications/Joe Gibbs Racing PR)(3-3-2008) Comment here
Race and Commercial Breakdown of the UAW-Dodge 400
For those of you NASCAR fans that like stats and love to hate commercials, or wonder how often your driver was focused on, here is the breakdown for Sunday’s race. Fox was the broadcaster for this event.
Total number of commercials: 110
Total number of companies or entities advertised: 61
Total number of brief promos of products/services during the race broadcast: 39
Start time to record race/commercial periods: 4:30pm
End time to record race/commercial periods: 8:14pm
Total minutes: 224
Minutes of race broadcast: 171
Minutes of commercials: 53
Number of missed restarts: 1 (and one near miss)
Number of ‘debris cautions’ when debris not shown: 1
See full report and stats at CawsnJaws.com.(3-3-2008) Comment here
Phoenix Test Speeds – Session 3, Day 1: 47 drivers/teams in 58 cars took to the track on Monday, March 3rd for the evening session. #1A-Martin Truex Jr. was the fastest at 130.326mph in a Chevy, followed by #29A-Kevin Harvick (Chevy), #11A-Denny Hamlin (Toyota), #07A-Clint Bowyer (Chevy) and #8A-Mark Martin (Chevy). #2A-Kurt Busch was the fastest Dodge at 6th and #99A-Carl Edwards was the fastest Ford at 7th. The slowest cars were #10B-Patrick Carpentier at 126.103 and #49A-Ken Schrader at 126.975.
For the speeds and news about testing at PIR, see my Phoenix Testing Page.(3-3-2008) Comment here
Phoenix Test Speeds – Session 2, Day 1: 47 drivers/teams in 60 cars took to the track on Monday, March 3rd for the afternoon session. #07A-Clint Bowyer was the fastest at 130.222mph, followed by #22A-Dave Blaney (Toyota), #2A-Kurt Busch (Dodge), #1A-Martin Truex Jr. (Chevy) and #18A-Kyle Busch (Toyota). #6A-David Ragan was the fatest Ford at 7th. Slowest cars #49A-Ken Schrader at 124.848 and #10B-Patrick Carpentier at 126.059. Jason Keller is testing the #9 car in place of Kasey Kahen, who was ill over the past weekend. Tony Stewart is testing the #20 Toyota.
For the speeds and news about testing at PIR, see my Phoenix Testing Page.(3-3-2008) Comment here
Phoenix Test Speeds – Session 1, Day 1: Only 21 teams/drivers in 25 cars took to Phoenix International raceway for the first day, morning session of testing. #15A-Paul Menard was the fastest at 131.186mph in a Chevy, followed by #42A-Montoya (Dodge), #96A-Yeley (Toyota), #41B-Sorenson (Dodge) and #07A-Bowyer (Chevy). there were only two Ford that tested #6A-Ragan was the fastest at 17th] and #21A-Bill Elliott. Michael McDowell tested the #44 Toyota for Dale Jarrett.
For the speeds and news about testing at PIR, see my Phoenix Testing Page.(3-3-2008) Comment here
News from March 2, 2008
#99 Fails post race inspection at Las Vegas: been told the oil tank lid was not secured on the winning #99 Ford of Carl Edward’s and found during post race inspection at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The car failed post race inspection and will keep the win, but will face points penalties and a fine. NASCAR usually announces penalties late Tuesday afternoons.(3-2-2008) MORE: The #99 car had a problem in the postrace inspection. The lid of the oil tank reservoir was off, so NASCAR officials are taking the car to the Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. Any possible penalties would come later this week, probably Tuesday. Five Nationwide Series teams were penalized for a similar violation at Daytona.(ESPN.com)….the rule…the oil reservoir tank cover was not fastened securely, the five teams were penalized with the loss of 25 driver and owner championship points.(Jayski’s Past NNS News page)(3-3-2008)
Edwards wins again: #99-Carl Edwards won the UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway winning his 2nd race in a row and 9th of his career, taking over the points lead with the win. #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd followed by #16-Greg Biffle, #29-Kevin Harvick, #31-Jeff Burton, #9-Kasey Kahne, #6-David Ragan, #28-Travis Kvapil, #11-Denny Hamlin and #8-Mark Martin. Former points leader and pole sitter, #18-Kyle Busch finished 11th. #24-Jeff Gordon tangled with #17-Matt Kenseth with a few laps to go, going for 2nd place and crashed out, finishing 35th and falling to 22nd in points. 2007 Champ, #48-Jimmie Johnson was not a factor all race and finished 29th. $20-Tony Stewart crashed hard around lap 107 and finished 43rd/last. There were a record 11 cautions for 44 laps 2 laps short of a record] and 9 drivers led with 19 lead changes.
See Reace results/Awards on Jayski’s Las Vegas Race Results.(3-2-2008)
The Unofficial Points Standings [after Las Vegas, race 3 of 36]:
1) #99-Carl Edwards 491
2) #18-Kyle Busch 470 -21
3) #12-Ryan Newman 450 -41
4) #9-Kasey Kahne 440 -51
5) #29-Kevin Harvick 428 -63
6) #16-Greg Biffle 427 -64
7) #31-Jeff Burton 421 -70
8) #1-Martin Truex Jr. 371 -120
9) #19-Elliott Sadler 368 -123
10) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 361 -130
11) #20-Tony Stewart 355 -136
12) #2-Kurt Busch 348 -143
See updated points standing on Jayski’s Drivers/Owners Points Standings after Las Vegas.(3-2-2008)
Cup testing at Phoenix March 3-4: Sprint Cup Series testing at Phoenix International Raceway on Monday, March 3rd is open to the public, with free admission to fans holding a grandstand ticket to the April 12 Subway Fresh Fit 500 at PIR. The first 100 fans will receive autographed collector cards of driver and Phoenix native J.J. Yeley [#96 DLP Toyota]. Monday’s test sessions run from 9am to 9pm with hour breaks at noon and 5pm. Gate 7 will open for fans at 9am. April race tickets will be available for purchase at the Gate 7 ticket office. Tuesday’s [March 4th] sessions are closed to the public.(3-2-2008) Comment here
Latest on Buckshot: Last Monday morning, while many of his former NASCAR peers were preparing to run the rain-delayed Auto Club 500 in California, Buckshot Jones was working traffic, too. But he was on I-85, far from the hustle and bustle of Sprint Cup racing, chauffeuring his sons Kolton and Levin to school in Norcross. And even though his NASCAR career never reached its full potential, he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s now earning his living as a land developer and spending quality time with his kids, something many NASCAR drivers have little time to do. Still, he said, there are some lingering regrets about his racing career, which essentially ended midway through the 2002 season when he was released at age 31 by Petty Enterprises.(See full story at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-2-2008) Comment here
Big George’s ashes take a ride around the track: Mike Harmon was standing at the garage gate Thursday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, waiting for clearance to begin work on his Nationwide Series car, when a random lady approached with a bewildering request. She introduced herself as Mara Brodeur, an ardent race fan from Medford, Ore., who was camping in the infield with a group of friends for the race. But one of those friends was missing — Big George. George Helms was a diehard. He loved NASCAR, dreamed of someday attacking the high-banks at Daytona or Bristol or Darlington. But he never got that chance. They called him Big George for a reason. He stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 400 pounds and thus couldn’t fit in a racecar. So when Big George died last December — of a heart attack at age 54 — Mara set out to make certain his dream didn’t die, too. “They had his ashes in an urn and wanted me to ride him around the racetrack,” Harmon said, with a chuckle, as he stared at the ground as if to deflect the attention. As a whole, racecar drivers are a superstitious lot. Not many guys would do this, but Harmon has his reasons. He’s cheated death. At Bristol Motor Speedway in 2002, Harmon narrowly escaped death in a crash during practice that Kenny Wallace called “the worst wreck in NASCAR history.” And then there was history. Harmon was moved by a tribute performed by Top Fuel drag racer Brandon Bernstein at Bristol Dragway, when he placed the ashes of a fan in the parachute of his car during a race. So he took the urn and taped it to the fire extinguisher of his car, and there it rode for the entire practice session Friday afternoon. Afterwards, overcome with emotion, Big George’s friends hugged Harmon and thanked him.(ESPN.com)(3-2-2008) Comment here
After two races, some drivers doing well…others? Only one Sprint Cup driver has scored two top-5’s in the first races of the 2008 season, #18-Kyle Busch; and only four drivers have scored two top tens: #18-Busch, #12-Ryan Newman, #20-Tony Stewart and #9-Kasey Kahne. #5-Casey Mears is the only driver who has DNF’d [did not finish] in the first two races. Five teams/drivers who were not in the top-35 of owners points at the end of 2007, are currently in the top-35 after two races: #2-Kurt Busch [traded #2 owners points with Penske’s third team, #77-Hornish], #83-Brian Vickers, #00-David Reutimann, #44-Dale Jarrett and #55-Michael Waltrip. That means five teams who ended the 2007 in the top-35 and having a guaranteed spot: #28-Travis Kvapil, #22-Dave Blaney, #01-Regan Smith, #45-Kyle Petty and #5-Casey Mears [41 points out of 35th]. With three more races things can change.(3-1-2008) Comment here
Keller to stand by for Kahne: #9-Kasey Kahne was suffering through a sinus infection Saturday, but the illness didn’t stop him from posting the fastest lap in Happy Hour. Kahne decided to skip the Sam’s Town 300 Nationwide race Saturday because of his illness. Gillett Evernham Motorsports teammate Patrick Carpentier replaced Kahne in the #9 Nationwide entry. “After the first [Cup] practice, we knew we might do something to allow Kasey the time to get better for Sunday’s race,” said Mark McArdle, vice president of competition for GEM. “He’s been taking fluids and getting plenty of rest.” McArdle said they have Nationwide Series driver Jason Keller on stand-by just in case Kahne can’t drive Sunday or needs to get out of the car before the end of the race.(ESPN.com)(3-2-2008) Comment here
News from March 1, 2008
R. Gordon may do ‘the double’ Indy 500/Coke 600 if he loses appeal: If Robby Gordon Motorsports loses its appeal next week of the penalty levied by NASCAR for a rules violation committed during Daytona Speedweek, Robby Gordon may choose to enter the Indianapolis 500. Robby Gordon Motorsports was penalized 100 points and fined $100,000 for installing an illegal nose on the #7 Dodge at the outset of Speedweek. Gordon told ESPN.com Friday that if his team loses the appeal, and is unable to rebound into Chase contention by May, he will attempt to run the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the same day. In the past, drivers — including Gordon from 2002 to 2004 — have attempted to run both races in the same day. But the races’ start times in recent years have created logistical conflicts. “If the fine sticks, I will go to the Indianapolis 500,” Gordon said. “The only way I wouldn’t is if we’re in a position to make the Chase in May.” If indeed this happens, Gordon is uncertain whether he would field his own car or drive someone else’s. Gordon does believe, though, that he has an excellent opportunity to win this appeal, which will be heard March 5 by the National Stock Car Commission in Daytona Beach, Fla. The part in question, the nose piece on the car, is not a NASCAR-certified part, Gordon said. It is distributed to the teams by the manufacturer, so Gordon said it amounts to a clerical error by someone not even on his team. The infraction was discovered during opening day inspection for the Daytona 500, before the car ever graced the racetrack. So Gordon believes the penalty is disproportionate. Gordon said the penalty also has hurt the perception of his team. Races remain on the schedule for which Gordon hasn’t yet secured sponsorship. “When sponsors are looking at your team, perception is important,” Gordon said. “This made us look bad.”(ESPN.com)(3-1-2008) Comment here
Drivers…throw a helmet, get $15k? TMS president Eddie Gossage said ticket sales for the Sprint Cup Samsung 500 on April 6 have been flat since Jan. 1, then made an announcement he hopes will increase the buzz. “I’m offering $15,000 to any driver who throws their helmet between now and the Samsung 500,” Gossage said. The conditions: the helmet must be tossed in anger on the “field of competition,” according to Gossage. And Gossage gets the helmet for his extensive office collection. While he acknowledged it was a tongue-in-cheek offer, he said he would definitely pay. NASCAR officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment.(Dallas Morning News)(3-1-2008) Comment here
Some inspection problems before qualifying: The Cup cars of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #48-Jimmie Johnson and #17-Matt Kenseth were forced to go through the inspection line twice after NASCAR officials found minor violations on their cars. NASCAR officials said the problems were not serious, but the crews of the #88 Chevy, the #48 Chevy and the #17 Ford were told to correct the problems and go back through the line. All three cars were on the track for the first practice session.(ESPN.com)(3-1-2008) Comment here
Kyle Busch may run full NNS season: Kyle Busch said Friday he might change his plans and try to run the entire Nationwide Series schedule this season. “There’s some thought about it,” Busch said. “We’ll see. I think the possibility is there, but I’m not going to do whatever it takes to get practice in the Nationwide car. I’m going to worry about the Cup stuff and show up to race the Nationwide car.” Busch, who leads the Cup standings, ranks second in the Nationwide standings and second in the Craftsman Truck Series standings. He will not run the entire truck schedule. Busch said they would re-evaluate his schedule after the Nationwide race at Atlanta next weekend. “I believe Tony is going to skip that Atlanta race,” Busch said. “So we’ll probably be the [Nationwide] points leader coming out of that if everything goes right this weekend. Then we’ll decide if we want to go to Mexico City or not. Right now, it’s not on our list, but guys are calling to get a ride in our No. 20 car for that race, so I might be stealing somebody’s ride.”(ESPN.com)(3-1-2008) Comment here
Las Vegas? 2nd race? banquet? Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman and CEO Bruton Smith said Friday he hopes to add a second race date at SMI’s Las Vegas Motor Speedway next year, as well as persuade NASCAR to relocate its annual Sprint Cup awards banquet here [Las Vegas]. Last year, Smith floated the idea of moving the banquet from New York City, its home since 1981. He renewed calls to move the event again during his Friday press conference, citing high hotel prices and the ability to include fans in the event if it were held in Las Vegas. “I don’t know how y’all feel, but if you go there (New York) and you look at your hotel bill when you go up there, I looked at mine and it looked like my phone number,” said Smith. … “The time has come when we ought to do something different and the different thing would be to have it right here,” said Smith. But NASCAR is unlikely to award a new race date or move the banquet in the near future, said Ramsey Poston, managing director of corporate communications for NASCAR. “The schedule is full now,” said Poston. And as for the banquet, “We feel like it works well now in New York,” Poston said.(SPEEDtv.com)(3-1-2008) Comment here
Kentucky Derby scheme at ‘Dega UPDATE: #44-David Reutimann is scheduled to run a special UPS Kentucky Derby paint scheme at Talladea Superspeedway in April.(1-27-2008) UPDATE: Churchill Downs and UPS are again teaming up to bring the horsepower of the Kentucky Derby to NASCAR, as the two companies today unveiled a special Kentucky Derby 134 paint scheme that will be featured on the #44 UPS Toyota Camry during the Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 27. The unveiling also launched the “Off to the Races Delivered by UPS” sweepstakes, which debuted in 2007. The online contest will provide one lucky fan with two tickets to the Aaron’s 499, as well as a special behind-the-scenes meeting with NASCAR driver David Reutimann, who will take over the #44 UPS Toyota Camry from the retiring Dale Jarrett next month. The prize package, which combines the excitement of NASCAR’s premier series with one of the most prestigious events in Thoroughbred racing, will also include two tickets to the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 3.(Businesswire.com), see images of the scheme on my #44 Team Schemes page.(3-1-2008)
NASCAR and teams fighting counterfeiters: NASCAR, apparel company Motorsports Authentics and several teams have received an injunction over renegade merchandise, and at least 10 people have had unauthorized merchandise seized since the start of the 2008 season. The teams and NASCAR received a temporary restraining order Feb. 8 in U.S. District Court in Charlotte that allowed for the seizure of merchandise that infringed on their trademarks. On Thursday, the U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction against producers of counterfeit merchandise. Materials can be seized within a 10-mile radius of a track from 48 hours before qualifying to 24 hours after the completion of a race. Ten individuals were listed in the most recent order as violating the order. None of those individuals challenged the injunction during a hearing Thursday. Among the teams and drivers that joined NASCAR in the suit are Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff Gordon, JR Motorsports, Rusty Wallace Inc., Penske Racing, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Gillett Evernham Motorsports, Red Bull Racing, Michael Wlatrip Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing. NASCAR and/or teams occasionally file lawsuits in order to seize merchandise from unlicensed dealers.(SceneDaily.com)(3-1-2008) Comment here
Happy Hour practice for the UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is over, the fastest:
slowest: #70-Mayfield 171.320 and #27-Skinner 172.783
wreck: #07-Bowyer lost it and smacked the outside wall, bounced off and came back down the track and backed into the inside wall. #45-Petty got into the #07 and did some damage to the left front of the #45. The #07 team is going to a backup car, looks like the same car he ran at California last week
See all the speeds on my Las Vegas Practice Speeds page.(3-1-2008)