May 2005 News Archives
News from May 31, 2005
- Statement from Hernie Sadler: Hermie Sadler, driver of the #66 Peak Fitness Ford in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, and team owner Jeff Stec are committed to making Peak Performance Motorsports a solid venture in NASCAR’s premiere series. Following an erroneous online report regarding his status with the team, Sadler offers the following statement to the public, the media and his fans. “After the rumor of my departure from Peak Performance Motorsports was erroneously reported on several websites last week, I wanted to personally respond to all the media and fans. First of all, I am committed to staying with the Peak Performance Motorsports team for the entire 2005 season and am hopeful that relationship lasts beyond that. While we are disappointed with our performances so far this season, we are working together as a team to improve. Although we have a way to go, we are steadily making progress. It concerns me that a website [Jayski.com] would post a rumor that could be fatal to an up-start team such as ours without consulting with the team owner, public relations representative, or the driver. Not only do we have employees that may be affected, but this can also be detrimental to our hunt for additional sponsorship, which is vital to the growth of our team. Our team has done a great job of working to get better as a team and not pointing fingers at one another. We will continue to do that. Thanks to all the fans that have sent messages of support to the team and me. We look forward to a great run this weekend in Dover.”(PSE-3 PR)(5-31-2005)
- Eury Sr. not happy with Dale Jr. UPDATE There were a record 22 cautions (one turned into red) during the Coca-Cola 600 last Sunday. One flew after Dale Earnhardt Jr. tagged teammate Michael Waltrip from behind. Tony Eury Sr., Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s director of competition, was not happy. Clearly. “I don’t know what his (Junior’s) problem is with Michael,” Eury said, “but it will be fixed tomorrow–I guarantee it. He acts like he’s friends with him, but every time he gets near him on the racetrack, he ends up wrecking him. DEI has enough problems. We don’t need that.”(Sporting News)(5-30-2005)
UPDATE – comments from Dale Jr.: “There’s no problem between me and Michael,” he said. “There’s no problem between me and Michael and I think Michael understands that. He’s definitely not the person I wanted to run into tonight. It’s unfortunate. Hopefully everybody can come to terms with it one way or another. I know some guys on Michael’s team are probably upset and don’t really know. I mean, if you’re not in the race car, you don’t know what the hell’s going on out there, so I can’t expect anyone to understand what exactly was going on at that moment and time, and how we all came together and wrecked. The people that understand, they’ll move on and we’ll try to get better next week. … (Me and Michael) don’t get into the habit of running into each other. And we don’t really race each other that hard. We actually try to work together most of the time. It’s just unfortunate. We’re out there racing, and he happened to be the guy. It could’ve been anybody else. He’s the last person I wanted to run into, but we were all going for the same piece of real estate.”(Dale Jr Pitstop/Budweiser PR)(5-31-2005)
- Busch cameramen shove no big deal to NASCAR: After #97-Kurt Busch’s first accident Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600, I [Cup Scene Daily] rushed from the media center to the garage area to see Busch’s car pulling into his stall. A frustrated Busch left the garage area and head to his hauler to collect his thoughts. In route, right outside the garage, it looked as though he shoved a local TV news cameraman, Mike Thomas, aside. The cameraman felt the incident was no big deal and that he (the cameraman) was simply in the way of a frustrated driver. “It looked like he lowered his shoulder before he hit me, but I don’t think he was trying to do anything on purpose,” Thomas said. “He certainly didn’t say anything to me to make me think I had done something wrong.” Asked about the incident later, NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said the incident was a non-issue as far as the sanctioning body goes. “It’s no big deal to (NASCAR)”, said Jim Hunter.(Cup Scene Daily)(5-31-2005)
- Larry Foyt injured in Indy 500 wreck: former Nextel Cup and Busch Series driver, Larry Foyt was released from Methodist Hospital Monday afternoon and is expected to fly home to Charlotte Tuesday. Foyt was taken to the hospital Sunday following his crash in the Indianapolis 500 on lap 15. Foyt’s #41 ABC Supply/Dallara/Toyota spun entering turn one spinning backwards into the SAFER Barrier. Foyt sustained a compressed vertebra and a chipped disk in his lower spine. He was fitted with a back brace on Monday and released. He is expected to make a full recovery which could take up to six weeks.(Foyt Racing)(5-31-2005)
- Manufacturers not leaving: Billion-dollar losses by the U.S. automakers, sagging sales, loss of market share to foreign manufacturers, soaring health-care costs and high fuel prices. Sounds like trouble for the sport of NASCAR racing, which relies heavily on support from automakers to keep fleets of Fords, Chevys and Dodges on the track. Not so, say the automakers’ representatives at the race tracks. “This is the time, when you are in difficult situations, when in fact you rely on racing even more to move your product,” said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. “I don’t think racing is in any jeopardy at this point or that the racing program is going to be somehow eliminated. In fact, it’s possibly the opposite. When you have programs like racing that work, and you have limited funds, that’s when you start to really rely on those areas. Racing works. We know it works. … It’s solid as a rock.”
Alba Colon, Nextel Cup program manager for General Motors, said her company isn’t planning any changes either. “We are very committed to the deal,” Colon said. “We are committed to NASCAR, and we have long-term contracts with our teams.”
Ray Evernham, who fields Dodge Chargers and is sponsored by Dodge, said he worries about the finances of his sponsor and the other auto makers, but he’s confident they’ll stick with him and NASCAR. “I still believe American manufacturers realize this is a place where they need to be,” he said. “It’s still the best bang for the marketing buck. That’s why we have so many Fortune 500 companies in NASCAR.”
But there is concern in NASCAR about the health of the U.S. auto manufacturers. “The withdrawal of any one manufacturer in the series can have awful consequences throughout the garage,” Roush Racing president Geoff Smith said. “If any one decided not to play any more, there would be a number of teams that would immediately be underfinanced to be able to compete with the people that had the budget.” Smith said he sees only two scenarios that would cause any of the Big Three or Toyota, which now competes in the Craftsman Truck Series, to leave NASCAR. One would be if global consolidation eliminates a nameplate. The second scenario that could cause manufacturers to leave NASCAR is if one gained a huge competitive advantage on the track. “Historically, if one manufacturer comes in and makes a big investment that the others think alters the playing field, they quit,” Smith said. “That is part of NASCAR’s challenge, to try to keep the economic playing field somewhat level, with no one party too low or too high.” Smith and others say that even with the evolution of NASCAR rules, which has created a type of car that has little resemblance to those on showroom floors, the “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” adage still applies.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(5-31-2005)
- Addington Wins Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race: The Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest and most exhausting race, lived up to the hype this weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. On a record setting night of cautions, a seemingly endless streak of wrecks and blown motors finally climaxed with #48-Jimmie Johnson crossing the finish line inches over #18-Bobby Labonte. Although Labonte didn’t leave with the victory, his performance earned his crew chief, Steve Addington, the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award.
Labonte, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, started the race in 34th place [fell to the rear due to a transmission change also]. In the initial sages of the event, he didn’t appear to have a car capable of climbing into the top-five, but Addington took advantage of the numerous caution periods to adjust on the car and improve its handling. The panel of voters selecting the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race; including a reporter, a Wypall Wipers representative and Tony Eury Sr; all cast their vote for Addington. Addington received $1,000 for winning the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award. He now joins Tommy Baldwin, Scott Miller, Bob Osborne, Alan Gustafson and Pete Rondeau in a tie for third place in the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Year standings. Doug Richert stays in first place with three wins. Robbie Loomis is in second place with two wins. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000. Fans can also vote for their choice at wypall.com.(SMC 500)(5-31-2005)
- Alabama NASCAR License Plates Available: Alabama motorist will have a chance to show their true racing colors Tuesday when the Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles allows state race fans to begin purchasing “Race Plates” as their official registration license plates. The 20 distinctive license plates are sponsored by the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Eighteen current stars of the Nextel Cup Series are available to choose from, including Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Bill Elliott, Ryan Newman, Michael Waltrip, Matt Kenseth, Jeremy Mayfield, Tony Stewart, Ricky Rudd, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon, Kyle Petty, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jarrett, Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton.(Alabama Live)(5-31-2005)
- France Family Voted Newsmaker of the Half-Century by AARWBA Members: The France Family, whose vision and leadership turned NASCAR stock car racing from a loosely-organized Southern-based attraction into the country’s second-most popular sport, Saturday was named Newsmaker of the Half-Century by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association during the annual AARWBA members breakfast. Newsmaker of the Half-Century, determined by vote of AARWBA members, is the most important event of AARWBA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. AARWBA is the country’s oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals. The France family received 28.5 percent of the vote among 12 nominees for the award. A record number of AARWBA members participated, according to President Dusty Brandel. The Hulman-George family, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and responsible for building the Indy 500 into the world’s largest single-day sporting spectacle, finished second in the voting with 26.3 percent. The two families combined to capture almost 55 percent of the total vote. Lesa France Kennedy, president of International Speedway Corp, was present for the announcement. She accepted a specially commissioned painting, by artist Hector Cademartori, depicting the family’s 50 years of achievement from Brandel and AARWBA 50th Anniversary Celebration Chairman Michael Knight. AARWBA also will donate $1,000 to Speediactrics at the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., in honor of the France family. Mario Andretti was third in the voting, with 8.2 percent. Roger Penske and the late Dale Earnhardt tied for fourth, each with 6.7 percent. Also nominated were: Kenny Bernstein, John Force, A.J. Foyt, Jeff Gordon, Dan Gurney, Wally Parks and Richard Petty. To learn more about AARWBA, please visit the AARWBA.org web site.(AARWBA)(5-31-2005)
- Why XM Radio let NASCAR go to Sirius [$$]: im part from an interview with Hugh Panero begins, XM Satellite Radio’s (XMSR) CEO at Business 2.0: With NASCAR, he points out that XM has broadcast the sport since 2001. That experience gave him a finely honed sense of what the 2007-2011 rights were worth — which, suffice it to say, he thought was a good deal less than the $107.5 million that Sirius wound up paying. (XM paid $15 million for the 2001-2006 rights.)(Business 2.0)(5-31-2005)
- Home Depot and Gibbs to build Playgrounds UPDATE Vote in KaBOOM Ice Cream: Home Depot today announced a partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and the nonprofit group, KaBOOM! – www.kaboom.org, to build playgrounds for at-risk children who live in NASCAR race communities. The Racing to Play program is designed to build a NASCAR-themed playground in a single day just prior to a scheduled weekend NASCAR race. Tony Stewart, whose JGR Nextel Cup entry is sponsored by Home Deport, is scheduled to take part when the first playground is built June 16 in Jackson, Mich., prior to the Michigan 400 at the Michigan International Speedway. Plans call for additional playgrounds in Daytona Beach, Fla.; Joliet, Ill.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Fontana, Calif.; Richmond, Va.; Talladega, Ala.; Kansas City, Kan; Atlanta, Ga.; and Phoenix, Ariz.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(4-28-2005)
HELP name Ice Cream: KaBOOM! – www.kaboom.org, is a national non-profit organization that was created in 1995 with a vision of great playspaces within walking distance of every child in North America. Over it’s short but illustrious history, KaBOOM! has become the leading authority on a child’s right to play, built hundreds of community playspaces and renovated thousands more. Through participant feedback, they have developed, tested and continually improved their simple, fun and rewarding community-build process. More info at www.kaboom.org.
To help out, go to the flavor graveyard at benandjerrys.com and vote for KaBerry KaBOOM!. If KaBoom wins, they will receive an estimated $10,000 and a huge PR campaign when they bring back the flavor. Last count had the flavor down by 2500 votes and today, May 31st, is the last day to vote. From now until the end of May, fans of KaBerry KaBOOM! can vote online to bring it back from Ben & Jerry’s infamous Flavor Graveyard. The winning flavor will be available at Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops nationwide this fall. Not only that, but if KaBerry KaBOOM! wins, KaBOOM! will receive a portion of the proceeds for each scoop sold. So cast your vote today and bring back the flavor that supports a child’s right to play!(5-31-2005)
News from May 30, 2005
- Labonte OK: #44-Terry Labonte went to a hospital for examination of his foot after hitting the wall in a wreck triggered by Dale Earnhardt Jr. spinning teammate Michael Waltrip on lap 247 in the Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Labonte was released after X-rays were negative.(High Point Enterprise)(5-30-2005)
- Menard and DEI? been hearing that John Menard, who’s son Paul, runs for DEI in the Busch Series [#11 Menard Chevy] may be buying into ownership of DEI…not sue if in part or whole….or at all.(5-30-2005)
- Leffler Safe? UPDATE until the end of June?: Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs said #11-Jason Leffler, who is ranked 36th in the points, isn’t on the hot seat after missing his first race of the season. “FedEx and the whole group has been supportive of Jason, and he knows that,” Gibbs said. “Obviously, a driver is going to feel pressure in a situation like this. None of us like going through this stuff. You want to make [FedEx] proud of your race team. They’ve been supportive through all of this, but the bottom line is you have to run well. Hopefully, we start making some races and this kind of goes away.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-28-2005)
UPDATE: hearing that Leffler has thru the end of June [4 races[ to up the performance or changes will be made. Who could be in the car? J.J. Yeley or Denny Hamilin…both Gibbs Busch Series drivers.(5-30-2005)
- Another Earnhardt: Another generation of the Earnhardt family visited victory lane at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va., earlier this month. Jeffrey Earnhardt, son of NASCAR driver Kerry Earnhardt and the grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt, won the Hornet Division feature two weeks ago. Earnhardt took the lead halfway through the 15-lap race for drivers age 12-16 and steered his four-cylinder car to victory lane, where he celebrated with his father and a group of Earnhardt fans. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(5-30-2005)
- Touring Series? Michel Jourdain [#10 Busch driver] was spotted having lunch with Busch Series director Joe Balash, NASCAR Mexico director Chad Little and Canada director Richard Buck at the Speedway Club at Lowe’s Motor Speedway last week. The meeting was to discuss a world touring series that initially would draw stock car drivers from the United States, Mexico and Canada and eventually from abroad. “It would be a good idea to have a world series with those types of cars,” says Jourdain, a Busch driver who was born in Mexico. “But I don’t know what NASCAR’s plans are right now.”(Sporting News)(5-30-2005)
News from May 29, 2005
- Johnson wins wreckfest at LMS: #48-Jimmie Johnson passed #18-Bobby Labonte at the line by half of a car in a wild Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for his third straight Coca-Cola 600 win, an all-time record. The race lasted 5 hours, 13 minutes and 56 seconds [the record is 5 hours, 34 minutes, 6 seconds], had an ALL-TIME NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup/Nextel Cup race record for cautions with 22 cautions, 18 for wrecks, 1 for an engine and 3 for debris for 103 laps. Labonte finished 2nd after started dead last when the team changed the transmission for the start of the race and was a lap down and got a lucky dog lap back in the race, followed by #99-Edwards, #19-Mayfield and #12-Newman. Nice top-10’s by #1-Martin Truex Jr. and the new 50 year-old #49-Ken Schrader who finished 9th.
For my race rundown, see my Charlotte/Lowe’s Race Info/Rundown Page
For race results, see Jayski’s Coca-Cola 600 Race Results/Awards page.(5-29-2005)
- Back to Back winners of the Coca-Cola 600: #48-Jimmie Johnson won his 3rd straight Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, a new record, the six other times the race was won two times in a row:
Jeff Gordon, 1997-1998
Dale Earnhardt, 1992-1993
Darrell Waltrip, 1988-1989
Neil Bonnett, 1982-1983
Darrell Waltrip, 1978-1979
Buddy Baker, 1972-1973
- #8 Crew Chief Candidates UPDATE: The two men most prominently mentioned yesterday as candidates [to be #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s new crew chief] were Jimmy Elledge, who is Earnhardt’s brother-in-law [married to Kelley] and also crew chief for Chip Ganassi and #41-Casey Mears, and Robbie Reiser, crew chief for 2003 champion #17-Matt Kenseth and owner Jack Roush.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-27-2005)
UPDATE: Jimmy Elledge, crew chief on Casey Mears’ #41 Target Dodge, has risen to the top of the rumor-mill list of candidates to become Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s permanent crew chief. But the same family conflicts that many blamed for the split between Earnhardt and his uncle and long-time crew chief, Tony Eury Sr., would be an issue again because Elledge is married to Kelley Earnhardt, Dale Jr.’s sister. “It can be a good thing, but I could have brother-in-law, my mother-in-law and my wife all mad at me at the same time,” Elledge said, emphasizing that his comments shouldn’t be construed as proof that he’s seeking the job. But, he said, he’s up to the challenge of leading a high-profile team like Earnhardt’s #8 Budweiser crew. “I feel I’m ready for it and could handle it,” he said, adding that the job of preparing a car for NASCAR’s highest-profile driver comes pressure-packed. You’ve got to be ready for all the challenges,” he said. “You’ve got a sponsorship sitting there that obviously the sky’s the limit as far as money. You have a driver sitting there that everybody knows can contend to win the championship. So you’d better have your gun loaded when you walk in the door and know that if you’re going to do it you’ve got to step up to that level and be able to produce. Otherwise it’s not going to be a fun ride.” He also said that Earnhardt is very much like his father and requires a special touch as a crew chief. “He’s a strong personality,” Elledge said. “I watched Kirk [Shelmerdine] and Andy Petree have to hit [Dale Earnhardt Sr.] with a ball bat every once in a while to keep him straight,” he said. “[Earnhardt Jr.] is the same way.”(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(5-29-2005)
- Nice Gesture: The Print Media Relief Fund will hold a yard sale near the Will Call booth in the Gate 4 area outside the frontstretch today, beginning about 1 p.m. Reporters have donated books, briefcases, hats and other items, and will offer them to fans for reasonable donations. Money will go to help NASCAR pay to provide the same weekly statistical update books to print media, who now get a slimmed-down version of what goes to television personnel. (Actually, the money will go to Victory Junction Gang Camp. NASCAR is a lost cause. The whole thing’s being done to make a point.)(ThatsRacin.com)(5-29-2005)
- Kvapil sues Meshkin [BANG]: Penske Racing South driver #77-Travis Kvapil, a rookie in the Nextel Cup Series, has filed suit in North Carolina against his former employer, Alex Meshkin, who owned the now-defunct Bam! [Actually it is BANG not BAM] Racing Craftsman Truck team. Kvapil, who drove for Bam! Last season, alleges that Meshkin was contracted to provide a Busch Series ride for him this year but failed to do so. Meshkin, who is also involved in litigation with former employee Larry McReynolds, closed his race team late last year.(Speed Channel)(5-29-2005)
- Jeff Gordon donates $1M for hospital: Jeff Gordon is donating $1 million for the construction of what will now be known as the “Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital At NorthEast Medical Center.”
“I believe children and families are really the heart and soul of our future,” Gordon said. The contribution comes from the Jeff Gordon Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping support the physical, social and intellectual needs of children and their families. Gordon said even though he doesn’t have kids, his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Riley Hospital for Children in Indiana and other organizations give him the opportunity to meet with children often. “It still blows me away every time I meet them,” he said. “I walk away from them with my heart breaking.” Gordon said he chose to support a hospital in the Concord area in part because of Concord’s racing connection. “You have to factor in how many of the people are involved in racing in this community,” he said. “The gift from The Jeff Gordon Foundation will help ensure the best medical care for the racing families in this community, especially their children.” Gordon also mentioned NEMC’s standing as the only North Carolina hospital to be named as a “100 Top Hospital” for the past four consecutive years as one of these reasons for his support. The children’s hospital will serve patients from birth to age 18 and will be located in part of two new floors under construction on the Clinical Services building at NEMC. The Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospital at NorthEast Medical Center will have 26,800 square feet of space that will house a 24-bed pediatric unit. The fact that Jeff Gordon’s racing number is 24 and the hospital will have 24 beds is a coincidence, said Lee Brower, director of communications for NEMC. In fact, the hospital will also have a 5-bed pediatric intensive care unit, a children’s playroom, a Teen Café, an outpatient treatment clinic and a new Child Advocacy Center. The patient rooms will include private beds and baths, televisions and DVD players, monitoring capabilities, play space and Internet workstations. Targeted to open in December of 2006, the hospital is estimated to cost $9.4 million. The NEMC Foundation will raise $5.9 million of that over the next three years. Gordon said his $1 million donation is just the next step for the Jeff Gordon Foundation and said he may consider having a signature event for the hospital or donating more money in the future for other things related to the Children’s Hospital. “The demand will be there to continue to have more equipment and facilities,” he said. “Who knows where it will stop?”(Independent Tribune)(5-29-2005)
- Coca-Cola 600 Notes:
• Jimmie Johnson won the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, scoring his 16th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 123rd career start.
• Johnson became the first driver to score three straight Coca-Cola 600 victories. It was Johnson’s fourth victory and seventh finish better than seventh in eight races at Lowe’s.
• It is Johnson’s second victory in 2005. He also won at Las Vegas in March.
• Johnson remained first in the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP point standings, 71 ahead of second-place Greg Biffle. • Johnson won the $90,000 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Leader Bonus for winning the race and leading the point standings. He also won it at Las Vegas, winning $30,000. The bonus will roll-back to $10,000 at Dover.
• Johnson led just three times for 11 laps including a last lap lead change – the second time in 2005 that there has been a lead change on the final lap. Carl Edwards passed Johnson on the final lap at Atlanta in March to score his careerfirst victory.
• Johnson scored his third straight victory at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Fred Lorenzen is the only other driver to do win three straight here.
• Johnson has scored nine top-10 finishes in 12 races this season, more than any other driver.
• Johnson scored the 12th victory for car owner Rick Hendrick at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the most of any owner.
This was Hendrick’s 135th victory as a car owner and fifth in 12 races this season.
• This marked the sixth victory for Chevrolet in 2005.
• The 21 lap leaders in the 2005 Coca-Cola 600 is a record for this event. The most leaders in a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race is 26 at Talladega set July 1986 and April 2001.
• The 22 caution periods in the 2005 Coca-Cola 600 is an all-time record in a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race.
• Bobby Labonte (second) posted his 11th top-five finish in 25 races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Labonte scored his first top-five finish since he finished third at Pocono in June 2004. He climbed from 31st to 24th in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
• Carl Edwards (third) posted a top-five finish in his first race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. He scored his fifth top-10 finish in 12 races in 2005. Edwards has scored 10 top-10 finishes in 25 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. He climbed from 13th to eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
• Jeremy Mayfield (fourth) posted his seventh top-10 finish in 23 race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. He scored his second top-10 finish in 2005.
• Ryan Newman (fifth) scored his fourth top-10 finish in nine races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Newman has scored six top-10 finishes in 2005. He climbed from seventh to fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
• Mark Martin (28th) ended a 33-race streak of running at the finish that began at Michigan last June.
• Six of the top-10 positions in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings changed at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
• Jeff Gordon (30th) posted his fourth DNF in 2005. No other driver in the top-10 in the point standings has more than two. Gordon dropped from third to fifth in the point standings.
• Kurt Busch (43rd) posted his second DNF in 2005. This was the third time in his career that he finished 43rd in a race. He finished 43rd in both races at Michigan in 2001. Busch dropped from fifth to 10th in the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP standings. He holds a 47-race streak of ranking among the top 10 since Rockingham in February 2004.
• Martin Truex Jr. led four laps, the first laps led in a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race.
• Ricky Rudd led one lap in the 2005 Coca-Cola 600, his first lap led since Kansas in October 2004.
• Looking ahead to the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup…. 16 drivers remain within 400 points of current point leader Jimmie Johnson.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(5-29-2005)
- Rumblings – Lowe’s Motor Speedway:
We ran 400 laps tonight at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and the winner wasn’t decided till the last turn of the last lap! Jimmie Johnson passed Bobby Labonte on the outside coming off turn 4 for the final time and pulled off the three-peat tonight in the Coca-Cola 600. Johnson came from 3rd in the five-lap shootout after a late race red flag to get his second victory of the year (he won at Las Vegas in March), the 16th of his Nextel Cup career (he’s solo in 40th place on the all-time win list), and his 4th win in the last 5 events at “his house”.
This was win #135 for Hendrick Motorsports (their fifth of 2005) and was worth $470,091 from the over $6.3M in posted awards.
Set a bunch of records lately. We had a race record for leaders (21), a Cup record for cautions (22), and a world record for the use of the word “levigate”. Hopefully we won’t threaten those last two marks anytime in the near future. Sterling Marlin hit it on the head…..he can thank NASCAR for his being involved in the wreck that took out two of the Ganassi cars. Surely we’ve never been heard to utter “they make ’em up as they go along”, have we?
Bobby Labonte (2nd) had his best finish since he was the runner-up at Martinsville in April of 2004. His Top-5 finish gives us 24 drivers to score that mark this season….last year we had 31 drivers grab a T-5.
Carl Edwards (3rd) had his best finish since he won at Atlanta in March.
Martin Truex Jr (7th) had his career-best finish tonight. His previous best was 21st at Talladega earlier this month. His Top-10 finish makes 34 drivers to garner a Top-10 this season….last year we had 39 of ’em.
Dale Jarrett (8th) had his best finish since he was 5th at Bristol in April.
Jeff Green (11th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Martinsville last October.
Kevin Lepage (12th) had his best finish since he was 9th at Daytona in February.
Mike Bliss (15th) had his best finish since he was 12th at Fontana in February.
Mike Wallace (16th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Richmond last September.
Kyle Petty (17th) had his best finish since he was 8th at Bristol in April.
Bill Elliott (20th) had his best finish since he was 9th at the Brickyard last August.
STREAKIN….Ryan Newman has 3 Top-5’s in a row. Greg Biffle has 3 Top-10’s in a row.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is a tie between Bobby Labonte (+32) and Jeremy Mayfield (+32), followed by Kevin Lepage (+31), Jeff Green (+28 ), Greg Biffle (+27), Mike Wallace (+26), Kyle Petty (+20), and Joe Nemechek (+20). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Matt Kenseth (-34), followed by Jeff Gordon (-28 ), Jimmy Spencer (-25), Kasey Kahne (-22), and Johnny Sauter (-21). Almost a third of the field active in the “Shaft” tonight.
Martin Truex Jr led tonight for the first time in his NEXTEL Cup career. Bill Elliott led tonight for the first time since he led twice for 26 laps at Texas in April of ’04. Ricky Rudd led tonight for the first time since he led once for 2 laps at Kansas last October. We’ve had 40 different drivers lead a lap this season….last year we had 50 different leaders.
Jimmie Johnson padded his points lead tonight….it’s back up to 71 markers over Greg Biffle. We also lopped another three drivers from our “Stayin’ Alive” line….it’s now 16. The low-water mark this year was 15 when we left Darlington a couple weeks ago.
Bobby Labonte (31st to 24th) made the best move forward in the points this weekend, while Kurt Busch (5th to 10th) and Ricky Rudd (27th to 32nd) fell the most spots.
Our “locked-in” list (the Top-35 in Owner Points) appears to be stabilized as Jason Leffler (by virtue of missing this week’s event) is now 143 points out of 35th on the Owner Points list….and that’s gonna take a good two to three races (in all probability) to make up.(Stock Car Fans)(5-29-2005)
- Newman’s team may change the engine UPDATE no change: from a Clear!Blue – Dodge Charger quotes PR:
MATT BORLAND (Crew chief No. 12 Alltel Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON POSSIBLE ENGINE CHANGE FOR SUNDAY’S 600:
“Ryan felt a vibration (in Happy Hour). We don’t know if it was the engine tires or what. It got better afterwards. Usually it doesn’t get better. I wouldn’t take a chance on a 300-mile race. Usually if the engine is vibrating it’s going to go and it’s going to go pretty soon. They’ve torn everything down and everything looks as good as normal. We’re still looking. By then (tomorrow) we’ll either change it or give it a blessing and send it on its way.” NOTE: If the team does change engines, Newman would start at the rear of the field befpre the drop of the green flag for the Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.(5-29-2005)
UPDATE: Newman’s team did not change the engine and will start from the pole.(5-29-2005)
- #725 for Petty: #45-Kyle Petty will start his 725 career Nexte Cup race in today’s Coca Cola 600, Petty is 7th on the all-time start list.(5-29-2005)
News from May 28, 2005
- Sad News: Joe Lee Johnson, 75, winner of the first Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1960, passed away today after battling cancer. Arrangements are incomplete at this time. Information when available will be posted here and released to other media outlets.(Cleveland Speedway site). Johnson ran 55 Nextel Cup [then Grand National] races from 1957 thru 1962, winning 2 with 4 top 5’s and 10 top 10’s.(5-26-2005)
MORE Joe Lee Johnson, 75, died in a Chattanooga hospital on Thursday morning, after a battle with cancer. He was of the Baptist faith. He was the owner of Cleveland Speedway Inc., in Cleveland. He was the inaugural winner of the World 600, in Charlotte, N.C., in 1960, and held numerous other racing titles. He was a pioneer in the early days of NASCAR. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the East Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home with the Rev. Luther Eslinger officiating. Interment will be in Lakewood Memory Gardens, East. The family will receive friends after 2 p.m. on Saturday at the East Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory and Florist, 404 South Moore Road. Memorial contributions may be made to the Bradley County Humane Society. Please share your thoughts and memories at Mem.com. See more at the Chattanoogan.(5-28-2005)
- FedEx, Interstate Batteries Team Up for Coca-Cola 600 IMAGE: Due to Joe Gibbs Racing’s #11 race car failing to qualify for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Charlotte, officials from Joe Gibbs Racing, FedEx and Interstate Batteries agreed that FedEx would become the primary sponsor of the #18 Chevrolet for the Coca-Cola 600, replacing Interstate Batteries. Bobby Labonte will remain as the driver of the #18. Crew chief Steve Addington and the entire #18 crew will also retain their normal duties. The #18 Chevrolet was to have run a Madagascar paint scheme in the Coca-Cola 600. However, DreamWorks and Action Performance Co. have graciously agreed to postpone the Madagascar promotion until the June 12 Pocono 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. “We can’t thank Interstate Batteries and FedEx enough for enabling us to deal with this setback in the most positive manner possible,” said J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We stress teamwork throughout Joe Gibbs Racing. To have Interstate Batteries, who has been with us since day one, and FedEx, our newest sponsor, and Bobby Labonte and the #18 crew work through this bit of adversity so seamlessly speaks volumes about the quality of our sponsors and the character of our team.”(Joe Gibbs Racing site)(5-27-2005)
IMAGE: see an image of the car on my #18 Team Schemes page, thanks to Cup Scene Online for the image.(5-28-2005)
- Craven doesn’t expect to replace Martin: Craftsman Truck Series racer Ricky Craven was at Texas Motor Speedeay Tuesday, testing for the Chex 400 race on June 10. Tuesday also was his 39th birthday. The former Nextel Cup driver joined Roush Racing this year with hopes of getting back to Cup racing. But he doesn’t think he will be selected to replace the retiring Mark Martin next season in the #6 Viagra Ford. “I think that’s very remote,” he said. “At 39, I’m sort of the end of the scale for what teams are looking for. I totally focused on this truck team and winning the championship this season.” Martin is ending his Cup career but not his racing career. Craven expects Martin to join him in the truck series as a teammate next year.(Dallas Morning News)(5-27-2000)
UPDATE: Ricky Craven remains firmly focused on winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points championship for Roush Racing but admitted he now feels his chances of replacing Mark Martin in the #6 Ford in the Nextel Cup series next season are “remote.” Martin is retiring from full-time Nextel Cup racing to run in the Truck series. “The reason I think it’s remote is I turned 39 years old a couple of days [May 24] ago and that is clearly not the trend,” said Craven. “I’m not trying to talk myself out of a job but I’m realistic. Roush Racing is evaluating the opportunity and the drivers and that’s exactly what they should be doing. I have made it clear I’m interested in racing Cup cars with Roush Racing. I still feel I’ve got several good years ahead of me and that my best years are still ahead of me,” he added. “I won two [Cup] races the last four years and I’m determined to succeed again. I certainly have no reservations whatsoever that I can compete at the top of my game the next two, three, four years.”
There was some speculation Procter and Gamble/Tide was interested in hooking up with Craven in a Roush car next season. However, they will have one year left on their contract with PPI Motorsports after this season. “I haven’t had any discussions with them,” said Craven. He said he has no interest in speculating on the future.(Bangor Daily News)(5-28-2005)
- Hermie out? UPDATE 2: hearing that driver Hermie Sadler and the #66 Peak Fitness Racing team have parted ways effective immediately. No word on who will drive the car at Dover next week. Salder and the #66 team failed to make the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and four other races in 2005 and are out of the top-35 in owners points.
UPDATE: been told by the team that this is untrue and that Hermie Sadler will be driving the #66 Peak Fitness Ford next weekend at Dover and for the balance of the 2005 season. The Peak Fitness Team is dedicated to improving their equipment and performance and feel good about the progress we have made since establishing the team on January 7, 2005.(Peak Fitness Team)(5-27-2005)
UPDATE 2: Hermie Sadler denied an Internet report last night that he was exiting the #66 Ford. Car owner Jeff Stec called the Emporia native last night when he learned of the rumor. “There’s no truth to that at all,” said Sadler, who didn’t make tomorrow’s Coca-Cola 600 and is ranked 40th in points. “We’ll be going to Dover next week.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-28-2005)
- NASCAR Scene and others as court to open documents: NASCAR Scene and three other news organizations have asked a North Carolina court to open up documents in Richard Childress Racing’s suit over an insurance company’s failure to pay a claim in the death of Dale Earnhardt. Attorney Brad Kutrow filed the motion on behalf of Scene, the Associated Press, the Charlotte Observer and the North Carolina Press Association after Davidson County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Taylor sealed Earnhardt’s driving contract and other exhibits in the case. RCR is suing United of Omaha Life Insurance for what it says was a failure to adequately investigate its claim before refusing to pay on a $3.7 million policy the team contends it had taken out on the driver. The company contends that the policy was not valid because Earnhardt, who died in the 2001 Daytona 500, had not taken a required physical and because initial payments for the policy were not handled properly. Judge Taylor is expected to hear the motion to open the documents Tuesday.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-28-2005)
- Newman to start Coke 600 on outside pole? UPDATE – Yep: during Newman’s press conference, he was asked: “WILL YOU START ON THE OUTSIDE? [at the start of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600] “Do I have that option? I’ll have to think about that. I’ve got two or three days. That’s a good one.”(Dodge/Clear!Blue PR), yes he has the option, the pole sitter can start on the inside or outside line, if the driver chooses the outside, only the outside pole sitter [in this case #24-Jeff Gordon] changes, moving to the ‘pole’ or inside. And yes, this is an option the pole sitter has for every race.(5-27-2005)
UPDATE – Yep: Ryan Newman’s Penske Racing outfit has exercised the option to start on the outside of the front row in the Coca-Cola 600, crew chief Matt Borland confirmed Saturday. Yep, we’re going to do it,” Borland said. “The bottom of Turns 1 and 2 isn’t real good, so we’re going to start on the outside tomorrow.” Per the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series rulebook, the pole-winning team has the option to flip-flop starting positions with the second-place qualifier and start in the outside line if they so desire. Though rare, this has happened before, and in fact happened just last weekend in the Nextel Open when pole-winner Mike Bliss chose the outside line over the traditional pole position, leaving second-place qualifier Kyle Busch to start in the typical pole slot. Jeff Gordon will start in the traditional pole position in the Coca-Cola 600.(NASCAR.com)(5-28-2005)
News from May 27, 2005
- Fellows in the #32 at Infineon Raceway AND Watkins Glen?: PPI Motorsports announced that veteran road course driver Ron Fellows will climb behind the wheel of the #32 Tide/Downy Chevy for the upcoming NASCAR Nextel Cup event at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA, on June 26. PPIM’s owner, Cal Wells III made the decision based on NASCAR’s current qualifying rules. Bobby Hamilton Jr., remains the driver of the Tide ride. “I want to stress the fact that I have the utmost faith in my driver, Bobby Hamilton Jr.,” said Wells. “Unfortunately, our team has suffered a string of bizarre circumstances that has equated to 37th place in the NASCAR Nextel Cup owner points. I felt, as did Bobby Jr., qualifying would be a major concern at Infineon since we may have to race our way in. Therefore, I believe it is in the best interest of the team to turn to one of the best road course racers in motorsports to help improve our results. Fellows can not only help our owner points but also provide the Tide team with a legitimate shot at winning at the race.”
“It’s no secret I do not have the experience or the professional road course schooling needed to feel comfortable about qualifying successfully at a road course,” added Hamilton Jr., who has raced only three times in his career at Watkins Glen in the NASCAR Busch Series. “The Tide team is not in a situation to take chances so putting Fellows in the car is a good decision.”
Fellows, 45, is recognized as one of North America’s best road course drivers. From Mississauga, Ontario, he has a vast array of NASCAR experience after wielding Chevrolets in all three NASCAR series. To his credit, he has five NASCAR victories and has won in every level of competition he’s raced. Currently, he drives full time in the American Le Mans Series for Corvette Racing. His most recent win came last month at Road Atlanta. Fellows and teammate Johnny O’Connell drove the new Corvette C6.R to its first victory as well as tying the ALMS record with 22 career wins.(PPI Motorsports)(5-26-2005)
Watkins Glen too? from a GM Pres Release, comments by #32 Team Owner, Cal Wells: “And I think we’ll bounce back and dig in. And, you know, we’ve got Ron (Fellows) driving for us at the road courses and I’m sure he’ll get it in the show there. So, I think we’ll be fine. We’ll claw our way back.” Sounds like Fellows will drive at Watkins Glen in August also?(GM RP)(5-27-2005)
- Wilson signs up with Robby: Fruit of the Loom and Chicago-based Wilson Sporting Goods have entered into a licensing agreement whereby the world-renowned apparel company will produce, sell and market a line of Activewear products inspired by and designed for today’s athletes. Wilson is one of the highest-rated sporting goods brands among consumers 12-65 years of age. The new Wilson Activewear line will be sold through sports specialty and mid-tier retailers throughout the United States. The Wilson logo will appear on the #7 Chevrolet for the remaining races [Daytona, Indianapolis; California, Talladega, Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix] in which Fruit of the Loom is contracted to be Robby Gordon’s primary sponsor this season, beginning with this weekend’s Coca Cola 600.(Team Gordon)(5-27-2005)
- Crawford holds off on Cup deal: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series racer #14-Rick Crawford said Ford officials talked to him about running a few Nextel Cup races later this season, but Crawford decided against it. “It takes about $125,000 to build just one of those cars, not including the engine,” Crawford said at TMS Tuesday. “But that car is going to be obsolete in a year. I didn’t think the timing was right to do it.” Crawford is talking about NASCAR’s plans for the so-called “Car of Tommorow.” It’s a redesigned body that all the Cup teams will use by 2007.(Dallas Morning News)(5-27-2000)
- Rusty in, Mikey out at Trackside? UPDATE Mikey’s choice: hearing that Rusty Wallace will replace Michale Waltrip on Speed Channel’s Trackside show, starting sometime this summer. No reason mentioned. The show airs on Friday’s at various times, sometime live and sometimes same day coverage and is hosted by Steve Byrnes with Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond adding commentaty and funny stuff to the mix. Guest each week include drivers from the different NASCAR Series and other NASCAR personalities.(5-19-2005)
UPDATE: Waltrip said on this weeks Inside Nextel Cup show, Speed Channel [Monday’s 8:00pm/et] that it was his choice to leave and that he was too busy with driving the #15 Cup car and #99 Busch Series car.(5-27-2005)
- Hospital to be named after Gordon….(who cares if he can’t sing): NorthEast Medical Center [Concord, NC] will announce Friday that its new children’s hospital will be named after Jeff Gordon. The Jeff Gordon Foundation will make a significant contribution to the medical center. The children’s hospital will come at a cost of $9.4 million, $5.9 million of which will be raised by the NEMC Foundation in the next three years. Details on Gordon’s contribution will be announced Friday at a news conference. According to a release sent out Wednesday afternoon, “NorthEast Medical Center and The Jeff Gordon Foundation will announce a significant financial gift directed toward a project focusing on children’s causes.” The announcement will be made at 1:00pm/et on Friday to the media at Hendrick Motorsports in Harrisburg, NC. Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, established the Jeff Gordon Foundation in 1999 to provide support for charitable organizations that help children overcome serious illnesses. Instead of a free-standing structure, the children’s hospital will be part of two new floors currently being added to the Clinical Services building. The pediatric ward, pediatric intensive care unit and Child Advocacy Center that are already part of the hospital will be located in the new children’s hospital. The 26,800-square foot children’s hospital will include 14 patient rooms, support spaces and an outpatient treatment clinic, in addition to the five-bed PICU and the Child Advocacy Center.(Independent Tribune)(5-27-2005)
- Looks like Rusty declines to team up with Martin: Could Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace — both of whom are in their last full seasons in Nextel Cup — share time together next season behind the wheel of one of Jack Roush’s Ford Nextel Cup cars? It’s a long shot, the principals involved said Thursday, but not impossible. Martin said Thursday he’s contemplating doing a split Cup season next year in a Roush Ford. “If you could share a full schedule with the #6 car with another top driver, that’s never been done before,” said Martin. “Selling that to a sponsor, it would take the right sponsor and it would take a lot of things.” Martin’s car owner, Jack Roush, said the odd were not good that it would happen and the more realistic option is that Martin ends up in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in a Roush Ford F-150. “If you ask me to put odds on that (a part-time Cup deal for Martin next year), I’d say the chances of that are pretty slim, between a 1 and a 30 percent probability,” Roush said. “He’d have to reach an accommodation with Rusty (Wallace) or with another driver and I’d have to put together a sponsor package that would be attractive on a year-to-year basis to fund it at a level of a championship program. I’m not saying I couldn’t do it, but it’s going to be a challenge.”
“They’d like me to do that and right now my decision is not to do anything like that,” added Wallace. “Although that’s a very, very attractive offer and it does make a lot of sense.”(Speed Channel)(5-27-2005)
News from May 26, 2005
- MLB and Dale Jr. team up again – image: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to run a MLB [Major League Baseball] scheme at the Chicagoland Speedway race in July, see an image of the scheme on my #8 Team Schemes page.(5-26-2005)
- Newman wins pole with new track record: #12-Ryan Newman won the pole for the Coca Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with a new track record of 192.988mph, breaking his own track record set last Oct of 188.877mph. Twenty-two driver broke the old track record thanks to the levigation [smoothing] that was done this past spring. The Budweiser pole is the 4th of 2004 for Newman and 31st of his career. Newman has won three career races from the pole. Did ya know? all four of Newman’s 2004 poles have been at SMI tracks: Las Vegas, Atlanta, Texas, Lowe’s.
#24-Jeff Gordon is on the outside pole with the rest of the top-five being #17-Matt Kenseth, #9-Kasey Kahne and #48-Jimmie Johnson. Missing the race were #11-Leffler [was 37th fastest], #32-Hamilton Jr., #66-Sadler, #36-Said, #34-Fuller, #00-Long, #92-Raines, #75-Garvey and #27-Shelmerdine. #13-Sacks withdrew after running slow in practice.
The speed of 192.988mph moves Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 2nd for the fastest CURRENT race track on the tour with only Atlanta faster.
See starting lineup, qualifying results, pole progression, top-35 how they did, practice results on Jayski’s Semi-Live Qualifying Page.(5-26-2005)
- TV Ratings for All-Star Race: The 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge earned a 4.3 rating on FX, up 19% over the 3.6 rating for the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. The number of households (HH) increased 24% to 3,691,000 as number of viewers increased 14% to 5,484,000. The event was the highest-rated NASCAR all-star event ever.(NASCAR)(5-26-2005)
- Fan Voting for Challenge: #1-Martin Truex Jr. won the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge fan vote to secure a position in the field. Truex led the voting as a record 438,931 votes were cast for drivers.(NASCAR) AND NO I have not seen nore found the vote tally, who was 2nd or the rundown.(5-26-2005)
- Marcis OK after Lawn Mower Accident: Former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Dave Marcis is recovering at his home in Arden, N.C., after suffering facial injuries in a lawn-mowing accident on Wednesday. Marcis was mowing grass at his property in Rib Lake, Wisconsin when a rock flew from underneath the mower, striking him in the cheek area. Marcis incurred a laceration that required five stitches. Also, several teeth were damaged by the impact, necessitating a trip to the dentist on Thursday afternoon. “Actually, I’m pretty lucky,” Marcis said. “”The rock could’ve hit me in eye, or in the temple.” Marcis, 64, retired from NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing after the 2002 season. He ended his 35-year NASCAR career with 883 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup starts. He was the runner-up in the 1975 championship standings. “I told my wife (Helen) that I need to go back racing,” Marcis said. “This lawn-mowing stuff is dangerous.”(NASCAR PR)(5-26-2005)
- Biffle close to re-signing with Roush UPDATE signed: #16-Greg Biffle still hasn’t picked up a pen to sign a new contract with Roush Racing. But Geoff Smith, the team’s general manager, says he’s hopeful that Biffle will sign soon. Last month, Smith said that he wanted to complete Biffle’s contract by the end of May. “Biffle is very, very close to being done,” Smith said. “We’re working through a couple of contract points, related to his sponsors actually. We got together with one and got that worked out. Now we’re working with the other one. And I really expect that to be finished very shortly.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-26-2005)
UPDATE: Greg Biffle has renewed a multi-year agreement with Roush Racing to continue to drive the #16 Ford Taurus. In the midst of his eighth year with Roush Racing, a tenure that has included a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship and a NASCAR Busch Series Championship, Greg Biffle is considered a top contender for the Nextel Cup title. Now, 12 races into the 2005 season, Biffle and the National Guard team have three wins, four top-five finishes and seven top-10 finishes. Needless to say, Biffle has been quite busy. However, in the last week he has made time to finalize his contract with Roush.
“It just took a little while to iron out the details but I’m really happy to be making this announcement,” said Biffle. “I’ve had a long, successful career at Roush Racing with the Truck and Busch Series Championships and I’d love to bring Jack his third Nextel Cup Championship. This National Guard team is at the top of its game right now and the energy is so high, it’s just a really good feeling as a driver to be in this situation. I think you’ll see a few more wins out of this team before the end of this season and we’re doing everything we can to be ready for those final ten races. You never know how things are going to play out but we can at least make sure we’re in the best position possible heading into the ‘Chase’.”
Team owner Jack Roush shares Biffle’s excitement about the National Guard team and Biffle’s future at Roush Racing. “Greg is a tremendous talent and his decision to remain at Roush is a commitment to his team,” said Roush. “The #16 team has really come together and I think the best is yet to come for them. Greg and Doug (Richert) have a chemistry right now that you don’t find very often between a driver and a crew chief. It’s taken a little while to get to this point but their on-track performance this season speaks for itself.”(Roush Racing)(5-26-2005)
- Gordon gets booed at Cubs game: Since the passing of Harry Caray, the Chicago Cubs have had a number of celebrity guests to lead the crowd in the singing of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh inning stretch. Actors, musicians, politicians– you name it– they’ve all been to Wrigley Field for the seventh inning tradition. On Tuesday, May 24, Jeff Gordon visited the historic ballpark in Chicago to throw out the first pitch before the game. He donned the pinstriped Cubs home jersey to make his trek out to the mound for the ceremonial pitch. Gordon then headed up to the broadcast booth for the 7th inning, where WGN broadcaster Bob Brenly asked him for a ride home after the game. “What is the speed limit on Lake Shore Drive anyway?” Brenly joked. Gordon talked about the July race at Chicagoland Speedway and the NASCAR season. In the middle of the 7th inning, Gordon led the crowd in a rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” which definitely didn’t go as smoothly as a lap around a NASCAR track (the words simply escaped him). Though Gordon’s “Let’s get some runs” proclamation at the conclusion turned out to be a boon for the home team as the Cubs rallied from a 2-0 deficit with 4 runs in the eighth inning to win the game.(Gordonline)
AND Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon is used to hearing boos at the racetrack, but on Tuesday, he was booed at Wrigley Field during a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros. Gordon threw out the first pitch at the Chicago ballpark and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th-inning stretch. After referring to the facility as “Wrigley Stadium”, he sang off-microphone at the beginning and then stopped singing in the middle before attempting to catch up to his organ accompaniment at the end of the tune.(FoxSports)
AND II Cub’s manager Dusty Baker said he felt for NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon, who was booed Tuesday night for his version of Take Me Out To The Ball Game. “It’s hard to believe Jeff Gordon [would be booed],” Baker said. “For me, this guy is one of the greatest of all time. I don’t know if he’s going to come back now.”(Chicago Tribune)(5-26-2005)
- #6 has sponsor, not ready on a driver: Geoff Smith, Roush Racing’s general manager says of the #6 Ford ride that is open for 2006 [Martin retiring] “For Mark’s ride, we have sponsorship ready and waiting for us to announce our driver, but we’re not quite ready on the driver side.” Smith says that Roush’s operation has been doing its homework, finding out who is under contract and who is reasonably available. “We don’t want to get entangled in other people’s contracts,” Smith said. “All we want to do is ask ‘Are you under contract or not, and if you’re not, do you have any interest in engaging in discussion? When you look at the row of drivers here, there are some drivers we don’t feel would fit into our program, and there are other drivers who would fit but who aren’t available. So we’re not quite sure where we sit. One of the reasons we hired Ricky Craven (driving now for Roush’s #99 truck operation) was to see if he could do it. One of the reasons we worked so hard to put Jon Wood (Eddie Wood’s son) in a [#47] Busch program this year was to watch him as well. Both of those guys are still on our radar screen for possible selection. And we think both of those would do fine.” The Wood option comes as Ricky Rudd, the Wood brothers’ current driver, debates with himself about racing another year or retiring at the end of this season. “We just didn’t want to settle on any one person until we were sure,” Smith said. “I’m more sure about what the garage territory looks like than Jack, but it’s Jack’s job to make the inquiries, not mine. We wouldn’t have any issue right now with filling Mark’s seat except that we had to move Carl [Edwards] up early (when Jeff Burton left last summer),” Smith said. “We’ve got Ricky and Jon and three other young candidates behind them under contract that we’re grooming, the most obvious being Todd Kluever (in the truck series).”(Winston Salem Journal)(5-26-2005)
- Mopar scheme for Kahne at LMS…in Oct: #9-Kasey Kahne is scheduled to run the blue and white Mopar scheme at Lowes Motor Speedway on October 15, 2005. See an image of the scheme on my #9 Team Schemes page.(5-26-2005)
- GoPhone for Burton at LMS: Jeff Burton’s bright orange #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet will have a new look at the Coca-Cola 600 with a special paint scheme to promote Cingular Wireless’ new GoPhone, a prepaid or pay-as-you-go wireless service providing consumers with the ultimate level of freedom, control and choice of their wireless products and plans. With no annual contract or credit check, GoPhone is perfect plan for the quick and painless wireless pit stop while still providing consumers with all of the latest products and services that have helped Cingular become the largest wireless carrier in the country.(RCR)(5-25-2005)
see an image of the scheme on my #31 Team Schemes page.(5-26-2005)
- Writer to be honored at Indy: Mike Harris one of the most prominent motorsports journalists in the United States will be honored, by the Speed Channel Driver of the Year Award panel, for his lifetime of service to the award, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday, May 27th. Harris started with the Associated Press in 1969 and has been the motorsports writer since 1980 and a member of the Expert Panel for 25 years. Born in Wisconsin, Harris had a number of assignments including the Indiana Sports Editor of AP. When the motorsports position opened up Harris thought it would be for three years. Instead he’s remained on the beat up to the present day. Harris was a large part of the coverage that took auto racing out of the curiosity phase to mainstream media. One high point in his career came in 2001 when he won The Story of the Year and Deadline Writing APSE writing awards for his coverage of Dale Earnhardt’s death at the Daytona 500. He has appeared on radio shows and television interviews too numerous to count in addition to the annual Speed Channel Driver of the Year Show. Harris said “I’m very honored. The Driver of the Year Award is very special to me, and, it’s an honor to be thought of in that way by the panel.” As a token of esteem of the panel Harris will be presented a Maurice Lacroix Swiss wristwatch and a plaque in pre-race activities for the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 in the Indy Racing League.(DOTY PR)(5-26-2005)
- Former Cup Crew Chief to run ARCA race: The #2 Petro Express/Shaver Motorsports entry for this weekends ARCA/ReMax race at the Lanier National Speedway will have a familiar face to the team behind the wheel for his first ARCA ReMax start. Jeff Buice, veteran crew chief for Shaver Motorsports, has been tapped by owner/driver Dan Shaver to pilot the Petro Express entry this weekend giving Buice a chance to experience the thrill of driving in the ARCA/ReMax series. Owner/driver Dan Shaver will assume crew chief responsibilities to make the driver/crew chief swap complete for this weekend’s event. Buice served as crew chief for the #9 Melling Racing Winston Cup Series with drivers that included Lake Speed and Jerry Nadeau.
But Buice’s experience is not just limited to just working on the car. Jeff Buice raced in and around the Atlanta area from the time he graduated from high school until he went to work in the Winston Cup series in 1989. During the past 2 years, Jeff has been racing in the SCCA, running in the ITS and GT2 classes, as well as serving as the crew chief for Shaver Motorsports since November 2002. More info on Jeff’s driving career can be found at www.genesnipes.com. Buice has also been busy raising the next generation of the family into the world of Motorsports, his son Dalton. At age 13 he has become a major threat in karting events all along the south east and in both dirt and pavement races.(PR)(5-26-2005)
- Crew Standby for the #29: Dan Blizzard, the front tire changer for RCR’s Busch Series driver #2-Clint Bowyer, will be on standby to change front tires on Kevin Harvick’s #29 Cup car. Regular front changer Jason Pulver cut his hand at home one week ago and is listed as doubtful.(USA Today)(5-29-2005)
- Martin to be honored: #6-Mark Martin will be inducted into Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s prestigious Court of Legends prior to CTC Pole Night qualifying. Martin is also featured and honored on the ticket for CTC Pole Night. “It’s a great honor,” said Martin. “In my opinion Lowe’s Motor Speedway is the greatest place on earth to race and I think a lot of the speedway and the people who have made it what it is. It’s a great compliment to know that they think enough of me to do this and I’m honored by the recognition. We’ve had some great runs and great wins at Lowe’s and hopefully we aren’t done just yet.” Martin will join NASCAR legends such as Richard Petty, Junior Johnson and Darrell Waltrip as his handprints and racing shoe print are cemented in the Court of Legends walkway leading to Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s main entrance. Speedway officials will also present Martin with a special framed edition of the CTC Pole Night collectible ticket featuring his likeness and detailing his accomplishments at the track. The ceremony will feature Martin and Lowe’s Motor Speedway president and general manager H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler and will be held at the Avenue of Flags leading to the second floor of the Smith Tower at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.(Roush Racing)(5-26-2005)
News from May 25, 2005
- Mowing for Victory Junction – Ends this weekend: Beginning Monday, Feb. 28, 2005, Hustler Turf Equipment will begin a three-month journey across America in a Super Z lawnmower – painted to resemble Richard Petty’s #43 Dodge. The trek will start in San Bernardino, Calif., traverse Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina and conclude at the Pettys’ Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., just outside of Greensboro. Petty and the mower driver, Kansas State freshman Josh Schmidt, spoke about the “Mow for Victory Tour” in a Saturday morning press conference. For more information, check outwww.mowforvictorytour.com.(2-27-2005)
UPDATE: there will be a press conference at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Thursday, May 26th at 6:30 pm/pm and the ride will end at the Victory Junction Gang Camp on Saturday, May 28th at 10:00am/et.(5-25-2005)
- Living Legends of Auto Racing Museum relocates, to reopen: Living Legends of Auto Racing Museum in Daytona Beach, FL, will reopen on Saturday. The museum has relocated to Sunshine Park Mall in South Daytona. Several auto racing “legends” are expected to sign autographs and greet fans during Saturday’s grand opening, including Marvin Panch, Jack Anderson, Mac McDonald, Pal Parker, Hilly Rife and Harold Cardwell. The museum, now in its fourth year of operation, is expanding its hours. The facility will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week, Monday through Saturday. There is no admission fee, but donations are welcome. The museum is the brainchild of the Living Legends of Auto Racing Board, founded 12 years ago by local racing aficionados. The museum highlights the auto-racing scene from 1903 — the era of Malcolm Campbell and his contemporaries — till the present. It also showcases contributions of so many connected with racing, from drivers and car owners to sponsors, techs, crews, design engineers and even the media who have helped turn the once dirt-track hobby to a billionaire industry. The museum is unique in a number of ways. First, it has no paid staff, but is run entirely by a dedicated corps of volunteers. The board organizes fund-raising events throughout the year, both for its own benefit as well as to share proceeds with communtiy agencies. Supporters can pay $15 for a one-year membership. Those older than 65 are offered a lifetime membership fee of $100. Museum manager John Peoples, a retired research photographer with Princeton University and photo-journalist, puts current annual museum membership at approximately 600, with about 100 lifetime members, scattered all around the globe. The museum publishes a quarterly newsletter, “The Cannonball,” with racing trivia, biographbical sketches, racing lore and the like, as well as an annual Yearbook and Press Guide. At the same time, merchandise, souvenirs and related items sold at the museum help add to the coffers. For more information, call (386) 257-2828 or go to the Web site: www.livinglegendsofautoracing.com.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(5-25-2005)
- RCR Wins Engine Builder Showdown: Danny Lawrence and Greg Gunnell of Richard Childress Racing walked away with top honors Tuesday night after the final round of the Clevite Engine Builder Showdown. The winners earned $20,000 and will have their names on the new Randy Dorton Memorial Trophy. Dorton was director of engine development at Hendrick Motorsports. He was killed along with nine others in the crash of a team-owned plane that was en route to a race at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 24. A scholarship fund in Dorton’s name has also been established, and an eBay charity to raise money for it continues through Friday. For more information about the fund or the auction, go to www.randydorton.com.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-25-2005)
- Sponsor for #99 at Pocono in June: Stonebridge Life Insurance Company will be the primary sponsor on the #99 Ford, driven by Carl Edwards, at the Pocono 500 on June 12. This will be the first time Stonebridge Life Insurance Company has sponsored a NEXTEL Cup car. Stonebridge Life Insurance Company is the sister company to World Financial Group, who appeared on the #99 Ford as a primary sponsor in 2004 and 2005. As a leading direct response insurer, Stonebridge Life offers families straightforward and convenient ways to protect their financial assets, especially when they feel like they are racing through everyday life. Like NASCAR and Roush Racing, they are committed to quality, quick response, and excellent service. It is these parallels that brought Stonebridge Life and Roush Racing’s #99 team together. Stonebridge Life will be running a major promotion around their sponsorship, with details of the promotion announced in the coming weeks. Stonebridge Life Insurance Company offers term and whole life insurance plans directly to consumers via mail, phone, and the Internet. It is also a member of the AEGON Group, one of the world’s largest insurance organizations.(Roush Racing)(5-25-2005)
- So…who is Dale Jr’s spotter? Since Steve Hmiel will now be the crew chief and was #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr’s spotter, who will spot for Dale Jr. now? been told ot will be part-time Busch Series driver Jimmy Kitchens.(5-25-2005)
- No penalties for Harvick/Nemechek: NASCAR will not punish Kevin Harvick or Joe Nemechek, who had a televised shoving incident that included verbal assaults after Stewart, Nemechek and Harvick started a wreck with five laps remaining in the All-Star Challenge.(Rocky Montain News)(5-25-2005)
- Smith plans to keep All-Star race at LMS: Speedway Motorsports owner Bruton Smith will continue to work to keep the Nextel All-Star challenge at Lowes Motor Speedway. During a Q & A with reporters Smith was asked if he would consider moving the event if it stayed in the SMI family of facilities. Smith said “We’re not going to move it to another one. We will not do that.” Even Las Vegas? “We will not do that.” But doesn’t Vegas need another date? “Yeah, but it won’t be that one.”(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(5-25-2005)
- Changes at the #8? Crew Chief? UPDATE 2 Hmiel in: Teresa Earnhardt made a surprise visit to Lowe’s Motor Speedway last Saturday night, and some Dale Earnhardt Inc. insiders say it was a move to rally the troops. Several DEI sources expect changes to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #8 team this week. Pete Rondeau has performed admirably as crew chief, but the front office feels a stronger hand is needed to motivate the brew crew. Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for #41-Casey Mears, and Ford were mentioned as possible replacements. Tony Eury Jr., #15-Michael Waltrip’s DEI crew chief and Earnhardt Jr.’s cousin, says he gave his word to his men that under no circumstances would he abandon them during the season.(Sporting News/PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(5-23-2005)
UPDATE: Effective immediately, Steve Hmiel will serve as interim crew chief on the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, replacing Pete Rondeau. Richie Gilmore, Vice President of Motorsports at Dale Earnhardt Inc. stated, “We are capable of consistently winning and are focused on that as a company. We are going to concentrate our efforts on improved results with the number 8 car.” Steve Hmiel, Technical Director at Dale Earnhardt Inc., will replace Rondeau commencing with this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. “Pete is a valuable asset and has brought a number of innovations to our organization. He will continue to do that in a different capacity and we’re happy that Pete is so strongly dedicated to Dale Earnhardt Incorporated and its success,” Gilmore said. He concluded, “We have high expectations of how our teams are to perform and we will utilize every resource we have to win races. Our primary objective is to get the 8 and the 15 solidly into the Chase for the Championship and as a company, we’re focusing everything we have at that goal.”(DEI PR)(5-24-2005)
UPDATE 2: DEI Vice President of Motorsports Richie Gilmore says he has a short list of possible crew chiefs for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Bud Chevy team. This after DEI Technical Director Steve Hmiel was named as the interim replacement for Pete Rondeau who will stay with the company. Gilmore, who wouldn’t name names, says “There are some people under contract and if we can’t get the right guy Steve is prepared to do it for the rest of the year…and if it goes well it might be longer than that.” Gilmore doesn’t characterize the move as driven by panic. “We had a plan in the off-season where we needed to get to and we’ve felt like we’ve seen a lot of results that we’ve been happy with…with the #15 and Michael Waltrip and Tony Eury Jr. The #8 was probably three-quarters of the way where we want it to be, but everything seems to be chemistry and the chemistry wasn’t there on race day. Communication from the pit box to the race car was something that we felt needed to get better.” Gilmore still thinks Rondeau has a bright future as a Nextel Cup Crew Chief. “We hope we can get him in a position to be a cup crew chief here down the road and to succeed because we think he is one of the top crew chiefs in the business. He was in a position where the chemistry wasn’t right.”(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(5-25-2005)
- #99 Crew chief to #8? #88? One man currently on everyone’s want list is Bob Osborne, crew chief for Roush Racing’s #99, with driver Carl Edwards. Having two plum positions [#8 and #88] open should open up the market considerably.(Speed Channel)(5-25-2005)
- Some IDOL stuff: Coca-Cola Racing Family driver Michael Waltrip will race eight finalists from the hit show “American Idol” and 12 children of active-duty North Carolina servicemen and women currently serving overseas. The event will be held Saturday at NASCAR SpeedPark in Concord BUT is not open to the public.
AND The eight “American Idol” finalists will perform on the Coca-Cola Stage at Food Lion Speed Street on Saturday, May 28th at 7 p.m. The finalists will also be part of the pre-race show on Sunday, May 29th at the Coca-Cola 600 when they sing the national anthem for nearly 200,000 race fans.
AND DW: Fox’s Darrell Waltrip and family are guests of FOX Sports CEO David Hill @ American Idol Finals both Tuesday and Wednesday nights.(5-25-2005)
- Skinner in the #23 at LMS: Mike Skinner will run the #23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge this weekend at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600. Skinner most recently raced the #23 Bill Davis Racing Dodge last month at Talladega Superspeedway, where he was taken out of contention in the 25-car pileup on lap 132 of the 194-lap event (started 34th, finished 42nd). He also raced the #23 at Daytona International Speedway in February.(Bill Davis Racing)(5-25-2005)
- #34 gets sponsor for Coke 600: Denver, NC based MACH 1 Inc. announced today that REVI Technical Wear will be the primary sponsor on the #34 Chevy [driver Jeff Fuller?] this weekend for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowes Motor Speedway. REVI will remain as an associate sponsor on the #34 for the remainder of the 2005 season. Revi Technical Wear (www.reviwear.com) is a maker of custom team apparel. Their unique process is sublimation printing, which is a gas dyeing process. Revi’s prints are permanent and enhance garment performance and wear. Revi is now supplying Motorsport Crew apparel to major teams in Nextel Cup, Busch Series, Craftsman Truck Series, Trans AM, IRL and Champ Car markets. Their shirts feel and look better and will last longer than traditional crew shirts. An expert in sublimation printing, Revi has supplied a wide range of sports markets internationally for over 18 years. These sports include Cycling, Professional Baseball, Professional Soccer, Professional Lacrosse and Summer and Winter Olympic Sports.(Mach 1 PR), see image of the scheme on my #34 Team Schemes page.(5-25-2005)
- Smirnoff on the #97: Kurt Busch’s #97 Ford Taurus sports the colors of Smirnoff Ice at the Coca-Cola 600 for the first of three times this season. The colors will also run at Daytona in July and California in Sept.(Roush Racing)(5-25-2005)
- Country Cocktails Scheme for Blaney: The #07 Chevy of Dave Blaney will once again sport the Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails paint scheme for the Coca-Cola 600.(RCR)(5-25-2005)
- Edwards/Blaney to run Modified race at LMS Dirt Track: Carl Edwards will kick off Coca-Cola 600 week by competing in the Ferris Commercial Mowers presents the Eckerd 75 DIRT big-block modified race Wednesday night, May 25, at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Edwards is scheduled to drive a second #3 Page Trucking and Transportation entry as a teammate to multi-time DIRT modified champion Brett Hearn of Kinnelon, N.J. While Edwards has very little experience in the big-block DIRT modifieds, he is no stranger to dirt-track racing. The second-generation driver captured the 1999 modified title and the 2000 pro modified championship at Capital Speedway, a dirt track near Jefferson City, Mo., while working his way up the racing ladder. The Ferris Commercial Mowers presents the Eckerd 75 will start a busy week for Edwards as he will also drive the #60 Charter Communications Ford in the inaugural nighttime running of the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 on Saturday, May 28, and he’ll be behind the wheel of the #99 Scotts Ford for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 29. Tickets for all May events at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway can be purchased online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com or calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS.(5-24-2005)
AND #07-Dave Blaney. the 1995 World of Outlaws Champion will race the #74 Smith Brother’s entry on Wednesday night, May 25 when the Advance Auto Parts Modified Super DIRT Series returns to the Dirt Track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.(RCR)(5-25-2005)
News from May 24, 2005
- NC Senate OK’s higher hotel tax for NASCAR HOF: The state Senate gave its final approval today to a temporary 2% increase in the Charlotte hotel room tax to help fund construction of a proposed NASCAR hall of fame. The bill would give Charlotte the authority to raise the local occupancy tax from six percent to eight percent. The revenues would help finance the museum and a new ballroom for the Charlotte convention center, next to the proposed site.(NBC 6/WCNC)(5-24-2005)
- Daytona NASCAR HOF bid gets some $$: Supporters of the NASCAR hall of fame got a $20,000 shot in the arm Monday from the Volusia Council of Governments. The council, made up of elected officials from across the county, gave nearly unanimous approval to help The Chamber, Daytona Beach/Halifax Area and other supporters win the hall of fame over contenders in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Richmond, Va. Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk issued the only dissenting vote, saying he didn’t want the group to set a precedent of giving money for countywide fund-raisers. Chamber President George Mirabal told VCOG members the money would help pay for consultants and other costs, such as the formal proposal package that has been estimated to cost $250,000. The facility is expected to cost between $70 million to $100 million. Leaders are looking for private backing, but won’t get a planned $30 million from the state. Lawmakers recently turned that proposal down, even though it included a plan to pay the money back with revenue from a state NASCAR license plate for cars.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(5-24-2005)
- Sad News – man dies at LMS: A Charlotte man died after a race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway this weekend. Friends said Chris Keistler, 46, passed out after Saturday’s All-Star race and never woke up. Jeremy Karle believes his buddy died from alcohol poisoning. David Hampton heads Cabarrus County’s paramedic teams and said rescue crews rarely see cases of alcohol poisoning among race fans. “I can’t remember the last one that we actually dealt with,” he said. The most common alcohol-related call comes when the weather is warm and fans drink too much beer and not enough water. But Hampton said race fans having fun do not always see trouble before it’s too late. The Medical Examiner is waiting for a toxicology report to determine Keistler’s exact cause of death. Friends said he was single and did not have any known health problems.(NBC 6/WCNC)(5-24-2005)
- RCR Lawsuit Against United of Omaha Begins Today: Court proceedings in the lawsuit filed by Richard Childress Racing against the United of Omaha Life Insurance Company will begin on May 23, 2004, at 10:00 a.m., in Superior Court in nearby Lexington, NC. This case arises out of life insurance covering the death of Dale Earnhardt at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18, 2001. It involves the three-year contract Earnhardt and Richard Childress signed in 2000 to cover the years 2001 through 2003. Richard Childress Racing agreed to insure Earnhardt for $7.2 million, to be payable to Teresa Earnhardt if he died during the first year of the contract. A $3.5 million life insurance policy was already in effect with National Life of Vermont and Richard Childress Racing purchased an additional policy worth $3.7 million through agents of United of Omaha, a subsidiary of Mutual of Omaha prior to Earnhardt’s death.
The insurance policy application with United of Omaha was completed and signed in January 2001 by all parties involved: Richard Childress Racing, Dale Earnhardt personally, and United of Omaha. Two premium payments were made by Richard Childress Racing to agents of United of Omaha.
Within 24 hours of Earnhardt’s death, United of Omaha declined payment on the $3.7 million policy and stated they had closed their file on the case. Shortly after that, National Life of Vermont sent a check for $3.5 million to Richard Childress Racing, which was delivered to Teresa Earnhardt. The lawsuit against United of Omaha is for violation of North Carolina laws dealing with bad faith and unfair and deceptive trade practices by insurance companies. Under those laws, insurance companies must conduct a reasonable investigation of all claims based upon all available information. Richard Childress Racing contends that United of Omaha did not conduct such an investigation and illegally refused to pay under the policy, thus violating the law and regulations applicable to insurance companies in North Carolina. He is pursing this case on behalf of Dale Earnhardt, Dale’s memory, and Teresa Earnhardt.
This trial is set for a special session of the Superior Court of Davidson County in Lexington, N.C., which will begin May 23, 2005, at 10:00 a.m. The case will be heard by a resident Superior Court judge in Davidson County, the Honorable Kimberly G. Taylor. This is to be a trial by jury that is expected to last for one to two weeks.(RCR PR)(5-23-2005)
AND – MORE: But the insurance company, United of Omaha, argues the policy was never in effect. Part of the problem: Earnhardt died before taking a physical. There’s also a dispute over whether Childress had paid enough of the premium. The team says it made an initial payment and got the bill for a second on Feb. 19, 2001 — the day after Earnhardt’s last race. It paid the bill. But the company says more money was owed before the policy would take effect. Richard Childress, who owned the No. 3 car that Earnhardt — a Kannapolis native — made famous, sat in front of the courtroom with his attorneys. He contends that United of Omaha didn’t conduct a proper investigation of his claim, as required by N.C. law.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-24-2005)
- Martin still retiring, Roush looks to blow folks minds UPDATE: Nextel All-Star Challenge winner Mark Martin told Sirius Speedway (MRN Radio/Sirius Satellite Radio) host Dave Moody that his plans for 2006 have not changed as a result of last weekend’s win, but that Roush Racing is working on a deal that would “absolutely blow everyone’s mind. As of now, my plan is to run the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next season in one of Jack’s trucks, but they’re working on a sponsorship deal that could change things quite a bit. It’s a real longshot to happen, but if it did, it would be totally different than anything we have ever done before. People will be blown away when they hear about it. It will absolutely blow everyone’s mind. I’m not putting a lot of stock in it, though, because it probably won’t happen. My plan is to spend 2006 running a truck and spending more time with my family.”(Sirius Speedway – MRN Radio/Sirius Satellite Radio)(5-23-2005)
UPDATE: Mark Martin with Claire B. Lang on XM Satellite NASCAR Radio’s “Dialed In” talks in detail about his plans for the future…..
Mark: Well, there’s this far-fetched idea that someone has, to take two let’s say “retiring” drivers and split a season. You understand what I’m saying?
Mark: When I first looked at scaling back to do, let’s say, 12 or 16 races, that’s a great idea. Except the problem is is that you can’t make that work. The team can’t work. You can’t have a top-notch crew chief and a top-notch team and get a sponsor that can afford to make that work. The only way you can do it is a full-time deal. And so the only way that you could see a possibility to make a deal work would be to run a full-time car with two drivers.
Claire: I’ve heard that brought up by the fans before, like two or three drivers doing it, they love that idea. Would it be a driver currently retired or one that’s already stepped down?
Mark: Look (laughing) I told you I already gave you all I can give you.
Claire: (laughing) You did.
Mark: It’s far-fetched. I really know what I really want to do is I really want to do this truck thing. But you know there’s all kinds of crazy ideas out there, and that’s one of them, but you know I expect I don’t have a deal signed yet with Jack and with a sponsor on the truck but that’s obviously not going to be any problem. That’s where our focus is right now.
Claire: If you were to do this other wild deal, and there’ll probably be other wild deals coming up, too, then would that mean you couldn’t do the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, that you’d have to choose? And is part-time racing something that is intriguing to you?
Mark: No, uh, first of all, that’s something crazy that ..
Claire: But it’s a cool idea.
Mark: It’s a cool idea. Its really hard to find a sponsor that would, you know, sponsor multiple drivers for a full schedule and do it right. And then it’s also hard to find the right drivers and everything. But, you know it is an idea. I’ll say again, my focus is on getting this truck thing put together. That’s what I want to do, and that is very real, and that’s what we’re working on and I expect to be doing that.(5-24-2005)
News from May 23, 2005
- Hornish to the #2? or Paul Tracy? UPDATE Ganassi/Penske trade? With all of the speculation about who will replace Rusty Wallace in the #2 car next year, everyone has forgotten about two-time IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr., who already drives for Roger Penske. I [Yahoo’s Bob Margolis] hear that he’s at the top of the list to replace Rusty.(Yahoo! Sports)
AND Roger Penske’s search for a new driver to replace retiring Rusty Wallace has become one of this sport’s biggest mysteries. #42-Jamie McMurray seemed the obvious pick for a while, but car owner Chip Ganassi doesn’t seem a bit interested in letting McMurray move over to arch-rival Penske. #16-Greg Biffle has also been in the heavy speculation since his contract with Jack Roush is up at the end of the season. Biffle insists he’s sticking with Roush. but adds the caveat that even if he were thinking about moving on, he’d be foolish to say anything about it right now.
The latest Penske speculation focuses on Paul Tracy, a wildly aggressive Indy-car star who once drove for Penske – and who once worked with Matt Borland, one of Penske’s top NASCAR crew chiefs, who works now with Ryan Newman. Borland said that Tracy might be a bit too aggressive for NASCAR’s got-to-get-along world, but Borland said that if Tracy brings the right attitude, it could certainly work out. And Borland said it would be “very interesting” to watch Tracy learning to adjust to the NASCAR tour.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-9-2005)
UPDATE Ganasi/Penske trade?: There has been talk in the motorsports world that Penske’s IRL effort will become a one-car team in 2006. Speculation is that Sam Hornish either could take over Wallace’s #2 car or be sent to Ganassi Racing, in exchange for Jamie McMurray, who would drive the #2.(Sporting News)(5-23-2005)
- Congrats: NASCAR Driver Casey Atwood married long-time girlfriend Laura Pride Saturday, May 21st. At present, Atwood doesn’t have a full time gig after running a few Truck Series race for Bobby Hamilton Racing.(5-23-2005)
- Truex still not signed…to the #11? Speaking of DEI, the cheers for defending Busch Series champion Martin Truex were deafening during driver introductions for the Nextel Open. It’s no wonder Truex was voted into the All-Star Challenge by fans. But when asked to comment on whether an announcement was expected this week on his re-signing with DEI to drive the No. 1 Chevrolet in Cup, Truex declined. Truex, who is fourth in Busch points, has also been mentioned as a possibility for #11 Joe Gibbs Racing seat.(Sporting News)(5-23-2005)
- Dickerson resurfaces: Former Hendrick Motorsports chassis developer Eddie Dickerson (released back in February) is consulting for Evernham Motorsports #9-Kasey Kahne and #19-Jeremy Mayfield.(Sporting News)(5-23-2005)
News from May 22, 2005
- Ford vs. Kahne: A case in U.S. District Court in Michigan provides an inside look at NASCAR contracts between teams and drivers. Ford has sued Kasey Kahne for breach of contract for leaving a Ford-backed team to drive Dodges for Evernham Motorsports in 2004. Kahne had a five-year contract with car owner Robert Yates and a supplemental contract with Ford before joining Evernham. Kahne’s lawyers argue that Ford could not provide a suitable ride for him, allowing him to seek a ride elsewhere. Kahne’s contract with Yates was submitted May 12 by Kahne’s attorneys, who seek a summary judgment. The case is scheduled to go to trial in August. Kahne’s contract with Yates shows it was signed Feb. 4, 2002, and was for the 2002-04 seasons. Yates’ team had the option to extend the contract through 2006. According to the contract, Kahne was to be paid a $100,000 salary in 2002 while in the Busch series. His salary was to increase to $150,000 the next year and go to $225,000 in 2004. The contract states if Yates moved Kahne to Cup in 2004, Kahne’s salary would be $700,000 for his rookie season. The salary was scheduled to increase to $850,000 the following year and go to $1 million in his third year in Cup. The contract stated Kahne would receive 35 percent of the race purse minus bonuses designated for the team. He would receive 50 percent of the race purse for a top-three finish. He would receive 35 percent of the season-ending money based on his placement in the driver standings. If he finished in the top three, he would receive 50 percent of the money. The final clause in the contract dealt with confidentiality. “All parties hereto acknowledge that the terms and contents of this agreement are confidential in nature and that neither will divulge any of the terms herein to anyone, except as may be required by law or for tax accounting or other reporting obligations.”(News and Record)(5-22-2005)
- NASCAR HOF news: The buzz in the Nextel Cup garage says the search for a NASCAR Hall of Fame has boiled down to two scenarios. The first would have the hall located in Kansas City, where Lesa France Kennedy spearheaded construction of Kansas Speedway. Kennedy is president of International Speedway Corp., which is majority owned by her father, Bill France, Jr., and other family members, including her brother, NASCAR Chairman Brian France. Kennedy is seen as her brother’s ultimate successor at NASCAR at some as-yet-undefined point in the future.
The other scenario is that the battle will be between Atlanta, which first approached NASCAR about housing the hall last year, and Charlotte, whose metro area is home to most of the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series teams. Atlanta has a deep war chest with corporate support from Home Depot, Coca-Cola and UPS, among others, while Charlotte has strong grass-roots community support and is launching a massive marketing push. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce has launched a website, www.belongshere.com , which prominently features the NASCAR bar logo, one of the most closely guarded trademarks in sports merchandising. NASCAR officials said although the Charlotte Chamber was not given formal permission to use the NASCAR logo and is not paying a licensing fee to display it, NASCAR has no objections to its use on the website or other hall of fame promotional material.(Speed Channel)(5-22-2005)
- Skydiver at LMS, MORE: been getting questions about a supposed skydiver accident at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday night before the Nextel All-Star Challenge. I was not there,just saw the little bit of TV coverage, have not heard or seen anything out there but was told that is was announced on LMS’s PA system that it was NOT a person that crashed/went into the parking lot, but did not specify what it was.
MORE Spectators and media alike thought a tragedy unfolded in Saturday’s pre-race festivities when an unopened parachute plummeted to the infield ground. Fortunately, the chute had no skydiver attached to it and fell harmlessly to the ground. At the time, no one knew what had happened and spectators gasped at the thought of a skydiver taking a fall. An announcement from NASCAR shortly before the start of The Open put fans and media at ease.(Gaston Gazette)
AND there was concern about the cut-away canopy that landed outside LMS last night. The jumper was not happy with the way his primary canopy opened so he “cut-away” and deplyed his reserve. The jumper landed safely, on target, and on time, in the speedway along with the other two parachutists.(5-22-2005)
- Will the All-Star Challenge stay at LMS? Fans were handed buttons as they walked through the gates at Lowe’s Motor Speedway that read, “Racing was built here. Racing belongs here.” Even as local and racetrack officials intensified their efforts to keep the Nextel All-Star Challenge at the 1.5-mile speedway, speculation continued to grow it might be moved. The merger between Nextel Communications and Sprint, which will be finalized later this year, triggered a lot of talk the race could be moved around on a rotating basis. Fueling the speculation is the fact NASCAR is owned and controlled by the France family – the same people who own International Speedway Corp. Lowe’s is a member of rival Speedway Motorsports Inc., while the tracks in Richmond and Kansas City are owned by ISC. In short, the France family would make millions by moving the all-star race to one of their tracks. Nextel officials, however, still love Charlotte. They are impressed with the community’s passion for the sport and the way speedway officials have fought to keep back-to-back races in the area in May. The decision to keep the race at Lowe’s doesn’t belong to Nextel. “That’s one of things that’s NASCAR’s call,” said Michael Robichaud, Nextel’s senior director of sports and entertainment marketing. “We expect it to stay here, we expect it to continue to grow as an event, to grow and learn from what we learned this year and take it a few steps forward. Hopefully it will be here next year, but I haven’t been privy to next year’s schedule. These are the best fans, they love the sport. We love it here. It’s been great to us here.” Nextel officials not only aren’t part of the scheduling process, they apparently aren’t even given a preview of the schedule. Nextel didn’t learn its all-star race was returning to Lowe’s until the schedule was released to the public last May.(Augusta Chronicle)(5-22-2005)
- ESPN to Debut SportsCentury Profile of Tony Stewart: The far-reaching ESPN television network will debut a SportsCentury profile of Tony Stewart, driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, at 2:00pm/et on Mon., May 23 on ESPN with a simulcast on ESPN HD. The SportsCentury: Tony Stewart profile will make its ESPN Classic debut at 8:00pm/et on Fri., May 27.
By having an ESPN SportsCentury profile, Stewart joins an elite list of racing counterparts previously chronicled on SportsCentury. They include Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, Tim Flock, A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Mario Andretti, Al Unser and Bill Vukovich.(5-22-2005)
- Rusty thinking of racing in Cup in 2006? not with Penske? Speculation is intensifying that #2-Rusty Wallace might not be retiring at the end of the season after all. This year has been billed as “Rusty’s Last Call,” as his final season on the NASCAR tour. However, in the past few days there has been intense speculation that Wallace is having second thoughts about hanging it up while he’s running so well. A question – car owner Roger Penske may be under pressure from sponsor Miller to keep Wallace in that car another year. However Penske just bought out Wallace’s share of Penske South, after nearly 15 years as business partners, and Wallace has been complaining about the huge tax bite that sale is costing him. The prospect that Wallace might not be hanging it up has some rival car owner eager to make a bid for his services. Ford men are expressing an interest in Wallace, who drove for Ford for several years before switching to Dodge. Chevy men are also expressing an interest in Wallace. Miller officials of course want their NASCAR team competing head-to-head against the Budweiser team, with superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. And so far Wallace is doing just that – he’s led 204 laps, to Earnhardt’s five. Wallace has four top-10s, Earnhardt five.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-22-2005)
- New Product by Racing Electronics: Racing Electronics has a revolutionary new product for the serious racer. A new microphone, called RealClear, is for both headsets and helmets and virtually eliminates all unwanted background noise which allows all listeners to hear a cleaner copy (crisper reproduction) of the talkers’ voice. The new RealClear microphone utilizes a unique shape rather than electronics to accomplish the increased clarity. “We had been working with electronic technology to eliminate more background noise for nearly two years and thought we could find an electronic solution. With noise levels that change from track to track as well as series to series, we found that an electronic solution was not the answer. RealClear is an affordable option and RE is proud to be the exclusive supplier”, says Bruce Silver, President. There is no need for bulky belt-packs or batteries with the new RealClear microphone. The RealClear microphone is an available option on any new headset or Racing Electronics can adapt any 2-way headset or racers helmet to work with the new RealClear product either at the race track with an RE Service Technician or in our New Jersey or North Carolina Service Centers.(Racing Electronics) also see the scanners frequency page…sponsored by Racing Electonics.(5-22-2005)
- National Anthem at LMS – one good, one huh? Diamond Rio did a nice job singing the National Anthem for the Truck Series race tonight at Lowe’s Motor Speedway…and no hats on either…….(5-20-2005)
as for Saturday night at the Nextel All-Star Challenge….Anthony Hamilton snag the National Anthem….was that off-key? his own version? or just plain bad?(5-22-2005)
News from May 21, 2005
- Shelmerdine gets an assoc for 2005: #27 Kirk Shelmerdine Racing would like to welcome back Wabash Motorsports as an associate sponsor for the Nextel Open. Wabash Motorsports will be continuing as an associate sponsor through the rest of the 2005 season.(Kirk Shelmerdine Racing)(5-21-2005)
- Tide to Go at Charlotte on the #32: #32-Bobby Hamilton Jr. will be sporting a new paint scheme for his sponsor Tide for both the Nextel All-Star Challenge festivities and the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Tide to Go, a new instant stain remover that helps eliminate many fresh food and drink stains on the spot will be featured on the #32 PPI Motorsports Chevy.(PPI Motorsports)(5-21-2005)
- Nemechek/Harvick altercation: in the garage after Joe Nemechek and Kevin Harvick came back from the infield care center at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the Nextel All-Star Challenge, Nemechek walked up to Harvick’s wrecked car and started to apologize to Harvick’s crew when Harvick walked up and they went nose-to-nose. Here’s what was said:
Nemechek: “Hey, I’m sorry about that dude.”
Harvick: “I’m starting to get tired of you wrecking me.”
Nemechek: “I didn’t start the deal.”
Harvick: “You called me out at Daytona.”
Nemechek: “Hey, if you wanna go at it..let’s have at it big boy.”
Harvick: “But you know what, you need to take your old washed up [butt] out of here…that’s what you need to do.”(from a source in the garage at LMS)(5-21-2005)
- #1-Martin Truex Jr. won the fan vote and will run in the Nextel All-Star Challenge. Sorry, no idea on who was 2nd or how the voting results ended up
- Martin wins the Nextel All-Star Challenge: #6-Mark Martin, in his final Nextel Cup season, won the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Martin also won segment 1 and was strong all night, leading 24 laps. It is the 2nd win in the All-Star race for Martin [also in 1998], Martin said if they field a car for him in 2006, he’d run it in the All-Star race. Martin is the oldest driver to ever win the event. Finishing 2nd was #38-Elliott Sadler, followed by #25-Brian Vickers [the Nextel Open winner], #24-Jeff Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson. Wrecks and problems left 11 drivers on the lead lap at the end, with three of them damaged. #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. was never a factor and was involved in the ‘Big One’ when #20-Stewart got into #01-Nemechek, who turned into #29-Harvick. Some bad blood between Harvick and Nemechek boiled over, with Harvick firing his HANS at the windshield of Nemechek and words between the two a few times, Ten cars were involved in the wreck, with 7 retiring right after the wreck. #12-Newman got loose on the Segment 3 restart and slid backwards into the wall and collected his ‘teammate’ #2-Rusty Wallace, who had no place to go. See my All-Star Challenge Page for the Nextel Open results, Each segment results and starting lineup for each segment.
See reults on my Nextel Open/Nextel All-Star Challenge Results page.(5-21-2005)
- Vickers wins Nextel Open: #25-Brian Vickers won the Nextel Open at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with a last lap bump of leader #0-Mike Bliss about 100 feet from the start-finish line. Pole sitters Mike Bliss had led the most lap with 16 before his ‘mishap’. Vickers transfers into the Nextel All-Star Challenge. #77-Travis Kvapil was 3rd, followed by #5-Kyle Busch and #32-Bobby Hamilton Jr.
See reults on my Nextel Open/Nextel All-Star Challenge Results page.(5-21-2005)
- Jeff Gordon starts Driving School: Four-time NASCAR Cup champion #24-Jeff Gordon is joining forces with retired driving legend Mario Andretti to launch a driving school scheduled to open in August at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. The story says the new school will compete with those run by Richard Petty, which generates an estimated $25 million in annual revenue at 25 tracks nationwide, and one run by Dale Jarrett, which had revenue of $1.8 million in its most recent fiscal year. Gordon won’t be an investor in the school but will license his name for use, the story says. Plans call for expansion to additional tracks in 2006.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter) more info at jeffgordonracingschool.com.(5-21-2005)
- Marriage proposal a success . . . with a little help from Ken Schrader: Theresa Krueger never thought to ask why when she found out boyfriend Mark Spiller had booked them a weekend in Concord to enjoy NASCAR’s Nextel All-Star weekend. Perhaps she’ll be more inquisitive next time. Spiller, a long time Ken Schrader fan from Plainfield, Ill., made what he calls “a shot in the dark” several months ago, when he reached out in an attempt to meet the Nextel Cup veteran when the couple came to Lowe’s Motor Speedway. That “shot” turned out more beneficial than Spiller could ever imagine when a simple meeting with Schrader morphed into a Schrader-assisted wedding proposal. After Nextel Cup practice concluded on Friday, Schrader spent several minutes with the couple giving them a tour of the garage, before leading them over to his #49 Red Baron Dodge. With the couple in tow, Schrader casually leaned inside the car and emerged with the ring case in which he promptly handed to Spiller. It became official just after 3:45 p.m. Eastern when the 36-year old Krueger said “yes” to Spiller’s proposal on bended knee in front of Schrader’s #49 Red Baron Dodge.
“I’m still in disbelief that all of this came together,” said Spiller, the 38-year old Illinois native. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that Kenny would actually assist in my marriage proposal. We’re both huge NASCAR fans, and Kenny Schrader fans; it’s pretty cool that we had this opportunity and something we’ll both never forget. and thank God she said yes. We’ll eat Red Baron pizza and have food delivered from Schwan’s on our anniversary every year!”
As for Schrader? “I told him congratulations. It’s a good thing Theresa said yes and probably what he was going for, but if she had said no, it’d surely made one of them blooper reels.”(Williams Company)(5-21-2005)
News from May 20, 2005
- New Artwork by Garry Hill: “NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge 2004” – Matt Kenseth In The Roush Racing Ford Battles Past A Sliding Ryan Newman For The Lead On His Way To Victory In The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Race At Lowe’s Motor Speedway May 22, 2004. Garry Hill is pleased to present the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge 2004. The artwork captures the defining moment of the event as Matt Kenseth takes the lead from Ryan Newman. 500 prints and 50 artist’s proof prints have been produced each signed and numbered by NASCAR artist Garry Hill. Since 1987 Garry Hill has had the distinct honor and privilege of creating the artwork to commemorate the annual all-star race. More info at garryhill.com.(5-20-2005)
- #9 Crew are NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge Champions: The #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge pit crew of driver Kasey Kahne battled against the clock and 23 teams to earn the title as 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge Champions at the inaugural event presented by Motorola Thursday at the Charlotte Coliseum. Racing against the clock in team and individual skills components, 24 teams battled through four rounds of competition with only one team remaining at the event’s conclusion to answer the question of who owns pit road. In the final round of competition, the # 9 team defeated the # 42 Texaco Havoline team of driver Jamie McMurray by 1.69 seconds to secure the championship. Kahne’s pit crew completed a four-tire pit stop in 16.14 seconds in the finals to the # 42 team’s 17.83-second stop.
The team received $70,000 in cash, as well as special leather jackets and championship rings by Jostens, which produced rings for the 2005 Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots and the 2005 World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox. Seven individual champions were also crowned in their respective positions. Each winning crew member was awarded a fully stocked Craftsman toolbox, along with a $10,000 cash prize, a special leather jacket and a championship ring from Jostens. Gas man Rodney Rhodes and catch-can man Brent Wentz were crowned champions in their fueling discipline in addition to winning the team title.
The NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge presented by Motorola was an added component to the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, one of the nation’s elite sporting events. The only event of its kind officially sanctioned by NASCAR, this contest pitted over-the-wall athletes against each other in seven head-to-head skills competitions designed to showcase the talents of NASCAR’s top crew members. Components of the competition included individual and team contests for tire changers, tire carriers, gas men, jack men and catch-can men, with competitors earning more than $250,000 in guaranteed cash and prizes. Eligible teams included those able to compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.
Position: Name, Team, Time (seconds)
Front-tire change/carrierr: Mike Trower/Shane Cook, #10 Valvoline Chevy, 14.29
Rear-tire changer/carrier: Andy Brown/Donald Richardson, #2-Miller Lite Dodge, 14.72
Jack man: Kevin Pennell, #15 Napa Auto Parts 7.24
Gas man and Catch-Can man: Rodney Rhodes/Brent Wentz, #9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, 14.50
Fans across the country can see the top teams in action during a special television presentation of the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge. The one-hour show will air on FX at 6 p.m., leading into the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge on Saturday, May 21. MRN radio will also broadcast event highlights on May 21 at 6:00pm/et., see more on my Pit Crew News page, some results and images.(5-20-2005)
- Levi’s to sponsor Soap Box Derby, Johnson involved: The Levi Strauss Signature brand has entered into a sponsorship agreement with the All-American Soap Box Derby (AASBD) to become the title sponsor of the premier youth and family oriented racing program in the United States. The AASBD’s annual event, held since 1934 in Akron involving boys and girls ages 8-17, will be called the All-American Soap Box Derby presented by Levi Strauss Signature. In addition, the Levi Strauss Signature* brand’s spokesperson and current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series points leader Jimmie Johnson will serve as the AASBD’s national spokesperson. A NASCAR official youth initiative, the AASBD season runs year-round and is comprised of more than 450 races across the United States and overseas, culminating with the 68th AASBD Championship scheduled for July 30, 2005. Each competitor builds his / her own gravity-powered car from kits purchased from the AASBD, typically with assistance from a parent or other adult. By nurturing children to become solid community citizens through the teaching of basic construction skills, teamwork, the spirit of competition, perseverance and family values, the AASBD is highly respected by community leaders, educators, racing enthusiasts and beginners alike. For more information about the Levi Strauss Signature brand and its products visit levistrausssignature.com. To get involved or for more information on the About the All-American Soap Box Derby, call (330-733-8723) or visit www.aasbd.com.(Alan Taylor Communications)(5-20-2005)
- Hendrick teams up with college: Groundbreaking ceremony for the Joe Hendrick Center for Automotive Technology at the Central Piedmont Community College Levine Campus in Matthews, N.C. is scheduled for Monday, May 23 at 2:00pm/et.(Hendrick Motorsport)(5-20-2005)
- Newman wins pole for All-Star Race: #12-Ryan Newman won the pole for the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with a time of 122.443 seconds in his 3 laps and 4 tire pit stop. #6-Mark Martin will start 2nd, followed by #2-Rusty Wallace, #38-Elliott Sadler and #9-Kasey Kahne. #20-Tony Stewart came in too fast on his stop and slammed on the brakes and spun around. #15-Michael Waltrip bottomed out on his first lap, but saved it but will start 16th. Three drivers were penalized 20 seconds for speeding entering pit road: #88-Jarrett, #29-Harvick, #8-Earnhardt Jr. Three drivers were penalized 5 seconds for loose/missing lug nuts: #16-Biffle, #19-Mayfield, #24-Gordon. If Biffle didn’t have the penalty, he would had won the pole with a 121.725 seconds. Newman’s car is sporting the new Alltel logo. For qualifying times/starting lineup and pit stop times, see my Jayski’s Nextel Open/All-Star Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup Page.(5-20-2005)
- Bliss wins pole for Nextel Open: #0-Mike Bliss won the pole for the Nextel Open with an unofficial track record of 189.208mph, #5-Kyle Busch is on the outside pole, followed by #41-Casey Mears, #77-Travis Kvapil and #25-Brian Vickers. Two drivers wrecked on their first lap, #11-Jason Leffler [his 2nd car of the day] and #10-Scott Riggs. Leffler will have to go to a backup car, Riggs team may be able to fix the car as just the nose was damaged. For qualifying times/starting lineup, see my Jayski’s Nextel Open/All-Star Qualifying Results/Starting Lineup Page.(5-20-2005)
- Stock Car Fans – Ramblings Nextel Challenge:
Two for one tonight when it came to quals…..
First off, we timed in for the NEXTEL Open. Mike Bliss knocked Kyle Busch off the pole late to take the top-spot for tomorrow night’s 30 lapper. His speed of 189.208 (28.540) was easily a new track record, but I betcha that’ll stand for all of a week!
Four Chevys and four Dodges in the Top-8. Only three Fords in the Open…the other six are already where you wanna be.
Scott Riggs and Jason Leffler had problems and they’ll be the caboose when they throw the green. With the Open being only a 30-lapper there’ll be no time to waste on this train.
Qualifying for the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge was up next, and we used the format which included a pit-stop again this year. Apparently, these guys still haven’t figured out that NASCAR is timing pit-road speeds cause the usual cast of characters were caught again.
One thing that didn’t change was Ryan Newman on the Pole…..by three quarters of a second! Not only is he fast, but if you let his pit crew help they beat you to death even more!
We’ve got twenty cars already in the Challenge….the winner of the Open will transfer along with a driver voted in by the fans (provided he’s on the lead lap at the end of the Open).
With a cool $1M on the line for the winner, forget that trophy & steering wheel stuff….just bring back that check!(Stock Car Fans)(5-20-2005)
- Driver convicted in fatal limo wreck: A man whose truck rammed a limousine, sparking a fire that killed the wife of a former NASCAR crew chief and two others, was convicted Friday of three counts of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to five to six years in prison. Jeffrey Niles McFayden also was convicted in Guilford County Superior Court of one count of driving while impaired. Evidence showed the limousine, bringing the women back from a concert, was stopped in traffic on Interstate 40 Greensboro on Sept. 10, 2003 when it was struck from behind by McFayden. The limousine exploded almost immediately and trapped the victims. Tara Howell Parker, wife of Dale Jarrett’s former crew chief, Shawn Parker; her stepsister, Mysti Howell Poplin, 24, and her half-sister, Megan Elizabeth Howell, 16, died of smoke inhalation and burns. McFayden’s attorney, Krispen Culbertson, argued the fire sparked by a leak from the limo’s gas tank resulted in the women’s deaths, not the crash. Howard Neumann, chief Guilford County assistant district attorney, argued that McFayden was intoxicated and got behind the wheel without any regard for human life. McFayden had a blood-alcohol content of 0.17 after the crash, more than twice the legal limit, police said. The women’s families also blame the limousine’s gas tank in a pending lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. The lawsuit alleges that the limousine, a 1998 Lincoln Town Car, was defective because the fuel tank was behind the rear axle.(ESPN.com/AP)(5-20-2005)
- New sponsor/look for Lepage at Lowe’s UPDATE Underdog: This Friday [May 20th], The #37 R&J Racing Team will announce its two-race sponsorship program on Friday, May 20th with Classic Media, Inc. Classic Media is America’s largest independent family entertainment company and manages some of the world’s most recognized kids’ and family properties across all media including feature film, television, home video and consumer products. The #37 R&J Racing Dodge Charger will be encouraging race fans to “Have No Fear!” at this weekend’s upcoming Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge and next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600. The team will be unveiling its “animated” new look on Friday just prior the Nextel All-Star Challenge open-practice at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.(R&J Racing)(5-19-2005)
UPDATE: The #37 R&J Racing Dodge Charger has joined forces with Underdog, the world’s most lovable superhero, for two of NASCAR’s most high profile races, this weekend’s Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge and the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday, May 28. The #37 racecar will be fueled by the “speed of lightning and roar of thunder” in its all-new red, white and blue Underdog paint scheme. In recent months the team has been referred to as the ‘underdog’ of Nextel Cup. Beginning with a 9th place finish in the Daytona 500, the team has sought week after week to qualify and race in every Nextel Cup event on the schedule thus far. Lepage and his crew are working against the odds with a small new team with big dreams. It’s no secret that the team has been making waves and gaining a substantial amount of support from the fans. Kevin Lepage, driver of the #37 Dodge Charger said, “Underdog is one of my favorite cartoons. I was actually watching the show not long ago and thought about how our team was a lot like this scrappy superhero. So many fans have cheered for us as the ‘underdog’ team that continues to race against the odds, that it makes perfect sense to have the real Underdog character support the No. 37 Dodge Charger.” For the next two races, R&J Racing has teamed up with Classic Media to bring Underdog himself to the racetrack.
Since the animated TV series debuted in the 1960s, Underdog has become a pop-culture icon. Audiences all over the world continue to cheer Shoeshine Boy and his alter ego Underdog, as the unlikely superhero helps restore order to society whenever danger looms. Called into action by his would-be girlfriend, ace news reporter Sweet Polly Purebred, the anti-hero must thwart the evil plans of unsavory characters such as the mad scientist Simon Barsinister or the underworld boss Riff Raff. Using a phone booth to swiftly change into the pup-of-steel, Underdog flies into action. Underdog is currently starring in a national advertising campaign for Visa Check Card. A live action/CGI Underdog feature film is also currently in development with Spyglass Entertainment.(R&J Racing), see images of the car on my #37 Team Schemes page.(5-20-2005)
- Why does TV miss restarts sometimes? In this week’s “Ask the Producer,” FOX producer Neil Goldberg answers the age-old question of why viewers are occassionally forced to miss on-track action due to commercials.
“The shorter the track the more difficult it is at times to get back for all the restarts,” Goldberg said. “When the caution comes out we must replay the reason for the caution, by that time the cars will be coming into pit. Once we have documented that we try to break for commercial. NASCAR has done a really good job of turning around the caution flags and we often get notice for the green with two laps to go. Pace laps at the short tracks can run from 50 seconds to 1 minute, 10 seconds where commercials are often 2:30. It is just a matter of math. We have to get the breaks in. We try to balance telling the story while at the same time meeting the networks sales commitments.”(NASCAR.com)(5-20-2005)
- Kahne tests at Richmond…in sprint car: Just five days after winning his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, Kasey Kahne returned to Richmond International Raceway for an impromptu test session. Kahne, who owns a USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship Series team joined his driver, Erin Crocker for a few extra laps around the ¾-mile facility on Thursday, May 19. Kahne had planned to have Kraig Kinser, son of World of Outlaws star Steve Kinser, behind the wheel of his second car, however due to the young Kinser’s aggressive World of Outlaws schedule and his position in the points standings [second], Kinser will not be in the car for next month’s Richmond Times-Dispatch 100. So, Kahne returned to his roots and joined his USAC team to help them get a feel for the track and gather notes for when they return Saturday, June 25. Although Kahne will not be at the June race weekend and doesn’t know yet who he will have running the second Silver Crown car, he hopes to have a second trophy from Richmond International Raceway to display on his mantel after one of his cars wins the Richmond Times-Dispatch 100 USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship Series race.(RIR)(5-20-2005)
- State comes thru for money for NASCAR HOF in Charlotte: State financing for Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame bid cleared its first turn Wednesday, but tourism groups say they’re prepared to put up a major roadblock if the city doesn’t change the way it would handle the money. The N.C. Senate Finance Committee unanimously backed a funding bill that goes to the full Senate today. It would allow Charlotte to increase its tax on hotel rooms from 6 percent to 8 percent to help pay for the hall. That would give the city the highest room tax in the state. Charlotte is working to get a $137.5 million financing plan into NASCAR’s hands by a May 31 deadline, and state backing is a key component. Charlotte is competing with four other cities for the hall, including Atlanta and Kansas City. The Florida Legislature’s refusal this month to commit $30 million to Daytona Beach hurt that city’s bid in many observers’ eyes.(Charlotte Observer)(5-20-2005)
- NASCAR Day – May 20th:
* NASCAR Day , NASCAR’s largest annual charity event, is less than two weeks away (Friday, May 20) and AutoZone is leading the charge by creating a national promotion for their support of this event
* AutoZone, title sponsor of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division regional touring series, is selling NASCAR Day lapel pins at its more than 3,400 locations nationwide
* For $5, fans may purchase a NASCAR Day pin and have the option of wearing their favorite NASCAR apparel to work on 5/20
* AZ customers who purchase pins will have a chance to win a trip to meet Richard and Kyle Petty at the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Charlotte and take a VIP tour of the Victory Junction Gang Camp and Petty Enterprises race shop.
* All proceeds from the sale of the pins go to the 2005 NASCAR Day Designated Charities.(NASCAR)(5-13-2005)
AND The Betty Jane France Pediatric Center, Speediatrics, at Homestead Hospital will benefit directly as the nation participates in NASCAR’s largest annual charitable event – NASCAR Day – this Friday, May 20. To help support this cause, the City of Homestead has proclaimed Friday as NASCAR Day encouraging the local community to join many of NASCAR’s 75 million fans worldwide in celebrating the sport while giving back to the community.
“We’re pleased to proclaim May 20th, 2005 as NASCAR Day in the City of Homestead,” said Mayor Roscoe Warren. “With NASCAR crowning its champions here in Homestead each November during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and with such a great cause as Speediatrics at Homestead Hospital, NASCAR Day is the perfect way to celebrate NASCAR and give back to the community.”
For NASCAR Day, fans, businesspeople and students will earn the opportunity to wear their favorite NASCAR gear to work or school in exchange for a minimum $5 donation to the 2005 NASCAR Day Designated Charities, including Speediatrics® at Homestead Hospital. Participants will also receive a commemorative NASCAR Day 2005 lapel pin (while supplies last). To participate in NASCAR Day, individuals and businesses can call Homestead-Miami Speedway for more information at (305) 230-5000.
In addition to the Betty Jane France Pediatric Center, Speediatrics, at Homestead Hospital, NASCAR Day will also benefit the Speediatrics unit at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina, and Speedway Children’s Charities.
Individuals and organizations can also participate in NASCAR Day by visiting www.NASCAR.com. Individuals can make their $5 donation through the website and will be mailed the commemorative lapel pin. Businesses, schools and other organizations can take part by requesting a NASCAR Day Participation Kit. The kit includes posters, pins, envelopes and a Crew Chief Manual – everything needed to jump start NASCAR Day within the organization.(5-18-2005)
AND click here to see a list of participating companies.(5-20-2005)
- NASCAR DAY in Pennsylvania: Edward G. Rendell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has proclaimed May 20, 2005, as NASCAR DAY in Pennsylvania and urges everyone to make a donation to the NASCAR DAY fund to support NASCAR related charities.(Pocono Raceway)(5-20-2005)
News from May 19, 2005
- Ford steps down as Jarrett’s crew chief UPDATE Wilburn interim crew chief: Robert Yates Racing (RYR) announced that Mike Ford has elected to step down as crew chief for the #88 UPS/Robert Yates Racing NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team and driver Dale Jarrett. Ford joined RYR in November 2003. “Mike made this decision based on what was in the best interest for himself and for his family,” said Eddie D’Hondt, general manager for RYR. “We obviously wish him the best in his future endeavors. We are actively pursuing someone to replace him,” D’Hondt continued. “Until we find the right individual for the job, we will fill the role in-house on an interim basis.”(RYR PR)(5-16-2005)
UPDATE: Until a permanent replacement can be found for the role of crew chief, the duties of crew chief will be filled on an interim basis. Filling that role this weekend for Team UPS is veteran crew chief Bill Wilburn who served as crew chief for Rusty Wallace during the 2003 NASCAR season [and was Brendan Gaughan’s crew cheif on the #77 Truck Series team for the 1st 5 races this year)(UPS Racing Site)(5-19-2005)
- Rusty in, Mikey out at Trackside? hearing that Rusty Wallace will replace Michale Waltrip on Speed Channel’s Trackside show, starting sometime this summer. No reason mentioned. The show airs on Friday’s at various times, sometime live and sometimes same day coverage and is hosted by Steve Byrnes with Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond adding commentaty and funny stuff to the mix. Guest each week include drivers from the different NASCAR Series and other NASCAR personalities. This weeks scheduled guests: Mike Skinner, Shane Hmiel and Kurt Busch. The SPEED Channel Stage Truck will be located outside the track behind Turns 3 & 4 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and will start at 4:10pm/et with air time at 11:00pm/et, after the Truck Series race. It is free to watch live and no tickets are required.(5-19-2005)
- Gordon to run DuPont Performance Alliance scheme at All-Star Race: Jeff Gordon’s #24 DuPont car will make its first appearance as the DuPont Performance Alliance car at the NASCAR Nextel Cup All-Star Challenge on Saturday, May 21. Designed by renowned NASCAR graphic artist Sam Bass, this special version of the 24 Chevrolet celebrates DuPont’s all-star collision repair centers throughout the United States. This paint scheme reverses the car’s primary colors of the fire and flame design, and the Performance Alliance logo and name will be featured on the hood, side panels and TV panel. Gordon, winner of the season-opening Daytona 500, will wear a specially created Performance Alliance-themed uniform.(DuPont), see images of the scheme on my #24 Team Schemes page.(5-19-2004)
- #97 to run Blue Blade scheme at All-Star Race: Kurt Busch and his #97 IRWIN Industrial Tools Racing Team will run an “Unbreakable” theme this week at Lowe’s Motor Speedway as Busch will sport a unique silver, blue and yellow paint scheme to showcase IRWIN Blue Blade utility knife blades during the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, Saturday, May 21. The IRWIN Blue Blade is a revolutionary utility blade that is unbreakable under normal work conditions. Its patented, bi-metal technology sets new standards of performance by delivering an unbreakable blade that lasts longer than standard utility blades. And since it’s unbreakable, it’s also safer to work with. The IRWIN Blue Blade is further enhanced by the quick and easy functionality and comfort of IRWIN Utility Knives, which recently received top honors in a test conducted by Tools of the Trade magazine. For more information about the IRWIN line of hand tools and power tool accessories, call 1-800-GO IRWIN or visit irwin.com.(Roush Racing/IRWIN Industrial Tools)(5-19-2005)
- Office Depot adds more races to #99 sched: Roush Racing and Office Depot announced that Office Depot, the “Official Office Products Partner of NASCAR,” is expanding its on-track sponsorship commitment with the #99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards to a total of 17 races for the remainder of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season. In addition to the nine races announced earlier this year, Office Depot will appear as the primary sponsor on the #99 Ford for eight additional races this season. The schedule includes both races at Dover, the two road course tracks (Infineon and Watkins Glen) and the second races at Pocono, Bristol, Martinsville and Phoenix. With the addition of these races, Office Depot will appear on Edwards’ #99 Ford for six of the final 10 races in the “Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.” Office Depot will also become Track Sponsor for races at seven International Speedway Corporation (ISC) tracks that include Daytona International Speedway, California Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Watkins Glen International, Martinsville Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Plus, Office Depot has a new sponsorship relationship with Speedway Motorsports, Inc., at Bristol Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Race fans can follow news of Carl Edwards and the #99 race team all season long at www.officedepotracing.com. Fans can watch video interviews with Edwards, get a sneak peak behind the scenes of Office Depot’s NASCAR commercials, download screensavers of Edwards and the #99 Office Depot Ford and view or a gallery of exciting race photos.(Business Wire)(5-19-2005)
- So what is up at Penske Racing? Now that Roger Penske owns all of Penske Racing South, crew chief Matt Borland has been signed to a contract extension and driver #12-Ryan Newman is in negotiations for a similar extension, the focus shifts to finding a replacement for Rusty Wallace. Penske bought the 48% share of the team owned by Wallace, Don Miller and John Erickson this week, giving the racing magnate complete control of the three-car [#2, #12, #77] team. Wallace has announced he’ll retire at the end of this season, and many believe Jamie McMurray, whose contract with Chip Ganassi Racing ends this season, will climb into the #2 Miller Dodge. McMurray, who is dating Wallace’s daughter, is trying to avoid all the speculation. “Last year I got to talking about my contract,” McMurray said. “I’m not going to talk about that at all.” Newman has talked with Roush Racing and Evernham Motorsports about a future, but he’s leaning toward staying with Borland and Penske.(Augusta Chronicle)(5-19-2005)
- Martin to run special scheme at Challenge: Mark Martin and the Viagra* (sildenafil citrate) Racing Team will take another stroll down memory lane during this weekend’s Nextel All-Star Challenge, with Martin’s No. 6 Viagra* Ford featuring a special Retro ’93 paint scheme for Saturday night’s Nextel All-Star event. The retro scheme is the second of four the team will run during this year’s “Salute To You” Tour. The team ran a Retro ’89 scheme earlier this year at Texas.(Roush Racing), see image of the scheme on my #6 Team Schemes page.(5-19-2004)
News from May 18, 2005
- Rusty Busy: Rusty spent all day Monday (May 16) doing promotional work in the Chicago area. Among the activities he enjoyed was throwing the first pitch at the Chicago White Sox/Texas Rangers Major League Baseball game. Texas won the game 7-6 on Kevin Mench’s solo drive in the ninth inning, his second home run of the game. “It was a pretty good pitch that I threw, I thought,” he said on Tuesday. “The biggest thing was to get out there and not embarrass myself. They all said I did just fine and that was all I wanted to hear. We had a really fun time and you can have a blast visiting Chicago.”
Miller Brewing Company will be celebrating Rusty’s final season racing by inviting legal drinking age race fans to Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday (May 21) for a landmark free concert by the Black Crowes. As part of the Miller Lite Rock’n Racing Concert Series, the show is set for Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in the Lowe’s Motor Speedway infield between Turns 1 and 2. Rusty will be present at the concert, addressing his loyal fans and introducing the Black Crowes.(TRPR)(5-18-2005)
- Champ watches from Tower: #97-Kurt Busch spent Friday night’s Busch Series race in the scoring tower at Richmond for an inside look at what officials do during a race. Was Busch genuinely interested in seeing how it all works? Or was he just kissing up to NASCAR in the wake of his most recent outburst? “I hope he was genuinely interested,” said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of communications. “He appeared to be. I think he clearly understands that his behavior under the conditions at Darlington was inappropriate, was just wrong — and especially wearing the champion’s crown.”
Busch was penalized during the May 7 race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for not lining up in the correct position behind the pace car for a restart. Already frustrated by a first-lap crash that caused severe damage to his car, Busch boiled over about the penalty. He made profane remarks directed at NASCAR officials over his in-car radio, revved his engine in anger after officials ordered him to turn it off and threw a water bottle in the direction of an official standing next to his car. Addressing the media earlier in the day Friday, Busch said, “I’m not there to bend any of the rules. I’m there to abide by them and as the champion to represent the sport.”(USA Today)(5-18-2005)
- Urban Youth Racing School Interns: There are few better career previews than internships, and four young people with the Philadelphia-based Urban Youth Racing School have that opportunity this week. Sponsored by Craftsman, the week-long learning experience pairs young people with various outlets in motorsports – Goodyear, the NASCAR Research and Development Center, NASCAR Scene and Speed Channel.
This year’s UYRS interns are Stephanie Hartfield, 18, from Mt. Vernon, N.Y.; Taj Muhammad, 17, Jason Simmons, 17, and Carnell Robinson, 18, all from Philadelphia, Pa. They’ll work in the Charlotte, N.C. area offices of their outlets early this week, then follow with at-track learning Thursday and Friday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Using the context of their outlet, the UYRS interns will see what goes on behind-the-scenes for a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event.
Hatfield is working with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series inspectors. Roberts is working with Goodyear. Muhammad is working with SPEED Channel and Simmons is working with NASCAR Scene. The Urban Youth Racing School is a component of NASCAR’s diversity initiative.(NASCAR)(5-18-2005)
- Robby offers Dakar seat to Armstrong: #7-Robby Gordon has invited cyclist Lance Armstrong to ride with him during the Dakar Rally. The rally, perhaps the most grueling event in motor sports, begins Dec. 31 and lasts two weeks. Off-road vehicles will race from Portugal to the city of Dakar in Senegal, a country on the west coast of North Africa. Along the way, drivers will bounce through terrain that ranges from mountains to deserts. The rally is organzied by a company called ASO, which also organizes the Tour de France. Armstrong will retire after trying to win his seventh Tour next month. In an interview with Velo, a French cycling magazine, that was excerpted on the English-language velonews.com Web site, Armstrong said of Gordon’s invitation, “I get propositions like this all the time, and it could be an interesting program for Discovery.” Armstrong’s cycling team is sponsored by the Discovery Channel.(USA Today)(5-18-2005)
- Trouble at Action; cuts out distributors: Shares of Action Performance, the Phoenix-based auto racing merchandiser, crashed 21% to $9.35 on Tuesday after it swung to a loss and suspended the quarterly dividend. “The market for die-cast collectibles is soft and a lot of it is Action’s own fault,” says Dennis McAlpine, a principal at the independent research boutique McAlpine Associates. “It flooded the market to keep sales going. Action saturated it with new versions of the same things. Instead of one Jeff Gordon #24 car with one paint scheme, it put out four or five paint schemes to get the collectors to buy them all, and it outlasted the collectors’ ability to buy.” In addition to the metal replicas of NASCAR cars, Action markets t-shirts, hats and other racing memorabilia. It blamed the disappointing results on lower sales of die-cast collectibles to mass merchandisers and, to a lesser extent, lower apparel sales to wholesalers. Domestic sales of die-cast cars fell 21% to $23.8 million, with the biggest area of weakness in the mass merchandise space, where sales plunged 43% to $7.8 million. Apparel sales slid 7% to $30.5 million, driven by a decline in sales of Jeff Hamilton [jackets, etc] merchandise.
Action recently announced plans to cut out distributors, keeping their cut for itself. It’s also trying to restore its product’s appeal by limiting supply, in the hope that the resulting scarcity will restore prices. Sources indicate Action will retain a key merchandising contract with racing star #8-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The deal, which expires at the end of the year, accounts for 26% of the company’s revenues.(Smartmoney)(5-18-2005)
- Next Pit Crew Event on May 19th, there will be a 2nd Pit Crew Competition, this time in Charlotte called the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge:
When: Thursday, May 19th, 7:00pm/et
Where: Charlotte Coliseum
How Much: $10 (Kids Under 12 Free)
See top NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series pit crew members compete for over $200,000 in prizes in seven head-to-head events, including: Front and Rear Tire Changer, Front and Rear Tire Carrier, 40-yard Push, Gas Man, Jack Man.(5-11-2005)
UPDATE – Tickets going fast: Tickets are going fast for the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday, May 19! The event will begin at 7:00pm/et on Thursday the 19th with special parking lot activities including driving simulators and souvenir haulers starting at 4:30pm/et. Tickets for the event are available for $10; children under 12 will be admitted free. Tickets for the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge can be purchased through Ticketmaster, at Lowe’s Motor Speedway website www.lowesmotorspeedway.com, at each stop of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Trophy Tour or by calling (800) 455-FANS. There is free parking for all fans.
Eligible Teams: A total of 24 teams are eligible to compete in Thursday’s event at the Charlotte Coliseum – the teams qualified for Saturday’s NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, plus the team that won last year’s NEXTEL Open [#40 Team], a preliminary race to the all-star challenge for teams without wins in the previous and current seasons; the team of the NEXTEL Open competitor last year who made the “big race” via a fan vote [#49-Schrader], and other teams eligible for the event based on current owner points.
For the rules and format of the event, see my Pit Crew News page.(5-14/18-2005)
News from May 17, 2005
- Richmond TV Ratings: The Chevy American Revolution 400 was the highest rated cable sports event of the weekend (4.4 versus the next closest event, Sunday’s NBA playoff match up between Phoenix and Dallas on TNT, which pulled a 3.7 rating) and also attracted the most viewers among cable sports events (3.77 million). Those numbers represent a ratings increase of 16% from the 2004 race (4.4 vs. 3.8) and a whopping 20% jump in households (3.77 million vs. 3.16 million). Total viewers also increased by 11%, from 5.05 million in 2004 to 5.58 million on Saturday.
The Chevy American Revolution 400 FX broadcast also attracted the most households for a spring NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway (3.77 million vs. 3.75 million for the 1997 race). That household rating ranks second in track history to last September’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400, which was seen by 3.82 million households. The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 was the 26th event on last year’s schedule and set the field for the inaugural Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. The track again occupies the same position on the schedule this season.
On the NASCAR Busch Series side, the FUNAI 250 also had excellent numbers against last year’s event in rating (1.9 vs. 1.4, a 36% increase), households (1.602 million vs. 1.189 million, a 35% increase), and viewers (2.09 million vs. 1.6 million, a 24% increase). Only the September 2002 NASCAR Busch Series race has had a higher rating and household number than Friday’s FUNAI 250.(Richmond International Raceway)(5-17-2005)
- Tide to Roush? UPDATE: hearing that Tide could be the new sponsor for the #6 Roush Racing Ford in 2006, leaving the #32 PPI Motorsports team [Bobby Hamilton Jr. driver] at the end of the season. Mark Martin currently drives the #6 and is retiring from full-time Nextel Cup racing after 2005 [supposedly going full-time Truck Series racing] and Pfizer/Viagra is in it’s fifth year of sponsoring the #6 team. As rumored, Ricky Craven could be reunited with Tide and take the wheel of the #6 Ford in 2006. Craven ran the Tide colors from 2001 thru late 2004 with PPI Motorsports.(5-17-2005)
UPDATE: been told the Roush part of this is not true, that Tide plans to honor their contract thru 2006.(5-17-2005)
- The Big Break: All-Star Challenge will pit NASCAR stars Dale Jarrett, Jamie McMurray, Elliott Sadler, Elliott Sadler, Rusty Wallace and Michael Waltrip against each other in a special event for charity and bragging rights. The event will be held in the Charlotte, N.C. area, on Tuesday, May 24 and air on the Golf Channel, Tuesday, July 5 at 9:00am/et. The players will not only take on one another, they’ll also take on some of the most demanding challenges from The Golf Channel’s The Big Break, The Golf Channel’s hit reality series. A previous All-Star Challenge aired featuring the World Champion Boston Red Sox. Preparing to enter its fourth season, The Big Break has been one of The Golf Channel’s most successful programs in the network’s 10-year history. The show features 10 golfers putting it all on the line for a chance to win prizes and earning exemptions to play in major tour events on the LPGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, European Tour or Canadian Tour.
Thousands of golfers toil endlessly on the mini-tours, aiming for a shot to play with the best in the world and chase their dreams. Now they have a shot at it. Viewers see great golf – the strategy, the tension, clutch shots and critical mistakes – as contestants take on challenges that reveal the strengths and weaknesses in their games and test their mental toughness. Players are eliminated one by one until only one remains earning their Big Break.(PR)(5-17-2005)
- Hermie adds a sponsor for the 600: The Ace & TJ Show has teamed up with Peak Fitness to run the #66 Ace & TJ Show/Peak Fitness Ford with driver Hermie Sadler in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race on Sunday, May 29th at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.(Ace & TJ Show site)(5-17-2005)
- Boris to run the Nextel Open: The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star weekend was not on Boris Said’s latest schedule of 2005 Cup races. But that slate recently changed after rain cut short last Tuesday’s test session at Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the MB/Sutton Motorsports team. Said, whose part-time Cup schedule includes the May 29th Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s, felt he did not have enough time to acclimate himself to the 1.5-mile oval during the rain-shortened test session. “Since we didn’t run a full test session, coupled with the top 35 drivers in points are already guaranteed a spot in the (43-car) field, we felt more seat time was needed to have a realistic shot of qualifying for the Coca-Cola race,” offered Said, driver of the #36 CENTRIX Financial Chevrolet. “Our main purpose for this weekend is to take advantage of the practice sessions and use them as a test and tune for next week’s race. I need more time and the crew also needs more time to find the best setup for Lowe’s. We knew going into this race that it would be difficult to qualify. And not having the full test session last week made it even more difficult.” Though Said will be in a test mode this weekend, it doesn’t mean he will not be at full throttle when the green flag drops for Saturday night’s NEXTEL Open. The winner of the Open will transfer into the main feature — The NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.(MBSuttom Motorsports)(5-17-2005)
- Cope to run the Open: Derrike Cope will be running in the Nextel Open at Lowe’s Motor Speedway May 21st. According to Cope, “I’m looking forward to being behind the wheel of Larry Gunselman’s #60 Chevy for the All-Star Challenge. I am anxious to compete and to represent Year One. Kevin King is a super individual and we are pleased to be giving him additional exposure at Charlotte. We really appreciated his support and sponsorship at Daytona.”(Derrike Cope site)(5-17-2005)
- Last double DNF for #24 and #48? Before Saturday at Ricmond’s Cup race, the last time Hendrick Motorsports teammates #24-Jeff Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson both failed to finish a race was at Dover on June 6, 2004.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-17-2005)
- Sponsor for Long?: from the McLynnracing.com: Sponsorship In The Works: Carl Long and McGlynn Racing are happy to announce a major new sponsorship deal is about to be signed for 2005. Their new title sponsor will be with the team for 10 races in 2005 beginning at Michigan International Speedway on June 19th 2005 and concluding at Homestead-Miami November 20th. Both sides have also agreed to terms for the bulk of the 2006 season as well. The name of the new sponsor will be announced here on the team web site as well as at a planned unveiling of the car and hauler. The exact date and location of the unveiling is still up in the air. The addition of this major sponsor will make a significant impact on the team in more ways than one. The team will compete in more races than previously planned and the team will have the additional resources available to make the competition worry that much more about the #00. The trademark green will also change during this sponsorship. The green will be replaced by blue and silver.(5-17-2005)
News from May 16, 2005
- Penske buying out Rusty and Miller? UPDATE 2: Roger Penske is buying out the 48% share of Penske South that is owned by Rusty Wallace and his long-time business manager Don Miller.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-16-2005)
UPDATE: Wallace, driving his final full season in Nextel Cup, said Penske has offered to buy out his share of the team, as well as his longtime friend Miller’s share. But Wallace said the ongoing fuss with Newman will not play a part in that decision, when he makes it. “Again, I want to stress I haven’t made that decision,” Wallace said. “I’ve got an offer to do that. I lay awake at nights wondering if that’s what I should do.”(ESPN.com/AP)(4-23-2005)
UPDATE 2: Penske Performance, Inc., the majority shareholder of Penske Racing South, Inc., announced today that it has purchased the individual ownership interests in the company held by Rusty Wallace, Don Miller and John Erickson. “The transaction represents an opportunity to reward Rusty, Don and John for their many contributions to the growth and success of the company,” said Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Performance. “Penske Racing South is committed to its participation as a competitor in NASCAR. We enjoy the support of a dedicated and loyal group of sponsors who will be with us well into the future. Our focus is to maximize all three cars’ performance every week with winning the NEXTEL Cup Championship as our goal.” Don Miller said, “The purchase allows me to extract the equity that I put into the company over the last 14 years. For me, the time is right. Given our recent investments to grow the company, this helps relieve some of my personal financial burden. I look forward to fulfilling my management responsibilities on an ongoing basis.” Rusty Wallace noted that “this deal is important to my future as I move into the next phase of my career. I value the opportunity to have been an owner at the NEXTEL Cup level and I am excited about contributing to the success of the team going forward, especially in my remaining races as a driver. Penske Racing South has been a great part of my life,” Wallace said.
John Erickson said, “I appreciate having been part of the ownership structure. I will continue to do my best in helping build a championship team.” The terms of the transaction are confidential.(Penske Performance PR)(5-16-2005)
- Wheeler picks Gordon to win All-Star Race: The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge is racing’s version of a high-stakes poker game and H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, thinks Jeff Gordon will draw the $1 million winning hand. Wheeler named Gordon as his selection to win Saturday night’s 21st running of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge during his annual pick-the-winner press conference Monday in downtown Charlotte. Known for his promotional flair and Karnac-type ability, Wheeler has correctly picked the winner of NASCAR’s all-star race nine times in the past 16 races. This is the fifth time in 11 years Wheeler has selected Gordon to win NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing’s all-star event and only one of the four previous picks panned out. That came in 1995 when Gordon avoided a crash involving Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip at the start of the final segment and went on to record his first of three victories. After thoroughly reviewing the data, Wheeler said his selection came down to a choice between Gordon and Greg Biffle. Ryan Newman, the 2002 winner of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge, was another driver Wheeler gave heavy consideration during the extensive selection process. This year, instead of a dark horse selection, Wheeler’s going with a pair of sentimental favorites-Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace.
In the inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Pit Crew Challenge Thursday night, May 19, at the Charlotte Coliseum, Wheeler predicts the event’s unique format will result in true athleticism rising to the top. “If the competition was a normal pit stop, it would be hard to bet against the 48, 24 or 97 teams,” Wheeler said. “However, I had spies watching some of the practice and I think this format, which includes pushing the car, gives Michael Waltrip’s No. 15 team the edge.”
Good seats, in various price ranges, are still available for Saturday’s NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. Tickets start at $33 and may be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.
For a list of “Humpy” Wheeler’s Pick and the Winner Results, along with eligible drivers, rules, format, see my 2005 All-Star Challenge page.(LMS PR)(5-16-2005)
- #37 R&J Racing releases crew chief: The #37 R&J Racing Team has released crew chief Billy Poindexter from the team as of Monday [5-16]. Poindexter has been the crew chief for the R&J Racing Team since the fall of 2004. Owners John Carter and Roger Craven made the decision due to the teams’ recent lack of performance. The decision to let Poindexter go was also tough on R&J Racing driver Kevin Lepage as well. As of today Poindexter will have no affiliation with the R&J Racing Team. A new crew chief has not yet been announced as the R&J Racing Team is in search of a new crew chief. If you are interested in this position please contact Kevin Lepage at the R&J Racing Shop.(R&J Racing)(5-16-2005)
- Testing at Dover: The following drivers will be testing at Dover International Speedway the next two weeks, in preparation for the races at Dover on June 3-5:
May 16: #99-Carl Edwards (Cup)
May 17: #99-Carl Edwards (Cup); #77-Travis Kvapil (Cup); #41-Reed Sorenson (Busch)
May 23: #29-Kevin Harvick (Cup); #17-Matt Kennseth (Cup); #10-Michele Jourdain, Jr.(Busch); #8-Debra Renshaw (Trucks)
May 24:#17-Matt Kennseth (Cup); #10-Michele Jourdain, Jr.(Busch).
These are closed test sessions and are not open to the general public.
Tickets are still available for all three races, see doverspeedway.com for more info.(5-16-2005)
- McMurray quiet about 2006: #42-Jamie McMurray gets asked every week if he’s going to replace Rusty Wallace in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge next year. “Sometimes you get asked questions and just don’t know what to say,” McMurray said. “Last year, I talked about my contract, but I’m not going to do that this time. I don’t want to get any more rumors started. I just want to go on and not worry about it.” McMurray, who drives the #42 Havoline Dodge, has one year remaining on his deal with Chip Ganassi Racing. It hasn’t stopped speculation that he will take over for the retiring Wallace at Penske Racing South. “I’ve been reading the stuff about it,” McMurray said. “It’s better to be in the rumor mill than not be in it. As long as they’re talking about you it’s a good thing.”(Dallas Morning News)(5-16-2005)
- Baldwin Win Wins Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race: After finishing runner-up in six Nextel Cup races, #9-Kasey Kahne finally took his first trip to Victory Lane this weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Kahne dominated the event, starting from the pole and leading the most laps before taking the seemingly elusive checkered flag. For bringing his driver his first career win in racing’s top series, Tommy Baldwin won the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award. The supporting cast of the Evernham Motorsports Dodge was as much a part of the win as the driver. When the leaders made their final trip down pit road, lap 333, the #9 crew executed a flawless stop, putting Kahne back on the track in the command position. Despite three more caution flags, Kahne stayed on the track and held onto the top spot. “We had a good idea of how long the tires would last in a run,” said Baldwin. “We knew with sixty laps to go, that was it. We were done with the pit stops. We were sticking to our plan. If the caution came out anywhere from (lap) 290 and on, we were staying out the whole run. At lap 353, there was no way were coming in.”
The panel of voters; including Mike Harris of the Richmond Times Dispatch, a WYPALL Wipers representative and Robbie Reiser; all agreed that Baldwin was the top crew chief of the event. With his first WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award, Baldwin joins Scott Miller, Bob Osborne, Alan Gustafson and Pete Rondeau in a tie for third place in the WYPALL Wipers Crew Chief of the Year standings. Doug Richert stays in first place with three wins. Robbie Loomis is in second place with two wins. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000. Fan can also vote for their choice at wypall.com.(SMC 500)(5-16-2005)
- Yates, Evernham and DEI up to 3 teams? #38 and #88 team owner, Robert Yates, is expected to add a third Cup team in 2006, if current Busch sponsor CitiFinancial is willing to make the move. “We’d like to develop a young driver and advance him to Cup,” Yates Racing G.M. Eddie D’Hondt says. Three seems to be the magic number for most Cup organizations. Evernham Motorsports (#91-Gaughan?)) and Dale Earnhardt Inc. (#1-Truex Jr.) also are expected to expand to three full-time cars next season.(Sporting News)(5-16-2005)
- DEI working on contracts with Waltrip and Truex: DEI vice president Richie Gilmore says contract discussions continue with NAPA and #15-Michael Waltrip and with Martin Truex, who is expected to revive the #1 Chevrolet in Cup with Bass Pro Shops as the sponsor. Gilmore says that NAPA is looking at a one-year extension, and DEI would like a three-year deal.(Sporting News)
AND Richie Gilmore, director of motorsports at DEI, says he’s confident that Dale Earnhardt Inc. will sign Martin Truex Jr. to a new contract soon. Michael Waltrip’s situation, though, is not as certain. Truex’ contract expires after this season. While there is interest in the Cup garage for the defending Busch series champion, DEI has it set up for him to drive Cup cars full time next year with Bass Pro Shops as the sponsor. “Martin’s dad and I talk pretty much every day. I think we’ll get back together with (car owner) Teresa (Earnhardt) next week and, hopefully, we’ll get something together,” Gilmore said. Gilmore says that Waltrip’s sponsor NAPA has an option for next season. That leaves Waltrip’s status uncertain. “We talked to Michael last week,” Gilmore said. “We told Michael that we’re trying to get the NAPA deal and then we can sit down and talk with him about talk about the future.”(Roanoke Times)(5-16-2005)
- Newman being courted: #12-Ryan Newman has another year on his contract with car owner Roger Penske, but Ford’s Jack Roush, Dodge’s Ray Evernham, and Chevy executives have all been making a run at Newman, who is the hottest qualifier on the stock car tour.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-16-2005)
- Ford testing 2006 model: Ford was to test its 2006 Nextel Cup model this week at a wind tunnel in Marietta, Ga. The test will determine how close Ford is to submitting the car to NASCAR. A name has yet to be announced, but sources say the car could be the Fusion.(Sporting News)(5-16-2005)
- Hendrick Suspensions different?: #24-Jeff Gordon made a rare driving mistake, one which resulted in his hitting the wall and doing damage to the front end of his car. And being the class act he is, Gordon admitted making the mistake on national television. “It was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he said. Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate #48-Jimmie Johnson also had front-end woes that put him out of the race early. I [Yahoo! Sports] was told that the Hendrick Motorsports guys have found something that makes the front end suspension of their cars work better. I [Yahoo! Sports] understand it has to do with both mechanical and aerodynamic elements. Perhaps it also has made their front suspensions more susceptible to damage.(Yahoo Sports)(5-16-2005)
News from May 15, 2005
- Some News about Jerry Nadeau: injured driver Jerry Nadeau had planned to be at Richmond International Raceway last night to watch the Chevy American Revolution 400. His plans changed because a death in his family earlier in the week took him away from his Davidson, N.C., home and he felt like he needed to get caught up on things when he returned. So he took some time on the phone to talk about the wreck at RIR two years ago this month that almost took his life and perhaps will take his career. Nadeau won the pole that day, driving for MB2 Motorsports. In a practice session after qualifying, he hit the wall hard between Turns 1 and 2 and had to be airlifted out of the racetrack.
He was in a coma for three weeks, in a hospital for three months. The recovery has been slow and is not yet complete. Nadeau knows he may never drive competitively again, but he’s not ready to give up hope. He hopes that some tests to be run Wednesday will show that progress has been made and that he will be able to return one day. “I’m still young and energized and ready to go,” Nadeau, 34, said. “If the tests go good next week and everything looks good, I’m going to bug Jay [Frye, MB2 owner] and try to do a test and see where I’m at and hopefully get in a car in the next couple of months and maybe go do a test. The doctors have said it takes a good two years. My left side is still numb. I can’t change that. It is going to remain numb for a while. I feel like I’m thinking better, talking better, just doing better overall.”
A NASCAR spokesman said yesterday that the sanctioning organization needs only clearance from a doctor to allow Nadeau to race again. Without that, he won’t race. Nadeau knows that even with clearance, he’s taking a chance if he does race again. “I have an insurance policy and [doctors] said I was better off taking the insurance policy and doing something else,” he said. “You know what? I don’t know what else to do. All I know how to do is race. I figure I might as well give it a shot.” Since being injured, he said, he’s stayed busy enough. He’s taught some sessions in driving schools and may want to turn to that full time if he can’t race. He’s traveled to make appearances. “I was in Kentucky two weeks ago . . . we made a movie of my life and I show that to the fans and then I’ll come out and talk about my life,” Nadeau said. “I came to Charlotte with 100 dollars in my pocket and I made it to the Nextel Cup circuit. We haven’t done the tests in nine months with an MRI and we’re going to do one Wednesday and kind of compare. Hopefully there is some bright light and things will look good. Who knows?”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-15-2005)
- Penske Happy with Dodge: #2-Rusty Wallace shot down talk of Penske Racing South aligning itself with Toyota. He said the team is happy with its current contract with Dodge. “People would think that [switch] would be a natural because he’s running Toyota in the IRL Series, and he’s the largest Toyota dealer,” he said. “But he’s also one of the world’s largest Daimler Chrysler dealers.” Wallace said he hasn’t “personally talked” with Toyota about his #64 Busch Series team but said he would never say never.(Richmond Times Dispatch), remember the denials in 2000 that Penske would switch to Dodge?(5-15-2005)
- Richmond’s NASCAR HOF plans: In a news conference at Richmond International Raceway before last night’s Nextel Cup Series race, the proposed hall was revealed as a 129,000 square-foot building (including 68,000 square feet of exhibits) on about a 20-acre tract of land. Architectural firms with experience on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Baseball Hall of Fame and Smithsonian Museum of Natural History are designing the blueprint. An economic analysis predicted the hall would be attended by 700,000 visitors in the first year. The study said competing cities Kansas City, Kan., Daytona Beach, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta would draw hundreds of thousands fewer fans annually. An economic impact study projected a $6 million growth in tax revenue — $4.7 million to the state and $1.3 million to Henrico County. The details need to be finalized by the May 31 deadline for submitting bids to NASCAR. NASCAR reportedly will announce the winning city at its Dec.2 awards banquet in New York.(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-15-2005)
- Gibbs on Leffler: Joe Gibbs may have given more questions than he gave answers when he was asked about struggling driver #11-Jason Leffler’s future Saturday at Richmond International Raceway. “Obviously, you get concerned,” he said. “You have a huge sponsor there and we’re in it for the long haul. We signed Jason for the long haul and we are certainly going to go after it with Jason and try to get everything done we can there.” Still, Gibbs said failure is not an option. “It always boils down to performance,” Gibbs said. “It’s gotta be a performance thing. We’ve got to be successful there.”(NASCAR.com)(5-15-2005)
- NASCAR Fan to Win Chance to “Begin the Batman Begins 400 at MIS”: Gotham City will meet the Motor City when the Batmobile takes to the track at Michigan International Speedway for the Batman Begins 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race on June 19. Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Comics, and Michigan International Speedway announced that one lucky fan will win the chance of a lifetime to drop the green flag to start the race by entering the “Begin the Batman Begins 400 at MIS” promotion. The promotion will run from May 23-June 6. The announcement was made today at Richmond International Raceway by NASCAR star Mark Martin, who will pilot a Batman Begins-themed Ford in the Batman Begins 400, and MIS President Brett Shelton. The Batman Begins 400 marks the first time a major motion picture has served as the entitlement sponsor of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event. Batman Begins, the highly anticipated film from Warner Bros., opens worldwide on June 15.
The “Begin the Batman Begins 400 at MIS” program will offer one fan, chosen at random, the opportunity to not only wave the green flag to start the Batman Begins 400, but also receive a VIP racing experience at MIS. Fans can enter the program online at www.begintherace.com.
Roush Racing legend Mark Martin will get a little extra Batman power to help him get to Victory Lane, as his Ford will feature a special Batman Begins paint scheme for the race. Martin’s fellow Roush Racing driver, Ricky Craven, will also be sporting a Batman Begins scheme during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event on June 18.
Fans can still purchase tickets to the Batman Begins 400 by calling MIS at 1-800-354-1010 or logging on to www.MISpeedway.com.(Alan Taylor Communications)(5-15-2005)
News from May 14, 2005
- Kahne FINALLY Wins: #9-Kasey Kahne won the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway for his first ever Nextel Cup win in his 47th race, after finishing 2nd six times. Kahne is the 167th driver to score a Nextel Cup win. The win puts Kahne into the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway next Saturday. Kahne led the most laps with 242 and beat #20-Tony Stewart, who finished 2nd, and made a classy move on pit road, walking out to talk and congratulate Kahne. The rest of the top-five: #12-Ryan Newman, #5-Kyle Busch and #29-Kevin Harvick. Kahne’s win is the first for the Dodge Charger since Nov. 20, 1977, at [now defunct] Ontario Motor Speedway, Neil Bonnett was the driver, it is the 125th win for the Dodge Charger. It is Dodge’s first win of 2005. Points leader #48-Jimmie Johnson wrecked early and finished 40th, his large points lead is now down to 41 over #16-Greg Biffle. #24-Jeff Gordon had troubles and DNF’s, finishing 39th.
For my race rundown, narrative, cautions, lucky dogs, lap leaders, see Richmond Race Info/Rundown Page
For race results/results links, see Jayski’s Richmond Race Results/Awards page.(5-14-2005)
- Latest on Ward Burton: Though he hasn’t completed a lap of Cup racing this season, Ward Burton is still on the minds of many NASCAR observers. Burton, 43, of South Boston, started at least nine Cup races every season from 1994-2004. He has been without a ride this season. When will he return? Only he knows for sure, but his brother, Jeff Burton, who is also a Cup driver, has his own ideas. “He’s gotten caught up in the youth movement,” said Jeff Burton, who was referring the glut of under-30 drivers on the circuit. “I’d like to see him drive a truck or a Busch car because he’s a great driver and he’s still got a lot left in him.” Ward finished 32nd in the points standings last year driving the #0 Chevrolet for the Gene Haas-owned racing team. His best points finish came in 1999 when he was ninth. He is working full-time to promote hiswildlife foundation this year.(Daily Press)(5-14-2005)
- Eleven Drivers Penalized UPDATE: Eleven drivers were penalized for being late for inspection at Darlignton Raceway last week. Ten teams/drivers will be held for 15 minutes before they can practice today at Richmond: #5-Busch, #7-Gordon, #8-Earnhardt Jr., #10-Riggs, #15-Waltrip, #17-Kenseth, # 41-Mears, #42-McMurray, #48-Johnson and #99-Edwards. #24-Gordon has to sit on pit road for 30 minutes. The drivers and cars need to sit on pit road, can’t go out to practice or work on the car.(Speed Channel’s Happy Hour practice coverage).(5-13-2005)
UPDATE: NASCAR held at least a dozen cars on pit lane before practice yesterday, penalizing the teams for being late to the prerace inspection line at Darlington Raceway last week. Jeff Gordon served the worst punishment, missing 26 minutes of practice. Jimmie Johnson, Scott Riggs, Carl Edwards, Michael Waltrip, Casey Mears, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart also were held and missed between 10-15 minutes of the session. “With all the weather that we had at Darlington, the schedule was shortened,” Jeff Gordon said. “With all the changes that we had to make in practice, we lost a lot of time and we paid the price big time for it. I understand what NASCAR’s doing. They need to keep the inspection line on time, but I think when you’ve got 11 or 12 cars, and top teams, that are late to the inspection line, there’s obviously a problem there beyond just the teams lagging behind.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-14-2005)
- Race Notes – Richmond:
• Kasey Kahne won the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway, scoring his career-first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 47th career start.
• The last driver to win from the Bud Pole was Joe Nemechek at Kansas, October 10, 2004.
• Bill Elliott was the last driver to win at Richmond from the Bud Pole: March 1992, 26 Richmond races ago.
• Ryan Newman was the last driver to score his career-first victory from the Bud Pole. Newman won his career-first race at New Hampshire in September 2002.
• Several drivers have won their first race from the Bud Pole including Hershal McGriff, Lou Figaro, Frank Mundy, Donald Thomas, Norm Nelson and many others.
• Kahne joined Carl Edwards as the second first-time winner this season.
• Kahne scored six runner-up finishes before posting his career-first victory. He joined Marvin Panch, Mark Martin and Glen Wood for sixth-place on the list of drivers with runner-up finishes before their first victory. James Hylton holds the record, scoring 12 second-place finishes before scoring his career-first victory at Richmond in March 1970.
• This marked the first Dodge Charger victory since Neil Bonnett won at Ontario in November 1977.
• Kahne became the seventh different winner in 2005.
• Kahne climbed from 19th to 15th in the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP point standings, 301 behind point leader Jimmie Johnson.
• Kahne led 242 laps, the most in his career, in leading the most laps for the first time this season. He has led the most laps in two previous races: Texas – 2004 and second Charlotte – 2004.
• This is Kahne’s first top-10 finish in three races at Richmond.
• Kahne has scored four top-10 finishes in 11 races this season.
• This was the sixth career victory for team owner Ray Evernham.
• Five of the top-10 finishers at Richmond scored their best Richmond finish: Kasey Kahne (first) Kyle Busch (fourth), Greg Biffle (sixth), Elliott Sadler (seventh) and Michael Waltrip (ninth).
• Tony Stewart (second) posted his eighth top-10 finish in 13 races at Richmond. Stewart has scored six top-10 finishes in 11 races this season. He climbed from seventh to sixth in the point standings.
• Ryan Newman (third) posted his fifth top-10 finish in seven races at Richmond. He scored his fifth top-10 finish in 2005. He climbed from 10th to seventh in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
• Kyle Busch (fourth) posted his third top-10 finish of 2005 in his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Richmond race.
• Kevin Harvick (fifth) scored his third top-10 finish in nine races at Richmond. Harvick has scored four top-10 finishes in 2005. He climbed from 11th to eighth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
• Jimmie Johnson (40th) remained first in the point standings with a 41-point lead over second-place Greg Biffle. Johnson lost 86 points in posting his second DNF of the season. He has scored eight top-10 finishes in 11 races this season, more than any other driver. Johnson scored his worst finish and first DNF in seven races at Richmond International Raceway.
• The last time Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson posted DNFs in the same race was at Dover in June 2004.
• Kyle Busch (fourth) was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender for the seventh time in 11 races in 2005.
• Mark Martin (15th) has been running at the finish in 33 consecutive races, the longest current streak.
• Nine of the top-10 positions in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings changed at Richmond International Raceway.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(5-14-2005)
- Rumblings – Richmond:
• You certainly can’t say it came as a surprise…. Kasey Kahne bagged his first-ever Nextel Cup victory tonight at Richmond International Raceway as he bested Tony Stewart by 1.67 seconds to record the win in the Chevy American Revolution 400. In a race that the top-two dominated (they led 385 of the 400 laps), Kasey becomes the second first-timer of the season (Carl Edwards won at Atlanta) and gets his initial win after being the bridesmaid six times.
• Kasey is the 7th different winner this season, and the victory puts him in next week’s Nextel All-Star Challenge. Oh yeah, it was worth $257,325 as well.
• Ryan Newman (3rd) had his best finish since he was runner-up at Phoenix last November.
• Kyle Busch (4th) had his best finish since he was 2nd at Las Vegas in March.
• Scott Wimmer (20th) had his best finish since he was 20th at Atlanta in March.
Tony Stewart has 3 Top-10’s in a row.
Michael Waltrip has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
Jamie McMurray has 4 Top-10’s in the last 5 races.
• The Rookie Report: Kyle Busch (4th) is the Rookie of the Race for the 7th time this season. Travis Kvapil was 22nd and Stanton Barrett did not compete this weekend.
• This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the Week is Bobby Labonte (+31). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Johnny Sauter (-28 ). Slim pickins’ this week in the “Shaft” as the Top-7 finishers all started inside the Top-10.
• Jimmie Johnson took a big hit in the points tonight. The lead that was 127 last week is now just 41 over new second place runner Greg Biffle. JJ’s early exit also brings four more drivers under the “Stayin’ Alive” line as we’ve got 19 drivers in the “Chase” with 15 races to go. Kyle Busch (27th to 22nd) gained the most spots tonight and Mark Martin (6th to 10th) fell the most positions. No change in the exempt list as Jason Leffler is now 32 markers out of the Top-35.(Stock Car Fans)(5-14-2005)
- Vickers takes flight: It’s fair to say that NASCAR driver #25-Brian Vickers has enjoyed a variety of unique and special opportunities as a result of his occupation. But on Thursday, the 21 year-old enjoyed arguably one of his most memorable personal experiences ever. He joined a very small group of civilians fortunate enough to ride in a U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat from the VF-101 “Grim Reapers” fighter squadron, currently based at Naval Air Station Oceana (Virginia Beach, VA). Visit www.brianvickers.com for the complete story and photo gallery on Vickers’ ride.(5-14-2005)
News from May 13, 2005
- Chevy Rock and Roll Schemes to be unveiled UPDATE 2 – IMAGES: Chevrolet will give race fans a taste of what they will see when they return to Richmond International Raceway in September for the Crown Royal IROC, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 200, Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Busch Series and Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. As an official partner and longtime race sponsor at Richmond International Raceway, Chevrolet plans to unveil three Rock & Roll themed stockcars on Friday afternoon.(RIR Fact Sheet)(5-10-2005)
UPDATE: #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have 3 Doors Down on his car. Others: #31-Jeff Burton / Big & Rich; #29 Kevin Harvick / e Gretchen Wilson; #10-Scott Riggs / Nickelback and #07-Dave Blaney / Drive by Truckers.(5-11-2005)
IMAGE added the #10 Nickelback and #29 Gretchen Wilson images to the #10 Team Schemes and #29 Team Schemes pages.(5-13-2005)
UPDATE 2: Chevrolet is mixing the red carpet with black asphalt announcing today that more stars and cars than ever will be part of the popular Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 10. NASCAR drivers #29-Kevin Harvick, #10-Scott Riggs and #25-Brian Vickers helped Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper unveil their musical artist-themed Chevy Monte Carlo racecars for the event. Chevrolet also will host a pre-race concert with Nickelback performing and Gretchen Wilson singing the national anthem.
Three of the specially themed cars that will compete in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 were revealed:
· Kevin Harvick’s #29 GM Goodwrench Chevy Monte Carlo will feature Gretchen Wilson.
· Brian Vickers’ #25 GMAC Chevy Monte Carlo will feature Green Day.
· Scott Riggs’ #10 Valvoline Chevy Monte Carlo will feature Nickelback.
This is the sixth consecutive year that Chevrolet will be the title sponsor of the fall race at Richmond International Raceway. With more than 107,000 fans attending, the race will mark the 28th consecutive sell-out of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at the track and will be broadcast live during primetime. The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 is the 26th race of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season and will determine the participants in the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship.” Today’s announcement is the first of many musical pairings to be announced prior to the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. Additional vehicles that will be participating in the event will be announced later.(Chevrolet-GM/Action Performance/RIR), see updated images and the #25 car on my #25 Team Schemes pages.(5-13-2005)
- So what happened to Long in practice? for the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Carl Long crashed his primary #00 Buyer’s Choice Auto Warranty Chevrolet during afternoon practice.
WHAT HAPPENED? During a qualifying run, my car’s been extremely tight in the center of the corner. It was a little bit free entering Turn 1 each time and unfortunately for me with different run we had a different set of shocks on it. And those shocks wouldn’t let the car recover-it kind of held it down real stiff. And when it got loose on me getting into Turn 1, where I’ve been recovering all practice, I reckon I gave out of talent.
IT APPEARS YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR MOTOR IN THE SPARE CHASSIS – DID YOU LIKE THAT MOTOR? Yeah, that’s the only engine that we have, so..(GM PR), so it looks like Long will make an attempt to make the race.(5-13-2005)
- Air Freshner in a race car, less anger IMAGE: With short-track Richmond International Raceway being the next stop on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit, don’t be surprised to see Scott Riggs piloting his race machine around the 0.75-mile track with an AroMetrics air freshener hanging from the roll cage. In a recently released study, drivers were found to be more alert and experienced less fatigue when the scent of pine was added to the car interior. The study also revealed that drivers demonstrated a decreased level of anger [hmm.. maybe Kurt Busch, Michael Waltrip and Jeff Green can get some air freshners] and improved overall driving performance when exposed to strawberry and pine scents. “It’s amazing that something as simple as a smell can make a difference while you’re driving,” offered Riggs, who will be behind the wheel of a specially designed AroMetrics/Valvoline Chevrolet in this weekend’s Chevy American Revolution 400. “Imagine what a nice clean race we could have if everyone had AroMetrics in the car.” The researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University (Wheeling, W.Va.) who conducted the study, used a car simulator, exposing participants to pine and strawberry scents, and monitoring driving tendencies, including lane tracking, speed, collisions, and reaction times, as well as behavioral factors such as alertness, fatigue, anger and overall performance. The study used AroMetrics’ new Auto Fragrance System air fresheners as the method of dispensing the scent in the simulated car environment.(MB2/MBV Motorsports), see an image of the scheme on my #10 Team Schemes page.(5-13-2005)
- Irvan to be inducted in West Coast HOF: The inductees for the 4th Annual West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame induction ceremony July 22, 2005 have been announced by Tim Meyer director of the West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame. Fifteen names make up the West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame 2005 induction class.
Drivers: Allen Adkins, Len Sutton, Sam Hanks, Dick Meyer, and Ernie Irvan.
Owners-Mechanics-Manufacturers-Sponsors: Bob Estes, Vel Miletich, Floyd Johnson, Tom Hamilton, Leon Ruther, Richard Elder and James Rush.
Promoters-Officials-Media Members-Event/Series Sponsors: Ron Ail, Harry Schilling, and Marion Collins.(West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame)(5-13-2005)
- Changes at Speed, NASCAR Nation down to 30 minutes? UPDATE 3 Yep: A shake-up at the top of Fox’s Speed Channel is the latest TV shock for NASCAR, and Fox’s decision to let Jim Liberatore go as head of the cable channel leaves considerable uncertainty about just what’s going on. Liberatore has been running Speed Channel, based in Charlotte, since Fox bought it four years ago. He cites “a difference in philosophies” for his departure. According to one source, Liberatore wanted to diversify Speed Channel again, to include a good mix of all racing. It has become predominantly NASCAR-oriented. There are also reports that the Speed Channel ‘s NASCAR Nation show will soon be dramatically revamped, in light of generally poor ratings. The show is likely to be cut from an hour to 30 minutes, and its focus is to change from hard racing reports to more soft entertainment features.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-3-2005)
MORE If speed doesn’t sell on Speed, then maybe sex will. What else is there to make of the news from the cable channel that Leeann Tweeden, a one-time spokesman/lingerie model for Frederick’s of Hollywood, a layout model in Playboy, a Hooters calendar girl, and cover girl for men’s magazine FHM, could be replacing Krista Voda, a veteran sports reporter, on its NASCAR shows?(Winston Salem Journal)(5-7-2005)
UPDATE: been told that NASCAR Nation will go to a 30 minute [instead of the current 60 minute] show the last week in June. Krista Voda will be leaving the show to take a job in Pittsburgh, PA, no replacement yet named and not sure when she is leaving. The show will concentrate more on the pop culture and drop the news segment [my favorite part]. The Beyond the Wheel segment will become its own shown and air on Thursday night.(5-10-2005)
UPDATE 2: from a Speed Channel interview with new VP of Studio Production Chris Long
SPEED: Any specific changes to the NASCAR Nation format you are ready to announce?
LONG: It will drop from an hour to a half hour beginning June 27 because it will no longer have a news element. The show’s hosts will change. Krista Voda made the decision before I arrived to move to Pittsburgh and continue her career with Fox Sports Net in that area. Ralph Sheheen will return to Speed News. New hires are pending. I am still looking at tapes. The show’s graphics and set will change. I’m looking for more of a nighttime feel. Later in the interview it was mentioned: We may add a weekday edition of SPEED News. See full article/interview at Speed Channel site: New Speed Channel VP of Studio Production Wastes No Time Getting to Work.(5-13-2005)
UPDATE 3 – from leeanntweeden.com:…..”I am going to be hosting my own show again on the SPEED CHANNEL! It’s called “NASCAR Nation”, and our first airdate is June 27th! As many of you know, I grew up around stock car racing, and am very excited to have this opportunity come my way!!!! Most of my time this month has been occupied with making myself bi-coastal again! Yes, I have to move to the Charlotte, NC area for this show. Relocating has pretty much consumed most of my time this month…But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean I am leaving “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” by any means…I will still be doing my weekly “Insider” on the show, as well as some remotes when my schedule allows.(5-13-2005)
- Bass Pro Shops to sponsor #07 at Richmond; #31 at Chicago IMAGE: Bass Pro Shops will be the primary sponsor of Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) #07 Chevrolet in this weekend’s Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) and its #31 Chevrolet in the July 10 Chicagoland 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Driver Dave Blaney’s full-time sponsor, Jack Daniel’s, will be prominently featured on the #07 car’s lower quarter panels and deck lid this weekend. In turn, Cingular Wireless, Jeff Burton’s primary sponsor, will receive prominent placement on the #31 car highlighting Bass Pro Shops ongoing involvement with RCR. The outdoor retail giant is also the primary sponsor of RCR’s #33 Chevrolet four-race superspeedway program with driver Kerry Earnhardt. For more information go to www.basspro.com.(RCR)(5-10-2005)
IMAGES: see a few images on my #07 Team Schemes page.(5-13-2005)
- Different scheme for the #11 at RIR: For the first time this season, the #11 FedEx Chevrolet will carry the purple, green and white colors of the FedEx operating company of FedEx Ground. The FedEx Ground scheme is one of four rotating schemes involving the FedEx operating companies of FedEx Express, FedEx Freight and FedEx Kinko’s that will be featured on the #11 machine throughout the season.(JGR), see an image of the scheme on my #11 Team Schemes page.(5-13-2005)
- Rudd to decide by mid-summer whether to retire; #850 3rd best: #21-Ricky Rudd knows what he’ll do, or at least not do, when he retires. It’s just that he doesn’t know if this will be his last NASCAR Nextel Cup season. A season besieged by accidents and mechanical woes have pinned him deep into the points standings heading into Saturday night’s Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway. That’s raised the question of the 48-year-old Chesapeake native’s status. When asked about retirement in January, he said that if he doesn’t run well this year, “then you probably won’t see me the next year.” So, is this Rudd’s last ride? He says he’ll decide sometime this summer if he’ll join Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin in making this his final Cup season. Both, who announced their retirements last year, are having solid farewells. Martin is sixth in the points and Wallace 14th but only 42 points behind Martin. When Rudd decides to retire, he says he won’t follow the paths other veterans have taken. He doesn’t want to do a full-season farewell tour just to sell special souvenir items as many have done. Rudd also says he won’t run a partial schedule as Bill Elliott and Terry Labonte are doing. While Martin has hinted at running a full season on the Craftsman Truck series next year, Rudd won’t. “I see myself not traveling so much, going off and seeing family that I’ve neglected for years,” said Rudd, who made his Cup debut at age 18 in 1975 at Rockingham. “I’ve got a lot of catching up to do in my personal life.” Although Rudd says that he’ll spend a year away from racing once he retires, he admits there’s one thing that could draw him back. “Something in the back of my mind that I wanted to do was LeMans,” he says of the world famous 24-hour race. “I would drive there. That race has probably lost a lot of prestige over the years in this country, but as a kid growing up and being into go-kart road racing, that was a race I used to dream about.”(Roanoke Times)
AND Rudd will mak his 850th career start in the Cup series in Saturday’s Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Rudd is third on the all-time starts list behind Richard Petty (1,185) and Dave Marcis (883).(5-13-2005)
- Kahne wins pole at Richmond: #9-Kasey Kahne won the pole for the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway with a near track record lap of 129.964 [record is 129.983 set last May], for his 2nd Budweiser pole of 2005 and 6th career pole, he also won the pole for the Busch race tonight. It is also Kahne’s 2nd pole in a row [he won the pole at Darlingto last week] and he is the first driver ever to win the pole for both the Busch Series race and Cup race at Richmond. #12-Ryan Newman just missed the pole with the backup car and will start 2nd, followed by #20-Tony Stewart, #97-Kurt Busch and #38-Elliott Sadler. Missing the race: #38-Lepage, #34-Fuller, #27-Shelmerdine and #00-Long who wrecked his backup car on his first lap but drove the car to the garage.
See speeds, starting lineup, pole progression and more on my Jayski’s Practice/Qualifying Page.(5-13-2005)
- Richmond Qualifying Notes:
• Kasey Kahne won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the Chevy American Revolution 400, lapping Richmond International Raceway in 20.775 seconds at 129.964 mph. Brian Vickers holds the track-qualifying record of 20.772 seconds, 129.983 mph, set May 14, 2004.
• This is Kahne’s sixth career Bud Pole in 47 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. His most recent Bud Pole was last week at Darlington.
• This is Kahne’s first top-10 start in three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
• Kahne, who also won the Busch Pole for the NASCAR Busch Series race later tonight, became the first driver to sweep weekend poles at Richmond. The last driver to sweep both poles in a weekend was Mark Martin at Rockingham in October 1999.
• There has been a different Bud Pole winner in each of the past 11 races at Richmond International Raceway.
• Ryan Newman posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 20.801 seconds, 129.801 mph – and will join Kahne on the front row for the Chevy American Revolution 400. Newman has started from a top-10 starting position in each race this season, the only driver to do so. He has also started from the top-10 in six of his seven races at Richmond, including four times from the front row.
• This is the fifth Bud Pole for Dodge in 2005. Chevrolet has four Bud Poles and Ford has two.
• Tony Stewart (third) posted his sixth top-10 start in 13 races at Richmond, but his first since May 2003. It is his sixth top-10 start this season.
• Kurt Busch (fourth) scored his second top-10 start in nine races at Richmond and his fifth this season.
• Elliott Sadler (fifth) posted his first start better than 14th in 13 races at Richmond. It is his fifth top-10 start in 2005. In those five top-10 starts, Sadler has started a one race in each of the top-five starting positions.
• This was the first time this season that no drivers relied on guaranteed starting positions to make the race.
• The furthermost back in the field that a Richmond race winner has started on the 3/4-mile configuration was 25th by Matt Kenseth in the 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(5-13-2005)
- Stock Car Fans – Ramblings – Richmond:
• Kasey Kahne double-dipped today at Richmond International Raceway as he grabbed the pole for tonight’s Busch race as well as the Bud Pole for Saturday’s Chevy American Revolution 400. It’s the second top-spot in a row for Kahne and the 6th of his Nextel Cup career.
• Ryan Newman will start outside the front row after being quickest in practice then crashing and going to a backup car.
• Tony Stewart (3rd) has his best starting spot since he had the pole at Chicagoland in July of 2003!
• Jeff Burton (12th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 6th at Daytona in February.
• Johnny Sauter (13th) has his best starting spot since he qualified 10th at Bristol in March of 2004.
• Mark Martin (14th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 12th at Atlanta in March.
• Tony Raines (31st) makes his first Cup start of the season.
• Ryan Newman has 18 Top-10 starts in a row.
• Greg Biffle has 9 Top-10 starts in the last 10 races.
• Elliott Sadler has 4 Top-10 starts in the last 5 races.
• The Trouble Train left town with four cars in tow…..Kevin Lepage (his 5th DNQ of the season), Jeff Fuller (the #34 car’s 6th DNQ), Kirk Shelmerdine (that car has failed to qualify in all seven attempts this season), and Carl Long (his 4th DNQ).
• Darlington raised the bar last week, so Richmond’s got a tough act to follow. With the next two weeks at Lowe’s we could be in for a stretch of good racing continuing under the lights.(Stock Car Fans)(5-13-2005)
- Gillette Young Guns – Weekly Update: By picking Ryan Newman as the highest finishing Gillette Young Gun in the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 7, Diana R. of Sturgis, KY was the winner of the weekly Gillette Young Guns $5,000 Challenge. Diana picked Newman as the highest finishing Gillette Young Gun by going to www.gilletteyoungguns.comand entering before the weekly deadline. As the highest finishing Gillette Young Gun, a $1,000 donation will be made to the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC) on behalf of Newman. This is the second time this season a donation has been made to the NPCC on behalf of Newman.(Alan Taylor Communications)(5-13-2005)
- France says he will not leave NASCAR: NASCAR chairman Brian France continues to deny any plans to leave NASCAR any time soon, but the speculation is hotter than ever this week that once France finishes the new TV negotiations, sometime over the next year, he will, indeed, be moving on. France won’t discuss the family business in any detail, and NASCAR is a private family venture, unlike the publicly-traded International Speedway Corp. However, insiders say that France has sold, or is selling, or plans to sell his shares in NASCAR to the rest of the family. Some of the sport’s biggest and most important figures are wondering who the France family might pick to succeed Brian if he leaves. There are indications that Jim France, Brian’s uncle and the brother of long-time NASCAR boss Bill Jr., and Lesa France Kennedy, Bill Jr.’s daughter and the woman running the family’s ISC track operations, are heading the search for candidates.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-13-2005)
- INC to be cut back to 60 minutes? UPDATE yep: hearing that Speed Channel is considering moving the Inside Nextel Cup show, currently at 90 minutes, back to the one-hour format later this summer.(5-10-2005)
UPDATE 2: from a Speed Channel interview with new VP of Studio Production Chris Long
SPEED: Let’s talk about some of the other studio shows – any changes coming for Inside NEXTEL Cup?
LONG: I want that show to be all about letting the viewer feel what it was like to have been in that week’s race — like a driver or crew chief is sitting right there with them explaining all of the decisions made during the heat of battle. INC will return to the 60-minute format, we will utilize our access to in-car communication much more and I think it is fair to say you will see some talent adjustments there as well. See full article/interview at Speed Channel site: New Speed Channel VP of Studio Production Wastes No Time Getting to Work.(5-13-2005)
News from May 12, 2005
- New management for Robby, engine update, Jim Beam news: A new crew chief and new team manager/car chief have joined the #7 team at RGM. Greg Erwin and Frank Kerr will assume these roles and make their debut this weekend in Richmond. The team is confident that Menard Engine Group has solved its early season engine issues, and is pleased with tests recently conducted at Lowe’s Motor Speedway as well as a number of dyno tests conducted in both Charlotte and Indianapolis. Sponsor Jim Beam will unveil a public service announcement on Friday, May 13, at 4:00pm/et in the pressroom at Richmond International Raceway. Robby Gordon teamed up with IRL driver Dan Wheldon of the Andretti Green Racing Team to tape a PSA about making sensible decisions relating to alcohol consumption. The PSA was produced to raise awareness of Jim Beam’s social responsibility platform, drink smart. As part of the drink smart campaign, Robby Gordon Motorsports will donate $10,000 from a $100,000 fund provided by Jim Beam bourbon, the “Official Spirit of Racing,” to officials from Virginia State University. The check presentation will take place in the pressroom at Richmond International Raceway, Friday at 4:00pm/et. The donation will fund the University’s implementation of The Century Council’s Alcohol 101 PlusTM education program and related alcohol education activities.(Robby Gordon Motorsports)(5-12-2005)
- Gibbs undergoes heart procedure…last month – back to work and fine: Joe Gibbs Racing owner [#11,#18,#20] Joe Gibbs was hospitalized for a heart procedure to open a clogged artery last month, The Washington Post reports. Gibbs, who is 64 and who coaches the Washington Redskins football team, said doctors placed a small, spring-like wire tube known as a stent in the artery at a Washington hospital in mid-April. Gibbs said he remained overnight but returned to work the next day and was back to his regular workout routine, which includes a 45-minute run, within several days. “I understand the public interest, but it has no effect on my work, or my tenure with the Redskins,” he said. “I considered it a private matter.”(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-12-2005)
- Michigan Drops of of NASCAR HOL Bidding: Michigan officials say they won’t submit a pitch for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, narrowing the field to Daytona Beach and four competitors. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. was spearheading the effort to put the hall of fame in the Detroit area, but its vice president, Michael Shore, said Wednesday it has decided not to submit a proposal. “We really aren’t pursuing it,” he said. “The governor gave us the green light to explore it. But when we reviewed the financial commitment it would take to make one of these really work — and given the state’s economic situation — we were talking a lot of money and a long-term commitment.” Michigan’s move leaves five cities in the race: Daytona Beach; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Richmond, Va. Talladega, Ala. pulled out of the competition in March.(Daytona Beach News Journal/AP)(5-12-2005)
- NASCAR opens licensing office in Arkansas: The popularity of NASCAR-branded merchandise with customers of Wal-Mart Stores has prompted the national racing group to open a licensing office in northwest Arkansas. The two-person office will be a satellite of NASCAR’s licensing headquarters, which operates out of the organization’s office at Charlotte, NC NASCAR’s headquarters are at Daytona Beach, but it also has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. Mark Dyer, licensing vice president for NASCAR, said the office here would allow the company to work closely with the retail giant and with Wal-Mart vendors who want to tap the popularity of auto racing. The office will license new products and work closely with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which already sells a variety of NASCAR merchandise. Larry Helton, a former national retail operations manager for the Gillette Co., will head NASCAR’s Bentonville office. More than 100 Wal-Mart employees and vendors showed up at the opening on Wednesday, many of them seeking autographs from driver Kurt Busch, the reigning Nextel Cup champion. Dyer said sales of NASCAR-licensed products had declined at small retail operations, but the company has made overall gains through online sellers and big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target.(ESPN.com/AP)(5-12-2005)
- Sadler’s donation makes the day for school kids: When 205 kindergarten students at Greensville Elementary took a field trip to Swift Creek Mill Playhouse in Colonial Heights last month, Elliott Sadler said he felt as if he were there. He wasn’t, but if not for his financial help, the kids might not have been there, either. “It’s probably special to them,” Sadler said. “It’s definitely special to me. A lot of kids might not have the opportunity to do that. I feel like I’m a big part of the reason they have the means to do that.” Each grade at Greensville is covered by a sponsor in a program called C.A.R.E.S (“children are really extra special”). Sadler adopted kindergarten when his niece Halie enrolled at the Emporia school last fall. The sponsorship follows the class through graduation. “The commitment he’s made is not a one-shot deal, it’s for 13 years,” said Dr. Bill Mueller, the school’s principal. “For Elliott to come on, we’re just tickled to death.” Besides helping pay for travel to plays, museums and other events, sponsors also supply T-shirts. Sadler’s class was dressed in the multicolor array of his primary sponsor in the Nextel Cup Series. “The kids look like a bunch of M&M’s,” Mueller said. “A lot of them were NASCAR fans anyway, and they love getting involved in it.” Sadler said he “sends a bunch of M&Ms stuff all the time” and has read to the children along with his sister and sister-in-law. The school is arranging to bring Sadler and his show car for a visit before the end of the school year. “We’re from a very small town, and that very small town has been supportive of me and my family a long time,” Sadler said. “We’re trying to give back to them.”(Richmond Times Dispatch)(5-12-2005)
News from May 11, 2005
- NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Trophy Tour: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series fans have the opportunity to follow the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge trophy as it makes its way through North Carolina on a 10-day tour that started Tuesday in Raleigh. Fans can visit lowesmotorspeedway.com to receive daily updates. The tour culminates at the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge at the Charlotte Coliseum on May 19. The trophy will be awarded to the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge champion at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 21.(5-11-2005)
- Darlington TV Ratings: According to figures released by the FOX network, the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway was the highest-rated prime time NASCAR event ever broadcast by the network. The race had an average viewership of 9.3 million, up 10% over FOX’s one previous primetime race broadcast so far this season. The 5.6 rating and 11 share easily won the Saturday evening ratings war for the network over CBS (4.7), ABC (4.7) and NBC (4.5). The race also posted a 3.6 rating (13 share) among the critical prime time demographic of Adults 18-49, placing FOX first for the night by a wide margin. ABC was second in that demographic with a 2.4 rating, and CBS was third with a 1.9. The Diamond Hill Plywood 200 earned a 1.6 rating on FX, up from last year’s number of 1.3 on the same network. The 1.6 rating for the DHP 200 is seven percent higher than the 1.5 average for all nine NASCAR Busch Series prime time cable events in 2004.(Darlington Raceway)(5-11-2005)
- Shelmerdine gets sponsor for Richmond: Kirk Shelmerdine Racing’s #27 will be carrying the Drug Abuse Resistance Education “D.A.R.E.” & “Just Say No to Drugs” logos on the hood at Richmond for the Chevy American Revolution 400. Support for this program is courtesy of Apex Electric Company of Apex, NC; Fixture Specialists of Richmond, VA; KBS Builders of Richmond, VA; and the Apex North Carolina Police Department. For more information on the D.A.R.E. program, please visit www.DARE.com.(Kirk Shelmerdine Racing)(5-11-2005)
- Rusty receives Boy Scout award: Rusty Wallace made his annual trip Tuesday to Orangeburg, SC. For the 10th consecutive year, Wallace made an appearance at the Tourville Lodge to help raise money for the Boy Scouts of America at the “Friends of Scouting” event sponsored by Jim Roquemore of Super Sod. Hank Jones of Elloree, a personal friend of Wallace’s, helped in getting the event together and once again arranging for the NASCAR star to be in attendance. Last year’s event raised upwards of $100,000 and this year was no different, as the grand total came to more than $108,000 for the Boy Scouts of America. Over his 10 years of coming to Orangeburg, Wallace and company have raised more than $750,000. After the questions and answers, Wallace got a surprise when Charles Williams and Jim Roquemore introduced Wallace’s wife, Patti. “Ya’ll brought my wife here. I can’t believe it,” Wallace said. “I’m glad I said all the right things.” Then came a host of awards for the NASCAR star.
The first was a scholarship fund that has been set up with Wallace’s name and sponsored by the Boy Scouts. It was presented by Randy Scott, Larry Brown and Orangeburg Sen. Brad Hutto, all of whom help out with the scouts locally. Lane Boone, a member of Troop 45, was presented the first-ever scholarship to help with his studies at Georgia Military Academy.
The second presentation came from Sheriff Larry Williams, who made Wallace a reserve deputy five years ago when Wallace attended the event. This year he was made an honorary deputy sheriff of Orangeburg County, receiving a plaque from Deputy Tammy Robinson, officer of the year.
Orangeburg Mayor Paul Miller followed with a presentation declaring Tuesday, May 10, Rusty Wallace Day in Orangeburg.
The final presentation was made by the Southern Regional Director of the Boy Scouts of America, Parvin Bishop. Bishop presented the Silver Antelope to Wallace for his service to scouting. The Silver Antelope Award, created in 1942, is granted for outstanding service to youth within the territory of a BSA region. A recipient must be a registered adult member of the Boy Scouts of America. The awards are presented in connection with regional meetings or at other public functions within the region. The National Court of Honor bestows Silver Antelope Awards on the basis of the number of registered volunteers in a region.(Times and Democrat)(5-11-2005)
- NASCAR Manufacturer Support in Trouble? Given the choppy financial outlook for the Big Three automakers, some NASCAR team executives are beginning to wonder whether the cascade of financial and technical support they receive from Detroit will begin to run dry. oes it really make sense for General Motors, which lost $1.1 billion in the first quarter of this year, and Ford and DaimlerChrysler, which saw profits slip 30% or more, to maintain estimated nine-figure NASCAR budgets? “It’s a legitimate question that a shareholder would ask,” says Jim Andrews, editorial director of the IEG Sponsorship Report. “But there’s also a danger in saying, ‘The company’s doing badly, let’s just start dumping stuff.’ ” Executives representing automakers’ racing programs say sales slumps make NASCAR more important than ever. While manufacturers are beginning to find ways to spend money more efficiently in racing, executives rule out wholesale cutbacks that would jeopardize their teams’ ability to compete. Andrews notes that GM actually is expanding its sports marketing budget, having signed a deal with Major League Baseball earlier this year. “I doubt very much that these companies are looking at NASCAR racing and saying, ‘We should be getting out,’ ” Andrews says. Andrews believes automakers’ support of NASCAR is more “defensive” than anything else; they’re racing because their competitors are racing. “If they weren’t there, other companies would say, ‘Why aren’t you there?’ ”
Automotive industry consultant Peter DeLorenzo, publisher of the autoextremist.com Web site, estimates each manufacturer spends at least $125 million a year on NASCAR and doesn’t get its money’s worth. While automakers still use racing to train young engineers, it has been decades since advances made in NASCAR — which limits technology to control the cost of racing — applied to passenger cars. Beyond that, drivers’ personalities and connections to other corporate sponsors have been marketed so aggressively that DeLorenzo says the kind of car they drive is an afterthought. Most important, DeLorenzo says, being in NASCAR does nothing to help domestic automakers overcome what he calls their biggest challenge: winning over foreign car buyers. NASCAR fans already buy domestic cars and trucks. “Detroit is spending a lot of money to preach to the choir,” DeLorenzo says.
Manufacturers’ executives tell a different story, one of positive media exposure and fan demographics. “We absolutely believe that it’s a great return on our investment, from the standpoint of getting exposure,” says Bob Wildberger, senior manager of NASCAR operations for Dodge Motorsports. Mark Kent, director of GM Racing, says GM is in NASCAR for the “long haul.” But Kent says they have cut back on travel expenses and are working with Chevy teams to consolidate research and development projects. “Obviously, like anything else in our business, we’re looking to do more with less,” Kent says.(USA Today)(5-11-2005)
- Winston Cup Museum opens in Winston-Salem, N.C. JKS Motorsports is proud to announce The Winston Cup Museum, a tribute to R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company’s 33-year NASCAR sponsorship. The museum is designed to preserve NASCAR history and Winston-Salem’s ties to the largest spectator sport in the country. The museum opens to the public Wednesday, May 11th at 10:00am/et. A striking wall mural chronicling 33 years of Winston Cup racing covers three walls of the inside of the building, and a timeline of the sponsorship is near the entrance to the museum. Among the permanent displays are tributes to such RJR-sponsored programs as The Winston Million, the Winston No Bull 5 and The Winston. The museum houses authentic race cars from different eras of the 33-year NASCAR Winston Cup Series. In addition to the different race cars, the museum houses trophies, driver uniforms, helmets, winner’s checks, autographed pictures and original racing posters. General Motors, Ford and Dodge all furnished conceptual cars and special paint schemes. Some of the displays are permanent, but other portions of the museum will be on a rotation to include all of the cars.
The Winston Cup Museum is located at 1355 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Winston-Salem, N.C. Normal business hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children under 12. Twenty percent of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to three charities: the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., Brenner Children’s Hospital and the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, both in Winston-Salem. The Winston Cup Museum is presented by JKS Motorsports and is not affiliated with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Reynolds American, Inc. of which R.J. Reynolds is a subsidiary or NASCAR. For additional information, please visit www.winstoncupmuseum.com)(5-11-2005)
- Special Schemes for the #22: Scott Wimmer is scheduled to run a Cat Dealers scheme at California Speedway in September and a Cat Rental schemes at Bristol in August. See images on my #22 Team Schemes page.(5-11-2005)
- IROC Voting Update: Voting continues to heat up among the 12 nominees in the Crown Royal IROC Legends of Victory Lane, a program representing the first “all-time team” in series history selected by the fans. A handful of votes separate Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt for the lead in the Stock Car category. Mario Andretti is the early front-runner in the Open-Wheel category, with Al Unser Jr. a close second. Scott Pruett holds a comfortable lead in the Road Racing category, with Mark Donohue and Tom Kendall battling for second. Voting will conclude in September, and the four finalists will be honored at the final Crown Royal IROC race in Atlanta in late October. Fans can vote for the 12 nominated finalists at www.crownroyalracing.com.(Alan Taylor Communications)(5-11-2005)
News from May 10, 2005
- Update on #31 Jackman Josh Yost: Josh Yost, jackman for the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton, who was injured on pit road after being struck by another car [#2-Wallace], will not return to competition this season following two surgeries to repair his heavily injured right ankle. After being released from a Birmingham, Ala., hospital following the May 1 NASCAR Cup event at Talladega Superspeedway, Yost was flown back to North Carolina to begin treatment at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. During the exploratory surgery performed May 3, it was discovered Yost’s injuries included two ruptured tendons, damaged ligaments, a severe laceration and a crushed fibula tip. Yost then underwent reconstructive surgery May 5 to repair the ankle and was released from the hospital the following day. He has been instructed by his doctors to remain off of the ankle for six to eight weeks and can then begin the lengthy rehabilitation process.(RCR)(5-10-2005)
- Roundup to sponsor Edwards at Richmond: Roush Racing and Scotts Team Racing announced that the #99 Ford of Carl Edwards will carry the Roundup Extended Control logo and new paint scheme as the primary sponsor for the upcoming races at Richmond International Raceway on May 14 and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 28. Roundup Extended Control is an exciting new product that was recently introduced, and was specially developed to take weed and grass control to a whole new level. For more information on Roundup or any of the Scotts products visit www.roundup.com, or www.scotts.com.(Roush Racing)(5-10-2005)
- #97 Crew Wins Tyson Crew Championship: Kurt Busch’s #97 team won the National Pit Crew Championship, defeating Jeremy Mayfield’s #19 crew in the final round with a mistake-free stop Monday night. in Mooresville, NC. Busch’s crew, which helped him win the Nextel Cup championship last season, didn’t make a single mistake during the competition and picked up $100,000 for the win. Mayfield’s team earned $25,000 for finishing second. Joe Nemechek’s #01-crew was third — missing out on a spot in the finals because of a two-second penalty for a loose lug nut in the semifinals. The competition was a bracket-style tournament that pitted crews against each other in four rounds. Teams had to change four tires and fill the car with fuel in a race against the stopwatch. Each tire changer had to push a button on the wall to stop the clock, and many teams had a team member pick the changer up and throw him at the wall. Penalties were issued for loose lug nuts, excessive fuel spillage, or not getting enough gas in the car. Mayfield’s crew went up against Busch’s team, which completed its stop in 16.342 seconds. Mayfield’s team clocked in at 16.439, but was penalized four seconds for two loose lug nuts.
An additional $500,000 was up for grabs in a bonus round, open to the top three finishing teams and one wild card, which was Greg Biffle’s #16-crew. The crews had to complete an error-free stop in 14.437 seconds to earn the money. Busch’s crew came close — front tire changer Scott Ward did his part in 14.121 seconds and celebrated by jumping on the hood of his car. But rear changer Kevin Gillman clocked in at 14.900, just short of the bonus.
The winning crew members were: Mark Full (front tire carrier), Scott Ward (front tire changer), Scott Radel (jackman), Doug Newell (fueler), Jim Gaudette (catch can), Kevin Gillman (rear tire changer), Jason Binger (rear tire carrier) and Wayne DeLoria (coach). The four Cup teams from Hendrick Motorsports declined to participate [no idea why].
NASCAR and Nextel will also hold a pit crew competition. That event is scheduled for May 19th at the Charlotte Coliseum, and the Hendrick teams are participating in that one. Because two competitions is one too many, both sides have agreed to try to merge it into one event next season. So all eyes were on this one to see how it would unfold. The temporary bleachers were filled to capacity — roughly 4,000 fans — and several drivers were on hand to support their crews.(ESPN.com/AP)(5-10-2005)
- Ganassi has no plans for Marlin, to the #07? UPDATE: #40-Sterling Marlin said last month that he didn’t think he’d be back at Chip Ganassi Racing next year because the car owner had been reluctant to discuss a new contract with him. Ganassi said Marlin can change that via on-track performance. “Right now, we don’t have a plan for Sterling for next year,” Ganassi said. “But if he wins a couple of races, it’s not like we can’t change our plans.”
Assuming he needs a new job next season, garage speculation has him moving over to Richard Childress Racing to drive the #07 Jack Daniel’s Chevy that Dave Blaney currently pilots.Jack Daniels is a Tennessee-based company that would love to be represented by a homestate driver. Busch series driver David Stremme, who is part of Ganassi’s development program, is most commonly mentioned to replace Marlin in the #40 Dodge.(ESPN.com RPM), NOTE: have heard that Marlin has already met with Jack Daniels’s reps and is a front runner for a Jack Daniels’s sponsored ride, it could be in the #07 RCR Chevy or Jack Daniel’s coud move to another team.(5-8-2005)
UPDATE Q) Marty Smith: Word is you’ve [Marlin] got a liquor sponsor interested. You’ve done the beer deal, now we’re hearing the liquor folks are after you.
A) Marlin: Naw. That’s a vicious rumor. We’ll just have to wait and see what plays out.(see full conversation at NASCAR.com)(5-10-2005)
- Gordon to star in reality show? Scott Woolley, who owns Five Star Productions in South Florida, recently inked a deal with a new Chicago-based network, Always Free TV, that’s on the slate to launch in the fall. It’s a home shopping channel, but with a twist — every purchase is accompanied by a freebie of some shape or size. It’s also exploring other types of production. Earlier this year, Woolley set up a subsidiary, Five Star Pictures, in Santa Monica, Calif., to drum up independent film shoots for the new Boca studios. So far, Woolley’s formula for success has been to concentrate on making and marketing half-hour magazine-type shows focusing on special interest niches, such as business, the environment and health. The programs are usually sponsored by a corporate client, who buys much of the national commercial slots. Woolley’s latest concept is a reality program starring NASCAR headliner Jeff Gordon, who will seek out and shape the next star race car driver.(in part from the Miami Herald), don’t know anymore about this but heearing this site may20th2005.com has something to do with it.(5-10-2005)
- No fine for Busch…this time: #97-Kurt Busch crashed on the first lap of Saturday’s race at Darlington Raceway, forcing him to retreat to the garage area for repairs. He eventually re-entered the race but later ignored officials’ instructions during a caution period on where he should line up for a restart. Busch was ordered to pit road to serve a penalty. Busch responded with offensive language over his in-car radio communications system, revved his engine when officials ordered him to shut his car off and threw a water bottle that hit an official standing in his pit area. Roush Racing President Geoff Smith says Busch was frustrated by the crash, which left him nursing a damaged, uncompetitive car around a narrow, difficult track for the rest of the night to gain championship points. Busch has been involved in a total of seven on-track incidents this season, tied for third-most in the series this year, according to USA TODAY database research. Smith says Busch lost his temper after officials assessed a penalty Smith called “questionable. So he fought it — and lost, of course,” Smith says. Smith doesn’t expect Busch to receive further penalties from NASCAR this week. “I think he is definitely aware of where he stands today,” NASCAR vice president of communications Jim Hunter said in an e-mail. “Without going into any further detail, he certainly knows NASCAR is not going to tolerate any future temper tantrums. President Mike Helton made our position very clear.” Says Smith: “He’s now on notice. So if there’s anything else, there’s going to be a penalty associated with it.”(USA Today)(5-10-2005)
- VA Governor, Sadler to promote GED’s: Virginia Governor Mark Warner will visit the track on Thursday, May 12 at 1:00pm/et to announce a partnership with Virginia Native Elliott Sadler, Richmond International Raceway and the “Race to GED” program. The program is designed to help Virginia residents obtain a high school diploma. The track has offered its facility as an official GED testing site and race tickets for students as an incentive to complete the program.(RIR Fact Sheet)(5-10-2005)
News from May 9, 2005
- NASCAR Promoting races using NYC radio: NASCAR is promoting the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and two Nextel Cup races at Pocono Raceway on three New York City radio stations, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal reports. WFAN will give listeners the chance to win tickets to a Yankees-Mets baseball game and an all-expense-paid trip to the May 20 all-star race. The Journal says it is the first time NASCAR has used a New York-area station to promote a race in Charlotte. WAXQ will promote a contest offering 20 listeners a bus trip and VIP treatment to the June 12 Pocono race, while WPLJ will offer fans a deal with Bergen Mall to take their dads to the track’s July 24 race.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-9-2005)
- Rusty making Monday NYC TV Stops UPDATE Danza flips: #2-Rusty Wallace is scheduled to appear on two nationally broadcasted television shows on Monday (May 9) during a day’s visit to New York City. The first stop on Wallace’s agenda will be on FOX-TV’s “Fox & Friends” which airs at 7:00am/et. This offbeat morning show features Anchors E.D. Hill, Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. As their promotional materials boast, they take a look at the day’s news, sports and weather from a different perspective. It is an interactive show where you can call in to voice your opinion or have your e-mail read.
Wallace is then scheduled to be a special guest on “The Tony Danza Show.” Hosted by Danza, one of America’s most recognized and likeable television personalities, the show is a one-hour talk show with guests that include actors, athletes, newsmakers and real people with interesting stories to tell. Monday’s guests on “The Tony Danza Show” will also include actor David Hyde Pierce, who is appearing in the smash Broadway hit “Spamalot.” “The Tony Danza Show” airs locally on Charlotte’s WCNC-TV at 4:00pm/et. Consult your local listings for stations and broadcast times in your area. Wallace will also visit the “ESPN Zone” where he is to be interviewed by ESPN’s “The Pulse” and by ESPN News.(Tom Roberts PR)(5-7-2005)
UPDATE: Tony Danza got quite a scare when he and NASCAR star Rusty Wallace were racing go-karts during the taping of a segment for the nationally syndicated “The Tony Danza Show.” Danza was leading as they entered the final lap Monday morning on West 66th Street, the show said. After Wallace gave Danza’s vehicle a little “bump and run,” the 54-year-old talk-show host lost control of his go-kart, which flipped over. “Although slightly worse for wear, Danza escaped with no injuries,” the show said in a statement. Wallace, who rushed to Danza’s side after the crash, said, “I thought I killed ya,” to which Danza responded, “Yeah … just before you retire, ‘I killed Tony Danza.'”
“I know you’re tough, but that [was] ridiculous, man!” Wallace was quoted as saying. The “DayTony 500” segment aired on Monday’s show.(ESPN.com/AP)(5-9-2005)
- GWC factoid: There have now been six green-white-checkered [GWC] finishes in NASCAR [Nextel Cup] history, and only twice has the leader lost the lead on those final two laps. And both times, #16-Greg Biffle has been the driver to steal the win. In addition to Saturday’s win (#12-Ryan Newman led heading into the green-white-checkered), Biffle won the final race of last year when #20-Tony Stewart had fuel problems at Homestead.(Rocky Mount Telegram)(5-9-2005)
- Darlington TV Ratings: Fox’s broadcast of Saturday night’s Dodge Charger 500 from Darlington Raceway earned a 4.7 overnight rating and a 9 market share from Nielsen Media Research, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. NASCAR has not raced on Mother’s Day weekend in recent years, so the figures can’t be compared to the same weekend last year. The 4.7 rating for a race run during the usually weak Saturday night period is down 9.6% from the 5.2 Fox drew with last year’s March 21 Darlington race, which was run on a Sunday afternoon. But the figure is up 4.4% from the 4.5 overnight figures for this year’s Phoenix race, which was also run on a Saturday night.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-9-2005)
- Leffler testing at Kentucky Today and Tues: #11-Jason Leffler is scheduled to test the Joe Gibbs Racing Fed-Ex Chevy’s at Kentucky Speedway Monday, May 9th and Tues, May 10th. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.(Kentucky Speedway)(5-9-2005)
- Richert Wins Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award, takes the lead: When the caution flag waved with five laps to go in the Dodge Charger 500, every crew chief was left with a few split seconds to decide what course of action to take for the ensuing shoot out. In the end, Doug Richert, crew chief of the #16 National Guard/Travel Lodge Ford, proved to have the superior game plan. He sacrificed Greg Biffle’s second-place position in the running order to take four fresh tires for the remaining green flag laps. Biffle used his fresh rubber to blitz past the three cars ahead of him on the restart, cruising all the way to Victory Lane. Richert’s strategy brought him his third Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award. Earlier this season at Bristol Motor Speedway, Richert let a probable win slip away by not pitting for tires after a late-race caution. Just the opposite happened today when the leader, #12-Ryan Newman, elected to stay on the track during the last caution period and watched Biffle and company all dive down pit lane. “Taking four tires for the last green flag seemed like a no brainer, even with only a few laps left,” said Richert following the race. “I know exactly what the 12 car was feeling like when we all ducked in behind him. It’s just like what happened to us at Bristol, but it was definitely the right thing for us to do. The other right thing was our crew performed how we should all night. We were the first car off pit road that took four tires and that was as critical as anything.”
The panel of voters; including John Clayton of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, a Wypall Wipers representative and Tony Eury Sr.; all thought Richert deserved top honors for executing a winning strategy. With his third Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award, Richert moves into first place of the Crew Chief Challenge standings. Robbie Loomis is in second place with two wins. Scott Miller, Bob Osborne, Alan Gustafson and Pete Rondeau are tied for third place, each with one win. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000. Fan can also vote for their choice at wypall.com.(SMC 500)(5-9-2005)
- Toyota: No Busch Series plans? Since the day that Toyota came on the NASCAR scene in the truck series, speculation has continually bubbled about when the Japanese automaker will invade the Cup and Busch ranks. The speculation picked up in recent days with stories citing NASCAR sources as saying that Toyota is working on a car to race in the Busch Series next season and that Toyota has joined Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford in discussion with NASCAR over the development of its “Car of Tomorrow” and “Engine of the Future” for the Cup Series on down.
Those stories were accompanied at Talladega last weekend by word through the garage area that Johnny Benson, who drives for Toyota in the truck series, has tested a Toyota stock car with a Solara body at his short track in Michigan. Patrick Wall, manager of Toyota Racing Development in High Point, confirmed that Toyota has participated in the discussions about the “Car of Tomorrow” and “Engine of the Future” which could bring as early as 2007 significant changes from the cars and engines used now. But, he said, Toyota’s plans hinge on the timetable for implementation of the rules changes and that the only series Toyota will race in next year is the truck series. “We currently race trucks and we are looking at racing cars,” Wall said. “We are doing an investigation into the best path for Toyota to get into car racing, and we are waiting on NASCAR to give us the timetable for the ‘Car of Tomorrow’ and ‘Engine of the Future’ before we determine what the best plan for us will be.”
Wall said he expects NASCAR to announced the timetable for the future car and engine by the end of this month. The “Car of Tomorrow” is expected to incorporate more safety features, including a bigger greenhouse (area from windows on up). The “Engine of the Future” is expected to provide a common engine platform for all manufacturers. “It takes such a financial commitment to develop cars and engines that we want to see what direction NASCAR is going,” Wall said. He denied that Toyota is developing a car to race in the Busch Series next year. “We are not working on any Busch cars,” he said. He said that it did not make sense financially to develop a car now if the rules are to change significantly in the near future. “When you look at the cost involved, it takes a couple of years to get a payback on that investment,” Wall said. He also denied that Benson or any one else has tested a Toyota stock car. “I can assure you that there has not been a Toyota-bodied stock car or a stock car with a Toyota engine [maybe a Ford or Chevy engine?] on a track anywhere on the planet since we raced in the NASCAR Dash Series with Robert Huffman in 2003,” Wall said.(High Point Enterprise), see all of the past news and rumors on my Toyota Past News page.(5-9-2005)
- Hornish to the #2? or Paul Tracy? Newman unhappy? With all of the speculation about who will replace Rusty Wallace in the #2 car next year, everyone has forgotten about two-time IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr., who already drives for Roger Penske. I [Yahoo’s Bob Margolis] hear that he’s at the top of the list to replace Rusty.(Yahoo! Sports)
AND Rumours about the racing future of Toronto’s Paul Tracy in NASCAR were ratcheted up this weekend. This time the 36-year-old Champ Car World Series driver is being wooed by Penske Racing South. While there have been stories linking Tracy to a proposed American Le Mans Series team planned by Roger Penske, this is the first time that people are talking about him joining up with Penske’s NASCAR program. The nucleus of the talks revolve around Penske needing a driver to replace Rusty Wallace in the #2 Dodge. More intriguing is talk in the NASCAR garage that Ryan Newman is unhappy with his progress in the #12 Penske Dodge.(Toronto Sun)
AND II Roger Penske’s search for a new driver to replace retiring Rusty Wallace has become one of this sport’s biggest mysteries. #42-Jamie McMurray seemed the obvious pick for a while, but car owner Chip Ganassi doesn’t seem a bit interested in letting McMurray move over to arch-rival Penske. #16-Greg Biffle has also been in the heavy speculation since his contract with Jack Roush is up at the end of the season. Biffle insists he’s sticking with Roush. but adds the caveat that even if he were thinking about moving on, he’d be foolish to say anything about it right now.
The latest Penske speculation focuses on Paul Tracy, a wildly aggressive Indy-car star who once drove for Penske – and who once worked with Matt Borland, one of Penske’s top NASCAR crew chiefs, who works now with Ryan Newman. Borland said that Tracy might be a bit too aggressive for NASCAR’s got-to-get-along world, but Borland said that if Tracy brings the right attitude, it could certainly work out. And Borland said it would be “very interesting” to watch Tracy learning to adjust to the NASCAR tour.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-9-2005)
- Biffle plans to stay at Roush: Greg Biffle says he has been too busy to solidify his plans for next season, but he was expected to meet with his agent last week and still intends to stay in the #16 car at Roush Racing. “We’re not any closer because we haven’t had a chance to talk,” Biffle says. “They’re going to take care of me because that is where I want to be. It would be crazy for me to want to go somewhere else because I might lose the next whole season getting geared up with a new team.” Biffle is the only driver in the top 10 whose contract expires at the end of 2005 without an option, which is another reason–besides a stellar 2005 performance, including his victory Saturday night at Darlington–he is in high demand.(Sporting News)(5-9-2005)
News from May 8, 2005
- Mikey and Green spar most of the race: #15-Michael Waltrip and #43-Jeff Green were called to the office after Waltrip clearly spun Green out, bringing caution on Lap 207. Waltrip and Green apparently have a running disagreement, with Waltrip accusing Green of jabbing at him earlier in the race [a lap 8 wreck took Waltrip out of contention], and with the two also having a clash at Martinsville. Waltrip insisted he was not sure what caused brought on the unpleasantness. “They said we should not be around each other,” he said after his meeting with the officials. “That’ll be good with me, because the only two times I’ve had him behind me he’s spun me out. It’s unfortunate to have to deal with stuff like this.”
“I’m baffled. I was running down the back straightaway on the first lap of green and he hit me. The sad part is he doesn’t have to pay any price and I get my car tore all to pieces. It’s cool with me. If NASCAR says stay away from each other or you’ll regret it, then that’s good.” Waltrip was penalized one lap for rough driving after spinning Green out. Green left the meeting quickly and did not comment.(Speed Channel)(5-8-2005)
- No more buying tires? UPDATE: A NASCAR spokesman confirmed Thursday that the sanctioning body could require teams to lease tires instead of buy them during race weekends, with the long-term purpose of limiting testing. NASCAR representatives have been in contact with Indy Racing League officials about a similar policy it uses in the IndyCar Series, spokesman Jim Hunter said. Under current IRL rules, teams are supplied with between seven and nine sets of tires for an event, depending on its distance, and a maximum of 35 sets for Indianapolis 500 activities during May. At the end of each event, teams must return all of those tires. For each of four open tests and three engine test dates allowed under IRL rules, teams can lease tires from Firestone. Again, all tires must be returned at the end of the tests. If NASCAR teams weren’t allowed to buy tires from Goodyear specifically for testing and couldn’t keep the ones they bought during race weekends, either, that would be one way to restrict testing to limits set by the sanctioning body. Hunter said NASCAR is still only considering such a move and added it would not be something it would adopt in the middle of a season.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-6-2005)
UPDATE: Goodyear officials confirmed that NASCAR has proposed a “lease” situation under which teams would not buy tires, per se, but would instead lease them from Goodyear. The idea is to limit the number of tires available to teams for testing, and thus to reduce testing, period. Teams still would pay the going price for a set of tires, about $1600, but all tires, used and unused, would be returned to Goodyear after each race. A similar rule is in place in IRL/IndyCar, for similar reasons. Teams often hoard unused tires for future track tests, with testing being a major expense.(Speed Channel)(5-8-2005)
- Busch acts up at Darlington, “actions not befitting of a champion”: #97-Kurt Busch hit the [inside] wall on the first lap at Darlington Raceway. Then he hit an official with a water bottle, bad-mouthed NASCAR over his radio and ended up in a closed-door meeting with series officials. “His actions were certainly not befitting of a champion,” NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said after the Dodge Charger 500. “He said things that are not fit for print.” Busch knew it was going to be a bad night seconds after the race began. He had started 11th, but didn’t even get a full lap in before he spun out coming out of the fourth turn and hit the inside retaining wall. He took the #97 Ford into the garage so his crew could make enough repairs for Busch to continue racing. Later in the race, NASCAR said Busch moved into the wrong position on the track under caution. Officials ordered him to stop and get in line where he was supposed to be, but Busch refused. He was sent into the pits for a two-lap penalty, and NASCAR officials took offense to the language he used over the radio. They ordered him to turn his engine off, and he responded my revving it. He also tossed a water bottle out of his window that hit the official in his pit. Busch was then summoned to meet with NASCAR after the race. Although series officials looked less than pleased with the champion, Busch emerged from their hauler with a huge grin on his face, but nothing to say.(ESPN.com/AP)(5-8-2005)
News from May 7, 2005
- MB2/MBV Motorsports to move? UPDATE: hearing that the MB2 Motorsports #01 U.S. Army and MBV Motorsports #10 Valvoline teams [and #36 tean of Boris Said] will move the team from their Concord, NC shop to Mooresville, NC in the Eaton building on Rt 115. Per the Mooresville Tribune, the Mooresville Commission voted to extend an economic grant for $16,512 a year for five years to Team Property Partners LLC, a race team relocating from Concord to the Eaton Corp. building on NC 115 in Mooresville (4 miles from where I live).(12-23-2004)
UPDATE: Three more Nextel Cup teams will call Race City USA home when MB2 Motorsports moves into the vacant Eaton-Aeroquip complex in late summer. Vacant since 2003, Eaton’s former automotive complex on N.C. 115 at Timber Road, south of downtown, will now house the teams of drivers #01-Joe Nemechek, #10-Scott Riggs, and #36-Boris Said, MB2 officials said Thursday. MB2 left Mooresville in 2001 for a facility near the Concord Regional Airport. Jay Frye, CEO and general manager of MB2 Motorsports, said the move to Concord wasn’t a long-term decision. “We liked being in Mooresville,” he said. “We found an opportunity to come back there. The town and the county were very gracious and excited for us to be coming back.” The teams will now have a little more room to maneuver, moving from 40,000-square-foot facility to the 144,000 square-foot Eaton building, Frye said. The move is expected to be completed by September, after a building upfit by MAX Construction Services of Mooresville. “This strengthens our motor sports cluster that we have in our community,” said Melanie O’Connell Underwood, executive director of economic development at the Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce. “(The teams) have more opportunity to be closer to suppliers that we have here.” The 40-mile move to Mooresville will also shorten the commute for many of the teams’ 100 employees who kept their homes in town when the company moved five years ago, she said. Fifteen Nextel Cup, 26 Busch Series, and 14 Craftsmen Truck teams will now be based in Mooresville, according to the MSI Chamber.(Mooresville Tribune)(5-7-2005)
- Nadeau not coming back as a driver? From a Winston Salem Journal story with quotes by former Cup driver Ernie Irvan, who survived two bad wrecks with head injuries: “Jerry [Nadeau]is going to be a part of my foundation [Race2safety -race2safety.com], because he’s a head-injury survivor too. Jerry was just racing go-karts with us, and Jerry whipped our butts. Jerry is definitely gotten a lot better. I don’t know if he’ll ever get back racing. He said he won’t.”(Winston Salem Journal)(5-7-2005)
- Biffle wins wild one at Darlington: #16-Greg Biffle, who led the most laps, blew by #12-Ryan Newman, who had old tires, and won the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway for his 6th career win and 3rd of the season. With 3 laps to go, #6-Mark Martin spun while trying to make a pass and brought out the final caution and setting up a green-white-checker finish. With 19 cars on the lead lap, all but the leader at the point, #12-Newman and #49-Ken Schrader made pit stops, 16 of the 17 got four new Goodyear tires, while #99-Edwards got two and came 4th with two laps to go. Biffle blew by Schrader and Newman on the 1st green flag lap and it was over. #24-Gordon got into #99-Edwards. who made a great save, and finished 2nd, followed by #9-Kahne, #6-Martin and #12-Newman. #48-Jimmie Johnson finished 7th and held on to the points lead.
For race results/results links, see Jayski’s Darlington Race Results/Awards page.(5-7-2005)
- Schrader…one more year: Ken Schrader said he wants to race one more season after 2005 in the #49 Schwan’s Home Service Dodge before moving to the Craftsman Truck Series full-time in 2007.(The Morning News)(5-7-2005)
- What Red Flag? Fox TOLD not to mention it…Why? UPDATE: Fans using scanners have access to transmissions between producers and TV/radio announcers, which means that many of them heard Fox’s announcers instructed not to make any on-air reference to the fact that a red flag immediately came out after the 25-car crash. The information eventually came out — the race was halted for 43 minutes, 21 seconds — but why deprive television viewers of valuable information? Was it some cheap ploy to keep viewers from changing channels?(Gaston Gazette), wondered that myself, the same thing happened at Phonix when the red flag was out for over 6 minutes when power was out, I heard about it on the radio coverage, it was mentioned in passing on TV, AFTER the fact…I was like..what gives….the what happened at Talladega…why does NASCAR wanna hide the fact there is a red flag…makes no sense [or cents].(5-3-2005)
UPDATE: Television viewers can now expect to know promptly when a NASCAR race has been put under the red flag after having that information temporarily withheld on the past two Nextel Cup telecasts on Fox Sports. During last week’s Aaron’s 499 from Talladega Superspeedway, announcers were told over Fox’s internal communications not to mention the term “red flag” through two segments following a 25-car wreck on Lap 133. When The Charlotte Observer this week asked for an explanation of the practice, that request set off an in-house discussion of the practice that went all the way up to David Hill, chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Sports. “It was a stupid thing to do,” Hill said. “I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous.” Apparently, personnel in the Fox production truck erroneously believed it would make a difference if some of its commercials could be aired before viewers were actually told the red flag was out. “This situation is proof that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing,” Hill said. “The time a race goes under a red flag has nothing to do with when a network says it. We can’t change the time the red comes out. That would be like us saying the New England Patriots didn’t score a touchdown when they did, but they scored three minutes later.” Hill said producer Neil Goldberg and his crew now have a clearer understanding of the situation.(ThatsRacin.com)(5-7-2005)
- Nextel Fan of the Week: Bobby Hall of Hueytown, Ala., and his 9-year-old son, Dalton – FoxSports (5-7-2005)
- Special Mother’s Day Scheme UPDATE: #88-Dale Jarrett is scheduled to drive a car with a childhood image of Dale driving Ned Jarrett’s race car at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, May 7th in honor of his mother for Mother’s Day which is May 8th.(12-20-2004)
UPDATE: #15-Michael Waltrip and #45-Kyle Petty have been added to the Mother’s Day special paint scheme program at Darlington.(RacingOne)(1-7-2005)
UPDATE 2 – This weekend, drivers take a moment to remember Mom in Darlington Last year, several NASCAR drivers teamed up with Action Performance Companies Inc., to wish their “NASCAR Dads” a Happy Father’s Day via a race day program at Michigan International Speedway. Now, some “NASCAR Moms” are getting their due. Veteran drivers #88-Dale Jarrett and #45-Kyle Petty will pilot Happy Mother’s Day-edition race cars during the 500-mile NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at Darlington Raceway. Jarrett’s #88 UPS Ford Taurus will include a nod to his mother, Martha, while Petty will roll out the #45 Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge Charger with a Happy Mother’s Day dedication to his mom, Lynda. In keeping with NASCAR’s long-standing tradition of no stock car races held on the actual Mother’s Day holiday, the cars will run on Saturday night, May 7, 2005. Martha Jarrett, Lynda Petty and several other NASCAR Moms will be on hand to announce racing’s most famous tagline with an appropriate twist: Sons and Gentlemen, start your engines. This year’s participants in the Happy Mother’s Day program also are eligible for a $10,000 cash bonus. The prize will be awarded to the highest finishing driver, who then will present it to his mother or her favorite charitable organization. A percentage of the proceeds from the sales of the Happy Mother’s Day die-cast have been earmarked to benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp. The collectibles will be available through Action’s usual distribution channels, including the Action Racing Collectables distributor network and Racing Collectables Club of America. To locate an ARC distributor, please call 1-800-411-8404. To join RCCA, call 1-800-952-0708 or visit www.goracing.com.(Action Performance) or see my Collectible Links page for places to buy them. And looks like Waltrip was droped from the program or never part of it.(5-7-2005)
- Newman comments on rift with Rusty: The never-ending feud between supposed teammates #12-Ryan Newman and #2-Rusty Wallace is apparently no closer to abating. Newman has been mostly silent, while Wallace has made no secret of his antipathy toward Newman and, in particular, his crew chief, Matt Borland. Newman said the feud has had no practical effect on the team’s performance. “Rusty has voiced his opinion in a lot of areas,” said Newman. “I’ve maintained a pretty calm stance, and basically our performance has been related to our performance as a team. We’ve had our goods and bads throughout the season, and none of it has been anybody else’s fault except ours.”(Gaston Gazette)(5-7-2005)
- Changes on Speed? Krista out? Tweeden in? If speed doesn’t sell on Speed, then maybe sex will. What else is there to make of the news from the cable channel that Leeann Tweeden, a one-time spokesman/lingerie model for Frederick’s of Hollywood, a layout model in Playboy, a Hooters calendar girl, and cover girl for men’s magazine FHM, could be replacing Krista Voda, a veteran sports reporter, on its NASCAR shows?(Winston Salem Journal)(5-7-2005)
- Bill Elliott to take lead for NASCAR HOF Atlanta bid: #91-Bill Elliott will be the lead salesman for Atlanta’s bid to be NASCAR’s Cooperstown. Elliott will use his strong ties to corporate sponsors and NASCAR executives to help Atlanta win stock car racing’s hall of fame. Elliott will officially be the honorary chairman of the city’s NASCAR bid. Scott Wilfong, president of SunTrust Bank, Atlanta, and Mark Lazarus, president of Turner Entertainment group, are also leading the effort, among other city and state officials.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(5-7-2005)
- Daytona NASCAR HOF bid almost dead? Miami’s bid for a $60 million state subsidy to help build a new baseball stadium for the Florida Marlins is dead, Senate President Tom Lee said Thursday. Lee also said “it’s not looking good” for other sports subsidies, including $30 million for a NASCAR hall of fame in Daytona Beach and facilities for the Orlando Magic and spring training facilities. The fate of the NASCAR subsidy likely will be decided today, the last day of the legislative session. Lee didn’t anticipate even bringing the bill up for debate on Friday, the final day of the session. George Mirabal, president of The Chamber, Daytona Beach/Halifax Area, said the setback to the NASCAR hall proposal was a disappointment but by no means did it signal the end of the project.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(5-6-2005)
UPDATE – not good: In a tumultuous end to the legislative session, Florida lawmakers passed a $63 billion budget Friday and approved overhauling the state’s Medicaid system — but refused to spend $30 million to help Daytona Beach attract a NASCAR hall of fame. The Senate never took up a bill that would have provided subsidies to Daytona Beach to try to outbid other areas of the country for the NASCAR hall of fame. Daytona Beach lobbyist Sam Bell said the issue was dead. A bill outlining a NASCAR hall of fame subsidy — which House members passed last month, lumping the hall of fame with other proposals to subsidize stadium projects for the Florida Marlins and Orlando Magic — never came up in the Senate. Bell said that, coupled with a lack of time to push through the proposal, played a key part in lawmakers scuttling the NASCAR subsidy. “It was just a salad of things that was not palatable,” Bell said.(Daytona Beach News Journal)(5-7-2005)
- Top Banana and Go ManGo! Chargers Unveiled AND: As part of its introduction of the new limited production 2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T, Dodge unveiled two new Bud Shootout paint schemes on the #9 and #19 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Chargers, celebrating the modern rear-wheel-drive muscle car. Jeremy Mayfield will pilot the #19 Top Banana Dodge Charger, and Kasey Kahne will drive the #9 Go ManGo! Dodge Charger in Saturday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway. The paint schemes are replica versions of the two classic 1960s color schemes available on the Dodge Charger Daytona R/T production vehicles available starting this summer.(Clear!Blue PR), see images on my #19 Team Schemes pageand #9 Team Schemes page.(2-12-2005)
AND these schemes are also running in the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway this weekend.(5-7-2005)
News from May 6, 2005
- Johnson has spoken to Dale Jr.: Jimmie Johnson says he’s talked with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and everything is okay between them. This after Junior on Tuesday during testing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway called Johnson an “idiot” and blamed him for causing both major crashes last Sunday at Talladega. “Yeah it (Dale’s comments) defiantly caught me off guard, said Johnson, and from what I understand he (Dale Jr.) was put in a bad position during the interview…was put on the spot and some allegations of a comment that came out of my mouth…so looking at that I don’t blame him for saying what he did and I spoke to him and everything’s fine there. We’ll just move on. It’s racing and this Lowe’s team is very strong…I believe in my team and they believe in me and I know everybody in the garage area respects me. Everybody’s given their opinion, right or wrong everyone can point fingers in every direction but in my opinion it’s a racing incident.”(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(5-6-2005)
- #14 and Andretti coming back in June, for 5-7 races: It was reported on Speed Channel’s NASCAR Nations show Thursday night that the #14 ppc Racing Ford and John Andretti would return to the track to run 5-7 races in 2005, with the first being at Michigan in June. Plans call for the team to run 15 to 17 races in 2006 and then full-time in 2007. No word on a crew chief for the team as it was reported last week that crew chief Dave Charpentier left and went back to DEI.(5-6-2005)
- Rusty does call injured crewman Contrary to a recent report, Rusty Wallace said Thursday that he had, in fact, attempted to contact Richard Childress Racing crewman Josh Yost throughout the past week. Wallace and Yost finally spoke via cell phone Thursday morning. “I just spoke with him and he’s fine,” Wallace said. Yost, the jack man for Jeff Burton’s #31 Cingular Chevrolet, was struck by Wallace’s Dodge during a pit stop in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. An RCR team spokesman who had spoken directly with Yost on Wednesday told NASCAR.COM’s Marty Smith that Wallace had not yet spoken with Yost. The spokesman said Yost had his cell phone with him throughout his hospital stay and had not received a call from the 1989 Cup Series champion. Smith then reported that information on SPEED Channel’s NASCAR Nation Wednesday, greatly upsetting Wallace, who explained he had tried to contact Yost at home and had left messages on his home answering machine. “I’m glad I’ve spoken with him and that he’s OK,” Wallace said. Yost’s right ankle suffered two ruptured ligaments, torn ligaments and a severe laceration in the incident, which the team confirmed would sideline him for the remainder of the 2005 season. Exploratory surgery Tuesday also revealed that the tip of Yost’s right fibula was crushed. Yost had reconstructive surgery Thursday, and may be able to go home Friday, the team said.(NASCAR.com)(5-6-2005)
- Barry Dodson back to the broadcast booth? In an exclusive interview today on Rowdy, former crew chief Barry Dodson talks about his desire to return to television work. “Basically, my stint with Rusty is complete,” says Dodson of his work with longtime compatriot Rusty Wallace. “We started the RWI Busch shop and got it going from nothing–did the same thing with Steven Wallace and the Hooters team, and he’s about to turn 18. So it’s a good time for me to get back into something I really loved doing.” Dodson, who won the a championship as the crew chief for Wallace in 1989, has worked as a television analyst before and is a regular contributor to Rowdy. Also on the show today, Barry talks about the Big One at Talladega, drivers pay a salute to their mothers, and Mark Garrow reports from Darlington. Rowdy is a racing radio show you get on your cell phone, with daily racing news and driver interviews. Call 1-800-95-ROWDY to sign up and try it for free, or listen to samples, check out the archive, and find out more at www.rowdy.com.(5-6-2005)
- Bobby Labonte To Drive Boniva Car at Richmond: GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, and Joe Gibbs Racing, plan to help raise awareness of Boniva(ibandronate sodium), a new medicine for the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Boniva will be the primary sponsor for the #18 Chevrolet driven by Bobby Labonte at the Chevy American Revolution 400 May 14 at Richmond International Raceway. In addition to the Richmond race, which is during Osteoporosis Awareness Month, Labonte will drive a Boniva-sponsored car at a second race later this summer. The sponsorship comes in the wake of the Surgeon General’sReport elevating osteoporosis to a major public health threat on par with smoking and obesity.(Camp and Associates/Joe Gibbs Racing)(5-6-2005)
- Talladega TV Ratings Soar: Fox’s broadcast of last Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway earned a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 7.6 and an 18 market share, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is 20.6% higher than the 6.3 the 2004 Talladega spring race, which was run a week earlier. It is also 24.6% higher than the rating for the 2004 California spring race, which was run on the comparable weekend. The race was also easily the weekend’s most watched sporting event, with Fox’s coverage of last Saturday’s Busch Series race at Talladega finishing second with a 3.3/7. To date, Fox is averaging a 6.2/14 for its Nextel Cup coverage, up 5% from last year.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-6-2005)
- Busch crashes into ambulance at Road America UPDATE: During a mid-morning track test session at Road America [4 mile road course, Elkhart Lake, WI], #97-Kurt Busch drove through a tire barrier and hit an ambulance. Although two ambulance personnel were taken to the hospital for minor injuries, Bush was not hurt in the accident. According to Busch, a loose brake fitting caused break failure as he went into turn five. The incident is under review by the Road America Safety Team.(5-3-2005)
UPDATE: It’s news enough that Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch came to Wisconsin in early May to test his Cup car at Road America, considering NASCAR hasn’t competed at the 4-mile road course in Elkhart Lake since 1956. Then you learn that he crashed and hit an ambulance. Two workers were treated for minor injuries and released from a Sheboygan hospital after the accident Monday in Turn 5, according to a track spokeswoman. Busch’s crash occurred when a brake line failure caused him to lose control, Roush Racing said. Busch aimed for a tire barrier in the runoff area in Turn 5, a sharp, downhill lefthander, and then hit the ambulance, which was parked in a standard location, the spokeswoman said. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)(5-6-2005)
- Kenny Wallace to run #00 for Waltrip, different sponsor: Kenny Wallace will be behind the wheel of the #00 Bryan’s Chevrolet prepared by Michael Waltrip Racing this weekend for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Darlington Raceway. Wallace seeks his second NEXTEL Cup start of the 2005 season, his 18th career start at the track “Too Tough to Tame.” Wallace ran four races for Waltrip in 2004 and ran the Daytona 500 earlier this year finishing 40th due to an engine failure. He is scheduled to drive six more NEXTEL Cup events this season for Michael Waltrip Racing.(Michael Waltrip site)(5-6-2005)
- #650 for Marlin: #40-Sterling Marlin will make his 650th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup career start at Darlington Raceway this weekend. Marlin made his Cup debut in 1976 at Nashville Speedway, driving for his father Coo Coo Marlin.(Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)(5-6-2005)
- Darlington Qualifying Notes:
• Kasey Kahne won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Bud Pole for the Dodge Charger 500, lapping Darlington Raceway in 28.923 seconds at 170.024 mph. Ward Burton holds the track-qualifying record of 28.295 seconds, 173.797 mph, set March 22, 1996.
• This is Kahne’s fifth career Bud Pole in 46 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races, his first since Pocono last June.
• This is Kahne’s second Bud Pole at Darlington Raceway. He also won the Bud Pole here last March.
• Kahne became the eighth Bud Pole winner in 2005. Ryan Newman (three) is the only repeat Bud Pole winner this season.
• Ryan Newman posted the second-quickest qualifying lap of 29.003 seconds, 169.555 mph – and will join Kahne on the front row for the Dodge Charger 500. Newman has started from a top-10 starting position in six of his seven races at Darlington. He is the only driver to post top-10 starts in every race this season
• This is the fourth Bud Pole for Dodge in 2005. Chevrolet also has four Bud Poles and Ford has two.
• Greg Biffle (third) posted his third top-10 start in five races at Darlington. It is his eighth top-10 start in 2005.
• Elliott Sadler (fourth) scored his eighth top-10 start in 13 races at Darlington and his sixth in the past seven races here. It is his fifth top-10 start this season.
• Brian Vickers (fifth) posted his first start better than 27th in his three races at Darlington and his fourth top-10 start in 2005.
• Four drivers failed to qualify for the Dodge Charger 500: Johnny Sauter, Robby Gordon, Tony Raines and Morgan Shepherd.
• There have been eight different Bud Pole winners in the 12 races at Darlington since September 1999. Kahne is the only repeat Bud Pole winner since 1999. Qualifying was rained out three times in the 12-race period (spring 2001, fall 2002, fall 2004).
• The furthermost back that a race winner has started at Darlington was 43rd in the inaugural Southern 500 in 1950 by Johnny Mantz. That race had a 75-car field. Only four other drivers have won at Darlington from a starting position further back than 15th: Herb Thomas (23rd – fall 1954), Bobby Labonte (37th – fall 2000), Ward Burton (37th – fall 2001) and Ricky Craven (31st – spring 2003) (NASCAR Statistical Services)(5-6-2005)
- Stock Car Fans – Ramblings – Darlington:
It’s an all-Dodge front row for tomorrow night’s Nextel Cup event! Think the Sponsor’s happy?
Kasey Kahne edged out Ryan Newman this afternoon and grabbed his first Bud Pole of the season for Saturday Night’s aptly named Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway. His time of 28.923 (170.024 mph) was good enough for his 5th career top-spot and first since he led ’em to the green at Pocono last June.
He becomes our 8th qualifier for next February’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona as well.
We had the three “S”‘s today…..Slippin’, Slidin’, and Slappin’. When you consider that was with only one car on the track we could have another memorable event with 43 of ’em out there.
Sterling Marlin (7th) has his best starting spot since he lined up 3rd at Bristol last August.
Michael Waltrip (19th) has his best starting spot since he started 3rd at Daytona in February.
Carl Long (21st) has his career-best starting spot this week. His previous best was 26th at Atlanta in November of 2001!
Jeff Fuller (40th) makes his first Cup start of the season.
STREAKIN….Ryan Newman has 17 Top-10 starts in a row.
Greg Biffle has 8 Top-10 starts in the last 9 races.
Jeremy Mayfield has 5 Top-10 starts in the last 6 races.
The Trouble Train had four cars in tow today. Johnny Sauter (his 4th dnq of the season), Robby Gordon (also his 4th), Tony Raines (the 2nd dnq for the #61 car), and Morgan Shepherd (the #89 car’s 4th dnq as well).(Stock Car Fans)(5-6-2005)
- Bliss wrecks during practice: #0-Mike Bliss crashed while running third during practice and will go to a backup car – “We were in qualifying trim and we wrecked in Turn 2. I’m okay. We feel like our primary car was good and we should be able to apply all that to the back up car. Our back-up car is a brand new one. We tested it at Kentucky, but that’s all.”(GM PR), if the team takes the engine out of the car that crashed, and uses it to qualify, Bliss will not have to start at the rear of the field before Saturday nights race.(5-6-2005)
- Tru-Line Donates to NASCAR Tech: Tru-Line Laser Alignment, Inc. has provided the NASCAR Technical Institute (NTI) [Mooresville, NC] a laser wheel alignment system for its NASCAR training program. The TR-12 is completely portable, weighs less than 100 pounds, and runs off of D cell batteries. “The Tru-Line laser wheel alignment system is a welcome addition to the NASCAR training program at the NASCAR Techinical Institute. Setting up the chassis on a NASCAR racer is an integral part of our education process. NTI requires the very best equipment available to the industry and Tru-Line is at the top of its class. The Tru-Line system is portable, accurate, reliable, and cuts our set-up time in half. It’s a proven winner in the industry”, says John Dodson, Community and Race Team Relations Director for NTI. For more information visit www.tru-line.net.(PR)(5-6-2005)
- Travelodge back to the #16, primary at Darlington UPDATE: Travelodge Hotels announced the renewal of its associate sponsorship of the #16 National Guard Ford Taurus, driven by Greg Biffle, in the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. The agreement continues the Travelodge brand’s two-year relationship with Roush Racing of Concord, N.C. As part of the agreement, Travelodge Hotels will appear as the team’s primary sponsor at Darlington Raceway’s Carolina Dodge Dealers 500 on May 7.(PRN Newswire)(3-24-2005)
UPDATE: This weekend the #16 National Guard Ford will feature a special Sleepy Bear logo on the hood. Sleepy Bear is the official mascot for Travelodge, now in their second year of associate sponsorship with the #16 National Guard Ford.(Roush Racing)(5-6-2005)
News from May 5, 2005
- Nextel and SunTrust to Sponsor a Fundraising Event: Nextel Communications and SunTrust Banks, Inc. today announced their sponsorship and preliminary plans for a two-day premiere fundraising event to be held in Nashville, Tennessee on January 13th and 14th, 2006, to benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp and The Country Music Hall of Fame charities. More info on my Racing Charities page.(5-5-2005)
- Rusty back in black at Chicago: #2-Rusty Wallace is scheduled to drive the #2 Miller Genuine Draft retro car at Chicagoland Speedway on July 10, 2005. See an image of the scheme on my #2 Team Schemes page[oops images is now there…brainfade! – DOH!].(5-5-2005)
- Newman to run Sony scheme at Calif: #12-Ryan Newman will run a Sony HDTV scheme at California Speedway in Sept. See an image of the scheme on my #12 Team Schemes page.[oops images is now there…brainfade! – DOH!](5-5-2005)
- How do Gordon’s 72 wins rank?
#24-Jeff Gordon has just hit 72 Cup wins and is closing on the late Dale Earnhardt for sixth on the all-time NASCAR winners’ list, at 76. Next up in Gordon’s windshield are Cale Yarborough, fifth with 83; Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, tied for third with 84; David Pearson, second with 105 and Richard Petty with the seemingly insurmountable 200. But Gordon got his 72nd win last Sunday at Talladega at the age of 33 years and nine months. (He’ll turn 34 on Aug. 4.) See the chart for the comparisons:
Rank Driver Total Wins Total Race Win % Wins at 33 yrs, 9 mths Age at 72nd win Win total at end of 12th season 1 Petty, Richard 200 1185 16.9% 123 30 140 2 Pearson, David 105 574 18.3% 45 38 60^ 3 Allison, Bobby 84 719 11.7% 28 44 47 3 Waltrip, Darrell 84 809 10.4% 27 41 70 4 Yarborough, Cale 83 561 14.8% 14 43 59^ 5 Earnhardt, Dale 76 676 11.2% 12 48 48 6 Gordon, Jeff 72 410 17.6% 72* 33 69
(* current thru Talladega 5/1/05)(^ ran a combo of part-time/fulltime seasons)
Only Petty at that age had more wins than Gordon, 123. And Petty at that stage was racing in a whole other kind of NASCAR, with seasons as long as 61 races, barnstorming to backwater tracks where the competition for him often was nil. Even counting Gordon’s winless rookie year of ’93, he has averaged 5.88 wins per season in the 12.25 seasons he has completed. But he’s been hinting he might retire at 40. Let’s keep the happy medium of 5.88 wins per season, to allow for the possibilities that his career will get even brighter and then take a downturn that prompts his retirement. Should he quit at the end of the 2011 season, the year he turns 40, that would give Gordon 6.75 more seasons from now. At 5.88 wins per season, he’d have 39 more wins, for a total of 111, moving past Pearson into second place. Somes Stats and article [see much more and projections there] from the Orlando Sentinel/Ed Hinton.(5-5-2005)
- Jimmie Johnson To Join Rumsfeld At Troop Support Concert: #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet driver Jimmie Johnson will join Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and country music stars Thursday afternoon at the Pentagon for the first “America Supports You” Salute to Our Military Men and Women concert. Johnson will be at Darlington Raceway preparing for Saturday night’s NASCAR Nextel Cup race, but will join the Pentagon concert via satellite. Johnson, Rumsfeld, and Lowe’s executives will unveil the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet carrying the “America Supports You” decal on the rear deck lid (trunk). This car plus the #5 Lowe’s Busch Series car will race with the decal at Darlington, Richmond and Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte during the month of May. The hour-long concert, scheduled to begin at 12:15pm/et, will include singers Keni Thomas, Craig Morgan and Rockie. It will air live on the Defense Department’s American Forces Radio and Television Service to 177 countries throughout the world. In addition to the Pentagon event, Lowe’s will offer free “America Supports You” bumper stickers in its more than 1,100 stores across the country and take its Team Lowe’s Fan Experience interactive mobile display to six military bases. Military families will have an interactive experience with Team Lowe’s Racing. Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet will provide “Dare to Repair” clinics on the Fan Experience using products from local Lowe’s stores.(GMR Live PR)(5-5-2005)
- Sponsorship Expands After Lepage’s Strong Daytona 500 Finish: Kevin Lepage’s impressive ninth place finish at this year’s NASCAR Daytona 500 provided the incentive for The Patròn Spirits Company to increase its involvement with Lepage’s #37 Dodge and R & J Racing program to include an additional five NASCAR NEXTEL CUP races. This deal was brokered by Active International, the world’s largest corporate trading firm. Active’s sports & event marketing division has extensive expertise in negotiating major sports sponsorships and has helped its clients to participate in a number of high-profile properties including the PGA TOUR, NBA and NASCAR. Trade credits that The Patròn Spirits Company acquired from Active were an important element in enabling Active to tailor this financial program for Patròn’s sponsorship of Lepage’s #37 Dodge. The deal is unique given that 2005 is the first year that spirits companies have been able to participate as NASCAR sponsors. The sponsorship provided Patròn with an innovative way to enhance its marketing strategy. As the primary sponsor of Lepage’s car, Patròn designed the paint scheme and the logos that are featured on the hood and side panels (images on my #37 Team Schemes Page). (Peppercom PR)(5-5-2005)
- Goodyear Tire Notes: Both the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series will run the same tire codes this weekend . . . this is the third straight NASCAR Nextel Cup race to which Goodyear has brought this combination of left- and right-side tires to Darlington . . . this is the only track at which Nextel Cup teams will run this specific tire set-up this season . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in their tires at Darlington, see all the tire info on my Darlington Race Info/Rundown Page(5-5-2005)
- Terry Labonte Delievers: Terry Labonte made a special pizza delivery to a group of youngsters Wednesday when he visited the after-school program at the University City YMCA in Charlotte, N.C. The two-time Cup Series champion brought lunch to the kids in one of his #44 Pizza Hut Chevrolets, complete with Pizza Hut car-topper.(Hendrick Motorsports PR)(5-5-2005)
- Nextel Named Recipient of Award Of Excellence: Nextel, one of the nation’s largest wireless telecommunications companies, has been named the 2005 recipient of Pocono Raceway’s Bill France Award of Excellence. The Pocono Raceway Bill France Award of Excellence has been presented annually to the person, corporation or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the sport of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Racing. This prestigious award, first presented in 1977, is dedicated to the inspiration of Bill France Sr., founder of NASCAR. By taking over the title sponsorship of NASCAR’s premier series, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Nextel and NASCAR forged a partnership built upon each partner’s passion for performance, innovation and excellence. Through the sponsorship, Nextel has diligently worked to integrate NASCAR into the company’s business and culture, while at the same time elevating NASCAR to a new level by using its products and technology to enhance the sport and maximize the fan experience. From at-track activation and NASCAR-based products and applications, to community programs and advertising, Nextel’s partnership with NASCAR is helping the sport continue its meteoric growth. Nextel donated $1 million to the Victory Junction Gang Camp and used the company’s presence at-track to collect old wireless phones through the DONATE A PHONE program, benefiting The American Red Cross’s Armed Forces Emergency Services program. The Pocono Raceway Bill France Award of Excellence, a beautifully sculptured and highly polished piece of anthracite coal mined in Pennsylvania, will be presented to Nextel at an award ceremony on Saturday, June 11, 2005. This ceremony is part of the festivities leading up to the June 12, 2005 POCONO 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway. See full PR and list of past winners on my Awards/Voting page.(Pocono Raceway)(5-5-2005)
- Testing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway Ends: #24-Jeff Gordon took to Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s renovated racing surface like the proverbial duck took to water Wednesday night as 17 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams made final preparations for the May 29 NASCAR All-Star Challenge and the May 29 Coca-Cola 600. The unofficial stopwatches caught Gordon’s #24 DuPont Chevrolet with a lap at 189.056 mph around the 1.5-mile superspeedway. The 28.563-second lap was a tick of the watch faster than the track record of 28.590 seconds, 188.877 mph, set last year by #12-Ryan Newman. Gordon’s lap came as teams concentrated on long runs, searching for the proper chassis setup to complement the harder right-side tires Goodyear has manufactured for the track’s May events. The tires performed flawlessly Wednesday and one veteran crew chief said tire issues that developed during Tuesday’s testing were the result of teams “getting greedy with tire pressures and camber.” #16-Greg Biffle posted the third fastest unofficial lap at 186.047 mph in the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Ford. “I was so disappointed when they ground the track. I was like ‘man that was a great race track, they shouldn’t t have messed with it’. The bumps gave it character,” Biffle said. “But now I’m just shocked. I’ve never seen grinding a race track do what it did here. It’s just so fast. I’m driving in the second groove, or even the third groove,” Biffle continued. “I’m not running on the bottom, so that tells you there will be side-by-side racing. This is going to be one of the best shows out of all 36 races.” 1988 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Bill Elliott participated in Wednesday’s session and plans to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 as he runs a limited schedule in Ray Evernham’s #91 Stanley Tools Dodge. “The track is quite a bit smoother and it has a lot of grip,” Elliott said. “I think I’m in better shape because I haven’t missed anything from not being here the last year. Now everyone has a clean slate with the changes to the race track. It was always hard to run a high groove here, but now you can run a higher line and still have a good time.” The six-hour testing session was run without incident. The only caution flags were for debris and oil from Mears’ blown engine late in the session.
Testing for the May events continues Monday and Tuesday when NASCAR Busch Series teams hit the track in preparation for the inaugural nighttime running of the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 on Saturday, May 28. Fans can attend the NASCAR Busch Series testing sessions free of charge. Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s frontstretch grandstand will be open and fans should enter through Gate 5A, located next to the main ticket office.
Tickets for all May events at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, including the May 21 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 29 Coca-Cola 600, can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.
The top-10 unofficial speeds:
Showing driver, car No. and speed:
1. Jeff Gordon, 24, 189.056;
2. Martin Truex Jr., 1, 186.464;
3. Greg Biffle, 16, 186.047;
4. Mike Bliss, 0, 185.637;
5. Casey Mears, 41, 185.631;
6. Ken Schrader, 185.478;
7. Elliott Sadler, 38, 185.287;
8. Kyle Busch, 5, 185.172;
9. Bobby Hamilton Jr., 32, 185.084;
10. Mike Skinner, 23, 184.906.(LMS PR)(5-5-2005)
News from May 4, 2005
- #11 Rumors out again: on Speed Channel’s NASCAR Nation, NASCAR.com’s Marty Smith was asked about rumors of Joe Gibbs Racing’s #11 Jason Leffler being replaced. Smith said he contacted the team and was told there is no truth to the rumor, but Smith said garage gossip have possible drivers as Scott Wimmer, who currently drives the #22 CAT Dodge for Bill Davis Racing and Martin Truex Jr., driver for the #1 DEI Cup car in a limited schedule and full time in the #8 Busch Series Chance 2 Chevy.(5-4-2005)
- Eleven Penalties Result from Talladega Infractions NASCAR announced today that 11 penalties have been issued to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors, as a result of rule infractions this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
Three of those penalties were issued to the #00 Chevrolet team, because of an unapproved rear axle housing, a violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules) of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rule book. The violations were found during pre-qualifying inspection. Kenny Wallace, driver of the #00, was penalized with the loss of 25 driver championship points; car owner Elizabeth (Buffy) Waltrip was penalized 25 owner championship points; and crew chief Terry Wooten was fined $25,000.
Harold Holly, crew chief for the #32 Chevrolet driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr., was fined $10,000. During opening day inspection, the #32 had unapproved upper rear coil spring mounts, violating Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q.
Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for the #41 Dodge driven by Casey Mears, was fined $2,500 because of unapproved use of refrigerant near the fuel system, violating 2-4-A and 12-4-Q. The violations were found during pre-qualifying inspection.
In addition, $1,000 fines were issued to the following six competitors:
Alan Gustafson, crew chief for the #5 Chevrolet driven by Kyle Busch, because of an unapproved right-side window (violating 12-4-A and 12-4-Q); Mike Ford, crew chief for the #88 Ford of Dale Jarrett, was fined for the same violations. In both cases, the violations were found during pre-qualifying inspection.
Four crew chiefs were fined because of unapproved window nets presented at opening day inspection (violating 12-4-A and 12-4-Q). Nets must have a minimum opening of one inch between the ribs. Those four:
Robert (Bootie) Barker, crew chief for the #0 Chevrolet driven by Mike Bliss; Dave Rogers, crew chief for the #11 Chevrolet driven by Jason Leffler; Bob Osborne, crew chief for the #99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards; and Richard (Slugger) Labbe, crew chief for the #19 Dodge driven by Jeremy Mayfield.(NASCAR PR)(5-4-2005)
- Toyota to Busch Series in 2006: NASCAR has confirmed that Toyota intends to compete in the Busch Series in 2006 and is an active participant in discussions about the next generation of Nextel Cup cars and engines, which are slated to debut in 2007, or perhaps 2008. Bill Davis Racing, the lead development team in Toyota’s truck project, is likely also developing Toyota’s Busch entry, though little specific information has come to light yet.(Speed Channel)(5-4-2005)
- Shepherd trying to help Darlington track and more: #89-Morgan Shepherd will be a part of this Mother’s Day race weekend by honoring mothers and helping an organization that’s been working to save the racing traditions at his favorite race track. Long ago deemed the “Lady in Black” by the countless racers who’ve grazed the pristine white walls of Darlington Raceway leaving behind black tire and paint smudges, the track finds itself buried in rumors that its newest moniker might be “retired” as well. Undeniably, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series schedule has been trending toward modern race tracks with huge seating capacities and larger television markets. Fanz to Support the Darlington Racing Tradition has been formed in an effort to save the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race date at the storied track, and use its position in the public eye to raise funds for local charities and the Lyn St. James Foundation. “That the race weekend falls on Mother’s Day weekend offers us a great opportunity to raise money for our charities and honor the mothers in our lives, while continuing to raise awareness for our cause. For a $1 donation, fans can put the name of their mom on Morgan Shepherd’s race car for Saturday night’s race,” said Bob Henry, President of Fanz to Support the Darlington Racing Tradition.(Williams Company) Also, Shepherd is scheduled to appear on ABC’s “World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings at ^:30pm/et and on Thursday is scheduled to by on ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’ at 12:00midnight/et.(5-4-2005)
- School Stuff: Chattanooga State Technical College is introducing a curriculum that provides career training in the booming NASCAR industry. The school will offer automotive and mechanical courses as well as instruction in the ”business, regulations, economics and history” of the sport. For information call 423-697-4738.(Tennessean) Info on Driving Schools, College Programs and Diversity, see my Racing Schools/Jobs page.(5-4-2005)
- Testing dates set at Lowe’s Motor Speedway UPDATE – Speeds: Lowe’s Motor Speedway has scheduled 35 hours of open testing for NASCAR Craftsman Truck, Busch and NEXTEL Cup Series teams in preparation for the track’s slate of May races, including the May 21 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 29 Coca-Cola 600.
The testing schedule:
May 3-4, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
May 9-10, NASCAR Busch Series, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Many of the bumps in the track’s racing surface were removed recently during an asphalt grinding process and the testing sessions mark the first, and only, opportunity for teams to experiment with the new surface prior to the May events. Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s frontstretch grandstand will be open free of charge during each testing session. Fans should enter through Gate 5A next to the ticket office on the second floor of Smith Tower.(LMS)(3-22/5-2-2005)
DRIVERS: #01-Joe Nemechek, #0-Mike Bliss, #5-Kyle Busch, #6-Mark Martin, #16-Greg Biffle, #18-Bobby Labonte, #19-Jeremy Mayfield, #24-Jeff Gordon, #25-Brian Vickers, #32-Bobby Hamilton Jr., #36-Boris Said, #41-Casey Mears, #44-Terry Labonte, #45-Kyle Petty, #77-Travis Kvapil, #18-Dale Jarrett, #91-Bill Elliott, #08-Shane Hmiel, #1-Martin Truex Jr., #4-Mike Wallace, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #15-Michael Waltrip, #23-Mike Skinner, #29-Kevin Harvick, #38-Elliott Sadler and #49-Ken Schrader.(LMS)(5-3-2005)
UPDATE Vickers fastest, and crashes: Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s renovated racing surface continued to receive rave reviews Tuesday night as 22 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams prepared for the May 21 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 29 Coca-Cola 600. With teams focusing on long runs and race set-ups, several drivers consistently posted laps in the mid-180 mph range, just shy of Ryan Newman’s 188-mph track record. Brian Vickers was fastest on the unofficial stopwatches with a lap at 186.130mph in the #25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports, but his night ended against the outside wall. With just one minute left in the session, a flat right-front tire sent Vickers’ Chevrolet into the turn-two wall. The car was heavily damaged, but Vickers was not injured. The only other incidents during the six-hour testing session came just before the dinner break when #41-Casey Mears hit the wall in turn two and #88-Dale Jarrett bounced off the SAFER barrier in turns three and four on the same lap. Both were able to drive to the garage area and Mears was able to continue testing. Jarrett, however, was finished for the evening. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing continues Wednesday evening, May 4, with the cars once again on the track from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fans can attend the final night of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing free of charge. Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s frontstretch grandstand will be open and fans should enter through Gate 5A, located next to the main ticket office.
Showing driver, car #and speed:
1. #25-Brian Vickers, 186.130
2. #18-Bobby Labonte, 185.592
3. #24-Jeff Gordon, 185.554
4. #6-Mark Martin, 185.491
5. #19-Jeremy Mayfield, 185.312
6. #41-Casey Mears, 185.039
7. #01-Joe Nemechek, 184.982
8. #5-Kyle Busch, 184.603
9. #1-Martin Truex Jr., 184.300
10. #29-Kevin Harvick, 184.281.(LMS)(5-4-2005)
News from May 3, 2005
- What Red Flag? Fans using scanners have access to transmissions between producers and TV/radio announcers, which means that many of them heard Fox’s announcers instructed not to make any on-air reference to the fact that a red flag immediately came out after the 25-car crash. The information eventually came out — the race was halted for 43 minutes, 21 seconds — but why deprive television viewers of valuable information? Was it some cheap ploy to keep viewers from changing channels?(Gaston Gazette), wondered that myself, the same thing happened at Phonix when the red flag was out for over 6 minutes when power was out, I heard about it on the radio coverage, it was mentioned in passing on TV.(5-3-2005)
- Doug Rice Named President of PRN: Veteran broadcasting executive Doug Rice has been promoted to president and general manager of Performance Racing Network and Gerry Horn, a 20-year veteran of corporate sales, was elevated to vice president of PRN sales. The announcement was made by H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, president of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., Performance Racing Network’s parent company. Rice joined PRN in 1988 as director of affiliates and, after serving in other managerial positions, was named vice president and general manager in 1999. In addition to overseeing the network’s operations, Rice has also served as co-anchor alongside Mark Garrow on all PRN race broadcasts since 1994. The network broadcasts 10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races and eight NASCAR Busch series events at Speedway Motorsports, Inc. facilities. It also produces numerous other motorsports-related programs including “Fast Talk with Benny Parsons,” “PRN’s Garage Pass” and “The ALLTEL Pit Reporters.”(LMS PR)(5-3-2005)
- #92 Team Looking: Transporter driver wanted for #92 Cup team for driver Stanton Barrett. Must hold valid CDL and have a clean driving record. Full time work at shop as well as over the road. Duties include stocking, cleaning and maintaining transporter. Experience and additional mechanical knowledge is a plus. More info and phone on my #92 Team News and Links page.(5-3-2005)
- #24 Crew Wins at Talladega: Hendrick Motorsports’ crew for the #24 Chevrolet has won $10,000 for the fastest pit work in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway among teams participating in the Checkers/Rally’s Double Drive-Thru Challenge. No details were announced. The crew with the most weekly wins will collect a $100,000 prize at the end of the season.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-3-2005)
- Changes at Speed, NASCAR Nation down to 30 minutes?: A shake-up at the top of Fox’s Speed Channel is the latest TV shock for NASCAR, and Fox’s decision to let Jim Liberatore go as head of the cable channel leaves considerable uncertainty about just what’s going on. Liberatore has been running Speed Channel, based in Charlotte, since Fox bought it four years ago. He cites “a difference in philosophies” for his departure. According to one source, Liberatore wanted to diversify Speed Channel again, to include a good mix of all racing. It has become predominantly NASCAR-oriented. There are also reports that the Speed Channel ‘s NASCAR Nation show will soon be dramatically revamped, in light of generally poor ratings. The show is likely to be cut from an hour to 30 minutes, and its focus is to change from hard racing reports to more soft entertainment features.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-3-2005)
- Kenseth changes scheme for Darlington: #17-Matt Kenseth will be running a special paint scheme this weekend in the Darlington Cup race. The #17 will be sporting the copper and black colors of Carhartt. This is the first of three races in which the #17 will be sporting the Carhartt paint scheme. The other two are Michigan in June and Lowe’s Motor Speedway in October.(Roush Racing), see an image of the scheme on my #17 Team Schemes page.(5-3-3005)
- Bogus NASCAR Stuff Seized: Law enforcement officials seized more than $160,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise during last weekend’s NASCAR race in Talladega, Ala. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Marc Raimondi says more than 7,000 items were confiscated.(USA Today)(5-3-2005)
- Team Caliber to ISC company? been hearing that Team Caliber [diecast – teamcaliber.com] is being bought by an ISC [International Motor Sports] company called Americrown.(5-3-2005)
News from May 2, 2005
- Morgan Shepherd to air on ESPN show, May 5th: Sixty-three year old Morgan Shepherd, easily the NASCAR Nextel Cup’s oldest driver, survives week-to-week with his two man team and no sponsors. “I’m the last of the Mohicans,” he says, forcing a laugh. ESPN’s Outside the Lines has been chronicling Shepherd’s 2005 campaign since NASCAR’s season-opening Daytona 500 on February 20. He has started just one race – the UAW Daimler Chrysler 400 on March 13 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, starting 43rd and finishing 40th. Outside the Lines will present an inside look at Shepherd’s travails on Thursday, May 5 at 12:00midnight/et [Subject to change depending on breaking news]. Despite struggling, Shepherd refuses to retire in part because of his Christian faith -his team logo is prominently displayed on his #89 Dodge.(ESPN)(5-2-2005)
- Update 2 on RCR Crewman: Josh Yost, the jackman for #31 Jeff Burton’s Cingular Wireless team, suffered torn ligaments and a severe laceration on his right ankle after a pit stop mishap. He was taken to a Birmingham hospital, but flew home with his team Sunday night.(Alabama Live)(5-2-2005)
UPDATE: Injured Jeff Burton jackman Josh Yost was released from a Birmingham, AL hospital Sunday night and flown back to Winston-Salem, NC on one of Richard Childress’ planes. He was admitted to the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and will be operated on Tuesday by Dr. David Martin. After getting hit by Rusty Wallace on pit road at Talladega, Yost was thought to have broken his right ankle, but after tests it turned out to be badly torn ligaments. Yost also suffered a severe, deep laceration to his lower right leg.(PRN’s Garage Pass Radio Show)(5-2-2005)
- TV Ratings for Qualifying and Trackside at Talladega: Talladega NASCAR coverage was a hit with SPEED Channel viewers last weekend as more than one million households tuned in for coverage of NEXTEL Cup qualifying Friday. Live qualifying coverage on SPEED drew a Nielsen Household Rating of 1.10 (696,000 households), while the replay scored a .56 (354,000 households) later in the day. SPEED Channel’s “Trackside” program went out to more than half a million households, scoring .68 (433,000 households) for its live broadcast Friday night. A same-day replay added an additional .25 (156,000 HH).(SPEED Channel)(5-2-2005)
- Overnight TV Ratings for Talladega Up: Fox’s broadcast of Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 earned a 6.1 overnight Nielsen Media Research rating from the nation’s largest markets and a 14 market share, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating is up 3.4% from the 5.9 overnight figure for the 2004 Talladega race, which was run a week earlier. This year’s figure, which is the third-highest overnight rating for a race this season, is also up 8.9% from the 5.6 that the 2004 California race drew on the comparable weekend.(NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter)(5-2-2005)
- Loomis Wins Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race Award: Jeff Gordon scorched the competition at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. His Robbie Loomis prepared Chevrolet easily weaved its way to the top spot, leading 139 of 190 laps in route to Gordon’s second restrictor plate win of the season, his third win in 2005. Loomis’ dominant car made him the easy pick for theWypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. The panel of voters; including Mike Szvetitz of Opelika-Auburn News, a Wypall Wipers representative and Tony Eury Sr.; all agreed that Loomis deserved Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race honors. “He (Loomis) got Gordon in first and got him out first,” said Szvetitz. “He kept him up front for almost the whole race.” Loomis collected $1,000 for winning the Wypall Wipers Crew Chief of the Race. Collecting his second award in 2005, Loomis is now tied with Doug Richert in the Crew Chief of the Year standings. Scott Miller, Bob Osborne, Alan Gustafson and Pete Rondeau are tied for second place, each with one win. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000.(SMC 500)(5-2-2005)
- Bridesmaid for Stewart at Talladega: for #20-Tony Stewart, it was his fourth second-place finish in 13 career Nextel Cup starts at Talladega Supperspeedway when he finished 2nd to #24-Jeff Gordon Sunday.(5-2-2005)
- Car of the Future delay? Under pressure from race teams, NASCAR might delay the debut of the “car of the future” until the end of 2007 and the “common” engine until 2008. Many engine builders fear teams could be crushed financially if they’re left with large inventories of obsolete engines. But to even the playing field and prepare for Toyota’s expected arrival in the Cup series, NASCAR is looking at controlling cars from the tires up.(Sporting News)(5-2-2005)
- TV Contract to stay with current partners: NASCAR’s next TV contract, which will begin with the 2007 season, should be completed by year-end, according to a NASCAR source close to the situation. The source said signs are positive that all of NASCAR current television partners will re-up for a second contract. Look for a substantial increase in $2.4 billion rights fee paid over the six years of the first contract, which runs from 2001-2006. The NFL recently signed a lucrative $8 billion contract extension, and that, combined with strong ratings generated by the first NASCAR Nextel Chase for the Championship last fall, should mean more money for NASCAR this time around.(Speed Channel)(5-2-2005)
- Gambling Internet sites want in: When NASCAR lifted the hard liquor sponsorship embargo, did it open a Pandora’s box? The next wave of sponsors pushing to get into the garage are Internet gambling sites, which have approached several teams with big checks but have not yet gotten the green flag from NASCAR.(Sporting News)(5-2-2005)
- Crate Engines at Daytona/Talladega for the Busch Series? Detroit executives have proposed to NASCAR that the sanctioning body switch to crate engines at Daytona and Talladega as a cost-cutting measure for the Busch series. Crate engines would be formula engines built to identical standards, IROC-style; they could be mass produced for maybe $8,000 apiece, considerably less than $60,000-plus Daytona/Talladega Busch engines currently used. NASCAR already hands out identical shocks and springs at Daytona and Talladega.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-2-2005)
- Rusty tapes special message and host fan: One racing fan, who is battling cancer, requested to meet her favorite men: Rusty Wallace and Dr. Phil McGraw. Wallace couldn’t make the taping of McGraw’s show last Thursday, but he taped a spot for the episode, which was to be broadcast this Friday. Wallace also sent his race shoes from Las Vegas and will be host to the fan at the Nextel All-Star Challenge May 21 at Charlotte.(Sporting News)(5-2-2005)
- Marlin has an offer for 2006? liquor company as sponsor? #40-Sterling Marlin already has said he’s “99 percent” sure he won’t be back driving for Chip Ganassi next year. Multiple sources in the garage indicate that a well-known liquor company has contacted at least one established team about putting Marlin in one of its cars next season.(Speed Channel)(5-2-2005)
- #14 Team done? Charpentier goes back to DEI: The #14 ppc Racing Cup team is being dismantled, and it’s not surprising that crew chief Dave Charpentier has returned to Dale Earnhardt Inc. The #14 team was in existence for just a few months, so don’t expect Charpentier to take any of Ford’s secrets to Chevrolet.(Sporting News)(5-2-2005)
- More on Toyota: The key issue in the NASCAR Cup garage at the moment is Toyota’s apparently imminent step up to the Busch series next season, with an expected Nextel Cup debut in 2007. Toyota’s NASCAR model is expected to be the Avalon, though some are looking at the Solara, too. Toyota, according to sources, wants to field two Busch teams next year, with engines provided by the company, as it has done with its NASCAR Truck program. However, NASCAR officials are reported to have told Toyota that it would have to provide support to least five or six teams. Toyota is also reported to be bidding for some big-name NASCAR teams for its Busch effort, the biggest name mentioned being Chevy kingpin Rick Hendrick. GM executives insist they’ve got firm contracts with Hendrick for the next several years. However the Hendrick-Toyota questions have persisted, in part perhaps because Hendrick is one of the country’s biggest Lexus dealers. Adding fuel to the Toyota-NASCAR issue are reports that Toyota plans to drop its IRL support at the end of the season (the company is spending nearly $100 million this year on its Indy-car program) and that Honda executives have indicated to IRL boss Tony George they don’t plan to stick it out either if Honda is to become the only engine supplier to that series.(Winston Salem Journal)(5-2-2005)
- Petty to test at the Rock – TODAY: #45-Kyle Petty is scheduled to test his Darlington car at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC on Monday, May 2nd. While the track is not holding any races, it still is open for testing and the Buck Baker Racing School still holds classes there.(4-27/5-2-2005)
- Pressley honored: It’s very fitting that Bob Pressley has been commemorated in a manner that will have people thinking of him while they’re gripping a steering wheel. For Bob Pressley, well, when he gripped a steering wheel it meant business. Bob Pressley was a winner on the racetrack, but more importantly off the racetrack. He passed away a little more than a year ago at age 71, but is most definitely not forgotten. Pressley’s resume is impressive. He was the track champion at Asheville Motor Speedway seven times. He worked magic when he seized the steering wheel, winning more than 500 races. Earlier this week the two-mile stretch of Brevard Road/N.C. 191 where he once tooled around in a Model A Ford was officially renamed Bob Pressley Highway. The experience he gained in a Model A Ford translated to a four-decade racing career. He became a legend, and an important part of local history. His is a legacy worth remembering. The Pressley family is an important thread in the fabric of the rich heritage of racing in Western North Carolina. Son Robert Pressley is a NASCAR fixture, and grandson Coleman is carrying the legacy on by racing at Hickory Motor Speedway.(Citizen Times)(5-2-2005)
- No major changes in 2006 schedule? Don’t expect any major changes in next year’s Cup schedule, which likely won’t be released until September.(Sporting News), last year the 2005 schedule was announced on May 14th.(5-2-2005)
- #00 Team in trouble? Kenny Wallace’s #00 team could be in big trouble with NASCAR after inspectors at Talladega Superspeedway confiscated a trick rear-end housing from the team, owned by Michael Waltrip. A fine is expected, and some speculate it’ll be $50,000, because the design might be considered a safety issue.(Winston Salem Journal), the team failed to qualify for the race.(4-30-2005)
UPDATE: Nextel Cup Director John Darby said a major penalty likely will be levied by NASCAR over the offset rear axle that was seized Friday from the #00 Chevrolet owned by Michael Waltrip Racing and driven by Kenny Wallace. The car failed to qualify for Sunday’s race.(Speed Channel)(5-2-2005)
News from May 1, 2005
- Jeff Gordon dominates and wins a wild race at Talladega: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Kurt Busch won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, holding off #20-Tony Stewart and #15-Michael Waltrip who tried to team up and make a run, but couldn’t catch Gordon on the Green-White-Checker finish. It is Gordon’s 72nd career win, 3rd of the 9 race season and 10th restrictor plate win. The win comes on Rady Dorton’s 51st birthday, Dorton was the Hendrick Motorsports engine guru who passed away in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash last October. In a wild race which included not the BIG ONE but the HUGE ONE when #48-Johnson got into #4-Wallace after Wallace got loose when #8-Earnhardt Jr. bump drafted Wallace, sending Wallace spinning and collecting 25 cars total, the 2nd most cars involved in a wreck at Talladega [April 2003]. Then with two laps tp go, there was a mini-big one when Johnson smacked the outside eall, came down on Harvick, who came down on #1-Truex Jr. who hit #8-Earnhardt Jr. and shot across the track with Johnson. So we had a green-white-checker finish and the longest race ever at Talladega 194 laps for 516.04 miles. #48-Johnson still holds the points lead which really got suffled around with the wrecks. #49-Ken Schrader finished 8th, his first top-10 since Bristol in March 2003. #77-Kvapil was the highest finishing rookie at 18th. The race will re-air on Speed Channel, Thursday, May 5th at 3:00pm/et.
Race rundown, laps led, lucky dogs, cautions, narrative and more on Jayski’s Talladega Race Info/Rundown Page
Race Results on Jayski’s Talladega Race Results/award/links page.(5-1-2005)
- Surgery required for official: Pete Babb, NASCAR’s senior official, is scheduled to undergo cardiac surgery on Monday at Birmingham’s Carraway Methodist Medical Center. Babb, who turned 78 on Saturday, works in the Busch Series and has been in the sport for more than 50 years. “People like Pete Babb helped make NASCAR the great sport it is today,” said NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter, who called Babb “a beloved and respected figure.”(Gaston Gazette)(5-1-2005)
- Aaron’s re-ups with Waltrip and the #00 team: Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership, which is sponsoring Sunday’s Nextel Cup race, extended its primary sponsorship of Michael Waltrip’s Busch team through 2008. Waltrip’s team will carry Aaron’s colors in at least 22 Busch races each season through 2008, as well as four Nextel Cup races in a Waltrip-#00 owned car driven by Kenny Wallace. Wallace failed to qualify for tomorrow’s race, so Aaron’s will sponsor Hermie Sadler, who will start the Aaron’s 499 in 30th place.(Speed Channel)(5-1-2005)
- Talladgea Race Notes:
* Jeff Gordon won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, scoring his 72nd NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory in his 410th career start. His last victory came at Martinsville, three races ago.
* This was Gordon’s 10th career restrictor-plate victory in 50 career restrictor-plate races. Gordon scored 28 top-10 finishes in those 50 races.
* It marked Gordon’s fourth victory in 25 races at Talladega. Gordon also won this race one year ago.
* Gordon has scored three victories in 2005, more than any other driver. He also posted victories at Daytona and Martinsville.* Gordon has climbed from 12th to third in the NASCAR NEXTEL CUP point standings in the last four races.
* Gordon has scored four top-10 finishes in nine races this season.
* Gordon scored the sixth victory for car owner Rick Hendrick at Talladega. This was Hendrick’s 134th victory as a car owner and fourth in nine races this season.
* This was the fifth victory in 2005 for Chevrolet. Ford has four victories while Dodge still seeks their first of the season.
* Tony Stewart (second) posted his eighth top-10 finish in 13 races at Talladega Superspeedway. It was his fourth runner-up finish at Talladega. Stewart has scored four top-10 finishes in nine races this season. He climbed from 14th to sixth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings.
* Michael Waltrip (third) posted his 13th top-10 finish in 39 races at Talladega Superspeedway. He scored his fourth top-10 finish and third straight in 2005.
* Jeremy Mayfield (fourth) scored his second top-10 finish in 22 races at Talladega Superspeedway. This was his career-best Talladega finish. This marked Mayfield’s first top-10 finish in 2005. He climbed from 16th to 12th in the point standings, his highest ranking of the season.
* Jamie McMurray (fifth) scored his second top-10 finish in six races at Talladega Superspeedway. It was his career-best Talladega finish.
* Ken Schrader (eighth) scored his 12th top-10 finish in 41 races at Talladega Superspeedway. Schrader scored his first top-10 finish since Bristol in March 2004.
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15th) has climbed from 27th to ninth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings in the last six races.
* Travis Kvapil (18th) was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender for the fourth time in 2005.
* Jimmie Johnson (20th) posted his first DNF since Kansas City in October 2005. He remained first in the point standings with a 130-point lead over second-place Kurt Busch.
* Mark Martin (33rd) has been running at the finish in 31 consecutive races , the longest current streak.
* Seven of the top-10 positions in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings changed Talladega Superspeedway.
* Jeff Gordon led 139 of the 188 laps, the first time that he has led the most laps in a race this season.(NASCAR Statistical Services)(5-1-2005)
- Stock Car Fans – Rumblings – Talladega: Plate racing reared it’s ugly head again today, and we had a “Big One” that was almost as big a one as we’ve ever seen. 25 cars in a tussle going into turn one on lap 133 brought out the red flag and that (combined with a lap 187 accident that put us into green/white/checker) gave us only 13 cars on the lead lap at the finish. But it may have mattered little as Jeff Gordon seemed to have ’em covered all day. As the only car able to pass without help today, he powered around Michael Waltrip on lap 185 and held off the advancing crowd to win the Aaron’s 516 at Talladega Superspeedway for his second plate win of the season, and third overall. Gordon’s domination resulted in leading the event 12 times for 139 laps….no one else led more than 12 circuits. This is Jeff’s 72nd career win (he’s seventh on the all-time list, four wins behind a guy who knew his way around the plate tracks a little, Dale Earnhardt) and his 4th in the last 5 plate races. His 4th win at Talladega was worth $365,116 from the over $5.8M in posted awards. This is win #134 for Hendrick Motorsports, and coming on Randy Dorton’s birthday just makes it that much sweeter.
Tony Stewart (2nd) had his best finish since he won at Watkins Glen last August.
Jeremy Mayfield (4th) had his best finish since he won at Richmond last September. His Top-5 finish makes 23 drivers to score a T-5 this season, last year’s number was 31.
Ken Schrader (8th) had his best finish since he was 6th at Bristol last March. Schrader & Mayfield’s Top-10’s give us 33 drivers to score a T-10 this year, last year’s number was 39.
Kerry Earnhardt (17th) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 24th when we were here last October.
Martin Truex Jr (21st) had his career-best finish today. His previous best was 32nd at Homestead last November.
STREAKIN….Michael Waltrip has 3 Top-10’s in a row.
Kurt Busch has 3 Top-10’s in a row.
This Week’s Elevator….UP: Operator of the week is Michael Waltrip (+35), followed by Ken Schrader (+34), Dale Earnhardt Jr (+21), and Johnny Sauter (+21). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Ryan Newman (-34), followed by Scott Riggs (-23), Ricky Rudd (-23), Boris Said (-23), and Scott Wimmer (-21). This is Op #3 for Mikey….he leads the pack.
Kurt Busch snips 43 points off Jimmie Johnson’s lead…..it’s now 130. Our “Stayin’ Alive” line stays at 18, however.
Tony Stewart gained the most spots today (14th to 6th) while Ryan Newman (7th to 15th) and Sterling Marlin (9th to 17th) fell the most.
Mike Wallace and the #4 team move back into the 35th and final exempt qualifying spot for next weekend….by two points! Now you know why he stayed out to lead a lap today under yellow on lap 21, huh? Scott Wimmer will have to make the next race on time.(Stockcarfans.com)(5-1-2005)